Product Review: Inside Kinks

(Photos courtesy of InsideKinks.com)

Product Review Alert‼️ I tried the Inside Kinks product line a while ago, but I didn’t get a chance to review it so here it is. 💁🏾 This natural hair brand was founded by a young entrepreneur, Khadijah King. She is the definition of Black Girl Magic. ✨ She graduated high school at 16, started her business at 19, and graduated college at 20. She was also crowned the 2015 Miss Naturalista USA. Aside from all of Khadijah’s wonderful accomplishments, she has created great products with quality ingredients proven to stimulate hair growth. I saw this brand on Instagram and decided to purchase the Cupuacu Mint Deep Hydration Masque, Rosemary Mint Leave In Conditioner, Down My Back Hair Butter, and the Groovy Growth Serum.

I really love this product line. I can’t really narrow down which products are my favorite because I truly did love them all. I will say that all of the products I tried have a pretty strong mint fragrance, but mint is my favorite fragrance so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the minty scent will dissipate, but it does tend to linger a little like most products. However, if you despise mint these products are probably not for you. 😳 The product I went through the quickest was Cupuacu Mint Deep Hydration Masque. This stuff does wonders for my hair. It is a great deep conditioner. Although it’s not super thick it does a great job of penetrating the hair shaft (with and without heat) and leaving your hair feeling  moisturized and ready to take on the week.

I used the Rosemary Mint Leave In Conditioner, Down My Back Hair Butter, and the Groovy Growth Serum as components in the LCO (Liquid, Cream, Oil) method. The Rosemary Mint Leave In Conditioner creates a great moisture base and the Down My Back Hair Butter clumps and defines my curls. The Down My Back Hair Butter is a very light whipped butter. It’s consistency is more like a styling creme than a whipped butter which makes it perfect for twist outs (my go-to style), braid outs, and protective styles. I used the Groovy Growth Serum to seal in the moisture from the leave in and hair butter. I also used the Groovy Growth Serum to do weekly hot oil treatments before I co-washed my hair. It contains an essential oil blend that’s proven to stimulate growth, eliminate shedding & breakage, eliminate dry, itchy scalp, increase hair elasticity, and rejuvenate unhealthy, damaged hair. The Groovy Growth Serum is also great for nightly scalp massages to stimulate hair growth. I will definitely be repurchasing this product once I use the last bit of my homemade oil mixture.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the Inside Kinks line, and I would highly recommend their products. Inside Kinks products range from $12.99-$15.99, but I purchased mine during a sale when all the products were $10. If you’ve tried any of these products, let me know your thoughts/experiences in the comments.

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5 Grad School Survival Tips

If you’re a graduate student or you’re considering attending graduate school, here are my top 5 grad school survival tips. By no means do I claim to have all the answers, but these 5 things have really helped me survive the past four years. Everyone’s grad school experience is different, so these are solely based on my experiences.

5. Use your resources

I can’t stress this enough. As a new graduate student, you don’t quite know all the ins and outs of grad school. If you’re a person who shies away from making new friends, I’d suggest getting over that as quickly as possible 👀 lol. Study groups are one of the best grad school resources in my opinion. Whether it’s just you and a friend or a small group, they can help cut down the workload significantly. As they say, two minds are better than one. I’ve found that collaborative work is essential to being a successful graduate student. That’s not to say you can’t do it on your own, but it’s likely to be much more difficult. These types of groups can help you stay on top of assignments and can be clutch when you’re stuck on a particular problem.  Also, you can talk to people in your group about things like applying for residency, or what apartment complexes are the best if you’re new to the area like I was. Administrators and more senior grad students in your department are also a great resource for information about applying for fellowships and internships. Don’t forget your professor’s office hours. They can help guide you or clarify material when things just aren’t clicking. So find some people you connect with and get working! ✍🏾

4. Talk to other grad students

Life in grad school can be an emotional roller coaster (to say the least). It helps to have people you can talk to about your struggles as well as your victories. In my experience, there will be somethings that only people who are in grad school will understand. Conversing with other grad students can help relieve stress. Listening to each others’ ups and downs can be therapeutic at times. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone in the struggle. You may need advice about what decision to make regarding classes or qualifying exams (if you have them), and it helps to talk to older graduate students about these things. They will be open, honest, and willing to tell you their experiences as well as offer advice.  As mentioned in #5, they’re one of your best resources. So don’t be shy. Strike up a conversion and learn a thing or two.

