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My Free Twist-Out

I won a free twist out hairstyle today. Great timing too because I wanted to blow dry my hair and wear a twist out on dry hair.
The night before I was scrolling thru my Instagram feed and saw this.


Nappstar is a natural hair salon. The owners and stylists of Nappstar are two sisters in Maryland. I had been to Nappstar several times before and was always happy with my results. So I called and got the 10am appointment.

They moved their salon to a new location a while ago were looking to find additional natural hair stylists to work with them in their salon. In order to evaluate the potential stylists’ abilities and skills, they issued a call for anyone with natural hair to be the test “dummies” for lack of a better word.  I believe they had 4 female stylist to work on 4 ‘model clients’. Two clients had natural hair and the other two had locs. (I don’t like the term “dread” locs, so you won’t see/hear me use it too much).  They rotated the stylists between twisting and styling the locs and natural hair clients to test their skills.  My twist out was done in flat twists in a star pattern (think bicycle wheel with the spokes coming from the center).

The process for me from wash to twist out, including the blow dry and time spent under the dryer was about 2.5 hours.  The outcome was decent and more importantly it was free.  I will say that I would probably never go there for a twist out in general. Not because they wouldn’t do a good job, but typically I do my own twist outs and twist outs for me don’t last long enough for me to shell out that kind of cash for a very temporary  style. But for anything else I’d definitely recommend these sisters.

I must admit that I have visited the Miss Jessie’s Salon in SoHo- New York City, and received a twist out. Maybe I’ll blog about that later. I will say I was very pleased with my results and it lasted at least two weeks. BUT the twist out at Miss Jessie’s was an individual two-strand twists that had great hold because of the product, causing the twist out to be super defined and long-lasting.

Ulta Beauty Haul Spring 2013


Shopping for beauty products is always a fun adventure.  You go with one-thing in mind, and you leave with a whole bunch of awesomeness. I was in search for some new makeup brushes. Mainly for two reasons.

  1. I need more variety in my everyday brushes;
  2. I hate having to clean my brushes so often.

Depending on the brush cleaner I use, I’m not fond of the just cleansed brushes but on the flip side I don’t want week old makeup and grime being applied to my fresh face. Having more variety and options in my brushes will hopefully alleviate some of this.

This weekend I made a trip to Ulta. I picked up several things. The first is this brush set by Real Techniques, Limited Edition Duo Fiber Collection. 


I’ve purchased a blush brush previously from Real Techniques, and although I like it a few short months later the brush came out of the handle. So I was a little disappointed. I’m going to give Real Techniques another try. This brush set purchased at $17.99.

After picking up the brushes I went over the skin care section. I’ve been a long time user of Dermalogica. But haven’t really used it in the recent past after running out of the products I used daily. Until the recent past, Dermalogica was only available from select spa’s or from the Dermalogica website. Ulta has carried the brand for a while now and it’s a great place to purchase the products.

In questioning the skin therapist at the store Salon about the best Dermalogica cleanser for my skin, I realized that she had been performing a professional skin service on a another client.  Since Ulta was having a Dermalogica special, $20 dollars for a 20-minute service by the skin therapist on duty, I decided to book my appointment.  My appointment was scheduled in 40-minutes. So I went to Old Navy and shopped while I waited for my appointment time.

When I returned we discussed my current skin regimen and what I was looking for. I got a mini-facial with full-cleansing, steam and slight extractions in a slightly private  setting.  Afterwards  she recommended some products. Ulta also had a free-gift deal. A free gift of the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, Skin Hydrating Booster, and Multi-Active Toner, with any $65 Dermalogica purchase. Since I had paid $20 bucks for the facial, and would be purchasing a cleanser it wasn’t a big stretch to meet that $65 minimum.

I ended up purchasing the Active Moist, which is a moisturizer, the Skin Resurfacing Cleanser, and the Special Cleansing Gel in the smallest sizes.

I also picked up CLINIQUE’s moisturizing gel. I’ve used this for several years now and I like it. The thing with me is that I’m always looking or the perfect moisturizer. I’ve tried tens of lotions and creme’s and moisturizers and I try to change it up so my skin doesn’t get used to the same thing. I’ve tried CLINIQUE’s gel and lotion and I like the gel for the summer and the lotion for the winter.

I’m in the market for a new concealer. I tried a couple at Ulta but didn’t find any I was really crazy about. So the search is still on. I also decided to try a bronzer. I’ve tried a friend’s bronzer a while ago and thought about purchasing my own. So after sampling a few I decided to try the small size of LORAC’s Tantalizer Highlighter and Matte Bronzer Duo.

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New Hair Color March 2013

For the last few months I’ve been itching to get my hair dyed. I was pretty set on getting my hair dyed a fierce red like Toni from MyNaturalSistas. I love that color on her and was looking forward to getting mine a similar hue. That was until I saw a beautiful natural hair girl with a really awesome shade of blond rocking a puff.  That threw a monkey-wrench in my whole plan, because I couldn’t decide which color to choose.

I got the bright idea that I would do both colors, a subtle honey blond in the front/top and the fierce red in the back. I really thought this would be a great combination.  After talking to a friend of mine I decided to go to the salon she frequents in the DMV to get my hair colored.

