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…

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. 

 

hair things.

I decided to change up the ‘do again. No surprise there. As I mentioned to a friend who remarked about the merry-go-round of styles we as Black women are happy to explore, hair is one of the few things in this crazy life that I can control. (Although I’ve long believed that my hair, known as She, controls me.) As you know, I visited the lighter side of the hair color spectrum in January. And I’m very happy there. Which is why, two weeks ago, I decided to go bolder, brighter, and much, much blonder.

Popular questions/statements I’ve received since:

Are you having fun yet? 
Do you like it?
Whoa, you’re brave.
Something new for the summer, huh?
Wow, you’re always changing your hair!

My responses:

Um, yes?
I love it.
Sure.
Not just for the summer, no.
Indeed I am.

Here’s to the merry-go-round.

And before I go: leaving you with my favorite song this month. You know how I feel about Emeli Sande (or maybe you didn’t, but the link is yours to see). Here’s her recent single, which I have on repeat. I love it not only for the melody, and her soaring voice, but for the simple message: we’re all extraordinary. Something to keep in mind–for me, for you, for all of us.

where have you been all my life?

She’s gone blonde.

Yes, dear reader, after years and years on the darker side of the color wheel, I decided to make a big Year of 40 change and go blonde. My hair is now a honey blonde hue and I love it something awful. Initially after the coloring, as you can see in some of the pics above, it had more of a reddish-blonde shade as a result of my red color before and the repeated lifts to get all the red out. These days, it’s definitely more honey and closer to the shade I was looking for. And I plan on going lighter! Now that I’ve learned that going blonde won’t make me look like a dancer of some sort of cheesy Vegas revue, the blonde is my oyster.

And let’s chat about that for a moment. Upon seeing my hair, my sister said the following: “Why haven’t you done this your whole life?!” Other friends also asked why I had never experimented with a lighter color before. You know me: hair experimentation has never been an issue for me. But sporting dark hair as a woman of color was most definitely a safe choice. I couldn’t imagine my brown skin against an even lighter color. (Even bright red was far more safer in my mind than anything lighter.) Now I’ve been reminded that my brown skin is beautiful against any backdrop. We hold ourselves back, even in tiny, seemingly insignificant ways, don’t we? But none of that anymore. Embrace change, embrace newness, embrace the blonde. Because…

tracee

Blogtober #10: Fall Mornings on a Treadmill.

Pretty clear, from the title, how I greeted the dip in the weather this early autumn morning.

Typically, I make use of the gym at the office in the mid-afternoons, having done an in-depth study of the time of day when I can have the place all to myself and enjoy the

exercise
Hot mess dot org

machines and surrounding equipment. (And maybe a dance party in front of the mirrors.) However, following a strange Exercise Epiphany (strange because I’m of the view that opening my eyes before 6AM means I want to either join a crime gang or engage in other nefarious activities), I decided to wake up after 5:30 this morning and head to the office to try an early morning workout. If you’ve read about my fitness journey here on TSP, you’ll know that I’ve done this before, waking up early to work out. And you’ll see that I’ve grumbled about it every time. Nevertheless, I wanted to break up the monotony of my schedule. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Regular gyms and office gyms don’t differ in the following: I’m not the only one who had the idea to work out super early. The gym was packed. So packed that I had to wait for a treadmill.
  2. This didn’t bode well for my I-need-quiet-time-in-an-empty-gym mandate.
  3. After such a thorough, calorie-burning workout, the ole stomach wanted to eat everything. Everything. Despite having my usual veggie omelet for breakfast and gaining that protein, I realized that I wanted so much more.
  4. Which is weird because for all my morning workouts in the past, that wasn’t really a thing. Are you changing things, 40?

Anywho, in the end, I’m glad I committed to actually waking up and doing this. Maybe it’ll happen again…

Which means I definitely have plans to join a crime gang.

Onwards, dear reader.

African Black Soap is The Truth.

Happy Monday. So, I talked about my skincare routine here. Recall that I wanted to make some improvements to my quick routine, being that with age came crazy, random blemish bursts and also, I think my skin had become way too used to the products I had been using for years. Several months ago, I was in the store and saw a bar of African Black Soap on the shelf.

I asked myself, Self, why haven’t you gone the African route? Hello? Your blood is 100% Motherland. Of course the Motherland would have the remedy for your skin. I checked out the ingredients (I knew it wasn’t pure, raw African Black soap; that one will tear your skin apart and I needed to take baby steps towards that kind of detoxification) and decided to purchase it. Slowly, dear reader, I saw the improvements to my skin. Trouble spots, particularly on my left cheek (three pimples that were hanging on for dear, dear life) and that insane forehead of mine slowly began to fade and ultimately disappear. I started doing more research on the YouTube about black soap and decided to try Shea Moisture’s products. Even better results.

The above two are my personal favorites. I use the soap twice a day (look at your Square Peg; months from 40 and making good skincare choices) and the mask is a once-a-month thing. Here’s my new and improved skincare routine, broken up by night and day:

clayclay2Night

Day

Same routine, except I skip the toner.

