Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm big into technology.  Anything that advances to become better, faster, more effective, has my full and complete attention.  Sadly, there doesn't seem to be much revolution in the world of hair care. At least that's what I thought until I stumbled upon these babies!  I finally found Sprushes! The geniuses who created these combined the idea of a brush and spatula together and voila!


So in order to give the sprush a proper review, I thought I would systematically go over all the claims listed on the back of the packaging and give my perspective based on my first experience.  I should say that I only used the green one so far. I'll use the pink on with the rounded tip next go around.
Let's get started!

Closer to Scalp I thought my old applicator brush did a decent job of getting close to the scalp, but it does not compare to the amount of precision I had using the sprush. Once green tip touched my scalp, I knew exactly where the product was placed.   And yes, I did feel like I was able to get my product really close to the scalp just as promised.

Reduces application time I'm sure this will be a bi-product of using the sprush long term but for my first experience, I didn't feel like I saved a bunch of time.  Probably because I was analyzing everything as I went along.  Plus I had a ton of detangling to do along the way.  I think the precision offered by the sprush will help to create a more effective application process overall which will automatically mean less time with future uses.

Less overlap Agreed.  Again, it has to do with the precision offered with this tool.  With the green sprush in particular, I feel like I can apply relaxer, color, or whatever to a specific part of the hair without having concern of overlapping or worse, over processing.  Long term, this will be huge in the creation of healthier hair. 

Use less product Every week when I deep condition, I fill the same small bowl with a mix of conditioners.  Usually, I don't mix enough and I have to go back and mix another smaller batch just to make sure I get the level of saturation I want.  This week, I tried filling the bowl with less than usual to see if I could do the job with less. In the end, I still had to make a second batch but I'm pretty sure that even with the second batch I probably did use a little less than I normally do.  I really like the possibility that I could be using less product weekly and achieve equal or better results. 

No residual contamination Cross contamination is a big deal in the restaurant world.  One wrong move and you can be making hundreds of people sick.  Same goes for our hair. I was using one applicator brush for touch ups and deep conditioning. Even though I washed the brush out with neutralizing shampoo, I still couldn't help but wonder if traces of the chemical relaxer remained on the brush without my knowing about it.  With the sprush, the product rinses clean away without the fear of small traces of product hiding behind the bristles or in other crevices.  Once it's cleaned, it's cleaned.

Long lasting The picture below shows my two applicator brushes, the one with the dark bristles is damaged from repeated use.  It likely suffered the effects of having repeated contact with chemical relaxers.  The one on the right is a new one I purchased to replace "old faithful."  I have no doubt that in the future, the white brush will eventually meet the same fate as it's predecessor.  But when I look closely at the sprush, I'm pretty confident that they'll last forever.  So even though, they cost a little more up front, I get my money's worth in the long run.

 I was never aware of this until I got the sprush, but look how much space is between the bristles of my old brushes. Looking back, I think this can promote the likelihood of uneven application (especially during deep conditioning).  When I applied by product with the sprush, I noticed that the product was pretty evenly distributed throughout that section of hair.  The only drawback was that I had to re-dip my sprush and reapply conditioner when I got to the ends of my hair.  Because my ends are a bit thinner than the rest of my hair, the green sprush wasn't able to flex to the change in hair thickness. Bristled brushes offer a little more flexibility.

One I finished applying conditioner with my sprush, I allowed the conditioner to marinate under a plastic cap overnight.  The next morning, I washed and roller set.  I'm not lying when I say that I lost the least amount of hair during the roller set than I have in a very long time.   Was it because I deep conditioned overnight or did the sprush have something to do with it? Perhaps everything worked together like a musical symphony to create a wonderful masterpiece.  Either way, I'm very pleased and I can't wait to take these babies for a spin on relaxer day. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The story began with a trip to TJ Maxx.  I was in need of a pair of sandals after my favorite pair came up missing.  As I strolled down the aisle of the random shoe assortment available, my eyes caught a glimpse of a cute hot pink pair of shoes that looked just like these.  I'm not really a hot pink kinda gal so I asked the cashier to see if a black pair were available.  After calling several stores in the area with no luck, I left empty handed.

My next move was to do what I do best, I put all of my mental energies towards attracting those sandals into my life.  I don't think two weeks past before I stumbled upon what looked like a similar pair (a replica if you will) at Target...in black!  The Mossimo brand sandals cost only $15.00. Compare that to the nearly $70.00 price tag for the Dolce Vita and I knew what I had to do.  Immediately I grabbed them bad boys and went on my merry way.

