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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Blogging Full Time... One Year Later

I've been contemplating this post for months now.  Let's keep it real, my one year "anniversary" was technically back in July and here we are now in October.  It's been one hell of a year though so although I started writing this post in August, it has remained an open document since then.  I would add things that I felt were necessary truths to share then delete things that I felt were too personal.  Here in this Blogosphere, it's so hard to draw that fine line where you go from informational + helpful to oversharing.  Some of you may think, well you put it all out there anyways so just dish the dirt!  Truthfully, I put about 25% of my life out there.  LOL.  There is so much that I choose not to share from my husband to my friendships to my business relationships.  Certain aspects of your life deserve privacy in order to flourish.  So how has this first year of Blogging full time been?!  Where do I even start?!?!



Straight out the gate, I jumped into projects and campaigns with brands.  I figured this would grow my audience fast and get those numbers popping.  Numbers were BIG to me back then.  Some months, I worked with up to 4 different brands promoting their products.  Notice how I didn't say "sharing" their products with my audience.  My Sales Funnel was full and my PayPal App was constantly dinging on my phone.  One would think that I was living "The Dream", right?  But whose "Dream" was I actually living because it didn't feel like anything I envisioned for myself.  Working with different brands, yes... but not pushing products and lines to my online community that I didn't even have history with.

My turning point came when a really popular account/brand asked me to review their product and provide content for them.  In my heart, I didn't really believe in the product or it's need in the Natural Hair Community but I accepted the deposit and began working on the content anyways.  Some time while I was filming I looked at myself and said "what the fuck are you doing, Candice?!".  Turned my camera off, went over to the computer and wrote a passionate yet professional email apologizing that I would not be able to fulfill my promise on this project.  Immediately, I pulled up PayPal and refunded the deposit they had given me and just like that, everything changed for me.  I knew that from here on out, I would not and could not keep down this path.  Sure, many other Bloggers had found uber success doing just that but those weren't my dreams.  Unlike many other Bloggers, I resigned from my job not only to Blog full time but to also spend more time with my family.  Although I was at home during the day working on #blogshit, I wasn't at all present.  My days were spent taking pictures and filming while my nights were spent catching up on Social Media.  THIS wasn't my dream.



For a few months, I stepped back to reevaluate what I wanted to do.  During that time, I received the all too common "where you been, girl?!" and "is everything okay?!" texts from those that noticed my absence online.  Some I responded to and some I didn't.  I began to care less about what people thought, and more about what I thought of myself.  At the end of the 2016 first quarter, I went through a major health crisis that definitely shook things up for me.  I've kept this super quiet and when I'm ready to share I will but not now.  Little by little I did share what I was going through with friends + family.  Notice I didn't say Blogger friends because there's a difference (we'll talk about that later).  The health crisis made me realize that I was taking an amazing opportunity and squandering it away by trying to "keep up".  When I finally reemerged, I felt confident as ever with the brand and person that I presented to my online community.  It wasn't those Blogger Friends that I needed to impress but rather my friends that encouraged me, prayed for me and was there for me to lean on.  They were truly the ones rooting for my success!  It was during this time that I was easily able to see who was a 'Blogger Friend' and who was a 'Friend'.  Blogger Friends are like colleagues, they don't know know you.  Most of my actual Friends didn't need me to tell them something was going on personally.  They had a feeling.  I wasn't receiving messages from them asking me to go like their latest YouTube videos, Comment on their Instagram posts, or like their Facebook pages.  They called me.  Yes, they picked up the phone and called me... and when I didn't answer because I was so blown about what I was going through, they called my husband.  One thing we need not to forget is that there is real life and then there is everything else here online.  I was being put through one of the hardest tests of my life and God made it very clear that I had to make some changes.

Did I lose money during my time away, of course!  Something I remembered though, was that money never drove me to do things out of character.  Even in the corporate world, if it challenged my happiness then I would be quick to pull up Indeed.com and start looking for something else.  So yeah, during that time I lost money but when I began working with brands again something amazing happened.  Instead of working with 3-4+ brands per month, I was working with 1-2 brands and making double sometimes triple the amount that I would before.  What I had totally forgot about was the value in ME.  I had put all this value in numbers... everyone is big on numbers but let me tell you something about those numbers.  There has to be MAJOR value behind your numbers!  After speaking with other Bloggers, I realized quickly that I was now being paid the same amount as Bloggers who had 4-5 times the following!  AND.  AND.  I was doing it all on my own terms!



I will say this... evolving is necessary.  If you look at what you're doing now and it looks EXACTLY the same as what you were doing last year then what are you REALLY doing?!  You're on a hamster wheel.  If your dream is to work with all the popular brands and be on all the campaigns the popular girls are on, that's cool!  I'm not knocking you for that.  Do you, get money!  LOL.  It's just not MY dream.  I began Blogging to share my experiences with other women online and because I was a beauty junkie at heart, I also influenced purchases as well.  That's the path I want to stay on and stay true to.  At one point, I desired to take the path to big numbers and popularity because it paid.  Now I'm realizing that if I reach big numbers and uber popularity, that's cool, but I want to do it in a way that is genuine to who I am.

Cheers to Year 1.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What Happened to "The Natural Hair Journey"?



