How to Pick Your Summer Bronzer

McKenzie Renae of

If natural kisses from the sun aren’t quite your forte, then bronzer will become your new BFF! Bronzer is used just like blush, but is meant to give you a more sun-kissed, just-back-from-the-beach glow that will have the guys wondering how you look so luminous. The goal is to look exactly that … sun-kissed! Here are some helpful tips and great products to get to started with enhancing your beautiful skin :)

Picking a Bronzer

Shimmer? Matte? Highlighter? Yes, there are many options when it comes to bronzers, but take a deep breath and don’t feel overwhelmed. There are a few simple things to keep in mind.

1. Pick a bronzer that is right for your skin tone. It’s easy to go too dark and look dirty or too light and look shiny and ashy.

2. Pick a bronzer that is one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Look for descriptions like “dark” and “deep” or higher-numbered labels. Make sure it’s pigmented.

3. Bronzers come in liquids, powders, sticks and beads. So, experiment and play around by choosing the one that makes you look your best.

TIP: If you’ve got normal-to-oily skin, try a powder formulation. For dry skin, a cream or gel bronzer is probably the way to go.

Applying Bronzer

First note, a little can go a long way. It’s better to apply less and add more as you go. You don’t want your bronzer to look like it’s just sitting on your foundation or bare skin, so blending is key!

1. Sweep your bronzer on with a big fluffy brush on areas of your face the sun would hit — the temples, cheeks, bridge of your nose, chin and along the hairline. Make sure to tap off any extra bronzer before you apply to avoid going overboard.

2. As for the rest of your makeup, keep it simple. A pretty peachy lip gloss, soft pink cheeks and warm eyes complement bronzer well. If you are comfortable without foundation, bronzer is great to wear alone on top of clean, bare skin.

TIP: If you have oily or combination skin, use oil absorbing sheets to gently blot any excess oil away. This prevents you from potentially removing your bronzer and looking splotchy.

What are some of your favorite bronzers?

The Importance of pH Balance in Beauty Products

by Dawn Michelle of MinimalistBeauty

I've used many many cosmetic products over the years. Being in the retail beauty business, I had the opportunity to try many more products for free and receive full size cosmetics as gratis. Regardless of what cosmetic company I was using, the best products overall were pH balanced and for health purposes organic and chemical free.

Once you decide that you are no longer going to use chemical laden beauty products, many of us look to what's in our kitchen to truly keep it natural and also keep the cost of our beauty regimen 75% to 80% lower than what we were spending before. We do our online research to see what others are using, and if you're like me even buy books to learn about herbs and natural beauty care. If you want to get consistent results with whatever you are using or making, the most empowering way to do this is to understand pH balance, and purchase pH testing strips.

The Problem With Many Skin Care Products

The skin is a miraculous organ, which lets us know that it is experiencing an internal imbalance with skin ailments. For many instead of looking at diet, water intake, stress levels, and prescription medicines, we turn to big selling skin care companies that may not be pH balanced, and in turn dry the skin out with high pH soap and chemical ingredients as well as overly acidic ingredients. You may at first see an improvement in your skin, then over time either notice that the product is no longer working, or that if you don't religiously use the product your skin is an absolute mess. So what just happened?

When skin is taken outside of it's natural pH levels, it no longer has its innate defenses from pollution, fungus, and other bacteria. This is also when you are more likely to experience acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, roseasca, and skin aging. Skin care products too acidic or too alkaline can throw the skin out of wack. When skin remains in it's natural pH zone of 4.5-5.5, it is able to heal itself and very well.

It is very important that if you are using a store bought skin care item, or making them yourself, that each and every products remains in this healthy skin pH range. You will then be working with your skin versus against it to improve your skins overall health and appearance. Other factors that will also help is drinking lots of purified or alkaline water, eating alkaline foods, and taking supplements balanced in omega fatty acids.

The Problem With Many Hair Care Products

The healthy pH of hair is between 4 and 7. That is a much broader range to work with than skin. I also believe that if you use a hair product that is higher in pH than a 7, and do not follow up with an acidic mixture like aloe vera juice, a tea/herbal rinse, or a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse, your hair will not be happy.

Many hair care products have so many synthetic ingredients that it is ridiculous! We rate the product based on how our hair feels not having any idea that our hair feeling soft and smooth may only be because the product that we use coated our hair strands with synthetic fillers. If you have used anything that chemically alters the hair, your hair literally won't survive without the chemical fillers since the hair dye, perm, relaxer, etc. has created tiny holes in the hair's cuticle. The synthetic fillers keep your hair "feeling" healthy.

Shampoos and other hair washes that have a high pH over 7 make our hair initially feel soft, but in turn will dry out the hair by leaving the hair cuticle too open and susceptible to the natural elements in the air. I learned this the hard way with natural shampoo bars last year. Following with an acidic hair rinse would have counteracted the problem which I later dealt with which was extreme hair dryness and breakage.

I believe not opening the hair cuticle with high pH products will in turn give you the best overall results. Using an acidic mixture no lower that the pH of 4 will keep you hair shiny strong and in beautiful condition. You will most likely experience a dry itchy scalp, dandruff, scalp eczema, psoriasis and brittle hair strands with high pH shampoos and conditioners otherwise. Instead of turning to another high pH product, store bought or natural, keeping the pH between 4 and 7 is your best bet.

pH Testing Strips

Finding out the pH of each of your beauty products will help you really understand how to maintain a consistent skin and hair care regimen that works. You can find Macherey-Nagel pH Testing Strips here. With every product that I now make or try out, I test the pH to have a better understanding of the results I will get for skin and hair care. It also gives me a better idea if the product that I'm making will give consistent results. Even testing products that I used in the past gives me a clearer understanding of why they worked, and why I did or didn't like it. Maintaining a beauty regimen with a balanced pH will overall give the best beauty results.

