these 4 products consistently give me great results
This is the most frequently asked question I get as a naturalista. The answer is in the 60 second video below.
why they work
BB Super Gro: This product helps define my curls, lock-in water, and add shine. Since the oil is so thick, it's able to wrap around my coils and define each strand. This product also helps keep my hair hydrated because it seals in water.
Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner: This is my FAVORITE hair product EVER for ALL TIME. Why? Because it's a one and done. If I'm putting my hair in a pony tail, all I need is water, oil, and this conditioner. That's it! If you want to keep your hair moisturized in a protective style that involves extensions or a wig, this conditioner will do the job. Don't use this product sparingly, use a lot to moisturize every strand. You won't be disappointed!
Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil: This is one of the BEST hair oils I've ever used in my entire life. It's minty, which allows your scalp to get a tingly massage. The 8 fl. oz. bottle lasts for months. You don't have to use very much of it for it to be effective. It nourishes your scalp without leaving an oily residue on your scalp by the time you get to wash day. It's the bomb.com. Go try it.
As I Am Doublebutter Cream: I've been using this product for the last year. I'm four years into my natural hair journey and it would have been so nice to know about this product sooner. It's the ULTIMATE curl definer. It's the perfect product to assist with a twist-out or braid-out because it defines the texture you're creating when you style your hair. It's not a moisturizer, it's just a cream/butter. You can't swap this product out for a leave-in conditioner. It's truly a styling product that will make your hair look luscious. CAUTION: People will want to touch your hair after you use this product. *cues Solange*
why they work together
These products work well together because they all serve a different purpose. The Super Gro is great for my hair, while the Mint Almond Oil is best suited for my scalp. Depending on the style, I like the way the Super Gro and the Mint Almond Oil work together in my hair. The leave-in conditioner is necessary every time I do my hair. Whereas the double butter cream is only necessary for certain types of styles.
Please remember that my favorite products are ever-changing. Over the years, products that worked for me at one point are no longer effective for reasons unknown to me, which is why I'm always open to trying new products. If you watch my hair videos, you'll see different products come and go. However, the exception is the Shea Moisture Leave-in Conditioner.
If you have any questions about these products, please leave a comment or ask me on Instagram. Hopefully, this has introduced you to at least one new product that you're interested in trying. Until next time, stay beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
Women's athletic clothing try-on haul
Let's talk women's athletic wear. I'll be exploring Senita Athletics, Aim'n, Snatched Fitness, and Old Navy to find out if the price actually matches the quality. When you buy cheaper leggings, are you truly sacrificing quality? Here's your chance to find out!
Sent Athletics: senitaathletics.com
Snatched Fitness: snatched fitness.co
Discount Code: SNATCHED10
Old Navy: oldnavy.com
As always, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
workout playlist on apple music
Click here for the playlist.
At the start of 2017, I made a commitment to my health. I wanted to workout 2-3 times per week. Despite missing a few weeks here and there, I do feel like I achieved this minor lifestyle change, which also means that I should set a more challenging health goal for the upcoming year. If there's a health victory that you've achieved this year, please share your story in the comments. I would love to read how you've grown in 2017 whether it's eating habits, physical fitness, mental fitness, overall health and well-being, etc.
Due to working out more frequently, I started listening to different playlists to assist me in my new pursuit. I prefer to workout to the 'Hip-Hop Workout: Can't Stop, won't stop.' playlist because it's endless for the most part, whereas the 'Hip-Hop Workout: Apple Music Hip-Hop' playlist is barely thirty minutes. I also enjoy working out to the 'Latin Pop Workout: Apple Music Pop Latino' playlist, which is just under an hour. Another go to is 'The A-List: Hip-Hop' playlist. However, these playlists all have one thing in common and it's not the genre. Nearly all the songs on the playlist are by male artists.
I was running on the treadmill one day and Nicki Minaj's "Beez in the Trap" (featuring 2 Chainz) played. After the song ended, I pondered on why that was one of the few songs on the playlist that had a female lead. Even though Hip-Hop is a male dominated industry, I still felt like I was being gypped because women are phenomenal artists who should never be underrepresented.
Therefore, I made my own workout playlist mostly comprised of pop and hip-hop jams by women from the 90s to now. It's a little over 5 hours to give you variety every time you workout. I recommend you play it on shuffle. Let me know what you think. Click here to check it out!
WHERe do women rank ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS?
