Philosophy in Blue

Although I pursue photography as a creative outlet and enjoy taking pictures of others, I hate having pictures taken of myself.

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That’s hard, considering I’m a makeup artist and kinda, well, have to take pictures of myself in order to sell my services. Selfies are easy, though. It’s just my face. My skills are pretty good. I’m pretty much the selfie queen! I bet y’all don’t know how many I take before y’all see the two or three I ultimately post, though.

It’s a lot more than just two or three, let me tell you.

Is it a confidence issue? Maybe. I was always one who hid as a teenager. Even with all of the work I’ve done to help build myself up, I still use the fact I have such a fancy camera to stay out of pictures.

I mean, someone has to take the pics, right?

At any rate, it’s hard to proclaim myself a fashion blogger and y’all rarely ever get to see me in any fashion.

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I can’t keep allowing myself to hide like this. Even with the strides I’ve made to put myself out there, go out and socialize, make some new friends and have some new experiences…I still shy away from something as simple…as a camera.

Something’s got to give.

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I figure that in some cases, the best thing to do to combat something that scares you is to just do it. I called up a talented photographer friend of mine to come and take some pics of me for the blog. So y’all could see me. So I could really see myself.

And maybe not be so scared.

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Don’t get me wrong. I got some hangups. I looked at the shots like…but my belly. But I’m so wide. But, but, but. Just all types of self-depreciating thoughts flowing through my head. I wouldn’t let anyone close to me speak about themselves like that, but that’s the fun part about internal dialogue. No one knows how I was ripping myself down but me.

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When I got home and got a good look at things, though? I won’t tell y’all I did a 360 on my thoughts. I didn’t. But I can say what I love about myself. I can say I looked amazing. I can say that, when it’s genuine and I’m truly amused, I have a nice smile. When I showed some folks the pictures, I was surprised that the ones I didn’t think were the most flattering were the most popular.

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Like this one of me smiling. Cause with these braces, I don’t. I’m still very self conscious about both them and my teeth. Stephenie, my photographer, said “Okay. Let’s get one of you smiling.” Me: *stare* *skeptic look* Her: “I know, I know. But come on, smile.” I gave her the most half-assed smile I could come up with. She took the pic, and it looked just as tortured as could be. I hate smiling on purpose, I really do. A few minutes later, however, I’m cracking up at something Stephenie said. She seized the moment and snapped.

C says: “Your smile is radiant!”

J, my coworker, goes “That is just a genuine smile! You look so good!”

My coworker looks at the pic and goes, “Your niece has your smile. That’s so cool!”

My niece does have my smile. She’s just adorable.

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Maybe I’m pretty cute, too. I’m getting there. Slowly, but surely.

Outfit details: I’m wearing a really, really old (6-7 years?)Lane Bryant sweater (here’s something similar), Lane Bryant Genius Fit Trouser Jeans, and Nike Sneaker Wedges (on sale!)

Photo Credits: Stephenie Valentino’

Makeup Looks Positivity Stories

Liberation

2015 was a year of major changes for me. Outside of finally getting my septum pierced (a thing I’d been dreaming of for years!), I finally got my first tattoo.

I also decided to finally live life as queer. I don’t think I’ve ever shared that with y’all before, but there it is.

I still tingle when I write that. When I say that. Because it is and continues to be so affirming to live freely.

New Year’s eve, I decided to do one more modification. Something I had never done because I’d gotten so much push back. So much: “OMG, but whyyyyyyyy?!” Or “Maybe you should braid it instead to get a different look!”

I heard every reason known to humankind as to why I shouldn’t cut my hair, but I only needed one reason to go for it.

Cause I’m grown and I do what I want. 😀

Honestly, my hair has been such a source of contention when it came to professional life (“You have to be marketable to future employers and make sure to adhere to a non-threatening look for work!”) and personal life (see damn near everyone I’ve ever dated that has been more attached to my hair than I am). Even when I transitioned my hair to natural, instead of doing the big chop like I wanted I just transitioned my hair. My boyfriend at the time loved my hair. And I loved him. So I kept it.

Fast forward to December 22, 2015. I’m catching up with a good friend of mine, C. She sends me a pic of her hair, shaved on one side, and I think it’s so beautiful. I didn’t think I would ever be brave enough to rock that. I mean, everyone loves my hair, so I should keep it, right? Then C shocked me.

