London Workshop Recap + Full Gallery!

Today’s London workshop brought out over 200 naturalistas for a day of workshops, shopping, live demonstrations, and mingling! Hosted by Lukwesa Burak of Gidore.com, the focus of the day was Felicia Leatherwood’s globally renowned Loving Your Hair with Natural Care workshop, which was thoroughly well-received by the attendees who came with oodles of phenomenal questions and great energy! As always, Felicia did a wonderful job of breaking down natural hair how-to’s in an easily digestible and entertaining way that allowed for all attendees- veterans, transitioners, and new naturals alike- to gain a wealth of knowledge. Jane Carter and Regina from KeraCare also hopped on stage to do live styling demonstrations using their [awesome] products, showing how to do both straight and curly styles. Attendees also got to shop their hearts at the vendor displays from snapping up tons of products from top natural hair vendors such as Beautiful Textures and Shea Moisture.

The 6-hour event flew by, but I had a ton of fun snapping pictures and chatting with the attendees about their hair and the natural hair scene in UK. This was by far the most international group of naturals I have ever been a part of with attendees from everywhere from London to Liverpool to Essex to Paris to Geneva to Nigeria to Ghana to Martinique to Toronto to Detroit! Quite a roll call, right!? I even met one attendee from the Virgin Islands who *happened* to just miss us when we were there in September, but also *happens* to now live in London–totally cool, SheRea! I also took some super awesome videos, which I’ll be editing and posting soon to the ol’ YouTube page. I want to give a huge shout out to Lukwesa for putting together such a phenomenal event–it was incredibly well done and such a special event for us all! To the naturalistas of London: it was SO nice to meet you all! Keep rockin’ those naturals and I can’t wait to see you when I return!

Check out the fun snaps from the event and stay tuned for the vids!

Currently in Paris and getting ready for tomorrow’s event: the Natural Cruise!

Europe2012: LondonTown Fun!

As I eluded in my last post, I arrived in London totally, absolutely, 100% beat. Customs had a beast of a line to clear and then I spent an hour navigating the Heathrow Express Train and the Tube (a.k.a. the Brits’ subway) before getting to the hotel. While Felicia did an interview for an exciting new documentary about the natural hair movement I had the chance to catch up with the Lukwesa Burak of Gidore, the hostess and organizer of tomorrow’s event. Lukwesa has been to the States a couple times for the Curly Pool Party and Texture on the Runway and so it’s nice to be able to come support her for a change! We had a very interesting conversation about the differences between the British and US natural hair scenes, both acknowledging that the in the States we have a significantly more robust natural hair community. But what I learned is that one of the reasons this may be is that the European Union has extremely strict product compliance regulations that have made it difficult for product manufactuerers to start up and flourish over here. We in the States have seen a large numbers of small natural hair product companies start up small and grow! I’m thinking of companies like Komaza Care, Karen’s Body Beautiful, Bee Mine, Curl Junkie etc that began in kitchens, gained a grass roots following and became permanent fixtures in the movement. That sort of organic product development and growth over here is impossible as product companies have to follow stringent rules about ingredients and distribution. Interesting stuff, indeed, when you think about how our forums and blogs have launched and supported smaller home grown brands, which have in effect driven the movement.

After we chatted over a cocktail and grabbed a bite to eat, I could barely keep my eyes open and crawled into bed for a 2 hour nap. We had plans to go check out the grand opening of a salon with the ladies from Black Hair Magazine, Keyshia and Yemisi. We got a bit turned around on the Tube but emerged in time to catch the tail end of what turned out to be a super posh party brimming with model chicks and dapper dudes sipping champagne in an uber chic salon. Totally my scene. The salon is the latest and greatest from UK celebrity stylist Jamie Stevens who has done work on the X Factor, This Morning, and How to Look Good Naked. The back wall of the salon had a large television screen showing images of his styling work, and I saw a lot of awesome natural hair. So I pulled him aside and asked him to tell us a bit about it:


Following that, we had a delicious meal and now I’m cozied up in bed getting ready for tomorrow’s event! There are 150 ladies RSVP’ed and I’ll be speaking on behalf of Beautiful Textures as a Brand Ambassador before Felicia hosts her workshop. I’m really looking forward to meeting the naturalistas of London!

