Category Archives: Beauty

Clean & Vegan Makeup: ELATE COSMETICS

I recently got the chance to try out a green beauty brand called Elate Cosmetics. The Elate Cosmetics team was gracious enough to send me some of their products to try out. I tried these items: Elate Essential MascaraElate Vibrant Lipstick – BlazeSunkiss BronzerFull Tint Foundation – ChestnutUniversal Crème – Bliss, and Elate Brow Balm- Raven.

As a dark skin Black woman, I have an added challenge in finding green makeup that matches my skin tone. By some kind of magic, Elate Cosmetics manages to be Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Toxin Free, Gluten Free while actually get the job done. I found that using Elate Cosmetics gave me a natural no-makeup look.

Watch my full review here:

5 Stars for Packaging

I was very impressed with Elate Cosmetic’s packaging. The items were sent in a cardboard box, nestled in compostable packing peanuts.The only amount of waste created was from the label stickers. Elate Cosmetics chose a beautiful bamboo for their brushes and compact cases. I especially loved the fact that the bronzer I got had a magnetic insert that I could switch out and use in the compact case. I was delighted every time I saw the products inside my bag. They were gorgeous to look at.


5 Stars for Ingredients

I loved seeing recognizable ingredients like castor seed oil, jojoba oil, rice bran, coconut, etc. The green ingredients lent themselves to a skin-like finish on the makeup. The mascara is so simple but gives my curly lashes a wide-eyed and natural look. The coverage of the foundation was full and not too heavy, which I liked. I wanted to love the Eco-Brow balm because of it’s beautiful packaging but I wasn’t a huge fan of the way it filled in my brows, rather than sculpting them. For those who want a more natural brow look, the Eco-Brow balm might be perfect.


3 stars
3 stars for Color Diversity

I give this rating fully acknowledging that Elate Cosmetic has carefully curated collection of makeup products. As I was looking for a suitable shade for my skin tone, I found that there were typically two dark options (a medium and a dark brown). The problem I had was with the undertones of both shades. I once went outside wearing full-tint foundation in the color chestnut, and I noticed it had an orangey-red tone to it once it oxidized. I felt like the deep options needed a little more formulating to fit deeper skin tones. On top of that, there are 3 concealer shades, none of them exactly suitable for people with deeper skin tones. I am not personally replacing my foundations/powders just yet because of the undertone issue but those whose skins tones are offered might not have an issue.

Do you have a favorite green makeup brand? Drop your faves in the comment section!

Throwback Thursday: First Day of Grad School

Last First Day of Grad School (left). First Day of Grad School in 2013 (right).
Last First Day of Grad School (left). First Day of Grad School in 2013 (right)

This semester is the last year of my second year of graduate school at Syracuse University. It’s been a crazy fun journey and I’m looking forward to the adventures that are to come. Note: I forget it was picture day this year yet I somehow managed to wear a similar lipstick and hairstyle as the previous year!

5 Tips on Surviving Teacher Dress Code


This past week concluded my second year as a middle school teacher. Thinking back on the the naive 22 year old I was when I first entered my classroom, much has changed. The way I walked, talked, and dressed is quite a bit different from how I am now. I struggled to find my fit with the teacher

When I first started teaching, I set my mind to dressing like a cross-breed of Ms.Frizzle and Bill Cosby. The end result, as seen in the first semester of my teaching, was nausea-inducing. I had gone out and thrifted vintage skirts and dresses with pockets and wacky prints on them. I was trying too hard to fit the archetype of a teacher that I had created in my mind. It wasn’t until after New Years of my first year of teaching that I decided to sit down and craft my signature style. This is what I came up with it:

teacher style

My new style consisted of things I already owned and already wore. I wasn’t trying to be someone else; instead I was trying to bring the real me to work every day. My students loved it! They didn’t always understand my matching or the way I put my outfits together but they respected my style and my boldness. They would ask me how and why I had chosen to wear certain items together and I would patiently answer that the silver glitter in my loafers complemented the gray stripe in lapel of my blazer. I’m glad I finally decided to represent my own sense of style. By doing so, my students could see the difference between stylish and trendy. There were times that my outfits missed the mark, but at least I was doing me and not trying to be someone else. And besides, the Ms. Frizzle persona took too long to create every morning. My sense of style was more effortless and natural.

Tip #1. Cardigans are your best friends

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Tip: Add bright colors to break up the monotony of an outfit

Classrooms are cold. At least mine was. Even in my Houston classroom in the middle of March, the A/C in the building would be cranked up so high that I could always been seen with a cardigan on. Cardigans have the magical ability to make increase the sophistication level of almost any outfit. My closet is full of plain cardigan, printed cardigans, light cardigans, heavy cardigans, and so on. I even keep a beige neutral cardigan in my classroom, just in case. A cardigan has a professional air to make your outfit work appropriate.

Tip #2. Layering can maximize your wardrobe

Layering outfits make it seem as though you have a lot of clothes. Layering is a great excuse to wear the same clothes more than once, but in a different way. For example, a printed button down shirt is an ideal layering-agent. Check out the outfit below:

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My version of layering:

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Tip: Layering with sleeveless tops can prevent overheating

Tip #3. Keep a pair of flats around

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Tip: Keep a few loafers in your closet. They always come in handy

After being on your feet for several hours, you’re going to wish you had slipped those cute loafers instead of your Jimmy Choos earlier than morning. Check out my post on alternatives to high heels. Click here.

Tip #4. Invest in a sturdy teacher bag

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Tip: When buying a teacher bag, pay attention to the handles to see if the can handle wear and tear.

