Review: MURAD Resurgence Renewal Facial at Niobe Spa

You realize how obsessive you can be when you have a sudden break out and can not figure out the cause? That’s when you begin mask overload, scrub overload, product overload, the incessant verbal vomit whenever someone’s view path happens to align with the general area in which your spot resides.

“Oh that thing? Yea it appeared over night, ignore it if you can. I’ve tried everything, I just can NOT seem to figure out how this happened. Blah blah blah ” as your voice probably fades into nothingness in the mind of the victim who most likely never even noticed it, not to talk of asked about it.

In my particular case I was dealing with a break out on my forehead, nearing my hairline which I suspect was caused by stress. I couldn’t keep my hands away from my face, and I’d had enough of it destroying my life. (Might I just add that in reality it wasn’t as bad as it sounds so take each description with a pinch of hyperbolic salt. I had all of 3 spots that I feared would leave pigmentation and that was my biggest issue.) I decided to get a facial, which I believe I’ve only previously gotten years ago for fun as a child, so I rang up my sponsor (S/O my Sugar Sister!) to get a spa date out of her. Although that was unsuccessful, she did offer to pay, so naturally I rang up Niobe that second to book my appointment. This was my first time getting a facial, although I’ve been for waxes, mani/pedis and massages, but I knew my sister frequented Niobe for facials so I presumed I could trust them.

Restore your former luminous glow with this luxurious multi-active facial. It’s the ideal antidote if you are plagued by dry skin, fine lines, loss of elasticity, dullness and even the occasional hormonal breakouts. Advanced collagen building technology boosts elasticity and resilience to reduce the appearance of medium to deep wrinkles while gentle exfoliators clear skin of dullness and stimulate cell turnover. Luxurious and lasting hydration restores suppleness, texture and tone. After one treatment, you’ll see that youthful Murad Glow! -Official Murad Resurgence Renewal Facial Description

I was choosing from two out of several options: The Elemis and Dr Murad treatments. Primarily because of their benefits to my particular situation and skin-type, but also because I’d either heard of or tried these brands thanks to Sephora. I ended up going with the Murad Rejuvenating Renewal Mask Facial. This was advertised online as a 60 minute facial but I came to find that it was actually 45 minutes, which I wasn’t mad at, because the way my jitters are set up…

I filled in a brief consultation form and then I was escorted upstairs to the Facial room, which was comfortable and pretty enough, dimly lit, spa-usual. I waited for about 15 minutes. Once it was set-up I was briefed about the Murad Rejuvenating mask experience I was going to have: “Cleanse, cleanse, tone, steam, extraction, exfoliation, cleanse, tone, mask, moisturizer.”

The actual order may have varied but I wasn’t paying such close attention. Let me just say that everything, including the slightly suffocating pore-opening steam sesh, was going well until she warned that she was about to extract, which would likely be painful and that’s when my anxiety kicked in because WHY would it be painful and didn’t painful extractions equate to hyperpigmentation and scarring? I said a prayer in my head-no joke. I was not trying to leave with anything I didn’t come with. The extraction was by all means the worst part of the facial so it was upwards from here. I just could not reconcile the pain and I needed it to be done with, so I could go and google “are painful facial extractions normal?”

The answer was yes, mildly painful (depending on your pain threshold) extractions should almost be expected. But why could I feel her nails? Were those her nails I could feel (she responded with a no) or was it just unusually high pressure on a very tiny surface area? I decided to just arrest my overzealous thoughts, calm myself and attempt to enjoy the rest of my facial-which I did. The exfoliation that followed the extraction felt like the perfect antidote and once she got to the massage of face, neck and décollette, I was ready to fall asleep. When I felt that moisturizer glide on, I knew the facial was a good idea. Facials (including extractions) are a good idea boys and gals! Let’s just say there really is a difference between professional treatment and at home ones.

My face felt noticeably plumper and very very clean, and had an undeniable glow. My pores were still open so I was warned to stay away from fires, swimming, and exercise for the next two days. These, of course, are regular occurrences in my daily life so you can only imagine the great inconvenience. 🙃

You’re also advised to not wash your face that day or do anything that could aggravate your skin due to its heightened sensitivity.

