Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Up Your Mind on Mascara

There are countless mascara choices!
There are myriad options when it comes to mascara and all novices are overwhelmed by this. I have never been the type to coat my face in layers and layers of makeup, however, I believe that every should have a little mascara. To add to that, she doesn't only have the right to a little mascara, she needs the right mascara. You and I could explore the many types available for you to buy and some I would never recommend because of personal taste,  but ultimately, the choice is yours.

The Color of Your Curl

Black mascara is the most
The most common mascara colors are black and brown. That makes perfect sense when you think about it because, at least in this part of the world, those are the two most common natural eyelash colors. One of my closest friends has strawberry blond hair and her eyelashes have always been borderline red. Every morning she goes into her bathroom and uses black mascara. That's what she likes, and I will admit, darkening her long is the perfect way to flaunt them. Black looks could on everyone. So goes the saying for dresses and so goes the saying for mascara. However, you might be wondering what the point of brown mascara is. Well, to the trained eye, black mascara, even on ebony belles is a dead give away. Those aiming for a "natural look" will sometimes use brown mascara. It doesn't offer as much definition and contrast to the wearer but that's a trade off that some can come to terms with. Women who have fairer skin (of any race) and light colored hair that goes with it will sometimes use brown mascara because black is an exaggerated contrast on their eyelashes. In Contrast, there is also clear mascara. Of course, it is the most natural that you could look with mascara because it's not nearly as dramatic as black, brown or any other color of mascara on the market. One of the limited benefits of clear mascara is that it still lengthens the eyelashes and that's a benefit that all of us reap from our mascara.

Water-poof vs. Washable
Crying and looking pretty at the same time is
enough of a battle. Don't worsen your
stakes by wearing washable mascara. 

Now, the advantages to washable aren't as self-explanatory as water-proof. While washable mascara will run off with just about any aqueous solution, the most commonly used being water, water-proof mascara will not come off unless you use make-up remover or scrub really hard with soap (the latter's not advisable). I have always preferred waterproof mascara because eye-makeup remover is quite inexpensive and while many people use cotton balls or cosmetic cotton pads to apply it to their lashes, you could get away with using tissue. In addition to that, you will never be that girl who teared up on a pretty day and ended up with black tears marring her cheeks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Start Fighting Wrinkles in Your Prime

Out of sight, out of mind. Everybody knows the saying and it holds true to everything, including wrinkles in your youth. Nature's out to get your skin. The sun is out to get your skin, I know. Aging is an inevitable insidious process and like all insidious processes, it needs to be treated long before it is seen. Some people may argue that I am way too conscious of future wrinkles for a young women in her 20s, however, I am what you might call an investor- a person who understands that if you invest today, reducing disposable income now, you yield more later. Fighting wrinkles at an early age  starts with three things, in my opinion. Notice I said "starts" not ends.

1) Moisturizing all the time: I am not going to endorse any moisturizers. I actually use a very generic brand of moisturizer. Whether or not you moisturize, I believe, will always be more important than what you use. Moisturizing must be done after every bath or shower. Whenever I come out of the shower, I apply lotion to almost every part of my body, paying extra attention to the parts I know are more prone to drying up during the day. The critical areas (more so when the weather is cold) are your cheeks, your legs, feet and arms. Naturally, if you have oily skin, application must be sparse.

This is your skin each time you let it
dry (on a microscopic level)
Have you ever wondered why the skin on people's hands ages a lot faster than the skin on other parts of their bodies? It's because our hands are constantly getting washed and aren't moisturized as often. If you don't carry a hand lotion around in your handbag, you have got to start doing that. Whenever I wash my hands, even if it's away from home, I follow that up with my hand lotion.

Dry skin not only cracks, it also ages faster. Try to picture a river bed drying up and how it looks during a drought. You do not ever want to put your skin through that kind of stress. If you do not do that, your skin will look better when you're older.

Sunscreen's not only for the beach and it sure isn't only for
2) Sunscreen- no matter what race you are: The sun is a real aging accelerator. Everybody has heard that, but few people actually think about it. Women of color have an advantage over women of other races, and that advantage is melanin. It makes us darker skinned than everyone else, and a century ago, that was considered a bad thing. Now it's widely known that melanin, actually protects from the sun's UV rays, one of which, UVA, is responsible for wrinkles. Collagen is found in your skin and gives it elasticity. Unfortunately for all the sunbathers out there, UVA penetrates skin barriers and depletes collagen, leading to looser, weaker, wrinkled skin. Women of color enjoy the benefits of the natural sunscreen called melanin, but they could really boost their advantage by acting like they don't have it. Wear sunscreen daily. Don't slather it on like you're going to roast on the beach, but put some on your face, your neck and chest religiously and it will pay off. I go out of my way and use it on my arms and legs if they are going to be exposed. What you are doing is slowing down aging. It is better you do so now than when you are 39 years old and start to see the first few furrows on your forehead and crows feat. One way to cheat is to find a moisturizer with a good SPF (20+), then you'll be moisturizing and protecting from the sun simultaneously.

