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Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Product's Do You Use? (Why This is a Dead End Question...)



Let's start off by me saying that I asked this question numerous times when I anticipated going back to my Natural Hair and when I first actually went back to my Natural Hair.  You see these beautiful curls on Instagram, in the blogs and on YouTube and it's almost an immediate reaction to ask.  This is until you become knowledgeable about your hair and realize that knowing the products a person uses does nothing for you.  Okay, sometimes if you know EXACTLY how they use the products it may help you some but generally it only gives you temporary satisfaction.  Here is what happens... You find out the products, you go out and purchase the products, you use the products that night (because you cannot wait until wash day), and then you become frustrated that your hair did not turn out the same way.  If this is the pattern you seem to be on currently, just STOP!  From my experience, I have only kept a few products that I have tried based on another person's recommendation via Social Media.  Every last product I use now was chosen by trial and error based on my own hair, preferences and curiosity.

I will say that I have gained a good deal of feedback and information by actually watching a person's actual routine over knowing what they're using.  To me that is really more beneficial in trying to obtain a similar style.  Just recently I asked a Instagrammer how she achieved her High Puff Style on her TWA (which I didn't even know was possible).  And, her first response was a list of products she used!  I actually wanted to know HOW she completed the style on her short hair (like mine) so I rephrased, asked her again and she kindly responded with the info.  VERY rarely will I comment on a particular product that is being promoted.  I may be curious about the ingredients of a product occasionally or want to know what the slip is like but I will not EVER ask a person what they used to achieve their style.  Certain things like using Gel for hold or Edge Tamer to smooth the edges are pretty general products and don't necessarily contribute to the overall style.  But thinking that the Curl Cream she's using on her 3A curls is going to give your 4B curls the same look is a no no boo boo.

Overall, just test things on your own.  A rule that has worked for me is if I find a product that works crazy good in my hair then 9 times out of 10 there are other products in that same line/brand that work well for me also.  So, I tend to have multiple products of the same line/brand versus 1 product from every Natural Hair Care Brand out there!  So, let me know ladies... Have you been guilty of asking this question before?  Has asking this question actually been useful contrary to my opinion?  Leave some Feedback below.
Monday, December 9, 2013

Social Media Monday: Laid Back YouTube Videos


So, generally I do not read the blogs on a daily basis but I do check YouTube and Instagram consistently.  I'm a huge fan of the YouTubers, Vloggers and Instagrammers who really do put a lot of time and effort into their videos and pictures.  But, I am an even bigger fan of just raw, laid back videos as well.

This week I am loving both ShamelessMaya and MissyLynn's recent YouTube videos.  Shameless Maya puts on a damn production in almost every video that she does and girl I am always here for it.  She WORKS!  But, her latest 'Sweater Weather' tag video is so turned down and appears to be in her home which is quite a change from her normal Hollywood show she gives us.  I mean, half the questions she didn't even have answers to but I appreciated that as well.  It is so uncommon to see such a popular YouTube icon who doesn't have the latest products and be hip to the latest trends... but it's refreshing at the same time.  Certainly, it put me in check real quick!

Missy Lynn's recent Couples 1-2-3 Tag with her boyfriend was outright hilarious.  I mean, I was smiling at the two of them being so real during the entire video.  The language made me cringe because I didn't want viewers to come after them for cursing but to me it truly showed a "raw" side to her and them both.  It was nice hearing a couple curse as much as my husband and I do.  P.S: We're working on that, LOL.

So, there you have my Social Media Monday picks for this week.  Stay tuned every Monday to see what I'm loving on Social Media that week.  Toodles booskies!
Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our DIY Holiday Photo Cards 2013... A New Tradition!

I am not one for the traditions that holidays seem to encourage. Not because I don't want to participate but I can never seem to remember year over year! By the time I do remember, it's too late to really enjoy it as a family so I just forgo altogether. Well, this year I decided it was time to hold myself accountable to a Holiday Tradition already! I chose to do a Family Holiday Portrait with the children wearing matching pajamas. I figured this would be easy to attempt year over year as long as we can always find matching pajamas right? Well, as "easy" as pictures at home sounds, it turned out to be not so easy. At least not for the non-Susie Homemaker, Crafty and Creative type like myself. My goodness, I had to do research on good set ups which I could accommodate in my home then go out and grab some home decor for placement in the photos. Thankfully, a blogger I follow, Tammie with lipstickwithsomesunshine, did a great post on DIY Holiday Pictures just in time for me to grab even more ideas!

