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Tri-State/NYC
A childhood interest for art and design grew into a passion for all things beauty. Currently, I’m still smitten.

5.27.2014

Natural Hair Care and Natural Oils: BLACK HAIR IS

So, I do NOT have natural hair but my daughter does.  And many of my family and friends too!  It's no secret, all of them are obsessed with oils. Me?  I am a strong believer that treating natural (and relaxed) hair with botanical oils hydrate, fortify and make it grow.

I've learned the value of deep conditioning with various oils.  Olive, grape seed and jojoba offer amazing results -- prevent split ends, breakage and add elasticity.  Castor oil has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and it seems to loosen my daughter's curl pattern at the root.  And since she gets a good amount of shrinkage, the oils make detangling easier.  I also like to spritz the oils combined with water when she has braids and twists.

I came across SIMPLICITY HAIR OIL on Instagram.  The brand promises stronger locks and hair growth --who doesn't love that?  The blend  of all natural oils should keep dandruff at bay and stimulate hair follicles. The SHO site boasts of testimonials from customers with Alopecia and even has celebrity reviews -- women who suffer from their edges being destroyed by weaves and lace front wigs.

A technique that I'm going to try soon is oil rinsing.  It's an extra step between the shampoo/conditioner process that allows hair to maintain moisture better, increase softness and make detangling easier.  Plus hair is supposed to be super shiny after a cool rinse.  Worth a shot to me.

No matter if your hair is color treated, relaxed or natural, flowing down your back or cropped close to your head, a healthy scalp and healthy hair is the ultimate goal for us all.

5.23.2014

Sneak Peek Celebrity Beauty: Kelly Osbourne & M.A.C.

M.A.C. COSMETICS and our favorite Brit, Kelly Osbourne have collaborated on a beauty collection for next month.  The haul includes two eye shadow palettes, pretty lip shades, Skin Finish duo face powder, eye and lip liners and a cool blush (Cheeky Bugger -- how cute is that?) all of which compliment her lilac locks, of course.  The launch is also set to include brushes all packaged in the prettiest purple.  Shop online June 2nd and in store June 14th.  

Love this soft apricot lip with the purple shadow...simply gorgeous!  



(Pssst...Be on the lookout for a collection from her mum, Sharon, too!)

(Photos:  Kelly Osbourne on Instagram & KellyOsbourne.com)