Last night I took some time to really dive into my Blog archives and re-read some of my much older posts.  I like to do this every now and then just to remember a time or phase in my life.  It's therapeutic in a sense because I can remember things that were going on in my life then and be grateful for the growth that has come with time.  Anyways, as I looked over my posts one thing I realized is that my own "Natural Hair Journey" pretty much ceased around the time I began working with brands.  The focus quickly switched from my journey to reviewing products.  Then it dawned on me, where the heck did the era of Natural Hair Journeys go?

I began looking into transitioning to Natural back in 2010 and quickly became obsessed with YouTube, Chat Groups and various Natural Hair related Websites.  Back then, all everyone ever talked about was "starting" their Natural Hair Journey.  In fact, when women replied to comments they would end with "HHJ" which stood for "Happy Hair Journey" to wish women well along the way.  We all just wanted to form our own regimens and document our transition to Natural Hair.  When I think back to those years it truly puts a smile on my face.  I came across so many women who helped me overcome struggles and they didn't necessarily have a "platform"... All of us just wanted some healthy ass Natural Hair!  LOL.  If you look closely, you can find remnants of this era here and there but things have definitely shifted.  Rarely do I get questions specifically about my regimen anymore but I can't even keep count with how many times someone asks about what particular product I'm currently using to style my hair or my Hair Type.  Not to say no one cared about products years ago, it just wasn't the central focus.

Let's bring back our Natural Hair Journeys!  It's not just the "gurus" or those with platforms that can help.  We can go back to helping each other.  There is a whole new era of women currently going Natural who just want to know what products to use... Let's show them that there's so much more.  Sure, there is a basic set of products that can be recommended but let's remind them that this is truly a Journey.  Let's go back to talking about our regimens and sharing our struggles, our failed attempts and what didn't work.  Brands and products will always play an integral part of our community and to be honest, they're absolutely NECESSARY.

I'll start first by posting a video discussing the current state of my Natural Hair and giving some background on my own journey.  Will the product reviews and campaigns stop?  No not at all, but they shouldn't replace the Journey... In fact, they should add to the Journey.  So, what do you think?  Are you down?!  Let's go!
XOXOMCS.
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top 5 Styles to Send Your Pre-Queen Back to School: #BlackGirlMagicEdition

Occasionally, when I hit these writer block moments all it takes is a nudge from someone in my online community to get me back on track.  Today's nudge came from @mfromthesfbay on Twitter who specifically requested some Back to School inspo for her minis!  I was like, duh Candice, why didn't you think of this?!  School has started for some and is about to start for many so I hope these styles can provide some inspiration to my fellow Moms out there.  I went an extra step and included product suggestions and tips to help you along.

1. Crown Braid

@MyCandiShoppe

The Crown Braid seems like one of the easiest styles but I will tell you right now that it looks easier than it is.  Pro Tip: I recommend blow drying the hair (or stretch the hair without heat if that's your preference) so that it's not in it's naturally curly state.  Mom Tip: Use an Edge Control or Paste instead of a water based product so the hair does not revert.  I recommend using the CURLS Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste, rubbing the paste between your fingers and applying to the length + ends of their hair as you braid to give the style some hold.

2. Bantu Knots Half & Half

@shanillia26

This is a quick style that will give your mini some edgy style in no time.  For the Bantu Knots, I recommend using an Edge Control Gel or Paste for the hairline and gel on the length of the hair.  Pro Tip: I would use the CURLS Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly + Paste but use what you feel is best or what you have on hand.  Now for the rest of the hair that is out, I would recommend using Perm Rods to achieve a similar curl to this picture.  For most, the purple Perm Rods would work best but use larger or smaller rods according to your little girls length.  The Lottabody Wrap Me Foaming Mousse is my go-to for all Perm Rod Sets because it gives the shine and bounce that we all love!  Mom Tip: Try using a small amount of Leave-In Conditioner under the Mousse to maintain moisture for the duration of the style.

3.  The Classic Blow Out

@MyCandiShoppe

Each year one of my girls requests a Blow Out for the First Day of School.  Back in the day, I remember sitting in front of the stove having my Grandmother press my hair with a hot comb the night before school began.  I know how exciting it is to "show off" your length and fling that hair so I don't even bother going against their wishes.  The most important tip I can give for this style is to Deep Condition the hair before applying heat.  The CURLS Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask is a great option to use for this step.  Now for the most obvious Tip, the actual heat protectant, I recommend using the Motions Heat Styled Straight Finish Leave-In Conditioner + Sealer.  As for the amount of heat or the temperature, this is completely up to you Mom!  Personally, I blow dry on high and set my Sedu Flat Iron on 400 degrees because I prefer to use heat for as least of a time as possible.  So, if I can complete the style in 30 minutes on high heat versus 2 hours on low heat then I'm opting for the lesser of the two.  This is what works for us but certainly, do you boo!

4.  Faux Hawk

@MyCandiShoppe

This style is for the girl that doesn't mind all the attention and her intention is to SLAY that first day. Pro Tip: It's best to do this style on an old Wash + Go or an old Twist Out since bigger is better!  Using hair bands, you're basically pulling the hair into about 4-5 ponytails towards the center of the head.  Use an Edge Control or Gel like the CURLS Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste or Jelly to slick those sides and edges plus maintain the hold.  Mom Tip:  Let your daughter fluff the Faux Hawk to her liking.  She'll have fun doing this in the mirror and will feel like she customized her style.

