Saturday, August 30, 2014

My travel schedule has been especially tight lately.  All of those hours in the air are really adding up.  And, as the season starts to shift, dry skin now becomes the greatest of my worries.  Yesterday, I was on a 5 hour cross country flight.  One of the flight attendants had the most beautiful chocolate skin.  Her skin just looked so effortless and well hydrated.  I found myself catching glances of her whenever she wasn't looking.  I asked myself, "how does this woman maintain such flawless skin while being in the air most of her day?"
Hours later, I happened to get a close up of her while waiting in line to use the restroom.  No longer able to hold it, I began the conversation by complimenting her skin.  She happily accepted my compliment and began to openly share the secrets of her amazing glow.  "Coconut oil!" she proclaimed.  "I use coconut oil at night on my skin before going to bed."  First I use black soap to cleanse all of the impurities then I apply the coconut oil."  As I absorbed the information she extended out her forearm and said "feel my skin."

I ran my extended finger along the length of her perfectly even toned arm.  Silky would be the best word to describe the softness of her skin.  "On my body, I use baby oil....gel.  Not the oil, but the gel."  I put it on every morning and my skin stays soft all day."  (Mental note, get some baby oil gel ASAP).  I also noticed that she had a cup of water in hand, which leads me to believe that she keeps herself hydrated by drinking lots of water.  Unfortunately, a bout of turbulence interrupted our conversation as I had to return to my seat to buckle up. But not before I got the exact information I needed.

It's funny how she provided the tip of using coconut oil on my skin.  I recently began spritzing my skin using Evian's facial spray and sealing in the moisture with a little bit of coconut oil.  So far, I really love this practice for keeping my face hydrated all day.  Now, I want to experiment with applying at night before bed. This reminds me of the "Go to bed greasy" post I wrote about a while back.  Now, I gotta get my hands on some black soap and a tub of the baby oil gel.

By the way, if you plan on using coconut oil on your face, be sure to separate that oil in a different container (or use a spray form like CapriClear) so you aren't cross contaminating.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I received a request from a reader inquiring if I could touch on the topic of creating taunt, firm facial skin.  Since it's a subject that I am learning about myself, I thought it would be a great idea.  Please keep in mind that much of what I'll talk about will consist of opinions so please do some research for yourself to find out what works best for you.

The prerequisite for reading this post is that you go back and review the article I wrote on maintaining a strong facial bone structure.  I believe that strong facial bones are the foundation to having a youthful (and attractive) appearance.  When we are young, our bones are strong, providing the skin great support.  But as time passes, bone loss begins to occur taking away the structure needed to keep the skin looking taunt.
via my "Perfect Skin" Pinterest board
Tight firm skin is also plump skin.  I have found two methods that have given me results in the area of plumping up my skin.  The first one is in the form of supplementation.  The addition of collagen in my supplementation routine has been invaluable.  It began with the collagen chews then I graduated to the powders and supplements.  Then I learned of how important a role that silica plays in the formation of collagen in the body and really got serious about drinking my bamboo tea on a regular basis.   Now, I'm experimenting with drinking a cup of tea in the A.M. or P.M. after taking my collagen supplements.

Since I was making all these efforts to help build collagen, I had to also get serious about removing obstacles to the efforts I was making.  The biggest obstacle to firm, youthful skin (besides sun damage) is sugar.  Sugar rapidly enters the blood stream. When they attach to proteins, they create a new molecule known as an Advanced Glycogen End product (AGE).  The new molecule damages our collagen proteins causing our skin to age more rapidly.  Another ill of eating too much sugar is how it leeches calcium from our bodies.  Calcium leads to bone loss.  When our bones & our skin lose volume, there's no wrinkle cream on the market that can save us.  So if you are looking to retain firm skin for the long run, keep sugar intake to a minimum.  Oh, and keep in mind that some foods turn to simple sugar in the body so even if you are passing on dessert, be aware of other foods you are eating that behave in the same way.

