Monday, October 15, 2012

Goal-Setting

Hello my lovely gorgeoisies!!

I've missed you! It's been a LONG time and I've been going through some pretty drastic life changes (took the MCAT, am in the process of applying to med school!) so I've been neglecting the blog and most regrettably, you readers! But I'm back, I have big plans for Gorgeoise.com and I'm excited to be back with you all!

So with that being said, I feel like any blog is part sharing information and part space for over-sharing and personal revelations. I will be working hard to be more transparent with you and share not only tips and information, but anecdotes and testimonials as well. To that end, there's a diet book I read a couple years ago called Finally Thin! by Kim Bauer and she is a big advocate of setting small goals and recording them so you have a black and white copy to continually remind you. It's easy to see how this could translate into any kind of goal-achieving strategy.

We're a little past the back-to-school timeframe I had originally intended for this post, but really any time is a great time for re-evaluating and setting new goals. So I encourage you, fellow gorgeoisies, to set a goal for tomorrow, for the week, for the month, and for the long term. I'll go first!

My beauty goal for tomorrow is to drink 64 oz of water.
My beauty goal for the week is to wear makeup every workday.
My beauty goal for the month is to to start a supplement regimen.
My long term goal is to gain enough beauty related knowledge to make Gorgeoise a thriving blog and resource!

Full disclosure: I have started some of these things already. My VisiCalc tablets came in the mail today, I have restarted my effort to increase my water intake, and I bought two new Urban Decay palettes and some Avon all oer color to motivate myself to wear makeup more regularly. What goals are you setting in writing and what steps have you already taken?

~B

Friday, September 02, 2011

Skin tools

Let me first say, I love the Zeno Hot Spot. It works for me with about 60-75% efficacy, meaning up to 3 times out of 4 it zaps the pimple and it doesn't become a problem. I also hate the Zeno Heat Treat. The lubricating salicylic acid gel-oil-goo that makes the device glide over your skin makes me break out more. I'm trying to figure out how else I can utilize a vibrating heated metal disk...

The Hot Spot is an acne spot treatment device that uses heat to kill bacteria and prevent pimples from emerging on the skin.

The Heat Treat is supposed to be a maintenance device that helps get rid of acne and keeps it away through heat treatments combined with salicylic acid.

Zeno also had an anti-wrinkle device I have yet to try.  But given my experience with the Heat Treat, I'm not sure I will.  Anyone else use Zeno products?


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene!

Everything I usually do on the weekends was canceled, so I'm sitting at home wrapped up in a big blanket, about to do all the beauty stuff I always want more time to do.  I'm doing and ionic clay mask, treating my cuticles to some TLC, and doing a callous removing foot treatment.

As long as I have power/internet I may watch a few YouTube videos, or if I don't I may play with some eye makeup on my own by candlelight!

How are you prepping for the hurricane?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fresh perm!

Maybe it's just me but a fresh touch up and fresh trim always feel like a brand new chance to get it right. It's like pressing the reset button on the damage you inflicted since the last time you saw your hairstylist. I have had a length plateau for almost year, so it's time to do something differently. I've been thinking about doing a challenge, but it's challenging to find clear directions. I don't want this to turn into just another black hair blog, but hair is an essential element to any beauty resource, including this blog, so here goes!

I am notorious for trying too many things at once and then not knowing what worked and what didn't. However, I don't really have a regimen right now (I'm slacking :-/). So after reading some posts on thickness and length retention, I have decided to do the following:
1) Establish and follow a new regimen.
2) Do a low manipulation challenge.

What the latter means is putting as little stress on my hair as possible in order to retain length. So I'll be using indirect heat, only using a wide tooth comb on dry hair, trying to avoid brushing unless I'm wrapping my hair, and minimizing friction with moisture and oil sheen. Challenges can run varying lengths of time, but it has to be long enough to notice a difference. The shortest I've seen was two months, which makes sense if you go every 8 weeks for a relaxer. I go every six, but there's no reason I couldn't go back to every 8 if I really tried and focused on taking care of my line of demarcation.