3. Don’t feel guilty about being selfish

This one is the hardest for me. My first year of grad school was a transition year in every aspect of my life. In that year, I learned that being selfish is not always a bad thing and is sometimes necessary. For me, the hardest part was being away from my family and not talking to them as often as I did before graduate school. My first year was emotionally rough because my family didn’t understand just how time consuming grad school can be. It’s totally different than undergrad which can be difficult to understand if you haven’t been through it. The workload was extremely heavy, and I had little time to do much of anything besides go to class, fulfill my TA duties, study, and do homework. When I didn’t call/text they mistook it as me not caring or not thinking about them. I understood where they were coming from, but at the same time I felt misunderstood. 😢 I felt guilty that they felt neglected, but I needed them to understand that I was joggling a lot and having a hard time balancing everything. I realized in those moments that I was being selfish, but I needed to be at that time. It’s okay to do things for yourself even if people don’t fully understand. I explained my point of view and experiences to my family and they were receptive.  It’s important to communicate your feelings and let the people important to you know what you need. When do you have to be selfish, try not to feel guilty about it.

2. Find an activity you love and do it often

This one is my favorite! 😍 Dancing is the remedy for my soul. I’m super passionate about it, and it keeps me going when I feel like everything is going wrong. I use it as a stress reliever when my research just isn’t going the way I want it to, or when life’s obstacles just get in my way. It helps to clear my mind and it refocuses my energy. For others this might be practicing yoga, painting, hiking, playing a sport, or just simply exercising. Find a healthy activity that will keep your body moving, but doesn’t feel like a chore. Do something that makes you happy, and do it as often as you can. When times get overwhelming and stressful (inevitably they will) you’ll need something to help you destress. Join a group if you can. Sometimes just being around other people (outside of the office) is enough to recharge. It’s important to take a break and enjoy life which leads me to the #1 survival tip.

1. Keep things in perspective

It’s so easy to get consumed with all the demands of being a grad student that you lose sight of what’s really important. Some sacrifices will have to be made, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. Graduate school is not forever. It is only a season in your life.  Make grad school a priority, but don’t forget to have fun! Know your limits and be honest with yourself. Your health and sanity should be top priorities. It’s imperative that you never sacrifice these things for school work. If you’re having trouble adjusting or coping with graduate school, try the 4 previous things I mentioned. Most importantly, take the time to celebrate your victories and let the tough times roll off your shoulders. With hard work and dedication you will receive your degree. Don’t let one bad grade, one bad class, one bad semester, or one bad year get you down. Stay strong my fellow graduate students. 💪🏾

PEACE, LOVE, & BLESSINGS ❤️

Shea Moisture’s “Everybody Gets Love” Ad

Photo courtesy of Ulta.com

For those of you that know… this happened in late April and I’m late to the party, but someone asked me to write about it so here I am. 💁🏾 For those of you who don’t know… let me explain.

RECAP: On April 24, 2017, Shea Moisture released an advertisement as a part of their new “Everybody Gets Love” campaign. Shortly after it aired, Shea Moisture got dragged on social media for the exclusion of Black women in the ad. The majority of the outrage stemmed from the fact that the Shea Moisture brand has gained much of its success due to Black consumers. The idea that Shea Moisture was trying to “white wash” their brand outraged the masses. Black Twitter was flooded with memes concerning the issue, and it was a sad day in Shea Moistureville. They issued several apologies and immediately pulled the ad.

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t like to form an opinion about anything without having as much information as possible. Now that I’ve done my research, hear me out. While I’m not exonerating the lack of Black representation in the ad because I do believe a Black women should have been present for completeness, I thought of it from a slightly different perspective. I personally don’t believe that the inclusion of a group of people is the exclusion of another. I argue this point as a Black women all the time in defense of why Black people should be included.  I think as Black people we experience so much exclusion from what I like to call the “gold standard” of beauty in society that it’s hard for us to imagine actually being that “gold standard.”

In this case, I believe that the intention of the ad was to say “Everyone Gets Love” by including women of other ethnicities with Black women being the “gold standard” which is why we weren’t included. However, I acknowledge that if this is the case, it was a misjudgment by Shea Moisture. When you add the historical context of how Black people have been systematically marginalized and underrepresented, a brand such as Shea Moisture, which is Black-owned, should understand this struggle and make it a priority to have Black people represented in all their ads.

