Blogtober #13: Do Your Thing.

Since returning to my natural texture almost eight years ago (naturalversary is in December yay), I’ve had many, many, many hairstyles. Natural hair opened an experimentation door for me, undoubtedly; from varying lengths to color changes to everything in between, I managed to diffuse any boredom with styling and not shock my mother too much with my changes. All that said: I made a ‘lil natural hair compilation video: from 2012-2020. Music: Do Your Thing, ‘*NSYNC.

Bon Tuesday.

Blogtober #9: Styled by Zoom

Bon Friday. Some Zoom lewks over the past month.

• Crochet passion twists are my newest protective style. My first time with passion twists and they’re pretty great.

• My makeup for these looks: other than the lippies you see, none at all. I only wear lipstick and I’m good to go. I’m sure the foundation and blush are lonely. But I don’t see the need.

• Those glasses have no prescription. I’m a lover of fashion lenses that make me look like your nice but still-stern English teacher.

• I’m amazed by my eyebrows. Seven months without visiting my waxologist (I know we don’t call them that 😬); by now I thought I’d look pretty wolffish. But the shape is there and they aren’t out of control. Sure, the gray hairs are coming in and things of that nature, but perhaps they’ve become quarantine-trained. Can’t say the same about my toenails, though. Yikes.

So, styling in the age of Zoom and video calls has been easy, low maintenance, and pretty great. Not that much different from before, actually, but that inborn desire to look “polished” has significantly diminished. You know what I mean?

Onwards and Friday-wards…

Blogtober #5: Autumn ‘Fits.

So, I mentioned the intent to de-bum during this pandemic. It’s become a bit easier these past few days because I’ve been forced to actually get dressed and look decent for video meetings at work. All that said, largely being comfortable while working from home hasn’t stopped me from perusing Pinterest and pinning outfit inspo. Pandemic or not, planning to look fly remains a thing, no? Here are seven outfits that slayed my eyes. Commentary will follow.

Signs of Outfit Slayage

1. Color! This time of year tends to elicit (from me, anyway, when I left the house) plenty of brown and black. These outfits shutter all of that. I absolutely love all the color and shades I see here, especially mustard. Big mustard lover.

2. Patterns Shmatterns. Do you see polka dot against polka dot there? I mean, come on. Full on adoration. These ensembles are just creative and not tied to so-called “rules” of styling and fashion. Super stylish and unique.

3. Basics but not basic. It’s me, so you know a pleated skirt had to be in there. My tried-and-true styling pieces and general aesthetic are evident with all of these ‘fits: feminine, chic, modern with a still vintage-y touch. That said, I recognize a change, even in these outfit choices. My sense of style (and you’ll see this via my Pinterest page, too) seems to be shifting toward a more modern feel than usual. I welcome this. It’s refreshing.

I’d love to find my versions of these ensembles and play around with them this autumn. But: pandemic life. Nevertheless, I’m not above online shopping and in-home fashion shoots. Let’s?

Black and Red. (And Other Updates.)

So, as you know, I’ve been growing out Le Fro since mid-2019. This was yours truly before She (my hair) went into protective style mode.

Since then, in between braids and all that, my excellent stylist has ensured that I receive my trims and deep conditions. Recently (a few weeks ago), we 1. removed the blonde hair and dyed it back to black, 2. did a blow-out.

Talk about frowth. I’m certainly pleased with how it’s all going. Of course, after this month, my stylist already knows that we’re returning to braids/protective styling. It’s a pandemic, y’all, and I have way more on my plate than doing my hair. Nevertheless, during this month, I’ve been reminded of just how much black hair and red lipstick gives me life.

Right? Right. There’s nothing like it. Incidentally, my go-to’s for red lips are MAC’s matte Ruby Woo and Sephora’s Always Red lip stain that goes on creamy and dries matte. (Clearly, I’m a fan of matte; a little lip balm before helps prevent cracking for me.)

Anyway, despite my enduring love for short hair that requires no work (lazy naturalista over here 🙋🏾‍♀️), my plan is to just keep going and see how long my hair gets. Because my love for short hair is equal to my love for big, giant hair. Which will require time and patience and twisting but we shall cross that bridge when we get there.

The Frowth Chronicles continue…

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

Singleton Photoshoots: The Quarantine Edition.

If you live alone like me and still have dress-up time during this quarantine (I happily put on makeup and shed the sweats for my weekly worship Zoom meetings and virtual ministry), selfies become a bit tiresome. Because all you largely do is selfie, quarantine or no.

