Author Archives: Melissa Martin

#SelfCareSundays

Sundays have always been a favorite of mine and for various reasons. It’s the beginning of a new week and who doesn’t love a fresh start? There’s always a sense of renewal associated with Sunday whether you’re attending church service, spending much needed time catching up with family or having brunch with friends. Often times rain or shine, Sunday equals ME time.

When I was in college, I had a solid Sunday routine consisting of grocery shopping, washing clothes, cooking some dinner and completing my studies due for the week ahead. As I’ve gradually transitioned into adulting, I felt I could never find the time to balance the things I have to do with those I need to do…for my sanity.

Self-care is often lost in the sauce when our plate becomes full. It’s like we know it’s necessary but feels in comparison with our other responsibilities…it can wait. And that’s simply not the case. I’ve embraced the mindset of “you can’t pour into others from an empty cup” now more than ever. By taking care of you first, you’re able to offer your best self to the world. And we can’t lose sight of that, no matter how busy life gets.

I’ve also grown to realize self-care should be practiced daily if only for a few minutes out of each day. However, as my favorite time to do things I love, I’ve dubbed Sundays for me #SelfCareSundays and wanted to share a few of the self-care gems that I enjoy practicing weekly.

  1. Jot down short-term, attainable goals for the week. It makes for small victories and provides positive reinforcement of all you’re achieving as you tackle the week.  For example, workout 4 days this week!
  1. Listen to an album from start to finish. New or an oldie but goodie. I love reflecting on nostalgic moments. At any given moment, I may be listening to a B2K or Trey Songz (with the cornrows) album. 🙂
  1. Watch your favorite show/movie or start a new series. The Sundays where I don’t really have anything planned are often filled with Law & Order: SVU marathons. And my boyfriend and I love to binge watch seasons of a new series on Netflix.
  1. Pamper yourself with a face masque and glass of wine before bed. When you look good, you feel good and your skin care routine should be essential to your self-care routine as well as a glass of wine because…why not? 🙂
  1. Write yourself a love letter. See our previous post “Dear Me, I Love You…”
  1. Find something to be thankful for at the moment. This has been a major key in my self-care regimen. In a moment where I may feel anxious or irritated, I now stop mid-complaint, check myself and simply give thanks for the situation not being worse than it is. 
  1. Declutter your space, light a candle and enjoy your own company. I can be extroverted but I really enjoy being alone. So, I do whatever my spirit moves me to in that moment. Read, meditate, journal, watch beauty videos on YouTube…anything that brings me peace. This is easily one of my favorite self-care keys!

Have you adopted a self-care regimen? What will you incorporate into your #SelfCareSundays?

Baby Food Hair Masque?

The winter months are brutal on hair. It seems like the gusty winds and chilly air just strip my short tresses of any moisture they may have once had.   So, deep conditioning is essential to maintaining healthy hair especially during this time of year.  I’m sure most of us have a holy grail deep conditioner or hair masque that we’d never forsake because it’s our savior for retaining moisture, giving incredible shine and softness like no other. But what if I told you; you could get the same benefits using organic baby food?

Skeptical? Well, I was too but with a little research and inspiration by LipstickNCurls on YouTube I was excited to give it a try!

What you’ll need:

  1. Banana or Banana & Pumpkin organic baby food
  2. 1 Tablespoon of raw honey
  3. 1 Tablespoon of organic coconut oil
  4. Perm/Dyeing Brush (optional)
  5. Plastic cap

It’s important that you get organic baby food because others may have preservatives, which wouldn’t be ideal for hair. The banana and pumpkin mixture is a perfect choice because they both possess hair-loving benefits.   Bananas are rich in potassium, natural oils and vitamins that promote soft hair and protecting the hair’s natural elasticity preventing split ends and breakage. While pumpkin has many minerals that maintain healthy hair and regrowth such as potassium, copper, and iron. And even better, purchasing the already pureed fruits and veggies is super convenient plus they’ll leave your hair smelling delicious.

