Is College for Everyone?

So, you’ve graduated high school. You’ve received your diploma, you’re no longer forced to get up at 6 A.M. for school; you’re free…so to speak. Now what?

For some, it’s already been decided for you. You’re going to get accepted (at this point you probably already have) into your dream school or the school that one or both of your parents attended and encouraged you to go to, to keep the tradition going. You’re going to major in something impressive like Biochemistry or something like that. And you’re going to excel, graduate, and begin an equally impressive career. Sounds easy, right? Continue reading Is College for Everyone?

Battle of the Blenders

There is an ongoing talk about what is a better blending product to use for makeup.  We all probably know what is more popular (Beauty Blender), it is even a six times “Best of Beauty” award winning makeup product!  

However, we also know that the Beauty Blender is roughly twenty dollars each!  With all the hype, who wouldn’t choose the magical Beauty Blender?  

Then, we have an affordable product that is $7.99 and that my friends is the wonderful Real Techniques Sponge.

Which one do I use and why? Continue reading Battle of the Blenders

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.

 

The Cut Life

Growing up, I always wanted long hair, waist length to be exact. Unfortunately, my hair never grew that long or that fast even. Before I went natural, my hair was about armpit length, and even after 4 years of being natural, my hair is barely armpit length. I never did the big chop when I decided to go natural, I transitioned because I wanted to retain some type of length so all I did was trim my hair between washes until all the damaged hair was gone. While on my natural hair journey I have come to love my hair, regardless of its length (or so I thought). I love my curls and the fullness of my hair. However, I have come to a point in my journey where I believe I need a change. I will honestly say that my hair growth has been stunted for the past year and a half almost.

I have always been afraid of cutting my hair because I’m not sure if the look will fit me. I’ve been proclaiming for over a year that I will cut my hair but I always convince myself not to do it, and everyone always tells me “You have good hair, don’t cut it,” but they don’t know my personal struggle.

Ironically it seems that everyone around me has just been chopping their hair off and enjoying life, and they make it look so easy. A couple months ago, I came across this page on Instagram called The Cut Life (@thecutlife) and I was instantly inspired. They also have a website (http://livethecutlife.com/) and what they’re all about as they have said is promoting “a lifestyle space for stunners with short hair”. I think that is really amazing and beautiful, encouraging females to embrace their short hair. I want to believe that there is a story behind every cut. Also, no cut is exactly the same as another, each cut is unique to the individual and that’s what really caught my attention.

I think I’m starting to fall out of love with my hair, I spend more time being dissatisfied with its length than admiring everything else about it, so I think it’s time to re-write this love story. Yes! I will soon be cutting ALL of my hair off, and hopefully falling in love with it all over again regardless of its length.

I want to thank The Cut Life for creating such a warm atmosphere for young women to love and embrace their short hair. I also want to specially thank two young ladies I personally know for inspiring me as well. Below are their stories, please read them. Maybe you’ve found yourself to be in a position similar to mine or maybe you just want to try something new, I hope they inspire you to go for it! The truth of the matter is, its hair! Long or short, it will grow back. It may take you longer than it takes the next person but no two stories are the same.

 

Meet Janai Kiristen (Instagram: @janaikristen  Youtube: JanaiKristen)

“Okay so first, I big chopped because my ends were so dead from dying my hair so much. Honestly, I never intended to go natural, but then I kept cutting my hair shorter and shorter because I’ve always wanted hair that was very short but I was always scared. Then I ended up cutting it because I got more confident as time went on and going shorter and shorter as opposed to cutting it all off was easier. Now I keep it short because it’s different and eye  catching and not many people can pull it off. Pretty much, short hair just makes me feel bold and it’s really a confidence booster once you stop caring about what people think of it/you when they see your hair.”

