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31 FLAVOURS: Discussing The Diversity Of Natural Hair [+ Event Info]

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Dolls by Karen Byrd of Natural Girls United

Next month marks 6 years since I big chopped and started wearing my hair naturally. From my days of scouring Fotki for natural hair inspiration to being an admitted product junkie to salon (mis)adventures and more, the past 6 years have brought me eye-opening lessons in hair care, self esteem, and redefining my personal beauty paradigm. Just when I think I know all I need to know and have seen all I need to see, something comes along and shakes everything up.

This year, the running theme has circled around representation in the natural hair sphere. I hosted a panel discussion of women who choose to rock TWAs, which presented the perspective of women who eschewed the more common length aspirations within the natural hair community. Salon chats highlighted a continued problem with poor representation and acceptance of shorter lengths and tighter textures – noticed most in clients who won’t rest until they find the product that eliminates shrinkage and transforms kinks into loose curls. Twitter conversations with writer and mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi brought up the thought of loc wearers being left out of natural hair dialogue – this became an even greater conversation when Essence Magazine featured Ledisi on one of their May 2014 covers for the Beauty Issue.

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These kinds of discussions motivated me to look at my own thoughts on natural hair beauty and diversity. Admittedly, it was easy for me to see the parallels between previously chasing one beauty “ideal” (long, straight, relaxed hair), then embracing my chemical-free texture but still chasing another “ideal” (big, soft curly hair). Early on, the natural hair blogs, YouTube videos, and Facebook forums I frequented all shared the same goal of embracing your natural hair, but there was always an undercurrent of knowing that there was a hierarchy of expressions within it. Short hair, kinky and coily hair, and locs were on the fringe and seen as somewhat of an afterthought – almost giving off a vibe of  “Oh – I guess we should include one of those, shouldn’t we…” Back 6 years ago, my short hair was just a stepping stone to luxurious growth. My kinky and coily sections were interesting, but were obstacles to hurdle in efforts to blend in with my looser sections. I considered locs briefly, but decided I loved the versatility of my loose natural hair too much to part with it. However, I quickly understood the negative way locs were viewed when family members would ask “Are you going to loc your hair?” with a look that clearly meant “You better not!”

Especially over the past year, a number of women have approached me and shared that they’ve felt excluded from the natural hair world, due to not having the “right” texture, length, or style. Where were the spaces for women who had diverse hair goals, journeys, and needs? Many of them expressed being unable to find them, and some identified feeling as lost in the game as I did 6 years ago when I went natural. In my own way with the opportunities I have available to me, I featured (current and previously) loc’d women on ’83 To Infinity, interviewed a Jamaican beauty queen with an interesting natural hair journey, and hosted a Black History Month event focusing on the big chop and rocking TWAs. When plans started flowing this year’s Curls, Coils & Cocktails event, the same theme of diversity and representation came to mind, and I knew that was the angle we would have to take this year.

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Because the natural hair community is bigger than we give credit for, it was a conscious decision to use the 2nd annual Curls, Coils & Cocktails event to broaden our horizons. Our panel features 4 women – one loc’d, one rocking a TWA, one newly big chopped natural, and one stylist who has worked with all manner of natural hair. Our vendors/partners (Diana Tracy Collection, Eli’s Body Shop, & Curl Bar Beauty Salon) are a diverse bunch – female-owned businesses designed to ensure that you look and feel good from head to toe. We’ll have a new musical portion this year, with a performance and Q & A session with Canada’s funk/rock/soul queen – and dope loc wearer – Saidah Baba Talibah. DJ Sean Sax will be on the 1s and 2s, mix and mingling will abound, sweet treats and eats from Mellycakes will be available, and gift bags (thanks to Clore Beauty Supply) and door prizes will be on hand for attendees! We’ve kept up the practice of highlighting Canadian talent and businesses, and the theme of ‘Dos & Diversity will hopefully achieve the goal of inclusivity that we’re aiming for.

Do we still hang on to colonial ideals of beauty, even within the empowered natural hair world? What are the roots of some of the biases we have against certain style choices? How do we combat the irrational need to chase after styles or textures that our hair is not capable of maintaining? How do we truly begin to embrace and own our natural hair without apology? The answers to these questions and more will surely be discussed on July 26th at Curls, Coils & Cocktails – and hopefully we’ll be able to carve out the kind of space that celebrates us all, whether curly, coily, or otherwise.

Get your tickets to Curls, Coils & Cocktails here! 

LOC LOVE: Interview with Rowena of NubianSoulsLocks

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Recently, I realized I was missing something on the blog. Though I’ve been having hearty natural hair convos and documenting my current hair journey on social media mediums like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, it’s been a while since I’ve written a good post on life as a kinky/curly chick. Today, I bring you a little something special.

