Greetings from sunny Trinidad and Tobago! The temperature here is 30 degrees Celsius. I guess that’s in the 80’s, in Fahrenheit speak.
Our vacation is flitting by in a blur of family, friends, cocktails, and fabulous food. I’m collecting quite a bit of material to write about when I return, but I have hardly had a spare moment to even so much as check my e mail – a rare feat for a hopelessly addicted e mail junkie. The separation anxiety made me admit that I have a problem!
I promised the amazing Annie of Blogdorf Goodman that I’d participate in a Best of 2006 beauty products list, so without further ado I present my picks for 2006. The internet here is S-L-O-W, so forgive me for a lack of links within the body of this post. I’ve reviewed many of these products before, so scroll through my archives for details on some of them. But I promise to embed images and links to all of these products when I get back. After I post this, you’ll find me chillin’ by the pool with a strong rum and coke until I get back to the hustle and bustle of Miami on Monday afternoon. Sigh.
Best Lipgloss – L’Oreal HIP in Dreamer. OK, I’ve never been a pink kind of girl. Purple has always been my favorite color, and when I reach for lip color, most often it’s a fab wine or dark berry shade (like HIP’s Enchanting, which is my take-to-work-everyday gloss). The shade of my skin always made it hard for me to find the “perfect” pink – not too bright, not too tame, not too baby, not too hot. But Dreamer made me a believer. It’s a dusky, sparkling rose that quite simply makes my lips look luscious. It’s subtle, but oh so pretty. And I’m sure it would work wonders for a range of skin tones.
Best Mascara – Maybelline Intense XXL is one of those two-part lash enhancing products I tended to shy away from, but when I ran out of the ol’ standby Great Lash I figured I’d give it a shot. It works great for me, giving my clumpy lashes definition and length with the microfiber, and bold thickness with the uber black mascara part. I even impressed my fake-lash sporting mom with this stuff. Love it.
Best Bright Eyeliners – Sephora brand. I plug these whenever I can, but let me just say again how much I like Sephora brand stuff. I just got an awesome powder brush that I’m thoroughly enjoying, and I can’t leave the store without picking up an eyepencil or two. They cost like five bucks, and both the thick and thin pencils deliver powerful, lasting color. My only complaint is, they’re too short! That’s why I keep coming back for more.
Best Blush – Jane Iredale’s Global Beauty in Flushed. I had a fear of blush (and bronzer – fret not, I’m getting over that and will post a bronzer review soon!) until recently. Iman’s tips in The Beauty of Color recommend that dark skinned women make a beeline for a blush with gold sparkle, and Jane Iredale’s Flushed is that shade. It’s sparkly, pretty, and doesn’t make me look like a clown when I wear it. I will definitely repurchase products from this line, and I hope this is the beginning of many more high quality products to come for women like me!
Best Eyeshadow – L’Oreal HIP loose shadow in Valiant. I raved over the HIP line back in September when I was sent a ginormous box of stuff. But after recieving all of the shadows, blushes, and foundations I still actually BOUGHT one of their shadows. Valiant is a soft, gorgeous blue-lilac, and it’s magnificent on brown-skinned bellas. The loose shadow comes with a brush, and looks amazingly intense when wet, or luminous and romantic when applied dry. This shade might not work for everyone, but if you love ocean-inspired, restful colors and have big baby browns, this might be the shadow for you.
Best Concealer- Iman Second-to-None Stick Foundation. Living in a literal melting pot of a city (or an island), I’ve always had issues with liquid stuff. I just can’t stand having my makeup sweat off, and too often I assumed I was looking pretty only to catch sight of myself and realize my face was dripping makeup stalagmites (verify which) and I looked more like a Dick Tracy villain. Iman’s stick foundation came to the rescue. I daub it on like a giant crayon and it masks my hyperpigmentation spots all day long. Over my fave moisturizer and under my fave powder, my face looks close to flawless. And the range of shades is hard to beat!
Best Powder – L’Oreal Bare Naturale. I might as well lead this one off with a giant disclaimer – THIS PRODUCT MAY NOT WORK WONDERS FOR EVERYONE! I personally love it, but I’ve experienced the ravages of excess. It’s painfully evident in some of the photos I’ve taken this year – too much of this mineral powder will make you look like the walking dead. I gave one to Mama Bella for Christmas and she only uses it on half of her face, because it totally accentuates her melasma. But if I use it sparingly over a good moisturizer and a great foundation, Bare Naturale is miraculous. It was my window to the wonderful world of mineral powder. Now that I’m down to my last dregs, I’m excited to see what else is out there but I plan to repurchase this anyway.
Best Shampoo – Suave for Kids. I’ve tried so many different shampoos this year, from Sunsilk to Motions, Garnier to Frederic Fekkai. I always come back to my beloved Suave for Kids. Why? Because it smells divine (love the dragonfruit), it’s gentle, and leaves my naturally curly locks shiny, defined, and happy. I just bought the entire line (shampoo, conditioner, and detangling spray) for the littlest Afrobella in my family, and she loves it! Suave hair products are generally beloved by women of color with thick, unruly hair because they work well and are affordable. The Grape also makes a great conditioner wash for those who follow the “No Poo” regimen.
