Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hair Fix: Hot Oil Treatments

Natural hair has special needs that can't be ignored in order to keep it shiny, strong and healthy. Many naturals complain of dry hair some resulting from porosity issues and others, well, natural hair is just naturally drier than any other hair type. Because of our springy curl patterns, sebum does not sucessfully travel from the scalp and down the hair shaft to keep it moisturized.

That's where hot oil treatments may come into play depositing oils back into the hair promoting body and sheen. These treatments can be beneficial for natural hair because it is prone to becoming dull & brittle. If you're having problems with dry hair I suggest trying weekly hot oil treatments to lessen dryness and prevent breakage.

I usually do weekly hot oil treatments as part of my pre-poo process. I've been doing it consistently for the past 4 months and have noticed a major improvement in my hair's moisture retention and less frizzing at the crown

You can get this service done at your local salon or even better, save a buck and do it yourself in the comfort of your own home:

1. Choose An Oil:

Many people use one or any combination of these oils:

Jamaican Castor Oil - Moisturizes and thickens strands; stimulates hair follicles to promote healthy growth

Olive Oil - Conditions hair and improves elasticity

Coconut Oil - Prevents dandruff and imparts shine

Jojoba Oil - Corrects dry scalp and prevents dandruff

Emu Oil - Prevents hair loss and promotes healthy growth; prevents thinning

Sweet Almond Oil - Relieves dry scalp, controls hair loss and smooths cuticle of strands

Rosemary Oil - Relieves dry scalp, stimulates follicles and slows premature hair loss

I use a combination of Jojoba, EVOO & Sweet Almond oils as my treatment

2. Apply

There are two methods to applying a hot oil treatment:

A. On damp or dry hair, saturate hair with oil(s) If you're using a combination of oils mix them together prior to applying to your hair. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and put on your heat cap or sit under bonnet dryer for 15 to 20 minutes.

I use this method and apply my oils to damp hair and sit under my bonnter dryer for 20 minutes and then let it sit on my hair for another hour or I'll keep it in over night to wash out the next day.

B. Pour oil(s) into a small bottle and heat slightly by placing in hot water. (I don't recommend that you heat the oil in the microwave as it's easy to overheat it resulting in burns.) Saturate hair, cover with a plastic cap and then wrap in a warm towel. The oil should be applied to the hair and scalp paying special attention to the scalp and ends of hair.


If you are having contsant problems with dryness and frizz, I would recommend adding these hot oil treatments to your weekly/ biweekly regimen to prevent over-drying. Some people only find it necessary to perform these treatments about once a month but it all depends on the needs of your hair.

Hot oil treatments are even great for thoe with relaxers as they help to improve the hair's elasticity, sheen and strength.

I even remember in the days of old, my mom would give me monthly hot oil treatments with Alberto V05. Ahhh the memories! (I make myself sound so OLD! "days of old" Ha!)

Don't have your own oils on hand? Visit your local beauty supply as they provide hot oil treatment kits complete with everything you need to perform your own at-home service.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Puff Is Growing UP

So here I am.  7 months since my big chop and my hair is growing like a weed.  I haven't been monitoring my hair growth as closely as when I did my big chop in February and I think for some reason my expectations for growth were a bit unrealistic.  When I realized this it was rather suprising because I've never been one to fuss over my hair's length as I've cut it many times over the past 10 years.  And it didn't matter if I had short or long hair when I was relaxed because I knew it always looked nice.  I was at the salon faithfully every 2 to 3 weeks for styling. 

Then along with doing the big chop came insecurity.  What was I going to do with this hair that shrinks up to the top of my ears when my hair is actually to the middle of my neck?  I felt hopeless; I had NO idea how to care for or even style it.  If it were not for all the ladies in the natural hair world on the blogs, youtube and facebook, I probably would have gone back to a relaxer in the 2nd month.

After my big chop, I was focused more on learning to care for my hair at home than going to the salon to get someone else to take care of it.  My hair is as healthy as can be, my edges have grown back in (they were almost bald due to post-partum shedding) and everyday that passes, I learn something new about my hair and myself and I'm feeling more confident by the minute.