5. Twist Out
@StyleofWhitneyAlana

This style is perfect for the no fuss diva!  Pro Tip: Stretch the hair by Blow Drying (or a non heat option) first then do the Twists on stretched hair.  My recommendation is to use a nice thick twisting cream like the CURLS Blueberry Bliss Twist n' Shout Cream.  I've recommended this product to I don't know how many people because it NEVER fails.  NEVER.  For a bomb Twist Out you need lasting moisture and crazy definition which you will get with the Twist n' Shout Cream.  Mom Tip: Set this style the day before (not the night before) to give the Twists time to 100% dry.  There's nothing worse than a damp Twist Out on the first day of school.  Don't be THAT Mom.  LOL.

Now I'm sure you've noticed that I recommended the CURLS Blueberry Bliss product line quite a bit but this post is NOT SPONSORED.  These are my normal go-to products for my girls because of the incredible slip each and every product has and they LOVE the smell.  If you follow me on SnapChat then you know the love is REAL.  Anyways, we're all done here!  Let me know if you plan to try out any of these styles on your Pre-Queen* and definitely tag me on Social Media if you do.  Let's send our girls off to school looking + feeling GREAT!

XOXOMCS.


*Pre-Queen is a term dubbed by @NaturalHairDoesCare










Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Laid Edges ALL DAY



Let's be honest, there really isn't an issue with taming our edges.  The issue really lies in keeping those edges laid all damn day!  We tend to apply half the jar of edge control to our edges only to end up with wavy, curly, disrespectful looking edges two hours later.  Enough is enough.  It's even worse when we take the time to do our daughter's hair before school, you know make sure they look like they come from a home and not an alley.  We slick their hair into cute little ponytails only to have them come home from school looking like they've been working in the fields.  While I appreciate the teachers that take the time to fix their student's hair in school... That's not what school is for and I am not that Mom.  So here are a few tips to keep those Edges laid all day...

1.  Use a water based product BEFORE the Edge Control.



More often that not, I even spray the edges with a little water before using any products.  For some reason, the hair tends to behave better if it's been dampened some prior to being slicked.  When I style the girls hair before school, I tend to use a gel before the edge control.  Kids go to school, run amuck and usually don't give two thoughts about their hair all day.  In turn, we as Mothers must counteract all this activity with extra hold in the form of multiple products.

2.  Warm + Smooth the Edge Control BEFORE applying.


Taking a few seconds to rub the Edge Control Paste between your fingers goes a long way.  It takes the product from being super thick to a nice thin consistency that doesn't look weird when applied to the edges.  If you're seeing build up after applying your edge control, then you've likely applied too much product.  To avoid this, smooth out that product FIRST then lay those edges.


The rest is up to you!  You can put a head wrap or head scarf on to help in keeping your hairline smooth and neat if it helps.  If you are going do this, leave the scarf on until the hair is completely dry as this is going to yield the best results.  This is a step that not necessary, especially when using multiple products but it does help if you're in a rush.

Do you have any tips to share on getting those edges to STAY LAID?  Share them below.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CURLFest 2016 Recap



Well, CURLFest 2016 is a wrap and I cannot tell a lie... it was LIT!  Sometimes I try to downplay things to save the feelings of others but I just can't do that this time.  If you weren't in attendance this year then you totally missed out on THE best event of the year.  Now, I know what you're saying... "Candice, this is your first year going... how do you even know it wasn't better previous years?!".  I wasn't there in previous years but those who were there had the same shocked smiley emoji expression on their faces as I did.  Mid way through the event, I remember turning around amidst all the curls thinking to myself that this must be what Coachella is like.  LEGIT.


CURLFest

The ladies of the Curly Girl Collective


 The day started out hotter than I thought it would be and I mean temperature HOT.  LOL.  Even though I baked thy face and put on my longest wearing makeup, I thought for sure that my makeup would eventually melt off.  Such didn't happen.  I began sweating along my hairline and lost all hope for my crown braid because I was sure my hair would start reverting but again, such didn't happen... THANKFULLY!  But seriously, once the day got underway I stopped caring about all of that.  I made my rounds to view the booths set up by all the brands and let me tell you, they went OUT.  Most of these booths were set up better than what I see at Trade Shows/Expos AND they all had something to accommodate the heat whether it was fans, juice, snow cones or just plain ole' shade to cool down under.  After I stopped by the booths, the mixing and mingling began and really never ended.  Everyone was in such great spirits and seeing online friends in real life is always such a high!  The cameras were clicking and the selfies were popping.  You couldn't make a move without stepping into someone's picture by accident!

https://www.instagram.com/_callmesparkle/

https://www.instagram.com/itsdaynadane/

L-R: @thenotoriouskia, @curlsandcouture, @itsdaynadane, @mycandishoppe

Made Beautiful Booth L-R: @itsdaynadane, @curlsfothegirls, @heycurlie, @modelesquenic