 

 

Meet Eunice Abimah (Instagram: @emefa_)

“April-June were the hardest months for me to get through this year. I went through a lot of stress and pain. I was lost in every way a person could possibly be lost. I felt alone, rejected, unloved, unnoticed, betrayed, and I was angry as hell. With nowhere else to turn to, I started this journey with God, and as the days went by, I grew closer and closer to him. I began to hear his voice literally and understand who he truly is. I began to experience his love by being put in situations where I would see it clearly. So, all the time that I felt alone and rejected, unloved and isolated, God was there with me. He was the only one who truly understood what I was going through, and he has shown me a love that is incomprehensible. When people I called my friends turned their backs on me, God hugged me, comforted me and showed me that everything I needed was in Him. Then one day, I decided I wanted to cut my hair… it really just came out of the blue and I became so pressed to cut it the next day. When I cut my hair, I became a new person. I feel more confident in myself and in the way I look now, more than ever. I know it sounds cliché but after all I’ve been through, cutting my hair made me feel like I cut off all the dead ends in my life, all the hurt and the old habits and here I am… a new creation! Glory be to my Father.”

 

Is Natural Hair for Everyone?

I know some, or most of you, may look around and ask yourself, “What do you mean is natural hair for everyone? As black women, then it’s definitely for us!” And I get where you’re coming from, I do. You would think, being black women, natural hair is part of our heritage, part of who we are.

Having been relaxer and chemical free for almost seven years now, I can say that I’ve had my share of natural hair experiences with myself and those around me. And with that being said, I can truthfully say that natural hair isn’t for everyone. And I know it sounds bad, but it’s not meant to be taken in the way that you think.

There have been countless posts on Twitter with certain “naturalistas” insisting that girls ditch the creamy crack and learn to love their coils. But I agree with those relaxed women when they say that the natural life, though it’s something that could come with little to no effort, may not be for everyone. And that’s perfectly fine.

Many, if not most of us, have all dealt with relaxed hair; including weaves. To go from something that you run the flat iron through or wrap up in literally 45 seconds at night, to carving out an hour or two every night for a few flat twists, isn’t comfortable for all black women.

I hope no one thought going from relaxed hair to natural hair would be a piece of cake. I mean, you learn as you go, but the beginning can be trying. Once you transition, you begin dealing with two different hair textures; and one of them you’re seemingly unfamiliar with.

Some decide to skip the transitioning stage altogether and jump straight into the “big chop,” but no matter the route you’re still bound to run into issues. But it’s nothing you can’t get past with a little coconut oil and some patience.

Mental preparation is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of working with natural hair. If you’ve been conditioned to deal with relaxed hair, you may not be as eager to work with the unfamiliar curly stuff growing out behind it. And if you decided to big chop, you have to instantly adapt to the natural hair that took the place of those straight ends.

Some women aren’t willing to take the time and energy that comes with it, so they fail and go back to what they know. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. It just means that if you’re only willing to be natural when you can cover it with a weave, then it may not be for you.

Now that I’ve gotten more into it, I don’t think that “natural hair isn’t for everyone,” but more so not everyone is ready to adapt to their natural hair. And that’s OK. The journey is a beautiful one; even the days when you have no idea what you’re doing or if your hair is even growing.

For most, it’s a physical change, but for me, it was something within. It was a new confidence, something that I needed. Whether you’re loving the creamy crack or relishing in your newfound love for your curls, enjoy what makes you happy.

MTV Video Music Awards 2017 Rundown

The 2017 Video Music Awards were filled with compelling fashion, a strong political message, the expected nip-slip, and of course music!

When I watch an award show, I separate my experience into compartments. Afterall, there’s so much that happens at these shows. So I’m gonna break it down for you.

The Moments

The awards were hosted by the beautiful Katy Perry, who is no doubt making her come back. She descended into the VMAs wearing a full fledged “Moon Man” suit and rocking her blonde pixie cut.

Perry stated how with all of the crazy things going on in our world, music will bring us together. And that sentiment was a recurring theme throughout the night along with other messages such as self love, equality, and supporting one another.

Paris Jackson (Michael Jackson’s daughter) presented an award, but before she could give the honor she said, “We have zero tolerance for their violence, hatred, and discrimination” referring to white supremacists.

Alessia Cara performed her hit single “Scars to Your Beautiful”. She started off in a glamorous red dress, a black bob wig, and bold red lips. While she performed the song, she gradually removed layers of hair and makeup leaving herself with bare skin, natural curly hair and dressed in all black. I love the message of her performance because she was really vulnerable and showed young girls everywhere that it’s okay to just come as you are.

Later on Logic, Alessia Cara, and Khalid gave a powerful performance about the issue of mental health and suicide. They performed “1-800-274-8255” surrounded by tons of suicide attempt survivors on stage. The title of the song is the suicide hotline number which was projected all across the stage. After the performance, Logic gave a powerful speech on how important it is for us to fight for equality for everyone.

