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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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    By Kanisha Parks

    When I went natural back in 2009, YouTube was the best place to find out how and what to use to maintain my hair. Product reviews were reliable—I wasn’t worried about whether or not I could trust the person’s opinion because brand compensation wasn’t yet a factor. But now it’s 2017 and every time someone suggests a product, the first thing I want to know is, “Were they paid to say this?”

    Companies turn to said personalities for various reasons—they’re more relatable than most celebrities, they’re accessible, they post frequently, and they can more actively communicate with the target audience. But let’s face it: social media is already full of false representation. Couple that with compensation, and you have a recipe for skepticism, distrust, and the loss of credibility.

    Now I’m sure that brand ambassadors and social media influencers aim to come across as authentic, and don’t want to be seen as though they’re only in it for the money. More often than not, they will attempt to reassure you in the description box that although the video is sponsored, their review is “100% honest.” But is it really, though? When you’re given a product to try for free, it’s easy to say it’s great and it probably is. But would you go out there and pay $50 for it, like the average consumer has to do?

    Some YouTubers say, “If I don’t like a product, I’m not going to make a video about it.”
    And I’m like, why not? If and why you didn’t like a product can be just as beneficial to a viewer as why you did like a product. If nothing else, it lets your audience know that you don’t like everything. No lie, I am wary of YouTubers who never dislike anything. It makes me feel as though they will accept any deal as long as the money talks.

    Many ambassadors and influencers have felt the backlash and are attempting to combat the escalating distrust that’s being presented in the comment sections of their posts. Jasmine Brown, who has over 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, offered her perspective in this video called 'The Truth About Sponsored Videos:'

    One point she makes is that she does this full-time and getting a big sponsor is great for business. “We have to make money somehow,” she says. "Plus a lot of hard work goes into sponsored videos that you don't see."
    Don’t get me wrong. On one hand, I love seeing women building their brands, making money, and moving on up. Especially people I’ve been riding with for a long time, it’s like their success is my success. Despite compensation being a factor, they really put their work in and generate some pretty dope videos and images. They work hard and they deserve to be rewarded for that. But when you’re using a certain skincare brand and the next week, you’re using something completely different it makes me wonder if you really use those products at all.

    With all of these questions consuming my thoughts, I figured, who better to ask than Nikki herself? She created back in 2008, so as a seasoned blogger she definitely knows a thing or two about marketing and who to trust. She says,

    “Marketing is a business enterprise and people should be able to make money from their business. However, your success has a lot to do with the quality of product you produce, and in this case, it’s information. If you can’t find a business model that will pay you and preserve the integrity of your product, you don’t have a business...or you’ll have a short-lived business.”

    Good point. If ambassadors endorse sub par products it’s just a matter of time before people catch on and stop following. She continues,

    “I’ve been compensated very well thus far, but I’ve also left a lot of money on the table. In 10 years I’ve never endorsed a hair care brand though I’ve been approached countless times. These are specific and contextual decisions that the business owner has to make for themselves, but in my case, my business model has been consumer focused, and the integrity of the information has always been the priority.”
    In the end, I believe that most influencers have the best intentions and should be given the benefit of the doubt. But I also think that since their compensation is directly dependent upon their followers, brand ambassadors and influencers should have enough integrity to wisely select brands they actuallyuse and love. So whether you’re a brand ambassador, influencer, or advocate, just keep it 100 percent genuine. After all, your audience is the reason you have a platform in the first place. 

    What do you think? Do you trust brand influencers who do sponsored videos?

    Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other, she has also written forBlackNaps.organdDevozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at

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    Tamika D. Mallory speaking at the Women's March on Washington
    There is nothing sexier than impacting positive change. And when we say sexy, we're talking about fearlessly walking in your purpose in such a way that everyone can't help but take notice of and appreciate how truly badass you are. We're talking #humanitygoals, #growuptobelikeyou, #pleaseupdatehistorybooks sexy. And for this reason, it's important to pay homage to women currently living and working among us who are taking social activism to the next level, inspiring the rest of us to ask ourselves,  'What am I doing to bring about change?' While there are countless powerful sistah's out there leading in communities across the country, we decided to highlight seven women giving us #activismgoals!

    Tamika D. Mallory

    Chances are, you've seen Tamika D. Mallory, the outspoken champion for social justice who helped organize the Women's March on Washington, attended by over 300,000 here, and sparked duplicate marches across the globe. The 36 yr old New York native has been applauded as an advocate for civil rights issues, equal rights for women, health care, gun violence, and police misconduct. Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama called her “a leader of tomorrow” and she was selected to serve on the transition committee of New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio. 

    Johnetta Elzie Image via Getty/Jason LaVeris
    Moved to action by the death of Michael Brown, Johnetta Elzie made a splash among Ferguson protesters by aiding with volunteer coordination and live tweeting surrounding events effectively becoming a leading citizen journalist on the protests. Later, she went on to co-create the website and which tracks all people killed by police. Elzie currently leadsWe The Protesters, an organization which supports nationwide protest groups in combatting police violence and systemic racism through policy change.

    Dr. Moya Bailey
    If you’ve ever used the word “misogynoir,” you can thank Dr. Moya Bailey for its existence. Her devotion to examining the way Black women are represented in pop culture led her to coin the term as well as pursue Women’s Studies and activism. An assistant professor at Northeastern University, Dr. Bailey co-createdQuirky Black Girls (a network that celebrates Black girls who exist outside of social norms) andthe Crunk Feminist Collective (a supportive space for queer and straight hip hop gen feminists of color). She also is the digital alchemist for theOctavia E. Butler Legacy Network.

    Monica Raye Simpson

    Before Monica Raye Simpson relocated to Georgia to work with and eventually lead the Atlanta-basedSisterSong, the queer Black North Carolina native rallied against racism, human rights abuses, prison industry and violence against Black women and LGBTQ people. The facilitator/speaker/organizer/singer is also a certified doula. Now the executive director of SisterSong, Simpson created the organization’sArtists United for Reproductive Justice project which supports artistic collaborations on replicable artwork to further SisterSong’s cause of women’s reproductive health rights.

    Patrice Cullors
    In the wake of Trayvon Martin's tragic death, Los Angeleno organizer, artist and freedom fighter Patrisse Cullors'co-founded hashtag #BlackLivesMatter jumpstarted the civil rights fight of our time. Her activism, however didn't begin or end with the multi-issue global, Black queer femme-led intersectional movement. Before that, Cullors led a crusade against inmate abuse as the executive director of End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails and has since confounded prison activist organizationDignity and Power Now. She also serves as board member of theElla Baker Center for Human Rights

    Ciara Taylor 
    Having built a reputation for taking on the causes of living wages for Florida A&M campus workers and combatting K-20 budgets cuts, Ciara Taylor was in prime activist form to take to the streets following Trayvon Martin's shooting. Her response to the tragic killing was co-foundingDream Defenders which works on human rights issues, ending police brutality and shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline. She currently serves the organization as the director of political consciousness and develops and executes statewide political, educational and leadership development programming.