The next tip to creating firm skin is to firm the muscles.  I first learned of facial exercise several years ago.  The idea is to work the muscles in your face similar to how one would exercise to keep the body fit.  Facial exercises are fairly easy to do and doesn't take long  before you start to see results.  Exercise can help lift sagging checks and strengthen the muscles around the eyes.  Basically, it helps fight against the effects of gravity on the face.  Sculpta, is a procedure that fills in the face by injecting a lactic acid complex into the skin.  This complex stimulates collagen production that can last up to two years.  Incidentally, exercise creates lactic acid in the muscles.  I'm not saying the two are related, but wouldn't it be cool if facial exercise provides some of the same benefits as getting an injectable skin plumping treatment?  The perfect compliment to facial exercise is facial massage.  I love facial massage for stimulating the skin and increasing blood flow.  Where blood flows, there is life.  

In the past year or so, I've experimented with more vigorous forms of facial stimulation.  The goal was to promote firmer skin and collagen production from the stimulation to the skin.  Some say that collagen can also be regenerated through stimulation therapy with micro needles.  The needles create microscopic damage to the skin and, as it heals, the skin will produce additional collagen.  I have some micro needles which I intended to use on my acne scars but now I'm considering experimenting on trying them out to promote collagen production.  Other forms of facial/collagen stimulation include gadgets that create suction (like my Riiviva microderm machine).

Remember the time when I experimented with drinking a gallon of water a day?  One of the wonderful side effects was the feeling that my skin felt plumper overall.  People pay hundreds of dollars to get hyaluronic acid fillers.  Truth is, HA fillers work by drawing water to the area to create volume. I felt like I got similar results without having to experience needles going into my face.  Not to mention how many other benefits you receive when you drink lots of water on a regular basis.

The bad news is that you begin to lose collagen at a rapid rate once you hit a certain age.  The good news is that we have multiple options available to us to stimulate and reproduce collagen to restore the look of the skin.  The key is to remain consistent and try multiple strategies to see what your skin responds to most.   

Monday, August 25, 2014

Over the past month I have been reflecting on ways to create a high sense of personal accountability.  The question I’ve been asking myself is “how can I raise my level of action as if I were being held accountable for whatever I didn’t do.  When I studied the success stories of others, one of the key elements in their journey was having some form of accountability whether via a coach, mentor or accountability partner.  I knew how important having accountability is and wanted to create this for myself.  I had a personal coach for a few months this year.  It was an amazing experience but I didn’t get the level of accountability that I was hoping for.  My goal was to develop a high sense of follow through whenever I said I would do something.  

I searched online, I talked to my brother, I reflected some more.  Finally, this week I had a conversation with a co-worker that provided the exact insight I was looking for.  He’s heavily involved in a group that places a lot of importance on “honoring your word.”  They view the ability to honor one’s word as a form of integrity. And “without integrity nothing works.”  So I asked him, how one develops a high level of “integrity” without having someone there to hold them accountable?  He reflected and started to offer a solution that involved the support of a group.  Again, I reiterated that I was inquiring about self accountability to do what I said I would do without someone having to drive my behavior.  

He reflected again and said, “it won’t work.”  He continued “it won’t work unless the person has developed the ability to honor their word (integrity) in the small things.  Meaning if the person doesn’t make their bed, and do all the other small things they know they should do but don’t, there’s no way they are going to consistently do the big things.”  “It’s a muscle.” If there’s a daily action that someone wants to do to reach a goal but they are unable to do it, they should focus first on doing the small actions.  

His words took me back to a time when I decided to try flossing daily.  Flossing was something I never did so I promised myself to do it daily as a personal challenge.  After about a week or so, I noticed that I felt inspired to do other things that I had been putting off.  My level of taking action was suddenly elevated simply because I began flossing.  I became really present to a bunch of other small things I was putting off and decided to do them.  What my friend was telling me was absolutely right.  I had developed a habit of not doing the small things in my life which is why I struggled to follow through on the bigger actions.  It’s like expecting someone who doesn’t work out to go to the gym and have the strength to lift 200 lbs.  The muscles haven’t been developed yet. Those actions that I write down to achieve my goals are as heavy as the 200lb weights.  There’s a lot of mental attachment associated with them which is why I allow myself to break my integrity in those areas. 