So Thursday marked day one, I'll go until my next relaxer (tentatively scheduled for October 5th). And I have about 5 days before I'll need to wash my hair again, so I have that long to come up with a regimen. Wish me luck gorgeoisies!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Creamy hands or handy creams?

I have never had beautiful nail beds like the ones you see in the posters from 1992 featured on every Vietnamese nail salon wall. I have horrible cuticles and now since seriously taking up pole dancing I am starting to develop callouses on my fingertips like a second grader. Hands are one of the first places, too, where we show our age. Think about how many times you have seen someone you looks super great and you look at their hands and know EXACTLY how old they are! Well, I notice, lol.

So I've decided hands should be a new beauty focus of mine, because I don't want amazing, youthful face skin when I'm 50 and gnarly wicked-witch-of-the-west hands.

I had the idea years ago to use those anti-aging sample creams you get in "free" department store gifts with a $38.50 purchase as hand cream, but they have a funky feeling finish. Then I discovered one of the best things you can do, besides using a sunscreen, is just keep your hands moisturized. I'm currently using Avon Moisture Therapy Intensive Treatment (for extra dry skin) because I work at a hospital and wash my hands A LOT and I need something that stays with me. But I'm learning that the silicone that keeps your hands moisturized even after a wash or two does not let your skin cells breathe (go figure), so I'm thinking of returning to my old favorite Vaseline Intensive Rescue Healing Hand Cream (fabulicious!).

Make sure you pay special attention to your cuticle areas and the webs between your fingers.

Want something lighter for the summer? Less portable but infinitely more love-inspiring is L'Occitane en Provence's Lavender Hand Lotion. Genius in a bottle.


What's your favorite hand cream?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OPI Axxium Gel Manicure

Love love love love! OPI gets a big 'ol fabulicious for this! It's just like getting a gel set but without the thickness or fake nail. I haven't tried CND's Shellac to compare the two but a girl in the salon said she preferred Axxium to Shellac. And it was more expensive.


Best part, the Axxium colors match already existing OPI colors, so you're not trying out whole new color (unless you want to) for your longest lasting manicure ever. I was super glad that I had my SPF 55 in my purse however, because you put your hands under the UV curing light after each layer is applied, so a grand total of four times. I could feel the wrinkles forming on my knuckles. I jsut wish I had been this vigilant about protecting my hand skin since I started getting manis!

Visit http://www.opi.com to check out what colors are available. Axxium is found under the "Hands/Feet" tab.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Acne Emergency!

So I know I've been promising an acne-prone skin post, but I had to write this first. Because I had a wedding upcoming and woke up the day before I was supposed to leave with a big ol honker trying to burst through the surface of my skin RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY CHIN. I threw my whole arsenal at it, and it worked! So I thought I'd share with you all.

So I can not vouch for this working again, working on a pimple that is already above the skin, or anything else other than reporting on the circumstances that worked for me this one time. But I know you acne-plagued gorgeoisies know what I'm talking about when I say the hurty, red, just-under-the-skin, pre-pimple. Those are precious hours before it's a full fledged pimple where you feel like, "There has to be something I can do about this!"

So I started off that night washing with my regular Proactiv wash, paying special attention to my chin. Then I washed just my chin with the Noxzema Triple Clean Anti-Bacterial Lathering Cleanser I have mentioned before. I put my Proactiv toner on it, did the Zeno Heat Treat, then applied the Proactiv Repairing Treatment (lotion) all over my face. The next morning I washed my face like normal and applied my medicated spot treatment once in the morning, again in the afternoon, and again before bed. The next day, no sign of any rogue facial monstrosities :-)

Hope this helps someone!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summertime Special: Bikini Hair Removal

So my hair is super curly. Like everywhere. Well almost everywhere, I took dance with a girl that had arm hair that looked like pubes. Unfortunate. But that's neither here nor there. I had an afro in college, I now chemically straighten my hair - a "perm" or relaxer for my readers who don't have black friends (don't worry, I still love you!). But due to the curliness of my down-there-hair, shaving is NOT an option for me. Tried it a few times, did all the tips and tricks, made sure I had been in a nice hot, steamy shower to soften the hair and open up the follicles, shaved with instead of against the growth of my hair, didn't stretch the skin, didn't run over the skin multiple times, to no avail. Horrible, painful, ugly bumps erupted on my bikini line three times before I said, "F#@$ this!"