I haven’t yet hit up any eye creams and serums, but the toner has been great in diminishing the dark, waking-up-at-3AM circles under my eyes.

So far, so good. I’d very much like to apply African Black Soap all over my life, but that’s entirely another matter.

Bon Monday…

Because Solange.

Okay, dear Reader, you know I cut my hair.

Well, I cut it again. And again.

After the first cut, I went back to my stylist and asked for another cut, to even things out, and to color it, as well, since the gray hairs were like all these changes are making us nervous so we ’bout to legit multiply. Here’s how it looked after the second cut:

I went with a wine-y, berry color, which may not be evident in these pics but will be soon. Having been red and brown red and burgundy and jet black, I wanted something in the reddish family, but a bit different than the hues I’ve tried before. Fun story: when my stylist washed out the color, it only lifted on my sides and back of my hair. purpleThe middle remained completely unaltered by the color. So…she added a bright purple color all over, hoping that it would aid the lift…and it did. But that bright purple…whew.

So I was happy with the changes.

Or was I?

This past week, I headed home to VA to spend some much-needed time with the Mama and my family. (It was awesome.) While there, I contemplated cutting my hair again. Deep down, although I liked my look, I wasn’t 100% content. Why? What was I looking for?

Her.

Stylistically, wedding-y, everything-y, Solange has long been a marvel for my eyes. And I certainly remember my gaspy (new word, just created by me, you’re welcome) reaction to her gorgeous big chop in 2009. It was everything. Do you hear me? Every. Ting. I think she was hiding in my subconscious this whole time, patiently waiting for me to bring her back up and acknowledge that this was the hair destination I was headed to. Because even the other photos I had for inspo were cuts that looked exactly like Solange’s.

cutinspo
Solange inspo.

Interesting, right? Anyway, the previous cut was fine, but there was a fro-hawk-y nature about that middle part of my head, and as much as I love frohawks, I’ve had that look before. I wanted something different. I wanted Solange. I wanted simple, chic, lovely, even–all of what you see above. So, when I had some time while home, I drove to the local Hair Cuttery and asked for my third cut.

With the color and this new look, dear Reader, I believe we have reached Destination: Solange. Or, more importantly, I can 1005 percent say I love my new look. Check it out.

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A few more things:

  1. I need a barber. My stylist is awesome and started this style change rolling, but to maintain this look, I’ll definitely need a professional barber. The search begins.
  2. I love this look.
  3. That’s all.

Have you had this experience? Loved a look but deep down, wanted something more? Shall we meet in the comments below?

it had to happen.

December 2012: after eight months of waiting and impatiently wearing two different hair textures on my head (the relaxed ends and the growing, textured, natural roots), I walked into a salon and big chopped my hair. The smile on my face below should tell you how I felt about my decision.

bigchop2

I felt free. At the end of the day, a sense of freedom captured me and sweetly refused to let me go. As the months and years passed, I experimented with my natural hair, as you well know. ‘Fros, tapered cuts, a variety of protective styles–my hair officially became my canvas. And whenever I sensed one iota of boredom, it was time to change the painting.

Take a walk down memory lane with me…

Deep down, though? Real talk? That inner Square Peg longed for that feeling. The feeling that took over me when I got back into my car on that winter’s day in 2012. When I gazed in the mirror and felt that indescribable sense of freedom and beauty and satisfaction. As that revolving door of style changes continued to open and close, I really think that I was trying to re-capture that moment in the car, when it was just me and my ‘lil fro.

Fast forward to last Saturday. It had to happen. I had to go back.

Back to square one, dear reader. Back to the beginning. (And even shorter than the previous big chop, ha!) I sat in my stylist’s chair and I told her what I was thinking and despite her “we’re cutting it again?” response, I showed her the picture of what I was thinking and she took out that razor and got to work.

Look: after years of twist-outs and Bantu knots and braid-outs and all those lovely looks under the sun, here’s the truth: this is my look. This is the style for me. I think, with my previous cuts just a few months ago (here and here), that I was subconsciously moving in increments, slowly heading back to the start. And here we are. Finally.

A few fundamental truths:

  1. Short hair almost automatically influences your style. I found myself wanting to ensure that my earring flow was on point; that my red lippie was on point (and a bit of purple, too, as you can see); etc. It’s almost organic the way it happens.
  2. This is a big one for me. (No pun intended as you read on.) I had head issues. For various reasons, I thought my head was just way too large. Even when I big chopped in 2012, there was always a voice of doubt in the back of my mind concerning this head of mine. And as my stylist was razoring and cutting last Saturday, I almost panicked a bit, wondering if I had made a completely ridiculous decision. But look at that round head! It’s delicious!
  3. Barring a wig or weave if I feel like it, the short hair life is the life for me. When winter comes, I plan on wearing tons of hats and head wraps to keep the cool air from freezing me out, and could allow the ‘fro to grow just a bit, but the short hair look is mine to keep.

I am not my hair, as India says. My hair is an accessory that can be shaped and created into whatever strikes my fancy. For me, the inside needs to be shiny and lovely first, followed by the accentuating of the inside. In all honesty, that’s what happened in 2012: the outside finally matched the inside. Openly, visibly, plainly: me.