Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh what a day... what a day, what a day!

I had to quote Erykah Badu's "On and On" in my title because what a day it has been.  Actually, what a "2 weeks."  I lost my wallet, it delayed me submitting an application for an apartment that I really wanted, and of which I lost out on, the lock on my door broke and I ended up fixing it after 4 hours, I can't find a new apartment, and then this morning some butthead knocked my passenger side mirror OFF MY CAR.  I repeat OFF MY CAR!  I guess I should say it was nice of the culprit to put the mirror up on my car so no one would run over it, but the didn't even leave a note to say "my bad" or "I'll pay for it (or at least half of it)".  Basically, I'm feeling like Charlie Brown, on the ground wondering why everyone keeps kicking me.

There is the 'glass is half full' part of me that believes that all of these little bad things will lead to one big good thing.  We'll see.  I believe it, but at one point I also believed in the existence of an actual boogey-man, so, we'll see.

Anyway, thinking of future posts and I will attempt to broach a topic that I am in no way, shape or form an expert in: love, romantic love specifically.  Hey, Naomi Campbell can write a novel, I can write a blog post on about love.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homemade Acne treatment with Essential Oils

I have chronicled some of the plights I was having with my skin since I broke out a little over a month ago.  The acne came back as well as the blemishes, and I was at a loss and trying not to get extra upset.

Well, I did some research and also realized that I needed to replace my fresh aloe more often.  Another things that I am doing is incorporating more essential oils into my skin care routine.  Sure, of course I've been doing the oil cleansing method, but I looked into other oils and found a recipe that I have only tried once, but I am liking already.

This recipe calls for 1/4 cup aloe gel (I used fresh aloe from the leaf), 10 drops each of geranium, tea tree and lavender oil.

I cleansed my face and used a mild exfoliate before steaming my pores with a hot wash cloth and applying the mixture to my face.  Moments later my skin felt significantly cleansed and refreshed.   My pores looked nourished and the texture of my skin looked and felt stronger.  Since aloe had done such a great job with my skin in previous months, I will continue with this method in place of the oil cleansing method (which includes castor and extra virgin olive oil) and see what happens.  With that method, the results were to be witnessed the next morning, but with this aloe/essential oil mixture, I saw and felt results right away.  We'll see if this helps with the blemishes that have begun to reappear.  Stay tuned!

Here's a quick overview of these essential oils, from a sampler guide that I got from Whole Foods.

Geranium, Rose (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • excellent for all skin types, especially oily and acne prone
  •   anti-fungaland antiviral
  • blends well with rose, lavender, neroli, patchouli
Lavender, Spike (Lavandula latifolia)
  • anti-infectious properties
  • specific for acne, oily skin, and burns
 Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • antibacterial with excellent anti-fungal and antiviral properties
  • use directly on burns, abrasions, abscesses, acne, or wherever there is a sing of infection

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Chop - 1 Month Later

Last month I was so disgusted with my ends that I started to give myself a trim - key word "started" - but ended up giving myself a cut.  I cut 3 inches - at least - off my hair and when I was done and looked in the mirror I was startled, and not in a good way.  But then I thought 'patience is key' when it comes to hair and since my wild, thick hair has a history of growing fast I calmed myself down and when I looked in the mirror, tried (hard) not to concentrate on the length.

I have always had super thick hair, and I always loved that.  There is something about big thick wild hair that I love.  It fits my face, my personality, everything.  When my mom made me get a perm when I was 11, it was because she just couldn't handle it anymore, I 'm guessing with the addition of having to do another girl's hair (my sister) and handle my 2 brothers.  Luckily I didn't grow up thinking my hair was bad.  I never wanted super straight hair, I just wanted to have a head full of curly, bushy hair (crazy, huh), and when I decided to go perm-free more than 12 years ago, it was one of the best decisions.  My sister also sports natural hair, as well as my niece, and their hair is so much stronger than if it were chemically treated (note that I am not hating on people with perms at all, and I have seen many women who rock it like those who rock their natural texture and I think it's all good).