I've been to events where I will literally make the decision while I'm still at the event that I will not be back again. CURLFest is not one of those events and it not only met but it exceeded my expectations!  We have what are considered "Feel Good Songs" and I would consider this to be a "Feel Good Event".  Where else can you gather beauty conscious girls in 90 degree heat and everyone is just smiling and happy?!  Nowhere but CURLFest.  The ladies of the Curly Girl Collective deserve a huge round of applause for that event.  I've heard about CURLFest in previous years but nothing could have prepared me for the amazingness of what I actually experienced.  This is definitely one for the books.  XOXOMCS.
Thursday, March 3, 2016

New in Beauty: Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture

It's been a minute since an entirely brand new haircare line release was so highly anticipated as the Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture launching on March 4, 2016.  Maybe it's the fact that it's being released in Sephora or that it comes from a brand we all know and love, Sundial Brands.  Yes, the same Sundial Brands behind Shea Moisture which is a brand that most of us own at least one product from.  Well, hitting the beauty scene this week is their first prestige hair care line and it's perfectly fitting that Sephora is the store of choice.  So, on to the FUN stuff!


The line consists of four collections that address the cleansing, treatment and styling needs of all hair textures. These include three styling collections formulated with six multi-tasking oils that help nourish, condition, detangle and seal in moisture –Brassica Seed & Shea Oils Collection (Smoothing/Style-Extending), Coconut & Moringa Oils Collection (Frizz Fighting/Humidity-Blocking) and Jamaican Black Castor & Murumuru Oils Collection (Curl-Defining/Moisture-Sealing) – and one treatment collection – Dream Come True Collection (Scalp & Strand Nourishing). The styling collections feature the lead oil as an individual SKU, with each antioxidant-packed, lightweight oil providing different benefits: Brassica Oil to smooth & silken, Coconut Oil to nourish & moisturize, and Jamaican Black Castor Oil to nourish & restore.  Each can be used for treatment and conditioning boosts and refreshes in between full washes, as well as blended for more personalization according to hair needs.

The innovation behind the newly-launched collections ushers in two beauty breakthroughs, including two first-to-market encapsulations: 
  1. Dual Encapsulation Oil Technology – Our Dual Encapsulation Technology infuses hair with two natural oils – one reparative, the other, style-enhancing – delivering nourishment exactly where hair needs it most. These tiny microspheres infuse hair with targeted, time-released nutrients to rapidly boost conditioning benefits.
  1. Natural Silicone Alternative – Brassica Seed Oil's excellent antioxidant profile results in a natural shine, smoothness and silky softness without the potential for buildup.

The information above was provided by Madam CJ Walker Culture Beauty Marketing/PR Team.  

Now this line has 25 products being released... Yes, I said TWENTY FIVE!  For now, I only have the product names and prices but of course, will bring reviews of those products I'm interested in soon.

Jamaican Black Castor & Murumuru Oils Collection:
  • Pure Clarifying Shampoo w/ ACV  $24
  • Ultra-Moisturizing Conditioner  $24
  • Ultra-Moisturizing Co-Wash  $24
  • Ultra-Moisturizing Detangler  $26
  • Defining Butter Crème  $26
  • Twist, Lock & Seal Lotion  $26
  • Loosen & Stretch Gel  $26
  • Edge Control & Shape Paste  $26
  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil  $26
Brassica Seed & Shea Oils Collection:
  • Silkening Shampoo  $24
  • Silkening Conditioner  $24
  • Silkening Leave-in  $26
  • Silkening Blow Out Crème  $26
  • Shine & Hold Spray  $26
  • Brassica Seed Oil  $26
Coconut & Moringa Oils Collection:
  • Curl Shampoo  $24
  • Curl Conditioner  $24
  • Curl Defining Milk  $26
  • Curl Refresher Mist  $26
  • Humidity Block Curl Gel  $26
  • Flyaway Curl Control Serum  $26
  • Coconut Oil  $26
Dream Come True Collection:
  • Wonderful Pre-Wash Protein Treatment  $32
  • Wonderful Scalp Exfoliator  $32
  • Wonderful Deep Conditioning Masque  $32
While we are all familiar with the textured hair care lines that Sundial Brands is known for, Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage.  The Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture line is intended for ALL hair textures, not just Natural/Textured.  And, with $26 hair oil, it is CLEAR that this is not your average line found in Target or Sally Beauty!  Given the legacy of Madam CJ Walker, I wouldn't expect anything less though.  I mean, she was the first self-made woman millionaire!!  So yeah, I'm super excited about this line and can't wait to start reviewing some of the products for you.  Stay tuned.  XOXOMCS.





Friday, February 26, 2016

Pixi Glow || Friday Favorites


About a month ago, I fell victim to Instagram and YouTube pressuring me to buy a few Pixi Beauty products.  Left and right, Bloggers were raving about the Pixi Glow Tonic and I figured for so many people to be raving about it, it MUST be good!  Lord knows I've learned my lesson in the past from thinking this yet I continue to fall into the trap.  Fortunately, this time all the gossip and talk was actually TRUE.  Of course, once I found the Tonic at my local Target store I couldn't JUST pick that one product up.  They had one tube of the Mud Cleanser left which I concluded meant that it was so good, there was only one left.  Logical reasoning.  Then I figured I might as well complete the skin routine with some sort of serum so I grabbed the Overnight Glow Serum.

