My Five Favorite Skincare Products from The Ordinary

As a skincare enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for the next best skincare products. Like the average consumer, I research products. I look online for their reviews. And because the promise of clear, radiant skin, I am convinced to take many of them home. Do they always meet my expectations? No. But is the pursuit of my skin's holy grail products still worth it? Absolutely. Because more often than not, I will find some pretty awesome goodies that fight for a spot in my daily skincare regimen. And if you've been reading here for a while, you know I have to share the goods with you guys, too!


While looking through previous skincare posts, I realized I did you guys a disservice. I have shared so much about The Ordinary brand for years through DMs, phone conversations, text messages, and emails, but I have never talked about them in depth here. A few years ago, I tried several of their products on a whim. Not only did they offer an array of products for my trouble areas (oily skin, uneven texture, and hyperpigmentation), they came at such an amazing price point. And while I've tried a few products that did not work for me, I found quite a few that I repurchase + keep in stock around here. Today, I'll be sharing five of my favorite skincare products from The Ordinary and how I incorporate them into my regimen.

skincare for hyperpigmentation

Sundays at Dre's | Volume 2

Sundays either go one of two ways around my house. I'm either planning for the week: making lists, sorting laundry, prepping meals, and reviewing important documents, or I'm in a state of deep reflection: making note of what has or hasn't been working lately and brainstorming ways to make things better. This particular Sunday is looking like the kind that calls for reflection. As we settle into the last month of the year, I've been considering a lot of things that need work in my life.  And while I'm not one to lament too long on anything, I am one to turn up the blues to be my soundtrack music as I journal about it all.


A mood of this kind calls for something a bit jazzy. A little bluesy, even. So, this second edition of "Sundays at Dre's" reflects that exact feeling and mood.


sunday at dre's

Sundays At Dre's | Volume 1

Sundays always feel like a reset around my way. This particular day of the week allows me the time and space to recalibrate, if you will. I spend my morning getting my praise and worship on, making something nice and savory to eat, planning for the upcoming week, and enjoying lots of quiet time alone.  And believe me, the quiet time really sets the tone for the week ahead. Not only does it calm me, it helps me to be present without becoming overwhelmed with the upcoming week's tasks. Sometimes this quiet time is spent with my journal. Other times it's spent with a blank canvas and some acrylic paints. Most often this time is shared with an engaging hardcover book. But no matter how I decide to spend quiet time on Sunday, my time is always illuminated by soundtrack music.


If you've been here for a while, you already know music is life. I have a playlist for every vibe, mood, experience, memory, and feeling, no matter how fleeting. Sundays are no different. For y'all that follow me on Instagram, you may be familiar with "Sundays At Dre's," the playlists I used to share over there in my stories on Sundays. Today I decided to share them in this space as well.

spotify playlist

Lipstick Love | Black Radiance Perfect Tone HD Lip Sculptor

As the seasons change, I always find a way to add a few new lipsticks to my makeup bag. It's such a habit! And while I like to peruse the beauty aisles for what's new, looking for long-lasting shades and finishes that promise to hydrate and show-out, I sometimes tip-toe back to the familiar. You know how it is. You get all the compliments from that lipstick you were rocking at the function last year only to find it has long run out. You recall that lipstick you used to wear before the pandemic that people passing by always said looked amazing on you and realize you need to see if it's still available in stores. Those were my feelings when I sought out to repurchase the Black Radiance Perfect Tone HD Lip Sculptor Lipsticks I swooned over in the drugstore a couple of years ago.

fall lipsticks

When I first purchased a couple of these beauties, I had not saw many reviews of them online. However, I haven't been disappointed by Black Radiance yet. With an array of shades to choose from and an awesome price point, I knew it would be no problem for me to purchase and repurchase these lipsticks for as long as they were in stock. And since I was so impressed with the formula, I bought quite a few as my local store started discounting them recently.

Read below the jump to learn more about these beauties!

RECOMMENDED READING: CAREFREE BLACK GIRLS BY ZEBA BLAY

"How do Black girls find freedom? Where do they go to find it, to feel it, uncomplicated and uncompromised?"


carefree black girls zeba blay


Carefree Black Girls is a collection of writer Zeba Blay's musings on the #carefreeblackgirls we identify with in society and pop culture. If artists like Lizzo, Cardi B., and Nicki Minaj come to mind, you are in luck, as they all make appearances in these essays. 


Blay writes with so much insight and introspection that I could not help but to lean in and nod repeatedly as she spoke about feelings I've had about my own body and life. The essay "Girlhood" could have easily been written for me, with my obsession with the Spice Girls (particularly Scary Spice) in middle school and my unrequited crushes on guys that would never really "go" for my type. 


It was cathartic reading Blay's experiences in this book, as they mirrored quite a few of mine-- giving me the language to articulate thoughts I couldn't quite form before. This was a great collection of essays that brought up so many points I can't wait to discuss with my good girlfriends. 


Thank you, Zeba Blay, for keeping these necessary conversations going. Special thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the eARC!