Since that conversation, I’ve shifted my focus from the big actions to the small (seemingly insignificant) ones.  I invite you to try this technique in the week ahead.  If you develop the habit of doing the small things consistently, there will be no doubt that you will honor your word to yourself in other areas.  No accountability coach required. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

1| Crosspoint Cuff 2| Door Knocker Cuff 3| Chevron Medi Ring Trio 4| Pendant Necklace 5| Z Stack Ring 6| Pave X Ring 7| Helen Cuff Bracelet

In the past, I tended to go for bold, chunky jewelry. But lately, I find myself drawn to simple, minimalist pieces that make a statement in their simplicity.  It seems like these understated, well designed accessories actually draw more compliments than my bulkier jewelry.
I'm really excited to have stumbled upon Jeweliq, a site that has stunning unique accessory pieces that won't break your budget.  The quality looks pretty amazing and I love the variety available. Check out there entire line of minimalist accessories here.  They also have a pretty decent collection of statement pieces as well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

There's nothing I appreciate more than seeing the result of someone's hard work and dedication.  These ladies have heard the voice that says "I don't feel like working out today" and ignored it over and over again. They've made daily choices that align with their fitness goals.  They are stronger, not just physically, but mentally as well. 




Thursday, August 21, 2014

Let's face it. When it comes to having perfect skin, the most critical of all concerns is having happy, non-existent pores.   Clogged pores lead to breakouts, and create the look of rough, unhealthy looking skin.  We all want perfect pores let's talk about how to get them.

The strategy for perfect pores must begin with an internal focus. Otherwise you'll be playing a frustrating game of whack-a-mole.  Remember that game? You think you're doing well by hitting a poor defenseless mole on the head, but little do you know, there are thousands more hiding deep beneath the surface just waiting for you to wear yourself out.  I could not have made any traction in my skin care journey if I hadn't first identified foods that triggered flare ups.  For me, it was wheat.  Perhaps you are sensitive to dairy, sugar or fried foods?  I love fried foods, but I know that eventually, my body will use my skin as a method of elimination of the greasy oils.  I might not break out, but my skin looks terrible as extra stress are placed on my pores.  Not a good look.  Do yourself a favor, identify the foods that trigger your skin and avoid them.

No matter how many products you use, you won't experience healthy skin unless your water intake is right.  Water, my friends, will allow those slip ups from time to time without devastating consequences.  Without enough water, you can pretty much give up on your hopes of having smooth, clear skin.  Once you get your water intake right.  The you can being the process of clearing out your pores.

The easiest, most effective method of pore cleansing is a good facial steaming session.  When my skin was at its worse, I attempted an experiment where I steamed several times a week. My skin glowed as a result.  All the stuff just beneath the surface was coaxed out and soon my skin looked darn near perfect.  Don't limit yourself to only experiencing steam cleansing at the spa. Get your own high quality steamer and treat yo' self.  Once the pores are opened up by the steam, it's the perfect time to do a deep clearing mask.  My favorite mask of all time is the GlamGlow.  It's what a pore cleansing mask was meant to be.  Seriously, it works.  It's not the cheapest product but, it's well worth it's weight in gold.  If you want to whip up you own batch of this mask DIY style, check out this post.

Oil production, dirt and makeup are constantly waging war against our pores.   That's why I thank God every day for my Clarisonic Plus.  Congestion can get really bad on my nose.  Within days of being out of town, my nose gets all bumpy.  After one or two uses of my Clarisonic, my nose is back in the game.  I can no longer live without this tool.   I can't.

Once we've got all the internal stuff covered, it's time to create a smooth external surface.  Removal of the top layer of skin is essential if you want the look of flawlessness.  Chemical peels do just that.  I love the convenience of Dr. Gross Alpha Beta peels for daily removal of dead skin and to improve overall texture.  If you need a little more help to look extra perfect, try a primer that erases pores like Benefit's Porefessional.  I've heard it referred to as "Magic in a Tube."  Lots of great reviews for how this product erases and hides pores.  This is a must have for everyone of us.  Why walk around with troubled looking skin if you don't have to?

Bye bye pores.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's been a while since I've replenished on my NeoCell Beauty Bursts.  With a long and hectic travel schedule ahead of me, I thought it would be good to stock up so I can have the chews on hand for any time when my  mid afternoon sweet tooth kicked in.

