Taking the Afrobella show on the road has been so much fun, but it’s been a challenge!

Between dealing with teeny tiny shower stalls, weird water pressure, learning the difference between hard and soft water, and packing light to bounce easily from apartment to apartment, it’s been a lesson in beauty essentials. So what products have been my must-haves along the way, from lip-blistering cold in New York City to balmy Mobile, Alabama? Here’s some brand new reviews, to fill you in on what I’ve road tested!

In NYC and Washington DC, I got a raw taste of what life in Chicago will do to my beauty regimen. Bellas, moisture is a must. My skin got dry, dry, dry. My hair was bigger and poofier than I was accustomed to it being. And my lips! Oh, my dry, aching lips. I am the kind of lady who carries around a big pouch o’ lip glosses for any beautifying occasion, but when it came to imparting any kind of lasting moisture, I’m sad to say some of the biggies fell short. When Blistex and Nivea couldn’t stand the pressure, I reached for a teeny silver bullet. Snog lip balm, straight outta England, is the business!

The Virgin Cherry flavor is sweet, and Snog is so moisturizing and feels so good, my husband started calling it “lip crack.” As in, “hey, I need some more of your lip crack!” Even though this is an imported product, it’s pretty cheap at $2.49 a tube. And as you probably already know, “snog” is slang for kiss. And I don’t tell but you have my word – this product keeps your lips kissably soft.

I already praised the customer service at the Carol’s Daughter flagship store in Harlem, but I didn’t yet get a chance to gush over my latest purchases. That Hair Balm is the bomb!

When my tresses were stressed with the cold and wind, I discovered that slicking on Hair Balm after doing a conditioner wash really helped to keep my hair touchable, less tangled, protected from the elements, and super shiny. Hair Balm is a blend of soy oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil. It’s thick and my hair absorbed it best when I kept it in the shower stall with me, then warmed the balm between my palms before slicking it on from root to tip. Will I love Hair Balm as much in warm weather, when my hair tends to respond best to lighter products? I’ll find out when I get back to Miami, and let you know.

Now about that conditioner wash… with all the wind and cold and rain (especially in DC, yeesh), the ends of my hair got really knotty and snarled. I needed a good, moisturizing condish to make my situation even a little comb-throughable. And wouldn’t you know it, the products I managed to not-remember-to-pack included perfume, mascara, and a good conditioner. So I had to run to a Duane Reade and lo and behold — the Organix Hair Care line was fully in stock!

In Miami I was unfortunately only able to find one or two of this company’s products, but NYC and DC had it goin’ on. The Smoothing Shea Butter was JUST what I needed. It smells great, and made combing through the tangles much, much easier. And SCORE, each bottle comes with a “try me free!” label attached, so you can mail your receipt back and be recompensated for trying something new that actually works well. I’m a fan of this brand and plan to repurchase for sure.

Normally I’m the kind of bella who spritzes herself all over with an eau de toilette, but alas, I forgot em all at home when I left. But I was smart enough to bring my favorite Kiehls essence oil, and it’s lasted through the trip and then some. Now anyone who is familiar with the Kiehls brand knows, it isn’t exactly cheap. What it is, though, is great quality. There’s a reason these products have been around since 1851.

The Kiehls essence oils represent that rich heritage, and each package displays the date of their first known introduction to the market — Mink in 1921, Coriander in 1946, Vanilla in 1968, and Grapefruit in 1976. If you’re a vanilla lover like me, know that this isn’t your plain jane vanilla. This scent will linger on your pulse points for hours on end. If you spring for the $42.50 1 oz bottle that comes packaged sans-rollerball applicator, you get the added bonus of mixing drops of your pure oil with other oils — just a drop combined with some organic coconut oil makes such a sweetly scented treat for your hair! Whenever I mix up that concoction, my husband loves the way my hair smells. But at $42.50, I wouldn’t advise mixing it up every day! Use sparingly and on special occasions.

My road trip ends tomorrow, bellas. If you sent me an Ask Afrobella question, or are just waiting for me to get back to regular beauty blog posts — fret not! I’ll be back in great shape by next week, and I’ve got a stack of questions to answer, products to review, and stuff to share with all of you!

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