Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Something about warmer weather makes the desire to sport an all over glow mandatory.   If light isn't easily reflected from your legs, arms and cheek bones, you aren't fully taking part in the summer tradition.  Now, I'm giving you even more pressure by mandating that shimmery lips are also a must.  The other day I stumbled upon this photo on Pinterest and was stopped dead in my tracks.  It was like rays of sunshine were being reflected off her lips.  

How could I go another day without having this lip color in my collection?  Days later I visited the closest MAC store to pick up Brown Script eye shadow and the Mineral Skin Finish.  While there I requested to test the Nympette lip gloss

The girl helping made direct eye contact and longingly proclaimed. "I loooove that color."  She quickly handed me the small tube of gloss and made her way to the back in search of the right shade of Skin Finish.  In preparation for their store remodel, they temporarily occupied a smaller location at the far end of the mall.  Unlike their previous store, they didn't have the bright lights and endless mirrors for me to properly assess the loveliness of the gloss.  Never mind the fact that this temporary location had black walls which didn't allow for any of the amazing light reflection I anticipated.  By the time she returned, I was heart broken and had to inform her that I'd be passing on the lip glass  

After settling in my car I took a quick glance in the mirror to see how the Mineralized Skin Finish looked in natural light.  But immediately, my eyes were drawn to the soft goldish reflection on my lips.  "Hmmm,"  I thought, I really like this.  I flipped the mirror back up and continued my journey home.  At every stoplight I took the opportunity to glance at my subtle glowing lips.  The more I looked, the more I fell in love.  This why I must make MAC Nymphette mine

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just last week, I finally shared my initial experience with KhairPep. A line that contains peptides that allegedly bring hair back to a much healthier state.  I mentioned, from my first experience, that I received some tangling.  But even with that as an obstacle, I still thought it was a decent product overall.

Then, in the comments, something was brought to my attention that I didn't realize.  The person inquired about why I washed the product out when the directions state otherwise. Once I read that comment I reached for my jar and read the back label.  Wouldn't you know it, I used the product like a conditioner instead of like a leave-in as intended.  Immediately I knew that I'd have to do a follow up review as soon as I tried KhairPep again the way it was intended.

I did my usual routine of applying deep conditioner to dry hair. After rinsing, I towel dried t-shirt dried until my hair was 50% dry.  Then I proceeded to lightly detangle.  Once done, I rubbed a little KhairPep between my hands and applied all over (concentrating on the ends).  After letting it sit for a few moments, I rubbed in some Nexxus Promend leave-in cream to help seal split ends (or any cuticle lifting as a result of the ingredients in Khairpep).  Finally,  I applied a few spritz of Biolage Keratindose and placed in a ponytail.

The early consensus is that this second experience was way different from the first.  No massive tangling. None of that.  In fact, overall my ends feel strengthened and I'm getting very little breakage when I manipulate.  When they started to feel a little dry, I just rubbed in a little Aveda daily hair repair and went on my merry little way. Come to think of it, I'm actually glad Khairpep is a leave-in.  There's something to be said about a powerful ingredient being left in the hair to do it's job.  Not to mention that it's going to last me waaaaay longer using a little on damp hair than applying as a regular conditioner.

Once again, I'm thankful to the reader who left a comment guiding me in the right direction.  Because of her, I had a completely different experience with the product.  I couldn't be happier.


Monday, April 28, 2014

If there's one thing I would love to conquer, it's the ability to maintain consistencies in some of my habits.  Too often I start doing something, experience the benefits of doing regular action, then stop.

Once the routine is broken, the negative results start to appear, then suddenly I'm motivated to start all over again. The problem with all of this is, by the time I get started again, I have to put in much more energy in order to get the results I want.
Let me give you a few examples:

Example 1:  I develop a skin care routine that keeps breakouts at bay.  Soon my skin clears up and I am able to make progress on past scarring.  Time passes and I don't maintain the habit.  My skin starts breaking out again and I bring back the habit. Now I have to deal with current blemishes, past scars plus the new scars that have formed from recent breakouts.

Example 2:  After putting a lot of time and effort on eating right and working out, my body is fit and toned. Suddenly I slack on my workouts and, before you know it, I've regained those stupid 10 lbs that I fought so hard to lose and I have to (once again) go through that torturous time at the start of a workout journey when exercising is the most difficult.

Example 3:  An entire day is set aside to tackle an area of the house that is over run with random clutter.  Hours later, I emerge victorious from the mound of useless items to a new, organized environment.  I vow to never let this happen again by practicing regular brief declutter sessions.  Things go well for a while.  Several months later, I find myself face to face with a similar obstacle all over again.

Those are just a few. There are many more that we can discuss. The point is that we invest a lot of effort at the start of any new habit before we see the results.  Once achieved, much less effort is required to maintain or even obtain better results.  Maintaining a habit is difficult because of the level of resistance one has to overcome.  That's the real challenge.

So how can we do it?  The answer may be a little different for everyone but one suggestion I have is to look back at any habit you've been able to keep consistently and try to replicate the process.  For example, I picked up the habit of scrubbing my feet with a pumice stone at the end of every shower for years.  I never have to worry about motivating myself to do it (or being inconsistent). Why?
1. I attached that habit with something else I do every day (showering).
2. I know exactly when to do it (at the end of my shower just before I get out).
3. It takes little time or effort (about 15 seconds per foot).
4. I am rewarded every time I do it (I see the dead skin on the stone which serves as confirmation that I accomplished something by scrubbing).