4.03.2014

Women's History Month & The Total Wellness Woman

Although Women's History Month is over, I had to feature this women.  Familiar to the BSB blog, TraCey Jones has become a "mother" to many.  She has switched gears from Project F.L.Y. to incorporate young women alongside the males shes mentors.  TraCey seemingly has a full plate as a licensed massage therapist, Kemetic yoga instructor and mom of two.  She is a dynamic woman who believes in wellness in every form -- mind, body and soul.  I love that TraCey expresses her individuality with her signature style-- versatile natural hair 'do's, classic TOM FORD cat eye frames, her hammered silver cuff and beautiful jeweled rings.  She stands strong in what she believes and celebrates her femininity with an edge.  The natural beauty enthusiast is sharing a few of her favorite findings below.
  1. What’s your morning routine (makeup, hair, exercise, etc.)?  When I open my eyes, usually around 5:30/6:00 a.m., I do a meditation session for about 15 minutes.  I have a prayer ritual with my distant SisStar at sunrise.  After I shower; I do a few yoga stretches -- usually tree pose to help me feel grounded and focused and dancers pose.  It's a beautiful stretch that engages many parts of your body and Pyramid pose (downward facing dog) at least twice. I do not go without mascara.  For makeup, on most days, I use my favorite -- L'OREAL Voluminous Mascara in Carbon Black  and lip balm  with some color.  I also like something sassy like SEPHORA's lip stains in hot pink or red. As for my hair, it's natural so it's important to keep it very moist and I have tried many things before until I found something that really worked. I prefer easy hairstyles so I can get up and go in the morning .  I've been just washing my hair,  deep conditioning and using MISS JESSIE'S or curls AntiFrizze Moisturizer then let it air dry. To maintain it, I mix pure African Shea butter with different natural and essential oils of my choice to smell good every two days.  
  2. What’s in your cosmetic bag? You will always find mascara, BURT'S BEES Honey or Pomegranate oil lip balm, a couple of different shades of pink lip gloss and lip stain, GINGER & LIZ nail file and nail lacquer remover wipes.
  3. What is your beauty secret?  One beauty secret is that I really believe you are what you eat and I’m getting better at it.  I like to keep it natural so I use as little as possible but I will use eye shadow sometimes. I like the URBAN DECAY Naked2 Eye Shadow pallete --  a neutral color every day and when going out a color with more pop.
  4. Name one product you can’t live without. Two products I can't live without is mascara and a lip balm. I don't need anything else on my face but I love mascara!  I think eyes and lips speak volumes;).  Mascara can enhance the shape of your eyes and your lips should look kissable at all times. Eyes and lips can entrance people when you're speaking to them.
  5. Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products?   Yes I try to only use natural products. My skin care and hair care products consist of sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, hemp seed oil and hazelnut oil to name a few. 
  6. Share your favorite DIY skincare treatment or lux treatments?   I use the oil cleansing moisturizing technique -- one with astringent properties such as hazelnut.  I clean my face with it.  I do this in the morning and at night to remove my makeup. I massage the oil on my face with my fingertips then I put a hot cloth over it, let it seep in and wipe off the excess.  For my weekend morning bath ritual, I add sea salt and orange peels.
  7. Describe your style?  (Vixen? Classic?  Edgy?  Romantic?  Boho-Bold?)  My style is sexy/funky Boho chic. And I love boots!
  8. Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon?  I love Jennifer Lopez' makeup.  She always looks flawless, never overdone and her eyes are always popping ever so subtly.
  9. What is your look for date night/girl’s night out?  Girl’s night out or date night I love to keep it simple and sexy.  I think dresses are feminine all on their own.  Leggings with a nice bright sequin top, booties/boots for me it’s all about sexy comfort.
  10. Share your tips for diet and well being.  I am consciously moving towards being a vegetarian.  As of now, I don't eat processed foods, no fast food,  a little chicken but mainly  fish. Yes potato chips are my weakness! Yoga is my exercise of choice because it feels the most natural.  There's a holistic approach to health affecting your mind, body and spirit. If I could get to the gym easily I would go everyday just to use the elliptical for about 30 minutes.  I try to do a bit of yoga everyday but I walk with purpose.

3.31.2014

Make-Up by Charly & Women's History Month

Charlene Armstrong is the mother of a six year-old boy, a skin care enthusiast, makeup artist and beauty expert for over 10 years now.  Her specialty?   Bridal makeup…with over 250 weddings under her belt.    Co-owner of Lash to Lens Photography Studio –Makeup Bar since 2010, she’s also worked in film and with several celebrities including Clive Davis and Robin Thicke most recently.  She’s building her brand and making beauty history with each stroke of her makeup brush.
 1.           What’s your morning routine (makeup, hair, exercise, etc)?  After I crawl out of bed (not a morning person) I may do a NIKE Training Club workout,  wash my face, brush my teeth, take my shower, moisturize my face, moisturize my ENTIRE body, get dressed, feed the kid, dress the kid, put him on the bus!  In that order.

2.            What’s in your cosmetic bag?  MAC NC45 Studio Tech Foundation, some cheapy black  liquid eyeliner, Hourglass Film Noir mascara, various MAC eyeshadows,  Hourglass Nocturnal lipstick and various lipglosses.

3.            What is your beauty secret? Arbonne Seasource Sea Mud Mask . . . skin is everything to me!

4.            Name one product you can’t live without. Hard to name one. . . I guess that would be my concealer.

5.            Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products?  I use Shikai Borage Therapy Facial Cleanser and their facial moisturizer for dry skin.

