June 2011 archive
What makes a person stylish? Is it their ability to pick out a cute dress, top or pants? Is it the jewelry or shoes they wear? What about hair and makeup? My answer is- all of the above! Style is more than finding a cute top and paring it with jeans and running out the door. It’s so much more. It’s the ability to layer your look with the right clothes, accessories, shoes, hair AND makeup to look put together without looking like you spent hours doing it.
Arguably, the first thing a person notices about you (other than your hair and your face) is what you’re wearing. Your clothes are an extension of you and they express how you feel about yourself and show what type of person you are. When shopping, it’s important to look for certain pieces that not only reflect your personality, but can be layered with other pieces to bring several looks together seamlessly.
What to look for:
- Statement pieces like bold-printed dresses
- Classic pieces like blazers, white button-down shirts, and the little black dress
- Jeans, both light and dark wash; skinny, wide-leg, and regular cut
- A few pieces that SCREAM your name
We all know that one of the first things a woman looks at on another woman are her shoes. That said, your shoes can make or break your outfit easily. Not only do you have to consider color, style, and print, but you also have to consider comfort. Trust me, no one wants sore feet. No matter how cute the shoes – they won’t get worn often. When picking shoes, be sure to consider what you have in your wardrobe that the shoes can compliment, but also consider the style because shoe trends have a tendency to be hot one season and not the next.
What to look for:
- The classic pump
- Neutral colors
- Styles that are likely to transfer through trends; i.e. wedges
- Shoe accessories like in-sole cushions
- The classic boot
Again, if someone doesn’t look at your outfit first, they’re looking at your hair. And we all know, if your hair isn’t on point, you shouldn’t even bother to get cute. Like it or not, because it’s near your face, you MUST take time to make sure that your hair not only looks good, but also compliments your overall style.
- When wearing a bold lip and neutral eyes, it’s better to where your hair down instead of up. It frames the face and takes the scary away from the bold lip
- For the no-makeup, makeup look, a sleek high ponytail is perfect. It’ll accentuate the cheeks and jaw, and play up on the fresh look
- When wearing a bold outfit, consider straight hair or a low messy pony. It’ll compliment the boldness without being overshadowed. Big hair plus bold clothes is a no-no, unless you’re Lady Gaga, RiRi, or Nicki
I consider makeup my form of graffiti – I get to send a message through art either using myself or others as a canvass. Makeup can definitely be inspiring when done the correct way. However, the wrong makeup look can take your style from classic to crazy, while the right look could transform it from fine to FIERCE! The key again is layering and balance.
- The smokey eye should be paired with a nude or neutral lip and a black or bold-colored outfit
- A bold lip should be paired with neutral eyes and a wardrobe mixed with neutrals and bold colors (like a colorful top with dark blue jeans)
- The no-makeup, makeup look should be paired with a fun dress or any casual outfit
It’s easy to go overboard with accessories. Especially if you’ve got lots of great pieces to choose from. But you must exercise restraint when it comes to wearing accessories because too many can make you look, well cheap.
What to look for:
- When wearing a statement piece like giant earrings or a huge necklace, there is no need to wear anything else. In the case of the necklace, small (non-dangling) earrings are acceptable. Also, a small bracelet may work well
- When wearing all black or all white, layers bracelets with different prints and colors can make your look stand out
- Don’t go matchy, matchy – There is no rule that says you have to wear an earring, bracelet, and necklace set just because they came together. Mixing and matching is encouraged, but try to match complimentary colors
- Scarves can be used on the head, around the neck ,and as a belt! Just not at the same time
- There is no need to match your shoes with your belt and your purse and your hat. Try only two at a time in the same color family. Again, mixing and matching is SO in!
Well ladies, that’s it. I hope these tips help you to get one step closer to mastering your personal style.
How do you define your personal style?
Stage Name: Common
Real Name: Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
Birthday: March 13, 1972
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Hip-Hop Artist, Actor
“I think making a difference in the lives of others is my life’s greatest purpose.”
Contributions: The Common Ground Foundation
The Common Ground Foundation is a philanthropic organization serving underrepresented communities by promoting holistic leadership and education.
BE Empowered – provides life, career and educational mentoring as a means for youth participants to achieve understanding, confidence and self-respect. This program is focused on helping youth “find the leader within” by developing their own unique talents though various outlets of creative expression, and learning business and life-skills.
CGF/Lighthouse Youth Leadership Program - provides youth with the fundamental principles of holistic leadership and education. Throughout the duration of each 6-12 week program, courses engage students in activities that educate them about leading healthy lives, acquiring valuable life skills, utilizing technological resources, and exploring their creative gifts in arts and music.
Readers ARE Leaders - specifically focused on promoting literacy and reading as a primary tenet in every young person’s life. In an effort to encourage and inspire youth to read, the Common Ground Foundation launched The Corner, a national online book club. This platform is interactive and provides youth nation-wide with an opportunity to discuss current reading selections, and fosters the development of critical thinking skills.
