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? 

Keep Cool Summer Braid and Twist Updos (With Tutorials)

It’s officially getting hot in NYC. I’m already throwing my hair up in a top knot daily and it’s getting old quick. Here are some alternative styles that will keep you cute and cool. These braids are pictured and done on straight hair but with the right amount of length and stretching, and depending on your hair’s texture and curl pattern there’s no reason why these styles shouldn’t translate well on our curls. Keep in mind that some will look better than others. Try them out. Save yourself from simple summer top knot syndrome.

1. The French Tuck

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2. The Head Band

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3. The Snake 

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4. The Surprise

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5. The Infinity Braid

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6. The Side Swipe

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7. The Bohemian Crown

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Tutorial Here 

8. The Milk Maid 

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9. The Tuck and Roll

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10. The Twisted Vine.

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Tag us on instagram with your new do.

Keep cool and Carry On Ladies. Which one will you try? 

Joise Maran Miracle Workers

A couple months ago Shanti and I were lucky to be gifted some Josie Maran products. All of you know we are not huge fans of trying new things but we have to admit that some of the gifted items surprised us in a big way and have made their way into our daily beauty regimens. Please note, this isn’t a paid review, it’s a real review.

The Conscious of the Company

 Josie Maran was started by a former model who after working with some of the most world renown makeup artists, grew weary of the toxic chemicals in the makeup that they used on her. She began to question; does luxury require not having a conscience? After traveling to the South of France, she was introduced to Pure Argan Oil by some of the women there and was amazed by their youthful appearance. After that, it was a wrap. She started Josie Maran Cosmetics in 2007 with Pure Argan Oil as the signature product.

Josie Maran uses pure, Fair Trade Argan Oil, grown and harvested responsibly by co-ops of Moroccan women who earn a living wage. We partner with earth-loving, women-empowering organizations, use eco-friendly packaging, and we never stop striving to improve our products and our impact on the world.

The Staple: Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil

This oil is the ish! I am already on my second bottle. This will be in my beauty regimen for as long as I live. This product is an organic, chemical free, saving grace, known as the ‘liquid gold of Morocco’. Argan Oil is loaded with Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, so it has amazing healing, conditioning and repairing properties—for skin, hair, feet, nails, your baby’s bottom.

This product is light weight which allows it penetrate easily, while being extremely powerful without coating the skin with greasy residue. I apply it on my face every morning and night after cleansing. It, along with my vitamin C serum has helped fade my dark spots, calmed my redness, and soothed my crows feet while keeping my skin well hydrated and acne free. I’m really serious y’all. I was so self conscious about my skin that I wouldn’t leave the house without a full face of foundation and now I have traded in my foundation for a light cc cream. And I don’t even wear that unless I have a show or audition.  My boo thang even commented on the change in my skin over the past couple of months.

Shanti also using this on her skin as her hair. She recently mentioned it in her Post Big Chop Update. 

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Cost:

The prices range from $96.00 for a large luxury size bottle. $48.00 for a medium sized bottle. Keep in mind you only need to use a couple droplets, 2-3 each application so the bottles will last quite a long time. I had been using my first bottle for 3 months and had over half my bottle left until I spilled the remaining oil in my gym bag. SMH. Anyway, I went out and bought another that day. I’m dedicated.

BUT, if the price is off putting or cause for concern I would suggest purchasing the small travel size bottle for $16.00 and test it out. The oil also comes in a ‘light’ formula for those weary of using too much oil. They are available at Josie Maran’s online shop or at sephora. Keep in mind it’s vegan, cruelty and paraben free and completely organic.

The Beach in a Bottle: Bohemian Waves Argan Hair Mist

I wasn’t even going to try this product. The name alone had me skeptical. I thought to myself, “That was nice of them to give me but nah! Have they seen my hair? I am never going to achieve those beach wave curls donned by the Sports Illustrated and Victora Secret models without a curling wand and some hair spray. Nope. Maybe, I’ll give this to my blonde hair blue eyed girlfriend at work.” I couldn’t have been more wrong ladies.

After speaking with Shanti, she told me that she tried it and liked it but thought the benefits would show better on someone with longer hair. I then tried it and loved it. It contains Himalayan Pink Sea Salt which adds just enough roughness to the hair to create body without causing it to be dry and brittle. Have you ever gone to the beach and after getting in the water your curls were poppin? That’s pretty much what this does. It’s the beach in a bottle.

I will warn you though, too much of this product (similar to any other) will cause your hair to feel brittle and sticky. You also, because of the salt component, want to be sure your hair is moisturized before adding the product. With that said, I would recommend this product for hair that has some length, is less coarse and easily achieves a lot of movement.

I apply my leave-in conditioner to wet hair and then spray 5-8 sprays of the hair mist to my hair. I then style with my diffuser as usual. I’ll do a video soon of my new regimen to show you exactly how I achieve the look.

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Cost:

This hair mist costs $22.00 and lasted me about 3 months. It is cruelty and parben free, made with natural ingredients, vegan and contains no synthetic fragrance.

The Bomb: Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter

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This butter is whipped is extremely hydrating despite it being light and fluffy which makes it extremely easy to spread across your body, insuring that a little goes a long way. It’s ingredients include antioxidant packed argan oil and 10 plant oils. This is the stuff you take out when you want your body to feel soft, smooth, and irresistible. It’s a natural added allure. This butter will definitely have your back and your front ; )

Cost: $35.00

It’s  also vegan, cruelty and paraben free and completely organic.

All in all, Josie Maran’s products are amazing.

We highly recommend them to everyone around the way. OH! AND you can find them at Sephora, so if you don’t believe us, go on in and get yourself a sample. A video on the Bohemian Waves Mist is coming soon!

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