At first, the Overnight Glow Serum was packed up to go back to Target 2 days after I purchased it.  The first couple of tries, I didn't like how it left a sticky film on my face.  This is the same sticky film I had previously experienced with other "overnight" products.  Since, I like to sleep on my stomach I found this to be uncomfortable.  After forgetting to return it to Target everyday for a week, I decided to give it another go.  When I used it before, I didn't use it in conjunction with the other products.  I felt like it might be TOO much Glycolic Acid for my face.  So this time I chose to use it with the Cleanser and Toner.  OMG, the results were worth the sticky face!  My face was so bright in the morning and I could swear that spots on my face had faded "overnight".  LEGIT!

Silly Picture BUT look at that SKIN!!
How are the Cleanser and Toner?  Magical.  I like to leave the Mud Cleanser on my face for a couple of minutes after massaging it in for 30 seconds... almost like a mask.  The Toner is a great follow up to the Cleanser... doesn't burn and is quite soothing.  The texture of my face hasn't been this smooth in a very long time.  I find myself literally in awe at how even my skin is lately.  When I use the products regularly, I am finding that it keeps any breakouts at bay which is a plus if I'm not lazy and actually remember to use them regularly.  So yeah, these products are definitely MUST HAVES.  They are a little pricey but compared to skincare found at Sephora, they're actually affordable.  Again, logical reasoning.  So if you see them, GRAB THEM.

XOXOMCS.
Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today Marks 4 Years of Marriage: What I've Learned


As I sit here and reflect over the last 4 years of marriage, there's two words that come to mind.  Hard work.  No one else seems to believe that it's been 4 years already... except us.  Why?  Because no one else put in the work that we had to.  They weren't around during the struggles.  All everyone remembers is that beautiful wedding and poof, now it's been 4 years. LOL.  Well let me tell you, marriage is one hell of a mirror.  You will end up finding yourself, losing yourself and finding a better version of yourself over and over again.  So, let me highlight some key points that I have learned in the past 4 years.

When I married my husband, it was my second marriage and I had this idea of what I would not put up with again.  I wouldn't say my first marriage jaded me, but please believe I learned a lot of lessons.  The problem was this was my husband's first marriage and he knew nothing about married life.  He hadn't been through this before like I had.  Meanwhile, I was expecting him to be a veteran in this marriage game with all types of expectations.  It wasn't until year 2 that I realized he deserved the same opportunity I had which was being a rookie to married life.  He would make rookie mistakes like not plan a special night for our anniversary and just wing it.  My response?  "That's not what a good husband would do"!  Ugh, I cringe just remembering how many times I said that to him.  I had to back off and let him learn how to be what I considered a "good husband" and he wasn't going to do that with me putting him down.  Looking back on those times, I wasn't being a "good wife" talking to him that way!

Then there was the issue with fighting every single battle.  If he left the toilet seat up, we would fight.  If he played his video games too long, we would fight.  Lord if he made the wrong kind of bacon, we would fight.  We were fighting over EVERYTHING.  Then one day I picked up a Joyce Meyer book, Battlefield of the Mind, and it changed my life.  What I was doing, was nagging my husband to death.  He would wake up on Saturday morning, close the bedroom door quietly so I could sleep in.  Run to the supermarket then come home and start making breakfast.  I wouldn't wake up and give him an appreciative thank you but rather ask him why he didn't get the maple bacon I liked!  I'm surprised he didn't turn around and throw the bacon at me. LMAO.  I had to learn to look at the entire picture and not focus on the one minor thing I didn't like.  It also became important to our marriage that we picked the battles we fought or else we would constantly be fighting.

This past year has been one of the hardest years of our marriage actually.  We both reached goals in our life that we had been wanting forever.  Me, to Blog full time and him, to become an Executive member of his company's finance team.  Unfortunately, we weren't prepared for the strain these changes would have on the marriage.  He had to work ALL the time... like non-stop it felt like (still does).  Leaving me to take care of the home AND still meet the demands of the goals I had set for myself as a Full Time Blogger.  You can't even imagine all the arguments.  We were STRESSED.  It wasn't until late 2015, that I began to consider how tired my husband must be.  You see marriage isn't all about YOU.  It takes growth and maturity to step back, set your own feelings aside and support your spouse regardless of how you may feel.  He was getting up at 4 in the morning some days and returning home at 7 in the evening, only to come home and have more work to do.  He didn't need me at his throat.  What he needed was somebody to pour him a drink some days, and someone to ask him how he was doing.  So that's what I did.  He needed a Partner, a Wife... not an enemy at home.



Sorry, if this post became super long but sometimes when you're being honest, it's hard to give the short story.  Those of you who are married can relate to our struggles I'm sure and if you're not married yet, take note!  Learn from my mistakes.  Marriage can sometimes be a scary mirror that shows your true character.  Anyone who goes into marriage thinking they are perfect is in for a huge awakening!!  It's not all about sex on demand and breakfast in bed but rather you have two imperfect people joined together for life.  That's not always going to be a pretty picture BUT, it doesn't have to be an ugly one either.  Look at the picture your marriage is painting and make the decision to become a better artist if you don't like the way it looks.  Don't let your wedding day hold the best looking pictures of your Marriage.  Overall, this is the biggest lesson I've learned and I'm still learning everyday!  XOXOMCS
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

||My Experience|| European Wax Center- Loudoun County

Wash + Go using Eden Body Works NEW Gel!