Per usual, I was plagued to do more research into the representation of women on the Billboard Hot 100 over the years. I looked over this week's current chart and noticed that it's dominated by male artists. In 2017, there have only been two women with numbers 1s, Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" and Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" (Click here to learn more). Contrarily, this year is not an accurate depiction of how female artists have ranked in prior years. Over the past three decades, women have increasingly topped the charts. But what does this mean and how is it determined?
Billboard along with their market research partners Nielsen BDS, Nielsen SoundScan and Next Big Sound track how fans interact with music through sales and downloads, touring, and radio airplay. They also track streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Vevo, Youtube, Twitter, Spotify, and other popular digital music hubs. Artists and their songs are ranked by these metrics.
The graph below details the percentage share of no. 1 hits on the hot 100 by decade for female soloists, all-female groups, and all-female collaborations. The gender barrier for no. 1 was first broken in 1960 by Connie Francis' "Everybody's Somebody's Fool". Since then, women have more regularly ranked on the Billboard Hot 100. Click here to learn more.
The reality is that I would love to see every decade mimic the 90s for no. 1 hits, top 10 hits, and top 50 hits. Despite women disproportionately ranking on the Billboard charts, it's clear that the data doesn't lie. While we do primarily listen to male artists, I think there's a behind scenes reason as to why women are not receiving the same opportunities, which has led to a misrepresentation within the music industry. It's also clear to me that as women, we have to support one another.
In the end, this is deeper than music and charts. This is about progress and ensuring that as women we're heard and that we stand up for one another. In 2017, I believe that we've seen a new community of women emerge that are woke, conscious, inspiring, courageous and ultimately activists for our advancement. We've always existed, but there's a boldness about us today that reminds me just how unstoppable we are. If you're lost, start by googling the 2017 Women's March. That's a great place to start.
Please share this playlist with a friend or two. Let me know if you would like any songs from your favorite female artists to be added. Wishing you many bomb workouts to my 'gal hits' playlist. Until next time, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
3 WAYS TO SLAY
Whether you're in a hurry and running late or preparing to slay the day away, here's three ways to style your eyebrows for either occasion and even in between!
Brow #1: Maybeline BROWprecise Fiber Volumizer (Deep Brown)
Brow #2: Anastasia Beverly Hills BROW WIZ (Dark Brown)
BROW #3: Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW POMADE (Dark Brown)
+ Anastasia Beverly Hills BRUSH 12 Dual-Ended Firm Angled Brush
+ Maybeline SUPERSTAY BETTER SKIN Concealer (Medium/Deep)
As always, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
one-eyed sassy pineapple
Here's a protective style that you can wear for 1-2 weeks. The video below will show you how to do this style as well as how I keep my hair moisturized while wearing it. To see how you can maintain this style, keep reading below.
how to maintain
likely to be more dry. I wouldn't recommend the latter, but if you're in a rush, it would work just fine. At night, pull your side bang up and tie your scarf so that the back of your head is completely wrapped and the front has an opening so that your bang can hang in the front, middle of your forehead. In the morning, you can take it down and style it. On day two and moving forward, bobby pins will be your best friend.
make it yours
I hope this video has inspired you to explore new ways in which you can style your natural hair. I understand that being natural can have it's ups and downs, but I have found that an easy-to-maintain, go-to protective style makes caring for your natural hair a breeze. Per usual, but with the mindset to excel and never plateau, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
There's something about this time of year that I've always found more difficult to manage on a mental, physical, and spiritual level. I could blame it on numerous things such as the sun setting earlier in the day, the cold weather, the overwhelming emphasis on consumerism, or even coming to the close of another year. For those of you in school, finals and grades are enough stress without adding on the pressures we encounter in everyday life. Whatever the case may be, I concur with the general concensus of encouraging people to spend time with those that they love to combat the late autumn/winter blues. However, life doesn't always work out that way. We cannot always depend on one another as a source for our happiness. Sometimes we have to make it happen on our own.
That's why I've created a playlist that feeds my soul the sweetest vibes. I've selected each song in hopes that it will help uplift your spirits and keep you inspired to always know just how beYOUtiful you truly are.
Take a listen at soundcloud.com/cara-elaine-ssl/sets/sweetest-vibes-playlist
Be Alright by Kehlani
I don't know what it is about this song but it his very encouraging. Ironically, I wasn't a fan of this song the first time I heard it. Later down the road, I started to feel like I could relate to it and now I find myself listening to it at least once a day. This song will truly bless you with the sweetest vibes from the inside out.
I am by JoJo
This song truly embodies the continuous struggle of feeling like you're not enough. Whether you believe that you are or that you are not, this is a song that'll help you recite it until you believe that you are and you manifest it thorugh your actions.