Rowena of the blog Nubiansoulslocks is a lovely loc’d lady who balances her work in provincial government with her passion for health and wellness. She’s also one of my good sista-friends, so I admit to being a bit biased in wanting to show her off! You’ll quickly see that she’s more than deserving of the feature – get all the way into her gorgeous locs and the hair knowledge she’s acquired on her journey!

Without further ado – here’s my chat with Rowena!

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Bee: What’s your hair story? 

Rowena: For as long as I can remember, I was always on the search for the perfect hairstyle that would be my “signature” style. Every month I would run into the local drug store and purchase the latest Sophisticate’s Black Hair magazine in the hopes that I would find that hairstyle that screamed “Rowena.” I wanted to find something that was synonymous with my personality as well as my face shape, etc. Over the years I went back and forth with relaxers – I relaxed my hair for the first time in the 8th grade, I stopped in the 12th grade and decided to try and grow my hair out. I went back to the creamy crack the summer before I went off to university. I wanted to try something “drastic” and did a short bob. My biggest regret was relaxing my hair; I didn’t have an idea how to take care of it at the time, so my hair would fall out. Texturizing my hair gave me similar results, so I continued to have a hard time trying to find a style that would make me feel and look good. I toyed with weaves and wigs for a short period but I felt extremely uncomfortable wearing something that did not fit my face, or my personality.   

Bee: How did you come to the decision to rock locs? 

Rowena: After my relaxer fiasco, I decided to wear twist extensions as a means to grow my natural hair out. I knew how to put extensions in my own hair so I decided to try this out without realizing how well the style suited me. I remember putting in the twists and immediately receiving compliments from my friends and family on how it suited me so well. I continued wearing the style, playing around with different textures of the kinky extensions, until someone suggested that I try locking my hair. I thought about it and considered trying it out, but it took me a couple of years to actually take the dive and start my loc journey because I was afraid of the “commitment and process” of having locs. It has been a little over 7 years and I definitely don’t regret my decision….this style definitely suits me, my lifestyle and my personality. 

Bee: You work in a corporate government environment – has your hair had any impact on your career or your relationships with coworkers? 

Rowena: In the beginning of my loc journey I was very conscious of the way my colleagues would react to my new hairstyle. Fortunately for me they were very supportive of my decision which I am very grateful for. Overall I have had a positive experience – a lot of colleagues (from all races) would ask about my regimen, how long it takes me to style my hair, how long would I want to grow it, and how I make the style look so versatile, especially after I cut my locs into a shorter style. I haven’t received any negative comments towards my hairstyle as the majority of the people of colour in my office wear their hair natural, and two others have locs as well. We all make a conscious effort to look presentable in the office and I feel that’s what matters here. There are days that I feel that my overall appearance has an impact on my career, especially when I read articles about individuals facing hardship with their natural hairstyles – but I make a conscious effort to focus on my work ethic rather than other’s thoughts about my locs. 

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Bee: You recently cut your locs into a cute shoulder-length bob – what made you cut them, and do you regret the decision at all?

Rowena: I’m going to be honest and say that I had that 7-year itch where I briefly thought of the decision to completely cut my locs off. They were getting very long, and because of my active lifestyle, it because increasingly difficult to maintain. Some of my locs started breaking off as well so I had to make a decision on what to do. I was getting very frustrated with my locs. I loved the progress that I had made over the years but that length was just getting in the way.  A few years ago I saw a hairstyle in Essence magazine (and I wrote a blog post about it) that I instantly fell in love with, and I told myself that if I decided to cut my locs,  I would cut it into a bob similar to the picture that I had seen. I felt that I needed a change; as a way to start over, and to fall in love with my locs all over again. It also made my loc maintenance/exercise regimen a little easier so I went to a stylist in September and cut them off. I was in complete shock when she gave me that first batch of locs, but seeing the results afterwards, I was extremely happy with my decision and I have NO regrets. 

Bee: What’s your current hair care regimen? 

Rowena: Because I am always in the gym, I wash my locs twice a week. I don’t use as many hair products as I used to, so right now I either put coconut oil on my scalp, or I use the Mizani Coconut Souffle Light Moisturizing Hairdress. In between washings, I like to use the Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner to prevent my scalp from getting too dry. I prefer to keep it really simple these days. 

Bee: People often aren’t aware of how versatile locs can be. What are some of your favourite loc styles?  

Rowena: I love side bun hairstyles. When I had longer locs, I would always wear a side sweep because I found them fun and feminine. I also love to wear my locs in curls, and pin them up in various ways. I never realized how versatile locs can be until I checked out YouTube. There’s a vast amount of video blogs available that provide tutorials on loc hairstyles, for all lengths. My favourite go-to for hairstyles would be Chescalocs. If I wanted to try something fun, I would go to her YouTube page.   

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Bee: You’re very physically active and health-conscious – how do you maintain your locs during frequent workouts, and how does your hair choice fit with your healthy lifestyle choice? 

