Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Very Best Facial I've Ever Had - EVER!

I've had a hard week and now I'm going to treat myself to a steam facial this afternoon. It relaxes me and it opens up my pores for more effective cleansing. It is one of the best facials I've ever had and I do it at home for just a few bucks. It's like a soothing tea for your skin. The peppermint and lavender helps to control the oil, the green tea helps to sooth, and the lemon peel contains citric acid that is used in aha products, rose petals help to soften skin. If you read part 3 of my series on even skin tones, Acne: The Battle is On, when your skin is not exfoliated properly, oil and dead skin cells can collect in and around the pores causing breakouts. The steam helps to loosen debris and dead skin cells.

The ingredients for this facial are easy to find and inexpensive. When I do an at-home facial, I follow up my steam bath with an oatmeal and buttermilk mask. It doesn't smell great, but it works well. Oatmeal is a very good cleanser, it softens the skin and is effective for all skin types. Buttermilk also has AHA properties (lactic acid) which helps sooth the skin and even out the skin tone.

How I Do it:

loose green tea
pure peppermint extract
lavender petals
lemon peel
rose petals (they smell pretty)
very hot water
heavy towel (I like white)

Oatmeal/Buttermilk Mask

I run my oatmeal through my coffee grinder and mix in room temperature buttermilk by the tablespoon until it is a yogurt creamy consistency.

Bring water to a rolling boil, add ingredients, cover and let steep for a couple of minutes. Pour steam bath mixture into a heat-resistant bowl. Position your face over the bowl. Do not put your face too close to the steam it will do its work with your face about 6 inches from the rim of the bowl. Of course I don't have to tell you to close your eyes so you don't get sweat in them. I stay over the steam for about 8-10 minutes. Splash with tepid water, pat dry and follow up with the oatmeal/buttermilk mask. I keep the mask on for about 20 minutes and rinse with tepid water and follow up with a very gentle wash to cleanse the residue.

You can follow this up with your regular skincare regime, i.e., toner/moisturizer. I promise your skin will look a little clearer and feel softer. Try it and let me know how it worked for you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spoken Word Artist Breaks it Down

This video's got legs! One of the most interesting statements on Hip Hop I've heard in a long time by spoken word artist Taalam Acey. There's been a lot of conversation on Acy's assessment of Hip Hop culture across the Internet. What do you think about Acey's critical analysis of Hip Hop culture?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Hip Hop Project

In recent news, Hip Hop has been sentenced and convicted of a litany of crimes. The rap sheet for Hip Hop runs long and is accused of everything from corrupting the 'innocent' minds of suburban youth by inciting a misogynistic, big-baller mentality, the rape and assault of good, clean American social values, to the drugs, death and violence in our neighborhoods. Hip hop has been blamed for CBS's and MSNBC's former cash cow/golden boy, shock jock Don Imus's recent ignorant, racist and uninspired comments about the Rutger's women's basketball team.

With handcuffs jingling, and with the Chair and wet sponge waiting, more than a few activist groups are ready to pull the lever on Hip Hop and toss it into an early and unmarked grave. I am not the biggest fan of Hip Hop. I loathe how women are portrayed and I have to tune out the stuff that relies on the much overused 'bitch 'n ho' formula in order to make the cash register ring. But nor am I a fan of the disingenuous blanket of blame laid at the feet of a genre that is being accused of everything from shooting Aunt Nellie's cat out of a tree to the drilling down of America's social mores.

Every now and then though, something comes along to demand that we take another look and remember that every story has two sides. The Hip Hop Project, produced by Queen Latifah and Bruce Willis takes a look at Hip Hop and the lives of a group of New York teenagers who have used it to transform their lives. They tell their lives through their music. This documentary is the antithesis of the messages normally hyped in mass media. It is a message of hope, dreams and self-realization. The Hip Hop Project, debuted to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival and is scheduled for nationwide release on May 11th. 100% of the net profits of the film will be donated to organizations that work with youth.

The Hip Hop Project an independent film, also tells the story of Chris 'Kazi Kharma' Rolle, formerly a homeless teenager, who created The Hip Hop Project during his time in Art Start, a program started in 1991 by a group of artists who got together to create art with homeless children in New York City. Kazi was born in Nassau, Bahamas, abandoned as a baby and grew up in orphanages.

Kazi created The Hip Hop Project in 1999. This intensive program connects its students with music industry professionals to record and promote their music. The program helps them to realize who they are and gives them skills that they can use from now on. Kazi now tours the country inspiring and motivating his audiences through lectures and live performances. He is also the co-founder of A.P. EX., an organization that hosts college prep classes and ends with a tour of HBCUs.

