Happy New Year!!
I missed you guys so much. After a beautiful vacation in Chicago — complete with fun with friends in the city, family time in the suburbs, and a big ol’ family reunion in Findlay, Ohio — I am back at home and settling happily into 2008. I hope all of you had beautiful, nurturing holiday seasons. Last year I was invited by the wonderful Annie of Blogdorf Goodman to participate in the favorite things of 2006. This year, I’m back for the 2007 list, and as you have probably come to expect from me, it’s a bit unusual. I’ll separate things into categories to make a bit more sense of it all.
Favorite Shampoo — Devacurl No Poo. I first discovered this when I got my Curl Cut from Larramy at GBS — that reminds me, I need to make an appointment with him early in ’08, my curls are taking on that shapeless mass again — and no shampoo makes my hair feel or look healthier, happier, sproingier, or shinier. I try a LOT of different hair products, and I always come back to DevaCurl when my hair feels over producty or dry or clumpy. This stuff is definitely the gentle rescue my hair deserves. And it’s only $13.95. Score!
Conditioner — Miss Jessie’s Recovery Treatment. At $48 for 12 oz, it ain’t cheap, but I gotta give it up to Miss Jessie’s. They’re at the top of the curly hair product heap for a reason. They deliver. When my hair’s at it’s coarsest and most matted, I can soothe it and restore it to maximum comb-throughability with this. Fingers crossed they come out with a 6 oz jar in an affordable mid-range this year.
Hair Styling Stuff — Ohm Body Crown of Glory Hair Custard and Avocado Hair Energy Oil. I tried Ohm fairly recently, and liked it, but these two nourishing, moisturizing hair products came to the rescue during my holiday vacation to the Windy City. Being a lifelong warm weather gal, I really notice the effects of cold on my hair and skin. I took the teeny travel size items I’d gotten in the Saturday Morning Sampler, and they helped keep my coif shiny and soft in the harsh elements. I look forward to trying more of Ohm’s hair products, and keeping you all posted. Judging from this sampler, Ohm is definitely heading in a good direction.
Favorite Face Wash — Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. I’ve got so much to say about this stuff, but more on this verrry soon. I promise.
Favorite Sun Protection Product — Carol’s Daughter Gelee de Soleil Browning Oil. With SPF 15 by my side, I feel better about enjoying the rays, and this browning oil harkens back to the days when tanning was sexy. Slathering on this slick coconut and avocado oil will make you look like a sexy Seventies sun goddess, and you’ll feel like you’re ready to strut your stuff on the French Riviera, regardless of where you’re soaking up the sun.
Favorite Deep Body Moisturizer — Shea Radiance Whipped Body Butter. If you’re looking for a decadently scented shea butter experience without the gloppy quality of the stuff you can buy at any natural foods store (or right there on the street in Harlem), look no further. It’s amazingly emoillient, smells divine, and is worth every penny. Mothers, you might want to check out their mother and baby care section. These people know what they’re doing.
Favorite Everyday Face Moisturizer — Skin Milk Facial Moisturizer. I made fleeting yet admiring mention of the Skin Milk line in my Ash Begone post in November, but didn’t go into loving review of the face moisturizer at the time. Allow me to do that now. This stuff is amazing. My skin just drinks this stuff up! It makes my face feel soft and babied, and it smells like vanilla goodness. My one teeny complaint? It has zero SPF factor. If Skin Milk offered sunscreen, it’d be a wrap for me. There’d be no need for any other face cream.
Favorite Soap — anything Soaptopia makes. Seriously, with a name like Soaptopia, they’d BETTER be good. This company elevates soap making into an art. Their products and packaging is gorgeous. I personally tried the Petalmint Patty, and love, love, love it. Funny story about the Ms. Afro D. Sheak… it smells like citrus passion paradise, and is encrusted with black tea and wild flowers. All packaged up, it makes a glorious gift. But be forewarned — if the man in your life isn’t cool with little bits of flowers and herbs in his body soap, he just might freak out about Ms. Afro D. Sheak. My husband came downstairs in a towel, because he thought there was mouse poop in the shower stall after I’d used it. “No hon, those are wild flowers,” didn’t make him feel any less spooked. I think he’d probably prefer the Blue Pearl Jam, which includes Florida Gulf Coast sand. In re-reading this, I realize “mouse poop” doesn’t really fit into any kind of endorsement. That’s just a funny aside. Seriously, I do think Soaptopia is great.
