Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm completely enjoying the warmer weather but each day that passes, means we're one day closer to summer.  Last summer, I stumbled upon a major beauty essential.  I kept a bottle of Evian Facial Spray with me at all times.  Then, an Instagram Beauty Secrets post introduced me to Chanel's Hydra Beauty's Essence Mist.  What lured me the most about this product is how many yummy ingredients it has.  I mean, who wouldn't want to mist themselves with ingredients such as camellia flower extract, vitamin E, & hyaluronic acid and other moisture boosters?

On one trip to the mall, I dipped into Neiman Marcus and tested Chanel's Hydra Mist for myself.  Long after the water absorbed into my skin, the feeling of moisture remained on the skin.  Although I loved the product, I couldn't convince myself to invest $90.00 into a 1.7 ounce bottle.  Maybe in the future but, for now, I've decided do a little experimenting with adding various boosters to my DIY facial spray.  

So far I have a ideas in mind.

First on the list is rosewater.  Can you imagine how decadent it would feel to experience the aromatic fragrance of roses each time you mist your face?  Rosewater soothes the skin.  It also contains antioxidants, and vitamins A& C,  which is great from the skin.  Another reason to add rose water to my spray mister is for it's astringent and anti inflammatory properties, which will help keep acne at bay.

The skin is it's happiest when it's slightly acidic so I'm inclined to add a few ingredients to lower the pH of the facial spray.  On top of my list is coconut vinegar, which has taken the place of ACV in my regimen.  If I go too many days without using a low pH toner, my skin suffers a dermatitis outbreak.  The acidity keeps my skin at it's healthiest so lowering the pH of this facial mist is a must.  I'll just make sure to keep my eyes shut, when I mist, to avoid getting any mishaps.  

Next on the list of facial spray boosters is powdered MSM.  MSM is sometimes called the beauty mineral because of it's sulfur content.  I read a post where a girl raved that applying MSM cream on her face every day filled in (and faded) her deep acne scars. So it's an absolute must.   
Lastly, I'm considering adding a little powdered vitamin C to transform my facial mist into a mild version of a  vitamin C serum.  Vitamin C on the skin can have major anti aging properties.   Some vitamin C serums can get very pricey but why spend all that money when you can make some at home for yourself? 

Oh, one more.  I think this time around I may use acid water as a base.  If you've never heard of acid water before, it's basically the opposite of alkaline water.  This water has a low pH and is known as beauty water. Why? Because our hair and skin both prefer slightly acid environments and respond well to acid water.  Acid water, and all of the other skin healthy ingredients will make this the ultimate in facial mists.  Oh, and rosewater, MSM, coconut vinegar are also good for the hair, so it easily doubles as a hair moisturizing mist as well. 

First things first, I'm off to get smaller size aluminum bottles which are more portable.  It'll also allow me to take make smaller batches.  Once that's settled, I'll start formulating.  Can't wait to get started.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I realize that most of the time, I'm engaged in a mini battle of the mind where I attempt to motivate myself into doing something that I don't feel doing.  But I know I should be doing it, so I  silently try to convince myself into action. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

That's why I decided to create a system of strategies for whenever that feeling comes up.  The goal is to increase the rate of action even when I don't feel motivated at that moment.
1. Visualizing myself doing the action.
Whenever I don't feel like getting up and exercising, chances are it's because my mind wants to avoid the experience. It thinks I'll be uncomfortable and miserable. Maybe it's right.  But only because I allow it to think that way.  What if instead I create new pictures of myself walking outside, taking in the fresh air, feeling the warm sun on my skin, being energized by the increased blood flow.  Suddenly, going for a walk sounds amazing.  Whenever you don't feel like doing something, be present to the thoughts you have that make it seem unattractive.  Change everything about that picture and create a new one focusing on all the wonderful aspects of taking the action.

2. Focusing on what I will get once I do it.
When you get that internal prompting to do something, it's because you want to experience the benefits of taking that action.  With each action you take, you receive a benefit. It's kinda like an exchange.  Most times. the biggest benefit comes from repeated action. But every time you take a positive action, you receive something in exchange.  To motivate myself, I think about the benefit I will get in exchange for my action.  For instance, if I do some of the work that I've been putting off, I get a feeling of accomplishment.  My mind also doesn't have to constantly remind me of what I need to do which takes away the feeling of  stress and anxiety.  In exchange for doing some work, I can enjoy a calm, stress free day.  In exchange for eating a salad for lunch, I'll enjoy a flatter belly and clearer skin. And so forth.

3. Do it for only 1-2 minutes.
Another way of motivating myself into action is to tell myself that I only have to endure it for a minute or two.  That's it. Then I'll be done.  This works well for actions that you really don't feel like doing.  Set you timer for a minute and go! Chances are, that minute will go by really fast and, once you're in the flow, you'll go for 5 minutes and maybe even 15.    Last week, I practiced doing small de-cluttering sessions of 5, 10 and even 15 minutes per room.  The outcome was much greater than I expected.  You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in that little  amount of time.

4. Rewards.
Establishing a reward for yourself before you take action is extremely powerful.  Rewards multiply the benefits. First, you receive an internal reward for completing the action, then you layer on another reward as a symbol of your accomplishment.  It's like double dipping!  Suddenly, repeating that task doesn't seem so hard.  A good tip is to create different rewards depending on the level of action.  Start small and build up the reward for taking greater actions. Or maybe log all of your actions and reward yourself at the end of the week.  Have fun with it, it's up to you.

