Moving Blog Onto "Ultimate Beauty"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hello Brains and Beauty readers!

I apologize for not posting any new posts recently! I've actually decided to start moving a lot of my blog posts onto a new website that my boyfriend, Kwan, and I, have created: Ultimate Beauty - a website (a ning) dedicated to building beauty on the inside and out for all women! Definitely check it out! Just click on the "Kris's Blog" tab to see my latest postings!

How Men Feel About Women and Makeup

Monday, October 19, 2009

How do men really feel about women and their makeup?

Perfection - Is it Possible?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Black Men's Opinion on Natural Hair

Monday, September 28, 2009

Natural Beauty Products for Your Hair and Skin?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Creators of "Mixed Chicks" beauty product line

The "natural products" phenomenon is nothing new - plenty of women have been interested in only applying natural products to their hair and skin forever. I am particularly interested in checking out those sorts of products - I have been drawn to companies like Origins, which has a lot of natural products for your skin that refresh your skin and provide it with an enhanced and refreshing feeling and look (I specifically recommend my fave Origins product of the moment, "Modern Friction"). If you know of any natural hair and/or skin product sites, please let me know! I found a few sites that look really great, and I plan on purchasing some products or testers in the near future to try them out and do a blog post and Youtube video on them: Afrokinks and Mixedchicks. If you've tried their products and like or dislike them, also please feel free to let me know!

Have Independent Women Forgotten How to Let A Man Be a Man?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Essence Magazine's September 2009 issue, I noticed an article entitled "Who Wears the Pants?", where a man named Keith McQuillon, 42, tells an Essence reporter that independent women today have forgotten how to let men be men. Here is a snippet from the article:
"In 1996 my ex-wife and I split partly because she always wanted to be the one in control. Since then, I've been in only one serious relationship. Too many of the Black women I've dated wanted to call all the shots. Whenever I've tried to lead, I've repeatedly heard, "I'm not going to let a man run my life." Good, because I don't want to, but I do want someone who respects my opinion and wants to meet me halfway. I'd marry a woman who says, "Baby, why don't we do things your way this time?" I've noticed that women of other races seem more willing to let a man be a man. But I'd prefer to find a Black partner to build my future with. And when I find her, I'll treat her with the same love, care and respect that my dad showed my mom."

In my opinion, that quote in and of itself represents a growing divide between men and women today along the line of one particular question: Who really wears the pants in a relationship these days? And what does it really mean to say, "let a man be a man?"

First of all, I find it disconcerting that Keith lumps black women into a category and women of "other races" into another category. While there may be slight cultural (not racial) distinctions among independent women of different ethnic backgrounds, the overriding culture of "independent womanhood", in my opinion, does not really fall along racial lines. Women of all races and cultures today are finding themselves within their own independence and defining their financial and career independence without a boyfriend or husband dictating their steps. Many women, regardless of race, will hesitate and perhaps get very defensive if a man tried to harp upon their independence. In my opinion, black women are not the only women who would tell Keith, "I'm not going to let a man run my life." Even the intense popularity of "Sex and the City" (a show without black female protagonists) illuminates the increasing trend of independent/don't mess with my goals/you can't run my life-type women around the world today.

That said, I will address the main question posed in this article: Have independent women forgotten how to let a man be a man? I have not done any statistical studies on this question, but I can speak for myself when I ask the follow-up question: "What does it mean to 'let a man be a man?'" I find that as a society today, we collectively compare ourselves to generations of the past - the "the way way it used to be, sigh!" mentality that has often led people to make blanket and uninformed statements about gender divide issues today. In the beginning of the article, Keith explains that when he was growing up, his dad was the head of the household, and his mom followed his dad's lead. He states:

"When they disagreed, they talked it out, but he got the final say. Before you get all riled up, you should know I don't expect that. I like an opinionated and independent woman. But I believe in compromise, and I take issue with ladies who aren't willing to."
While I don't take issue with the latter part of Keith's statement, I would note that Keith appears to be torn between wanting to mirror his dad's role as a husband and Keith's own desire to respect a woman's independence and the concept of compromise. And Keith isn't the only man in the world with the same issue. With the increasing trend of independent women in today's world, I really do believe that men have been forced to make an adjustment, and either adapt to the trend or choose to reject it and only seek women who either don't want to be independent or are independent but prefer the man to lead on most decisions in a relationship.

As gender roles increasingly evolve, the question of "who wears the pants" is not an easy one to answer in 2009. On a literal level, both men and women put on their suits every weekday, report to work and earn their money. On a conceptual/figurative level, "who wears the pants" is a case by case situation, where men and women in relationships explicitly or implicitly make an agreement to let the man or the woman make the decisions, or whether they will choose to compromise on their decisions.

Take Charge of Your Credit

Saturday, September 12, 2009

As you probably already know, your credit score plays a very important role in your life, and it is crucial that you know how to maintain a great credit score. In Essence Magazine's September 2009 issue, I found an excellent article entitled "Take Charge of Your Credit!" by A.M. Rusin. It encourages readers to protect their credit scores by 1) opening all mail, 2) making timely payments, 3) staying out of the credit danger zone, 4) reassessing credit, and 5) getting a fixed rate on credit cards. Among all these tips, it is important to highlight #3: staying out of the credit danger zone. Be aware that "issuers are looking for red flags indicating a consumer is in trouble ... Late payments, high balances and cash advances could be a sign of cash flow problems and prompt a change in terms. If issuers sense you're at risk, they may assess a monthly fee, lower your credit line, or raise your APR," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( (cited in "Take Charge of Your Credit").

We may live in a "spending is cool" culture, but I very much encourage you to think twice before purchasing something on your credit card if you don't believe you can really afford it. My personal motto with credit is: if I can't realistically pay off my credit card this month if I purchase this item, I can't afford the item right now. The motto may sound a bit restrictive, but it definitely helps to maintain a good credit line and reduces the opportunity to rack up a exorbitant amount of credit card debt. In Essence's "Take Charge of Your Credit" article, it provides 4 ways to protect your credit score:
Payment History. "Grace periods are shrinking," states Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "Open your statements the day they arrive."
Amounts Owned. "Don't carry a balance that is more than 30 percent of your available credit because having higher ratios can begin to negatively affect your score," says Bruce Cornelius, chief marketing officer for
Length of Credit. "Don't get angry and close an account," warns Cunningham. Your credit history is calculated as an average, so a one-month-old account averaged against a ten-year account will shorten the history and lower the score.
Types of Credit Used. Be wary of 0 percent interest or no-money-down offers. If you do use credit for a large purchase, know that installment terms have a more positive impact because the terms are fixed.

