Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet My Daughter Brianna!!

A lot of people wanted a post on my daughter to learn about her hair regimen, maintenance etc. I talked to her last night to see how she felt about making her appearance on my blog and she was thrilled [part of it was because she got to stay up an extra 15 minutes]. 
Meet Brianna; a super-inquisitive, very talkative, extremely tall nine year old. Brianna maintains a regimen that is very much like her attitude. Very low-fuss. Her regimen includes shampooing and conditioning weekly, moisturizing with Silk Elements Silken Child Moisturizer and sealing with Vatika Oil. At night, her hair is tucked away in a loose bun, and she sleeps on a satin pillowcase. 
Brianna's hair is usually styled in two braided pigtails on either side or a low bun. This is less stress on the hair follicles and means less chance of breakage from ponytails holders. Because Brianna is only nine, we have yet to experiment with heat [except for the time great grandma blow-dried her hair *side-eye* lol] but it may be considered in her teenage years.

[ends are protected and ready for bed]

When do you feel it is appropriate for a child to get their hair pressed?

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Sound Off! Why On Earth Would I Put Oil On My Oily Skin?

Love this pic! [source]

As I mentioned in my post Tue, some people may cringe at the thought of adding oil to a face that is already prone to acne. This is a logical and justifiable concern! Yesterday, I received a few questions in the comment section of my skincare post; and I thought it would be better served if I answered them in the form of a blog post for others that may have some of the same concerns.

In addition, if you have any questions/concerns on this post, or the oil cleansing method in general; please feel free to leave them in the comment section so that we can create somewhat of a resource for others who are looking for answers as well!

Your Questions:
"Is there even any conclusive, empirical, scientific, quantifiable, peer-reviewed EVIDENCE of the effectiveness of this so called method?"

"Furthermore what are the mechanisms that render it effective? HOW DOES WASHING ONE'S ALREADY SEBUM FILLED FACE WITH OIL IMPROVE ONE'S FACIAL CONDITION!?"

"I understand the spirit with which Chidi asked the question. So, MTM: Is there evidence, other than anecdotal, regarding the effectiveness of oils to cleanse skin, esp. those of us with problem skin?"
My Response:

Oil will not exasperate your issues with acne if you are breakout prone. Sebum is a non-polar molecule which means it is unable to dissolve in polar molecules like water. This is why most facial cleansers, laundry detergent, soaps, and shampoo's are formulated with harsh surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This is a cheap, synthetic, man-made ingredient used to remove excess oils, dirt and sebum.

When you clean your face with products that contain harsh surfactants, it strips your skin leaving it dry. As a result, your glands go into overproduction mode to make up for the lack of moisture. What you are left with is an endless cycle of dryness coupled with an overproduction of sebum.

The general rule of thumb in chemistry is that "like dissolves like". Non-polar molecules are able to dissolve in non-polar solvents. Relating this to skincare, the oil in your cleansing mixture is able to dissolve excess oil and fatty deposits that are present in the pores and hair follicles of your skin. Scientifically this is possible because sebum [in this case the solute] and the oils mentioned in the post [we'll call these the solvents] are structurally compatible.

Excess sebum is due in part to the lack of Linoleic Acid present in the hair follicles, as Linoleic Acid reduces the output of sebum. Studies show that Linoleic Acid [a fatty acid found in many of the vegetable oils referenced in the post] reduces clogged pores [microcomodones] significantly when used topically [on the skin].

I don't want to veer off into the structure of oils, so I will keep it brief and note a few key pieces of information that may be of use; Jojoba, Hazelnut, Grapeseed, Evening Primrose, Avocado, Kukui and Borage Oil [all the oils mentioned in Tuesday's post] are high in Linoleic Acid. This means that these oils are effective in regulating excess sebum, and preventing clogged pores. These oils are all high in anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties which lends to their ability to deliver enzymes that dissolves the blockage in your pores.

There are many well known, high-end brands out there that consciously formulate products with the health of your skin in mind [albeit they are very expensive]. Take Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil which is formulated with Jojoba & Avocado Oil, or DHC Cleansing Oil formulated with Olive Oil. If you would like to see peer-reviewed evidence of the benefits of cleansing with oil. Check out the reviews on both products [Shu Uemura Review + DHC Cleansing Oil Review]. You can even do a search on the right-hand section of the blog to gain real-time insight [via on-going comments] from MTM readers who started the OCM method, or Acne.Org which has a plethora of reviews on the Oil Cleansing Method.

* Let me point out that the only difference between commercial based cleansing oils and oils that you can formulate in your kitchen, is that commercial based cleansing oils are formulated with emulsifiers that bind water and oil together. This means that when water is introduced to your mixture [lets say as you are washing the product off] a stable emulsion occurs. The emulsifying ingredient does not lend any therapeutic properties to the skin, or prevent skin inflammation. In the case of cleansing oils, it eases the wash-off process. - You can spend an upwards of $25 [8oz] for a product like this, or you can make it yourself for less than a fraction of the cost with the same ingredients [minus the emulsifier].

