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! 

How I Learned about Real Black Love

To that special guy:

Almost seven years after becoming your partner in crime, I feel like I get what black love is really supposed to be. I'm so thankful for you, and here's seven reasons why: 

A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

  1. YOU'VE GROWN WITH ME: We were babies when we met each other the first time. I was eighteen, and you were nineteen. As a country girl, the whole "ATL dude" thing took some getting used to. We've been through some crazy moments together, from surviving on ham sandwiches for our rescue kitten's surgery to me throwing your phone into the woods at our first apartment because your 22-year-old self was a complete idiot. I love that we're SO grown now and can laugh at our younger selves. 
  2. YOU'RE A NATURAL PROVIDER: The first time I went to your grandmother's house and saw you working on her car, I knew I wanted you to stick around. I'd never seen a guy close to my age who actually enjoyed getting their hands dirty. Where I come from, everyone only wants to be seen. I knew that someone who was willing to not be 'perfect' all the time might be the change I needed. 
  3. YOU'VE BEEN MY NURSE: Two years ago, I almost died from a clot in my lung. The ER doctor told us both that if it hadn't been caught that night that I would have been gone within 2 days, and it was the only time you've ever cursed me out. I was in shock and couldn't speak, but you were afraid. Your eyes always say so much without you opening your mouth, but you had TIME that day to let me know that you weren't with my hush-mouth behavior, and you sat in the hospital bed with me and hugged me tight. You told me to never suffer in silence if I felt like something was wrong. Now I tell you every time I crack my knuckles too hard LOL! 
  4. YOU LISTEN: I'm hard on myself, and never think I'm good enough. You never put me down for my feelings, but you're quick to remind me of all the things I'm capable of doing. You always encourage me to go after the ideas I have, and you're always there to support me when it gets hard to handle. 
  5. YOU SEE 'ME': So often I lack self-confidence. I'm not the same 90-pound girl with killer 8-pack abs from years ago, and I scowl at myself most days when I walk past the mirror naked. I always catch you staring at me with a grin on your face when I'm standing in the mirror picking myself apart, and I'll ask "WHAT?," ready to defend myself against the opinions of myself that I project onto you. You always say, "Nothing. Just felt like staring at you." You don't think my legs are too big, or my thighs too wide. For almost seven years you've said I'm "just right."
  6. YOU TEACH ME: You've taught me to stay patient with myself, to treat myself, trust myself, challenge myself and cherish myself. When I learned how into cars you were, I was excited but worried. I wanted to learn way more about them, but was always told that it wasn't for girls. We talked about it on one of our late night phone calls as I sat on that hideous hot pink comforter in my freshman dorm room. A few days later you called me and said to come over, "but don't wear anything nice." YOU TAUGHT ME HOW TO INSTALL A CAR RADIO THAT DAY, and I remember being so proud of myself. Now I know how to rewire steering columns, too! What are we learning next? 
  7. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND: Now, I now it might sound corny to say..but it's TRUE! I come to you for advice on everything. When we started hanging out at the end of August 2010 (yep, I remember), I knew you'd always be my friend. We hung out almost everyday, even if it was just you helping me study for a test, playing pool in the student center or walking around the mall to talk about life (because #teenagers, right?). Six months later when you asked me to be your girlfriend I was shocked. You'd already told me you loved me three months in, but it was never weird. I remember you saying, "IDGAF if you ever say it back to me. I'll still tell you every day!" You never pushed yourself onto me, and I was never worried about you trying to harm me in any way. 

 

We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING!  Image by  Aneris Photography  

We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING! 
Image by Aneris Photography 

Best Friend,

I'm thankful, grateful, and lucky to call you my person. Here's to 70 more.

Love,

Karmen

PS- Bet I'll smoke you on my Hoveround years from now! 

Doing You is OKAY, sis.

Being in such fast-moving environments, I've started making more of an effort to be conscious of what I'm feeling mentally and physically. It's much different from what I'm used to doing (which is pushing through to the point of total burnout and spiraling into a deep bout of depression), and it's working for me. When I'm tired, I take a nap. When I feel sick, I take care of myself. I burn candles to help me wind down after a long day. When I'm feeling sluggish and bloated, I pay attention to what I'm eating. 

