Archive for March, 2013

Baltimore Natural Hair Care Expo: Hillery and Shawny’s Recap

We came, we saw, we left in an hour.  Our experience at this year’s Baltimore Natural Hair Care Expo can be summed up in one word: RATCHET.  Seriously, I don’t even know where to begin because it was all just too ridiculous for words.  Let me start this tragic tale at the beginning.

Picture it, a bright sunny yet cold and windy Saturday in March.  Shawny and I head into Baltimore without any problem (thank you traffic gods for favor!).  We found PERFECT street parking, hit the ATM, and head to the ticket booth to purchase our tickets.  At this point, we’re excited but that enthusiasm was soon dashed.

STRIKE 1:  Tickets were $20.  The World Natural Hair Show (WNHS) in Atlanta is 10x the size of this show and only charges $10 for tickets.   The venue is larger, there are more vendors, and the show deals are better.  Now, $20 isn’t a lot, but it did raise my eyebrow and put me on high alert.  As soon as I entered the exhibit hall, I just KNEW this wasn’t going to be a good experience.

STRIKE 2:  The Baltimore Natural Hair Care Expo started at 11am.  We arrived at noon.  Only ½ of the vendors had set up and were ready for business.  About ¼ were still unpacking and setting up and the last ¼ hadn’t even arrived yet.

STRIKE 3:  Of the vendors that were set up and ready for business 90% of them consisted of  wholesale “handmade” jewelry, tables with tubs of yellow shea butter, dashikis, fake MAC, Flora Roberts and Mary Kay consultants, and hustle man natural hair t-shirt vendors.     I swear I had to do a double take because it felt like I’d stepped into a flea market.

Shawny and I have only been in the exhibit hall for all of five minutes and we’re ready to go.  Trying to make the most of this calamity, we walk around determined to find at least 1-2 vendors that will make this experience worth it.  We did spot Oyin and Shea Radiance so we hustled over to their respective booths to check out the product offerings.

After those stops, we stumbled across a vendor that I remembered from the WNHS in Atlanta last year, Pure Shea Store.  What caught my attention Saturday was this HUGE tub of handmade body scrub that smelled divine along with matching body washes and body oils for sale.  We chatted the owner up, make our purchases, and move on.

We decide to do one last circuit around the exhibit hall and at this point we are literally trying to WILL vendors into existence.  I noticed earlier that there was an empty booth for Zuresh and I was hoping that they were still attending the show.  Before heading out, we spot the owner setting up and head over to the booth.  I’d heard good things about quite a few of her products and was prepared to purchase them at the show.  Apparently though, customers were an interruption (never mind the fact at this point she’s 2 hours late to the event and is just setting up) and she basically brushed us off.  I kindly put my money right on back into my pocket and kept it moving.

Shawny and I called it a wrap and left at 1pm.  I doubt that I would ever attend another Baltimore Natural Hair Care Expo.  When you factor in my time, gas, and admission fee, it just wasn’t worth it.  I honestly could have ordered everything I purchased online at the regular prices and come out better.  It was a total waste of time, money, and was a total disappointment.

The day’s saving grace was lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, hanging out with Shawny, and a trip down what I have dubbed “Natural Hair Row” in my local Target.  During our Target trip, we spotted the new Karen’s Body Beautiful, Camille Rose, and Jane Carter products and to top it off, Shea Moisture products were on sale for $7.99. That’s what I call #winning.


Edited to add:  So I see that the show creators have gotten wind of this review and have started to send their ”followers” to defend the show and post about how “great” it was compete with an “edited” promotional video of the show and calling me a “minion of Satan” trying to bring down black businesses (I actually laughed out loud at that comment).    The post is entitled ”Hillery and Shawny’s recap” meaning OUR experience at the expo.  I left a LOT out of my review in an attempt to not completely bash the event because I’m sure that some newly natural ladies might have gotten something out of attending.  In my experience as someone that’s been natural for over 10 years and has traveled extensively to various natural hair shows, workshops and events, this was a sub par production.  If  your experience was different, then good for you.  This recap and account of my experience stands.  Go spam somewhere else with this foolishness.  Rude comments and those meant to bash the authors will be deleted.

Hair struggles: Can you convince a natural to go… natural?

Here’s an interesting hair scenario. Maybe you’ve heard it before:


You’ve gone natural and you love it, but your friend (who has gorgeous naturally curly hair) hates her curls and hides them with blow dryers, flat irons, and buns. You want to convince her to go natural. CAN you??”


I will give you the short answer: Nope, Never, No siree bob. You can’t convince her. Sorry to say it, but that’s the real skinny.

