Saturday, October 31, 2015

I own a single red dress.  It's a strapless A-Line dress that I only wear to company Christmas parties.  Definitely a statement piece.  Other than that, there's nothing red in my closet.  Red's just not a color that I think I can pull off.  Something about the color red seemed a bit too intense..too striking.

Perhaps I'm uncomfortable with what Adweek calls "The Red Dress Effect."  A woman in red, according to the article, is viewed as more physically attractive.  This effect is so powerful that the simple act of posting a picture of yourself wearing red on your dating profile pic will cause more potential suitors to click than if you chose to wear another color.
Red loaded with power and femininity. The woman who confidently wears red is completely at ease with who she is and the message of power she broadcasts to those around her.  I've always been a tad bit weary of attracting that much attention.  The red "Christmas" dress gave me first hand experience how others behave when a woman is draped in red.  Last weekend, I wore a bold red lip after being inspired by this post. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple of lingering stares and double takes from strangers.  Maybe I'm being paranoid, or perhaps people instinctively have a reaction to a woman who wears one of the most striking of colors.  By the way, this also works the other way around. A man in red is seen as more attractive to female potential suitors.

For years, I've intentionally stayed away from wearing red, but now that I'm more comfortable in my own skin, perhaps I'll incorporate more red accessories into my life.  Maybe a red handbag or a great pair of heels.  Maybe I'll go crazy and purchase another red dress to wear on non-national holidays.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's been a while since I've stumbled on a deep conditioner that I loved enough to graduate to staple status.  After falling in madly love with Kerastase and Kanechom, I thought I was set.  But a series of recent events led me to the discovery of a new brand and I'm grateful for the wonderful twist of fate.

It all began after I started using Keratin Hair Botox.  For some reason, my hair seemed to respond really well to keratin protein so I started innocently looking around for a conditioner fortified with keratin to how my hair responded.
Then I stumbled on Keratinex Hair Mask, a Dominican brand that I never heard of.  At first I was just a bit curious. But when I looked a bit closer, I discovered that the label boasted of both keratin and Omega 3!  Ok.....sounds good so far, but what about the reviews?  Unfortunately, because this is such an unknown brand, there weren't that many available.

The price wasn't unreasonable so I took the plunge.

Upon my initial inspection of the packaging the first thing I noticed was the lid which flips open for easy access. I've never seen anything like this below.  The flip-top feature is quite handy for adding conditioner boosters like Pure Protein, silk amino acids, or whatever.  The flip top also provides easy access for dipping in my Sprush.
I was sold on Keratinex the moment I glided my fingers along the rim of the lid.  The texture was so smooth and creamy....ultra hydrating like my beloved Kanechom.  The biggest difference I see between the two is that Keratinex seems to have a little more substance.  I really do feel the impact of the omega 3 extract, lactic acid, panthenol and hydrolized keratin.   I don't feel as much need to fortify Keratinex with conditioner boosters as I do with my other products. It's like a fortifying and  hydrating conditioner all in one.   I still add boosters from time to time, but for the most part, Keratinex is capable of conditioning my hair on its own.
So far, I've repurchased multiple times.  On wash day, I tend to reach for Keratinex over the myriad of other options I have at my disposal.  My only gripe was that I wish they sold it in larger sizes.  Because of my heavy-handedness, I now purchase these two at a time.  Sometimes, I'll create larger batches by blending it with Kanechom's Shea Butter (my other fave).

 I like this brand so much that I went ahead and grabbed their leave-in moisturizer.  Although I haven't used the moisturizer much lately, it came in quite handy during month 5 of my most recent stretch.

This conditioner has been really good to me which is why it'll forever be a staple.  But you know me....I still have my eye on one more conditioner that I've been dying to try out.  It's a bit more pricey but I just have to experience it.  Once this conditioner is in my clutches, I'll do full review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We've discussed one of Adriana Lima beauty tips in a past post.  If you recall, she was one of the all stars who indulged in a gallon of water a day as part of her beauty and health regimen.  Drinking adequate amounts of water is life transforming.  A lot of you even shared your success stories when we completed the "Drink Your Water Challenge" a while back.
Post workout selfie
Today, we learn about yet another action she takes to keep her skin at super model status. Growing up in Brazil, the mighty coconut has always been a part of her life and culture.  As one would expect, Adriana hydrates herself by drinking ample amounts of coconut water, but it's what else she does with the coconut water that is most interesting.

In order to experience the beauty benefits of coconut water to the fullest, Adriana adds some iced coconut water to a cotton pad and wears it as a face mask for five minutes as a way to "hydrate her skin."

Adrina and supermodel friend wearing hydrating face and eye sheet masks
Does this technique sound familiar to any of you?  Sure it does.  Her coconut water cotton mask is reminiscent of the Korean sheet masks that we've already talked about.  Coconut water is all natural and chock full of nutrition.  Add to that the antibacterial and inflammatory properties of fresh coconut water.  Not to mention the slightly acidic pH which our skin loves.  No wonder why some of the higher end facial spays on the market like Josie Maran's Facial Mist incorporate coconut water in their formula because of it's superior hydrating qualities.

I've been experimenting by adding a little (sugar free) coconut water to my home made facial spray.  Not only do I enjoy the experience but I feel confident knowing that my skin is being nourished, not just hydrated.  Many of you already have some coconut oil in the fridge, why not try this beauty secret and see if your skin loves it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

*runs into room and attempts to catch breath* Moments ago, I made a purchase that I just had to share with all of you! Approximately five months from now, we would have endured yet another cold winter and will be getting ready for spring to roll around again.

