Beauty Ritual | Creating bright, healthy skin daily


Lately I've been thinking about how important it is for me to ramp up my daily facial routine.  This stems from my observation of countless faces as I wander through crowded airports.  I see people with dull, lifeless skin and there are others who's skin gives off the appearance of life and vitality.  The difference between them is night and day.

I've made the unscientific conclusion that blood flow to the face is a major factor in the appearance of the facial skin. It just seems like healthy blood flow to the skin brings it to life!  Unfortunately, as time passes, our circulation slows which takes away the look of glowing skin. Healthy, glowing skin is  the end game so I've decided to incorporate a few daily actions to bring about that end result.

My goal is to allot a specific amount of time each day to promote healthy blood flow & stimulation to the face.  I've got some tricks up my sleeve that will make a world of difference. Especially since I've been operating with much less sleep lately.  These techniques will keep me looking well rested and fresh no matter what happened the night before.

Face Massage
Probably the most direct way to drive oxygen rich blood to the face.  Not only does massage help tone the face but it can promote the building of new collagen while delivering healthy blood flow to the skin.  My favorite is Tanaka Massage which also helps to stimulate the lymphatic system (which detoxifies).  When I do this daily, my face seems to appear more toned and lifted.  Best of all the entire process takes less than 20 minutes.  If I don't have 20 minutes to spare, I can always reach for my massage tools to help speed things up.

Steaming/Ice Facial
Hot and cold temperatures have an amazing ability to stimulate the blood.  Back when I took cold showers, my face always seemed to look fresh and healthy.  Our bodies rush blood to the area in an effort to combat the cold.  Let's not forget the fact that ageless rapper Pharrell owes his youthful appearance with his daily habit of using cold water on his face.  Heck, even Sanaa Lathan knows the power of using hot and cold therapy to promote youth.  I may dabble with using an ice cube  after washing my face to close up pores, creating that flawless finish. Another option could be to place my Evian facial water in the fridge before misting.

Yoga Inversions
Then, of course, you can always "force" blood flow to the face by practicing inversions.  Yoga is a perfect way to promote positions where the head receives the most blood flow.  As you may already know, inversions impact both the face and the hair.  Some say they've experienced as much as an inch of new growth in 7 days.  Earlier this year, headstands were a part of my daily routine.  I really need to start doing that again.

Sometimes, when I'm sitting in a dull meeting, about to fall asleep, I reach for my water bottle and take the biggest swig.  Suddenly, I can feel the water rushing through my body and I'm no longer tired. When ever you think of increasing circulation, the first thing that should go through your mind is drinking lots of water.  Without adequate water in the blood stream, nothing can properly circulate.  Whenever I go a long time without drinking adequate water, I like to imagine that my oxygen rich blood is slowing becoming thick and sluggish.  That tends to motivate me to get things flowing again as quickly as possible.  Without enough water in your system, all those other things I mentioned in the post become null and void.   So, for the 15 trillionth time, drink more water.

P.S. The advice in this post should be paired with the exfoliation tips mentioned in this post to create the ultimate in perfect skin.

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Monday Motivation | Using your pain for your benefit


A few years ago when my life coach told me that I was more motivated (into action) by pain instead of by pleasure, I was taken aback. Suddenly, I began to resent the fact that I don't take massive action unless I'm trying to avoid a consequence.  I wanted to be one of those self motivated people that just wakes up everyday and charges directly towards their goals.

I wanted so badly to change this aspect of me. But doing so proved unsuccessful.  So I've decided to stop resisting and leverage this "strength" head on.  If I instinctively respond more to avoiding pain than to achieving pleasure then I would own it and use it to my advantage.

There are things in my life that I wish were different. Then there are things that I WANT to be different.  The things I WANT to be different cause a higher level of "pain."  Before, whenever I was dealing with an undesirable situation, I would just complain about it.  Complaining is like taking an aspirin for an open wound.  The pain might be dulled, but the bleeding is still there.

