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. 

 

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…

that skin(care) thing.

By now, you get that I like when things are low key and simple, right? Low maintenance rocks my quiet world. I watched a YouTube video today about skincare products and was reminded of just that: when it comes to skincare and beauty regimens, you can imagine how utterly unfussy I am. If it takes longer than 5-10 minutes to do any of it, just no. Give me my Mac Studio Fix and my Ruby Woo. Give me my Neutrogena face scrub, a moisturizer, and let’s be done with it. Words like toner and serum might as well rhyme with binomial and integer: they mean nothing to me. (Big ups to all my Math side eye people–uninterested and confused, one fraction at a time.) The word regimen itself makes me tired.

But a girl gets older and the acne from 10th grade wants its home back, right on my forehead. Or a girl gets her face waxed and the pores become hotels who always have a vacancy. Or weird blemishes pop up and have me wondering what happened to all those superhero African juices that, post-puberty, combated whatever pimple tried to disturb the peace. And when This Square Peg realizes that her status quo must change…she reluctantly realizes that she must change it.

My current “regimen” for skincare:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Consider calling out sick. 
  3. Wonder if a murderer or serial killer is also waking up at the same time as you, being that it’s 5 something in the morning and that hour is reserved for killers.
  4. Trudge to the loo.
  5. Pull out your Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub and apply a dab to your brand new Vanity Planet facial brush. (You’ve used your hands to wash your face for, oh, 23 years, up until a month ago. But you saw a YouTube video and the wallet was close by and there was a discount, so…) Start cleaning. 
  6. Finish, wipe face.
  7. Apply light moisturizer. Store brand or Equate.
  8. Crawl back into bed. Kidding. Maybe.

That’s all, folks. No face masks, serums, toners, brighteners, prayers to the good skin gods. But the blemishes keep coming. Not every day, but they pop up here and there. Might be the stress from all the changes I’ve gone through these past few months. Might be the reactions to said stress, which typically involve carbs and liquids that aren’t water. I’ve long known that skincare has a lot to do with diet and nutrition and not necessarily just superhero African juices. Anyway, I’ve used Neutrogena for years, and decidedly the acne combating brands, since, as stated above, pimples were my main issue since age 15. The clusters have long gone, but one likes to decorate the center of my head every now and then. But perhaps it’s time to find something different, a new product.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and you will, because you love me):

  1. Tell me what skincare products work for you. 
  2. Do you sometimes battle a blemish here and there? Acne?
  3. If you understand what toner is and its point, please: share with the class. Convince me. Remember that I’m still doubtful on whether fractions mean anything in real life. (Says the woman who can’t figure out the difference between 1/2 and 1/3.)
  4. Do you have a–gulp–skincare regimen? If so, please share that with the class in the comments.

All for research purposes. My forehead thanks you. 

p.s.: I’ve recently discovered Melanglow, an awesome place to get beauty and skin advice and recommendations for us brown girls. So yay for that. Check it out. 

Products from Heaven: Vanilla, Shea, and other Non-Edibles.

Hi. I’m in love with the following three products. Links are also provided, if you’d like to take a look at them and welcome them into your world:

Olay Ultra Moisture Vanilla Indulgence Body Wash

It’s not edible. But I must stress that when I use this body wash, it feels like I’m swimming in a pool of vanilla cupcakes, each one more delicious and dangerous than the next.olay I’ve used Oil of Olay products here and there, but not enough to develop a relationship with them. (Because we’re really in relationships with these products, aren’t we?) Anyway, after randomly choosing this body wash one evening while shopping, it’s a new favorite. The scent is dreamlicious; my skin is soft and lovely after use. Try it. Just don’t eat it.

AVEENO® POSITIVELY NOURISHING®COMFORTING WHIPPED SOUFFLE

Also not edible. And yet the combination of cocoa and Shea butter in this creamy lotion is enough to inspire you (i.e., me) to at least search for an edible version of these dual ingredients. Maybe in an ice cream? aveeno souffleGelato? Souffle? Moving on: I’ve used Aveeno products since time began, and yet I mainly stuck with their daily moisturizing lotion. But this is no mere lotion. It’s so, so creamy. As soon as it touches my skin, I inhale deeply, relax a bit, and apply just enough to prevent sliding off my bed in the dead of night.

Vanilla Whipped Shea Butter

After nearly 4 years as a naturalista, I’ll definitely say that the product junkie-ism that inevitably comes with the natural hair life has largely abated for me. My bathroom no longer looks like an aisle in your local drugstore. I have my staple products. But once in a while, I watch YouTube videos and my eyes get big and I decide to try a few (only a few) of the things I’m seeing. Regarding this particular inedible product from Black Girl Long Hair Marketplace, I saw a neat video on the many uses of Shea butter and was reminded about how versatile it is. I’ve had the raw African Shea Butter in my bathroom for eons, but honestly, the scent wasn’t giving me the I-wish-I-could-eat-you feels. (Because this is how I make decisions on skincare, beauty, and hair: whether or not it smells like my next dessert. We keep it real here at This Square Peg…) Enter the aforementioned video, enter this website, enter the word “vanilla”, enter this yummy productbglh shea butter that I use almost every day in my hair care. Whether I’m two-strand twisting my hair, or smoothing it down for a puff, or just keeping the fro soft, I love it. FYI: If you order it, and you really must, choose to have it packaged in a cool container. I didn’t, which meant that my Shea butter came to me in a melted vanilla soup form. I whipped it myself. Anyway, definitely a keeper.

