I Tried a Sleep Mask for a Week...

Admittedly, I’m not the best sleeper. It normally takes me a while to fall asleep, and it’s usually with the TV on. 

I don’t typically get sleep that’s the BEST quality. I wake up tired because I toss and turn all night long. 

 

Recently, I received a self-care kit courtesy of Olay to celebrate Black Southern Belle’s 30th Birthday. And THERE it was...

 

THE SLEEP MASK.  

 

I smacked my teeth so so hard because they NEVER work for me. I wanted to try it out anyway because maybe the 3rd time would be the charm.

 

The first time I tried one was in high school, but nothing was really going on in my life for me to actually need it. The second time was in our first apartment, but again...nothing going on there in life except school, a restaurant job, and a couple bills. 

 

But NOW? With a mortgage, car note, full-time job, business, 3 pets, and a pending wedding? BAYBEEEEE...something had to shake.  

 

This is whole week of no TV paired with mask wearing has left me passing out and waking up in the same position I clocked out in. A couple of nights ago I even forgot to put the dang thing over my eyes. 

 

Wanna know what else came in my box?  

  • That coveted Olay Regenerist Whip
  • a workout tank
  • A SATIN PILLOWCASE! (How did they know that’s how I roll?) 
  • My new bestie aka the sleep mask

 

Final Thoughts? 

I’m definitely keeping up this sleep mask thing. I’m bougie (again, admittedly...), but at least this mask is serving a real, beneficial purpose to help end my bedtime struggles.  

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5 Things You Should Have Tried From the 2018 Charleston Natural Hair Expo

This past weekend, I attended the 7th Annual Charleston Natural Hair Expo, and I'd say it was a great event overall. I only had one goal in mind, and that was to walk away with products that I would actually use instead of buying things just for the sake of buying. In past years I haven't been as discerning with my spending and left with things that I never even used once I got home. The items pictured below are ones that I've been enjoying since this past Saturday, and I think you'll be seeing a lot more of them on my Instagram feed. 

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  1. Celestial Beauty Goddess Glow in the shade "Heavenly"- This body highlighter comes in a variety of shades, so be sure to check out the entire line to choose the most appropriate shade for your skin tone. We're looking for maximum glow up out here these days! 
  2. Unorthodox Roots satin-lined headwrap- This brand creates satin-lined hats and headwraps, and I thought that the one I purchased was great for giving my durags a break.(For those of you who don't know this about me, I often wear durags underneath my regular headwraps to protect my hair from the drying fabric.)
  3. The entire haircare line from Femme Noire- The packaging grabbed my attention, and the ingredients made me stick around. My hair likes most of the oils in their products already, so I decided to spring for the entire line and give it all a try. The Flower Bomb Hair Growth Oil is pictured, but best believe all of those products took a ride home in my bag. I even purchased their travel-sized products, so I'll be doing a post on how my hair holds up during my next trip to Seattle! I typically do protective styles when I travel across the country, so this will be a completely new experience for me. Fingers crossed! 
  4. Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner from Alikay Naturals- This is an old staple from when I made the decision to stop flat ironing my hair as frequently back in 2014. The scent alone made me want to twist my hair every night, and my hair was always moisturized and less prone to breakage because of it. Add a little oil to the ends on top of it, and it's a done deal. I like this product still in 2018 because it's a nice style refresher also. 
  5. Chewies (not pictured) from Brown Sugar Charleston- Since being in Charleston, I've developed a deep-seated love for chewies. I'm not new to Brown Sugar Charleston, but I was too excited to see their table set up at this years expo! I walked away that day with my sweet tooth fully satisfied, but you should contact Brown Sugar Charleston for your cake and dessert jar needs as well. Their key lime cupcakes are my all-time favorite.   

 

Wanna know the best thing about each of these vendors? 

They actually TALKED to me and my friends, and showed genuine excitement about what they were offering! Each one beamed when talking about how they were solving a specific need, whether it was protecting my coveted strands, nourishing them, making sure my skin was extra poppin', or ensuring that I didn't have to hunt any longer for the best sweets in town. Next year at the expo, I'd love to see more of that kind of energy from all the vendors in the room. These few from my haul definitely stole the show in my eyes, and I can't wait to see them again soon! 

 

What was your #1 purchase from the Charleston Natural Hair Expo this past weekend? Let me know in the comments below! 

