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.

How The Ordinary Fixes Pandemic Premature Aging

When was the last time you got tissue wrapping with your shipment?! ‘The Ordinary uses simplistic designs in order not to pass on packaging costs to customers.’ Nah. At their prices, they really are just the Robin Hood of skincare.

Has your skin been affected by the pandemic? I’m aging, okay. But the loss of collagen over the last year has been astounding. Then one day, my facial tissues began to slip. And they kept slipping!

I won’t get into the brands I was using. But I was slathering on vitamin C and glycolic acid products hoping for a change. Eventually, I found out that your skin actually hits a plateau, and there are times when you need something stronger. This was one of those times!

The Ordinary had been on my radar for a while, but honestly every time I went to their website I got confused. I was like, what the heck is this, people! I am not a chemist! So I continued to forego.

But as the situation became dire, and I started to block my camera on Zoom calls, a decision needed to be made.

What Should YOU Buy From The Ordinary?

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

I made up my mind to just buy what I had been accustomed to buying, at the lowest strength available. Here’s what I ended up with:

  • Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. I wasn’t currently using a retinol product, but when I had been, some years ago, the results were great. This is an emulsion, as the other had been. So add to cart.
  • Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. I know hyaluronic acid helps aid elasticity, so that your face stays in place despite the pull of gravity. It seemed my face didn’t just need the plumping that hyaluronic acid provides, but something to sort of stick my face back to my face – elasticity. Plus my glycolic toner already had hyaluronic acid. Add to cart.
  • Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG. I had already been adding a little coffee to my under-eyes prior to the Covid pandemic – time for better technology.
  • Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I’ve always had great results with glycolic acid at unmentionably low concentrations – i.e., the concentrations were so low, brands forgot to mention it. With glycolic acid, I had fewer fine lines, more plumping and more glass skin, like for real – glass skin. But lately, those results were too temporary. I would use it, and my skin was ugly and a-droop in a few hours.
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. It says it repairs the skin barrier. So just in case I messed everything up and burned my skin to kingdom-come, I bought the large size. Add to cart.

First Impressions: Out Of The Ordinary

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Admittedly, my skincare products have never cost more than $25. But what was I getting? A plastic coated jar or bottle thrown into a box.

With The Ordinary, I spent less than $40 for five products. And, dearie, I got tissue wrap! Scroll up to the picture I took up top if, like me, you haven’t seen that in a while.

Then as an additional welcome, I got a thoroughly detailed email about their philosophy and science vs. nature in skincare products. Although The Ordinary uses plenty of natural essences, they believe chemicals have a bigger place in the world of results.

After using their products for less than a month, I agree.

Put Your Fears Aside – The Ordinary is (Mostly) Mild

Although The Ordinary uses plenty of natural essences, they believe chemicals have a bigger place in the world of results.

After using their products for less than a month, I agree.

(After pic! Back to normal. >>)

How did all this work? Well, I have to say that most of these products are really mild, despite the feeling that you’re taking the risk of being someone’s chemistry experiment. When I first opened everything up, I actually thought the retinoid was the caffeine eye serum (the writing is a little small) and happily put it all over my eyes. No my eyes didn’t tear and the delicate skin didn’t bubble. It took away the dark circles, though! I’m not recommending anyone else do that, and I haven’t done it since, but their stuff is overall pretty mild.

Except for the glycolic acid. It burned. I put it away until all hint of irritation was gone – which took about two weeks. Then I diluted it 50/50 with water and tried again. It toned very well, and I saw evidence of glass skin returning. I will alternate it at night with the retinoid, use less water over time, and try to get back here for an update.

[Update: I had to discard the retinoid as it’s supposed to be refrigerated so it can last three months. It had already stopped working and started putting little bumps all over my face after about a month, so I ditched it and am using glycolic acid (full strength) now. After three days of glycolic acid, my texture issues are mostly gone.]

I found the caffeine solution to spread better if applied over the moisturizer. Otherwise, it’s so viscous, I’m afraid it will help wrinkles set in as it dries. It has improved my dark circles, though.

The hyaluronic acid was thick and sticky, too, but a drop spread around well on wet skin. I think it has helped more than the retinoid to restore my face – not my skin, my face.