Why? It’s simple: the motivation/decision to go natural has to come from within and not from any outside forces. To be honest, it’s not an easy decision to make and as such, isn’t made overnight. You debate; you toss and turn, and weigh pros and cons. You have some panic attacks about the big chop and you have panic attacks over not chopping right away. You also worry about how people will see you and what they’ll think of you if your curl didn’t come from a curling iron or a rod set.

What can you do? Perhaps influencing by example can help.  Let me tell you my own true story:


(Part) of my hair story


My grandmother was exactly like most young girls growing up and hating their hair. Instead of hating her hair for 20 yrs or so, my grandmother’s perception of beauty has been influenced by 72 yrs of press & curl, perms, etc. She’s half-Chinese also, so her familial influences growing up (in addition to being West Indian) had dark, long straight hair.

Her hair isn’t like that though. It’s curly– and beautifully so with S shapes ending in ringlets. It’s a lion’s mane that cascades down her back like a dream.

It’s a nightmare for her though since it never took to the press or the perm. Her mane would just become an even frizzier hot mess. No matter what she tried, it wouldn’t ever be completely straight.  It just wanted to curl and be happy. She hated it.

Instead of hiding her hair in fuzzy buns, she just wanted long, flowy, “pretty” hair.  She “made” it happen for her daughters, and for me–her only granddaughter. Relaxers were the standard growing up.

So, when I went natural, she was one of my greatest adversaries. It was a total departure from what was acceptable, and of course she hated it. I didn’t listen to her– but I also didn’t judge her. It would have been too easy to do, but for her it’s not about not loving herself. It’s about hating her hair. Some folks think it’s deeper than that on a grander scale, but for most people, it really isn’t.

Anyway, she watched me struggle with my hair (transitioning twice, going CG with the Curly Girl method, etc), heckling me all the way. When I finally chopped off my long hair (heat damaged crap) I almost gave her a heart attack.


 Actual comments about my hair from my Grandmother…

Oh My God! It’s not going to grow back now”

“I guess you’re still pretty”

“What are people going to think?”

“You’re a doctor, it’s not professional.”

“Why do you need all this product crap on your head?!” (Ok…point taken. LOL!)


Despite my own hidden doubts, I ignored her and was patient with my hair.  Through trial and error (and more trial), I learned how to take care of it. So when it (finally) blossomed and I was rocking this and that style, and using this and that product with success, she ALSO noticed.

This led to a slow curiosity, which over time became “Can you style my hair curly for me if I wash it?” Now, she’s curly 90% of the time and loving it– vs. the 90% she was for 70+ yrs, and hating it. Her favorite products are from Karen’s Body Beautiful and Koils by Nature. She nosily rummages through my stash on occasion and is considering branching out more this Easter when the barrage of sales comes.

So based on my experience, leading by example is the best thing you can do. Be as supportive and encouraging as you can, but you have to allow people to live as they see fit. Perhaps it will work, or perhaps it won’t. In the end, it’s all about personal happiness anyway. Happy is hair leads to a happier you!

This really made me happy though! My Grandmother’s hair is beautiful!!!


My Grandmother’s hair styled in a Wash & Go using Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-In Conditioner and Koils by Nature Soothing Herbal Curl Defining Gel


Do you have a similar story or hair struggle you’d like to pose to us PJ’s? Tell us all about it and we’ll do our best to help.  We wanna hear from you!

Dry Hair Wars: Winning the Moisture Battle in Transitioning Hair and Beyond

So… you’re transitioning from chemically straightened hair to natural or past the transition, working with your curls, kinks and coils; but your hair still feels or looks “dry” to you. What do you do?

Well, the first thing that you need to know about curly hair is that it doesn’t reflect light well.  Unlike your previously straightened locks, curly hair is 3-Dimensional (like a helix or spiral). Due to this, curly hair is often misinterpreted as “dry” when that’s not the case. Curly hair simply needs a little more help (serums, pomades, etc) to bring its luster through.

Alright, but what if it’s not a trick of the light and your strands are in fact, dry?  If that is the case, here are some things you should consider trying to remedy the issue:

Use a thicker leave-in conditioner (LI): We often don’t realize how thirsty our natural hair is for moisture especially early on in the transitioning period because we’ve been depriving it with all the chemical processes, sulfates and silicones. For any curl to thrive, moisture has to be present. Establishing this as a base to your styling routine is essential. Now, gauging how much or how heavy a LI you need can be tricky. Only you can predict that based on your hair’s properties, but overall I would consider investing in a LI with more natural/moisture laden ingredients (Shea butter, coconut oil, Aloe vera, Avocado butter/oil, etc).  Hair milks are also a great investment. They’re not just for styling, but can be used as rinse-out conditioners or for leave-in conditioning when additional moisture is needed.