It would be very naive to think that Hip Hop is blameless. Over the past ten years or so, it has done nothing to help its case. Nor has it done much to elevate and inspire people beyond gripping a new set of spinners or 'tappin a piece of a**. If it were a defendant in a court of law, it would probably spend some time in jail for aiding and abetting or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, if the judge is very lenient.
At the end of the day, we can blame Hip Hop for everything or we can remember there are two sides to everything. Real Hip Hop, love it or hate it, has something to say we all should be open to hear. Real Hip Hop is the reflection and the lyrics of the lives of real people. And while I grant that there are many who have bastardized and commercialized this art form solely for profit, it is not ready to die as many of its detractors would hope. Hip Hop gives Mr. and Mrs. John Suburbanite, and little Buffy and Jeffy the vicarious luxury of visiting America's inner-cities to see how people live for real and not feel they have to clutch their purses and briefcases for dear life as they run back to the 'safety' of their homes. Its been called everything else, now call it a social studies lesson.

"Entertainment" TV has been celebrating the life for the last month or so of a perpetually drug-induced, former playboy bunny whose only talent it seemed was to demonstrate how far you can go with big tits, blond hair and no self-esteem . To lay blame squarely at the feet of Hip Hop for the social ills we face is the ultimate WTF moment in American social history.
Here's a call to action: Go see the movie. Not only for what it is but for what it can do.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Even Skin Tone: Acne - The Battle is On! - Part 3

Acne can do some pretty funky things to your skin. I developed acne in my mid-twenties and still have outbreaks more than ten years later. I tried some stupid and scary skin-fix remedies in an effort to control breakouts and to control the constant oil slick on my face. Some worked short-term but I believe caused long term damage.
The Problem.

Acne or Acne vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin disease that occur on the face, shoulders, chest and back.

One of the main causes of acne is associated with testosterone/androgen hormones which is produced at puberty and is found in women as in men. Hormones can trigger the sebaceous glands which produce sebum. This is not a bad thing, sebum makes the hair shaft flexible and moisturizes the skin but it also makes the skin more greasy. When the skin has an excess of sebum around a hair follicle or pore it can be come clogged. Propionobacterium (a bacterium bug) that normally lives on your skin can thrive in the blocked pore resulting in an infection that may cause inflammation. The inflammation is what causes redness and swelling of acne. In some severe cases a pore can rupture and cause scarring.

The Anatomy of a Pimple.

Cells that line the follicle are shed too quickly and begin to clump together. Excess sebum sticks to the dead cells and forms a plug, or comedo (also called comedones), that blocks the pore, which is not usually seen. When the follicle begins to bulge and show up as a small whitish bump mostly under the skin, it is called a whitehead. If the comedo opens up, the top surface of the plug darkens, and it is referred to as a blackhead. Pimples are the result of infected blackheads or whiteheads that rupture, releasing sebum, bacteria, dead skin, and white blood cells onto the surrounding tissues.

Some common factors that cause or aggravate acne flare-ups are hereditary, environmental factors, disease, drugs and cosmetics. A common but unfounded myth is lazy personal hygiene causes acne breakouts. What can cause flare-ups is a too-aggressive approach to cleaning your skin in an effort to get rid of the over-production of oil. This can actually cause an over-production of oil and make a bad situation worse.

Acne can be mild, moderate or severe. Mild is usually represented by the occasional whitehead or blackhead and may sometimes include a pimple or two. Moderate acne is characterized by pimples and pustules that pop up on the face. Pimples may also occasionally appear on either the back or chest or both. Severe acne is characterized by many nodules that are usually large and sore and appear on the face as well as the back, chest and other parts of the body. (I got them on my face). Severe acne will most likely leave scars, however if not treated correctly, all forms of acne can leave scars. If you suspect that you have nodular acne, discuss the situation with your dermatologist as soon as possible.

One thing that acne is not; it is not caused by eating french fries, pizza, chocolate, candy and other other greasy foods. This does not mean you can rush out for a grease and sugar cocktail. A healthy diet and lots of water which flushes toxins out of your system, is still a good bet for better skin. Water also helps to regulate body functions in all your organs (skin is the largest organ, the integummentary system) and helps to shed and eliminate dead cells faster.

Lazy personal hygiene is less of a culprit for breakouts than over zealous scrubbing. Aggressive scrubbing with harsh products such as products that contain crushed fruit pits, can create small scratches on the skin, over-stimulate sebaceous glands and at the end of the day, increasing oil production and exacerbating the problem.

While a outbreak can occur anywhere on your face (or other areas for some people), the T-Zone is the most acne prone area of your face. The T-Zone starts from the middle and sides of the forehead and extends down the middle of the nose including a little bit of the sides of the nose and goes down to include the chin.

One of the major reasons acne occurs in the T-Zone is because this area is touched the most, usually with dirty hands. The quick and easy cure for this is to stop doing that! We touch our face usually without realizing it so many times in a day that we are causing dirt to spread on the skin which can result in an acne flare-up.