Alas: I have a solution, dear Singleton. You probably know this stuff already, but sharing is caring. 

  1. Get you a tripod. There are awesome options on Amazon. I got this one and love it immensely. It’s basically a selfie stick and a tripod in one. Best thing is you can either landscape or portrait the photos/videos. (Yes, I just turned those nouns into verbs.) The one I purchased also came with a Bluetooth remote, so you can snap away from wherever you like in your home. Just pair it up with your camera/smartphone.
  2. Set up the tripod/phone accordingly.
  3. Photo. shoot.

I did this last Thursday before my Zoom worship meeting and let me tell you. I loved it. And can I just say, as you will see below: patterns mean nothing when you’re at home and no one can see your bottom half. *wink* Check out my slideshow below.

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I got that dazzling blouse from Amazon (are you shopping from Amazon yet? Because: amazing) and the skirt from my beloved Ross. The lipstick I’m wearing is a matte shade from Wet and Wild that I picked up during my Walmart essential item shopping trip last week. 

In all seriousness: as a woman who loves dressing up and looking her best for herself, on a completely self-blooming level, the beginning of the lockdown wasn’t easy. Even with my weekly meetings, I felt like a total lump. Add my baby-steps fitness schedule and yeah, I was down and out. But in time, and in trying to seek the brighter side, these little things–photoshoots, dressing up for no reason, which I prescribe, as well–have made a difference. Do whatever you need to do to feel better, to smile brighter, and to not feel like a lump. 

Tell me what you’ve been doing to creatively enhance your virtual life in the comments. Bon Monday. 

A Black Woman and Her Hair.

***This post was inspired by a video I watched last night on YouTube from Whitney White, a natural hair influencer that I took note of years ago when I began my natural hair journey. See the video here. While watching the video, I felt the deeper implications of the joy Whitney felt when she cut her waist-length hair. Whitney’s subsequent Instagram post about said haircut really got me thinking: as Black women, our relationship with our hair is so, so deep. And I wanted to talk about that. So here we go.***

My relationship with my hair began when I was about 12 years old, when I received my first relaxer. Prior to that seminal moment, I was an energetic kid; not really focused on pic2pic1my messy pigtails and all of that. I really had no concept of those things. In the adult world, however, my mom was hearing from some relatives that my hair, along with my sister’s hair, looked “wild”. Peer pressure is powerful, and it certainly doesn’t wane when we grow taller. My mom responded to this “wild” talk by taking us to our very first salon visit, where I received my first relaxer. Yep, it burned. Yep, I said nothing as it burned because I wasn’t one of those kids that spoke up. (Whew.) Born from that was something I had never known before: straight pic3hair.

Unbeknownst to me, also being born was the direct tie between my self-image, my sense of beauty, and my hair. This is universal, by the way. All women go through this at one point or another. But when it comes to us as Black women, Black girls, the path is altogether different and far more complex. The kinky and curly hair we’re born with, when it’s straightened and “relaxed”, now becomes largely acceptable, malleable, presentable. Westernized ideals of beauty become us. I remember feeling a sense of anticipation before I walked into the school the weekend after the relaxer. My long hair hung down my back. I felt pretty. And needless to say, I was the center of attention that day. “Look at your hair!” I heard more than once from a variety of girls. It was amazing.

From then on, I would beg my mother for a relaxer when the straight hair reverted back to its curly texture. If you know anything about my mother, you know that this begging typically fell on deaf ears. Despite her now knowing how to apply the creamy stuff, relaxers would be saved for specials occasions (like our annual worship meetings) and nothing more. Once in a while, once, she’d give in to a random relaxer request, but overall, it was usually a no. Needless to say, when I finally started making money and working for myself, I took myself to various salons for my touch-ups and things of that nature. Again: the state of my hair was wrapped up in how I felt I was being exposed to the world. I’ve mentioned the long struggles I had with my self-esteem and self-image. I can honestly say that when my hair was straight, I felt valuable. There was power in those strands.

bob6But as I got older, something started happening. I wanted to experiment more with my hair. Straight, long hair wasn’t enough for me. When I turned 30, I cut it all off and opted for a chic (still straight) bob. My mother nearly passed out. I think she thought I’d shave my head. (That came later.) bob1From there came more experiments: an even shorter bob. An asymmetrical cut with one side shaved and the other side long. Weaves. My hair now became a canvas, a tool for expression. Black women: for many of us, our hair is our art. It certainly became that for me. Still holding its power, yes, but also very much mine. I still had a bob2relaxer, though. Because it was all I knew. Remember: my hair journey began with it being straight. Prior to that time, I didn’t even care or notice.