Favorite Fragrance — M by Mariah Carey. Mariah, Mariah, Mariah. I love so much of her music, and her over-the-topness amuses me to no end. Her Cribs episode is legendary. But I wish she’d comport herself a little more demurely. A perfume ad where she is (literally) showing her ass didn’t exactly attract me to M. But after I sprayed it on and let it absorb with my body heat, I just couldn’t get enough. So warm, so comforting, so delicious. I used it down to the last drop. In fact, I damn near sliced open my finger trying to open the little spray bottle, desperate for more of that warm, sensual marshmallowy goodness at the sample’s end.
Favorite Lipgloss — Rimmel Light Beam. This product never fails to impress. The gloss itself rocks — delivering a sheer splash of color that’s perfect for my lip stain du jour — but the mini LED light is the show stopper. So what if you have to reapply it in an hour and a half? I think it’s well worth the $12, if only for the gimmicky look-at-that factor. It’s fun and that’s sometimes all a product junkie like me wants.
Favorite Minerals — Valana Minerals. Made by a bella who struggled to find makeup made for her skin shade, Valana covers the gamut of hues for women of color. The range can be almost intimidating. If the foundations are too much to sift through, I’d suggest you start with Valana’s cheeky cheek pots, or Sparkie Lips vegan lip glosses. They’re $10, and utterly awesome. The shades of brown accentuate my lips, rather than blend in as so many others do.
Favorite Eyeliner — A tie, between Sephora brand and Milani Black Magic. It infuriates me no end that Milani doesn’t even have this product on their website. Seriously, what is with that? I am such a fool for eyeliner. I am always looking for the new hotness that will glide on smooth, stay on all day, and look fresh to death. I’ve tried some pricey ones, but I always go back to Sephora brand. They[re like drugstore cheap, and they last. I prefer their glitter eye pencils to Urban Decay’s. And Milani’s Black Magic has been an endless delight. The blackened teal half of the dual pencil is a great alternative to a standard black eyeliner, and I get random compliments from guy friends whenever I wear the blackened pink pencil. It’s the oddest thing. You’ll find these in the Milani section at your local drugstore. Try CVS on for size.
Favorite Beauty Outcome of 2007 — The Glamour magazine debacle this summer put natural hairstyles front and center. Following Don Imus’mouth-open-insert-foot racist slip in April, Ashley Baker’s fashion don’t gaffe — before a roomful of lawyers, no less — seemed like insult to injury. And the ensuing response from natural haired and natural hair supporters was deafening and stirring to a bella like me. I learned so much from the response — that natural hair goes deeper than just style for so many of us, that there are proud afrobellas on every level of the corporate ladder, climbing higher every day, and that we’re not willing to sit back and be the butts of anyone’s attempt at a joke or putdown. We’re here, we’re proudly embracing our beauty, get used to it. Here’s hoping for more of that sisterly solidarity in 2008, and also that magazines like Glamour actually learned from the debacle they created. The subsequent panel on Women, Race, and Beauty is an encouraging sign, and I’m keeping my eyes peeled for improvement and inclusion in the future. Which kinda leads me to my last Favorite Thing…
Favorite Beauty Story of 2007 — Andre J on the cover of French Vogue. Perhaps you noticed the fabulous being popularly known as “Gaymonn” on Crunk and Disorderly. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to live in the beating heart of New York City, and have seen Andre J. workin’ it at Patricia Field’s. But after making the cover of French Vogue, and then that wonderful New York Times article, it was official. Andre J. is my latest beauty role model. I want this moving image from New York Magazine to play on loop alongside my dresser mirror, to continually remind me to strive for ultimate fabulousity. And I love what he says in that interview — “I want people to look at me and feel inspired, to feel hope, to smile. I want to surge positive energy in your body, confirm that you too can be yourself.” Say whatever you want about Andre J., his energy, his pizzazz as he calls it, is palpable. I seriously can’t help but smile when I see him. And his attitude is essentially what being an afrobella is all about — confirming that you can be yourself. And be beautiful. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, right? Hooray for Andre J!
On a personal note, I’d like to say thanks a lot to Annie for inviting me to participate. Afrobella is an unconventional beauty and culture blog, and I think the combination of things I write about has led me to be a bit astray from the usual roundup of exclusive beauty bloggers. I am always honored to be included. Thanks, Annie! Check out the favorite things lists of some of the coolest beauty bloggers out there. And Happy New Year to all of you!