How I Got My Skin Clean, Clear and Under Control

Before and After

Before and After

Real rap I had some serious red/dark spots on my cheeks and jawline due to acne. I was also subjecting my skin to too much sun exposure and popping my deep under-the-skin pimples thinking I knew what I was doing. It was once so bad that I wouldn’t leave the house without foundation because of the discoloration. When you first met me, I wore makeup to the gym. SMH. But now, me no care! So, if you are suffering from acne and scaring I can help. See below:

Natural Remedies

Exfoliate- Exfoliate your skin… gently. Exfoliating lifts the dead skin from the surface of the skin which reduces clogging and reveals the younger layer of skin. Exfoliating is great but you don’t want to do it too much or too hard because it will dry your skin out.

I recommend gentle exfoliating gloves of scrubs. You can make them or buy them. See our Avocado Pit Body Scrub Recipe here.  Exfoliate once a week for dry skin and twice for oily skin. After, you must replenish your skin with a good moisturizer but we will get to that later. Keep in mind that if you exfoliate too often you may dry your skin out. Your skin will then create additional sebum and cause more breakouts so start off exfoliating slowly and gauge it from there.

Vitamin E- Vitamin is an antioxidant (slows cells damage) that occurs naturally in food and can be used both topically and internally. It not only promotes healthy skin but it also beefs up your immune system. Vitamin E attacks free radicals throughout the body and can prevent some of the damage they  may cause. It’s all about preventative care.

Water- We all know this. Water is essential in the functioning of our bodies but did you know that water is the primary way in which we moisture our skin? It also a great substitute for your favorite expensive night cream by preventing wrinkles, psoriasis, ecezema and other skin conditions. Cold water in particular, when applied topically does wonders for the skin. It reduces redness, puffiness and closes your pores which prevent them from getting clogged. Rule of thumb… Wash with warm water. Finish with cold.

Sleep- When Nas said, “I never sleep cause sleep is the cuzzin of death” he was trippin. Beauty rest is not just a phrase. Sleep is so important when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin. Without adequate sleep your skin looses it’s luster. It becomes dull, sags and even bags. Your body repairs and heals itself while you sleep. If you disrupt that healing process it WILL show. So ladies, put your phones away. Turn Netflix off and get your 8 hours. 

Purchased Products

(In order of application)

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Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Face Wash- “This acne treatment cleanser deeply cleanses and helps lessen acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid effectively reduces breakouts. It efficiently clears skin without irritation, leaving skin feeling completely clean and comfortably balanced.”- Sephora

I couldn’t have said it myself. The salicylic acid deep cleans and for the most part illuminates my deep set pimples. Salicylic acid does however leave you more susceptible to sun damage so make sure you use sunblock with this product. For that reason alone I use this at night and wash with regular soap and water in the mornings.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.20.14 AMPhilosophy’s Miracle Worker(found at Sephora) is product that really helped me in getting rid of my dark spots. It won’t happen over night but it definitely aides and speeds the process. This basically helps fade the spots by removing the dead skin/epidermis from your face. Much like exfoliating, but it also speeds the cell production process. New skin forms, revealing new bright beautiful skin. Seriously it works.

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Ole Hendrisken Vitamin C Serum-  is formulated with a proprietary five-source vitamin C complex to support natural collagen production, brighten, and minimize fine lines, this must-have serum defends from environmental aggressors and free radical damage, leaving skin healthy and protected. It is enriched with green tea extract and sodium hyaluronate to nurture and nourish. This lightweight and oil-free formula quickly absorbs into skin while the iconic uplifting citrus scent pampers your skin and your senses. -Sephora

This product definitely has helped brighten my complexion and made my skin look more awake. I think it is a good investment to make. After all, it’s about being proactive.

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Sunscreen- YOU MUST WEAR SUNSCREEN! I can’t say it enough. It drives me crazy when folks don’t. The ozone layer is depleting y’all. Yes, a good sun kissed glow is nice but at what cost? Skin cancer? Wrinkles? Sunburn? Just put some damn sunscreen on. You also must realize that if you already have brown spots and pigmentation from acne scaring they will only get darker if they come into direct contact with the sun. So, if you don’t wear sunblock you will be doing all this good work in vein.