“As much as I love your hair, this haircut has changed my life. I bet it will change yours too.”

Hmm.

She gave me the info of her barber and I made an appointment the same night. I didn’t know if I would go through with it. I didn’t really tell folks I was cutting it, either. I did warn my coworkers the day before, and my friends S and C knew.  I just didn’t want anyone to try and talk me out of it.

December 31, 2015: I did it.

I cut my hair.

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I went from this….

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To this!

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Design and all!

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Close up of the swirls. Haircut by Khane at Camera Ready Kutz.

If you would have told me I’d cut my hair (into a Mohawk, no less!) I’d have thought you’d lost your mind. When I tell you I feel free, though? As she buzzed my head every expectation attached to my hair fell away. I feel lighter.

Liberated.

Not just from what people expect when they look at a Black woman’s natural hair but from society’s rules. Yeah, it’s a bit cliche, but I look like the cool, queer, aunt. I happen to BE a cool, queer aunt. It’s awesome to be able to show outwardly the freedom I feel within.

Liberated.

Happy New Year.

Hair Makeup Looks Positivity

Makeup Monday: Take It Off!

The title tells you the best tip in the world about having great skin: take your makeup off at night!

It’s advice I would do well to practice consistently. But don’t be me, y’all. Be better than me!

Anyway.

I’ve gotten questions about my skincare regimen for a while, and since we’re in the middle of holiday party season, let me give you some info on how I keep my skin looking good.

First: some background.

My skin has not always looked as good as it has now. This face has seen some unfortunate times due to puberty. When I tell you my face looked like a Nestle Crunch bar? I am NOT exaggerating. It was all broken out, full of dark spots, rough, and it hurt. Acne hurts, y’all. If you’ve never had it, or only had one or two, count yourself lucky.

Mine was so bad that there’s a span between 7th grade to senior year of high school that I didn’t have my school pictures done. I wouldn’t bring the little folder home. Senior year I discovered the glory of Photoshop and had them edit the hell out my face to smooth everything out and remove the shine.

When I first moved to NYC, and got my current job, my problem skin was still hounding me. It had cleared up a bit, but my face made me so self conscious. I didn’t really do makeup on my face, thinking that would make the problem worse. When you work as a make up artist, it’s hard to sell your services when you don’t bother to put any on yourself, right?

Yeah.

So, one of the vendors came to me at work and brought me some of their product to try. After years of trying EVERYTHING (Proactiv is a waste of damn money in my humble opinion), I tried some fancy, new to me company called La Roche Posay.

Y’all. I texted my mother a pic of me and she wondered what the hell I’d been doing up here. My skin had never been that clear in…ever. I’d found my magic bullet.

I use Effaclar from La Roche Posay. It’s rare you’ll hear me talk about something I sell at work, because here and there I like to keep separate. But I love it so much I just have to share it. I use the Gel wash, toner (the regular one), Duo (best acne treatment ever!), and mattifying lotion. Lo these many years later, I still use it. I’m confident enough now to share all types of makeup free selfies on Instagram, and I took a favorite one without filters a while back:

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No eyebrows or anything! Just lip balm.

That’s my skin story, and trust me, it takes some diligence to keep my skin looking as good as it does. If you’re looking for a flawless makeup application, the first step is making sure your skin is on point. To that point, I have some suggestions for all skin types to keep your skin beautiful, or to even help you heal your face if it is as problematic as mine. Please know: there is a solution for every skin, even the most sensitive, acne prone face. It will take time and patience, but I’m telling you: your silver bullet is out there.

So, let’s get started.

The basics of a good regimen is all about cleansing, toning, treating, moisturizing, and sunscreen. No, just because you have melanin does NOT mean you don’t have to use sunscreen. Black folks have the highest rate of malignant sun cancer because we have this false sense of security. If you have skin, you need sunscreen. Period.

Now that’s off my chest:

Cleansing: You’ll need to pick something that’s for your skin type. If you aren’t sure what kind of skin you have, try this. Wash your face, and then leave it alone for a few hours after. Don’t moisturize or anything. Take note of how your skin feels after a while. Does it feel tight? Then it’s dry. Got an oil slick happening all over? Then you’re oily (that’s me.) Shiny on the forehead, nose, and chin while your cheeks feel like a desert? Then you’re combination. And if you don’t feel any way at all? Congrats! You’re normal. Oilier and combo skinned folks will love a gel cleanser, as it helps to remove the excess oil from the skin and give a squeaky clean. Drier folks will love cream cleansers or oil based cleansers. Normal skinned folks? Use whatever makes you feel the best.

