Sunday, September 9, 2018

Texture on the Runway 2018 Celebrating 20 Years with NaturallyCurly

More than 800 media, influencers, VIPs and fashion/beauty enthusiasts packed Gotham Hall to celebrate NaturallyCurly’s signature event Texture on the Runway on Thursday, September 6, kicking off New York Spring 2019 Fashion Week.  Sally Beauty returned as the retail sponsor for the popular runway show. 

This year I was among the crowd. I write about hair health for Real Health magazine and products for my blogs and other outlets, but I never attended a Texture on the Runway show until now. I’m hooked. It was wonderful to see all the fierce sisters on the runway and the audience with glorious waves, coils, curls, fros and locks. (The hair often got in the way of several of my shots, but I had a blast.) 

NaturallyCurly Co-founder Michelle Breyer (L) and recording artist Amara La Negra

This year’s event also celebrated NaturallyCurly’s 20th anniversary. Naturally Curly was founded in 1998 and provided support, inspiration and education to an underserved natural and textured hair community. NaturallyCurly launched Texture on the Runway in 2012. The idea rose out of co-founder Michelle Breyer’s frustration with the lack of diversity and inclusivity on the Fashion Week runways. “As I covered Fashion Week, I was disappointed to see that the models on the runway didn’t reflect the diversity of our community,” she says. “We decided to create an event that celebrated texture and inclusion, and we wanted to do it during Fashion Week.”

The 2018 Texture on the Runway show was definitely a reflection of the crowd, with impressive braids, dreadlocks, twists, afros and textured curls. Presenters on the runway were Camille Rose Naturals, Cantu Beauty, Carol’s Daughter, Creme of Nature, Mielle Organics, SheaMoisture and The Mane Choice.

Camille Rose Naturals

Camille Rose Naturals presented exotic styles influenced by the Amazonian forest, South Pacific and Middle East to reflect the exotic ingredients used in the Around the World collection like Amazonian buriti fruit oil and Middle Eastern oud oil. (More on this in a later post.)

A model walks the Camille Rose runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Another exotic look on a model walking the Camille Rose runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

A model walks the Camille Rose runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Cantu Beauty

The “Faces of Cantu: Head Over Heels for Texture” presentation showcased textured hairstyles by hairstylist/textured hair expert Maria Antoinette paired with colorful “kaleidoscope of hope” fabrics from textile designer/artist Melissa A. Mitchell of Abeille Creations.

A model walks the runway for Cantu Beauty. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Head over heels for Cantu's colorful show. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Carol’s Daughter

Carol’s Daughter co-founder Lisa Price introduced the show by spitting rhymes (!) accompanied by dancers. The presentation featured actual mothers and their daughters as models. Lead stylists Derick Monroe and Gabrielle Corney used the Pracaxi Nectar style line to create the hairstyles.

A model walks the runway for Carol's Daughter. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

Founder Lisa Price and daughter Becca. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

A model on the Carol's Daughter runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Creme of Nature

Creme of Nature proclaimed that they were shifting the culture and redefining the future of universal style and texture with an Afrofuturism runway featuring the “Afro Punk Urban Queen,” wearing fashions by De La Cruz New York and hairstyles by celebrity hairstylist Pekela Riley.

A model walks the Creme of Nature runway.  Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

Loved the textured hair (and the glasses) on the Creme of Nature runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

A model walks the Creme of Nature runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Mielle Organics

Hairstyles and looks were inspired by the woman warriors of Wakanda. Lead stylist Key Glover created the styles using the Promenade and Honey collection. There was also a great symbolic message about competition among women to wear the “crown.” The presentation began with the women fighting over who would possess the crown, with one taking the crown from the another, followed by a segment in which they shared the crown. It ended with each queen being presented with her own individual crown. I thought it was a great reminder that we should support one another.