Whitney says this on her Instagram post: This was more than a hair cut to me. I NEEDED THIS. I NEEDED to see myself as I felt inside.

Reader. Those words hit me. Because after years and years of experimentation and yet maintaining the straight look that still felt acceptable to me and to the world, I woke up one day and didn’t want straight hair anymore. Can’t explain it. I remember being in that revert/touch-up time and feeling the roots on my scalp and loving how those curls and coils felt against my fingers. And like Whitney said, something was happening inside of me. That prison of low self-esteem and feeling like a zero was losing its hold on me, and somehow, my hair was following along. I wanted to be myself. And I wanted the hair on my head to reflect that. When I told my mother I was returning to mybigchop2 roots, to my natural hair, her excitement was indescribable. “Your natural hair was so beautiful,” she said. “I’m so glad you’re going to see it again.” It reminded me that hearing that her children’s hair was “wild” hit her hard. She had no intention of straightening our hair. But such is life. She was happy the choice became mine.

Says Whitney on IG: It was suffocating and I was no longer someone who needed the extra length, the extra baggage to define her. I DEFINE ME by BEING ME. And just like I no longer wanted to carry MY extra baggage with me into the future, the hair could kick it too. Those words describe my Big Chop in 2012. Shaving my head in 2018. And all the styles and haircuts in between. Women: some of us, a lot of us, hold emotion in our hair. I certainly did. And I continue to do so. It’s no surprise that, while in reflection, I realized that a lot of heartache and disappointments in my life preceded my hairstyles and/or the reduction of length.

Whitney: Also, while yes – it IS just hair, it will always simultaneously be MORE. It’s more than “just hair”. It’s a lot. Art. Emotions. Power. Wherever you are, whoever you are and whatever hairstyle or texture you maintain (because I’m not a guerrilla girl; I returned to natural on my own accord, so do you do you do you):

shine.

That’s the bottom line.

Positivity Post. (#1)

So…when it’s hard to be positive (it’s just in my bones, this struggle to remain positive about this weird life of mine, and this need to look at things as they unflinchingly are), sometimes you have to force the hand. In this case, although 2020 has so far been essentially 2019 squared, I want to share some good stuff. Because in between the opposite of good stuff, there have been some highlights. Let’s go.

Frowth (Fro + Growth). Did I tell you that I was growing out my hair? I didn’t? Well, I’m growing out my hair. After experimenting with cuts and then the full shave-off/Operation Let It Go in the summer of 2018, I decided to enact Operation Let It Grow in early 2019. No cuts since then; just trimming and some shaping. Last month, when my stylist came over to take out my crochets and apply some much-needed moisture, she happily shared the progress of Operation Let It Grow. See the pictorials. (October 2019 trim; February 2020 trim; Frowth)

The Workout Plan. After what turned out to be a major sabbatical from the gym and working out, I started back again last month. You know the story: when you’re down and out, there’s no such thing as exercise. There’s the couch and there are reruns of Family Feud. And I heartily did all of that (and kinda still do, to be honest), but I decided to gym1introduce endorphins back into this game of life. I was already dedicated to doing two miles at work by walking, but I wanted to do more. Enter the office gym, which can be blissfully quiet at certain hours of the day and afforded me a nice span of time on the treadmill. I enjoyed it. Of course, with the entrance of COVID-19 into our atmosphere and my general disbelief that folks are cleaning the machines and rooms and showers as thoroughly as I’d like, I’m suspending my gym visits for now. C’est la vie, right? Back to walking, Airpods in my ear and hand sanitizer in my palm. Hopefully, I can get back to the gym when all of this madness dies down.

Travelista-ing, briefly. I haven’t really gotten away away since I moved to Texas, mainly because I have to parse out my vacation time (really miss working for an international company, tbh) and need to ensure that I won’t be totally absent of time when the year ends. So, there hasn’t been a ton of traveling other than visits back home to see my family. However, last month I was able to visit my dear cuzzo in Arizona and see my awesome niece, who I haven’t seen since January 2019 when she was a baby baby. (She’s now a smart, funny, cute-as-a-button almost 2 year-old.) ‘Twas a wonderful time. Nothing beats being with family that knows you. Arizona is also one of my favorite aesthetically pleasing locales to visit. Here are some shots of the land. (By the way, she and I are the same when it comes to this previous consideration of Arizona.)