Suddenly, I stumbled upon a wonderful, unexpected surprise.  The good people at NeocCell have come up with a high potency biotin chew.  Each chew contains 10,000 mcg of biotin along with superfood Acai berry powder.
I love the idea of enjoying a chewy snack and achieving healthy, wonderful hair in the process.  If these taste as good as the collagen chews, then I will also have difficulty eating just one a day.  Those of you who don't enjoy swallowing pills should look into this option as way of nourishing your hair and nails from the inside out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reflecting back on my personal skin care journey, one lesson I've learned is that expensive skin care products don't necessarily produce better results. Years ago, I heard of this miracle cream that celebrities smeared all over their bodies to maintain their youth.  When I finally got to the beauty counter to take a peak at La Mer's label, I was shocked that a high end product would contain mineral oil as one of its top ingredients. Never the less, I requested a sample which I never finished.

Then I heard that Beyonce uses Nutra Bisse's face cream that actually contains the dust real diamonds, I had to try the cream for myself.  Nice cream, but it didn't transform my skin.  If you look anywhere on the internet, you will find a multitude of rave reviews about Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum.  Filled with antioxidants, many people who've used it say that it's well worth the price of over $100.00 a bottle.  After saving my pennies, I grabbed a bottle to replace my last serum.  My skin didn't love it.

I had pretty much given up on expensive skin care products.  Then, while browsing on Sephora's website I stumbled upon Dr. Dennis Gross' Alpha Bete Peel.  They are basically face wipes loaded with glycolic, salicylic, lactic, mandelic, and citric acid.  These wipes can be used daily to exfoliate the top layer, promoting younger, brighter looking skin.
If you might remember, I experienced a professional peel a couple of years ago.  While I loved the way my skin looked afterwards, I honestly would never want to go through that experience again.  Way too traumatic.  I'm hoping to use this for regular maintenance so I never have to get to the point where I need to peel off my entire face.  After seeing my fresh new skin, I realized how important exfoliation is to the progress of my skin care journey.

Dr. Gross' wipes are perfect for people who travel like me.  Since I don't travel with my Clarisonic Plus, my skin doesn't get to experience the same level exfoliation when I'm on the road.   These wipes will help keep my skin in check.  My first impression is how easy it is to use.  Just wipe my face, let it dry, then do the same thing with the second wipe.  That's it.  Oh, and I love that there's enough product do also allow me to treat my neck and upper chest.

I purchased the pack of 30 treatments but I don't plan on using daily.  I may go a few days straight then take a few days off, then use weekly for maintenance.  There was a slight tingle when used, but other than that, no other side effects.  The skin doesn't actually peel.  You just apply, let dry, then apply moisturizer and whatever other products you use.  My first experience with the alpha beta peel was two days ago.  Today, my skin feels smooth and looks brighter.  Dr Gross alpha beta peels are officially a skin care staple.

Exfoliation is definitely the way to go if you are on the journey to create healthier looking skin.  Especially if you've been good with taking your green supplements and drinking lots of water.  Chilli would be so proud of me right now.

(p.s. Amazon has it for way less than what I paid for it at Sephora).

Monday, August 18, 2014

I think my single biggest obstacle of achieving everything I image in life are my feelings (emotions).  Seriously, if I take a moment to reflect on why I have (or have not) achieved something, I can make a clear connection to my emotions.  Sometimes, my feelings drive me to being relentless until the outcome is mine. Other times, I don't feel like taking any action and suffer the consequences.

Either way, I'm realizing how critical it becomes to become someone who is fully in control of my emotions because I KNOW THAT EMOTION IS A PRECURSOR TO ACTION.  Without the right emotion, I won't take action.  Too often I toggle back and forth between being fully motivated to conquer the world and feeling like doing absolutely nothing.  Then there are the times when I'm taking a ton of action and don't see the results then suddenly lose the motivation to keep going.

Ideally, I would like to face each day, each task, with a consistent sense of resolve.  Knowing that I made a promise to myself and not wavering, or backtracking simply because I know longer feel like it.  I want to be the person who hears the internal voice (you know the one) and totally disregards it.  The person who works out even though they don't "feel like it." The person who writes every day.  The person who works on their passion 7 days a week without (yet) seeing one cent of profit.

