Never Again: The Process of Letting Go

#33 is what I called my “Jesus” year, meaning it was my year to rise up, you know be resurrected in a sense. BUT NOBODY TOLD ME I was going to have to die to self and ego. No one said that I’d be broken down to the depth of my soul and experience moments of pain and despair that would make you cringe. No one explained the true meaning of self love and boundaries and worthiness and how important they were to understanding the real you. No one explained the lifelong relationships that would be compromised and lost. No one thought to share that your spiritual awakening meant questioning everything you were taught growing up and reprogramming the lies told to you since birth. Nor did they explain the loneliness that one may have to experience to know God in a different kinda way. 

No one said that God is bigger than the box we place Him in with religious BS and hypocrisy. No one could explain to me why I don’t agree with certain things in the Bible and why I grew up fearing God (the kinda fear that crippled me) instead of letting His love in fully. No one explained that the anointing costs. No one said that you’re really poor until you acquire land or assets. No one said that when you write the vision for your life on paper the energy is stirred up and provisions are made (those that feel good and those that hurt) for that vision to come to pass. 

No one told me that my soul asked to be here and that I have more power inside me than I’ve chosen to utilize. No one told me that your friends would become more like family than some of your closest blood bonds. No one mentioned that prayer is different from meditation and quieting the mind is imperative to success…not just hard work. No one explained that the schizophrenic thoughts were possibly linked to the diet and that if you cleaned up your intake, your thoughts would be clearer. No one sat me down and explained that God is the Source and remains constant in the universe’s vortex and that I’m the one that has to align with Him and find a point of entry through my thoughts of positivity and expectation—and only then will blessing flow freely. 

No one said, “Danita! If you change your perspective, you’d change your life.” No one said that if you really wanna heal, you gotta let shit go. And lastly no one told me that tears would burn down your face as you pleaded to God for answers and healing…only to find out the answer lived within me the entire time. #33 was a sacrifice beyond measure that I didn’t expect but it was necessary. Never again will I make claims or set expectations on people, places and things that lead to resentment (as my mother would say). Never again will I I expect someone to tell me something they most likely didn’t know themselves (as my cousin Kristy would say). What I will do, however, is #dare2gobare in my personal and professional journey letting things go and living as a spiritual being not a doer of works—watch how God restores.

Black Girls Travel…And They Give Back Pt.1

Recently, eleven black women affiliated with the InfluenceHers organization led by Brittany Grey and Liz Wright, embarked on an important journey. We traveled to Kenya with a commitment to feed into several communities of black people while focusing on women’s empowerment, education and entrepreneurship. Upon arrival we hit the ground running by first visiting Little Rock Inclusive ECD Learning Center in the city of Nairobi.  Little Rock ECD Learning Center is an early developmental school for students ages 0 to 8 years that is hoping to transition into a grade school. It is similar to the American pre-K but on steroids. As a group of educated women, we were unanimously impressed by the work that’s being conducted at the school. For goodness sakes 3-4 years old were learning at a kindergarten to 2nd grade level!  Not to mention the school openly services children with disabilities and cognitive difficulties including autism, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and impaired hearing/sight to name a few.

Little Rock Kenya physical therapy

Lily, the founder of the center, works diligently to make sure the kids receive the proper foundation before entering grade school. Her pre-K initiative is top notch compared to other school environments I’ve witnessed here in the States. And the fact that occupational therapy, physical therapy and fine motor skills are incorporated in the treatment of those in need blew my mind. The children were well disciplined and even at the tender age of three have a sense of independence and accountability. We spent our morning and afternoon viewing the site and establishing its needs. We chanted songs, viewed a beautiful theatrical production put on by the drama team–yes, they have special teams– and later fellowshipped with the children by reading with them. Priceless.

It’s difficult to believe that many of these children are living in extreme poverty. In fact, shortly after our tour of the facility, we were able to witness first hand the extreme level of poverty that strikes this area. We walked through Kibera which is the largest urban neighborhood slum in Africa and the third largest slum in the world with well over 500,000 people packed in huts made of cow manure, scraps of metal and hay. We were invited to sit in the homes of a few families that attend Little Rock–to hear their stories and offer support and prayer for them. The families explained to us that having the children pre-K not only gives the parents an opportunity to work while they’re in school, but also sets a foundation for at least a little knowledge and discipline–just in case they are unable to afford additional education.