Here’s some snaps from our first day here:

Just touched down in LondonTown

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Well after a three hour delay in San Francisco, I thought I might never make it to the UK, but I am finally here! It’s about 8am here in London and 1am on the West Coast- I’m pretty sure the jet lag is going to absolutely annihilate me in a couple hours!

Despite having one of those fun seats that folds out into a bed, I was a little too excited to sleep! Instead I ended up getting teary eyed over the in flight entertainment (a documentary on Steve Job and The Descendants- both highly recommended!) while sipping on some of Delta’s finest bubbly!

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All of the flying has made Lola pretty dry so I was sure to tuck some leave in into my bag. I also made about 10 requests for more water to keep hydrated- a strategy that probably got on the nerves of the flight attendants and my rowmates.

Felicia and Jane Carter have already arrived in the UK so I’ll be meeting up with them today. Rumor on the street is that well be checking out some of London’s finest nightlife offerings! Woot woot!

Just wanted to drop a quick note that I’ve arrived safely! Let the adventures begin!

Guest Post: Skincare Essentials from an Expert

If you’re like me you’re aware that skincare is a crucial part of any beauty regimen, but you might be lost on the products and details. Today’s Guest Post comes from NYC-based naturalista and skincare specialist Lenore! Read on for her three-part skin care checklist!

When you are a make-up junkie like myself, you’ll pretty much try anything once. Sometimes you will shock yourself at how much you actually spend just to have that bright magenta lipstick, the best smudge proof eyeliner, or the newest sun kissed bronzer that will make you glow like Jennifer Lopez.

One of my fellow makeup junkies went to Sephora and her bill came to $104 for only 3 items; 2 of which were only lip glosses! For a moment, even I thought she was crazy. Did she get a year supply? I hope she got free gifts. “But they were YSL!” she exclaimed. Of course if we spend more money for luxury brands, we expect high quality products.

There’s much that goes into beauty these days. But how much are we actually spending to take care of our skin, which is the canvas we do our daily art work on? Caring for your skin is also a part of caring for your health. The skin is the largest organ of our body. It says a lot about our age. Just like a wardrobe, it can take 10 years off or put 10 years on top of your actual age.
No, I’m not talking about the $2 bar of soap or your little brother or sister’s clear pore cleanser that you’ll use right before your primer. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great drugstore products that work. However, investing in skin care is definitely a start to great and healthy skin.

1. Cleansing is the first step to start any regimen. Even if you aren’t a person who wears makeup, just going out into the polluted air on a day to day basis is enough reason to wash what comes in contact with your skin. Philosophy has a great cleanser called Purity ($20). It has toner built in so it is a one-step cleanser that is creamy, non-drying, with a dozen of essential oils such as lavender and sandalwood, to balance the natural oils of any skin type.

2. Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! Whatever skin type you have (Oily, Combination, Dry) moisturizing is so important especially before priming. Even with oily skin, you can find a moisturizer that is oil free but will still do the trick. Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel ($24.50) is lightweight and refreshing. There’s also many creams designed for anti-aging depending on your needs. If you choose to go that route, it is best to find a moisturizer with a huge dose of vitamin c to lighten, tighten, and brighten.

3. Don’t neglect your eyes. Eye creams are essential to any regimen even if only for prevention. There are many eye creams that are designed to tackle different eye concerns from fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness. Eye creams will probably last longer than anything because a pea size goes a long way. Complete Eye Renewal Balm from Algenist ($65), is designed with a special active ingredient called Alguronic Acid which helps the elasticity in the skin so the skin is tightened and supple. It is also great for dark circles.

I See London, I See France! The Adventure Begins TOMORROW!