5. Fall in love with the process.
One habit, I learning to cultivate is loving the process.  I'm one of those people who look for results, and when the results aren't evident,  I stop trying.  Of course that type of thinking will demotivate me. My old mindset was like a child who only wants to play if I get the ball.  If I don't get the ball, I pout, call the game stupid, and go home (crying).  Instead, I should be happy with the experience of having to play with the other kids, hearing their laughter. feeling the excitement of everyone around me having fun.

The process is just as important more important than the outcome.  The process has the ability to develop me into an elevated version of myself.  The version of me who builds a million dollars in wealth is very different than the version who wins a million in the lotto.  The process builds mental muscles that impact my choices for years to come.  The process causes me to reflect on what I've learned and how I can to next time to get even better.  The process is invaluable and I should be grateful for every second it.

Try some, or all, of these tips and you'll be motivated in no time.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This post is to commemorate the return of on my favorite hair products all time.  It was one of my staples for the longest but somehow, I made the mistake of not purchasing a replacement when I ran out a while back.  I think it may have something to do with stumbling upon Keraste's Nutri Thermique mask.  Which took over Keracare's spot as my main hydrating conditioner.

Although I love Kerastase with all of my heart, it should have never taken the place of Keracare Humecto.  So, to make up for lost time, I decided to go all out and invest in the 5lb tub.  Yeah, it's pricey but compared to Kerastase, it's a steal.  Not to mention how much product I get to enjoy for $50.00.  Humecto is one of those conditioners that my hair never seemed to get tired of so I predict that I'll be scrapping the bottom of the tub in the near future.
Yesterday, I got to crack that baby open and take it for a spin.  The conditioner's scent instantly took me back to a simpler time.  I didn't have much knowledge about special ingredients, I just knew well how my hair responded with each use.  In typical fashion, I blended a small amount of Pure Protein into small batch of Humecto, mixed with a Sprush, and began the application.  The creamy, moist texture practically melted into my hair.

Once saturated, I misted with coconut oil spray to further seal in the moisture, then sat under the steamer.  Forty minutes later, I jumped into the shower for a final rinse.  Seriously, my hair was so buttery & soft, I could barely contain myself.  My hair hadn't felt this conditioned in a very long time.  Perhaps it was the combination of having clarified, then steaming in a yummy conditioner with oil.  Whatever it was, it was magical.
A day later, my hair is happy and ultra-moisturized.  Humecto + the washday L.C.O method are the perfect combination.  Detangling was a non-issue and my hair still carries the scent of Humecto which I love.  Now that Humecto is back in my life for good, I'm seriously considering picking up Keracare Hydrating Detangling shampoo since I've just run out of WEN's Honey Fig.  I think the shampoo/conditioner combination could be absolutely amazing.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

This winter,  fell in love with Johnson's Baby oil gel thanks to a recommendation of the beautiful stewardess with fantastic skin.  It definitely served its purpose, keeping the skin soft, moisturized while giving a little hint of shine.

Now that's a bit warmer, I set my sights on a suitable alternative appropriate for spring and summer.  The answer came in the form of Palmer's Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Body Oil.  I can't remember that last time I used actual lotion on my legs.  From my experience, layering thick creams on my body, day after day, only created a layer of unwanted buildup.  Oils, on the other hand, absorbed easily into the skin.
 Legs that reflect light are the epitome of sexy. Something wonderful happens whenever I use an oil based product on the skin instead of a cream.  Somehow, the legs instantly appear more toned and healthy.  Perhaps that's why fitness competitors slather themselves in oil to show off their hard work.  A little oil on damp skin after a shower works incredible wonders.

But, let's be honest, the main reason why I grabbed this bottle was to take advantage of Palmer's world famous chocolate scented products.  I can think of nothing better that walking around looking and smelling like a chocolate drop.  Actually, the chocolate scent is mild and non-overbearing which won't make you feel too self-conscious about smelling like you've been drizzled in chocolate.

The oil blend contains cocoa butter and vitamin e so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll have an effect on any light scarring I have on my legs.  The chocolatey oil blend easily sinks into the skin, leaving it soft and nourished.   One of my favorite summer finds so far.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lately, I've been experimenting with washing more frequently.  Although I don't wash as frequently as I'd like, going through the wash day experience every 4-6 days has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on what needs to be improved.  After each wash I roller set.  Last wash day I used a spray bottle with water to refresh the sections prior to rolling.

The end result was less than ideal as my hair felt a little dryer than normal once I removed the rollers.  I quickly realized that using water only was a huge mistake. But, I was out of my moisturizing leave-ins and I was desperate.  After decided that I wasn't going to make the same mistake again, I quickly changed my strategy.
Normally, after removing the rollers, I immediately moisturize and sealed with Aveda Moisturizer and Gleau.  This time, I decided to try the L.C.O (liquid, cream, oil) method, but on a macro level.  You see, when I step out of the shower, my hair is already soaking wet.  Why not layer on moisturizer and oil right then?  That way the hair is protected from the manipulation taking place as I roller set.  That's exactly what I did.   While my hair was still wet from the rinse, I reached for Aveda Daily Moisturizer and began to apply liberally.  Then, I decided to revert back to an age old practice of applying moisturizing conditioner as a leave-in.  It had worked brilliantly for me in the past so I didn't hesitate.

After rubbing a little Kanechom Shea Butter into my strands, I reached for the Misto sprayer. The Misto is perfect because of it's ability to evenly distribute oil to the strands without making the hair greasy of weighed down.  I sprayed a little from both of my Mistos (one containing coconut oil, the other jojoba).  Once complete, I sat down to roller set.  The very first thing I noticed was how much slip my hair had.  I deep conditioned with Redken Extreme Mask which is great for having the sacred ingredient 18-MEA, but it offers little to no slip.