A model walks the Mielle Organics runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

The Mielle Organics runway show was inspired by the women warriors of Wakanda. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

A model walks the Mielle Organics runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly


SheaMoisture’s “Celebrating Our Shine” presentation showcased the beauty and versatility of textured hair with styles created using the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Hair Care collection overseen by celebrity stylist and SheaMoisture Textured Hair Ambassador Diane C. Bailey. The show also featured Davina Bennett, Miss Jamaica and SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Brand Ambassador.

Davina Bennett walks the SheaMoisture runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Naturally Curly

Closeup of a model on the SheaMoisture runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

A model on the SheaMoisture runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

A model walks the SheaMoisture runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

The Mane Choice

The Mane Choice runway show featured bold, fun and colorful over-the-top hairstyles. Their goal, they said, was to showcase how their brand is taking strides to empower and offer solutions to all textures.

A model walks the runway for The Mane Choice. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

A model walks The Mane Choice runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Amara La Negra Performs

Recording artist and Love & Hip Hop Miami star Amara La Negra performs at Texture on the Runway. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NaturallyCurly

Monday, June 18, 2018

How to Do a Pampering Pedicure


Pedicure Perfection

There’s nothing like a great pedicure complete with a warm, relaxing foot soak and a massage. I have easy steps for an indulgent pedicure you can do at home.

Our feet have the burden of moving us around and supporting our bodies. If we’re on our feet all day, especially in high heels or tight, uncomfortable shoes, they can become swollen, tired and achy.

Going to the nail salon on a weekly basis for a pedicure, though ideal, could become very expensive. But you can give your feet a treat at home by doing more than just a quick polish.

Do this pampering pedicure near the end of the day, when you have nothing else planned, except to relax and retire for the night. It will help you get a restful sleep.

What You’ll Need For the foot soak:
foot basin or foot spa
nail brush
foot scrub or cleanser
pumice stone or foot file
a couple of towels and washcloths

Foot Soak Ingredients
3-5 lavender sprigs (or 2 tablespoons of dried lavender)
3 stems of fresh peppermint (or 1 tablespoon of dried peppermint or 2-3 peppermint tea bags)
  5-6 drops of lavender oil (optional)
(Lavender is soothing and relaxing. Peppermint rejuvenates tired feet and is good for circulation. 

For the pedicure:
nail polish remover
toenail clipper or scissors
emery board
orange stick
cotton swabs
toe dividers
foot cream (or hand cream)
moisturizing wipes or tissue
vitamin E, olive or vegetable oil

Prepare and Cleanse

1. Remove Nail Polish

I prefer non-acetone nail polish remover. Don’t laugh, but I use Piggy Paint Nail Polish remover. It’s made for kids in mind, but it’s natural and made without harsh chemicals.

2. Prepare the Foot Soak  

Boil 10 fluid ounces of water and pour over the lavender flowers and peppermint leaves in a large bowl and let steep for 15 minutes.

While waiting, boil about 18-20 cups of water or whatever amount will cover your feet and ankles in the foot bath.

3.  Add the Foot Soak and Essential Oil  

Strain the foot soak mixture and then pour into the foot basin. Add the essential oil if using and mix well. (If you are using an actual foot bath/foot spa, read the manufacturer’s instructions to find out what bath ingredients and products are safe to use in it).

4. Add the Warm Water and Soak 

Add enough water to cover the feet up to the ankles and soak for 15 minutes. Here's a trick I've used after having a pedicure at a spa. Put smooth stones (like the type used for hot stone massage or for decorating mini-water fountains) and spread them at the bottom of the foot basin to massage the soles of your feet as you soak.

5.  Gently Scrub 

Using a nail brush, clean under the nails and gently scrub the feet. You can also use a favorite foot scrub or cleanser to help loosen dead skin.

6. Smooth Away 

Remove one foot from basin and using a wet pumice stone or foot file, smooth away calluses and rough, hard skin with a circular motion on the soles and heels (but not the toes).  

7.  Gently Push Back Cuticles… 

Gently push back cuticles with an orange stick. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the other foot.

8. Rinse  

Rinse both feet in the foot bath. (You might want to rinse off the feet again in another foot basin or use a soft, wet washcloth to wipe off the feet).