The voice will never go away.  Let's all agree on that.  It's not (really) about making the voice disappear.  The greater victory is in how to DO WHAT IS NEEDED TO BE DONE REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE VOICE IS TELLING YOU.

What your voice is telling you.

It's your voice.  Well it sounds like you so you automatically listen to it. You think it's you because it sounds just like you. But it's not actually your voice.  Your real voice is the desire that comes from deep within.  It's the hunger that calls you to take on new action to create a new reality for yourself.  The other voice, the one that so easily can talk you out of your dream is not you.  Stop listening to it. Stop letting it change the direction of your life so easily.

(please go back and reread the last paragraph)

Let's call the voice that sounds like you, but isn't you isn't "the deception."  It's a deception because it tells you that you don't have time to.... Or that you don't feel like..... Or that you can't.....

But none of that is actually true.  It's a deception.  Because when you act despite the voice, you realize that every excuse that was brought up was a lie. You were on the verge of being deceived.   But you weren't deceived and now you are filled with exhilaration because the action you took was in line with your true voice.

But tomorrow, you try to repeat the action and the deception shows up again. It will never go away really.  So let's stop trying to make it go away.  Let's just realize it for what it is and move forward despite it's presence.   Let's not believe it's excuses and reasons.  Let's observe it, then act on what our true voice wants.  Unfortunately, our true voice isn't as loud as the deception.  So we have to get connected to what we really want otherwise the deception will have its way with us.  Our true voice only becomes louder when we've followed the voice of deception so long that our lives our completely off course.  Or when we listen to our true voice day after day.

Since it's the start of a new week, I want you to make a small promise to yourself to do something that you've been putting off. Or to do something that requires daily action (like working out, meditating, whatever). Then watch as the deception shows up. Not as a scary creature, but as "you."  Once deception arrives, the next move is yours.  What will you do? Will you listen or will you act despite what you are feeling?  This week, I urge you to practice acting in spite of the deception's presence.

 Practice honoring your word.  If you say you will do it, then do it.

Perhaps next week, I'll talk more on the subject of how dangerous emotions can be.  I'm a Cancer and we're said to be emotional people.  I've had to learn, the hard way, how to manage the destructive thoughts that lead to unproductive emotions.

Do you have any topics you'd like me to cover in a future Motivation Monday post?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This wash day I decided to spice it up a little.  Normally,  I start by pre-pooing on dry hair.  If my hair has been excessively dry, I'll pre-poo with a moisture heavy conditioner like Kanechom Shea Butter if I want a little more strength, I might go for coconut oil.  This week I opted for the coconut oil but instead of jumping right into the process, I decided to take one more step.

Inspired by the post I did on the importance of penetration in our hair journey, and having thought back to my hair analysis results which revealed that my hair was suffering from product buildup, I opted to reach for my trusty clarifying shampoo.  I've yet to do a formal review on Neutrogena's Anti-Residue Shampoo but I love this little bottle so much.  It has fantastic cleaning power without over stripping the hair.  Only wish it came in a larger bottle.  
Anyhow, I began by creating 5 large sections and creating a series of loose buns with each section.  I stepped into the shower and proceeded to take down each bun and wash the sections individually with the Anti-Residue Shampoo.  Once that was done, I stepped out of the shower and allowed my hair to dry to around 70%.  (*Side note- Next time I follow this process, I'll be using a moisturizing shampoo after the clarifying to see if it's beneficial to adding moisture back in).  

Once my hair was mostly dry, I began the official "pre-poo" by applying coconut oil the hair like I would normally.  Allowing the coconut oil to sit on the hair for an hour or so allowed for better penetration.  If I'm ever short on time, I may hop under the hooded dryer for 15-20 mins.  I jumped in the shower and applied WEN Honey Fig and cleansed (adding the moisture back in my hair).  After allowing the hair to dry again to around 70%, I added a blend of Kanechom Shea Butter mixed with Silicon Mix Pear Protein, Kanechom Intense Care and a capful of Baby Face Pure Protein. 