Your skin loves cold water, even if you don't
3) Don't wash your face with water that's too warm: Cold water is actually very good for your skin. Believe it or not, it decelerates wrinkling. I remember when I was 13 years old, my dad and I went to visit one of my aunts in the UK. I haven't seen her since then, but I remember back then she was one of those women in their mid-40s who looked 10 years younger. We'd been sitting at the dining table and the conversation took the direction of youthful looks. She turned my way and said, "You know, people always ask me what I do to the skin on my face. I'm not spending a fortune on it. You know why I look like this? It's because I have never once washed my face with warm water." I, of course, thought that was a little odd. I thought that was just an old wive's tale. Turns out it isn't. A little bit of online research proved me wrong. I started washing my washing my face exclusively with cold water when I started college. It was tough to stick to the cold water but you get used to it. It got to a point where splashing cold water on my face was the most refreshing part of my day. I am nowhere near old and still boast the best skin among my girlfriends. It's not all genetics. Thanks to this part of my skin care regime, I will hold on to that title for many years.

Minimized Hair Breakage with My Hair Washing Routine

Stop cutting corners just because
it's frustrating!
To those of you natural hair neophytes who are still struggling with the crippling tangles and hair breakage that comes with removing braids that have been in for a little too long or even just the hair washing process, you are about to learn how to minimize them- I did. Last night I removed my crochet braids and after years of cutting corners in my post-braid hair washing routine, I decided to follow all the steps of my "Detangle. Wash. Work It. For Natural Hair" post. I had forgotten how immediately gratifying it can be and wanted to share it with all of you. My natural hair has grown dangerously long. I say dangerous because you will find that the longer your hair gets, the more tiresome some of these hair washing routines become. It's a real test of patience to detangle, twist and re-twist ever-lengthening hair, but hang in there and you'll be able to avoid all kinds of damage.
De-tangling is a test of patience.
It's the easiest time to damage hair.

1) The detangling: the importance of applying a natural oil to your hair before even attempting to de-tangle was a lesson I learnt today. Typically, I have a handful of hair when I detangle with oiling the hair first, and for several years I convinced myself that it was all shed hair that had been trapped in my braids. While that is true to some degree. A lot of that hair is unintentional breakage. Natural oils, like the jojoba oil that I used today, give the hair slip and no matter how gentle you believe your touch is, they nearly half the damage your hair and wide-tooth combs do. I took my hair detangling and spent about two hours on it. Consequently, I had an eighth of the broken hair I used to see.

Divide and twist- that's the secret
2) Segmenting the hair and twisting segments: This is a repetitive process that absolutely must be done after detangling, after you shampoo and condition each segment and, finally, after drying the each segment and applying your leave-in conditioner. My hair was divided into five segments,  a number I thought was suitable for my shoulder-length hair. As your hair lengthens, fewer segments will be needed. I use Organix shampoo and conditioner, specifically the Cherry Blossom Gingseng flavor. I love the brand and would recommend anyone of the varieties of Organix shampoo and conditioner. I began by untwisting a segment while water runs over it. Shampoo was applied in a downward motion, clasping the hair between my palms, it was then rinsed off with running water and conditioner was applied. The segment was twisted and the routine repeated on each of the segments, making sure not to rinse any conditioner off the completed segments. I then allowed my conditioner to sit in my hair for 30 minutes, a crucial step for revitalizing your hair after its been in braids for a long time. Because the conditioner is not leave-in conditioner, it's imperative that it is thoroughly rinsed out. I did so by untwisting the segments, rinsing them and then re-twisting each of them individually. You know you have substantially minimized damage when you look at the shower drain and there's very little there, as was the case with me.

Some people cover their hair in satin scarves
as it dries. It allows you to get around and will
smooth down your edges but it slows down
the drying a little bit- not a terrible trade off. 
3) Plaiting the hair after leave-in conditioner's applied: this step is needed to stretch the hair. I had more plaited segments than twisted segments when I was washing the hair because I wanted the hair to dry rapidly. Increasing the number of plaited segments increases surface-area and if you remember your science lessons from middle school that cuts down on drying time. One thing I did before plaiting each segment was run my wide-toothed comb through the segment after the leave-in conditioner had been rubbed in. The leave-in conditioner has countless long-term benefits, particularly when applied with a serum to seal in moisture (I use Garnier Fructis Anti-Frizz Serum), but the immediate lies in the springy properties it gives your hair. That springy property translates into less hair breakage when you run your comb through it. Once your hairs in plaits, it should take about 4 or more hours for it to air dry. Some people like to cover it in a satin scarf so they can go about their every day business in the public eye. I always schedule my hair washing on a weekend, so I don't have anywhere to go and can leave it exposed in the house, doing chores or watching tv as it air dries.

I use Organix shampoo and conditioner. It has countless different varieties
and, more importantly, it's free of sulfates!