So, here is a photo that shows the difference in my hair from May 17, 2010 - when I chopped off 3 inches (at least - I just couldn't stop) to June 24.

Right now I use Mane & Tail shampoo and conditioner - I actually co-wash every couple of days and I don't remember the last time I used the shampoo because I want to go back to an all natural shampoo (I used to mix baking soda and water and use that as a shampoo, but I may start experimenting of including some essential oils.  I have also tried used the natural shampoo that my cousin makes from his Jewel of the Isles natural product line which includes essential oils like rosemary and neem).

I also use Alter Ego's deep conditioner and this is one of my favorite products.  It has peptides and all this other stuff (like garlic and minerals) and it really shows a different in the hair after first  usage.

I've been using raw shea butter and Pantene's moisturzing cream like I did a couple of years ago (even though I have some homemade butter cream, some Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding, Garnier Fructise's Soft Curl Cream, and Kinky-Curly's Knot Today).  There items always served me well for braid and twist outs, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  I'm also going for the 'less is more' approach, especially considering the Summer heat and humidity.

On my scalp I use a mixture of essential oils (including rosemary, tea tree, sweet almond, coconut, jojoba and vegetable glycerin) and I also have a separate mixture that I store in the fridge that include Aloe juice.  I'm trying to remember to oil my scalp at least every other day, and I am putting raw shea butter on my end (just a little bit) every night before I go off into dreamland!

I personally wanted to transform a bit this year and it's been a while since I wore my hair long, so that is my goal - to wear it long, big and wild - and I think I am well on my way!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Aloe: A plant every household should have

It's funny how some of us who are descendants of those from the Caribbean or even the South, forget the little things our Grandma's used to do to 'make it better.' 

My Grandmother was from St. Thomas and I grew up watching her brew things and grow things and cook things (many of which we didn't want to eat especially when you could get a Happy Meal from around the corner).  My mom used to torture us with our season dose of Cod Liver Oil - the liquid kind (there was a lot of crying and hiccuping during those episodes).  My Grandma grew her own herbs (the legal kind, thank you very much - she was cool, but not 'Cheech and Chong' cool) - and in her little kitchen in the Bronx, no less.  She would boil orange and lemon rinds and make teas and tell us to drink up because we'd feel better. 

I stroll down memory lane to say that Grandma and Momma knew what they were talking about, and I find it so refreshing that I am not one of few in my peer group, who actively and consistently continue with such practices, hence my blog ode to the plant "ALOE" (insert echoing sounds).  Being a sufferer of acne, I finally rediscovered that for a dollar a week (that's the cost of one aloe leaf in my neighborhood), that I have been able to combat over 20 years of -what I hate to say out loud- my shame.  Here is a list of 40 ways to use Aloe (I have seen this list on several sites but will reference for sharing this information from  Enjoy, and I hope incorporating Aloe in your life helps in some small or major way!