For those of you that are trying to increase your credit score, don't fret. I very much encourage you to check out the Suze Orman Show or go to the library or bookstore and check out her books. She offers sound and excellent financial advice, and is very clear and concise with her commentary. I would also suggest ordering a copy of your credit report (you can get it for free at once a year).

Is "Weave" A Dirty Word?

Friday, September 4, 2009

<-- Jessica Simpson's Clip-In Hair Extensions

As much as I support any woman who wants to have fun with their hair and diversify their look with hair extensions, I can't help but wonder: Is the word "weave" a dirty word? And if so, why?

I know that some women with naturally long hair take offense when another person accuses them of having fake hair, when the hair is completely natural. I also know that many women who do wear extensions take offense when someone points it out and teases them about it. However, considering the popularity of hair extensions over the ages, why do people freely accuse others of having a weave and then joke about it? For example, people continuously love to point out the fact that Beyonce, Tyra Banks, and Naomi Campbell all wear extensions. Many people even joke about it, to the degree where they have published videos on YouTube providing proof that they wear extensions. I have even heard women blatantly accuse another woman with long hair of having a weave, as if it were a bad thing (the statement is usually a variation of the following quote: "That isn't her real hair - she has a weave!"). One particular YouTube video attempts to make a convincing argument that "Weaves make [black women] look bad." Several black women with naturally long hair have also published videos on YouTube about their frustration with people accusing them of having weaves, when their hair is actually their own.

The degree of scrutiny over fake hair has led me to this question: Is the word "weave" a dirty word? Specifically, is "weave" a dirty word when talking about a black women's hair? To be honest, I really don't know, but I do know that many people of all races and ethnicities wear hair extensions hoping that people would make the assumption that it is their own hair. There are also people who feel a strange obligation to point out that a woman is wearing extensions, as if to discover a beauty flaw or insinuate that the person is not as beautiful because that hair supposedly does not naturally belong to the woman's body. They have gone so far as to tug on women's hair at public gatherings (e.g. at nightclubs) or quickly tap the back of the woman's head to test whether or not the woman is wearing a wig and/or can feel weave track lines on the back of the head. A lot of black women have had to deal with this issue, particularly in light of the fact that some people have a hard time digesting the fact that black women can naturally have long hair. An unnecessary and ridiculous situation? Yes. But does it happen? All the time.

I personally think people need to leave others alone when it comes to their hairstyle choices. I also think that it is silly to automatically assume that a black woman has hair extensions if she has long hair flowing down her back. And if you happen to like wearing hair extensions, keep rocking your look. If people have an issue with it, they'll get over it. If they don't, it is their issue, and not yours.

Fall 2009 Makeup Trends

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I have never really used to pay close attention to seasonal makeup trends - I am a dark red lipstick/black eyeliner girl all the way. However, I have become increasingly interested in changing up my look, and I know that many of you may be interested in some change as well! After doing a bit of investigation of Fall 2009's makeup trends, I present the trend verdict:

According to Benjamin Twist in his article, "Best Fall 2009 Makeup Colors", "the latest fashion trends for fall 2009 makeup colors are all about high contrast - bright, deep, dramatic colors against a very light, natural background."

Eyes: "[D]ark and bold. Purple is one of the best fall makeup colors overall, and the eyes are no exception. Put on a lush coat of deep purple eye shadow for a truly trendy look this fall." Twist also suggests deep earthy tones, like forest greens, browns, in order to bring out your natural eye color for a more neutral look. "Gold and bronze, and similar metallic colors, are some other hot new makeup colors for fall 2009." I was thrilled to find out that the smoky eye look is still in style: "Smoky eyes, with dark mascara and black eye shadow, are hotter than ever, and if anything the look is moving toward even bolder and darker smoky eye makeup for the fall 2009 fashion season."

Lips: I am in love with dark red lipstick, so I'm happy that it is a fashionable 2009 fall trend. Twist states that "the hottest trends in makeup colors for fall 2009 are bright reds and ripe, juicy berry colors." I'm not a personal fan of purple (I don't think I could pull it off), but Twist notes that "purple is one of the best fall makeup colors for lips as well as eyes, so it may be worth getting a few shades of deep purple lipstick."

Interestingly enough, I may have to make some adjustments with this particular fall 2009 trend: Not using dark colors on both the eyes and the lips. Twist notes that this is a very clear trend in makeup trend this season, so he advises that you give give only one part of your face a bold look, and opt for a more neutral look on the rest of your palette.

Nails: Twist notes that "for fingernails, purple and metallic colors like gold and bronze are once again the hot makeup colors for fall 2009. Set off the colors in the rest of your look with a bold and dramatic dark nail polish." I personally will opt for pinks and bronzes - I don't really think purple and gold nails work for a lot of office environments.

Foundation and Eyebrows: Twist advises that "the best look for the fall 2009 beauty trends is to keep it neutral and minimalist. A light touch of foundation is plenty, and natural, bold eyebrows are in fashion so be careful not to over-sculpt your brows or make them too narrow." I already use really light (as opposed to a heavy) powder foundation, so I'm all set on that trend. Regarding my eyebrows - I like my eyebrows sculpted, and am trying to stop over-sculpting them. I may have to tear myself away from the tweezers a bit more, but I am definitely making a conscious effort to allow my eyebrows to grow in a bit more and get a fuller look overall.