The wash day L.C.O gave me all the slip I needed to easily detangle.  It also helped me to retain moisture throughout the roller setting process which meant that I didn't need to re-mist.  My hope is that this also means that moisture will be easier to retain until next wash day.  This doesn't mean that I won't moisturize and seal during the week, but it does help better protect my hair while I'm sitting under the dryer on wash day.  The process left my hair soft and moisturized.  Since this is still part of my experiment, I'll play around with using different creamy moisturizers. Perhaps, I'll use a heat protection cream, like Ciment Thermique, to further protect my hair under the dryer.  Another option is to use a split end protection cream, like Nexxus Pro Mend Leave in to repair split ends and sealing it with oil.

There's lots of options but I like this idea of doing a mid-wash L.C.O to deeply seal in the moisture that already in the hair.  One thing I also noticed is that my hair has retained moisture very well, much more than normal.  Next wash, I'll clarify then do it all over again, this time focusing more on the ends.  I'm also excited about trying misting a little coconut oil prior to hoping under the steamer.  Perhaps the cuticle layer will open and better absorb the micro droplets of coconut oil.  Can't wait to try that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A few weeks back, I found my way to one of the last remaining book stores in my city.  With a stack of magazines in hand, I headed to small in house coffee shop and ordered the smallest size chai tea on the menu.  The cup of warm tea set me back several dollars but I was grateful for the experience.  There are few things I love more than a cup of chai tea.......well except for bamboo tea.

So I made a decision that will change the course of my life forever!  I headed over to Amazon to see if I could purchase my own set of plastic "coffee shop" cups.  My intention was to replicate the euphoric experience in the comfort of my home.
A few days later I received the stack of cups. Within minutes, I was brewing a large batch of chai-bamboo tea.  Just one or two bamboo tea bags was sufficient to produce a full half gallon of tea. The chai is a blend I purchased from Tevana. The Once done, I placed the half gallon glass mason jar in the fridge to chill while I conjured up the many ways I'd use this cute little cups.
It's been a few days since my discovery and I've consumed well over a gallon of tea. I keep a full cup in my office, next to my water bottle.  When I've got to hit the road for errands, my nifty cup of tea comes along with me.  With every sip, I relish in how much money I'm saving by brewing large batches while avoiding the coffee shops.  I'm also enjoying strong nails and thick new growth, thanks to the silica content of the bamboo tea.  Since the bamboo tea is so mild, I only really taste the spicy chai flavors,while reaping all of the beauty benefits.
But I'm not stopping with tea, these cups are perfect for making smoothies on the go.  In the past, I'd use small plastic mason jars for smoothies but when I'm out and about, the empty jar would sit in my car and get all yucky.  That's why I love the convenience of these disposable cups. I love them so much that I'm headed back to get the larger size.

Monday, March 23, 2015

We're wrapping up the first three months of the year.  As we head into the second quarter, I'd like to try something a little different.  I heard a goal achieving technique mentioned by a couple of different people so I figured I should give it a shot.  It's this idea of planning out your goals and actions in two week increments.  Basically you create a goal for the month, then write down what specific actions you'll do for the next to weeks that will bring you towards your goal.  At the end of the two weeks, you analyze and create another two week plan that'll bring you the most results.

The second individual who brought up this idea called it "two week experiments."  I fell in love with the idea of two week experiments for a few reasons.  First.  The word experiment takes away some of the stress and pressure of having to achieve a certain outcome.  With goals, you have to achieve it, otherwise you've failed.

Experiments, on the other hand, are somewhat fun in nature.  It's reminiscent of middle school science class.  An experiment brings out the curious nature in us.  We want to take the steps to see what the outcome will be.  The outcomes isn't necessarily judged as good or bad.  They're just results.  And if we want to achieve a different result, we conduct a different set of actions.

Sometimes, with a goal, we lose steam halfway through, and give up. Experiments keep us interested.  We're tracking and measuring along the way.  We take the feedback given and make the decision to run a new experiment or accept the results.  With a personal experiment, we also track and record our actions and outcomes which can come in handy in the future if you want to recreate the same results.
The most valuable aspect of the experiment, in my opinion, is that you can use it as a way to get over your fears.  Dedicate two weeks towards taking actions that you've been avoiding.  Stay consistent and if you see no measurable outcome, you can conduct the experiment again (changing some of the variables) or you can stop.
People are always saying that you will get great results if you step outside your comfort zone.  Why not test that presumption using a few personal experiments.  I'm really excited about doing comfort zone experiments.   With every experiment, there's a hypothesis.  In the case of the personal experiment, the hypothesis is the outcome I would like to create.  I'll theorize which actions are likely to cause/create those items and get to work.  Once the experiment is over, I'll measure my result.  If the results are ideal, I can replicate the experiment or start a new one.  If the results are not as expected, I can theorize why and adjust the experiment accordingly.  There's no failure. Just results.

Since it's Monday, I'm setting up my first two week experiment. I'm so excited to try this.  My mind is bubbling over with experimentation ideas.  I'll start with one at a time and once I get the hang of it, I'll layer on several experiments in a two week period.  Just to make sure I follow through, I'll make sure to reward myself at the end of the experiment to help it develop into a habit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I don't know about you but it's pretty warm in my neck of the woods.  Feels like we went from winter to summer in the blink of an eye.  I'm quite sad because this winter, I had the most fun in adding a few really cute jackets to my collection.  The right outwear is pretty much the easiest way to transform an simple tee and jeans into a stylish and complete outfit.