It felt like I was rinsing melted butter out of my hair. That's how creamy and soft everything was.  While standing in the shower, I thought about how glad I was that I clarified first so my hair could receive the full benefit of this wonderful blend of conditioners and protein.   I lost much less hair than usual during my roller set and I could tell immediately that my hair was stronger as a result of fully absorbing the protein.  The end result of the process was perfect.  

I'm for sure doing this pre-pre-poo step in the future. My only qualm is how many times I had to jump in the shower.  I think I'm going to experiment with using a clarifying conditioner as my pre-poo. Suave & VO5 have some options that I can grab next time I'm at Walmart but I'll also keep my eyes open for higher quality clarifying conditioners to add to my product lineup.   

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

I received a fantastic question from a reader, that I felt deserved it's own blog post.  She's creating a healthy, fit body by working out regularly and was wondering how to wear her hair in a way that's appropriate for work and also works to support her hair journey.

There are a few concerns when it comes to working out and our hair.

1|  Maintaining decent looking edges after the workout is complete.
2|  Keeping the length of the hair from excessive contact with sweat.
3|  Being presentable when working out and after.
4|  Keeping the scalp clean and healthy

We should all know by now, that any loose hairstyles are an absolute no-no.  There's too much working against you.  Humidity levels seek to create frizzy, poofy hair. If any loose ends touch your sweat, you can almost bet on dryness and eventual breakage to those areas.  So we are all in agreement that restricting the hair is the best way to go.  But what are the best ways to do so?
Whenever I workout publicly, it typically happens early morning.  If I'm exercising outdoors, I will make sure that a satin scarf is involved.  Aesthetically, it isn't ideal but, I'd rather look a little homely for an hour or so in front of strangers than to come back with hair ravaged by the morning humidity.  Wearing a satin scarf keeps my edges in check and protects the rest of my hair from swelling up from humidity.  One thing I can do differently is to play around with styling my scarf in a way that actually looks decent.

My gym is filled with lots of young, fit, attractive people. So sometimes I don't want to wear my scarf and be the oddball.  On those days, I rely on the trusty top knot.  It's cute, flattering and keeps my hair looking great.  If I'm feeling extra fancy, I'll put on those thin headbands (as seen below) to accessorize the look.

I once wore the top knot for like a week straight without taking it down.  Afterwards, I was filled with great regret.  My hair wasn't being moisturized properly.  Tangles formed and the effects of working out without putting in any effort to restore the hair, caught up to me. Don't end up like me.  Restore the hair as frequently as possible.

Restoration.  I think this is key to maintaining healthy hair while working out regularly.  I focused too much on a "no fuss" style instead of thinking about how to keep my hair at it's healthiest while working out.  It's important to bring moisture into the hair once the workout is complete.  This will help to keep the hair flexible reducing breakage from having the hair restricted.  It also matters that we follow all of the rules of healthy bunning.

 Buns are cool, but if you're so inclined, try out some of the neato braid styles that can protect the hair while working out and provide the basis for a super cute braidout when you head to work.  Just make sure to moisturize and seal that braid to the fullest so, when you take it down, your braidout looks amazing.  Sealing is really important. Again, the goal is to create a barrier between humidity and your hair and sealing will do just that.  I also like coconut oil for braidouts because it add a slight shine which makes the style look fresh and healthy. Coconut oil make sink into the hair so add another  (light) oil to seal the  outer layer.

Drink up!  Drink  up! Drink up!
You will get a few benefits by drinking lots of water before, during and after workouts.  First, the more water you drink while you are working out, the easier it is to maintain your body temp and manage sweating.  Sweat is the real enemy here.  I want illustrate the importance of drinking a lot of water by using urine as an example.  The less water you drink, the darker the urine and stronger the scent.  If you, on the other hand, are drinking 1-3 liters a day (or more), your urine is likely clear in color and orderless.  Your sweat, if you don't drink a lot of water will be more concentrated.  Concentrated sweat messes up your flow.  Your scalp will feel dirty, your hair will feel drier.

Managing your workout is another option.  For example, you can do low impact, strength building exercises on your work days and go all out with the cardio on (or closer to) wash days.  If you have enough time between the workout and heading to work, you can play around with quick ways to style your hair using Caruso rollers.

1| They serve to add moisture back in the hair
2| You can use it daily without damage.
3| You can wear your hair in cute, curly styles for work.

