The Original Beauty Blogger. Often imitated, never duplicated.

Daily Features: Black Friday

Ethnic Beauty Explorations!


toofacednaturalfaceMeg here! Can you believe we’re already going into spring for beauty? I have good news for those of you that love the nudes. This spring is all about glowy dewy faces and muted eyes. There’s no risk of super bright hard to wear colors yet! (if you want to gamble play blackjack) you don’t need to be risky when it comes to your face.

I attended a beauty breakfast Wednesday hosted by Too Faced Cosmetics. I love when beauty brands are smart and approachable. Evey beauty company should host at least a couple times a year a lunch or breakfast where they get all of the beauty blogger’s together and show us the latest and greatest. It’s just smart, it lets us let you know the new, hot trends and allows us to see each other. I love seeing my fellow beauty bloggers. It’s always a great time and you can be sure everyone’s makeup is up to par!

Too Faced has a ton of amazing items for spring but the Too Faced Natural Palette really jumped out at me! I was on a plane all day yesterday, Surprise! Surprise! I vowed that even though I will be in NYC for ten days, I was bringing a medium suitcase. I know, crazy. I’m just sick of lugging a mammoth suitcase around with me. It’s not like I’m strong.

So  I will actually be doing laundry while I’m here, I brought 30% less clothes then I usually do (and it’s cold out!) I also was brutal about what cosmetics would be packing it into the travel bag. Too Faced Natural Face Palette made it into the bag!

It was an easy pick! It has all of the face essentials packaged in one sturdy (and nice looking package!)
It has gorgeous shades of a bronzing veil, creme blush, powder blush, a concealer, a luminizer and a brightener. The shades are completely versatile and on trend. It is a definite “must have!”

I’ll be meeting with all the beauty editor’s this week and I have to look good (even though I have left the majority of my “look good” stash at home!) I’m thinking no one will be the wiser and I have Too Faced to thank!

I have to wrap this post up because I have 2 million trillion things to do and feel like I’m underwater on a lot of them.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and please, spring, can you hurry it up already? Kiss

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So there I was, another lovely afternoon in LA, going about my day, enjoying the sunshine, the birds chirping, doing a little research for hot, new Meg’sMakeup topics… and then from across the table, Meg says to me “Hey, Jasmine, can you test and review this new lube for me?” Cue the storm clouds, violins and heart tugs. Really? Really!? You see, I have been in a five year relationship, two of which have been spent long distance. Though it’s only 110 miles between us, our busy work / play schedules keep us separated more than we would like. I think you all can formulate a pretty good idea what this has done to our ::ehem:: intimate life. Don’t get me wrong – when we’re together, it’s like we haven’t skipped a beat, but the dry spells during our separation have been hard on the soul. Sadly, at that moment I was smack in the middle of the mojave desert in this arena. I already knew I would not get the chance to test its effectiveness in the time that she needed the review. (We are currently into day 7 of a 28 day separation.) And all I had to show for it is this tube of the world’s first and only certified organic lubricant wrapped in the cutest teal packaging. Are you kidding me?? Completely tasteless, odorless, and made using only pure, natural, and organic ingredients from plant extracts (short list: water, aloe, flax extract, and some natural gums – all organically grown by the way), the Yes Intimate Lubricant is exactly what I would have always wanted had I known creating this product organically could actually be done. Who knew the silicones and alcohols in all the other brands on the market was a choice not a necessity born out of the companies’ concerns of hygiene and ease of use for the consumer? Any other time I would have been ecstatic to give this little baby a go. Of course with my luck, Meg’s timing could not have been worse. (Not your fault Meg dear – love ya!) You all know that I am a fanatic about products that use wholesome ingredients and production practices; I couldn’t have made a better bottle of protection for my kitty cat myself- this is all in all pretty perfect.

What I can tell you about Yes water-based intimate lubricant is that the feel, taste and smell (or should I say lack thereof of the latter two) will wonderfully compliment your sexcapades. It’s basically aloe vera with added ingredients whose jobs are to emulsify it and make it easy to smooth over surfaces as well as eliminate that natural bitter aloe vera taste. Fabulous! But that’s as far as I could get. Needless to say, in order to get the most comprehensive review, I needed to “call in a favor” (shout out to my girl, whom shall remain anonymous by request, for getting busy for the cause!) I mean I can talk all day long about the feel, taste, smell, ingredients, etc., but unless it’s put to the test, it’s all just speculation, right? Let me first set the stage by saying that my friend, in general, is not very keen on lube. In fact, she doesn’t really use it at all – “yeeeears” was how she put it when I first asked her to be my lab rat, err, I mean, test subject.  Plus, she was a little bit embarrassed to go on the record about her sexual experience with this product. I mean, she’s not a prude by any means, but asking her to give me a play-by-play that will be blasted out to 100,000 women is a whole different ball game and can cause dry-mouth and anxiety in even the most open person. So, for all intents and purposes, let’s call her “Angelica”.

