Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Before bed last night, I contemplated whether I would take the ultimate risk.  The next morning I was attending a meeting were Val and I would craft our 90 day plan for the remainder of 2015.  There I stood in front of my dresser with a small stack of flexi rods in front of me.  After months of battling 100% humidity, I longed desperately to wear my hair in large fluffy spiral curls.  But any attempts in the recent past failed miserably.

Fall is here.  And the only redeeming quality of this time of year, is the opportunity to wear braid outs, waves, curls without fear of frizz robbing us of our hard work.  This morning, as I released the my hair from the flexi-rods, I prayed silently that the curls would endure the 3 block walk from the car to my meeting place.  The mid-day sun above made me almost wish that I had chosen a much safer hair style.  I'd hate to regret my decision.  I walked briskly and comfortably in my black wedges while touching my hair to check on the status of the curls.  It wasn't long before I broke a mild sweat.  Wearing all black wasn't such a good idea.  Before I knew it, I arrived at the intended destination and immediately darted to the restroom to attend to my fragile curls.

Much to my surprise, they remained perfectly in tact.  I was very pleased.  More importantly, I took this as a sign that it was ok to experiment with other curly dos again.  When I got home, I visited Pinterest for inspiration and compiled a few looks to get me and ready for fall.

I love the idea of wearing large, relaxed waves.  If this were summer, a style like this one might last a full 5 seconds before any evidence of the wave evaporated. But, with lower humidity on the horizon, this style might be very doable.  To recreate this look, I' start with straightened hair then create a couple large bantu knots, take them down, then call it a day.  
There's nothing like the feeling of playing with voluminous curls after a roller set take down.  Unfortunately, that feeling doesn't last too long.  Typically, my hair immediately drinks up the moisture in the air, causing my curls to poof up beyond recognition.  But, very soon, I'll have the chance to sport wash day jumbo curls again.  Can't wait.  
For the past few months, my braid outs, twist outs, etc, have performed far beyond their potential.  Frizz destroyed the defined waves and, worse yet, the crazy humidity raised my cuticle layer, causing random tangles.  Finally, I had to make the executive decision to rule out wearing 'em until further notice.  Fall, for me, means that my braids outs will make it through the day.  Hoping to lift the ban on braid outs very, very soon.  
I'm happy to announce that my flexi rod set has lasted an entire day.  That's without the help of any styling products.  This gives me so much hope for the months ahead.  
I rarely ever wear my hair straight anymore.  Truth be told, I have a hard time getting it really straight. In the past, my lightly straightened hair would quickly transform to a poofy mess. But, I think fall will allow me the chance to wear voluminous straight hair all day long (one can only hope).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday, after church, I decided to stop by a local Vietnamese beauty shop. They offer spa facial treatments and, more importantly, they have a wide range of Asian skin care products for sale.  I drove there specifically to load up on a variety of authentic sheet masks, straight from Korea.  I was in luck.  The owner just so happen to have an abundance of beauty masks that range from ginseng, sea kelp, green tea and so forth.

After amassing a handful of essence masks, I inquired about patches made specifically for the eye area.  She walked away and headed towards the counter where the Shiseido products were prominently displayed.  I was then handed a fancy box of Shiseido eye patches that required an investment of over $60.00.  After very little deliberation, I decided to pass on the patches and proceed with the low cost facial sheet masks instead.

In the back of my mind, I wondered why the eye patches were so expensive.  So I did my research.  And guess what I found?  Shiseido was actually given an award for a technology they developed which will revolutionize the effectiveness of anti-aging eye products....forever!!!!

Check this out:

"Shiseido successfully developed an eye patch showing effective improvement of wrinkles, which was used self-dissolving microneedle technology. Microneedle technology is a newly advanced system for drug delivery and has been recently gained increased attention to its painless manner and safety in the medical field. We applied this microneedle technology to cosmetics as larger eye patch*3 with appropriate size and shape, in which 1200 needles were aligned on the surface (Image). Needles consist of hyaluronic acid which is essential to maintaining skin moisture and elasticity and known to decrease with aging..Successive administration of this patch preparation to the eye corner resulted in significant improvements of wrinkles, with increases of water content in the stratum corneum and viscoelasticity, which is an index of resilience.