It took less than a month for my face to go back to normal. I don’t know if that has to do with melanin or not.

Don’t Let The Ordinary’s Scientific Language Put You Off

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.

So if you’re dealing with a hefty dose of premature aging, now you know where to go and what to do when you get there. Don’t let the scientific language put you off, just buy what you’d normally use, at the lowest available strength.

My trust of this company has led me to experiment more and order other products. But see for yourself. I think you’ll love the parent company, Deciem, too.

**Why no affiliate links? The Ordinary products are cheapest on the Deciem website. I’ve also noticed a lot of complaints circulating about counterfeit The Ordinary products. So for those two reasons, I decided to just give my opinion in the hopes it will help another face-slipper on a budget.

Do Your No Makeup Makeup Like A Pro

Okay I love makeup, but I don’t always wear what’s popular. I tried blue lipstick once. Nah. I never wanted cat eyes. My facial bones stand out already, so I don’t need extra angles. I have brows that are already bushy, and I don’t want dark wings on my forehead.

Shall I go on? It’s been a weird 5 years or so. Thankfully, this is the year of a more natural looking beauty. So I’ve been told. I’m in. 

No more fear of getting the cakeface totally wrong or looking unpolished at the other end of the spectrum.

But what’s with all these reports about celebrities coming out on Instagram wearing no makeup, like, for real? My thought process goes something like this:

“That you?”

“I’m in for this!”

“Ugh. Wait. You have on foundationblush …and eyeliner!”

So instead of believing the hype, I look for what’s supposed to be nonexistent. No eye bags or dark circles? Unless you’re 15, I’m guessing you are concealing. “Oh! Is her neck a different color?” (Yep.) These are sure signs.

Well, let’s just say there is a way to get a no makeup look without people like me that are trained to look for makeup doing a classic double take.

A Skincare Routine is #1

Listen, collagen starts to degrade in the human body before 21 years of age. So even if you just officially became an adult, get a skincare routine. On your “no-makeup” days, start with exfoliation and a toner. Then do your facial massage when applying your moisturizer.

Improved circulation to the face can give you a glow like you’re already sporting highlighter.

Me with only a little eyeliner – no filters. That’s after two weeks of a consistent skincare routine. (Yea, consistency… I won’t show you what I look like today, because I haven’t been on my game.)


It isn’t just for taking off years around the eyes. That’s too obvious. Instead blend it into imperfections around the face, then go for a light dusting of powder to even out your skin tone without the need for foundation.


Instead of using concealer around the entire socket, pick up a nude matte eyeshadow pallette and go to work. The first shade you chose should match the skin around your eye so well that you can go around the entire eye. Do one eye at a time mimicking our natural facial structure with one or two other colors in the palette besides.

My Warrior II matte eyeshadow palette by Juvia’s. Top right is my perfect “concealer” match, and center top is for creating shadows.


Curl them first. Use one coat of black mascara, but only if your lashes are naturally dark. Otherwise use brown, aka Heidi Klum. (She has minimal makeup here, despite the headline.) Make sure to brush it out well. No clumps! No clumps! There you go.


Remember when you were in high school and you popped lip gloss on… and that was it? Guess what, a shiny lip gloss not only plumps your lips but it draws attention away from other areas of the face. The nice(r) thing about gloss is that you can use a liner to define your lips too, without anyone noticing.

Blush? None.

Highlighting? A little, if you must, as long as sparkles are kept out of the mix.

Any questions, class?

I’m here for you in the comments.

Homeschooling Is Lethal

If you have underaged kids, they’ve been sitting in your hair pretty much since March. It’s October, and our mirrors are not telling quite the same story they did before all this started. So if you’re now embarking on some form of remote schooling or full time teaching of your own children, consider supplementing that game plan with anti-aging products.

Trust me. I’ve been teaching my child for a while, with all the highs and lows that go with it. So if you’re new to this, let me explain why it’s good to get ahead of the game – even assuming you look the exact same as you did in March. (Right.)

Think of some of your teachers in the past (and don’t tell me you never misbehaved). How many had downturned lips? Were there any with despondent, drooping eyes? How about the near constant smirk? Ever noticed that one corner of some teacher’s nose was always a little higher than the other… in disdain?

