Archive for September, 2007

Perimenopause Sucks, Part I

I have one question.  “How in the hell did my mother go through menopause without being under a physician’s care”?  She had to be hella strong in order to do that.  Come to think of it, she must have really loved us too.   Why do I say that?   Because we all survived it.

Okay, I’ve mentioned previously I’m perimenopausal.  In my opinion, symptoms of menopause are comparable to PMS, only three times worse.  It feels like I’m PMSing every two weeks now.  You heard me; bloating, mood swings, cramping, tiredness, etc., every two weeks.  I am aware of increased mood swings, but I can’t seem to control them.  Come to think of it, I don’t want to.  Sometimes they’re so bad I  can’t stand my damn self.  Hot flashes?  All I can say is thank God for nappy hair ’cause if I had a perm, I’d be one tore up sista.

I remember laughing when I read that memory and concentration may be affected.  To myself I’m saying, “It can’t be that serious.”  Well, it was funny until I got to the point where I couldn’t remember whether or not I took my medicine.  I take my medicine daily at the same time and couldn’t remember taking it 15 minutes later.  I guess you know it’s no longer a laughing matter, right?

What I whine about the most is the fact that all I want is to be “alone”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my hubby and kids dearly, but I need my space.  There should be some type of mini menopause weekend getaways, a menopause resort, or even a menopause cruise destination.  Believe me, you’ll get your “alone” time as no family members will want to go there with you.  Hmmm………sounds like a good business venture to me. 

If this is what I have to look forward to over the next couple of years, then I’m screwed.  One thing I always hated was not being in control of things, and this is definitely something I can’t control or make go away.  I can treat it symptomatically, but that’s about it.  I don’t know when a mood swing is going to hit, I can’t predict a hot flash, and I can kiss a 28-day cycle goodbye.  Being perimenopausal sucks!!

Stay tuned for more general ramblings about perimenopause in the near future.

Anybody else dealing with perimenopause/menopause?

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Alternatives to Straightening with Heat, Part I

After chopping off my hair two years ago due to heat-induced damage (blow drying and pressing), there has been no heat styling for me.   This means no pressing, blowdrying, or flat ironing.  My hair is currently 4 inches, healthy, and growing.  I’m ready to try something different, but if the application of heat is necessary, forget it.   I haven’t nurtured my hair back from the dead just to switch to another form of torture by using heat.  Don’t get me wrong, I do realize it’s possible to successfully press, flat iron, or blow dry with little to no heat damage.  I also know damage can occur combing, brushing, or even towel drying your hair, but in my opinion, it doesn’t compare to the direct damage heat can cause.  Hell, I’m also 40+, perimenopausal, and trying to keep every hair follicle I have on my head.  For this reason, I felt I needed to find alternative ways to straighten without heat.  The alternatives I’ve listed  are more time-consuming, but the end result is healthier hair, which I believe is more important. 

WET SET OR ROLLER SET (WITHOUT HEAT)

What you need:

  1. Rollers – Magnetic or snap-on rollers.  Size and amount of rollers needed depends on hair length and whether you want tight (small rollers) or loose (large rollers) curls.
  2. End Papers – Ensures nice crisp set, prevents frizz, and smooths ends.
  3. Setting lotion – Provides body, sheen, hold, and heat protection (if needed).  Helps hair remember set.  (ex: Lottabody Texturizing Setting Lotion, Paul Mitchell Hair Scultping Lotion )
  4. Clips -Metal duckbill clips or all purpose metal clips.
  5. Spritz with water – To redampen hair if needed.

Shampoo and condition hair.  Apply setting lotion to damp hair and comb through.  Part  hair in sections, apply end paper to ends of hair, roll you hair onto roller.   Spritz hair with water to redampen as needed.  Which way you roll your hair depends on how you’re planning on wearing it (front to back, parted in middle, side part, etc.)  Air dry.  Do not remove rollers and clips until completely dry.