Minimalist Beauty-simple organic beauty with style "Peace, beauty, and creativity blossom from simplicity."

Are you mindful of pH?
What are your favorite pH balanced products for hair and skin?

Raw Honey--The Healing Face Wash

by DawnMichelle of Minimalist Beauty

I've been asked many times how to use raw honey as a face wash. Many of you may wonder why you would even consider raw honey in the first place. Raw honey is a universal beauty tonic for all skin types because of its potent yet gentle healing benefits for skin. Raw honey does wonders for acne, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, sensitive, mature, and dull lifeless skin.

With so many beauty products on the market, we sometimes think that every product that we use must be extremely complicated and full of tons of ingredients. That notion is completely wrong. Although what we wash our face with doesn't stay on our skin that long, soap based products quickly strip the skin of its natural oils and create an imbalanced in the skin's pH which causes many skin problems and forces the skin to produce excess oil.

When you find people who have beautiful skin that claim to wash their face with only water, yes they do have good genetics, but they are also not creating any imbalance in the pH of their skin with harsh cleansers and toners. Maintaining a balanced pH in the skin consistently will allow the skin to do its job so much better. Products that dry, strip, then replenish the skin continue the cycle of skin distress. Less really is more.

Maintaining a healthy pH in your skin is an important anti-aging secret. The less the stress your skin endures from drying cleansers and toners, the more elastic it will remain over time. Any thing with a pH of 4.5-7 is usually considered pH balanced since water is a neutral pH of 7, yet skin thrives when using products with a pH of 4.5-5.5.

Raw honey has a natural pH of 4.5. The antiseptic and antimicrobial properties of honey make it wonderful for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that is amazing at brightening the complexion, evening out the skin tone, and lightening scars and age spots.

Most honey contains iron, silica, copper, vitamin B, manganese, chlorine, potassium, calcium, sodium, phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium depending on where the honey is collected from. This rich mineral content makes it excellent for skin. Raw honey's intense moisturizing abilities with gentle cleansing agents makes it perfect for even very sensitive skin. When honey is mixed with water it released peroxide properties which helps heal fades and also prevent bacteria causing more acne.

Not all honey is created equal. Most of the honey found in grocery stores is "adulterated honey" meaning it literally has no nutrients. When honey is processed and refined with heat the live healing enzymes are killed. You are instead left with liquid sugar. Raw honey will give your skin the healing benefits that it needs and you will also experience the best results.

To use raw honey as a face wash simply add a quarter size amount of honey or more to wet hands and massage into your skin. Rinse your face, then tone and moisturize as usual. You can also leave honey on your skin for as long as you like as a honey mask, or combine it with other ingredients for more cleansing and brightening. My favorite ways to use raw honey is with rhassoul clay or as an exfoliating treatment with sugar and lemon juice. I've also used raw honey in place of vegetable glycerin in my DIY hair recipes. Raw honey has been used for centuries for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. There truly is such beauty in simplicity.

How have you used honey in skin or hair care?

FYI: I purchase raw honey from Trader Joe's, and for my skin care regimen go here.


Dawn Michelle is a writer, professional dancer, choreographer, jewelry designer, and pure lover of life and the planet. She has been a part of the entertainment industry for years, and worked in one of the largest beauty retailers as a consultant. Dawn Michelle writes a lifestyle blog called Minimalist Beauty that incorporates organic beauty and cosmetics, eco-friendly fashion and extremely chic style, simple living, and pursuing creativity. She also has an Etsy shop called Azuha which has handmade fiber jewelry, earrings, natural cosmetics and more.

Soften Hyperpigmentation Naturally

by Dawn Michelle of Minimalist Beauty

Hyperpigmentation is no fun! There are natural ways to reduce dark spots or dark pigmentation in the skin without the harmful ingredient hydroquinone. You of course can also make many of the products yourself without spending a ton of money on commercial chemical products.

Hyperpigmentation can be created very quickly and then take what seems like forever to get rid of. The more melanin in your skin the darker the pigmentation can appear and be very frustrating to deal with. I’ve noticed that if I have a breakout, that even a small blemish can become a scar. Using products daily that are skin brightening and also blemish reducing has been a life savior.

10 Ingredients To Naturally Fight Hyperpigmentation

1. Raw Honey

There is a reason why I wash my face with raw honey daily. It keeps the skin glowing and free of bacteria without disrupting the moisture levels of the skin. Raw honey is antibacterial with moisturizing amino acids, and antioxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage. Raw honey also has gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid responsible for honey’s acidity. Raw honey is more nutritious to the skin still containing all of its healing properties that have not been pasteurized or eliminated with high heat temperatures.

2. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has a high vitamin C content which brightens the skin as well as citric acid which exfoliates and speeds up the treatment of acne also lightening acne scars and blemishes. I remember during summer breaks when I was in college, I would slice a lemon and rub the lemon up and down my legs for soft even skin. It tingled and itched so much that I would just go outside and run around the block to distract myself from the ridiculous sensations. I then would come back inside and rinse it off.

I know now that lemon juice straight is too acidic for skin’s natural pH balance. I will instead mix fresh lemon juice with more soothing ingredients. Lemon juice is still a perfect ingredient for evening out the skin and brightening dark elbows and knees.

3. Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul clay has a higher ratio of silica, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other trace minerals compared to other clays, therefore it is very nourishing to the skin. It balances skin’s natural oil production by being hydrating to dry skin and calming to oily skin. It greatly improves skin clarity and brightness, removes dead skin cells, and smooths skin’s overall texture.

I’ve raved about rhassoul clay for skin and hair because it works so well for both. I love versatile ingredients because it saves me money. Rhassoul clay is my favorite clay to use daily.

Read more about rhassoul clay here and here.

4. Yogurt

Lactic acid, lactic acid, lactic acid! Yogurt is outstanding for skin brightening and evening out the skins complexion. Using plain yogurt for skin care masks will soften, brighten, and clear up blemishes and hyperpigmentation. I believe simple yogurt masks are gentle enough for daily use and such an inexpensive easy to find remedy for clear skin.

5. Tamanu Oil

The regeneration properties that tamanu oil provides is out of this world! Tamanu oil is used to miraculously heal the skin of burn victims. Although it has a strong natural scent, it is worth every drop of natural goodness that this oil provides. I came across tamanu oil on my honeymoon in Hawaii. This oil is very rich in antioxidants and is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory.

Read more on tamanu oil here.

6. Wheat Germ Oil

Wheat germ oil is very high in vitamin E as well as contains vitamin A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, D, and F, essential fatty acids, lecithin, protein, and minerals. Wheat germ oil is good as a health supplement, and also amazing for skin and hair. It moisturizes and maintains moisture in skin and hair like no other oil I’ve ever tried to date. Its vitamin and mineral rich content is wonderful for healing and regenerating skin.

Read more about wheat germ oil here and also in this article.

7. Rosehips Seed Oil

Rosehips seed oil has become more popular for its use in anti-aging products. It is a more expensive carrier oil, although it is one of the best oils for skin rejuvenation. When applied daily for up to four months it has been known to reduce wrinkles and age spots almost completely. This is one oil that I have overlooked in the past, yet no longer!

8. Pure Aloe Vera Gel/Juice

Aloe vera has a natural salicylic acid perfect for keeping skin clear in the first place with a divine pH of 4.5. The healing properties in aloe vera contain over 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, and amino acids. Use pure aloe vera gel or juice as a supplement to heal the body from the inside out, or as a toner/skin gel serum under your moisturizer. Aloe vera is also a wonderful pH balancer for hair which is why I use it in so many of my DIY hair care recipes.

Read more on aloe vera here and check out two simple hair recipes here and here.

9. Amla

Amla is traditionally used in Ayurvedic health and beauty care. Amla fascinates me in that it is brightening for skin, yet also keeps hair dark and lustrous. It is 20 times higher in vitamin C than an orange and full of full of proteins, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. Amla is a proven antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-mutagenic, yeast inhibiting, nematicidal, anabolic, anti-hepatoxic, anti-hyperhidrosis, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-spasmodic, hypolipidemic, and hypotensive relieving properties.

You can use amla in its herb or powder form. Creating a simple amla paste with amla powder with water can do wonders on the skin or even infusing the herb in a nourishing carrier oil is even better. I prefer slow herbal infusions in a mason jar in sunlight for 1-2 months or more.

Read more about amla here.

10. Raw Sugar Cane

Sugar produces a natural glycolic acid which is gentler on skin than chemically derived glycolic acid. This natural alpha hydroxy acid easily exfoliates the skin. Alpha hydroxy acids are known for their anti-aging properties for stimulating collagen production while reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and skin pigmentation.

3 DIY Skin Savor Recipes on Minimalist Beauty

1. DIY Gentle Exfoliating Mask

This exfoliating mask includes lemon juice, raw honey, and raw sugar cane. It is so easy to make and so effective. Also it doesn’t burn like fresh squeezed lemon juice or rubbing lemon juice slices directly on the skin. Natural citric, gluconic, and glycolic acid work in synergy together brilliantly.

2. Raw Cacao Facial Mask

This mask includes raw cacao, rhassoul clay, and honey. It is an almost edible mask and smells divine!

3. DIY Healing Face Body & Hair Oil

This healing oil contains coconut, wheat germ, and tamanu oil. It is an amazing combination of nourishing and healing oils. Although I love coconut oil you can always use a lighter carrier oil such as jojoba oil, and even add a bit of rosehips oil.

Gaining and Maintaining Healthy Looking Skin

Some people genetically have beautiful skin, and others actually work hard for it. Regardless of which category you fall into, taking good care of your skin from head to toe will make you feel good about yourself. It is good for your health to take care of your skin because your skin is your largest organ that protects the rest of your body. You do not need to spend $100 a month or more on good skin care. I used to spend that much, yet now I am so thankful to have discovered the power of DIY skin care, herbs, and simple ingredients.

Begin your mornings drinking as much water as you can and continue drinking water throughout the day. Some days I am on this, and other days I fall off my desired water drinking routine. I usually can see a major difference in my skin either way. Drink half your body weight in ounces daily.

Develop a skin care regimen that fits your lifestyle and budget. It doesn’t have to be extensive, complicated, and definitely not expensive. Incorporating just a few of the 10 ingredients above will improve your overall brightness and clarity in your complexion. If you spend a lot of time outside or are using fruit, lactic, or sugar acids in your skin care, I suggest wearing a zinc oxide based sunscreen daily. My favorite is the DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ because it is zinc oxide based, and doesn’t look pasty on my complexion like other natural sunscreens. Read more about good natural sunscreens here. If you are not big on sunscreen, wear protective clothing and of course a fabulous sun hat whenever outdoors.