In addition to Twist's advice, I would definitely recommend a voluminous mascara - a bit hit for fall 2009 makeup looks. Full, delicious lashes are always in, so check out your nearest beauty counter and pick up a new tube! My favorite mascara? Christian Dior's DiorShow, which can be found at your nearby Sephora store, or online at

Michelle Obama's Hair - A Mainstream Media Topic?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Michelle Obama is the First Lady, so it is understandable that people feel free to critique her fashion, her makeup, and her hair on a daily basis. However, her hair has increasingly become a focus of discussion in the mainstream media. As I was randomly surfing the web tonight, I did not take long for me to see Michelle's face on the main page of, attached to an article entitled, "Why Michelle Obama's Hair Matters" (written by Jenee Desmond-Harris) - I very much encourage you to read it when you get a moment.

I wouldn't be shocked if I saw this article on (I adore that website) or, but my mouth dropped when I saw that it was the headline story on Why? Well, black hair has never really been a mainstream topic at all. People may refer to it on occasion when talking about Oprah, Tyra Banks, or Beyonce, but for the most part, the discussion has been limited, and for the most part, myopic in scope. Black hair has primarily remained a topic within black media, dissected and deconstructed in every possible way. While I am not upset that mainstream media has not taken it upon themselves to deeply understand the cultural and historical underpinnings of the controversy surrounding different "black hairstyles," I have always secretly desired some sort of basic mass media education on black hair, simply because of the ignorant statements made about black women in the media regarding their hair, in addition to the fact that I have personally been approached by people who were very inquisitive about black hair (how it is maintained, done, etc) and didn't understand it at all.

So I guess Michelle Obama has indirectly become the catalyst for a discussion about black hair in the mainstream media. Chris Rock's new documentary coming out called "Good Hair" (seeYoutube video below) will also contribute more dialogue to the discussion. My only remaining question is - is mainstream media ready to understand black hair? My answer: We shall see!

Don't Let Anyone Limit Your Dreams

Monday, August 31, 2009

In the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" (2006), Will Smith's character (Chris Gardner) says to his son, "Don't ever let somebody tell you you can't do something - not even me." He continues, "You got a dream...You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period." The quote may sound extra cute and sugary to some of you, but within the context of the movie, it was a really powerful statement. I am a big proponent of the quote, primarily due to the fact that I have always believed it and applied it to my life. The quote also packs plenty of "punch" for those who need some inspiration to re-fuel their ambition right now. I believe every person has the right to determine his or her destiny, and that no other person should be given the right to limit another person's dreams or happiness. If you work hard and are determined to achieve a particular goal, you have every right to keep on pushing forward without letting other people interfere with your ambition. You also have the right to keep pushing on in the middle of a setback. Think about a successful person you know, and/or any successful person you see in the media (think Bill Gates, Oprah, and the list goes on). Many successful people dealt with people or situations that either tried to directly limit or abort their success, and/or tried to indirectly halt or abort their dream goals. However, when all is said and done, you have the ability and right to push on forward toward your dream, despite the existence of naysayers that may be surrounding you. Absolutely no one can take that right away from you.

Achieving success usually means overcoming some sort of obstacle along the way - so don't cancel out your dreams even though it feels like you're facing a wall. For every achievement in my life, I always made a conscious choice to push forward if and when an obstacle crossed my path. An obstacle may look and feel defeating at first, but it is so important to realize that it will only be a permanent brick wall if you allow it to be a brick wall. Even if you don't have anyone around you to encourage you on a regular basis, I really hope that you will continue on and push forward toward your dream, and push all the critics to the side as you step into your next achievement in life. :)

Back To School Style - Are You Ready?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kwan (my boyfriend) and I just came back from the mall and of course, ran into the "back to school" mall traffic! As we walked past different stores, I couldn't help but notice the various fashions and the amount of young men and women exploring the racks in most of the stores, looking for the perfect outfits. I would like to encourage any student who is about to go back to school (grade school, college, grad school, etc.) to not get too caught up in trying to fit into any particular fashion standard. For example, don't feel pressured into wearing skinny jeans, baggy jeans, showing more skin, wearing crazy high gladiator heels, or wearing clothing that is way too tight to breathe in! Instead, find clothes that you like, regardless of whether or not they are up to par with the standards set by Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, or Vogue Magazine. I just graduated from grad school, but this time of year always reminds me of the excitement of going to the store and picking out the newest clothes for school that I thought fit my body well, and clothes that accentuated my personality and style. (I also had a funny tendency to buy a shirt in more than one color if I really liked it :)). I personally preferred stores like Macy's, Sears, and Kohl's, and occasionally checked out JC Penny's - all of the stores had amazing back to school deals, and I always did my research and studied each catalogue ahead of time to nail down which clothes that I liked the best.

If by chance you are not able to splurge on clothes and new fashions this fall season, do not fret! Find different ways to combine your outfits and create a new look that you would wear to school. Have fun combining different scarves, shirts and blouses with your skirts, pants and shorts, change up which shoes you choose to wear with different outfits, and change up your color combinations for a new style. I would also suggest even changing up your makeup or hairdo style in order to give your overall appearance a fresh new look. I also recommend that you do not compare yourself to others and their choice of style - As I always say, be you, and create your own style. You never know, you may set a new trend, and people will want to copy your style!

Is Lil' Wayne the New Denzel?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rapper Paul Wall
Have you ever noticed guys posing around you, trying to look cool in order to impress you and/or win your attention? Interestingly enough, I've noticed an increasing number of guys trying to "pose" as they drive or walk around town. I know posing is by no means a new phenomenon, but now, the posing seems to have taken on a strong "Lil Wayne" flavor, which is hilarious as well as unfortunate. In one summer, I noticed more than a few guys who have taken on the Lil' Wayne look, and trying to get attention and win ladies with variations of this particular look:

Rapper Lil Wayne

Now, I don't mean to sound superficial, but really? Lil Wayne may be popular on the music charts (which is questionable enough on its own), but I really don't think most women are attracted to that look. In fact, I don't think most women are attracted to guys who don't pull their pants up and/or dress appropriately overall. So my question is: why do guys think that it is cool and attractive to dress this way? I have asked my guy friends this question, and they just shrug their shoulders as well. I personally think these "Lil Wayne" look-alikes are just confused, they don't realize how they actually appear in society, and are completely unaware of the vast amount of women who find the look incredibly unattractive as well as unappealing. I have never heard a girl swoon over guys who dress like Lil Wayne - with a shirt way too big, pants hanging off their behind, etc. On the other hand, I've heard plenty of women swoon over Denzel Washington/Morris Chestnut/Boris Kudjoe/Tay Diggs/Blair Underwood types PLENTY of times (see pics below).

