Dry January Tips: Here’s What to Do if the Holidays Trashed Your Skin and Hair

I’m not talking about using a clarifying shampoo to get rid of party hair. And I don’t mean using undereye concealer because you’re still trying to catch up on sleep. Noooo. I’m talking about dull, rough skin and hair. There’s a reason for it, and it’s nothing to do with sleep or smells.

Welcome to the holiday season oxidant after party. If you were out there glamming it up, your skin and hair are probably still suffering from the extra helping of oxidants. So I’ve got some Dry January tips for you.

Holiday Oxidants Are Mean

Sugar, fats, alcohol, tobacco smoke, frigid winds and overheated indoors to push the damage further… getting the picture? The holidays are when oxidants have a field day. And even if you don’t smoke, your hair and skin probably got a good waft from an older aunt. (Noticed how poorly her skin has aged? Ah.)

Naturally, most oxidants behave even more poorly when they are partying in your bloodstream. You can flush them out with water, lots of water. But what about when it comes to your hair?

Hair is dead, but your scalp is very much alive. If you’ve got oxidants living in there, the quality of hair your scalp pushes out is going to be compromised. Oxidants like the thought.

How to Shut Down the Oxidant After Party

But there are things you can do to get rid of oxidants, internally and externally. There are benefits to Dry January, so make water or citrus tea your drink of choice for your next self care day. (More alcohol will not shut down the after party.)


  • Use a clay mask. Clay draws out impurities. You can use it on your hair to remove tobacco smoke and other forms of buildup that hide between your hair cuticles. Clay will also remove unwanted oxidant residues that emit from your bloodstream onto your scalp and skin. Try it weekly for a month.
    • Note: Clay is drying. So make sure the mask you purchase contains hydrating ingredients to balance the drying effect.
  • Use an antioxidant serum. Clay will pull the impurities out of your scalp and skin, but you can only use it once a week. You’ll need something to help lessen the oxidants that will still be present. This is where a serum like vitamin C for the skin and scalp and a pycnogenol supplement can be useful.
  • Give your hair a break. Even if it weren’t for the extremes of dry cold and heat, some oxidants are also drying for the hair. Try oil slugging your hair a few nights a week and avoid heat tools to restore softness and shine.

And improve your diet. It’s harsh to say after all those roast meats and pastries, but a balanced diet will help you put the oxidant after party to rest, once and for all.

Does Blue Light Damage Your Skin? Yes. Especially at Night

While the rest of you are out partying for the holidays, I’m at home. I’ve slathered on my skin care and am hoping to get a laugh out of social media. If you’re like me and prefer skincare rituals, your phone and your bed to a loud party, well, we might need to find something besides a screen to get to sleep.

If you thought you couldn’t get to sleep because of a neighbor’s music, guess again. The blue light of your screen affects your circadian rhythm (too). So kind of the way the music makes your body think it’s time to get up and get moving, even when you don’t want to, blue light does the same thing. It absorbs through your skin, making your body think it’s broad daylight. There are other problems with blue light and your skin, too.

The circadian rhythm allows the skin to time how it functions. But blue light tricks your skin into thinking it’s daylight, too. Your skin is naturally thicker and more protective during the day and thinner and more rejuvenating at night. That’s why nighttime skincare rituals are so effective at restoring our good looks. The skin is in repair mode at night, so your chemical exfoliant and night cream are just helping that along.

So, then, what happens if it’s nighttime, but your skin is thicker, thinking it’s daytime? It won’t readily absorb all those actives you slathered on before bed. Also, when the circadian rhythm of the skin gets thrown off, it accelerates skin damage and ageing. After all, repair time is more limited when you’re using your phone before bed.

And the more you lull yourself to sleep with a phone, the more the circadian rhythm of your entire body is disrupted. Then sleep becomes more and more elusive. Maybe it’s time for something different before bed. Chamomile tea, anyone?

The Secret of a Root Smudge With Toner Can Change Your Life (or Your Highlights)

ٍHoliday parties are approaching and your highlights are growing out. There’s nothing quite like two or three inches of virgin roots standing out over… highlights? Hide your head in shame.