Around that same time, we'll move the bulky sweaters to the back of the closet and reaching for lighter wardrobe options.  That's when we'll be confronted with our holiday food choices. Not to mention all the times we opted not to work out because of the frigid temps.  At that point, we'll be filled with regret then we have to exert a ton of energy to getting back to our fighting weight.
I'm starting to really realize that without systems, we can't predict outcomes.  With that said, I'll be implementing a new system that will help me shed these pesky 5lbs while keeping my weight in check throughout the long winter.  Back when I traveled consistently, I'd look ahead at my travel schedule and would be faced with a choice.  Knowing that I'd be eating all of my meals out for the next several weeks, I'd have to plan meal options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, otherwise I'd come home back heavier than when I left.

But, when I was thoughtful and purposeful in my eating, it was a completely different story.  So, I've decided to bring the practice of purposeful eating at home.  Basically, I'll be preparing amazingly healthy meals that feed my body, energy and fitness goals.  That's why I invested in these meal planning containers.
Meal Prep Containers 
I can barely wait the two days until they arrive.  I simply can not wait to fill 'em with vibrant multi-colored salads and protein.  My favorite part of the container is the black color.  It reminds me of that trendy salad place on the nice side of town that I visit whenever I'm in the mood for a $10.00 salad. No more $10.00 salads for me!  Now I can enjoy gorgeous salads, any time of the day without having to plead for extra almonds.

Not only will the will extra pounds melt away (especially from the mid-section), but I'll get to experience a boost of energy, improved digestion, and glowing skin.  Not to mention how these nutrient rich foods will nourish our hair.  Since we know that our hair grows slowest during fall and winter, eating a nutrient dense diet to feed our follicles is a no brainer.

If any of you find yourself short on time, meal prep containers may be exactly what you need.  Having healthy foods at your disposal at all times will free you of useless excuses. And fitting into your holiday dress will be a piece of cake a breeze.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Monday!
Today, I'm excited to share the second edition of my podcast. Today, we talk about three techniques that help us create alignment between what we say and the actions we take.  Let me know your thoughts

Sunday, October 25, 2015

One of the most critical items on today's agenda is to practice (for the purpose of mastering) the clean face + bold red lip.  This look may have been a bit too much for the sunny days of summer. But it's just perfect for fall.

The success of the look hinges on the proper execution of the main elements.  Sure it looks easy (just slap on some red lipstick) but it's not that simple. You must lay out the right elements as the ideal backdrop for the red lip to shine.

If this look were a soup, the broth would be the flawless look of the skin.  Creating a perfect canvas is crucial.  You want an overall matte look with subtle highlighting and a minimal focus on the cheeks.  More importantly, make ample use of your favorite concealer to camouflage any discoloration and dark areas on the face.  Take your time on this step to make sure it's as perfect as possible.
Next we move on to the eyes.  Just as important as the lips are the appearance of the eyebrows.  This will really bring a sense of balance that perfectly compliments the bold red lip.  If the brows are not done correctly, the lip will be overbearing.  The look you want to go for is a defined, yet natural looking brow.  If you're sporting this as an evening face, you make the brows a bit more dramatic. But, as a rule of thumb, keep it natural.

Ideally, we want to give off the illusion of a natural looking cat eye. A woman who wears a bold red lip must also have seductive eyes.  And much like the brow, the eyes should compliment face without taking away any of the attention.  You do this by putting your efforts into creating a perfect winged eye.  Feel free to play around with how bold or minimal the line appears based on your preference.  Once the winged eye is complete, we then draw attention to our lashes to add a bit of flirtiness.

Then we arrive at the main course of this exquisite look.  What excites me most, is that one can choose from a multitude of crimson shades.  You can opt for the brightest of reds to a deeper shade with brown undertones.  The choice is yours. If you're one of those people who haven't found the perfect shade of red yet, keep looking.  Trust me, there's a shade out there that compliments your skin flawlessly.  To shorten the duration of your search, start with brands that cater to deeper skin tones like blackUP, Iman, Milani, or MAC.  To keep the look practical for everyday wear, opt for a matte finish.  A lip pencil is probably your best option.  I love the velvet matte finish pencils from Nars and blackUp 2 in 1 because they give a matte finish with a + bit of hydration (at the same damn time).
Sure, this might now be a look you wear everyday. But I strongly believe that you should invest time to master it nonetheless.  Keep it in your repertoire as one of your many signature looks.  Or maybe, you love the end result so much, that you rock it on the regular.  Listen, if you can master the bold red lip, you have unlocked the door to your infinite power.  Who wouldn't want that?

What's your favorite red lip color at the moment?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Just recently, I was gloating over the change of season and how we get to enjoy lower humidity.  I was fantasizing about how good the slightly drier air would be for keeping frizz away. But I hadn't considered the consequences of lower humidity to the skin.

Things have taken a turn for the worst in just few short weeks. Suddenly, I'm dealing with flaky skin in the mornings, dry hands and feet and an overall uncomfortable feeling of drier skin.  Me no likey.

The first course of action was to get a hold of those tiny glass spray bottles and refill them with thee amazing Missha Essense.  Seconds later, my skin was rehydrated again.  It was at this point that I decided that I will always have a hydrating mist within arms reach until spring rolls around again.

I'm gonna turn into one of those moisture obsessed people who constantly remists their skin, drinks water and reapplies balm throughout the day.  Each morning, during spring and summer, I step outside and see the grass covered in morning dew.  Fall and winter is a different story.  There's no dew, there's less rain, leaves wither, grass turns brown. Everything dies.  Our skin is exposed to the same dry air that kills the grass.  This is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Unless we do something about it, we allow ourselves to succumb to visible signs of external dehydration. I dunno about you, but that's not part of my plan.  Instead, I'll be concocting (and buying) a series of hydrating mists that I'll be applying liberally for the next several months.