Any skin/beauty/hair products you’re crushing on lately? Tell me about them, pretty please. I’m always on the hunt for new favorites…

Products from Heaven: Fits Like a Dove.

Here’s the real, no-holds barred truth about Your Square Peg: she sweats like a chocolate pig. There’s no other way to say it.

Ever since I woke up one morning a million years ago and discovered the monster known as–shudder–puberty, the sweat glands opened up, got to work, and decided to work overtime every single day. So when it comes to controlling that interesting region under the arms, I’ve been using Secret antiperspirant ever since I can remember, especially after my mother discreetly told me that borrowing my father’s deodorant (true story) was no longer acceptable. (I was 12. And it smelled nice. Strange children grow up to be sassy square pegs, so join me in embracing the strange, won’t you?)

Sidenote: I’ve long heard the conversations around me about not wearing deodorant because of all the chemicals. I appreciate it, and until I do research and find something organic and chemical free to control the sweat monster, sticking with the standard.

You know how Secret (and other antiperspirants) advertise the whole “invisible solid” thing on their products? Which should calm your fears about wearing dark clothes and not having white stains staring back at you in the mirror? Here’s a secret: This. Isn’t. True. This has never been true. You know it as much as I do. Nevertheless, I stuck with Secret through the years, wearing dark blouses very carefully and slowly, lest I disturb the Force, and kept it moving. But one gets tired of holding her breath as she pulls on her clothes. Enter Dove Dry Spray, which I happened to notice on dovedryspraythe shelf one afternoon last week. The following words on the bottle caught my eye: wetness protection. After engaging in the usual Square Peg side eye that I give any product, I decided to give it a try. It goes on dry, it boasted 48-hour odor protection, as well–why not, right?

Well, I don’t call it a Product from Heaven just because. It’s awesome. For one thing, I wasn’t lied to: this thing goes on instantly dry, it gives this chocolate square pig peg actual wetness protection, and I’ve yet to see any of those pesky white stains on my clothes. I love it so. And that scent…so heavenly.

So there you go: yet another Product from Heaven that I’ve stumbled on while meandering in the aisles of a store. Maybe I should just move in?

Ladies: care to share what you do when it comes to antiperspirant?

Products from Heaven: It’s Shea, Baby, All Shea. [The Body Edition]

shea
I make plenty of use of the three products to the right for my curly fro. I’m also now eyeing that Curl and Shine Kit.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough that I use almost every product in the wonderful and quite effective SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus line for my mind-of-its-own natural hair. I had to go and discover that SheaMoisture has amazing products for bath & body, too. (Where was I, you ask? Living under a rock, apparently. It takes square pegs some time, ok?) That said, I went ahead and fell in love with four specific products that I’ll share with you. Make way for bullets:

  • Coconut & Hibiscus Foaming Milk and Body Wash. What can I say, really? It’s foamy and milky and takes me to a coconut and hibiscus garden in the south of France somewhere. I recently purchased this product and it makes the body electric all soft and pliable and, again, I smell like an assortment of desserts. Win. [5/5 Square Pegs]
  • Coconut & Hibiscus Body Wash. I actually tried this one first. Hardly dissimilar from the first item; in fact, I first wondered why SM had two. I got the same effects from this one. And, really, the only reason that I purchased the first one and not a replacement of this one when I ran out was simply because of semantics and old age. In other words, they looked the same and I believed I was buying the same thing. (So many orange bottles.) I will say, however, that I like the whole milky/foamy aspect of the first body wash a bit more. Still a win, though. You can’t go wrong with either. [4/5 Square Pegs]
  • Coconut & Hibiscus Bath, Body & Massage Oil. Oh, are you sensing a theme here? I love that coco and ‘scus theme more than I can say. Anyway, after discovering that body oils were my new best friends, I purchased this product to see what it was all about. The consistency is heavy, yes, so unless you use the same dime-sized amount you’re cautioned to use when applying hair products–which I ignore and admit it, you do, too–you’ll learn, like me, that a little really goes a long way. (Especially after side eyeing the buckets of oil I had slathered all over me.) It’s a sweet scent, quite similar to the body washes, but can be cloying if, again, you don’t watch the amount you use. But it was also soft and yummy, so there’s that. [3-ish, close to 4 Square Pegs]
  • Coconut & Hibiscus Body Butter. All hail, basically. This product is creamy and delicious. The same aroma as the body washes, but so there’s the whole I-smell-like-a-French-garden thing, and it seriously does wonder for my dry skin. In fact, now that we’re in autumn and a month away from wintertime, I’ve placed the above-mentioned oil on the back burner while I use this body butter. With this, a little goes a long way, too, but perhaps I’m saying that because I want it to last forever and ever. I don’t know. The consistence is indeed butter like, as the product name suggests, so you may not need to slather it all over you. Really great overall. [5/5 Square Pegs and an extra praise emoji]

What are your tried-and-true or new beauty products?

