Beauty in a Box: a round up of my Birchbox faves

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding subscription beauty services these days and I’m right in the mix of everything with two subscriptions of my own.  I want to kick things off today with Birchbox, which I joined back in October.  For $10/month I receive a box filled with a random assortment of beauty product samples ranging from face wash to eyeliner to moisturizers to soap to nail art to toothpaste to perfume.  I have been having a WHALE of a time getting all of these samples and have found some truly awesome products the various boxes.  Here’s a round up of some of my faves and how I’ve used them.

1. Anastasia Mascara

This was in my very first box and I’ve been loving it ever since!  It’s got both great plumping and defining skills without any sort of clumping.

 

 

2.  stila Smudgestick Waterproof Eyeliner

As an avid – almost daily – user of black liquid liner, I was a bit suspect when this coppery brown pencil showed up in my box.  But this stuff arrives for trying so I gave it a whirl and holy crap it was love at first look!  The creamy deep brown gives super depth and definition to the eye with a unique and rich softness.  Check out these before and after pictures with both this liner and the above mascara.

Naked Eye

Lashes and lined

 

3.  Jouer Tinted Moisturizer

You know, I’ve always meant to try out tinted moisturizer, but never got around to it.  I don’t like wearing foundation (don’t even own any), but like the dewy coverage that I’ve seen on the pages of the beauty bibles.  So when this little tube of love arrived, I was uber jazzed!  I wasn’t sure how the color would match considering all Birchbox had to go off of was a simple questionnaire about my skin tone.  But impressively the tone was spot on.

A dollop of the stuff before applying

 

Here you can see the difference between the bottom of my face where the moisturizer is blended in and my forehead with a streak of moisturizer before blending

 

I also really like that this has SPF so it covers AND protects at the same time.  I havent’t been wearing it everyday, but have been liking to use this for dressing up and polishing off my look.   Here’s a picture with all three products applied (topped off with a dusting of blush)!

 

 

Before on the left - After on the right

 

4.  Incoco Press On Polish

It took me a couple months to try this one, but kudos to Birchbox for putting it in the December box in time for New Year’s festivities.  But let me tell you, press on nails have come a LONG way since the days of those plastic-y stickers I used to rock back in ’92.  These are actual press on sheets of polish, mine were glitter.  They were kind of tricky to apply at first, but I quickly got the hang of it and a week later I’m still enjoying a blinging, silver mani with little to no chips.  I rarely get manicures because I almost always immediately chip the dang things one step out of the salon.

 

 

Some of my other, but less photogenic Birchbox favorites include:

  • WEI Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser: a floral-scented and invigorating face wash
  • Origins Checks and Balancing Frothy Face Wash: “frothy” doesn’t do this product justice.  It bubbles and lathers its way into a velvety and moisturizing lather
  • Blk Denim Perfume: Fresh and spicy. Works for day and night.

 

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Birchbox, but I certainly am finding a lot of good items to mix up my beauty routine.  If you’re interested, I hear that subscriptions just re-opened so you should sign on up over at birchbox.com.

Stay tuned for my review of my other subscription beauty service: curlBOX, which just arrived just last week!

Dishing Natural Hair How To’s as a Nappturalite Guru

On Sunday I had the pleasure of joining the Nappturalite Radio Crew for a very fun “Ask the Nappturalite Gurus” radio segment.  Readers submitted their pressing questions through Facebook and Twitter and along with Adrienne Brown of Me, My Hair and The City we responded to listeners questions.

The main points we discussed where:

  • The how to’s of ACV rinsing and washing
  • How to pump up twists on fine, thin hair
  • Tips for dealing with an itchy scalp
  • Our favorite product brands

To check out the full radio show, visit the show page here.  Our Q&A segment is at 59:00.  The rest of the show as always is chock full of good info, especially with this week’s focus of on perfecting your blow out!  Such an important thing to learn how to properly do or else you risk damaging your natural hair beyond repair.

 

Let’s talk about why I love this haircut.