Highlights with dark virgin roots.
Here’s how you look today. Dark virgin roots on top that fade into a lighter color with highlights. Need a solution before you get to the salon? Bun it, girl!

Of course, you can go into the salon and have more highlights put in. It will give a three-dimensional look and added volume for sure, but what happens when your hair falls out? Put bleach over bleach and that’s what will probably happen. Just in time for the holidays.

Instead of asking for more highlights, here’s what to request instead: a root smudge with toner. Huh?

What is a root smudge with toner?

Well, normally, a root smudge uses the same dye as your original color treatment to blend over the line of demarcation a bit. But how does that work when you have highlights? Well, you can root smudge your part, but if you’re lifting the color, you run a risk of damaging your hair when you put the same chemical mix over your highlights. The result? Short hairs standing up at the top of your head.

Okay, enough scary stuff. When you paint toner onto your hair to smudge the roots instead of using the original color treatment, you create warm or cool highlights at the root that extend into the rest of the hair. This can remove the line of demarcation in some areas while adding a third color in a non-damaging way.

Virgin roots with a warm toner.
Virgin roots with a warm toner applied at the roots and the lengths.

Break: what is a toner? Toner corrects your color. A purple shampoo is a toner because it helps keep platinum blonde bright so that it doesn’t get yellow. Purple shampoo is a cool toner. There are warm toners, too, and you can work with your stylist to choose the colors and overall effect you’re after.

The woman in the second picture has three or four inches of virgin growth, like the one in the first picture. But a warm toner has been painted over her hair. The toner disguised her roots and added more depth and volume. This is a multidimensional party look that doesn’t sacrifice the health of her hair.

What to ask for?

  • Ask your stylist for a root smudge with toner. 
  • Then show the stylist pictures of the color you would like, so she can choose the toner.
  • Remember, though, the toner won’t necessarily be the color you expect (remember purple shampoo). It’s the result that counts.

Want to do this at home?

If you want to try your hand at home:

  • Find a hair glaze in a color that compliments your current hair color.

  • Use the glaze to smudge your roots.

  • Then paint it vertically along one of your locks in the front and diagonally in other areas of your hair.

The result? Hair that’s ready for the holidays.

Will Your Lipstick Be There in 2023?

It’s a toss-up. Everyone is looking at the economy and rolling the dice about whether we’ll make it. “We” being the beauty industry. We’ve made it in the past. Even salons managed to stick it out after the pandemic. We’re a necessary luxury.

Minor luxury industries can plan for the future based on we, the beauty industry. It’s a metric called the Lipstick Index. It’s used to understand how much people will continue to buy in a given industry despite a financial crunch. Now, obviously, the financial outlook for a writer like me is going to be different than that for the head of L’Oreal during a recession. Or would it really be? The more investments you make, the more capital you need. But will we keep spending? How often? And on what?

Beauty is the Thing

Beauty is important to a lot of us. It’s how we got into this industry. After all, there aren’t too many people running around without washing their hair or sans some form of makeup. People got their nails on, too. As we struggle to find our places in society, self-esteem has dwindled, being well groomed is something we hold on to pretty tightly. 

I’m not sure if that’s been factored into the Lipstick Index, but maybe it should be.

Will We Sacrifice Electricity for Lipstick Though?

Well, no. But my point is that it’s pretty high up on the list of priorities. True to my industry, I can’t help noticing that hair dye somehow survives combat zones. So there should be some hope. 

Okay, fine. I’ve started to prepare. What would I do without my favorite skincare, after all? Should I do a wrinkle and a sag? I ordered some smile line patches. We’ll see how they work. Between that, I added some sale colors to my decent makeup collection I hardly use. I think I’ll love them. And my thousand rose lotion, of course. Anything else?

Well, yeah. Lots. 

The Beauty Industry Is You and Me

The Lipstick Factor isn’t some vague set of numbers. And it isn’t what “the average person” buys. (Some scary number.) It’s what beauty influencers, writers, salespeople, producers and editors spend our extra cash and bill money on. It’s us. So I think we’ll survive. Honestly, I think we’ll flourish. 