I pretty much made it so simple that there's no guess work around it.

With other habits, I've had to think too much about when to do it, how to fit it in, remembering to do it, etc.  The habits I fail to maintain do not have system to reinforce their success.  For example.  As I write I'm sitting under my Micromist enjoying a steam session.  What if I were to plug in my facial steamer and use them simultaneously.  Then I would be reminded to do a skin steam session every wash day.  Otherwise, I might forget.  What if I chose to do 15 minutes of exercise before I jump into the shower every day?  The goal would be to break a sweat and the reward could be enjoying a refreshing shower after each session.  Or I could declutter for 10 minutes every time I walked in a room that I'd be spending time in.  The reward could be to enjoy an environment that is cleaner/more organized every time that I am in it.

The point of all of this is to figure out a way to NEVER STOP.  To keep going even if I only invest 10-15 minutes a day.  Those 15 minutes are immensely important and will save me a lot of time in the future. It's like putting away $50.00 in an account every paycheck for something special versus having to figure out a way to come up with a few thousand dollars  all at once.  The amount of effort required to muster up those thousands of dollars will far exceed the same person who has been consistent week after week

Let's not be the person who is constantly struggling to maintain our goals.  Let's become the type of people who value consistency and the real benefits that come with it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

After catching a glimpse of Rihanna at a recent basketball game, I immediately fell in love with her look. To me the entire outfit represents a perfect marriage of simplicity and the bold.

Her high waisted distressed jeans make the biggest statement of her entire look.  Then, to build on the simplicity, she opts for a nude heel instead of a bold a shoe.  I love how she chose a herringbone necklace which is simple in it's design while making a dramatic statement.  Notice how Rihanna chose a simple, natural face with a bold lip.  I can't say  for sure but I bet she's rocking her beloved RiRi Woo by  MAC.  A clutch is probably the most simplistic of handbags but tonight she turned it up a notch with a currency print.

Wearing + Citizens of Humanity Distressed Denim + Herring Bone Necklace + MAC RiRi WOO + Nude Ankle Strap Heels + White Cami + Statement Clutch

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Part of my mission here at Relaxed Hair Health, is to uncover new technologies and products that bring health to our hair.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  Sometimes these innovations aren't widely publicized so I have to search far and wide to increase my learning.   Today we discuss the wonders of "Internal Wool Lipids" and how they can help bring chemically treated hair closer to it's natural state.

Our hair structure contains lipids that help keep our cuticle layer strong and healthy.  If our cuticle layer is compromised, only bad can come of it.  Hair loses lipids from shampooing, combing, exposure to UV rays, and chemical treatments such as dying the hair or relaxing it.  They've discovered the sheep's wool has internal lipids that closely resemble that of our hair.  Researchers tested the effects of applying internal wool lipid (IWL) to samples to permed, bleached, relaxed and untreated hair.  Once applied, the four samples were each tested for lipid content, moisture retention/water content and mechanical strength.  All the samples treated with IWL experienced an increase in lipids. Which means that all hair types can benefit from this whether virgin or damaged hair.   As you would imagine, relaxed hair absorbed the highest amount of all the four.  In another document I found online, they concluded that "tests show that the internal wool lipid extracts, when applied to the hair showed an improvement to the mechanical properties (strength) of both undamaged and damaged hair.  IWL  also has the capacity for reinforcing the lipid layer of human hair and measurably improving the degree of hydration."

While reading all of this, I became present to the fact that my mouth began to water with excitement.  Instantly I remembered when I first discovered functional keratin which is derived from wool and is said to look almost identical to our natural keratin in the hair.  I already have Paul Mitchell Awapuhi, but, something deep down still craved access to a professional strength version of this amazing technology.   Since we're so far ahead in the game, this stuff isn't as easy to access.  I had to go to the other part of world to finally get my hands on some professional level functional keratin.

bhave is a brand out of Australia.  They boast of having the only commercially available fully functional keratin protein extracted from New Zealand wool.  It took a while but I finally found a vendor on Ebay that offered the bhave brand.  It was quite an investment but I took the plunge and ordered the intense repair shampoo, conditioner and the rescue intense repair treatment.  When I looked at the ingredient list of the rescue treatment,  I was overcome with joy.
 Only 6 ingredients and the Functional Keratin was listed second after water.  That is some potent stuff right there.   The conditioner also has the functional keratin high on the list along with argan oil and grapeseed oil.   Although my hair has been "behaving" for the most part, I like to expose it to various types of strengtheners from time to time just to make sure all of my bases are covered.

Since these products are so pricey, I have a strategy on how to make it last as long as possible.  I'll probably won't use all three together for fear of protein overload and to avoid redundancy.  Most likely, I'll rotate them.  I can use the shampoo on days when I want a little protein for maintenance.  The conditioner can be used bi-weekly or as needed. And the treatment post relaxer or once a month.

Lookout for a review in the future.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Friday!  I woke up to some good news and thought I'd love to share with you.  Remember my post featuring Playsuits?  It seems like each time I see someone wearing a cute one, the person found it on and, by the time I get there, the style I want is sold out.

Today I just so happen to stop by and was filled with joy to find a huge sale taking place featuring up to 60% off dresses and playsuits. Unfortunately, I didn't find that perfect long sleeved playsuit I so desire.  But I did come away with another crave of mine.  For a while now, I've been on the lookout for a lace dress.  Finding one on sale was more than I could have asked for.  I picked a little lace skater dress with beige/nude "leather like" trim detail.
 What attracts me about the trim is how it breaks up the all black dress and allows me the opportunity to rock nude heels or my cream classic bag.  My mind was made once I realized that shipping would be free.

