Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By Request - My Hair, My Regimen

In previous posts, I have listed some of the hair products I love and use.  Since I have been requested to list my full hair regimen, I am now going to list all of my HG (holy grail) products from start to finish.

First off, my hair:

I do not know what "grade" my hair is (4a, 4b, 4c, etc.).  I used to know when I was subscribed to a hair forum, but I have long since forgotten.  I can say this: my hair does NOT curl up all nice and shiny and soft when it rains; it kinks.  LOL.  And I'm fine with that.  I would say that my hair is the same texture as Oprah's - thick and somewhat coarse, but retains a shine in its natural state.  Also, like Oprah, I have a perm, which means my hair is chemically straightened.  I was a "natural" for years, but switched to perms for convenience (it would take me HOURS to do my natural hair).  I refuse to get caught up in the politics of black hair because for me, natural or chemically treated, I think it's all BEAUTIFUL.

Oh, and I do not wear a weave - not that there's anything wrong with that!  All the hair you see is home grown right out of my own scalp.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out the way, here is my regimen:

I wash my hair once a week.  If I feel that my hair is limp from a build up of products and dirt, I will wash my hair with the three shampoos listed above.  If not, then I will just use the two: Fresh Soy Shampoo and Keracare Hydrating shampoo. 
  • Nature's Gate Herbal poo gently rids your hair and scalp of product build up without stripping
  • Fresh Soy poo leaves my hair shiny and clean
  • Keracare Hydrating poo gives my hair the "slip" it needs in order for me to detangle it, especially when I am weeks post relaxer and have new growth.  I cannot tell you how this product has changed the way my hair acts and feels.  I will NOT go without this!  EVER!

Next up, I condition my hair with Fresh Pomegranate conditioner.  I squeeze out about a quarter sized dollop, work it through, then put on a shower cap for about 3-5mins., shower then rinse it out.  I then squeeze out about a dime size of Lacio Lacio, a Dominican leave-in conditioner, and work that through my hair.  I like Lacio Lacio because, again, it leaves my hair shiny and soft. 

I do NOT towel dry my hair at all.  Instead, I leave it wet and add WrapNTap setting lotion, just a drizzle.  This helps with styling and promotes shine as well.  Then I blow dry with a rubber, NOT bristled, brush and a regular blow dryer until it is straight.  At this point, I look a lot like Chaka Khan.  My hair, anyway.

My next step is to flat iron.  I only flat iron once a week.  I use a ceramic iron with manual heat settings and use Paul Mitchell's Skinny Serum as a heat protectant.  I like PM's serum because it is very light, does not weigh hair down and gets my hair straight.

After I have flat ironed my hair, I put another light serum on it - Bain de Terre's Recovery Complex.  This serum imparts shine as well as protects from humidity.  I recently stumbled upon Biolage's Shine Endure Spritz, which I'm really digging.  It's both a shine and hold spray in one.  I spray this on my hands to avoid using too much product, and then work my fingers through my hair.

My last step is to spray Nexxus' Comb Thru hairspray.  I spray both sides and the back of my hair and that's it.  I like this spray because it doesn't make my hair crunchy or hard.  Good stuff.

Outside of that, I perm my hair and trim it about every 6 to 8 weeks.  Trimming is VERY important.  Split ends sabotage growth and steal you hair of its overall health.  Can't stress that enough...

It took me a little while to find the perfect hair combo, but now that I have I am completely satisfied with the results. If you're still on the look out for your HG products, I hope this helped some.  And don't be afraid to try new items.  I, personally, think that's part of the fun.  At the end of the day, it's your hair; pay attention to it, listen to it and do what works for you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Barbie: Diahann Carroll's Julia

I was wandering through a discount store a while ago and imagine my surprise when I saw this little goody sitting demurely on a shelf.  A Barbie doll based on the groundbreaking sitcom Julia?  My mouth flew open with surprise, my heart fluttered with excitement.  I quickly grabbed one of the few boxes left and perused the item.  The packaging was intact, no obvious damage or flaws... Why was this being sold here?  Then again, why ask why?  I made a bee-line to the front of the store, paid for the doll and quickly left, absconding with my prize like a thief in the night just in case there was an error in price.  I just couldn't believe my fortune!

Although I love and collect Barbie dolls, I wouldn't call myself a fanatic.  Meaning, I do not follow Barbie blogs or subscribe to Barbie newsletters or wear Barbie clothes and such.  I'm more of the casual collector, I guess.  So, I really had no idea that such a doll existed, let alone that it was a reproduction of a doll originally released in 1968.  A black Barbie fashioned after a black movie star/singer based on a black TV character?  Wow!

