My Go-To Favorite Places to Shop and Save

*Direct Deposit hits at 3am*

“Yes, finally some money in my pockets. Time for me to prioritize and set a budget. What bills are due this week? Can I buy a new outfit for the party next Friday night? Should I eat today or put gas in my car? Is that last minute payment for my Apple Music subscription coming soon?” Continue reading My Go-To Favorite Places to Shop and Save

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Influential Woman of the Week

An inspirational woman is like a hero. Someone you know that wants you to strive and excel in life. Someone who will give you great advice for the future and that you can look up to. My inspirational woman of the week would have to be my mother. Now as cliche as it may be, a mother’s love is definitely irreplaceable. My mother is not only my hero, but a friend, a coach, a teacher (literally), a doctor, a lawyer, and everything in between.

Prior to my mother having me, she attended Montclair State University in New Jersey where she studied Chemistry. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Pharmacy at St. John’s University School in Jamaica Queens, New York. She began working at Pathmark’s Pharmacy Department as well as working for Prescription Counter in South Orange, NJ up until I was about 6 years old. My mother always had it in her to give back to the children of the community, so she took it upon herself to go back to school for her teaching license. Continue reading Influential Woman of the Week

3 Tips for Incoming College Freshman

As an incoming freshman, going to a brand new school with complete independence can be a struggle and an adjustment to deal with. You really aren’t sure what to expect the first day of classes and haven’t met that many people to socialize with on campus. You’re questioning whether or not you should purchase textbooks, how much time you’d have between classes to grab a bite to eat, and fitting in your everyday workout. Prior to accomplishing day to day activities, attending classes and meeting new people, I have three tips that I feel will help you have a successful first year. Continue reading 3 Tips for Incoming College Freshman

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My Go-To Protective Style: WIGS?!

When it comes to protective styling, I have a very hard time choosing what I want to go for, whether it be twist outs, box braids, bantu-knots, flat-twists, etc. My hair is super short now in the front so I always have trouble finding cute protective styles that will flatter my face. I started YouTubing women who struggled with having natural short hair and there is one way of protecting my hair that I completely fell in love with.

Wigs. That is right ladies, my favorite go-to protective style is wigs. After researching and finding some methods, I just did not have the patient to perfect a twist-out, or the energy to even try to attempt a bantu-knot. I follow a specific YouTuber by the name of Arnell Armon, who happens to be a short curly haired queen just like myself. Arnell started her channel doing a lot of styles to protect her curls, wig reviews and demos on how to style them and I immediately grew interested in learning how to do it myself.

The first wig I bought was a disaster. I didn’t know what to do and I looked like a clown. I instantly was embarrassed and wanted to give up on my hair as a whole but I stopped and told myself, “Alana. No, you will push yourself to learn the techniques so you can slay.”

 

With the first wig I bought, I sat in front of my Macbook watching Arnell on YouTube plucking the middle part so that your hair wouldn’t be so harsh to look at. After 2 hours of trial and error, I finally got my part to look just as if it was hair.

My next step was to perfect my cornrows underneath my wigs so that the wig wouldn’t look as if I had two knots in my scalp. I had to learn how to braid my short hair down with extra braiding hair so that the wig cap would be secure. It was a struggle at first but I didn’t let tedious mistakes get to me. I kept trying and trying and after a few tries, my not so presentable wig went from “Hot mess” to “Oh yes honey!”

 

I didn’t stop here of course. My love for wigs has grown and my collection is expanding. I like to switch it up between curly wigs, straight bobs, wavy bobs with different colors and more. If you are definitely a lazy person when it comes to taking care of your hair and you’re always on the go or in the rush to go to an event, wigs are the way to go for you.

 

I wake up in the morning to take part in my daily routine and instead of having to stress about how much time you’re going to have to do your hair, you just pop that bad boy on, lay those edges and go. You can get a stylish wig from your local beauty supply store that will only retail for about $20-40 dollars. Trust me, you won’t regret that deal.

 

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YouTuber Spotlight: Ms. Jackie Aina

 

She’s sassy and sweet with an outstanding, humorous but blunt personality that will make you want to keep watching her videos for hours. She’s a fellow Leo, US Army Veteran with a passion for filming beauty, skin, and hair tutorials for all 1.5 million subscribers and of course, I can’t leave out that she’s a true role model for women in the African-American community. I think you can already guess who I’m talking about.

That’s right. The beautiful Nigerian Queen, Ms. Jackie Aina.

Growing up in a strict- Nigerian household, Jackie was always taught that she had to pursue a career in the medical field or even become a lawyer but of course, God had other plans. Ms. Aina knew that she’s been wanting to be a cosmetologist before she even knew what that meant. Jackie Aina has been a beauty guru for about 8 years and has always had a passion for makeup, hair, skin and your everyday beauty routine.