Every year around this time I try to wrap my mind around the fact that summer will be here before we know it.  While winter just makes me want to crawl up under a blanket and drink unlimited Flat Whites, I begin to force myself to prepare for less clothes.  One of my most important areas that I begin to address is my bikini line.  Because I don't wax faithfully and I do shave my bikini line from time to time, there is hyperpigmentation from ingrown hairs and such.  Hopefully that's not too TMI but I'm sure some of you can relate.  I've seen other women with this same type of bikini line at the pool before and just cringe.  There are so many ways to get rid of the dark spots and I'm going to share MY way with you.

What I suggest is getting waxed at least once a month beginning 6 months before you need to be bikini ready.  Each time you wax, it will exfoliate the area diminishing any dark spots you may have.  The key to maintaining your new, brighter bikini line is NOT to shave the area at all once you begin waxing.  If that means, getting waxed twice a month then so be it!

Recently, a European Wax Center opened near me and I couldn't wait to go experience it for myself.  I've heard rave reviews from so many other people and my expectations were set HIGH.  Thankfully, they not only met but exceeded my expectations!  My Wax Specialist, Melissa, was incredibly informative and literally talked me through the entire process.  In fact, I had signed up for a Full Bikini Wax and after speaking with her she realized that I only wanted the Bikini Line and adjusted my bill accordingly.  She explained the wax used by all European Wax Centers is a special formulation Hard Wax that no one else has (even if they say they do).  As we were talking, she was waxing away and before I knew it we were done.  Was it painful?  Well having your HooHa waxed doesn't tickle, LOL, but it didn't make me tear up or jump off the table.  During my conversation with the Melissa, I asked about their products sold in their waiting area.  She recommended using their Ingrown Hair Serum which contains a small amount of Glycolic Acid to gently remove dead skin cells and keep that bikini line looking fresh!



Leaving the European Wax Center, I was already thinking about my next appointment because I had such a great experience.  I always say that the service you receive as a customer goes a long way and the European Wax Center didn't let me down.  If you have one in your area, check them out ladies.  If they're anything like the location I visited, you will quickly become a loyal customer.  Oh, let me not forget to mention that the prices are very reasonable ($30-$50 depending on how much you want taken off) and your first visit is either free or 50% (depending on how much you want taken off).  Can't wait to reveal bikini ready results come Summer!

Have any of you ever been to a European Wax Center?  What was your experience like?  If not, what's your go-to "Snatch" spot?!  Let us know in the comments below.  XOXOMCS
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hair Regimen: Kennedy


                     

Writing this post has dawned on me many times but I always pushed it away because it seemed pointless.  I do so little to my daughter's hair and their Hair Regimen is so simple that I thought no one would really care.  Clearly I was wrong because you guys ask all the time!  LOL.  Well I finally read the writing on the wall (or Instagram posts) and I'm sharing all the deets behind how I care for their hair starting with Kennedy.

WASH DAY: Not Weekly.  Every 2-3 Weeks.

I don't know about your girls but Wash Day is not a favorite around my house... for myself OR my daughters.  They complain so much yet they don't even realize how much agony us Moms go through as well!  Okay, enough of my whining!  So we start Wash Day off by throwing her in a bathing suit because for some reason she's so much more compliant when she wears it.  There's really no real reason other than it's fun for her.  LOL.  Next we section her hair into (4) quadrants and saturate her hair water to prepare for detangling.  The following step may seem backwards but this is what we do because Miss Kennedy doesn't do well with detangling.  I apply a conditioner with a crazy amount of slip and begin detangling from tip to root on each quadrant.  We like to use the Felicia Leather Brush for detangling, even more than the Denman Brush actually.  I know I know, seems unbelievable.  As for our go-to Conditioners, we reach for Miss Jessie's Super Sweetback Treatment, TGIN Miracle Hair Mask or Bee Mine's Deep Conditioner.  All of these have an AMAZING amount of slip and are great for little girls with sensitive heads.  As for the prices, that's another story.  My suggestion is just buy them when they're on sale like I do!  Okay so we work the kinks out of each section first using one of these Conditioners and twist them up to keep them detangled.  THEN, we take a cleanser and massage the scalp area only.  You can leave the leave the twists in while cleansing the scalp or unravel.  Your choice.  We leave the twists in so we don't have to detangle again.  The less manipulation, the better.  Once you're done cleansing rinse the hair and apply a regular or deep conditioner of your choice.  Now this one just needs to be moisturizing and honestly you could use any of the options we previously used.  Since the hair should be soft and detangled by now, the Conditioner you use doesn't necessarily need to have a lot of slip.  Leave this Conditioner in the hair for about 20 minutes then rinse.