I then tried Nair Bikini Creme in Vanilla Smoothie. It does not smell like a vanilla smoothie. And I still had horrible issues with ingrowns and a rather unfortunate chemical burn (don't ask).

Then a close friend turned me on to brazilian waxing. I jumped right in, I didn't take baby steps from a bikini wax (just the parts that are visible when your bathing suit is on) to a french bikini wax (the parts that are visible if you are wearing a high cut bikini) to brazilian (EVERYTHING. Even booty crack hairs). She told me I would get hooked. The first time I did it I thought, how on earth can I get addicted to this torturous practice?? Every 6-8 weeks since that day... Lol. It's part of my beauty routine like getting relaxers or like how some women get their highlights retouched. So I'm going to share some hair removal tips I've gained over time that I wish I had known starting out.

Prepping for wax: make sure your skin is clean. Ingrown hairs are exacerbated by bacteria. Do not wax within two days of your period because your skin is more sensitive. Do not use any products like oils or lotions that will prevent the wax from grabbing on the hair. Have about 1/4 of an inch of growth, too little hair and the wax won't grab, too much and it will be way more painful (don't know why this is but I've both read it and experienced it :-/). Take a nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drug (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen or naproxen in generic) 20 to 30 minutes before waxing. This is essential. Do not umderestimate how much this will chsnge your waxing experience. Also wear clothing that is not going to chaff immediately after. I usually wear a knee length skirt or loose fitting pants. Hosiery & jeans = regret for me.

During the wax: Make sure your esthetician is using a different (popsicle) stick to apply the wax EVERY TIME. I have one that uses opposite ends of the stick so she gets two uses out of one stick, which is ok by me, but do NOT be afraid to demand that an esthetician not dip the same stick back in the wax. If you witness this occurring, do NOT go back to her. Also if you exhale as she is pulling off the wax this minimizes pain. (Note on hard wax versus soft: hard wax is less likely to grab your skin and thus makes for a less painful experience, but it's been my experience that you do not get as hair-free results when using hard wax versus muslin strips. Hard wax hardens on your skin and is pulled off by the edge of the strip. No muslin is applied to assist in the removal of the wax.)

After the wax: Baby your skin; it has literally gone through a trauma. In the next 24 hours, do not scrub; wash with warm, not hot, water; use an anti-bacterial soap; and avoid friction from clothing as much as possible. I have read that you should take a shower versus a bath and abstain from sex for 24-48 hours. These may or may not be possible for you, but if you are really concerned, doing as many of these things as possible will help minimize irritation after waxing. (A note about cleansers: because this skin is pretty sensitive, especially after waxing, I like to use facial cleansers on my bikini area. My favorite is the Noxzema Triple Clean Anti-Bacterial Lathering Cleanser.) Then, as with everything, a proper regimen is essential to preventing and eliminating hair bumps/ingrown hairs.

"Hair bumps" and ingrowns are actually two different things. One is folliculitis, where the hair follicle gets inflamed and irritated causing a bump. An ingrown hair is when a hair does not exit a follicle cleanly and grows back into the skin causing a, sometime very painful, bump. Watch this video for a mediocre explanation.

Both are basically treated the same way. I have to do this in addition to all the things I named above to minimize the appearance, and subsequent agony, of ingrown hairs. 1) Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. You have to find out what works for you and what level of harshness you need in exfoliation. Some people only need to swipe with the scrubby Clearasil pads after showering. Doesn't cut it for this brown-skinned beauty. I start off by exfoliating DAILY with St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub. That's the one with the 2% salicylic acid, not the regular one. I need the extra oomph the acne fighting medication provides. Next, after I blot dry with a towel, I do a full swiping with Tend Skin which is a toner for ingrown hair and razor bumps. It is very drying and full of alcohol, which works for me. My skin actually no longer burns when I use it (I know...). For some of you more delicate gorgeoisies, you should seek out an alcohol-free product.