Last year, I discovered and fell in love with Evian Facial spray.  It's convenient, easy to use and has great packaging.  Evian is exceptionally great for summer when you need plain water to help cool down.  But, the dry winter air is gonna call for something a bit more.  I don't just want to wet the skin, I'd like to feed it as well.  That's why I'm on the lookout for a couple of other options with skin loving benefits that go beyond moisture.
A lot of commercial facial sprays have rose water as an ingredient.  Kim Kardashian shared an instagram beauty secret in which she displayed her favorite facial mist.  The key ingredients are water, glycerin, rosewater and aloe vera juice.  Lots of us may already have these ingredients in our product stash.  If not, a quick trip to Amazon can easily take care that.   Green Tea is another great addition to facial mists because of the antioxidant content.

There's yet another ingredient in some higher priced facial sprays that caught my attention.  I'll tell you more about it in a follow up post, but first, I want to try it out and share my thoughts.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Recently, I talked about what I learned after seeing my skin under a UV camera.  I thought it would be a good idea to follow up the conversation with my favorite sunscreen product at the moment.

I have dozens of product samples scattered around.  Rarely do I use a sample that I immediately want to purchase after the first use.  The last time this happened was when I first tried NARS' Lip Pencil.  Before receiving this product sample, I put out an intention that I wanted to find a skin blurring product.  Something that gave my skin a smoother appearance as if I used photo manipulation software in real life.  Then, on a visit to Sephora, I was given an option to pick out samples based on my past spending amounts.

One of the options was a a couple of sample size Murad Ageless Skin Renewing set.  When I got home, I looked at the contents of the package and immediately reached for the Invisiblur Perfecting Shield.  Is this the skin blurring product that I've been waiting for?  The icing on the cake was that also boasts of SPF 30!  That alone made me love the product but then I find out that it also contains "mushroom peptides that diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles by aiding in the regulation of collagen and elastin."  According to a Murad sponsored study, 71% of users saw fewer lines and wrinkles while 94% saw improved smoothness and texture.

Add me on to the list of the 94%.  Because as soon as I applied this product to my skin, I was smitten.

 First off, I've been on the lookout for the right sunscreen for a while.  Ideally, I wanted something that invisibly blended with my skin.  No more trying to blend in white(ish) creams into my brown skin.  This formula is perfectly clear and disappears into my skin.  It leaves absolutely no trace.

 Secondly, this is a dry formula that has a mattifying effect.  For those of us with oily skin, Invisiblur is a dream come true.

Third, and most importantly.  Murad's Invisiblur does actually blur.  Immediately after application, my acne scars a slightly less visible.  It's not a drastic transformation but, hey, none of my other sunscreens actively made my skin look better.

But the deal breaker for me was how great my skin looked once I applied my foundation.  The Invisblur took my foundation to the next level.  My skin with Invisblur + Foundation > Skin with just foundation.  Everything just looks so smooth and magnificent. This products is everything I could want in a sunscreen and much, much more.

Then I remembered that I had an unopened tube of Benefit's Porefessional and decided to do a quick comparison.  Porefessional is a product loved by all beauty gurus for it's ability to reduce the appearance of visible pores.  One of the main differences between the two is that Porefessional is lightly tinted.  Although the shade was no where near my skin tone, it blended well nonetheless.  Porefessional is a slightly heavier formula, but both gave my skin a smoother look (especially post foundation).  Invisiblur was better absorbed into my skin. When I touched my face, I couldn't really feel it. I could faintly feel Porefessional on my face when I touched it.  Both are great products, especially if you have slightly troubled skin.   But I can't get over the fact that I finally found a sunscreen that makes my skin look instantly better.

Suddenly, wearing sunscreen daily has changed from a necessary evil to an absolute joy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A couple of weekends ago, I popped into Sephora to check out their black|Up cosmetics display.  As I was preparing to leave, a nice lady came up to me and asked if I wanted to see my skin under the UV camera.  Representatives from Philosophy were offering a  free opportunity to have your skin observed at the deepest levels.  The goal was to identify trouble areas and potential issues hidden deep beneath the surface.

As I waited, I observed the women ahead of me who had visible signs of redness and sun damage, according to the skin machine.  I'll be honest with you, I was a little afraid. Sunscreen didn't come into my life until I was in my thirties and I know for a fact that some of my acne scars reached below the surface.  Who knows what else was going on down there.

Finally my turn came and the machine generated a black and white image of my face.  Luckily, it wasn't that bad.  But there were certainly some issues to that need to be addressed.  Here's what I learned from the experience.

1. Dehydration shows up beneath the surface.  The first thing that caught the eye of the Philosphy representative was a patch of flaky skin on my left cheek.  Before she had a chance to finish her sentence, I reassured her that the peeling skin was a result of the application of retin-A. To this, she responded "retin-A is like a 401(k) plan for your skin.....stay consistent with it!"  To the naked eye, the peeling wasn't visible, thanks to an intensely hydrating sheet mask session the day prior.  But it was good to know that retin-A was working hard on my behalf.  But what if the dryness and peeling was due to dehydration, I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I've slacked on my water intake to the point where my skin was actually peeling.  That's when I know I've messed up.