Basically, they developed an under eye patch with over a thousand tiny needles that penetrate the skin, delivering hydration and nourishment directly to the sensitive under eye area.  These needles aren't your typical variety made of metal.  These cosmetic needles are composed of hyaluronic acid and actually dissolve inside the skin which is why the results are so phenomenal.

Those of you familiar with micro needling should be very excited about this.  Micro needling has the power to plump the skin, remove stubborn acne scars and even regrow hair!  Causing micro-trauma to the skin can have some really wonderful effects.  The best tool for the job is a derma roller.  Unfortunately, most derma rollers aren't suitable to go very close to the eye area.  That's what makes Shiseido's technology so amazing!

As of now, this technology isn't readily available in the U.S. yet. Some of the articles I've read claim that we'll soon have access to these eye patches of the future.  But, until then, Shiseido offers us their retinol eye mask.  Retinol is the non-prescription version of retin-A.  For the past couple of weeks, I've gotten back on my retin-A regimen and my skin is transforming.  But my under eye is feeling a little neglected.  More than anything, I want to get my greedy hands on those needled eye patches, but until the day arrives, I may test out the retinol eye masks to see what they can do.  This, to me, is the next best thing.  Here's why.  Needles promote collagen formation and higher product absorption through the micro-trauma.  Retinol, also promotes collagen formation and greater product absorption by increasing cell turnover.  So it's like two different ways to experience similar results.

I'm not sure I'm ready to make the $63.00 investment until I know how this product works for me. Good thing Sephora has a sample size of 6 eye patches for under $20.00.  That's very doable.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Monday!  Today, I have a treat for you.  Over the past several months, I've had the pleasure of connecting with a reader.  I've exchanged tons of emails and after having several wonderful phone conversations, I invited her to share a guest post with us.  She just completed a rigorous life coaching certificate and is bursting with knowledge. I hope you enjoy her words of wisdom.

My name is Nelida Barbosa and I am a 31 years old life coach! After spending almost 10 years working as a financial consultant in corporate banking, I came to realize that I didn't want to live that life anymore. I knew there was a different way of living my life where I could be authentic and creative (no more auto pilot for me). I didn't want to take on this journey by myself. So my goal now is to help people become a true conscious leaders in their own lives. I believe it's possible to change your life and make it worthy waking up every day. 

Where are you spending your time?

Today I want to reflect on where you are spending most of your time. 
As human beings we have the benefit of having two worlds available for us:

WORLD #1 - the first world that I am referring to, is the world of thoughts and ideas.

WORLD #2- the second one is the world of action, where we can translate the ideas from the 1st world in to reality.

Now let's see what happens to most people who have an intention they want to achieve.  The intention often starts as an idea.  The idea transforms to a vision of what we want to build and the life we want to live. This corresponds to the first world: It's very comfortable and full of excitement. In the world of ideas there is no risk.  So we keep adding new ideas to our vision, and new content everyday... This world is so perfect and secure.

Nothing wrong with this. We just need to realize that is just the first step. The problem starts when you keep repeating the first step over and over again. What happens is that you start attracting more books, more teachers, more courses, and so on... all in order to make you ready to take action. But guess what? The feeling of being ready never comes. And the action never takes place.

So, the trick is to remember that we are also physical beings, we should be operating in "World #2" where action lives.   In this physical world where things are actually manifesting.

Keep a close attention to your day, and ask yourself these questions: 
- Where am I spending most of my time? 
- What actions could I be taking right now? 
- What is preventing me from taking action?
- How can I overcome the obstacles that I face?

Is perfectly fine if the answers don't come right away. Just keep them in the background of your mind, and let your subconscious mind come up with the solution.