Guinot After Hair Removal Body Gel I have only used once, but it seemed to work pretty well. It does not contain rubbing alcohol (but does contain some others) so there's not that burning sensation that other products have.

A product I want to try include the Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Pads. So if someone wants to gift me some (*bats eyes innocently*) hit me up at gorgeoise@gmail.com.

Happy waxing!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Dry Skin

Per the request of a follower :-)

After the last summer time special, it came to my attention that all skin types should be reviewed, so we're going to start a mini series on skin. In the summertime we can forget about those plagued with dry skin because many of us are worried about sweat and shine. But dry skin has issues all it's own when it comes to the warmer months. I admittedly have no experience with dry summer skin, so the advice I offer here is by no means first hand, but the product of research and drawing on past winter experience.




A key part of all skin regimens, but particularly dry skin, is sun protection. It can be tempting to try to get a glow by baking your outer most layers, but this is a mistake. UV rays actually dry out the skin more, and dry skin is often sensitive skin and therefore can be more susceptible to sunburns. Dry skin also has to be more careful about wrinkle formation since moisture is a front-line soldier in the fight against aging, further support for sun protection diligence.

From an aesthetic standpoint, primary concerns with dry skin are tightness, flaking, and dullness. It can be challenging to find good moisturizing products for dry skin because many products don't provide enough moisture while others compensate with heavy, thick layers that seem to sit on top of the skin rather than soaking in. Gel moisturizers that I mentioned before can also be good for gorgeoiseies with dry skin because it's easier for the moisture to really reach beneath the top layer. Other products I have had a lot of success with as far as getting sufficient moisture are Cetaphil (sometimes the simplest products are the best ones) daily facial moisturizer and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. I know Clinique also has some products with extra oomph in the moisture department, but I can not attest to their effectiveness. I generally like Clinique's skin care products though for normal to dry skin types.

Another way to make sure moisture is really reaching the layers of skin where it is needed is to exfoliate. Exfoliation is so important in any regimen, but again, especially important with dry skin because you have to combat the abundance of skin cells that die from dryness and the dullness those dead skin cells cause. You should exfoliate three times a week. There really is no scrubbing product that should be used daily, despite the packaging claims (I say as I rub my face with the "microcrystals" in Proactiv twice daily). Exfoliating too often can cause micro-tears in the skin, leaving you with worsening skin problems. How do I know if I'm exfoliating too much? If your skin feels raw, stings when you apply products without a high slcohol content, is consistently red, or just feels like it's been over exfoliated, back off. Do not use products with harsh exfoliants like nut hulls or salts on your face. Microscopically, these exfoliants have sharp edges that can cut your skin. Rounded exfoliants like the beads, or fruit acids found in many facial scrubs are best, particularly for darker complexions that scar more easily. A personal favorite is Kiel's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub. I know I just said don't use nuts, but they are ground so fine in this scrub that I feel safe using it and I've been happy with my experiences. I love good 'ol St. Ives Apricot Scrub for a number of things but NOT THE FACE. I repeat, I do NOT recommend St. Ives Apricot Scrub for your face.