Over the past 15 years I have collected many commercial books and reports on formulating personal care products [lame I know], and attended courses on the structure of the compounds used to create them. Over the next few months, I will try to get permission from various authors to scan and reproduce these articles on the site in hopes that it arms you with clear cut information about what's in your skincare products and how it benefits [or harms] your skin. Whether you decide to oil cleanse or cleanse using traditional methods like soap and water, we should all know how our products work for us and if there is a natural alternative to what is being offered commercially.

Comments Cited:

Chidi: "I must be bloody ignorant, but how does" [Weblog comment.] 9/30/2010. Clear + Hydrated Skin The Natural Way - Natural Oils Your Skin Will Thank You For. Nikole Crowe. --. 09/29/2010. (

Teachermrw: "Is there even any conclusive, empirical, scientific, quantifiable, peer-reviewed EVIDENCE" [Weblog comment.] 9/30/2010. Clear + Hydrated Skin The Natural Way - Natural Oils Your Skin Will Thank You For. Nikole Crowe. --. 09/29/2010. (

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Product Review: Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque

Price: $4.00 Sample Size - $28 8.5oz - $46 16.9oz

I admit I avoided this stuff like the plague because I thought that this was going to be yet another faddish hair product that used "exotic ingredients" for label appeal yet delivered less than desirable results. While perusing my local beauty supply, I saw a sample size packet [$4.00] of the Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque and decided to give it a go.

Tip: Before trying new products, always clarify to remove excess product buildup. This allows you to see exactly how the product works on your hair.

According to the website:
Macadamia Deep Repair Masque is a revitalizing hair reconstructor for dry, damaged hair. A combination of macadamia oil and argan oil along with tea tree oil, chamomile oil, aloe and algae extracts rejuvenate and rebuild the hair, leaving the hair deeply nourished for improved elasticity and shine with long-lasting conditioning benefits.
I clarified with Lanza Daily Clarifying shampoo and followed up with a moisturizing shampoo to correct the PH balance and restore moisture back into my hair. I then applied the entire packet and allowed it to sit [covered with a plastic cap] for about 30 minutes without heat.

After rinsing out the product [with cold water] my hair felt amazing! Check out these ratings:
Softness: 10
Shine: 8
Manageability: 9
Elasticity: 8

Suitable for all hair types [especially the ultra thirsty, brittle, dry strands], I would recommend this to anyone that is looking for a intense moisturizing treatment. If you have dry, brittle hair, this is for you! If you are transitioning and your strands are seriously lacking moisture and elasticity, give this treatment a shot. - I loved this product so much I purchased the 8.5oz size [$28]. For me, $28 is a lot of money to spend on a conditioner, however it worked so well I really couldn't talk myself out of it. I figure I can treat myself to an ultra-hydrating moisturizing treatment once a month.

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Bentonite Clay Hair Mask Treatment >> Video

I absolutely love Bentonite Clay treatments. I usually do them about once a month and it always leaves my hair soft, manageable, and strong! I also have better curl definition and tons of body! - This treatment was done on unwashed, slightly damp hair as an alternative to clarifying my hair with shampoo. 

The Acetic Acid in Apple Cider Vinegar gently removes product buildup, excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Apple Cider Vinegar is also beneficial for treating dandruff, nourishing the follicles, and strengthening hair at the roots. 

You can find Bentonite Clay in most Health Food stores. Aztec Indian Healing Clay is the brand I normally find in stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Vitamin Shoppe.

Bentonite Clay masks are beneficial for:
  • Transitioners and naturals alike that are looking for a gentle way to clarify
  • People who have adverse reactions to shampoo [allergic reactions etc]
  • Those looking for natural alternatives to include in their regimen periodically
Bentonite Clay benefits:
  • Gently draws out oils, dirt, dead skin cells and product buildup
  • Imparts sheen
  • Improves wet-combability [which makes detangling a breeze]
  • Enhances natural curl pattern
  • The nutrients in the Bentonite Clay nourishes the follicles
Points To Remeber:
  • You can do this treatment as often as you like
  • You can use any liquid of choice [herbal infusions, tea, apple cider vinegar, and coconut cream are all know to produce desirable results]
  • For best results, don't let the clay mixture dry on your hair [I usually leave the mixture on for about 20-30 minutes]
  • Because Bentonite Clay draws oils and toxins from your tresses, it is recommended that you follow up with a conditioning treatment to restore a bit of moisture
  • Do not use metal utensils or bowls to aid in mixing the Bentonite, as contact could reduce the therapeutic effects of the clay [due to the chemical reaction of the metal interacting with the clay].

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Clear + Hydrated Skin The Natural Way - Natural Oils Your Skin Will Thank You For + Giveaway Winner Announced

Her skin + makeup + jewelry is totally on point! [source]

First order of business; I want to give a big thank you everyone who entered the Peace Images Giveaway! We had some amazing entries, but there can only be one winner! - The winner of the Peace Images Giveaway is; Michelle! Michelle said:
Where many see disaster, a fierce black woman sees a way, where many see despair, a fierce black woman sees hope, where many see no way a fierce black woman MAKES one. A fierce black woman is assertive,she is strong, she is bold, she is you, she is me. :)
Michelle please send an email with your name and mailing address to: to claim your gift! - A big thank you to Camille of Peace Images for graciously sponsoring this giveaway! If you didn't win this week, check out the new giveaway this week from our gracious sponsor Casa Di Culture!