My new strategy is to deal directly with the source.  Meaning whenever I have a "bad day" or I'm experiencing something I wish were very different, I take MASSIVE action towards making the situation different. For example, you can come home and complain (once again) about your boss or you can use that same energy to send out 50 resumes or start your own side business.

Let's say you already have a side venture, but results aren't what you expected.  You can give it up and declare yourself a failure or you can do something outside of your comfort zone to create new results.  It's quite simple really.  Just use whatever causes you pain as a trigger for the action needed to transform the situation.  Had one of those days where everything you tried on didn't fit right? Take out your frustration at the gym.  Can you imagine how quickly you can turn a situation around if you used this method consistently?

 Whatever you do, don't let those valuable feelings of frustration go to waste.  That stuff is grade A fuel for powerful action. And please, stop allowing feelings of frustration to make you do things that will make you feel even worse.  All that does is perpetuate the cycle of dealing with unwanted situations.  Be honest with yourself, do you want to keep experiencing the same problems over and over again?  No?  Then next time you have a bad day, do something different to turn that situation around.

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Currently Loving | Johnson's Baby Oil Gel


One thing I will be doing much more often is stopping random people in street for skin and hair care recommendations.  If I hadn't had the courage to ask the beautiful flight attendant for her skin care regimen, I would never stumbled on this wonderful little gem.

If you recall, the stewardess was gushing over how much Johnson's baby oil gel softened her skin.  After gliding my finger across her forearm, I was sold.  At the very next opportunity, I skipped on over to the store to pick up a bottle.  Quite honestly, I was a bit taken a back when I first looked at the product.  It kinda reminded me of hair gel.  The last thing I wanted to do was rub hair gel all over my body.

But I stepped forward anyway.  Squeezing a little into my hand and rubbing along my dry skin.  Knowing that the driest months are ahead, I was hoping this could provide deep moisture where I need it most.  Johnson's Baby Oil Gel did not disappoint.  Yes, it's thick but somehow manages to glide on easily and evenly.  Once rubbed into the skin, the gel leaves behind a really nice shine. A little bit really goes a long way. And yes, my skin is left soft and pretty like the gorgeous flight attendant.  I adore Johnson's baby oil gel.  It eradicated my horribly dry skin in just moments and left it feeling moisturized for a very long time.

If you battle dry skin each winter, do me a favor and grab some of this.  Your skin will thank you.

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Two techniques to eliminate puffiness and under eye bags.


This post is a result of a special request from one of my beloved Facebook group members.  She's checked out my past "celebrity secrets" posts and wondered if I came across anything regarding to under eye circles and puffiness.  I was delighted to receive that request because, as a person who often goes with little sleep, healthy under eyes are constantly on my mind.

As far as celebrity secrets go, I'm sure many of you have heard the recommendation of using Vaseline under eyes to help ward off wrinkles.  I think there's value in keeping the eye area lubricated.  If you think about it, that part of our face moves more than any other.  All of that movement is bound impact the surrounding skin if we don't take precautions.  After reading of the amazing skin benefits of using coconut oil, I think that could serve as a viable alternative to petroleum jelly.

Now, let's talk about puffiness. I'm of the belief that other concerns could be related to under eye bags.  Obviously lack of sleep is a huge factor.  Whenever I'm sleep deprived, I feel it most around my eyes.  They feel strained, like they're stressed out. Aside from little sleep, I've actaully experienced greater under eye concerns when my diet is off.  Eating wheat gave me huge eye bags. I'm sure all the inflammation in my body had something to do with it.  Once I move towards more of a plant based diet, things shifted.  The first tip in minimizing under eye puffiness is to do whatever you can to promote an alkaline pH and manage inflammation.  This means minimizing sugar, fried foods, stress, wheat etc. You can further counteract inflammation by drinking lemon water, eating greens, drinking smoothies and lots of water. 