I have always been attracted to men who know how to dress well and carry themselves with class, and I don't think I am an anomaly among most women. I just hope the young men clueless enough to dress so inappropriately choose to wise up and pull their pants up if they really want to attract a good woman.

Do Men Prefer Long Hair?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I just came across some random youtube videos of women combing really long hair, and as much as I found the hair itself lovely, I was slightly disturbed by the amount of male commenters underneath the videos stating that the hair was "so sexy," etc. I understand that these people could simply have a long hair fetish, but I then wondered if men naturally prefer women with longer hair.

I personally don't believe that men really care if hair is short or long - rather, they are attracted to hair that looks healthy overall. Interestingly enough, research indicates that men may actually prefer long hair on women. In the article "Why do men prefer long hair" on, the author states, "research has demonstrated that there is an evolutionary reason for men to prefer long hair to short hair on women." The article notes that "according to evolutionary theory, features considered attractive by the opposite sex serve as indicators of reproductive fitness." This may sound bogus, but the article travels deeper into this theory: "Experiments and observations have demonstrated that a woman's hair plays a major role in how men rate a woman's attractiveness. The quality and length of hair serves as a marker of genetic strength and overall health." Furthermore, "several studies have demonstrated that men find women with medium-length to long hair more attractive than shorter haired counterparts. Men also rate longer haired women as healthier and fitter than shorter haired women."

So, does this mean that you have to give up your short locks if you want to attract men? Of course not. All you have to do is look at the male fascination with Halle Berry, and any red-blooded male will tell you that she is a stunning woman with her short hair. The article also duly points out that "men are not ruled by evolutionary biases and many men report preferring short hair to long hair." It continues, "Shorter hair that is healthy and lustrous is better than having long hair that is damaged and unkempt." I completely agree with this author when he/she states, "Whatever the length, maintaining your hair's healthy appearance is the best way to ensure your partner or potential partner will appreciate the beauty of your hair."

So if you feel the need to get extensions in order to appear more attractive, you can let that feeling go - men will dig you, whether your hair is or looks really long, or if it is really short. Just be yourself and wear a hairstyle that you like that can be maintained in a healthy way, and the right man for you will be attracted to your unique style.

Stress and Beauty - A Major Disconnect

Friday, August 21, 2009

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between stress and beauty? You may actually be concerned about how the stress in your life may be affecting your health, and perhaps, even your youthful glow. Additionally, the media pours beauty products down our throats on a daily basis, convincing us that if we do happen to show signs of stress or age, there is always a product that can fix it.

Stress can have serious effects on your beauty. According to Shakila Akhter in her article, "Stress Leads to Ugliness," (2002) "Emotional stresses disturb the body homeostasis that results in hormonal malfunctioning, impairment of body immunological functions and slows down the skin rejuvenation." Akhter provides further explanation of the skin and its renewal process:

"Skin constantly renews itself. At young age the cell renewal process completes within 28 days but as we grow older the speed of this process slows down. In addition to age that process is also effected due to our mental state of mind. The period of mental disturbance slows down the process of cell renewal, destroys collagen fibers in the skin, breaks down its elastin and increases the production of sebum oils in oily skin people and dehydrate dry skin."

Your mental health is therefore the key to beautiful skin, so take care of your mind as well as your skin on a daily basis in order to maintain a youthful glow and complexion. This sounds easier than done, right? I totally agree with you. I have always been aware of the effects that stress has on my hair and skin, but some of the information and advice regarding how to relieve stress was incompatible with my personality and/or lifestyle. Akhter provides some very basic and helpful tips that can help with relieving stress and minimizing stressful effects on your beauty (This list is especially useful if you notice side effects of stress like physical changes (e.g. weight gain, weight loss, hair breakage, skin changes, etc.):
-First of all just leave the stressful situation and drink a glass of water.
-Don’t make any decision during those phases.
-Don’t make any negative judgement about yourself.
-Think about positive traits of your personality. Nobody is ideal and perfect in this world. Every one has some weakness, if you too have some than there is nothing wrong with you.
-Don’t try to seek the help of cigarette, alcohol or any drug.
-Get involved yourself in some easy to do work like cleaning your wardrobe, arranging your bookshelf, do painting. But whatever work you start you have to complete it.
-Call your friend, talk to him/her about your problem. If you don’t want to do so than just take a paper and write down about every thing that is coming to your mind without censoring anything.
-Do aerobics or yoga or just go out for a long walk.

I have a terribly bad habit of drinking coffee when I am really stressed out, and I am currently in the process of changing that bad habit and am choosing to drink more water overall. I stay away from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, I tend to talk out issues with close friends, and I am a big fan of exercising (particularly running, pilates, yoga and dance). When I am really stressed, I like to take epsom salt baths as soon as possible, which relax my body and mind.

I encourage you not to wait to take care of yourself until you get into a stressful situation. Instead, I suggest being proactive rather than reactive, and begin to address whatever physical and mental health issues you may have, so that when you do find yourself in a stress storm, your ability to react accordingly will be a lot better. And of course, the effects on your beauty and overall complexion will (hopefully) be minimal.

My Issue with Pantene's Hair Products

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let me preface this post by stating that I have absolutely nothing against the Pantene brand in and of itself. I love their advertisements, and the brand definitely puts itself out there for the purpose of raising awareness for different causes, which I think is an excellent move. On a personal level however, I don't care for Pantene, based on my own experience with their products. Furthermore, I have a personal tick against any company that promotes beauty products for women of color and the products do not deliver what they promise. If you type in "pantene" and "women of color," you will indubitably find complaint after complaint in numerous forums across the internet, created over the course of several years (in fact, when I type in "pantene" and "women of color," the first hit that appears in google is an actual site entitled "Warning About Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner for Women of Color"). Interestingly enough, my experience with the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo as well as Pantene Beautiful Lengths shampoo was not at all far from the experiences of other women - the shampoo pretty much weakened my hair and directly contributed to some really annoying breakage. The second main ingredient in the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo happens to be petroleum, which just coats the hair with grease, rather than adding any strength to the hair strand. The main ingredients in the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Shampoo seem to be quite normal for any shampoo, but there is something else in their list of ingredients that had the exact same breakage impact on my hair. Yet, when I switch to my other hair products that I always tend to use (usually dominican products), my hair goes back to normal and the breakage stops. Go figure. A vast majority of other women in the forums online seem to have the same experience.