As time passes, facial expressions leave their mark. Have you been giving your child lots of threatening looks for poor behavior? Or perhaps you’ve repeated, “I am the teacher, here!” at least 10 times during the past few weeks. If so, I want you to try something. Make a plain face – no expression, no smile. Now look in the mirror. Have you noticed a little tightening here and there? This is your face getting accustomed to the repetitive motion of its muscles.

Don’t be mad. I’m just trying to help. So now let’s have a lesson on how to avoid (further) premature aging due to stress.

What Aging Looks Like

Twitter @chop466

The initial signs of aging can differ by facial structure. Do you have hooded eyes? Hooded eyes are characterized by a fleshy browbone area. If you have them, your signs if aging will appear here first. The eyes get heavier and more sunken with age and crows feet and bagging occur. Even if you haven’t noticed any of this happening, grab a collagen eye serum for the semester anyway. It’s an ounce of prevention.

If you don’t have hooded eyes, aging will then usually be observed first in the lower half of the face. This is where the collagen between the lower cheek and the mouth begins to degrade, even if the rest of your face still looks fresh. If you’re over 40, or getting close to it, and happen to be caring for children, observe this area and set to work with the following.

Glycolic Acid

A chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid stimulates the epidermis and increases circulation. It helps keep the muscles under your skin from becoming stagnant. Low circulation contributes to the degradation of the skin and fatty layers of the face, too.

Glycolic acid is not a miracle ingredient, but it’s pretty close. Younger looking skin can be seen almost immediately after starting a regimen with this alpha hydroxy acid. It sets up a system of constant, gentle exfoliation of the face. Just don’t go above a concentration of 10%, if you’re using it at home.

Most glycolic acid products work about the same. However, some are sold with mechanical exfoliant additives like microbeads. These are not only unnecessary, but can dull the new skin that’s surfacing due to glycolic acid.

Oh, and if you’re going out, use a sunscreen. (Yes, I mean you.) Glycolic acid makes skin photosensitive, and who wants to go hopping from the frying pan into the fire with fine lines?


Speaking of fine lines, retinol is the fine-line-enemy. Just rub the solution right into your rough spots, or all over your face, if you like. Retinol and glycolic acid can be used in conjunction. You’ll need a sunscreen outside with this one too.



Ingesting collagen goes a long way to defeat the symptoms of aging, as collagen is one of the bodily stores that lowers significantly with time. Collagen creams can be expensive, but both glycolic acid and retinol stimulate collagen production in the skin. If you feel it’s not enough, ingesting collagen peptides can aid the process. They are also flavorless in your morning cup of joe before school.

The biggest thing is that whatever curriculum skincare routine you choose, stay consistent with it. Kids Skin can be trained to adjust with consistency.

“I am the —!”

“Teacher here?”

“I said stop interrupting.”

Soultanicals…Please STOP!

Remember you and your group of girls laughing so hard that you couldn’t breathe? With the frozen cheese smiles, eyes squeezing tears out and the sound of, “Eeeeee!”

To get the “He, he, he,” out, you had to slap your hands on something right?

Stomach hurting! “Girl, STOP!”

Well that’s what I’m telling my girls at Soultanicals. Stop! When what I really mean is, “Please keep going. You’re on a roll.”

What’s In a Name

Some of the classic Soultanicals products have a rhyme to them that reminds me of going out with my girls and laughing and carrying on. It’s all in the way you say it. “Hair-Blaze-Curl-Glaaaaze!!” Really fast.

I swear to you, I go over the Soultanicals website just to recall those days. Because besides having really innovative formulas, I just really love their product names.

I would buy up their store, if I could, and giggle through the pages as I’m doing it. Between their retro, psychodelic funk packaging and the names, their marketing speaks, girl. It speaks.

Oh, and I’ve seen wallpaper like that, back in the day.

Here are some more names. (See if you can say them with me.)