Play around with ways to cleanse the scalp between washes.  Perhaps you can mist a little coconut vinegar on the scalp to help keep the pH balance in check (coconut vinegar has a milder scent than apple cider and won't offend your co-workers).  I haven't tried dry shampoos but if you sweat a lot, that could be another option.  Lastly, if you want to go all out in your workouts, you can try working out after work, then you have all evening  (and overnight) to pamper your hair and prepare it for work the next day.

Hope that helps!

Got questions? Send me a note.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Retaining length is pretty much the essence of a successful hair journey.  Sure, we focus a lot on growth, but I think this is a by product of trying to compensate for all the progress lost from breakage.  If we retain our length, no matter how slow our growth, we move towards our goal.  This works out beautifully if you are a master at stretching relaxers and protective styling like a boss, but what if you're like me and also have some harmful habits that actually work against you?

I'm a compulsive hair handler. Worse yet, I man-handle my hair as a way of dealing with stress. It's somewhat subconscious, but when I'm overwhelmed with work, I rake my fingers through my hair incessantly.  It's a problem.  Sometimes, when I awake from my trance, I look down and see a ton of hairs on the floor in the wake of my destruction.  I'm also not as gentle as I could be while roller setting.  Again, lots of things can go wrong in this scenario.  Lastly, when I wore daily buns to work, I would allow days to go by without moisturizing.  I thought, "as long as I left my hair alone, I'd be fine."  Boy was I wrong.

Even with all these horrible habits (and multiple setbacks), I've still manged to retain length. I think it's good for me to talk about it out loud so I can be reminded of what works and continue to do more of it.  I think a big contributor to my length retention was when I invited Pure Protein into my hair journey.  Yes the product is great but even beyond that, I know had a way of adding strength, little by little, on a weekly basis.  I was no longer afraid of the protein because it blended beautifully with my moisturizing conditioners. As we know, consistency will give you all the results you desire.  For the first time ever, I was consistent with my protein.  Which meant that I was less likely to experience setbacks related to gradual breakage.
I still manipulate more than I should but now, the number of broken hairs at the end of my rampage is far fewer than before.  What has helped me more than anything is the addition of  the Evain Facial spray into my moisturizing routine.   You should see me when I use it, I lift sections of hair up and mist deep down in the parts that never previously would receive any daily moisturizing love.  My hair is transforming right before my very eyes.  I mist, rub in a watery moisturizer, and finish off with Gleau.  The difference in the elasticity of my hair is undeniable.

My hair products have now become a collection of soldiers, hand selected to seek out weakness and address it. Because I'm my own enemy, I work diligently to put safeguards in place to protect me from my own destruction.  That's why I'm always on the lookout for breakthrough ingredients like natural keratin, 18-MEA, ceramides, Ions that can repair split ends.  There's a method to my madness.  I'm trying to cure my own disease.  These products  have helped me tremendously.  Again, my previous setbacks were catastrophic, but now, I may lose a little here and there but overall, I'm still in the game.

Hair tools can rob you of all your progress and do it without a care in world.  That is why I invest in the highest quality possible.  I don't even use flat irons that much, but when I do, I need it to be awesome.  I need it to love my hair as much as I do.  Lastly, I eat healthy and drink things like bamboo tea &  green smoothies not necessarily for hair growth, but because I believe that having naturally stronger (nourished) hair will give me a slight edge.  So when I'm over manipulating, the hair is tougher and better able to withstand the extra stress I constantly put on it.

It's all about safeguards in place to make sure that whatever it takes, we will reach our hair goals. Nothing is an obstacle, not even ourselves.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I went through this phase, last year where I was constantly on the hunt for the perfect red lipstick.  Prior to that, my "lipstick" collection only consisted of various shades of nude lip glosses.  Nude.  The color I felt most comfortable in.  My reasoning was that nude would somewhat conceal my already full lips.

Years ago, I read a short article in a fashion magazine where a woman described the exhilaration she experienced after wearing a "red lip" daily for a week.  I can't recall the last time I saw someone sporting red lipstick in the middle of the day.  It's just not something that happens regularly.  So when I chose to seek out bright, red lipstick, I was making a proclamation.  The simple act of wearing a bold color on my lip was sending a clear message to myself (and the world) that I've embraced the parts of myself that I've previously suppressed.  I'm actually inviting people to notice me versus being in my old way of wanting to disappear in the crowd of non distinct faces.  Wearing red lipstick, for no special reason, was a sign of courage.