6.            Share your favorite DIY skincare treatment or lux treatments?  Honestly, exfoliating is a big deal to me. . . so any deliciously flavored body scrub will make me feel like a million bucks when I come out of the shower.  Currently in use is Victoria Secret’s Secret Charm Smoothing Body Scrub, a gift from one of my besties!

7.            Describe your style?  (Vixen? Classic?  Edgy?  Romantic?  Boho-Bold?) Hmmmm. . . I’d like to think I’m classic with a little mix of everything else!

8.            Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon?  For makeup it would have to be Kim Kardashian (yes, sigh). . . but there are so many beautiful women in the spotlight these days it’s really hard to choose. 

9.            What is your look for date night/girl’s night out? Definitely vixen, lol!

10.        What industry are you in?  The beauty industry . . . helping women look and feel even more fabulous with makeup!

11.        Share your tips for diet and well being.  I try to do a detox at least twice a year, try to eat minimal sugar and I don’t eat dairy. . .when I’m being a really good girl lol.  But when I’m on my good girl kick, I feel great!!! 

12.        What is your strongest feature?  My best feature is my SKIN texture and complexion (especially in the summer).  I haven’t missed a day of moisturizing since I was a teenager and I exfoliate at least once a week.  I use scented, hydrating creams and a lot of natural wonderfully scented soaps.  I have been stopped by strangers in the street asking to touch my skin more than once!

Women's History Month & The Beauty Addict

I remember seeing Jonelle Johnson on a NYC subway in a Chanel-inspired suit, pointed flats and a fierce short 'do years ago.  She was that striking (those almond eyes)!  A few weeks later, she scored a position in the music department where I worked and we've been friends ever since.  Besides being a true beauty, a social butterfly and genuinely good-natured, this women has a serious product addition. She's always in search of the next big thing in beauty and skincare.  

She is a self-professed product junkie on a never ending quest to find the perfect red lippie and the longest, most curliest eyelash extensions. CEO of the "Short-hair-don't-care" team way before it was popular, Jonelle is a lover of life, laughter, good food and good wine.  

Read her beauty story below.
  1. Whats your morning routine (makeup, hair, exercise, etc)?   Shower, wash my face with cream cleanser, apply Cetaphil moisturizer, MAC Prep + Prime Skin Lotion, L’Oreal Magic Nude foundation, eyeliner and eyebrows! 
  2. Whats in your cosmetic bag?  Lipstick, lip gloss, blush and lip liners.
  3. What is your beauty secret?  Eyelash extensions.
  4. Name one product you cant live without.  MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo lipstick.
  5. Describe your skincare routine.  Cream cleansers and Cetaphil lotion.
  6. Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products?  None.
  7. Describe your style? (Vixen? Classic? Boho-Bold?)  Sex kitten.
  8. Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon?  Traci EllisRoss, Amber Rose and  Eva Marcielle.
  9. What is the one accessory you cant live without?  Sunglasses.
  10. What is your look for date night/girls night out? Red lip, light cheek and perfect brows!
  11. What industry are you in?  BEAUTY.
  12. Share your tips for diet and well being.  Live, love, and laugh every freaking day.
To keep up with what inspires Jonelle's beauty and style, check her out on Pinterest.   And follow her beauty blog:  Makeup In The City!  

3.28.2014

Unravel Your Relationship & Women's History Month



Dedicating her life to the betterment of the many people she comes in contact with, La Shell is passionate, insightful and unafraid to tackle life’s most daunting challenges.  Her personal affirmation -- “You can’t help the mental or emotional without giving the spiritual a good massage first” is the bedrock of her life philosophy. Having such an open and expansive way of thinking helps her and her clients deal effectively with personal and/or familial issues, as well as conflicts that arise in the course of their daily lives. 