A a teacher, any old bag won’t do. A teacher bag is expected to hold papers, planners, grade books, numerous colored pens, and other miscellaneous items. When the straps on my large tote back broke from the weight of my bag, I headed to Target for some well-priced sturdy bag options. Another great choice is a diaper bag. It sounds crazy, but diaper bags are built to hold a lot of stuff. They have many pockets and compartments– the perfect compliment to a teacher lifestyle.

Tip #5. Do the “reach and squat” test

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Tip: Tucking in your shirt and wearing a belt make for less peek-a-boo moments

I taught middle school boys, so I had to be especially conscious of my attire. When you check yourself out in the mirror in the morning, be mindful of the range of motions you will be performing throughout the day— reaching, leaning over, and squatting. Students won’t always necessarily tell you if you are exposed. In my experience, they like to whisper and point it out to other students before they finally tell you. You have to be self-aware at all times. One time, I went through an entire class period with my zipper down and no one said a word to me about it. Ironically, the kids were very attentive and into the lesson, or so I’d thought. Lesson: cover up.

Even though I am now transitioning out of my role as a teacher into my role as a graduate students, I will probably dress somewhat like a teacher. I’m most excited to wear shorts and jeans freely again. I’m looking forward to being dress code-less, but at the same time I must admit that the dress code taught me how to dress. Dress codes are not stiflers of style, but instead a challenge to think outside the box while staying in line.

If you’re a professional who has a work dress code, how do you stay within dress code without compromising your style?

Cutting Corners: Getting Your Nails Done

For my birthday last week, I wanted to get my nails done. I searched high and low for Groupons and Yelp reviews of places that did a good job and were inexpensive. I found a great Groupon (mani/pedi for $15) that ended up being ten years away— so far that the gas I’d have to pay to get there cost more than the savings I’d be getting. No deal.

So my search continued for a good nail salon. I finally found one in my neighborhood and was able to get my nails (hands and feet) painted for a whopping $14!

I am a cheapo  spendthrift. I like to save money and will cut corners any way I can to save a buck when going to get my nails done.

Here are some times on how to pamper yourself for less:

Skip the Scrub

One way is to bring down the price of your nail salon trip, is to skip the full pedicure. I opt to use my at-home pedicure kit prior to going to going to the nail salon. In the comfort of my own home I can scrub my feet with a pumice stone, clip and file my nails, push back my cuticles, and moisturize my feet. Yes, that’s a lot of elbow grease, but I save in the long-run. When I tell manicurist I want to skip the spa pedicure and scrub, she/he will see that I take care of my feet and  won’t pressure me to get a full pedicure.

Just Paint, please!

I love french tips on my toes. I think it’s a classic look that goes with any outfit and it gives off the impression that “I like to take care of myself.” Getting a full french mani or pedi can be a little pricey, but getting just the french tip paint (some refer to it as a “color change” charge) can be a cheaper alternative. The salon I went to only charged me $7 to get french tips painted on my toes (no feet scrubbing included) and another $7 for my hands ($14 total). Even though I only paid for the paint, the manicurist still cleaned up around my nails so everything would turn out neat.

Additionally, some places will give you a discount if you bring your own nail polish. You might want to call in and check for your specific location.

Press On Nails

I have been known to wear press-on nails (gasp!) and nobody was the wiser. Hey, even Beyonce admitted to doing it sometimes! My favorite press-ons are the Kiss Everlasting brand in pearl French. The pearl finish makes it look like (from a distance) you just your nails done. My nails don’t grow that quickly so the tips can last up to a week if I’m careful. I wear them in size “Real Short” and they look very natural. These cost about $7 and are a great alternative to a full-blown manicure. They’re easy to apply and easy to remove. I’ve run out a snagged these the night before interviews, weddings, trips, or if I didn’t have time (or money) to get a pedicure done. Another upside is that they don’t damage your nails as much as acrylic or solar nails.

Do It Yourself

As you have figured out by now, I am a DIY (do-it-yourself) kind of girl. I can paint my own nails and put a gloss on them by myself, so I have a hard time paying anyone to do them unless it’s a very special occasion. I usually just run over to Walgreens or CVS and grab a bottle of nail polish, sit down and paint away. They’re not always perfect, but at least they’re free!

Diagram of how to paint your nails in a perfect world

Sunday Best: Floral Print and Bright Tights

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Today’s choir color was orange. I struggled to find something to wear because I had no orange dress (I need to fix that). I did, however, have orange tights and orange earrings, as well as a tweed jacket that has orange threads in it.

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I’ll admit that this outfit was a bit forced, but at least I have orange on! My favorite part of my ensemble, was the side-swept hair. I like the view in the upper left-hand corner the best.

Happy Sunday from the Komo sisters. Enjoy our VEDA video of us singing earlier this week:

Baking Soda/ACV Rinse and Locs Knots

Earlier this week, my hair was feeling dry, dusty, and dirty! I had to do something about it. I knew I had to wash and retwist, but I was looking to try a clarifying wash on my hair for the first time. Screen shot 2013-04-21 at 5.56.25 PM

I researched and found a recipe for an Baking soda & ACV rinse. I followed the step-by-step instructions.

Watch the process here:

The result was a squeaky-clean scalp and  refreshed locks. I followed up the rinse with a retwist and some loc knots.

Here are the results:Screen shot 2013-04-21 at 5.56.40 PM

I noticed that my hair is always in curly styles so I never see how long  my hair is. A friend took a length check picture for me and I was amazed by how much it’s grown!

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The loc knot curls are very similar to the pipe cleaner curl, but a little less work to “install”.

 See the video:

The curls held up, even though I only used water and no setting lotion. I love it!