Radiance can be difficult to achieve with dry skin as well. The key here is to *drumroll* hydrate. Surprise surprise. I am starting to subscribe to my mother's thinking that water solves any problem, but for this problem it actually does help a lot. There are also some products that can help. I went to a spa where they used a moisturizer that had a TON of vitamin C in it. How did I know? Because it stung like crazy for like 10 minutes after my esthetician applied it. However, my skin was GLOWING for three days. It looked incredible. I haven't found a good substitute that costs less than $60 an ounce, but when I do, or if you do, please share with your fellow gorgeoisies! I've heard that rubbing vitamin E (literally breaking open a capsule and using the oozy inside) on your face helps, but I have never had reason to apply oil, even an essential one, directly to my face. Drugstore remedies that can cut it are the Aveeno Positively Radiant moisturizers, any SPF. I stopped using this line because it left my skin feeling oily, but it does work. They all have "light diffusers" that help give an almost shimmery radiance to any skin tone without looking ashen like that Oil of Olay Quench lotion nonsense. Yeah, that one in the purple bottle that made you look like you applied the wrong body shimmer after you used it. I have also liked my results after using Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer, but it won't last you the whole day. And the moisturizer isn't the best for providing moisture.

Next up, acne-prone skin, mid-twenties style.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summertime Special: Oily Skin

So I have a friend who suggested this post ;-) as well as a more prolonged summertime series so there wasn't so much pressure on me to come up with a week's worth of summer-related material in a week, so you have many more summertime specials to look forward to!

In an unrelated beauty update, my nails and skin are looking great lately. Like my mother commented on BOTH (I know!), but the only thing that's different is that the weather changed. It's not consistently warm out and my skin/hair/nails love warmer weather. Further reassurance that I need to move out to Arizona or somewhere so I can look gorgeoise all the time.

I thought this was a good topic to follow the post on SPF since they are related in my experience. I suffer from oily skin, not rivulets-of-oil-coming-off-of-your-middle-school-cafeteria-pizza oily, but definitely your-hand-after-eating-a-two-piece-from-Popeye's oily. So much so that it has endangered my life before. Totally serious. My skin gets so oily that it runs into my eyes and burns so bad that I am temporarily blinded. I kid you not. This has happened a number of times while I have been driving. My mom actually has the same problem, for once. So finding products that really work is important and can be really challenging. I am going to try really hard to make this a post about oily skin and not acneic skin, because they are different problems, but know now there will be some crossover and adult acne will probably be my next post simply out of necessity.



So what do we do about oily skin?? I'll tell you what has decreased the oiliness of my skin significantly this summer: good products and maintenance. I am a Proactiv user (I know, I hate the commercials too and for the longest time I wouldn't try their products off principle) and I've seen people use it both with and without success. I still have to use oil removing sheets and such, but the incidence of oil-blindness experiences has decreased significantly with that line of products. Other tips for the oily summer months:

1) Carry oil blotting sheets with you. The packaging is thin enough and usually small enough to be very portable. I've said before that my preference is the Clean and Clear sheets, but for those of you that like more green products, the Body Shop has these Natural Minerals Blotting Tissues that I have been dying to try.
2) Get a mattifying product like the Peter Thomas roth Anti-Shine Mattifying Gel, the successor to the discontinued and much loved Clinique mattifying gel. I have not personally tried this product, still using the last of my Clinique, but I've read tons of reviews. It seems like it doesn't work for people with very oily skin, but if that's the case you should probably be seeing a dermatologist anyway.
3) Wash your face twice a day, no more. Once in the morning and once before bed. Any more than that will activate your sebaceous glands even more and they will produce even more oil resulting in this endless cycle of buttered face.
4) Use oil-free products. I know this seems like a "duh" piece of advice, but think about the products you might use elsewhere that might get transferred to your face. Lotions, perfumes, and (the big one for me) hair products. All will eventually drip, rub, run, etc. their way to your facial epidermis.
5) Change your linens frequently enough. I met an esthetician once with flawless skin who used a fresh towel everyday. I change my bed sheets and towel at least once a week, often my towel is changed more frequently than that. Sheets and towel hold on to bacteria and oils from your body that are transferred back on your face.