Color Your Complexion for Summer: Blush is Back

If you enjoyed the highlighter phase, but never quite caught on to contouring, I have great news. Blush is back! Blush goes in the same spot as contouring, making your face look fresh and bright instead of sunken. (Is there a reason why skeletal looks were trending?)

The light caught her highlighting in an unflattering manner, so remember, keep highlighting to a minimum. Make yourself up in bright sunlight or a makeup mirror to avoid applying too much. This way you look healthy and colorful. -Photo by Sakshi Patwa

Now that we’ve gotten past (most of) the pandemic, it’s time to show off your healthy state. Hopefully, you’re enjoying it! The sun is out, and it’s time for some color. How to apply blush?

Grab a mirror. When you have no makeup on, look at your cheeks carefully from the front. They will actually tell you where to apply blusher and highlight, if you’d like to add a little shine to your color. Under your eyes rest the tops of your cheekbones. If you notice, they are lighter in color. This is where you add your highlighter, sparingly, if you choose to.

Facial structures differ! If you look closely, you’ll see she has a darker triangle under the eye and, of course, under the cheekbones. She would apply her blush in these two areas. But she needs to bring the blush up a little on top of her cheekbones to avoid a sunken look. The lighter areas of her cheekbones under the eyes and on the side of the face could use a silvery highlighter to match her cool undertones. Photo by Keanen Geego Kilian

The area below this is significantly darker and might be spread closer to your ears than the center of your face. This dark area is where your blusher goes. But obviously it needs to be darker or more popp-ier than the skin in that area for it to work.

This lady can use her natural blushing area and add a slightly more intense color in rose or peach. You also might see a slightly darker area on the side of her cheekbones in a vertical pattern. She can use blush here too. Then she can use a bit of highlighter on the outside of the face under the eyes where the skin is lighter. Photo by Lerike Lazyr.

Very dark, black skin can use bright red colors that pop. Very light, European skin gets away with peach and rose colors. Medium skin tones work well with rust and darker pinks. Tones between black and medium look awesome with a raisin color blush. Again, you can choose any color, as long its just darker than the skin there.

It’s so hard to find pictures with absolutely no makeup. Sorry this is in black and white. This lady has a very clear delineation of light and dark on her cheeks. A red or violet pop of blush, blended in well with highlighter subtly placed in gold on the upper cheekbones will look so beautiful on her. Photo by David Iloba.

If your skin is dark and you can’t find an appropriate color, go for one that pops instead. If you have a European light, skin tone, colors that pop won’t work for you! Look instead for a highlighter to give you some shimmer. A little glitter in the highlight area when it’s hot outside looks lovely on everyone, too.

Blush and highlighter properly applied for a natural summertime look. Lovely. Photo by cottonbro.

Happy summer!  

4C Hot Oil Treatment Vs. Pre-Shampoo Treatment

Pre-shampoo treatments and hot oil treatments are pretty much the same. Hot oil treatments came out first, many decades ago, and involve heating the oil in a double burner before applying it to dry hair.

You can heat a pre- poo oil treatment, but the modern way is to drench your hair in oil then use steam to help it penetrate.

This is a more relaxing treatment with a bonus: you’re less likely to burn yourself with that hot oil.

Many thanks to Sophie O’Kelley at Vegamour for including my insight about hot oil treatments in her article on the same. Pre-shampoo treatments are optional additions for type 2 hair routines. But ohhhh they are indispensable for type 4 hair.

Why is that? Check out my natural 4C hair care guide to find out.

It’s Spring! Try a Temporary Hair Color- No Damage

A big thank you to Merrell Readman of SheFinds and M. Davis-McAfee over on Suggest for quoting me about hair dyes. Being a hair expert is part of my work at The Right Hairstyles.

Davis-McAfee’s article talks about what hair experts wish you knew about hair dye. I mentioned temporary colors, but I’d like to add that if you have dry hair, don’t use semi-permanent or permanent dye. Just don’t. Both penetrate the hair shaft and cause changes to the hair structure that dry or damaged hair might not be able to handle.

Solution? Temporary hair color that sits on top of the hair structure only.