Typically, warmer weather means no to outerwear, but I refuse to give into that notion and I'm determined to find pieces appropriate for warmer weather.  Here's what I'm inspired by.
One thing I'd like to do differently this spring/summer is to experiment with vests.  This leather vest is pretty flawless and takes her jeans and tee to the next level.  Last year, I wore my demin vest pretty much daily.  This summer, I'm adding a few additional vest to create more variety.
I'm also inspired by the idea of rocking your winter jackets around the waist as an accessory to your spring look. 
Will be on the lookout of lighter versions of my favorite winter coats.  The more lightweight the better.
I love the idea of wearing long sleeve shirts as outerwear. Demin shirts are the most obvious choice but we can also get creative with printed/patterned shirts layered casually over solid, basic tops.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Today we're bringing back the topic of financial growth.  As I mentioned in my 2015 intentions post, this is the Year of Abundance!  Lately, in my conversations with others, most share how they are unhappy at their current job. Almost all of them dream of doing something on their own and becoming financially independent. Yet most of them haven't taken any action to achieve that goal.

Back when was in my early twenties, I still worked at my dad's business.  It was a little shop where he sold merchandise and trinkets to tourists.  The work wasn't at all glamorous and I dreamed of the day when I could finally get an office job in corporate America.  At the age of 26, I finally got a "real job." A very entry level position in my field earning less than $10.00.  But I was elated.  Finally, my path to financial future was set.

Once at my new company, I set my sets on learning as much as possible so I can prepare myself for greater responsibilities.  My dad taught me the value of working hard and I was ready to show the decision makers how hard I was willing to work.  Then one day, I read this article which changed everything.  He talked about passive income and making money 24/7 instead of during a few working hours.  He called us morons for thinking that a job equals security.  I worked in the HR Field so I know first hand that job security is all smoke and mirrors.  Once I was awakened to the path called financial freedom, I was hungry to learn more.  Books such as the 4 Hour Work Week inspired me to create a muse that could generate income and free me from the trappings of corporate life.
The entire time I desired freedom, I also strived to increase my income.  In a few short years, I was able to grow my income substantially.  Here's a tip, if you want to earn a high salary, you've got to be willing to move around.  Meaning, if you stay in the same position for years, you are robbing yourself of potential income.  By the time I left my first company, four years after being hired making $9.75 an hour, I received several promotions and was earning just over $50k a year.  Not bad.  But not enough.  So I kept my eyes/ears open for other opportunities.  Soon I was with another organization which provided even more financial opportunities.  Everything seemed to be going great!  Except for the fact that I consistently heard that small voice urging me to create other income streams.

I realized that I didn't have the skill set to magically create a viable outside income stream so I started at the bottom.  At the time, online banks were offering great interest rates on savings accounts so I began saving as much as I could.  I'd read the bank statements and see that I was making money every month just by having money in the bank.  Finally, I was making money while I slept.   The realization that my money was able to generate more money was key.  But I wanted more.

Then I decided to set some savings aside and invest it.  Not like mutual funds, I had my 401(k) for that.  No, I needed to invest it into an asset that would generate income for years to come.  I was completely sold on the idea of having financial freedom (and time freedom) in the present, not when I retired.   I didn't know anyone in real life who was on a journey to financial independence so I learned from individuals online.  I flooded my mind with stories of people who left their jobs and found success as a way of building up my belief.  I stopped looking at my paycheck as solely an income source and started to see it as funding for investments.  I saved, but I also invested in my business.  I did this for years.  Some years, I lost money.  Most years, the "business" behaved more like a hobby.  But I stayed consisted no matter what.  Finally, I was able to achieve the dream of freeing up my time to focus on building assets that will generate financial freedom.

If you're one of those people who aren't happy with your current financial situation or your current job, you have an asset, a tool, that can help you change the situation.  Stop thinking of your paycheck as just a way to pay bills.  Sure, you've gotta pay the bills, but you should also be paying yourself.  Save until you have a comfortable cushion, then utilize a portion towards acquiring or building assets.  An honorable goal would be to earn your first $1.00 from a means different from your employer.  A dollar may not seem like much, but it represents the potential you have to earn outside of your employer.

I know some really smart people who are miserable at their jobs, yet they do nothing to alter the situation.  I worked 50-70 hour weeks and still believed in my dream enough to wake up early and give up my weekends so I can finally live the life that I wanted.  Looking back, I'm glad I never gave up when all the hours put in produced little results.  I'm glad I didn't get discouraged when I was only earning a few dollars a month from those hours of effort.  I'm glad I didn't stop when someone asked how much I was earning on my side projects and responded "oh" (disappointedly) at my response.

If you are reading this post, and you desire a life different from the one you currently have, fight for it.  And when the results are small, get excited!  To me, the tiny result was a seed. If someone gives me apple seeds, am I frustrated because I didn't get an apple? No! I get excited because the seeds will give me an abundance of apples for years to come.  Your paycheck is like a bag of apples.  It's finite.
The other income streams you create have the infinite nature contained in one tiny seed.

It does you no good to feel trapped in your job and do nothing about it.  I was watching a movie on Netflix about these people who travel through parallel universes.  When you believe there's another version of you....of your life, it allows you to break free of the mentality of working for a check.  I believed in the version of my life where I wake up and have complete freedom to create the day so I did what was necessary to make that reality.

If you need some inspiration to begin your journey to freedom I'll recommend some books that helped me along the way.