Increase the frequency of your deep conditioning treatments (DC): Are you possibly skimping on your treatments? This would be a no-no, so this is something to correct right away. No matter what phase of your natural hair journey. You need these treatments to prevent breakage and help preserve curl structure. As a rule of thumb, I believe that because of the repeated stress on the hair from prolonged use of chemical processes, that anyone transitioning from those practices to natural hair should use a DC weekly. Your new tresses will thank you for it.  After the transition is over, this can be tailored according to your individual hairs’ needs. Personally, when I was transitioning I used a DC weekly and after the transition, biweekly. As the years passed, and my moisture to protein balance improved, I didn’t need to lean on these treatments as much. I do them about once a month now.

Don’t overuse protein: Is every step in your hair regimen protein dominant? While protein helps strengthen and maintain curl structure, the use of too many protein-laden products (Examples: oat, wheat, keratin, and hydrolyzed proteins, silk amino acids) in succession can lead to dry and brittle hair over time. Check the labels on your products to be sure. This problem is easily remedied by scaling back on the protein and using products with more hydrating ingredients toward the top of the ingredient list. As most products contain some element of protein, try to use products where its lower on the ingredient list.

Use a product that seals: Adding moisture means nothing unless you’re willing to take that extra step to lock in the moisture. This step can be done with wash n go styles as well as protective styles. Consider sealing with non-occlusive oils such as: jojoba, olive or coconut, or even styling with butters. Depending on the formulation, butters are a great way to retain lots of moisture while lending a natural hold to your style. Examples of great butters include shea butter, mango butter, aloe butter, kokum butter, avocado butter, murmuru butter and jojoba butter. If you’re using gel, make sure that hold is sufficient enough to keep in the moisture.

Depending on the combination of products you use, the moisture in your hair may last anywhere from a day to several days. Even when doing everything right, the weather and other factors may require repeating the moisture and sealing processes. Every few days, I revive my curls with a refresher spray and follow with a moisturizer or oil.

You can make your own spray at home to keep your hair in good condition. An easy thing I do is in a spray bottle, mix in one part water and two parts conditioner with oils and use that as an all-in-one. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add aloe vera gel into the mix for even more moisture benefits.

Above all, hang in there! It really does get easier, and the benefits and freedoms you’ll experience with a solid hair regimen will be worth it.


Till then, live curly, and live free.

Chrome French Manicure



Creative  Nail Design (CND) Shellac

I made two very important decisions today: I decided to try Shellac polish (chrome French manicure) and to get my nails done regularly. I LOVE nail polish, but I don’t always love polishing my nails. I’m not as neat and meticulous as I would like to be, and I think I need to start treating myself to some “mini luxuries”.  A manicure can take the edge off life.  It can make life’s little irritations less irritating. I was a bit concerned about Shellac damaging my nails (thinning my nail beds) but Tori, my manicurist, assured me I wouldn’t have that problem. She recommends Shellac for “when it matters most”, and to switch it up with standard polish. I’m a neutral polish girl, but I definitely plan to experiment with bold color and nail art, now that somebody else gets to worry about smudges, polish mishaps,  etc.  All I have to do is show the neat, finished, perfect results. I’m good with that. I’m totally looking forward to 14 days of worry-free, chip-free nails.

I’m wearing a Chrome French Manicure, with CND Cityscape and Silver Chrome on the tips.  Do you wear Shellac? Do you like it? Did you experience any damage to your natural nails? Talk to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and if you’re in the Metro Detroit area, and you want an awesome manicure, make an appointment with Tori at the Premier Salon at Macy’s in the The Somerset Collection, in Troy, MI


I Love Nail Polish Spring Collection

From ILNP Press Release

10 new I Love Nail Polish (ILNP)  polishes to blow your mind!

Unveiling our 6 piece Spring nail polish Collection + 4 others!

Oh yeah! Take a look at the new ILNP ( I love nail polish) Spring Collection and 4 new polishes that I decided to release along side it. That’s 10 nail polishes total!

Now that the new site’s up I’ve been able to get back into full creative gear and create some amazing new polishes for everyone to enjoy.

Hope you like what you see!

A Golden Orchid (Spring Collection)

Bohemian Peacock (Spring Collection)

Don’t Trample My Roses (Spring Collection)

Glass Slipper (Spring Collection)

Old Gregg (Spring Collection)

What The Funk (Spring Collection)

Emerald Dew Drops

Pinky Ring

She Surfs

Sugar Blossom


Click here to check out all of the polishes on the ILNP shop.