9. Pat Dry  

Pat dry with a towel and be sure to dry well between the toes.

10. Trim the Toenails 

Cut the toenails straight across with a toenail clipper. Do not cut into the corners. It's best to allow the nails to grow out at the corners to prevent ingrown toenails. If you cut too close to the corner, the nail can grow into the skin. [If you do have an ingrown toenail, have a podiatrist cut and shape it properly.]

11. File and Shape 

Gently file and shape the nails with an emery board.

And Now for the Massage… 

Rub in a foot cream and massage your feet for 10 minutes.

For Extra Pampering You Can Add This Optional Step:

Massage a rich foot cream onto the feet, then wrap them inside plastic and cover with a warm towel and relax for 15-20 minutes. (If you don’t have a towel warmer, you can warm a towel in the dryer). You can also use an at-home paraffin treatment.

Time to Get Ready for the Polish  

1. Remove Excess Cream with a Tissue or Moisturizing Wipe

 Then use cotton balls or toe dividers to separate the toes.

2. Base Coat 

Apply a base coat to the nails and let dry.

3. Apply One Coat of Polish… 

Apply one coat of polish and allow it to completely dry. Apply a second coat.

4. Apply Top Coat  

Once the second coat has dried, seal with a top coat. Clean up any polish that might have gotten onto the skin with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover.

The Final Step for Pampered Feet 

When your toenails are completely dry, just before going to bed, apply vitamin E oil (or olive or vegetable oil) to the cuticles and, if you like, massage a little more lotion onto the feet. Cover with socks overnight and you'll wake up with gloriously soft, happy feet.

If you have certain health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, please consult your doctor about using hot foot baths.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bubble Bath Bliss

A soothing bubble bath is one of my favorite things to do, especially after a busy day or a strenuous workout. My old apartment had a large claw-foot tub that was extremely difficult to climb out of—and not for the reason you think! I didn’t want to leave! 

Taking baths is a favorite pastime activity for many of us. In fact, it has it’s own special day—National Bubble Bath Day on January 8. Bubble baths are a great way to relax, to soak away stress and soothe aching muscles, tired feet, and an exhausted mind.

I alternate using foaming bath products with bath salts and oils, because bubble bath products can be drying, but it’s just not as fun without those bubbles! There are a few potential down sides to taking bubble baths. As a person of color, I’m particularly susceptible to dry skin conditions, and long hot baths can further dry out the skin. Bath water that is too hot can aggravate certain skin conditions like eczema (atopic dermatitis) and can even be unhealthy if you have certain diseases like diabetes or have high blood pressure, conditions that affect many women of color.

Here are tips to help you avoid the problems associated with bubble baths and to reap the benefits.

The Benefits 

Hot water increases blood circulation to the skin and increases the flow of oxygen, which is great when you have sore muscles and stiff joints. Hot water opens up the pores and helps release toxins from the body. Along with candles, the right scent, and soothing music, the warm water is simply heavenly, especially at end of the day.


Avoid frequent hot baths. When the water is too hot the heat breaks down the skin barrier and makes it more prone to irritation and dryness, according to dermatologist Dr. Jean Ho.
According to the Mayo Clinic, taking frequent hot baths can also lead to vaginitis, an inflammation of the vaginal area. A common form is a yeast infection. Hot baths don’t actually cause yeast infections but can cause you to become susceptible to them.

Also avoid very hot baths if you have circulation problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and are pregnant. If you can’t climb into the top comfortably, (and you tend to feel itchiness afterwards) it’s probably too hot. The water should be close to body temperature. When in doubt, consult your doctor about whether hot baths are safe for you.