I read a bunch of reviews online before committing and making an appointment. And finally the day had come. I arrived at the salon and once I was seen I explained to the ‘junior colorist” what I wanted. She told me that the two colors I wanted didn’t go together according to the color wheel.

It’s been about a year to the day that I got my last color highlights applied to my hair.  I have been itching to update my hair’s color with something really bold and fun for the spring and summer. So after discussing my hair color goals and desires with the stylist, we agreed on the final colors.

I took pictures during the whole process.  She used three different colors on my hair. I have two different color highlights in the front and top of my hair. And a light brown in the back of my hair.
After sitting with the color on my hair for a little bit, it was rinsed out. She was excited and happy about how the color came out. She told me she would be toning all of my color down a bit, using a toner. And commented that it looked very much like the NFL football team the Washington Redskins’ team color, because of the reddish and goldish hues.

hair highlight blow dry

Anyway, consulting with the “senior colorist” they agreed to tone the color down just a bit which would also help the colors compliment each other better. After the final rinse she proceeded to blow dry my hair straight.

After it was dry she proceeded to flat iron it. I informed her that I wanted curls instead of wearing it straight. By this time I had already paid for my service which included the color ($90) and the style ($50). Because it was about 8pm and the receptionist was packing up to leave.  I guess she realized that I was in need of trim and told me that she was going to just trim it. (Meaning that she wasn’t going to charge me for the trim).  And assured me that she knew the difference between a trim and a cut.

I should have just objected because you can’t trust a lot of hair stylists with scissors in their hands. Many don’t know the difference between a cut and a trim. And since she’s not my normal hair stylist I was already a bit nervous about whether I’d leave there with a cut versus a true trim.

As I suspected, I saw strands longer than an inch falling to styling drape. At that point is already to late to right that wrong. Unless you want short and uneven hair. She finished the trim (ahem…I mean cut) and then tried to go back and even it all the way around. Now I knew I was screwed. She knew that I was taking photos of the whole process and because of that was worried that her work would be questioned if my strands weren’t perfectly even.

befoe and after clor

Granted, I needed  a trim but my normal hair dresser does a great job of giving me an actual trim. And never again will I allow someone I’m not comfortable with to give me a trim.  This may not be the best proof of how much was actually cut, since the left side is the result of a blow out on natural hair and the right is flat ironed and trimmed. But hopefully you see the difference.

I guess if what I wanted was color, I got it. But ultimately, it wasn’t the color I really wanted.  I think she did a good job with the application of the color and highlights. And perhaps if I needed to I could return for future color processing. But I would save the styling and definitely any cutting for my trusted regular hair stylist.

quad hair


Dark Skin vs. Light Skin: The Color Complex

Color classification is a still a huge deal around the world and seen more prevalent in the African-American, Indian, and Asian communities. The color of one’s skin can be linked to social status in the community.

While many people of non-European decent typically think of  their own culture as being plagued by the stereotypes and negative connotations associated with darker vs. lighter skin, the truth is you can find it in almost every culture or group of people.

The Indian community has long suffered from the caste system and connections to skin color. It’s still typical to see fairer skin Indians marry each other and darker skin Indians marry each other, than to see a darker and fairer skin Indian couple marry; it’s frowned upon by the couples’ families.

Additionally, many Asians, women in particular, invest in bleaching and lightening products to make their skin fairer or whiter. If you’ve ever spent time in any Asian country you’ll notice television commercials and advertisements cast with the lightest skin women.

In the African-American community, stereotypes continue to perpetuate the idea of lighter skin being better than darker skin.  Just recently on an episode of  VH1’s Love and Hip-Hop, the rapper Consequence defended his lyrics in a song referring to the skin tone of women.

Light skin is the right skin, so you, you, you and your white friend

Maybe lighter complected skin is most attractive to him, which is fine to have a preference but to say one is right denotes that anything else is not.

One of the problems I see is that this conversation seems to evoke a feeling of black or white. Not in the sense of African-American or Caucasian but in the sense of one extreme or the other. What happens if your skin tone falls somewhere in the middle? How should you be classified? I don’t think that in the black community light skin or dark skin are sufficient adjectives to describe the many shades and hues that we bless the world with. Chocolate, latte, mocha, caramel ..we’ve relegated our color to coffee flavors. I don’t think it’s a bad thing because you actually get a better understanding of a person’s hue with those descriptors.

Color and complexion distinctions are made clear for most during childhood years. Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union depicts an all too similar experience as a ‘brown girl’ growing up  in her letter to her younger self displayed beautifully in the October 2012 issue of Ebony magazine. I read it when the issue was released and thought that it was so wonderfully and beautifully written that I cut it out, added it to my journal and was inspired to write my own letter to my younger self.

In the letter Union wrote:

Your deep Mahogany skin may not resemble that of the others in your family, but it’s just as gorgeous and you’re just as worthy….One day you’ll appreciate how much your brown skin shines in the moonlight, glistens in the sun and ages ever so slowly.