The last thing about oily skin, it is so tempting to forgo a moisturizer because you know your face will be shiny halfway through the day or earlier. Resist temptation! Oil does not equal moisture. Your skin still needs to be adequately hydrated both internally and externally. There are some gel moisturizers I have been wanting to test. If anyone knows of good ones, tell them to share and I'll post product reviews as soon as I can try some new products.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summertime Special: SPF

I was going to do a post on tenderizing those tootsies, but that will have to wait because of some breaking news... The FDA has finally made a definitive ruling on the use of sunscreen! Now we all know about spf as a protectant against skin cancer, but I'll be honest, as a brown girl that is not on the top of my priority list. I grew up hearing that "black don't crack" and that "you never heard of an African getting skin cancer." The fact of the matter is, African-Americans do get skin cancers, at a rate of about one twenty-fifth of the rate Caucasians do, BUT we have the same incidence of skin cancers on the palms of our hands and soles of our feet as they do (D. Rigel, 2009). I even read once about someone getting a cancerous lesion on the inner rim of their eyelid. So sunscreen is one of my beauty must-have's that I never leave home without because it is the first line of defense in an anti-aging regimen. It is never too early to start thinking about anti-aging products because it is never too early to start using spf. Daily. Actually, bi-hourly. According to the FDA, sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours thereafter. I know, that's a lot of sunscreen. And if you shine by noon like me - and I'm talking about the kind of shine that stays on your fingers if you touch your face - you can be really sunscreen averse since it always seems to leave me oilier than I was before I put it on. Even the oil-free kind.




Photo credit styleblazer.com




So my favorite line of sun protecting products are Neutrogena Untra Sheer. I use Ultra Sheer liquid on my face and Dry Touch pray on my body. I love spray sunscreen because it's faster and I'm more likely to use it if it doesn't seem like a chore.



Always choose a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection. Most people under-apply sunscreen as well. About 20-50% of the amount of sunscreen you are supposed to use. You should use about 1 oz for your whole body, about as much as would fit in a shot glass. You can make up for not using that much by using a higher spf, like a 50 or 75, even for us colorful folks. For just your face, you should use a heaping teaspoon. Always use cover your neck too. Actually, products you use on your face should also be used on your neck and decolletage to avoid discoloration between your face, neck, and chest.

"What about vitamin D?" you ask? It's true, it has been purported that there is an increased incidence of vitamin D deficiency in Americans in recent years due to increased sunscreen usage. However, we of the darker hues are not generally using enough sunscreen to worry about that. Plus, if you're really worried, you can always take vitamin D supplement.

A great spot on NPR by Dr. Darrell Rigel about sunscreen. It's a little long, but good info if you have about 30 minutes of down time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Traveling Beautifully

My 5 hour flight yesterday inspired this post. Until my twenties, my emphasis when traveling was on comfort. Then I started noticing that I was seeing all these women who may not have been that much older than me looking so chic when they were boarding planes or exiting airports. So I ditched my brother's sweatpants for jeggings and a cute tee under a track jacket or travel-friendly cardigan (layers are key!), and figured out a few tips and essentials for arriving at a destination fresh-faced and ready for gasps of awe and admiration.

Photo credit faqs.org












~Wear minimal makeup when traveling. When makeup sits on your face it seeps into the crevices and doesn't let your pores breathe which can actually age you or just make you look horrible when you get off a plane. I favor a fresh look regularly anyway, rather than a full face, but this is particularly important for traveling.
~Samples from cosmetic counters are our friends. Even though most makeup items come in amounts under the 3.4 fl oz TSA regulation, samples are the perfect size for traveling so you can use critical real estate in your measly quart sized bag for other important items.
~Use towelettes whenever possible. This cuts down on how many liquids I am attempting to take in the aforementioned nightmare quart-sized bag. Pre-moistened makeup removing or cleansing towelettes are a great refresher after being in a closed compartment with lots of people.
~Sleep masks actually make a difference. I will actually get quality beauty sleep on a plane if I use a sleep mask (I know it seems so 1950!) but now they have all kinds of neat ones with gel and and flaxseeds and other substances with mystical powers that can help relieve puffy eyes or dark-circled eyes, offender numero uno in the I-look-like-crap-after-I-travel-syndrome.
~Stay hydrated. I know, I know, I'm waterlogging you all! But seriously, the recycled air on planes gives me super dry skin and sinuses and the best way to combat that is to drink plenty of water on the plane. It's free and not $4 like it is in the airport. A good lotion and lip balm are key here too.