 The morning of the pictures I woke up thinking I had this in the bag. All the prep work had been completed and the only thing left to do was dress the children and take the pictures. Mmm hmm... I was in for a rude awakening. I didn't want to yell at the kids and mess up their moods which would obviously make for bad pictures. So, I tried to remain as calm as possible... towards them at least. I became so frustrated internally that I looked over at husband who was simply standing by admiring the photos and said to him "Why are you just standing there, do something!!". As if he could hear the yelling going on in my head and anticipate what I needed. Even the kids looked at me strange like "what did he do?!"... LOL. Surprisingly, with little to no direction he knew exactly what I needed and began directing the kids. "Kennedy smile... Gregory sit up... Taylor push your hair out of your face"... That's when I realized that people won't be able to tell how ratchet things were behind the scenes by looking at the pictures! I was trying to have a picture perfect photo shoot as if I was being photographed or watched.

All in all, we laughed and we yelled. The kids became just as frustrated as we did but we all gave it our best. The final results were better than I anticipated and I am definitely looking forward to this tradition next year! Check out some of our photos below...
Thursday, December 5, 2013

The LifeStyle Change when Relocating...

Recently, I was discussing both of our relocations to the DMV area.  Essentially we both came to the area for the same reasons... Our significant other received a lucrative offer and we supported them.  When  doing the research to determine my own move I looked at the normal things... Rent, Taxes, Distance to nearest City, etc.  At the time of my move, my company was allowing me to work remotely from my new location so I didn't need to research child care.  Well, months after my move to the DMV I was offered a position which nearly doubled my salary and I was all too excited at the opportunity.  Unfortunately, in my research for the area I had never looked into Child Care and was dealt a huge blow once I realized the cost.  We tried the Daycare thing for a while but realized that because of traffic and other work related factors, we were not making it home in time to make the Daycare cut off time of 6:30pm.  Then, we would get home and still need to cook dinner, clean the house somewhat, do laundry, look over homework.  The list goes on and on.  Quickly, the thought of a nanny became appealing.  Again, this was not an expense we had factored into the cost of living when we considered relocating.

This all was a lesson learned very quickly.  Back in Virginia Beach we had friends and a support system that worked well for our young family.  Here in the DMV we do not have any of that and when things go wrong in our daily plan we do not have backup options besides ourselves.  This change in lifestyle was something we did not consider AT ALL.  Child care expenses, increased gas cost due to traveling to/from work and eating more take out food because of time constraints also kept us from visiting our friends as much as we anticipated.  While my friend who I had this conversation with does not have children, we both agreed that the loss of friends to make more money almost isn't worth it looking back.  And, truly it doesn't feel like we are making "more" money once everything else is added into the equation.

If you have been through something like this then I am sure you have had this conversation many times with your significant other as I have had it a million times with my husband.  If we were able to do it all over again, we wouldn't.  BUT, that was a lesson we wouldn't have learned without this experience.  He has had almost a handful of positions offered to him in various locations across the United States since we have lived here and we have turned them all down.  It's so easy to look at the dollar signs in a job offer but money can't always buy you the lifestyle you want for your family.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ONE YEAR NATURAL...


Cue the confetti and alert the marching band because this chick here has made it one whole year with Natural Hair honey!  I am surprised that I am here in all honesty because I have had many, many doubting moments where I wasn't happy with my hair throughout this past year.  Certain stages weren't as cute as other stages and the disappointment of unpredictable hair wore on me many days.  I didn't go natural to be unhappy and dissatisfied with my hair which I had to remind myself many times.  I went natural because my relaxed hair had become very unhealthy and desperately needed a restart hence my big chop.  But, this was truly my main reason for going natural.  Secondary to my first reason, was my interest in knowing what my actual natural hair was like.  I vaguely remembered big fros and courser hair as a little girl but had never managed my hair in its natural state in day-to-day styling.  Going natural gave me this opportunity.