WRAP SET (WITHOUT HEAT)

What you need:

  1. Setting lotion – Provides body, sheen, hold, and heat protection.  Helps hair remember set.  (ex: LottaBody Cream Wrap, Motions At Home Foaming Lotion,  Isoplus Wrap Lotion).
  2. Clips – Metal duckbill clips or all purpose metal clips.
  3. Large rollers (2) – Optional for those with long hair.
  4. Paper wrap strips – Strips stretch around head to keep wrapped hair in place.

Shampoo and condition hair.  Apply setting lotion to damp hair, then comb through your hair.  I wear a side part and my hair is short, so I wrap in a circular motion beginning at the side with more hair.  For those with long hair, you can use two jumbo rollers to secure hair in the very top portion of your head, then wrap the rest of the hair around.  Another option is to start combing, while wrapping hair, beginning at the center part of your head (crown) in a circular motion.  Use clips to secure ends.  Apply wrap paper strips around head to secure wrapped hair in place.  Air dry.  Don’t remove paper wrap strips and clips until completely dry.

I tried to break it down in layman’s terms as best I could.  If you have any questions, just holla! 

If you know of any other alternatives to straightening hair without heat, please let me know.

Plus Size Lingerie for the Big Sexy

Nothing makes a woman feels more pampered and uber sexy than shopping for lingerie.  Beautiful plus size lingerie is available in multiple colors, fabrics (cottin, satin, lace, silk, etc.), and styles from sizes 1x-6x.   It seems there are more choices available online opposed to shopping locally, but the variety of plus size lingerie (bras, teddies, shapewear, PJs,  babydolls, accessories, etc.) out there are endless.     

Let me just say that as a full-figured woman, I hate the “mini boomerang” put in bras known as the “underwire“.  Somehow it always seems to work itself out over time, usually one at a time, poking and sticking you along the way.  My preference are bras that are “seamless” with “no underwire.”  I’d love to have a beautiful front closure bra, but I don’t think I have the patience for the 8 to 10 hook closures that accompanies one.  

Here are a couple of my favorite plus size lingerie sites.

Hips and Curves.com.  Hips and Curves has everything a big girl desires.  There is a vast  selection of bras, chemises, corsets, teddies, pantyhose, etc.  They also offer extended sizes.  Woot!  Woot!  Word to the newly engaged or bride-to-becheck out the bridal lingerie selection.  They also have Tyra Banks’ Full Figured Top Model Lingerie and (gasp!) a leather collection.  My favorite?  The leather and lace bustier.

Frederick’s of Hollywood.  Frederick’s of Hollywood is a name synonymous with sexy lingerie.  Their plus size lingerie selection (bras, babydolls, pajamas, shapewear, etc.), is good, but small, but their prices are very reasonable. 

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A.  Stretch Lace Cami and Boy Short Set, $22.00 to $36.00

B.  Waist Cincher Brief Panty, $32.00

Bare Necessities.com.  An ideal full-figured or plus size store would offer numerous brands, sizes, and styles.  Bare Necessities does just that and more.  Make sure to visit the Bridal, Maternity, and Men selections.  Enjoyed reading the “Top Ten Bras” feature which discusses T-shirt bras, sports bras, minimizer bras, etc.  

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A.  Bali No Slip Strap Firm Control Camisole, $32.00

B.  Glamorise Soft Cup Minimizer Bra, $36.89

I love Lane Bryant for their awesome plus size lingerie.  Eat your heart out Victoria Secret.  The big sexy diva can get panties comparable to yours in the styles (hipster, thong, brief, hotshort, etc.), colors, and fabrics (satin, cotton, lace, etc.) like everyone else.  Did you know that Lane Bryant now has an online bridal and maternitycollection?  I’m impressed.  Thank you Lane Bryant for giving us beautiful bras, panties, and shapewear.  They may be more expensive, but the quality more than makes up for the price.