So, back to the issue at hand. Here’s what Angelica had to say about Yes lubricant. Performance wise, this product gets an A+. Angelica has sensitivities to synthetic products – she has to carefully analyze the ingredients in creams, serums, and gels to spot the “no-no” ingredients in her beauty products. Off the bat, this was an issue for her. I assured Angelica that, in this instance, she had nothing to worry about and that in fact, the company’s motto is “Yes says no” to synthetic ingredients. Based on that alone she was sold. Yes’s even comes in an oil-based version formulated from shea and cocoa butters, almond oil, sunflower, vitamin E and beeswax (you can actually eat this!) and it’s slight thickness and oily texture makes it great moisturizer for the skin – and Yes actually recommends leaving it on afterward to do just that! In this case, Angelica had the pleasure (pun definitely intended, hehe!) of trying the water-based lubricant. I am happy to say she came back with a report of smashing success. Yes puts it’s money where it’s mouth is and delivers a premium product that does everything it says it will and more- no irritation, no discomfort, no harmful fragrances added, pure and untainted sexual bliss. Her only warning was to go light on the coverage – a little goes a long way. For all you folks with sensitivities, look no further for your the ideal lubricant to suit your needs (keep hope alive – this is made for you!) Guys… gals… I think all will enjoy this little gem. Go to and check out Yes’ selection of fantastic products. Believe me your partner will thank you.

How many of you would be excited to try organic lube?

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revitabrowJas here! Until 7 weeks ago, my eyebrows were an afterthought…if noticed at all. I have always had VERY light eyebrows. The hair is very thin and they just lay there in the same shape all the time. If it wasn’t for the fact that the hairs are medium brown, they would be almost undetectable. I never did anything to them. I just counted on my face moisturizer to keep them slick and together, though I won’t lie and say I actually thought about this because without checking I knew minuscule brows would be fine. To me, these things didn’t add anything to my appearance, they were just there for their primitive purpose of keeping dust and gunk from falling into my eyes, as God intended (I think…really, what are they for?) I know most ladies might think this is a blessing, and I must say I agree to a certain extent. I love not having to worry about plucking every week or paying someone else to groom them out of necessity. I have the luxury of not really paying attention to them at all.

That said, I mentioned a couple months ago that I got my first eyebrow consultation and makeover from some of the best brow workers in the biz at the Anastasia Salon. Since then I have realized that even with what little hair I have, there are things that can be done to them to make my brows pop and add some wow-factor to the eye. (my eyes are my favorite feature so I can’t believe I slept on this revelation for so long!) It really does make a difference when they are all cleaned up and shaped to perfectly complement your eye and overall face shape. Now, I am obsessed with making my look their best. I have been trolling makeup / beauty aisles looking for enhancers – pencils, powders, shapers, gels, brushes….you name it, I’ve probably tested it over the last couple months. Oy ve! Brow pencils work really well for me – fills them in and gives them a look of volume and drama – and I’ve just mastered the technique of applying and brushing the brows so that it looks natural and not like a desperate – and failed – attempt to achieve something reminiscent to the “Brooke Shields-esque” look. Yet the problem still remains – I have very little hair to work with!

Drum roll please….allow me to introduce RevitaBrow Eyebrow Conditioner! Brought to you by the same manufacturers of the lovely RevitaLash Eyelash Conditioner. Years ago I discovered RevitaLash and that, for me, it actually worked wonders. My eyelashes grew thicker and fuller just as advertised and even my boyfriend noticed and kept accusing me of wearing falsies or kept ordering me to wash my face because he thought I was wearing mascara to bed! That should give you an idea of how light and thin mine are and the drastic difference the conditioner made- I have a lot of hairs, they are just so short and straight naturally that they are pretty much imperceptible without mascara but they really became darker and noticeable and even curled up a bit with no product! So when I found out about RevitaBrow, it was a NO BRAINER! You mean I can actually have some real eyebrows?? And that they will look dark and full without drawing them on with enhancers? Sign me up!

So far, so very good. I have only been using it for a few weeks, but I have already noticed a difference. Though at this point I can’t say they are much longer or thicker than when I first started, they have gotten noticeably darker which has made my brow shape more distinct. I am sure this is because there are new baby hairs that are growing in right now, so I am anticipating that if things keep going as is, the increased fullness will be much more evident in the next couple weeks (I’ll check back in with the final analysis.) This is made with a similar formula as RevitaLash so it can be a little irritating if it gets in the eye, but because it’s on my brow, I find I can put this on anytime of day without fear of sensitivity (unlike the lash conditioner that needs to be put on before sleeping so it doesn’t get into your eyes.) My eyes are poppin!

If there are those of you out there like me that have thin brows and are looking to boost them without pencils and powders, then I think this is really worth a try. If you just want some extra thickness, I think this could be the answer as well, though I don’t know if your results will be as dramatic. Either way, I am a happy camper and hopefully one day soon I can give Brooke a run for her money.

Are you familiar with RevitaBrow or the RevitaLash brand? What do you do to maintain your eyebrow beauty?

Buy It Here!