During this first year I steered away from all chemicals including dyes which could possibly alter my texture.  But my curiosity was quickly satisfied as my curls grew and my hair became fuller over the months.  Though I'm considered to be in an awkward stage currently, I am loving my hair! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I went straight for my one year big chop anniversary.  My plan when I initially cut off all of my hair was to wear my hair in its naturally curly state until I was able to wear it straight regularly, without too much effort.  Well, that's where I am now.  In fact, my hair is the same length as it was when I met my husband in college years ago.  So, le struggle begins!  Do I wear my hair straight and take the risk of damaging curls and the curl pattern or do I wear my hair straight and enjoy my hair?

Well I have chosen to enjoy hair!  The curl pattern may become altered and curls may become damaged eventually, no matter how much care is put into protecting my hair from heat.  But, that is a risk I am willing to take and if the time comes when I need to cut off damaged ends then so be it.  Some women like wearing their hair curly 99.9% of the time and don't ever dare to apply heat unless they are getting a trim.  I say, if you do this because you prefer a curly look for yourself then werk it fierce girl!  But, if you are staying away from heat for fear that you may lose texture, curl pattern, etc... then you need to reevaluate being a Natural.  You shouldn't feel stuck or trapped just to have natural hair.  And, I refuse to either.  So, I will just rock with my hair however I please and deal with any issues as they rise.
On the left: July 2013                On the Right: September 2013

Have you "gone Natural"?  Do you straighten your hair or wear it curly?  Please share below some things you have learned on your "Natural Hair Journey"...
Monday, September 16, 2013

Bye Bye Nanny...



I can't believe I am saying this but we are actually giving up our nanny sometime within the next month!  We have had one for the past two years almost and while it saved us money at first, it is no longer a necessary cost for our family.  Beyond the financial aspects, having a nanny has been so crucial for me being a Working Mom I feel.  The guilt I have for not raising my children day in and day out is always there but having a nanny who I know loves them and cares for them as I would while I am away has always kept me at peace with my decision to work.  Not to mention, she takes care of minor household tasks like laundry, dishes and vacuuming leaving me so much more time to spend with my children once I do arrive home.  For me, these are the "little" things that I will miss the most about having her (personally).  From a family standpoint, the children will miss having a Nanny around as she became their "stand-by" mom during this time.  She understood their quirks, their annoyances, their gripes and knew exactly what was needed to sooth and solve all of these issues.  While after school activities and private preschool will now fill the void, it will not be the same at all.

Admittedly, having a Nanny has been a huge clutch for me.  Having her not only covered my guilt for being a Working Mom but it was also a show of status somewhat.  I live in the the wealthiest county in the United States (Loudoun County) where having a Nanny is like having a Keurig... Everyone has one or is a Stay-at-Home Mom, so I fit right in.  And, truthfully we are giving up our Nanny now for financial reasons.  Saving and buying a home has become a priority for our family and the cost of the Nanny per month is astronomically unnecessary at this point.  I so wish I could somehow work a second job just to keep the Nanny but that would be taking even more time away from the familia!  It's a vicious vicious circle I tell ya!

Our family is definitely venturing into a world that we are not 100% comfortable with but know plenty of families who successfully get by without a Nanny.  I'm sure I will now get the double side eye once I tell people I work AND my kids are in school but that is something I have to learn to get over.  Appearances aren't everything and it sure won't get us to where we need to be.  We will miss our Nanny beyond words but we hope to keep her in our lives by having her babysit (occasionally! the goal is saving money lol).
Monday, August 5, 2013

I am not a guru but I've learned a little something something...


In the natural hair community, you will come across so many women that are looking for answers to their hair woes.  I am and have been one of those women!  But, being a little bit further into my journey, I am often being asked the questions by other newly naturals.  And, to be honest, I am still so very hesitant to answer the questions.  What if I misword it? Or what if my words are taken too exact and out of context?  More often that not, I am finishing my answers with "this is what works for me but it may not work for you" because I want to air on the side of caution when giving out advice.  I hate to just leave people hanging or not answer at all. 