Can't wait till it gets here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's time for a follow up to the KhairPep post I wrote a couple of months back.  This product was a rare find thanks to a reader who introduced us.  The company was kind enough to offer samples when I reached out to them to ask questions about the product.

I was beyond excited to expose my hair to this new peptide that claimed to restore the hair to a much healthier state.  The caveat was how the hair follicle required opening in order for deeper penetration of the peptide by the strand. Cool, I thought, let me give it a shot.

Prior to using Khairpep, my hair was doing fine.  No major issues to report.  So I didn't take any precautions to protect the hair.  I was complacent.  Perhaps this was my downfall.  I voilated one of the laws of Avoiding Setbacks, "Be Prepared."  I just thought I could use Khairpep, get all of the wonderful benefits, then go on with my washday routine like normal.  Not quite.

The Khairpep applied like a normal conditioner.  I have no complaints about the product itself.  After rinsing, I added another moisturizing conditioner (while in the shower) and left on a few minutes before rinsing.  My hair felt pretty moisturized.  Then I went on to roller set like normal after applying leave in.  Unfortunately at the time, I did not know the wonders of Biolage Keratin Dose so I didn't have the help I needed to avoid what was to come....

It appears as if I did a faulty job of sealing my cuticle layer again after the treatment.  The results?  My hair was highly tangled.  When wet, my hair is relatively curly, especially in the under processed areas.  Curly hair already has a tendency to tangle. So you imagine what happens when the cuticles rub against each other. It was pretty frustrating.  But what was interesting was that, even though my hair was so tangled, it still was highly elastic which meant limited breakage.  I guess the Khairpep did it's job of increasing elasticity and strength but I only wish I didn't have the tangles to deal with.

I blame myself.  I knew what I was getting into but didn't take the right precautions.  If I could do it all over again I would do the following.
  • After washing out the Khairpep, I would have used ample amounts of Nexxus' Promend. My hope is that Promend would use the same technology that seals split ends to lay my cuticles down. 
  • I would have deep conditioned with a moisturizing conditioner longer. Versus leaving the Khairpep for a long time then using a different conditioner for a shorter time period. 
  • I would have rinsed my hair with ACV or Coconut Vinegar to bring the pH levels back in balance.
  • Then I would have rinsed with cold water to ensure my cuticles are sealed.
  • I would have loaded up on ceramide containing products to help the cuticle layer lay flat.
  • Finally, I'd keep Keratindose nearby in case tangles wanted to show their stupid face. 
Hindsight is 2020.  Although the tangles were bad, I was able to correct and get my cuticle layers back in check within 1-2 washes .  Once my hair was back to normal, I still got to enjoy the increased level of strength and elasticity for weeks on end.  Overall, I think Khairpep is a great product.  I do think my hair benefited from the active ingredient but it takes a little more work to make sure you bring your hair back to it's previous state.  

I'm actually glad I got to experience what I did because it reminded me of the importance of creating a smooth cuticle layer.  So now, even when I don't use the Khairpep, I've reintroduced my hair to the techniques above on wash days  just because it makes sense.

               (note worthy products that contain ceramides, help bring the hair in pH balance, or are just good for your hair :).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MAC Brown Script

Over time, I've seen a dramatic increase in my makeup collection.  I'm proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone to experiment with different brands and products.  But, on the other hand, I'm a little overwhelmed by all of it.  
Finally I decided to reach out for some help.  Luckily for me, I just so happen to cross paths with a make up artist over a year ago and made sure keep in touch.  Two weekends ago we met up for a 1 on 1 personal consultation.  She was amazing and provided me great tips that made a huge difference in how I apply my makeup from now on.  She made two recommendations that I immediately acquired.  One was MAC's Brown Script as a transition color on my upper lid.  Brown Script is the beautiful reddish brown that I've been looking for all my life.  I absolutely love it.  

Another recommend was the MAC's Mineralize SkinFinish in Deep Dark.  It's this light powder that all the youtube gurus rave about it.  Why, oh why did I wait so long to get this?  The SkinFinish gives my face this soft, subtle glow that looks amazing. I love how understated it is.  Although it appears subtle, it's still there.  I will be rocking this on a daily basis.  If you've been on the fence about whether you should invest in SkinFinish.  Stop it.  This is a no brainer.  
Mac Mineralize Skinfinish Deep Dark
After learning of the Filigree trend from our girl over at the Label Addict, I wanted an entry level piece to join in the fun.  So I picked up these amazing pair of earrings from Sheinside for only $3.99. What I appreciate about these earrings is how they make a statement without being gaudy.  Plus they are really light and look like they cost more than the actually do. 
Last but, certainly not least, I'm happy to announce that I have a second addition to my Misto collection.  Why on earth do I need two of these things?  Great question, I have specific plans to utilize the second Misto sprayer to house my Mega Omega oil blend.  That mix was amazing and I'd love to experience it as a light mist.  On thing that amazes me about the Misto is how long the oils last before I need a refill.  This will make pricier oils more cost effective since they'll last much longer now.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Every so often, I'll get some questions on how to grow a blog and develop it into an income stream.  I share all the details in my Blogging 101 Guide. Even though I've learned from experience and written about it in the Blogging Guide, I still like to keep learning from those who've had phenomenal success with their blogs.  Today I'd like to share a quick video I stumbled upon over the weekend.  It's a quick Q&A from a popular fashion blogger Jacey Duprie of Damsel in Dior.  I love this video because it provides a lot of great tips in rapid fire style.  Pay close attention as she answers questions such as:

  • What is the best way to create traffic for my blog?
  • How to balance work and life while running a blog full time.
  • How to take great pictures for my blog.
  • How can I make money off my blog when I'm starting out?
  • How to maintain a blog while working full time.