My issues with Pantene's shampoos on relaxed hair lend themselves to one basic overall tip for any company that wants to promote their brand to women of color:

Please do not produce or advertise products that do not work for your consumers. If you notice numerous websites and forums dedicated to consumers' distaste for your products, that should be an indicator that you should change the chemical composition or overall strategy with production if you want to maximize profits. And if you don't change the product, don't be surprised when sales decline - word travels fast, and women tend not to visit the same beauty product twice if it messes with their hair after the first use.

Enough said. :)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hello Brains and Beauty readers!

I hope all is well with you this summer! All is well on my end, but of course, exam preparation has once again gobbled up my free time! I am in the process of studying for the bar, so I will resume posting topics as of the beginning of August. I am definitely looking forward to bringing this blog to the next level, with more posts, more topics, and videos. I am also looking forward to updating the template too in the next few months, so don't be surprised if you see a hot new look at some point in the near future! The next blog topic will most likely be about the truth regarding hair products - I have been doing research for fun on the chemicals found in certain shampoos and conditioners (for example, avoid Pantene's shampoos at all costs if you relax your hair), and am looking forward to sharing my research with you once my exams are over.

I just want to thank you again for reading my blog, and if you have any topics that you would like for me to cover, always feel free to share (you can leave a comment below this post and I will definitely log it as a future post idea!). Also, feel free to check out my videos on youtube and leave comments, rate the videos, share, or whatever you would like to do! :)

-Kris :)

Some Quick Tips for Those Looking for Love

Saturday, June 27, 2009

You probably see these quick tips in magazines ALL the time, but the list that I found in July 2009's Redbook magazine, "Looking for love: 5 ways to get started," (p.94), is actually quite good and to the point. I have to admit, it is incredibly easy to say to oneself: "No one is out there for me!," but I beg to differ: every woman can find a good match out in the world, and every man can do the same as well. I will speak from personal experience when I tell you that when my boyfriend and I met, I wasn't necessarily looking for love at all, but we became very good friends, and after a while, it just made sense to seal the deal and make our relationship permanent, because we loved each other too much to not be with each other. The love story that you tell (or will tell) may be the same, or may be different. Either way, don't lose hope on finding that special one. The five tips listed below provide some great insight and some hope:
Redbook Magazine, "Looking for Love: 5 ways to get started," (p.94)
-by: Nicole Yorio

1. Get a Life. Maintain an exciting schedule full of friends, hobbies, and activities you love. Being happy in your life will draw others to you.
2. Get out there. Take advantage of online dating services, blind dates set up by friends, or classes where you might connect with someone with similar interests. Keep an open mind - you never know whom you'll discover.
3. Don't be shy. Make eye contact, smile, and start conversations. Nothing is more attractive than someone who is interested in the world.
4. Move on. If you feel sure that a guy doesn't have what you're seeking, don't keep seeing him. Each additional date with the wrong person is a missed opportunity to meet the right one.
5. Enjoy the journey. You're meeting new people, trying new activities, and exploring the fun, sexy side of yourself. The guy for you will come when the time is right.

My favorite tip: #5! It is a perfect combo of all of the aforementioned tips, and I love the statement: "The guy for you will come when the time is right." Too many of us want the guy to come when we want him to come. Let life work itself out - you may be pleasantly surprised by what you trip upon when you are in the process of falling in love with yourself and life, first.

The Chris Brown/Rihanna Court Hearing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For those of you who are interested, here is the relatively brief video of Chris Brown and Rihanna in court today:

Does Michelle Obama's Hair "Soften" Her Skin Color?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I just finished reading the now well-circulated and discussed article entitled, "The Michelle Obama hair challenge," written by Erin Aubry Kaplan. In this article, Erin delves deep into a discussion about Michelle Obama's hairstyle and what it means for her image, and the potential societal ramifications of having a black First Lady in the White House. Overall, I agree with most of her points, but there is something quite unsettling about the notion that Michelle Obama's hair "softens" her race:

"...I wonder whether such a young, high-profile black woman who gets her hair straightened or relaxed as a matter of course will occasionally let it be something different: unstraightened, less straightened, or anything that doesn't bounce, lie flat or swing like a pageboy. In other words, a do that suggests her ethnicity rather than softens it."

Further down in the article, she states:

"Hair texture and skin color work in tandem: The darker you are, the harder you have to offset it with "good" hair in order to be considered attractive or acceptable. If Michelle weren't dark-skinned with classic black features, she might not be so wedded to super-straight locks."

I find both of these statements somewhat disturbing, and I am not quite sure if I am wedded to the same opinion. As a black woman, I have worn my hair in various styles, from braids, to cornrows, and the "relaxed"/"straightened" look, and I have loved how each and every hairstyle accentuated my beauty. Unfortunately, "accepted" femininity in American society has always centered on styles that were of the more "flowing" or "as-close-to-straight-as-humanly possible" nature, and for centuries, black women have found themselves in different degrees of negotiation stages with their hair and what it means to be beautiful: "If I go straight, that means xyz. If I stay natural, that means xyz. If I do braids with straightened hair underneath, that means xyz." All of these different, and individualized decisions, lead black women to a place where they feel comfortable with their beauty, and how their hair fits within the current paradigm of "accepted femininity." As much as a black woman's hair may have an impact on how others perceive her, I am disturbed by the proposition that straightened hair automatically softens her image, or offsets darker skin tones. Many natural hairdos do not automatically lend themselves to political undertones, and I think it is erroneous to conclude that a more natural hairdo cannot both enhance a black woman's beauty and have a "softened" effect at the same time. I know plenty of black women who have rocked absolutely stunning natural hairdos that have also brought out their particularly stunning features, and these styles were not necessarily of the "Pantene Relaxed and Natural" commercial variety.