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A.  Ruffle Animal Print Thong, $14.00

B.  Safari Swirl Hotshort, $15.00

C.  Set of 2 Bravado! Designs Pregnancy Bikini, $20.00

How about some smell goods to go along with that sexy lingerie?  A few of my favorites are:

Bath and Body Works Rice Flower and Shea, Sweet Pea, and Brown Sugar and Fig shower gel and body lotion, priced from $9.50 to $10.50.

Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie and Mango Melange body butter, shower gel, and body lotions, priced from $18.00 to $20.00.

Healing Garden’s Organics line; Wild Honey, Lavender and Fig, Olive and Aloe, priced from $5.95 to $9.39.

Where do you shop for your plus size lingerie?  I’d love to know.

Hair Tools for the Kinky-Curly Girl

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Sephora Wide Tooth Comb, $4.00

A wide tooth comb cam be found just about anywhere.  I basically use this for detangling or combing through products, always on wet or damp hair.

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Sephora Microfiber Hair Turban, $20.00

Absorbs excess water or product (stylers).  The turban, as well as the microfiber towels, can be found also at Sally’s, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx priced between 10.00 and $20.00.

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A.  Gold ‘N Hot Professional Ceramic Straightening Iron w/ Tourmaline, about $68.00

B.  Original Chi Ceramic Flat Iron, about $99.95 

Everyone is raving about the new ceramic straighteners.  Chi, Sedu and Maxiglide are just a few of the more popular brands, priced anywhere from $68.00 to more than $200.00.  Is there really a healthy way to straighten your hair?  In my opinion, I don’t think so.  I think the damage is inevitable over time, but make sure you use a heat protectant.  After chopping off 8 inches of damage due to straightening, I’ve been heat free every since.  Straighteners can be found at Folica and Sephora.  Check out Sally Beauty Supply for knockoffs.

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Soft Bonnet Hair Professional Hair Dryer

Give deep conditioning a boost and wet sets a salon finish at home with a soft bonnet hair dryer.  About $35.00 to $40.00, can be found at Sally Beauty Supply, local beauty supply stores, and major department stores.

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100% Boar Bristle Brush

Boar bristle (soft) brushes are better for your hair, especially those of us with fragile kinky-curly hair.  Don’t do an updo, ponytail, or slicked back hairstyle without one.  At Sally Beauty Supply and local beauty supply stores.

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Hair Styler Chignon (donut form)

These forms make buns and updos a breeze.  You can purchase the donut form to make your own bun or purchase them ready-to-wear.   Found at any beauty supply store or online.  Sally Beauty Supply and local beauty supply stores.

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Curly Top Diffuser Hair Dryer, about $35.00

Some kinky-curly girls can’t live without a diffuser.  A diffuser helps cut down on frizz by lightly distributing air so as to not disturb the curl pattern.   For those of you not pressed for time, trust me, air drying works just as well.  Major department stores as well as beauty supply stores.

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Satin pillowcase, about $16.99 pair

Satin pillowcases can be found at major department stores (Sears, Walmart, K-Mart).  A satin pillowcase helps to maintain hair moisture and handy for those of us who can’t seem to keep anything on our heads while sleeping.

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Beauty Supply Store Kinky Curly Hair Favorites

Good quality hair products can be found at the beauty supply store and here are some of my favorites.

DEEP CONDITIONING:  I love Lustrasilk Cholesterol Conditioners, 20 oz., $2.79, especially Aloe Vera (detangling), Shea Butter (damage), and Tea Tree (itchy, irritated scalp).  No heat necessary.  Do it weekly for added strength to prevent future damage.  For the naturally curly or kinky haired sistas looking for a quick leave-in, the Aloe Vera cholesterol mixed with a little olive or coconut oil will do the job.  The result is hair that is frizz-free, shiny, and soft.  A staple of mine for 5 years.

SHAMPOO:  Another staple for me is Dax Vegetable Oil Shampoo, 12 oz., $2.99.  I conditioner wash often, but if the daily application of oil,  styling products, or hair dressing causes buildup, this is the shampoo I reach for.  This shampoo has never let me down.  It rinses clean and leaves my hair soft, but never stripped.  Gentle enough for colored hair.