Stage Name: Bun B
Real Name: Bernard Freeman
Birthday: March 19, 1973
Hometown: Port Arthur, Texas
Occupation: Hip-Hop Rapper and Member of UGK Duo, Guest Lecturer at Rice University(2011)
” People don’t give hip-hop enough credit as far as the connection that we the artists have to our own religious or spiritual base and again, this just gives me the opportunity to tear down these walls.”
Contributions: Houston Enriches Rice Education (HERE) Project, Guest Lecturer of the Religion and Hip Hop Course at Rice University
Bun B describes his contribution to Rice University as offering an inside view of hip-hop culture to students taking the Religion and Hip Hop course at Rice. The course seeks to broaden the students’ awareness of life beyond their local environment and offer them an opportunity to engage with the Houston community.
Founded and directed by Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, the Houston Enriches Rice Education (HERE) Project was designed to help change the negative image and stereotypes of the abilities, knowledge, and social impact of all artists.
Name: Mary J. Blige
Birthday: January 11, 1971
Hometown: Yonkers, New York
Occupation: Singer-songwriter, Record Producer, Actress
“You have to believe in your heart what you know to be true about yourself. And let that be that.”
Contributions: Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FAWN)
FFAWN is a public foundation that was created and funded by Mary J. Blige and marketing pioneer Steve Stoute. Their goal was to use Blige’s personal story and success to inspire women to reach their greatest individual potential.
The Mary J. Blige Center for Women
The Mary J. Blige Center for Women is a partnership between FFAWN and Westchester Jewish Community Services. Located in Yonkers, NY, the center provides girls and women with skills, knowledge, resources, and moral support. The services directly offered at the Center include adult basic education and GED preparation, career exploration/work readiness, parenting education, college readiness, life skills training, health/wellness, family life & sex education, self-empowerment groups, mentoring, advocacy and support, and referrals to other community resources including mental health services and support for victims of domestic violence and abuse.
A Different Start - helps low-income, pregnant and parenting mothers ages 16-21 to achieve more independence and productivity through education including exploring career choices, parenting skills, paid internships, volunteer work, life skills training, and GED classes.
Legacy - promotes empowerment to women ages 22+ by teaching the values of success in careers, family life, relationships, health and money management.
My Life Project - teaches decision-making and problem-solving skills that build self-confidence and self-esteem to young girls in grades 7-12.
Patrice’s Closet - provides professional clothing and image counseling to women seeking employment.
The 3E Workshop Series (Empowerment through Education and Encouragement) -monthly workshops created to empower women to help themselves by giving them information they need to tackle life’s daily problems.
Name: Malaak Compton-Rock, wife of Chris Rock
Occupation: Non-Profit Business Owner
“Service is the rent we pay for living,” – Compton-Rock quoting Marian Wright Edelman
Contributions: The Angelrock Project, StyleWorks,
The Angelrock Project is an on-line e-village promoting volunteerism, social responsibility, and sustainable change. The site serves as a pathway for those seeking relevant information on how to lead a life of service. The Angelrock Project provides information on how to volunteer, advice on making monetary or in-kind donations, links to other service organizations, and suggests corporations who donate a percentage of proceeds to non-profit organizations. There is also a forum that connects like-minded individuals to discuss and exchanging ideas about service.
Journey for Change: Empowering Youth through Global Service- a global volunteer exchange program for at-risk youth
Brooklyn Services - aiding youth in Brooklyn, New York through partnerships with The Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center
Champions for Children Campaign – child abuse awareness and prevention
StyleWorks is a Brooklyn-based, non-profit, full-service salon that offers free services to women leaving welfare to enter the workforce
I’ve been getting so many questions about my hair, the products I use, and how to use them. I remember when I did my big chop in 2009 and couldn’t figure out what products to use. The internet was a HUGE help to me then, and even now – especially YouTube. There are so many natural hair gurus in the blogging community who vlog and blog about all things natural hair – and I’m one of them (wink)! So here are my tips for how to use natural hair products.
Layering is KEY when it comes to using natural hair products. Different products have different functions, so you may use more than one product at a time to achieve a certain look. Oils and leave-in conditioners are used to retain moisture and promote softness. Butters are used to “seal” the hair and hold in the moisture. Gels of course are used to smooth hair, but are also used to define the curl pattern of your hair. Many of these types of products are multipurpose also. You may find a leave-in conditioner that also brings out your curls, or a moisturizing gel.