You see in many parts of the world including Africa education comes at a cost and if your family is unable to afford your schooling, you can’t attend. Can you imagine not having money for food on a daily basis; let alone education. The thought of this is disheartening and it’s every more discouraging to know that many Americans take education for granted. But I find peace in the fact that Lily and her team are committed to this community by creating a foundation for learning and education so that the chances of survival increase. Of course a portion of the donations we receive via fundraising supplied the school with a large amount food, toiletries and supplies. The kids and administrators were super excited and even had small gift bag for each of us. Again, priceless.

The Skinny Tip Give back Kenya

The ladder part of our day consisted of viewing the breathtaking landscape of the city as we traveled to the Kazuri Bead Factory, which provides sustainable employment to Kenyan women who are often single mothers. The ladies here hand make the pottery and jewelry and their work is absolutely beautiful. After I respectfully spent all my coins, we headed southwest toward Ngong Hills where we’d spend the next 3 days….Now that’s where things got interesting.

Raising the Bar In Beauty

Many African Americans are breaking barriers and becoming comfortable with expressing ourselves and personalities. We display this notion through our hair journeys, makeup techniques, nail and body art and our creative and stylish ensembles. As the lovely Tyra Banks would say, we are “breaking beauty barriers” and making advances toward building self-worth. But as a skincare therapist I ask, what about our skin?

I am alarmed that we as African Americans do not take an active interest in our skin as much as we do our hair, nails, fashion and makeup. Whether it is because we have a mindset that “black don’t crack” or because we feel it is less important, other cultures have surpassed us in proper skincare techniques. Here we are still in elementary school, using harmful bar soaps and I’ll even add soaps with harmful sulfates on our faces and wondering why our skin is problematic. We must take a personal stand regarding healthy skin, educate ourselves on products and procedures and then dedicate ourselves to establishing and sticking to a daily regimen. First things first; STOP USING HARSH BAR SOAP ON YOUR FACE..

Soaps tend to be more alkaline (9-10 pH range) and since healthy skin’s pH sits between 4.6 and 5.5, it is important to not use soaps with high alkalinity. Our skin has a natural acid mantle that protects our skin from environmental influences and bacteria (sort of like cellophane or car wax). Harsh surfactants like many soaps on the market destroys the protective mantle and as a result, bacterial moves in like that broke cousin of yours who’s always looking for a place to stay.  Other drawbacks include:

  • Soaps rob your skin of its natural oils, which hydrates the skin and locks in moisture
  • Soaps contain thickeners (which are ingredients that hold soap together) and can clog your pores, potentially causing acne and dehydration
  • Added chemicals in soaps are likely to increase skin irritations/allergic reactions from fragrances and/or preservatives
  • Soaps have a tendency to leave a thin film behind, leaving you feeling unclean and clogged

If you are using bar soap, stop immediately and switch to a mild cleanser or calming cleaners depending on your skin type. This will begin to balance the skin’s pH balance. If necessary, invest in a hydrating toner (that does not contain harsh alcohols) as well as a facial moisturizer and SPF that is conducive to your skin type. Remember there is a difference between oil and moisture and your skin needs to be moisturized for optimal skin health. Begin exfoliating a couple times a week to loosen dead skin cells and reveal your new smooth skin.

The Beauty of Biotin

One popular trend that I have been following for a while is the consumption of the vitamin biotin, which has become widely known as the hair, skin and nail vitamin.  Because of its ability to promote growth in cells, people without hesitation indulge.  But did you know there are many other benefits that biotin has to offer?  The following info may help you understand the vitamin a little better.

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin and is sometimes referred to as vitamin H. Involving your body’s metabolism, biotin helps support the health of your cells & tissue, nerves, kidneys, skin, metabolism and digestive organs. One of the effects recognized most often is the rate in which the hair grows on the body, in addition to an increased rate of nail growth.