The Fix.

Vitamins. The best source of course, is in a healthy and balanced diet. If you don't eat right, vitamin supplements are a must. Vitamins A, B Complex, C, and E are the heavyweights that can help control flare-ups. Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A which is used to reduce sebum production and control acne. Retinol also helps reduce wrinkles.

Vitamin B Complex has anti-inflammatory and humectant properties, metabolizes fats and reduces oil production. B Complex include the vitamins B3, 5, 6, and 12.

Vitamin C has antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties that helps prevent recurrent acne and may help repair acne scarring.

Vitamin E is another antioxident that may also help to heal scar tissue.

Probiotics/prebiotic foods can also help you treat your acne at home and helps to reduce breakouts while taking acne drugs such as Tetracycline, Doxycycline and Clindamycin. Foods such as honey, bananas, onions and artichokes are probiotic and added to your diet while taking antibiotics replaces the helpful bacteria in your system that is depleted while taking antibiotics. Be aware that all antibiotics can cause candida vaginal yeast infections in women. Tetracycline most frequently has this side effect.

Prescribed Medications.
Accutane is one of the best treatments available for acne. Accutane contains retinol which is a vitamin A derivative and is considered one of the most potent treatments for acne. It is also a very effective treatment for severe acne. Some people may experience side effects with Accutane, but the majority who use it report positive results.

Anti-androgens is any substance that inhibits the production of adrogens. Oral contraceptions are anti-androgens and are used as acne treatments effectively reducing oil production and reducing the hormones that enable the formation of comedones (the plug of dead cells and sebum that cause pimples).

OTC Treatments.

Over the counter treatments can be very effective in treating acne. Over the cunter acne medications work as exfoliative agents and dry out pimples. It doesn't make sense to try to list all of the over the counter acne medications here but there are some basics that you should know in order to choose your weapons selectively.

Acne medications that include salicylic acid are good for people with sensitive skin. The amount medication used in these medications are measured percentages and the stronger creams and gels will obviously have stronger concentrations of the active ingredient. Choose products that have the percentage of the active ingredient listed and complementing carrying agents as the first few ingredients on the ingredients list printed on the packaging.

Salicylic acid renews skin and unclogs pores. Salicylic acid is an exfoliative agent that removes the dead cells of the skin and helps the skin to regenerate faster and thus it decreases the blockage of the pores and formation of acne pustules and blisters preventing flare-ups.

Benzol peroxide kills the bacteria that causes acne. It acts as an antiseptic and oxidizing agent, and reduces the number of blocked pores. In 80 years of use, there has been no bacterial resistance to benzoyl peroxide; it is the cornerstone of acne therapy.

Tea tree oil and green tea cream are two herbal products that are claimed to work well in the treatment of acne. Tea tree oil and green tea cream can be found at any store that sells wholistic products.

Even though acne for the most part only lasts until the beginning of adulthood, it tends to leave life long scars - pockmarks and craters. The procedures used to eliminate these scars are numerous. Some were mentioned in Even Skin Tone - Pore Perfection - Part 2 of the Even Skin Tone for the Tone Deaf six-part series that discuss products and procedures that eliminate dark spots (hydraquinoine) and other skin imperfections. Dermabrasion involves abrading the skin resulting in the removal the top layers with a electrical machine. When the skin heals from the procedure it looks smoother and fresher. A chemical peel minimizes the appearance of acne-damaged skin. Laser resurfacing uses high-energy light pulses to burn away damaged skin. Laser resurfacing is also used to minimize wrinkles and fine scars. Another procedure that is used is punch grafting. The dermatologist uses small skin grafts to replace scarred skin. Here is how punch grafting works: a hole is punched in the skin to remove the scar, the hole is then replaced with unscarred skin usually taken from the back of the ear lobe. Punch grafting is usually used to treat deep acne scarring. All of these procedures should be performed by a liscenced dermatologist.

At the end of the day, as in all things, common sense is the best defense. Arm youself with knowledge and don't harsh out your skin with products such as alcohol, and abrasives (microdermabrasion, notwithstanding). Yeah, they'll dry the oil on your skin, but they will also get your glands going into overdrive and you'll end up spending most of your time battling the acne you helped to create by driving your sebaceous glands nuts! Gentle, regular cleansing with products that control oil and kill bacteria should be a basic first step in your skin care regimine. For acne conditions that is more serious than a mild case should be taken to your dermatologist. If any product claims to cure acne, put it back on the shelf. There is no known cure, only treatments--very effective treatments but, treatments only.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is Serious Business People!

This will be a very short post, I've got to fix my hair.