Skin in Review: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution


FTC Disclosure: This product was purchased by me and this is not a paid endorsement. The views expressed here are my own.


Dr. Dennis Gross is a NYC based dermatologist/dermatologic surgeon who has been making major waves in the skincare industry with several products that have received rave reviews. I invested some items from his skincare line during the black Friday holiday and went into major testing mode! After over 2 months of exclusively using this skincare line. I definitely felt I could weigh in and share my thoughts on what I purchased.

The Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening solution was designed to combat uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation by reducing their appearance. The combination of Ferulic Acid and Retinol (along with its anti-aging and pore reduction properties) acts on the skins imperfections to lighten them, but not beyond your original skin tone. This, Dr. Gross refers to as the skin “self-correcting”. So basically, this was made to help put your skin on autopilot to clear!

Ingredients (from

-Ferulic Acid: Sun damage protection; Plant-based antioxidant that enhances properties of other vitamins for healthy skin.

-Retinol: Helps smooth wrinkles and lines while increasing moisture and elasticity.

-Bearberry Extract: Corrects hyperpigmentation and helps increase cell turnover; natural alternative to Hydroquinone.

-Azelaic Amino Acid: Helps control oil secretion to prevent formation of blackheads and whiteheads; fades darks spots and brightens skin.

Licorice Root Extract, Mulberry Extract, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Willow Bark Extract, Hyaluronic Acid.

**This product is vegan and cruelty free.

Size (s): 1 fl oz (30ml), 2 fl oz (60ml)

Cost(s): $85, $125

Availability: Dennis Gross, Sephora, Blue Mercury, Nordstrom, QVC,

How I used this: I applied it twice daily; once in the morning after washing my face prior to applying moisturizer, and in the evening after cleansing and using their Extra Strength Alpha Beta peel. It’s a lightweight serum that spreads easily across the face. The dropper makes dispensing the product clean and efficient. Supplies of microfiber pads are included to help distribute serum more evenly onto the face. At first, I used these pads, but found that I lost more product to the pad than what actually got onto my face, so I switched to dropping the serum directly onto my skin (3 drops each section: forehead, cheeks, chin). I conserved much more serum using this method. I bought the 1 ounce size which was more than enough for 2 months of use.

My results:  Within the first 10 days I saw a difference! At the time I starting using the serum, I had a fresh blemish from a recent pimple that looked pretty ugly. By day 10 that area was noticeably not only smoother, but lighter in appearance and much closer to being healed than my other existing blemishes still pretty dark 2-3 weeks after my last breakout. On early skin problems, it gets an A+. On older scars, it took a little while longer, but after the third week I needed less foundation and the texture of my skin improved by at least 60%. I also noticed another thing– I needed less under eye concealer. By a month, I needed NO under eye concealer!   Dennis Gross 1: Dark circles ZIP. 

However, I will say that once I stopped using it for a few weeks to test some other stuffs, my under eye darkness returned. You best believe that serum is back in the rotation!

Breakouts were definitely less severe (3-4 blackheads at the most), but the oil control was non-existent for me. My oiliness is pretty tough to control though. As far as wrinkle reduction goes, I don’t have issues with wrinkles (unless you count my minor laugh lines), so I couldn’t see an appreciable difference in that area. It didn’t do much for me in the way of pore-size reduction, but my skin did look and feel smoother overall.

Final Impressions:  The formulation (Ferulic Acid and Retinol being #6 & 7 respectively in the ingredient list out of 25+) gave me faith that this product would help my skin get back on track and I was right. In the 2 months that I used it in my skincare regimen, I experienced most of the benefits this product provides with reduced hyperpigmentation, reduced breakouts, and improved skin texture. I think one of the major drawbacks for most people would be the cost, but I would have to say in the end it’s cost effective. I used it twice daily for 2 months and still have plenty left, so it balances out in my opinion. The real drawback for me would be that my under eye results weren’t permanent. They do have a dedicated eye serum though, so perhaps I will invest in that in the future, or simply stop by his office and say hello!

Have you tried or want to try this product? Tell us your thoughts. If you’re curious to see the pics of my results using the Alpha Beta Peel, click here!



FTC Disclosure: This product was purchased by me and this is not a paid endorsement. The views expressed here are my own.



Naki Nagi Body Scrubs: Grapefruit Ginger Sea Salt


Grapefruit Ginger Sea Salt Scrub


FTC Disclosure: This product was purchased by me and this is not a paid endorsement. The views expressed here are my own.