Now let's get to the nitty gritty.  I have a couple of techniques to address current under eye circles, puffiness and even wrinkles. 

Technique #1: Lymphatic Massage
Lymphatic massage saved my life whenever I woke up with puffy morning face.  My favorite is Tanaka Massage.  There's a part in the video where we do lymphatic massage on the eye.  This helps to drain any fluid that collects under the eye.  The whole experience helps move toxins away from the face where it can eventually be eliminated.  Try this technique as your regular morning routine.  Trust me, you will notice a difference.

Technique #2:  Pinching Massage
This technique is a little more aggressive than Tanaka Massage.  Here's the thing, all of your life you've been told to be gentle around the eye to avoid causing wrinkles.  I'm of a different belief.  There are those who have noticed that rigorous massage round the eye actually can help promote healthy blood flow to that area (which can help eliminate dark circles).  Not only does the blood flow improve, but this "pinching massage" is said to also have the ability to actually thicken the skin around the eye by promoting the formation of new collagen.  The result?  Fewer wrinkles, and more youthful looking eyes. 

I am an avid user of the pinching massage technique.  Unfortunately, I don't have any video demonstration so I'll try my best to explain.  Basically, I take my thumb and middle finger (or thumb and pointer) and pinch around my eyes.  I take a little skin and roll it between my finger tips(NOT USING MY NAILS).    I also do it on my eyelid to promote thicker skin.  I pay special attention to the corner of my eyes to avoid crows feet when I smile.  When I first began this practice, I was gentle around the under eye and, as time passed, I was able to increase the amount of pressure.  Don't go crazy until your skin gets used to it. You do not want to cause any bruising to the skin.

This method counteracts traditional advice out there telling you to use only your pinky finger to gently pat that area.  I'm of the belief that everything atrophies unless it receives the right amount of blood flow and stimulation.  Stimulation promotes life!  This eye pinching technique works extremely well for me.  But alas, if I'm not consistent, things start to go back to the way they were.

I'm drafting a post on stimulationg the entire facial area as part of a daily beauty routine.  Make sure you don't miss it!

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The one time when protein overload may be a good thing


For the past week or so, I got a little lazy with my moisturizing routine.  In an effort to save time, I skipped a few steps. Instead of applying liquid, then moisturizer then oil, I only did two steps.  First I misted my hair with Evian Facial Mist spray then finished up with coconut oil.  This routine was pretty much repeated daily since I traveled all week.

While all of this was happening, I wasn't thinking about the eventual outcome of using coconut oil every day.  As you might recall, coconut oil is said to have the power to provide the hair strand with protein.  Each day my hair was essentially absorbing protein. By the time the week was over, my hair was feeling stiff and didn't absorb moisture as well.

On Sunday I decided to touch up my roots (p.s. my last touch up was about 3 months ago. Normally I like to wait 4 months but I experienced quite a bit of growth from taking bamboo tea regularly during the late summer months) .  At the start of the relaxer process, I put a little coconut oil on my hair to help protect the hair from the relaxer run-off.  It wasn't until half way through the relaxer process that it dawned on me that the stiffness I was experiencing was probably a result of all that layering of coconut oil.  But here's the thing.  By the time I rinsed the relaxer out, I realized just how great my hair felt.  The stiffness went away but my hair still felt strong and resilient.

Then I thought, perhaps the additional protein within my strands added another layer of protection during the chemical process.  Typically, after a touch up, I go through this rebuilding phase where I pamper my hair with protein rich products to put strength back into my hair.  This time was different.  I should mention that I still did the responsible thing by adding a little pure protein + silk amino acids to my relaxer mix.  Everything worked together to create a wonderful symphony of strength.  Heck, I didn't need to break out my Tiger Reconstructor spray

I will definitely pay close attention to my protein levels prior to relaxing in the future.  One thing I'll do differently next time will be to provide as much protein lovin' to my roots as to the rest of my length.  After all, that's the hair closest to the line of fire. A day or so has passed and everything is just peachy keen.  Now that my hair feels pretty balanced, I'll go back to my regularly scheduled moisturizing routine.  At least now I have a strategy for when next wash day comes around.