Patience, patience, patience! I’m enjoying repeating words three times as you can see. Hyperpigmentation can occur quickly, and take a long time to brighten and smooth out. Lovingly care for your skin, and speak positive affirmative words about your skin and yourself. I believe uplifting words, consistent gratitude, and positive energy helps to heal the body quicker than all the topical ointments alone on the market, DIY or not!

**Raw honey, lemons, yogurt, aloe vera, and raw sugar cane can be found at a natural grocery store of course. You can easily find tamanu oil, rhassoul clay, aloe vera, wheat germ oil, amla, and rosehips seed oil at Mountain Rose Herbs. Amla powder can also be found at an Indian grocery store.**


Dawn Michelle is a writer, professional dancer, choreographer, jewelry designer, and pure lover of life and the planet. She has been a part of the entertainment industry for years, and worked in one of the largest beauty retailers as a consultant. Dawn Michelle writes a lifestyle blog called Minimalist Beauty that incorporates organic beauty and cosmetics, eco-friendly fashion and extremely chic style, simple living, and pursuing creativity. She also has an Etsy shop called Azuha which has handmade fiber jewelry, earrings, natural cosmetics and more.

Dealing with hyperpigmentation? What has helped you?

Are You Properly Moisturizing Your Body?

by Sherrell Dorsey of OrganicBeautyVixen

After a long day the last thing I typically want to think about is hitting the shower and going through the bathing rituals to keep my skin soft, supple and radiant. It’s time consuming, tedious and just plain annoying at times although I do know that all the extra time in the shower is beneficial to my skin. If I do happen to make it through the shower, moisturizing is an entirely different issue.

How many of you have done what I like to call the “easy swipe” moisturizing method where you simply swipe on your body butter without any real regard to working it into your skin? Guilty as charged! Don’t you hate when you still wake up the next day ashy as ever?

In our attempt to rush our moisturizing game we lose in the end and our skin suffers. As a trained esthetician I understand the power of working product deep into the crevices of the skin for the best TLC. Always massage product into your skin after a warm shower or bath to reap the benefits of gorgeous skin. Cover your feet with socks, grease down those elbows with olive oil and cover your cuticles.

Want to speed up the process? Try thicker moisturizers that will work all night and penetrate your skin while you sleep. Shea butter is a great place to start followed by all-over oils like olive, grape seed and coconut oil.

Spend an extra five minutes loving on your skin and it will thank you!

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at

DIY Pore Minimizing Mask

by Briana of The Mane Source

Many woman have problems with large pores. Creams and masks to remedy this problem can be really pricey. Here’s a simple recipe for a DIY egg white mask that will instantly minimize your pores and improve the overall condition of your skin.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: One egg and small container. That’s it!

STEP 1: Take your egg and separate the yolk from the egg whites. (Instead of discarding the yolk, you can use it to condition your hair later)

STEP 2: Pour egg whites into a small container and whisk with a fork until the whites become frothy.

STEP 3: Apply the egg white to your face. Be sure to apply evenly, avoiding mouth and eye area. Allow mask to dry.

STEP 4: Gently rinse face with warm water and pat dry. Follow with a light moisturizer.

In the end, your skin will feel amazing. Your pores will be minimized and your skin will glow! Here are a few more benefits of using an egg white mask:

  • tighter/firmer skin
  • helps to control oil… which is perfect for people with oily skin
  • smooths complexion
  • conditions skin
*Do not use if you have egg allergies. Discard leftovers after use.

How do you minimize large pores?

Conquering Eczema Naturally

by Sherrell Dorsey of OrganicBeautyVixen

It itches, it burns and it’s just plain unsightly when you’re trying to have fierce, fabulous and supple skin. I’ve battled with eczema my whole life and have felt empathetic to fellow sufferers who’s battle is more challenging than mine.

Don’t lose the fight with your eczema! An OBV knows that nature gives us some of the best remedies for treating even the most dreadful of skin conditions. Check out a few of my natural skin care tips for treating the side effects of eczema naturally.

  • Oatmeal and milk bath – Pamper your body with a long soak in some oatmeal and milk. Naturally hydrating with anti-itch properties, this little beauty remedy can help to relax your skin not to mention your stress levels. Add some candles and throw on Marsha Ambrosius’ Pandora station for an intimate affair with your skin.
  • Bye Bye Dairy – Outside of bathing rituals, ditch the milk. Sometimes foods can cause allergens that aggravate eczema and cause inflammation on the skin. Stick to rice, soy or almond milk for your cereal, smoothies and shakes.
  • Exfoliating and Moisturizing – It’s still important to remove dead skin and follow up with a thick moisturizer. Try a sea salt scrub and shea butter for a nice thick layer of daily hydration.
Make a commitment to taking care of your eczema on a daily basis. I promise that it will get better the more you nurture it!

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

Hair, Complexion, I Love You Both, But....

Something’s gotta give! Since moving to Decatur, Illinois from Lakeland Florida, I have learned a lot about my skin and hair. Even though I have a strong dislike for humidity, my skin and hair LOOOOOOOVE humidity. It seems like being a Florida baby and resident for most of life has made my skin and hair more dependent on and used to constant moisture than I ever would have imagined. July through September wasn't that bad, but I had to switch up my skin care routine completely. I went from using generic, cheap stuff to Clinique Three Step and Clinique Moisture Surge just to keep my skin from going haywire. My skin seems to enjoy the summer, and as long as I kept my hair tied up (for the most part) and moisturized with glycerin packed products like Oyin Juices and Berries, I was good to go! Then came fall, and winter and my skin and hair have gone berserk. I’ve had to change my hair routine and added some oil to my water and glycerin mixes to get a bit more longevity out of moisturizing my hair. It worked for a bit, but then my skin started breaking out like crazy! I am not talking about one zit dropping by to say hello, but one zit and his/her auntie, brother, cousin, mom, and sometimes a couple of bad ass kids too! Family clusters of pimples have just been popping up all over my face and I have been sporting toothpaste to bed every night trying to dry them out. It has been working, but I have never, EVER had this problem with my skin. I have gotten to the point where I am considering chopping it off to a length that will keep it out of my face! I love my hair and I am proud of my length and texture, but I’ll be damned if I choose long, thick hair over having clear skin. AAAAAAGH!
Dolls, what do you think I should do?!?!?