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Moisturize- I use Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion in the Summer and Nivea Skin Creme in the Winter as a moisturizer. They can be found at any drug store. It’s important that after all your cleansing you moisturize and hydrate your skin. Cetaphil is very mild and is recommended for any skin type. Nivea is thick and may clog your pores if you have oily skin. I was very skeptical about Nivea because of how thick the product felt but it has kept my winter skin hydrated all day without clogging my pores.

Find Your Regimen and Stick to It- At the end of the day it is important that you are constant. There are plenty of nights when I don’t feel like washing my makeup off but I know that my skin will suffer from it in the long run. It only takes 15 minutes to take care of yourself. Why not do it? Above is one of my nightly regimens.

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Makeup Free!

Black Beauty on White Skin

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Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack with my lipstick unbothered and not a scratch on my crown.

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I’m no model and I don’t pretend to be but I have a pair of soup coolers on me that love a good lipstick so when the The Lip Bar asked me to model for their campaign I was all the way down. To think, I was once one of those girls that was too scared to rock a lip. I feared they would draw too much attention, throw my face off balance or even worse… make my lips look bigger. Gasp.  So, growing up I would apply some clear blistex and call it day. I was intimidated by my very own mouth. My mouth! WTF!  How wack? How sick?  How cowardly of me… If I only knew then what I know now… cause these lips right here? They’re magic. You betta ask somebody. 

Just look at little Kylie Jenner. Girlfriend spent all kinds of money to have a pout like mine (ours), not that her surgery in any way validates me (us), but I certainly think it helps put some things into perspective. (Oh and if we are being honest I think her pumped up injected lips looked bangin… but I digress).

It’s interesting though, often the things that come natural to women of color, the things we are most self conscious about, are the very things that end up being bought, praised and coveted i.e. warm skin tones, full lips, wide hips, full butts and the ability to flip it, toss it, and throw it back like a boss. It seems that those things are most often admired and praised when they are adorned by women not of color. What a mind fuck! What a setup for self hate. You mean to tell me we (and I use the term ‘we’ loosely because I’m well aware that my light skin and fine curly hair put me in the ‘exotic’ category in which I reap the benefits of daily) can’t get any love? Aside from King Bey who despite my unyielding love for, is two seconds from looking like a full blown white woman (just sayin). And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with the way our King Bey looks. I’m simply saying we have to peep the pattern and move in this world accordingly.

Images are becoming more and more important. Folks are all about the visual. We don’t even buy music based on the sound anymore, we buy based on the video. Just look at Instagram. We spend hours scrolling, staring, screen-shoting and sharing selfies. So be mindful of what you consume and celebrate. Images are beautiful things but they can also be used as psychological warfare. Be sure some of the images you see are of and in tune with your own reflection.

I’ll leave you with this, a dear friend of mine Kristin Braswell, once wrote the following Facebook status after Kim K released her cover of Paper Magazine where she was mimicking the iconic Grace Jones and attempting to #breaktheinternet

“What frustrates me is not Kim Kardashian herself, but the idea that this whiteness and otherness in non-Black women deserves countless think pieces and celebration. As our neighborhoods, slang, culture, music and even bodies are being co-opted, I am reminded of how important it is that we continue to uphold and celebrate whatever reinforces the truth that we as black women have always been enough”. 

May we always remember that we are indeed, enough. Thank you to The Lip Bar for having and celebrating me.

I luh ya.

Jazmine Sullivan Talks Overcoming Abusive Relationship via Necolebitchie

 
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Halloween 2014

If you follow us on Instagram you know that it’s no secret that Jaz is one of our best friends. She is a brave woman. A strong woman. A relentless woman. We are proud and fortunate enough to call her a friend and sister. Publicly, she is a ladies anthem, multi grammy nominated singer/song writer. Privately, she is a woman, friend, sister, aunt, Godmother, daughter, lover and human. She has accepted and endured with grace, dignity, truth and faith. She has fought for everything that she has…her music, her independence and her happiness. We are glad to see her coming out on top more confident and more beautiful than ever. For those of you hurting, let her story comfort and inspire you. Let her story be the one that shows you, you are stronger than you think.