GELS:  I occasionally like a style with extra hold or slicked back.  I like gels that provide hold, but leaves hair soft, not stiff.  My favorite gels are:   

  • Eco Styler Protein (black) or Eco Styler Krystal (clear) gels, 8 oz., $1.99.
  • Long-Aid Activator Gel with Aloe Vera, for extra dry hair, 10.5 oz. $3.49.
  • Smooth n Shine Polishing Curl Activator Gel, 10.5 oz., $2.99.
  • Fantasia IC Hair Polisher with Sparkle Lites Gel (clear or blue for colored hair), in sizes 16 oz., $4.29, or 1.25 oz. tube, 1.69. 

MOISTURIZERS/LEAVE-INS:  After a conditioner wash or for daily styling, I add a moisturizer or leave-in for sheen and softness.  My favorites are:

  • Kids Organics Shea Butter Detangling Moisturizing Hair Lotion, 12 oz., $3.59.  Good for the babies as well as adults.  A light daily moisturizer that provides good sheen, soft hair.
  • Elasta QP Mango Butter, Moisturizer, 4.6 oz., $5.99.
  • Hollywood Olive Creme Hairdress for Dry Hair, 7.5 oz., $3.00.  You don’t need a lot of this product in order to get awesome results.  The key is finding the right amount for your hair, as too much will make it greasy.  Also great as an overnight treatment for the wash-n-goers.    
  • Always Natural Instant Oil Moisturizer Leave-in Conditioner, 12 oz. oz., $5.99.  A light moisturizer, not greasy, leaves hair soft.  Good ingredients, oftentimes hard to find.

OILS:  Good for hot oil conditioning, sealing in moisture after conditioner washing, or to add shine.  Keep in mind that the majority of the oils at the BSS may not be 100%, and may be blended with other oils such as sesame, safflower, soybean,  etc.  These are still good buys.  On the other hand, those oils with mineral oil as the first ingredient, STEP AWAY FROM THEM PLEASE!  In my opinion, oils with mineral oil as the first ingredient should not be sold, ever, as they do nothing but clog the scalp.  My favorite oils are:

  • Kemi-Oyl Liquid Gold, 1.25 oz.,  $3.29 (another staple for 5 years).   Love it!.
  • Africa’s Best Ultimate Herbal Oil, 8 oz., $2.99.  Can be used on body too.
  • Maxi Rice Bran Oil, 4 oz., $4.99.
  • Maxi Tea Tree Oil, 4 oz., $3.99.

CONDITIONER WASHES:   A conditioner wash is simply washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo since shampoos can be drying.  Washing with conditioner helps keep the hair clean and moisturized.  I conditioner wash with either V05 or Suave conditioners because they are cheap and do the job well.  As the colder weather approaches, I’ll start doing my washes in the evening.  My favorites are:

  • V05 Kiwi and Lime Squeeze Clarifying Conditioner (good for buildup), V05 Tea Therapy, or V05 Sun Kissed Raspberry, 15 oz., $0.99.
  • Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut, 15 oz, $1.29, and Suave Professional Biobasics, 14.5 oz., $2.59.

***Please keep in mind that the prices listed are those in the area I live, not necessarily yours, so prices may be greater or cheaper.

What are your favorite BBS finds?

Finding Quality Products at the Beauty Supply Store

Okay, colder weather is fast approaching and it’s time for “heavier” hair products for that added protection against the elements to come.  I purchase my favorites from Sally’s Beauty Supply (they offer a beauty card for added savings every time you make a purchase), Lee Beauty Supply (sometimes carry on-line products), or any local neighborhood BSS (beauty supply store).  Although black hair is resilient, if not properly maintained, is prone to breakage, hair loss, and split ends.  You know how we do.  A sista has to change up every now and then; braids, twists, fros, or naturally.  This is the time of the year when telltale signs of any damage are obvious. 