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kahina argan oilI strongly believe in the possibility of connecting with people from other cultures and creating an environment in which the little things we do throughout or daily lives positively affect the lives of people around the world. Even in something as seemingly inconsequential as our choice of skin care, it’s about a consciousness of the decisions we make every day.
– Katharine Phillips L’Heureux, Founder of Kahina – Giving Beauty
Jasmine Simone here! I love essential oils – they are so nurturing to my skin and have done wonders for scarring, dryness and other skin issues I have had in the past. Recently I discovered the wonders of Argan oil. So what exactly is argan oil you may be wondering? Only found in a few countries, Morocco being the main one, the argan tree oil is revered for it’s numerous nutritive, cosmetic, and medicinal properties. It is pressed from the seeds of the argan tree fruit and has been used for cooking and cosmetics for centuries before modern times (dating back to before the Phonecians.) Presently, argan trees are near extinction due to severe drought seasons and over use for of the trees for wood over the past 50 years. They are now a protected species by UNESCO and must be harvested sustainably to preserve these ancient tress that can live up to 200 years.

Fortunately, the Kahina – Giving Beauty brand adheres to this standard of environmentally-conscious processing. L’Heureux chose the name Kahina as an homage to the Berber queen (Berbers are the indigenous people in North Africa) and prophetess who reigned in Morocco circa 700 CE and “a heroine to the Berber women, Kahina represents empowerment and vision for women worldwide.” And that is exactly what founder, Katherine Phillips L’Heureux, was inspired to do when she created this line of products after a visit to Morocco brought her into the world of Berber women, who subsequently revealed to her the amazing, versatile properties of argan oil. Kahina works with the local women to provide them with a viable and sustainable way to make a living which subsequently improves their way of life. Taking it a step further, Kahina also sources rare essential ingredients from women’s cooperatives around the world, and donates 25% of their profits to support initiatives that improve the lives of impoverished women around the world.

This is 100% organic argan oil is fierce! As a black female already a sucker for nutritive essential oils to keep my combination skin in balance, this one is a keeper and I now place it up there among my favorites. Odorless and light (unlike many other popular oils i.e. olive, coconut and vitamin e) I’ve used it everywhere – my face, body, hair, even as a cuticle softener. Is there anything this oil can’t do? Even more incredible –  argan oil absorbs very well and doesn’t leave a greasy residue on me. Delightful! I can’t wait to try the other products in their line such as the serums, face cleanser and lotion which can all be purchased at According to the brand’s consumer testimonials it has helped a lot of people deal with their skin sensitivity issues. Based on the great opportunities this company provides to struggling women alone, I vote this product a winner.

Are you a fan of Kahina?
Share with us your favorite essential oil!

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for feet's sake - aromafloriaJasmine Simone here!
So okay, I’m going to be honest with you. Mani-pedis are not high on my importance list. Truth be told I would rather spend my money on grooming and salon visits than paying money to get my stubby, bitten fingernails or my toes that I could do myself. Though I go in for pampering every so often, I personally have no problem with bare nails as long as they are neatly trimmed (and even that could probably use a little more attention from me…) However, as one can imagine, this laissez-faire attitude doesn’t do much for the more specific aesthetic features upon closer inspection. Now don’t get me wrong: from far away everything looks great, but I admit that the skin on my hands and feet could be a bit smoother and more supple to the touch.

In comes Aromafloria’s For Feet’s Sake Foot Butter. Off the bat, I was stoked about trying it. I had noticed lately, that the skin on the bottom of my feet were somewhat rough and scaly, especially on my heels. Not as much of a turn-off as a notable to my boyfriend. (I guess I can’t get mad at him for his honest opinion, but his feet are so padded with dead skin that they are like panda paws – “yeah but I need it – good for walking barefoot to the beach,” he says… humph!) This cream comes chocked full of nourishing ingredients. You all know my penchant for wholesome beauty products and the Feet’s Sake recipe definitely fits the bill: shea butter and many essential oils and soothing plant extracts, including my fave, peppermint, that is always a pleasant addition to my beauty products as it stimulates circulation to area which is applied.

After using it for almost two weeks, I have to say that there has been a marked improvement, though not “instantly”  as quoted on the back of the bottle. But it was pretty darned close! After about 5 days, I really started to notice a difference. The dead skin on the bottom of my feet began peeling away, especially after a shower or a soak in my bf’s hot tub. Though I was instructed to use it at night, I applied it in various situations to see what I liked best. The peppermint smell is light and aromatic that actually had a calming effect on me, which is really nice right before I fell asleep.

My final recommendation is to use it at night as suggested. It is pretty concentrated and when applied to the feet and then covered with socks it makes your feet hot and a little sweaty (although the persperation just smelled like peppermint which isn’t all bad right?? (I know, I know… I can just hear “Ewwww!” from you all while reading this, hehe!) But when used before bed, it gets a chance to soak in and you wake up with your feet a little softer with a mild peppermint aroma which is great in my honest opinion! Here I would even suggest using socks if you want to intensify the effects – I rather liked using it in this manner although my feet did feel slightly clammy in the morning – but the effects were slightly more amplified as well which made it worthwhile in my book. I must say that my final verdict gives Feet’s Sake two big toes up; it will be a welcome addition to my beauty regimen to help keep my feet supple in between pedicures.

What product(s) do you all use to keep your piggies happily groomed?

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scarJasmine Simone here! Flashback to this past Saturday. I’m standing in front of the full length mirror putting the finishing touches on my party outfit.