Here is my puff then: April 2010

Here is my puff now: September 2010

Happy 7 Months Little Puff! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Pretty Girl Project: The Herstory of Me - Part 1 of 3

I'm the youngest of two and a virtual middle child (I'll explain later). My brother, is 3 years my senior & my hero. Everything he did and everywhere he went, I wanted to be just like him. Of course, for him at times, having a little sister as his shadow cramped his style but it seems he was ok with it most of the time.

I didn't play much with dolls: Rainbow Brite & all of her friends, Barbie, She-Ra, every My Little Pony and Care Bear you name it, I had them all but I much preferred my brother's toys. I wanted to skateboard, play Atari and Nintendo and I'd rather act out war scenes with G.I. Joe and He-Man than play house and tea party with the Cabbage Patch Kids. As we got older, my mother put me in ballet and my brother in baseball. Ballet didn't last long for me and after while, I was off playing tackle football with my brother and his friends.

I never cared if boys liked me and wanted to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" or not because to me, they were my best friends--I was one of the "boys". A pretty "boy" with green eyes but a "boy" all the same. That continued all the way until two months before my 15th birthday when I started my cycle.

It wasn't until then that I started realizing that "Hey, I'm a girl and I care about the things that other girls care about...just not as much." I still had no interest in boys entering high school, I played sports, was VP of the Drama Club and I couldn't be caught dead in a dress or skirt, ruffles or anything else considered ultra feminine. But at 16, there were a few things about me that were certain: my hair stayed whipped, my skin was clearer than that of my peers and my toes were always polished in bright, cheerful colors. I'd even wear heels every now and again even if I thought of myself as an awkward giraffe.  The only times I wore a dress was once at prom and then once again at my graduation.

To be perfectly honest--and this may sound a bit weird but I'm like that at times so let's roll with it--I never really felt like a woman's woman until I gave birth. (After 16, I was always girlish...just not girly.) To me, being with child was the best thing in life. It is a gift that only a woman could give to the world. I even remember saying to Chief after our son was born, "Wow! I'm all grown up now!"

He gave me a questioning look but mostly because although he's caught glimpses of her when we first met and has made comments about me being a tomboy, he's never truly known the rough & tumble girl I once was.

And as the tomboy in me falls away bit by bit (but I'll always be the football loving guy's girl at heart), I've been aiming to change my streamlined & conservative attire (read: muted colors, slacks etc.) to incorporate in my wardrobe more girly-ness. This is a change in myself I've noticed since last summer and I even caught myself the other day eyeballing a sweater with ru-ru-*ahem*ruffles.

Plus, I have a future husband that I aim to impress and look great/sexy for at all times.
I love when I get compliments on my hair and shoes and clothes from him. And though he loves the subtle girlishness that is me, I always want to be visually, mentally, physically and emotionally pleasing to him. So this fall, I'll aim to pick up more dresses--which I'd also done a great job of during the summer--more items with ruffles, pencil skirts and the like. I'll show you my progress as I go from being simply girlish to girly.

We'll call this Project: Pretty Girl!

I'll post pictures to show you what I'm doing and I'd like it if you'd tell me HOW I'm doing.

The rules are as follows:
- No black dresses allowed (When I wear a dress I always end up with black)

- Keep completely dark ensembles/colors to a minimum

- No tennis shoes/ sneakers allowed unless exercising or running out to the store

Reader Rules:

N. Nicole of TLPWear make-up
                              More Accessories
Are there any other rules I should throw in there?

So the above pics are examples of how I usually dress as of my mid-20s.  (Years ago, it was far more boyish.)  In the pic with the red shirt, I had on a pair of dress jeans and boots--I ALWAYS wear pants--never a dress or skirt and I'm working to change that.  Wish me luck!

...Continue to Discovering My Femininity

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recipe: Blackened Tilapia

I made my best blackened entree to date.

I've used this recipe with catfish before but I'm not a huge fan of catfish. I decided to try one of my favorite fish: Tilapia.