Everything Must Go by Jhené Aiko
This song is quite powerful. It can be interpretted in many diferrent ways, but in this instance, I take it as a reminder that our current circumstances are temporary. It reminds me that despite all the things we endure, we must push for growth and not just material rewards. This is a song that may shake your spirituallity, but ultimately leaves you to decide what you believe truly matters now and in the end.
Weary by Solange + Where I Belong (Intro) by Tori Kelly
If you haven't heard Weary, please look up the lyrics before you listen to the song. This is the perfect song for when you feel out of place or you're worried about if you are where you should be. It's great for when you're going through a big change or even when you feel a little stuck. Both of these songs encourage us to find our passions and journey closer to our purpose. It reminds us to not lose focus of who we are and to own that we do indeed belong exaclty where we are, how we are, in that moment.
Shine by Buddy
Not much needs to be said about this song. It speaks for itself. I like to think that when you recognize the light that's inside of you, you cannot help but shine.
D.R.A.M. Sings Special & Blessings by Chance the Rapper
When your mood isn't at it's best, there's nothing like feeding yourself some tunes that remind you that you're special and blessed. Just simply singing along to the first song will put you in a better mood. In fact, you'll wish the song was just al ittle longer.
W.A.Y.S. by Jhené Aiko
Why aren't you smiling? I can't lie. If anyone has the nerve to motion their mouth to tell me to smile, I'm highly offended, but this song brings new context to the phrase.
Happy by Leona Lewis
This is one of those songs that's worth learning all the words to just so that you can belt it out and pretend it sounds just as good as Leona Lewis singing it. It's great. At the right moment, it'll bring you to tears of joy. This song reflects on how the ups and downs can equivocally bring us to happiness.
Love Yourz by J. Cole
The first time I heard this song, it was on the radio, which means it was probably considered old by that time I heard it. Even still, I recall getting teary eyed and feeling a rush of gratefulness to hear such an uplifting song on the radio. I remember going into deep thought and just feeling happiness and true content with the season that I'm in.
What's Your 'Pick Me Up' Jam?
While my music taste isn't highly diverse in any way, I hope that this short playlist has introduced you to at least one new 'pick me up' jam. I'd love to know your own personal favorite in the comments below.
As always, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
This is truly a protective style that leaves me feeling like a goddess every morning. Below, I've provided a brief list of why this style gives me life.
Wake Up and Go
There's really no exaggeration to this. At night, I tie my silk scarf bandana style around my head. To keep from irritating my edges, I tie it loosely, knotting the scarf where my braids sit, rather than tightly around my hairline. The most effort I put into spicing up this hairstyle is laying my edges, which I only recommend doing sparingly to maintain the integrity of your hairline. #SaveTheEdges, which is a struggle I know all too well.
Waist Length Minus the Weight
Never have I ever had hair to my waist that feels weightless. I love it! It makes you feel super fabulous without the expense of putting stress on your tresses. With goddess braids, you can count on major slayage in length without any drawbacks.
Two-Week Protective Style
When I think of protective styles, I think effortlessness for weeks. Who am I kidding? I'm thinking at least a month or more. However, as naturals, we must not forget how important it is for our hair to remain clean, hydrated, and moisturized. Sometimes a two-week protective style is best to prevent us from neglecting our hair's health. At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I always kept my senegalese twists in for two months or maybe even more. Looking back, this wasn't exactly a protective style because I pushed the limits on how long the style could be maintained and I disregarded properly caring for my hair. Goddess braids start to look fairly worn after a few weeks and depending on the size, the life-span varies. The smaller the braids, the longer they're likely to last. Essentially, this style will prevent you form neglecting your hair's health in exchange for convenience. Instead, you'll receive the best of both worlds: health & convenience.
Pretty Doesn't Hurt
If you're tender headed, there's no hope for you with respect to this reason as to why I love goddess braids. If you're not tender headed, then this may be your favorite aspect about this style. Every time I get box braids, my head is tender and a pain to sleep on for nearly a week. While you may have to wait for the hair along the nape of your neck to loosen, it's still a walk in the park on the pain meter. This style is heavy on the pretty and light on the hurt.
Kind on the Wallet
While there's nothing wrong with doing these yourself, I always think it's a wonderful thing to support your local, trustworthy hair stylists. Typically, this style is pretty cheap in comparison to other braid extensions. In fact, my style only required two packs of hair and most people will only need two to three packs.
I hope you all enjoyed my effort at producing better quality photographs. Lighting seems to be a continuous battle, but I'm pleased with how my first hair shoot turned out. Please leave any photography suggestions in the comments below. If you know of any great editing apps, leave those in the comments as well. Since photography isn't everyone's cup of tea, please share a recent little victory you've experienced in your life.