I've watched a few times since I first stumbled upon it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The warmer it gets, the more I tend reach for shoe choices that expose my feet.  I'm kinda of a simple gal opting for basics in the spring and summer.  Occasionally I may wear a fancy maxi dress but, for the most part, my outfits can use a little something extra to add a little glam to my looks.

This is precisely the reason why I'm officially on the hunt for an amazing pair of embellished sandals.  Incidentally, sandals are pretty much part of my uniform from now until fall comes back around, so why not rock a pair that make my feet look loved and adored?  If all the stars align, I hope to have a few pairs of "glammed-up sandals" in rotation by summer.  Even in jeans and a white tee, a perfect pair of pretty sandals can elevate my look from basic, to being one of those people who actually care what they look like when they leave the house.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For as long as I can remember, I've always been a proponent of supporting a hair journey with proper diet and nutrition.  We've discussed everything from loaded smoothies to silica rich bamboo tea to antioxidant rich black rice.

My latest acquisition was a 30 day supply of It Works' hair, skin and nails complex.  It's from those same people who brought us the Body Wrap.  I was first made aware of this product at a friend's "Wrap Party."  A week later, she generously offered me a bottle to try.  I'm really excited because there are quite a few before and after pics on instagram where people seem to gain inches really quickly.  I'll dedicate a separate post on this product once I've tested it for a few weeks.
Somehow, I found myself wandering into in a GNC store the other day just to see if they had anything new and interesting.  The first thing that caught my eye was the last remaining package of Beauty Bursts.  Incidentally, they were running a "buy one get one 50% off sale."  Immediately, I ask the sales guy to check in the back for another package.  He comes back empty handed.  Instead of getting frustrated, I express gratitude to at least have the one.  Beauty Bursts are so tasty and I noticed a difference in my skin when I take them.  It's one of my favorite products because it satisfies my sweet tooth and supports my hair & skin.  I'm replacing my Kind Bars with these bursts whenever my sweet tooth starts acting up.  
Since they were all out of Beauty Bursts, I had to find a suitable substitute to get the lower price.  The sales guy asks me to walk up to the front with him where he introduces me to chewable biotin!  Immediately, I think back to when I first learned of hair, skin, and nail gummies through Instagram. After sampling one of the biotin chews I immediately make the purchase.  Tastes amazing!  And with 5,000 mcg of biotin per chew, it's like swallowing a biotin pill (but more pleasurable).  I almost feel guilty getting my hair, skin and nails fix by chewing on a piece of candy.

 By the time we hit 25, our bodies begin to lose about 1.25% of collagen production per year.  Collagen supplements act as a stimulant that helps our collagen building system to produce (regenerate) collagen at a faster rate.  When our body senses that addition of collagen in our blood stream (via supplementation), it interprets the influx of collagen as our body breaking down large amounts of collagen.  When this happens, it sends a signal to our body to produce more because it thinks our collagen stores are breaking down rapidly. So essentially it's a "stimulant" of sorts.  Our skin is comprised of 75% collagen so it's imperative that we maintain healthy levels to have the appearance of youthful skin.

The root of our hair is surrounded by a structure comprised of collagen. As our collagen production drops, our hair begins to thin.  The root also becomes weaker which can promote excess shedding (hair fall).  The claims of NeoCell is that taking collagen can actually thicken the hair shaft by 36-45%. One of the NeoCell representatives even threw out a challenge to have us cut one of our hair strands at the root.  Take collagen for serval months, then cut a new strand of hair and look at the difference in thickness.  He claims that we can visibly see a difference.   I reflect back to my hair analysis when the consultant was going on and on about how thick my hair is.  I wonder if my consistent collagen intake has anything to do with it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In all of my years of blogging this is the first post that ever came to me as a result of a dream.  The idea came to me as I was transitioning from dreamworld to reality.  It relates to a current hair concern that I'm dealing with.  The issue I'm referring to is the "V."  It's when you are experiencing length but instead of it being full thick, like a blunt cut or in the shape of a "U," your hair is in the the "V" shape giving your hair the look of a point.  I know that sometimes hair naturally grows that way.  But I think in my case, some of it has to do with damage in certain areas keeping it from growing in more fully.

Right now, my hair is pretty healthy.  Shedding is not an issue.  Breakage has slowed down immensely.  I can manipulate lightly on a daily basis and not experience a hardly any broken hairs.  Life is good.  The only thing I wish to create is the look of thickness all the way through from root to tip.  It seems like my hair journey has been plagued with the issue of some areas appearing healthy, while others suffering from damage.  Health doesn't seem to be as evenly distributed as it should be.  I take 100% responsibility for this.  Perhaps the thinner ends are a result of the time when I neglected my hair while wearing daily buns.  I also reflect back on life prior to my Misto Sprayer when I didn't do my due diligence  in parting hair section by section when applying oil and moisture.  Before I made the decision to return to dry deep conditioning, I can't say for sure if I was as consistent with parting my hair in tiny sections as I should have been.  I'm sure all of these factors made an impact on how my hair looks today.
Misto Sprayer | CapriClear Coconut Oil | Gleau Argan Oil Blend | Keratindose Travel Size