    Tanya Fields
    Having experienced the challenges of gaining access to healthy and affordable food in the Bronx, Tanya became active with South Bronx-Mothers on the Move, the Majora Carter Group and Sustainable South Bronx.  The community activist and public speaker founded theBLK ProjeK in 2009 to further combat wealth inequality, the cycle of poverty and institutionalized sexism. The BLK ProjeK creates economic growth opportunities for women and youth of color through education, urban gardening, public space beautification, and community programming. She also created and stars in a web-based cooking and lifestyle showMama Tanya’s Kitchen where she teaches how to prepare affordable gourmet meals.

    Who are your favorite activists right now?

    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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  • 09/21/17--07:24: How to Install Mini Twists

  •  By Mary Wolff

     Sometimes, you just want to try a new look while other times you just want something simple and easy. With mini twists, you get both! This look is stylish and easy to maintain to give your routine a laid-back revamp. If you have never done this look on your own before, you may have some questions about how to install mini twists. Here are a few tips and tricks for mastering this look, as well as a step by step tutorial.


    • Invest the time. The first thing to know about how to install mini twists is that this is a time-consuming process. Depending on how much hair you are working with, you could be installing them for hours. Yes, hours. The upside is that once you get them in, they will be pretty low maintenance for the next 2-4 weeks.
    • Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. While you can put mini twists in and then just wait for two weeks to wash and reinstall them, you can also choose to water wash or co-wash them as needed during the two-week period. You should also moisturize your hair regardless of what style it is in and mini twists are no exception to the rule.
    • Don’t leave twists in for too long. While this is a great low manipulation style, you don’t want to leave them in for too long without taking them down. The first reason is because your hair will need a good wash. The second reason is while this look offers minimal damage to edges, it can still present some if worn too long. Give your hair a break every now and then it makes sure everything stays in check.
    • Make sure any stray hairs are secured inside the twist when installing the look. Any loose hairs run the risk of breaking off.
    • Apply your favorite leave-in conditioner when installing twists. This will ensure your hair stays hydrated and healthy during the two weeks you have the look in, as well as making it easier to get a sleek look without flyaways.
    The easiest way to learn how to do a new hairstyle is to watch a quick tutorial! Check out this helpful video with step by step visuals to guide you through the process of installing mini twists,

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     By Mary Wolff

    For many women, choosing to embrace your natural hair is a journey of self-acceptance long overdue. For those still using relaxers from time to time, this information may make you rethink that decision.


    According to a study published in American Journal of Epidemiology, there are several reasons to consider skipping the relaxer. The report states, “Hair relaxers can cause burns and lesions in the scalp, facilitating entry of hair relaxer constituents into the body. The main ingredient of “lye” relaxers is sodium hydroxide; no-lye relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, and “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts. No-lye relaxers are advertised to cause fewer scalp lesions and burns than lye relaxers, but there is little evidence to support this claim. Products may also contain hormonally active compounds, such as phthalates, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often reported under the term “fragrances” or “perfume”. Not only do these products damage the scalp, the harmful chemicals in the relaxers can actually make their way into your blood stream and affect your health. Anything you put on your skin has the potential to be absorbed much deeper than that the layer of epidermis. The Center for Disease Control has already published a list of chemicals to avoid because they increase the risk of certain cancers. Many hair products, including relaxers, are not as closely regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers could still be using several potential harmful ingredients in their products. A study published in Carcinogenesis, a leading cancer research publication, reported a higher increase of breast cancer in for women using hair dyes and relaxers. While studies are still being performed to examine how these products affect a woman’s health, many have chosen to avoid the risk altogether and embrace their natural hair.

    Aside from the dangers of the chemicals found in relaxers, they also have a tendency to dry out hair which can result in damage such as breakage. It can also have an effect on your natural curl pattern leading to a loss of definition after it wears off. From the medical concerns to the hair health issues, there are plenty of reasons to consider skipping your next relaxer treatment.

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    Issa Rae & Ayesha Curry             
    Black women spend a lot on beauty products- $7.5 billion annually- to be exact. Yet, we are grossly misrepresented in beauty advertising. In fact, a survey from 2015 found that of all the fashion advertising done for Spring and Summer, 85% of the models were white, and just 5% black. Hold the mascara! However, we can't ignore when certain cosmetic giants get it right. Enter CoverGirl, who has been consistently using black models for years. When news broke of Issa Rae and now Ayesha Curry being added to the prestigious CoverGirl list, we decided to highlight some other CG beauties, past and present, who have represented us well!

    Actress Zendaya

    Singer/Actress Janelle Monae

    Actress/Singer/Rapper Queen Latifah

    Model-preneure Tyra Banks

    Singer/Actress Brandy

    Model/Actress Eva Marcille 

    America's Next Top Model Krista White

    Model Lana Ogilvie

    Model Sheila Johnson

    Who is your favorite CoverGirl?

    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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  • 09/22/17--06:07: How to Use Hair Grease
  • By Mary Wolff

    A question many naturalistas ask is should I really use grease on my hair? When we think of grease, we think of thick gunk that belongs in cars and not curls. Let’s a closer look at whether or not you should use it for your hair.


    Grease is usually a combination of petroleum (cleaned up sludge from the earth) and mineral oil (even cleaner, liquefied sludge from the earth). Petroleum-based products come from the same Earth that we pollute every day with factory run off, pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, etc. Questions about the safety of mineral oil and petroleum in cosmetic products come from concern that they may not be clean enough after coming from such a dirty place. The petroleum and mineral oil used in medicinal creams (Neosporin, for example) gets cleaned much more thoroughly than the stuff used in hair products.

    That being said, it’s important to remember that hair is dead – meaning it’s not connected to your blood supply after it emerges from the hair follicle. If you’re concerned about the safety of petroleum-based products, start by not using any on your lips. Most lip balms and glosses are petroleum-based and you end up swallowing the majority of what you put on. That’s much worse than putting petroleum on your (dead) hair!

    There are a few great benefits of using hair grease that make it worth trying. It is a sealant which makes it ideal for treating frizz. It’s also good for getting a light hold minus the crunch factor of hairsprays. When looking for a way to get sleek edges in your latest style, hair grease might be just the trick you are looking for. Regardless of the reason you use hair grease, it is best to pay attention to the health of your hair and know what it needs to stay looking its best. No two heads of curls are the same so try it out for yourself before you make a final verdict on hair grease.
    You should use whatever works to keep your hair from breaking and help you achieve the styles you like. While some curlies will swear off hair grease because of the petroleum part and the fact that it isn’t an all-natural based product, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its uses. If grease makes your hair look and feel good, you should use it, but keep a few things in mind:

    Be Careful with Build Up

    Be careful about the grease you choose, especially if you have fine hair. It’s not just the ingredients that matter, it’s the recipe too. You’ll know the grease is too heavy if you have to work to create volume/fullness on your finished style. Anything that leads to more manipulation should be avoided. Fine hair also doesn’t do well when you put a lot of weight on the strands. If you notice your hair breaking even when you know it’s moisturized (e.g. within 24 hours of a fresh wash), it could be the extra weight from the grease.

    Shampoo Frequently

    You need to shampoo your hair once a week (more if you work out). The best long term routine includes washing with a gentle shampoo once a week. Momma did have some things right back in the day. The routine was shampoo, condition, water, grease, repeat. Grease attracts more dirt than other products and it can easily build up and clog the cuticle layer. Clogged cuticles prevent the hair from reaching its optimal moisture level which will make it more breakage prone than ever. Make sure you don’t apply the grease to your scalp since it will only make this problem worse.