Rowena: As you know, I am a Socacize instructor, and since it is a high impact aerobic exercise class, my locs are drenched after every workout. What I have learned is that when it comes to product use, less is more. Your hair (and skin) will thank you when you put less product in your hair, especially when you work a sweat more often. Aside from the length that I had earlier, I found that having locs while maintaining an active lifestyle is a lot easier for I don’t worry about sweating my locs out at all. Because I value my active lifestyle, I had to get over that “I’ll ruin my fresh twist/I just washed my hair” mentality and just exercise. Having a healthier lifestyle is more important than sweating out my freshly-done locs.  I have become more aware of the foods that eat as well; I have committed myself to cleaner eating and I have definitely noticed a change in the strength as well as the growth process. I eat a lot of leafy greens throughout the day and I feel as if this has positively contributed to the health of my locs. 

Bee: What are some pieces of advice you’d offer to someone who is contemplating or has just started their loc journey?

Rowena: Patience is key! Locs will not form overnight so be patient with its growth and development. Document your monthly progress and you’ll be fascinated with the progress you have made as the months go by. 

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Bee: Where can people find you? (FB, Twitter, blog, etc.) 

Rowena: I can be found at the following:

Facebook: Nubiansoulslocks

Twitter: @Nubiansoulslocs

Blog: http://nubiansoulslocks.blogspot.com

Instagram: @Nubiansoulslocs

If you have locs or are contemplating them, I’m sure you got some piece of info or inspiration from Rowena! If you have any questions for her, feel free to comment here or contact her directly!

SKIN WINS: Getting Back On Track With Natural Skin Care

No makeup, no filter! Straight out of the shower with grapeseed oil moisturizer.

No makeup, no filter! Straight out of the shower with grapeseed oil moisturizer.

As I may have mentioned before, I’ve been working on embracing a more natural and holistic lifestyle over the past couple of months. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor back in August, and she’s really inspired me to do the work necessary to get my mind, body, and soul back on track and in sync.

After dealing with an uncommon series of breakouts, I started looking into natural skin care options. For quite some time, I had been following the OCM (oil cleansing method), but fell off and got lazy with my skin care. With my habit of washing my face with any old thing in the shower, moisturizing inconsistently, and living life in the super-stressed lane, it’s no wonder I started breaking out in ways that haven’t occurred since puberty. I’m proud to say that I haven’t fallen asleep with makeup on in years – but that was really the only thing I could pat myself on the back about. My skin care routine was tragic, and needed a complete 180.

After reading and hearing about the wonders of black soap, I received a bottle from Love Thy HNS – an online beauty and hair boutique based in Montreal. The first thing that amazed me about the Alaffia African Black Soap was that it got every single stitch of makeup off of my face without leaving me feeling like I lost a layer of skin. My natural makeup remover staple has been coconut oil, but I found that the black soap alone did the trick amazingly.

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The Alaffia African Black Soap is created from a saponification process including shea butter, West African palm oil, and ashes – and also contains African mint and other citrus essential oils. I love the tingly feeling that the mint adds, and appreciate the fact that the black soap doesn’t give me that OHMAHGAWMYFACEISTIGHTENINGUP feeling 5 minutes out the shower.

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After washing with my black soap, I splash my face with the coldest water I can tolerate to tighten my pores back up – then to moisturize, I use grapeseed oil. I learned that my skin LOVES grapeseed oil when I started the OCM, so I made sure to get back on it when I re-launched my new and improved skin care routine. Grapeseed oil is extremely light, and has astringent and antioxidant properties as well. Because I have oily skin, a lot of people wonder why I would put MORE oil on my face to moisturize. My chemistry days reminded me that oil dissolves oil, therefore the grapeseed helps to dissolve any excess oils in my skin – and also tricks my skin into thinking it’s sufficiently moisturized, therefore eliminating the need to overproduce oil.

I’m back to incorporating my cane sugar scrub into my repertoire, but my new natural skin care BFF is honey. Let me explain.

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I’ve started using honey as a super-simple weekly mask (major thanks to @jchiron18 on Twitter!):

  • Splash face with warm water to open pores
  • Rub honey over face
  • Let honey sit for about 30 minutes – it’ll set and get very sticky
  • After approx. 30 minutes, massage your skin in circular motions – you’ll feel like you’re pulling your skin off, but keep at it!
  • Massage your entire face for a few minutes, then rinse with water

Voilà! Baby-booty soft skin!

Honey is an amazing humectant, which means it draws and binds water from the air into your skin – hello, moisture! Honey also has great antibacterial properties, so using it as a spot treatment for pimples is highly effective. If you’re anything like me, you KNOW you’ve gone to bed with a spot or two of toothpaste on your face, trying to zap a blemish before it gets worse. Toothpaste will dry that sucker out, but will also dry your skin out in general. Honey will do the trick by killing the bacteria that causes blemishes to flourish, but will moisturize your skin at the same time. If you want happy skin, not angry skin – get some honey in your life!