Topical Aloe Uses
1.    Pamper yourself to a soothing body rub. Slice aloe leaves lengthwise and use the inner sides as a biodegradable body scrub in the shower.
2.    Treat burns from minor mishaps in the kitchen—from grease splatters or hot utensils.
3.    For more major kitchen mishaps like a scald, mix some aloe gel and vitamin E oil into a little jar for a homemade burn healer.
4.    Banish black and blue bruises by swapping on the good goo.
5.    Soothe and heal sunburns the feel-good way. Aloe contains cooling properties similar to menthol.
6.    Take the sting or itch out of insect bites.
7.    Reduce tissue damage from frostbite.
8.    Alleviate mysterious rashes.
9.    Make feet baby soft with an exfoliating foot mask by mixing together a half cup of oatmeal, a half cup of corn meal, four tbsp. of aloe vera gel and a half cup of unscented body lotion.
10.    Help heal herpes outbreaks.
11.    Fight Athlete’s Foot.
12.    Swab over blisters for quick relief.
13.    Use as an antidote to allergic skin reactions.
14.    Replace creams and lotions as a general moisturizer for dry skin. Aloe is fast absorbing!
15.    Prevent pesky pimples and treat acne.
16.    Soothe Psoriasis.
17.    Prevent scarring and stretch marks.
18.    Help rid of Rosacea.
19.    Shrink warts.
20.    Reverse signs of aging skin and wrinkles. Cleopatra did!
21.    Help eliminate Eczema.
22.    Brighten skin. Aloe can decrease pigmentation and dark spots.
23.    Make skin new again with an exfoliating, organic sugar scrub by mixing together two tbsp. of aloe vera, 2 tbsp. of organic brown sugar and 1 tsp. of organic lemon juice.
24.    For rougher patches mix together an organic salt skin scrub using two cups of sea salt, one cup of aloe vera, one cup of organic coconut oil and two tbsp. of local, organic honey.
25.    Speed up hair growth by massaging aloe into the scalp, letting it sit for 30 minutes, and rinsing.
26.    Reduce hair dandruff by mixing aloe vera juice with coconut milk and wheat germ oil. Massage into scalp and rinse.
27.    Replace aloe with conditioner for silkier, smoother hair.
28.    Remove eye makeup.
29.    Treat minor vaginal irritations.

Oral Aloe Uses
30.    Drink aloe vera juice to relieve gastrointestinal disorders like indigestion.
31.    Sip it to aid in elimination. Many times, it’s recommended for its laxative effects.
32.    Take a swig to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome including bloating and discomfort.
33.    Take aloe orally to relieve heartburn, arthritis and rheumatism pain.
34.    Boil leaves in a pan of water and breathe in the vapor to alleviate asthma.
35.    Drink to lower blood sugar levels—especially for diabetics.
36.    Strengthen gums and promote strong, healthy teeth by taking orally or use toothpaste with aloe vera ingredients.
37.    Drink to help ease congestion, stomach ulcers, colitis, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infections and prostate problems.
38.    Take orally to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides for a healthy heart.
39.    Sip to minimize inflammation and infection of the eye and ear.
40.    Toast to its general detoxifier and health boosting qualities!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Facial Steaming

As mentioned in a previous post, my skin was going thru somethin (and I was not happy about it, at all)!

Well, instead of continuing to boo-hoo about it, I did a little research and realized a couple of things.

First, the aloe vera that I'd been using (and storing in the refrigerator) had exhausted all of its medicinal uses (I don't mean to sound gross but, it lost its 'snot-like' consistency).  I figure I can afford a dollar a week to purchase a new aloe leaf, so that's exactly what I'm going to do because I'd been going 3 weeks from that one leaf.

The second thing I realized is I need to do a little extra every once in a while, so I will be incorporating a 10 minute facial steam* every Sunday.  Not only will my skin get some nice simple pampering, but it forces 'busy-bee-me' to stop and actually sit down and take a rest - if only for 10 minutes.

I started off this facial steaming treatment by using an exfoliating scrub (Queen Helene's Pomegranate and Raspberry scrub), and toned with witch hazel to get rid of any left over particles and residue.

I brought a kettle of water to full boil and then added the following dried herbs to a tea strainer (1 tbsp chamomile, 1 tbps fennel seed, 1 tbsp rosemary -- these herbs were specific to my combination skin since this NY humid weather is wreaking havoc on everything).

Placed the tea strainer in a medium size bowl (the bowl was about the size of my head), poured enough water to cover the tea strainer, grabbed a towel, and sat my behind down with my head under the towel and over the bowl for 10 minutes (I timed myself by listening to 4 'quiet storm' songs).