My hair felt so soft and hydrated with such a healthy sheen once rinsed. And it remained that way while styling and days after. My hair definitely appreciated the healthy benefits of this masque and this won’t be the last time I use it. I’m adopting the baby food masque into my healthy hair regimen and you ladies should too. Try it out!

xoxo,

Melissa

5 Lippies to Love this Fall

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Whether you’re into vampy lips, classic hues, or looking to try something completely new, fall is the perfect inspiration for adding to your lipstick collection or reaching for some forgotten favorites.   Now, women of color often hesitate to try different shades because we’re not sure how it will wear against our various skin tones.  But truthfully, we can pull off an array of colors…and beautifully might I add.  It’s all about tailoring the shades to you, being confident, and owning it!

So, here are 5 fall lipsticks for you to slay this season…

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Nothing says fall like a vampy, purple lip!  This shade is a bold statement lippie that is perfect for a night out on the town. Pictured: MAC ‘Nightmoth’ Lip Pencil and Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in ‘Potion’.  

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The weather is getting chilly, bring out the hot cocoa! Try reddish brown or chocolate brown lips to give your look a vintage feel. Pictured: MAC ‘Bittersweet’ Pro Longwear Lip Pencil and MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in ‘Antique Velvet’.

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A girl can never go wrong with a good nude lip! This season rock a rosy nude on the days you opt for a subtle slay. Pictured: MAC ‘Plum’ Lip Pencil and NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in ‘Rome’.

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If you’re ready to step completely outside the box this season, rock a gorgeous grey! Pictured: MAC ‘Chestnut’ Lip Liner and MAC ‘Hasley’ Lipstick.

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Red lips are classic and timeless in every shade. However, a dark, oxblood red will be perfect for when you’re feeling regal this fall. Pictured: NYX Currant Lip Pencil and MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Studded Kisses.

What are a few of your favorite fall lippies? And what new colors are you looking to try this season? Leave a comment below or hit us up on social media! 

Dear Me, I Love You…

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“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” –Audre Lourde 

I tried to be consistent with journaling throughout the majority of my teens and early adulthood. I love to write so it’s not a hassle to set aside a little time to jot down a daily “entry” but once I have a night out on the town (or a few…lol) or leave for vacation my allotted time to journal is often neglected. A couple days…then a few weeks… and sadly, many months go by before I have the serious urge to get my swirling thoughts out on paper and start journaling consistently again. *deep sigh* I know I can’t be the only one.

However, I’m a sucker for nostalgia and journaling is like a photo album in the sense that you can revisit a time you’ll never have the chance to go back to, get a feel for where you were mentally, and reflect on how things have changed since; kind of like how Facebook memories shows you the old, corny statuses your younger self wrote years ago and the shock that you were ever that lame sets in…lol But after moving back home from my college apartment in June, I cleaned out the bedroom that was obviously inhabited by me once upon a time but just a completely different version and I discovered something that would answer all my nostalgic dreams and required less pressure to be consistent.

As I was cleaning out my old dresser draws, I found an old journal and when I opened it instead of finding daily entries…I found a letter that had written to myself weeks after being accepted into graduate school but also around the same time I had learned of my ex-boyfriend’s unfaithfulness. I’ll just say, the Melissa who wrote this letter was so hurt, stressed, and anxious. This Melissa expressed a plethora of emotions all in the same two-page letter but reading it nearly two years later… all I could do is smile. And as I continued reading, I busted out laughing until tears rolled down my face because it was like an out-of-body experience.  Did I really write this? I couldn’t believe I had written those words and as I sat there reading them I was now unfamiliar with those feelings.