So in my travel bag (literally)...
Noxzema Clean Moisture Makeup Removal Cloths - no weird residue feeling after and really leave you feeling refreshed without having to rinse.
Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets - many companies make these, but these are my favorites out of the ones I've tried. It seems like they don't just take the oil off but leave a mattefyinging finish on your skin that lasts for at least a little while.
*Garnier Nutritioniste Anti-Puff Eye Roller - I swear by this thing, I carry it in my purse and use it everyday.
*OptiFree Replenish Rewetting Drops (1/3 fl oz or 10 ml) - dry, red eyes do not a beauty make. I will wear my glasses on the plane and switch to contacts before we land or in the bathroom after we exit.
*Colgate Total Whitening toothpaste (.85 oz, not fl oz! but still has to bee in the quart-sized bag of death) - nothing makes you feel fresh like fresh breath! I use the little one with a compact tooothbrush that I got from my dentist but I've seen both at my local drugstore. If that seems like too much, a piece of sugarless mint gum like Trident White, or a Wisp brusher or Brush Up that you run over your teeth in lieu of a full on brushing will give you freshness even if it won't improve your oral hygiene.
*Avon Moisture Therapy hand cream (1.5 fl oz) - one of my favorite hand creams, I think it has silicone or something in it that keeps your hands super moisturized without being too greasy.
*Blistex Deep Renewal lip balm - my friend swears by this balm so I finally tried it and it's great. I was a Silk and Shine girl until I tried Deep Renewal. Definitely one of the best Blistex products and it has SPF 15.
Maybelline Moisture Whip lip liner in Wine - it looks dark but it looks really nice underneath the Blistex on us gingerbread girls (lol, see my profile for the joke).
*Lancome Definicils mascara - the little one I got for free with 4 other items the last time I made a purchase of $32.50.
Lancome Blush Subtil in Shimmer - great summer time color, looks super orange in the compact, looks super great on your skin.
Mac travel contour brush - smaller than my full size e.l.f. brush and gets the job done on the run. A really nice girl at a cosmetic counter in Nordstrom gave me the disposable brushes she used on me once, and I still have them six month later. As good as any brush I've ever bought and small enough to go with you.
*Guess Seductive (0.05 fl oz or 1.5 ml) - sample size, comes in a teeny atomizer instead of the liquid with that useless wands that always spills everywhere, and it smells so sexy. key ingredient in feeling fresh as you get off a plane.
Degree invisible solid deodorant - the $1 size one from the drugstore, just in case ;-)
A paddle brush.

All the things with asterisks go in the evil quart-sized baggie and the rest are in my carry-on. I'm not sure if it's necessary to put lip balm and mascara in that baggie but better safe than sorry. A colored gloss or balm is also a good addition to or substitute for the Blistex and lip liner. Also bronzer instead of blush, especially in the warmer months, is a substitution I'll often make. But I told you guys this is literally what I traveled with yesterday.

And the last thing in my TSA baggie of doom that doesn't really count as a beauty item but maybe should: hand-sanitizer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Water

It took me a while, but I'm back, and there are lots of features to come so get ready!

Photo credit thedailygreen.com

So it's getting warm - or has been or never will be depending on where in the US you are located - and if you're like me that means dehydration. Actually, to be quite honest, I'm dehydrated year round it feels like. In the winter, my ski is super dry from being cold and wind whipped, in the summer I actually get thirst, but my skin doesn't feel as dry because it is too busy being oily. I have actually read that doctors don't have any idea where the 8x8 recommendation came from (8 glasses of 8 oz of water per day), and that your ideal water intake depends on your height, weight, and activity levels. A good way to find out: weigh yourself first thing in the morning (when you are at your lowest weight) two consecutive days. If your weight changed by a pound or more, you have a water deficit from the previous day.