I was not yet born when Julia first aired on TV, but I have heard of it before.  It featured the beautiful, incomparable Diahann Carroll - star of movies like Carmen Jones and Claudine, and TV show Dynasty - in the title role that broke rigid stereotypes of African-Americans at that time.  Julia was a strong, intelligent black woman that balanced her career as a nurse with raising a young son in Los Angeles.  The show was an instant hit, much to Ms. Carroll's surprise, and ran for three seasons before coming to an end in 1971.  Although embraced by many viewers, success also attracted criticism.  Much like 90's hit The Cosby Show, some thought the show too "unrealistic" in its depiction of black life while other blacks scoffed at the portrayal of a single, black female raising a son alone, albeit she was widowed.   Despite the rumblings, the sitcom Julia had a strong run and inspired various merchandise, including dolls and lunchboxes.

I'm loving Julia's brown smoky eye and perfectly arched eyebrows!  LOL!  Hair perfectly coiffed...

And did you peep the eyelashes?  Do you see how long they are?  Fabulous!

You know, I can't imagine the honor one must feel to be immortalized in such a way.  Especially an African-American star?  It really doesn't happen too often.  To have your likeness commissioned by Mattel for their collectors' line of Barbie dolls must be mind blowing!  I know it blew my mind to see it.  And I really respect and love Mattel for it.  And that's why I had to have this Barbie to add to my collection.  A collection that I'm rebuilding slowly, doll by doll.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Color Series - Taupes: The Dream Cream, #15!

Do you know what time it is?  Yes, it's taupe time!!  Yay!  So please allow me to introduce to you a lovely eye product from Make Up For Ever.  It is their Aqua Cream #15 and it is fabulous!

Aqua Creams are cream eyeshadows that can be worn alone or as a base under powder shadows.  They are waterproof, crease-proof and come in a variety of colors from bright and bold to neutral.  Aqua Cream #15 is a gray-brown frost with just a hint of warmth (red).  It's creamy, yet firm in texture, can be easily applied with your finger or a synthetic brush and will not budge once it sets.  Now everybody's eyelids are different, but I can personally co-sign this claim; with a primer underneath (I use a primer under nearly every eye product), this cream shadow does not crease at all on my oily lids for up to eight hours.   Although crease-proof/waterproof, I have not found Aqua Creams to be difficult to remove with regular makeup remover or a little soap and water.

Whether it's a wash of color you're after or a more opaque application, this buildable cream shadow is a wonderful product to have on hand.  I've had my Aqua Creams for over a year now and have not experienced them drying out yet.  But I'm also careful to keep the hard plastic jars closed tight when not in use, as you should with most cream, water- and gel-based products.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams, as well as their other cosmetic products, can be found at Sephora stores or and retail for about $23.

So, yes, MUFE's #15 is a dream cream that you should add to your team, it'll make you scream and cause a scene... and make ya feel like a queen... And... and, umm...well... *sigh*  Ok, I'll stop now.

*Next up: How about a taupe Glaze for your fingertips?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall - Spicy Oranges, Chocolate Browns

As summer gives way to the cooler months of fall, the inevitable shift in color palettes starts to come into full bloom.  The trees yield to the crisp of autumn and, ironically, don warmer hues of not only red, but also orange and brown.  Beauty and fashion tend to reflect this seasonal change, too.  These beautiful shades are really never out of season, however, tend to take center stage around this time.  So are you ready to "spice it up" this fall?  Yeah?  You are?  Ok, then let's look at a few items for inspiration.

Let's start with makeup:

NARS' Exhibit A

NARS' Exhibit A blush is a bold, blood orange red that could easily intimidate you upon first glance, but trust me... there's no reason to be scared.  NARS blushes are intensely pigmented, therefore, only a teeny, tiny touch of your brush is needed to yield enough color to add warmth to your cheeks.

The finish on this blush is matte, no shimmer at all.

And see?  Just a dab will do ya.  It is so pretty.  Just about anybody can rock this and it looks absolutely amazing on dark skin!  If you didn't know, now you know.  And if you did already know, but needed confirmation... yes, it is definitely worth the hype.

Inglot 108R

The eyeshadow above is Inglot's 108R.  It's one of their rainbow shadows where three shades of the same color come in one pan.  This shadow is matte in finish and robust in color.

MAC's Brown Script

Next eyeshadow is MAC's Brown Script (above).  It is a burnt orangey brown and is matte in finish.  It is one of my favorite go-to shadows because I not only use it as a blending shade, but I also sometimes use it as a blush.

CoverGirl's Tangerine Splash

I had to add this lip gloss (above) because I don't see a lot of them in this shade.  This is part of CoverGirl's Wet Slicks line and it's called Tangerine Splash.  It's not as sheer as other lipglosses and smells just like the name suggests. 