One week later and I did not have any adverse reaction to any of the products, which I was happy about. It’s good to note that facials, if one wants to get into them, should be incorporated into your regular skincare regimens and therefore, depending on your skin health, should be done once a month or more. That’s when you see the full benefits. However if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up before a big day then sure! I’d advise that you get it done well in advance or choose a facial you’ve done before so you know how your skin reacts to it. Would I get this done again? Absolutely! What would I rate it? I would’ve rated it a 4.2-Star on a 5-Star scale had it not been for the extraction part, which I didn’t particularly love. So I give it a 4.

If you have any questions, comment below! I’d be more than happy to answer.

~Rekia

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MUA Spotlight Goes To Lagos: Dodos

IAmDodos

 


While on a little trip to Lagos recently, I decided to incorporate something productive into the trip aside from playing with my boyfriend. I specifically had two people in mind, in the beauty industry, that I wanted to meet up with this time round. One was Dodos.

I met up with Dodos in her shared space with hair extension brand, Good Hair (@goodhairltd on IG) on a busy Friday afternoon. As you can imagine of a parlour created purely to cater to the grooming & glam needs of Lagos’ hip and happening, it was bustling with, Lagos Big Babes™. This season’s designer bags strung across couches, hair perfectly coloured and curled, nails freshly manicured, and skin Dodos-glowing.

Dodos caught my eye on Instagram several months ago for a couple of reasons, including the amazing pixie hair cut she had at the time, but if I’m honest I think I am beginning to see a trend in the type of makeup artist I find myself drawn to. I’m pretty sure you can guess yourself, but take one look at her Instagram feed and it gives itself away. It’s one the mimics the very aesthetic that I myself am passionate about. Her makeup style is comparatively understated, yet absolutely gorgeous.



She’s a style blogger, a beauty blogger, and a makeup artist. Like many alpha females and girbosses alike she’s multidimensional and can’t be boxed. I couldn’t wait to sit with her to get into her head and get her insights. 

***

Tell Me A Bit About Yourself.

My name is Dodos Vieghara. Dodos is actually my nickname. I have a Bachelors in Economics. I also have 3 years work experience in HR in Oil & Gas and in e-commerce. After that, I decided to do me.


Why did you choose to become an MUA?

I think I was always either going to be a makeup artist, a fashion designer, or both. Beauty and fashion came to me at a very young age, ever since I became aware of myself. It makes me happy that I can make people happy  and feel confident in themselves.

If you weren’t an MUA what would you be?

If I wasn’t an MUA, I would be a fashion designer.

Have you had any regrets so far?

No regrets. Absolutely not. I would do it over and over again.

How has your journey been so far?

It’s been an interesting journey. While I had my 9-5, I was doing this makeup thing and taking bookings over the weekend. It allowed me to infuse myself slowly into the beauty scene because then I also started my blog. My blog gave me exposure, and it was easy to say “You know, I do makeup as well!” The online space made it slightly easier for me: having Instagram and a social media presence. Social media makes the world a smaller place so that definitely helped me in kickstarting my career. By the time I decided to do it full time, I’d already made some good contacts. I did not do it myself, I like to believe God has definitely ordered my steps. In fact, how I know it’s my passion and calling is in the times where a client calls me, and I don’t feel like doing anything, and I still just CAN’T say no, I find a way. Also the fact that I can do so much within that space, and it’s not even money related, makes me know that I really love it, and it’s not about the pennies.

How were you able to balance your makeup with your 9-5?

I wasn’t able to balance it. My makeup and my blogging were suffering and that’s when I decided, you know what, it’s time to give this a go.

My 9-5 was taking all my energy, I thought to myself, in order to take my passion and my business to the next level, I need to give it my all. I need to put in the same energy that I’m using to build someone else’s dream into mine, to make it come to life.

Even now, balancing makeup and creating content is difficult but I have a schedule wherein I work Tuesday to Sundays, and Mondays are purely for content creation. 

How I’m able to stay motivated is that I have a business plan. Being a makeup artist is just one of the steps to where it is I want to go. I always try to stay up to date. Every 6 months I go for training to brush up on what is happening in the industry and how to get better and improve myself and my craft.

What do you love most about the Nigerian beauty/makeup industry?

Nigerian women are big on beauty and  fashion so the industry is booming! There could be 50 makeup artists in Lekki Phase 1 and we will all get a good number of clients. The fact that Nigerian women are very aware, they want to look and feel great and be put together is great! What I particularly love about the industry is the people that make it what it is.