Products from Heaven.

khan
Khaaaaaaannnnnnnnnaturalhairproducts!

Not pennies, but products. And if you sport your natural texture, you know exactly what I’m referring to. The search for products that will benefit your natural hair seems never-ending, not just in the beginning, but  sometimes throughout the hair journey. Add to the fact that I believe our natural roots occasionally like to play too much and change their spots–what worked in the beginning suddenly doesn’t do a thing for the strands. So even the natural evolution of our hair can often make the search for the right hair products maddening. How am I dealing with this, you ask? Well, here and there, I do look up to the heavens and scream “Khaaaaaaannnnnnnnnaturalhairproducts!” when I deal with some products. (If you got that Star Trek reference, hello, my love and fellow Trekkie. Yes, in my African household, we were raised as Trekkies.) But, by and large, I’ve gazed up into said heavens and thanked them for their sweet rewards. Yes, nearly two years into my return to natural (December will make it official!), I’m happy to report that there are certain staple products that make Her all shiny and happy. We’ll call them TSP’s Products from Heaven ™. Here they are.

janecarter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mentioned this Product from Heaven earlier this week. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if clouds and sunshine were part of the ingredients. This product does so well for my thick hair. It softens it, it makes it smell so fresh and so clean clean. It does wonders. I typically use it after washing as part of my moisturizing routine, for twisting, Bantuing, taking care of those ends, and/or when my hair is just needs a pick-me-up. By the way, Shea butter is one of the ingredients in the solution, so I think that’s the key. My hair is married to Shea butter. Were you at the wedding?

detangler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Um. I don’t know what to say. This product was hiding in my bathroom one day and I decided to use it and the cream touched my hair and my hair said, “I bow to your will, my Master.” It detangles on touch. It leaves my hair soft and manageable. I use it as a leave-in, as a twisting product, as a best friend, as a confidante. Wherever you are, Ms. Waajid, thank you. Thank you.

Hair Oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a sample of My Wild Spirit Hair Oil in a gift bag for a natural hair show (thanks, Toia!) and it immediately took to it (and purchased much bigger bottles from the manufacturer). Light, not heavy, lovely fragrance. I use it in my layering moisture process (the LOC method). Simply divine.

milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took a break from this product for a bit, but now it’s back. (No real reason. My product junkie-ism has me forgetting what I have, which is what happened to The Great Detangler above. Sigh.) I’m a longtime love of Shea Moisture products, and this one hasn’t failed me. I also use it in my LOC method process (the “C”). It does what a moisturizing cream is supposed to do.

That’s all, folks! A few staples that treat my hair very well. Divine Products from Heaven. I’m still on a hunt for a shampoo that doesn’t give me wiry hair and nightmares and a conditioner with good slip. But we’ll talk about that later.

What are your Products from Heaven?

It’s a Swap Thing. (Blogtober #27)

This past weekend, me and a good friend decided to host a Natural Hair Swap Party. And it was all kinds of awesome.

My co-hostess with the mostess, to the left.
My co-hostess with the mostess, to the left.

The Original Plan: a year ago, as my friends sat in a car and discussed the different products we use for our natural manes and how effective/ineffective they were, I found it interesting that the same products that worked for one person did the complete opposite for another. Moreover, most of us had used these products once or twice and abandoned them for other options. I wondered aloud about having a party where all of us would bring our products and swap them with each other to create the same effect: what didn’t work for me may work for you. It was also an idea to curb the product junkie-ism/convenience stores that most of us had in our bathrooms.

The Details: each naturalista would bring their gently used (used once or twice, so no half bottles or barely there) products. And then swap! In other words, no one would come empty-handed or leave that way. So, yeah, there was no significant curbing of that product junkie-ism I mentioned earlier, since we were all going back home with something, but we were returning home with decidedly fewer things that we came with. So success?

The Execution: what better time of year do this than in the autumn, when a lot of us are going through our assortment of products to prepare our manes for the upcoming changes in weather? As mentioned, we gathered this past Sunday for the party. It was pretty awesome to have a bunch of naturalistas and mutual friends in one room. Along with the actual swapping, we played a few natural hair inspired games (name 10 natural hair vloggers/bloggers and 10 natural hair brands), gave out prizes (gift bags with all kinds of hair goodies inside), favors, etc. So much fun. The swapping itself was great: my co-hostess came up with the brilliant idea of giving everyone a ticket with a number on it. For Swapping Round 1, whomever had their number called could come up to the products and grab one product. After everyone got their turn, in Swapping Round 2, the ladies could feel free and take as much as we wanted. It was a wonderful bedlam. As intended, no one left without something, including yours truly and her co-hostess.

Not only was it terrific to see a plan come together, a year in the making, at that, but the ladies thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Needless to say, we plan on making it an annual event. Below are a few more photos from the party.

swap8 swap5 swap6 swap4 swap3 swap2 swap1