Prior to YouTube, she received her cosmetology license in Freelance Makeup at Vidal Sassoon. She was a freelance makeup artist for MAC cosmetics as well as Bobbi Brown cosmetics. She started to pursue a career in YouTube as a beginner makeup artist in 2009. She has been faithful to uploading videos doing different styles and looks for each season, sharing her personal stories about her past, present, and what is to come for her in the future.

What stands out to me about Ms. Jackie Aina is her open honesty about products that are on the market. She expresses to her following that she would like for more cosmetic lines such as Too Faced, Becca Cosmetics, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancome, Urban Decay, Smashbox, and Tarte to launch products for Women of Color. Jackie expresses to her followers that growing in the beauty industry was always a struggle for her when finding products for her skin color. It was always too light, too gray, or too chalky, etc for her skin type and shade. She recently announced to the beauty world that she will be collaborating with Too Faced to create a variety of foundations for women of color. This is very exciting news for all of the chocolate queens of the beauty community.

Another reason why I love Jackie Aina is because she is very honest and open in discussing the products she receives and reviews. She has a lot. Recently, Ms. Jackie Aina had the pleasure of meeting Kim Kardashian-West for her KKW Beauty Launch at Kardashian-West’s home in Bel-Air. She did an open and honest review of the “Cream Contour Kit” which is now available to watch on YouTube as well as many other honest reviews on skin care products, wigs, and other makeup. This gives the subscriber more of an insight on what to purchase and try and what to stay away from before spending that $56 on a highlight palette. There was never any incident where Jackie tries to tell her subscribers to buy a product because of the packaging or because of the name that is on the cosmetic line.

I truly commend Jackie Aina for chasing her dreams and spreading hope for women of color who would like to pursue a career in the cosmetology field or become a YouTuber. She has big plans for the African-American community and I hope to see more from her being that I have been a faithful subscriber for 4 years now! Jackie will definitely continue to make us proud and as she always says and promises in her YouTube description box, “Changing the standard of beauty, one tutorial at a time.”

 

Photo used: Jackie Aina’s Youtube Avitar

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The Never Ending Roller-Coaster: My Natural Hair Journey

Where do I begin? Who possessed my mother into putting classic Alkaline and Ammonium Thioglycolate, also known as, perm onto my 3c/4b coily curls?

When I was younger, my hair was shaped into a Jackson 5 Afro but was always in two pigtails styled in twists or the good old fashioned hot comb straightened hair with grease sizzled edges. I used to be a dancer so my mother had to figure out a way to make my hair more manageable and easy to detangle.

When I was around the age of 6-7, my mother took me to a hair salon where they gave me my first perm and boy oh boy, did it burn. The pain of the perm made me want to shed more than a few tears. Prior to getting this perm, I would constantly scratch my scalp which will create scars on the scalp and extreme burning sensations. As I’m typing this blog, I’m sort of envisioning the pain I felt back then.

I continued perming my hair until I was in 7th grade. I decided to transition from permed to natural because during this time my mother was also transitioning so she stopped taking me to the salons for touch-ups every month and once I started to try and take care of my hair I  noticed a difference in textures and I completely fell in love.

During the time of transitioning, I would constantly get blow outs from the Dominican hair salons or I would get box braids, twists, or two french braids with added hair. Throughout this process it was very important for me to at least get a trim every month just to let go of all of the permed ends. 

I wasn’t alone throughout this process. My mother also had a perm and was beginning to transition so for the emotional aspect of transitioning, she understood my frustration with my hair. I honestly had to learn a great deal of patience and I’m glad I did.

Once I reached my freshman year of high-school, I asked my mother if I can get my first real cut and I went from having long permed hair to a Dora like bob cut with bangs that were too hideous and embarrassing to even re-visit. By my sophomore year, my hair grew out and I was fully natural. Not a perm in sight but then I did another dangerous thing to my hair, can you guess what I did? Yup. That’s right, I bleached it. I bleached my entire head a platinum blonde and I thought I was killing the game. I ended up killing my curls, again.

I got tired of putting my hair through so much stress during all four years of high school and dying it from blonde to red, then red to brown, then brown to jet black and now back to purple, I knew I had to make a change. I promised myself that I would nurture my hair once I graduated.

My freshman year of college came and I cut my hair into a brown bob. I would constantly straighten it which also does damage to your curls so I began wearing weaves and trying to keep heat out of my hair. Yes, it is hard. I gave into temptation many of times for the first two years of college but I knew it was time to let it go.

I am now a Junior in college and prior to becoming a junior, I shaved my hair all off as a fresh start. Chopping my hair off is not only a physical growth spurt for me but also is helping me grow emotionally. I am learning to love natural hair and I have a long ways to go as far as my curls prospering. It’s a journey. A journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

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Female Phenomenon: An Intro to Cardi B’s Fame

“Rapping is for males.” “You will never make it in this male dominated culture.”
“Hip Hop is for the men who need to listen and recognize their story in a musical form.”