Allegedly, this ad was the first of a series of ads, some of which featured Black women. This particular one did not. I honestly don’t think there would have been as much outrage if Shea Moisture hadn’t lead with this one, but that’s besides the point. In my opinion, ALL their ads should feature Black women because, as the brand claims, it was created with us in mind. While Black women are not the only women that suffer from hair hatred (the ads main message), ours stems from a completely different place historically. I personally didn’t mind the ad shining light on other women’s experiences, but the exclusion of Black women’s struggles is problematic for me.

SUMMARY: I have supported the Shea Moisture brand since day 1, and I will continue to buy their products.  I love that they use quality ingredients and their products do wonders for my hair plus they’re cost effective 💰. I’m not going to boycott a Black-owned business because of one mistake. It would be a different story if they had a history of making these mistakes. After hearing what Rich Dennis, the founder and CEO of Shea Moisture, had to say about the ad on the Breakfast Club, I genuinely believe it was a lapse in judgement. We are all human beings and we don’t always get it right. I think the public outrage was necessary to bring light to how they fell short, but instead of boycotting a brand that has made such an impact on our community, I will continue to support it knowing that my concerns were heard and addressed. We’ll see what the future holds for the Shea Moisture brand.

These are just my thoughts and opinions. Let me know what you think! To watch the ad, click here.

Artistic Vulnerability

I’ve always struggled with being vulnerable and arguably it has translated into my artistry as a dancer. Thanks to NC Underground Dance, I had the opportunity to go back to my foundation and teach contemporary dance on a weekly basis ❤️. Teaching contemporary regularly reminded me how important it is to connect to the music. While I was choreographing, I let the music to lead me. I didn’t think about “steps.” I just internalized the emotion in the song which organically translated into movement.

During this time, I took class from several people I had never taken before. Everyone talked about how dancing is really connecting the emotions within the song to movement, and without that we have to question if we’re really dancing. This spoke to my soul. I felt like I had started stressing so much about learning the combo perfectly and working on all the things I need to improve that I wasn’t really dancing.

With these experiences, I decided that the next time I took class I would really internalize the music and not focus so much on getting the steps perfectly. I also chose to focus on one particular improvement for each class i.e., levels, strength, textures, etc. Let me just tell you… it was a liberating experience 🙌🏾. I found that even though I didn’t care so much about getting the steps, I actually learned them better. I was more focused, but I was having fun too. When I did miss a step, my recovery was so quick I even surprised myself.

Often when we’re passionate about something we want to be the best we can be. We respect our craft so much that it’s easy to lose sight of the reason why we love it so much. When I’m dancing, I feel ALIVE in every sense of the word. It rejuvenates me when I’m weary, it refocuses me when I’m frantic, it soothes me when I’m sad. How could I not give my best to something that gives so much to me? I’ve realized that allowing myself to be vulnerable and go to the places I’m afraid of is what defines me as a dancer even if that means messing up in front of everyone. No two people have the same exact experiences. That’s what makes us all unique. When we share an authentic piece of who we are through our movement we connect with everyone watching.

In summary, I’ll say this. Don’t be afraid of allowing yourself to be vulnerable as an artist. That vulnerability unveils the very essence of who you are. Share a piece of yourself through your artistry and people will respond in ways you couldn’t imagine ✨.

Product Review: True by Made Beautiful

Product Review Alert‼️ A few months ago, I purchased the Co-wash Cleansing Conditioner, Intense Treatment Masque, and the Conditioning Styling Cream from the True by Made Beautiful line at Sally Beauty. I have to say I was very impressed overall by these products. After using the Co-wash Cleansing Conditioner, my scalp felt cleansed, but my strands were left feeling moisturized.  I’ve used several different co-washes and this has to be one of my favorites. Some cleansers can leave your hair feeling stripped or brittle, but this co-wash definitely does not. One thing I look for when using any type of conditioner is the amount of slip it has. Although it’s not extremely important that my co-wash has tons of slip, it’s an added bonus. The True by Made Beautiful co-wash has a decent amount of slip, so it can be used to lightly detangle while washing if need be (at least for my 3C/4A curls).

I absolutely LOVED the Intense Treatment Masque. It was lightweight, but made my curls POP. Immediately after applying the product, my curls were clumped and juicy, in technical sense (not really 😜). After leaving the masque on as a deep conditioner, my hair felt soft, refreshed, and ready to take on the week. Also, the smell was delightful. The scent is something I always think about when it comes to deep conditioners since the it tends to linger in your hair.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the Conditioning Styling Cream. It has a creamy texture that feels a little like a whipped butter, but it’s also slightly watery. This combination of textures is precisely why this product is amazing when applied to my hair. Water based products tend to work best for me since I have low porosity hair, but I always get the best shine and lasting moisture when I use whipped butters. This product brings the best of both worlds. With water as its first ingredient, and soybean and coconut oil as its second and third ingredients, it’s no wonder this styling cream provides long-lasting moisture.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the True by Made Beautiful line, and I would definitely repurchase in the future. Also, ALL the Made Beautiful products are $7 this weekend! Have you tried any of these products? If so, let me know your thoughts/experiences in the comments.