2.  Lesson #2.  Be Detailed Oriented
The only real signs of sub-surface sun damage on my face was at my hair line and around my eyebrows.  At first I was really confused until she reasoned that it was probably because I missed those areas when I apply sunscreen.  She's right.  I rarely invest much time in the application of SPF.  Typically, I just focus on the major areas (cheeks and forehead) and move on.  But I saw the error of my ways with my own two eyes and, since then, I've been more detailed, not just with sunscreen, but with other facial beauty products I apply.  Now, I take my time to cover every square inch.

3.  Lesson #3.  Be Proactive
The representative didn't mention anything but I saw what looked like a pimple on the image.  My skin was relatively clear so I didn't quite understand.  Later that day, I examined my skin closely and there it was, hiding deep beneath the surface waiting for the right time to emerge.  Thanks to the dermal imager, was able to take quick action and stop that thing dead in its tracks.  Whenever I notice signs of inflammation below the skin surface, my first course of action is to reach for ample amounts of lemon water to alkalize the body. For some reason, this always works like a charm.  If I need something a little stronger, I turn to GlamGlow's Super Clearing Mud just to make sure that thing never rears its ugly head.

Overall, my skin wasn't too bad and, thankfully there weren't any major areas of concern except for the tiny areas of sun damage (thanks to sunscreen + melanin).  The lesson for today is to make sure that your skin care regimen takes into account the long term issues that may arise, not just what's visible.  Plan ahead. Your future self will thank you for it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday once again. I hope you have a highly successful week planned. Today's conversation is one that I've been reflecting on for the past couple of weeks.  There's something I'd like to manifest that is probably the "biggest" outcome I've ever desired.  But, although it might not seem like it, I have a tendency to drag out the manifesting process to much longer than it has to be.

In order to shorten the timeline of this "big" intention, I'm identifying all of the rules of manifestation and quickly put them into action.  Harnessing a success formula that's worked well in the past is the fastest way to create the future.  As you read this entry, I want you to also reflect on what worked for you.  This way you can identify a systematic approach to manifesting. All of us have manifested in the past.  So let's approach this like we are preparing a meal.  Grab the ingredients, carry out the steps, plate the meal, and enjoy.

From my reflection, I clarified the difference between desiring an outcome and engaging in the manifesting process.  There's a real difference.  Simply saying that you want something doesn't mean that you are actively participating in the manifestation process.  Or, at the very least, you are participating at the lowest level.  It's like the difference between sitting in the nosebleed seats at a Beyonce concert versus being in the front row.  Sure, you're at the concert, but are you getting the full experience?

To truly manifest (and to do so quickly) we need to move past stage 1 (desiring) and venture into the creation process.  Desiring is when your thought process is like "wouldn't it be nice...."  Creation is when you say to yourself "I need this to be my reality."  Sometimes, we stay in the desiring phase way too long. I did this with my dream car.  I thought of it as a dream car, and my actions reflected my thinking.  Meaning, I talked about it like it was a fantasy and treated it like something that was outside of my reach.  And....that is why it took so many years to happen.  Then, one day, after I ogling at someone driving my dream car,  I snapped out of it and said to myself "when are you gonna stop being the person that stares at the Audis and become one of those people who drives one?

That was the turning point for me.  Those people stared at on the highways wanted an Audi just as bad as I did, but they were actually driving one.  From that moment I realized the separation between myself and them.  They engaged in the creation process, while I remained in a perpetual state of desire.  Immediately, I decided to start manifesting and the rest was history.

Now, I have a much bigger intention in mind.  I'll be honest with you and say that I'm currently operating in the realm of desire.  Why?  Because I view it a such a big goal.  Whenever we see the goal as slightly out of reach, we tend to gravitate back to the comfort zone.  Desiring is much easier than manifesting.  When I'm desiring, all I gotta do is look at pictures and daydream. No other action is required of me. But, if I'm not careful, I might find myself still wishing for this outcome 5-10 years from now.

I don't have that much time to waste.  The game plan is to incorporate past strategies to make this thing happen in the shortest time possible.  Here's what I got so far:

1.  Stop Operating in my head.   Fantasies reside in our minds. We should think about it and visualize, but if that's where it ends, then we are still in the "desire zone."  I've got to take real actions to kick start the manifesting process.  A real action is one that can be validated by another person.   No one can validate whether I pictured myself living the life I want.  Oh, words aren't validation either.  You can say you're gonna do something and take zero action to do it. So don't let flimsy words  fool you.

2.  Prepare for it.  If you truly expect something to happen, would the first thing you do is get prepared for it?  Unless you build the ark, you have no belief in what is to come.  A friend of mine has been discussing her intentions with me about leaving her workplace for months.  There was lots of conversation, but then....she started preparing.   Here lease was up for renewal instead of renewing as usual, decluttered heavily and packed her items as if she were ready for whatever awaited her.  Within one week, she randomly received a call that could bring about the manifestation of so many intentions.  When I got the call with the good news, I wasn't surprised. Why, because her actions were in line with someone who was getting ready for something big.  I even told her, "you are seriously creating the environment for manifestation to take place." Days later....the phone call.

3.  Get your mind right.  In the past, whenever I wanted to manifest something I felt was out of reach, I worked on my mindset and believability.  Basically, what I tried to do was takeaway the anxiety associated with the new outcome by immersing myself in the environment.  For example, I watched a video posted on Youtube on how a woman manifested the home of her dreams.  What she decided to do was visit luxury homes and apartments in her city and do walk thrus.  I'm sure the first couple of times she entered those homes, she was probably freaking out a little inside.  Why? Because it's a new environment.  I believe that "freak out" creates a separation between you and what you want.  What I like to do is remove that anxiety by immersing myself in the new environment.