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New In | Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails gummies


Immediately after featuring this product in a past Instagram Beauty Secrets post, these interesting looking biotin treats were placed on my wish list.  A little time passed but I'm happy to say that I finally have a these biotin rich gummies within my clutches.

Let me just start off by saying these are REALLY good.  Too good to be considered a nutritional supplement.  I'm ashamed to say that I have taken way more than the recommended dosage.  Not because I'm trying to ramp up my nutrition but because these gummies are so good, I can't stop eating them.  Honestly, I can't tell you which tastes better, these or NeoCell's Beauty Bursts. Actually, they're both perfect.  

I'm just happy to have go to options whenever my sweet tooth kicks in.  Not only do they satisfy my cravings but they help support my hair regimen as well.  What more can I ask for?

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#Fearless Friday| How being Fearless Changed My Life


I hope that some of you have taken on #fearlessfriday as a mantra.  This tiny little slogan has pretty much changed my life.  Although it first began as a means of making tiny, uncomfortable choices that I would otherwise avoid, somehow the idea of taking fearless action has now seeped into other areas of my life.  Through the practice of #fearlessfriday, I became very aware of how hesitation in my action was causing pain in my life.  Once I realized that, things everything changed.  This week, I made a decision which will essentially change my life.  My life in 2015 will look very different from the past four years.  I have a multitude of possibilities ahead of me simply because I was inspired to practice walking towards my fears.

I apologize for the cryptic nature of this post.  My intention is to inspire you into doing something small today that will cultivate the feeling of power and courage.  There is so much available for you if you take being fearless as your own personal challenge.  Remember, we're not talking about jumping out of planes (yet).  We're talking about doing small, ego building actions that will eventually lead to dragon slaying.  I slayed a massive dragon on Monday. But only because I stepped on a few insects first.  I know there are other, much larger dragons that will be coming my way, so I will continue to practice insect squashing each and every day.

Speaking of dragons, you know how in old school video games, there was always this huge dragon or monster that protected a princess or pot of gold or something?  I think real life is like this.  We all probably have this huge goal (one of mine is to become financially independent).  But along the way, there are a myriad of minions that must be defeated.  After all the obstacles, you finally get to the place where you find your princess.  Problem is that she's being held captive by a massive beast.  This beast is your biggest fear.  Good thing you went through all the trouble of defeating his minions because you were able to collect extra points, additional powers and learn fighting techniques to conquer the dragon.  Imagine how frustrating the game would be if you had to face the dragon right away.  No, instead, you go through the process.  One reason why we don't achieve big goals because we haven't built up our powers.  We can not rescue our princess without successfully completing level 1.  That is what #fearlessfriday is all about.  So if you haven't taken the idea of #fearlessfriday as mantra for today, I invite you come play.  Let's slay that dragon!

(*No animals were harmed during the writing of this post*)

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Three things to do after a trim to prevent new split ends


This whole micro trimming thing has really got me thinking.  Since I'll slowly be eliminating a decent amount of length, I want to make sure the process is as effective as possible. What I want most is to protect the hair after each trim to ensure that retention is at its highest.

For a while now, I've nagging question about whether I should take additional actions right after trimming to prevent new split ends from forming.  Last week I picked up one of those mini sewing kits.  I had quite a difficult time threading the needle so I tried trimming off the end of the thread to make it easier.  But each time I cut a bit off, the end of the thread began to split. When I trimmed off the split, the same thing happened again.

Then I wondered if this was happening to my hair without my knowledge every time I trimmed. Next I reflected on what I could do avoid that dreaded outcome from taking place.  My very first thought was how glad I was to have found Nexxus' ProMend products.  If you recall correctly, they have the ability to actually bind split ends together, preventing them from moving up the shaft.  That would be a perfect post trim treatment.

