Friday, March 29, 2013

LBS Fashion: 3 Stylish Easter Looks

Whether you celebrate Easter and need inspiration for what to wear this weekend, or you're just looking for a few formal spring looks to boost your wardrobe, try these three looks on for size. There's something for everyone from the floral lover to the color-blocking queen and the printed princess:

1. Floral Obsession

2. In Living Color

3. The Printed Suit

Which look is more your style?
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On the Market: ASOS Curve Spring/Summer 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea with the folks over at ASOS Curve. You guys know how obsessed I am with ASOS. I've been shopping the site since college. Back then, shipping from the UK to the US took nearly 3 weeks and my college roommates and I used to group our orders together to alleviate shipping costs. We used to wait for our ASOS shipments with bated breathe. Ahh, the good ole days.

Anyway, I'm beyond amazed at how much the ASOS site has grown. Back then, ASOS Curve didn't even exist so it makes me so happy to see that a growing trendy site like ASOS really cares about providing great fashion to us curvy girls. And when I say great, I mean GREAT. I mean not just some flimsy A-line black dresses but trends you've seen on the runway...in YOUR size. Check out my afternoon tea visit to the showroom:

My favorite curvy bloggers were in attendance, everyone from Gabi of Gabifresh, Nicolette Mason, Sarah of StyleIT and Alissa of Stylish Curves.

So many different sizes and body types represented at the table - such a beautiful thing!

After stuffing my face with Victoria sponge cake and champagne, I shimmied over to the racks for a closer look at the collection, which blew me away.

My mouth dropped when I saw the selection of clothes. There are cutoff jeans for curvy girls, statement  t-shirt dresses in fun prints, formal dresses, leather skirts. You name it! I was gagging. I died and came back to life.
The dress in the middle stole my heart (only $66.50 on site now!). Like, I wanted one of everything. It was that serious. Luckily, most of the pieces are actually available on site now. Below find a few of my faves:

Do you guys love ASOS as much as I do? What do you love most about it?
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

LBS Beauty: 5 Hair Tips for Rocking Extensions

One of the main hair-related topics I get asked about, both on the blog as well as in social media, is about how I maintain my hair extensions. As you guys know, my hair is natural and one of my protective styles of choice are curly extensions from Indique. I get them every few months to give my curls a break.

Considering I'm not exactly an expert, I took some time out to ask a professional hairstylist some of the frequently asked questions I get about the installation process, maintaining extensions the healthy way and styling. I chatted it up with salon owner Darlene Dorsett of the Idalias Salon in Brooklyn (see my review of the salon here) to uncover some truths and myths about hair extensions. After the Q&A, I provided some info about my personal haircare regimen and favorite products when I'm rocking my faux curls. Check it out:

1. As a stylist, what should my readers beware of when choosing a salon or stylist to get extensions?
You should start by doing your research. Services such as hair extensions are something that’s offered by many salons, but you should really seek the leaders in the field. After doing your research and finding a few salons that you’re interested in, schedule consultations to see if their marketing matches up with their level of expertise in-person. This is where you can look at the tools they use, ambience of the salon, and if their location is accessible to you.

A consultation is like a first date. The stylist should be doing their all to impress you. This includes a scalp test before they advise you on how and what weave works for you. If the salon has a one-extension-fits-all approach you should reconsider having them do your hair. Stylist at Idalias Salon, for example, would never use the same system of adding extensions on someone with thick, natural hair as we would on someone with very fine, relaxed hair. Finally, you should consider the cost. Weaves are not cheap. Researching a salon's website, Facebook page, Yelp, ensures you your money is well spent.

2. Are there weave styles that compliment relaxed girls more than natural girls or vice versa?
The beauty of weaves is that with the right hair and the right stylist, any style can compliment any female with either natural or relaxed hair. Many women think they need to match their own hair texture exactly, that's not true. Getting a weave that compliments your style means not being able to tell you're wearing a weave at all - that's our focus. Have your stylist help you find a texture that suits your daily lifestyle and your ability to commit to maintaining your weave.

3. How do you make sure to protect your hair from damage when getting extensions?
The first step is to be advised by your hairstylist if your hair and scalp is in good condition for extensions. It's also crucial to start off with a clean scalp that has been washed and deep conditioned before attaching a weave. While adding your new mane, do not have your stylist braid your hair too tightly because you want your extensions to last longer. This will only result in permanent hair loss and bald patches on your scalp.