Advice for people trying to enter the industry?

For anyone entering the industry now, it’s both easy and difficult.

There are a million and one makeup artists, and there are a million and one GOOD makeup artists. You first have to find yourself, and then find your niche. What is makeup and beauty to you? For me, I’m a simple, every day, minimalistic girl. I never want to look over the top, I think it’s sexy to look very effortless, so I translate that in the looks that i create. I create clean, minimalist looks. I’m not trying to change how you look or make you hundreds of shades lighter. Even if the crowd wants one thing, do what you believe in, what’s important to you. To be honest the average Nigerian woman right now probably wants “that much” makeup, I’ve had women ask me to make them look several shades lighter and I’m sorry I can’t. You have to stay grounded and know what’s important to you.

Collaborate! It helps you do two things, 1. Exposure, 2. It allows you to establish good networks. Collaborate with a model and photographer to build your portfolios, do a photoshoot, email your pictures to Bellanaija or whoever and try to get your images out there. Create something great and everyone will want to be part of it. Create something different, which is part of creating your niche. Utilize and leverage social media. 

Finally, don’t always think about the money. If there’s someone you admire and think you can create something amazing with their face, celebrity or otherwise, do their makeup for free if you have to. It later translates to money because they open you up to their networks who start to pay you for your service, and they’ve helped you do indirect marketing.


Frustrations with the Nigerian makeup industry?

People are stuck with the whole social media facade, where some would rather look nice in the pictures but not necessarily look nice in real life. They want heavily photoshopped pictures and will go to the artist who has the followers and their photos look hot even if the makeup doesn’t look that great. It’s kind of demotivating because sometimes you’re like, OK. I can tell you airbrushed the heck out of this picture, I can hardly see your skin. I saw you in real life and the makeup doesn’t look like that. So, social media is great but it can be demotivating in the sense that some people just want to be famous and they want to break the internet and go viral so they will pick that over the actual craft.

Is it lucrative here?

Very. Beauty industry is very lucrative and being a makeup artist is very lucrative but to me I see it as being limited. I believe that your business becomes a proper profit-making venture when it can sustain itself without you. If you have an accident and you lose your hands (God forbid, sorry I had to add this here lols) how would you eat? Every person in that industry, I believe, should be thinking like that. Thats how I think. I think OMG if I cant use my hands how will i survive? Thats why you you need to think of other creative ways to sustain your business in the beauty space. Even if it means having a makeup line, collaborating with an existing brand to create a limited collection IAmDodos x TAOS, whatever it is! But something long term so that even when you travel, there’s still money coming into your account and you don’t always have to be physically there. You can do other things within the beauty space to sustain your business.

What is the most exciting job you’ve done?

It was exciting, it was nerve-wracking, it was crazy, it was intense, but it was so worth it. So, I just worked on a film with Genevieve Nnaji. It was her debut film directing. Nerve wracking because I was surrounded by all these movie stars I grew up watching on TV. It was very humbling, very surreal, hours were crazy, but it was really exciting. Hopefully you guys watch Lion Heart the movie!

Trends you’re loving?

Oo highlight. Glow baby. I’m not a minimalist for glow, I can be excessive with that one I wont even lie sha.

Trends you’re hating?

Just heavily caked skin and face. I don’t like it.

Matte vs Dewy?

Dewy!


Makeup Item You Can’t Live Without?

My skin is not bad, what would I say?.. Lipgloss!

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry?

Internationally? Sam Fine, Renny Vasquez. They are my top 2, i’m obsessed with them, they are like mentors. Their work is amazing!

In Nigeria, Bimpe Onakoya. She’s about the craft, she’s not about the gimmicks, the fame etc. She inspires me.

 Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

In the next 5-10 years I see myself building a sustainable brand that will have an impact in my immediate community. I want to put Nigeria on the map. I want to be able to influence and inspire young women. I have a thing for women and girls!

Socially conscious, talented, and sassy! I was so glad to have been able to sit with her for what felt like a casual catch up with a friend. Definitely check out her Instagram: http://instagram.com/iamdodos and her blog http://www.iamdodos.com to see her awesomeness for yourself!