Makeup and Fashion Tings. I’m a lady who enjoys dressing up and wearing makeup, so here are some lewks and styling that I’ve had fun with so far in the ’20.

Thanks for reading, party people. Here’s to pursuing positivity, one day at a time. Onwards…

 

a little (day and) night music.

a little (day and) night music.

Stop for a moment to read my past comments about developing a skincare “regimen” and not really feeling that, simply because I was fine with 1) relying on those African juices; 2) not interrupting my pathway to sleep by stopping in the loo to wash my face before bed; 3) maintaining my general desire to be unfussy about everything. I knew changes were needed, as you can see from the previous post, but I…didn’t want to make them.

But you can ignore everything I said in that previous post.

When a gal enters her 40s, things change. When a gal enters a year into her 40s, things really, really change. All that said, smooth, African juicy skin or not, I made a conscious decision to focus on skincare. (Because even after that post, I wasn’t really doing much. This stubborn nature is precisely why my ninth-grade Algebra teacher threatened me with a belt. *shrug*) And it’s been going quite well. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Washing my face twice a day. Honestly, this was hard for me to start doing. When I’ve laid on the couch long enough to yawn after multiple episodes of Family Feud and Law and Order, heading to bed means heading right to bed. I wasn’t in the mood to do all of that. For me, washing in the morning was enough. (Judge me if you like. ‘Tis what ’tis.) But that’s over with. I do my five/six-step routine morning and night and–drumroll, please–I love every single bit of it.

skin1

  • Researching skincare. That means reading articles about skincare, watching YouTube videos about skincare, dreaming about skincare…well, perhaps not, but you get my drift.

This past weekend, I visited San Antonio for a ladies spa and wellness weekend (the source of the photo in the thumbnail, which also includes my more-than-happy-to-join-the-photo-photobomber). During my facial at the spa, my esthetician mentioned that my skin was doing quite well. This was awesome to hear; it meant that the changes I had implemented were working. So, here’s my routine, AM and PM:

  1. Cleanse. In the morning, I prefer either Ambi African Black Soap or a light cleanser of my choosing. In the evening, I typically use Lancome’s Creme Radiance, a clarifying cream-to-foam cleanser. I use a spin brush for my face in the evenings, by the way. Mornings: the good old hands.
  2. Exfoliate. I don’t do this every day. Perhaps every other day, or every, every other day. Real talk: exfoliating my skin is the bee’s knees. I don’t know; there’s something about the texture of the product against my skin, removing all those impurities. Yes and please and thank you. My favorite exfoliating agent is Garnier’s Blackhead Eliminating Scrub with Charcoal. It has Salicylic Acid, which helps my post-facial wax, sometimes acne prone face.
  3. Tone. Look: toner is life. Provides additional cleansing after the main cleanser, shrinks pores, refreshes the skin, and all the other lovely things described here. I enjoy it immensely. Currently, my favorite toner is L’Oreal Hydrafresh Toner.
  4. Micellar Water. This is a new product for me. I typically use it at night as a makeup remover. So no more makeup wipes for me, for the most part. In the morning, it can function as a cleanser, which I’ve used for that, as well. I love the feel of it on my skin. Not too heavy, definitely refreshing. I use Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1. 
  5. Spot Treatment. This is when I add products that deal directly with any acne or blemish issues. I’ve been sticking with Murad’s Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment for a minute now.
  6. Moisturize. The final step for me. Light, not too heavy, refreshing: my criteria for a moisturizer. Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin for the win.

Of course, due to my abundance of research (I don’t do many things halfway once I set my mind on doing them), there are a few things I’d like to add to the routine. I’m newly intrigued by pre-cleansing oil, the pre-cleansing before the cleansing. My oily T-zone didn’t see the need to add oil to oil, but seems legit. We shall see. Secondly: serums and eye creams and masks. The package(s) is/are on the way. I’ll report when they arrive.

So, the moral of the story: my Algebra teacher was right. I should have listened the first time. But since Ms. Baker and I met again during my Sophomore year (and I finally listened and passed), I’ve renewed my intent to keep this skin healthy and aglow.

What’s your skincare routine? Share in the comments if you please.