+ David Bach ~ The Automatic Millionaire :  This book convinced me to make saving money an automatic ritual.  It allowed me to see my savings account grow which helped my mind get comfortable with seeing thousands in an account and not just hundreds.

+ Tim Ferris ~ The Four Hour Work Week:  After reading The 4HWW, I released the theory of saving until retirement, then enjoying my life was not desirable.  That's when I decided to create a muse that would bring time freedom.

+ Grant Cardone ~ The 10X Rule: Building a business requires hard work and extreme focus.  Grant does an amazing job of helping us elevate our efforts to 10X levels!

+ The Secret Full Movie ~ I watched this video a bijillion times.  One phrase that I always repeat silently to myself is "checks in the mail!" I've been doing it for years and I actually still receive checks in the mail.  ;)

+ MJ Demarco ~ The Millionaire Fastlane ~ This is a mindset book that helps us break free of "slow lane thinking."  One of the best books on financial freedom on the market.

Miscellaneous Actions that kept me motivated:

+ Keeping a spread sheet of my assets and debt. Updating it monthly and establishing goals to grow my net worth.

+ Constantly listening to stories of people who created their ideal life.

+ Keeping a record of every dollar earned outside of my employment.  And being grateful for all it (even the losses).

+ Working with a Life Coaches who helped me expand my level of thinking (and my actions).

+ Enjoying small glimpses of the life I wanted to live.  For example, instead of eating lunch in the drab break room with no windows, I'd drive a couple miles to a wealthy neighborhood, sit at their cafes and eves drop on their conversations about their businesses.

+ Creative visualization exercises to increase belief and clearly define goals.


If you'd like to work with me 1on1 to help you reach your lifestyle goals.  Feel free to send me an email and we can connect.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Immediately after publishing the latest Instagram Beauty Secrets compilation, I  headed over to Amazon and proceeded to place an order for Cure Aqua Gel and an extra hard Salux cloth.  Within days, the product arrived and minutes later, I tried it for the first time.
Let's talk about my first couple experiences with Cure.  I grabbed the bottle and turned it around for instructions.  Unfortunately, all the text is in Japanese so I had no idea how to use.  "No worries, I thought,  I've seen 1-2 Youtube videos, let's just give it a try."  I pumped a small amount into my hands and rubbed it on "dirty skin."  By dirty skin, I mean that it was early evening and I hadn't cleansed since the A.M.  I reflected back to the Youtube tutorial where the girl rubbed her skin shortly after application. She mentioned that the "little white balls" that form as she massaged the product represented the dead skin cells being lifted on the face.

Suuure....I thought.  That seemed like a marketing ploy.  Kinda like how toothpaste manufactures added a minty flavor to make us think our teeth were cleaner after washing.  It seemed very unlikely, to me, that the skin cells would lift so quickly without hardly any effort.  Especially a product that his comprised of mostly water.  This is the reason why I used it on dirty skin.  If there was actually lifting of surface level skin, dirt, etc. I would be better able to assess based on the appearance of those little white balls.

The gel looks like your typical cream cleanser.  It kinda reminded of Fresh Soy Cleanser. Once I pumped it, I immediately realized that the consistency is not creamy at all, it's pretty watery.  Be careful not to pump too much or you might create waste.  I rubbed the watery gel on my face and had no idea what do to next. "Do I let it sit or do I rub it off right now?"  Moments later, I started rubbing.  The little balls began to form.  Instead of white little balls, mine were the color on the BB Creme that I applied hours before.

Instantly, I raised my level of belief in this product.  Without hardly any effort, dirt, oil (and skin?) was being lifted off my face. It was wonderful.  Later on that day, I noticed an increase in oil production in my cheek area.  This typically happens to me after a deep exfoliation.  All the dead skin that was blocking the oil from reaching the skin surface was no longer there.

The next day I used it again.  As part of my experiment, I avoided using the Clarisonic because I wanted to make sure the results were pure.  Once again, I my balls were cloudy and dark in color. It turns out that I wasn't following instructions which state that we should cleanse prior to use.  I litterally didn't use any cleanser between uses.  I really wanted to see what this product could do on it's own.  And yes, even though I did no "real" exfolilating with the Clarisonic, I still experienced soft, smooth skin.

When I finally read the instructions, I decided to cleanse using my Clarisonic and use Cure afterwards.  By the time I rinsed, I could instantly tell that I wouldn't need another session with Cure. The first two experiences, combined with the high powered action of the Clarisonic, made my skin baby soft and ultra smooth.  I'm really happy with the results.  The only thing I noted which could be a negative is that my skin felt a little dry after the Clarisonic.  I wonder if my skin got used to the gentle exfoliation and was caught off guard by intensity of the scrubbing brush.

Either way, I'm giving my stamp of approval on Cure Aqual Gel.  This product is perfect for those of you who read all my posts on exfoliation and think, "but Nadege, my skin is sensitive to all that scrubbing....I can't hang"  Cure does all the work for you and leaves your skin in tact.  Plus, you get a pretty decent size product.  When means,  there's enough product to use on my neck and shoulders prior to jumping in the shower.   Everyone should try this product because it's so different than anything else you currently have.  Your current exfoliators are either abrasive or they burn your skin. This one does none of that and it's still very effective.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A little while back, I talked about the new, amazing product by the  name of Olaplex.  This product line is basically changing the game when it comes to protecting hair from the dangers chemical processing.  Just to recap, the Olaplex system claims to have the ability to rebuild disulfide bonds in the hair.  Disulfide bonds give our hair its elasticity and strength. The Olaplex technology vows  to permanently rebuild these broken bonds.  The innovation that create Olaplex is so unique that they've secured 8 patents.  When hair product holds multiple patents, that let's me know that other formulations  on the market aren't able to compare.
The Complete System has three individual products. Actually, #1 & #2 are fundamental steps.  The third (#3) is an optional product that can be used at home to maintain great results.

