Thursday, January 31, 2008

Well Damn.

Hola chicas,
Well, well, well! Aren't I having a major media moment?! Check me out in today's New York Times' Style Section! It's all about the rising power of the beauty blogger...and they photographed me in my "beauty" room, where I cram all my products and write SYB (there's the pic, on the left)! I have to say, even though I'm clearly loving the splashy photo, the article left me rather insulted. I mean, the implication that I write SYB for the swag is beyond ludicrous, and really broadcasts the writers complete non-understanding of the way the beauty industry operates. No, I wasn't allowed to accept gifts at Teen People, but during my days at Elle, Glamour, and Lucky, I was a virtual swag magnet (and quite honestly, my sqeals over free stuff abated circa 2001). I started SYB because, at the time, there were no brown girl blogs written by a bonafide beauty insider. I wanted to proved a service for my mas, no menos! The idea that I'm in this for any other reason is actually quite offensive.

Plus, I've NEVER "censored" myself in order not to offend a major company. I only write about stuff that works, products I know you'll love...why discuss the ones that suck? Sigh. Must concentrate on the fact that my hair looks fab in the photo...

And now, let's get back to today's regularly scheduled gush-fest!

Girls, I'm getting to that mid-winter moment where, despite all my best efforts, I look in the mirror and see a "before" shot. In the beauty world, we call this a Looks Crisis. And it's serious. You know you're in the throes of an LC when, despite your best beauty efforts, nothing seems to make you look hot, sexy, or even passably cute. The only known cure for said rut is to make a profoundly dramatic change in your beauty routine. If you ordinarily wouldn't dream of rocking a red lip, break out the Nars Scarlet Empress! If you're a haircolor virgin, splurge on some face-framing highlights! In my case, I decided it was high time I dabbled in some "cat eye"-style liquid liner (I mean, how profoundly chic are Zoe Saldana and Joy Bryant with their sultry, subtly winged liner? Meeoow!).

For weeks, I've been searching high and low for a user-friendly liquid liner (you know, one that doesn't smudge, or go on all shaky, or looks like drag) and girls, I finally found The One. Le Metier de Beaute Precision Liquid Liner in Noir ($42) is utterly goof-proof. It's all about the delicate, quill-tipped applicator--it gives you tons of control, so you don't get that quivery finish. Literally, you just use it like a pen! Here's how: Place the tip just beyond (and a wee bit above) the outside corner of your eye. Then, holding it at a slight angle, slowly drag the pen along your lashline, until you get to the inside corner. Somehow, with minimum effort, you end up with a perfect cat-eye! And believe me, I've tried practically every liquid liner in the market. This one is HEAVEN. Girls, my Looks Crisis has officially gone the way of John Edwards. Sexy time!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flake Love To Me

Hey pumpkins,
Time for a new Q&A! Actually, I have a question of my own. Who here thinks MTB4's Aubrey is really Orlando Bloom in drag? Sorry, SO off-topic...


ISSUE: "Tia, My skin is peeling, and I can't find products that'll soothe! I'm only 21 but I look like I'm friqqin 30. What can I use?"

TIA'S 2 CENTS: First of all, Ada darling...THIS is what 30 looks like (me, ahem, roughly two and a half years ago). Secondly, you'll be happy to know that your situation is easily remedied.

You'll need to start with a super-gentle, soap-free cleanser formulated for parched, irritated skin like Osmotics Calming Cleansing Milk, $27 (it's also loaded with Chamomile and St. Johns Wort to calm your skin's temper-tantrum). This cleanser is MAGIC. Afterwards, gently apply a rich, deeply hydrating moisturizer while your skin's still damp (this way, it'll help seal in moisture for longer).

MAC's new MoistureLush Cream ($32) is setting the beauty world on fire, and for good reason. The silky, incredibly lush moisturizer smooths flakes and perfectly evens-out your skin's surface, which alleviates the annoyance of having to layer makeup over flaky skin (the worst, right?). Give it a good three weeks, Ada. I swear you'll see a huge diff!