Since I'm not having to "play defense" with regards to any pressing hair issues, I get to shift my strategy so I can play to win!  I see only one way to help me break free from this dreaded curse of the "V" or "W" shaped ends.  And that one way is consistency & fairness.  Here's what I mean by fairness.  I tend to favor some parts of my hair over others.  When I moisturize, I focus on the hair that  I see, meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of strands that go without.  When I deep condition, I always start in the same section.  Perhaps that section gets more love than the last section just before I finish.  When I moisturize, I do it so my hair looks/feels better.  I can't say for sure that my goal is to moisturize as many hair strands as possible.  Then there are the sections that are almost being neglected because they aren't as visible (the back of my hair and my nape).  I haven't been treating all of my strands equally.

I know it's my fault because when I experienced a mini-chop last year, my hair was even and given a fresh start.  Perhaps the "V" shape may have something to do with the lead hair theory, but I know my actions could have been better.  So here is what  I commit to do differently with the hopes of creating full thick hair all throughout.

  • By far, the most effective process for me to treat a damaged area is when I consistently practice what I call the "Strand Ceremony."  Now that I'm dry deep conditioning again. This will give me greater access to my individual strands.  Consistent practice of the Strand Ceremony never fails me.  It just takes a lot of time so  I need to make sure I plan ahead so I never skin this step.
  • The strand Ceremony is a weekly practice.  I also need something that supports my hair on a daily basis.  My Misto Sprayer is a game changer when it comes to accessing all of my hair.  One mist and an entire section is covered.  When I use the Misto, I naturally want to separate hair into sections to make sure everyone gets their fair share.  This is why I went out and bought a second bottle.
  • I am also committed to moisturizing and sealing more frequently like I did during my 7 day challenge.  From that exercise I learned that my hair behaved differently when it was moisturized at least twice a day versus my old method.  One new twist I'm adding is to switch up how I moisturize so I'm not creating a pattern.  I want to practice parting my hair differently each time so I cover more ground throughout the week.  
I know this may seem extreme but I think I need this level of focus otherwise I'll constantly be dealing with issues.  Do you have any other suggestions for me?  Please share in the comments. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

I don't think I've ever met a person who hasn't battled with procrastination. It's an issue that I struggle with, I've coached others on the same issue and, as a matter of fact, I just had a conversation with a wonderful reader on Sunday about the same concern. We have things we know we should do....but for some reason we keep putting it off (while feeling bad the entire time).
 One of the most powerful books I've read on this subject is "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. Steven is a novelist who has grappled with procrastination in the form of writer's block. He tells a story of after finally overcoming "Resistance" to complete his first novel.   He was working as a cab driver full time as a diversion as he ran away from doing what he needed to do.  Finally, one night, after years of procrastinating, he forced himself to sit down for two hours and write his first story.  As soon as he had completed it, he took the book and tossed it in the trash.   Once that was done, he looked at the 10 days worth of dirty dishes in the sink and immediately began to wash them.  As the pile of clean dishes rose, Steven noticed that he was whistling.  Why? Because he felt good.  Not because he wrote something good, but because after years of running from it, he actually sat down and did his work.

You and I go through this same cycle in our lives.  There's something that we KNOW needs to get done, yet we avoid it.  We fill our time with other non-essentials while constantly battling the inner voice that steadily reminds us of what we're avoiding.  The moment we complete it, our energy shifts and suddenly we start doing other things that we've been putting off.  Notice how good Steven felt as he washed a mountain of dishes.  I don't think he consciously said to himself "I'm going to write this novel, then I'll do the dishes."  No, I think his mind was strictly focused on finally overcoming the procrastination of finally writing his novel.  But, a wonderful outcome of his actions was the removal of blockage in other areas of his life.

Notice how Steven wasn't attached to the outcome of his book.  His goal wasn't to write a great American novel, he just needed to get it on paper.  Sometimes we stop ourselves from doing something because we fear it won't be any good.  If that is your way of thinking, please refer back to last week's post about life lessons from Chris Brown's dancing.  Over the weekend, I visited a talented Makeup Artist friend. She talked about how excited she was to launch her new makeup business.  I brought up the possibility of utilizing Youtube to expand her branding.  But the thought of it terrifies her.  I asked her a question. "Let's say you put out a few videos, and three months from now, I ask you how things are, will you say that you regret doing it?"   In fact, if she did launch a few videos, the worse case scenario is that she'd get a couple of hundred views. But is that really a "worse case scenario" or is it a good thing because a few hundred people who didn't know her work are now familiar with her.

Same with us. We avoid something because we think it'll be a terrible experience if we go through it.  Truth is, ONLY and I mean ONLY good things can come from doing what we need to do.  Think about it.  List out everything you've been avoiding. Whether it's placing a call, decluttering, writing a book, getting that certification, working out consistently, launching your business, whatever it is:

1.  You will NEVER regret doing it (but you will regret avoid it)
2. Only good things come when you do it.
3. You will also experience unexpected breakthroughs in other areas of your life when you do them.

I would like you to keep these three things in mind whenever you find yourself avoiding taking action. I invite you to do a 7 day personal challenge where you do one thing everyday that we've been putting off.  Doesn't have to be "that huge thing" you've been avoiding. Could be as simple as flossing after brushing. But do something everyday to build that muscle.  Next thing you know, it will become easier for you to tackle that big thing on your list.  Who's with me?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Even during the cold months of winter, I began to fantasize about spring and all of the wonderful bright nail color options that lay ahead.  This year I wanted to get my hands on a soft aqua color so badly.  I asked my homies on the Relaxed Hair Health Facebook page for recommendations.  China Glaze's For Audrey came so highly recommended that I had to get my hands on some.