Lackluster, dry, itchy skin? Body discoloration? Need more circulation? There’s nothing better than sea salt scrubs!  They exfoliate, tone and detoxify the skin. They feel amazing. I prefer them to sugar scrubs, because I like a little more “scrub” in my mix. I live at, so I’m always looking for new hair and body products to try. Discovering Naki Nagi Body Scrubs on Etsy reminded me of my need to get my skin ready for the arrival of Summer- the time for bare skin, sandals and light clothing.

Rachel’s sea salt and sugar scrubs contain an antibacterial soap, and she also offers a sulfate-free option. Her scrubs can be used on the face and body, and she makes a peppermint scrub for the feet. I ordered the Grapefruit Ginger Sea Salt Scrub, and I’m SO glad I did!  I love the smell of citrus and ginger, and the combination is heavenly. My shower experience was exhilarating – I’ve been experiencing the itchies, so the gentle, yet effective scrubbing action worked wonders. The soap in the scrub keeps the “oilies” down – the scrub rinses off, with no greasy residue. My skin felt stimulated and insanely soft. I glowed  Wow. Note: This is not a “foaming” scrub. Do exercise caution in the shower.  The shower/tub will be slippery.

Shipment was quick, and my package arrived safely (no leaky jar).  The scrubs start at $15.95, and now thru the month of April there’s a $5 coupon code – SPRING



FTC Disclosure: This product was purchased by me and this is not a paid endorsement. The views expressed here are my own.



We Have a Winner: Karen’s Body Beautiful Giveaway

The Winner:

Evena Francois

Congrats, Evena! Please reply to your email with a valid shipping address, within 48 hours. Thanks to everyone who entered!  Stay tuned for more giveaways in the near future.


The Lipstick Chronicles: Milani Cosmetics “Violet Volt”

FTC Disclosure:  The item discussed below was purchased with personal funds.  This is not a paid endorsement.  All thoughts and ideas expressed are those of the reviewer.

By now I’m sure you all know that Milani Cosmetics has completely redesigned their lipstick line and it is hitting shelves in most drugstores now.  This new lipstick line includes a lot of bright new shades that are PERFECT for the coming spring and summer seasons.   As I purchase these beauties, I’ll take face shots of me wearing them so all my fellow PJs can see exactly what they look like.  I personally find that on lip swatches and full face pictures give me a much better representation of what a particular lip color will look like.

Here’s a picture of me wearing Milani Cosmetic’s lipstick in “Violet Volt” which is one of the new colors in the revamped lipstick line.  It’s a beautiful iridescent purple with flashes of pink.


I’ve heard that this lipstick is a possible dupe for MAC Violetta.  Below is a picture of me wearing MAC’s Violetta.


Below is a picture of the two swatched side by side on white paper.



While I think they are close, they are NOT dupes but rather close cousins.  Do you need them both?  Generally speaking, no.  They are very similar so for those of you that don’t wear lipstick often, you likely would be fine owning one of them.  I personally own them both though I wear lipstick everyday so  I can justify having them both in my collection (this is what I tell myself anyway).

What do you think of these colors?  Are you thinking of picking one or both of these up to add to your spring collection?  Let us know in the comments below!

FTC Disclosure:  The item discussed above was purchased with personal funds.  This is not a paid endorsement.  All thoughts and ideas expressed are those of the reviewer.

Shawny’s Little Secret: Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love

FTC Disclosure:  The item discussed below was purchased by the reviewer with personal funds.  This review is not a paid endorsement and all thoughts and ideas expressed are those of the reviewer.

Product: Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love.

The premise and claims (from

“Seals Moisture.  Works Best for Thick kinks or curls, relaxed, color treated or dry hair. Made only from rich, thick butters and luxurious oils, Karen’s Butter love conditions, softens and adds sheen to fragile, stressed hair.”

Ingredients: Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Mango butter, jojoba butter, aloe butter, essentials and or fragrance oils, grapefruit seed oil and vitamin e

Size(s): 8 oz

Price(s): $18

Look at how soft and creamy the butter love looks!  I just MELTS onto my hair!
Look at how soft and creamy the butter love is! It just MELTS onto my hair!


This little gem is my secret weapon when I want to re-twist my hair at night or when I need soft supple hair.  It works best for me as my sealer and twisting product. You need so little of this that I have literally just gotten to the bottom of my jar after almost a year of usage. The consistency is very creamy. The look of the butter will lead you to believe you need more than you actually do.  I lay my fingertip on top of the product and press down. What clings to my skin is what I use per section under a water based moisturizer. If you’re a fan of the L.O.C Method then this is what your hair needs!

FTC Disclosure:  The item discussed was purchased by the reviewer with personal funds.  This  review is not a paid endorsement and all thoughts and ideas expressed are those of the reviewer.