I will admit that afterward I wasn't expecting much, but I took a look in the mirror and the best way to describe what I saw was that it looked like my skin had been fed, and fed real good.  I then applied a thin layer of jojoba oil to my skin and hit the sack for the night.  Along with purchasing a new aloe leaf this week, and immediately seeing results after I applied it to my skin, I am content with the immediate results and look forward to getting back on track with my skin care regimen.  (Also note that this morning I did not use any facial cleansers.  I simply allowed the steam from the shower to open up my pores, used witch hazel as a toner and applied the fresh aloe gel to my skin).

*It is recommended that one does a facial steaming only once a week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Skin I'm In

I have stuck with the program, drinking my water, eating or drinking my vegetables too.  I also take Omega 3-6-9 supplements and I add a flax seed and fiber powder to my health shakes that I drink everyday.  I used pure Aloe Vera as my facial and upper body moisturizer, I do the oil cleansing method... I don't drink soda, rarely eat candy, even rarely eat my beloved chips.... so why am I breaking out?

I have ad an acne problem since I was 13.  I'm now 35.  And I would venture to say that the real problem was the hyper-pigmentation (when I was young my mom didn't know anything about bad skin so when I got a white head she would pop it (sorry, it's gross, but wait until I write about how all these vegetables are playing with my digestive system!). I hated that she did that, and it also left me feeling even more ashamed (because I'm already going through this in junior high school and high school).  I got to the point where I started to handle white and black heads like she did all because I didn't want her digging in my face.  And with that came a never-ending battle with hyper-pigmentation.  When I was younger, kids (and adults, believe it or not) would make fun of me saying I looked like I had AIDS.  Now, being the nerd that I was, I knew that just because I had dark spots on my skin that didn't mean I had AIDS (I'd done the research in school), but it hurt me so deep to my core that I have only recently began to think of myself as "actually a little bit attractive." I knew that kids would say horrible things that didn't make sense, but to hear adults say that too just messed with my self esteem.

Anyway, I was doing good with my skin.  The water was flushing me out, the aloe was doing things that all of the other medications and over the counter (and under the counter) treatments hadn't done.  I spent so much money on makeup and medications over the past 20 years that I could have probably paid my student loans off with it by now.  But like I said, I was feeling good.  Didn't have to wear makeup to cover up the dark spots when I went to the store around the corner.  It really has been a release from a self imposed prison for me.  And then all of a sudden, about 2 weeks ago I break out. And I wonder what the heck is going on because I haven't broken out in years (sure a pimple or two during that time of the month, but not various little bumps).  I even started using a Benzoyl peroxide wash again because I don't know what the heck is happening. 

Although I don't know what is happening, I know what's going to happen this weekend - I'm going to give myself a facial, find some recipes that use Aloe and maybe tea tree oil, as their main ingredients, and drink mostly water - I may even just take in liquids (I may).

I guess I needed to vent my frustrations because I have never felt good about how I look (oh the stories).  Getting teased by my peers and adults was not fun and it crushed my self esteem.  It made me feel like I wasn't worth much because people used my looks as an excuse to be cruel toward me.  I was just starting to always walk around with my head held high because I finally started to feel like people were looking at me and not the spots on my face, and now this.  I will take it all in stride - it's what I do, but I will also fight for that good feeling I've been having, being comfortable with me, and finally, actually believing that I am a little bit cute!  Anyway, forgive me, I'm just having a moment.  This too shall pass - but I wanted to share some of the various ways this challenge has helped me look at myself.  Sorry for the long post.  Be well everyone!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Health and Hair Challenge with "Life Star Beauty"

I am taking part in "Life Star Beauty's" Health and Hair Challenge.  There are 3 phases which include increasing one's water, vegetable and omega fatty acids intake, and exercise, and I must say, I thought I was already drinking enough water before this challenge but apparently I was not.