JS: “Man!” (examining my new ensemble) “I look good!

(Enter boyfriend, Eric.)

EA: “Hey baby, nice top.

JS: “Thanks! I’m excited to bust it out. I just got it.” (JS places dutiful kiss on cheek.)

EA: “Whoa, what’s that? Is that dirt?

JS: “What? No! I just took a shower for goodness sake.

EA: “Well there’s something on your chest. Oooo-ooohhhh – duh! Those must be scars from the bug bites you got in Belize.

JS: “Wait…what?” (JS takes a closer look at her chest.) “No….this can’t be…” (Examines her arms and back now…) “NOOO!!! They’re everywhere!

EA: “I told you not to scratch so much. You know you scar from every little thing.” (Cue smug smile.)

JS: “Shut up, Poohead!” (Cue withering yet guilty look…in my head I’m thinking “Phew! At least they are flat…almost like discolored freckles really…comfort in the small things. Boo!)

Needless to say, I was an-noyed. Now I love my skin, but every little skin abrasion does show up and it is usually here to stay. I have what they call “keloid-prone skin” (the raised discolored skin tissue.) I have tried many things over the years for scars. Some things have worked better than others but I haven’t found the Holy Grail. And yet some of the worst scars I have had in my life – major burn abrasions on my face from a car accident – have virtually disappeared. This has led me to believe in… miracles really… or a at least some chance for me to be fully scar free one day. Undoubtedly, the best course is to start a regimen when you first get the scar as the fresh tissue is at it’s most pliable and scar hasn’t started to form eyes. Though I do hope to find something that works at any stage on both major keloids or minor discolorations. Below is a list of things I have tried or hope to in the near future.

Vitamin E: Now this is the favorite of the old wives and their tales. And I have to say, from experience, they knew their stuff. This has so far worked extremely well for me. It has not completely vanished my scars but it definitely makes them fade dramatically. It’s relatively inexpensive with no smell and the greasy felling fades quickly. I highly recommend.

Shea Butter
: It is commonly noted in guides to scar prevention that the key is to keep the scar tissue moist and well lubricated so that the tissue doesn’t harden which is the final product you see above the skin. Shea butter is very moisturizing and an excellent lubricant. I believe this is one of the main ingredients I think was instrumental in the healing of my facial scars but I think this may be one that is most effective if you begin use at the first appearance of the scar.

Cell Renewal (Exfoliator): I have had great results with these types of products. They are constantly overturning old cells and bringing new healthy ones to the forefront. Now if you’re looking to treat large or several areas of the body this may become expensive, but I really like the body scrubs by Carol’s Daughter. I like the concentrated oils they use that are good for keeping the scar lubricated and your skin glossy and moisturized. For my face I think this, coupled with the Shea Butter, in my face wash by Collective Well Being is the major factor in how well my facial scars healed. Their Oatmeal-Raspberry face wash is mostly organic and has walnut shells for exfoliating and great nourishing butters for lubrication; all their face washes are great really and naturally exfoliate.

Vanishing Cream
: I have tried some of these fade creams; mostly the ones geared towards African-Americans with the pretty black girl on the front. None of them have really worked for me that well. I’ve heard they can also cause splotchiness. I know they have some skin lightening creams from Asia but I think they are just supposed to remove melanin from your skin, which in theory has potential, but I’m too scared the side effects might leave me splotchy. Any body try these before?

Serums / Sebums: This is my latest discovery and I’m dying to try them. I’ve used a serum with Aloe Vera that was pretty good with plumping up the skin to make them less noticeable but they didn’t disappear entirely. Apparently one of the most consumer recommended products are scar fade creams with snail serum. Based on all the positive recommendations, this is next on my list to try. Elicina Cream is the most widely touted to have positive results.

To summarize, I’m open to any suggestions and will probably try them all in my quest to find… the perfect scar destroyer.

What, if anything, has worked for your scar woes?

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keratinJasmine Simone here! Like most humans, I realize that all my life I seem to be constantly in search of… something. From the mundane to the life changing: the stunning party dress, the most flattering beauty products, the healthiest (yet still mouth-watering) food recipes, lasting friendships, fulfilling community outreach, the best job, the perfect guy… you get the idea. This leads me to wear many hats every day – fashion buyer, product tester, party girl, executive, volunteer, chef, art collector and so on.

Now I will admit that I can get pretty enthusiastic and maybe a bit more overjoyed than the average person when I find an amazing new beauty product. If I find a great new conditioner or a delicious new eye shadow I am sure to espouse my happiness and recommendation to all of my friends and family. There are some companies who have in me a wonderfully satisfied brand-ambassador-customer generating new business for them everyday (hint, hint… I’m kinda cute too… ha!) The good news is that many times I come across the exact product for me and end my search – Natural Dentist toothpaste and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint body wash to name a couple; I’ll use them forever as long as the products don’t get discontinued (you’d be surprised how many items I have loved and then find out the brand is getting the axe!)

I am now going to let you in on my tedious yet often times rewarding exploration. Up first: my search of the perfect hair care treatment. I have been relaxing my hair since I old enough to – which was 13 years old according to my mom. I have tried great hair relaxers and horrible ones  and everything in between with accompanying hair dressers that run the same gambit. When dealing with such a delicate and potentially damaging process, I advocate having both a top-notch and hair dresser and product when hitting the salon though the chemical process bears a bit more weight in my decision when choosing where to get my services done.