Prestige's Pudding

How about a nice, chocolate brown lipstick?  Well, Prestige has a pretty one appropriately called Pudding (above).  Prestige is a brand that can be found in some drug stores (CVS, RiteAid) and has a wide range of products.  Pudding is opaque in color and has a satin finish.

Maybelline's Passion Fire

Okay, this one's an oldie, but goodie.  I don't even know if they sell this shade anymore, but it fits our criteria so I had to include it.  It's Maybelline's Passion Fire - another aptly named product that delivers a frosty, sun-fire orange punch without being too obnoxious.  Absolutely lovely...

Okay, so the face has been addressed so let's tackle the fashion, shall we?

Cashmere NEVER gets old, dahling!  And this orange cashmere, V-neck sweater is soo the cat's MEE-oow!  Dress it up, dress it down... whatevs.  It works everytime.

And what about a chocolate brown corduroy blazer?  Love, love, LOVE!  So versatile, so cute!

No designer initials, no wild embellishments... just a simple, dark brown, slim hobo to carry the necessities.  Easy...breezy...classic.

So, I really hope you were able to gather inspiration from some of these items.  You already know my philosophy on color and trying new things.  Pick and choose what may work for you and step a little outside of your safety box.  Have fun!  Diversify your wardrobe!  Update your neutral makeup!  Spice up your fall with a little color!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall - Wines and Berries

Are you ready for the fall?  I absolutely love this time of year.  Not only does the weather change and the air become a little more crisp, but all around us color palettes are changing.  From the trees to our clothing and even our makeup, bright greens, pinks and yellows are being shed for darker and richer hues of oranges, browns and burgundy.  I love it.  And although I do not necessarily follow the seasonal trend of wearing darker makeup during fall/winter while leaving brights for summer (I wear what I want, when I want), I can definitely appreciate it when others do and have no problem going darker for the occasion myself.

Deep berries and wines have always been associated with autumn and this fall is no different.  So let's have some fun and take a look at a few items, shall we?  Let's start with makeup.

This CoverGirl quad would be a nice kickoff to your search for "wine and berries" if you wanted to start off small.  I chose this because of the pretty burgundy on the left and pretty pink (third color).

The burgundy (satin) and pink (frost) are the obvious standouts in this quad as they have the best payoff.  The other two colors are OK, but are a little "dusty" for my taste. 

NARS' Love Joy (above) is a beautiful dusty rose with slight gold shimmer.  The shimmer does not overwhelm the face and the blush itself is buildable.  The color payoff is excellent, as with all of NARS blushes, and a little goes a long way. 

Inglot 452
This beauty of an eyeshadow (above) is Inglot's 452 and it is the prettiest cranberry color!  It has a pearl finish and excellent color payoff.

OMG, just look at that color.  Do you see it?  Wow...

Now this little palette here (above) is Making Faces by famous makeup artist, Kevyn Aucoin.  It is styled like a book and not only has eyeshadows, but also lip gloss, cream blush and a mini brush.

When you first open it, there's a guide showing you how to re-create the look the model is wearing.

And when you turn the "page", you find the eye, lip and cheek products.

All the colors are very pretty, but that Aubergine is what we're after right now.  Isn't it pretty?

For the lips, let's look at MAC's Dark Deed.  This is a dark berry that was limited edition via its Disney Villains collection, but I know that there are many comparable offerings out there.

What about the nails, Dolce?  Well, let's have a look at OPI's Midnight In Moscow, a beautiful black cherry color laced with gold pearl.

I had to take a pic of this in the sunlight so you could absorb the true magnificence of this color.  Now for some of you this may be old news, but for those that didn't get the memo - Moscow is absolutely gorgeous!

Ok, so we've got the face and nails together, but what to wear?  Let's take a quick look-see, shall we?

How about a nice wine-colored blouse and/or a fabulous pair of burgundy-brown shoes?

This lovely sheer blouse would be perfect under a wool blazer or indoor/outdoor leather jacket.  How about pairing it with dark washed, boot flared jeans or gabardine, wide-legged wool pants?

And these patent leather shoes are a lovely updated version of the loafer.  Okay, they may not be five-inch heels, but they're perfect for the office or casual date.  (Ladies, you don't have to wear sky high pumps all the time!  Give your feet a break once in a while.)

Whew!  Well, I know this post was a little long, but I got a tad bit excited about the various options available to get more "berry-fied" for the fall.  I promise that the oranges and browns will not be as long.  But in the meantime, have fun with this and don't be afraid to experiment and go dark.  If dark lips aren't your style then go for a pair of shoes or a top.  You only live once so don't sit on the sidelines... participate and live life out loud in COLOR!