On a lighter note, the VMAs are not complete without a possible nip-slip. This year was courtesy of the “Bodak Yellow” queen, Cardi B. Cardi B was presenting a performer when the sleeve of her dress started slowly sliding down. Thankfully she realized what was going on and covered herself before it was too late. Good call Cardi B.

The Fashion

Kendrick Lamar. Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage
Lorde. Photo by Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images
Yara Shahidi. Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images
Cardi B. Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images

The Music

Of course the VMAs are all about the music. Kendrick Lamar lit up the stage (literally) with a performance of “DNA” and “Humble”. Fifth Harmony started their performance with a diss to their former member Camila Cabello. Lorde decided to dance to her song instead of actually singing it. This was an interesting choice, but I personally think she should just stick to singing.

Some of the big awards that were given out were:
Best Pop Video – Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane “Down”
Best Hip Hop Video – Kendrick Lamar “Humble”
Artist of the Year – Ed Sheeran
Video of the Year – Kendrick Lamar “Humble”
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – Pink

Pink performed a mashup of her greatest hits and it gave me so much life! She dedicated her award to her daughter letting her know that she is beautiful.

Overall, I think this year’s VMAs were actually really good. In the past, the award show has either been a hit or miss. This year had great performances, a great message, and an inspirational energy.

 

What Relaxers Really Do to Your Hair

Are you a girlie that uses relaxers?

I believe that the majority of us can live without relaxers.  Although relaxers make our hair flow straight and pretty, that is only what it gives to the outside appearance.  So lets go more in depth about what a relaxer technically does to the hair!  

What is a hair relaxer, and what does a hair relaxer specifically do to the hair strand?

A hair relaxer is a manmade chemical with a lotion or a cream texture that is used to make the hair easy to straighten and manage on a daily basis.  It reduces the beautiful curl pattern by altering the curl structure of the hair.  It makes the hair resistant to returning to its original curl pattern.  

In most relaxer instructions, it suggests that you leave the chemical lotion or cream in your hair for about twenty minutes.  (I know some of you may leave it in a little bit longer to make sure it fully takes well).  So as it is sitting in the hair, it is causing your hair cuticle to burn every time it touches your hair.  Consistently using relaxers, we often start to physically see the stress and weakness that our hair is slowly transforming into.  The hair will start to grow at a slower rate and it is known to cause split ends and hair breakage.  

The process:

  1. Damage Follicle: When the hair is relaxed, the scalp becomes burnt leading to a damaged follicle.
  2. Scab Hair: The hair from the damage follicle continues to grow but not in the proper way, therefore a new follicle will start to grow.
  3. New Follicle: The damage follicle then sheds and dies off while a new follicle with normal hair growth takes over.

In conclusion, this sums up what a hair relaxer actually does to our hair.  How do you feel about relaxers?

 

Photo via bellemocha.com

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

Claudine’s Go-to Hair Styles

I think we can all agree that one of the major problems with having natural hair is styling. Taking care of natural hair can be very hard and tedious; or maybe it’s just me. However, over time as you learn more about your hair, you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. some styles look better or are easier to maintain on certain textured hairs than others. So, we often cannot simply mimic styles that we see on others or online. I’m not saying it’s always impossible to get your hair to look a certain way but you may have to do a thing or two in addition to what the other person did, depending on your hair texture.

I have a head full of 4c hair, very kinky. Imagine having to comb and style my hair every single morning… no thank you! (haha) Over the course of my journey, learning and loving my hair, I’ve come across some hairstyles that I love, love, love, and they are really simple and save me about a week or two of having to style my hair, depending on how I choose to maintain it.  For all my 4c ladies, you can definitely try these out and let me know how it works for you, and if you don’t have 4c hair, definitely feel free to try and manipulate the style to get it to work for you hair texture.

I like to call these my signature looks because these are my absolute favorite go to and easy to do hairstyles, and they’re not time consuming whatsoever (well, maybe one of them). So, whenever my hair is not in a protective style (box braids, crochet, etc.) you’ll find me rocking these styles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a flat twist out, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. I put some flat twists in my hair and then took them out the next morning. For my particular look, I did about 8-10 flat twists. As you can see in the pictures, I have a part on the left side, allowing my hair to fall toward the right side of my face. I did two twists across the front, toward the right, two on the left side and the rest straight back. I also did bantu knots on the ends because I wanted the curls to be defined.