4. What products and techniques do you recommend for maintaining scalp health when you have extensions?
The best way to maintain your scalp is to keep it hydrated through frequent washing and conditioning. We prefer to care for extensions as we do with natural and relaxed hair, simply by utilizing a sulfate free regimen on a weekly basis. Sulfate strips your hair of its natural oils forcing you to clog your pores with an overdose of unnecessary products. We also suggest a protein deep conditioner on a monthly basis, one of our favorite products is Nexxus Aloxxi Emergency Reconstructor, it helps strengthen hair.

5. How long is too long to keep extensions in?
The answer to this question depends on how fast your natural hair grows and how well you take care of your extensions. Braided weaves can last from 8 to 12 weeks. Any longer will result in your hair matting up but it also varies based on the quality of the extensions you use.

So there you have it - weave myths debunked! Here's a roundup of some of my personal favorite haircare products when I rock my extensions:

Dana's Loft Silk Me Mousse: $14Dana's Loft Smooth Me Leave-In: $12, Ojon Rare Blend Oil: $35.00, Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream: $14.99, Eden Bodyworks Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Milk: $9.50

On the extensions:
I use the Dana's Loft Silk Me Mousse and the Smooth Me Leave-In to nourish and tame frizz on my Indique Bounce Deep Wave & Bounce Coil Curl (I have a combination of both) extensions. These products keep the curls tame and moisturized so there's less tangling. I'm also a huge fan of Dana's products (see here for my review of the Dana's Loft Salon).

On my leave-out:
For my own hair, I spritz a little water on it and condition it with Eden Bodyworks Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Milk. I then seal in the moisture with Ojon Rare Blend Oil and I do mini twists combining my dampened hair with the extensions using Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream. I let the twists dry, unravel and voila!

Hopefully this answered some of your questions about maintaining extensions on natural hair (and relaxed!). Any others, feel free to let me know in the comments section.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

LBS Beauty: How To Style Blunt Bangs

Photos: labellesblock.com, beautyriot.com
Ever since Michelle Obama emerged on the scene with her beautiful blunt bangs pre-inauguration, I've been secretly obsessed. Since I'm a curly/kinky girl, bangs are not really an option for me unless I decided to rock extensions.

Photo: Youbeauty.com via White House Photostream
I think bangs are such a fun way to update your hair look without having to go all the way by cutting your hair off all around. They also frame the face nicely and bring attention to the eyes. I actually used to rock them all the time! Check me out:

Anyway, for those of you brave enough to try bangs on for size, here's a cool video tutorial I found on how to style blunt bangs via BlogHer TV.

Check it out below:

Get even more hair tips & tutorials at BlogHer.com. They're also hosting a $250 VISA giftcard sweeptakes! Head to the Prizes & Promotions page on Blogher.com for more details, and check the Sweeps Rules (running from 3/217 - 4/2).
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Confessions of a Shopaholic: Yumnah Najah La Reine Collection

Last year, I stumbled on an indie jewelry designer by the name of Yumnah Najah. It was during an event and Yumnah had her own station set up displaying all her fancy hand-painted jewels. Once I stumbled on Yumnah's famous Mondrian ring, I was hooked. And I've kept up with the collection ever since.

Wearing my Yumnah Najah Mondrian Ring (from Airing The Laundry)
Today Yumnah Najah released photos of her latest jewelry collection and I'm loving it. The collection is affectionately named La Reine, meaning "Queen" in french. And the pieces are so appropriately regal. Check out the pics below:

She has a combination of really creative, hand-painted jewels for every style.

I'm gagging over this model's hair - so chic!

Just in time for the Spring/Summer, I need to get a few new statement earrings.

To purchase, check out Yumnah Najah on their: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Would you rock these pieces?
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LoveBrownSugar Chic: Old & New

I gushed about my undying love for this Laundry by Shelli Segal coat back in January in my Airing the Laundry post. This time I decided to mix it up with an old top that I normally reserve for spring/summer months, and a few new accessories.

The green top adds a pop of color. It's hard sometimes to break out of the dark neutrals that this great city is known for.

I did a silver arm party this time around, including my favorite cuff and my old school nameplate bracelet. Flashback to my high school days...

I wore my Kelsi Dagger 'Acalia' wedges (purchase here) that I scored from a Rue La La sale last year.

And I topped off the look with my new favorite faux leather bag from Zara. I scored this at the Zara sale for only $20! *hits my dougie*

One of the few things I like about winter is the ability to wear a statement coat. Nothing like a luxe fur collar to make you feel chic.

Now bring on the spring weather! I can't wait to wear mini skirts and flirty tanks.