PS...Girls, I'm nominated for a Fabbie Award in the beauty category!! Don't you want me to win? Me too! VOTE FOR ME BY CLICKING THE ICON ON THE RIGHT!! And tell all your amigas, too :-0

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter Woes, WWD, and Me

Hi girls,
Fab news! In today's Women's Wear Daily, "Shake Your Beauty" is listed as one of their Top Ten Beauty Blogs! Isn't this exciting? Seriously, I owe it all to my faithful SYB well as Matthew Evans and Michelle Edgar from WWD (drinks after Fashion Week?). And a heart-felt gracias to Lady Miss Julia Coney of "All About the Pretty" for citing me as her beauty influence (how darling is that?). Sigh. Today's a good day. I'd like to thank the Academy, my dog, and my mom, for instilling in me a passionate penchant for blush.

So, yesterday morning I went to the annual Bendels' Beauty Breakfast. This swanky event is a years-old tradition in the beauty industry, where editors--and now bloggers--learn all about the venerable boutique's new beauty offerings (and stuff oodles of samples in their shopping bags). Oh, the goods were endless. But I was particularly fascinated by the following two yummies:

1.) Laura Mercier Corner Faux Lashes ($18): These terribly delicate, easy-to-apply lashes are meant to be worn at the outer corner of each eye, which creates that sultry, swoony cat-eye effect. I love that they come with their own tiny tube of invisible lash glue, and if you carefully store the lashes back in the box, you can wear them again and again! I've said this before and I'll say it again--a good lash instantly makes EVERYONE look a zillion times better. Even the most looks-challenged. Give Dick Cheney a lash and see what happens.

2.) BeautyRehab Rose Salve ($12): This British import knocked my socks off (and I'm not alone--apparently, UK mayjas like Posh & Becks, Sophie Dahl and, oddly enough, Masi Oka, are obsessed with this stuff). Basically, it's a portable winter cure-all that you MUST keep in your bag at all times. The rose oil and shea butter-infused balm smooths chapped lips; softens cuticles; hydrates dry hands and elbows; tames split ends; and moisturizes flaky, flu-ravaged nostrils (how I loathe that word). And it's so much more glamorous than Vaseline! Veddy, veddy good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Born to be mild

Hi girls,
Really quickly, I just discovered an amazing option for girls with fine-to-medium curls who'd love to relax their hair a bit, but don't want the heaviness and pin-straightness of a major relaxer. Last week, I was at my local Dominican salon, Adelina's (love ya, Addie!). I'd had this weird kink in the front of my hair, towards the bottom--and no matter how much I flatironed or curling iron-ed it, that piece never stayed straight. It drove me NUTS. So, I asked Adelina if there was anything I could do for that section, short of a relaxer. Fabulous Addie was like, "Sure mami! Let's do a relaxing conditioner!" She proceeded to whip together equal parts deep conditioner and relaxer (she used Paul Mitchell Super-Charged Moisturizer, $10.99; with SoftSheen-Carson Optimum Care Mild Relaxer, $6.99), and then massaged it into my weird, frizzy section of hair. After letting it marinate for ten minutes, it was business as usual--she washed it out once, followed with conditioner, and that was that! Brilliant. I mean, what a fabulous option if you just need super-mild relaxing (ideal for little girls, too).

Here's the cautionary tale, though. My sister Devon (aka Brownie) had been growing out her perm for years, and was finally, FINALLY, done! A couple months ago, she went to her local D.C. Dominican spot and, without asking, her stylist slapped in a thickish pre-shampoo treatment. When Brownie saw her wet hair, she was baffled and devastated--her hard-won natural curls were looser, yet she knew her stylist hadn't given her a real relaxer or texturizer (she only washed it out once, and Brownie didn't smell chemicals). What happened?! It wasn't until I had my existential Adelina experience that we realized what the stylist had done. The NERVE, right? Good thing Brownie graduated summa cum laude from Howard Law School, because she's taking her ass to court. Moral of the story is, always watch your stylist...she might make an executive decision about your hair texture without asking.


Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK would've wanted us to wear pretty hats

Hi pretty girls,
Time for an extremely of-the-moment Q&A! I'm sure that this one is effecting us all during this cold, harsh, brutally unfeeling winter. Take notes, ladies...

SYB BABE: Cinque

ISSUE: "I have a question about winter hats! I was warned to avoid wool, cotton, and acrylic, because it pulls hair & causes breakage. Cashmere & silk are preferred. Have you heard this before? Help!"

TIA'S 2 CENTS: Ah, winter hats. Such a condundrum. Unless it's satin, all of it is a hot mess. Cotton, acrylic and wool all cause crazy split ends, breakage, and dryness...three things our hair does NOT need. Which sucks, because most winter hats are lined with one of those fabrics. You must get a satin-lined hat, and here's why. Satin, as I'm sure many of you know, brilliantly maintains hair moisture, keeps it sleek and shiny, and protects hair from tangles and breakage (my hairstylist friends even insist that satin helps make curls last longer). All this, and it still allows your scalp to breathe, which is muy importante for fabulous hair.

I'm deeply obsessed with Eugenia Kim Sammy Wool Trapper Hat ($161), a darling boucle situation with patent leather piping...that's completely lined in satin! Yes, it's a little pricey, but we spend so much on our hair, why not splurge on the day-to-day upkeep? Or, instead try the satin-lined, faux fur Woolrich Anchorage Hat ($40)--it's a tad "earthier" than the other, but you'll save a few bucks.

I'm also j'adoring Eugenia Kim Equestrian Hat ($177)! Eugenia's really doing it this year, isn't she? Anyway, this Sienna Miller-ish hat is terribly chic on blustery days, and yes, it's fully lined in satin. For a cheaper alternative, try the magical Melton Wool Newsboy Hat ($19). Totally cute, totally satined-out.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!!

PS...While we're on the subject, I received this question from Miss Tracey: "Yes, we are supposed to use satin scarves but most ladies I know use the synthetic drugstore variety. Is there a significant difference between "faux" satin and the real satin? And do you have a recommendation for a good night time wrapping scarf?" Well, Tracey, my experts tell me that, although clearly not as fabulous as the real stuff, drugstore satin is perfectly safe for your hair. I'm a fan of Satin Wonders Satin Hair Cap ($14).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Great-fruit Groupie

Hi girls,
Why oh WHY am I still suffering from post-traumatic-holiday-blues? I wake up every day and mourn the disappearance of my friendly Christmas tree. It's freezing out. And on top of it all, my skin is drah-hah-hyyy. Winter weather makes my skin so insurmountably untouchable that I'm unclear as to how Mr. SYB can BEAR to cuddle up to me during our nightly watch-DVR-and-snuggle moment. Basically, I really need some pampering lusciousness right now—and I've found it all in Jo Malone Grapefruit Bath Oil ($60). Okay, I know it's pricey, but a capful in your bath changes the experience from mundane to marvelously decadent (and don't we need a little of that?). It makes dry winter skin supple, smooth, and yummy-soft—plus, the warm, zingy scent lingers on your skin all day! It's really quite sexy. And since you only need a teeny bit, the bottle lasts FOREVER. I was so knocked out by Jo Malone's latest burst of genius, that I began to research the benefits of grapefruit oil. And I've found that, besides being curing dry skin, it also helps relieve the effects of flu, muscle fatigue, water retention and nervous exhaustion. Holla!!