Years ago, I felt that "freak out" whenever I walked into a luxury store.  To me, this signified my feeling of disconnect with abundance and wealth.  So I proactively made sure I got over that real quick.  Once that feeling was gone, I was able to elevate my abundance mindset.  If there's something you're trying to manifest, check to see if your feelings are connected with the outcome you wish to experience or if they are feelings of anxiety or separation.

Once you raise your level of belief, start preparing and move the manifestation process out of your head, then you are no longer in the land of desire.  You are fully engaged in the manifestation process.  From there, things will shift for your in ways that you wouldn't have imagined.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Drier weather awaits us.  In the next few months we'll be reaching for thicker creams and butters to soothe our parched, flaky skin.  A couple of years ago, I swore off body butters after noticing the amount of build up from slathering on heavy lotions day after day.  It seemed like the more I applied, the drier my skin became over time.
Last year, I made the executive decision to switch to oils, instead of lotion, after Capriclear came into my life.  Spray coconut oil was everything I could ever want.  Then I was given a great tip by a stewardess with flawless skin to check out baby oil gel.  Both work great. But this year, I'm thinking about taking things to the next level.

What if I could use a lotion that did more than just moisturize?  What if our lotion could actually exfoliate, keeping skin soft and glowing all winter long. Exfoliated skin better retains moisture, so instead of coating old skin cells with thick lotions, maybe we switch to exfoliating formulas that keep our skin moist, soft and even-toned.
"I swear by these products for my skin care. A little expensive but the results are mind blowing." [email protected]
Glytone Retexturize Body Lotion:
One of the favorite options because of its high glycolic acid acid content (17.5%).  This lotion even addresses keratosis pilaris (bumpy, chicken skin).   For those of us who have dark spots on our legs, chest, back or any otherwhere else on the body, Glytone may be exactly what you are looking for.  Oh, I should also mention that they have a glycolic acid (GA) containing heel and elbow cream to soften and smooth rough, dry elbows heels.  The heel and elbow cream contains a greater percentage of GA to fight tough calluses and extra dry skin.  This heel and elbow cream is a winter must have!
Perfect Image Exfoliating Body Lotion (Glycolic Acid 10%, Salicylic Acid 2%)
What I appreciate about Perfect Image is all the supporting ingredients that go above and beyond the standard glycolic acid.  Perfect Image seems to be a lighter formula than Glytone (which is a thicker lotion).  Not only does it contain glycolic acid, but Perfect Image also brings salicylic acid into the mix along with green tea, chamomile, cucumber, and papaya extract (just to name a few).  If you want a lotion that exfoliates and combats body acne, this is it!

The reviews on Amazon are pretty stellar. One satisfied customer mentioned that she noticed mild peeling after on legs ("allowing fresher, softer skin to be more visible") .   A couple commenters boasted about their husbands even noticed a difference in their new baby soft skin.

Honestly, I want both!  I like the idea of using a thicker formula on my heels at night to keep them baby soft until sandal season comes back around.  And I desire a lighter cream to use on my chest.  Years ago, I used to get random breakouts on my chest. Upping my water intake has helped keep them at bay but, when I look closely, I still see remnants of discoloration that I need gone.  And my legs.  I exfoliate my thighs in the shower with my beloved Shea Butter Scrub, but I rarely spend time exfoliating the lower part of my leg.    I'd love to have a lotion to take care of that for me.

I decree that everyone should have an exfoliating body lotion as part of their beauty routine.  It's like the simplest thing you can do. And we apply lotion every day anyway. Never again should we settle for lotions that only coat the skin. Why not use one that is working overtime to feed your flawlessness.   It's a no brainer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

 I was going through some old pics on my phone from a couple of years back and stumbled upon these wearing one of my favorite print dresses.  That morning, I was organizing the hair product closet and, all the way in the back was a flat iron that I'd almost forgotten.  I purchased that thing years ago and, once I began my hair journey, I banished it to the back of the lower shelf because of the evils of using heat.  But, truth be told, it was one of my favorite irons of all time.

It's an iron with three interchangeable plates. Two of the three plates, I never, ever use.  One of the plates is the typical one that straighten the hair,  the other is a waffle iron plate that transforms the hair to the texture of a waffle (like....who would want that.....ever.)  I just checked the box and realized that I actually threw the waffle plates away (that's how useless they were).

But the third plate, in my mind was pure gold.  It's a mini wave plate.  And exactly what I was looking for.  Prior to that, I owned a super sized wave iron and although I really wanted it to work for me, the size of the waves were much too big and unnatural looking.  I wanted something that gave my hair texture.  The last thing I wanted was to sport manufactured looking waves. This flat iron was perfect!

In my experience, this iron gives the best results on freshly washed hair.  The final look has more volume and a bit more defined than what you see here.  In these pics, my hair needed to be washed so the it's a bit flatter than normal.
Wearing L'Oreal Greycian Goddess
 What I loved the most about this iron is how well the waves last.  On freshly washed hair, I typically can wear this look for nearly a week.   In the morning, what I typically do is refresh the hair by "crimping" some of the top, most visible layers before heading out. Then using my fingers to fluff the volume back in.   But even waves flatten, it's still wearable. Unlike a braid out which needs to be braided each day.