I'm Dark Skinned, I Can't Wear That...

by Rachel Odem of Makeup by RachelO

Yes, you read the title correctly, and as a licensed skin therapist and makeup artist, this statement makes me cringe. Why do dark skin women think their complexions limit their choices when it comes to makeup colors?

Recently, as I was doing a bridal consultation and helping a client with color suggestions, she made the statement, 'I have dark skin so I can't wear a lot of colors'. I wanted to shake her and say, 'snap out of it, beautiful, you can wear any color you want'. Dark skin is gorgeous and as a matter of fact, I love to play with pastel colors like pinks, oranges and reds on darker skin.

As some of you may know, I enjoyed working with Ebony Magazine on the September 2011 edition Beauty Awards issue. While flipping through the pages I came across the above photo and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I thought of every client with dark skin I had ever worked with... I just wanted to show them this photo and say BAM! Do you see this? This model is beautiful with vibrant colors and so are you.

Do you feel your complexion limits your choices in makeup colors?
Share your comments and concerns below.

Pump Up Your Winter Skin Care Routine

by Sherrell Dorsey of

While the beautiful wonders of winter can mean hot cocoa by the fireplace and lots of great dinners with your loved ones, it can also be the best time to take pride in pampering your skin. With harsh weather on the loose and your favorite pair of boots covering up your feet, it can also be a great time to get a little lazy. But don’t settle for dry, rough or brittle skin.

Kick your beauty game up a notch and take special care with four ways you can fight winter weather and keep your skin radiant even in the cold.

  • Exfoliate – Just because you’re covered up, it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to get lax on your exfoliation game. Keep your hands, feet and legs super soft with a brown sugar and olive oil scrub during your daily shower.
  • Night Time Loving – Take your shower before bed and lay on the body butter or coconut oil nice and thick. Strap on your socks, a long pair of pajama pants and even a clean pair of manicure gloves to seal in the moisture for soft hands, feet and legs over night.
  • Fish Oil –Chocked full with Omega-3s, taking a daily fish oil supplement can help keep your skin supple with a natural, radiant glow that will make your skin look like it’s been on vacation. My favorite is Nordic Naturals.
  • Masquerade - Treat your face to spa time at home with kitchen remedies. Tighten pores, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and pamper your skin with an egg white mask. Once a week mix up your egg white mask, add some essential oil like lavender or your favorite scent and spread evenly with a makeup or mask brush. Leave on your mask for five to ten minutes to tighten on your face, rinse off with cool water and moisturize with a natural oil like almond and olive.

What do you do to keep your skin soft, beautiful and radiant during the winter time?

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at


CN Says:

My routine doesn't change much from season to season. I've learned that for my sensitive skin, less is more. I simply wash with water... just water and moisturize with Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer (spf 15). That's it. Whenever I add extra steps I get pimples or fine bumps.

Do Brown Women Still Need Anti-Aging Products?

by Sherrell Dorsey of

We all know that black doesn’t crack. It’s both a blessing and a curse as I walk down the street and teenage boys ask me to go to prom. I figure that when I am about 35 years old, I’ll actually start to look like I’m in my 20s instead of at 24 looking like I’m 17.

While darker skin does fare way better than our Caucasian counter-parts, our skin does age and should still be protected. I’m not saying to go out and purchase a ton of products, get some Botox or re-think a facelift, but do understand that aging skin looses elasticity, hair begins to thin and fine lines can make their way across our eyes and mouths.

Here are a few suggestions for keeping your gorgeous skin and hair youthful:

1. Drink plenty of water. Don’t deprive your body of the much needed universal hydrator. A hydrated body will result in gorgeous hair, skin and nails.

2. Eat well and exercise. Gobble down your leafy greens, salmon, nuts and beans in addition to hitting the gym, dance class or out door track to keep your figure lean and your external organs young and functioning normally.

3. Exfoliate. Whisk away dead skin to prevent hyperpigmentation and dark spots. I love the Rx For Brown Skin at home peel kit.

4. Step up your sun protection game. Yes we do need sunscreen so don’t skimp on the juice folks. Get a 2 for 1 with a foundation like Tarte Cosmetics (a vegan makeup line) that gives you coverage, moisture and SPF.

5. Seal in the moisture. Aging skin lacks moisture so keep your skin well hydrated. I’m talking hands, body and feet. Try lathering up at night, covering up with socks and long pants to lock in moisture and keep your skin sexy, soft and supple. I like Jason’s anti-aging body lotion made with green tea (which you should also drink plenty of).
6. De-stress. Don’t get stuck in the “to-do” list of life. If you’re not happy, complete or excited about what you do, who you do it with or how you do it honey it’s time for a wake up call! We only live once and the power within us is so much greater than succumbing to what the world says is acceptable. Prove them wrong and start living!

Do you have an anti-aging routine? Please share with me!