    It Does Not Moisturize

    The other big thing to know about how to use hair grease is that it has no moisturizing properties whatsoever. If you are going to use it, make sure you apply water to your hair first to avoid it making your strands dry. Using it as a sealant with water can create a better retention of the natural moisture your hair needs to stay healthy. You need to make sure you are hydrating your hair after every use of hair grease to replenish any lost moisture.
    The decision to use hair grease is ultimately up to you based on your personal needs and individual hair. It is worth noting that serums were created to give us a better alternative to grease. Although grease works very well as a sealant, it’s heavier than other products and it attracts more dirt. If you have very fine hair or acne prone skin, you should choose a silicone serum instead.

    Cover photo:

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    Erickka Sy Savané
    I was on the phone the other day with a receptionist. The woman was having me spell my daughter’s name for what had to be the 100th time. I try to be patient when this happens because I know her first name is a doozy–11 letters–and African. It’s like nothing most of us Americans have ever heard before. So when I begin to detect this woman’s tone changing, I make sure to chill. We’ll get there eventually.

     And when we do, she lets out an exasperated sigh and says, “Why’d you give that child that name?”

    “Excuse me?” I say, not sure if I heard her correctly.

    “Why’d you give her a name that she’d be lucky if she can pronounce, let alone spell?”

    I put the phone down and start taking off my earrings. Had this woman lost her mind? Of all the rude comments! And to think that she was representing someone’s business. I’m a second away from reaching into the phone to grab her neck when I remind myself that I knew this would happen. In fact, I almost didn’t give my daughter her name because of people like that receptionist.

    “You can’t name her that!” said just about everyone when I told them the name I had chosen for my unborn child. Others would just start singing, ‘Mama Say Mama Sa Mama Coosa’ from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.’” They said it reminded them of that song. At one point, I stopped telling people because I didn’t want to hear it anymore.

    What they failed to see was that I loved the name from the moment I first heard it. Ever fall in love with a sound? For some it’s the sweet cackle of a baby’s giggle, for me it was the rhythm of this name. Like music to my ears. The fact that it was African made it even better. Not just because my husband is African, but because I wanted a name that my child could live in to, a name that whenever spoken would create images of gold lit skies, and blackness, like the continent itself.

    Yet, it’s funny how I still had doubts.

    “Do you have a name?” asked the doctor who delivered my daughter as she placed her on top of me, still wet and slippery like a fish freshly out of the water. I was tired. Exhausted from a natural birth that had me laboring for 24 hours. Finally, I told her the short version because in that moment, I was no longer sure. Would I dare give her a name with 11 letters and five syllables? Would she be able to get a job? What if she was a gentle soul incapable of handling the teasing and insults that might come her way? Heck, what if she didn’t like it?!

    “Okay,” said the doctor, letting the name roll off of her tongue. “What’s the long version?” I spit it out. Every. Last. Syllable. There. Say what you want. “Girl, you betta give that child all that name!”

    We both laughed and in that moment I knew that I couldn’t go halfway. Why? To make it easy? To please other people? I’d been doing that my whole life and where had it gotten me? If I couldn’t stand for the name I wanted to give my child when would I ever stand for anything? This name was for both my child and me.

    I think about the receptionist on the other end of the phone. Right now she represents all the ignorance and prejudice that will likely be a part of my daughter’s future.
    How would I want her or anyone for that matter to respond?
    Patience? Tried that.
    Maybe I’d meet fire with fire.
    I pick up the phone, and this time it is my tone that has changed. “Listen, Ma’am, I’m sorry if this name isn’t convenient for you, but you’re a receptionist not the name police. Mind your business.”

    How do you respond to name shaming?

    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    By Valarie Stephens 
     What does it mean to be a black woman? Is it the way we walk? Is it the way we talk? Or is it something that comes from within? Or just maybe it's none of those things at all. Maybe it’s simply our melanated skin.

    I often wondered if I were ever enough. I, the quiet awkward introvert who never quite fit into the black woman stereotype (labels) but just happened to be a black woman. Would my color ever be enough or did I have to be more than my color? Did I have to be the stereotype of what others envisioned my color to be? Or, could I simply just be? These were some of my insecurities growing up. That we must all fit within some type of category in order to fit in. That color isn't as broad as the spectrum we truly are but that we are only relegated to a category. So the question then becomes are we more than a stereotype?

    Growing up I was an introvert who happened to be black. I define introverts as internal souls who live within. Introverts don't necessarily have the need to be social, outgoing or the life of the party. There is that contentedness of being solitary and having that quiet private time. It is a way to regroup and recharge from being in the world. And though there are many different types of introverted personalities the idea of being internal and private still rings true for many.

    As a black woman who is an introvert I've faced some unique challenges that my conscious mind has now learned to process. Those challenges included being content with my own identity. From time to time I would get the 'You don't act black enough' or 'You don't talk black enough' comments. I would often wonder what that even meant. Are our minds that narrow that we have to limit ourselves to an accent or mannerism? Is that really all that we are as a race or can we reach beyond the superficial? Of course we can! There was a strong desire for me to fit in growing up because I was opposite of others and too scared to be me. By opposite I mean quiet, shy and unsure of myself while others were more vocal and fearless. And by the way, shy and quiet are two completely separate things. Although there may be introverts that are shy, it’s a personality trait that can be tied to all personality types. At that time, I just happened to be both things.

    Well, I didn't want to be the shy, quiet one who stuck out like a sore thumb. I didn't want to be different. I wanted to blend right in. So my subconscious mind looked to the stereotype of what black is as who I should strive to be. This thought process caused a lot of problems for me because I simply covered up my authentic self. Instead of looking within I looked to others on how to be and who to be. I could not accept myself because I felt my differences were a negative. It was a rough time because self-love was not a present factor in my life at that time. I had no clue. But the bigger lesson in all of this is that instead of searching for an acceptable identity, realizing that I already 'am.' I was and I am the person God made me to be. I did not have to look beyond myself or try to be anything other than me. This is more of a universal message for all personality types. Self-acceptance/self-love is the key to embracing your genuine self.

    Well, I finally came to realization that I was enough after my spiritual light grew inside and I became closer to God. Although it was later in life when I had this epiphany, my conscious mind began to digest the idea of what the essence of color is and then it all made sense to me. For me color is about culture and the idea of just being and nothing else. Black just is! And that’s it. There are no stereotypes that we should hold ourselves to. Being black is about accepting everything that black embodies and that’s a wide spectrum of who we are. One personality does not define another or an entire race so we must learn to accept everyone for who we are.

    As an introverted soul I’ve accepted all facets that make up who I am as a human being. And what I’ve learned is that it is ok to be a black woman who is also an introvert and defy stereotypes associated with what it’s supposed to mean to be black. What’s most important is that we can all learn from one another regardless of race or personality type. We each bring a unique aspect to the table in this journey we call life.

    What does being an introvert mean to you?