As always, it’s a pleasure bringing industry gems to you! If there’s anyone you want to hear from or any questions you’re curious to know, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email: rekiaweekly@gmail.com

~Rekia

Beauty Spotlight; Alexandrina 

I think it’s important, in any industry, to familiarize yourself with who the gatekeepers are, what is going on, understand limitations that exist within, and how you can overcome them and possibly disrupt an industry. What better way than to learn from those who have come before you? So, I decided to incorporate into the blog, features on who I’d like to call the gatekeepers and the stakeholders in the beauty industry. To get insights and wisdom about what it takes to survive, thrive and soar in this field. My hope is that as a beauty enthusiast, or if you’re simply a creative, or an aspiring entrepreneur, you can take some of these insights home and allow them to inspire you.

 

***

Alexandrina of Alexiglam

 

Behind some of your favorite looks on your favorite Ghanaian glam stars, sitting on her quiet throne, is Alexandrina. She’s a gorgeous woman, with envy-worthy locks, and a sweet as tea personality to match. I was first captivated by her aura, and undeniable skill backstage at Lagos Fashion and Design week, and months later, she’s a mentor to me, and an industry stakeholder I look up to. I sat down with her for a cuppa to pick her brain and deliver some gems straight to you.

Today I walked in on a smiley Alexandrina, clad in her signature chic all black ensemble, wearing a makeup-free, yet beautiful glowing face.

Tell Me about Yourself

I grew up wanting to be a couple of things: jewelry designer, fashion designer, pilot which I actually took classes for. I had done hours of flying! I have many sides to me. Makeup has come up as a thing I did later in life, that I wish I’d started earlier.

Why earlier?

I could have done it earlier. I don’t know why I didn’t have the courage to, or why I felt it was little and not important, but now it occupies such a big space in my life. I live and breathe it 24/7, I probably have dreams of makeup.

Why Did You Decide to become an MUA?

I had been just out of a painful divorce, and it was just that period of my life where I had time, I had a bit of cash in my pocket. I didn’t think anyone had any particular expectations of me. Worst case scenario, I would have wasted money. I’ve wasted money on worse! So, it was a spur of the moment decision on a train ride in London. I paid for it, and that was it.

And you never looked back?

Never. I did a beginners certificate, then an advanced certificate and then I specialized in Special Effects. I had already been working with a production company in quality control, so I was able to add that value at that same company and started working the day I got back from my course. I started practicing on TV, which was very scary.

So no chances to mess up, then?

I had many chances to mess up. And I did.

How has your journey been so far?

It’s been a steady rise. It has many twist and turns. In this part of the world when you say you’re a makeup artist, it doesn’t come with much respect. People attribute your success to how much you’ve been through, they don’t think you did much to become a makeup artist, so that’s where the twist comes in. I’ve had to square my shoulders and say this is who I am, I am a professional, this is my value add and if you pay me this amount of money, this is what I’ll do for you.

Our brothers and sisters in Nigeria are far ahead of us and I think their creative industry is far ahead because their government and individuals have nurtured and grown it to get to that point. I think we will get there, I think we are getting there really quickly, but we are not yet.

You still have people questioning or looking down at you. They might not say it but you can see in their body language, they feel like well a woman such as yourself, why didn’t you do x or y. To me I know my interests vary. There was a time when I wanted to work in the UN, but I chose to do this. Makeup is just the tip of the of the iceberg. There is so much I can do outside of it, but in all things you start somewhere. Create your network and your base, and that process is also a learning opportunity to get to know what people want and don’t want. That way, I’m able to make a bigger impact on the industry.

What’s your favourite thing about the makeup industry in this part of the world?

My favorite thing is witnessing the growth. The thing I love is social media and makeup, because you get to see everything and it’s very exciting to see from Nigeria, South Africa, everywhere! And you’re able to see artists from all over doing amazing things and you can relate, you get inspired and think, “Wow, I can do this!” For me makeup has always been escapism, if I am super stressed and I pick up my brush, that problem ceases to exist.

What advice would you have for women trying to enter this industry and make a name for themselves?

Trying to enter is not hard, just start! You need to train yourself and not on Youtube, if you want to do something serious and offer it as a service. If it’s something personal, yeah go and buy some data. If it’s serious, get trained. In as many places as you can. It’s like going for a degree, and then doing a masters. Educate yourself broadly, and then specialize. There are so many sub-categories within makeup. You can study to become a trainer, an editorial makeup artists, etc And start. Get as much practice as you can amongst your friends, your networks, brands. Position yourself, have a plan, just like you would for any other business. You need to have a mini business plan, so you have a clear pathway as to where you want to get to. It also identifies the choices you have to make. If you want to end up being like Pat McGrath (who is creative director at Procter & Gamble for Giorgio Armani), you have to know how to get there. So you network the right way, open doors the right way. Plan. It’s not an easy job.