To purchase your own copy of Carefree Black Girls on Amazon, click here

WILL YOU BE READING CAREFREE BLACK GIRLS?

Riding Up The Coast With You On My Mind | A Playlist

There's something magical about traveling to a familiar location with the perfect playlist as background music. Ever went cruising to the beach on a cool summer night and the drive up always reminds you of "that particular song?" If you're like me, and you set your vibe with the most fitting tunes, this beautiful feeling may be familiar to you. But if not, and you're constantly searching for just the right song to set the mood, I might be able to help you with that. Imagine the late summer temps outside are equal parts cool and sultry. You're heading to (or from) that beach town you haven't visited since your undergrad years with the windows down and the winds blowing through your hair. The smell of salt is heavy in the air and it gives you all types of nostalgia. All my southern North Carolina folks know the vibes.  What songs are you playing? What music instantly comes to mind?


Alternative R&B vibes are some of my favorite types of playlists to make.  And because I've been enjoying late night beach rides this summer, I'm writing with some of my favorite riding tunes as background music. A friend of mine asked me to share this playlist publicly, so I thought I'd share it tonight with you guys! 


riding-playlist

Recommended Reading: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

 "The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.


There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher’s wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta’s “same time next year” arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.


With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be."



Recommended Reading | Vibrate Higher: A Rap Story by Talib Kweli

"Before Talib Kweli became a world-renowned hip-hop artist, he was a Brooklyn kid who liked to cut class, spit rhymes, and wander the streets of Greenwich Village with a motley crew of artists, rappers, and DJs who found hip-hop more inspiring than their textbooks (much to the chagrin of the educator parents who had given their son an Afrocentric name in hope of securing for him a more traditional sense of pride and purpose). Kweli's was the first generation to grow up with hip-hop as established culture--a genre of music that has expanded to include its own pantheon of heroes, rich history and politics, and distinct worldview.


Vibrate Higher illuminates Talib Kweli's upbringing and artistic success, but so too does it give life to hip-hop as a political force--one that galvanized the Movement for Black Lives and serves a continual channel for Black Resistance."


vibrate higher talib kweli

INTERVIEW | DEPARTURE STORY BY ROWANA M. ABBENSETTS-DOBSON

 “But ironically, amidst the wide range of inequalities that America shoulders – inequality is the great equalizer for Blacks. No one cared that I was born in a different country… In one glance, it was easy to deduce I was just Black – an equal part to one blanket “Black” race and one social status.” – Rowana M. Abbensetts-Dobson, Departure Story



The experiences of Black immigrants are largely invisible to Americans, despite their growing numbers – 4.2 million throughout the country (The Immigrant Learning Center, 2020). 

In her debut novel, Departure Story [Published June 1], Rowana invites us into the world of Celestine Samuels, a young Guyanese woman arriving in the U.S. for college, carrying the hopes of generations before her, while imagining new opportunities for personal growth.

Celestine’s studies are interrupted with devastating news - her beloved Uncle, a Guyanese politician, has been murdered as a result of rising turmoil within the government. She feels lost and homesick, but turns that grief into action, and joins the Student Council Diversity Committee, advocating for Black creatives on campus. Eventually, Celestine meets resistance from the administration, and so-called friends alienate her. All the while, “home” haunts her dreams, and eventually leads Celestine to investigate unforgivable family secrets, and uncover answers she may not want to know.

Departure Story is my love letter to the Diaspora,” Rowana says. “It’s a novel about displacement and creating home… It’s also about finding your voice within the chaos and making a stand for what you believe in wherever you are. Celestine gets to a new country, and she’s testing the boundaries of her power in love, friendships, and politics… I hope it will make some Black girl who is reading white male authors in her American lit class feel seen.”

BEFORE THE NEW DAY BREAKS THE DAWN KINDA JAWN | a late-night playlist

Nothing puts you in a mood on a storm-fueled rainy night quite like some smooth tunes. If you've ever turned your radio on to the late-night "quiet storm" set, you already know the vibes. Perhaps it's pretty chill at your place and you're relaxing until your favorite slow jams lull you to sleep. Or maybe you're hanging out with your good boo and looking to set the mood with a particular romantic vibe. What songs are you playing? What music instantly comes to mind?


Late night R&B vibes are some of my favorite types of playlists to make.  And because it's a stormy Saturday night, I'm cuddled up on the couch listening to slow jams. It's been a minute since I shared a playlist up here on the blog, so I thought I'd share one tonight with you guys! 


spotify slow jam playlist


QUEUE THE "Before the New Day Breaks the Dawn Kinda Jawn" PLAYLIST:  This is for those late nights when you wanna vibe to some smooth R&B with that special someone in mind. Maybe you're in a nostalgic mood or there's a song or two that stirs up memories of your old good bae (or current bae) late into the midnight hour. Click the image above to open the playlist up in a new window. 


Loving these Spotify playlists? Let me know in the comments if you want more here on the blog. And be sure to give me a follow if you're on Spotify, too. I love making mixtapes and sharing music with my good boos over there.