Michelle can rock various non-straight hairstyles that would look absolutely wonderful, and not be considered threatening or societally-misplaced in the beauty spectrum. These do's could both enhance her ethnicity as well as enhance her beauty, as well as complement her dark and lovely skin tone. If she chooses to wear her hair straight, perhaps it is not out of pressure to fit a standard or not be a threat to those scared of "nappiness." Perhaps her straightened hair is just her style right now. Will I be more than thrilled if she changes it up? Of course - she is a major fashion icon right now, and any style she does will have varying degrees of impact on women of all races and ethnicities. If she sticks with the style, so be it. Straightened hair or not, Michelle does not need hair to "soften" her racial identity - on the contrary, the softness and femininity of her beauty is already automatically intertwined with her racial identity and her skin tone, and her decision to wear her hair in any particular style is simply a transient beauty accessory.

Problems with Today's Music and its Effects on Today's Children

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Drizzy Drake"

I can't help but ponder about the music industry these days and seriously wonder what is happening to the quality of pop/rap/R&B music. I didn't think the day would come so early, when I would start saying, "Back in the day (for me, the 80s and 90s), the music was amazing!" If you scroll through my IPOD, you will see a serious amount of pop, rock, rap and r&b music from the 1980s and 1990s - music that, in my opinion, had amazing authenticity, zest and soulfulness to it. Which artist today could possibly compare to Sade, Boys to Men, Tears for Fears, Tony! Toni! Toné!, and the list goes on! Interestingly enough, I am more than disappointed in how the music industry today packages artists out of their natural element and into some prototypical, cookie-cutter image in the name of sales. I am talking about guys like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Drizzy Drake, to name a few. These artists claim to be "hard," but what do they even know about a hard knock life? These artists are prepackaged to look tough, rough, and people buy into the images because the look and the sound are enough to convince people that these artists know what it is like to live a rough lifestyle. If you spend some time seriously researching these artists' backgrounds, you'll be surprised to know the actual truth about their relatively tame origins.

Now, on the radio, songs have gone from relatively "sexual" to downright nasty. One of the songs that won't leave the airways these days is the song entitled, "Birthday Sex," by Jeremih. Some people may like it, but in my opinion, this type of song style is worse than music produced by Keith Sweat, which is really bad. I don't mean to pick on these artists, but I am seriously tired of hearing songs on the radio that should not be heard by young children (who walk around singing these lyrics and also implementing these words into their daily lifestyles). I understand that the music industry is very liberal and has the right to put out whatever songs it chooses to, but we need to be way more mindful about what the more popular radio stations (and television music channels) are choosing to play over and over again.

For those of you who may think that this music is simply a part of your culture, I beg to differ with you: since when is our culture based on drugs, sex and crime? Isn't there anything more substantial to urban or pop culture? I understand that these themes have always been present in music on some level (particularly since the days of Elvis Presley), but it has gotten substantially worse, and has arrived at one of the most base and disappointing levels of artistry - it even pains me to even call it "art." We need to re-evaluate the music that we choose to buy, listen to, and re-think what we allow to represent American music culture, as well as the overall culture of younger generations today. Otherwise, children today will unfortunately continue to be influenced by songs that may have a decent or good beat, but have zero substance and deleterious effects in the long run.

Pressures to be Perfect

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I've received some messages in my Youtube account, and have watched some informative videos on Youtube, that inspired me to write this blog post (and do a follow-up Youtube video as well). Many people in this world are in constant pursuit of perfection, and at times, that pursuit can evolve into a pressure that can feel overwhelming. For the person who feels that pressure, it can appear as a gnawing and constant pressure to measure up to a particular standard imposed on you by yourself, others, or what he or she perceive others to be pressuring them to be or become, and hopefully avoid a sense of failure rise to some level of accepted or ideal accomplishment. Interestingly enough, so many people live their lives day by day managing this pressure, and among these people, many are drowning within the pressure to various points of psychological breakdown/distress. You may not even realize that your best friend, colleague, family member, or an acquaintance that always seems to have their act together, is drowning in the pressure and would, if provided, appreciate a vacation from it.

I am no stranger to pressures to be perfect - hence, the reason why I feel qualified to write this post, and also a partial reason for my inspiration to label this blog, "Brains and Beauty." As a woman, I completely understand the pressures to look beautiful. As a student, I have always put pressure on myself to do well academically, and acknowledged good grades with a sense of accomplishment and a "pat on the back" for a job well done. As a daughter, I've put pressure on myself to be a perfect daughter who rarely makes mistakes, and live life perfectly. As a result, I've put pressure on myself to be the perfect combination of both brains and beauty, eventually coming to the conclusion in my mid-twenties that the pressure to be perfect was literally gnawing at my ability to reasonably enjoy my life to the fullest. On many days, I had an agenda to make strides towards some goal/combination of goals, and if I did not accomplish them, I would feel as if that day was a "less than perfect" day, and I went to bed feeling incomplete. Managing this pressure for perfection increasingly became a burden, and I began to realize that although this pressure may have helped me accomplish a lot within 25 years, there was a better way to live life and accomplish everything without attempting to measure up to a self-imposed standard of perfection.

What is that better way? There are various ways to be released from the pressure for perfection - for me, I chose my faith: Christianity. In the beginning of my law school career, I attended a church with a relaxed environment that discussed life principles and advice through lessons of the Bible, and I eventually realized and accepted that I was already "perfect" in the eyes of God and did not have to live for whatever self-imposed concept of perfection that existed in my own mind. I can honestly say that my law school experience was manageable and at times quite enjoyable primarily due to my faith in God.