The physical world is a world of movement.  Everything is moving. Even the table in your kitchen is made up of fast moving particles.  So If we want to thrive in this world we should take action. Don't stand still. Nothing happens there.

Remember that if you remain in World #1 (the world of ideas), you may lose the momentum, causing your energy to decrease because you see no change in your reality. Everything remains the same and frustration will start to set in.  Let me give you a personal example.  After attending coaching school to become a certified life coach, I was extremely excited to begin helping others achieve their dreams.  But, at the same time, I was fearful about how to deliver high value and guarantee my clients results.  I thought that I needed to be more prepared so I sought out teachers, courses and more programs. What I didn't notice was that I was avoiding taking the necessary action of offering my services to people.   I was very comfortable learning and confused it with progress and action.  The minute I realized what I was doing, I re-structured my day so I could monitor how much time I spending in World #1 vs. World #2.  

Nadege's notes:
I'm really grateful to Nelida for her reminder of how we are spending our time.  It's too easy to simply think about taking action, making plans and contemplating next actions. Days, weeks, months go by and nothing new exists from all of that time spent in our head.  It's like investing money in a company that produces no revenue.  It's a waste of time and money.  Let's not kid ourselves with the lofty plans we're creating.  Lofty plans are really great and absolutely useless at the same time.  Unless they cause you to quickly move into the world of action, ideas hold no value.  Confusing ideas and plans for action is a huge mistake. But we can easily avoid that as look as we schedule time for action.  

Honestly, you don't have to spend a lot of time in action, you just have to do it regularly. That's all. Regular small actions are greater than lofty plans.  For those of you who are on a 90 day challenge,  I invite you to set aside 1 hour a day to take action.  Just an hour.  But watch it compound into something phenomenal.  

If you'd like to connect with Nelida to find out more about her journey or to speak to her about living a life you love, check her out at

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I'll truly miss the wonderful days of summer. But I'm willing to give it up temporarily in exchange for pumpkin flavored everything.  More importantly, fall is the time to adorn ourselves with rich golden tones.

Mustards and deep orange hues are so flattering.  What I adore most about this royal shade is how golden yellow looks amazing as a coat or a pair of fitted slacks.  Aside from military green, fall yellows are probably my ultimate fall go to color.
Fall Yellows Mood Board
I love accessorizing mustards with tarnished, rustic accents similar to the cuff bracelet shown in the image above.  Another accessory to pair with fall yellows is a stunning camel bag.
Don't forget about pumpkin.  I'm so smitten by this pairing of pumpkin tones with black leather.  It looks glorious on her chocolate skin.  Although I love wearing all black, I really love this monochromatic look that still highlights her black accessories.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A couple years back I was plagued with highly acne prone skin.  It seemed like commercial skin care products were doing nothing to help the situation.  So I did some digging and learned of a celebrity esthetician who had the power to create clear, glowing skin.  Her clients included Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union, Toni Braxton, Meagan Good and on and on.  The moment I heard of Lady Dee, I knew I had to experience her blessed hands, no matter how much the cost.  I enjoyed several sessions at her salon and benefited greatly.  But, she's a 5 hour plane ride away, which makes it a bit difficult to become a regular client.

Today, I come with good news.  There's an East Coast celebrity esthetician to the stars. And this woman's client list rivals that of Lady Dee.  Her loyal clients include Nia Long, Beyonce/Jay Z, Kerry Washington, Angela Basset, Iman, Yaya Dacosta, Tasha Smith, Adrienne Bailon, Diddy, countless models (and pretty much anyone else you can think of).  Every loves visiting Mamie McDonald to experience her signature "skin ready" facial.

Her impressive list of clients really peaked my interest.  I needed to know what she was doing that attracted the elite to her office.  One even referred to her as "the Oracle of Skin." Like many others who deal with celebrity clientele,  Mamie keeps everything on the hush, hush.  There's no sharing of skin care tips on her insta and she rarely answers questions left on her feed about how to address troubled skin.  So I had to take a different approach.