Frankly, I don’t know who that Melissa is anymore but reading that letter made me grateful that I no longer do. At the time it was written, it seemed as if things would never get better and I can actual quote myself as I wrote, “I’ll be glad when it’s this same time next year, hopefully it’ll hurt a little less.” And two years later, that letter reminded me that things always get better in due time…and often better than you could’ve ever expected. 🙂

I challenge all reading this post, to write a letter to you. Reflect on where you are currently in your journey. It’s best to go in depth with the letter including current/anticipated experiences in all aspects of your life such as career, love, health finances, and spirituality. And most importantly, include your strongest emotions regarding the current phase of your journey…be honest with yourself.   If you’re frustrated with your current dating scene, say that. And perhaps, explore what it is you’re looking for in a beau. How amazing would it be to read your letter in 1-2 years, maybe now you’re in a great relationship, and realize you found the right one because you chose him before you even knew who he was? Or maybe read it further down the road and realize you didn’t even know what you really wanted…lol

So, join me! I wrote a new letter to myself since I’m truly in a season of transition right now and I’m thinking of writing a couple letters throughout the year. I haven’t decided when I’ll read them but it won’t be any less than a year from the day I wrote it. In my opinion, there isn’t a better way to acknowledge and embrace your progression than reflecting on where you once were and how far you’ve truly come.

 

In what ways do you keep track of your progression in life? Daily journaling? Goal checklists? Vision boards? Leave a comment or reach out to us on social media! 

#ExploringEgypt 5 Take-a-ways from my Egyptian Excursion

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“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”

A 10-hour flight on August 25th, 2016 led to 10 days of pure excitement…to simply be breathing the air and exploring the rich history, deeply rooted in the northeast African country known to most as Egypt. Prior to traveling, of course my mom and I shared with various family, friends, and associates that we’d be heading to Egypt to celebrate my achievement of being a Masters graduate and my mom’s 59th birthday. While being met with much excitement we were also asked a lot of, “Wow, why Egypt? Isn’t it dangerous there? Aren’t you scared?”

Now, honestly…earlier this year when I expressed wanting to make a trip to Egypt with my mom we were both leery due to a few situations that had taken place in Egypt at the time, which made us question how safe this trip would be. However, after reflecting on how short life can be we decided to stay true to ourselves and travel by faith like everything else we encounter in life. I mean, my mom’s bedroom décor is Egyptian themed and a gold Nefertiti necklace adorns her everyday since before I was born, I’ve never seen her without it on…how could we not make this trip of a lifetime?!

I’m so grateful to have traveled to Egypt, I feel so blessed. I truly wasn’t sure what to expect from this country I admired from afar but I learned and experienced more than I could’ve ever imagined possible (I climbed the inside of the Great Pyramid in Giza, PRICELESS!) So, I feel it’s only right I share some of the things I absorbed, in hopes that it’ll be insightful to those who may be considering a visit to Egypt or are just nosey like me and want to know how things are over there. 🙂

  1. EGYPT is SAFE to visit!

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I HAD to address this first. The company we traveled with paired us with not only the most amazing tour guides in Egypt but we were also given a security escort everyday that we didn’t even know existed for the first few days because they’re strictly a precaution. The Egyptian people or military are not out to hurt tourists but of course like everywhere else, it’s better to be cautious.

Egypt even has a police department dedicated to assisting and protecting tourists, called the Tourists Police. They would escort our coach bus through the unbelievably, crazy driving and traffic (their driving is really the only thing to fear, our tour guide said in Egypt you need 3 things to drive: good tires, good brakes, and good luck! Lol!) But seriously, we never felt unsafe even when we were given the opportunity to explore the cities independently. Don’t let fear inhibit you from wanting to travel to Egypt. Always be aware of your surroundings like you should be anywhere, obey the rules of their society, travel with an awesome company like we did (Friendly Planet), and you’ll be fine!

  1. Any attire you’d normally wear is acceptable; it’s just nice to be mindful of the Muslim dimension of the country. 

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Just a few examples of the outfits I wore while exploring Egypt. 

In the months leading up to my trip, I was reading up on the ideal attire for visiting Egypt and it was overwhelming. Many articles stress the fact that a large population of Egypt is Muslim and that you should be covered nearly head to toe in clothing in an effort not to receive unwanted attention and judgment from locals. Now, we traveled to Egypt as their summer was coming to an end but as expected it was still HOT…it’s not unbearable but it’s a different heat than here in the south so you can imagine my dilemma of wanting to respect the locals by covering up but also wanting to stay cool.