Beware of Bath Ingredients

  • Certain ingredients could disrupt the natural balance of the vaginal area by killing off the good bacteria that controls fungus growth. 
  • Some ingredients might be irritating (like surfactants and fragrances found in store bought bubble bath and bath gels) and make the condition worse.
  • Irritation, itching and burning can be symptoms of non-infectious vaginitis, caused by an allergic reaction to perfumes.
  • If using a heavily scented bubble bath, put a little baking powder (which helps to relieve irritation) in the bath. 
  • Also note that while bubble baths are soothing, they are not good for relieving vaginal dryness.
  • Check ingredients of store bought bubble bath if you have sensitive skin or tend to have allergies. Bubble bath can also aggravate these conditions.
  • Don’t take bubble baths if you have a urinary tract infection, which could have ingredients that will hamper recovery.

Dry Skin. Because you are typically in a bath for a prolonged period of time, if you have dry skin, certain bubble baths can strip away natural oils from the skin, resulting in flaky and itchy skin. If you have eczema, bubble baths (due to certain ingredients and hot water) can cause dry patches of skin to flare up.  Use a bath soak that is free potentially irritating ingredients and that are made for muscle relief and dry skin.

To control what is in your bubble bath, try making your own. 

Here are two natural recipes:

Queen of the Nile Bubble Bath

It’s well known that Cleopatra enjoyed a bath of milk and honey. And for many of us, a long bath has once again become a luxury! Milk has lactic acid, which is good for exfoliating, while soothing and moisturizing the skin, and honey has antiseptic qualities and is also moisturizing. Add a light oil for extra softness and an essential oil to match the mood you’d like to evoke.

  ½ cup powdered milk
  ½ cup honey
  ½ cup liquid Castile soap

  ½ cup of oil (olive, grape-seed, etc.)
  A few drops of essential oil (like lavender or chamomile for relaxation or lemon or eucalyptus to feel energized)

You can pour the entire mixture under running water and swirl it around to distribute into bath water. If you use less, store any remaining mixture in the refrigerator. Use within two-three months.

Gentle Homemade Bubble Bath

  1-quart warm water
  1 ½ cups liquid Castile soap (or a 4 ounce bar, grated)
  2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin
  5 drops of essential oil

Mix ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl. Pour into a large (preferably dark) glass airtight container. When ready to use, shake and pour ¼ cup under running water.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Survivor Eyes

One thing I didn’t think about when it came to hair loss from chemotherapy was that I’d lose my eyebrows. It was subtle. I always had thick brows that I thought made me look angry, so I plucked them to make them thinner and arched. Then one day I looked at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out why I looked a bit different and realized my eyebrows were gone. A feature of my face that I abused over the years with tweezers, had disappeared. 

Since I wear eyeglasses, this change wasn’t shocking.There were days when I needed to go somewhere other than the infusion suite, and I made a feeble attempt to use a brow pencil or powder to draw brows on my face. I soon gave up since I didn’t have any guidance for where they should be. Plus my brow pencils and other brow products weren’t that helpful without hair to adhere to. Enter SurvivorEyes. 

SurvivorEyes are brow stencils created by Elizabeth “Lisa” Brambilla, a breast cancer survivor. The stencils come in 10 brow templates to complement different face shapes. The SurvivorEyes BrowStyle Kit ($39.95) features Sormé Cosmetics and is available in three shade palettes, (Soft Blonde, Brunette and Dark Brown) with guidelines for placement and a dual-sided cosmetic applicator, presented in a drawstring bag. Each unique stencil shape has a name “Faith,” “Courage,” “Warrior” or “Determination” to inspire strength. My “brows” looked natural and I continued to use the kit for shaping once my eyebrows grew back in.

If you want to use your own brow makeup, you can purchase the SurvivorEyes Brow Stencil Kit for $14.95 which contains eyebrow stencils, a dual-sided application brush and instructions for care and use.

For more information visit Note: A sample was provided for review.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jamaican Black Castor Oil for Hair Loss

Photo: Courtesy of Tropic Isle Living

This month I am writing about some helpful products that I used while undergoing breast cancer treatment. Six months into my chemotherapy treatment, I suffered complete hair loss. As I discussed wigs with a neighbor, she mentioned that as my hair grew back in, my scalp would probably be itchy and tender. She learned about this from a friend who had also gone through chemotherapy and was using black castor oil to relieve the discomfort she was experiencing. I have written about black castor oil in the past, but never got around to actually trying it. It’s typically used as a hot oil treatment for hair and can be found as an ingredient in shampoos and hair treatments to treat dandruff and as a stimulus for hair growth. It has higher alkaline pH levels than regular castor oil, so it has more clarifying properties. It exfoliates the scalp and unclogs hair follicles and can treat certain scalp conditions.