    Valarie Stephens is a self-proclaimed introvert who lives life as a free-spirit and creative soul. Her life's journey of ups and downs, personal pain and setbacks are just some of her topics of discussion from her first book titled ‘The Quiet Thinker.' Through spiritual growth and prayer she's been able to get through dark times in her life and completely transform herself into the positive role model she is today. Whether you consider yourself an internal spirit or an extrovert, she has a universal message for everyone. Healing the world and helping others walk in their best light is her life's purpose.

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    Hi Naturals, 
    This is a very simple tutorial on how to achieve maximum volume with natural hair. This method works great for even those with thin and/or fine hair; it leaves the hair full of life and body. In other words, I’m showing my full “fluffing" process ahaha.

    I hope you enjoy it!

    Best Wishes,

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    Kamryn via Awesomely Luvvie
    This past weekend the NFL, and supporters of free speech and our right to peacefully protest, served a collective punch to Donald Trump. If you missed the explosion of the #takeaknee movement started by our hero the still unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first took a knee to protest police violence towards African Americans, don’t worry, there are photos everywhere online! Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, veterans, and NFL players and coaches totaling the hundreds, either took a knee or locked arms in solidarity against an onslaught of White Supremacist-fueled attacks against players who protest by our President. And of all the truly inspiring photos, there was one that really resonated with me of a high school student named Kamryn. 

    It was on blogger Luvvie Ajai’s instagram that I saw her story. She writes:

    This is Kamryn, a student who has committed herself to#TakeAKnee before her games in protest of racial injustice. According to her mom: "Though ostracized and publicly shamed by her teammates, my daughter will continue to#TakeAKnee. Hate and cultural insensitivity are taught at home and now the White House! I will admit as her mother, it's very hard to hear how mean and hateful her teammates are. Refusing to touch her hand, disengaging while on the court and publicly standing away from her as she kneels. I've even been told by the school staff that parents have made 'inappropriate gestures' toward her in the stands. Through it all my kid SMILES while my heart breaks, because I thought the world would be better for her!

    I couldn’t help but think of myself when I was in high school, and how many times I stood for the National Anthem or raised my hand to pledge allegiance to a flag that I knew didn’t stand for me. All the times I did it against my personal beliefs because I didn’t want to make waves. Like life, some things just are, and this is what you do. We stand for the flag because we are spoon-fed from the time that we are kids that this country is the BEST in the world. But why is it the best? They fight against raising the minimum wage, universal health care, they profit by filling prisons with Black and Latino bodies, the police murder us at will, and now they want to take away our freedom of speech. Is it the best because a certain segment of society, the white segment, can live freely with access to all the finer things?

    So I’m looking at this girl and the courage that it takes for her to take a knee against racism, against those who are ostracizing her because to them she’s being ungrateful and disruptive, and while I was down at first, now I see hope. I may not have taken a knee then, but I can take one now. I can take a knee by calling my Senators and Congressman when it’s time to vote on issues that impact us, I can take a knee by boycotting products and companies that support this administration, I can take a knee by calling out ignorance when I see it, especially when it’s geared towards people in disenfranchised groups-Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Women, The Poor, Gay & Transgender- and I can take a knee by waking up everyday and living my life according to what I believe is right, not what is ‘expected’ of me. I refuse to wake up in another 20 years, just to realize that I’ve been duped. Again.

    When was the last time you took a knee?  
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    Girls, we need to talk.
    Let's start with some facts:
    • There are about 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States each year
    • Even though black people only make up 13% of the population, 45% of ALL of those 40,000 new diagnoses belong to us

    That’s right honey, our people. I know a lot of us see or hear about HIV and automatically think what we’ve been conditioned to think – that’s something that ‘those’ people get? Well who are “those people?” I hope the answer you came up with is “our brothers, sisters, our sons, daughters, our cousins, our best friends, our fathers, our mothers.” I hope the answer you came up with is US. People like me, and if you’re reading this….people like you.  If it’s not personal for you yet, here are some stats that resonate with me the most:
    • 1 in 880 White women will get HIV in their lifetime
    • 1 in 48 Black women will get HIV in their lifetime
    Annalise Htgawm GIF - Annalise Htgawm Done GIFs
    YES. YOU READ THAT RIGHT! Simply being a black woman in the United States makes you 18 times more likely to get HIV than Becky. Still not pissed yet? Don’t worry. I’ve got some more for you:
    • 48% of all new HIV infections in 2015 among heterosexual people of any race were in….*drum roll please* black women
    But you don’t hear the news talking about the “HIV Epidemic” much anymore do you? TLC isn’t dancing and singing about safer sex any more. There are no longer droves of  people marching in the streets, raising awareness in OUR community.  Why not? Are we the generation enlightened enough to preach equity for women and people of color but treat HIV like it’s something that Voldemort tried to give Harry Potter? Are we the generation outspoken enough to reject an entire administration because of its oppressive policies but won’t call out stigma in our own community that causes the people we love to feel ashamed and afraid to be themselves.  Are we the generation that proclaims BLACK LIVES MATTER….but Black Sex Lives don’t?
    I refuse to be that generation. 

    How are we, as black women, the most educated demographic in America, getting infected with HIV at such high rates? I’m young. I’m black. I’m smart. I’m sexually active…and yet…I never felt like HIV was something that I ever had to worry about. Because I’m smart, right? I ‘choose’ my lovers carefully. I don’t sleep around. I’m a “good girl.” I’m in a relationship.  And then I realized, that I was putting the burden of my health on the people that I was involved with. Tuh! Why wasn’t I taking charge of my own health? It’s not our job to make sure some man is safe enough for us be with. It’s our job to make sure that we do everything we can to be safe no matter who we're with.  We shouldn't assign a higher ‘safety value’ to college bae just because he be looking right in those slim fit pants and blazer with the clean fade and fresh lining. *bites lips* NOR should we give thug bae extra 'risk points' like “I’m gonna need two condoms, a full doctor’s report, and 17 amoxicillins before we get it in, capice?” It’s that kind of thinking that gets us in trouble! We need to protect ourselves at all times - not just when we think there is something to protect ourselves against. We also need to not let our guard down just because we think a man is "safe." 

    Maybe it’s just me that thinks like that. Maybe there are women out here that think that they can’t get HIV if they’re in a monogamous relationship with a straight man. Tuh.

    Image result for lie detector meme

    I want answers ladies. Why are we so disproportionately affected by HIV?  Why is it that black women only make up 13% of the female population but 61% of new HIV infections among all women? Is it because trapper bae did time for moving product and we held him down for 2 years and when he got out he came home and said “I just want to feel you?”  Is it because we had a lil too much and Mr. FWB was looking right a few hours before he sent us that ‘come thru’ text?  Is it because the love of our life and us decided that we were both safe and then one day he came home looking at you like...

    Image result for kevin hart cheated

    We take care of the people we love every day, and every day we put ourselves last. It needs to stop.

    So where do we go from here? I don’t know. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I do have a new policy. I call it: “Prove you’re HIV free, or I don’t want the D,” also known as “Know your HIV stat, and I just might throw it back.” Whatever you call it, it’s time to use that P***Y power we all know and yield at will.  Tell your bae or your boo, your boyfriend or your friend with benefits, your hoe-tation or your husband…GET TESTED or I. AINT. GIVIN. IT. UP. 

    Image result for tiffany insecure gif
    "Honey, I get tested every 30 days, because I am a responsible black woman."