We were informed shortly after arriving that you can indeed dress normally like you would in the summer such as shorts, sundresses, etc. and wouldn’t be treated any certain way. Egyptians value tourism so they don’t expect us to visit and instantly begin living like they do but it was still recommended not to openly display cleavage and other assets in particular settings such as the Citadel in Cairo which is a mosque. I stayed on the safe side and didn’t wear shorts at all, as well as if I was wearing tight bottoms like leggings; most of my shirts covered my womanly assets. But if your visiting a resort or hotel you can be free to dress how you want. The attire is not as strict as I’d envisioned but I still wanted to be respectful.

  1. Fun Fact: Egyptians call Egypt, ‘Misr’. Also, most Egyptians want us to refer to them as Africans and not Arabs.

Egyptians do not use Egypt to refer to their country. If they are speaking to tourist, they will but amongst each other Egypt is Misr (mis-ruh). The name Egypt is to be derived from a figure in Greek mythology named Aegyptus, who was a descendant of a maiden and the river God, Nilus (the Nile River); Aegyptus was one of many kings in Egypt. Greeks had their hands in a lot of Egyptian discoveries but as our guide explained to us, that’s why Egyptians refer to their country as Misr, it’s Arabic so it belongs to them in contrast to their given Greek name. Misr is recognized as an official name by the Egyptian government and surrounding countries.

Furthermore, Egypt links northeast Africa to the Middle East and their official language is Arabic. I’ve never considered Egyptians to be Arab however; I have heard others do so and I could see why there may be some confusion. They feel that those outside of Africa often view them as Arab since they speak Arabic however, most of them don’t accept begin referred to as Arab…they prefer African. Many Egyptians will tell you this. Get it right. 🙂

  1. Egyptians love having tourists!

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A shop owner who truly treated me like family and took a picture with me on his tablet (left); one of the many cute kids who approached me to take a selfie (right)!

The locals whether children or adults stop and wave as you ride on the coach bus through the streets. We visited several historic sites such as the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo and the Great Pyramid in Giza where my tour group was swarmed with children, teenagers, and even some of their parents walking up with selfie sticks asking to take a picture with us on their phones and inquiring if we were American; they were literally ecstatic to meet tourists, it was the sweetest thing. I later asked one of the guides why were they so excited to see us and wanted to take pictures, he explained that most of them weren’t from the city but from more rural areas of Egypt, and when they come on field trips to the city such as Cairo they like to take pictures and go back to their home city to brag about meeting tourists. Adorable.

Also, they’re especially fond of people of color or their “brothers and sisters” as they affectionately referred to us. You’ll hear exclamations of “welcome cousin, my sister, and my Nubian sister, ” as you peruse the streets flooded with vendors who happily let you know “they don’t know what you’re looking for but they have exactly what you need” or that “everything in their store is free for you, my Nubian sister”… I loved their spirits. Egyptians are truly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

  1. Egypt is to travel, not for vacation.

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“When in Egypt”…we attended a Galabaya party which required us to dress in Egyptian garb.  

Egypt is the home to so many ancient temples, historic infrastructures, and a culture all their own. Although, they also have luxurious resorts and hotels, it’s truly too much to be seen to confine yourself to the activities of a typical relaxing vacay. We were constantly up early every morning, traveling to several historic sites and markets to shop for majority of the day. We barely had a chance to catch our breath but it was worth it because we saw so much that I would’ve hate to have missed by not using my time there wisely. Traveling from Cairo to Luxor, taking a 4-day cruise down the Nile River and docking to visit more rural cities such as Edfu, Ensa, and Aswan located along the Nile, then traveling back to Cairo. I feel like Egypt is a trip for true travel and exploration, be prepared for endless adventure. You can rest when you get home or as one of our travel buddies said “you’ll need a vacation from your vacation!”