Ok now on to the deets! - A lot of people cringe at the thought of using oil on the skin. However the truth is, if you use the right oil for your skin type you could have skin that is glowy, youthful and ultra hydrated. If you're looking to ditch your facial moisturizer, or you want to start experimenting with your Oil Cleansing Formula, here are a few must-haves your skin will definitely thank you for!

Dry/Mature Skin
Evening Primrose: This oil is high in Gamma-Linolenic Acid which beneficial in treating skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, as well as minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Evening primrose also hydrates the skin leaving it soft, supple and smooth.
- Can be found online {here

Kukui Oil: This highly absorbent ultra hydrating oil has an abundance of fatty acids and is beneficial for treating eczema, psoriasis and acne.
- Can be found online {here}. 

Avocado Oil: This rich oil contains amino acids, sterols, fatty acids, Vitamin A, B1, B2, D & E. Avocado oil makes for a wonderful dual-purpose moisturizer, as it treats skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea while keeping the skin soft, hydrated and protected.
- Can be found online {here}. 

Oily/Blemish Prone
Grapeseed Oil: Hands down one of my favorite oils to use on my skin. Grapeseed oil is incredibly light yet makes the perfect moisturizer for skin. Grapeseed Oil makes for a wonderful after shower moisturizer as well. The astringent and antioxidant properties of Grapeseed Oil means that it will leave your skin toned, clear, bright, and blemish free.
- Found in the cooking isle of most grocery stores. Can also be found online {here}.

Hazelnut Oil: This is another favorite of mine [I use this in my Oil Cleansing Mixture]. Hazelnut Oil also has mild astringent properties and is light enough for those with oily skin. This oil will keep your skin toned, even and most importantly, free of blemishes!
- This oil can be found in the beauty isle of most Health Food Stores, or {here}

Borage Oil: Borage Oil contains a high amount of Gamma-Linolenic Acids which is beneficial for treating various types of skin inflammation from acne to eczema as well as psoriasis. Borage Oil helps calm, sooth and reduce swelling in inflamed areas.
- This oil can be purchased online {here}.

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Interview: Celebrity Makeup Artist Tia Dantzler Shares Tips & Tricks of the Trade!!

I have admired the impeccable work of Celebrity Makeup Artist Tia Dantzler long before the inception of MTM. Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored when Tia granted my request for an interview. Read on to find out what brands of foundation Tia recommends for women of color, as well brand recommendations for beauties on a budget!

MTM: Tell me a little bit about your background. 

TD: My gift as a makeup artist has created a path for me both in the celebrity world to almost every form of media from tv, film and print to name a few. I've been in the beauty industry for eight years now and boy does time fly. I've had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of Politicians, Musicians as well as Actors who include President Barack Obama, Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, Fantasia, Kanye, Gabby Sidibe, Lalah Hathaway, Chandra Wilson, Common and many more.

MTM: As a darker-skinned African American woman, I find it difficult to shop for foundation. Are there any brands out there you can recommend to make it a bit easier? 

TD: Yes, there are so many brands on the market now that cater to darker skin and I'm excited about it. Some of the cosmetic lines that offer a great color selection in my opinion are M.A.C., Bobbi Brown, Black Opal and Cover Girl Queen Collection to name a few.  Sometimes if one foundation didn't work for you try another foundation within the same cosmetic line because texture can make a huge difference.

MTM: Do you recommend using more than one color of foundation at a time, or would you advise the novices to leave the blending work to the pros?  

TD: Yes, sometimes I blend as many as 3 shades to achieve the desired tone I'm looking for.  It is certainly possible to have more than one skin-tone on our faces.  For everyday makeup I would stick with one shade and perhaps a concealer one shade lighter if needed. 

MTM: What are some quality drug-store brands you can recommend to beauties on a budget? 

TD: You can find some great products at the drugstore that give great color pay-off such as, Black Opal, Wet & Wild, Milani and Iman to name a few.  Cover Girl, Maybeline and Rimmell have some of the best mascaras too.

MTM: How often should we replace our makeup? 

TD:  As far as mascaras, I would discard after 3 months.  Some foundations can be used up to a year.  If you start smelling odors or the mascara starts to dry out that's a sure sign to toss out. Please make sure to tightly secure all tops on products to keep bacteria from quickly building up.

MTM: I love the look you did for Jennifer Hudson on the cover of Essence; what are some tips or ticks you can offer to get that red carpet flawless finish at home? 

TD: I'm big on maintaining a daily skincare regimen to maintain great skin.  I would suggest starting off cleansing and moisturizing before you apply foundation especially powder because moisturizer just helps your makeup lay pretty.  Achieving a flawless look can take some time and patience depending on your skin condition.  Primers are another sure way to prep and prepare skin for concealer and foundation applications.  I absolutely love highlighters which gives your skin a glow without the sun.  I love to place the highlighter just above the cheekbones for a fresh glow.