So far, so good! While I’m still solely responsible for managing my stress and the physical effects it brings, I can definitely see the improvement since I got back on track with my regimen. Black soap + grapeseed oil + cane sugar + honey = great skin for Bee! Give it a try, and see how it works for you!

Do you have any natural skin care tricks? Share in the comments section!

EVENT RECAP: Curls, Coils & Cocktails in Toronto

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I am STILL on a high. This past Saturday, in partnership with my homegirl Ann Marie from Soulafrodisiac, I held my first event called Curls, Coils & Cocktails – and it was AWESOME.

Since I started this blog, one of the most common questions I’ve received has been “When are you going to start organizing some events and meetups?” We’ve all been witness to the incredible events that bloggers like Curly Nikki, Afrobella, and others have thrown in the States, but here in Canada (and specifically Toronto), we’ve seen much less action. Thankfully, this is starting to change – and Curls, Coils & Cocktails was my addition to the offerings of natural hair and beauty events in the city.

photo credit: Toni

photo credit: Toni

Held at the lovely and unique Saviari Tea & Cocktail Lounge, the event kicked off with time for mixing and mingling. If you haven’t hit up Saviari yet (on King West), you’re missing out. Amazing tea-infused foods and drinks in an intimate atmosphere – I’ll guarantee you’ve never had an experience quite like the one Saviari offers. The Trendsetter martini was our signature drink, and we saw everyone partaking of the yummy appetizer platters circulating the room. We had two amazing photographers on deck – Tanya Petraglia and Ashton Chambers – and they expertly captured all of the beautiful women (and a few fellas!) who came decked out in all of their gorgeousness.

About an hour into the event, the only emotion I felt was overwhelmed – in a good way. We had received a great response for our advance ticket sales, but the amount of women who still came through and paid at the door had us at standing room only. The sheer number of attendees who were in the house was one thing, but the vibe itself was incredible. I saw women laughing, smiling, talking, hugging, shaking hands, air kissing, complimenting, and just genuinely showing love. Many reflected on how nice it was to be in an environment filled with women without the shadiness, side eyes, and screwfaces, and I had to agree. I make an effort to surround myself with positive people, so I wasn’t at all surprised that a room full of lovely women were getting along – but it just felt nice. A big shout out to Juliana and Vee who held down the door for us like champs! Working the door at an event is rarely as simple as it seems, but these ladies kept things moving smoothly.

Thea Mitchell from Cocoa Bloom Cosmetics and Trudie, Karlene, and Dixie from Curl Bar Beauty Salon were on hand to offer free mini hair and makeup consultations, and the women in attendance didn’t waste any time taking advantage of their knowledge! I recently coloured my hair for my birthday, so any compliments I got on my hair colour and style were directed to Curl Bar’s way – Karlene did my amazing summer colour, and Trudie and Dixie both tag-teamed me the morning of the event to hook me up with a gorgeous twist-out.

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It was soon time for our panel discussion on natural hair and diversity in beauty – moderated by myself and featuring panelists Yemi of the awesome blog Shakara Natural Tips, Thea from Cocoa Bloom Cosmetics, Trudie from Curl Bar Beauty Salon, and Deb from the En’tyce Your Beauty product line. I have never in my life moderated a panel, but I think it went well! We discussed topics around the new views of Black beauty in the media, natural hair and the corporate work environment, how to deal with the frustrations of accepting our natural textures, the importance of healthy hair (regardless of style), natural hair and relationships, and much, much more. With the panel, I wanted to illicit more of a discussion than a straight Q&A feel – I often feel that we too easily want someone to give us an answer or solution to an issue, but I wanted to encourage more thought, debate, and new perspectives. The panelists loved the segment, and we got great feedback from attendees, so I was happy!

photo credit: Jaeda

photo credit: Jaeda

photo credit: Monique

photo credit: Monique

photo credit: Christine

photo credit: Christine

We also did a product swap, where attendees came up to the mic to discuss the gently-used products they had purchased that just didn’t work for them. We got a great response and had some awesome products that were then up for grabs for anyone else who wanted to try them, free of charge. We also made sure to highlight the various stylists (Hair by Glenna, Curl Bar, independant stylists) that were in attendance so that women would know what resources were available to them for their hair care needs. Finding a trusted stylist can be so difficult, but more and more options are becoming available to us in Toronto.

Ann Marie and I also wanted to make sure we highlighted a very special woman – Christine Tonkin. Christine is the creator of the Curls, Coils & Cocktails Meetup.com group that inspired the entire event. Months ago, she had reserved the date of May 18th for a special event, in order to mark International Natural Hair Meetup Day here in Toronto. However, due to some family health crises that needed her time and attention, Christine was unable to continue with plans. She asked if I would be able to take over the reins for the event – Ann Marie jumped in right away to partner with me, and we ran with it. Christine is an amazingly strong and faithful woman, and Ann Marie and I wanted to make sure that the event was true to her vision. Christine told us that we had created exactly what she had envisioned, so we were so happy to make her proud.