When I walked into the store, I didn't expect a buy 1 get one free sale on China Glaze polishes.  Because I had only one thing on my mind, I picked up two bottles of the same color.  Then I thought, "why don't I give one away?"
Since it's been forever since my last giveaway, I'd like to offer the opportunity to give a bottle of one of you.  Simply send an email to [email protected] with the words "For Audrey" in the subject line.  Make sure you follow the blog.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents. I'll notify the randomly selected winner on Sunday April 20, 2014.  Good luck everyone.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A random email reminder dropped into my inbox the other day reminding me that my 15% off coupon to Sephora was set to expire in a matter of hours.  If I didn't hurry, I'd foolishly loose this amazing opportunity.  Left with no choice, I carefully made my way to the nearest Sephora store.

When I entered the mall, a still, small voice whispered gently in my ear saying "stop by the Tom Ford counter to test the Deep Mink."  Next thing you know, I'm standing in front of the display testing what would be, the most perfect nude I've ever had the pleasure of wearing.
Here' the thing, my lips are two toned. My top lip is darker than my bottom.  So colors that appear nude on my bottom, look to light for my top lip.  I never thought I'd actually find a color that looks right on both my top and bottom lip. I'm thankful to Tom Ford for solving that issue for me.  The true color is actually a bit darker than it appears in the photograph.  It's the most expensive lipstick I own. But I've spent way more money on all the other (non perfect) nudes I have before I was led to my new holy grail lip color.  I'm throughly pleased.  

My mission, when I got to Sephora, was to snatch up a tube of what I heard several people refer to as the "best concealor in the world."  My perfect match of the Makeup Forever Full Coverage Creme is #18. It's waterproof which is just what I need for this time of year. Nothing worse than sweating off your makeup before you even get to where you're going.  Hopefully now, I won't have this issue anymore.
Since everything was 15% off, I decided to load up on higher priced items that I might normally pass up.  Weeks ago, I tossed my empty tube of Fresh Soy cleanser.  Instead of replacing the tube, I opted for the Soy Face Exfoliant.  After an amazing steam facial, I'll be sloughing off all the loosened skin and dirt to reveal fresh, soft skin.  Summer glow, here I come.  
Speaking of glow, the last item on my shopping list was the Glo Teeth whitening system.  I saw a couple of reviews online and thought it would be cool to try out.  I haven't opened the box yet because I'm waiting for a week where I'm not traveling so I can use it a few days consecutively for full effectiveness. 
Sigh, I'm so addicted to beauty gadgets.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This post is brought to you by a wonderful reader who connected with me to share the good news regarding my beloved Matrix Keratindose Leave-In.  Here's what she had to say:
"Thank you for the Biolage Keratindose suggestion! I have FINALLLY found my one true love!!!  I had to let you kow that Beauty Brands has the mini purse size (gift with purchase) for free!  We need this in our life!  Be sure to get one.... or two:)"
Seconds later, I was on the Beauty Brands sight desperately trying to get my hands on some. Unfortunately for me, they don't have that offer online and there isn't a Beauty Brands location in my neck of the woods.  Before panic began to set in, I headed over to Amazon as a last resort.  And, of course Amazon had my back. They had 1 oz bottles for under $5.00 including shipping.

My hair really began to thrive after my 7 day Moisturize and Seal challenge.  For the most part, frequent moisturizing has become a habit for me.  When I travel though, it becomes a challenge.  Just the other day I had to moisten my hair with water, from the tap in my hotel bathroom, before misting it with a few sprays of CapriClear coconut oil.   Since I'll have a mini Keratindose with me wherever I go, I never have to worry about being stranded with dry hair ever again.

For those of you who weren't throughly convinced for buying a full size bottle after reading my first review, perhaps you can dip your toes in the water by trying the mini size.

(p.s.  I did pick up two)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's been quite a while since I've gone shopping.  This little hiatus has afforded me the opportunity to clear my mind and develop a new strategy going forward.  Normally, I go to a store without much forethought about what I'm looking for.  If something great catches my eye, I purchase.  The old method works but, at the same time, my closet is filled with a lot of forgettable items as a result of my random, spontaneous shopping.

I've decided, instead, to reduce the number of shopping excursions and focus on obtaining key pieces that enhance my current inventory.   I'll have to save up a little more for certain things which is good because I won't be engaging in mindless spending.  This is another way of practicing focus and intention. 

+So I've come up with a small collection of items that currently appear on my "Lust List."  I'm officially on the lookout for the perfect white blazer.  Something I can wear casually or on a night out.  Whenever I enter any store, I'll always be on the lookout until that elusive white blazer becomes mine.

+ After spending some time on Youtube the other day, I stumbled upon a review where the girl was raving about Tom Ford's Deep Mink as the perfect nude (for brown girls).  After watching some other reviews on the same lip color, I decided that it should be on my "to see" list next time I'm at the mall.  I already have a decent amount of nude lipsticks.  I suspect that I have so many because I haven't yet found the perfect one.  Let's hope this is it.