I prefer this look much more than a braid out for several reasons.  First, it withstands humidity much better since the heat seals the style in.  So I can go about my day and not have to worry about checking the status of my hair.  Second, the results are very consistent. Sometimes braid outs for me are hit and miss.  Third, this looks a bit more natural (if done right) than a braid out.  Fourth, although I'm using heat, it's kind of a protective style for me.  I don't touch my hair while in this state unless I'm fluffing it for volume in the morning.  But no combing, no mindless manipulation and pretty much no issues until the following wash day.
Waves flattened after a couple of days of wear.
These pics were taken a couple of years ago.  I've learned quite a bit since then and I'm a bit more comfortable using heat.  I think I'm gonna start using this baby again.  The bad news is that I've had this flat iron for over 10 years and it's no longer available on the market.  The good news is that there are a couple similar irons that don't have the waffle iron plates (lucky you).    If you're interested, you can check out various options here, here and here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Monday!  Once again, we're blessed to have a fresh to new week bursting with potential.  Pretty much anything can happen over the course of the next 7 days.  But what ends up happening most of the time is a replication of the weeks prior.  It's like groundhog day.

It takes a whole lot of intentionality to craft a plan that will keep you from repeating the same week over and over again.  We should make a concerted effort to plan for a successful week  because it's a bit risky to assume an amazing week happens on its own.  Unless we seed our week with specific actions, we'd be foolish to assume that these 7 days would be any different than the last.
This is you, living the life of your dreams after you've mastered the successful week planning process.
So what does it look like to plan for a successful week?  Here are three steps to get your started.

1.|  Visualize It. [If you could live out a perfect week, what would it look like?]
For me a perfect week would include some of these aspects:
a.) Highly productive days.
b.) Feeling good about myself
c.) Being in a great, inspiring environment
d.) Having lots of energy
e.) Connecting with friends/family
f.) Making substantial progress on my business
g.) Enjoying new experiences.

From this list, I can start to create specific actions.  Everything on the list is an outcome.  In order to achieve that outcome, certain actions must take place.   For example, if I want to have lots of energy, I should ensure that I eat well throughout the week, get enough sleep, schedule exercise sessions, etc.  The same goes for everything on the list.  Those things don't just happen on their own, I have to be an active participant.  Your first piece of homework is to create your list of outcomes that would make your week amazing.  Then figure out what you need to do to get to those outcomes.  Once you're done with that, you can move to step 2.

2.| Plan It [How will I ensure that my perfect week happens?]
Once you've identified the attributes of your perfect week, then we plan the necessary actions needed to create this ideal outcome.  For me this means means breaking out my planner and writing down what I need to do and when I need to do it.  I literally have to schedule time to call my parents and brother because, if I don't, the week could fly by without me realizing it.  Also, I probably won't have a productive day unless I set aside time to plan and execute my morning routine.  Again, none of this happens on its own.  Part of the reason for this is because I currently don't have solid systems in place to unsure they happen automatically,  but's that's a whole 'nother post.  For now, I have to put in direct effort otherwise, my desired outcomes won't happen.  Planning it means that I'm setting aside time to do the things that aren't likely to magically take place.  I write down (or mentally plan) when I'll go work out, or what actions I need to do to reach my business goals, and what food I'll eat for the week that'll feed my energy levels.  Even though you take precious time to plan your day/week, nothing ever goes 100% according to plan.  That's ok.  Because a 40% execution rate on a great plan is much better and executing a lousy week at 100%.

3.| Elevate It [ What are you going to do differently this week to create new, amazing results?]
Whenever you're reflecting on how you will allocate your time, always remember this.  The same plan executed over and over again will eventually create diminishing results.  I don't care how great it is.  We'll soon get into a comfort zone rut and things will go down hill from there.  So whenever you are reflecting on the week ahead, ask yourself "what can I do to take things to the next level?"  This is critical!  Elevating actions are the key to infinite results.  By the way, elevating actions don't have to be super-crazy.  It's about importing new actions, experiences, people that will shift your paradigm.  It could be as simple as listening to audio books in the car or as big as waking up at 5:00 am every morning to work on your creating your dreams.  Obviously, the bigger your action, the greater your shift.  But keep in mind that small actions lead to larger ones so don't be afraid to start small.  The cardinal rule of elevating actions is that they need to keep elevating.  Otherwise, they become normal actions.  Normal actions don't have that same burst of power as actions that elevate.

Always remember,  we won't typically take elevating actions if left to our own devices. These actions must be planned and carefully inserted into your day, otherwise today will look exactly the same as yesterday.  Last month, I infused my life with lots of elevating actions (as an experiment) and the results were absolutely incredible.  I saw huge progress in all aspects of my life and had the best month of the year in my business (I also reached another huge milestone as well).  I'm here to tell you that this works!!!!

Monday's can be viewed as another start to a long, boring work week or, we can turn them into Life Transformation Days.  Which do you prefer?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Each morning,  I step outside and check the temperatures before deciding what to wear.  Soon, sweats will become a part of my fall/winter uniform.  This year, I vowed to do things differently.  In the past, I'd reach for a warm pair of sweats without any desire to look presentable.

The issue with this approach is that it causes you to appear as if you place zero effort in your personal appearance.  But we all want to stay warm, right?  So how do we do both?  Let's review the principles of rocking sweats without looking like we've completely given up on ourselves.

Rule #1: Keep it fitted

On thing I'll do differently this year is to avoid overly baggy sweats.  The reason for this is two fold.  First, (and the biggest reason) is how easily baggy sweats can hide pesky weight gain.  When oversized sweats become part of your uniform, you will be totally clueless around how your body is changing.  During winter months, we're less active and tend to reach for high calorie beverages to help keep warm.  And don't get me started on all the eating that happens around the holidays.

If we're not careful, we're five pounds heavier and using loose fitting sweats to camouflage our faux pas.  If your sweater drawer is filled with big, comfy sweats, I encourage you to add a few new pieces to your wardrobe that flatter the body.