Toni and Christine (top) Toni and Ann Marie (bottom) photo credit: Toni

Toni and Christine (top)
Toni and Ann Marie (bottom)
photo credit: Toni

Oh – have I mentioned the FABULOUS giveaways we had on deck? We’re so thankful to all of our generous sponsors who went above and beyond to contribute to the event:

A big shout out to the bloggers/media coverage that were in the house! We did interviews with Caribbean Vibrations TV and Toni Daley, and had Noni and Winnie from Three Naturals (we missed Juli-Anne, but she has a beautiful new baby keeping her busy), Jacqueline from Anancy Magazine, and Carcia & Telly from It’s MusicFashionLife out as well! I saw a ton of other folks conducting mini photo shoots and interviews with attendees, so we can’t wait to see all the photos and event recaps!

photo credit (top): Christine (bottom): Toni

photo credit (top): Christine
(bottom): Toni

When I started organizing sponsors for the event, I was reaching out across the border to American brands – but didn’t get much response back. No one seemed to value the consumers here in Toronto, and it brought to mind my discussions with brands at a conference last year in Philly. The shock and surprise that so many displayed when they asked “There’s BLACK PEOPLE up in Canada?” was telling. While we’re a much smaller number than the Black population in the States, we’re still a relatively unknown consumer group in their eyes. Thankfully, the Universe started opening my eyes and led me to find the amazing resources and talent we have right here in the city. Our mission was not necessarily to host an event filled with vendors expecting attendees to buy. We wanted to create an environment of interaction, engagement, and awareness – getting to know who’s here, what they’re doing, and how you can find them was paramount.

If you’ve made it this far in the recap, I thank you. I knew it would be a long one, but there’s so much to say! All in all, Curls, Coils & Cocktails was a success, and I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish. In my typical perfectionist way, I’ve spent mo’ time than a lil bit critiquing myself on what I could have done better, where I flubbed certain things, and chiding myself on areas where I can vastly improve. However, I take those self-critiques as learning lessons to make the next time (yes – there will be a next time!) even better. Curls, Coils & Cocktails exceeded all of my expectations, and I’m so thankful to everyone who supported in any way. Like I said at the top of the post, I’m still riding the high – thank you, Toronto!

Were you in attendance at Curls, Coils & Cocktails? Let me know what you thought! If you’ve got any photos you’d like to share, please feel free to email me copies to bee(at)83toinfinity(dot)com! Professional photos will be coming soon! 

AWESOME EVENT ALERT: Curls, Coils & Cocktails w/ ’83 To Infinity & Soulafrodisiac!

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It’s funny how life works.

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to organize an event – an ’83 To Infinity meetup where I could meet some of my readers in person, enjoy some yummy food and drinks, and discuss life, our passions, and our various journeys. First, I put it off because I thought I didn’t have a big enough readership (I remember meeting Afrobella a couple of months after starting ’83 To Infinity, and she was the first one to encourage me to do an event regardless of how many people may be reading). Then, I thought I’d do one for my blog’s 1st anniversary, but that didn’t pan out. Then, I thought “OK. You’ve been putting this off. Just get down to it.” I started plotting venues, special guests, what my event would be about, and I actually started getting excited. However, not too long after I got excited, I got scared. My idea for a June event in Toronto started to slide closer to July…then maybe August…and y’all know what that means. I started to chicken out, and almost succeeded.

In an interesting turn of events, I was asked to help organize an event in Toronto for International Natural Hair Meetup Day because the original organizer had to tend to family issues. Of course I said yes – I knew she was looking forward to the event, as were a number of people in our particular Meetup.com group. Once I agreed to take it on, I realized something.

Sh*t. I’m actually doing an event.

It was too late to turn back, so I took the leap and decided that this was how the Universe was going to make me face my fears and get down to it. With that, I present to you: Curls, Coils & Cocktails!

Together with my sistren Ann Marie Collymore of the dope blog Soulafrodisiac, we’ve created an awesome event for our Toronto readers, friends, and fellow hair and beauty lovers. Curls, Coils & Cocktails is going down on May 18th at the lovely Saviari Tea & Cocktail Lounge from 4-9pm – and this won’t be just any ole meetup!

  • We’ve got product swapping (so bring that lightly used product that just doesn’t work for you – it might for someone else)!
  • We’ve got mini-hair consultations (thanks to the ladies of Curl Bar Beauty Salon)!
  • We’ve got a panel discussion featuring some of Toronto’s best voices on hair and beauty (like Trudie Mulalu from Curl Bar and Thea Mitchell of Cocoa Bloom Cosmetics)!
  • We’ve got awesome gifts and door prizes (thanks to Shea Radiance, Cloré Beauty, Harlem Restaurant, Ola Finesse, and more)!
  • We’ve got an awesome mix and mingling atmosphere (so be ready to make some friends)!
  • We’ve got delicious tea-infused food and a signature cocktail (all due to Saviari’s unique menu)!