Now that I’ve returned home, the fact that I traveled to Egypt is still like a dream to me. What I’ve shared in this post only scratches the surface of my 10-day excursion in the Egyptian culture. But I hope I’ve ignited a desire for you to add Egypt to your bucket list! The Egyptian people are extremely appreciative of those who take their time to come and visit their country. It means a lot to them that we would want to learn more about their culture and since this trip meant a lot to me, I want to inspire you to experience it as well.

 

I’d love to share more about my trip to Egypt! I’ll be sharing more pictures soon. Is there anything specific you want to know about? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

Protect your Peace…

Protect your Peace

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” -Unknown

So far, summer ’16 has truly been a period of transition and immense growth for me. Moving back home 6 years and 2 degrees later, embarking on the process of establishing my career in a challenging job market and also learning of new methods to grow my entrepreneurial brand has pushed my physical, mental and spiritual boundaries to new heights. Not to mention, once you add the senseless killings and just sudden deaths of people in our society to the equation, it’s a daily challenge to keep your spirits high. However, it’s a necessity of self to keep your head up and continue to vibrate higher in the face of personal, professional or societal adversity.

Now, I know that may sound easier said than done. But I’ve dedicated nearly the past 3 months to actively and diligently refusing to fall victim to feelings of depression, worthlessness, and defeat. I knew during this chapter of my life where I’m not currently employed which doesn’t allow me to be as financial free as I desire would prove to be a challenge for silencing anxiety and pursuing peace of mind. I knew it would be a tug of war between me spending a lot of time actively chasing my dreams while also feeling stuck in life…but this was the perfect time to finally refrain from beating myself up and simply learning to trust the journey.

I think we as human beings, underestimate how much we allow the happenings of the outside world to effect us inside. I made a few daily changes that I credit towards revamping my mental and spiritual outlook on my life. And while putting these changes into practice, I’ve learned it’s okay to be in touch with what is taking place around you. However, when you’ve worked at achieving and protecting a certain level of peace, you also acquire the skills to embrace the good and bad you encounter but NOT internalize it. So, I recommend:

  • Not opening emails or browsing social media immediately after you wake up in the morning.

In an article I read about 8 things you should do before 8am to be more productive, the author said something that resonated with me “Checking your smartphone puts you in a reactive—as opposed to a proactive –state.” I found myself experiencing several different emotions before I even got out of bed when exploring social media first thing in the morning.   Depending on what has taken place in the world, it can truly exhaust you shortly after just waking up. So now, I’ve resulted to reading an affirmation or the verse of the day from my Bible app when I have the urge to pick up my phone before I’ve gotten my day started.

  • Dedicating 10-15 minutes to meditation and/or prayer.

It’s up to you when you do it, how you do it and how many times you do it but please make an effort to do it.  We encounter so much throughout one day, a period of silence can make a world of difference in your state of mind.  I personally, began meditating for 10 minutes following my morning workout, which makes for an amazing start to my day. I feel like I have a clean slate and ready for whatever may come my way.

  • Acknowledging the positives even in seemingly “negative” situations.

This may have been the most challenging adjustment I made but it’s truly the one I’m most proud of. Didn’t get a job I interviewed for? No problem, their work environment wasn’t the ideal next step God envisions for me. Stuck in the infamous Atlanta traffic? Maybe I needed to be slowed down for my safety during the duration of my commute. There is enough darkness in the world; I decided I rather dedicate my time and shift my thoughts to finding the light.

So, I challenge you to diligently seek inner peace and protect it from all that may mean you no good. Being negative or finding something to be negative about is easy but the true test of character and growth is when you can be source of positivity by simply finding the beauty in the struggle.

 

#BlackLivesMatter and Our Green Does Too…

#BlackLivesMatter

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.” –W.E.B Du Bois

Whew…this first week of July has been…heavy.   The hearts, minds, and spirits of people of color who inhabit this nation…have been weighed down with the hurt and frustration of a seemingly never-ending cycle of systemic injustice. However, in an effort to protect my peace of mind and spirit, after the initial tears I shed for the lives we lost this past week it was time for me to refocus. I asked myself, “What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to show your people that you value them even when it seems that others in this country don’t? What will you do to make a difference?