Fitted joggers are the answer to our sweats problem.  They flatter our silhouette while bringing a bit of warm.  Plus, joggers scream comfort and style.

RULE # 2 Pair with Something Stylish
Going head to toe sweats may not be the answer if you want to remain stylish this winter season.  Instead, try mixing them with stylish pieces to elevate your look.  Examples include adding leather, heels or even wearing a sweatshirt & skirt combination.

RULE #3.   Sport a Flawless Face
When you see someone with a comfy pair of sweats and a bold red lip, what comes to your mind?  To me, this speaks to the intentionality of the outfit.  This isn't a woman who just grabbed some sweats and threw them on.  No. This is someone who carefully balanced the casual nature of her outfit with carefully painted nails or a bold red lip.   A flawless face maintains your confidence levels in the event that you run into someone from your past.  Even if you're in baggy clothes, your face is on point, you smell nice and you feel great about yourself. 
RULE #4: Don't forget to Accessorize
Sweats are the epitome of dressing down.  So we must remember the key to dressing down and looking fabulous.  Accessories are absolutely essential.  Anytime you are wearing anything that could resemble house clothes, accessorize, accessorize, accessorize.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The cooler months are creeping up on us.  This time of year always brings with it the awareness that changes in our hair will soon take place.  More specifically, this is when the rate of our hair growth starts to slow down.  So we gotta start thinking and acting fast!  It's time to kick off our growth promotion strategies so we can reach our hair goals by end of year.

Today I introduce to you an ally in the war to promote hair growth.  This product is no stranger to us on the blog.  In fact, I've talked incessantly on essential oils in the past.  But this time, I came with receipts.  After doing a little research online I stumbled on a study conducted that details the impact of peppermint oil on hair growth.

The study was done on mice who were shaved using an animal clipper.  Once shaved, the experimenters applied topical solutions of saline, jojoba oil, monoxidil, and a blend of peppermint/jojoba oil (3% peppermint oil).  They took progress pics of the mice each week for four weeks total.   Starting week 2, they noted a rapid increase in hair growth in the mice treated with peppermint/jojoba oil blend over the other groups.  At week 4, the peppermint oil group demonstrated a regrowth percentage of 92% compared to the minoxidil group which measured a 55% regrowth.  They even noticed an increase in thickness in the epidermis.  I associate a thick epidermis with healthy hair growth.  Notice how those who suffer from thinning hair sometimes have thinner skin in the scalp area.

So what does this all mean for us?  How do we incorporate peppermint oil into our regimen in a way that makes sense?  For me, the easiest way to incorporate essential oils is to blend it with a scalp healthy carrier oil.  In my case, this means coconut oil.  Because it's absorbed by the hair and scalp, I don't have to worry about my scalp getting too greasy with regular application.  Jojoba oil, in my case, might be too heavy to be applied to the scalp on a daily basis.   I also appreciate that the "hair growth" solution only called for 3% peppermint oil.

In the past, I've gone a little overboard with eucalyptus oil and ended up smelling like a medicine cabinet (or somebody's grandma).  This year, I'll tone it down a bit knowing that even a small percentage of essential oils is powerful enough to create awesome results.  Another way love to use essential oil (EO) is right before the wash.  While I prepoo, I add a little EO to promote scalp stimulation and (hopefully) loosen any build up.  I'm sure all that tingling causes my hair follicles to come alive!

If peppermint oil isn't part of your toolkit, then get on the ball!  A healthy stimulated scalp can help curb fall shedding which means fewer tangles and greater retention.  That is what everyone wants. Don't let another week go by without adding peppermint oil to your arsenal.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Until recently, I was certain that I amassed a completed collection of outerwear and was pretty much set for fall.  Then I realized that much of what I procured last year is best worn with casual looks.   There weren't any pieces that would work well for a night out or that could stand out in a more formal environment.

Then a spark of inspiration came across my Pinterest dash in the form of a full length, structured blazer.  Immediately a felt a huge void that could only be filled with the perfect long blazer.

The for past couple of seasons, the flowy, duster coat has been all the rage.  Part of their appeal is how well it they pair with casual pieces.  But what about the times when you want to look more put together, a little more polished?

A blazer coat is just what the style doctor ordered.  What also I love about this look is the all black, sleek silhouette (and don't get me started on the statement clutch).  In doing so, she allows the camel coat to take center stage. This ensemble is giving me major heart eyes.  I will not rest until I happen upon a structured coat as flawless as this one.

I've been pretty much obsessed with sheet masks ever since my first life changing experience.  Should have left well enough alone, but the obsessive part of me just wouldn't abide.  Instead, I dove head first into the vastness of the internet to uncover what other sheet mask related details I could find.

Little did I know that I would discover a product that could positively impact my hair journey.  Once the face sheet craze began to take effect, other hydration creating masks began to emerge. Including those for eyes, lips, fingers and even hair.  A sheet mask for hair?  Tell me more...

