SoftSheen-Carson’s Hydra Steam treatment takes moisture to the next level

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a hair model for SoftSheen-Carson’s Hydra Steam Moisturizing System. My hair is extremely dry and coarse, so I was especially interested to see how the Aloe Vera-based mixtures would react on my hair.

I was impressed.

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This is the softest and vibrant my hair has probably ever been, and I can’t keep my hands out of it lol.

The system, presented by Mezei Jefferson, the brand’s Director of Education, and celebrity hair stylist Johnny White, is exclusively designed for stylists to use with steam treatments.

White, who treats Michelle Obama’s hair, said the primary goal of the Hydra Steam line is to combat dryness, first, and then shrinkage. It also helps to prevent breakage and soften the hair cuticle while providing intense hydration.

Each model, all with different hair types and lengths, was paired with a team of three to four hair professionals from across the region who tried the four-step process on our hair:

  1. Sulfate-free cleanser. This cleanser got a lot of praise because of how a little goes a long way. It suds up well on the first wash.
  2. Moisturizing steam masque. After the wash, they applied this to my hair, and I sat under a steamer for 20 minutes.  But in the case a steamer isn’t available, you may use a cap.
  3. Moisturizing sealing spray. This seals the cuticle.
  4. Curl Designing or Refining Coil cream. These creams provide the finishing touch when styling hair, preventing frizz. One of them was applied while I received bantu knots and coil twists, and afterward, I sat under the dryer. The creams are very lightweight and don’t leave any residue, even if too much product is used.

This Hydra Steam Moisturizing System caters to natural hair, but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who experiences severe dryness and breakage. Let me know if this is something you would try!


Homestretch To Boston: Get in the mix

073113_opening_ceremony_vc2027Hey guys! So if you have been following my blog throughout this countdown series for the NABJ convention, you have probably realized that I missed two days worth of posts (sowwy!).

I have been swamped with blessings these past few days (woop woop!), and I’m cutting this series short to take care of some personal business. BUT I won’t totally leave you hanging. I’m going to finish strong! This post will be a brief combination of my final tips, which pretty much go hand-in-hand.

Ready, set, leggo!

  1. Participate. So you’re a registered participant, but are you actually participating? To make the most of the NABJ convention, it is wise to take action (interact) to make sure you receive the information well, whether it be by  taking notes, asking questions or live-tweeting.
  2. Do it all. Conventions often expose us to new places and events that we may have never experienced before. Take advantage of all that NABJ has to offer! Tackle that 5k run, peep the authors showcasing their work, get down at the Sports Task Force Scholarship Jam, roam the town with your new friends. Do. It. All. If you can.
  3. Have fun. Run into a problem? Brush the dirt off your shoulders and keep it moving. You only have a few days to enjoy yourself. Don’t waste it.
  4. Follow-up. NABJ is a big family, and family cares for one another! Even if you weren’t fit for that position or didn’t hold a deep conversation with someone, it is still a great idea to follow up with that person. Let them know you appreciated meeting them! Now, it may not be possible for you to keep in touch with everyone (and that’s totally OK!), but start building some type of connections. Plant some seeds and watch the family grow!

Well, that’s all folks! If you have anything to add, feel free to sound off below!

And here’s a review of everything we previously discussed:

Stop 10: Win on the Web

Stop 9: Get your “stacks” right

Stop 8: Dress for success

Stop 7: Create job opportunities

Stop 6: Say “yes” to new friends

Stop 5: Early bird gets “dessert”

By the way, today, I’ll be participating in the Google for Media training in NYC. You can follow my experience on Twitter @v_well.


5 Stops to Boston: Early bird gets ‘dessert’

early birdWe all want the “sweet stuff,” but we have to work for it, and this often means to be ahead of the game.

In this next part of my 10-day preparation series for the NABJ convention in Boston, I want to encourage you all to be on time early to sessions!

You shouldn’t do it just because it’s the right thing to do, but because you don’t want to rob yourself by missing out on valuable information and opportunities to grow. (You also don’t want to disturb anyone’s discussion.)

Of course, things happen that we have no control over– like my hunger that caused me to be late one time and I had to stand in the back (well, that’s not a real excuse, haha)– but to try to avoid things like this, plan ahead.


Don’t wait on your friends either if you see that time is ticking down. And don’t be scared to sit in the front (if you want to chat with some of the panelists, you’ll be first in line to do so).

So are you excited for the convention yet? Then, tweet this! And feel free to join in on the conversation by sounding off in the comments below or by using the #NABJcountdown hashtag along with the official#NABJ14 hashtag.


6 Stops to Boston: Say ‘Yes’ to new friends at NABJ


“No new friends” doesn’t apply here.

In stop 6 of my 10-day preparation series for the NABJ convention, I want to remind you that it is an opportunity to meet new people that you may not get the chance to meet anywhere else.

It’s easy (and totally normal) to veer toward your clique of friends when you don’t know anyone because we like being comfortable, but they will always be around! That reminds me of a Dream Without Limits radio podcast I recently watched titled “Uncomfortable is the New Comfortable,” featuring Paul C. Brunson, a professional matchmaker. (And no, you shouldn’t be focused on finding a boo at NABJ either lol.)

Brunson said, “It’s always fear that prevents us from stepping outside of our comfort zones, and it’s not unreasonable fear,” but “what propels people beyond their comfort zone is having clarity, confidence and faith in whatever it is that you are thinking about doing.”

“We break through fear when there’s something we cherish that is valued higher than that fear,” he added.