MTM: For those that are new to makeup, or the beauty mavens that just want to consolidate their makeup arsenal, what are four beauty products every woman should have? 

TD: Four must have products are: foundation to even your skin-tone, mascara to open up your eyes and bring definition all at the same time, Eyeliner to really make your eyes pop and to give them shape, and lastly a nice lip color that compliments your skin-tone.

MTM: And finally, what hues on the runway are hot right now that would translate on African American skin-tones? 

TD: The color purple ruled the runways this season which is a great choice because it comes in so many hues.  Another great reason to love this color is that it ranges from cool to warm tones so everybody can rock purple and look great.  Bold lips in purples, reds and deep burgundy were also a hit during fashion week.

Want to find out more about Tia Dantzler?
Facebook Fan Page: Tia Dantzler's FB Fan Page

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Epicure: Lemon Sandwich Cookies

I am a fan of most things lemon. Lemon cake, lemonade, even lemon pancakes. So when I spotted these pretty little lemon sandwich cookies on Martha Stewart's site, I immediately added them to the recipe rolodex.

They were extremely easy to make, however a bit time consuming [the cookie dough has to chill for about an hour]. These heavenly cookies were the perfect marriage of lemony-buttery goodness with a kick of sophistication. You can make these as regular lemon cookies, or your can add a generous dollop of sweet, creamy lemon filling for sandwich cookies. - If you're one for hosting dinner parties, double the recipe; these make divine after-dinner delectables! 

Lemon Sandwich Cookies [adapted from Martha Stewart]
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add flour (dough will still be stiff); finish mixing with a wooden spoon.
2. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour (and up to 3 days).
3. Unwrap dough; place on a lightly floured piece of parchment or waxed paper. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick (if dough cracks, let it warm up slightly).
4. Cut out cookies with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter (reroll scraps once, chilling of too soft). Place 1 inch apart on two baking sheets; sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until barely beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
5. Form sandwiches: Place about 1 teaspoon creamy lemon filling between two cookies, sugared sides facing out; squeeze gently.
Creamy Lemon Filling
1 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 to 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and zest until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup confectioners' sugar, mixing until smooth. Mix in remaining sugar as necessary to create a firm but spreadable filling.

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Sponsored Giveaway: Casa Di Culture

 Up for grabs is the Day Dreaming In Paris shirt [white shirt]; available in small-x large

This week's giveaway is sponsored by Casa Di Culture; a brand committed to sustainable production methods while telling stories that transcends through cultural boundaries. 

More about the brand:
Casa di Culture, the brand for the modern nomad, was created in 2007 by three sisters who, after traveling to over 25 countries and 6 continents, decided to create a label that represented individuals who view the world as their meeting place, music their language and culture their religion.

The product line includes screen-printed t-shirts and baby onesies, natural beauty products, rare teas, and handmade accessories (jewelry and scarves). Each Casa di Culture design has its own story that mixes aspects of ancient cultures into modern society.
When asked about their business practices, Casa Di Culture states:
CdC is also committed to social responsibility and ethical practices. Using only PVC-free inks on all screen-printed items, recycled packaging and promotional material, and 100% organic cotton textile when possible. 
Up for grabs is the Day Dreaming in Paris shirt as pictured above [white shirt]. Sizes run from small to extra large. - The giveaway will run until October 4th 12:00AM PST

Eligibility Requirements:
  • Subscribe to the Casa Di Culture newsletter [located here]
  • "Like" the Casa Di Culture Facebook Page
  • Answer the following question in the comment section: "Why would you like to win the Day Dreaming In Paris T-Shirt?" 
  • Remember you must also be a subscriber to this blog 
Check out some other amazing pieces currently for sale in the Casa Di Culture store:

Stay Connected With Casa Di Culture:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wearing a Sew-In Weave As a Protective Style? Here's What You Need To Know!

A lot of people have asked me to chime in on my feelings about wearing a sew-in weave as a protective style, so I decided to address the question via blog post.

Is it possible to retain length using a sew-in as a protective style? The answer is yes, and only under conditions in which you are very diligent when it comes to caring for your hair. Most breakage and horror stories stems from stylists who don't know the proper amount of tension when it comes to cornrowing hair for the install. As a result, you are left with hair that is thin, see-through, fragile and in desperate need of a major haircut.

Other horror stories are as a result of women installing sew-ins on hair that is too weak to withstand any amount of stress for long periods of time. If you are suffering from severe breakage due to relaxers, or color services, I wouldn't recommend a sew-in install [or anything that places tension on the hair for an extended duration]. A sew-in will only further exasperate your issues leaving you with hair more damaged after the install than it was before.

Finally; you will experience damage if you neglect to follow a regular maintenance routine. The amount of damage varies from breakage in areas that are more prone to damage, to complete hair loss in others. 