Well, it's more like a pouch for the ponytail.  The "Hair Pack" is saturated with hair friendly ingredients such as hydrolyzed soy protein, natural plant extracts, hair nourishing oils, collagen and even royal jelly.  All one has to do is place the pouch over a ponytail and go on about their day as the ingredients work their magic.  Minutes later, you remove the pouch and, if every thing went according to plan, your ends are hydrated, smooth and nourished.
If you are as eager to get your hands on one of these as I am, you'll have to wait a little longer.  As hard as I tried, I couldn't find any that were available for purchase in the states.  But don't worry your pretty little head.  I think these Korean Hair Packs are perfect inspiration for a DIY project.  In fact,  you may be saying to yourself, this is very similar to the baggie method.  And you're right!  The only difference is, in the Korean Hair Pack, the ingredients saturate the inside of the bag (I'm guessing).  Also, the Korean Hair Pack seems to have a more complex ingredient list.
Korean Hair Pack before and after pics
With the baggie method, we apply moisture and oil to the ends then use the plastic bag to help seal all that good stuff in.  I discovered the Korean Hair Pack over the weekend and immediately remembered to reinstitute the long forgotten baggie method.  To keep it simple, I just misted my ends with a little water, then added moisturizer, Gleau oil and proceeded to do random stuff around the house.  As expected, my hair responded extremely well.  Since then, I've made a habit of conducting a baggie ritual at least once a day.  Can you imagine how much value this method can bring us during the cold winter months?

Quick tip, I've been using a small bag from a past Ulta purchase.  This bag is much thicker than your typical grocery plastic bag.  It seems to have a great effect on my results.

Although the original baggie method is working well for me, my heart still longs to try one of those fancy Korean Hair Packs just to see what it's like.   Actually, what I plan to do is experiment with one of my hydrating sheet masks by wrapping it around a small section of hair then covering in saran wrap to see how it turns out.   If, my hair responds better to being in direct contact with the moisture then I may invest in a set of plain  DIY sheet masks and saturate them with my own hair-loving blend.  The possibilities are endless.  Even if we never get the chance to experience these intriguing hair packs, at least we'll always have the baggie method.

Check out more details on the Korean Hair Pack here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Hannah Editorial Team via
It's been really nice seeing the faces of Beyonce, Rihanna and Lupita gracing the covers of Vogue and other major fashion magazines.  Being recognized as beauty icons in the world high fashion is extremely noteworthy.  Sometimes I wish we had an entire magazine dedicated to the celebration of the diversity that exists within the black culture.

Sure, we have Ebony and Essence. But, honestly, I can't tell you when the last time I flipped through one of their issues.  It just doesn't speak to me.  These magazines have a strong reader base and they pioneered the representation of black women in beauty and fashion. I respect what they do, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  There's so much more to be said about the modern woman of color which is why I welcome new voices in this important conversation.
Enter Hannah mag.  An online space that celebrates the multi- faceted nature of the black woman.  Hannah brings such a beautiful aesthetic to the stories they share.  Their vision is to bring that striking aesthetic to a print book/magazine published biannually.  Hannah needed funding in order to become a reality, so they took to Kickstarter to garner the support of the community to help fund the launch.  On October 5, 2015, the Hannah team announced the successful completion of the campaign after receiving $7,000 above their established goal amount, thanks to the generous donation of eager supporters.

I'm really excited and look forward to the launch.  I'm not certain about their distribution strategy, but at the very least, I'm sure the first issue will be available on their website for purchase the minute it launches.  To get a sneak peak of their work, and to learn more about the upcoming launch, be sure to check out  

I always wished I could meet someone with a  really complex skin care regimen.  We can learn a lot from these people who are willing to invest quality time into sourcing the most amazing products available.  Steve Jan is one of those people.  And we learned a lot about the Korean layering technique from him.  Today, I'll share with you what I learned from reading the beauty regimen of a professional beauty editor.  These women have access to thousands of products, free of charge.  When they finally divulge their holy grail products, I'm all ears.  

Ahsley Weatherford is known as the "Mother of Light" by those who've had the pleasure of laying eyes on her perfect skin up close.  Light reflection is the epitome of healthy skin and she seems to have reached that status.  It didn't come easy, in fact Ashley details how she once maintained a 45 minute daily skin care regimen to support her flawlessness.  
Miraculously, she's been able to pare down her elaborate skin perfecting regimen to only 10 minutes.  In order to get the same results, she focuses on amazing products to pick up some the slack.  First and foremost, she cleanses with Phace's Detoxifying Cleanser.  We recently discussed this cleanser in another post.  Here we are hearing about it again.  Something tells me that this isn't a coincidence.  I was kinda on the fence abut whether Phace would be my next cleanser purchase, but now I'm in!  Ashely talks about how this cleanser can promote hydrated skin and fewer blemishes/wrinkles because of the proper pH.  I'm of the mindset that all products should serve multiple purposes.  A cleanser that does more than just cleanse is a-ok in my book.

After cleansing, her serum of choice is Good Genes which is filled with pharmaceutical grade lactic acid to nourish her glow.  Post serum she applies Skin Space Defense Bright Eye Lift Gel which was developed by a brain surgeon and a space scientist (no joke).  It's supposed to have an immediate lifting effect to the eye area.  Sounds like some serious stuff.  Afterwards Ashley layers on her favorite sunscreen mixed with a Kardashian favorite, Kevin Aucoin's Sensual Skin Enhancer which is a concealer, highlighter, foundation all in one (while hydrating the skin with ingredients like jojoba and honey).  She has such amazing things to say about the Sensual Skin Enhancer.  In her words it "provided a perfect balance of coverage, leaving a no makeup effect." The finish left on the skin is "dewy" and "moisture rich."  Sounds like a must have for winter.
photos via Ashley's Instagram
And that's just the morning routine. Her evening line up is filled with moisture enhancing products, retinols to promote skin regeneration and maybe a sheet mask if her skin is thirsting for hydration.

Ashley's regimen has reminded us of how important it is to use quality products.  If your goal is to have skin that causes others to notice, effective products are your key to get there.  I was already committed to picking up the Phace cleanser, but the Sensual Skin Enhancer seems too good not experience.

If you'd like to read Ashley's skin regimen in it's entirety, you can check it out here.
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