The cornerstone of her work is her seminar coaching business, Unravel Your Relationship.  These “real-life classes” are the culmination of her academic, personal and professional experiences over the last two decades.  These workshops have focused on commitment issues, parenting in a digital world and learning to love one’s self.  She tailors her curriculum for each and every workshop and is constantly expanding on the issues that are tackled.  La Shell Wooten is a phenomenal life coach and counselor. 
  1. What’s your morning routine (makeup, hair, exercise, etc.)?  Wake at 5:30am, cook breakfast, prep the kids for school, shower, do make-up (some days)…and I am out the door.  My morning exercise is walking about 2 miles in my commute.
  2. What’s in your cosmetic bag?  Crap!  I have a mix-match of foundation, bronzer, eye shadow pallet, chapstick, eyeliner and lipstick, oh…and a few brushes.
  3. What is your beauty secret? I drink lots of water, I sleep well and I try not to wear make up every day.
  4. Name one product you can’t live without.  I can't live without a lip moisturizer.  I have a full mouth...my lips need to be soft.
  5. Describe your skincare routine.  It sucks, I think.  I wash with warm water and I moisturize with Vaseline. I think that is bad but it works for me – for now.  I also clean my make up off with Vaseline.
  6. Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products? No, not really but I want to.  I never have the time to figure it out.
  7. Describe your style?  (Vixen? Classic? Boho-Bold?)  Classic, sexy, fun. 
  8. Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon?  I love Sam Fine as a makeup artist. As for style, I like Eva Mendez, Kerry Washington, Queen Latifah (on her talk show). I am making this up. I don’t pay much attention to people’s style.
  9. What is the one accessory you can't live without? I love bangles and bracelets. 
  10. What is your look for date night/girl’s night out?  Date night, I like tight pants, low top, curly hair, nice jewels and heels.  Girls night out – same thing with less cleavage and funky boots.
  11. What industry are you in? I am a therapist, salon owner (of Rhapsody Beauty Salon)and entrepreneur in life coaching. 
  12. Share your tips for diet and well being.  Drink lots of water, minimize sweets and laugh A LOT.  Be faithful, not fearful.


3.20.2014

Being Well & Living Healthy & Women's History Month


"Making YOUR health a priority!" That's Lydia Andrew's mantra.  She believes as you feel better physically, you’ll be better mentally which creates a ripple effect in your life. This holistic health coach created Being Well + Living Healthy, a wellness transformation program.  With each session, she educates her clients to make changes in their everyday life through a personalized healthy action plan.  In my book, Lydia is another women making history. 

Lydia's journey to the health and wellness industry was a natural progression since she was always fascinated with how food affected the body and how our thoughts directly affected how we ate.  Lydia firmly believes that food can heal the body.  She is certain that If we focus our minds on wellness and eat nourishing foods, we can begin to live our best life. Her purpose is to empower, educate and enlighten others to do exactly that!  At the School for Integrative Nutrition, she was trained in more than 100 dietary theories, as well as a variety of lifestyle coaching methods. Always drawing from the unique nutrition philosophy she was taught,  she took a holistic approach to wellness and encourages her clients to consider everything from relationships, work, exercise and spirituality as essentials to building good health.  Working together, she creates a personalized "road map" to health that suits the client's unique body, lifestyle and goals.

And, she shares her beauty story here.

What’s your morning routine (makeup, hair, exercise, etc)? My morning routine is very simple: prayer, meditation, 10-minute stretch, oatmeal for breakfast. If I'm going out for the day, my makeup is always simple but makes a statement: foundation, pressed powder to take away the shine and eye makeup: eye shadow, mascara then I fill in my eyebrows.

What’s in your cosmetic bag? I have lots of stuff in my cosmetic bag:  
a palette of different colored lip glosses, eye shadows (a range of colors cause I like color!) various brushes, eyelash curler and blotting sheets.

What is your beauty secret? I guess my beauty secret would be always 
put Vaseline on your lips at night so as not to dry them out especially in the winter months and always lotion your hands and feet.

Name one product you can’t live without. I cannot live without lip balm.
I think I'm addicted to it (smile).

Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products? I use this natural soap that is made from olive oil.  Olivella Virgin Olive Oil Soap -- it's very moisturizing.

Share your favorite DIY skincare treatment or luxe treatment.  I just 'created' this natural facial mask to help gently exfoliate: honey, olive oil and ground up oatmeal.

Describe your style? (Vixen? Classic? Edgy? Romantic? Boho-Bold?) Hmm, my style I'd say is between classic and vixen I think. I love showing skin in a CLASSY way.
Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon? My style icon...hmm, so many to choose from; I'd have to say Iman, Lupita Nyongo (the girl is FLAWLESS every time she steps out!), Michelle Obama and Halle Berry just to name a few.

What is your look for date night/girl’s night out? My look for date 
night/girl's night out is always smoky eyes with a bronze highlight right under the brow. I love eye makeup so I make sure to do them up
right so they stand out.

What industry are you in? I am in the health and wellness industry.  NOTE: My first wellness expo will be on Saturday, March 29th, 11am -4pm.  Visit my website beingwell-ivinghealthy.com under the EVENTS tab to get more information.

Share your tips for diet and well being. One tip I have is to do everything in moderation. You do not have to deprive yourself in order to get healthy and stay healthy.

What is your best feature? My best feature...well I've been told I have 
two: my eyes and my smile.


3.13.2014

Cooking Cosmetics & Women's History Month

There are plenty of women in history who have made substantial contributions to our society.  And then there are women in our personal lives who are making history of their own.  That being said, I'm pleased to reacquaint you with my friend, Gena Surphlis. 

Gena is a former beauty industry professional and is currently the creator and owner of Cooking Cosmetics Inc. based in New York. Cooking Cosmetics educates youth ages 8-18 years old on how to use food and natural ingredients to make their own personal care products. She implemented S.H.Y. (Skin Healthy Youth), a mission to promote and encourage self esteem (click here to read more).  Essentially, they use food to be beautiful and healthy on the inside out!  Gena is a single mom of a college bound son who has inspired her every step of the way.

  1. What’s your morning routine?  Upon waking I drink a glass of water with lemon and cayenne. I rinse my face with cold water and while damp I apply a moisturizer (Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus) and then meditate and prayer.
  2. What’s in your cosmetic bag?  What’s not? LOL. Clinique lip gloss, Burts Bees Peppermint lip balm, coconut oil, benefit mascara.
  3. What is your beauty secret?  Sleep and tea tree oil.
  4. Name one product you can’t live without.  Burts Bees Lip Balm
  5. Describe your skincare routine.  At night, I remove make up with olive oil or coconut oil. I use a concoction of Castile soap with olive oil to wash and I rinse. While skin is still damp I apply Clarins Lotus Face Oil to my face and neck. If there are any dark circles, I apply aloe vera gel and if any pimples I add tea tree oil to the problem areas.
  6. Do you use any natural cosmetic or skin care products?  I try to stick to plant oils for my skin for moisture and use the more eco-friendly cosmetic brands.
  7. Describe your style?  Definitely boho-bold!
  8. Who is your beauty inspiration or style icon?  Everyone and no one. I don’t have anyone in particular…I like how most of the women we consider “style icons” dress at one time or another; however, it’s all about where I am going, how I am feeling and what’s clean in my closet!
  9. What is the one accessory you can’t live without?  Earrings!
  10. What is your look for date night/girl’s night out?  Date night and girls night out is most ALWAYS a dress. I love my curves and I think dresses are sexy. I like to accentuate my waist and height and there will always be a heel on my foot.
  11. What industry are you in? Beauty and wellness.
  12. Share your tips for diet and well being.  Limit, if not eliminate, anything “white” and refined (white rice, white bread, etc.) Limit sugar intake (unless of course you just can’t help it because you have PMS) and green leafy veggies are everything. I go back to basics with my daily cod liver oil and Vitamin C and I definitely recommend exercise. I always feel better; more focused and have more energy when I exercise. Sleep is essential and keeps the mind clear.  My tip for a healthy well-being is to embrace the love in your life…whether self love, friendship love, romantic love, family love…just absorb it and redistribute it when you can. Love is food for the soul.