+Last year, I finally invested some energy into upgrading my shoe options.  I'm really happy with what I have so far.  But, I'd be even happier if I had a pair of nude pumps in my collection.  The other day, I just happen to stumble upon pictures of the "So Kate" heels by Christian Louboutin.  I don't own a pair of Loubs and I wasn't necessarily craving one but this heel is "reasonably priced" compared to some of his other designs and it's probably the sexiest (and probably least comfortable) shoe I've seen in a while.  It's worth at least trying them on.

+Lastly, I hope to pick up my last designer bag sometime later this year before I officially go into designer bag retirement.  I was really aggressive in building my collection the last couple of years.  Once the Balenciaga City Bag is within my clutches (no pun intended), my thirst will be satisfied and I can move on to something more noble like planting a vegetable garden or something. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

I wouldn't call myself a Chris Brown fan.  I don't own any of his music and haven't seen him perform live.  Other than the stuff I hear about him on the news, I don't really know that much about him.  But, I will say that he's taught me some valuable life lessons just by watching a brief one minute and a half video of him doing "the Dougle."  Let me show you what I'm talking about. Watch it once in its entirety then we will break it out lesson by lesson.

Lesson 1: Don't worry about what other people are doing
The video opens with Chris Brown casually doing the Dougie. Suddenly he stops at the 12 second mark and turns around to the group of people behind him who are idly standing around.  None of them are engaged in anything special other than people watching.  Chris immediately returns to doing what he loves to do. Sometimes we hold ourselves back from being who we are because others are around.  Chris teaches us to do the opposite.  As a matter of fact, if you watch closely, you'll notice that once he turns back around, he starts dancing even more intensely than before.

Lesson 2: Stand Out from the Crowd
What do you notice when you watch the video?  One thing that's glaringly obvious is the stark constrast between Chris and everyone around him.  It's probably late in the evening and pretty much everyone in the club wore the standard uniform of black clothing.  I'm sure Chris is aware of that so he decided to do something a little different.  When we were children, we were taught that different = bad.  We got picked on if we looked or acted different from everyone else.  We carry that way of thinking into adulthood and quickly try to conform into our environment.  We wear jeans everyday because everyone else is doing it.  We buy what's in style. We mold ourselves in a way that allows us to fit in.  Chris teaches us that standing out doesn't have to mean doing something totally outlandish.  Just a simple white tee and khakis when everyone else is wearing all black sets him aside from the others.  Notice whenever we do something out of the ordinary, people notice.  Even if it's something simple like wearing a pop of color. Wearing a dress when everyone is rocking jeans, not only feels good, but gives us a boost of confidence as well.

Lesson 3: Go All Out
Based on what I observed in the video, this doesn't look like a paid performance.  Chris isn't singing, or even dancing to his own song.  He just simply enjoying himself.  Yet, he's dancing like nobody's watching.  Meaning he's going all out without any worries.  Check out the guys behind him. Some are standing completely still, some are bobbing their heads.  You can tell that guy directly to the left of him with the shades on wants to dance too, but he's too self conscious to do so. Instead he carefully folds his hands and bops to music.  Meanwhile Chris is doing the most.  He doesn't have a lot of space to work with yet his dancing is captivating.   He's teaching us not to hold anything back. When we are doing something, anything, give it everything we have.

Lesson 4: Have Fun!
What else do you notice about Chris?  Check out his face.  While he's dancing in front of these eager fans, he's all smiles.  He's not giving us the "I'm a serious dancer face."  He's just having fun.  Not taking himself too seriously.  Sometimes when we do something, we put a ton of pressure on ourselves to be perfect.  Meanwhile we miss opportunities to just enjoy the experience.  When was the last time you had fun in front of a group of people?  Life is short. The more we enjoy it, the more memorable we become.  Even if Chris Brown wasn't "Chris Brown," I'm sure all those ladies would pay attention to him if he behaved the same way.  People are attracted to others who are enjoying life and themselves.  Since today is Monday, try going throughout your workday with an attitude of I'm going to have a blast today.  Smile, have fun, and show off a little.  You'll notice that others will relate to you differently than they have before.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

 I'm obsessed, and I mean obsessed, with long sleeved, short dresses.  The problem is that I don't come across them that often.  So when I stumbled upon this amazing faux leather trimmed dressed, I had to grab it.
 It didn't matter that the dress was too big for me at the time.  Right after I got it, I took it straight to the seamstress to have it fitted.
The sleeves were too long for me so I asked her to make 'em shorter.  When I requested that she take off the leather cuffs, she protested saying that the "leather cuffs" added character to the dress. I'm glad I listened.  We both agreed to turn the long sleeve to a 3//4 length so I can wear the dress all year round.
The faux leather detail in the dress has stitching which makes it a bit more interesting. It also perfectly compliments the stitching in my new bag.

I love the cut-out feature in the back of the dress.  It actually, opened all the way to the waist but the seamstress added a little modesty for me.  
Last fall I had an unusual attraction to everything with faux leather detailing.  These Calvin Klein heels were a by-product of that time in my life.  They're probably one of my favorite pair of shoes.  Incredibly comfortable and pretty much can work with any outfit choice.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Other than the mandatory shaving a couple of times a week, I rarely pay attention to my legs.  Back in my glory days, I considered my legs to be an asset.  When I wore shorter dresses and heels, the compliments flowed.  Then I went through this period of only wearing jeans/pants and totally not caring what my legs looked like.