The Damn Fade was out, my hair hadn’t been trimmed, and I had 48 hours in which to get Lola in shape for my trip to NYC.  Somehow this had all snuck up on me and I called my wonderful stylist Marie of Madusalon, as it seems I always do, with my latest hair-mergency.  Being the gem that she is, Marie fit me into her schedule on the Saturday evening before leaving for NYC.  With her assistant Ami, she assessed Lola’s status quo.  ”It’s so dry,” she noted, “extensions always do that, you know.”  I didn’t know, but I guess I did because I admittedly was slacking in the moisture department during the Damn Fade.  Ok, fine.  Confession: I hadn’t deep conditioned once in six-weeks.

Lola: all sorts of grown out.

 

No shape in the back

“So what do you want to do?” Marie asked.

“Uh, well, I liked the fade…it felt really cool to have this whole section shaved,” I said, pointing to the left side of my hair that not had about 1.5″ of growth.

“Hmm….but it’s so expected of you,” said Marie, “and look at those little curls coming in, I love that texture.

Well, I WAS en route to New York for a celebration of texture so who was I to deny the world Lola’s emerging coilies.  We decided that it would be back to the the asymmetrical cut, a more aggressive version considering the one side was much shorter than the original ‘do Marie had sculpted back in October.

I settled into the styling chair and sipped green tea as my curls fell to the ground while Marie clipped my ragged ends and evened out my shape.  We talked about my detox/rejuvenation (loved it!), my latest exercise routine that involves cardio pilates (hard as heck, but also love it!), men (always. duh.), hair products (duhx2), anecdotes from NYC (more coming!), and her addiction to steaming (hopping back on that wagon).  It’s always such a warm and cathartic place to be in Marie’s chair, our conversations always seem circumvent the globe in the name of curl community.

After I was done being cut, Ami lead me to the wash bowl and gave me one of her magical scalp rubs while cleansing and conditioning my coils back to life.  Devacuts are an interesting process because they require your coils to be completely pulled apart in the cutting process, so you usually walk to the wash bowl looking like you stuck your finger in a socket.  But once Ami works her conditioning and shingling magic, BAM! Those curls bounce right back to life!

 

To top off the curl-reforming process you gotta bend over from the waist and whip your head back in forth to allow the natural curl patterns emerge.  After a stint in the dryer, Lola was back and ready for some NYC action!  I’m still in love with the asym.  It’s got great angles, shape, and silhouette.  I’m still in a very much “beyond the fro” mode and with this cut, a wash’n'go is all I need to hit the town in style.

 

 

Oh, how I had missed my little coilies!  I can’t speak highly enough of my styling team at Madusalon.  They are a fantastic duo and take very good care of my Lola (even when I don’t).  So to Marie and Ami— much love to you!

 

 

 

Epilogue: Two weeks later, I’m still loving the cut and have been getting tons of compliments.  The perfect, sharp, angular style to rock with me to New York.  My favorite part: the TEXTURE of my shorter side.  Such a fantastic call by Marie!

 

Texture on the Runway: from a lofty idea to a kick ass reality

This past weekend seems like a blur, albeit a fantastic whirlwind of textured hair love and celebration type of blur. Texture on the Runway was absolutely an amazing event and experience and I can’t believe that after five months of planning that it’s all over! It started back in September, maybe even August when we started throwing around the idea of a runway fashion show during New York Fashion Week. The idea evolved into a concept called “Texture on the Runway”: four brands showcasing five models apiece in a true runway fashion show. But instead of clothing and designers being the focus, of course, hair–textured hair–would be the starlette of the night. While the TextureMedia sales team busied themselves with the task of selecting and securing the five brands, I found myself at the helm of production and seeking inspiration for the show. I started attending runway shows in San Francisco, watching fashion documentaries, immersing myself in fashion blogs, gleaning the coverage from the Spring/Summer 2012 fashion weeks of NYC, Paris, and Milan and looking at the venues, catwalk design, lighting, music and all the things that make the guts of a fashion show. By December we had secured the majority of our brands, but before we got too deep into production, the holidays came and everything came to a screeching halt, but not before we had locked down our custom illustrations that would be the branding of the event:

After a three (!) week holiday break, January arrived and it was like jumping straight onto a train moving 90mph. Texture on the Runway was six short weeks away and there was an immense amount of work to do. Between 7am conference calls with stylists and 7pm calls with my production team, I worked with the TextureMedia crew to develop our marketing plan, budget, media strategy, and design elements that would scaffold the event. There were a lot of nuts and bolts involved, but also a TON of creativity on behalf of not only the TextureMedia team, but also the stylists involved from ARROJO, Curls Unleashed, Hair Rules, Matrix and Minardi.