I wore them around the house for the weekend before taking them outdoors.  That's when I realized that  the Mossimo brand weren't that comfortable to wear when walking longer distances.  It felt like the Mossimo shoes didn't offer that much support for my heal.  Then my mind started to flash back to when I had the hot pink Dolce Vita sandals.  They felt so incredibly comfortable when I tried them on.  I couldn't get that out of my head.

That's when I decided to take the plunge and get the real deal.  This time I went online so I could make sure I could get the exact color and size I wanted.   I squealed like child when they arrived. Turns out that these Dolce Vita Archer Sandals run a about a half size bigger so I purchased an 8 instead of my usual 8 1/2.     I slipped them on and immediately felt the difference in quality.  They fit like a glove. Turns out that the Dolce Vita sandals had even more differences from the Mossimo brand than I  first realized.

Earlier I said "they" arrived, that's because I actually ordered two pair of this fabulous footwear.  Since I don't own any decent neutral sandals I decided to  also pick them up in beige.  I love these archers so much that I now regret not taking the risk of grabbing the hot pink pair that first led me on this mission.  Overall, I have no regrets even though I bought the pair with a lesser quality.  Sure, if I could do it all over again, I'd probably wouldn't have grabbed the Mossimo brand and, instead, go straight for the Archers. But since the Mossimos are here, I'll use them more on a daily basis and save the Dolce Vitas for when I want to dress my look up (in an effortless and casual way).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


For the first time-ever, SoftSheen-Carson® Dark and Lovely®, the #1 ethnic haircare global brand, will partner with BET.com, the leading online provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience, to present the hottest award show ticket this fall, the third annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ Award Show.

We Know You Rock, Now Rock With Us”, for a chance to win an all-expense trip for two to New York City to attend the third annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Award Show and a celebrity glam makeover by the SoftSheen-Carson Style Squad. The contest begins on July 2nd and ends on September 15th.

The show honors trailblazers across generations including celebrities, role models and civil activists. In 2011 honorees and performers included Angela Davis, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Tatyana Ali, Shirley Caesar, Taraji P.Henson and Lala Anthony. Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King served as the show’s hosts.

"The BET, BLACK GIRLS ROCK” Award Show continues to celebrate the best and brightest women of color from around the globe,” stated Jerry Densk, Vice President of Marketing, SoftSheen-Carson Dark and Lovely. “We are proud to partner with BET.com to support dynamic women who break barriers and inspire others to become extraordinary role models.”
For a chance to win the sweepstakes which includes a trip for 2, two tickets to the award show, plus a makeover, consumers must visit www.bet.com/darkandlovely.com and simply provide a name and email address.

For official contest rules, please visit bet.com/darkandlovely.com. No purchase necessary.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm really excited to share this giveaway sponsored by Hair Ecstasy brand! They were generous enough to provide not one, but three products in their line to one lucky winner. 

 The complete giveaway package will include:
  • Virgin Hair Fertilizer (for the hair, scalp, and new growth)
  • Argan oil hair polisher
  • Hair Mayonnaise deep conditioning treatment

In order to get your hands on these products, all you have to do is:
The winner will be selected randomly via email and will be contacted on Sunday September 2, 2012. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I've heard it said, several times before, that what we see today is the result of the decisions we made in the past.  How we cared for our hair, our bodies, our finances in the past is visible to us right now.  If, months ago, we decided to work out consistently, we'd be experiencing a fitter body today.  For this reason, I've decided to up my supplementation game.  Winter is around the corner and (much like a polar bear who stocks up on fatty fish for hibernation season) I want to be prepared.

You might have remembered this post depicting the growth cycles of our hair during the various seasons of the year.  Fall and winter are the two seasons where growth slows and shedding increases.  Three months from now, I want to be sprouting healthy, vibrant hair.  That's where the GNC Hair Skin and Nails program steps in.  I've had a pretty stressful last few months and I can clearly see where this has taken a toll on my hair and my overall appearance.  I'm so ready now to make a positive effort to shift my current reality. 