For the sake of this review, I will share my experience using the system as a stand alone. Meaning, not in combination with a chemical process like bleaching or relaxing.

This is golden liquid that is applied to unconditioned hair.  Technically, you can apply to unwashed hair but if you think you've got some buildup, it's best to wash first, towel dry then apply.  The instructions ask you to dilute in a few ounces of water.  If the hair is extremely damaged, you can apply without diluting.  My experience is that mixing it with 3 ounces of water was a bit excessive. I had at least an ounce left over and I didn't know if I could use the remainder during the next wash so I threw it away.

The second time, I used much less water and found that I was able to fully saturate without creating much waste.  Oh, I should mention that I applied using one of my super duper misters. Which made it so much easier to apply.  It made the process highly efficient.  Using an applicator like this one created way too much run off and dripping.

Once the hair is fully saturated, I applied the Bond Perfector directly over the Bond Multiplier without washing.  The Bond Perfector is cream with a similar consistency to a conditioner.  Olaplex makes it clear that #2 is NOT a conditioner.  It's used to "link the remaining dilsulfied bonds before and after service, restoring strength, structure and integrity to the hair."

 The directions say to leave in for at least 10 minutes, but I attended a conference call yesterday with representatives from Olaplex who advised that the longer it's left in, the better.

The optional take home treatment also has the look and feel of a conditioner.  Olaplex states that #3 contains the same ingredients as #1 & #2.  So just using #3 is highly beneficial to the hair.  Again, this is not a conditioning treatment even though it looks and feels like it.  I've been using #3 as a Pre-pre-poo.  Meaning, I apply to dry hair, then layer conditioner over it.  On one occasion, I was feeling especially lazy after application and feel asleep with the #3 and conditioner in my hair (under a plastic cap).  Thank God there were no horrible consequences and my hair felt great.  The folks on the call said that if you're lounging around the house, it's ok to leave it in for extended periods.  One of the stylists on the call emphasized how important it is that the product is combed thoroughly combed through the hair so it doesn't sit on top of the hair.

They made it clear that OLAPLEX IS NOT A CONDITIONER. It works on the internal structure of the hair, while most conditioners work to repair the external hair shaft.  Because of this, it's important to put in as much effort as your normally would with your deep conditioning step.  The first couple of times I used it, I didn't focus on deep conditioning so I could see how it works on it's own.

Because Olaplex is not a protein, I didn't experience heavy stiffness or any issues even through I used the product back to back for several weeks.  Olaplex works really well when paired with a hydrating conditioner.  I even mixed Pure Protein in my deep conditioner, after applying  Olaplex with absolutely no problem.  The effectiveness of the treatment is correlated to the level of damage in the hair. So, if the hair is relatively healthy, you may no see a drastic transformation.

Regarding using Olaxplex with a chemical service.  I read online that a good practice would be to do an Olaplex treatment prior to a relaxer (maybe a few days before) to build the bonds.  This will ensure there's strength in the hair to endure the treatment.  Then, once the relaxer is rinsed out, you can use #1 & #2 to build back some of the broken bonds.  The result is stronger, more resilient hair.  I was tagged by an instabuddy who shared how happy she was with her Olaplex treatment post relaxer.

My experience was somewhat mixed.  Part of it was my fault. I tried (and failed) again to air dry so I couldn't tell if my hair felt healthier.  But what I did notice was that it much stronger.  My hair was much better equipped to handle manipulation without excessive breakage.  Once I went back to roller setting, I noticed the difference.  My hair just looked and felt healthier.  I anticipated a cumulative effect as I used the product week after week and I got it.  I barely lost any hair last wash.  One thing I haven't done yet was to apply #1 &#2, then sit under steamer for a deeper effect. Though I plan to try it within the next day or two.  I suspect this will create even more elasticity in the long run.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the brand and it's results.  If you have severely damaged hair, this product was practically made for you.  If you're hair is healthy and strong, this is a "nice to have."  If you're curious about the process, you can pick up #3 and try it at home.  If you go to a stylist for touch ups, please school him/her on Olaplex so they have it available for your at your next touch up.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It's time once again for another Instagram Beauty Secret round-up.  For those of you who aren't family with past Instagram Beauty posts, this is basically where I stalk various instagram accounts in hopes of finding golden nuggets that I can incorporate into my own beauty routine.   In past posts, I discovered gems such as GlamGlow, Capriclear, MAC's Spiked Pencil and many more.  Round 6 will not disappoint. 
First up are a couple finds from model Natasha who is know on Instagram for sharing fashion related posts.  When she gives us a glimpse of her facial beauty products, it's a real treat.  In the top pic, she's presenting Cure Aqua Gel and MALIN + GOETZ.  I've never heard of either brand so I had to do a little research.  Cure Aqua Gel is actually a water based exfoliating cleanser with natural ingredients.  According to their Amazon description, one bottle of Cure Gel is sold every 12 seconds in Japan.  The reviews are phenomenal. And you all know about how we feel about exfoliation around these parts.   Apparently, Cure Aqua Gel is so effective that you can actually see the dead skin cells lift as you massage the product into your skin.  But, they also claim that this is one of the most gentle exfoliators available.  Everyone talks about how good your skin looks after using.  