For those who feel the neighborhood BSS doesn’t offer any quality products, I disagree.  As long as you steer clear from products with mineral oil, paraffin liquidum, or  petroleum/petrolatum high up in the ingredients list, you’re good.  Note:  Hair dressings geared toward African Americans usually contain mineral oil or petroleum/petrolatum as the first ingredient.  Don’t buy it!  There are other alternatives.  The African American consumer spends millions of dollars annually on haircare products.  With that kind of spending power, we can change things.  Send those companies a message by refusing to purchase products with crappy ingredients.  

On your trip to the BSS, remember this; the first five ingredients listed in an ingredients list is what a product contains the most of.  For instance, I recently purchased a cheap, but good, shea butter moisturizer (99 Point Nine), 5 oz., $3.49.  The first five ingredients read; extract of chamomile, shea butter, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and water.  These are the ingredients the moisturizer contains the most of and they are good ingredients.  I’m not saying never purchase products with mineral oil or petroleum in them, I still do, but make sure they’re not high up in the ingredients list, especially not in the first five ingredients.  Do your research.

What’s New in Skincare Products

Okay, you’ve heard me gripe about menopause and all the issues that come with it.  My biggest issues are with my skin.   At this time, I’m experiencing frequent breakouts, hyperpigmentation, and dryness.  The products listed below are the results from my latest skincare research for new products out there.

Dr.  Susan C. Taylor, a dermatologist and leading expert in skin of color, has a new skin care line called Rx for brown skin.  This skincare line was launched to address the needs of women of Latin, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Native American descent.  Sephora stores will carry the line (also available online).  Hylauronic acid, soy, and pomegrante are essential ingredients in this skincare line.  The line is reasonably priced from $18.00 to $36.00.  What I like the most about this skincare line is the fact that there is no fragrance, alcohol, dye, lanolin, or propylene glycol added to these products.   I’m so excited.  Finally a skincare line specifically for skin of color with good, nonirritating ingredients.  I can’t wait to try this line.

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Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar is a daily facial moisturizer for all skin types.  This product became popular first in the medical field as it was frequently recommended by plastic surgeons to their patients who desired healthier skin.  A new size has been added (0.5 oz., $15.00), which is great for the budget conscious who have rather sensitive skin like I do.  I’ve wasted a lot of money on skincare products that didn’t work, so I’d rather spend $15.00 opposed to $38.00 (2 oz. size).  Heard a lot of good things about Philosophy, and by the way, a Best of Sephora 2007 winner.

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Yep, I’m gotta put it out there.  Ambi, who has products well known to the African American community, has a new skincare line called Ambi Even and Clear.  It is very reasonably priced from $4.99 to $11.99.  This new line has been specially designed to help clear up breakouts and the marks they leave behind, revealing skin that is more clear and even toned.  Soy extract, vitamins C & E, and sacylic acid are some of the ingredients used in this skincare line.  I love their Complexion Cleansing Bar, $1.99, 3.5 oz. and have been using it since high school.  It’s gentle, smells good, and leaves my skin super soft.  Worth checking out and is available at CVS, Walgreens, and online at Drugstore.com.

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Okay fellas, Mature Nappy hasn’t forgot about you.   You gotta check out Anthony Logistics for Men.  This is a whole body skincare line, including shampoo, razors, eye creams (yes, eye creams), sunscreen, moisturizers, antiaging serums, etc., and reasonably priced to boot.  My hubby, who constantly brags about his great skin, would love to possess all of the luxuries this line offers.  What’s new is their Anthony Logistics for Men Astringent Toner Pads, 60 count, $20.00, which are good to use right after cleansing or shaving, and leaves the skin clean and hydrated.   Great product with good ingredients (aloe vera, witch hazel, citrus mint essential oils).  They even feature a Foaming Hair and Body Wash, 5.1 oz., $12.00, for the little men in our lives.  Very impressive skincare line for men.

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