The hair skin and nails program was highly attractive to me because it's a "program".  In one box, I get an entire system that includes Evening Primrose Oil, Collagen for healthy skin, and the Hair Skin and Nails formula.  One week has passed since I bought this and so far I haven't missed one day.  I think it has something to do with the fact that we get enough product to last a full 30 days.  I feel like I shouldn't miss one day while on the "program"which motivates me to stay consistent.  There just so happened to be a buy one get one 50% off sale so I picked up two boxes. I'll probably pick up another box because I want to go at least a full 90 days (at least) to receive the full benefits.  It also helps that these pills are really easy to take. They aren't the gigantic horse pills I remember taking years ago when I tried the Ultra Nourish Hair.

  Sometimes I tend to get all excited about something, try it for a little while, then move on to the next.  With this, my plan is to stay as consistent as possible.  The amount of nutritional benefit in each serving is a source of motivation for me.  After checking out the nutritional facts, I was pretty pleased with the wide variety of healthy ingredients available in this nifty program.  Here a just some of the few listed:
  •  MSM
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Horsetail (silica)
  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Collagen
  • Vitamin A, C, D, E
  • Biotin
  • Calcium
I didn't really get this for hair growth. My true intention was to impact my nails and lashes.  Honestly, I've never been able to get my nails to the level they were when I "rubbed" consistently.  They grow, then they break.  The length you see in the picture above is right about where I typically land.  I'd like to have strong healthy nails all the freakin' time!  Oh, and don't get me started about my non-existent lashes.  I would give up a couple inches of hair just to have full, lengthy lashes.  The shots below are kinda like my "before" shots.  Actually, they are longer than they've been in the past (pathetic huh?)  I'm riding the wave of my newly visible lashes with nutritional support and we'll see what happens.  

There's also the stress that I have to deal with.  For the past few months, my thinking hasn't been as powerful as it could be and I know that it's taken its toll on me. Incorporating exercise back into my life should help but I have to take a more active role in creating the ideal environment and the results I desire.  Three months from now, we'll be in mid November. The weather will have changed, time will have passed, and I'll be glad I made the decisions I did today.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This week I did something I haven't done in quite a while, I colored my hair black. A week prior, I stopped at the beauty supply store to pick up one of my oldie but goodie products, Coppola Intense Rx. While browsing the shelves, my eyes landed on a tube of Sebastian's Cellophanes clear rinse.  I didn't purchase it because of the $40.00 price tag. But as days passed, I couldn't get the memories of past reviews of this product off my mind.

Years ago, Sebastian's clear rinse was the talk of hair forums.  But back then, I wasn't really able to find this product on store shelves. The only other time I saw clear rinse was when I visited a beauty store in Los Angeles. Wondering if this would be my last opportunity to try this product, I convinced myself to go back to the store.  Wouldn't you know it, by the time I returned, the last tube of clear rinse was gone.

So I summoned one of the managers asking him to see if another tube was waiting just for me in the back.  This wasn't the case.  So instead the guy walks me over to a different area and recommended this brand as an alternative.

Since the Mastey Temporelle was on sale, I decided to pick up two for the price of one Sebastian Cellophane clear rinse.  Before I selected these bottles I whipped out my phone in hopes of reading a few reviews online.  Lo and behold I couldn't find hardly any experiences of this product shared online.  I should have took this as a sign.

I mixed both the black and clear rinse together and applied per the instructions.  Also, by mixing the two, the dark color intesity was lessened a bit which is exactly what I intended. There were too many instances, in the past, when I applied a black rinse only to have the black color come out too dark and unnatural looking.

Overall, I'm pretty dissatisfied with the outcome.  This stuff dried out my hair like crazy.  The color, however, is pretty natural. I don't look like I dyed my hair. The color is just a bit darker and richer, that's all.  So now I gotta work to elevate moisture levels back in my hair.  When I wash again in a couple of days, I'll pay very close attention to the pre-poo and deep conditioning step.  I've got a ton of this stuff left and yet I have no desire to use it  ever again.  In two weeks from now, I should be receiving a call from the beauty store manager with a message that my tube of Sebastian has arrived.  I'm hoping  that my experience with Sebastian's rinse will be a totally different from the Mastey rinse and I'll be able to give it a proper review.  Has anyone used the Sebastian rinse? What are your thoughts?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nothing like a striking image to bring us quickly into reality. For me, the images happen to be of highly fit women to take amazing care of their fabulous bodies. I'm just really getting into this social media trend so one thing I started doing was following some of my fitness inspirations online. One of those people just happened to be Pilar Sandars. Crazy divorce drama aside, this woman has an incredible physique. The pic below is an obvious reminder of the outcome of one's dedication to her habit of physical fitness.
I have been trying (fairly unsuccessfully) to cultivate this habit of regular exercise for quite some time. My dad is a fitness buff and, for as long as I can remember, this man has had a six pack and strong arms. I wish his type of discipline could have passed down to me as easily as the facial features we share. It's like the people who work out do it with such consistency that living life any other way is not an option.