How can I temporarily dye my hair without dying it

There are a few ways you can dye your hair without semi-permanent, demi-permanent or permanent dyes and bleach:


You can use henna. The henna market has come a long way in the past several years but is still restricted to shades of brown, red and black. Henna penetrates the cuticle layer of the hair only and dyes it. It’s still a semi-permanent color as it fades some over a six-month period, and you have the option to retouch the roots.

Your hair might feel a little dry after you use henna, but that is normally due to residual henna left on the hair. After a few washes, the dryness decreases and moisture can still get in and out of the hair shaft. Plus, henna strengthens the hair. If you’re interested, have a look at these three companies. 

Henna Color Lab

The Henna Guys


Temporary hair colors

If you want to express yourself with pastels or a rich purple, say, go for temporary hair colors. These have also evolved. They started out as temporary hair color sprays and chalks. Those are still around. But now a lot of women with natural hair are using temporary colors, which means they are non-drying. There are temporary hair color wax, gel and cream to suit your application tastes and hair texture and all are moisturizing right out of the jar. 

Does temporary hair dye damage your hair?

Temporary hair dye can damage your hair if it’s drying, like hair spray color that’s temporary and colored chalk. There are some people who can’t do with anything drying at all or their hair become brittle and snaps right off. So if you’re one of those people, check out some of the new creams, gels and waxes on offer that can have you colored up for spring without dryness.

Unlike natural henna, these temporary dyes contain chemicals. But they don’t adhere firmly to the hair cuticle, they only coat it. They wash right out in your next wash, as long as your hair isn’t too porous or dyed previously. They’re not designed to enter the hair shaft or re-color the protein inside your hair. But again, if you’ve had another dye job or your hair is overly porous due to chemical processing, a temporary hair color might actually get inside your hair and do some staining.

Can I oil my hair after I colour it (or what does aftercare look like)

You can’t oil your hair or the product will slide off. What you can do is apply gel to seal it and cause less color transfer. If the weather is hot or you work out, don’t apply the color close to your roots, or you’ll be a sweaty purple or pink mess. Sleep with a bonnet so there is no color transfer to your sheets. If it gets on your clothes, wash them immediately.

Best temporary hair color that pops on dry hair

Ready? All these work on dark hair, so there is no need for bleached hair or blonde hair before you get started. Why do I make an assumption that the better the product is packaged the more thought went into the formulation? I don’t know, and that’s probably not fair. But here we go in order of best packaging. 

Gemini Naturals Get Hued

Gemini carries 13 colors and a Curl Awaken Primer, that is a lightweight leave-in conditioner with an aloe vera base. Each color contains aloe vera, avocado oil, glycerin and castor oil. The dyes are gel-based, so there might be a little crunch after it dries, but that fades. It vegan, can be applied to wet or dry hair. The company says you can use a gel or jojoba oil to seal the color, but it starts to fade after three days. They are all vibrant colors. 

Check them out:

As I Am Curl Colors

As I Am also has 13 colors added to their original line of haircare products. These are gel colors also and give medium hold and good definition. The formulas are boosted with black castor oil and ceramides. These colors improve moisture levels by 83%. 

Check them out:

Curl Fit

Curl Fit are gel colors that the brand says works well to cover even jet black hair. There are 13 shades. (What?) It contains beeswax, which can make it look a little chalky if you don’t use regular gel over it. It also has glycerin, jojoba oil and castor oil. If you have straight hair instead of textured hair, the brand recommends you try the colors for highlighting instead of an all over ‘do.

Check them out:

ORS Curls Unleashed Color Blast

Curls Unleashed Color Blast comes in 21 colors, and they have a try on feature on their website so you can get an idea how the colors will look on your skin tone. The colors are hair waxes and contain beeswax and glycerin. At $10 for 6 oz., they are also the cheapest on this list.

Check them out:

Crown Paint Colors Hair Shadows

There are over 80 shades, neon, metallic…take your pic! The brand says these are not waxes or gels but creams. They contains cocoa butter and shea butter. Crown Paint Hair Shadows work best on hair that’s already light, so you will need two coats to get a vibrant color. If you blow dry your hair, the shades will not come off on your fingers afterwards.