Now, I understand that many of you who are reading this may not be Christian, believe in God, or experienced a relationship with God in a similar way, but I can tell you that if you need a release from a daily pressure for perfection, that release is truly possible. If you asked for my honest opinion about the ideal way, I would say that embracing a relationship with God and attending a church that is right for you is a great start (of course, I am speaking from personal experience). (Note: I am not asking you to embrace an idea of going through the motions of being a Christian - e.g., going to church, praying "traditional" prayers, etc. I specifically mean actually embracing a relationship with God and understanding how He really feels about you. Check out the ministries of Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer online for some great examples).
Besides a faith-based approach, I would encourage you to write down what you feel pressure about on a day to day basis, and ask yourself why you feel that pressure, if that pressure is necessary in order to be successful, and begin to accept yourself and your accomplishments on a daily basis outside of that pressure. I also encourage you to consider therapy if needed, or check out self-help books (if you feel comfortable perusing them in the store, or if not, online), and dig your heels into ways you can enjoy your life a little bit better, every day.

There is no one cure-all solution to relieving yourself from pressure for perfection. Depending on your particular pressure(s), personality, lifestyle, etc., what works for you may be a tailored solution that may or may not have worked for me. But I will say this: one of the best things you can possibly do for your every day life is to unlearn this particular kind of pressure, and learn how to accomplish your daily goals and dreams, and be satisfied and comfortable with your work at the end of the day. This is not an overnight process - but if you commit to a particular solution on a day to day basis (and adjust it as needed), you'll eventually realize the benefits of feeling increasingly "pressure-less" and more personally satisfied, accomplished, complete, relaxed, and joyful overall in all areas of your life.

The Media's Fascination with Jon and Kate Plus 8, and All Things "Reality"...

There is something to be said about the media's intense placement of focus and attention on the stars of "Jon and Kate, Plus 8" - I don't really "get it." I understand that the show is a highly-rated show on the television network, TLC, and that the content of the show is quite amusing and very entertaining, but as the media loves to do, it is currently in the process of sinking its quite pointy teeth deeper and deeper into what appeared to be a seemingly decent family set-up and is enjoying the process of destroying the image of this family in the name of money. Now, I don't really care for the show all that much (every now and again I am very amused by the children and their antics though!), but I will say that I do care about the fact that this is an actual family that the media is picking apart - literally - by the seams. I think it is incredibly easy to confuse real life for fantasy, and are perhaps equating the Jon and Kate Plus 8 show with shows like the Brady Bunch, feeling incredibly free to criticize and evaluate them simply because they are on television to entertain and amuse us on a weekly basis. However, it is absolutely crucial that we do not fall into the trap of assuming that these are not real people with real emotions, and we must remember that they actually do hear the comments that are being spewed their way, minute by minute. Even more importantly, Jon and Kate's kids are probably hearing the media's comments as well (if not directly through the media, then their friends may be telling them, etc.). I know that the media is always sitting on top of an anxious piggy bank, desperate to fill its little piggy slot with revenue derived from the next big media blitz, but I think it should seriously stop trying to tear real people apart.

Reality television in and of itself, to be honest, is a free-for-all with the media, which is why I would encourage anyone who wants to be on a reality show to think twice before considering showing up in line for a chance to have their 5 seconds of fame on television. Reason? It is very rare that the media will be kind to just about anyone on television these days - all you have to do is watch shows like TMZ on television to realize that just about everyone on television is torn apart for everything they say, what they do, what they wear, an out of place wrinkle, or even a sleepy expression that can be read and interpreted in about five million ways. In my opinion, everyday life brings enough stuff to do and think about without tacking on the chaos that is attached to the seemingly hypocritical and harsh world of stardom these days. And yet, this call for "you can be the next big thing!" tears at the hearts of so many people every single day, who are simply yearning for a chance to be seen, to be noticed, to be popular - to simply be brought to a newer level of importance. I really do hope that more people will begin to reevaluate such a personal need, understand the psychological roots of their desire for fame, and realize that the world of reality television, for many of its stars, is equivalent to a beautifully-wrapped box with a gigantic piece of coal sitting inside of it.

Video Response to Hair Care Video Questions

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pressure to Fit In?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One of the principles that I abide by everyday is the fact that I have the right to choose who I am and I do not have to subscribe to any particular pattern of behavior, attitude or thought, in order to happily live my life. There are plenty of pressures to conform behavior to those that we choose to (or want to) be friends with, date, etc., but I do not understand the allure in changing who I am for someone else. Now, I am not saying that I haven't personally been influenced by those that I have let into my life - no human being can live so stubbornly as to not be influenced in any way by those around them. Looking back on my old dating relationships, for example, I realize that I had altered some of my perspectives and beliefs in order to conform to my partner's thought life. My decision to do well in school and eventually go to a top university and eventually graduate from law school was largely based on my family's interest in placing academic success as a top priority, as well as friends who were also interested in performing well in school and in life overall. However, I will definitely say that I am very picky about who I let influence my life and my perception of self - I don't like to have intimate friendships with "downers" - people who constantly live in a negative people who do anything to bring another person down - and I don't really care to hang out with people who are constantly criticizing/hating on/prejudiced against other people. As much as I value my friendships, my friends know that I don't really care to conform to any particular societal group or cookie-cutter stereotype, and they know that I stand by my beliefs, while duly respecting their perspectives as well.

The idea of "fitting in" may feel like a never-ending social pressure for many people, but I personally believe in "fitting into myself," continually growing into my own individuality, while allowing myself to have fun, be encouraged and lifted up through enjoying the company of others.

What Do Smart Women Look Like?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I think there is a weird misconception that a woman who is smart has to be packaged in one particular flavor of a look, easily categorized as a smarty-pants and nothing else. Stereotypically, she is the woman that you see wearing glasses, hair pinned back in a ponytail, and clothing that strays far from any element of sexiness or appeal. She wears minimal makeup, and if she happens to be wearing heels, it is due to the fact that she is going to work, going to an interview, or going to some event where she is about to illustrate her brilliance.


It is amazing how a woman's appearance, to many people, dictates her personality, who she is as a person, and whether or not she has an I.Q. level higher than a peanut. I have heard both women and men comment on passersby, making comments about certain women that have led me to conclude that they believe that a woman is how she dresses. I have to stress the fact that this is not the case. In fact, you may very well reach erroneous conclusions about either men or women who choose to dress in particular fashions that do not stereotypically embody "intelligent fashion." I have met many men who choose to dress in fashions that resemble the likes of Kid Rock, 50 Cent, Eminem and Ja-Rule, and yet, are able to beat whatever "rough and tough" stereotype that some attach to them by quoting Shakespeare and displaying academic credentials that would impress even the likes of President Obama.