Take Melyssa ford for example. She shared the pic above on her instagram page with a caption that reads: "AM gym flow after 3 hours of sleep." I don't know about you, but after 3 hours of sleep, the VERY last thing on my mind would be doing some leg exercises. #realtalk. So how does one become so committed to their health and fitness that it becomes a way of life? Last month, I listened to an audio book called The Power of Habit. In it, the author gave some really compelling examples of how habits are formed and then evolve to become so deeply ingrained in us that we sometimes have no control. These women who push their bodies to the point where it has no choice but to conform, aren't doing it because it's fun. As a matter of fact, Nicole Murphy, who has a darn near perfect frame, posted the words "it don't come easy" along side of a pick of her and some friends at the gym.  They don't do it for the fun, they do it because it's a deeply rooted habit.

In the Power of Habit book, I recall the author discussing the reward that one receives following a new action as a factor of how quickly that action becomes a habit. The greater the reward, the more likely we are to repeat the action. Unfortunately, for us, the reward for physical activity is rarely instant. Sure, there's that whole thing about chemicals being released during a work out that mimic eating chocolate or falling in love. Sadly, those chemical sensations are competing with the loud voice that tells me to stop or the sore muscles that beg me to remain sedentary. I know for a fact that these women do what they do because they receive numerous rewards. For one, they get to walk around knowing that they have the kind of body that 95% of the population would want. They pretty much will look great in anything. And I'm sure the chemical reactions that create that "work out high" are so strong that someone like Melyssa is willing to forget the fact that she only slept for 3 hours the night before.


 Now I'm at the point,once again, where I'm ready to recommit to a lifestyle of fitness rather than my current routine of running to the gym whenever things start to get too jiggly. My desire is to become my own source of inspiration. In everything we do there are the visible results and the non-visible. The visible results of me working out consistently should be obvious. But there will also be the impact to my confidence and my overall outlook on life. The book labeled exercise as a "keystone habit." Meaning that this habit has the ability to positively impact other areas of our lives. For example, someone who starts working out consistently also begins to make healthier eating choices. That person also suddenly becomes more confident or better organized. These secondary habits develop without the conscious effort required in the first habit. Keystone habits are very much like the unexpected "get one free" item received at a shoe sale.

 (protective stylin' it while I get my workout on)

So here I am, ready to make this thing real. I've been fit before and that feeling is amazing. There's nothing like that feeling of when I'm walking down the street knowing that my tummy is flat and I'm the proud owner of ab cuts. It's completely different than trying to strategically hide my belly under baggy shirts. In the past,  I didn't associate a reward with my habit to keep it alive. This time, I'll try incorporating a reward into the process and see what I can create.  Perhaps my reward could be a smoothie from the juice bar right next to my gym.  I'll think of something. Either way, I'm excited about this new found desire to create a new me.  Those of you who are consistently working out, how do you do it?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I'm attracted to everything about summer. The longer days, the warm sunshine on my skin...all of it. Unfortunately, my work schedule has blocked me from enjoying this wonderful time of year. This is the first weekend in ages where I could actually enjoy the time off.

So I did what anyone would do in my situation, I finally went outside.  I slid on my favorite jeans that I've had for years topped it with a sheer blouse  from Forever 21.
A faux herringbone necklace completed the look.

I allowed my hair to fall on my shoulders in loose curls created using flexi rods.  Not quite sure how long the curls will hold but I'm enjoying the moment while it lasts.  I hope to have many more summer moments like these before fall arrives.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It all began about a week ago.  While browsing through some stunning pics on someone's blog,  I fell in love with an image of a meal this blogger enjoyed in the days prior.  By the looks for it, her meal, was probably consumed at some fancy restaurant.  Not only did it look tasty, it was visually stunning.

The very next moment I made the decision to try to replicate this dish.  On Sundays my husband and I like to sometimes enjoy brunch at a local eatery.  The food is wonderful but the cost adds up after a while. So I thought to myself, "this could be the opportunity to save a few dollars while flexing my skills in the kitchen". Immediately, I began assessing the ingredients I would need to create this meal.