And we want YOU!

If you’re in town on May 18th, we’d love for you to join us. One of the major complaints I often hear from blog readers and friends in Toronto is that we never seem to have the frequency or quality of natural hair and beauty based events like we see in the US. Lately, I think the climate here is changing, and we’re starting to see a few more meetups and events offered. Now that I’ve actually jumped in with both feet and got this idea off the ground, I’m ready to put my stank on it and bring a unique vibe to Toronto’s natural hair and beauty lovin’ communities. So if you wear natural hair, are contemplating it, or are just in the pursuit of healthy hair overall – Curls, Coils & Cocktails is for you. I’m sure that while we discuss how to look good on the outside, the positive vibes and connections made at CC&C will help us to radiate the beauty we have inside as well.

I’m hella excited!

Click here for the Eventbrite ticket page and grab yours today! Tickets are only $10 in advance, $15 at the door. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to hit me up, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at my very first ’83 To Infinity event!

Psssst…thanks to everyone who entered my The Mystic Effect ticket giveaway! The lucky winner is… *drumroll* GINA AYANNA! Gina – please shoot me an email at bee[at]83toinfinity[dot]com to get your ticket to the show!

Natural Skin Care: The Cane Sugar Scrub

This weekend, I spent some time with my girlfriends doing something I haven’t done in a LONG time – window shop. In between a delicious lunch at Diner’s Corner (one of my favourite Jamaican restaurants) and a screening of Better Mus’ Come at the University of Toronto (yes, my 2nd time watching), we strolled down Bloor Street, popping into Holt Renfrew and Sephora to see what was new.

This post isn’t about makeup, but inspired by it. At the one of the makeup counters in Holt Renfrew, I fell in love with two of the bronzers/blushes, and realized I had to have them. I don’t wear foundation or a ton of other makeup, but was looking for something to give me a bit of an extra glow and twinkle. The product mix I sampled accomplished that perfectly, however, when I took a look in the 20x magnifying glass to see the rep’s handiwork, I cringed. Blemishes and enlarged pores were right there in high-definition, and I realized that before I could beautify with any makeup, I would have to get my skin right.

For about the last year or so, I’ve been cleansing my skin with the Oil Cleansing Method, which I wrote about here. Right now, I use a mixture of 50% castor oil, 25% grapeseed oil, and 25% jojoba oil – slather it on my face and massage it in, then wipe off with a warm washcloth. I follow up by moisturizing with a few drops of avocado oil, and boom – I’m good to go. I love the OCM, and have had amazing results with it – my skin is smoother, my tone is even, and I’ve only had a few hormone-related pimples in the past year. My excess oil production is no more, which proves that yes, people with oily skin can use the OCM with success.

What I realized over the weekend was that I’ve been forgetting a key step in my skin care regimen: a good exfoliator. On a late night run to the drug store, I thought of grabbing something off the shelf – but then a lightbulb went off and I realized I had everything I needed at home to create a nice natural scrub!

When I first started the OCM, I used a natural exfoliator in conjunction. I think somewhere along the way, I ran out of sugar or honey, and the practice dropped off. I looked back at some pics from when I was doing the scrub, and the motivation to begin again was in full force. Allow me to introduce you to the Cane Sugar Scrub:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Cane Sugar
  • 1 tsp of Raw Honey
  • 3 tbsp of Jojoba Oil
  • 3 tbsp of Grapeseed Oil

Ingredient benefits:

Cane Sugar - chock full of glycolic acid, which helps slough away dead skin cells and protects skin from toxins

Raw Honey – increases skin’s ability to absorb and retain moisture, and improves collagen production in the skin

Jojoba Oil – a non-comodegenic (= does not block pores) wax ester, not actually an “oil” – it is theorized that it mimics the skin’s natural sebum, so it tricks the skin into thinking it’s creating enough oil, and reduces excess oil production

Grapeseed Oil – rich in antioxidants, slightly astringent (works to tone the skin), and helps to even skin tone

In the past, I found that I was using too much cane sugar at first, which led me to more irritation than anything. Don’t hesitate to use a bit less sugar and see how your skin responds, or grind your cane sugar up a bit to make it finer.

I used this scrub 3 times a week on my face, knees, and elbows – and any time I was stepping out with exposed skin (especially chest/shoulders/back), I’d rub a bit there to help add to my glow. Summer weather calls for all things strapless and backless and tastefully exposed to allow for maximum sunkissing. So, next time I decide to step out in a dress like this:

Photo courtesy of iShotYa Photography

…I’ll be sure to scrub!