My Summer '18 Makeup Essentials

We all know that I'm a makeup junkie. I've gotten far better and only travel with one makeup palette these days, so I'm not really THAT bad anymore... am I? 

 

Either way, summer is my favorite time for a number of reasons: 

  • I love hot weather
  • I love going to the beach
  • I love that I can get away with wearing less all in the name of staying cool

While the summertime is my time to shine, it isn't really compatible with a full face. With time, I've found my arsenal of products that keep me cute while allowing my skin to breathe in all this southern heat! 

  1. Aloe + Rosewater Hydrating Mist by Motherland Essentials- I use this first thing in the morning to spritz my face, throughout the day to give my skin a cool drink, and even to make sure that my makeup stays in place! This Charleston-based brand is my go-to for the majority of my skincare needs, so I was happy to see this product added to their lineup just in time for summer '18!
  2. Forever Brows by BK Beauty Cosmetics- This little pot of brow pomade works miracles any time of year! I took a dip in the ocean a few weeks ago, and my eyebrows were still there when I came out. My brows don't smudge AT ALL, so it's even more amazing to note that the product removes easily with an oil-based makeup remover (check this post for my favorite cleansing products). The BONUS, though? The product comes with an angled brush so you have no excuse for NOT sculpting those brows like your life depends on it. 
  3. GLO Illuminator by Manna Kadar Beauty- This highlight is buildable, so you can be as subtle or as extra as you want to be in the summertime streets. It has a slightly rosy tint to it, which balances out well to give my skin an extra hint of warmth. I wonder what it'll do for you? (Maybe you should buy some and tag me in the pics...) 
  4. Clean Matte BB Cream by Covergirl- This particular formula is for oily skin, so you'll want to be sure that you're purchasing the right formulation of BB cream for your skin type. BB creams are the best for summer because they're going to be lighter and more breathable that a foundation. I only use an amount about half the size of my pinky nail, and it blends my whole face. You know what's great about that? I'm not as worried about my face rubbing off on someones shirt if I give them a hug! I use a primer underneath that has SPF, but you can also find BB creams with the SPF included and knock two things off the list in one go. 
  5. Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer by Fenty Beauty- Smells good, isn't sticky, lasts a long time...what boxes do you need to check before purchasing? It looks good on EVERYONE and compliments any makeup look you can think of. And since were going light on everything this summer, Gloss Bomb is going to be the perfect gloss to keep in your purse so you're ready to serve lucious-lipped realness at any moment. 

The takeaways? 

  • Less is more is the rule of thumb when it comes to all of these products. I've been getting my money's worth, and the amount of usage I get with each purchase pays off. With other products I may have to repurchase 2-3 times to get the same worth.
  • You don't need a million products. This is 5 ITEMS. Use these and a little liner and you're done. You can spring for the eyeshadow if you're feeling kind of fancy (see the cover pic of this post). 
  • Do NOT get caught out here with your face melting off. I will find you, and I will question you about it. 

 

Happy 5 product, summertime makeup serving out here in 2018!

Thick Thighs and Booty Cheeks on the Beach

I’m still pretty self-conscious and don't frequently wear form-fitting clothing from head-to-toe or show a ton of skin, but I'm working on it. Self-love is an ongoing, ever-changing process, right?

 

If you've never seen me in person, I pull a decent-sized “wagon” behind me, and in the country my body type is referred to as “stout” (meaning “thick”). I’m technically one of those girls who was skinny and just got a little bit bigger. These days, I’m smiling a bit more when I walk past the mirror. And that’s a huge deal for me. The stretch marks don’t bother me anymore, and I think I look pretty dang good at this size. Walking around the house most days in lingerie probably helped. And I mean all day long, lounging in faux fur sets and satin robes and what not.

 

Y’all should try it out. Seriously.

 

A while ago, I wrote this blog post about my body image issues. There were some who felt where I was coming from, but more often than not I was met with comments like,

 

 ”Girl, talk to me about body issues when you’ve had three kids and look like me.”

”Chile, you are SKINNY and you look good!” 

”You don’t even know what big is.” 

 

I'm not about making other people's expressions of what's bothering them about myself, so I wasn't a fan of it happening to me. I basically did the same as most people in the "whose body is worse" olympics and shut the hell up. 

 

 

It took me YEARS to start gaining weight. I didn’t reach 100 pounds until the second semester of my freshman year of college, and in all the years prior I remember eating nonstop because summer two-a-days and after-school practices as an athlete left me hungry. For years I couldn’t break 90 pounds. I remember being so excited to call home and tell my mama I couldn’t fit my size 0 skinny jeans anymore back in 2011 because I was finally in the triple digits.  