Salmon? Check! Hash browns? Check! Leafy greens? Check! Eggs for poaching?......

Getting a hold of some eggs would be easy but I had never in my life poached an egg.  I pretty much like to enjoy my eggs in the same way. Something about runny eggs never appealed to me so learning how to make poached eggs was never a priority.

Once I'd made the decision, I didn't think twice about my lack of skill in the area of egg poaching.  The only thing I knew was that I had to move forward and turn this desire into a reality.  I told myself that on the next Sunday morning, I'd be creating this meal and that was it. 

Sunday came and I knew what I had to do.  After taking assessment of the elements needed to prepare this creation, I realized that I was missing a few items.  One trip to the store took care of that.  After arriving back home, I went to work.

I stumbled around a bit in the kitchen before I was able to produce the finished product.  I felt all warm and fuzzy inside about my completed dish.  Finally, the moment came when I was able to share the meal with my husband.  Minutes later, he looked at me and said, "this is better than the restaurant."  I'm not sure I completely agree with him, but I was proud of the result none the less.

As I finished up my meal, I had somewhat of an epiphany.   I felt like I learned a lesson from this experience.  A few days earlier, my attention was caught by a visually stunning image, next thing I knew, the image was a reality.  Can I use the same process to bring other things I desire into reality as well?  So I thought back and retraced my steps.  How did I get here?

The moment I laid my eyes on the image. I knew I wanted to have it.  I wanted it so bad that started planning it out in my head right away.   There's a difference between "liking" something and "wanting it."  When I'm at the mall, I may see something and say, "this is nice, I really like this."  But that isn't as powerful as when I say "I want this, I'm gonna get it."

After connecting with image of the dish I wanted, I immediately told my husband of my plan to prepare this dish.  In doing so, I was expressing my intention to bring this meal into reality.  By verbally expressing my intention to him, I already began the process of creation.  I also told him exactly when I would prepare it.  This is like saying, "I'm going to the gym on Tuesday" versus "I need to go to the gym."

Sunday came.  The moment I woke up that morning, I knew it was about to go down.  I made no excuses nor did I allow any distractions to get in the way.  I didn't try talk myself out of it.  I got up, went to the store and that was it.  All of my actions that morning were correlated to the outcome I wanted to create.

Throughout the process, I nearly burned the potatoes, I dropped a poached egg on the floor, and I screwed up the first batch of hollandaise sauce.  Yet I let none of that deter me from getting to my goal.  With every set back, I learned from it, and just kept moving forward.  Egg on the floor? No problem, I'll just make another one.  It's all about getting to finally taste the meal that I so longed for. Nothing else. The goal is all that matters.

The process of poaching egg and sauteing salmon did so much more than just satisfy my hunger, it taught me a lesson in life.  From now on, if I see something that I'd like to create (no matter what it is), instead of thinking "wouldn't that be nice" I'll ask, "what will I do to create this?"

Eggs Benedict with Salmon Recipe
  • 1 salmon fillet (I used a frozen fillet purchased at Sam's Club)
  • Ore Ida frozen potatoes 
  • Leafy greens of your choice
  • Eggs
  • Hollandiase sauce mix (purchased at Walmart. For the more adventurous types, the recipe to make it form scratch is here.)
  • Pink salt and pepper to taste.
  • Butter
  • Vinegar
-Season your salmon with salt, pepper, parsley to taste
-Start by cooking the potatoes on the skillet to your liking.  I prefer my potatoes a little crispy.
-Once potatoes are 10-15 minutes from completion, melt a little butter in the skillet and place salmon in the pan on medium heat.
-If making instant hollandaise, begin preparing the sauce by following the recipe.
-In a  separate pot, prepare the water by warming it to the right temperature required to poach the egg (hot but not boiling). Add a little vinegar to the water.

If all goes well, the potatoes and salmon should be ready at around the same time.  Turn of heat and allow ingredients to remain in pan to maintain temperature.  Poach the egg by carefully dropping a raw egg into the warm water ( first, I cracked the egg into a cup then use the cup to carefully place the egg into the water. Using the cup gives you a little more control, making the process a little easier).  Allow the eggs to begin cooking in the warm water for a few minutes.  Plate potatoes, salmon and leafy greens.  Scoop out with slotted spoon and allow the water to drain from the egg.  Place egg on top of salmon, top with salt/pepper and hollandaise and voila!

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