Coat: Laundry by Shelli Segal | Top: Forever 21 | Pants: Old Navy (available for $44.94 here) | Boots: Kelsi Dagger (available here) | Bag: Zara | Bangles: Street Vendor

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Instaweek 3.25.13

Happy Monday guys! It's been a while since I posted my last Instaweek. If you guys are following me (@LoveBrownSugar on Instagram), you've probably noticed I've been super hyped about all the new products and launches for this upcoming spring. Here's what I'm most excited about:

Cece's Curls

Update! I've taken my Indique Hair extensions out and my 'fro is back in full effect. I'm happy to see it's been growing so beautifully, and beyond excited to try out some new curly products. Last week, I did a review of the Karen's Body Beautiful collection (that giveaway is still going till Friday so make sure you enter!). This week I plan on trying out some new products from Eden Bodyworks and Anu Essentials. I'm such a product junkie...

Spring Fashion

I'm super excited to start back my On The Market series. I've been going to a myriad of Spring/Summer as well as Fall 2013 fashion previews over the past few weeks. I love previews because they give you a closer look at the collections, as opposed to the fashion shows. I previewed the ASOS Curve S/S 2013 collection which is to DIE for. And new UK retailer Boohoo.com has finally launched in the US! Super cute fashion at affordable prices, I highly recommend.

Start Saying "I Will"
Last week's Monday Motivation was all about the power of saying "I will." I'm obsessed with nail art, but up until now I assumed if you didn't have nail appliques or an experienced nail artist in tow, you couldn't do it. Well last week I tried out a bit of freehand nail design myself for my Style Play Polish: St. Patrick's Day Edition and it turned out great! Small victory but it definitely empowered me to say "I will" in other areas of life. Take a few risks. The worst that can happen is that you fail. And even then, you just pick yourself up and start again!

Have an amazing week folks!
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Friday, March 22, 2013

LBS Beauty Review: Karen's Body Beautiful + Giveaway

Ever since I went natural back in November 2010 (for the last & final time), I've been on the continuous hunt for products that treat my hair well without harsh chemicals or ingredients. One of my absolute favorite all-natural hair collections is Karen's Body Beautiful. I received a few of their samples in a goodie bag a few years ago and I've been a fan of the brand ever since. Once a small shop based out of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, KBB's fans and consumer base have grown over the years due to their amazing product lineup.

So when KBB reached out and told me they were branching off into mega-retailer Target, I was beyond excited. Their products are now available in select Target stories nationwide. Major! Here's how I wash, condition & style my hair using Karen's Body Beautiful:

Step 1: Moisturize with Hair Blossom Moisture Mist

Starting off with dry hair, before attempting to shampoo & condition I first mist my hair with a moisturizing spray so I can lightly finger detangle. The moisture helps prevent breakage, especially on my ends.

Step 2: Detangle hair and twist hair in even sections

I normally stick to 8 twists (4 on each side) and I shampoo my lightly detangled hair in these sections. If they unravel, I just retwist after conditioning.

Step 3: Shampoo in sections

I like to cocktail different products with my regimen. So to start off, I clarify with a clarifying shampoo and follow up with a moisturizing shampoo. Next, it's time to deep condition!

Step 4: Deep Condition with Luscious Locks Hair Mask

This might be one of my absolute favorite deep conditioners. With all-natural ingredients like Aloe Butter, Jojoba Oil, Rosemary Oil and Vitamin E, this stuff smells & feels like heaven on my hair.

This is another KBB must-have. It's great as part of a weekly wash regimen but also works wonders on refreshing dry curls when they need a pick-me-up. It also smells like heaven in a bottle.

Step 6: Seal in moisture with Super Duper Hydrating Hair Cream

One of the things I've learned along my natural journey is that moisture don't last always! You have to seal it in with either an oil or a butter after applying leave-in condish. If not, your curls will undoubtedly be brittle before you know it. Trust me, I know.

Step 7: Style using Hold It Hair Gel w/ Argan Oil

Next, I two-strand twisted my hair using the Hold It Hair Gel. Formulated with Argan Oil, Aloe Vera and Hydrolized Silk Proteins, it sets a style and nourishes hair at the "same damn time". This gel is super light and allows for flexible hold. If you want to set your style without the "crunchy" effect, this is a great gel styler.

Step 8: Air dry & release twists using Butter Love

Final step! I placed a dime-sized amount of the Butter Love in between my palms when taking down my twists to keep the curl pattern in tact and to add an extra layer of moisture.

Volia! Verdict is in - my curls love some Karen's Body Beautiful! 

Because I love them so much, I'm giving one of you a chance to win a FULL SET of KBB products, the same ones I used above. Instructions below:

1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Facebook and/or Twitter to be eligible.
2. You must be a fan of Karen's Body Beautiful on Facebook to be eligible.
2. Leave a comment in the section below.
3. For bonus entry, tweet @LoveBrownSugar @KarensBeautiful with a link to this post.

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