4 tablespoons Old Bay with Blackened Seasoning (very important to get the one that specifically says blackened seasoning on the label)

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Old Bay already has this in there but I like the additional spiciness)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt-- or to taste

1 pound tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a small bowl, add all spices and mix well.

2. Coat the fish fillets with the spice mixture. (I rub it on with my hands as if I would with a steak rub)

3. Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron you have one) over high heat.

4. Once pan is hot, add butter. At this point the pan should be smoking. Place the fillets in the pan, and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side or until fish can be flaked with a fork.

I used to make this with only the Old Bay and this time, I'm glad I got the idea to add the extra spices because it went a long way. Pair up red beans with rice and cornbread and you're set. You'll definitely be satisfied with this excitingly spicy meal. It was a hit with the even MJ--he likes spicy food too ;-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

D.C. Hot Spots: Bangkok Joe's And Tuscana

Soldier girl returned to Kuwait exactly one week ago. To give her a great send off, the ladies got together and had dinner at Bangkok Joe's and went for drinks and dancing afterwards at Tuscana.

I'd actually never had the opportunity to try authentic Thai and it was my assumption that that's what Bangkok Joe's had to offer. Well, you know what they saw about assumptions...

Bangkok Joe's is located behind the waterfront in Georgetown, the decor was simple yet trendy and the service was great. The food however, not Thai authentic but Southeast Asian with American flare, left something to be desired. Not bad mind you, but what is memorable about the food is the presentation more so than the flavors.

Tuscana is one of the many recently buzzing spots in D.C. at the moment. Located in downtown Washington, D.C., this restaurant by day, lounge by night hot spot is quaint and cute with a comfortable atmosphere. The bartenders make for a little eye candy while the cocktails are potent; the party goers, non-pretentious and friendly yet, they know how to keep their hands to themselves.

To some of the ladies in my group's dismay, we found out that it was Latin night when we arrived but my best friend, Keys and I jumped right in and salsa, rumba and merenque'd the night away. I'll definitely be back to Tuscana for girls' night or even date night.

[sorry there are no pics. I was too busy dancing, ha!]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Philosophy Microdelivery & St. Ives Apricot Scrub

A Product Review & Comparison

I have to say that I've been more than loyal to St. Ives Apricot Scrub over the years. I've been using it since I was 14 years old (that's a whopping 13 years) and I've been one of the biggest cheerleaders for this brand since the beginning. It has done wonders for my skin over the years keeping it translucent and radiant. With all that said, there is absolutley no way that I could be biased on part of the "new kid" on my block...or could I?:

Lately, I'd been noticing the texture of my forehead was becoming a little, well...rough. At first, I thought that maybe I wasn't using the Apricot Scrub as often as I should for my aging nearly 30 year-old skin so I increased my usage from the usual twice a week to three times a week. Even after 3 months, there was no improvement. In fact, my skin was starting to feel a little dryer than usual. And it wasn't that the roughness was all that noticeable when I looked in the mirror but to the touch, my forehead had a rough texture.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when a friend took a close-up picture of me with his DSRL camera. What did I see? (Thanks for asking.) Grand Canyon-esque pores across the bridge of my nose & on the apple of my cheeks and a strip of sandpaper across my forehead. All else looked pore-fect so what was up with this area?!?! Oh boy! I was officially on the brink of making an appointment with the dermatologist for a microderm abrasion treatment.

Searching for solutions perusing Sephora over the weekend, looking for a new exfoliator, I came across a few notables like Ole Henrikson's Sugar Glow (which smelled absolutely DIVINE) and Bliss' Pore Perfecting Facial Polish. I sampled both on my hand and I was almost ready to make a decision between the two. Then along came Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash and after the hand test, I made a beeline for the register.

Recommended Use:
St. Ives: Apply quarter-sized amount to damp face and neck and scrub in circular motion. Rinse well. Should be used no more than 3 times a week or it will cause dryness.

Philosophy: Apply quarter-sized amount to damp face and neck, scrub for 30-60 seconds. Rinse. Can be used daily. (I have chosen to use it every other day).