But let's not stray far from the point: it is important not to jump to the conclusion that just because you see a woman in a short skirt and heels, or a woman who is busty and has hips and likes to show off her figure, she cannot be book smart. On the contrary, I have known many women who have chosen to dress in fashions that simply reflect her taste in fashion, and are not burdened by any attempt to dress "stereotypically intelligent" - and can hold down an intellectual conversation while wearing an outfit some others may consider "too sexy" or "too appealing." Today, I ask you: Why can't a woman be both sexy and smart? Is there some rule that states, "If you are a woman, and you want to be perceived as smart, make sure no one can tell you enjoy clothes that flatter your womanly curves and like wearing heels"? You must be kidding me - I personally wear whatever I want to wear, and because I have curves, I like to wear clothes that tastefully accentuate my figure. And for all the other women out there who want to let their hair down, put on that bright pink lip gloss, and try out those cute heels that you've hesitated bringing out of your closet out of fear of how you'd be perceived, let it all go, and do what you want. People's opinion of you does not dictate your intelligence level - you have every right to dictate your own wardrobe, regardless of whether people accept it or not. In other words: BE YOURSELF.

My Obsession with Dark Red Lipstick

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ok, this is going to be a silly post, but I have to confess: I have an obsession with dark red lipstick. I'm pretty certain my youtube videos and pretty much every picture on my Facebook page highlights this fact. I gleefully admit that I have been wearing the same color in different makeup brands since I was in high school, and I am starting to seriously wonder why I can't adjust to other colors that I buy but never care to wear more than once (a repeat situation that somehow provides me the false notion that I am about to embark on a new "look," only to wind up frantically searching for my usual dark crimson red somewhere in my makeup kit). There is a strange comfort that I find in that color - an element of embedded contrast that I personally like to believe actually enhances my beauty. I have indeed for the past few years struggled with varying up my lip color look. I have recently settled on NARS Scarlett Empress - a deep red that satisfies my need for a deep crimson look that does not fade away after I drink my morning coffee (like so many lipsticks do). I liked NARS so much that I decided to go out of my element within this great (and my new fave) makeup brand and invest in a deep pink color - and for some weird reason, I can't get into this deep pink look, even when my outfit calls for the occasion to experiment with pink lip color (this actually happened again yesterday when I sported a cute pink cowneck top ensemble).

I would like to say that my obsession with red lips comes from my personal conclusion that dark red lips look the best on brown skin tones (a proposition that I stand by with a peculiar vengeance), but I think it may go deeper. Perhaps I am nervous about experimenting outside of a particular makeup look, that perhaps my penchant for red lips has to do with my desire to remain in a particular "beauty comfort zone", outside of which I may feel a bit uncomfortable. Only through watching various makeup youtue videos have I recently begun to experiment with primer and various eyeshadow colors (I plan to blog and make a youtube video soon about those various experiments). However, I have yet to feel as comfortable with experimenting with various lip color tones, particularly those that in my opinion contrast but beautifully coincide with brown skin tones. But I am open to your comments on this topic, so please feel free to enlighten me with your opinion about lipsticks on various skin tones if you want to! :)

My Hair Care Regimen Video (YouTube)

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Good Hair" ... Does It Exist?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I just recently tripped on some video recaps of the Tyra Banks Show on the topic of "good hair" (see example above), and I only needed to watch a few minutes of the show before jumping into writing this blog post. I want to start off by stating that I am quite happy that Tyra Banks has decided to discuss some closeted issues in the black community (issues and conversation topics that many people unfamiliar with "black culture" do not understand or know about). That said, I honestly don't care to go into any deep discussion on the topic of what is or isn't good hair or why so many people in the black community still believe in the idea of "good hair" because the whole idea is based on the false and ridiculous belief that straighter hair is better than "nappy" or "really curly" hair. We live in the 21st century, and yet a good number of black women (like some of the ones on the Tyra Show) still seem to cling to the idea that looser curl patterns are better than "nappier" curl patterns. In my opinion, hair is hair - and curls are curls - no matter what curl pattern, length or style it is in. The whole concept of "good hair" has led many people into a complex about their natural beauty, and I think that is such a waste of self-confidence and esteem. I have seen plenty of black women rock AMAZING natural styles, from afros to sisterlocks to dreadlocks (among the PLENTY of other STUNNING styles that look WONDERFUL on natural hair).

I personally choose to straighten ("perm"/"relax") my hair, like this style: 

Contrary to some people's opinions about "relaxing" hair, my decision to "relax" my hair has nothing to do with any form of "self-hate" - it is simply an option that I choose to exercise because I have never really worn my hair any other way (besides straight) since I was a child. Do I think that my hair looks better straight? Not necessarily - it is simply a choice that I exercise through habit, and I am used to styling my hair when it is "relaxed."  I personally think I also look great in braids, from very curly styles to "Brandy-like" straight micro-braids. I also loved trying out a cute cornrow hairstyle during my years in college, which definitely received a lot of compliments. I simply love "choice" - and I have never seen a problem with exercising it when it comes to my hair.

My sister and I have two different curl patterns - she has a much looser curl (e.g. Tatiana Ali's hair), while I have a slightly tighter curl pattern. Using "good hair" logic, her hair would qualify as being "better" than mine because of the looseness of her curls compared to mine, but did that ever bother me? Not at all - we both choose to wear our hair in different styles (she relaxes her hair and wears her hair VERY long down her back (past her waist), and I also relax my hair but choose to stick to a more shoulder-length/midback-length hair cut, and I have also worn my hair in various braid/cornrow styles as well. In addition, due to our different curl patterns and hair types overall, we take care of our hair in slightly different ways. I love my hair just as much as she loves her hair, and society's perception of "good hair" versus "bad hair" do not play into our self-confidence with the beauty of our different types of hair.

Overall, we all need to get over this false notion of a certain type of "good hair" and truly appreciate ALL hair types - not just naturally straighter types. In other words: ALL hair is GOOD hair. Any other definition of "good" can be thrown back into the nineteenth century, never to be resurrected again.