When we think of the word "fears," we generally focus on the big scary ones like the fear of heights, flying, fear of speaking publicly.  But I invite you to be present to your "discomforts." Our discomforts are the things we typically avoid but don't publicly claim as a fear.  But it is.  I had a fear of standing out because of wearing a bright red lip.  But, age related wisdom has taught me that I must hold my head high, take a deep breath and step forward in the direction of my fears discomforts. So I did.  When I purchased these crimson lipsticks, it wasn't for the purpose of wearing for special occasions or for a night out.  My intention was to develop the comfort level with being noticeable  in the most mundane of situations.

One challenge that I've set for the remainder of the year, is to consistently tackle my discomforts.  There's always something great available on the other side of comfort.  The new found sense of accomplishment, the bravery I can take with me when I face my next challenge, all of that will be mine.  And all that was required was the boldness to up-apologetically wear a red lip.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

During our "Avoiding Setbacks" series, we didn't have a direct conversation about addressing consistent breakage.  Breakage, as we all know, is the arch enemy of the Hair Journey.  Basically, all of your hard work can be robbed from you if breakage isn't properly managed.

For the most part, there are two main sources of breakage.
1| Hair that is damaged will break
2| Excessive manipulation causes breakage

In essence, if you can strengthen your hair and manage breakage related to manipulation (also known as mechanical damage), then you have a fighting change.  By the way, if you can deal with the #1 cause of damage (weakness in the hair) then you are indirectly impacting breakage cause #2.  Why? Because stronger, more resilient hair, will be better able to withstand the stress of manipulation.  We've all probably experienced dealing with hair so weak that combing meant broken hairs all over the place.  That's truly a scary place to be.

That's why I'm here to offer a little help if your intention is to build additional strength in your hair.  From my experience, you can tackle weak hair little by little in various steps in your regimen.  For example, if I've noticed more broken hairs than usual, I'll probably kick off wash day with a coconut oil pre-poo.  My goal is to allow enough time for the coconut oil to sink into the strands, bringing with it the delicious natural protein and fatty acids.

During the wash, I decide on which protein rich conditioner to use depending on the level of damage.  Sometimes, I just feel like my hair needs a little boost.  In that case, I like to utilize unique proteins that mimic the natural strength in the hair like special keratin found in Paul Mitchell's Awapuhi.  Redken's Extreme Strength builder contains 18-MEA + Ceramides. I've discussed both of these ingredients at length in the past and how much they mean to our hair.  I respect Redken's hair mask because it contains ingredients that rebuild the integrity of the hair without creating that feeling of a heavy protein treatment. Speaking of ceramides.  My all time fave is Biolage CeraRepair.  Instead of using as directed, I apply to my hair after the deep condition prior to roller set.  Works like a dream as a leave in conditioner.

But, in all honesty, my favorite of all protein building products has got to be BabyFace's pure protein.  The level of gratitude I have for those who created this product can not be expressed.  I adore how this liquid turns all of my moisturizing conditioners into powerhouses.  No need to go out and buy a bunch of conditioners that leave my hair with a stiff feeling.  Baby Face Pure protein is every thing.  No one should be without it.

The other day, I stumbled upon a product on Amazon  that immediately peaked my interest for two reasons.  Reason #1 | Great Reviews.
Reason #2 | The price.

Typically, when a hair product falls under a higher price range, it likely to perform better than it's lower priced counterparts. That's not always the case, but in my experience, there's a correlation between performance and price.  A $36.00  leave-in conditioner reconstructor spray is a bit steep.  But everyone kept using words like "amazing!" "I love it!" "Best product ever!"  I have no choice but to try Tiger Protein Reconstructor spray for myself.  Nothing would make me happier than a high quality strengthening product that can protect my hair during  high manipulation that occurs via roller setting process.

When your hair is strong and resilient, all is right with the world.  I'm always looking for suggestions. What's your favorite anti-breakage product?

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