Is it lucrative?

It’s relative. It’s definitely a potentially lucrative business, but it’s not always. People don’t put value to their services, their time, and even their kit. When you take care of all these things, it can be lucrative. When you do these things, you are establishing yourself in a league above the rest and it gets more and more lucrative. When you’re starting off it might not be, because you might be doing interning and trying to just get your name anywhere. Bridal is very lucrative. You’re able able to do bridal parties, cause in Africa our weddings are extravagant with groups of 12 or more bridesmaids, it’s money! Every one wants to get their makeup done. If you want to go up a notch and go corporate, you can do that too. If you want to set up your own school and train. So it’s whatever you choose to do with what you have.

What is your signature look?

I don’t have one, because I don’t want to be defined by one thing. When I started I had a very natural, minimalistic look, and I still do. I also have clients who want things done differently, and I can do that, keeping to my style and techniques, and keeping to what I think is a very balanced approach to applying makeup. I don’t want to say I have a signature because I don’t want to bed defined by the brows I draw. If anything, my signature would be the way I treat my clients. They can attest to the fact that I take care of them. I think people call me because of the service they get.


What are current trends you’re loving?

*Sips coffee* Thank God matte is out, and glow is in!

Any trends you’re hating?

I can’t hate a trend because I don’t look at trends based on Instagram. If we are talking about Instagram trends there are plenty! I don’t hate drag but I think it has it’s place. I don’t usually hate trends, the thing is not to copy trends but infuse them into your normal routing, or use it where appropriate in your technique. 

Makeup product/item you cant live without?

The only thing I can’t live without is moisturizer! Everyone needs it. Not enough people know.

Who are some of your favorite MUA’s in Ghana and beyond?

I have to be honest, I look for my inspiration outside Ghana. I’m on autopilot. Now I have a lot of colleagues in the industry, I love their work, they do great with what they’re doing, and they have people who love them for what they’re doing. But when I aspire to be like someone because of what they have achieved, there may be 2 business women in Ghana, who are not makeup artists, that have made beauty their business. Dzigbordi Bonsu of Allure, and Grace Amey-Obeng of FC. I love them because of what they’ve done with what they had back then. It was very difficult doing something that nobody understood. And they haven’t stopped!

In Nigeria, Aunty Bimpe (Bimpe Onakaya) is someone that I really love, I personally know her. I love her artistic vibe. I just want to be in her brain. I would love to stop what I’m doing now and understudy her for 6 months, that would be bliss!

Then there are those I don’t know like Banke Meshida of BM Pro, and Tara Fela-Durotoye of House of Tara, who own brands and are doing great!

Internationally we have the Sam Fines, AJ Crimson, Pat McGrath, Sir John and finally, Francesca Tolot! I love her, I love her work on Beyoncé and I love Beyoncé.

Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?

On a yacht! I see myself still working to achieve my dreams for myself, my kids and future generations. I want to make beauty and cosmetology something that I can provide for everyone. I would like to see myself creating something now that will constantly be on trend in years to come and giving the service that I’m known for now. I don’t want it to be diluted. I would like to have trained 1000’s of makeup artists because it is by training that you influence an industry, and infuse people with certain skill sets. That way you have an army of people who think like you and ascribe to certain standards which is something we need here in Ghana. We need to have an industry that dictates the standard. So that across the board you have professionals who are providing similar services and the only thing that differentiates them is their value add. It’s only by doing that that we can grow together. I cant have a vision that includes only me. It is building a network and colleagues that are doing the same thing with the same mindset. I’m doing this for the younger generation that will grow up and say to their parents that they want to be in this industry confidently because it’s profitable.

And that’s it, guys! I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I definitely picked up a couple of gems. I’ll be doing more spotlights so let me know if there’s anyone in particular you want to hear from and if you enjoyed this segment, by commenting below!

~Rekia  

 

Skin Gourmet Ghana Goodness!