    So, just like when you used the box as leverage to get bae to run up to Dairy Queen for that double chocolate fudge sundae, he’s going to groan and complain and then he’s going to get his ass together and go. And you don’t have to leave him hanging, go together! Show him you’re in it with him. Either way, when he brings you that paper that says NEGATIVE cause he’d rather have YOU than not take 20 fricking minutes to own his own damn health and protect you in the process you can sit back with your Bodak Yellow playing in the background like...

    And you should! Cause your health should be more important to you than his comfort. Period. And he should want to protect you just as much as you want to protect yourself. And if he doesn't...
    Related image
    Shut it down.

    "But what if the test doesn't come back negative, Ms. Pharmacy Lady? Do I still need to shut it down?" Not necessarily.  The other beauty in getting tested is that if someone knows they have HIV and take medicine for it, it's pretty much impossible for them to pass the virus on to someone else. Don't believe me? Facts on Facts. Yes, it is less risky to have unprotected sex with someone who has HIV, knows their status, and is taking medicines like they're supposed to be than to have sex with someone who hasn't been tested and could possibly have the virus but doesn't know it.  So honestly, making sure your partners get tested isn't just for your benefit, it's for theirs too, and any of your friends or  play cousins, (or... play brothers) they may be sleeping with other than you. 

    As a future pharmacist I feel strongly about bringing all of my beautiful women of color together to protect our health. In our world, sometimes we feel helpless. Sometimes we feel like everything is out of our control.  But making sure you’re not another damned statistic is something we can all do together. In a world where not much gets done for our community, this is something we can very easily do for ourselves.

    And ICYMI...NERD ALERT: There is a gotdamned pill out here blocking HIV like it's a personal little vaginal secret service agent (or rectal. Whatever you do booboo.)  Somebody come lookatdis:

    Have you heard about this!? We out here taking a pill everyday to prevent kids and cramps but this is that new-new. The scientist in me likes references, so if you're that kind person, click hereherehere, and here.

    I know this isn't the right option for everyone. But this could be the right option for a lot of women, especially for a lot black women, and what's scary is that the women who do need it probably don't even know that they could be protected. There is a certain freedom and empowerment that could come from something like this. Like the lady said, it doesn't protect against those other things that go bump in the night, but imagine not having to worry if you're going to be number 40,001. Ladies I'm not saying don't trust your men. I'm saying put yourself in the position to love them without the fear of putting your health at risk.  A large number of HIV infections come from someone who doesn't even know they have it.  So talk to your doctor, talk to your pharmacist, talk to your favorite nurse, or your favorite med tech at your doctors office. And if they don't know about it, educate them! Somebody out here has to have our backs, and if it's not us...who else is going to do it?

    Peace :)

    The Curl E. Headed, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate

    Sources: CDCAidsMap

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     By Mary Wolff

    Women have had their bodies policed since the beginning of time. As with many things in life, women of color, in particular, have felt the overwhelming pressures of this policing on everything from skin tone and hair texture to body shape. More and more researchers, professors, and thinkers are coming together in a quest to understand the complexities women of color face in terms of their self-image and how society affects self-confidence. While racial identity is a complex matter, and everyone has their own unique experiences, there are certain societal expectations on female beauty which are so ingrained in the media that they affect women of all ages in a myriad of ways.


    Dr. Cheryl Thompson, a professor at the University of Toronto, in her paper titled Black Women and Identity: What's Hair Got to Do With It?, takes a look at the complicated relationship between white beauty standards and black hair. Dr. Thompson discusses how there are several factors which have lead black hair to where it is today. She goes into detail regarding how many women of color feel inundated with white standards of beauty, such as straight hair, and a lack of media representation. This inundation and lack of representation leads to unhealthy beauty standards which encourage black women from an early age to go the route of chemical relaxers, wigs and tight styles in an attempt to cover up or suppress the parts of them which do not line up with the idealized standard of white beauty. She notes how in her research speaking with professionals, a lot of damage is seen to natural hair in this quest to achieve a beauty standard other than the one present simply because it is undervalued by mainstream society. She closes out her well-researched paper by saying, “Hair alteration should be viewed as unequivocally damaging to an individual (and collective) physical, psychological and cultural well-being, or it will continue to be predicated on the belief that nappy, kinky, Afro hair is wrong, and long, straight, (i.e. White and Asian) hair is right.” While it is mentioned in the paper that one woman should never feel shamed by another woman about what she chooses to do with her hair, whether natural or relaxed, the text also covers the often-overlooked issue that many women choose not to embrace their natural hair because they falsely believe it is ugly, unworthy, and undesirable.

    The relationship between self-esteem and hair is a close one for many women. Hair in the black community is deeply rooted in identity. Many women claim that they have more self-confidence after going natural. In fact, a study was performed in which black women were shown pictures of beauty standards to evaluate attractiveness, and the results solidified that owning your identity was the key to self-esteem. The study, published in Journal of Applied Social Psychology reports, “The results suggest that explicit beauty standards engage a comparison process and, in the case of Black respondents with high self-esteem or with high African self-consciousness, result in self-evaluations that are significantly higher than the attractiveness attributed to White standards of beauty.” This study strongly suggests that those with a more firmly rooted black integrity are more confident in their own beauty. With more and more women choosing to go natural and embracing their own natural beauty standards outside of what media says is attractive, women are experiencing higher levels of self-confidence. While no woman should be made to feel ashamed or inferior because of how she chooses to wear her hair, there is no denying there is a deep connection in self-esteem, black identity, and hair.


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    Singer Vivian Green and son Jordan
    Pregnant with her first child, it was supposed to be one of the happiest times of R&B singer/songwriter Vivian Green’s life. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out that way. In her second trimester of pregnancy, doctors told her that the baby she was carrying had a severe undiagnosable illness that would leave it seriously disabled, and if she had the baby it was likely to die within one week.

    “It was horrible,” Vivian says of hearing the news. “Stuff like he had no fingers or toes, his entire cardiovascular system was undeveloped; things that you never want to hear as a mother.” Indeed. As a mom, it’s hard to imagine being told such horrific news. But it also begs the question, why didn’t she abort since it’s legal in cases where doctors can predict these types of issues?

    In fact, there was a couple in Australia that aborted a pregnancy at 28 weeks when they discovered their baby would have a deformed left hand–though most would consider that an extreme reaction. Sometimes, the pressure comes from doctors who discourage parents from bringing kids into the world when they know ahead of time the massive challenges the future holds.

    For Vivian, it was simple. “By the time I got the diagnosis I was in my second trimester and he was already moving. So I knew I couldn’t do it.”

    Constant prayer and strong family support got Vivian through the pregnancy.
    What happened next was a miracle.

    “Once my son was born it was nothing like what the doctors said,” says Vivian. “He does have some issues. Like he has no opposition in his thumbs, he was born very small, his skull was flat–it’s gotten a lot better–and he sometimes has some random things that don’t necessarily go together, but still, it’s not what they said.”

    Clearly, the fact that he is going on 12-years-old when they only predicted he’d live a week is a testament to something Vivian learned from her mom, “doctors are not always right.”