As a part two to cleansing, you may want to do a scrub too. I will say that anyone who has a reaction to too much scrubbing shouldn’t use a mechanical scrub (that’s with scrubby bits) and should stick to a mild (emphasis on MILD) chemical exfoliant (like glycolic acid) instead. Whichever you use, keep it to twice a week at the most. You’ll find your moisturizers and treatments sink in better. My favorite is from Vera Moore Cosmetics…best scrub EVER, I swear!

Toner: Again, choose based on skin type. Also: don’t think you need to skip toner–this really helps to get the deep down dirt that cleansers can miss. I love the toner I use because it unblocks and tightens my pores as well as controls oil. Drier and normal skins will love a hydrating toner (yes, they exist!) because it helps keep your skin nice and supple.

Treatment: These are fun and vary depending on what you need! Ok, a treatment is anything from an acne treatment to an anti-aging serum. Depending on how much dedication you have to regimen, you can do as many or as few as you like. I stick to just one acne treatment for day, and an anti-aging serum at night. My current serum is from Lierac, and I love the radiance it gives.

Moisturizer: I switch this up depending on the season, and you may find you need to do the same. Warmer months call for a mattifying lotion (I use this one) and colder months I love something with a little more moisture. I switch this up every year, and I’m loving this one from Lierac right now. And again, sunscreen! Pick a moisturizer with a sunscreen and save a step.

Bonus: I like to treat my face once a week to a mask, and I say pick a mask depending on what you need most: whether its radiance or clarifying, it’s a nice treat for your face and some well deserved self care.

If you’re not certain what brands you should try, I suggest putting some money into a subscription box to try different companies. I’ve done Glossybox in the past, and I’m looking to try the Essence Beauty Box soon.

In future posts, I will explore more of the favorite brands I love, and not just the high end stuff. Don’t worry, there’s some good stuff right in the drugstore you’re looking over, and I’m bringing that to you next week. Any questions on regimens? Leave them for me in the comments below or tweet them to me!

 

Makeup Looks Reviews Shopping Stories

Makeup Monday: Day at the Museum

Hello Lovelies!

So, Saturday I actually took a day off. No work, no writing, just a day to actually enjoy my life a bit.

I have a habit of living life with all cylinders going. If I’m not at the day job, I’m grinding on my cookbook and photography projects. And I love being busy, but sometimes I have to remind myself to take a break and enjoy life a bit. And Saturday was my day. I grabbed the camera and met up with a friend at MoMA to see some Jackson Pollock.

And of course, I wanted to do my face all up. Because why not? 😀

One of my lovely followers on Twitter (follow me here) asked about my makeup and skincare routine. I’ll get to the skincare in another post, but I wanted to go over makeup basics in this one because this look is simple:

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Earrings by Rachel Stewart Jewelry.

I have on foundation, eyeliner, eyebrows, and lip gloss. That’s it.

How do I keep my skin so flawless? The key is really good primer.

Now, my skin is eternally oily and shiny. I used to complain about this a lot when I was younger, but I don’t now. All that oil has people guessing I’m 5-6 years younger than I really am (I’m 30), so I’m grateful for it. I just don’t always want it to be visible, so I make sure to use a good primer underneath. The one I’m currently in love with is by Miracle Skin Transformer (I use the translucent one.)

Ok. It’s not advertised as a primer. But for my face, that’s exactly how I use it. If you have eternal shine on your face, I’m telling you, it’s the best money you’ll spend. If used by itself, it looks like you powdered your face, but you don’t look dry. If you put makeup on over it, though? You’ll get that matte finish you see in my pics above. Bonus: this is meant to be used as a moisturizer, so you can skip that step in your routine if you like (I layer it over my acne treatment, though.)

If you’ve never used primer before, they have different ones for different skin types. As I mentioned, I’m oily, so I go for a mattifying primer. They make them for dry skin, for normal skin, for folks with rosacea, for folks with dark spots, pretty much any skin condition you can think of, they have a primer for it. Besides Miracle Skin Transformer, I’ve seen good results with Smashbox and PurMinerals primers.