If you know me, or at least if you’ve been following the blog for sometime now, you should know one of two things: I love natural skincare, and I love the idea of local makeup/skincare brands who are doing it RIGHT. That’s why when I stumbled across Skin Gourmet on Instagram, (and what a cute name!) I could not wait to get my hands on these bad boys. Organic✔️, Made locally✔️, Woman-owned✔️, great packaging✔️, environment-friendly✔️

 If this hasn’t sold you on why you need to check them out just stop reading here.


Just kidding. Keep on reading, there’s more!

Violet A. Amoabeng is a 30 year old Ghanaian woman who, as a certified #GirlBoss, works as the head of procurement of a bank, while running Skin Gourmet simultaneously. Goals, anyone? She created Skin Gourmet 3 years ago when she realized there was a need for, as she puts it, unadulterated high quality body care that was safe for human consumption. In other words, the rawest, purest and wildest skin care sourced from the heart of the West African bush.

The idea was to create a unique line that was sustainable, would push Ghana forward, and teach Africans that their culture should be preserved. Sounds good to me!

When I was asked to choose products to try out, I honestly struggled making a choice because, quite simply, I wanted to try everything. I asked what their bestsellers were and was given an extensive list of almost their whole line. It included their Wild Northern Honey, Detoxifying Clay Mask, Baobab and Shea Body Butter, Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, Hibiscus & Baobab Sugar Scrubs, and the list went on. I decided on The Hibiscus and Tea tree sugar scrub, and the Black Soap. Particularly because I’ve been looking to try a new exfoliator for my face, and Black Soap is usually too drying for my skin so I wanted to see if they’d found a way round this.

The Lowdown

Hibiscus & Tea Tree Sugar scrub with Wild Honey;

 It contains cold pressed coconut oil, dried hibiscus, wild Northern honey, tea tree essential oil, and white sugar. If you’re unfamiliar, you should be exfoliating once or twice a week to remove dead skin, dirt and oils that could lead to breakouts and blackheads. I have been using St. Ives Apricot scrub for years because I love the sound of natural ingredients, however, the tea is that St. Ives is currently being sued for several reasons including the fact that it may actually accelerate the ageing process because the remnants of the walnut shells used in the formula could cause inflammation and many dermatologists don’t approve of the product, even though it says it’s “Dermatologist Approved.” Of course many people swear by it and if it works for you with no issues, go ahead.

This Hibiscus scrub could work as an alternative if you’re not necessarily looking to get rid of your acne and just want a scrub to make your skin smoother and brighter looking (which happens when you get rid of the dead skin cells, no skin-bleaching advocacy here!). It doesn’t have acne treatments like salicyic acid, which scrubs like St. Ives have.


Let me say, I already love each individual ingredient in this scrub for their skin benefits and otherwise. Hibiscus cocktails, anybody? I figured if it’s safe enough to eat, then it’s safe enough to put on my skin! I was given a preserving spoon which you’re to use to scoop the product instead of using your hands and contaminating the raw, emollient free, preservative-free product, thus decreasing the longevity.

I used a spoonful and applied it to my wet face, moving round in gentle, circular motions and then rinsed it off with water and voilà! It works like a charm! I can’t stop touching my face as I write this post. Definitely feels softer for several hours after (It’s currently the day after) and I noticed that it increased the blood circulation in my face, leaving a subtle glow after I moisturized. Now I would only use this once or twice a week because you should only be exfoliating about that many times anyway, more than that and you will be doing more harm to your skin than good. It does feel particularly scrubby for lack of a better word. Meaning that if you have sensitive skin, be extra gentle with the product or perhaps opt for a micro-exfoliant for your face and use this as a body scrub instead.


Handmade African Black Soap;


I’ve previously written about the benefits of black soap. It’s one of nature’s secrets that your mother/grandmother always kept in her bathroom. “It’s made from the ashy of locally harvested plants and barks such as plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and Shea tree bark.”

I love this stuff but as aforementioned it can leave my skin feeling really dry, which I don’t like because my skin has the tendency to be dry anyway. I unwrapped the bar soap with skepticism because it can also be really messy so I appreciate ones that are either liquidated or that come in a jar. The downside to jars is that dirt can accumulate in them. Anyway, the first thing I noticed was how this bar didn’t have the distinct STRONG smell that is characteristic of black soap. I liked that. I used it and surprisingly, it wasn’t really messy and melting all over the place, but more importantly, it really didn’t feel as drying as it usually does. I was tempted to assume that this wasn’t pure black soap. I was right, but in a good way. While it has the exact same content as regular black soap, Skin Gourmet’s formula includes Coconut Oil and Raw Unrefined Shea Butter. So other moisturizing ingredients your skin will love.