Favorite Deep Conditioners for Detangling

Favorite Cleansers for Kennedy's Hair Type


STYLING

Kennedy's hair type resembles mostly 4B/4C and not only requires lots of moisture but also loses moisture quickly.  So, using the LOC Method is not an option... it's a necessity for her hair!  Sometimes I twist her hair up, or do ponytails, even braids occasionally.  Doesn't matter as long as it's a style that needs very little manipulation.  I know you're probably thinking ponytails aren't low manipulation!  Umm, around here they are!  LOL.  I may take the barretts out nightly and brush up the edges every morning but I do not brush or comb the length of the ponytail all week.  I twist up the ends on Wash Day and leave it twisted until the next weekend.  Below are some products we use for the LOC Method on Wash Day and throughout the week to maintain moisture.

Favorite Oils (Amla Rejuvenating Oil missing)

Favorite Stylers for Kennedy's Hair

MAINTENANCE

How I maintain their hair may not be for everyone but this is what has worked for me.  Having (3) heads of hair to do is not easy and I am not a salon type chick so...  As I mentioned earlier in this post, I wash Kennedy's hair every 2-3 weeks.  To be honest it's more often every (3) than every (2) weeks.  I don't use a ton of products in their hair like I do my own so build up isn't an issue ever.  The main thing I need to keep an eye on is making sure her hair does not dry out during the week.  If I don't add moisture and seal with a light oil at least every other day then her hair starts feeling like crap.  Just dry and unruly.  So I make sure to do this either in the morning when I'm brushing up her edges or at night before bedtime.  It may come as a surprise to you but I also don't treat them as my own dolls and do their hair in all sorts of different styles just because.  Sure every now and then is cool or for a special occasion but there is no reason for me to install Perm Rods or Flexi Rods every week.  Of course, if I do then that bad boy is staying that way for AT LEAST a week!  Then we will transition into another week long style before we wash again.  I'm sure you guys know the basics: bonnet at night, minimal tension on the edges don't use barretts that snag and regular trims (at home is fine just use the right scissors).  At this point, I think we all are at least doing THAT!

For me, I have found success in doing less when it comes to their hair.  Various hairstyles per week and washing weekly just hasn't been my thing for them.  As they get older, I'm sure that will change as it's starting already with my oldest daughter, Taylor.  If there is one thing we will be working on this year, it's keeping their edges full and plentiful.  They seem to take after me in the edges category which I hate so I will be paying extra attention to keep theirs secured as long as we can!!  Hope you guys enjoyed this little Regimen Walk Thru.  If you did, let me know below in the comments and I will follow up with Taylor's Hair Regimen next!

XOXOMCS.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MCSgoesVegan: UPDATE


I know some of you are sucking your teeth and rolling your eyes as this update is LONG overdue.  I promise that this update will be worth the wait.  What took me so long?!  Well, I wanted to come back with a true and honest update that wouldn't be some nonsense.  Deciding to transition to Vegan wasn't something that came to me quickly and in fact, I feel like it's something that I had been considering for the greater part of 2015.  Watching a Scope from Mattieologie is what gave me that final push but Lord knows, this has been on my mind for some time.  Interested in seeing how all that is actually going?  Keep reading.

Can't lie, initially things were not going as well as I had hoped.  I felt since I already had a diet HIGH in veggies + fruits that the transition would be easy.  WRONG.  Just because you eat tons of veggies and fruits doesn't mean jack.  You still have the option to eat meat or even small amounts of meat by products like broth.  Yes, even beef and chicken broth is out the window for cooking when Vegan.  So, things started off rocky after the first week.  You know that first week you're on a high with lots of excitement... thinking "this shit is easy"!!  Then the weekend hits and cravings begin because for some reason, cravings always hit on the weekends.  You can be so determined and disciplined Monday through Friday, Saturday comes along and just wreaks havoc on any progress you've made.  I began to crave meats like nobody's business.  I wasn't happy and I began to doubt my decision.  Instead of giving up, I decided to modify my transition and slow down.  You see, although I was calling it a "transition", I was trying to do things full blown, cold turkey.  Like I immediately stopped eating all meat, dairy and meat by products.  So, eventually I decided to modify my diet to 5 days a week Vegan, 2 days Non-Vegan.  The days that were Non-Vegan weren't binge fests actually.  I think because I had given myself the option to eat meat again, my body no longer craved it as much.  So weird and I can't explain it but that's honestly what happened.  On those Non-Vegan days, I ended up having things like eggs for breakfast or fish for dinner.  This modification actually worked out REALLY well for me except I wasn't losing any weight!!

Now if you read my post on why I decided to transition to Vegan, then you know it was for dietary reasons solely and to get my weight down.  As I began transitioning Vegan, one thing I noticed is that although my diet had become super restrictive I wasn't actually losing any weight or inches.  They say 80% of losing weight is diet well Veganism is one of the most strictest diets out there so I felt like the weight should have been falling off.  It wasn't.  Eventually, I took to the internet and the first thing I realized was that my carb intake was high.  Not in an unhealthy way but for instance, I had a piece of toast with my breakfast (or half a bagel), then pasta for lunch  and for dinner maybe pasta again.  The one thing that did not change when going Vegan was my carb intake and then it dawned on me... what if my issue all along were carbs?!  I'm not even a huge meat person to begin with so I'm not sure why I ever thought that was the issue but when I realized I was not losing weight, I knew I had not found the true culprit of my weight gain.  So early January 2016, I decide to take a week off of Vegan and cut my carbs.  I know plenty of people will ask why couldn't you just stay Vegan and just cut carbs?!  That's just not the way my will power is set up.  No meat. No dairy.  No Bread. No Pasta. No Rice. No Carbs at all.  Yeah, I wouldn't have made it past day 1 lunchtime.  For real!  So, I did this for a week with no problem at all.  I think once you try Veganism, any other dietary change seems easy!  LOL.  Not eating the major Carbs (bread, rice, pasta, etc...) proved easy for me and after that first week I had lost 4 lbs.  Yes ma'am.  That was enough for me to say, YOU FIGURED IT OUT FINALLY!