Best Conditioner – Matrix Biolage Ultra-Hydrating Balm. I was recently gifted with a full-size tube of this stuff, and bellas, I’m in love! This super-thick conditioner leaves my curls well nourished and glossy, and makes for an effortless comb-through. I like it just as much as the Garnier Three Minute Mask, and that’s saying alot.
The Leave-Ins I Believe In – Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner, and Hair Milk. How many more times can I rave about this stuff? Until I find other conditioning products that smell as good, and makes my hair feel as soft and look as glossy as CD’s – I’m a believer!
Best Detangler – Kinky Curly Knot Today. My usual hair routine was to comb my hair out in the shower, while it was drenched in conditioner and hot water. Knot Today made it possible for me to comb and fingerstyle my do apres shower, and I love how slick it makes my tresses. My advice to afrobellas looking to buy this stuff, check the website for store locations to avoid customer service issues. I sincerely do love this stuff and I recommend it without reservation!
Best Curl Definer – Garnier Fructis Curl and Shine. When my afro ‘do is looking like a don’t, I turn to Curl and Shine. It helps me transform frizzled hair into defined ringlets, and whenever I use it I find myself tossing my perfect curls around like some kind of deranged shampoo commercial lady. Loves it.
Best Sheen – HPO Butter Drops. My sister Petal recently offered me some ‘cone filled mineral oil stuff to give my do some gloss. I countered with my teeny bottle of HPO Butter Drops, an aromatic blend of oils that are really good for your hair. The extracts of lavender and essential oils are great for hair and body – HPO even recommends it for use on stretch marks for mommies to be!
Bath and Face Stuff
Best Soap- Maryam’s Soap Nook has it, hands down. I love the Pumpkin Pie bar soap, which looks and smells delicious enough to bite. My husband recently proclaimed his love for the Exfoliating Body Wash with Kukui Nut Oil and Jojoba Beads in Tahitian Petals. Color me shocked – he NEVER raves about soap or bath products. If Maryam’s was enough to convert a lifelong Irish Spring user, I think any bella with a penchant for wonderfully scented bath products will be delighted with her stuff.
Best Oil Control – Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Acne Mask coupled with Iman’s UnderCover Agent will beat the greasies regardless of where you live. Trust me on this one, I live in Miami and vacation in the Caribbean. Grease has been the bane of my existence for years. This one-two punch can be drying, but it makes me matte for hours and that’s all I care about.
Best Acne Control Moisturizer – Persona. This numbing cream helped me preserve my sexy. With aloe and hydrogen peroxide among the other natural ingredients, Diddy would do well to give it a try.
Best Custom Blend – Urban Botanics Just Baked. This batch was whipped up just for me, but if you contact Urban Botanics’ rep Shawna, I bet she can blend up some almond, allspice, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon body wash and lotion for you, too! Every time I use these products, people ask me what scent I’m wearing. It never fails. If you love yummylicious desserts as much as I do, you’ll adore this stuff.
Best Deodorant – Secret Vanilla Sparkle. I know, I know. Most deodorants are just plain bad for you. But the crunchy granola brands leave me smelly and with gross armpit stains. Since I live in such hot and humid climes, for now I’ll stick with my Secret Vanilla Sparkle which goes on clear and makes my pits smell like ice cream all day long. I gave Secret Sparkle deodorants to all the bellas in my family, and they love them too!
Best Body Wash – Philosophy Hot Cocoa. I got this for Christmas, right before we left for Trinidad. Because it was so big, I decided to leave it behind in Miami. Now I’m itching to take a rich, chocolate scented bath and I can’t wait to get in the shower when we return!
And now, a personal note.
Bellas and fellas, 2006 has been an amazing rollercoaster of a year for me. I saw many changes in my career (I haven’t announced this yet, but I got a promotion just before I left for vaca. I’m an editor now!), my husband and I moved into a great new place, and we enjoyed vacations with friends and family in far away places.
Sady, we also lost some loved ones along the way. My husband’s grandmother passed away just before Christmas. She was surrounded by loving family right until the end, and even though we are sadly far away right now, our hearts go out to all of the Yursik family. And last night a very good friend of my family – Trinidadian photographer Bert Allette, who came to Miami and took our wedding photos back in 2002…who has come to my family’s traditional Old Year’s Night party every year without fail – was senselessly murdered in the neighborhood he loved and served as a government councilman. I still can’t believe that I won’t see his smiling face (and ever-flashing camera) on Sunday night. We’re both still reeling with emotion, here.
Over these holidays I’ve been having fun with friends and fam, but also thinking long and hard about how strange and bittersweet life can be. I’ve come to the greater realization that it’s so important to take time to show your friends and especially family how much you love them. To overcome stubborn pride in order to grow and learn from our mistakes. To always stay optimistic and positive in the face of adversity and stress.
I started Afrobella this past August – just five brief months ago – and I’ve met a community of friends all over the world who bring me joy and writerly fulfillment on a daily basis. At the end of this crazy year, I am so thankful for you all. Your comments and e mails have lifted my spirits and I hope my sometimes trivial words have occasionally lifted yours.
I wish you a very happy new year, filled with love, peace, and prosperity!
With love, Patrice AKA Afrobella.
Please visit the other fabulous beauty bloggers who have posted their picks for Best of 2006. And here’s to a bright and beautiful 2007!