Can’t believe it’s time to hop on the ol’ jet plane and head back across the pond tomorrow! Well, actually I can. It’s been seven years since I’ve been to Europe and I’m so excited to be making the return! I wanted to share with you all the itinerary of the trip so you know where I’ll headed to keep up with the adventures.

Leg One: London

So I leave bright and early Thursday morning and arrive at my first destination bright and early Friday morning! I have a brief layover in NYC, but because of the slick nine hour time difference between Cali and the UK, it adds right on up to a full day of travel- oof! I’ve been stacking up fun activities to occupy my 14 hours in-flight, a lot of which involves catching up on some pop culture: season 4 of Mad Men, perhaps reading Hunger Games, and boning up on natural hair lingo en francais (gotta say, I may know the language, but I am not 100% certain of how to translate high-porosity off the top of my head considering it’s a relatively new concept for me in English). Ok, so blah blah blah fly fly fly *-)- *-)- *-)- LAND in Europe where I will go find Felicia and spend the day romping around London before hitting up a natural hair party. No time to relax the next day for we have to get up, packed, and head over to the first of two events: Multi-Texture Hair Workshop presented by Gidore, a fabulous UK-based natural hair and beauty blog!

Directly following the event, we’ll be packing up and headed back to the airport for the next portion of the trip.

Leg Two: PARIS!

Ah yes, the City of Lights! I couldn’t be more jazzed to return, especially in the name of natural hair! After landing, and presumably going right to bed, we’ll be waking up early on Sunday morning to get ourselves over to a boat on the Seine river where the second of the two events will be hosted!  The Paris natural hair workshop will be cruising along the river that winds through the heart of the city while attendees learn about natural hair care techniques and share their hair stories.   I’m pretty sure that this is the first-ever floating natural hair workshop and I’m excited not only to meet the Parisian naturalistas, but also to scope the scenery along the banks!

After this second event wraps up, I’ve got a couple of days to chill in Paris. I plan on doing some street style photography, checking out some of my favorite museums (La Musee de Georges Pompidou par example!), and catching up with some friends while enjoying the mandatory French delicacies of wine, pungent cheeses, and crepes bursting with nutella.

Leg Three: Toulouse

I was looking forward to taking the train to Toulouse from Paris, just like I used to back when I was a student. Then I learned that flights have become significantly cheaper between the two cities so I decided to nix the 6-hour train ride and grab a plane ticket. Toulouse, also known as “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City), holds a very special place in my heart as this was the core of my French experience: where I lived, where I roamed, where I learned, and where I made lifelong friendships.  I’ll be staying at the house of my host family and spending some time with them for a couple days.  Last time I was there, I was still in my teens so it should be a lot of fun to return and catch up!  I’m also planning on spending some time with the director of my internship, who gave me the opportunity to spearhead a really unique internship project that allowed me to explore the hidden nooks and crannies of the entire city. If memory serves correctly, April in Toulouse is stunningly beautiful, so I’m really looking forward to soaking that all in, and um, eating these delicious sandwiches served at this one shop (please let it still be there!): a crusty warm baguette stuffed with chicken and french fries topped with mayo and ketchup.  Gahhhh— so good!

Leg Three: Back to Paris

Well, I gotta spend the weekend in the big city! I’ve coordinated a flight with my friend so that we land back in Paris at the same time so that we can head over to our friend’s apartment and spend the weekend having fun. What adventures will we find? Not a clue! Guess we’ll see where the wind takes us!

Leg Four: Back Home…well, almost

Before headed back to San Francisco, I’ll be making a week-long stop over in Austin, TX to spend some time with the team at the TextureMedia HQ. I always love being in Austin, not to mention going to work is literally a dose of curly heaven!

Leg Five: Back home…FOR REALZ

21 days later, I shall make my triumphant return to San Francisco! But let’s not focus on that, let’s focus on all of the fun that is to come!

Before I can even fathom making any of that a reality, I have to deal with the whole packing situation. My suitcase is a heap of dresses and skirts (The Ol’Cassidy Uniform) and I have to narrow down my selections because, as always, I’ll only be carrying-on!