    It was this knowing that she would rely on again when pressure mounted to get him plastic surgery. “One doctor really wanted to start plastic surgery and I felt that he was too young. Let’s watch to see how things develop.” Once she received a second opinion from another doctor who agreed, she felt convinced that her motherly instinct was right once again, and let her son be.
    Vivian Green's son, Jordan
    Today, Jordan does everything for himself, even if it takes him a little longer. She says her parenting style is often compared to the mom of singer Ray Charles: “After I see you can do it one time I’m not going to help you again because I know you can do it.”

    Vivian has been homeschooling Jordan since kindergarten, but plans to transition him to a regular school now that he’s in the 6th grade. A few years ago, she had him tested to make sure he was mentally up to par. While his mental process is a little different, he’s fine. “Jordan’s doctors are some of the best in the country and they are amazed at his progress,” Vivian says. And while things may not be nearly as dire as the doctors predicted, Vivian’s life is far from a walk in the park. Has she ever regretted her decision to have her son?

    “Not at all,” she explains, “He’s very much a loved child wherever he goes. He’s touched so many people in the past 11 years. It’s really amazing.”

    Given how things worked out for Vivian, one might think that she would discourage moms-to-be from listening to doctors, but not so.

    “I always urge mothers to do what’s best for them because many children are born with horrible diseases and doctors sometimes are right about what they see. So I don’t want to give any false hope that every case is going to be like mine. I just happen to know that doctors aren’t always right.”
    Vivian also urges mothers to do their own research and trust their instincts.

    This article first appeared on 

     What would you do if doctors said your baby would be severely deformed?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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     Ciara Rae
    “I just can’t take it anymore.”
    These were the six words that came out of my mouth when I finally made the decision to go back to relaxers. It was a decision I’d been turning over in my mind since the beginning of the year and in July, it was settled: after 7 years of being natural, I was officially done.

    Essentially, I felt like a traitor: how could you blog about natural hair for years and then turn around and go back to the creamy crack? Becoming a natural hair blogger was really about this quest to learn how to love my own natural hair. So when I really thought about it, I came to this shocking realization that I don’t love my natural hair. I always wanted to, but I really never did. I spent all of my time keeping it stretched out or in box braids, trying to avoid knots and tangles. I never even attempted a “wash and go,” rarely wore a twist-out, and stopped attempting curly rod sets after humidity reminded me it was not my friend for the last time. I was natural, but my hair was always tucked away. Even after all those years of being told, “Love your natural hair! Rock your fro!” None of it ever stuck.

    And when it comes to natural hair, there are several schools of thought. Some believe that if you’re not happy with your natural hair, you’re not happy with or don’t love yourself because that’s the hair the good Lord gave you. That if you don’t have natural hair, you’re not woke. That if you relax your hair, you’re trying to be white. I had allowed the opinions of others to shape how I felt about natural and relaxed hair. It was time to take a step back and decide what was best for me and my lifestyle, without allowing the opinions of society be a factor.

    The first time I seriously thought about getting a relaxer was one day shortly after getting my hair flat ironed. It had been about 10 months since the last time I used heat, so I was really looking forward to seeing how much my hair had grown. Long story short, my hair didn’t even last a full day. Looking back, my natural hair never stayed straight beyond a week, and I love my hair straight. So I was constantly disappointed. In fact, all of the styles that I really love on myself—straight and sleek, flexi rods, CurlFormers—never last on my natural hair.

    I started really doing my research, delving into the world of relaxed hair again, and I discovered that many women went natural because of haunting relaxer experiences, which often happened at the salon. The truth is, it wasn’t that I couldn’t grow long, healthy relaxed hair: I just never learned how. I had been going to stylist after stylist for years, depending on them to make my hair grow and yet it still stayed at neck length. In 2009, I started researching healthy hair care practices and learned basics like staying away from heat and using sulfate-free shampoo. In 3 months’ time, my hair had vastly improved. Shortly thereafter, my cousin suggested that I should go natural, like her. I didn’t even know what “going natural” meant. After looking into it and seeing so many women whose hair seemed to “take off” after they stopped getting relaxers, I was hooked. I would finally have long hair, like I’d always wanted. And to be honest, my hair did thrive, especially in the beginning. I did the big chop in 2010 and within two years, my hair was shoulder length, the longest it had ever been. After a bout with heat damage, I finally reached APL (arm pit length) at year 5, and despite trying everything possible to surpass this growth plateau (scalp massages, protective styling, hair vitamins, healthy eating), my hair has remained there. I attribute the stunt in my hair growth to a constant struggle with dryness that has resulted in an endless cycle of growing and trimming, growing and trimming. When it comes to length retention, the struggle has been real.

    In my quest to find other women who had gone from natural to relaxed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t alone. I reached out to four women, and all of them touted some of the same reasons for relaxing as I had.

    Caitlynn Collins 
    Caitlynn Collins, who was natural for one year before going back relaxed, says, “I made the decision because I went natural without doing my research and that hurt me rather than helped me. I didn't have the knowledge I needed and my natural hair just wasn't flourishing. I love my decision and wouldn’t change anything.” In her video, entitled, “From Natural to Relaxed Hair,” she elaborates further.

    Shantel Brooklyn
    Shantel Brooklyn, who was natural for four years before relaxing again, also struggled with being natural. In her video“I Relaxed My 4C Hair,” she states:
    For me, it was very hard being natural. I had very, very thick, very porous hair. It wouldn’t hold moisture. All the little cute hairstyles I would see other naturals do on YouTube, I would try it and it would look nothing like theirs. It would look so horrible. I was over it!
    Shantel also shared with me:
    I have been openly judged by complete strangers. My family and friends support my decision because they saw how much I struggled. With me being a YouTuber, a lot of naturals left very long, nasty comments under my video. One lady even went as far to say that all of my hair was going to fall out! I just ignore them because they don't know my story.
     Keshia Pierre
    Like me, Keshia Pierre was natural 7 years before relaxing again. “At the time, I had just started my graduate program and was really busy with school, church, social activities, etc. My hair was constantly being thrown up in a puff (neglected) because I simply did not have the time or energy to give it the care it needed and deserved. Who had 3 hours to wash, detangle, and then flat twist some hair JUST to PREP for a style that couldn't be worn until the next day?! Not I says the duck.” See more in her video “I Relaxed My Hair.”

    Kanisha Parks (Me)
    I relaxed on August 24, 2017 and over the course of the last month, there hasn’t been one second that I’ve regretted my decision. The week before getting a relaxer, I was so worried. I had horror visions of my hair falling out. But from start to finish, I had the best experience. The relaxer took well and did not burn. My hair retained a bit of texture and was not over-processed, and in the end, my hair was straight, sleek, and swingin.’ And the best part of all: it didn’t revert. For the last few weeks, I’ve been wearing CurlFormer sets out like there’s no tomorrow. I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and only wish I had done it sooner. There’s nothing difficult or cumbersome about maintaining relaxed hair. Wash day took a significant amount of time and dedication when natural. Obviously, it’s easier to get to my scalp now when I wash my hair, and detangling my natural hair took 30-45 minutes while relaxed, it takes 2-3.

    I love natural hair—I think it’s so versatile and beautiful. There are so many types, textures, colors, and styles. I love the natural hair movement and I think realistically, that’s what I was so excited to be a part of, this wave of acceptance that gave women such an important gift: the tools and the knowledge to take care of and grow our own hair.