Ok, you just put your primer on. You can go ahead with foundation, right?

NO.

STOP.

Let it sit on your face for a couple of minutes to set. I usually take that time after I put my primer on to do my hair so that it can sink in. If you start applying your foundation too soon, it could cause your primer to roll, and now you’ve got to start all over. Nobody wants that.

Once it’s set, go ahead with your foundation. I don’t spend much on my foundation because no one makes a color that matches me exactly. I end up having to mix it. My favorites are Cover Girl and Maybelline because they have foundations for specific skin types. I can’t stand when a foundation makes me dewy, and I know up front which ones from those lines will do that. I have on Cover Girl Queen collection Natural Hue in the above look. I mixed Toffee and Classic Bronze to get my shade.

After that, if you’re doing concealer, now is the time. I do a little around my eyes, and I have on PurMineral’s Disapearing Ink concealer in Dark. I am one who prefers the concealer to match my face and not be brighter; I say you should do whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Once all of that is done, I do my eyes. I see that a lot of the YouTube beauty gurus do their brows before their foundation, and I just feel like I’d mess my brows up that way. So I do foundation first, then draw on my brows. I use Milani for this; their brow pencil and brow kit is awesome and affordable. Make sure to comb your brows before and after to keep things natural looking.

Then I line my eyes (Balm Cosmetics Mr. Write Now in Dean B. Onyx for water line and Schwing Liquid Liner on the lid), add a little mascara if I’m feeling frisky (I’m not wearing any above) and done! Lip gloss is optional and had I found my Chapstick first, that’s what I would have had on.

I am working on a tutorial for this look, because this is genuinely my everyday go to makeup for work. I don’t do a lot of color on my eyes by day; I tend to stick with colorful lipsticks and lip glosses.

Next Monday, we’re discussing skincare. See you then!

Hair Makeup Looks

Halloween Costumes for the Curvy Girl

Halloween is coming. Do you have your costume yet?

No?

Well. I’m here to help. I’ve said before how much I adore Halloween because of being able to dress up as someone/something else for the night. I still haven’t quite decided what I want to be (and the clock is winding down), but I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to break the bank for a good costume if you don’t want to.

Seriously.

Take my costume last year, for example. We were allowed to dress up at work, and so I wanted to do something safe for work, but still show off my skills. I decided to go as a butterfly garden.

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I didn’t spend any money for this costume!

Everything I wore for this look was in my closet: flower dress, flower necklace, owl earrings. The wings there are printer paper and are stuck on with eyelash glue (get the full story on the look in this post.) It was easy and it looked really good for a last minute idea. 🙂

In that same vein, you’ll find some of the best inspiration in your closet. Ok, maybe you have a flower dress, but butterflies aren’t your thing. You could also add some wings and be a fairy, just add sparkly makeup. Plain dress? You could be any iteration of cat you can think of, or something else depending on the color of the dress. For example: yellow dress? Add a bow on your right side, and add black eyes and a mouth made of either felt or construction paper. You’re now Ms. Pac Man.

In fact, one of my favorite costume ideas is taking something you already have in the closet and doing some dramatic wigs and makeup to go with it. A couple of suggestions of YouTube tutorials:

I adore her work, and I’m trying to get to her level!

I’ve also seen the dots done with rhinestones instead…just another option. 🙂

This look is similar to the one I did up there, just with flower petals instead of wings!

Would you rather purchase a costume? Makes sense. It’s a lot easier to a certain extent. Party City, Torrid, and Hips And Curves all have great costume ideas (not an exhaustive list) and rush shipping if you can’t get it in store. Here are a few of my favorites:

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From Party City. I have a Jack Skellington mug, so naturally this costume caught my eye.

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From Torrid. Have a more elegant party? Go as Loki and add some gold horns!

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From Hips and Curves, and my favorite! How fancy is this for a masquerade ball?

Whew! I could talk about fun costumes all day if you let me, but I’ll leave y’all to decide what catches your eye. Besides, I have to come to a decision on what I’m doing for Halloween myself. I’m thinking something with spiders.

See you Friday!

Makeup Looks Shopping

Tales From Retail: Costume Dos And Don’ts

Halloween is upon us once again. I’ve noticed as of late it isn’t as popular a holiday as it was when I was a peanut, but I still adore the holiday so much. It’s the one day dressing oddly is actually OK. At least to a certain extent.