Check them out:

Mysteek Naturals Color Pop

Mysteek has 12 different colors to their hair waxes and the recipe is super simple — beeswax, petroleum jelly and pigment. It’s kid-safe. The color is vibrant even on dark hair and there’s no need to blow dry to set the color as it only sticks to the hair. It’s recommended with this color and most of the colors on this list to use a hair bonnet at night to keep it from staining  your bedding.

Check them out:

DIY your own temporary hair color

Looking at the ingredients of all these, it didn’t look like rocket science to do a DIY. So I mixed a little pastry color powder in a curl pudding. Did it dye? Yes, but it was too dark. A lighter color probably shows up better on dark hair.

The next surprising thing is that it didn’t feel dry at all. It’s an edible color, so maybe that’s why. It gave the pudding a lighter texture that transfers to the hair, making it softer. 

Enjoy your new temporary hair color, however you decide to do it. And let me know how it goes!

Jada, Alopecia and Getting Slapped

Growing up in Chicago, I was a typical kid. Being a typical kid meant that you made fun of others. We called it tripping. One day, tripping on someone got me a slap and landed me in the snow. I felt the slap. Then I felt my friends waking me up. The person was more than half a block away, and I was still in shock.

That must be how Chris Rock felt. He went a little too far and got what he deserved. I feel the urge to defend Will Smith, because, yes, Chris Rock really did cross the line.

Why? Demi Moore cut her hair for G.I. Jane. Where’s the huge insult in calling Jada Pinkett-Smith G.I. Jane 2? Well, it’s like this.

Leave the hair out of it

Chris Rock has done a little tripping on Jada before, but not about her hair. Hair is a touchy subject with black women, and when she rolled her eyes about that joke, well, we know the rest. But why did she get angry, when she’d been on Instagram explaining why she cut her hair due to alopecia?

Because even though she tried to de-sensitize the issue, it’s still very sensitive and personal. I think we’ve all seen black women over 50, black women over 40, 30, 20 and even over 10 lose their hair. Everyone has a neighbor, a friend, or someone in the family or at school who has super-thin hair or bald spots. So we take note and say we won’t do what they did, but the reality is that most people do it, anyway.

“Fried, dyed and laid to the side!” Ever heard that? Hair loss is at the end of that saying, and as a result of styling practices, it’s almost inevitable. I don’t mean for Demi.

Our hair follicles are not straight

Those who have straight hair also have straight hair follicles. This type of hair can be manipulated into many different styles without causing too much stress to the hair follicles underneath. For people who have naturally curly hair, their hair follicles are curved.

For people with coily hair, though, the hair follicles are curved even more, and this helps produce the little springs that make up black women’s hair, the majority that is. This curvature also makes many styling practices detrimental for our hair and scalp, and maybe not even in ways that you think.

“Fried, Dyed…

When our hair is straightened with heat or chemicals, the coils that make up our hair are pulled all the way out. You can imagine the damage this causes to the hair. The chemicals or heat also fries our scalps, which have hardly any sebum to protect them. This makes for weak hair follicles. Hair coloring makes hair more porous, so hair that was already dry from a lack of sebum becomes brittle and breaks.

…And Laid to the Side.”

This is an issue that causes hair loss but isn’t often considered. Like everyone else, our hair grows in a swirl from the center. But when we style it, we tend to go against that swirl by creating updos, ponytails and the like. This causes thinning in everyone, regardless of curl structure.

But what about when the hair follicles are curved? The hair is issuing at a curve, to the side, and then being swept against its natural growth pattern. This puts major pressure on the hair follicles.


What happens when the hair is pulled tightly? Inflammation in the scalp which leads to different forms of scarring alopecia.


What happens when you start losing your hair and reach for extensions? The weight of the extensions causes more inflammation and accelerates the alopecia.

So what does all this mean?

Hair loss in black women is all too common, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. It’s a constant struggle to fit in with societal norms, express your own individuality and keep your hair healthy. So if I see a black woman with pink extensions piled on top, that’s her business, not mine. Everyone has a struggle.