    This really isn’t about #teamnatural or #teamrelaxed. It’s about the fact that no one should have to feel bad about doing what’s best for them and their lifestyle, especially when it comes to hair. I witness so much hate on the internet directed at women who choose to get relaxers. It’s just plain wrong. Rather than judge one another, it’d be nice to just have a conversation and offer understanding.

    Ciara Rae
    Ciara Rae, who was natural for 9 years before relaxing says, “I feel judged all the time because I was once that girl. I was a ride or die anti-relaxer advocate. It's insane to think I was because now, I'm all about the perm life. When I created my video, about why I'm relaxed, I wasn't expecting to hear that women all over the world felt the same way I did. Due to that reaction, I want black women to know it's okay to do whatever is best for you! Being natural isn't for everyone and neither is being relaxed. I think it's important for black women to just embrace their hair regardless of their styling choice. We truly do have the best of both worlds!”

    Have you thought about going from natural to relaxed?
    Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other, she has also written forBlackNaps.organdDevozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at

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  • 09/26/17--09:56: My 5 Day Grape Detox

  • Along with regular intermittent fasting, I actually fast or detox several times a year.

    It's a great reset button for me spiritually, mentally and aesthetically, of course-- I love seeing the bloat and extra poochage melt away.  It also gives me hella energy and motivates me to stay off wheat.  It's that time of year again and the thought of another Master Cleanse with that gross salt water cleanse disgusted me... I'm in no mood for smoothies or juicing (the incessant chopping and all that damn blender cleaning), and bone broth fasts are time consuming and expensive.  As I considered my options, I reached for another handful of seeded concord grapes and thought... how 'bout a grape cleanse?! Ha! I Googled 'grape detox' and of course it's a thing (everything's a thing... banana diets too, lol) and was actually made popular by the creator of Caudalie, a skin care brand I started using like 2 weeks ago (love their anti-aging serum).  Crazy. So, today is day 1.  It's about noon here in D. C. and I plan to have Whole Foods on 14th deliver me every organic grape in the building.  I'll check back in with updates.  I hope to go about 5 days-- grapes, water, rooibos tea.  Wine is grapes, too, so, that may still be happening as well.  We'll see.

    Your other self,

    Do you fast? detox? What's your diet of choice?

     In other news, I haven't slept in like 3 weeks 'cause, Max. He slept through the night from jump but abruptly stopped because he's teething. Luckily he's super cute. 

    Mother of Dragons


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    Ajak Deng
      By Mary Wolff
    If you follow the latest beauty trends, you know how hot the nude lip is right now. While few trends can work year-round without looking seasonally out of place, this look helps you work it all year! Of course, the idea of a nude lip can be intimidating to some women. The challenge of finding the right tone can be tricky since it is based on skin tone. When looking to get in on this beautiful trend, here are a few tips on how to find the best nude lipstick for you.


    Know Your Tone

    Knowing your natural skin tone is the key to finding the best nude lipstick. While everyone is unique and you may have slight leanings on the scale within the category, most people fall under one of the three main groups of fair, medium, and dark. For example, within the group of medium, it can range from golden to caramel with shades of olive in between. So, take your time determining your skin tone.

    Pay Attention to Lips

    The skin tone is important to make sure you don’t end up looking too washed out by the color, but the natural color of your lips also matters. If your lips naturally have more than one tone, the key is to work with the more dominant tone and include lip liner in your look. For instance, trying out a gentler pink toned nude to match with the center of the lips paired with a darker liner is a good choice.

    Find the Balance

    The whole point of nude lips is that it should look natural and as close to your natural lips as possible, but still look like you have something on your lips. You don’t want it to look like you aren’t wearing anything at all, but at the same time, you don’t want it to be too stark. Make sure you try several shades of nudes in your skin tone to find the option that works best for you before committing to one look as your nude go-to. You should also keep in mind that a nude lip can be several variations. You can wear a darker nude lip for a more striking contrast or a lighter nude lip for a more natural look. The key is to always pay attention to both your skin tone and the pigment of your lips to find the right range of shades.

    Do you rock nude lips?

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  • 09/27/17--07:57: I Failed.

  • Hola Chica, 

    When I wrote yesterday's post about starting my Grape Diet Detox, I hadn't eaten yet-- I'd only had a couple of glasses of water, room temperature, of course (see 'shit bougie black people love #33') and my will power was popping.


    I decided against the Whole Foods delivery and got dressed, loaded Max up and walked the mile to Yes! Organic Market. I hate going to the grocery store ('cause humans) and have everything delivered now, but Yes! Market doesn't deliver and they're the only store in the area with a ridiculous variety of organic grapes. Plus the walk is scenic and I could get some much needed steps in. I grossly underestimated the temperature, though. It was hot as hell, no shade all the way but when I finally got there, I had my pick of the best, like 7 varieties. I bought 4 crates, loaded them in the stroller and proceeded to walk back home, which was up hill the entire way apparently... I had no idea we lived at the peak of a slope until I had to push that heavy Mima stroller + 18 pound Max + my ass up a hill for a mile.  I never leave home without my Bose headphones (keeps dudes from trying to talk at me), but I had to take them off because of the profuse sweating and my hair is still blown out... so I was annoyed, hot and hungry by the time I got home. Before I even got Max out the stroller, I was rinsing grapes off and stuffing them in my face. I probably ate 2 bunches. They were so good and the water content of them coupled with the chewing action (unlike other fasts I've done) totally took care of my hunger pangs. Two hours go by and Gia's home from school and we're doing math homework at the table. I raised up from my chair a little to sneak poot, but immediately realized that it wouldn't end well, so I aborted. You know that feeling. And then I remembered what grape juice does to me on an empty stomach. I googled the side effects of the grape detox and of course diarrhea was way high up there (in defense of the grape diet, you're supposed to start much slower than I did). I cannot with unpredictable gastrointestinal distress. I might as well do the master cleanse with that terrible salt water flush! So by 7 last night I was sitting on the patio outside our local El Salvadorian restaurant enjoying a glass of Pinot Gri, reading Be As You Are, waiting on my steak that I ordered to go. This is my third failed detox since having Max, maybe I ain't about that life anymore.  It's cool though, yesterday counted as an 'I went extra hard on my intermittent fasting' day.

    Your other self,

    I've been using Caudalie and Verso facial moisturizers lately and loving the glow.  What are your favorite face creams right now?

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    Erickka Sy Savané
    A story my girlfriend shared with me the other day about a phone conversation with her mom…
    “Tell me what you want from the house when I go.”
    “Go where?” Bree said to her mom.
    “You know, when I die.”
    “Die? What’s wrong?? Are you sick???” Bree panicked.
    “No. I just want to be prepared.”
    This was weird.
    “I can’t, ma, just write down whatever you think I’d like.”
    “I don’t know what you’d like because I don’t know you like that.”

    Was she serious?
    “All the times I’ve tried to get to know you over the years and all you’ve ever done is shut me down. You only came to visit me once in 25 years and that was when I got married, and I had to beg you and pay for your plane ticket. And then there’s the grandchild that you completely forgot about. Now you wanna act like it’s my fault?”

    “So it’s my fault?” Bree’s mom said. “Do you remember how you left?”