St. Ives: This scrub is very grainy with granulated walnut shells and cornmeal as the key ingredients. It is invigorating as the bottle reads but it's too abrasive for everyday use. Very effective in sloughing off dead skin to reveal glowing skin underneath while the apricot oil adds moisture. However, as I stated before, it didn't do anything for my recently inherited enlarged pores and the mysterious rough patch on my forehead.

Philosophy: It also doubles as a peel with citric acid and with the exfoliating properties of rice bran and diatomaceous earth (a sand-like mineral from the earth), refreshed, baby soft, moisturized skin and tighten pores are revealed. This formula is gentle enough to be used everyday & can also be used on the décolleté. This exfoliant is alot less grainy than St. Ives and in my hands, it feels like a moistened fine sand. It was much gentler but far more effective even with just one use.
I fell in love the minute I patted my face dry and got up close in the mirror. The results were instant and my face was as smooth as a baby's bottom. That sandpaper on my forehead doesn't stand a chance!

Price Comparison:
St. Ives: During my starving student days, I was always grateful that St. Ives was so affordable. At just $3.79 for a 6oz. bottle, this wonderful scrub is completely budget-friendly! Using a quarter-sized amount three times a week lasts me about a month and a half.

Philosophy: Since I've been a fan of Philosophy's Gingerbread Man Body Scrub for some years now, I'm no stranger to the pricing. Everything that I've ever purchased from this brand has been of the highest quality and produced the best results. The Microdelivery Facial Scrub definitely follows suit and I'm willing to pay a few more bucks to keep up with my no longer 20-year old skincare needs. The scrub comes in 4 sizes: 4oz ($15), 8oz ($25), 16oz ($37) and 32oz ($55).

As I've just purchased this product (8oz), I'm not sure how long it will last using a quarter-sized amount every other day. I will be sure to update!

The Verdict:

So long St. Ives! I am now one happily-converted-passionate-about-skincare-Microdelivery loving gal!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't Be Afraid

"We are all meant to shine as children do..."

..but often we are afraid of the light that shines within us.

When I graduated from high school, I applied to four colleges, was accepted to three and thereafter, I made the decision to attend college close to home. Upon completing the placement test at my school of choice and receiving my results, I was offered an opportunity to register for Honors English courses. Do you believe I actually found myself having to mull over this for a few days? And never discussing it with my parents, I just made the decision NOT to take the classes. Why? Because I was afraid.

There have been many instances as a budding young adult that I can point to where I had the opportunity to do something but decided not to out of fear. I site this instance in particular because it seems so silly to me [now] that I was actually afraid to succeed any further than acing a college placement test. And as silly as it may sound, there are many people that suffer from this same condition of fear and so much so that it can be quite crippling.
There are little pieces of us all that are constantly at battle: The part that wants to experience life at our best and the part that fears the challenges that we'll encounter and the changes that we'll have to make to overcome them. It is the fear that what you do at some point will become really important to more than just yourself which would entail more being required of you.

I think back on this today not regretting it but to serve myself a reminder not to go down that path again--not to let my fear win. In the process of writing my novel, I've had many fears, many doubts, many questions in my mind: "What if, how, when, where." At some point, I'd even stopped writing for a few weeks but then I had an epiphany. "If I never finish, how can I be proud of what I've accomplished?" The answer was that I couldn't because I never even thought to try so I wouldn't even deserve to be proud of anything.

How do you overcome fear?
Realize that there is no reason to EVER be afraid ever again of your potential. Tell yourself that you deserve everything that you are about to set out for. "Everyone else is achieving their goals and getting what they want and need out of life. Why not you?"

Write down your goals and read them often to make sure that you stay on target with what you want. This keeps you in line and on course with your dreams.
Take a note from the book, The Secret and make a dream/vision board. Making a vision board is easy: simply take magazine clippings of all the words and pictures that relate to what you want and need to happen and specify a timeline for when you want it to happen.
Work DAILY toward your goals while having faith that these things WILL happen for you. Push through the trials with the end in mind.
Allow yourself to feel good about where you are headed. Instead of focusing on the negative of what could be, focus on all of the positive that could come out of it and how it could impact so many others and thus, enrich your life.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world." - Marianne Williamson

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