Until next time, stay beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
natural hair care isn't just for your hair
It was 1:30am.
I was finally able to lay my head on my pillow.
I instinctively opened Instagram to get a quick peak at what was going on in the one-sided, seemingly realistic, techno-social realm just before getting some much needed shut eye.
Then suddenly, in the background of my thoughts, I heard an unfamiliar shuffling as I laid in bed. I had my head resting upon the inner side of my right elbow and my phone set in prime eyesight position inside of my left hand.
I quieted my thoughts to listen a little closer and noticed that the shuffling had rhythm. And with an inhale and exhale of relief, I realized it was my heart beating... living... carrying me into each precious moment of life.
This moment was a reminder of what a sweet thing it is to listen to the rhythm of your own heart beat. Pun intended or not, the message is always the same. BeYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul.
What does this have to do with natural hair?
To rewind a bit, I was up late on this particular weekday because I had #HairGoals. I wanted to properly prep my hair for faux locs, which meant I spent my night and early morning washing, deep conditioning, blowing out, and braiding out my hair. It sounds taxing. I'm aware, but what's overlooked is the calmness that arises from within through this unsuspecting hair care chore.
It's easy to say, "Ain't nobody got time for that," but the truth is that this may be the only time that you truly take to yourself. The only time that you take to count your blessings. The only time you take to reflect on what has been, what is now, and what will be. The only time you take to see beyond your reflection in the mirror, and see where your soul stands in this very moment through all your trials and triumphs.
I have found caring for my natural hair to be an experience that enlightens me on where I require growth and where I have grown immensely. Simultaneously, I'm able to observe how my hair care routine has fostered damage as well as growth.
Next time you convince yourself that your natural hair takes too much time to manage, ask yourself if you have time for yourself. Just like you would make time for anyone else that you consider near and dear to your heart.
Contrary to the norm, I've already wished you well with my usual Sweet & Soul Life saying. Instead, I'll wish you a merry time on a feat that's more rewarding internally than externally could ever be imagined.
May your your natural hair journey be ever in your favor. -xo
Here's my list of scores and strikes, or pros and cons, when it comes to medium-size, 12 inch faux locs. Below, I've provided a clear cut infographic for a quick read. Check out the expanded information below the infographic for further details.
This style is kind to the budget because it requires few packs of hair. I originally only needed 1 pack of X-Pression hair and 4 packs of Marley hair, but once some locs unraveled, I had to use another pack. That's why I recommend 5 packs of Marley hair for this style. My favorite extension hairstyle is medium-size, waste length Marley twists, which require 7-9 packs of hair. I was relieved to find out that this particular style of faux locs costs me under $40 in hair extensions. Tell your bank account that I said, "you're welcome".
My locs were 12 inches long and parted in medium-size sections. Therefore, it only took 6 hours to install. Normally, I block out an entire Saturday to get my hair braided/twisted, but I got this style done one evening after work. The six hours does not include hair prep. It's solely the time it took to install the locs, but compared to my usual 9-hour marely twists, it was a breeze!
Ages Fine like Wine
This is one of those styles that looks better the longer that it's maintained. Once the locs start to become more nappy, they look more natural and it helps them become less stiff.
My hair stylist braided my hair into the x-expression hair and then wrapped the braid with the Marley hair. My favorite benefit of faux locs is that they truly protect your hair. With Marley twists, my hair would eventually work its way outside of the twists, which would defeat the purpose of a protective style. Even after I washed my faux locs, my hair was still securely tucked inside of the locs.
While long hair extensions make you feel glamorous, the downside is that they become very heavy as your hair grows out. This is a problem of the past when it comes to 12 inch faux locs. As my hair grew, I felt little tension at the root of my hair.
You block out an entire day on your calendar to get your hair done. You sit there for hours, reminding yourself that the sacrifice of time and money is worth it in exchange for 1 month+ of easy hair care. Once they're complete, you're in pure bliss and ecstatic to pay your hair stylist. You leave in glee and a little bit of pain as you await for the locs to loosen. You go on about your life and compliments are flying your way. People love them, they want to know how long it took, and if you'd recommend your hair stylist. Then, one day, you notice a few twists begin to unravel. You're........... frustrated. Trust me, it's annoying and the ultimate downside of faux locs.
I bought a lighter so that I could further seal my ends whenever they became lose. This prevented me from making multiple trips to see my hairstylist. However, when the entire length of the loc becomes loose and unravels, there's no saving it with the lighter.