You can wear sew-ins successfully if:
  • The braids are firm but not tight
  • You use human hair instead of synthetic
  • Use silk thread in lieu of cotton
  • Use a protein treatment before and after each install
  • Shampoo hair regularly
  • Moisturize regularly
  • Leave hair out around hairline, or opt for small individuals
Find a gentle stylist: For those out there that decide on a sew-in, make sure the braids aren't too

tight. Most major damage from extensions stems from hair loss due to stressed follicles. Hair loss can occur after one visit, or several depending on the stylist.
  • If you get a sew-in and you see white bumps along your hairline, or your scalp is "raised and gathered" along parts of your scalp; the install is too tight.
Use silk thread: Although any stress over a period of time can have adverse reactions to your strands, silk thread can lessen the chances of damage. Most thread used for sew-in extensions is comprised of cotton. The friction from the cotton rubbing your tresses can cause breakage as well as split ends. Silk is a much better fiber to use, albeit a little more expensive.

Regular protein treatments are key: Stress from braiding and the tension from the thread sewn around the braids can make for a weakened shaft structure. It is imperative to maintain regular protein treatments to strengthen the hair and prevent excess breakage. How often you decide to use a protein treatment depends on the condition of your hair, and the amount of time spent wearing a weave. I recommend protein treatments before and after each install [provided you go at least 6-8 weeks between installs].

Leave out the hair around your hairline: It may not be the most popular choice, however you can save your hair from thinning and breakage around the hairline. Opt for curly hair instead of straight so that you can blend your hair seamlessly with the extensions. Choosing curly hair will also mean less heat from thermal styling as well.

Don't want to leave your hairline out? Try small individuals along the hairline and nape area. Individuals are less stress on the hairline versus cornrows; which makes them a great hassle-free option.
  • If you use this method of individuals along the hairline and nape; it is recommend that you re-braid the individuals every 2 weeks to prevent knotting at the root.
Use human hair: Synthetic hair has a tendency to cause breakage due to the texture of the fibers. To alleviate damage from friction, choose human hair in lieu of synthetic.
Keep hair clean: Hair that is compacted on to your scalp is a breeding ground for bacteria, dead skin, and excess sebum. If left untreated, hair loss and thinning can occur. Shampoo hair [focusing on your scalp once a week] once a week to keep your scalp clean and able to absorb moisture.
  • Fill an applicator bottle with shampoo water & 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar. Squirt this mixture in between your cornrows, and slightly massage area to remove buildup. Rinse well, braid in four large sections, and allow to dry thoroughly. 
Moisturize religiously:  Hair that is dry is more prone to breakage. Moisturizing your hair while wearing extensions is an essential part of maintaining a healthy hair regimen.
  • Fill an applicator bottle with your favorite moisturizer or a bit of leave-in conditioner diluted with water. Apply mixture to scalp every other day.
    If you follow the methods outlined above: You should be able to leave your install in for up to 3 months. It is recommended that you take 1-2 month breaks in between installs to allow your hair and scalp the chance to breathe and recuperate.

    Here are some products to get to know if you plan on wearing a sew-in:
    [1] Jane Carter's Scalp Renew: An amazing product that helps maintain a healthy scalp and remedy all issues related to inflammation.- [Use every other day after moisturizing]
    [2] Keracare Gentle Cleansing Shampoo For Wigs & Extensions

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    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Eat | Drink | Play : Vince + Nylon Party

    Last night Lo and I headed to Melrose Place for an evening of fashion and music. The soiree was curated by Vince and Nylon Magazine, whilst Reyka & Dirty Blonde cocktails provided libations on the house. 

    I spent the night mingling, people watching [through the lens of my camera] and making new friends. Here are some of my fashionable highlights of the night:

     Free mags that were strategically placed on the mannequins heads

    Catching up with Lo! It's been a minute; she's been super busy as of late
    Gawking over her gorgeous mane! She was super sweet and adorable!
    Eying her Alexander Wang bag. I will settle for a DIY for now. 

    I loved her over-the-knee socks. Perfect accessory for a fall collegiate look. 

    I loved her entire outfit! Very casual yet chic. Still kicking myself for forgetting to ask about her necklace!

    Even her shoes were ultra femme! They were sky-high double-stacked platforms! 
    I love Victorian-style billowy slip dreses! Her look was polished from her 3/4 length cardi to her lavender nails!

    I loved the juxtaposition between the asymmetrical feminine top and the hard leather bomber. The baubles around her neck was a nice touch as well!

    A nice classic black purse that will last for years is on my wish-list. Although I may not start off with a Chanel bag [for obvious reasons, seen the price tag on those lately?].

    These two were super sweet and stylish

    One feather earring is always a nice touch!

    Orchids, my favorite. If you're ever in the L.A area, stop by Vince on Melrose Place; they amazing pieces for men and women!