A note about the 8x8 though, when I have managed to intake 64 fl oz a day for even 3 days, I notice a difference a huge difference in my skin. It's clearer, my lips aren't chapped, and I just generally feel better. After a while, my nails and hair grow better too. However, pushing a copious amount of water down my throat is not something that comes to me easily like it does others. My mom can drink a gallon of water in a day, no sweat. I feel accomplished if I finish off a liter bottle. So I challenge everyone reading this to get 64 oz a day. In this challenge you get a point for every day that you consume 64 oz of water. At the end of every week, if you have 5 points, reward yourself! Something small, for me it's been something like a new bottle of nail polish. After a month, if you have 22 points or more, take yourself out to dinner; if you have 30 points or a perfect month buy yourself a piece of jewelry! I am trying to get out of commodifying rewards, but who doesn't love a new cocktail ring?

So here are a few tips for increasing your water intake that have worked for me:
~Squeeze some lemon juice (fresh) into your water bottle, it amps up the flavor who think water is just to blah and I've read that something about the acidity makes you hydrate faster, but I don't know if that's true.
~Drink it room temp. It's easier for me to gulp down a big glass if it's not freezing butt cold. Although, a weight loss trick according to Men's Health Magazine: drinking cold water can help you burn extra calories because your body has to work to heat it up.
~Use a filter or buy it bottled. There is something to the psychological satisfaction you receive from drinking water you think tastes better. I am a sucker for Evian and Fiji, and I know they're more that likely no different from to local grocery store brand. But it's not hard for me to get through a liter bottle of Evian whereas I feel like I'm struggling to get through a liter bottle from the 7-11 down the street. If you do buy bottled, please recycle! Otherwise there are some cute, BPA free, reusable bottles that have all kinds of fun openings that make drinking water more rewarding then a regular cup. Some tap water does have chemical additives that can alter the taste, so using a filter can improve the taste of your water. I found the cutest self filtering water bottle that's good for the environment!
~Drink sparkling water. This helps me satisfy my cravings for soda and keeps my water intake up, especially when it comes in yummy flavors like Deer Park raspberry lime. This should not be a primary source of water however; mineral waters contain just that, minerals, i.e. salts, which if consumed in excess will leave you feeling bloated and thirsty rather than hydrated.
~Use a container that helps get the job done. I mentioned water bottles before with fun openings, but also the size of the container matters. Some people like smaller bottles for portability or manageability. If you know every other hour you need to finish off your 16 oz bottle, that's easy to track, or even set an alarm for. A liter bottle doesn't intimidate me and I generally carry a huge purse. I like knowing that I only need to get through two of them to have had my water for today.

I know what you're thinking, I am going to have to pee so much more often! This is true! At first. Wehn your body is adjusting to the new level of hydration it will expel allt he old water it's been recycling to keep your cells in a happy homeostatic state. This is a good thing. After about 1-2 weeks you will pee a normal, healthy amount and frequency and your pee should be transparent and pretty clear (colorless does not equal hydrated, but dark colored urine does mean you're not getting enough water).

Happy drinking! I'll keep you all posted on my progress:-)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Reason This Blog Exists

My mom and I are very different.

She never had skin problems as a young person, she has strong incredible nails, she had a beautiful afro in her 20s, and generally was very different in her approach to her appearance. It was the 70s for goodness sake.

For me, reaching adulthood in the 2000s (Is that what we're calling this last decade? Was a consensus ever reached?) was tumultuous. I have adult acne; I scar easily; I am trying to grow my relaxed hair to mid-back length for the first time in my life; and I have weak, peeling nails that were exacerbated by six months of gel overlays. The finely focused microscope under which we scrutinize our appearance is set to a much higher magnification than in decades past, which has led me to try all kinds of products to reach my ideal appearance.

This is primarily a black beauty blog. You will find product reviews, regimens, and spa reviews with some spirituality and pearls of wisdom sprinkled in. I reserve the right to use this space to vent about my beauty woes as well, but I promise those will be few and far between. PLEASE feel free to use the comment button and tell your friends!

I'm just here to tell you what your mama never told you.