Over the past few months, simply making time for myself and protecting my own energy has given me some awesome results. I smile more, my skin has never been better, and I'm more productive when it comes to things like getting my grad school homework done wayyyy ahead of deadlines.

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With all of the positive changes I'm making to treat myself with more love and care, it still hurts a bit when I'm made fun of for choosing my own wellness above everything else. I have a hard time digesting pasta now, which I used to be able to eat every day without fail. So I switched to quinoa to try something different. I still do pasta every once in a while, but I have to add in a ton more veggies when I do so that I'm not in nearly as much pain. At first, EVERYBODY made fun of me and my quinoa. Family members would comment about me eating "bird food." Some people would go as far as to say that I was trying to "copy white folks". I've even had folks ask me where my real food is, and call my plate gross! Honestly, it used to make me feel so small and like I just needed to suck it up and suffer through eating all the stuff that would have me in pain for days on end. Self-confidence is something I have to work at all the time, so feeling attacked for being willing to eat better for myself used to really get me wayyyyy down. And every time I'd fall back into eating the stuff that I knew would make me sick because it was easier than having to explain myself. But then one day I was like, 

GIRL. If it's helping you, it has nothing to do with anybody else. Let them pick!

I'd only ever share if people asked, but I don't outwardly talk about my food decisions now. Because, why? I probably eat meat a couple of days out of the week. Not because I'm trying to make a statement, but I'm noticing more and more how different foods affect my mood and ability to get shit done. And I mean, that's the key, right? How you gonna be a girl boss out here and constantly feeling sick and shut in? Besides, I season the crap out of my food so don't worry about me. I'll make it just fine. 

Personal Bloggin' bc #Labels

Y'all. I've decided that I don't fit in. 

I don't really consider myself a clean-cut lifestyle blogger. And I'm far from a fashion blogger. 

I've noticed that it's way more natural for me to talk about topics off the top of my head without labeling myself. Recently, I attended the first Charleston Black Girl Bloggers Brunch, and it felt good to be surrounded by a blogging community of women who looked like me. For the longest time, I thought that I had to fit into one of those preexisting categories, but each of the ladies present was doing something to make blog genres their own.

I've been going through a lull with my blogging thanks to balancing school, starting a small business, and working a full-time job. But after the brunch I felt inspired to blog again on my own terms. To write about what I want, without trying to fit myself into a box. Whether it's food, the current book I'm reading, or a dope event that I wanna invite you all to, I'm vowing to just WRITE. I'll likely be adding some new categories to the search page, but stay tuned. Your girl is getting back in the game. 

-KC

Cultivating and Maintaining "Boss" Status with D'Amber Shannon

D'Amber Shannon, Owner of Enhance Beauty

D'Amber Shannon, Owner of Enhance Beauty

I'm so excited to share a piece of home with you all on the blog today! Today's businesswoman feature is D'Amber Shannon, owner of Enhance Beauty (here's her Instagram). She's an amazing makeup artist and someone who has inspired me to work harder to monetize my own interests. We both hail from Forsyth, GA (the CITY, not the county...), which has a reputation that would fit well into any Mona Scott, Love & Hip Hop type show. I decided to chat with D'Amber about what keeps her moving forward when others around her want her to be stagnant.

 

OM: Tell us a bit about yourself.

DS: My name is D’Amber Shannon. I have been actively involved in the beauty & cosmetic field for the past 2 years. Aside from practicing makeup, I am a full-time mom, wife, and have a full-time job at GEICO. I have been married for 2 years, but I have been with my husband, for 11 years! My nine year old, Caiden keeps my busy outside of work when I’m not doing makeup.

 

OM: How did you decide on a name? 

DS: I actually posted a status on Facebook, asking friends and family what they thought the name should be. Enhance Beauty is really what stood out and stuck with me!

 

OM: What motivated you to take the leap to do makeup seriously as a profession? 

DS: I wanted to try and help women find and acknowledge the beauty within themselves that they already possessed. My first time doing a full face makeover for a client, I felt great about it. I thought my work looked awesome!

 

"I’ve learned that if you lose track of what you are aiming for, the failure is bound to follow you."

 

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OM: How have you seen your skills in makeup artistry grow since the first time you set out to do it? 