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the Brazilian hair treatments both in the media and from satisfied clients. That being said, the coverage in the media hasn’t been all positive. When the Brazilian Keratin Treatments first hit the US market from Brazil, it seemed to be the perfect solution to provide straight hair to curly heads because it could also be used on already processed hair unlike the Japanese straighteners. Over time however, there were reports of the toxic level of formaldehyde being used in these products which, when breathed in during the process, would be irritating and very toxic to the hairdresser and client (and even others in a room not properly ventilated!); BKT even caused one reported death in Brazil. Blech! I was completely turned off of the whole trend. Now however, there are companies making them with the approved FDA limit of 0.2% formaldehyde (2% was being used in the original formulas.) I am now considering giving BKT a try now. It is said to do wonders for shine and manageability especially to hair that has been somewhat damaged from other chemical processes. Márcia Teixeira and Peter Coppola Salon both offer a new formula with formaldehyde derivatives that are touted to be a safer and comply with the FDA guidelines; they also offer formaldehye-free-at-home kits but they only last until the next shampoo (may be good if you want a trial run.) The Brazilian Blowout company has formaldehyde-free formula and has recently launched a home kit as well. Personally, I’m going to give the formaldehyde-free a try (if works without, why bother?) so stay tuned. If it’s good, you will surely hear it from me.

Have you, or anyone you know shared their experience with Brazilian Keratin Treatments?

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solangeJasmine Simone here! When I was a little girl I used to HATE having my hair done. My thick tight curs fluffed out into a big afro puff all over my head and it definitely took skill to tame it. I remember countless nights of crying as my mom yanked and pulled my hair into submission – tying down the braids around my head with rubber bands and barrettes; or artfully placing cornrows in various maze-like styles; or the dreaded 3-hour sessions in the kitchen with the hot pressing comb, the smell of burnt hair wafting through the house.

Needless to say, I wanted the long, flowing, untangled hair like the girls I saw on TV. Though a girl could only dream. However, around age 11 I began to see other beautiful girls of color in the media – Brandy, Beyonce, SWV-  that created this type of long flowing hair for themselves by braiding fake hair into theirs; I became obsessed with getting some for myself. For about 3 years, I constantly wore fake hair, getting it braided into different styles using different colors and textures that afforded me long hair, sometimes left loose and wavy. The best part was that it gave me a reprieve from the pain of styling my natural thick, afro curls in 3-month long intervals. I was in heaven.

However, this began to get expensive and my mom was getting less enthused with keeping up this style for me. Not to mention that it was destroying my hair. Though grateful to have my neighbors and family friends do my hair for such a deep discount, I got what I paid for as the saying goes – they were not trained on how to do the braids / weave with minimal damage (although there are “professionals” just as guilty of this.) By the time I was 16 my hair was broken up to below my ear and I had spent many hundreds of dollars on maintaining this. Sophomore year was the last time I wore fake hair (though I may try it again someday…lol!)

These days, more and more famous women are coming out with stories of their dependency on expensive hair processing and services. Solange Knowles recently shaved her head because she was spending $40,000 – $50,000 in the salon – slave to perms and hair extensions for her celebrity look. Britney Spears revealed in her reality show that though she spent thousands with the best hairstylists in the biz, the constant processing and extensions had destroyed her hair making her virtually bald – leading to her eventual shorn style splashed all over the tabloids. Chris Rock even made a movie about this billion dollar industry market with several celebrity women sharing their hair war stories and the crazy things they do to maintain their flowing locks hairstyles created with relaxers and expensive weaves (Sadly, I have only seen clips of this movie. I know, I know…but it’s at the top of my Netflix queue!) Now, I feel liberated that I can style my own hair and imitate that “fresh from the salon look” – bouncy, shiny, and flowing (you know what I’m talking about sistas!) that costs me nothing but time and patience. Now next step is to release the relaxer and give my fro curls a second chance!

 Have you ever felt that you spent too much money on your hair or some other beauty process? Tell us!

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multiraceCiao bellas, Jasmine Simone here! So I just wanted to give you this last bit of foundation before I start getting heavily into my product reviews. I just wanted to lay a little foundation so you can understand my point of view when I determine what products are keepers for me and which ones I don’t think meet my beauty needs and lifestyle. There are many products that seem to work well, that I may choose not to use because of what it’s made up of.

In my earlier post on Mineral Oil, I told you there more ingredients that I try to avoid when at all possible. Keep in mind that because they are so inexpensive, they are very commonplace; I have to work pretty hard to avoid them and often have to spend a little extra money to get the natural version (not all the time though and I will suss out those gems for you, hehe!)

While each Top 10 list may slightly vary from expert to expert, the following ingredients are the ones that I see on virtually every list in my research giving the general consensus that these are especially risky.

1) Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Petroleum
– You know this dirty bird. The by-product of crude oil, this product is very damaging to the skin and when absorbed, forms a layer that blocks out oxygen and can’t be broken down by our systems. It has been shown to cause blood and skin cancer in animals.

2) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90 percent of personal-care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation, mutagenic effects (tumors) and death. SLS may also damage skin’s immune system by causing layers to separate and age.

Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl, Isobutyl)
– This synthetic ingredient is linked to breast and ovarian cancer by interrupting the endocrine system and unbalancing our hormones with synthetic estrogen (called xenoestrgens). It is used in deodorants. Take caution – sometimes they are not labeled as parabens.

Cocoamide Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), & Monoethanolamine (MEA) – Usually used as an emulsifier to create a foaming or sudsing reaction in products. This is easily absorbed throught the skin and can quickly accumulates in body organs, even the brain. Repeated use can result in major increases of liver and kidney cancer.

Dioxin – Often contained in antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, emulsifiers, PEGs and ethoxylated cleansers like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Dioxin causes cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriages and birth deformity. This is one of the scariest ones because it is not listed as an ingredient, it is just one toxic element used to make up some of the synthetic ingredients listed above or a by-product of such.

Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol
– This is as an ingredient that has been classified as an severe irritant and is considered so toxic by the EPA that protective clothing is required to handle it and must be buried when disposed of. Yuck! PG is used in industrial anti-freeze and the main ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid. Avoid anything with PEG or PPG like the plague.

Polyethelyne glycol aka PEG-100 Stearate
– Made by ethoxylating Propylene Glycol which in turn releases dangerous levels of Dioxin as a by-product. PEGS are commonly found in personal care, baby care, and sunscreen products. It is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to cancer in animals. Disturbing!!

Benzoyl Peroxide – BP is addressed by Material Safety and Data Sheet (a database of organic and inorganic chemicals, also known as MSDS) as, and I quote, “May act as a mutagen, produces DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells in some concentrations. …Toxic by inhalation”. Possible tumor promoter. Whoa! This is used frequently in products for acne so my oily and combo skin beauties beware!

DMDM Hydantoin & Urea
– used as a preservative, it often releases formaldehyde which may cause skin irritation, joint pain, cancer, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Formaldehyde on it’s own has been linked to leukemia, pancreatic, skin, lung, and liver cancer and it’s banned in Canada and Japan.

Phthalates – Commonly found in many products and is usually not listed on labels, this product changes into a xenoestrogen which of course means it is linked to breast and/or ovarian cancers. Other health effects include damage to liver/kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in girls and boys.

Unfortunately readers (I hope my boys out there are reading this too as this can certainly apply to your products), I hate to say the list goes on…and on (I debated making it longer – I have my personal qualms with aluminum, synthetic, fragrance and FD&C color dyes to name a few more.) Currently, these carcinogenic elements and many more are approved by the FDA for use in grooming products. I’ve been doing extensive personal research over the years and have learned to look out for products I can’t pronounce. Kiss!

The Material Safety Data
sheet can be accessed at where you can look up the details on any organic or inorganic chemical. I like using the Oxford University section because you can search for any chemical by clicking on letter it begins with which made it easiest to navigate in my research. Healthy-Communications.Com armed me with my base of knowledge of the effects of these ingredients. I really enjoy this site, less for the layout and more for the nitty-gritty low-down on each of the chemicals – where it comes from and its effects (make sure to click on the links of the ingredient’s name – takes you to the MSDS fact sheet on that chemical.)

If you want a more commercial avenue to check out, check out The Safe Shoppers Bible written by Samuel Epstein, MD & David Steinman. It is a very informative book that gives detailed info on these ingredients and many more how to best navigate when shopping at your favorite neighborhood stores. And everyday, people are sharing their and discoveries and experiences with synthetic ingredients. Susan Jeske-a former beauty queen worked in the cosmetic industry for 20 years, trying every product imaginable until she became severely ill. When she started using only all natural or organic products at the advice of her holistic doctor, she was on the road to recovery in 2 weeks! She is now on a mission to share what she has learned in her research of these products and many more…if you get a chance, check her out!

No one will look out for ourselves and our loved ones better than we do. Yes, I am guilty at times of using products that may contain one or two synthetic ingredients I’ve seen on the toxic list….it’s pretty hard to avoid altogether. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to denounce my beautiful, high-pigment neon eyeshadows that MAAAAY contain a few of these ingredients (eep!), but I don’t wear them  very often (avg. once a week). But I make sure to share what I know with the people that cross my path who are interested so that they have the chance to make to make that choice for themselves. The GREAT news is that it made me begin exploring the all-natural makeup option and let me tell you, there are some pretty impressive brands out there!  My organic blushes and lip glosses have become my favorite makeup staples and I do notice the difference in my skin. If avoiding companies that use these poisonous chemicals became a collective movement, the public could create awareness and prevent their future use because it would hit these companies where it matters most – their pocket books. And we all know that gets the fastest results, ha!

My mottos is – avoid the Top 10+ list entirely in products I use daily if at all possible (i.e toothpaste, body wash, lotion) and look for products with ingredients I recognize. I’ve found that some of my favorite and most effective products are organic and contain 10 ingredients or less. Remember – if it’s edible, it’s credible!

Have any of you discovered bad reactions / allergies to certain synthetic ingredients? Any advice of what to use and/or stay away from? Don’t forget every Tuesday Sweetassgal spotlights a safe and green product!