“In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. if someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly.” -Miguel Ruiz

Love You Jaz

When Are We Truly ‘At Our Best’

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There was a time when I would have never posted this picture anywhere. There was a time I would have never been caught video chatting without a complete beat face. Even as recently as last year, had FaceTime rang with me still sweaty from the gym, I would have declined the call or strategically placed the camera so that I had a chance to ‘put myself together’ before anyone could see me. But then I have to ask myself would I had even gone to the gym without at least foundation on? I think not.

Now, I know that we all say there is nothing wrong with trying to look ‘our best’. But lately, I have struggled with what that means and all the weight and pressure that comes with that. It’s a mind f*ck really. So tell me, am I not at my best like this? I had a good day, prayed, went to yoga, walked, drank a mean green smoothie for dinner, cleaned my room and approached the day with gratitude. But even after all that, I still need to look outside of myself in order to be my best? It’s really quite confusing and the implications that come along with statements like ‘you’re best’ can be daunting.

I worry sometimes that this blog adds to that confusion because we are in a way a beauty blog. But my hope is that we aren’t your average beauty blog. My hope is that we keep it real enough to keep your minds at ease. My hope is that no claims of perfection are made here. My hope is that Shanti and I document our own personal journeys that folks can relate to it but not strive towards it. My hope is that we inspire.

In summary, I’m at a point in my life that when it comes to beauty, I no longer feel the need to strive towards perfection and I think it is because I have defined for myself what “at my best” is. I think it’s important that we all do that. It’s vital that we have and live by our definitions and refine them when need be.  Otherwise, we are at risk of living up to standards made with a broad brush.

So, I am at my best when…

-I eat healthy

-I exercise

-I’m in love

-I take care of my skin

-I use my favorite sweet smelling shea butter after I shave

-I use lip liner with my lipstick

-I wear my new black leather jacket with a bright red lip, aviator sun glasses and slick my hair back in a tight bun

-I have that black long line bra on

-I get my eyebrows done and handle any random weird hairs on my face/chin/mustache (smh)

-I drink tons of water

-I’m organized

-I get to see him

-I think positive

-I trust the journey

-I smile

-I stretch

-I’m social and not behind this computer

-I watch/listen/love Beyonce

-I’m around kids

-I get a pedicure

-I sing

-I leave my hair alone until it is completely dry.

When are you at your best ladies?

These Are Not Radical Ideas

We have not posted much about Michael Brown. Mainly, because I/we haven’t known what exactly to say. Frankly, I still don’t know how to express my anger, guilt, sorrow and frustration that will ignite any real change. Even now, I fear that some of you are reading this thinking, “Here she goes again” or “She doesn’t even know because her mom’s white” or “Where is the hair post”. But that’s my own stuff. Not yours.

 The following is a Facebook message and it says it all… everything I have ever felt but couldn’t articulate.  My once mentor and now friend posted it. Sadly, I wanted to send it to some family members and friends of mine. I’ve been secretly waiting for someone in my circle to say something stupid to me about Mike Brown. Well, a couple days ago that wait was over and I wish my response was something like the statements below, but instead I eloquently informed them that “they didn’t know shit”. Smh. Please read below.

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“A white friend expressed to me recently that my facebook and twitter timelines seemed more “radical” lately. In response, I told him that it is not radical at all. First, it’s obvious that we are not very close friends if you believe that spreading important information is radical expression for me. In fact, it feels quite passive. Additionally, and maybe even more significant, are my feelings behind the messages and tone of the information that I help to share.

It is not radical for me or anyone else to want to live. It is not radical for me to want to see my brother  live until he is an old man. It is not radical for me to want my nephew and my cousins to not be criminalized because of the color of their skin. It is not radical for me to want my uncle to be able to work, pay taxes, provide for his family, and enjoy his life without the threat of violence and death from the police. These are not radical ideas. They are normal, reasonable ideas. So normal in fact, white US citizens very rarely ever have to think about it. You expect these realities and privilege and take full advantage of them with every breath. If you believe that it is radical for me to express this desire for myself, it is clear that you believe the notion of who we are and what we deserve as humans is fundamentally different from you. Moreover, when I talk about myself, I am talking about ALL of my people. ALL OF THEM. Every utterance of “but what about…”, “but not all…”, “but they should have just…” “but not all white people….” – each of these is an expression of micro-deviations between your level of humanity to mine.