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

To Wax, Shave, or Laser your, um... Lady Parts?

by Sherrell Dorsey of

A few weeks ago, my work out crew and I were stretching in the park after a run. One of my friendsbrought up a terrible experience she had just had at a spa after getting a bikini wax and asked everyone else what they did to “tame the shrew”.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with talking about the va-jay-jay even when it comes to grooming. Oddly enough, when I worked as an esthetician, I gave a variety of bikini waxes to women of all walks of life, so I see our private areas as more of a science than something to hide away.

Nonetheless, as a brown woman what’s the best way to keep that lovely area groomed? Although most services and products come with their own level of pain and discomfort, our skin color and hair texture has a lot to do with which hair removal method is best for you.

Here’s an intimate guide to down-below hair removal for those too afraid to ask:

Waxing – Hold your breath and pull tight to undergo this quick but slightly painful procedure. While effective, on brown girls with coarse hair, removing hair with wax can be a little tricky and your technician may need to go over the same spot several times. The more you wax, the easier the hair will come out so if you stick with this method, you should do just fine. Try to find a spa that uses a natural or organic wax so that you’re not breathing in toxic fumes.

Shaving – You’ll have to invest time and money into keeping everything clean and you may have to shave every other day for a smooth finish. There are some razors you can buy with a small shaver made just for the bikini line. The only disadvantage to shaving is that hair can potentially grow back thicker and also cause your skin to become darker and you could risk ingrown hairs. Be careful and use plenty of light so that you don’t knick yourself below the belt.

Lasers – Zap away unwanted hair for a removal process that keeps hair at bay a little longer than any of the other processes. It does burn a little but again, like waxing, the more you do it, the less the pain you will endure. Most lasers don’t work that well on brown skin as they spot dark hair to remove it and can mistake pigmented skin for dark hair. There are a few places that have lasers that work on dark skin, but it’s far and few between. Ask your spa if theirs would work on you otherwise, don’t waste your money.

Nair – Just stay away. Nair has a harsh chemical smell that I wouldn’t put on my skin, let alone on a sensitive area.

Sugaring – It’s almost like waxing but with warm sugar. I haven’t tried the sugaring method myself but I hear it’s a little less painful, creates a nice smooth finish and is a fairly quick process. This natural hair removal method can last up to six weeks!

Different strokes for different folks people!

Let me know which methods you prefer or if you found something else that’s just as effective.

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

Best Acne Treatments for Clear Skin

by Allison Cooper of

Acne is an ongoing problem that many teens and adults deal with on a daily basis. In fact, the American Dermatologist Association states, “that 85% of teenagers (between the ages of 12 and 24) suffer from acne and many are bullied because of it.”

It is stressful, embarrassing, and many teens and even adults are being treated differently for it. There is no need to jump to extremes in order to deal with this problem, though, since there are many great non-surgical acne treatments available.

On the quest to find the answers about resolving this skincare issue, I contacted Dr. Glenn Kolansky, a board certified dermatologist currently practicing in New Jersey. He offers his tips for the best acne treatments and products as well as expert advice about teenage acne.

Allison: How would you compare over the counter acne treatments such as Proactive to treatments that can be bought at drugstores?

Dr. Kolansky: Proactive is just OTC strength benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which are the same products drugstore brands use. These are mild products, but have benefits because they clean the skin and kill bacteria. They are especially beneficial when the patient is not using anything to clean their skin. Just the act of cleaning the skin, decreasing dirt and oil, has shown a benefit in acne treatment.

Medicated acne treatments containing retinoids work in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions because they have anti-inflammatory and comedolytic activity and modulate keratinocyte proliferation. Topical antibiotics can reduce inflammatory responses from acne.

Allison: Which over the counter acne treatments do you recommend?

Dr. Kolansky: I recommend OTC options that include benzoyl peroxide in products or topical creams. Washes such as Neutrogena acne wash contain 2% salicylic acid. Many house brands and OTC products contain both.

Often most products are very similar. Just using these products can provide benefit, but often prescription strength medication, retinoids or antibiotics are necessary.

Allison: How do antibiotic acne treatments work?

Dr. Kolansky: Antibiotics such as the tetracycline (minocycline and doxycycline) decrease acne bacteria, but there is concern of bacterial resistance, so combination therapy may decrease this risk. Tetracyclines have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Allison: What are your best suggestions for non-surgical treatments for teens to help get rid of acne scars?

Dr. Kolansky: Acne scars can be improved with fractional and abalative laser treatments. Fractional lasers may require multiple treatments and the healing time is usually 3 to 5 days.

Abalative laser, including the erbium-yag and the CO2 laser, require fewer treatments, but have more down time. Pulse dye lasers can be used to reduce the erythema, or redness, remaining from acne.

Allison: Can you explain how pixel lasers work to get rid of acne scars?

Dr. Kolansky: The pixel laser can soften acne scarring. It is a fractional laser that creates micro-injury to stimulate collagen. It can provide benefit for mild to moderate acne scarring. Deep scars, or ice-pick scars, may require deeper lasers or other methods for skin improvement. Redness can be decreased or softened with a pulse-dye laser such as the V-Beam by Candela, with resulting improvement in texture.

Allison: How do blue light treatments with or without levulenic acid work?

Dr. Kolansky: Blue light therapy is a new treatment option for acne patients. Propionbacterium acnes produce porphyrins as part of their normal metabolism. It is thought that when blue light hits the acne at a wavelength of 405 to 420 nm, photoexcitation of the porphyrins generates free radicals that are bactericidal against P.Acnes. Blue light may also have anti-inflammatory properties as well. There are home blue light devices that when used along with other treatments can be an effective acne treatment option.

Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is applied to the skin and accumulates in sebocytes. When the ALA is applied to the skin, it is converted to protoporphyrin IX. It is then activated by blue light. In one study used twice weekly for four consecutive weeks and patients achieved inflammatory lesion reduction of 59 to 67 percent. Many patients tend to keep this response for 6 months or longer. However, many of these studies have been with a small group of patients.

Allison: Are there any mail order acne clearing scams that we should look out for?

Dr. Kolansky: Most all mail order treatments bill your credit card on a monthly basis and send the medication even if you do not need it.

Allison: Are there any other suggestions that you can give to teens that are having acne issues?

Dr. Kolansky: Teenagers should not squeeze or pick at their pimples as this may result in scarring. Treatment by a professional, sooner rather than later, often results in clearing of the skin with less scarring. Different acne treatments may work better for different patients.

The thought that acne is part of being a teenager is simply not true, and early treatment is the best option. It is also important to remember that treatment even when little acne remains can keep your skin clear. A good skin care routine, including washing after sports or athletic activities as soon as possible, may result in fewer breakouts. When you seek acne treatments, check that a dermatologist is actually treating you.

Have you dealt with acne? Which methods, natural or otherwise, work for you?

Brittle Nails? Make Them Stronger Naturally!

by Sherrell Dorsey of Organic Beauty Vixen

My nails are typically pretty long and strong but when my diet is off my nails are the first things to be affected. If your nails are constantly breaking, are weak, extremely dry or if you simply just took off your acrylics, build them back up with at home treatments and remedies.

Here’s a few easy tips you can improve on at home to help your nails get back into tip-top shape .

Protein- Our nails are made up of protein so if we’re not getting enough of it, our manicure can’t do a thing to save us from disaster! Eat lean meats, eggs, beans and seeds to get your fill and protect your nails from brittleness and peeling.

Fatty Acids – Get glowing skin and pretty nails by keeping a good diet of essential fatty acids. Fish oil supplements and evening primrose oil can greatly benefit exhausted nails and give skin a natural glow.

Biotin - Vitamin B is essential for overall health. Biotin, in the family of the many B vitamins, helps build healthy hair, skin and nails. Grab a bottle at your drug store and take daily to work towards stronger nails.

Water – Not drinking enough water can shut down the production quality for the entire body. Not only does your skin become dry but the lack of hydration can effect the growth potential of your nails and your skin. Fill up on nature’s best, bringing your stainless steel water bottle along with you for the ride.

Nail Strengthener - Sometimes you’ll need a little more to help you get the process moving along. That’s when you can grab a nail strengthener at your grocery store. Make sure that they are 3-free to reduce your toxic exposure. I recently picked up a bottle of Dermelect Cosmeceuticals’ High Maintenance Instant Nail Thickener goes on clear and uses a ProSina protein-peptide to strengthen nails. I love the tint of the polish and must admit for the past week my nails have gotten a lot stronger.

What do you typically do to treat brittle, peeling and cracking nails?

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

Take the Guess Work Out of Choosing Foundation

by Sherrell Dorsey of Organic Beauty Vixen

With the myriad product lines on the market it can get a little overwhelming as you begin to navigate makeup counters looking for the right foundation to match your skin tone. You can simply head to your favorite cosmetics counter and ask for a makeup application. Sephora, MAC and Aveda are great places that have well-trained staff and make-up artists that can help you. Simple applications are usually complimentary but some lines do charge a small fee for a sitting so be sure to ask prior to booking. View Entire Article

Can Retinol Products Heal Your Skin?

Via by Joyce Clements;

Retinol products are wonderfully healing for your skin, if you know how to use them. Everyone can benefit from them, whether you have dry, sun-damaged skin or an oily acne-prone skin type. It can be a love-hate relationship, however, and if you abuse these products, you’ll never see the fantastic results they can achieve.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is another name for Retin-A, a vitamin A therapy treatment. It also has a variety of other names such as Retinoid, Tretinoin, Clindamycin, Differin, and Tazorac. Retinol is used in numerous products to help clear acne, reverse sun damage, help with hyperpigmentation, unclog pores and smooth and refine your skin texture and tone. I prefer to use medical grade retinol products because you will see the effects quicker, and if you are spending the money you should use the best you can afford to buy.

How to Use Retinol

The purpose retinol products is to remove dead skin cells, thus renewing skin texture and tone. Yes, you will peel, but you want to peel to smooth the skin. If you use these products every day and night, however, it will cause excessive redness and irritation, and you’ll hate them. Use retinol products every other day at only at night or just several times a week.

When you first start a retinoid program, begin slowly, alternating days or even going a couple of days between applications. You can use a hylauronic acid hydrating product to lessen the drying effects or apply a moisturizer to your skin if you are a dry skin type. Definitely use a hylauronic acid formula for normal-oily skin types to hydrate and prevent breakouts.

Tips and Cautions

Retinol products can also cause your skin to be sun sensitive, and you can cause more damage by exposing your skin to the sun while wearing a product containing Retin-A.

If you have oily-acne skin, always choose a gel formula; do not use cream formulas. Now if you are a normal-dry skin type, a cream may be your perfect choice, except if you are prone to breakouts. Then you’ll want to use a gel formula.

Yes, you may break out a little because you are peeling. Any blemishes you already have will come to the surface. Stick to the program and what a wonderful difference it will make to your complexion!