Today, I’m at 137. 

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Since moving to SC back in 2014, I’ve fluctuated between 125 and 135 frequently. Each time I've passed 130 it's freaked me out. Every time I believed that I was too overweight and looked sloppy, so I'd eat less and try to work out to get the weight back off. It never mattered though, because I just didn't LIKE my body at any size. Right now I’m at my heaviest, but I’m HAPPY. Not having a super flat stomach anymore isn't even on my list of stressors now.

It's taken me all this time to talk about it again online, because people think if you have a “nice” body (which is all kinds of subjective depending on your visual preferences) then you should have zero worries related to looks. Add to that the bonus, unwarranted comments from family members about how skinny you were for years, but how you've gotten so fat now when all you did was grow up and finally develop a pretty standard “99s and the 2000s” type of body. What y’all really want from me, man?  

I recently bought a bathing suit style that I NEVER would have considered wearing when I was thinner, even though it probably would have been more “appropriate” then by some standards. Back then I had enough breasts to warrant a bra, but not enough to create resting, unforced cleavage. The suit came from Aerie, and it plunges in the front, is backless, and is a cheeky cut. The cheeky cut back then wouldn't have raised any eyebrows.

Cheeky cut on me in 2018 turns into a semi-thong in 10 steps or less, but this past weekend I said screw it. The boobs and booty were POPPIN’ on Sullivan’s Island, y’all! I had zero worries about the cellulite and stretch marks, and guess what else?

 

 I DID THAT, SIS!  

 

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So here’s to walking past the mirror this summer and saying “DAMN GIRL! YOU FINE!”

There are a million ways to be a baddie outchea.   

 

My Skincare Routine!

If you follow my Instagram account, you know that I'm a huge lover of all things makeup! When you have a passion for highlight and contour like I do, you need to make sure you're keeping your skin as healthy as possible. Below, you'll find the skin care routine that I perform each morning and night. 

Important: What works for me may not work for your skin type. Make sure you're paying attention to your skin's needs and adapting this routine accordingly!

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  1. Oil-based cleanser: My favorite is Neutrogena's Ultra Light Cleansing Oil. The packaging boasts that it "effortlessly and completely removes waterproof makeup, dirt & oil," and I'd say it does a pretty good job without me having to tug and pull at my face with a washcloth to get rid of stubborn mascara. I use 1-2 pumps and massage into my dry face and neck gently. Follow up with warm water to activate the oil mixture and remove dirt and makeup, then rinse with warm water. 
  2. Foaming Skin for Sensitive Skin: Next, I use 1-2 pumps of Simple Foaming Cleanser. I like this cleanser because it picks up anything the oil cleanser might have left behind without stripping my face of its moisture. Rinse with cool water this time! 
  3. After patting my face dry (NOT RUBBING!), I use Witch Hazel as my toner to do a final cleanse on my pores and knock out/prevent any irritations that might want to creep up. I use a small cotton pad to swipe the product over my face and neck. 
  4. Once the toner dries, I apply a light serum under my eyes and lightly to the rest of my face. Match your serum to your specific skin concerns to keep everything balanced. 
  5. I finish with a small amount of coconut oil. My skin can be very finicky, but since using the coconut oil I find that I have fewer breakouts and irritations. Find what works for you!

What did I learn from picking up this routine? 

  • You don't need all of that strong, abrasive, "wakes you up in the morning" stuff on your face. Save those things for every once in a while or as body scrubs in the shower. I have a St. Ive's scrub that I love using every other week, but I make sure that I stick with their "moderate" exfoliation products. That apricot scrub would scratch my face to DEATH! You don't need all that, sis. 
  • Moisturized skin= happy skin. I noticed that my skin only gets rowdy when I'm not drinking enough water and not moisturizing it the way I should. That combo always sends me into a red itchy mess, so at the first sign of itchiness I'll go and do steps 1-5 to start knocking out whatever it is that's irking my pores. 
  • Consistency for me has led to fewer breakouts. I'm able to spot treat and knock an irritation out with toothpaste in an hour or two because I keep up with the above routine. YES, toothpaste. I'm not buying a special spot treatment cream for something that happens every blue moon. Dab that minty freshness on and go about your business. Thank me later. 

 

What's your skincare routine? How do you take off the day? Let me know in the comments!