ARE YOU AN R&B MUSIC FAN?
WHAT'S ON YOUR "QUIET STORM" PLAYLIST?

Quick & Easy Sheet Pan Shrimp Scampi with Wildtree

Do you have a quick fix meal on hand? At the ready? You know, one you can throw together in a pinch that doesn't sacrifice quality or flavor? I like to keep a few of these meals in mind, because in my busy house, someone is always craving something tasty! And most of the time, I'm trying to come up with something delicious that isn't too time-consuming.  


Today for lunch, I made a quick & easy sheet pan shrimp scampi with Wildtree's Scampi Blend, and it was love, y'all. My shrimp scampi was soooo good and the scampi blend made seasoning the easiest part of preparing the meal. Providing high-quality flavor solutions for busy people, Wildtree offers premium organic spice blends, sauces, seasonings, culinary oils and more that are shipped directly to your door. 


Check out how I made this delicious meal in about 15 minutes by reading more below.


shrimp scampi recipe


Book Feature: The Adventures of Pamela King

"The Adventures of Pamela King" series follows Pamela King, a 6-year-old girl exploring the world through her many adventures with her family. Pamela is curious, imaginative, outspoken, and aspires to be the world's best detective. However, sometimes Pamela's eager curiosity can get her into rocky situations, as she is still learning the importance of THINKING BEFORE SHE LEAPS!



"Once Upon a summer Day, Pamela King prepared her gadget bag for a day of travel with her family. Today, the King Family is visiting their Uncle Luther at his giant castle that sits on top of the biggest mountain in town...Now Uncle Luther was not like any normal uncle. He was a world-famous scientist. He invented big machines and had a science lab the size of a house. This trip was the adventure Pamela had been waiting for all summer."


-From "The Adventures of Pamela King Series: Volume 1: Pamela & The Time Machine Mystery: A CHILDREN'S BOOK by Julia Aaryn Montanez, copyright © 2020 by FreeSpirit Ink. Publishing

Book Feature | Sugar Mama: A Keilanii Jennings Saga

Sugar mama keilanii jennings saga

From the creative minds of Lalanii Wilson Jones and Treavion Davenport comes Keilanii Jennings, a sexy, feisty, independent, proud Texas mogul in the making who makes no apologies about splurging on her lavish lifestyle, designer labels, 5-star getaways, and her “boy toys.”


Keilanii is a confident, self-made success story whose life takes complex twists and turns while building her empire. Things start to heat up when she meets Elliot Jennings Jr., a handsome, charismatic companion who turns out to be her worst nightmare. Like most women, Keilanii wanted to have it all, including her happily ever after. This seems imminent until she discovers that the man who stole her heart tries to steal her fortune and is exposed as the ultimate gold digger.

My Evening Skincare Routine

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive commission if you make a purchase through my links at no extra cost to you. To read more about my disclosure policy, click here.

In my last skincare post, I shared my simple morning skincare routine with you guys. And while I admit to sticking to the same formula throughout the seasons, hydration is an absolute must for even the oiliest skin in the winter. I make sure to target my trouble areas, such as the hyperpigmentation on my chin, in conjunction with keeping my skin lush and hydrated. 

In my evening skincare routine, only a couple of steps are altered from the morning routine. My biggest concerns at night are thoroughly removing any debris from the day and targeting hyperpigmentation overnight. And with this easy, low-maintenance regimen, I've been able to do this well. Read below to check out the full details of my current evening skincare routine.

My Morning Skincare Routine

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive commission if you make a purchase through my links at no extra cost to you. To read more about my disclosure policy, click here.

How do you attend to your skincare needs as the seasons change? Does the change in seasons even affect your skincare routine? As someone with oily skin throughout the year, I usually stick to my core products. I will, however, add or remove serums or moisturizers according to my skincare concerns. And though I may switch one product for another, or try a new product or line every now and again, there are some products that hold permanent spots in my skincare stash no matter the season. 

Today, I'm sharing my current regimen and rotation of products with you guys. While I have oily skin, my t-zone is oilier in the warmer months and fairly dry in the winter months.  So, I make sure to keep my skin hydrated as much as possible these days. My biggest skin concerns are currently keeping my skin radiant and correcting my hyperpigmentation . Through this regimen, I've been able to take care of these issues quite well. Read below to check out the full details of my current skin care regimen.

morning skincare routine

LIPSTICK LOVE | Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipsticks

I know everyone is in love with so many of these new creamy lippies that have been showing up in the beauty world. Believe me, I do, too. But can we please take a second to pay homage to my favorite lipstick finish for a few minutes? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the ever-so-faithful matte. Once you get acquainted with a nice matte lipstick, she will stick closer to you than a supportive homegirl. 

matte lipsticks

And since we've been wearing masks, matte lipsticks are the only lippies up to the task of lasting through the extra layer of protection.  So how about we take it back to some of my favorite matte lipsticks for a bit? Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipsticks have been getting a lot of play around my way this winter and since I haven't shared any swatches here on the blog, I thought today would be a great day to do so. 

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