After an experiment gone horribly wrong last night and waking up this morning sporting the 'Yaphet Kotto' 'fro, it looks like I'll be continuing my search for the best product for my almost natural hair for a while. After this morning's surprise, I'm willing to spend whatever it takes to get it right. If you happen to be traveling this same road I can tell you, I hit paydirt on Afrobella's blog with a number of natural sites that I will be exploring and am happy to share with you:

If you're in the same boat I'm in, surely you'll find what you need on any one of these sites. I am particularly impressed with Motown Girl, not only because she is from the 'D', but the girl's got it all if you're seriously looking for some information that you can use. They all have a wealth of information on natural hair care and products, transition pictures and how-tos. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Going Natural

There are women that have to use the daily chair and whip method in taming their locks, I was one of those women. For years I wanted to hang up the whip and chair and had been telling myself that natural is beautiful but continued to relax my hair. One night two years ago (to my husband’s horror) I decided to take the scissors to my shoulder length hair. After all I rationalized, it was only hair. So I cut it. All of it, and wore it super short, relaxed with blond streaks for a year. I liked it (he loved it) but it sure was a lot of work maintaining it, and I found that I had begun to lose interest in hair dryers, flat irons and that kind of drudgery.

So I decided last year I would transition back to my natural hair but quickly found that it was a lot harder than I imagined since I had become so used to straight hair. Imagine that, going back to my roots was a culture shock! But, I cut it all off again finally cutting out all the relaxer. Then I chickened out at the last minute on going straight up natural and moved to a texturizer because I still wasn’t quite feeling the ‘fro. My last chop was in February which was so closely cropped that if I didn’t have a texturizer, my hair would have been so kinky I could have played connect-the-dots on my scalp… alright, maybe that’s just a little bit dramatic, but it was awfully short.

Will I be Happy to be Nappy?

I am still fearing the ‘fro. You see, I have a five-finger forehead and that just doesn’t seem to work with a short ‘fro on me. The texturizer gives me a softer look. To my surprise too, the texturizer gives me more options than I thought I had for experimentation. I can now stick a toe or two across the line and play around with the naturally kinky look and then hop back to my safe place for a silkier, more structured curl.

However, now that it’s growing longer, I have decisions to make. Do I wean myself off the texturizer and go all the way? Or do I keep the pacifier (texturizer)? I think I’ll let it grow some more before I ‘man up’ as my husband tells me, and go for the ‘fro.

I have to say I'm anxious to try a couple of products: Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Curly Kinky. I'm not familiar with any similar products so feel free to let me know of any others you may have tried. I have been researching these two products but I'm not sure they have the muscle to beat my kinks into submission for any duration. It seems like the products are made more for multi-ethnic women. They may work, or they may not, but the beautiful thing is they will not chemically alter the structure of my hair and I can wash it out and try something else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cultural Looting

Kikoi is a generic term for a 100% East African cotton hand-knitted cloth that was traditionally worn by men. It is a hot fashion trend now as ethnic style becomes more popular. As a fashion item, the beautiful and very versatile kikoi is used as a beach wrap, sarong, and as head wraps. The kikoi as a traditional household staple in Kenya is used for baby slings, curtains and other household items such as pillow coverings and, throws in addition to clothing.

The Kikoi is also an artistic expression of a region and its culture. Weaving and selling Kikoi to tourists is how many families in the region, primarily Kenya, earn a living. The arts and crafts sector is Kenya's second highest foreign exchange earner after agriculture and contributes around 18 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Culture constitutes a history system of core ideas shared by a society. The use of kikoi is part of Kenya’s cultural heritage and should be protected and preserved for future generations.

Kikoi should not be a region’s honest intellectual property up for grabs by any company or government to seize and economically benefit from the indigenous culture of another country at the expense of their livelihood.

Kenyan activists are fighting to retain cultural designs developed in East Africa but are being patented by companies in the UK, the United States and Japan. After losing the kiondo basket, a handmade sisal basket unique to Kenya to Japan, the popular kikoi fabric design is currently at risk of being patented by the Kikoy Company, a British company.
Kikoy Ltd filed an application to register the word Kikoi alone as a UK trademark on August 26, 2006. While raising the alarm in Nairobi on February 21, 2007, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Managing Director, Prof James Odek, said Kenya had until February 22nd to oppose the application before the trademark application is granted in the UK. February 23rd was the final day to submit any opposition to the registration.

Granting the trademark to the UK firm would mean that Kenyans have to request permission from the UK firm to market kikoi items despite it being a traditional cloth in Kenya and the rest of the region. Should the patent by the Kikoy Company be granted it will result in losses in millions of shillings in income and jobs that provide hundreds of people in the region, particularly Kenya, who sell kikoi items the means to earn a living.

Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa (COFTA), a Nairobi-based body of nongovernmental organizations, is challenging the Kikoy Company’s patent application for sole ownership of the trademark of the kikoi.