If I want to take things to next level, I could cauterize my ends using an actual flame.  After first learning about this technique of permanently sealing the ends, I became super curious.  Curious enough to try a couple of times. No. My hair didn't burst into a huge ball of flames, like I first thought it would. My assessment is that the technique is effective in preventing splits from moving up the shaft.  So, if I wanted to use an extreme method of split end prevention, this would be it.

One last thing that I MUST do to protect my ends is practice heavy sealing.  Keeping the ends highly lubricated is the secret to retention.  This fall and winter I'm going to step it up and reach for thicker oil for my ends.  Maybe shea butter, castor oil or vitamin E.  Whichever the case, I'm sure my  newly trimmed ends will love it. Basically, I will be babying my ends before, during, and after each trim to make sure that everything stays on track.   And I vow to stick to this routine even if I know that I'll be trimming them off anyway.  This is so I can maintain the habit even as I slow down the frequency of my trims.

The end goal is retention, retention, retention.  I see this whole micro trimming thing as a serious weapon in this war on breakage.  Especially if you aren't big on protective styling like me. 

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Crodabond CSA: The blend that claims to seal your cuticle layer shut.


I get all excited whenever I learn about a new hair care ingredient that promises to significantly impact the health of the hair.  There's a company by the name of Croda who manufactures active ingredients to improve the effectiveness of products.  I've been following them ever since I first learned of 18-MEA.  They were one of the only manufacturers who offered 18-MEA to hair care companies for use in their formulations.

Well it appears that the good people of Croda has done it yet again!  This time, they've developed a blend by the name of Crodabond CSA.  What is Crodabond CSA? It's probably the most revolutionary ingredient in cuticle protection since the creation of synthetic ceramides.  Actually, Crodabond CSA appears to behave in a way that is very similar to ceramides but seems to have longer term benefits.  Check out what they have to say about this amazing compound.

Crodabond™ CSA is designed to combat lifted cuticles. It was specifically engineered to seal down hair cuticles that have been damaged through coloring, bleaching, perming or thermal straightening. As an oligo ester derived from sebacic acid and hydrogenated caster oil, Crodabond™ CSA adheres to the lifted cuticles, cementing them together and smoothing out the hair fiber.
  According to this article, the wonderful effects of a smooth, intact cuticle layer can last for up to 14 days after treatment.  That's super impressive.  Can you imagine having smooth strands two weeks after washing?  Imagine how that could impact your breakage levels in between washes?   Unfortunately Croda doesn't manufacture its own commercial products nor do they sell their formulas to consumers.  So I asked myself, "how do I get my hands on Crodabond? I need to have this!"  So far, I was only able to find one brand featuring Crodabond.  Tigi Hair Reborn Sublime Smooth seems to contain a myriad of Croda formulations including their 18-MEA formula, Crotein Cashmere, which is a keratin blend made from wool fibers, and of course Hair Reborn also has Crodabond CSA to lay that cuticle layer down.

The more I contemplate on Hair Reborn, the more I desire need it.  Where else can I get such a wide variety of Croda's healthy hair cocktails in one bottle?  I'm not even phased by the price because this one bottle has so many amazing properties.  I can not pass this up. 

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Style Obsession | This Jacket is the Bomb


Typically, when I walk through a busy airport, I like to keep my focus on where I'm going.  But every once in a while, I see something out of the corner of my eye that sparks a bit of inspiration.  And that's exactly what happened recently while walking hurriedly towards to my departing gate. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of a woman who was perfectly styled with fitted jeans a white tee and the most perfect bomber jacket.

In that instant, I immediately placed a bomber jacket on my want list for all.  I have somewhat of a petite frame and rarely find jackets that make sense for my body type.  Often times, the fit doesn't work, the sleeves are too long, or the jacket covers up the outfit instead of complimenting it. The bomber jacket does none of that.  It's a dream come true.


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