Never have I been more aware of hair styling being an art form. The hair artists and creative teams involved are more like sculptors and painters than anything else. During these creative calls with the styling teams, I heard a frame work of their visions in their nascent stages, words like “neo-victorian, vintage glamour, 70′s Halston, technological revolution, and soulful” were all used to describe the various visions the artists were working to achieve.  I’m honored to have been able to connect with so many creative new stylists in this process: Amanda Jenkins from ARROJO, Mark Mileti and Stephen Wang from Minardi Luxury Color Care, Daniel Roldan and Nick Stenson from Matrix, Zac Britt and Willie Malone from Curls Unleashed and while I’ve known Dickey from Hair Rules for quite some time, it was good to work with him on this level of project.

After a last minute trip to Austin 2 weeks before the show, I found myself back in San Francisco for 30 hours of relaxation before making the trek across the country to New York. THIS, my friends, was go time. The days leading up to the show were filled with casting calls, wardrobing, PR meetings, production meetings, venue tours, and more emails and phone calls than I could ever ever fathom.

Curls Unleashed stylists check out the hair of a potential model during a casting call

 

Matrix Artistic Director Daniel Roldan feels the texture of the hair of a potential model during a casting call

Somehow, I made it through a roller coaster of a week to Saturday morning. I was up early, styling my hair before an 8am arrival at the ARROJO Studio where all of the brands were to get prepped. Slowly the stylists and the models–all 25 of them– started trickling in. By 11am, the place was in full swing with blow dryers sounding off, crimpers, curlers, and rollers flying, wardrobers steaming hot pants, and make up artists painting the faces of models in a variety of hues from monochromatic nudes to dramatic violets and teals. Volunteers showed up. Bloggers, vloggers, and magazine editors showed up. At one point there were as many DSLR cameras in the salon as there were blow dryers. I smiled to myself at how the models settled right into their chairs with their iPads, iPhones, textbooks, and Kindles. They had obviously done this before.

A Minardi stylist blowdries the crimps out of a models practice run

 

After five hours of styling, we made the one block sojourn to City Winery, the event venue, and arrived to mass chaos. 12 volunteers had been there for hours stuffing the 2 tons of products into gift bags (and were still working) signage was still being assembled and  we discovered that there was no way that the models and their creative teams could possibly fit into the assigned green rooms. Add that to the fact that we had 2 hours until the doors open and we needed to do a rehearsal. At one point I found myself lost in the underbelly of the labyrinth-like winery and had this fleeting “what in the world have I gotten myself into” thought. But I powered through it, put on my wireless head set that connected me with my backstage crew and video director and we made it through the rehearsal. By the time we had finished, the venue was in complete order everyone’s confidence was on point.  Hell yes. Showtime!

The event was a veritable who’s-who in hair soiree. Attendees traveled from the California, Seattle, Chicago, Texas, Atlanta, Boston, and even London. Everyone looked gorgeous in the sparkling candlelight of City Winery and my heart raced as we dimmed the lights for the runway show. As I settled into my running of the show from the sound board, sandwiched between the audio tech and video director, I realized that I was having just a WHALE of a time! IT WAS HAPPENING! AND IT LOOKED KICK ASS! As the models took their final walk to my favorite Korean pop jam, I couldn’t but just starting to dance and was grinning for ear to ear!


VIVA LA TEXTURE REVOLUTION!

The rest of the night was a haze of flash photography, laughter, and an epic Whitney Houston dance party. I woke up early the next morning still on an intense adrenaline high from the night before. Texture on the Runway exceeded all of my expectations. It wasn’t just a party, or a show of pretty models, it was the zeitgeist of all of the work I’ve done and everything I’ve grown to believe in as a blogger in the natural hair community over the past couple years. I’m thrilled with how it all turned out and even more excited about all the feedback that has been pouring in. It was a lot of hard work to pull it off, but the result was absolutely worth it. I suppose you’re wanting to see some pictures of the whole shebang, well…don’t let me keep you!