They also have liquid black soap infused with essential oils like peppermint and tea tree so you might want to check their full range out for yourself. They range from 10-50 Ghana cedis which is the equivalent of about $3-$15. You can find them at Elle Lokko in Osu, directly from their website, or you can call them to organize a delivery. You’ll be in good company since they boast a diverse clientele which includes the First Family. So go ahead, and tell them I sent ya! 😉

In conclusion, I am very happy to have discovered this brand because I can replace some of my regular skincare products with these natural ones. Like I said, international products are always 🗣overpriced here, anyway! Retailers, fix up. Sephora, if you’re reading this, hit your girl up and let’s work. I can’t wait to see Skin Gourmet hitting the shelves all over the world.

I’m always pro women chasing their dreams while working their 9-5’s. I think they are the real superheroins so I asked Violet for some parting advice on how to balance the two:

“Don’t quit your day job. It’s all about balance and putting the right systems in place. Work hard, sometimes it feels like you can’t keep going but push through it will not get easier but you will be proud of yourself!”

And that brings us to the end of today’s post. If you have any more questions, you can direct them at me or check out their Instagram: Skin Gourmet GH

Till next time.

-Rekia

My Indian Healing Clay Experience

 Indian Healing Clay is one of those cult-favourite skincare products I saw everywhere in the beauty sphere, that was universally pushed and promoted from Instagram, to blogs, to YouTube , and seemed like an all round miracle product.

It  had enough hype to keep me interested, but also a hint of “too good to be true” that it kept me unmotivated enough to not try it. It didn’t help that I’m currently obsessed with charcoal masks but that’s for another day! So what finally pushed me to go for it? Well in all honesty I’m running out of all my other masks and since everything is so wondrously overpriced in Accra, I wanted a cheaper, more accessible alternative to the face masks I usually love. And that brings us here today.

Getting Into The Nitty Gritty!

Let me start with my skin type. I have dry/normal skin so I tend to prefer products that aren’t too drying because my skin will more than likely end up looking irritated, patchy and worse case scenario, I’ll start to break out. (Good riddance to the dry Massachusetts winters!) I had heard that this mask was for normal to oily/acne prone skin, and since I do tend to have areas of my face ridden with blackheads, I decided to go ahead and try it, anyway! I also love love natural products because how bad can they possibly be, right? God makes no mistakes. 🙂

Here’s how it works:

Clay masks such as this, when applied to your skin, will have a negative charge, while toxins and dirt in your skin have positive charges. The Indian Healing Clay mask works by pulling out the positively charged toxins in your skin, essentially detoxifying your skin. Bentonite clay is able to absorb up to 180 times in it’s weight so it quite literally sucks the gunk out!

If you, like me, noticed your skin had a slight glow to it not unlike the glow you get after you’ve exercised or *coughs* then you’re not imagining things. It increases the blood circulation in your face (hence the redness right after the mask comes off) when it begins to dry, by constricting your skin. And there we have all the components of a great cleansing face mask!

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Where did I get this baby?

I had seen an Instagram ad (one of the more useful ones) of a Ghanaian online beauty store called “African Emprezz Beauty Shop“. I’ve never bought anything from online stores/sites here, apart from food sites, so I was a little skeptical to try it. What I did appreciate about this one however, was that it had customer reviews, so my reluctance went down a notch. I went ahead and made the purchase with the 35 apple cider vinegar (you can skip out on this and use water) and my total came to 75 Cedis. I chose the pick up option.
The pick up location wasn’t too difficult to find (Asylum Down) although it did look ever so slightly dodgy.
I had to do a triple take when I saw the product and I knew at once, that the basic packaging wasn’t going to help me decipher whether it was authentic or not. It could have been made in someone’s kitchen in Korle Gono for all I knew.
I was just going to have to shut my eyes and try it!

The Mix!