    Whoa. She was bringing that up? They had never spoken about the way she left home. How she had just graduated from high school and had her heart set on becoming a singer- her mother wanted her to go to college. As a compromise, Bree applied to schools with music programs out-of-state, but her mother had her own plans and changed the applications to local colleges in Mississippi where they lived. Bree realized then that the only way she was going to be able to live her own life was by leaving. So one day she bounced, leaving nothing but a note saying that she was heading to New York and would call her when she got settled.
    They did eventually talk, but the relationship never recovered.
    Her mom turned cold, and Bree came to accept it as the price she had to pay for her independence. Thinking about it today, she can only imagine what she put her mother through. But the truth is, she did what she had to do, and though she never became a big singer, she did get married, became a mom, and lived life her way. Her mom, on the other hand, was still standing in the same spot 25 years later, as salty, and hurt, as the day Bree left. So really who won? There was no need to argue over who was right.

    “I’m sorry about the way I left,” Bree apologized.
    After a brief silence.
    “Okay. Let’s move on,” her mom replied.

    Bree's giddiness about mending the relationship with her mom came bursting through the phone as she relayed her story. I met her not long after she made the move to NYC, and over the years, I could see that there was something missing. A mother’s love is like a warm coat in the winter so you know when someone leaves home without it. Maybe this was the start of something new? I couldn't help thinking that 25 years is a long time to be mad. So many beautiful memories they never had. So much pain. I think about what happens when we feel wronged by someone, and how it only hurts us, even if we’re right. My mom used to ask me, “Do you want to be dead right?” when I would walk out in the middle of traffic as soon as the light turned green. As if being right was a protective shield against the pain of getting hit by a car. I think about some of the people that I may owe an apology to and I hope they’re not waiting on it. I hope they’ll talk to me about it or find a way to move on. At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for our own happiness.

    Do you have a healthy relationship with your mom?

    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    We know it seems like an oxymoron. But it's true.
    Watch Clarissa Todd do a crochet hairstyle without the braids! She says, "The Braidless Crochet Hairstyle cuts my styling time in half!"
    For more Clarissa follow her youtube channel!

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    Natalee Holloway - Kenneka Jenkins
    Last week, I stumbled upon an episode of 'The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway.' It was part of a new, six-part documentary that follows David Holloway as he searches for new developments in the disappearance and murder of his daughter, who took a trip to Aruba upon her high school graduation. It’s also a 12-year-old case with a vested community that equally seeks answers and justice for Holloway’s demise.

    Facebook commenter Susan Willis Updegraff writes, “Watched an update on the Natalee Holloway murder. The lengths to which her father has gone to find her remains is extraordinary and so tragic. All we can do is never go to Aruba for any reason. They don't deserve any benefits from U.S. tourists.”

    Carole Ann Pigman, who describes Holloway as a “beautiful” young lady with such a “promising life,” pleas to dismiss her usual pastime of Sunday afternoon football to pray for the family of the 'smart, young woman who only traveled to the island to celebrate the beginning of a Pre-med education.'

    But Crystal Constance Bey makes another point. She says, “They can investigate a missing person in another country but won't investigate all the missing black women here in America.”

    It makes me wonder if Kenneka Jenkins – the 19-year-old woman who attended a party at the Crowne Plaza in Chicago just a few weeks ago, and whose lifeless body was found in the hotel’s freezer – family would receive the same level of attention.

    Brittney Chardae brilliantly tweets:

    While watching the Natalee Holloway documentary, I too, realized I hadn’t heard or seen anything new on television or social media so I googled Jenkins. The only recent news I could find is information on her public funeral, which is scheduled for Saturday. The facts leading up to her death are still a mystery.

    I perform the same search on Facebook and visit the major media pages. There, against my better judgment, I click on the comments and subject myself to pure vitriol.

    Jennifer Russell Peters attacks Jenkins' mom's parenting skills. “What a loving caring mom. First, she lets her daughter leave the house at 1130 and has no clue she's missing and now she's turning her daughter's funeral into a circus.”

    “Mama looking for a payout?” adds Rori DeLaurentis, “[Jenkins] was drunk and walked into a freezer and passed out. It was her own fault! Tell Mama to get a job and stop causing commotion. It's annoying.”

    The responses continue with freezer and Ringling Brothers jokes, dead horse memes and unnecessarily lame attempts to minimize and dismiss Jenkins.

    The blatant lack of sympathy and pure disrespect for a black body and her family is appalling. It’s also rather interesting, read contradictory and hypocritical, how those who are the most vocal in victim-blaming and parent-shaming simply refuse to acknowledge the glaring similarities in both cases.

    Like Holloway, Jenkins was celebrating a milestone, too: a friend’s birthday. They both partied with friends outside of home, and disappeared. The friends can’t exactly account for the missing women’s whereabouts after a certain point. The chronology of Holloway’s final hours is also sketchy. Rumors continuously interfere with the facts of her case and both cases seem to involve some level of foul play.

    But the stark contrasts are that one victim is white while the other one is black, the public views one superior to the other and what’s considered untimely and tragic for Holloway is inevitable and deserving for Jenkins. It only reminds us that race often does influence law enforcement’s decisions, equality and justice for all is a myth, and to non-people of color, black girl magic is more dust than glitter.

    Given the current racial climate, perhaps the infamous Facebook Live video showing Jenkins’ friends and a glimpse of Jenkins inside of their hotel room didn’t help any of the participants. It was hard for an empathetic viewer to watch and there seemed to be no real purpose for the footage. Unless it actually was recorded as a clue or some sort of alibi. There’s a bit of profanity, obvious underage drinking and some blunt-passing. It’s totally unfair but people judge us, even us.

    Still by no means does it give anyone permission to deem a young black woman’s life as disposable. Her background or current lifestyle or image isn’t a valuation of her worth nor is it a definite indicator of a bleak future. I grew up in a rural community where most youth bypass college for the real world. When I was 18, I attended a nightclub that served alcoholic beverages, and I arrived home at 4 a.m. the morning after my birthday and I cursed and drank the night before too. The elders in my family didn’t know where I went and unless they read this piece, they still won’t know. But I still received a degree from a well-renowned university and within four years. The fact that Holloway partied hours before her death doesn’t preclude her potential but Jenkins is punished partly because four million viewers can easily witness part of her evening and mainly because she’s black. Never mind that Jenkins’ potential to become a doctor or nurse could’ve grown to easily surpass Holloway’s. We’ll never know that because neither is here to prove it.

    But one's story continues to live on over a decade later while the other is killed in two weeks. Jenkins and all of our magical young black women deserve the same respect and recognition as Natalee Holloway and all of the young white women whose lives are unexpectedly cut short. This is why we mustn’t allow Kenneka Jenkins’ name to be tarnished and dismissed by those who feel any mention of it is a waste of precious breath. It’s up to us to be her vested community that continues to scream her name until she and her family receives due justice.

    Are you familiar with the Kenneka Jenkins story?

    Tee Elle is an east-coast storyteller hoping for her big break west. Her words have been published on xoNecole and Clutch magazine, but you can also follow her on Twitter (@pencilandchalk) and the blog at When she’s not writing or stalking social media, you can find her dreaming of LA, reading a great book, binge-watching reality TV, or pretending to be the next winner of Bravo’s Top Chef.

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