False, False and False. Hip Hop and rap plays a major part in today’s society and of course, the industry is male dominated. I appreciate all of these men who work hard for what they have:
the marketing skills they have used to build their audience, staying up late nights,
touring city to city, and even continent to continent. A man’s hard work in the music industry will
never go unnoticed but a woman’s work always seems to be overlooked.

Women are fighting their way to the top to get the recognition they deserve. The hard-working, over-achieving, Bronx native, Belcalis Almanzar, also known as,Cardi B is becoming one of rap’s newest moguls in the industry. She started off being just a regular ‘degular’ girl from the Bronx, making 7-10 second comedy videos on the apps, Vine and Instagram as well as being highly involved with working in clubs. She wanted to expand her career and she believed she was destined for more than just living in the city that never sleeps.

Cardi B’s career started when she released her first mixtape, GBV No. 1, while given the
opportunity to star on the reality TV show, Love and Hip Hop: New York. Of course, Love and
Hip Hop is for the celebrities who have potential Hip Hop and rap careers in the works and for
Cardi B her rapping career skyrocketed. Her audience loved her music, her raw attitude, and
most importantly her work ethic that they wanted to hear more from her. Cardi B left Love and
Hip Hop: New York after her second season to chase her dreams in becoming a role model for all the women who wanted to pursue rapping as a career.

Ms. Cardi B’s accomplishments thus far have been producing not one but two mixtapes
in a 6 month time period, features with one out of three Migos, D.R.A.M, and a new fire hit
single titled, “Bodak Yellow.” She also makes frequent appearances in cities near you. She has
been nominated for two B.E.T awards which are, “Best New Artist” and “Best Female Hip-Hop
Artist.” Although, she didn’t receive these awards, it never stopped her from grinding harder
each and every day. At the 8th annual OVO Fest held in Toronto, Cardi B was one of Drake’s many guest appearances as well as a guest appearance at the 2017 Veld Festival held in Toronto, where Migos brought her out to perform the new hit single, “Bodak Yellow.”

There could’ve been many times where Ms. Cardi could’ve given up on her dreams of
becoming a debut rap artist. Not being signed to any record labels, working hard for her fans has proven to all the men in the industry that women can be just as great, if not, 10 times better!

I would like to say thank you to MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Lil Kim, and all of the other female rappers who have paved the way for the new generation of female rap artists like Cardi B.

Photo courtesy of “The Fader”.

 

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Product Spotlight: EDEN BodyWorks

As a black girl going through the whirlwind of emotions when starting your natural hair journey, our first question we ask ourselves is, “What products should I try for my curls?” or “Will this product work for my texture?” We go from Cantu to Creme of Nature to Curls, Miss Jessie’s and many more to achieve those beautiful braid-outs and trendy twist outs but to complete this look we need the one essential product that every curly girl should have: a to-die-for edge control.

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Control Edge Gel has my heart wrapped. During my journey, I recently stumbled upon this gem when looking for a gel that would lay and SLAY my edges and honey, this product will lay your edges to the edge GOD. When I first opened the product, I was skeptical about how much would be in the jar but there are about 6 ounces worth of product that can be used for about 6 months to a year. This product has a very lightweight consistency and doesn’t cause your hair to flake like snow around the edge of your hair.

Trust me, I wouldn’t want for you to look like Santa dusted his snowy jacket off on your edges girl, because I understand how bad that can be. Trust me, this product will have the maximum hold you need for the entire day.

When I first started using this product, I was shocked that it gave me the maximum hold I needed for the day. I probably had to reapply it once more after being in the sun all day but understand that sweat absorbs products so if you are a person who perspires a lot, you may have to reapply product. The good thing about this is, the product retails between $8.45-9 and at $8.75 plus shipping and handling on Amazon.com and is also available in different sizes if you don’t want to splurge on the big jar for your first try. You could also buy the big size for day to day purposes and the smaller size for travel. On the go products are a must when going through your natural hair journey and of course, edge control is too.

It is very important to also disclaim, this product was made without sulfates, dyes, parabens, mineral oils such as petroleum. Products with these chemicals can cause breakage to your hair follicles and thinning as well. It is very important that you read more about the pros and cons of chemicals in your products prior to starting your natural hair journey. After months of achieving those beautiful curls, you want to make sure you’re using products with ingredients that will help you maintain those curls.

For all of my animal lovers, this product is cruelty free and has not been tested on animals. So just a few reminders when choosing your to-die-for edge control, always check for chemicals, never splurge on $13 edge control, always purchase a travel size for on the go, purchase a silk/satin scarf from your local beauty supply store, and bam! Beautiful curls and edges that slay!

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