Current Favorites: Hair Care Products for 4C Natural Hair

The bulk of my beauty dollars are spent on hair care products.  If anyone out there tells you that natural hair is easy to manage and maintain, slap/shake them until they take it back.  For me, that shit is ridiculously time consuming and eats into my food and wine budget. While you have to look extra hard to find a selfie with my hair not in a bun, it takes a lot to keep my hair in decent condition in order to pull off said bun while keeping my edges in tact. 

Current Favorite Products and Tools:

Nexxus Humectress Replenishing System Masque -  If your hair is properly moisturized but you still have unexplained shedding, you might need a protein treatment. This  masque contains white caviar and 100% pure elastin protein as well as glycerin, so it gives you the protein treatment you need without leaving hair feeling hard.   I use it once to twice per month depending on my hair needs. $19.99 at Walgreens.

Leonor Greyl Masque a L’orchidée -  is a  conditioning mask that strengthens hair while forming a protein layer over hair cuticles to help tame frizz, boost shine and improve manageability.  It doesn't have much slip but manages to keep hair tangle free with little to no shedding.  I use this most often if I'm going to blow dry then flat iron my hair.  $65 at Leonor Greyl

Okay Jamaican Black Castor Oil - Black castor oil  has been a staple in my hair care routine since childhood -- my Grandmother used to make it. This one by Okay has Vitamin B5 and Vitamin E  added --  both of which are believed to improve hair and scalp health.  I use a tiny drop on my scalp and/or use it as a hot oil and steam treatment once  or twice per  month. $9.99 at sallybeauty.com

I absolutely love the Oyin Handmade Hair Dew ($13.99) -- It smells amazing and adds moisture to my hair without weighing it down. It helps that this leave in conditioner is made with good for hair ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, aloe and squalane. If you have hair like mine and you haven't tried this product -- get on it! 

Conair Prostyle 1875 Hooded Dryer.jpg

My Go-to heat protectant is Mizani Thermasmooth Smooth Guard Smoothing Serum ($25) - I add it to my hair before blow drying then just add a tiny bit more before flat ironing.  It helps the iron glide over hair and smooth it out while giving it amazing shine.

The above products made it possible to blow dry and flat iron my hair once every two weeks. The Kiss Handle-less Blow Dryer ($24.99) makes blow drying super easy so I have to mentions as one of my most used styling tools.  The Jose Eber Flat Iron ($139) has been my go-to iron for a few years and continues to be so.  I use it most often on 325 degree because I'm not trying to go bone straight. I use Conair Prostyle 1875 Hooded Dryer for deep treating and steam treating my hair -- I have had mine since college and it might be on it's last leg (talk about $35 well spent!)

The products above are staples but since the start of the year,  I have been making a real effort to wear my hair curly in the form of twist outs, so, I haven't been using the tools. However, I'm still trying to find the perfect combination of styling products and the right technique to get  great twist out results every single time.  Whenever I do a twistout I have to have a backup plan just in case they come out mushy, undefined, flaky or any number of ways other than perfect. So far, it's been a challenge and I am years deep in this natural hair game. Le sigh.

I want to wear my hair curly this year to get away from heat styling for a while and try to grow out my hair.  I have a habit of cutting it just about every 6 months or so because it's so time consuming to manage. I've also started using Women's Rogaine to try to regrow the hair in the crown of my head [no, I won't post a before picture -- you're just gonna have to trust and believe :)].  The thinning of my hair and the extreme sensitivity of my scalp are the reasons I went natural for the second time in 2010 (my first time was in 2000) -- I have since found out that more than 1 in 4 women  will experience female pattern hair loss. (As if cellulite and cramps aren't enough.)

Anyhow, over the next several months I will be sharing more hair care posts as I try to find the right products for my twistout.  In the meantime, please let me know what products you like for twist outs.

This is officially a long ass post. (Leave a comment below if you made it all the way to the end. You deserve a prize!) 

Posted on February 16, 2016 .

How I Regrew My Eyebrows in 3 Easy Steps

Big, bad, banging brows are all the rage.  The days of the line thin brows are behind us (for the moment) and brow product manufacturers everywhere are rubbing their hands together and counting their coins.  (Ok, that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration.) There is no shortage of brow filler products available that will allow you fake big brows -- but why fake it when you can have the real thing?  If your sparse brows are due to over waxing, tweezing, threading or shaving, these tips I used to regrow my own brow might help you.

I Got Bangs

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. A while ago I got a full weave that included a bang -- since the bang covered my brows, I was able to leave them unshaped for almost two months! Don't get me wrong, I wanted badly to touch them but the promise of fuller brows was enough to keep my hands off my favorite Tweezerman. I understand that not everyone can grow bangs on their journey to great brows -- the key is to keep your tweezers, waxing strips, threads and razors away from your brows.  For me, bangs simply made it easier.