Here is an overview of the challenge:
May 1st (Stage 1): Drink at least 5 bottles of water (that’s 10 glasses of water at 8 oz) a day. It is recommended you drink 2 bottles before lunch. Also, eat one serving of green veggies per meal. If you don’t want any veggies at breakfast you can swap it for one serving of fruit. Remember to snack on fruits/veggies between meals.
June 1st (Stage 2): Get more Omega 3 Fatty Acids into your diet. Try to eat at salmon AT LEAST once a week. Salmon is a food that is loaded with omega 3’s, protein, and Vitamin B-12 which contributes to scalp health. A healthy scalp leads to healthy hair. If you don’t like/don’t prefer/can’t afford salmon you can replace it with other fish/foods high in Omega 3’s. Two tablespoons of ground flaxeed included in your daily diet will also contribute to scalp health. There are also Omega 3 pills or fish oil pills that you can purchase that will also help you increase the omega 3’s in your diet.
July 1st (Stage 3): Complete 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times a week. Cardio workout increases blood flow to the scalp which stimulates hair growth.
 (For more details and to join the challenge, visit

I started taking my Omega 3-6-9 supplements this week, while continuing with my increased water and vegetable intake (I either juice,  steam them or incorporate them into the dish). 

I've been making more health shakes as well.  I use 'GNC's Total Lean' Lean Shake (Vanilla) - I've also tried Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion - and add whatever fruits I'm interested in that day.  The shakes are great, especially since you mix it with water.  I usually add a banana or strawberries (I recently did strawberry and blueberry), but I've and decided that I'm going to spice up my food intake a bit.

It's funny how I thought I knew of all the fruits and vegetables out there, but I don't so I've decided to try a new fruit and vegetable each week.  This week I added raspberries to my health shakes and they are incredible (my son loves them too!).  Now I have to figure out what new vegetable I'm going to try!

According to an article on, here are some of the health benefits of raspberries:
  • Being rich in antioxidants, raspberry helps neutralize free radicals in the body and thus, prevents damage to cell membranes & other structures.
  • Raspberries can restrain proliferation of cancer cells and even the formation of tumors in various parts of the body, including the colon.
  • Daily consumption 3 or more servings of raspberry has been seen to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the main cause of vision loss in older adults.
  • The anthocyanins present in raspberry have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and also delay the effects of aging.
  • The presence of salicylic acid in raspberries might slow down atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • Raspberry is a good source of quercetin, an antioxidant that diminishes the release of histamines and thus, minimizes allergic reactions.
  • Manganese and vitamin C, two antioxidant nutrients in raspberries, help protect the body tissue from oxygen-related damage.
  • Raspberry is one of the few fruits whose consumption would not have much effect on the body’s blood sugar levels.
  • Research has shown that regular consumption of raspberry is good for those suffering from inflammation and pain.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why "Luv My Texture"?

It took me a long time to decide what the title of my blog would be because at first all I wanted to talk about was hair.  And then I wanted to talk about things like juicing and cooking healthy dishes.  And then I also wanted to talk about health and exercise, until I realized that I wanted to create a space to discuss the various things in my life that best represent me.

Here I am, a woman who grew up the oldest of seven. A bookworm - yes a nerd (and proud of it), who lived a childhood where I was more of a second parent than one of the kids (I know there are a lot of us out there like that). Growing up I didn't think I was a lot of things (pretty, interesting, outgoing... you know, someone that other people wanted to be around all the time - you know those kinds of people), but I knew I was smart, and I embraced it with the thought that being smart and making smart decisions was going to get me out of the hood and into a life where I had more control over the direction that my life would go in. My academic achievements were the only things I felt I had going for me, and so it was the only thing that I felt good about when I'd ask "What do I like about myself?"

I'm not a beauty queen, nor the smartest person in the room...the personal/social life hasn't been "all that", and I need to find a new apartment and job. BUT, I like me. How I got to this point is beyond me. Is it age? Is it experience? Is it not fighting myself anymore? - who knows. But I do know that I'm a good mom, a hard worker, a good friend, and a compassionate person. I like all my layers, even when I don't (just go with me on this... I'll try to explain it better later), and this blog is an opportunity to share a lot of the information, experiences and out-loud thoughts that make up those layers.