Now, I was so proud of those who PEACEFULLY marched and protested in the streets of our beautiful city of Atlanta. But protesting isn’t going to do it for me, personally. Protesting brings awareness and makes a powerful statement about how capable the HUMAN race is at coming together for the greater good of our people. However, when the marching is done, I feel there is so much more we must embark upon to truly see a change.

The society we live in, the officials who serve in our governments, and the retailers we support are all about their “coin”. Teyonna and I had an economics teacher in high school that would always say in the most animated way, “in this economy it’s all about that ALMIGHTY DOL-LAR.” Major businesses and retailers across this nation underestimate the black dollar and how it stimulates our economy and their sales. Which is why I say protesting won’t do it for me because while you’re marching through the streets, shouting #BlackLivesMatter…the high end brands you love are silent and they hear you when “boycotting” is thrown their way but the sad reality is they know you’ll be back once you’re emotions are no longer running high and a little time has passed by. And so, our lives mattering didn’t make a difference to them but what will is our coin if it should go missing from their revenue.

So, prior to the heightened acts of injustice we witnessed this week, I set a personal goal to begin supporting more black-owned businesses. And now is the time more than ever, for us to support our own. I decided to make a conscious effort that if there was a product or service I was interested in purchasing; I’d make it my business to find a person of color who does it. Now, let me be clear in saying this will not completely eliminate issues of white supremacy, police brutality, and the systemic oppression of people of color dwelling in our society. But the spirit of us as a people should be lifted as we stop contributing to those who have made it clear that they don’t see us as human beings, deserving equality from a country and it’s public servants that wouldn’t have otherwise been successful if it were not built on the backs of blacks.

I’ve listed black-owned business directories that will assist in finding black businesses in your area and a list of black owned banks across the country below.

  1. http://www.shop-bob.com
  1.  https://spendefy.com
  1. http://urbanintellectuals.com/2016/01/08/19-black-owned-banks-in-the- united-states-what-if-we-kept-10-of-our-annual-spending-power-in-those-banks/

I hope you’ll join me in being the change you want to see. What do you propose is our next step for achieving true equality for people of color in the U.S.?   I’m eager to hear other’s plan of action for alleviating injustice in our country.

3 Essentials for a Brilliant Summer BEAT

Brilliant Beat

So, those who truly know me can tell you I’m obsessed with all things beauty…but more specifically, all things MAKEUP. Even if you’re not a makeup enthusiast like myself, most brilliant beauties such as yourself recognize a beat face when they see one. Now, although some may opt for a bare face more often than a beat face, most of us like to enhance our natural beauty every now and again with a snatched eyebrow, bold eye with lashes, or a statement lippie (or a sickening contour and highlight, I could seriously go on all day…lol). Summer is a great time to put your best, beat face forward whether you’re heading to a day party in the city or vacationing abroad.

Initially, as a beginning makeup enthusiast from about the ages of 17-20, I hated putting any makeup on my face during the summer (although, that didn’t stop me from buying it…lol). I become hot fairly easy and just the thought of sweat beads seeping out of my pores from the Georgia heat, ruining the flawless face that I took my precious time to apply was not an attractive idea to me. However, after several years of YouTube beauty school, I was introduced to more than just your basic eye shadow and lipstick products but products that are essential to the foundation of a successful beat face for any season! Now, some people may think these products are gimmicks and just the beauty industry’s way of persuading us to spend more money but once you see the difference they have on your makeup routine, you’ll never be the same. Here are my 3 Essentials to keep your Brilliant Summer Beat intact:

Essential #1: PRIMER

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Once your face has been cleansed and moisturized, a primer should be applied before any makeup touches your face. Priming acts as a barrier between your bare skin and the foundation, concealer, etc. you’ll be applying. Primers are great for individuals with oily skin as there are great ones on the market for mattifying the face and preventing shine from the skin’s natural oils, this is a necessity for hot weather and a personal favorite of mine is the BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector (pictured above). The primers pictured are current favorites of mine. The two others are Marc Jacobs Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer and MAC Prep + Prime Skin Base Visage . Both of these primers are great for providing a smooth base for your makeup to glide onto and adhere to. They also prevent creasing throughout the day. The primers I’ve included above could be considered pricey; however, there are so many primers available for every budget and if you want to try before you buy, Sephora will give you samples!