Be married to your goals. Remember why you signed up for the convention and look at the long-term benefits of branching out. Being comfortable, staying in your circle, won’t help you reach your goals– whether that is picking up on a new skill, gaining a mentor or learning about job opportunities. The only way to reach the fruit is to branch out!

That doesn’t mean you have to totally avoid your friends either. I haven’t seen my buddies from school in a while, and I’m excited to reunite! But just do what you have to do and come back to reconvene. When I attended the convention for the first time with Nickelle Smith and Peta-Gay Sheerwood, we hardly ever went to the same workshops. But we would always come back to our room and share our ideas with each other.

If you see me, say hey! And I’ll do the same, regardless whether I know of you or not. I believe that it’s just common courtesy to greet someone when you’re in their presence.

So if you’re ready to say “yes” to new friends, tweet this! And feel free to add any tips you may have on making new friends at conventions by sounding off in the comments below or by using the #NABJcountdown hashtag along with the official #NABJ14 hashtag.


Work-It-Wednesday: Taking ‘pretty’ higher

Very Important Pretty Founder Tisha B.

Photo courtesy of Tisha B.

There are levels to being pretty, just ask Natalia Barlow, founder of Very Important Pretty.

The Jacksonville, Florida native, who goes by Tisha B., established the “Pretty Maintenance” brand in 2012 to encourage women (and men) to simply put effort into themselves– whether it’s physically or mentally.

“Very Important Pretty is not just about outer appearance. It’s all about putting effort into yourself,” said Tisha B., who started the brand after suffering from allergic reactions to skincare products.

“I hated myself in a way. I started to not want to take care of myself.”

But she said she soon realized that what was going on with her face was temporary.

“This can’t make me not want to put effort into myself,” she said. “I’m worth putting effort into myself regardless of what’s going on with my skin.”

“I started taking care of myself in the places I can change,” she added. “There’s always something that you have control over. Realize that you do have some control.”

Even if it’s as simple as washing your face and brushing your teeth, she said.

While she’s most known for her flawless makeup tips, there are four components to being a Very Important Pretty:

  • Pretty Chat: She discusses real situations that women deal with and how “pretty girls” should handle them. She applies what goes on in her life and also invites others to chip in with their perspectives.
  • Pretty Fit: “People attribute me to makeup, but I care more about my body than anything,” she said. Toned legs and a flat stomach are her priorities.
  • Pretty Eats: She said she eats good amounts of protein to help her stay lean and  is a fan of vegetables and a lover of grains, but that doesn’t stop her from eating what she wants. “I love desserts,” she said. “But I work hard so I can eat them.”
  • Pretty Maintenance: Everything falls under this category, and she strives to focus more on skin care than anything. “I’d rather have clear skin and wear lipstick than foundation,” she said.

“What I’m doing isn’t just about me, and that’s what I love most about it,” she said. “I won’t leave the house looking a mess even though sometimes, I want to so bad.”

Tisha B. believes she has a purpose to help other women, and not taking care of herself doesn’t make the purpose come to life.

“With any movement you have, you have to make sure that you’re OK. If you’re going through something, you don’t want that to go onto other people.”

If you’re ready to take your pretty to the next level, you can join the Very Important Pretty movement on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.

7 Stops to Boston: Creating job opportunities at NABJ

7 stops to BostonYesterday, as part of this 10-part preparation series for the NABJ convention, I talked about dressing for success, which plays an important role when looking for a job.

Getting a job is likely a priority for many young journalists like myself, but when we registered for the convention, that’s not all we signed up for.

In June, I attended NABJ’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About the 2014 NABJ Convention But Were Afraid to Ask” webinar, and this was one of the things discussed. We should be more focused on creating opportunities than getting a job.

Look for opportunities to make a new friend, opportunities to genuinely learn more about others and what they do and jobs may follow. (And I’m sure y’all heard this before: It’s not always about what you know but who you know.) Don’t be so tunnel-visioned and desperate that you sacrifice making true connections. Be straightforward about who you are, where you stand and where you want to be. In the end, your demeanor, connections and work will join forces and speak for themselves.

Is there anything you’d like to add? Sound off in the comments below or join the conversation by using the #NABJcountdown hashtag along with the official #NABJ14 hashtag.

So who’s excited yet? Then tweet this!



8 Stops to Boston: You are what you wear

In this third part of my 10-day #NABJcountdown series, I want to encourage you all to make sure you are dressed for success. Even if you’re a charming person, your appearance can be a turnoff (This can apply to your online appearance too, which I briefly spoke about in the first part of this series). Remember, first impressions are often lasting impressions.

  • Be professional. This goes all around the clock. You may pack clothing for more laid-back events *cough* parties, but keep in mind, that you never know who you’ll run into.
  • Be comfortable. Wear something that you’ll feel at ease doing a lot of walking and sitting down in. If you like heels, go ahead and wear them! Just make sure they’re wobble-free. If you just HAVE to wear some killer shoes that aren’t so comfortable, pack a pair of flats for backup.
  • Be you. If you like color, go ahead and throw in a little color. Think accessories. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Be doubtless. If you have to ask yourself if something’s too short or whether it shows too much, don’t wear it. You can still be cute and conservative. Consult your homegirl if you have to!

Here are some in-depth tips on what to wear offered by the NABJ Digital blog during last year’s convention.

I’ll be updating this post to include Pinterest boards for some visual inspiration on what to wear– and some no-nos.

Did I miss anything? Have anything to add? Sound off below!