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noirJasmineSimone here! When I was a little girl I used to love watching my mom put on her makeup. I would sit under her arm, arms around her waist, as she rummaged through her massive selection of powders and colors getting glamorous for whatever event she had planned for the evening. There were blushes in every shade of red, vibrant eyeshadows, and flamboyant lipsticks. And speaking of flamboyant- there was one lip color that my mom wore more often than the others. A magenta-red from the brand Fashion Fair (you all remember them? Anyone still use their products? I wonder what they have going on these days… hmm… an idea for an upcoming feature?) 😉 I love my mom to death but I gotta say this lipstick was one  of the most ill-suited pieces of makeup that she owned. It was more hot-pink than red that bordered on garish. And when it feathered- whoa! – the effect was even more off-putting to me (no-offense mom… love you!) It was her favorite. My whole life, I always thought that finding a great red was a difficult feat for people of color, especially in the heavy matte of most lipsticks  – I feel they are usually over the top for my style. I was a self-proclaimed lipgloss girl until 2008, and didn’t even consider reds until earlier this year.

Ladies, I have found it! Oona Noir from Julie Hewett is a winner! Her fabulous lip products are my new obsession. Based in Los Angeles, the Julie Hewett brand prides itself on producing make-up that is beautiful but still organic and healthy for your skin. (You go girl!) Oona Noir is one of the most amazing reds – nay most amazing lipsticks, I have ever tried. Not only is it organic made with the oils and emollients, but it goes on like butter, so smooth and moisturizing with no fragrance or bad taste (unlike almost every other lipstick I have tried.) It has a deep, yet subtle pigment – allowing me to control how strong I want the color to be on me. Two to three applications for a nice day look. Four+ layers to create a dramatic, siren look for a night on the town. Either way, with an impressive and utterly delectable ingredient list of camellia oil base (said to be closest to human skin oil), lanolin oil, beeswax, grape seed oil, vitamin E and pure essential oils (i.e. orange, rosebud, etc.) for fragrance, you can’t lose. Other lipsticks I have attempted to love in the past turned out to just be a disappointment. I have always avoided them when I could – I hated the feathering and chapped look by the end of the night but if I put chap stick underneath to combat the effect, the color never lasted longer than 20 minutes. Thank the heavens for Julie Hewett. Because of how moisturizing it is, no protective balm layer is needed, just “Julie layers” which ensures that your color will be vibrant yet still long lasting.

After it’s all said and done I realize that in actuality, red is my power color. My brown skin has markedly red undertones, which this lip color really picks up and enhances. And while I have found that this color looks great on me, it is balanced enough that I think it would be great for various skin tones although with markedly different effects depending on the underlying skin pigments of course. Either way, I definitely recommend this brand and especially this color to my ethnic beauties – if you think your color/tone resembles mine and you?re looking for a red that you will look fabulous in by the light of the sun or the moon you have to give it a try. Yet Oona Noir is so subtle, I think all my olive to brown skin girls can tailor it to their liking. And if not, she even has a section? Which red are you?? on her website at that goes through the different reds she has to offer and what type of fabulous female would like them most. Believe me – your lips will thank you. I can’t wait to try her other products.

Have you ladies found a lipstick brand that you absolutely love and cannot live without? Please share with your sistas! 🙂

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PROTEINHappy Friday ladies, Jasmine here! Have you ever experienced Chicago in winter?  Let me tell you – that is a unique kind of cold. And when it’s a windy winter day, forget it – it’s a powerfully brutal force that numbs your extremities and chills you to the bone. Aaahh! but as a Chicago native, I (mostly) loved it anyway because it meant spending the holidays with my family sledding, building snowmen, watching movies and having cocoa by the fire.

But rainy winter days were another story. Have you ever seen tree leaves after a winter rain? A layer of ice forms over them and if you try to pick one it snaps off in your hand. This is essentially the science behind protein treatments in beauty products for hair. When used to excess, protein can be the worst thing to happen to ethnic hair, ESPECIALLY processed and/or relaxed hair. However, we do need protein in our hair care regimens and when addressed properly we can avoid the breakage entirely and actually use protein to give our hair exceptional strength, shine, volume and moisture.

Protein in theory is great for our hair. The most important part of maintaining a healthy head of curly / relaxed hair is maintaining the tensile strength. Because of its structure and the varying coarseness of the types, we need lots of moisture to make sure our hair is in peak condition – this means soft defined curls for some or bouncy relaxed hair with a glossy sheen for others. When used correctly, protein coats the hair shaft sealing in moisture and making it stronger and less prone to breakage. However as one gets into the nuances of hair types, the amount of protein used and subsequent required maintenance starts to vary; in some cases protein can actually cause severe breaking and dryness in your hair.

My ethnic haired beauties, listen up! Here?s the lowdown:

Natural Curly / Wavy hair with normal to dry condition – women with this hair type tend to have a pretty healthy head of hair. Breakage may occur but it is minimal compared to your processed compadres. In your case, protein is more friend than foe. Deep conditioners, leave-in treatments, and protein treatments will give your hair strength and sheen. Heavy use in most cases will not have an adverse effect on your hair. In the event that you do experience some slight dryness and breakage, just use a little leave-in moisturizer without protein to counteract it.