Trade and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary David Nalo indicated that Kenya will do all within its means to block the Kikoy Company from registering 'Kikoi' as its trademark.
He said preliminary objections have already been filed seeking to block the moved the foreign company is taking to register the Kenya’s indigenous business concern as its sole trademark.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 Swimwear Do’s and Don’ts for Bikini Island

Once you’ve waxed yourself all clean and shiny, you’re probably anxious to hop into that new suit you bought in February and head for the beach (if you’re not in Michigan!). The rest of us still need to shop for a new swimwear wardrobe for the summer. If you’re lucky every swimsuit or bikini you put on will look fabulous on you and swimwear shopping will be fun. The rest of us aren’t that lucky and need a little more spandex here and there to hold it in and for us and shopping is less fun and more challenge. But however great the challenge, there is a suit out there that will make almost every body type look great at the beach.

For the swimwear illiterate, here is an update to your swimwear vocabulary:

Maillot -- One-piece suit (some creative types have even labeled a cut-out style the "monokini"). This year maillots are cut out, one-shouldered and halter-necked.

Tankini -- A variation of the bikini, this sporty style has a longer top that leaves only a small portion of the tummy exposed. Don't want to expose your tummy at all? Go for the mock tankini.

Bandini -- A bikini with a bandeau top; ie, a straight, wide horizontal band of cloth worn covering the breasts.

Camikini -- Same as the tankini except the top looks like a camisole.

Boy shorts -- These resemble really short shorts. Careful here -- tends to make the leg look shorter-- but still a favorite style.

Although it’s not easy for some of us to find the perfect suit, it’s not impossible. There are a few general rules to keep in mind when shopping for swimwear:
Buy one to two dress sizes larger than you wear.
Finger Test – put your finger under the shoulder strap and lift, if there is less than 1” space between your shoulder and finger, go up a size. Obviously the reverse is true if there is more than 1” space.
Wide straps or a bandeau-style top minimizes the appearance of a larger bust.
IBTC (Itty-Bitty Titty Committee members) go for a triangle-cut cup or a cup with details that draw attention to the breast. The detail adds the illusion of volume.
The most important factor to consider is the fit of the bottoms and the cut of the leg. If you have a short torso, go for a low rise bottom. This will give the illusion of a longer torso. A woman with a long torso should go for bottoms that hit higher than the hipbone. Low rise on a long torso give a Gumby-like appearance.
If you are heavier than you’d like to be all over, trying a minimizing suit will be a good choice for you. Wearing too tight suits to corral and control bulges will only accentuate them. Wear the proper size suit with 15-20% Lycra or spandex and have adjustable neck and back straps.
If you're not sure of your size, get measured. Also, take a trusted friend shopping with you. They won't lie and tell you that your butt looks small in the white bikini bottoms. See more swimwear at

As I mentioned in my Retro Rewind post, retro is in and it goes beyond makeup. Halter tops, sweetheart necklines and belts are in in 2007 swimwear.
Now, there are some definite don’ts and while I won’t elaborate with words, the pictures will say more than enough. In general, I find it troubling to make fun of people. However, we all have mirrors in our homes, or the home of a friend or relative. If ANYONE lets you make it to the beach like any of the below Definite Don’ts they are NOT your friend and probably likes you well enough to push you under a bus.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bikini Island

Hot wax, wooden paddles and a stranger in your nether region? Doesn’t sound very sexy to most women, but many swear by the results. A Brazilian bikini wax removes the hair from the entire pubic region, leaving a small patch just above the vaginal area. Many women prefer a Brazilian wax because it gives a clean, close wax and the freedom to wear almost anything or nothing.

Visiting a salon for a Brazilian bikini wax for the first time can be a little unnerving. When you arrive, you'll be taken to the private waxing area, which may be a room or just a portion of the salon blocked off by curtains or a partition. You'll lie on your back on a table covered with clean paper or sheets, with your legs down or your knees up, as you would in the gynecologist's office. You may be provided a paper thong, or you may not. This is because the technician will be taking it all off or just leaving a little runway strip if you choose.
The technician only needs about a quarter-inch of hair for the wax to grab onto and will start by using small scissors to trim down your pubic hair. The technician will then wax away the "triangle" on your mons pubis.

A traditional Brazilian wax includes the labia and the area that reaches up between the cheeks. If there are stray hairs after waxing, the technician may also tweeze the area. The key to allowing wax to penetrate into the follicles (and provide the closest possible wax) is to relax.
Your technician should use a low-temperature or hard wax for the least amount of discomfort. The wax should be the consistency of taffy. The wax is smoothed on over a pre-waxing oil that is applied to your skin as a prep after clipping you pubic hair to keep the wax from sticking to the skin. This allows the wax to be used without strips, making for a much more comfortable experience. As the wax cools, it basically shrink-wraps each hair and pulls it out from the root.

Twist and Shout!