Essential #2: POWDER FOUNDATION

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 I am a lover of powder foundation. It’s convenient on days when you don’t have much time or don’t want to wear much makeup. But also, it’s the perfect product to seal the deal on a flawless full face of makeup that will withstand the heat! Powder foundation and/or translucent setting powder are essential to giving your face a matte finish to prevent looking like a grease ball. I’ve pictured quite a few above, the obsession is real…lol, but my favorite powders are MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, MAKE UP FOR EVER Duo Mat Powder Foundation, and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Powders are also great for touching up throughout the day if oil begins to shine through in areas such as your T-zone. They’re light on the skin which makes for perfection during the summer season.

Essential #3: SETTING SPRAY

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Last but certainly not least, everyone needs a setting spray. Like primers there are many different setting sprays on the market for different effects and every budget. They can be dewy, mattifying, and hydrating… depends on whatever look you’re into. I personally look for my setting spray to rehydrate my skin after applying powder so I don’t look cakey in the face and to ensure along with the primer underneath my makeup, that my beat face will stay intact well past completion. My absolute favorite setting spray currently is the MAKE UP FOR EVER Mist + Fix Setting Spray ! They also give a great refreshing and cooling feeling to the face after you’ve had your makeup on for a few hours while being out and about in the sun. Many come in travel sizes so throw one in your carry-on bag while traveling or your purse when you need a moment of rejuvenation from the summer heat!

What products do you use for a flawless summer face? Will you be trying any of the products above? Let me know how you like them, I want to hear from you all!

Confessions of a Flourishing Graduate Student

Confessions of a Graduate Student-2

“Your faith ain’t never small, that’s what brought you this far.” -Mary Mary 

In 19 days, I will be closing a chapter of my life that I’ve easily identified as the most challenging phase of my journey thus far. On April 30th, 2016…I will graduate with my Masters in Public Administration. *cues confetti and twerk music* And I couldn’t be more proud of myself for achieving this accomplishment but it’s a different kind of pride than I’ve ever felt before. Yes, I’m going to be hotter by “two degrees” but what I’ve learned and improved about myself along the way, is what I’m truly grateful for.

I lived in my sorority’s house during my first year, and then elevated to renting an apartment in my name and by myself the following year. I had times when I was more broke than I‘ve ever been but often times didn’t ask for help or if I did…I’d beat myself up for not being more independent.   I also fought falling into depression while getting adjusted as a full-time graduate student, part-time graduate assistant and balancing all of my responsibilities while I was struggling mentally and emotionally as I dealt with personal heartbreak. But while my knowledge grew as an MPA student, my FAITH was cultivated even more.

As crazy as it sounds, I learned to embrace struggle.   My mantra throughout my graduate career has been “Pray more, worry less. If you’re going to worry, then don’t bother praying.” I would literally say this out loud to myself when I felt anxiety creeping up on me. There were times where I was stressing over course assignments while broke as a joke with payday a week away or waiting for “refunds to drop” but I would just pray and smile because even during those times my car had gas and was running fine. I had means for food and a kitchen full of it. And I had my books for class and the supplies I needed to excel. I had what was ESSENTIAL. Furthermore, growing up as mommy’s little princess, I’m used to having necessity AND luxury; however, for the first time in my life I had to do without the luxury occasionally and I’m a better woman because of it.

Moreover, to be successfully cleared to graduate from my MPA program we are required to write an exit paper and defend it orally to a committee of faculty. Every page of the 41 pages that make up my exit paper has my tears on them…lol To say it was a challenge would be an understatement. My undergraduate journalism program did not prepare me for what I’ve now endured as a graduate student. The amount of writing, required length for assignments and the depth of research was eye-opening. And the fact that I pursued my Masters in a discipline that I was not introduced to during my undergraduate career, presented an obstacle for me in comparison to my colleagues with undergraduate degrees in political science. However, I succeeded along with them and now I feel that I’ve tapped into a new level of intellect because I not only challenged myself but I also exceled at it.