    Dress: Marciano Flamenco Style Wrap
    Jeans: Marc Jacob Skinnies
    Jacket: Zara 
    Lipstick: Intriguing - Stila

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    Mini Makeup Haul >> Brown Girls Can Wear Color Too

    I picked up a few new colors of eyeshadow after being inspired by the beauty section in the latest issue of Essence [Oct 2010]. Here is the pic for reference:

    The model is wearing black eyeliner on her upper lashline and swept a pretty green color along the lower lashline. While I love experimenting with different colors of eyeshadow, I don't always want to wear color on my lids, especially during the day. This look is perfect for those that want a more of a clean natural look, topped off with a bit of color-play for a fun twist. 

    NYX - Yellow Pearl [$5.50]  | Stila - Jade [$18.00]  | MAC - Rose Pigment [$19.50]  | MAC - Rubenesque Paint Pot  [$16.50]
    I used the following products to create this look:
    • Aqua Eyes Eyeliner Pencil - Hands down the best eyeliner I have ever tried!
    • Jade Eyeshadow - This is a deep highly pigmented green that looks great on fair and darker skin alike. 
    • 219 Pencil Brush - This is an indispensable tool for applying eyeliner near the upper or lower lashline
    Tips: To intensify the eyeshadow color for darker skin tones, spray a bit of MAC Fix Plus spray on your makeup brush before picking up the product. 

    For more of a fresh-faced look, pick peachy toned or barely there shades of blush [I used Sweet as Cocoa by MAC]. Top it off with brows that are lightly filled in, and swipe a few coats of mascara on your lashes. 
    I used the same eyeliner + blush + lipstick, and experimented with Yellow Pearl by NYX! NYX is becoming one of my go-to brands for eyeshadow. They are inexpensive, highly pigmented, and last a long time when used with an eyeshadow base. 
    This is a feminine look you can wear during the day or on a casual date! 

    This is another look utilizing colored eyeshadow yet still maintaining a natural appearance. The type shadow that I used for this application is a pigment [Rose Pigment by MAC]. It's a concentrated shadow in loose form that can be used to create anything from a natural soft look, to an intense look. 
    I actually used an eyeshadow base underneath the pigment [for more dimension] that I absolutely love [also purchased recently]called Rubenesque Paint Pot by MAC. It's the perfect warm colored base to use under shimmery colors without lending a cake-like appearance. 
    Tip: Many people ask me if using an eyeshadow base is necessary. For me, it absolutely is if I want eyeshadow's to show up on my skin true-to-color. I avoided colored shadow so long because everything either had an ashy like appearance, or the color was dull and washed out. 

    Eyeshadow bases also helps keep your shadow from creasing which is major plus if you wear makeup for extended periods of time.

    If you happen to pick up Essence Magazine this month you will find me in the Street Style section of the magazine! 

    Here I am right next to my wonder twin Lo!

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    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Important Tips You Should Know Before Protective Styling - Wigs & Bun Edition

     This photo was taken back in February of 09. Literally a few months after starting my healthy hair journey. I began to experiment with protective styling [specifically buns] until I perfected braid outs and twist outs. Because I knew the implications of pulling your hair taught regularly, I decided to braid my hair in about 8 sections, allow to dry overnight, then loosely bun for more of a wavy effect. This saved my hairline and nape from excess tension, and ultimately follicular damage. 
    1. Be mindful of your hairline and nape: Most damage to the hairline, temples and nape area is due to excessive stress from styling. If you wear braids, buns and other hairstyles where the hair is pulled taught, you are susceptible to Traction Alopecia. Traction Alopecia stems from follicular damage and depending on the extent can be permanent [as follicles are not able to regenerate themselves]
    • If you are wearing buns as a protective style, switch up the placement of your bun. A high bun one day, a low chic bun the next, and so forth. The goal is to reduce tension in the same areas and relive stress placed on the follicles. 
    • Again, for bun wearers; switch up the parts. If you part your hair in the same area over time, you may notice thinning in that area. Alternate the placement of parts to alleviate stress placed on the follicles.
    •  Avoid excessively tight hairstyles for long periods of time. Sure there are some people that can retain length and thickness by wearing buns excessively for years. However this isn't the case for most of us. In the US, African American women have the highest rates of Traction Alopecia due to our styling preferences. Experiment with other protective styling options from time like loose pony's and even two-strand twists fashioned into a chic updo. Your hair will thank you! 
    • Do not sleep in tight buns or ponytails. Allow your scalp to breath and relieve stress placed on the follicles. Let your hair down, and give yourself a scalp massage to increase circulation to your scalp. The circulation feeds your follicles and promotes hair growth.  
          2. For those wearing wigs as a protective style: Don't forget to moisturize. This is extremely important as breakage and brittle hair can go hand in hand with styles that cover up the scalp. This is so because hairstyles like weaves and wigs prevents the absorption of moisture and decreases ability for the scalp to breathe. The key to having healthy hair is keeping your scalp healthy. The main components of a healthy scalp are: cleansing, moisturizing, circulation, and preventing excess stress.
          • Weekly shampoo and deep conditioning treatments are still necessary.
          • Alternate between wigs, half wigs, and phony-ponys to reduce the amount of time your scalp is covered. 
          • Implement regular exfoliation treatments [more info and a recipe can be found here], as the lack of moisture and air can trigger inflammation of the scalp which could later lead to hair loss and thinning. In fact, scalp inflammation is the #1 cause of hair loss in women
          • Ditch the stocking cap and opt for a silk scarf instead. A stocking cap can cause breakage around the hairline and nape due to friction
          • Moisturize the hair at least once daily, as wigs tend to suck the moisture right out of your tresses. 
          • Be extremely careful of the placement of combs attached to half wigs and combs, as the digging/friction can cause hair loss as well. Try to stick the combs in the silk scarf so that only a small portion of the comb is attached to your hair. This will help minimize friction.