Glamorous? No. Some technicians may take you through a series of contortions in order to get the cleanest results possible. Most likely, your technician will remove stray hairs with a set of tweezers. Your technician may also flip you on your knees and have you spread’em. If there are areas you are not comfortable having waxed (say, between the cheeks) let your technician know. Painful? You bet it is. It can definitely be quite painful the first time, but your pain threshold may rise with subsequent waxings. If your technician is good, he or she will move quickly to minimize the amount of discomfort you may experience. If your technician doesn’t seem to be conscious of your discomfort, speak up and let him or her know. When your technician is done he or she should apply soothing lotion to the waxed area and you should have a perfectly smooth genital region.

You may still experience red bumps and ingrown hairs, just like with shaving. The results will last anywhere from ten days to three weeks, with no maintenance, and there's no shave that can get you this clean and smooth. You have to go ten to fourteen days between wax jobs, so you may have a period of time with a five o'clock shadow.
The procedure can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and can cost from $50 to 85 depending on location; regular bikini waxes can range from $30 to $50. Good and cheap are usually mutually exclusive when it comes to paying for personal services such as waxing. Always try to get the best price but I suggest that you not bargain shop for this procedure. Check to make sure your technician is not using you as a practice run. Ask your technician how many Brazilian waxings he or she does a week. You want someone who is professional and experienced. As always, ensure the facility is clean and reputable.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm Not Done Yet

In an effort to further refine and help to express my opinion to those I have discussed this with on and off-line, visit out these links:

They make you think twice (or more) about the continued gratuitous use of the n'word.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

N’Word, Please!

A coworker asked me today how I felt about the use of the n’word. The conversation was inspired by an article in Ebony magazine that promised at the end of the piece, the n’word would receive its long overdue burial at Ebony and Jet magazines without fanfare or ceremony.

Based on the opinions of my coworker who I consider to be quite intelligent, the word has seeded a shifting landscape plowed and tilled primarily by African Americans. Her question is this: ‘why, if the word evokes such negative connotations and represents such a painful period in our history, do so many of us use it without compunction and often as a term of endearment even, then lose our minds when someone else not of African American descent uses it?’ Of course, the question these days has all but had the bite taken out of it. But for a waning population of those who lived through ‘it’ it still bears fangs that drip the blood of our forefathers and of those whose shoulders we now stand on. For them, the word picks at sores not quite scabbed over in our own culture and in American society at large the sores will be raw in perpetuity.

Some of our own brothers and sisters, rappers, comedians and other entertainers have desensitized themselves to the word. Society views this self-desensitization as a license to use a word commonized by the very people it was designed to denigrate and has been filed into the book of socially accepted vernacular. Of course the n’word is protected under the 1st Amendment as a right of free speech and will always be a part of the American experience, however bad. But who’s free to use it? Just us? White kids desperate to prove their street cred? The Klan? Michael Richards? A white coworker in his or her bliss ignorance trying to fit in at the water cooler? For those who feel it’s not ok, who has the authority to revoke the license? Should it be considered a congruous term in the lexicon of modern American language, or is this the carriage pulling the horse?

We fall on the floor laughing when we are in the comfort of our circle of friends and talk about the stupid n’word that acted a fool at the doctor’s office/drugstore/grocery store/McDonald’s. Our entertainers stand before audiences the world over rapping or singing about n’words, our brothers use it as a greeting for their closest of friends ‘hey n’guh, my n’guh. But, the moment someone who is not African American utters the word, we’re forming torch bearing mobs running for the nearest lynching tree. WTF? WE opened Pandora’s box, the n’word has escaped and it cannot be reclaimed.

I have to admit, I see my coworker’s point to a degree. Though, in my opinion, it’s not that simple, not so black and white so in part of my friend’s justification of why this question is moot, I’ll have to agree to disagree. In my own humble opinion, there are n’words or as my husband calls them n’double gars. African American ones, White ones, Arab ones, Jewish ones, Hispanic ones, and maybe even some Hindu ones. Anyone who can kill without conscience, those who lay in wait and watch hard working men and women leave their homes to go to work only to clean out the contents of their house once they turn the corner , those who entice our babies with the drug du jour, those who snatch children off the street and pimp them. Do I need to continue? For those I can reserve the use of the word without apology.
Would it rub my skin raw if someone outside the African American society used the n’word as a characterization of these, the lowest type of degenerates? Yes, probably. Its paradoxical, I know, and would take a volume to explain why I feel the way I do, but this is my truth as contradictory as it is and it is so for others, too. At the end of the day, it’s my opinion, protected by the Constitution. She doesn’t necessarily agree, and that’s ok, that’s her right.

So, let me ask you, has the use of the n’word had the sting taken out of it and has become innocuous and non-threatening when used by someone outside of your culture?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Retro Rewind

Vive la ‘60s! Pack up the harsh reds, deep maroons and the heavy matte foundation for the fall, soft colors and dewy skin are in for spring and summer. Skin is clean and fresh. A light dab of foundation to even out the skin tone is all you need.