DS: I’ve seen big improvements in my skills over these past two years. When I first started doing makeup I thought I was doing a great job, but looking back now, I can see the growth in what I’ve done recently. From the way I used to blend eye shadows and apply foundation to being able to arch and fill-in eyebrows.

 

When she first started roughly two years ago. D'Amber's current skills prove that practice really does make perfect.

When she first started roughly two years ago. D'Amber's current skills prove that practice really does make perfect.

OM: Where we come from, it seems as though some people find joy in others' failure. How do you combat that mentality and stay focused? 

D'Amber's work today! Although she always produces beautiful works of art on her clients' faces, she's constantly looking to improve her craft.

D'Amber's work today! Although she always produces beautiful works of art on her clients' faces, she's constantly looking to improve her craft.

DS: Living in the town that I live in, people LOVE to see failure instead of success in life. The way I handle the negative and continue to stay successful is by staying self-motivated. I’ve learned that if you lose track of what you are aiming for, the failure is bound to follow you.

OM: On a deeper level than income, what does owning your own business provide you with that the typical 9-to-5 doesn't? 

DM: Owning my own business, allows me to be flexible with my hours, allowing me to spend more time with my family.

 

Head to her Instagram to see more amazing makeup artistry, and a special thanks again to D'Amber for taking time out of her schedule to share! 

 

 

Learning to Love Myself Through Thick and Thin

I'm at a strange point in my life where the majority of my thoughts are centering around my body weight. For so many years, I was stuck at 85 pounds. In high school I was on the Varsity competitive cheer squad, and at 4'10" I had no choice other than to be a flyer. Working out twice a day to stay in shape for all of the jumping and tumbling that was required of me meant that I consistently stayed at that 85 pounds throughout high school. It seemed like my butt and breasts would never grow, and I always felt so far behind everyone else's development. My sisters and mother have always had shapely bodies, and I never felt like I fit in with them. 

Me, Senior Year of High School. Straight muscle. 

Me, Senior Year of High School. Straight muscle. 

Fast forward to now, and I have plenty of the booty and breasts that I was so anxious to have back then. And yet, on many days I don't find body as appealing anymore. I DEFINITELY don't want to be 85 pounds again, but it's discouraging to read that 124 pounds is considered "overweight" for my height. I went from TV abs of steel to a stomach that isn't really flat anymore. I don't go out as much as I used to when I was scrawnier. And I DO want to go out. I buy clothes all the time waiting to go have fun and be cute, but it never happens. I'm caught between wanting to work out to tone up and fearing that I'll end up doing too much and being 85 pounds again. 

Me, 19th birthday. I always say that I look tall in this pic despite being 4'10". Many days I want to trade in my thick legs for these "long" and leaner ones. But, I'm pushing myself to love me where I'm at and to take care of myself in healthy ways. 

Me, 19th birthday. I always say that I look tall in this pic despite being 4'10". Many days I want to trade in my thick legs for these "long" and leaner ones. But, I'm pushing myself to love me where I'm at and to take care of myself in healthy ways. 

It was so hard to be tiny and listen to comments about how small I was. I still can't win now that I have a woman's body either. I went home last month for my cousin's wedding (which was AMAZING!--Congrats again, Tia!), and was so nervous about the comments that I'd have to field. Whispers about how thick I am now. About how WELL I'm eating. It's frustrating and tiring at the same time, because no one is satisfied whether I'm skinny or thick but they feel compelled to share their opinions either way. I don't take full-body pics at all anymore, but I see that I'll have to start doing that as a resolution for the new year. Last year's resolution was to find new things I'm good at, and I was able to pick up jewelry-making and sewing as a result. I want to be happy with this body and any changes that might come with it in 2017. I want to start dressing up and going out on the town for MYSELF, and not waiting for someone to ask me. I won't continue to seek out validation, or beg for buddies to hold me accountable with staying healthy. 

Me, Summer '16. My boyfriend took this pic of me and Kayjay at Folly Beach, and I haven't taken a full body pic since. I'm sure my hips are even wider, and I'm learning that it's ok. 

Me, Summer '16. My boyfriend took this pic of me and Kayjay at Folly Beach, and I haven't taken a full body pic since. I'm sure my hips are even wider, and I'm learning that it's ok. 

I'd love to chat with some of you about the things you do daily that help you love your own bodies! Help a sister out in the comments!