Biotin Benefits

  • Vital with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins (which hair and skin is made of)
  • Helps body convert food into energy
  • Helps with cell growth (cell turnover rate….removal of dead skin cells, growth of new cells)
  • Accurate fat production for healthier skin
  • Helps to thicken hair cuticle

FACT: “How much should I take a day?” It is suggested that you consume biotin as much as you can from a healthy diet. However, if you choose to consume the dietary supplement specifically for hair, skin and nail growth, consider taking between 2,500 mcgs to 5,000 mcgs a day. You can find biotin in most drug and vitamin stores as well as online. Make sure you are purchasing a reputable brand.

FACT: It’s rare for people to have a B7 deficiency unless you drink quite a bit of alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption inhibits absorption of biotin and other B vitamins.

FACT: Although many begin noticing a difference after a few weeks, you must take the supplement for at least 6-8 weeks before noticing a substantial difference in hair growth and healthier skin, Remember patience and consistency is key.

FACT: When you consume biotin, expect for your hair to grow EVERYWHERE and your nails to grow quicker than normal. Hair can only grow a certain length on the body (ex. pubic hair, leg hair, etc.), but you may experience stronger and thicker hair stands in those personal areas.

FACT: Biotin sources in food include: cooked egg yolk, sardines, oats, liver, brown rice, sunflower seeds, bananas, carrots, mushrooms, onions, cabbage, strawberries, milk, avocado, salmon, broccoli, grains.

FACT: The body forms antioxidants chemically in the body and makes enzymes to attack free radicals, which are harmful to the body! You have a choice to support the BAD FREE RADICALS (which can overpower the formation of antioxidants by eating poorly) or GOOD ANTIOXIDANTS (which stops harmful oxidation by incorporating food and vitamins that contain vitamins: A, D, E, K and C). Why is this important? FREE RADICALS harm HAIR, SKIN & NAILS

SUGGESTION: If you are a type A blood type, consider taking a higher dosage of B-Supplements. People with type A blood do not fully absorb B vitamins.

SUGGESTION: Washing your hair with a product containing BIOTIN is questionable. Biotin is not easily absorbed outwardly through the skin…reaping full benefits involves internally consumption with supplements and/or foods.

SUGGESTION: Look into pairing biotin with other vitamins to support cell growth: vitamin C, niacin, B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, magnesium (one of my favs.), zinc and protein – although this isn’t a vitamin it is the building block of hair, skin and nails. Increased intake = increased cell growth.

Random Acts of Encouragement

Women bear the burden of juggling both family and career obligations. We are full-time nurturers to our children, the backbones of our families, the cheerleader, the domestic caretaker, the volunteer and the business woman… ALL while being faced with a multifaceted of racisms and under-appreciation that’s automatically attached to being a woman.  For centuries, women have and continue to sacrifice their wants, needs and even ideas for the sake of someone else’s happiness. And not to mention, those very sacrifices often go unnoticed by those that reaped benefits thereof.  Simply say encouraging words to others appear to become a difficult task to accomplish.

That’s why is it difficult for me to grasp my mind around the harsh reality that women are constantly mean and ugly to one another. As if they can’t relate in any way to their sisters who often times share the same struggles. Day in and day out, I see women tearing each other down as if price money is a stake. And then I turn around and see our children modeling the same behavior. Hell, I am guilty of it myself. But we have to a point where we understand behind every successful woman are other women literally lifting her up.

If women are already expected to wear so many hats and complete our “to do’s”, why not sweeten the pot and add one more task to the list: ENCOURAGMENT. Not only will you make someone’s day by positively reinforcing their self-esteem, but it will in turn encourage you to go deeper in your own purpose. Women have the recipe for succeeding. However, we’ve settled for mediocre ingredients, tools and chefs which ultimately result in undercooked dishes and poor presentation.

To women that struggle with jealousy, gossip and misunderstanding within your circle of friends, it may be time to acquire new friends or look into altering your own actions. Women are responsible for motivating one another as much as possible and understanding that we are not only our sister’s keeper but as Iyanla says, “We are our sisters.” Hebrews 10: 24-25 reads, “And let us consider one another to stir up love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

What the bible is telling us is that we are in a time and place where we are being persecuted and are in need of constant encouragement, especially from people of like faith and like minds. It is up to us to continue to assemble together and share the good and bad experiences so that we can motivate and be motivated by others. Cultivate your circles. Inspire one another. Never allow failure. And seek to encourage always.