I Used a Brow Growth Serum

Prior to getting bangs I really wanted to commit to a brow growth serum but I always forgot to use it.  ALWAYS! With the bangs, no one (including me) was seeing my brows, so,  I was cool letting them live their best life. Every night when I pinned my hair back to wash my face I was reminded of my end goal - better brows.  Instead of reaching for the tweezers I would reach for the growth serum, apply it and retreat from the mirror hopeful for better brows tomorrow. Rapidbrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum (Ulta, $39.99)

I Exfoliated

Every hair re-growth story I have ever read includes an "exfoliation" step. This led me to the conclusion that if I wanted to regrow my brows,  I definitely needed to exfoliate.  So, twice per week I took 15 seconds to gently massage some St Ives Apricot Scrub with Salicylic Acid (Ulta, $4.99) over my brow area (No, I didn't get it in my eye.)  The exfoliation increases circulation as well as sloughs away dead skin. Could the growth serum have worked without this extra step? Maybe. But that's moot now because I've got brows!

My brows were always thin but through over shaping they got even thinner.  It got to the point where on any given day, I was wearing 80% brow product and 20% actual brow -- that's no way to live. After getting my bangs, committing to a brow product and gently exfoliating every week, my brows were fuller than they had ever been.  In two months I was able to flip the script to 80% brow, 20% brow product.  That's a ratio I can live with.

Posted on September 22, 2015 and filed under How-to.

Inglot Launches 17 new shades of Stick Foundation

As a woman of color, finding the right foundation wasn't always easy.  Thanks to the internet and my mild obsession with beauty, I have found some amazing foundations over the years (see some favorites here). However, I still get excited when a brand launches a line of foundations that cover the dark skin spectrum.  Inglot recently launched 17 new shades of Stick Foundation, which, from just images, looks like there are shades to match skin as cocoa brown and beautiful as that of Alek Wek.

The stick foundation is available in 17 shades, and is enriched with evening primrose extract to condition the skin. According to the manufacturer, the foundation is perfect  to conceal discoloration and other imperfections. It also provides long lasting, flawless finish for daily wear as well as on stage and theatre. The sticks are also recommended for contouring and highlighting.  For easy application, Inglot professional Makeup Artists suggests using Inglot Pro Blending Sponge or Inglot makeup brushes 20T and 21T.

Inglot Stick Foundation retails for $35 each on inglotusa.com and in select Inglot Boutique stores located  in New York City, Las Vegas, Miami and New Jersey.

Posted on September 14, 2015 and filed under Beauty News.

8 Foundations for Dark Skin

The right foundation is like a bit of magic.  Just a little can give you a fresh face glow and a couple of more layers can give you the base for the most glamourous look.  While I no longer have an issue finding my foundation shade, I realized that other woman with dark skin are still searching to find their correct, shade, formula and finish.  In this post I will highlight my favorite  foundations (those I currently use) in the shades I use in hopes that it will help you to find something that works for your beautiful brown skin.  

Cover FX Cream Foundation

 Wearing Cover FX Cream Foundation in N100 (This picture is from 2012 -- my skin was !!!!)

Wearing Cover FX Cream Foundation in N100 (This picture is from 2012 -- my skin was !!!!)

Any foundation conversation I have, starts with Cover FX. I first met the brand at The Make Up Show New York where I bought my first cream foundation kit -- it was love at first swatch.  I Love the cream foundation because I can sheer it out and set it with their translucent powder for  light finish or build it up for more complete coverage.   Cover FX products are formulated based on undertones -- Pink (P), Neutral (N),  and Golden (G). I wear N100 in the cream foundation. $42

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick

 

Nothing beats a foundation stick.  I can literally draw four stripes (across my forehead, cheeks and chin) and use my flat top Kabuki brush to blend it in and have my base done in under a minute! Throw on a dab of concealer, a little blush and some mascara, quickly fill in my brows and my face is done in five-seven minutes. I wear shade 6.75 Almond and there are four other darker shades. I'm impressed.  Are you impressed?  You should be. This formula uses a transparent base and skin tone correcting pigments.  It is so smooth and light weight that you can hardly tell there is makeup on your face. $44

Black Up Cosmetics Full Coverage Cream Foundation

 Wearing Black Up Full Coverage Cream Foundation in HC 08 and HC 09

Wearing Black Up Full Coverage Cream Foundation in HC 08 and HC 09

This is another brand I discovered at the Makeup Show New York.  As you might have guessed by now, I'm a cream or liquid foundation kind of gal. While I do occasional use powder, creams and liquids are it for me.  The Black Up  Full Coverage Liquid Foundation has kind of a neutralizing effect on my skin...out of the tube it looks like it will be kind of orange but once I blend it in, it's perfection.  It is light weight and wears beautifully.  It is formulated without oils and fragrance. I'm shade HC 08 and HC 09. The range goes up to  HC 15.  $42

ELF Cosmetics Moisturizing Foundation Stick

I love a good bargain and nothing beats being able to get your face beat on for pennies on the dollar.  This ELF foundation cost $6 but It is only available in 8 shades, i wear Coffee, the 7th darkest shade.  This foundation is "enriched with antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients Shea, Vitamin E, Cocoa, Grape, Avocado, Macadamia, and Aloe to nourish and hydrate the skin." $6