All you need is a small non metallic bowl and spoon. I mixed a table spoon full of apple cider vinegar with about the same amount of Clay until I had the perfect pasty consistency. Once I got it smooth to my satisfaction, I applied it onto my face and neck starting from the center of my face and moving outwards until I had a generous layer on my face. I left it on for less than 10 minutes because I didn’t love the really tight sensation and it suggests 5-10 minutes for sensitive skin, anyway. I took it off by rinsing with warm water and followed up with moisturizer and voilà!
The great thing about this mask is you can alter it to make the perfect personalized mask based on your skin needs. Essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, jojoba or rose water are great options, depending on what you want the mask to do for you.

Yay/Nay?

I would say for the price, it is a definite yay! It’s much cheaper than many of the masks I use, however, if you’re a mask pundit then you’re likely not going to find this mask to be groundbreaking. But! It works. Give it a try!

 

~Rekia

 

A Case For Minimalist Glam

NEWS FLASH: Skin Is In! 
“Has skin ever not been in?” You might ask, and that would be a fair question seeing as it does grow on our bodies and we pretty much don’t have a choice. I would agree. However, in an era of super matte faces, wildly colorful eyelids, sticker brows and face transforming contours, drag makeup has become mainstream and me and my skin are gasping for air! 

Don’t get me wrong I am thankful to the queens of drag for what they have done for beauty and makeup, but bring back the soft, fresh faced looks please! The classic Kevyn Aucoin and Sam Fine circa the 90’s looks.  You know, when the makeup wasn’t aggressively fighting for your attention, but rather was easy on the eyes and inviting. The perfect face, for me, is when there’s balance, moderation and subtlety. No need to shy away from colour on the eyelids, but for the love of makeup gods, let it be in harmony with the rest of the face. 

Now I love me a beat face. But I equally and maybe even moreso love bare, healthy skin. Healthy skin plus a beat face is the exact recipe needed to hit the glam jackpot.
Have you ever seen someone who’s makeup looks like it was airbrushed on? As in, it looks as smooth as if the makeup fairies carefully sprinkled makeup on like fairy dust? Well, if you rule out the possibility that it was actually airbrushed on (because yah, that’s a thing), or that the person is just a beast with a makeup brush, it’s highly likely that… *ding* *ding* she (or he) just has great, smooth skin under that makeup, and that, you guessed it, the makeup wasn’t caked on. 

I was absent-mindedly scrolling through the usual wave of beauty posts that typically fill my timeline one day, when I came across another, rather regular post of one of my favorite French Beauty gurus with enviable skincare. Something in her caption grabbed my attention. She never ever wears foundation. Stop the presses
Every single makeup post I have ever looked at through dreamy eyes was her bare skin. In place of foundation? She had a rather complex skincare routine. And that was the moment I vowed to take better care of my skin so that I don’t have to wear foundation. Although I probably still will,  because YES to coverage done right. Pshh.

Your makeup will look a gazillion times better if the skin underneath it is healthy. I, just as much as you, hate when people sell the idea of “perfect skin”. So I’m not going to give you unnecessary headache. There’s no such thing as perfect skin, but there is well taken care of, healthy skin. Make a regularly cleansed, toned, moisturized and exfoliated face your good friend, and throw in masks, facials and gentle peels from time to time to upgrade to BFF status. Seriously. 

I can not overstate the importance of investing in your skin. Be it time, or money! If you’re buying multiple $20 (and quite possibly more) lipsticks, you can afford a great mask or moisturizer. Be patient with your skin and don’t switch up your routine or products too often. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it and watch your skin glow. When it comes to what products to use? Listen to your skin. I have come to realize that my not-very-problematic skin loves the most gentle of products. And it loves consistency.

There are so many factors that can affect your skin, including diet, water intake, your emotional state, and of course the things out of your control like hormones. Then there are the things very much in your control, like plain old time and attention. I could go in on this forever but this post wasn’t supposed to be about skincare. It was supposed to be about makeup skin finish. I dream of days when crazy eyeshadow looks take the back-burner and gorgeous, moisturized, expensive looking skin takes center stage. 

Not to shamelessly plug but, *proceeds to plug shamelessly* now that I’ve picked up the brush and decided to pursue makeup artistry, I’m ready to shake the table a little and maybe make my little mark on the industry. So if you’re ever looking to be glam, but still want to look like yourself? Just shoot your girl a message. Minimalist Glam is the wave. 
Comment below with your opinion on light beat vs full beat!