One of the main questions I get is "What products should I use to maintain the moisture in my hair so that it doesn't look dry?".  This is a tricky question for me to answer because it depends on your hair type as well as the processes used to put moisture into your hair to begin with.  For some, it means not using sulfates.  While for others, it means using a Deep Conditioner with a Hair Steamer.  There are so many different options out there to try.  For me, I Deep Condition weekly with just a plastic cap using any Deep Conditioner I can find.  I am actually currently on the hunt for a great Deep Conditioner (that's my life's story).  My hair performs well with both sulfate and sulfate free products so I don't have that worry but I must use products that contain oils.  Almost any oil (except grape seed oil) will work for my hair in helping to maintain its moisture.  At night, I sleep in a satin head wrap and I make sure to add water and oil on a daily basis.  Adding water to your hair on a daily basis may not work if you are rocking bantu knot outs or a twist out but you can always add a water based moisturizing product to your hair and seal with oil.  Drink tons of water, take your multivitamins and exercise regularly.  These are the only tips I can give right now on this topic because this is all I have learned from my own natural hair thus far.

Next question I get a lot is "How do I get my curls to pop like yours?".  Well, lets start off by me saying I just started to get my curls to pop just recently and I have been natural for about a year and a half!  Popping curls are just natural to some hair types but a lot of us have to work with products to achieve that "look".  For me... I start off with making sure I use a leave-in conditioner.  My hair responds much better when I use a regular conditioner as a leave-in so that is what I do 99% of the time.  Currently I am using Dark and Lovely's Au Naturale Knot Out Conditioner as a leave-in conditioner.  Next step is adding just a little bit of additional moisture to my hair.  This is not  a necessary step and I have skipped this step before.  BUT, to achieve my most popping curls, I do incorporate another moisturizing product.  I now use the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Moisturizing Souffle for this step.  In the past, I have used Camille Rose Natural Moisture Milk and Moroccan Oil's Curl Defining Cream.  This last step is optional and really only applies depending on how long you plan to wear your style.  If you have the time to complete your style daily then a Styling Product may not be necessary.  Since, I am now trying to achieve 2nd, 3rd and even 4th day hair with my Wash and Go's, I use a Styling Product to help retain my curls.  The Styling Product will sort of "hold" your style in place for an extended period of time.  Many naturals use a gel for this portion of the routine.  A very popular option is the Eco Styler Gel.  For me, I use the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Defining Crème Glaze.  Using a cream as opposed to a gel gives me a softer curl, and depending on the product, I can still achieve the same sheen and hold as a gel.  Lastly, I spritz with an oil.  Use whatever oil works for you but a popular choice is Coconut Oil.
As you can see, this routine is really a process of layering products into your hair.  Doing this daily can be cumbersome but luckily I no longer have to do this daily now that I am using the Dark and Lovely line.  Day over day my hair may lose a bit of moisture because I am not adding anymore product into my hair, just water and oil.  Adding the water and oil will ensure that I don't become a dry mess.  As for the products, you have to find what works for you and your hair type.  The products that I mentioned above may work horribly for you but do not get frustrated too quickly.  The process of adding moisture and sealing with oil is tried and true for almost any and every hair type so start there and incorporate what works for you.

Lastly, it takes a ton of patience to not only go natural but to be happy with your natural hair.  For some women, the happiness is immediate but may not be continuous.  We all have our bad hair days or moments when we want a change.  Some women take a while before they find what works for their hair and this too can be a frustrating period of time.  If you Big Chop and do not have curls like Mahogany Curls after week one... DON'T GIVE UP.  Keep in mind, you may never have curls like her! LOL.  Don't compare your curls to other Hair Guru's out there.  They have been working on perfecting their natural hair for YEARS!  They have mastered the science, know their hair inside and out and probably have been endorsed by some heavy hitter companies already.  Your knowledge of natural hair is likely no where near theirs but you have time to figure it all out.  Wearing your hair in its naturally curly state for a week or two won't do it probably.  I've worn my hair in its naturally curly state for over a year and have just recently found what works for my hair.  Crazy right?!  Just goes to show you that immediate amazing results are not guaranteed or likely.