Of course, I could've stayed completely Vegan and just given up carbs instead but I didn't feel that was the route for me.  Attempting Veganism showed me such a better way of eating that although I'm not 100% Vegan, my eating habits are 100% better and I would say 75% of my meals are still Vegan.  I'm looking at the ingredients that I buy on everything and my intake of processed foods are minimal.  I don't look at my journey as failure but rather a bridge I needed to cross in order to see what my issue truly was.  One thing I will say is that I have also cut back on sugar altogether as well.  I don't add it to anything and I don't drink beverages loaded with sugar.  On a daily, I'm drinking lots of water and my coffee with soy milk.  I believe it's a combination of all these changes that is contributing to my weight loss.  Each day I'm waking up in disbelief at the changes I'm noticing in my stomach.  I wish the weight would come off faster but hey, it took over two years to pack it on so I have to be patient.  I hope this update and transparency will help someone else out there.  Just because you don't 100% succeed at what your initial goal may have been, don't just give up altogether.  Take it day by day, step by step until you begin seeing the results you want.  I'm telling you, once you start to see those results it's so motivating and you will have no problem pushing forward.

Until next time.  XOXOMCS
Friday, January 8, 2016

The Perfect Wash + Go for 4C Hair



Happy New Year guys!!  It's official, this is my very first review/tutorial of 2016 for Curly Hair Products and I'm super hype.  I've actually been working on this since 2015 with Dayna (@itsdaynadane) which you probably know if you follow me on SnapChat (@mycandishoppe).  It has always been my dream to PROVE that everyone, regardless of hair type, can achieve a Wash + Go.   I finally had the opportunity to do so when Dayna refused to believe that she could have 'popping' curls with a Wash + Go.

Using the same techniques as I use on myself, I was able to give Dayna the Wash + Go she never thought she could have.



Step 1: Saturate Hair with Water and Separate Hair into Small Sections

This step is important for a defined Wash + Go.  If you want less definition and more volume then use less water and separate into larger sections.  Doing your Wash + Go in the shower is ideal but lets be honest, we all don't have that luxury.  So, just keep a nice water bottle nearby to spritz your hair whenever it starts to feel like it's drying up.

Step 2: Apply the CURLS Reparative Leave-In Conditioner

This Leave-In Conditioner will serve as your Detangling Agent as well as your Base for the Wash + Go.  It's thick, it's creamy and the SLIP will blow your mind.  Even in Dayna's 4C Hair, the Reparative Leave-In Conditioner softened up those curls for easy breezy detangling.  The Conditioner will also prep your curls for the Styling Product by beginning to get those curls popping.  Some girls could probably even use the Leave-In Conditioner on it's own in the warmer months.  Real talk.

Step 3: Apply the CURLS Twist + Define Cream From Root to Tip

Section by section, apply the Twist + Shout Cream from root to tip.  It is so important that you don't just apply the product on the ends.  Going from root to tip helps to eliminate frizz in your Wash + Gos.  If you have a tighter curl pattern, you are going to LOVE this cream as it has amazing SLIP as well.  Also, don't be afraid to use a good amount of product.  Many times when you're struggling with frizzy Wash + Gos it's because you're not using enough product initially.  At first it may seem like too much product because you're not use to it, but once you see those results I'm sure it will become second nature!

Step 4: Smooth and Rake the Product Through Your Hair Until Your Curls are Smooth

When applying your product, it's important that you take the time to actually smooth your hair as you go.  Consider how smooth you like your hair to be for Twists.  This is essentially how you should be smoothing your hair when doing a Wash + Go.  Obviously, the curls will pop and it won't stay "straight" from smoothing but the result will be defined, frizz-free CURLS (pun intended).  Girls with tighter curls should also be careful which Styling Product they use for this step as you want something to LOTS of slip like the CURLS Twist + Define Cream.  If you're having trouble raking the product through your hair or if it's causing tangles then you're using the wrong product for your Wash + Go.

Step 5: Separate Curls (by shaking head or using hands) Then KEEP HANDS OUT OF HAIR

I can't tell you how many Wash + Gos I ruined from HIH Syndrome (Hand in Hair Syndrome)!!  When those curls are looking all juicy and popping, it's so tempting to touch just one... and then another one... then stretch one.  STOP.  Once, your hair starts to dry it's important to leave it alone and not to touch until it is completely dry.  If you find that your curls are sticking together, try shaking your head vigorously to loosen the curls without actually touching them.  If you are like Dayna and get headaches from all that head shaking then just be patient and separate the curls once they dry completely.

THAT'S IT!  If you too have been struggling to achieve a Wash + Go on your tight curls, then watch along below to see how exactly we did it!




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