I was in a beauty supply shop looking at wigs and asked about the black castor oil. The clerk handed me a bottle of Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil and told me that it was a popular brand with the customers, so I bought it. I started using it and it did ease the sensitivity and itchiness in my scalp.

Photo: Klaber/

A few days after purchasing the black castor oil, I heard from a representative for Tropic Isle Living about the company. It was launched in 1992 by founders/husband and wife team Michael Hines and Lois Reid-Hines. The company sells natural hair, skin and body products made from oils, herbs and berries from Jamaica, the Caribbean and Africa. In addition to Jamaican black castor oil, the company also has products like red pimento oil and coconut oil. (I’ll write about these products in the future). 

The Jamaican Black Castor Oil is hand processed from pure wild crafted and organic Jamaican castor seeds. Black Castor oil is popular for use on the hair and scalp because it

  • stimulates hair growth
  • cleanses the scalp of toxins and other substances that can damage hair and slow growth 
  • repairs dry, damaged hair and helps reduce breakage
  • provides a protective covering that seals in moisture

I would massage the oil into my scalp at night and cover it with a satin scarf or bonnet. Black castor oil can stain, so you have to be sure to cover the hair if it’s going to be in contact with fabrics. I’m not crazy about the scent of castor oil, but the chemo drugs probably made my scalp super-sensitive, uncomfortable and at times, even painful to the touch. The Jamaican black castor oil soothed my scalp. The medical staff was also surprised at how fast my hair grew back in. 

You can find out about Jamaican Black Castor Oil and other Tropic Isle Living products by visiting

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Calendula for Skin Care During Radiation Treatment


Radiation is often part of the treatment regimen for breast cancer. Some of the side effects for skin can be irritation, itchiness, tenderness and darkening or reddening in the radiated area. While undergoing treatment, there will be recommendations to ease any discomfort, such as using a cool compress. Fortunately I didn’t experience much of that, not even the typical darkening or redness of the skin. However, I did experience dryness. I was given home care instructions for use during breast radiation and following treatment.

Tips that can help you avoid discomfort and skin irritation:

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or irritating fabric (such as wool), or tight bras—I stuck with comfortable cotton sports bras.
  • Keep the area covered and protected from sunlight when going out.  
  • Take showers instead of baths. Make sure the water is not too hot and doesn’t directly fall on the breast. 
  • If you do take baths, avoid soaking the area while in the tub.
  • Avoid harsh soaps. Make sure they are mild and preferably fragrance-free.

I was given Boiron's Calendula Lotion to use twice daily, starting with the first day of radiation treatment. I’d take the bottle along with me and apply it right after the radiation treatment to minimize reaction, and then again later in the evening.

Calendula Skin Benefits

Calendula (calendula officinalis) also called marigold, is native to Asia and Southern and Central Europe and is now cultivated throughout North America. Calendula has been used for centuries to treat cuts, bruises and minor burns because it speeds up the healing of skin irritations and wounds. Calendula’s healing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are due to the presence of plant chemical compounds such as saponins and flavonoids.

The Calendula Lotion is water-based, making it good for use on large areas. It’s soothing to skin irritations, insect bites, rashes and sunburn. (Some women have likened the effects of radiation to getting sunburn.) There are other ointments that can be used during radiation and natural remedies such as aloe vera gel (from the actual leaf)—which I found too sticky. The Calendula Lotion quickly absorbed my skin and didn’t get on my clothing at night (some ointments will stain clothing). 

Always ask your radiologist about what you should use on the skin. You can find more information at  which has other tips for taking care of the skin during radiation treatment.