I really do hope I have been able to address some of those questions I get regarding my hair.  Sometimes I am just not sure how to answer certain questions.  Such as "How do you get your hair to curl like that?" or "Can I use those products to get my hair to look like yours if I have a relaxer?"... I am not being rude if I don't answer, I just don't think I have the right answer so I leave no response at all.  Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or just to let me know how your journey is going.  Thanks for reading!  Smooches XOXO
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Curl Manipulation... the #TRUTH




Lately, I have been really having a great time with my curls.  The length is getting longer and I feel like I am coming out of the awkward length stage.  Nonetheless, having the same style of a wash and go, day after day can become boring.  For the most part, when I am looking for style inspirations I will take to Instagram as it is the easiest location to find the Natural Hair Community in all its glory!  After looking at a few different bloggers and their go-to styles, I started noticing a pattern.  Many straighten their hair often or apply color to change things up.  But, nobody ever discusses how these actions can change and manipulate the curl pattern.  Occasionally, I will see a follower/subscriber ask the questions regarding how the curl pattern may have been damaged but it is usually brushed off.  The TRUTH is, straightening your natural hair or applying color WILL manipulate the curl pattern.  For some women, this is a welcomed change as their natural curl pattern may be quite tight, or more course than they desire.  Instead of applying chemicals like a texturizer or a keratin treatment, simply flat ironing your hair can temporarily give you the same results.  This was something I figured out after the very first time I flat ironed my hair.  My curls reverted quickly but I noticed immediately that they were not as tight and were actually quite fluffy and softer than usual.  I enjoyed the time my hair spent in this condition because it produced beautiful results with my products.  Unfortunately, like I said before, this is only a TEMPORARY change.  This is of course, unless you are constantly straightening and dying your hair.  Doing so will change your curl pattern indefinitely.  And, it bothers me when I see bloggers and hair gurus who do this but never address it.  It's almost as if they want to make others believe that their manipulated curl pattern is actually their real curl pattern.  Time and time again I come across many blogs and Instagram accounts where women are commenting with things like "I wish I had curls like you", "How can I get my curls to look like yours?", "What products do you use for your curls to look like that?".  It's like a nasty secret no one in the Natural Hair community talks about and if they do it's always in a negative light.  Such as a person who may have went and had their hair straightened professionally but now their curls are limp or damaged.  This too is curl manipulation from heat that no one wants to happen but please believe there are women who purposely straighten their hair just to achieve this same manipulated curl pattern.  This also goes for the women who color their hair monthly or very frequently... The curl pattern you are seeing is not their natural curl pattern either.  No matter how much protection you provide to your curls, the pattern will be manipulated in some way for a period of time.  And, if you have your hair straightened weekly at a salon for years please do not try to convince me during a YouTube video that the curls I am seeing is your natural hair texture.  Respect my intelligence.

Now, if you are looking to try to manipulate your curl pattern purposely it's obviously a little risky to use these methods.  Your curls can become damaged if pushed too far. But, if you're willing to take that risk then that's your personal decision.  You may find that you end up with those glorious curls you never thought you could have.  Will that make you less natural?  Who cares.  I will say that I do look forward to my changed curl pattern after my hair has been straightened even if it's not a huge visible change that others can see.

Please comment and let me know what are your opinions on this highly controversial topic (within the natural hair community).

Friday, April 12, 2013

#OOTD Recap

There are very few trending topics on Instagram and Twitter that I follow but I am consistent with a few as they pertain to my likes personally.  #OOTD (Outfit of the Day) is a hashtag I use frequently as I am normally dressed well for work on a daily basis.  I take pride in how I dress for work and I am complimented on it often.  So, I thought I would share a few #OOTD ensembles from this week.  Let me know if you like!! Muah XX



       



          

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MyCandiShoppe is so consistent with her posts... Said no one ever!!

Lawdy, I sure wish I could get my act together with this blog here! I have so much motivation built up inside me, I am just so unsure where it all goes.  I can't be alone in this dilemma!  Let's not waste too much time on my absence but celebrate about my presence back.  I have so much to review and blog about it's not even funny but I know it's been long awaited.  Summer has hit here in the DMV area like nobody's business.  The flowers are in full bloom, the nights are warm and the daisy dukes are in full effect.  So, there is no better time to get my blog in gear.  Stay tuned for some good ish on the way dolls. Muah!

Shoppe Owner


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