But things have changed. If you look at my closet today versus the same time last year, you would notice an increase in the amount of dresses.  Somehow, I've veered back into the world of knee length (or shorter) dresses.  While standing under the critical lights of a well lit dressing room, not too long ago, I noticed something I haven't noticed before.  My shins had faint scars scattered all over.  On top of that, the skin on my legs seemed dry and scaly. Could this be the result of neglect all winter long?  Perhaps.  No matter the reason, I decided that I had to do something about it ASAP.
Now that I know, I have to do something about it.  My small collection of dresses is bound to grow so I need to make sure my legs are spectacular.  But don't you worry your pretty little hearts, I've got a plan.  Wanna hear it? Here it go!  My goals are to address the following areas:
I'm so petite that when I gain a couple of pounds, it shows.  I typically gain weight in my stomach and legs.  First my thighs get wider and, if I don't get it in control fast enough, the rest of my legs follow suit.  Right now it's not too bad but I've still got a little work to do.  A couple of weeks ago I added another addition into my home gym.  It's a pair of  weights help add resistance to my floor work.  With their help, I create toner legs in no time at all.

While I'm getting them in shape, my focus will also be on eliminating the dull/dry skin while helping to remove blemishes and dark spots.  You and I have talked about exfoliation at length.  We know how awesome it works to help bring about glowing skin.  But now I'm realizing that I rarely exfoliate below the knees (with the exception of my heels).   So, I'm now making it a routine to exfoliate my entire body from neck to toe with my favorite sugar scrub of all time.  My mission is to get off all the dead skin that has been accumulating all winter long under our constant use of body butters.

While I was doing a little research online, I found a body wash that exfoliates using glycolic acid.  The reviews seemed really promising.  Many people also expressed joy over the fact that Glytone also helped them get rid of  their kilaris pilaris (aka chicken skin).  It makes your skin look like you have goose bumps all the time.  I used to have a bad case of this years ago.  Everyone always asked me if I was cold. It was embarrassing. But, when I got rid of gluten, it all just went away.  Only now am I realizing that kilaris pilaris could be a sign of gluten intolerance.
 Glytone will help to fade the dark spots on my leg using chemical exfoliation without the excessive scrubbing.  Especially in the shin area which might be a bit more sensitive.

If I'm consistent in my exfoliation, it won't be long until my skin starts looking radiant again.  I vow to keep a bottle of CarpiClear coconut spray near my shower so I can mist my legs and feet as soon as I step out (while my skin is still moist). This will hopefully ward off dryness and add a nice shine to my legs.  If all of that doesn't make my legs flawless, I will break out the big dog! My Gleam body radiance has been waiting for me to start baring my legs again so it can show and prove.   This stuff is beautiful magnificent.  It creates the perfect amount of glow without looking like I'm covered in sparkles.  Best of all it's also moisturizing like a lotion.  It's going to look amazing on my newly exfoliated and ultra toned legs.  I can not wait!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring is not only a time for colorful nail polish and flirty dresses, it's also the time of year when our hair growth cycle begins to awaken.  Take a look at the graph below so you can see what I'm talking about.  Now is the time when our hair growth gets crackin! Notice that our hair grows a little faster in the spring than summer.

So what does that mean for you?  If you do nothing, your hair will likely still grow at a faster rate than in did in the last 4-6 months.  But.....what if instead of waiting idly by for the growth to happen on its own, you created a plan of action to maximize hair growth (and retention) for the next two seasons?

I dunno about you, but I like option 2 better.  I want to milk this faster hair growth thing as much as I can.  By the time fall rolls around, I want to be patting myself on the back for all the progress made.  So what's the plan?  I'm glad you asked.

First and foremost, I have to make sure the hair that's growing in is as healthy as humanly possible. This means that I vow to remain consistent with my morning smoothies, my fermented cod liver oil and collagen, silica, etc.  On top of that, I'm considering adding a shot of wheat grass back into my morning routine.  After reading a comment from a reader who mentioned how their grey hair started to gain its color back from taking wheat grass, I figured it was time to start again.  If you haven't already done so, now's a good time to pick up a 90 day supply of a hair, skin, and nails.  By the time the bottle is gone, we'll be heading into summer.

All those nutrients will make a greater difference if they have a method of delivery to the scalp. The greatest method of delivery is via water.  As it gets warmer, we will need more water for our hair and scalp.  Most of the water/fluids we'll be drinking will be allocated to helping keep our bodies cool and hydrated.  But we want to go beyond hydration.  We want to drink enough water to nourish flood our scalp with the nutrients we take in.  This means that our daily water intake should be measured in liters not cups.  If you're still talking about how you drank 3 cups of water today, you're not doing your job.

                   Scalp Stimulation
This spring, I want my scalp to know that it's time to go to work!  So of course this means that I'll be doing scalp massages on the regular.  On wash days when I'm sitting under my MicroMist steamer, I'll plan on steaming it for an entire hour.  I realized how good my scalp felt while receiving the steam treatment and thought it could maybe have an impact on my growth rate if I'm consistent.  Then there's also the option of brushing my scalp to really get things moving.  Or maybe I'll try doing Sanford Bennett's technique.  Whatever the case, I have plenty of choices and I plan on implementing multiple methods if possible.

How else can I promote circulation and improve hair growth?  Ah yes.  Exercise.  Can you imagine how much much progress you can make if you are working out on a regular basis and doing all of the above?  Not only will you have a fit, toned, summer ready body, but you can help put your circulation on overdrive.  Plus all the extra sweating will help your skin purge toxins and create a glow.

Four simple tricks along with every thing I learned in our Healthy Endings serious will help combine optimal growth with great retention.  Let's get it!
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