It can be a hard day to navigate as a make up artist…because some folks still don’t know it isn’t OK to ask to be made up as certain characters.

Especially if you’re gonna ask the BLACK make up artist to do it for you.

*side eye emoji*

So, as a matter of trying to save my sisters and brothers from snapping at the make up counters and in the costume stores, allow me to explain some things you should masquerade as this year.

Please take good note of this. I don’t want y’all to get cursed out in front of God and everybody.

  1. Native Americans. Of any kind. Yes, even Pocahontas. Especially certain sports mascots. Confused by that? Allow me to help you:

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*Facepalm*

THIS IS NOT OK. NO. DO NOT DO THIS. *deep breath* Listen, I get it. You want show your team spirit/appreciation for Native culture/wear a feathered headdress. If you want to wear a feathered headdress, be a Las Vegas showgirl. Do not claim to be a “Native American princess” or a “brave” (actual name of a costume I saw in the store the other day) because that is not a costume, that is culture. Culture is not nor will it ever be a costume.

2. Blackface. Of any kind. You can dress up like Beyonce’ and not put on dark foundation to make yourself her shade. This is why she spends so much money on wardrobe and makeup. You too can dress like her…and not be offensive. This isn’t rocket science, y’all. If you leave your house for a party and you thought this was a good idea:

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*sigh*

…then I need you to find some new friends and some good sense. Because you’re clearly lacking both.

3. Stereotypes. *rubs forehead* See, this:

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*side eye*

…is not ok. I do not care if you can buy it in a store (this is available for purchase, folks, but I’m not telling you where), this is NOT OK. There were others with guitars and oversized bottles of liquor included too. I just…listen. And this:

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FFS, y’all!

…also not ok. To go back to culture not being a costume: if you pick up that Geisha costume and wonder if it’s ok? It likely isn’t and you should be something else instead. Just throwing it out there.

That being said, there are ways to dress up and have a good time. Make sure your makeup is for you and pays proper homage to the person/character you want to be. For example:

Miley Cyrus as Lil Kim.

I thought this was so precious when I first saw this. I knew she was portraying Lil Kim. And she didn’t have to use blackface or anything. I’m also here for some cultural references if in good taste. For example:

“Sexy” variety aside, I swear sriracha is in everything and is everywhere (besides pumpkin spice), so this is super cute. Other options of safe costumes: superheroes, video games, and book characters.

And finally, if you decide to wait til the last minute to get your costume, please don’t yell at your cashier/customer service associate. We can’t make extra merchandise magically appear (and it’s been in stores since September, so…) but we will do our best to help you where we can.

With that, I hope y’all have a great Halloween! Coming Wednesday, I will have some great ideas for costumes for us plus sized folk–both bought and homemade. See you then

Makeup Looks Stories

Fatshion Friday: SmartGlamour Body Positive Fashion Show

So, last Friday, I had the opportunity to head out to the city to see a Body Positive Fashion Show that showcased Smart Glamour’s latest collection.

And I thought…body positive? This sounds awesome!

It totally was! There was so much diversity on the runway, from race to body type to height. Everyone looked amazing and I definitely saw some items I could see myself in–mostly because I was able to see myself represented on the runway. And the best part? At the end of the show, when the models did their final walk, they carried signs that read “All bodies are good bodies.” Such an affirming end to an awesome presentation!

Clothing companies? Take note. This is how you appeal to ALL of your customers.

Ok, I’m done preaching. 😀 Let’s get to the fashion:

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This burgundy number was my fave look of the night. Doesn’t it scream “holiday party”?

So, remember I needed some help picking out a Lane Bryant outfit? I wore the winner to this event:

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Jacket, Shirt, Jeans, all Lane Bryant. Shoes by JustFab.

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And a closeup! Lipstick is MAC’s Eugenie with a little gloss on top.

So, I basically ended up blending elements from all three outfits. I loved the moto jacket, so I had to have it. I loved the jeans, so I had to have them. And I decided I didn’t want to be too dressy, so this embellished shirt was perfect (and we know how I feel about sparkle!) I did still get those awesome red shoes, though. They’ll be paired with a different outfit I have planned. Thank you all for your input!

Happy weekend, everyone!

 

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