Coarse Curly / Hair with dry to extremely dry condition – this hair type tends to be a little more delicate. Women with this type of hair should use protein but not very frequently – say 1-2 times a week at most. Protein treatments and deep conditioners with protein can help maintain a good PH and moisture balance but a leave-in moisturizer without protein needs to be used to avoid making the hair brittle and prone to breakage. If you have used leave-ins in the past that cause the hair to feel brittle and frizzy at the end of the day, this could be your culprit.

Relaxed hair or Colored curly hair with dry to extremely dry condition – I am in this category (mine is relaxed); protein and I have definitely had a love hate relationship over the past few years. Protein in and of itself is drying. Yet, because of the processed condition, this type of hair needs protein; but more importantly MOISTURE is the key to maintaining a healthy head of hair. Our deep conditioners should always have sufficient protein combined with concentrated moisturizers (i.e. oils, natural butters, etc) in it or else we are not getting the maximum benefit from our products. When we experience extreme breakage, protein is the one of the only things I trust will repair it. Keep in mind though that when protein is used, additional moisture needs to be given to the hair or it will become brittle and eventually snap causing broken, uneven lengths around the head. The only way to avoid this is to use leave-in moisturizers without protein once you give yourself a treatment or deep conditioner (under heat/ the dryer is ideal for our hair because it opens up the hair shaft and really allows the product to penetrate.) I repeat – DO NOT use leave-in products with protein. For us, the leave-in step is key to using protein to our advantage – we need products that will counteract the hardening effects of the protein by softening the hair shaft so that we have the optimal tensile strength (minimizes breakage) and correct PH (hair PH should be close to neutral…around a 7).

I have tried many products on the market and have come across a few that work the best for me. I have gone through many stages of damaged hair and breakage throughout my life, but protein treatments have been integral in bringing it back to a state of health time and again. To date, my hair is the longest and healthiest it has ever been and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my invaluable friend. In reality, I think most protein products are fine for us ethnic girls with the right maintenance.

If anyone would like any suggestions about the products I use or advice on how to maintain with protein, reach out in the forum and I will help you as best I can based on my own experiences.

Peace and light to all – have a great weekend!

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ETHNIC BEAUTY 101: THE NO NO’S OF MINERAL OIL! This is true for everyone!

nomineraloilJasmine here! As the official Black Friday of the market place as well as my first official posting for Black Fridays, I thought I would use today as sort of an informative piece that I hope will help you with your holiday shopping as you take advantage of the great sales and product offerings going on today.

Have you ever used a moisturizer for your skin, a conditioner for your hair, or a moisture balm for your lips that worked so well in the first few applications only to find the awe inspiring results quickly fade with use? Have you ever looked at the ingredient list wondering what you have gotten so used to in the product that your hair/skin is no longer responding? I think almost everyone has had this experience at one time or another.

The most common reason for this is that some beauty products contain various synthetic fillers – mainly because they are much less expensive and easier to obtain – that coat the areas of concern giving the illusion of repair instead of actually treating and replenishing with whole ingredients. Today I’m focusing on mineral oil – one of the most prevalent ingredients you will find in beauty products (especially ethnically targeted brands) yet the least effective and most damaging in my honest opinion. Don’t worry ladies…I will lay out my whole list of synthetic products to avoid in the near future..Kiss Mineral oil – also known as petroleum, petrolatum, paraffin and squalene (though the latter two are less harsh / concentrated forms) – is a by-product of crude oil that gasoline companies view as unusable waste. Now if this stuff is not good enough to put in our cars why would we want to use this on our bodies?

Petroleum based products may seem effective at first because it coats the pores and gives the illusion of moisture infusion. However mineral oil is not natural or a moisturizer so over time it will cause excessive dryness increasing not only your need to continue use but the amount needed to restore (perceived) balance as well. Add that to the fact that your body does not know how to break down this synthetic concoction and this is a lose-lose in both the beauty and health departments in my book. Unfortunately, I have noticed that there are quite a few products geared towards black and ethnic women claiming to moisturize us and yet list this very drying ingredient first! (Side Note: ingredients are listed in order from highest percentage to least with the first ingredient making up the most portion of the product and so on – this goes for food ingredient listings as well.) Mineral oil in all its forms is a definite no-no for us ethnic beauties who need true moisture for our dry-prone hair and skin, but anyone with very dry hair and/or skin should avoid it (i.e. psoriasis, cracked skin/hair, dandruff, extreme split ends, coarse curly hair, etc.)  Now occasionally I come across products with paraffin or squalene that I do enjoy and will use because it’s effect is not as harsh, yet in the end I find the results are still the same so I still try to avoid them.

As you browse through your favorite shopping centers and specialty stores this weekend enticed by the discounted products and holiday gift baskets, the enormous amount of options can be overwhelming and at time border on insanity. However, now that you armed with the knowledge of what you should expect NOT to see in quality beauty products, you can zone in on those that are really worth your attention. Happy Belated Turkey Day chicas and happy buying! Kiss

Who else avoids mineral oil like the plague?

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