Do you exfoliate? Have you tried any natural scrub mixtures? Let me know what has worked for you! Also, for optimal skin care, DO NOT FORGET YOUR H2O! Sigh. Water is so boring, yet so vital…let me go get my glass now!

Artsy Fartsy: Natural Hair Overload

When I started this blog, the impetus was to have a medium of discussion on natural hair, especially for my Canadian ladies. My second thought was that I would get bored of talking solely about hair all day, every day (I have a tragically short attention span), and therefore the entire vision of ’83 To Infinity was fleshed out. However, I spent pretty much this entire past weekend talking about/being about natural hair, and I had way too much fun!

First up was my radio interview with Emily, a Masters of Journalism student at Ryerson University here in Toronto. Emily had reached out to an online group that I am a member of, seeking to speak with Black women for her Radio Documentary class project. The topic? Discussing our hair history, hair choices, and how those choices have affected or been influenced by current beauty standards. Inspired by a friend of hers who admitted to wanting to wear her hair naturally, but having no idea how to go about it, Emily wanted to both help her friend and educate herself on a world she didn’t even know about. Unfortunately, after a vetting process that I personally didn’t understand or agree with, it was determined that the group would not be taking part in Emily’s project. I decided to reach out to her on my own, and we scheduled a taping date for Saturday afternoon.

My homegirl Mariah joined us, and I think we ended up giving Emily WAY more material than she needed! Emily engaged us with very insightful questions – she was intrigued to learn that my HomieLoverFriend was not a fan of my natural look when I debuted it, and she drew a lot of truth out of Mariah when she discussed the message of self-love that she was sending to her young daughter. We were lucky in that Emily didn’t fire question after question at us – she would put a topic out there, or frame a loose question, and then we’d go to town on it! She’ll have the difficult task now of mincing all of her material down into a 10 minute project, but I got the feeling that she learned a LOT more than she expected to, and we all had a great time sharing our personal stories. Sounds cliché to say, but if this helps even one person (Emily’s friend who’s thinking of going natural – I’m lookin’ at you!), then it was time well spent.

Once Emily and Mariah headed home, I focused on my hair in another arena – getting prepped for a photo shoot! I had been invited to the iHeartmyhair photo shoot with Sean Anthony Photography, and had to finally do something about this tired-ass bun I’d been dragging around all week. I shampooed, conditioned, and twisted my hair into approx. 15 twists (using Earthtones Naturals products), then decided to step it up a notch by curling the twists around some flexi-rods. Sat under my hooded dryer for about 30 minutes, then hit the sack in order to be ready for the early morning call time.

Sunday morning, bright and early, I headed out to Dundas West and got ready for some photo-shoot fun. My twist/curl-out came out fabulously (sorry – was too rushed to take a pic), so I was looking forward to what would be next. Añya, the super-sweet and super-focused lady of iHeartmyhair hooked my hair up into a fly side-swept look. Rita of Salon Beauty Mark did the damn thing with the makeup, then I was sent off to Sean to put the vision together.

It was my first time working with Sean, and he was AMAZING. He wanted me to be the “crazy one” – so he had me growling and scowling and silent screaming like nobody’s business! Every once in a while, he’d look at the camera shots and let out a “Wooooooo!!” At first, I thought he was just gassing me up and trying to boost my confidence, but when he showed me a few of the raw shots, I was like, “Damn! Who’s that girl?” I was giving some fierce Grace Jones, y’all. Didn’t think I had it in me, but the camera said otherwise.

The best part of the shoot was connecting with new and not-so-new faces (big up Kim, Marsha, and Shereen!), and talking about all things hair and beyond. It was awesome seeing so much beautiful hair in one spot – and in great contrast to my previous guest post about natural hair and fashion, I was so happy to be in a zone that not only was embracing natural hair, but – ahem – actually knew how to style it. Lol. Accessory queens Toni Daley and Ashley Alexis McFarlane came through with some awesome pieces, and so far, the shots I’ve seen have been GORGEOUS! Here’s a sneak peek courtesy of Sean Anthony Photography:

 Aren’t these pictures EVERYTHING? Añya and her team caught some other great shots from the day as well:

Me and the man with the master plan - the size of my mouth shows you how geeked I was!

I was in some DEEP convo here...LOL!

The lovely Añya and I...after I tried to make myself a bit more "normal looking" for the drive home!

All in all, I had a great weekend full of natural hair love. Emily ended up catching up with a few models at the shoot as well – that girl is a hustla! I’m hoping to get a copy of her project and share it with y’all, so keep an eye out for that! I guess there are ways to talk one subject to death in a way that’s enlightening and entertaining – this weekend taught me that!

Today is the perfect day for this post – still reminiscing about the weekend past, but looking forward to the weekend to come! What do you guys think of the photo shoot shots? Major thanks to Emily, Añya, Sean, Rita, and all the lovely ladies at the shoot! 