To put it plainly, if you are a so called believer in human rights- you should be fighting harder to defend those who are constantly abused by and used as fodder for the system that you benefit from WITH EVERY SINGLE BREATH. Anything short of that brings me what I covet these days more than any other time in my life, clarity. How you feel about #michaelbrown is how you feel about my son and how you feel about me. When it comes to survival, this liberal rhetoric has muddied the waters for too long. At least I know where the other side stands. How you feel about the people of #ferguson is how you feel about my family. I very rarely quote the bible these days, but when it comes to survival, Revelation 3:15-16 seems extremely appropriate: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot … So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

We are not fools. Here in the United States, Brazil, and many place in between, violence and oppression based on skin color, hair, features, and class are the dogs of war– this brutality is controlled by two leashes. Holding the leash tightest is institutional racism. Hiding behind, is his son white privilege. What a fucking coward. HE has the nerve to ask ME to teach HIM what HE should do to for ME to make HIM more comfortable as a so-called ally. Sadly, many of my liberal friends don’t see the violence inherit in these indignities. I am not comfortable and have never been. I don’t have that privilege. My life is full of the anxiety of being a critical victim. I have worried my entire life about living long enough to start a family and will spend the remainder of my life worrying about losing my children to structural violence. Needless to say, I am busy and have zero time for your lukewarm bullshit.”

#ARRESTDARRENWILSON

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It is not radical to want to live

Help A Curl Out

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I met Anette, mother of three and wife to a loving husband a couple years ago when she attended one of our events in NYC. It was nice to finally put a face to the name that was always popping up in our comments section and various news feeds. She was a true blue around the way girl. There, dancing with her husband she was and still is full of life, love and happiness. As they held hands, smiling and kissing, I remember envying their relationship. 

A few months ago, I saw that Anette had big chopped. I mean, the homey was straight rocking a baldy and killing it. I thought to myself, “Damn, she took a damn blade straight to her scalp and killed it”.  I commented on how beautiful she looked and went on scrolling through my timeline. It wasn’t until recently, thanks to instagram, I realized Anette was battling Leukemia. Her posts were always so upbeat and  inspiring that the thought never crossed my mind. Cancer? Anette? Wha? 

I don’t know anything about battling cancer. But I do know that this woman needs some help. I spent less than 24 hours in the hospital this month and am haunted by that ER bill. I cannot imagine the type of financial burden Anette is dealing with, all while taking care of her children and trying to survive. At this time, she is in need of a transplant. This transplant is her hope at survival. So, if you have a dollar, two, maybe even 20 please send it her way. It really doesn’t take much because together, five dollars here and there will add up. It takes a village y’all. 

See her GOFundMe Campaign Below…

“First, I just want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read this. My name is Anette Tillman. I am 24 year old stay at home mom of 3 amazing boys, Rondell Jr, Jayven, and Ivan. They are the light of my life and what keep me the most hopeful in this difficult time. My life drastically changed in January of this year. I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It took as all by surprise. I never expected to be 24yrs young and to be fighting against cancer. This hasn’t been easy on myself and my family. The financial burden is becoming a bit difficult to bare with. Even with medical insurance, bills seem to still pile up. I have an amazing husband that carries the world on his shoulders. He works a full time job and cares for our sons by himself while I am away. I just wish I could do more to help him. As you can imagine my medical bills have become a financial burden for us and each day we are struggling to make ends meet. I have a bone marrow transplant coming up soon. This transplant is my only shot at survival, I need this not just for myself but for my sons and husband as well. They need me and I need them. I just want to help my husband take care of us and take some of this burden away from him. I’m trusting in God and remaining hopeful always. Psalm 34:15, 17 The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. I know that God places people in your life to be a blessing in trying situations. Prayers and financial blessings are greatly appreciated. Again Thank you all and God Bless”.

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To donate click the link http://www.gofundme.com/c7dd7w

Be grateful y’all.

Hair Rules Review

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Recently, Shanti and I went to critically acclaimed curly girl salon, Hair Rules in NYC. We went with the high hopes of complete color transformation and new do’s. We left humbled and educated. Watch the video below for details on our sobering experience. 

Shanti’s Sun Kissed Summer Color

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Antoinette’s Color Fix.

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Was it worth it? What y’all think?