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          Giveaway Winner + Product Recommendations For Transitioners

           [Photography by: Ajani Truth - Styling: Kia Chenelle]
          First I would like to announce the winner of the Rachel Stewart Giveaway! *Drumroll Please* YaHighness 
          Please contact me at: with your mailing address to claim your prize! - A big thank you to Rachel of Rachel Stewart Jewelry for hosting, and everyone who entered!

          Also, I am doing a series of posts [Guest Blogging] for Wedding Soiree! A fabulous wedding site founded by a group of premier wedding planners in Atlanta. Check them out, and check out my newest post: The Four Week Wedding Boot Camp Your Hair Will Thank You For - I hope this comes in handy for any bride to be out there!

          ---------------------- Now On To The Deets

          The needs of relaxed and transitioning hair is different from the needs of hair that is natural. This is due in part to the structure of the hair. Hair that has been chemically treated is susceptible to a bevy of issues; most notably keratin loss, cuticle damage, and hair that is overly porous. Due to these changes in the structure of the hair, some products formulated for natural hair may leave your relaxed or transitioning hair with less than desirable results [sticky, stiff, matted, dry]. Because of this, I decided to comprise a short but useful list of products to ease your transition period.

          Co-Washing Conditioner
          Some of you may already be familiar with the term co-washing. For those that aren't, co-washing is a method of cleansing the hair without using shampoo. Shampoo on the relaxed portion of your hair could cause excess tangles, matting, and dryness. Because of this, a conditioner is used in lieu of shampoo to gently cleanse the scalp while imparting moisture to thirsty strands. How often you co-wash depends on the state of your hair [is it fine and oily or thick and dense?]. Some transitioners opt to co-wash every other day [I co-washed every 3-days] which can get expensive if you are using moderately priced conditioners.

          Stocking up on inexpensive yet effective brands can save money in your pocket, as well as ease some of your transitioning woes. - My favorite co-washing conditioner [and the favorite of many transitioners] is V05 Strawberries & Cream Moisture Milks - For $1.00 a bottle [and less in many stores], you can stock up on an effective co-wash conditioner without the guilt.

          I recommend using an actual shampoo about twice a month while transitioning. This is because the agents from the conditioner can cause buildup on your tresses. As we know, buildup can create a barrier along the hair shaft locking moisture out, which makes for dry, stiff and brittle hair. This is the last thing you want whilst transitioning, as the line of demarcation [where your relaxed hair and natural hair meets] is very delicate and prone to breakage if not properly moisturized. However it doesn't stop there, for best results seek out a shampoo that is sulfate free, this is a lot better for your transitioning hair as it gently cleanses your strands without stripping it of it's natural oils. 

          As you can see, the underlying theme here is moisture. You need to keep your transitioned hair as moisturized as possible to prevent unnecessary breakage. I highly recommend Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo.

          Shampoo Tip: Focus on the scalp while shampooing. The scalp and new growth tends to have a lot more oil versus the relaxed hair which has a tendency to be a little on the dry side. As the water rinses away the shampoo, it will gently cleanse the shaft of the hair as well. Lightly agitate the shaft of the hair while rinsing to distribute shampoo. 

          You can opt to use your co-washing conditioner, which is great if you want to simplify the amount of products in rotation. Or you can choose another conditioner which is a bit more moisturizing; my favorite for transitioning hair is Aussie Moist. It does a wonderful job at delivering moisture to your new growth making it soft, moisturized and easy to manage. Aussie Moist also hydrates your relaxed hair and improves combability which is a major plus.

          Deep Conditioner:
          Deep conditioning treatments are essential to every effective total regimen. I have a lot of relaxed & transitioning friends who swear by Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose. So much so, that I decided to give it a try as well [review soon!]. Honeysuckle Rose is extremely thick  and ultra hydrating which is a no-brainer that I would recommend this as the deep conditioner of choice. Use this product once weekly with heat to intensify the moisturizing benefits. 

          Protein Treatment: 
          One of the single most important products you will buy [aside from a moisturizer] is a protein treatment. This will fortify the hair near the line of demarcation which helps prevent breakage. The line of demarcation has a tendency to be more fragile than the rest of your hair, and can break-off just from combing and styling alike. Protein treatments helps replenish protein lost from chemical and thermal services. After a protein treatment, your hair will temporarily mimic that of healthy hair [at least until you need another treatment]. A good protein treatment would be the Aphogee 2 minute product. It's tried and true, and strong enough for to properly fortify your relaxed hair.