300 NorCal Naturalistas Come Out for Sunday’s TextureTalk Event!

Yesterday naturals from all over Northern California came out in full force for TextureTalk- an afternoon of natural hair education and celebration.  In partnership with natural hair care brand Beautiful Textures, co-host Karen Byrd of Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog and myself welcomed the huge crowd to the Omni Hotel in San Francisco.  The afternoon consisted of mixing and mingling while snacking on an array of fruits and veggies before being treated to a dynamic expert Q&A panel featuring Charlene Bastien, co-founder of Beautiful Textures, Felicia Leatherwood, Beautiful Textures Brand Ambassador and Product Expert, Karen Byrd and myself.  The highly informative panel discussion featured insight and wisdom on:

  • Corporate hairstyling
  • What to look for when purchasing products (and we all learned that Beautiful Textures products actually come with cocktailing instructions to make it fool proof!  Very cool!)
  • How to prevent fairy knots (smooth a moisturizer over two-strand twists before unraveling, sleep on a satin pillow case or bonnet, and TRIM!)
  • How to deal with changes in hair texture with age
  • Maintaining a healthy scalp

Charlene Bastien of Beautiful Textures, Felicia Leatherwood, Karen Byrd of Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog, and Myself on the Expert Panel

After the hour-long presentation and panel discussion, 20 attendees received a one-on-one scalp analysis with Felicia while others connected with fellow attendees and  shopped the offerings of our fabulous vendors:

  • Andy Drew who has a line of stunningly sculptural accessories made from unique materials
  • Fatemeh’s Jewelry and Accessories who has a wide variety of earrings and hair jewelry (I even rocked a pair myself!)
  • Natural Girls United, which is Karen’s super cool business that offers a line of custom natural hair dolls any girl (or adult!) would be proud to own!

I was thrilled with the turnout, which brought together so many people I hadn’t seen in a long time as well as new friends alike!  Everyone was looking super stylish and I was proud to see the NorCal naturalistas step out and represent with fierce natural flyness!

As y’all know, I love getting dolled up for these events (dresses are my weakness).  TextureTalk was no different!  Here’s what I wore:

Dress my I'Me + nude heels! (remember those big fluffy pink earrings I've got?? Same designer! Love her stuff!)

 

Afro Pik earrings by Fatemeh's Jewelry and Accessories. I nabbed these right before the event doors opened! Sherbet Orange lipstick by DVA Cosmetics, a fun and colorful up and coming skincare line.

 

Belt buckle bangle by We Dream in Colour. I have a *thing* for belt buckle bracelets--they're just so awesome so when I saw this one We Dream in Colour hooked it up!

Everyone looked fabulous (can we talk about Felicia’s dope red earring!?!) and the event was absolutely wonderful!  It has been far far too long since I hosted a Bay Area meet up and I promise another one to come this summer!  Thanks to everyone for coming out—it was such a fun time! Huge thanks to my co-host Karen Byrd and our event partner Beautiful Textures for making such a wonderful event come to life!  For those of you who couldn’t make it, check out the full gallery to get in on the TextureTalk fun!

 

Please make sure to sign up for the Bay Area Naturals mailing list:

COLOR ME RAD: Lola De-Virginized (part 2)

Let’s see…now where did we leave off in the story of Lola’s virgin color. Oh, right. Me leaving you hanging for three days waiting for the official pictures! Muahahahaha

Ok, so the truth is that after steaming, I decided just to leave the deep conditioning treatment in my hair and roll out of the salon (to a much anticipated happy hour at NOPA). We used Deva’s Heaven in Hair, which is sold as a deep conditioner, but can be used as a styling cream. In fact, I would say that it is absolutely one of my FAVORITE styling creams out there. But in an effort to bring some moisture back to Lola, my hair was completely over saturated with the product. My instructions were to wash it out and re-style in the morning and come back the salon for a visit for any final trims. That’s the perk of living just four blocks from Madusalon. What it meant for this piece was that right after the coloring, my hair was chalky and dull until I washed it and we certainly didn’t want to do a reveal like that!