 

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Grad Life

Soo… I’ve decided to add a new category to my blog. Yup you guessed it… Grad Life. I don’t talk about it a lot, but as a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Mathematics, I’ve had my share of ups and downs when it comes to graduate school. I thought it might be helpful to anyone considering  or currently in graduate school to hear about some of my experiences. Believe me when I say I’ve experience the good, the bad, and the ugly in grad school. It wasn’t necessarily the coursework that can bogged me down, but the weight of life. Finding a healthy work-life balance was ESSENTIAL for me. I seriously cannot stress that enough. Grad school can be tough no doubt, but if you have a good support system and an outlet to relieve stress you’ll be just fine.

The good part will come with hard work and perseverance. When your work is recognized by individuals in your field, it is one of the most rewarding feelings. Always cherish those moments. They’re what will keep you focused when times get tough, and inevitably they will get tough. Don’t be afraid to talk to other grad students both in and outside of your program. Voice your opinions. Talk about your frustrations. The bottom line is talk to people who understand what you’re going through. You are not alone. Hard work always pays off and you will be rewarded with the Master’s/Ph.D. in the end 🎉. You might even end up with some publications and awards along the way 🙌🏾.

Grad school has taught me so much about myself, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to even be here. Stay tuned for more tips and advice about life as a graduate student.

Natural Hair Product Haul

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As a naturalista and a curly girl, the products/ingredients I use on my hair are important to me. This natural hair product haul features some of my favorite products and some new products I’ve been wanting to try. With new products comes reviews. Soo… I’ll be posting follow-up reviews on the new products I’m trying in this haul. Be on the lookout for those. 👀

When it comes to the Aussie Moist collection… chile… I just can’t get enough. I think I’ll use these products for as long as they continue to make them.  I purchased the value size bottles of both the Mega Moist Conditioner and the 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner because I love them so much. I use the Aussie Moist Conditioner as either a pre-poo/detangler or a rinse out conditioner. In both cases, my hair is left feeling super moisturized and my curls are clumped to perfection. The Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner is great for those wash days when I’m in a hurry. I just apply in the shower after shampooing, finish my shower routine, and rinse out with cool water. It leaves my hair feeling absolutely AMAZING! 🤗 I purchased both of these items at Target on sale for 4.99 each, and I saved an additional $2  with a manufacturer’s coupon from my local circular. 💰

The Pacifica brand is both cruelty-free and 100% vegan, so it’s definitely at the top of my list of natural beauty product lines. The Pacifica Coconut Power Strong and Long Healing Conditioner caught my eye because it was on sale at Target. When I saw this nutrient-rich ingredients list, I just knew I had to try this product. It contains aloe vera juice, sunflower seed oil, hydrolyzed rice protein, açaí fruit oil, moringa seed extract, kale extract, and monoi extract to name a few. I plan to use it as a rinse-out conditioner after shampooing to restore moisture. I can’t wait to see the results. This conditioner was on sale for $8.99  at Target, and Cartwheel* had 15% off Pacifica beauty products, so I purchased it for $7.64.

I’ve been wanting to try the True by Made Beautiful collection for a long time, but I’ve been on a natural hair product hiatus (I’m a recovering product junkie 😩). I was looking for a new co-wash since I used all the ones I had, and Sally Beauty was offering buy two get one free on most of their natural hair brands. I clearly saw this as a prime opportunity to try out this product line lol. If you read my Natural Hair Talk Pt. 1 blog, you know I’m picky when it comes to ingredients in my hair products, and this brand definitely makes the cut. With ingredients like shea butter, mango seed oil, coconut oil, and honey, how could I resist? 😏 I purchased all three items for about $18. I look forward to using this line for this week’s wash day.

The Mystic Divine Shine Smoothing Masque was a bonus item I got for FREE.99 when I renewed my Sally Beauty membership. It boasts of ingredients including African shea butter, Tahitian tamanu oil, Moroccan argan oil, and camellia oil which help boost shine and tame frizz. I’m hoping it’s a good deep conditioner, but it was free so #wininng.

