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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Anji says:
April 2, 2009, 2:29 am
Aw. I know my hopes of meeting you out here in Cali were far-fetched but still. Maybe one day you'll feel like soaking up some So. Cal sun? Also, I'm still waiting for you to add me on MySpace. XD And I'll definitely check if our Carol's Daughter out here has stocked the Hair Balm yet.
Vanessa Matthews says:
April 2, 2009, 4:23 am
Thank you for sharing these products. A friend told me that Kiehl's products are really good.
Yolanda says:
April 2, 2009, 9:56 am
Hey Bella, I second that opinion on Carol's Daughter Hair Balm. It does the job when you need moisture on a daily basis and smells divine. Can't wait to try the Keihl's essential oils.
Michelle says:
April 2, 2009, 10:24 am
Hey Bella!!! I have quite possibly THE DRIEST lips in the history of the world, so i'm ALWAYS looking for a new product to help moisturize! I've literally tried EVERY lip balm out there, from SUPER high end to SUPER low end & the ONLY thing that really works for me is the Burt's Bees POMEGRANITE balm! (the regular beeswax dries my lips out!) Plus, the pomegranite gives your lips a gorgeous subtle pink tint. . . love it! ANYWAY, I was wondering where you can get this Snog balm?! I've never seen it in a drugstore & down here in TX we don't have Duane Reade. . . do you have to order it online?! Thanks a lot!
Yolanda says:
April 2, 2009, 12:58 pm
Bella, I want the snog. Got's to get me some snog. Where can one obtain Le'Snog? In other words, where can I cop El Snog? Did I mention I need Snog? Sincerely, Snog Deprived.
Adorable says:
April 2, 2009, 1:03 pm
Interesting. . .My sister and I who are both naturals and tried the smoothing shea butter and we hated it! It smells great, but it leaves my hair tangled, and feels like its full of build up! But i will try the oils
Uk Bella says:
April 2, 2009, 2:47 pm
Finally a product thats good and is available in the UK! I'll definately try out snog. Carmex (I think thats how you spell it) is also a great product for dry lips, it keeps them moisturised for hours. I also love the strawberry scented vaseline lip therapy.
Jeanine says:
April 2, 2009, 6:22 pm
I am bawling my eyes out. DO.NOT. TELL. ME. YOU. WERE. IN. MOBILE. AL. You would have no idea, but that is only about 30 minutes away from my front door, and I would have driven that and some to meet you. **resuming crying...will someone pass the tissues please?****
Indigofera Beauty Expert says:
April 2, 2009, 8:31 pm
I travel frequently....here's what I keep in my beauty bag 1.Dove Sensitive Skin Soap (no fragrance, no color) can't use hotel or guest soap I've used it for years a must have for feminine care if you know what I mean :) We use to use it to bathe the infants when I was a pediatric nurse 2. Indigofera Ua Mist Keeps my locks hydrated and the essential oils invigorate me for my busy days 3. M.A.C. Lipglass in Pink Lemonade very modern and sexy! 4. Satin Hair Bonnet by Neero and Anna, keeps the moisture in my hair. Cotton pillow cases dries out the hair "Be Radiantly Beautiful"
Erica says:
April 2, 2009, 8:45 pm
Organix is great! I too love the shea butter line. And no parabens!
Sonia says:
April 3, 2009, 12:34 pm
I just bought the Snog off their website. Thanks for the tips I'm about to go to travel for six weeks.
Jeanine says:
April 3, 2009, 12:43 pm
ok....i'm over myself now. I hope you had a good time over that way. I don't have dry lips, but vaseline is a cure all for me... I also love biofusion olive oil shine serum. It's a brand I've only ever seen at walgreens...but it's AWESOME. It works wonderfully these past couple of months, I can't wait to see how it holds up in the 90 heat and 100% humidity.
Ugochi @ Beauty 365 says:
April 3, 2009, 11:26 pm
aww, good selections and go you for going on tour!
LBell says:
April 4, 2009, 8:50 am
Hey Bella, glad to see you got a preview of what you're going to experience in Chicago. In fact I look forward to hearing about your experiences this winter. I may have said this before, but I always tell new transplants who come from warmer climates: Whatever your warmest coat is...it's not warm enough. Chicago requires special gear...and special beauty products! I can go toe-to-toe (lip-to-lip?) with Michelle on the Driest Lips title, so I'll keep an Internet eye out for Snog (I'm guessing it's probably not here in Iowa). Thanks for the tip!
flownmuse says:
April 5, 2009, 7:11 am
The Shea Butter conditioner is great (so is their coconut one), but it's so thick I can barely squeeze it out of the container! LOL I need to use both hands & then squeeze it onto the ledge of the tub before I can use it.
Just Wondering says:
April 5, 2009, 2:21 pm
It's so funny that you mentioned the water in different cities. When I was living in DC for 2 years I didn't realize just how different the water was then in NY. My hair was drier and now looking back I know why it was breaking so much because I needed to add a lot more moisture in it. Well my hair journey through reading hair blogs has gotten better. Thanks for sharing new products. It's always great knowing what I should put on my wish list
bella says:
April 5, 2009, 10:40 pm
Anji - I haven't logged onto MySpace since early 2008! I was about to quit completely. Join me on Facebook or Twitter! I'll make it out to Cali someday, got some great friends out there. Michelle and Yolanda - Snog is only available online at the moment, I had to contact the PR to find out. Hopefully it'll make it into stateside stores soon! Jeanine - yes! sorry - I was in Mobile for 2 days, to visit my brother in law. I had a blast and spent quite a bit of time on Dauphin Street. I'll be back sometime, maybe we can meet up then!
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