So yeah. I HAVE to try this. I'm going to experiment with this as a body exfoliator as well.  Can't wait.

The other product she's holding is MALIN + GOETZ grapefruit cleanser.  This too has solid reviews although it doesn't appear to be a cult classic like The Cure Gel.  As the weather shifts, I'm drawn to refreshing citrus scents and a grapefruit cleanser sounds yummy.  MALIN +GOETZ  boasts of brightening and clarifying properties. It's also microbial and great for removing makeup without stripping the skin or over drying.  This cleanser would be great as the weather heats up to manage the effects of excessive oil production. 

She's also trying out Rodial products which we've seen in a past Instagram Secrets post.  Natasha will be trying the Rodial products out and sharing her results.  Can't wait to find out her thoughts. 
I love this next Instagram Beauty Secret because it's not really a secret for us.  We've been known about Fermented Cod Liver Oil.  But it's nice to get confirmation about how it's benefiting others.  Mymanicuredmama posted this caption when she shared a image of herself and her favorite beauty secret:

"I NEVER get breakouts anymore!!! Not even hormonal breakouts.  There are several things I've done to improve my skin.  FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL is 1 of my skin secrets...."
Like  Manicuredmama, I too experienced a huge difference in breakouts once Fermented Cod Liver came into my life.  All that natural vitamin A combined with unprocessed omega 3 does the skin good.

Instagrammer @Osalovely finally reveals the secret to her flawless skin when she shares this message with her followers:

"I get asked a lot about my skin regimen (in public & online).   #1-Genetics #2-Mandelic acid 15% and glycolic acid 15% chemical peels together for a total of 30% .  There ya go!  You can have skin like a star with no [Photo]shop.  
While I do agree that genetics plays a role in great looking skin, there's a lot to be said about someone who was given great skin, yet still chooses to take the steps necessary to create flawless skin.  That should be a lesson to all of us.

Shout out to Jasmin for tagging me when "Basket Ball Wife" Evelyn Lozada revealed the products that keep her hair strong and healthy.  I LIVE for Instagram reveals like this.  Immediately, my eyes landed on the large size Nioxin bottles.  Years back, Nioxin was a staple.  Scalp Therapy was a little expensive but so worth it (especially if you have scalp issues).  I'm really tempted to bring it back into rotation to address any sweat and other build up on the scalp once the weather heats up.

Another product of interest in Evelyn's regimen is the L'OREAL Absolut Cellular Mask which was once in my Amazon cart.  Aside from the stellar reviews, I was drawn to the Lactic Acid ingredient which could have a mild straightening/smoothing effect.  Evelyn's post has enticed me to finally give it a shot.
Another shout out goes to @officialawalolo for tagging me when Evelyn's daughter shared the secret to her flawless skin. Shaniece gives credit to YouthH20 and facials every 4 weeks.  This reminds of when we learned about how "Basketball Wife" Sundy Carter  attributed her amazing skin to regular facial appointments.

Looks like Shaniece likes to pamper herself with an at home facial in between visits to her esthetician.  The facial steamer she uses is solid choice.  I've had a couple table top steamers back in the day and loved them.  If you plan on investing in a steamer, skip the drug store brand and go for one of these.

Shaniece appears to be enjoying a full body steam session by exposing her neck and shoulders.  That's a great tip.  Who needs a fancy steam room when you've got a high powered steamer with an adjustable nozzle?  Sometimes, you can throw a towel over your head and multiply the amount of steam for an even greater experience.

Until next time ladies.  Oh, and if you ever come across a great hair or beauty secret reveal on instagram, be sure to tag me (@lifeasnadege).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Today's post is inspired a by recent review of Beautifully Bamboo Tea.  In her review, the happy customer shared this:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great product!March 8, 2015
Nadine - 
Great product!!! If I'm not mistaken the tea has kept my stomach from being bloated. My co-workers noticed the difference. I got them interested in purchasing the tea, also my daughter has purchased it. 

Her experience has me thinking about summer preparations and how achieving a toned, flat stomach is an absolute must.  My biggest problem area is my midsection.  I wish I was one of those people with a naturally flat tummy, but that just isn't the case.  If I want to appear like I have any semblance of abs, I've got to take deliberate action. Now that summer is approaching, it's time to get serious again and employ the tree strategies that have worked for me in the past.

My midsection often appears bloated and expanded.  In my opinion, the biggest contributor is the way I eat.  My meals ware pretty much scarfed down as quickly as possible.  This allows me to fit in as much food as I can before the feelings of being full start to set in.  I'm also confessing that I don't chew my food as thoroughly as I should.  Again, this has everything to do with consuming as much food as I can within a short amount of time (what can I say, I love to eat).
Once I realized the error of my ways, I began practicing conscious eating.  Basically, it's when you remain present while you eat.  Instead of eating in front of a tv/phone/computer, or while driving, I eat with a single-minded focus and no distractions.  Then I fulfilled the recommended amount of chews per bite.  For optimal digestion, it's best to chew 20-30 times before swallowing.  This is especially hard  for me because I HATE swallowing liquified food (HATE!).  But, I bit the bullet and did it anyway.