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H

 Wearing Lancome Teint Idol 24 hr in Suede 520 W

Wearing Lancome Teint Idol 24 hr in Suede 520 W

This  is a long time favorite that i haven't used in a while (the life of a blogger.)  The Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation is said to provide 24 hours of wear (I have never worn it that long.) While I haven't put it to the true test, it wears beautifully whenever I wear it and when worn with a primer, it stays somewhat matte on my oily skin for about 4 hours. The formula is lightweight and coverage can be sheer to full, depending on application. It is available in 28 shades.  I wear shade Suede 520 W. $45.50

Diorskin Star Teint Studio

This is a new acquisition. The foundation is said to be "inspired by the professional illuminating techniques and expertise of Dior makeup artists." It is a super lightweight brightening foundation the cover beautifully and wears well. The Diorskin Star Teint Studio is available in 14 shades. I'm shade 070 - Dark Brown; there is one shade darker. $50

Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme

 Wearing Becca Ultimate Complexion Cream in Sienna and Tobacco.

Wearing Becca Ultimate Complexion Cream in Sienna and Tobacco.

The  Becca Ultimate Coverage complexion Creme is one of the most pigmented foundations I have ever used. If my face is clear (i.e. pimple free,) a pea size amount or smaller can get me full coverage...it's actually a little insane how well it covers. Acoording to Becca, the foundation is clinically proven to provide 24 hours of wear, but like the Lancome foundation with similar claims, I have never worn it for 24 hours.  Becca Complexion Cream  is available in 20 shades.  I wear shades Tobacco and Sienna.  $44 [You may see my full review here.]

Ruby Kisses 3D Face Creator

This foundation is seriously underrated.  The shade range is extensive and the coverage, wear and finish are exceptional.  This is the kind of product I would drop serious coins on but it retails for a mere $6.99. This was one of the first split pan foundations I used and it's still a favorite.  It was out long before the highlight and contouring game went mainstream. Ruby Kisses 3D Face Creator is available in 16 split pan combinations for a total of 32 shades. My exact match is level 15 but I also have levels 14 and 16 that I use to highlight and contour. $6.99

What's Your Favorite Foundation?

 

 

Posted on June 22, 2015 and filed under Product Review, How-to.

Contouring on Dark Skin Using Cover FX Contouring Palette

Contouring is all the rage right now.  It might actually share a publicist with Kale.  Unless you have been living under a makeup free rock, you no doubt would have come across at least one person who was "beat for the GAWDS" with their main techniques being contouring and highlighting.  While I love makeup, I tend to keep my application minimal, only using just enough to highlight my best features. This is the same approach I take to highlighting and contouring and the Cover FX Contouring Palette makes it as easy as finding kale on any New York City restaurant menu.

The Cover FX Contouring Palette "combines 4 perfect shades in a cream texture to highlight, illuminate and contour."  The Contour Kit is available in 6 shades and is based on depth and undertone of the skin.  The formula on three of the shades in the palette is the same as that of their cream foundations, which I absolutely love.  The other shade, the highlight, is creamy and shimmery and gives a nice glow.

I'm  usually shade N90 in the Cover FX cream foundation, so, the palette recommended for me is  N Deep. (My shade is a little off right now since I haven't had any meaningful sun exposure in months!)

Here's how it breaks down for other shades:

  • Shades N0 thru N30, select N Light Contour Kit
  • Shades N35 thru N60, select N Medium Contour Kit
  • Shades N70 thru N110, select N Deep Contour Kit (My Match)
  • Shades P10 thru P60, select P Light-Medium Contour Kit
  • Shades G10 thru G40, select G Light Medium Contour Kit
  • Shades G50 thru G80, select G Medium-Deep Contour Kit

So, now that we have established that this palette is pretty awesome, here's how I use it:

I start with a clean moisturized face then apply a light layer of foundation.  (Obviously if you have more to cover, then you can build up your foundation a bit more.)  I then use the nifty contouring card included in the palette as a guide to show me where to place which shade. As I noted above, I want a simple everyday look so my application is very light.  I use this Cover FX Contouring Brush to add shade 1 to highlight and shade 4 to contour. I use shade 2 at the very end of my makeup application just below the cheek areas that I highlighted. Shade 3 is my usual foundation shade.

I blend with a flat top kabuki brush then set the highlighted areas with a translucent powder like this one and the contoured areas with the Cover FX matte setting powder in Deep.  I finish up by lightly brushing my entire face with big fluffy powder brush to ensure everything is blended.  As with all makeup application, blending is the key.

Click through below to see the steps:

All pictures are unretouched selfies and any complexion differences you see are as a result of changes in the light. 

Bottom line, this Cover FX Contouring Palette  is  amazing. It retails for $48 and is available here.

Questions, comments, concerns?  Please leave them below. Thanks! :)

 

 

Posted on March 27, 2015 .