Water – The most inexpensive and most important natural hair product you can use is water. It’s free and it’s abundant. Water is your first defense against dryness. Dry hair = unhappy hair – and unhappy hair won’t grow. Tip: Keep a small spray bottle handy for wetting your hair
Oils - Oils are great for keeping the scalp from drying out and they give the hair a nice shine. You’ll want to use them sparingly though, too much can build up on the scalp and cause itching and irritation. Tip: the best time to use an oil is right after you wash your hair and are about to apply a styling product, and when you’re taking down a braid-out or twist-out. I mentioned some oils in a previous post, but here are a few popular ones among naturals:
- Olive oil – a natural go-to product. Use this for moisture, shine, and anything you can think of
- Coconut oil – best for taking down twist-outs and braid-outs or finishing styles
- Jojoba oil – great for homemade leave-in recipes and moisturizing the scalp
- Grapeseed oil – great for homemade leave-in recipes and as a pre-poo treatment
- Castor oil – because it’s thick, it’s great for sealing twists and braids
Leave-in Conditioners – Leave-ins are great for ensuring that your hair stays moisturized and soft. They can rage from liquid spray-ons to thick creams and somewhere in between. Tip: Leave-in conditioners are great for detangling hair, and leave-in sprays are great for refreshing old hairstyles. Here are a few leave-ins that most naturals can’t live without:
- Kinky Curly Knot Today – this lightweight, gel-like liquid leave-in does wonders for moisturizing and defining curls
- Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioning Cream – I love how creamy it is!
- Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner – great for refreshing old twist-outs and braid-outs
- Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask – This one has a double duty – use it as a deep conditioner or as a leave-in conditioner. It smells amazing!
Butters – Butters are great for sealing in moisture and as a styling aid – especially for twist-outs and braid-outs. Tip: a little goes a long way, so don’t use a heavy hand with these. They also work well when used before gels to keep the hair soft (no one wants crunchy hair). Here are some common butters in the natural hair community:
- Raw Shea Butter – you can find this product in any beauty supply store or hair stand. It comes in white and yellow
- Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie – great for applying under gel for a wash and go
- Pura Body Naturals Cupuacu Hair Butter
- Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love or Creamylicious
Gels and Curl Creams – We all know that gels help to smooth the hair for styling, but they also help to define the curl pattern of the hair. Curl creams help us achieve the same results, but gives the hair a soft feel that gels often lack. Tip: Start off with a small amount. Use too much and you may end up with dandruff-like flakes in your hair- and it will take forever to dry. Here are a few natural best of the best’s:
- EcoStyler gel – It comes in Krystal, Olive Oil or Argan Oil. They all are great! The only differences are the amount of hold and scent
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard – It’s lightweight and it doesn’t leave flakes
- Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding – It’s creamy, has a wonderful smell, and a little goes a long way. It holds curls like a dream!
- Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic – It tames frizz, elongates curls and adds moisture
Don’t be afraid to try different products until you find the right ones your hair loves. The key is to take your time and experiment. It’s so easy to become a product junkie, so don’t go out and buy all these products at once. Do your research, find a product that is designed to meet the needs you’re looking for and go for it!
Good luck ladies!
Whether you sport kinky curls or straight strands, you know that making sure that your hair is tangle free can be a pain – one wrong move and you could end up with a tennis ball-sized clump of hair on the floor – or worst. Not to worry! There are tools that you can use to help ease the burden of detangling curly hair. When used correctly, any of these three options can work perfectly to unleash the curly beast and leave your hair without a tangle in sight.
The basics: (1) Detangling should only be done on hair that has been wet (not soaking wet, but damp) and coated with conditioner (or some sort of creamy product). (2)When detangling, it is critical that you start from the bottom of the hair shaft and work your way up to the root. ( 3) Be sure to work in sections. It makes the process so much easier and avoids working too much with the same pieces of hair.
Ladies I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you don’t use these methods, you’re going to end up with a lot of hair on the floor instead on of your head – and we don’t want that, now do we?
Wide Tooth Combs
Now you may be thinking, ” Akia, I’ve tried using a comb and all it does it pull my hair out”. Wide tooth combs are much better tools to use because the teeth aren’t as close together as traditional combs, making it much less likely to pull out hair when it catches tangles. Try using the Ouidad Double Detangler Comb or the Jilbere Shower Comb, specially designed to glide through curls without ripping out hair.
For ladies with strands that are more fine, or even if you have thick hair but have already detangled with a wide-tooth comb, a modified brush may be perfect. Brushes not only help to detangle, but they smooth out the hair as well.You’ll want to use a Denman brush. There are several on the market and many naturals swear by them – so pick your fav and go for it! You could also try the newest natural tool to hit the scene with a bang, the Tangle Teezer. I personally LOVE this thing! It smooths my unruly curls like a dream!
Your Good Ole’ Fingers
Yes, you read that right! You can use your fingers to detangle your hair – and they work just fine! I’m currently on a no-comb challenge and have been finger-combing for several weeks now and I love it. I’m able to feel my way through my hair and be gentle when I find a tangle or single strand knot. When using a comb or brush, you may not always be able to feel those small tangles, but with your fingers you can feel EVERYTHING – which is great. Even if you do use a brush or a comb, you can still use your fingers before, that way you’ve done some of the work that the tool doesn’t have to do. I find finger-combing also defines my curls differently than when I use a comb or brush – and I’m all about defined curls!
Remember ladies, your hair wants what your hair wants, and it’s important for you to find out what that is. Whether it’s finger combing, using a modified brush or a wide-tooth comb, make sure you treat your locks with TLC!