Proper Shaving Techniques: Avoid Ingrown Hairs

Everyone has individual preferences on the topic of facial and body hair. Some men and women like to embrace it while others loathe the appearance of hair and will go through any measure for removal. There are two primary methods of hair removal, which are depilation at the surface of the skin and epilation which is removal beneath the skin’s surface. Daily, I come across people that are simply afraid to experience waxing and laser methods. Although they typically last longer and result in smoother skin, many men and women favor the traditional shaving technique. With this technique, however, these men and women can encounter the dreaded effects of ingrown hairs. These little monsters are painful, irritating and honestly just ugly.

The best way to ward off ingrown hair is to first exfoliate the skin before shaving using an exfoliating topical product and a soft bristled brush. This helps loosen the skin and helps allow the hair to grow out of the follicle properly. This tool also helps point hair upward giving you a closer shave. Because of its powerful, yet gentle cleansing and exfoliation, it essential for targeting razor bumps/rash and ingrown hair. And when the skin can breathe, it treats you better.

How to Wet Shave…PROPERLY

Step 1: Collect materials

Sharp, clean razor with multiple blades

Shaving brush/ exfoliating scrub / loofah

Quality shaving cream shaving gel or oil

Hot towel

Aftershave balm/cream/oil


Step 2: Prep the skin

Before shaving exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells. This promotes a smoother surface. Apply exfoliating scrub in circular motions for about 1-2 minutes, then rinse. Be gentle and don’t scrub harshly.
Step 3: Soften the skin

Apply a warm towel on your face and allow the steam to soften the pores and the hair, making hair removal easier.
Step 4: Apply the shaving cream, evenly

Use preshave for coarse hair followed by shaving cream, which prevents chafing/rubbing that may be caused by applying the razor over your skin. It also moisturizes the skin and hair. If you are using a brush, apply a generous amount to the brush and use circular motions for at least a minute. Using a shaving brush, again, helps lift the hair which means easier removal and less ingrown hairs. For sideburns or goatees, use a clear gel or oil so that you can see where you are shaving.
Step 5: Use a sharp razor; do not rush

*Tip* invest in a men’s razor (such as a 2 or 3 blade) for those areas as they are designed to remove coarser hair…. suitable for men and women.

Never use a dull razor because it will drag along the skin and possibly leave you with a razor burn or rash…painful! Always shave in the same direction with the grain. Going one direction and then the other will cause the hair to make a sharp edge and promote irritation and ingrown. Hold the skin firmly and carefully use short, firm stokes. Be sure to rinse the razor after every 2-3 strokes.

The bikini line and some facial hair, especially around your chin, are usually coarser. Allow the cream to sit and soften before shaving. Consider shaving in the direction of hair growth; going opposite the grain may lead to ingrown hair and rash. For the lip area, curl your lip over your teeth and use short strokes in a downward motion.

Chest and underneath your arms: some people have hair growing in all directions. Examine your hair growth and shave in the direction of YOUR hair growth. Everyone’s hair does not grow downward.

Legs and arms: shave in the opposite direction of hair growth for maximal removal in these areas.

*TIP* shaving in the shower using a fog free mirror is great. The Steam will keep pores open and soften the hair, resulting in a smooth finish.

Step 6: Rinse and remove

Rinse with cool water to seal the pores and check for stray hairs, if you’ve missed a spot, remove with cream and the razor.

Step 7: Dry and Moisturize

Pat dry with a towel, rubbing causes friction and lint residue. After which, apply aftershave balm, oil or cream to calm the skin. Choose a product that minimizes redness, burns and irritation. Lastly, replenish the essential oils that were lost during shaving by applying a moisturizer and SPF to protect the freshly shaved skin.

Lastly, a day or two after shaving make sure you exfoliate again. Dead skin cells build up daily and it is important for us to keep the surface of the skin clear and smooth. If you happen to experience ingrown hairs, as more African Americans are more susceptible to experiencing, reevaluate your shaving technique and make adjustments. Secondly, consider purchasing an ingrown hair products such as pfb, tend skin or kity kity. If the problem persists, see your dermatologist or skincare therapist and think about other methods of hair removal.

Happy Shaving!