Sexy Summer Feet

What You Need to Know Before Getting That Pedicure
by Sherrell Dorsey of Organic Beauty Vixen

I love that summer is around the corner. I’m currently living in NYC and the weather goes from sun, to rain to snow! Atmospheric turrets is what I like to call it. Whether or not the sun decided to show its face again, my feet always have to be on their A game. Now I will be honest. I don’t have the prettiest feet. Which is why I stick to a shoe collection that doesn’t involve strappy heels, but sexy sandles that give the same effect without exposing some flaws I like to keep covered up.

I’m a regular of the good ol’ mani and pedi service. But for regular maintenance and saving a few dollars, I love whipping up beauty solutions at home. I typically take some brown sugar and olive oil before I turn on the water in my shower and scrub away any dead skin or roughness. Make the pumice stone a regular part of your bathing routine! Believe me, your feet with thank you when it’s time to kick around in flip flops. Keep nails nice and cute with non-toxic nail polishes like Butter London, Zoya, Priti, or Suncoat that are free from formaldehyde, DBP and toulene.

Feel like a princess and go straight to an organic spa to get your pedicure and stay safe from toxic fumes, products and bacteria. Even some of the most expensive spas can easily become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and germs when they aren’t following state regulated safety standards.

Check out this clip from the Dr. Oz show talking about the dangers of nail salons.

Keep yourself safe by following my OBV Guide to a safe summer pedicure:
  • Bring your own tools – When in doubt about a nail spa’s cleanliness or products used, bring your own! Throw a nail file, manicure stick, clippers and toe separators into a zip lock back and tote with you to the spa. Technicians are supposed to properly sanitizes their tools and sterilize them in an autoclave, but many don’t. Stay safe! Sometimes, especially when I know I won’t be able to visit my favorite organic spa, I bring along travel size lotions and foot scrubs just to ensure the safety of what is going on my skin. You may look like a princess but at least you’ll be safe!
  • Whirlpool chairs are not your friend- Whirlpools are breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria. Although they are nice and comfortable, hair and debris can get trapped in the filters, making it a terrible situation for each person plunging their feet into the warm bubbly water without a clue. Opt for spas that have pedicure bowls. Make sure to notice whether or not your technician is cleaning the bowl after each client.
  • Don’t shave or wax 24 hours before your pedi - With open pores and exposed skin, you definitely don’t want to become susceptible to potential bacteria. Take a little break after a wax or shave and keep yourself safe!
  • Make sure everyone is licensed - Don’t risk your health with unlicensed workers. Licenses should be visible in the spa. If you don’t see any displayed, ask the management to show you your technicians certification before they get anywhere near your feet! Also, make sure that your technician has washed their hands between clients. It’s ok to ask them to wash their hands if you are unsure.

Have you had a terrible nail spa experience? Please share your story with me!

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

I'm Black, Do I Need to Wear a Suscreen?

by Sherell of Organic Beauty Vixen

...Yes, but beware of toxins!

I’m going to be completely honest with you. I just started actively wearing sunscreen a little over two years ago. I didn’t think it was a big deal to go out of the house without protection against the sun’s rays. Women in my family always said “black don’t crack”, so I assumed, like many of my brown-skinned OBV’s that I was naturally protected from the sun with the added benefit of always looking at least ten years younger than my actual age.

It wasn’t until I read this article on blacks and skin cancer that I got a rude awakening about the reality of how our “black don’t crack” adage is clearly causing us to danger ourselves with exposure to the sun. So now, because when we know better we do better, I do my best to lather up my sunscreen before greeting the day.

Before you go and run to grab that sunscreen understand that not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, typical sunscreens are full of potential cancer-causing ingredients like Oxybenzone, which can cause leucocytosis, anemia, and can reduce organ weight and Para-Aminoabenzoic Acid (PABA), a known carcinogenic. The Environmental Working group did a study revealing that 84% of sunscreens are actually harmful to human health.

Protect yourself by using a physical sunscreen versus a chemical sunscreen. Check out the video review I did last summer talking about my favorite sunscreen.

For other options, check out this great list from the Environmental Working Group for finding the best and safest sunscreens.

If you aren’t sure about what’s in your sunscreen check to see how it rates on the Cosmetics Database. Keep your beautiful brown skin protected and your health as well.

Have you ditched your toxic sunscreen for a natural one?

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks's beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow SherrellSherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at

Why Moisture is Good for Your Skin, Too!

Joyce Clements of Naturallycurly writes;

Curly haired people understand the importance of moisture for their hair because it turns frizz into soft beautiful hair. Your skin needs moisture, too! Now this is the tricky part—all skin types, just like hair types, are not created equally. It all depends on how you take care of your body, hair and skin. They work together so you can be your healthiest.

Besides needing lots of water, your skin needs everything it takes to maintain a healthy body because your skin is the largest organ in your body. Your lifestyle affects your skin and the sun is the most damaging—even tanning beds will make you look old before your time.

The best way of keeping your skin beautiful is to keep it adequately hydrated. You need to feed your skin nutrients and drink lots of water to help maintain a youthful look.


Clean Makeup Brushes=Clear Skin!

Joyce Clements via;

General rule: keep your beauty items clean

Let's start with how to wash your makeup brushes. And I know that a lot of you don’t, which is one reason you may have breakouts and probably the reason why your makeup is not blending smoothly.

Keep it simple

Yes, there are makeup brush cleaners on the market, but let me save you money by using a tried-and-true cost-saving way of renewing your brushes and killing that nasty bacteria that can cause skin breakouts.

Liquid anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid. This is the stuff you use for washing dishes in the sink, not the version for dishwashers. Some people say hair shampoo is good for washing brushes, but shampoo doesn’t normally have anti-bacterial qualities that kill bacteria.

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