3.06.2014

Women's History Month 2014

Women’s History Month began a few days ago on March 1st.  The original event was a week-long celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society.  Female entrepreneurs, innovators and advocates are remembered during this time.

Each of us knows someone who falls within these categories -- women who are making a bit of history all their own.  BLACKswan Beauty will showcase a few fearless females whose character, commitment and courage stand out to me.  They embrace their individuality, have an absolute sense of style and are extremely passionate about what they do!  Stay tuned to the BSB blog as I share deets about some of my fierce friends.


Photo:  womenshistory.about.com

1.28.2014

So FAB: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream



No matter that the temperature has been see-sawing between seasons -- extreme weather calls for extreme relief.  FIRST AID BEAUTY ULTRA REPAIR CREAM is THICK but it penetrates dry skin and relieves symptoms of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Formulated with Shea butter, eucalyptus oil and oatmeal, this FIRST AID BEAUTY CREAM can be used all over (face and body) plus its easily absorbed. Paraben, sulfate and GMO free and no synthetic fragrances or dyes. Safe for sensitive skin.  Available at Sephora/$28.

1.17.2014

Tory Burch Beauty


Just when you couldn't get enough TORY BURCH, she launches a new collection.  Add lipsticks to the double T-logo embossed line of goodies.  The launch consists of a dozen shades inspired by Indian art, summer flowers and red tomatoes.  The range?  From a barely there pink with a hint of sheen (Ramble on the Rose) to a lush deep wine (Swizzle).  TORY's beauty philosophy?  Less is more!  Her favorite shade is Pas du Tout, a pinky beige nude.  Available next month at NORDSTROM and select TORY BURCH boutiques/$32.

Pas du Tout



1.13.2014

Bite Beauty Contour Lip Liner

An angled brush gives you a precise line  crisp line. Now you can get that same precision and controlled placement when you use the BITE Beauty Contour Lip Liner.  The beveled point allows you to create different looks...defined, ombré or a fully shaded lip using the wide edge. No need to sharpen this retractable pencil since it goes on smooth (vegetable silicone and olive butters reduce dragging). Available in six shades exclusively at Sephora/$24 or check BiteBeauty.com for inspiration.




1.09.2014

BSB Accessory of the Month: Beanies

Knit beanies are such a hit this season.  I like both fitted and floppy but completely adore the ones with pom poms!  Generally any color will do but these neutral tones are perfect to pair with any outfit.  Dress them up or down depending on your mood just stay warm beauties....



1.08.2014

1.07.2014

Sarah's Shoe Obsession -- SJP Exclusively at Nordstrom

Hey 2014....and my BSBeauties!

I'm thrilled to be back with haute news about one of my besties (in my head).  Have you heard???  Sarah Jessica Parker (aka THE Carrie Bradshaw) is launching a shoe line exclusively at NORDSTROM! Having launched her perfume Lovely there, this retailer was the perfect place to bear her sole.

Walk into NORDIES next month and you can leave wearing shoes just like Carrie.  The collection, SJP, will include the famous look-a-like black Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes from the Sex & The City "Urban Shoe Myth" episode. This makes absolute sense since she's partnered with the president of Manolo Blahnik, George Malkemus. 

Vogue reported that she also looked to designs from Charles Jourdan and Maud Frizon for inspiration. The shoes will be in the $200-$300 range. Additionally, you can expect bags (up to $700) and maybe a few trench coats to complete your custom-designed SJP "look of the day."

Like most, I adore Sarah's fearless, quirky, sexy style..it's individuality at its best!  I can't wait to see the shoes AND I'm hoping to meet the style icon at my local NORDIES (she plans on doing appearances).  What about you?

Read more about this story on the NORDSTROM blog.

Photo by Steve Meisel/Vogue August 2003