Lips are soft and pretty for the spring and summer. Start by conditioning the skin on your lips with a good balm. Follow up by evening up the tone by prepping your lips with foundation. This will set your lip color for more even, longer lasting color. Finish with a liner that blends with your lip color.

Eyes pop with dramatic color. Use deep, rich pigments for intense color. Line your lids as close as possible to your lash line. The mod look was heavy on the blue eyeshadow, but keep in mind retro style represents flashback, not throwback.

Miles of lashes never go out of style. Use a fiber-filling mascara for extra length and volume. Too Faced Lash Injection is a good choice.

Friday, March 30, 2007

When the Cream Rises to the Top

I'm pretty new to blogging and as a small fish in an extremely big pond, it takes tremendous effort to capture the attention of an audience on a regular basis when there is such overexposure to so much information available everywhere all the time.

Trying to navigate the internet some days gives you kind of a rush, but more often than not I liken it to pushing an overheated 1978 Ford Pinto with two flat tires and a donut along the lightning fast traffic on the information superhighway.

Anyway, I've always been one to sound the trumpet upon discovering a great new find and one day while schlepping around in the blogosphere, I ran across Afrobella. This woman probably has one of the best blogs I've discovered yet. And yes, I'm plugging her. No, I don't know her. No, this is no ploy to generate traffic but yes I'll admit, I hope to get some traffic as a result.

I am a regular reader of her blog and have yet to not be entertained. Afrobella ia a finely written blog full of up-to-the-minute entertainment news, micro-scale history lessons and, thoughtful journeys through sister and womanhood. The author, Patrice Yursik is well-read and succinct in her commentary. There are posts that will make you smile, make you think and make you angry. Whichever emotion her blog elicits, it is sure to move you. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out in the blogosphere, but when the cream rises to the top, you gotta hold'em up. I encourage you all to visit often.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hot, Fun, Sexy, Cool

Essentials for the summer

With grapeseed extract to soothe and protect skin, this colorless formula fills in fine lines and pores to help skin appear visibly softer with a smooth velvet finish. Use after moisturizer and before foundation for complexion perfection.

Triple milled powder that provides sheer, ultra-natural coverage to set makeup, soften color and smooth the texture of the skin for an overall radiant complexion. The silky-smooth texture blends undetectably into the skin, absorbs excess oils and maintains fresh looking skin with an imperceptible finish.

Seriously smart...

With all natural, cell-energizing corn extract that renews the appearance of skin for a fresher, revitalized complexion. Packed with anti-aging ingredients including UVA/UVB SPF 15 for sun protection and vitamin C to fight free radicals. The unique, patented bio-delivery system gives you time-released moisturization and firming benefits for a flawless future.

Seriously hot...

Steal your favorite cover girl look with this color coordinated make-up palette in a book. Kit contain 3 coordinating shadows, 4 glosses and 1 brush.

Seriously Fun...
Bella Il Fiori Roll On Eyeshadow

This trend setting eye shadow uses a fun roller ball to evenly coat the eye with Bella’s ultra rich color formulation. Simply roll it on, then blend with your fingertips. Add different shades for a sexy layering effect. Fun and fabulous!

...and other 'must-haves' to start the summer right

From left to right: NYX Single Eye Shadows available in 160 shades, Too Faced Cosmetics Lash Gems available in 4 colors, Too Faced Rip Off Makeup Remover, NARS Sparkling Pressed Powder in 3 shades, Too Faced Lash Injection Mascara, Bella Il Fiore Bella Face Pallettes-3 Collections.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Even Skin Tones - Pore Perfection - Part 2

Enlarged pores are a fact of life and a problem for many women. We spend millions a year on products to transform our skin to rival images we see in Glamour, Elle, and Cosmo. Unfortunately, what we see on magazine covers is not reality, its airbrushing. Yet we strive to attain the ‘poreless’ look usually with not a lot of luck. It is what it is: real life. Generally there is not a lot that can be done to permanently reduce the size of our pores. And that’s ok, there is an upside. Our pores are from where our hair grows and makes it shiny. They secret oil to protect the skin surface, they serve as an outlet for sweat to help to regulate our skin temperature. The pores in skin also serve as a waste filtering system that gets rid of toxins in our systems.

Genetics play a large part in determining your skin texture. Thick, oily skin is typically characterized by larger pores more so than skin that is dry. There are scads of products on the market to improve the appearance of large pores, refining them and making them look smaller. Some of these products actually do provide a temporary fix, some just make other people richer.