          Leave-In Conditioner:
          Keeping with our theme of moisture, it's imperative to have a hydrating leave-in. Again, for those wishing to simply and save on cash, you can use your regular conditioner as a leave-in. A word of caution if you do this, go easy on the product. Too much could easily cause a white filmy residue on your strands leaving you with hair that lacks body and attracts dirt. My absolute favorite leave-in for relaxed hair is Rusk Smoother, Passionflower and Aloe Leave-In. This product is light enough to wear under free flowing styles [like braid outs and twist outs], yet hydrating enough to leave your hair touchably soft and manageable.

          This is the product you can use in between co-washing & shampoo sessions to make managing your hair on a day-to-day basis a lot easier. While moisturizers obviously impart moisture to your strands, they can also help prevent breakage and splitting from mechanical damage [mechanical damage= Damage due to combing, brushing and excess manipulation] by easing manageability. It may sound strange, but one of my favorite moisturizers to use on transtioning hair is S-Curl Curl Activator. I promise you won't look like Darryl from Coming To America. It hydrates your relaxed hair without leaving it gummy, sticky and hard like a lot of moisturizers formulated for natural hair tends to do. S-Curl Curl Activator will leave your new growth soft, shiny, manageable and ultra moisturized along with the relaxed section of your hair.

          In order to keep your hair hydrated longer, reach for an oil to seal in the moisture. Oil creates a barrier on the hair shaft which greatly improves moisture retention. Jojoba Oil is a wonderful choice for both transitioners and natural's alike, as it is light enough for daily use and it most closely resembles the structure of sebum [the oil your body produces to nourish and lubricate your skin/hair] .

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          Tuesday, September 21, 2010

          Fashion & Beauty Ethos: Flawless Foundation Tutorial >> Video

          This tutorial demonstrates how to achieve a flawless finish using a MAC 187 stippling brush and Revlon Colorstay. I have different techniques for sheer coverage, as well as mineral makeup applications that I will share with you over the next few weeks. This is my technique for medium to full coverage foundation application. 

          Step One: Prep face with rosewater, as it helps to tone skin and offers a healthy glow. Allow water to sit on face for 15 minutes so that your skin fully absorbs the moisture and properties of the rosewater. 
          Rosewater can be found in most ethnic grocery stores.

          Step Two: Apply moisturizer and allow the moisturizer to set for about 15-30 minutes. Again, this allows your skin to fully absorb the moisturizing properties and nutrients in the moisturizer. I like using heavy moisturizers under my foundation as it keeps my face soft, smooth, hydrated and glowing.    
          Step Three: Apply makeup primer, my favorite is MAC Prep & Prime. Primer helps your foundation better adhere to your skin, and also helps it stay put. It also helps minimize large pores [temporarily of course] and fills in wrinkles to give the skin a youthful, even glow. Make sure to apply a nice thin even layer all over your skin; don't forget your jawline and neck area. 

           Step Four: Add a small amount of foundation to the back of your hand, stipple and swirl the brush in the foundation to warm up the foundation a bit. Warming the foundation helps it to blend in better with your skin lending more of a natural appearance. 

          Step Five: Begin to lightly stipple the makeup all over your face with your foundation brush. Stippling lends to the flawless, velvety, airbrushed finish. It's ok to apply more foundation to your brush as needed. - Use more foundation in the areas where you need more coverage [dark spots, circles etc].

          Step Six: Begin to lightly buff out your foundation to even out your coverage and blend out any dots or lines from stippling. This ensures a warm seamless finish. You don't need to apply a lot of pressure, a light sweeping motion will do the trick.

          Step Seven: You may notice your skin is now all one color. It's time to add a little depth and dimension to your skin for more of a natural appearance. I like to use Mineralize Skin Finish by Mac for this purpose. Apply the powder with a powder brush; my brush of choice is the 150 by MAC. 

          Step Eight: To save all of your hard work from going down the drain, set your makeup with a translucent powder. Cover FX makes a great translucent powder for women of color, if you find that regular powders lend an ashy look to your brown skin, give Cover Fx a try! - I apply this powder in a gentle patting motion.

          Step Nine: Set your makeup with Fix Plus spray by MAC. This is favorite of mine and lends a radiant lightly dewy glow!

          Tools Used:
          • Rosewater - Can be found in most health food, and ethnic grocery stores
          • Cetaphil Moisturizer - Available in most drugstores like CVS, Walgreens and larger stores like Target and Wal-Mart 
          • Revlon Colorstay [color 44] - The perfect inexpensive foundation for Oily/Combination skin [they have various formulations from normal -dry] that offers seamless buildable coverage. You can go from medium to heavy coverage with this product.
          • Mineralize Skin Finish [deep dark] - Adds a nice glow, and creamy finish to your skin. This product can be found in all places MAC makeup is sold
          • MAC Fix Plus - Sets the makeup which helps it last a lot longer. It also adds a bit of a radiant glow. - Again, this product can be found in all places MAC makeup is sold. 
          • Cover FX Translucent Powder -  The perfect lightweight powder to set makeup, extend the wear of the foundation, and offer a silky smooth, velvety finish.
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