The first two pictures are the first time I did this hairstyle and I fell in love but as you can see, compared to the last picture, the curls are a bit looser. The reason being that, in the first two pictures this style was done on old hair (meaning, not freshly washed), whereas the second picture my hair was freshly washed and a little air dried. I personally prefer the first look because I’m not a big fan of super tight curls, I like my hair to be a bit stretched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next style I call “my puff puffs” which refers to the pictures on your right. As you can see, there’s one puff then there’s two. I find it hard to pick between them because they both have their good and bad days. Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer my hair to be a bit stretched before doing anything to it, because I want it to look a lot fuller and have some length to it (because shrinkage is real!). So, one of the ways I stretch my hair is by doing bantu knots on freshly washed hair, leaving it in for about a week and combing/brushing it out. As you can see in the first picture, my bantu knots are a week old. The second picture is my hair combed out and put into a high puff using a head band, about 3 or 4 days after the first picture was taken. The last picture is about a week after the second picture and I simply applied conditioner to my hair and parted it into two. I don’t comb my hair all the way out because I like to see the curls defined at the ends as you can see in the pictures. I do a lot of finger combing and hand fluffing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is just another way I stretch my hair before putting it into a single puff or two, using the flat twist method. The only difference is, the puffs are a bit rounder; these pictures were taken four days apart. Ultimately, there are different ways to achieve the same look, it’s whatever is best for you!

 

‘Black Girls Rock!’ 2017 Recap

The always anticipated annual ‘Black Girls Rock!’ event, hosted by Taraji P. Henson, showed up and did way more than deliver!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Performances from SZA, who graced the stage with ‘Normal Girl’ from her debut album ‘CTRL,’ reminded us all that it’s more than acceptable to be just who you are. Other performances included India Arie, Tyrese and Anthony Hamilton, who took us all back with his Grammy Nominated hit ‘Best of Me.’ It was definitely a show for the books!

‘Cranes in the Sky’ singer, and winner of the ‘Black Girls Rock!’ Rock Star Award stole the audience’s heart with her amazing speech. “Black women make me feel invincible; it’s the way that we walk, the way that we talk, our soul, our sway, our grace.” She assured the audience, though she looked flawless with her perfectly frizzed ‘fro, that not every day is perfect and that’s OK. “Take your time,” she stated. Encouraging the younger audience members and helping them know that they’ll find their way. They’ll get there.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the show was seeing Aunt Maxine Waters in that fierce red dress, and hearing what she had to say as she gave her comedic, yet as real as it gets, acceptance speech for her Social Humanitarian Award.

“I am you, and you are me,” she told the audience as they roared in agreement of her strength in the political world. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a force to be reckoned with, and she doesn’t take mess from anyone!

“If you come for me, I will come for you!” Couldn’t have said it better, Aunt Maxine. She’s the perfect example of what it means to ‘reclaim your time’ and we’re here for it.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Did anyone catch Issa Rae and her Star Power Award acceptance speech? Issa let us in on what it was like growing up in her middle school shoes. She shared experiences that taught her, even though she may never be the funniest, the coolest, or the prettiest, she found her lane and is currently living her best #BlackGirlMagic life and you can too! She discovered what it was that made her who she was and caused her to stand out in the best way. Don’t give up, because black girls do rock!

Some of my favorites highlights were of Ibtihaj Muhammad, introduced by comedian Tiffany Haddish, describing her as a “pillar of resilience.” Activist and Black-ish rising star, Yara Shahidi, who’s heading to Harvard exemplifies some real #BlackGirlMagic and continues to be a great example to black girls worldwide.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BET

Who could forget Beverly Bonds, creator of ‘Black Girls Rock!’ gracing the stage?! No one, that’s who. She spoke so eloquently and proudly as she let the world know why us black girls do rock! “We’ve defied the odds, we’ve worked miracles.” Beverly left us with something we should all write down on a sticky note and stick on our bathroom mirror. “Conditions can only change if we’re the authors of our own stories.” Every last one of the award recipients, guests and performers are all results of writing their happy endings despite everything that goes against black women. But she persisted.