Stiff Locs & Styling
My hair was extremely stiff for the first week. Since my locs were only 12 inches long, it wasn't enough weight to make the locs toward the top and center of my head lay flat. They stuck out awkwardly, so I had to style my hair. Styling the hair helps the locs loosen and look more natural. I loved wearing my locs half up in a bun and half down. However, maneuvering the locs often caused them to unravel.
Faux locs can become pretty tangled throughout the day, so it's important to do a few hair flips and run your fingers through them every once in a while. They also collect lent where the hair is burned at the tip. Expect to remove lent from your locs once or twice daily.
I like to keep my scalp squeaky clean while I rock my braided/twisted extensions, so I shampoo my scalp whenever necessary. With faux locs, I found it challenging to wash my hair becuase I didn't want my locs to unravel from being weighed down by water. I had to make sure that the water pressure wasn't too harsh and that I focused on the water hitting my head rather than my hair.
Don't let me sway you
I recommend using this score and strike list as an informative resource rather than a deciding factor on whether or not you should try this style. This is just to keep you from having any negative surprises. Please feel free to leave your tips and tricks in the comments below on how you maintain for your faux locs. Until next time, beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
Whether you're natural, transitioning, or you just big-chopped, there are several natural hair care best kept secrets that are important to keep in mind while shopping.
The bare minimum
The only true pitfall that I've discovered since being natural for the last two years is the desire to splurge on expensive hair products. At times it's necessary, at other times, it's not. And what's worse is that you don't even know if the product will meet your expectations or completely fall flat. Each trial run of a new product is a gamble, and when you do the math, it's best to just KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
Here's a bare minimum list of products that you should always keep on hand as a natural:
1. Oil (plus an optional moisture enhancer)
My favorite is olive oil. Others enjoy using coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, etc. Many naturals make their own combination of several types. Instead of using water as the only moisturizer before applying oil, there's also the option to use a product like aloe vera juice.
2. Leave-in conditioner
These products can easily be mistaken with styling products. Make sure you pay close attention to the label rather than the benefits like "repairs breakage" and "hair growth". Those things are wonderful. However, a styling product won't have the long-lasting, moisturizing effect of a leave-in. I always get distracted by the catch phrases, so don't let them distract you. Shop for the words "leave-in conditioner".
3. Styling product (optional)
This is where I've wasted the most money. I've bought so many styling products that are just never quite the right fit for my hair. Ideally, these are the products you can have the most fun with. Maybe you're looking for something that makes your tresses as soft as a feather. Or maybe you're styling your hair in such a way that you need something that melts any knots and defines your curls. My current favorite is Lotta Body Hair Milk. Whatever you desire for this optional product, you can always find with a little trial and error. DISCLAIMER: Try one at a time. You don't need more than one styling product if you're sticking to the bare bones.
4. Deep conditioner/co-wash
I love doubling my deep conditioner as a co-wash. Because of the thickness of my hair, I choose quantity over quality. My favorite is Aussie Moist Conditioner. Why? It comes in a 29.2 fl oz bottle with a convenient dispenser nozzle. It's cheap, long-lasting, and leaves my kinks and coils happily moisturized. On a budget, I'd suggest a two-in-one like I use. If you're open to splurging, maybe you use a cheaper product for co-washing and a more expensive product for deep conditioning. It all depends on your preference, but it never hurts to weigh your options.
This is where every woman can save. We all use our conditioner 2-3 times more often than shampoo. I suggest you buy a great one that's sulfate free. My favorite shampoos are by Shea Moisture.
6. Gel (optional depending on how you style your hair)
I thought the eco styler gel craze was overrated. Turns out, it's not. If you don't have some already, you should reconsider. From taming fly always to defining curls, it's a natural's dream come true. The only downside is that gels are drying, so make sure that you properly moisturize your hair before applying.
Watch to see how I use my bare minimum, essential hair products to go from havana twists to a two strand twist out.
What's your list?
Besides these items, there's not much else that you need. Anything else is purely optional. The bare minimum list can be used to prevent you from buying multiple styling or leave-in conditioners at once. While I'm a complete advocate of breaking routine and trying new products, it's best to do this only after you've found a reliable product that works and most importantly, the product container is nearly empty. I like to think of it like this: Don't replenish before it's finished.
I hope this helps you on your natural hair journey. Let me know in the comments what specific products make up your bare minimum hair care list. Until next time, stay beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
Lifestyle related topics that not only address our outward appearance but also address how we style beyond what the eyes can see.