Ultimately, my favorite lesson throughout this time is I’ve finally stopped comparing my journey to those I surround myself with. For as long as I could remember, I wanted to pursue a Masters degree shortly after graduating with my Bachelors. I didn’t want to take a break but rather keep pushing through to avoid any chance of never returning to school. Yet, when my closest friends graduated from college along with me and began full-time careers in their desired fields, I questioned where I was in my life. “Shouldn’t I be working full-time too? Should I have attended graduate school somewhere besides my alma mater? I don’t want to get stuck here.” I was offered a graduate assistantship upon being accepted into graduate school, my tuition was waived entirely. I got to be a helping hand for those who seemed to need me the most. And I met the most amazing man. For every time I questioned if I was where I’m supposed to be in my journey, God showed me every reason I was right where he wanted me. So, now I’m too busy watering my own lawn to notice if someone else’s grass is greener.

Trials and tribulations mold us into who we’re meant to be. Pursuing my Masters was the furthest thing from easy but that’s why it was worth it. Everything I endured throughout my graduate career has given me a new found confidence because if nothing else I’ve learned if and when you hit bottom, view it is a blessing because although you’re low…the beauty is there is nowhere else to go but up!

What has been a defining moment during your journey to Becoming Brilliance?

“Grow Through, What You Go Through…”

%22Grow through, What you go through...%22

The spring season is upon us, which means warmer weather…sun dresses…pedicured toes…and most noticeably the beauty of nature reemerging from the weary winter. Now, besides allergy season being in full effect as well, sneezes and watery eyes can’t take away the beauty spring brings to our surroundings. The winter season takes a toll on the condition and aesthetic of nature; but what’s most beautiful is the ability of our natural environment to exhibit growth after the dull stage of their evolution.

At the inception of Becoming Brilliance, we were inspired to share our journey of being in a “constant state of evolvement”. When life is not going ideal or feels uncomfortable for us, it’s hard to grasp the lesson within it. August 14th, 2014 was the day my journey to growing through, what I was going through truly began. I graduated from college 3 months prior, I’d spent my summer studying for the GRE and a few days earlier I was accepted into graduate school at my alma mater and offered a graduate assistantship that waived my tuition. I was in a period of transition as a recent college grad but things began to improve as the summer continued.

However, I was also in a relationship, that looking back now I had plenty of red flags but chose to ignore them (…hindsight is 20/20). And I don’t want to expound on the relationship too much because it’s not important now; but basically it wasn’t lengthy, healthy and didn’t grow me as an individual but I was blinded by what I thought was “love”. Ultimately, on August 14th a young woman informed me that my boyfriend at that time had been cheating on me with her through a Facebook message including screenshots of their conversations. My heart fell to my stomach as you can imagine and that was the beginning of a downward spiral for me. I was blindsided and although our relationship wasn’t going well, I wasn’t expecting to be hurt like that. So, I spent the next 7 months in a struggle between forgiveness and continuing the relationship OR frankly, kicking his ass to the curb. After being torn for far too long, I eventually picked the latter. 🙂

I’ve revisited this moment in my life because that situation broke me down. Although, those around me weren’t aware of the battle I was fighting, it was extremely real for me internally.   However, I’ve grown to be GRATEFUL for August 14th, 2014 and the journey that followed because it was painful and during that time I couldn’t imagine ever being rid of the hurt. But as I type this blog post I am…and have been for a while.

If I hadn’t been broken down that way, I wouldn’t have known that I could build myself back up…and even better. That was my lesson. And furthermore, I may not have been so appreciative of my current relationship and how well I’m treated, if I hadn’t been so overwhelming mistreated. Now, I know as I continue my journey, the good and especially the bad…there is nothing God is going to bring me to, if he weren’t going to bring me through. In spite of the weary stages we may endure, the saving grace is spring comes around every year…so we’re always going to blossom. 😉