  • Knap-pay-lishus Kank-Drank  (Hair Sorrell Knappylicious Kink Drink)
    -of course you’re not supposed to say the S in Knappylicious
  • Afrotastic Curl’LASTic (Afrotastic Curl Elastic)
    -I’m pretty sure they wanted to leave out the E, too.
  • Mango Dip Detanglin’ SLIP  (Mango Dip Detangling Slip)
    -A cute little mango is dipping her foot into a slippery pool here. The imagery they create! Am I the only one who sees this??
  • Frizz-Whizzzzzz (Frizz Whiz Curl Defining Leave-In)
    -a’la game show
  • Hershea Luuv Polishin’ Fudge (Hershea Love Polishing Fudge)
    -now Hershey’s Chocolate isn’t letting go of their name anytime soon, but I guaranTEE you, there is a chocolate girl out there somewhere who’s dubbed herself Hershey Love.

Just saying.

If you happened to click the links in this article, you’ll see that most of their products have been sold out. Of course that’s not just due to the names. But Soultanicals, keep going!!





How to Get Into Customized Beauty

If you’re making products, one of the top beauty trends for 2018 that directly affects you is personalized beauty. With this, your leads enter their hair or skin type and their beauty goals into questionnaire fields on your website. The results yield an instant click to buy that’s either a recommended product, a prototype of a new look or both.

There are dozens of companies out there who are taking the guesswork out of beauty routines – and mining a whole lot of data to boot. They are discovering, real time, what people want and are mining that info by beauty demographic to make their offerings even better. Sweet.

That’s not to say traditional market research has become irrelevant. After all, you still have to know what messages to throw out there to pull your ideal customers in. And before that, of course you must also know exactly who your ideal customers are.

The difference between traditional beauty marketing and these guys in customized beauty is how they are staying on top of the game by constantly having a finger on their lead base. And once a person fills out the survey on their site, they do a quick, almost irresistible, conversion from lead to customer – right there on the same page (or so it appears to the consumer).

I confess, I’m loving how hair products like Form Beauty,  Function of Beauty and Prose Hair have taken surveys to a whole other level. As consumers, we are intrigued when companies help us find out more about ourselves. If you’ve ever flipped through a magazine to find the personal questionnaires, you know how big of a draw they are.

Well, those hair product companies manage to use the same kind of draw then deliver the same kind of instant gratification at the end. Except this time it’s in the form of a physical takeaway product!

So that’s the up side.

On the down side, in my humble opinion, is the use of DNA for customized beauty. It’s a little too far into the Big Brother world for me. But Coty joining up with Amazon Echo is tempting! Obviously this is not the same lackluster Coty from decades ago.

How You Can Do This

So if you’ve been spending time (and money) in the kitchen or laboratory coming up with product lines for different hair/skin types… consider cutting your costs by making a base product and incorporating customization.  All you have to do is add a few ingredients to the your base per customization. Or make three or four different bases and customize those.

Then make up your questionnaire, and post it to your site. Each set of answers leads to a different product, so it’s a good idea to have as many products as the number of answers your survey will generate.

So if there end up being 100 different sets of possible results from your questionnaire, start thinking of the ingredient combinations you can use to create those 100 different products. If you know your ingredients well and are a good formulator, it won’t take you very long.

Now I’m not saying this is how Form, Prose Hair and Function of Beauty do it. I’m sure they have their own methods. I’m saying this is an easy way that you can start doing it.

Get into the game for 2018!



Natural, Vegetarian Cold-Emulsifier

I won’t tell you how longs it’s been since I’ve been experimenting with making my own cold emulsifier. Well, long enough.

A natural, vegetarian, cold emulsifier is a natural product maker’s dream. Natural, as in harmless, because in the cosmetic world, the word “natural” is laughable. Vegetarian, as in, we all want to be cute, just not Miss Piggy style.

And for the fun part, no heat is needed to form the emulsion! No more peeking at thermometers and shaking, shaking and rotating …only to watch the oil slowly separate from the water. And on other days giving something a quick shake and leaving it in the fridge. Then coming back to a perfectly emulsified product. Ha, ha. The irony.

So yea. One day I set up the hunt, digging and digging until I struck gold. In Scotland.


The company is Aromantic.co.uk Once the Sucragel cold emulsifier in my eager hands, I’ll let you know how it goes.



Sprangz does a take on African hair banding/threading

You can find the other natural hair accessories Sprang offers here.

Want to know what is hair banding for natural hair and how bands stretch and style like African threading? View my article on Black Hair Spot.