So the next morning, I got up and washed my hair using JessiCurl Cleansing Cream, conditioned first with Deva One Condition and then Darcy Botanitcal’s Pumpkin Seed Conditioner, then styled on soaking wet hair with Hair Rules Curly Whip. My curls felt soft and hydrated if not only slightly looser on the finer sections right above my ear. Here is a shot of when my hair is still sopping wet:

Color is darker when it’s wet and I was impatient to see it fully dry. To expedite the process I sat beneath the hooded dryer for about 40 minutes then fluffed with the nozzle on my hand dryer. I WAS REALLY LIKING WHAT I WAS SEEING!!

I went back do to Madusalon and we all agreed that the color was ON POINT! After clipping a couple random curls, Lola and I were sent on our merry way! The final color:

It’s more blonde and less red than I had originally anticipated, but it certainly complements my skin tone more–what can I say? I’m a California Girl! I’m going to call it California Golden Copper! CGC BABY! WEST COAST REPRESENT! Ha!

I’m glad we didn’t go as red, and Marie, oh that Marie told me that she never wanted to take me as red as the pictures, but more caramel, but works wonderfully and doesn’t (as I feared) prohibit me from wearing my precious red lipstick!).
The color actually quite subtle when inside and shimmers in the sunlight. Friends who have known me a long time have been coming up and asking “did you do something different?” and then when I tell them they say “WOW! It’s IS lighter!” I’ve been getting huge compliments, especially at the TextureTalk event yesterday. We got tons of headshots from the event, so I’ll be sharing those shortly so you can see more of the color, especially on the shorter side.

All in all– a great experience thus far with the color and looking forward to rockin it!!

COLOR ME RAD: Lola De-virginized (part one)

Three weeks ago, a teeny weeny ‘i need to color my hair’ seed was planted in my head at ABS in Chicago and yesterday it finally came into full bloom! Marie France, my Madusalon stylist, has long told me that color would be the next inevitable step in my natural hair journey so when the itch finally came about I wasn’t terribly shy to scratch it. Yes, there was a bit of an identity crisis to do a virgin color on my natural hair, but per the support of you my readers, I moved forward and did the damn thang!

My appointment  began with a thorough trim and reshaping of my asymmetrical cut. It really needed it. I didn’t realize how far my edges had grown out until they were trimmed and line and looking nice and tight.

Then began the color. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a full color application considering my only experience with chemical processes has been relaxers. At first the scent of the color blindsided me and I choked on the fumes coming from the gooey white mix coming from the bowl. As Marie applied the mixture with a brush, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my creamy crack days of yore. But then something kind of magical started to happen…at first I thought it was my eyes tricking me, but no– my hair was getting LIGHTER by the nanosecond right in front of my eyes!

 

It was pretty cool to watch my deep dark chocolate shade warm up to more of tannish hue. I was mesmerized. I could feel the mixture tingling against my scalp and I kept on expecting all of a sudden to need to be rushed to the shampoo bowl with a head on fire like what I was used to with a relaxer, but it never did. Marie kept peeking at the color saying she loved it. We had started off with a vision and seeing as this was my virgin application of color, I had no idea what the process would be like, but as always, I trusted her expertise.

We washed off the layer of color and the Madusalon stylists came over to ooh and ahh. Soon enough I was back in the styling chair for the second round of color application: highlights! For the longer portions of my hair, Marie used a foiling technique and for the shorter sections, she used a curly-specific Deva method called Pintura in which you pull out individual coils and “paint” them with your fingers. Pintura also employs a surprising use of toilet paper to separate the different layers of color (it’s the only thing light enough not to smush the coils and color together apparently!). After a few minutes, Marie’s assistant Angel started to remove the foils and holy #%#$^#$$% my hair was PLATINUM BLONDE. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t platinum blond streaks! “Next, we use toner…” explained Marie. I wasn’t sure what toner was, but I just kept breathing deeply watching as foils were removed to reveal what Marie was jokingly calling “Tiajuana streaks”.