First I poked around her website.  But at first glance, her website doesn't stand out as a celebrity haven for flawless skin.  In fact, her services mirror that of any typical esthetician.  So I decided to look for clues in the multitude of pics she shares on social media.  Here's what I got so far.

Many of the selfies taken within her spa are of women wearing what appears to be a white(ish) clay mask.  Mamie doesn't identify what this concoction is but a couple of her clients posted pics on their own feeds describing the white mask as a glycolic facial treatment.  Check out this video of Mamie applying the peel to model Sharam Diniz.  (click on image below to view video)
A mask-like glycolic peel is brilliant!  What better way to kick of a facial than with a deep exfoliation treatment.  I need a glycolic peel facial mask in my life this very moment! I did a quick search online and found this one which was well within my budget.
Model Sophia Lie getting "skin ready" for NYFW

Besides the glycolic peel mask, Mamie as also a fan of hydrating sheet masks.  In fact, she recommends her 007 gold mask for those who travel for a living and have to constantly battle the dry cabin air.
Model Machico Harris getting "skin ready"

For deeper, more intense hydration, Mamie also performs the beloved HydraFacial.  This facial does so many things for the skin. It deep cleans, it exfoliates, it hydrates, all in one shot.  The Hydra Facial is known as the go-to treatment before red carpet events.  Note to self, schedule another Hydra Facial treatment.  I also saw on someone's feed that Mamie introduced her to Luzerm beauty products and she seemed extremely happy with the brand.

Guess what Mamie's number #1 tip for healthy skin?  Water!  She's a woman after my own heart. (click on image below to view video)

From what I can tell, Mamie's clients go to her, not only for her ability to transform skin, but her amazing personality and warm hearted nature.  Everyone seems to love this woman.  It kinda reminded me of how nurturing Lady Dee was.  She would pray over me and speak abundance into my life every time I visited her.  Whenever I accomplished something great at my job, she'd congratulate with such sincerity (I miss her so much).  I had this perception that people who are in demand by celebrities wouldn't have time for regular people like us.  But, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Even though we're getting bits and pieces of what Mamie does to get people skin ready, I'm sure it doesn't compare to the real thing.  So I'm pulling out a little notebook and writing down "get a skin ready facial from Mamie" on my bucket list.  I need her hands to touch my face! (did that sound weird?)

Maybe someone reading this has already experienced her services and can leave their feedback in the comments.  If you're interested, in booking an appointment, Mamie is based out of New York and has a waiting list so be sure to check availability.  Fingers crossed that I'll actually get to visit Mamie and will do an update post on my experience in the future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sometimes I tend to treat facial cleansers in the same way as I do shampoos.  I used to believe that cleanser weren't really important as long as the follow up products were amazing.  Didn't really care what shampoo I reached for until I introduced WEN's  Fig cleansing conditioner into my routine.  That cleansing conditioner helped set the tone for wash day.  I give WEN a ton of credit for helping my hair maintain it's moisture levels.  In fact, I've struggled a bit with moisture in recent past and the only reason thing that comes to mind is the absence of WEN.

Now that WEN is back in my life, things are good again. And I'm starting to question if my skin is missing out an an amazing cleanser that can set the tone for my healthy skin regimen.  Today, I stumbled upon a brand that immediately caught my attention.  When my eyes landed on the packaging, the 3.0-3.5 pH made me take notice.  We all know by now how much the skin, scalp and hair love acidic products.  Alkaline products bring out skin out of balance making it susceptible to attack.

And when the skin is out of balance, bad things can happen.  Acne is more likely to thrive in an alkaline environment.  That's because the skin's natural defense system is slightly compromised when the pH is above the ideal range.  Healthy skin is acidic.  And most of us are creating the opposite effect when we cleanse.  This study talks about how soap can actually promote the growth of acne on vs. using an acidic syndet (a gentle soap-free cleanser).  Regular use of an acidic cleanser reduced the number of acne lesions in study participants compared to soap.  The article goes on to say that the type of facial cleanser we choose is "crucial."