Hair loss is an issue we don’t usually laugh about or even talk about. But I have one for Chris, who is wearing some sort of texturizer to get those curls on top. “What goes around comes around!” Slap me later.

If you’re losing your hair and are ready to get it back, check out this article:

Grow Your Hair From Thinning to Thick

Grow your hair from thinning to thick

A big thank you to Brigitt Earley at Oprah Daily for including me in her piece 17 Best Shampoos for Thinning Hair as part of my work for The Right Hairstyles.

Not my prime pick, but I’m grateful to be included, nevertheless.

Shampoos can help, but if you really want to make the switch from thin hair to thick, you need hair growth shampoo and a good scalp serum, plus a few other tips and tricks. Changing a few habits to stop mechanical damage won’t hurt, either. It’s all about how serious you are.

I bet your hair was thicker as a teenager than it is now. But what happens later to thin it out? High heat and chemicals for years and years leave the hair follicles suffering. They stop producing great quality hair regularly. Then the hair starts to thin.

Amazing. To maintain her beautiful hair, she’ll need to stop those blowouts after a while.

Get thicker hair growth from the scalp

If you’re determined to have thicker hair, ditch the chemicals and heat for a while. You need a higher percentage of active hair follicles on your head. That means having good scalp care and not punishing your scalp with… chemicals and high heat.

Most people think that once hair thinning starts, it’s bound to continue. Well, that’s true, if you don’t do anything about it. Here’s a routine that can stop hair thinning and promote growth:

  1. Exfoliate your scalp weekly.
  2. Use a scalp brush daily to encourage blood circulation.
  3. Use a hair growth oil or serum.
  4. Take a biotin supplement or make sure biotin is in your multivitamins.
  5. Use a biotin shampoo, so that your scalp is getting this important hair growth vitamin from your bodily nutrition and directly into your hair follicles, as well.

All of this means more blood circulation to the hair follicles. Increased circulation is the principle behind drugs like minoxidil. More circulation can help some of the dormant hair follicles will wake up and can help the active ones keep up their business for longer. That way, you can have longer, thicker hair. Here are a few examples of products that can help you in the search for thicker hair:

1. Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Treatment Serum

If your skin and scalp are sensitive, you probably need an exfoliant that works without the scratching of ingredients that have jagged edges. I prefer chemical exfoliants. Sunday Riley is the queen of scalp exfoliants in this category. Using a scalp exfoliant weekly can help make sure there’s no product buildup or skin cells blocking the hair follicles and impeding growth. Chemical exfoliants create new scalp cells, too, which is a real plus. It’s great for dandruff and helps regulate sebum production, in case your hair is too oily or too dry.

2. Tangle Teezer Scalp Exfoliator and Massager

It would seem like you could just do this with any plastic-pronged brush. But it won’t feel as good, and it won’t stimulate your scalp as much. You actually need a scalp massage tool, and this is a pretty good one. And, by the way, scalp massage tools work lovely to eliminate the precursor pain or stress headaches. Just give a little scratch in the area that’s affecting you.

3. Camille Rose Coconut Nibs & Honey Ultimate Growth Serum

Bonus! This scalp serum contains biotin. Otherwise, it’s pretty much an Ayurvedic formula, so I know they won’t mind my adding a few drops of clove oil, an Ayurvedic hair growth oil that’s supposed to give you crazy long hair. This is a winter practice only, because clove oil on the scalp can make you pretty hot, and who needs that in the summer? When summer gets here, I’ll exchange the clove for peppermint.

4. SugarBearHair Women’s Multivitamins

Instead of buying biotin supplements, sometimes it’s better to just get a multi that contains biotin. After all, a balanced diet grows better quality hair strands, not just biotin. So a well-rounded daily vitamin can help. Yes, it grows facial hair, too, brows and lashes–not mustaches.

5. Hairtamin Biotin Botanical Blend Shampoo

This is a mild shampoo. It contains biotin to increase blood flow to the scalp. The myriad other scalp stimulants in the formula, like lavender oil and rosemary oil, work together with the biotin to grow your hair thicker.

So if you’re really serious about having thicker hair, it’s definitely a process. One or two things from this list will help, but all five will get your hair growing and leave you surprised at the results.