But, you know what happened?  With mindful chewing, I reached the time threshold where the mind and stomach communicate and tell you that you're full.  The more consistent I was with conscious eating and thorough chewing, the less food was needed to fill me up.  Soon my stomach, which was once over-expanded, regained its elasticity and began to naturally shrink.  Before, I could down several slices of pizza before my mind even noticed.  Now, I was full from eating a home made sandwich.  Turns out that my stomach was much smaller than I thought.  It wasn't long before I was enjoying the flat stomach that I always longer for.  It also took away my issue with a sluggish stomach.  Overall, the benefits were very much worth it so I'm willing to try it again.
The other time I had a small midsection was when I first gave up gluten.  At the time, I was really gong ho about it so I also gave up starches as well.  So, in essence, I was following a low carb diet.  They say that "abs are made in the kitchen."  Well they're right.  It wasn't long before stubborn pounds melted off.  Eating all those wonderful salads game me the belly of my dreams.  No to mention how quickly my skin cleared up.  And, to be honest, it was easier than conscious eating because I didn't have to keep a running total of how many times I chewed my last bite.  Even if my belly did expand slightly after eating a large salad, it was easily digested so the bloated feeling was short lived.

The last trick up my sleeve is running.  Once upon a time, I was required to run a 3 mile race in under a certain amount of minutes.  I'm one of those people who never ran so I had to get in a lot of practice to build up my endurance.   After weeks of running 9-15 miles a week, I had the flattest tummy of my life.  If I recall correctly,  I even enjoyed some wonderful ab definition in the process. No change in eating habits, nothing else but burning off a ton of calories.  My gluted toned up as well.  Then I reached my goal and stopped running regularly. The rest is history.

These three strategies have worked well for me in the past so I'm going to use a blended approach to get back on track.  On the agenda for today is to pick up some organic leafy greens for salad making.  Although I don't plan on going full low carb, I will increase the number of times I eat a salad per week. When I'm not having a salad, I'm use conscious eating to manage portion size.  Lastly, I began to incorporate brief jogging sessions in my long walks to burn extra calories.

But that's only half the battle.  A flat belly is one thing, but a flat, toned stomach is what's hot in these streets.  In phase two of my plan we talk about how to tone up, while keeping the waist as defined as possible.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It wasn't that long ago that we we talking about cold showers for all of its amazing beauty benefits.  Now we're taking things to the next level.  Last week, I accidentally stumbled upon two separate instances where the topic of cryotherapy came up. Whenever that happens, I believe it's a message sent directly to me for a reason.

So I started looking more into cryotherapy. The more I learned, the more I wanted needed to experience it.  What is cryotherapy?  Basically, you're exposed to extremely low temperatures (well below -100 degrees) for 2-3 minutes.  All the blood rushes to your organs for protection. Your blood then becomes concentrated to a relatively small area.  As you breathe in, all of the oxygen reaches the blood that's concentrated around your vital organs. This causes the blood to become very RICH IN OXYGEN.  Then, you step out of the chamber, and all of that oxygen rich blood immediately rushes throughout the body to bring your body temperature back to normal.

During that re-warming process, toxins are flushed out, nutrients are delivered more efficiently and anti-inflammatory proteins are released throughout the body.  Red blood cells flood the surface of the skin, which can have wonderful benefits to healing scars.   Metabolism rises as the body works diligently to bring temps back to normal.  In fact, one short cryotherapy session can burn as much as 600-800 calories per session.

Cryotherapy is also excellent for pain management and reducing inflammation.  Athletes have been taking ice baths to address pain and injury for years.   Cryotherapy offers a more comfortable alternative to ice baths because it uses nitrogen gas instead of ice cold water.  When the skin is wet, the experience is way more uncomfortable.  I've watched videos of people in cryotherapy chambers and they seem to endure it pretty well considering the sub freezing temps.

Then I learned of the beauty benefits.  I mean....I already knew of some of the benefits from my experience with cold showers but this takes it to the max.  Cryotherapy claims to help reduce cellulite and increase the production of collagen.  I checked out a local cryotherapy center in my city and their website also boasts of healthier hair and nail growth.  No explanation was provided but I imagine the increase of nutrient rich blood to the extremities can stimulate healthy growth.   The prices seem pretty reasonable. The more sessions you purchase, the cheaper they are.  Cryotherapy is good stuff and serious anti-aging connoisseurs like Demi Moore are already hip to this eternal youth secret.

I can not wait to try this for myself! But for now, I'll take cold showers as practice for the big day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ah, so you wanna know how to style your shoulder length do into cute effortless waves?  Well you're in luck.  I've compiled five different options for you to chose from.
(click on images to view video)
Method #1 is probably the most common.  All you need is your trusty curling wand and you're good to go.  I don't use my curling wand that often, but when I do, the results are pretty much perfect.  And the curls last all day.  But don't get too comfortable breaking out your curling wand every day otherwise, the heat will destroy your hair.   And when you do use heat, be sure to follow the rules to minimize damage as much as possible.   
Wanna avoid heat altogether. Check out this video on how to transform your basic wig into an ultra cute shoulder length bob.  This is perfect if you aren't quite ready to chop off your hard earned length just yet.
In my opinion, a flexi rod is just an unheated version of the curling wand.  Meaning, you can pretty much replicate any style using a flexi rod without the dangers of using heat.  In the tutorial above, she uses a blended approach of heat and no heat. But you can create a similar result going sans heat.  
This next method is probably the most creative of our list.  She uses a plain headband to create heatless waves on her neck length strands.  While I do appreciate this somewhat unusual styling method, I still cringed a little at how things could go wrong if you have fragile ends.  Another, safer alternative might be large bantu knots instead. 
Probably my favorite option are the heatless twists.  I've tried this style on my hair and it's pretty  fool proof.  And, you can get two hair styles out of it.  I like to wear my hair twisted for a day or two then go for wavy for the next two days.  Simple + Healthy + Low Manipulation.  What more can you ask for?
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