This is why I have my eyes fixed on Phace Bioactive cleanser.  Not only does it have an amazing pH but it also boasts of it's ability to exfoliate.  And you all know how I feel about exfoliation.  The ingredient list looks yummy.  Take a look:

  • Aqua/Water/Eau, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propanediol, Gluconolactone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Bromelain, Panthenol, Lactobacillus/Punica Grantum Fruit Ferment Extract, Thioctic Acid, Bisabolol, Silybum Marianum Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
A short ingredient list is always a good thing.  Did you happen to see probiotics on the list?  We've already learned about the wonderful protective qualities of probiotics in skin care. This cleanser is low pH AND it has antibacterial properties.  What's better than that?   Phace Biotactive also exfoliates with fruit enzymes then nourishes with B vitamins and alpha-lipoic acid.  Milk thistle (silybum marianum) is known to be a powerful detoxifier when taken internally.  But when applied topically, milk thistle may have the ability to protect the skin from UVB damage and free radicals.

This is just the tip of the surface, there are studies that demonstrate the long-term positive or negative effects of using an acidic or alkaline cleanser.  One minute of innocent contact with alkaline cleansers can affect your skin long afterwards.  It all adds up.  Unlike typical cleansers, Phace Bioactive will not foam or strip the skin.  Which makes it perfect for the cooler, dryer months ahead.

 I'm a testament to the wonders of adding acidity to the skin care regimen.  Toning with coconut vinegar has made a huge difference in keeping dermatitis at bay. And my skin thrived when I washed with acid water.  Now, it's about time that my cleanser jumped on this bandwagon.  And Phace Bioactive almost seems too good to be true.  Can't wait to try it.

Here are a few reviews of those who've tried (and loved) Phace.

Verified Buyer

Love it!
Excellent cleanser! My face feels super smooth and clean. I highly recommend it. Leticia

Verified Buyer

LOVE Phace Bioactive
I absolutely love this line of skin care. I will NEVER be without it again. I use this cleanser twice a day and my skin does not dry out but it still feels clean! When i had an issue with an order the founder herself called me. You do not get customer service that good too many places! Great product and great company. 100% worth the price.

Verified Reviewer

The Best!
I bought two of these - one for the shower, and one to keep by my sink. Just because I love it so much! After using it my face is clean and looks fresh. I highly recommend this product.

Verified Reviewer

Favorite cleanser
This is an excellent cleanser. My face feels clean and refreshed after using. I highly recommend it!

A++ Cleanser
My favorite thing about this cleanser is that it cleans and it works as a mask too, if I leave it on longer. My face feels refreshed and super smooth after washing and never dry or tight. Highly recommend.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine, who just returned from China, reached into her bag and handed me several varieties of sheet masks.  Since they were purchased overseas, the instructions were in Chinese.  I accepted them gracefully and and placed them in a pile of stuff to use later. Over a year past and, during a decluttering session, I stumbled across the small stack of serum soaked masks and decided to finally give one a try.

My interest was peaked after learning about the Korean Skin Care Routine.  One of the steps of the lengthy process is layering on a sheet mask to boost moisture.  Since I didn't know where the masks were located, I opted to go without.

Just last week, I decided to once again, begin a retin-A routine.  Each time I experiment with retin-A, I stop shortly thereafter because of the dreaded peeling that occurs as skin cells turnover.  I never endure the peeling long enough to reap the wonderful rewards.   This morning I woke up with dry, peeling skin after using retin-A just a couple of days before.  Instead of feeling defeated, I smiled to myself silently and reached for a sheet mask.  After looking at my options, I chose the one that said "8 cups of water" on the packaging.  What could be better than that?  The instructions are simple.  Just apply the serum laden mask on your face and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes while you take care of housework.
Nearly half an hour later, I removed the mask which was still saturated with product.  I couldn't bear to throw the product filled mask away so I came up with a brilliant idea.  I put the damp sheet mask on my neck then placed a plastic Walmart bag over the mask to keep it in place.  My neck has prominent horizontal lines and I'm crossing my fingers that a sheet mask treatment can help fill them out.  While my neck was being treated, I observed my face.
Wearing  Walmart bag  wrapped lightly around neck to keep sheet mask in place | Nails OPI Alpine Snow
My skin was totally different once I removed the mask.  Hydration levels skyrocketed.  The serum seemed to have seeped into the deeper layers of my skin.  Kinda reminded me of the time when I first experienced a Hydra Facial.   Immediately, I had the idea of leveraging these facial masks right after exfoliation to allow the collagen rich serum to permeate the freshly emerged skin cells.