*If you shop at Target often and you don’t have the Cartwheel app, go cop it TODAY!

#KayInLA

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Hey loves! I recently started using #KayInLA to document my journey to LA via social media. I’m planning to move to LA to pursue a career as a professional dancer and moving to LA is the first step in my journey. My dream is to dance on tour with a major recording artist, and I’m excited for the journey ahead. I’ve been saving my own money to move to LA, but I’ve been looking for additional ways to save money. One day, I came across a bunch of clothes I’ve barely worn that I wanted to get rid of and thought, “Why not sell them as another way to save money?” Sooo… I created an online store to make things easy and convenient. If you would like to support my dreams, purchase something for yourself or a loved one. If you prefer not to purchase an item, but would still like to support you can purchase the donation item with your desired amount. ALL of the proceeds will go toward my move to LA. Thank you in advance to anyone who makes a purchase. Your support means the world to me! ❤️ You can browse the items or make a donation on my online store #KayInLA.

The story of how the hashtag and logo were created plus some shoutouts: I was hanging out with some dance friends one night when my good friend and brother Elliot YJ You was joking around and started calling Kay-LA. Then, he proceeded to say Kay-L-A. At the time, I didn’t pay it any attention because anyone that knows Elliot knows he’s a goofball. A few days later, I started thinking about it more, and I came up with “Kay In LA”. I thought, “My nickname is Kay, my full name is Kayla, and I want to move to LA… Ayeeee!” 🔥 So, immediately I started drafting logos and came up with the one you see above. Shoutout to Elliot for inspiring the hashtag and Matthew A. Wright for using his graphic design skills to digitize the logo for me.  Thank you Elliot and Matthew for your continued inspiration and support of my journey. The last shoutout goes to Fusion Dance Crew for introducing to me to such wonderful people. I love you ALL ❤️

The Journey

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Recently, I was talking to a friend about dance related things such as how to make dancing a career, how to get opportunities, and how I knew for sure that being a professional dancer was what I truly wanted. In answering all these questions it seemed I kept emphazing the importance of embracing YOUR journey. If you have a goal that you’re trying to accomplish, you can’t let yourself be consumed with what someone else’s journey looks like. How you achieve your dreams won’t look like how someone else  achieves theirs. You have to be patient and trust your journey. I’ve learned this within the last year or so. I was experiencing a lot of inner conflict because I was witnessing my friends follow their dreams, but I felt like I was stuck. I felt no sense of progress toward my dreams. I quickly realized that it wasn’t necessarily that I wasn’t working toward them, it just wasn’t the right timing for ME. Although I wanted to be in LA immediately, I understood that I needed to develop a plan in order to be successful in my own way. I feel now more than ever that I’m on my way to accomplishing everything I desire.

If you’ve read the About Me page of my website, you know that the reason why I started this blog was to keep myself motivated. Being able to share my dance-related experiences has been therapeutic in a sense. Before I created this blog, I would occasionally discuss my thoughts and feelings with friends, but now I have a platform to share. You never know who you might be encouraging or inspiring just by being authentically YOU. 🤗 I’m more focused on MY journey than ever, and it feels absolutely amazing! Since I’ve refocused myself doors have opened like never before, so be encouraged and never give up on yourself. Whatever your goals may be, gain inspiration and motivation from other people’s journeys, but don’t forget to embrace YOUR journey. ❤️

Chic Camel Fedora

 

 

Dannnngggg Kay! Back at it again with the Old Navy bargains 😂 .This camel fedora featuring a black ribbon accent is cute and stylish. It can be worn with a casual look or you can even dress it up! I purchased this hat at Old Navy for $5.97. Yes that’s right, another bomb item from Old Navy for under $10. I’m obsessed with camel, so when I saw this hat I had to have it. It’s 100% wool, but it feels surprisingly soft and not itchy. You can’t beat a quality hat for under $10. I have quite a bit of hair, so hats can sometimes be a challenge to incorporate in my wardrobe. However, I tend to wear hats when my hair is straightened or if I’m wearing a protective style like twists, a low bun, etc. It gives me a different look and makes me feel a little edgy ☺️. Hats can also come in handy when you’re having a subpar hair day. If my hair is not cooperating, I’ll throw on a hat to spruce up an outfit. Sometimes I like to play around with different color hats to add a pop of color if I’m feeling rather plain. Overall, this fedora is a perfect accessory to a simple chic outfit. Stay tuned for more bargain finds!