This resonating with me so strongly because I too had feelings of inferiority due to the images on television and personal experiences. As I got older I learned to accept and embrace my chocolateness. But those images that portray lighter skin as perpetually equaling beautiful still exist, so it becomes even more necessary to be confirmed in who you are, as to not compare yourself to anyone.

Through every example of skin tone revealed above and others not mentioned here, it is obvious to see that the underlying factor in the skin color debate is the lack of self-love and acceptance. No matter who you are, where you were born, how you were raised,  every person has some complex with themselves that either they don’t like, want to change or are just not comfortable with. If you find the love for yourself from within, and don’t allow other people’s opinions or judgement to dictate your beauty, stereotypes will not be an issue for you.


Oprah’s OWN network recently aired a documentary entitled “Dark Girls” highlighting the degradation of darker skin [black] women. It depicts to a broad audience something that so many suffer from silently. I think it was pretty well done and honest. The documentary can be viewed here.


This upcoming January 2015 Oprah’s OWN network will be airing a follow-up to the Dark Girls documentary entitled Light Girls.  I’m interested to see the juxtaposition of these two points of views.  Here is the preview:

Now that Light Girls has aired, stay tuned for my thoughts on the similarities, differences and perception.

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My Beauty School Highlights

In April 2012 , about a year ago, I got my hair highlighted.  I went to a beauty school and was really pleased with the turnout

In this picture, taken about 8 months after it had been highlighted, you can see my hair straightened and some of my highlights.


Here’s a better view of my hair from September 2012 (about 5 months after I got it highlighted), This is the work of my main hair stylist. The before picture on the left is my hair freshly washed, the middle picture is blown dry and the last is a shot of  the left side of my hair flat ironed.

photo hair Erin

I must note that I didn’t experience any damage or breakage due to the color and my hair was lightened without the use of bleach.

Why go to a beginner or someone learning how to perform  such a permanent process?

Some might say “Why go to a beginner or someone learning how to perform  such a permanent process?  But my reasoning was that there is a skilled instructor overseeing the whole process. Someone who’s job it is to teach the proper technique to eager students. The trainer for my student stylist oversaw the process and and I felt that my stylist was pretty confident. So as previously stated I was happy with the outcome and the price and didn’t have any complaints.

Sephora Beauty Haul

Okay so I’m super excited I finally got a chance to get to Sephora to stock up on some of my favorite products.  I took my time and went through each aisle. And it’s a good thing I did instead of just picking up my “go-to-items” because I got some great finds. Here’s a shot of most of what I picked up.


So one of my favorite foundations is Makeup Forever’s (MUFE) Duo Mat. It helps keep my T-zone shine and oil-free throughout the day. Thanks to a tip I received from Erin at Scandalous Beauty via Twitter. Imagine my surprise when I was informed by the Sephora representative that Duo Mat had been discontinued and MUFE had launched their Pro Finish as a replacement. She helped me try on two shades of the Pro Finish and I ended up purchasing one to try it out at home. Maybe I’ll do a comparison to the Duo Mat in the future.  (NOTE: If you like the Duo Mat you can still purchase most shades at

I had received a sample version of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer months ago, but since it wasn’t my shade and I had read a good review on it, I decided to purchase it.  Wow $43 bucks is a heck of a lot for a moisturizer, but if I don’t like it I’ll gladly return it.

The only thing that I purchased from Sephora this time that wasn’t new to me was my BELOVED Stila eyeliner in Stingray.  I love it! It goes on easy and lasts.

More importantly, I found this awesome little kit that Every woman needs to have in their purse and/or car. It contains everything you could need without taking up much space. I got it for $13 and it’s called the MINIMERGENCY Kit and the 17 contents are listed below.


  • a bandage
  • safety pin
  • earring backs
  • deodorant towelettes
  • nail polish remover pad
  • stain remover
  • clear hair elastics
  • lip balm
  • tampon
  • emory board
  • hair spray
  • clear nail polish
  • dental floss
  • mending kit
  • breath freshener
  • double-sided tape
  • pain reliever

The only thing it is missing is a condom, but then again, there is room for that too. It’s pretty awesome and I may go back and get a second one so I’ll have one for my car and one for my purse.


No Lye, the Last Relaxer

On 21 April 2009 I had my last relaxer. I had just come out of microbraids and was surprised at the amount of length I had retained after just the five or six weeks. I don’t remember what exactly happened that made me decide that I wanted to go natural. However, this was my second attempt, as I had tried to go natural the previous year for about 10 months. Here is a photo of my hair about a month after my last relaxer in late- May 2009.

relaxed hair curls

This picture was taken in August 2009 about 4 months after my last relaxer.

8-12-09 flat iron     Anyway, I transitioned from relaxed to natural, and around March of 2011, I cut about one inch of the remaining relaxed ends off my hair.  I was officially a natural hair girl.

I started experimenting with more natural styles and having some fun rocking puffs, and bantu knot outs. At this point I had become grossly addicted to hair care forums, I was learning a ton and quickly becoming a product junkie.  I knew there were lots of videos on YouTube, but for some reason at this time I found the forums and webpages I could read, more helpful than watching someone do their hair.

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