 

 

After another two rounds of shampoo, Marie applied this miraculous substance called toner. Still not entirely sure what this stuff was, I entrusted it to do what it was explained to me to do: CHILL OUT THE BLONDE! Still at the shampoo bowl, the toner was rinsed out and I was shampooed and conditioned then sent for a steam treatment. Color, especially lifting color several shades, can be extraordinarily drying on the hair. Lola was in serious need of a rehydrating treatment before her final debut and she got what she deserved.  After she was steamed, she was ready, refreshed, and rehydrated from the coloring process to be styled!

…..stay tuned for the final styling and color reveal in part two!

Hair Color is TOTES Happening for Me. TODAY.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and words of advice regarding my little existential crisis last week regarding hair color, but sometimes a gal just says eff it and goes for the gold! And in this case, I’m going for a rich hue of coppery-cinnamon brown.

Seeing as this is my maiden voyage into the seas of color, I am totally nervous about the process and the results. I’m not sure how it will turn out so we’ll just have to see. What I do know is that well-conditioned healthy hair is key not only for a smooth application of color, but also healthy strands on the other side. As a result, I’ve been deep conditioning my little heart out over the past week. I’ve done protein deep treatments using my hooded soft bonnet dryer as well as steaming with my Huetiful Steamer. Currently, Lola feels in superb condition and is ready for color!

Additionally, I’ll be having my cut shaped up and ready for my European adventures next week! It’s been two months since my last cut and I’m still super pleased with the asymmetrical ‘do, but the shorter side has gotten a bit grown out and I’d like to see that shaped up a bit. The longer side, however, I want to keep long to emphasize the drama of the long and short.

 

My grown out short coils

My short side freshly clipped back in January

My current 'do...2 months since my last cut

Front view after my last cut

TextureTalk THIS Sunday with Private Scalp Consultations! (learn how you can sign up!)

 

We’re just a few short days away from our up and coming Bay Area Naturals Meet Up: TEXTURE TALK!

It’s been far too long since we’ve gotten together and this is shaping up to be our biggest event yet! We’re expecting over 200 NorCal naturalistas, so be sure to come ready to mix, mingle and meet new curl friends.

A few fun features I want to tell you about:

  • Scalp Consultations – Product Specialist and Beautiful Textures Brand Ambassador Felicia Leatherwood will be offering individual scalp analyses to a select number of attendees!  Beginning at 2:00pm TODAY March 21st, you can sign up for one of the limited slots for this private consultation.  I had one while we were in the Virgin Islands and it was not only totally cool to see my scalp magnified over 1,000 times, but also to confirm suspicions that my family has joked about since I was young: that I have more hair than normal on my scalp!  My personal scalp scan showed that I have many hair follicles that have not just one, but FIVE strands coming out of it.  Visit naturalselectionblog.com/events at 2:00pm to sign up for this exclusive first-come-first-serve experience.

If you want the scalp scan, but don’t want to risk not getting a time slot, we’re also looking for a handful of volunteers to assist with the event and those volunteers will receive a guaranteed timeslot for a scalp scan (along with exclusive behind the scenes access).  If you’re interested in volunteering, drop me an email at cassidy[at]naturalselectionblog[com].

  • Vendors – Come ready to purchase some goods!  We’ll have jewelry and natural hair dolls on display for you to check out.  If you’re interested in securing a vendor spot, we do have a couple left, so please let me know and we can arrange that.
  • Q&A – Got burning natural hair questions?  Get ‘em answered by our expert Q&A panel!  We’re looking forward to sharing our thoughts and answering your questions!
A couple housekeeping notes: the event is located in Downtown San Francisco around many parking garages.  The Omni Hotel is also centrally located to BART and Muni, so public transportation is a great option!  If you bike to the event, I will love you forever and you will get a special shout out on the blog.

If you haven’t already, make sure to RSVP for the complimentary event.

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