Hey, MAC! Bring Back Afrobella’s ‘All My Purple Life’!

I’ve signed petitions for some pretty heavy issues in my life. Troy Davis, environmental issues, community programs, and the like. Today, I was glad to sign a petition that was for a bit of a lighter cause, but one that I’m more than happy to support!

Patrice Yursik (aka Afrobella) was one of the bloggers recently chosen to create an exclusive make-up product for MAC. With her love for beauty and all thing Prince, she created the most luscious, regal, delectable lipglass I’ve ever seen. Allow me to introduce ‘All My Purple Life’:

Afrobella rockin' it

Folake (StylePantry.com) rockin' it

Yummy411 rockin' it

Now, ‘All My Purple Life’ sold out before ya girl could even get her hands on a tube! To look at the colour itself, I was a bit wary…but I actually tried it out at MAC and would have grabbed it if I hadn’t forgotten my wallet at home :( Seeing it on so many different skin tones, worn layered or alone is enough to convince me that I need a tube to satisfy my lip love. The bad news? MAC has apparently discontinued the lipglass! However, Afrobella’s supporters  are not hearing it! One of my fave Twitter chicks, @purplepeace79 created a petition to convince MAC to bring back the beloved lipglass. If you like pretty things, want to support a woman like Afrobella who continues to inspire, and/or just want to make this lil blogger happy (and possibly lucky enough to get a tube), then you know what to do:

Head here for the petition to bring back ‘All My Purple Life’!

Thank you kindly! I’ll be keeping my eye on MAC to see if this works out for me and all other make-up lovers!

Stylin’ & Profilin’: Wedding Guest Edition

Last night, I went to the last wedding in my 6 month wedding season of 2011. We were invited to 8 weddings this year, and were able to attend 6 of them…plus we had our own, so you can say 2011 was definitely the Year of the Wedding! Each wedding was gorgeous in its own right, and I loved seeing how creative people got with making their special day stand out.

However, as a guest invited to so many weddings, the problem becomes: What do I wear??? I can’t even say this is a women’s issue either, because most of the men I know are very fashionable too, and aren’t trying to get tagged in someone’s Facebook pic wearing the same thing they wore to a wedding last month…

Yesterday’s wedding was probably one of my favourite overall looks, if I do say so myself :) Even though my hair kind of fell apart by the end of the night, I still managed to make it work:

Details on the dress: this is a convertible dress by a Toronto-based design company called Henkaa – I chose these dresses for my bridesmaids, and made sure I grabbed one for myself! These dresses truly work for ANY BODY: they come in a ton of colours; short and long versions; plus-sized options; and you can tie them in a million different ways. I’ll need to pick up a couple more, because I could rotate the Henkaa dress in my wardrobe an infinite amount of ways!

As for the hair, I wanted to try a regimen I’ve seen on a number of other natural hair sites. On Friday night, I washed and deep conditioned my hair (using the products I mention here), then twisted it into about 8 thick twists. The idea was to allow the hair to dry in a stretched state, then set the actual style the next day.

On Saturday morning, I undid the twists, then re-twisted into about 20 twists and pincurled them, laying them flat to my head with bobby pins. I decided to try this versus doing bantu knots, because I wanted to be able to tie my hair down flat for the day, which is impossible with my bantu knot styles. I couldn’t for the LIFE of me find my silk scarves, so I tied my hair down with a satin scarf, then did a cute headwrap with a larger cotton wrap. This is very important for me, because cotton sucks the moisture right out of your hair. I’ve learned from my mistakes of tying down my hair with cotton scarves, then waking up the next day to parched hair – never again! I always ensure that before anything cotton touches my head, there is something silk or satin as a buffer in-between.

Off I went for my day and night….then woke up Sunday morning, ready to unravel and create my wedding style:

My pincurled twists turned out into a cool, serpentine wave, but wasn’t set well enough to leave down. So I grabbed my trusty bucket of bobby pins, and got to pinning, and ended up with this cute, curly, side-pinned bouffant style:

I learned that while I liked this regimen and style, I definitely need to trim some dead ends that looked a bit straggly. I also need to play around with the placement of the pincurls so that it doesn’t look too separated and scalpy when I take them down. Other than that, I ended up happy that my hair dresser was busy and couldn’t take me on Saturday! I got this style for $free.99!

Who Doesn’t Love A Deal? 10% Off @ Honey Fig!

Photo via blackenterprise.com

Remember that post I wrote here about supporting Toronto-based and Black-owned businesses? Here’s your chance to do so while saving some of your hard-earned scrilla (do people still say that?):

Honey Fig is celebrating their anniversary for the month of October! For the entire month, you can receive 10% off any online order, or in-store service/purchase! Click here for more details!

Promo code: October10

Every little bit counts, right? Happy shopping!

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