 

Huge shout outs to my TextureMedia family, the sponsoring brands: ARROJO, Curls Unleashed, Hair Rules, Matrix, Minardi Luxury Color Care, Modern Salon, and CURLS, my amigos that traveled to make it to the show (Jeff from SF, Joanna from Boston, Felicia from LA, Mushiya from ATL, Pam from DC, Lukwesa from London),  Lenore for diving in at the last minute and playing such a crucial role in the night, Joy for all of her running up and down stairs, and of course YOU for reading!

Texture on the Runway Ticket Giveaway!

Want in on the Texture on the Runway action?!? No worries— I got you!!!! It’s a by-invite-only event, but I’ve got three pairs to giveaway to three lucky readers! As I said yesterday, this is the biggest and most badass event I’ve ever produced and you definitely do NOT want to miss it!

As I said, I’ve got three pairs and three ways to enter:

Find a picture of a fashionista rocking her texture. It can be a photo of a runway model, or a snapshot from the pages of a magazine, or a link to a style shot from your favorite blog. Whatever it is, I wanna see some HAUTE texture hair in honor of NY Fashion Week. Then you can either:

1. Follow me on Twitter and tweet me the pic or a link.
2. Post the pic or a the link to my Facebook page
3. Email it on over to me at cassidy [at] naturalselectionblog [dot] com

The event is this Saturday and I’ll be picking the three winners later this week. Can’t wait to see what y’all come up with!! And remember to follow the #texturerunway conversation over at textureontherunway.com

Big Things This Week: TEXTURE ON THE RUNWAY

Hi All!

Cass has been very very very busy these days and it’s all in the name of HAIR so don’t take my slowing of blog posts as a sign of me straying from the world of #naturalhair.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!

I’ve actually been nose to the grindstone with the TextureMedia team in producing the biggest –and most badass– event the world of curl has ever seen!  It’s called ‘Texture on the Runway: a showcase of curls, kinks and waves‘ and it’s going down this Saturday February 11th in NYC.  It’s New York Fashion Week and rather than clothing and designers, we’re putting TEXTURED HAIR front and center on the catwalk.  We’ve got some of the best stylists in the industry putting their creative interpretations of texture.  We’ve been in the process of planning this event since this past September but things have really been climbing to a slow crescendo since the beginning of the year.  It’s actually been a dream of TextureMedia Prez Michelle Breyer for years and years and not only is it becoming a reality, but it’s becoming a reality in just SIX SHORT DAYS!!!

 

I just landed here in NYC this evening and I’m so excited to be here.  I think New Yorkers are especially excited for me to be here too because they are all screaming in the streets and cheering and honking their horns. I heard there’s also going to be a ticker tape parade for me, which is just so sweet and thoughtful!  I’m totes loving all this fanfare that’s come with my arrival!  

I’m probably not going to be doing a lot of writing while I’m here, but you never know—never say never–There’s always something exciting happening here.  But I am going to be doing a daily Production Log in which I’m going to doing a video about the exciting last days of production of the show— from the model casting, to meeting with the brands, to meeting with the volunteers and hanging with the TextureMedia staff and bloggers involved in the event.  I’ve already recorded a couple vids soooo….without further ado:

 

 

As I said, next up tomorrow are the final castings for all of the models. We’ve got 25 models total that will be hitting the catwalk and over the next few days they’re all going to be meeting their lead stylists–truly the first step of bringing this all to life!

As I mentioned in the videos, Texture on the Runway also has an online component to the production. Visit textureontherunway.com to see a really cool Twitter feed that will be streaming live from the event. Make sure to follow those of the TextureSquad (and of course ME! @naturalsblog) to get in on all of the live action. You should also follow the sponsoring brands and ask them questions because they’ve also been putting a ton of work and creativity in to their runway productions. Alright, that’s it for now! Cheerio!

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