The Problem

Over-active sebaceous glands. Oil is a good thing and a not so good thing. The good thing is that it does protect and lubricate our skin. When produced in reasonable, manageable amounts it helps to give a healthy glow to skin. The not so good thing is our sebaceous glands can be over stimulated and create excess oil that we have to ‘mop’ up. Pores can become clogged with dead skin cells that are not properly exfoliated , the dead cells stick and collect on the skin and becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet for bacteria. The bacteria sit and eat and causes irritation that leads to pus and redness, which usually then lead to pimples. It just becomes a real mess.
Sun exposure (again) can cause enlarged pores. UV rays break down collagen which weakens the tissues that surrounds the pores and ultimately and permanently enlarges them. This makes the case for using sunscreen on a regular basis if the previous post on hyperpigmentation doesn’t.

Digging and picking creates way more problems than it solves. Blackheads and white heads are collections of dead skin cells. To try to squeeze or pick them out of the skin/pore only increases the likelihood that you will only increase (permanently) the size of the clogged pore.

Lackadaisical skin care. It’s a lot of work; looking good. When oily, blackhead-prone skin is paired with inconsistent skin care, the battle waged will be never-ending and brutal. Dead skin cells can gather around the edges of the pores making them look larger than they really are. Overzealous, random cleanings does more harm than good. Skin care should be consistent and approached with a gentle hand. Taking a hand sander to your skin is not going to help. Gentle, consistent exfoliation will.

The Fix

AHAs and BHAs. Glycolic acid (hydroxyacetic acid) will help to reduce oil on the skin. Glycolic acid is a fruit acid or alpha hydroxy acid. Other alpha hydroxy acids include citric, lactic, malic acids. Over-the-counter preparations contain about 10% glycolic or other fruit acid. Dermatological procedures and preparations will contain from 20% in topical preparations up to 80%. These higher concentrations are generally used in chemical peel procedures. Over time, over-the-counter preparations can result in minimal improvement in the overall texture of the skin, but peels performed by an aesthetician or dermatologist will net greater overall results. A professionally performed procedure will not only rid the skin of the lipids that bind the dead cells together giving the appearance of larger pores, it will also correct hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
BHA is the all-too-common salicylic acid. It is derived from the winter bark and sweet birch bark tree and has been used by dermatologists in treating acne for years.

The cause for sunscreen can never be preached too loudly or too often. UV ray damage causes a host of problems some minor some major. Of your reason for UV protection is only superficial, the bonus is you’re also guarding yourself against more serious conditions such as basal and squamous cell carcinoma. The lowest SPF rating you should use is 15. Many dermatologists and aestheticians recommend 30 SPF. At the very least, UV protection will help to guard against the breakdown of collagen that plumps up the skin, thus minimizing the appearance of large pores.

Blackhead extractors can and should be used if you cannot overcome the urge to pick them out. Blackheads are plugs of dead skin cells and oil clogging the pores. Picking at them will make it worse, I promise! But if you must, you should first steam your skin to loosen the oil and/or use a warm wash cloth to compress the area. Encircle the blackhead in the loop of the extractor and press until the clog dislodges. Do not apply too much pressure. If the clog cannot be dislodged, see your dermatologist. Too much force can cause irritation and scarring.

Consistent, common sense skin care is probably the easiest, and hardest habit to develop. Cleansing the skin twice a day goes a long way to ensure skin that is clearer and fresher looking. Exfoliating the skin regularly helps to slough away dead skin cells revealing fresh skin, keeps your pores unclogged which lessens the occurrence of blackheads and enlarged pores. Exfoliating cleansers include products that are granulated to aid in the exfoliation of the skin. Some work better than others. Natural products such as apricot may have jagged edges that can cause irritation. A washcloth is an ideal aid in exfoliating the skin. An oil-free cleanser is a must, a good toner is another product that should be used regularly as it can assist in the lifting of dead skin cells and to help close freshly cleaned pores.

Don’t sleep in your makeup. Cleanse your skin completely of makeup before you go to bed. Cells regenerate while you sleep. Your pillow also helps to exfoliate your skin (how about that!). Going to bed with a clean face gives your skin a fighting chance at keeping your pore size to its minimum diameter.

Hydration. A recent study suggests that drinking water does not aid in the overall health of your skin. I doubt the validity of the study and will only say that when in doubt, the worst H2O can do is quench your thirst. My own common sense suggests that since a majority of the fluids in our bodies is composed of water it has to have some positive properties that include helping to flush or cleanse and regulate the integumentary system (the skin).

For more detailed reading on this and other common skin conditions, go to

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Short Attention Span Theater - Front Row Seat

I was all concentration, making a conscientious effort to post the most fabulous post ever! I mean really working hard but alas, I was so instantly and completely distracted and I can't help it. I am absolutely in love with the new Target ads. They are so chic and, I LOVE Target!!! It's like (cheap) champange taste on a Kool-aid budget! Totally absorbed for the ENTIRE 30 seconds! Now I've lost my concentration and drive for the evening, but stay tuned for the most fabulous post time.