Now,  I have zero doubt that I can withstand the dreaded early stages of using retin-A with these wonder-masks at my disposal.  It's no wonder that a myriad of celebrities have posted their own sheet mask wearing selfies.  Some call these sheet masks "the lazy man's facial" for their ability to impact the skin with pretty much zero effort.  Since most facial masks focus on moisture and plumping the skin, this is a perfect time for us to jump on the bandwagon.  The air is getting dryer everyday and we want to do whatever we can to stay moist and hydrated.

 I invite you to experience with these masks, especially if your skin could use a little additional moisture. Or if traditional clay masks are a bit too drying.  You absolutely need these if you'll have to endure cold, dry winter air.  Don't get it twisted, these masks can do more than just moisturize. In fact some of them even have enzymes to exfoliate and brighten.  They're a perfect way to finish off an at home facial or, you can do like the celebrities, and slap on a mask before a special event.

Looking forward to incorporate these masks into my weekly regimen.  First, I'll use the ones my friend gave me, then I'll go on a massive hunt for the most potent and most effective sheet masks on the market!  And when I find 'em, I'll let you know.

If you have any recommendations, be sure to share.

Monday, September 21, 2015

One of my favorite Instagram pages to stalk is Marlo Hampton's.  She's one of those fabulous over 40 gals that give me life.  I love how over the top she is when it comes to glamour.  Living vicariously through her travel and outfit choices is my favorite thing to do.  I've often wondered to myself, what does she do to keep her self so flawless?  Having seen her on one episode of Atlanta Housewives, the one thing that struck out to me was how perfect her skin was.   

Of course, I scrolled frantically through her insta posts in search of any of her obvious secrets.  Today, I just so happen to pop into her timeline and notice a little something.  It appears that she recently enjoyed a day at beach.  But what's important is what she make sure to pack.

If you look closely, you'll see how much emphasis is placed on staying hydrated.  The first thing my eyes landed on was the familiar pink and white bottle of Evian Facial Spray (one of my all time favorite products).    I'm sure Marlo is one of those women who mists their face lightly on long flights and at random times throughout the day.  Keeping the surface of the skin moist is crucial and Evain facial spray is one of the easiest ways of doing so.  

The huge coconut is the next thing that caught my eye.  Coconut water is hydration taken to another level.  That's because it's filled with nutrients and electrolytes easily absorbable by the body.  But Ms. Marlo didn't stop there, she also packed a couple of water bottles on ice to sip on throughout the day. 

In a separate post Marlo shared a post workout snack after a six mile walk.  Again, you see a large gallon of water so she can rehydrate after her fitness session.  This is the mark of someone who places a high priority on staying moisturized.   Looks like she's drinking water straight from the gallon instead of messing with those tiny water bottles.  The bigger your water bottle, the more water you're gonna drink.

And let's not forget how much consuming water is good for the figure.   
Marlo Hampton looking amazing at 40+
Celebrities have the difficult job of always having to be camera ready and maintaining perfect skin at all times.  That's probably why they consume so much water.  They can't afford to have dry skin, or suffer from breakouts, etc.  So they do what they gotta do to stay flawless.  If your goal is to be fabulous at all times, drink you 'effing water.

*see also: Gabrielle Union reminds us to step our water drinking game up. *
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