And if you simply cannot spring for the Jo Malone, add a few drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil ($11) in your bath (just two or three's muy concentrated). You'll get the same hydrating, sensual experience--just without the pretty bottle!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2-in-1 Hotness

Hi girls,
Recently, one of my SYB Babes wrote in and asked me what beauty stuff she should pack to study abroad in Italy. As I was thinking about what I took with me on my six-month sojourn to Seville in 2001, I was suddenly struck speechless. Had I never told miladies about the genius, multi-tasking WEN Cleansing Conditioner in Fig ($28)??! Could it be true? Darlings, this stuff will solve all your hair problems, rearrange your closets and quite possibly find you a man. Here's the thing. Shampoos are loaded with sodium laurel sulfates, which completely strip our hair of all it's natural oils, and only adds to our natural dryness...and causes breakage and dullage, besides. A brilliant hairstylist named Chaz Dean came up with the idea of a deeply moisturizing conditioner that also CLEANSES HAIR (!!), so you can skip shampoo, entirely (which I do anyway, every other week, to be honest). This stuff is so rich and luxurious, and it smells so divine, you can also use it as body cream and styling lotion for your ends. WEN Cleansing Conditioner comes in a bunch of different scents, including Sweet Almond Mint, Tea Tree, and Cucumber Aloe--but Fig is the best for "dry, heat damaged, color treated, medium to coarse, and ethnic hair." Um, us. I also enjoy Lavender, which is formulated for fine to medium-ish textured hair. Anyway, this stuff is a lifesaver, especially if you have wash-and-go curls you need to re-wet frequently, and you don't want to dehydrate your hair with constant shampooing. Try it!

PS. I thought I should mention that WEN Cleansing Conditioner is NOT a traditional two-in-one shampoo/conditioner. Those never work because they're loaded with sodium laurel sulfate, and don't have true conditioning properties. WEN skips the SLS, and is simply a fabulous moisturizer spiked with cleansing yumminess. Lovely.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The darker the berry, continued

Hi girls,
It's been awhile since I've done a Q&A, don't you think? Sometimes it's hard to find a question that's general enough for all my SYB girls to love, but I think this one is just right. Enjoy, and share with me a moment of sadness that we won't get to armchair-judge all the wrong red carpet choices at the Golden Globes.
Your Tia

SYB BABE: Anonymous

HER ISSUE: "I'm dark brown with a fairly clear complexion (some dark spots here and there), but I have oily skin. Should I do the concealer, powder thing? Should I do the foundation thing? Or the tinted moisturizer thing? I don't have a whole lot of time for primping in the morning! Any suggestions?"

TIA'S 2 CENTS: Any suggestions, she says. Ha! Miss Anonymous, I have exactly the right prescription for you. Since your complexion is relatively clear, I'd skip allover foundation--if you don't need to cover blemishes, major scars or hyperpigmentation, there's no need (when it comes to face makeup, the goal is to get away with as little as possible). For you, I'd stick with a concealer-and-powder formula. Here's what you do: First, use a tiny brush to apply concealer under your eyes and over your dark spots.

Makeup Forever 5 Camouflage Cream Palette—No. 4 Concealer ($36) is DIVINE, honey--it comes with five different brown concealer shades, so you can blend your own perfect hue (and since we change colors depending on the time of year, this is ideal). Sure, the palette is a little expensive, but it's top-of-the-line stuff, formulated specifically for makeup artists--and I firmly believe that face makeup is where one should spend one's makeup money.

After you've touched up your undereye circles and dark spots, it's all about setting the concealer with powder. Dip a soft, fluffy brush into the powder, tap off excess and swirl all over your face. Iman Second-to-None Luminous Powder Foundation in Earth 4 ($14.99) is absolutely stunning (lighter-skinned girls can try the fairer Clay shades). Not only does it keep oil at bay, this powder foundation is blended with the faintest hint of shimmer, making your skin look stunningly radiant, all day long. And if you're going out and want a fancier look, apply with a wet sponge for more coverage. Et voila, you've got gorgeous skin!

Monday, January 07, 2008

What the pluckin' pluck...

Hi ladies,
Ah, to be a writer. I believe someone needs to change the job title to "procastinator." Because for me, three/fourths of writing a book is easily tied up in cruising my DVR, browsing my book shelf, and taking I-photo's of myself. Lately, however, when I procastinate, I pluck. I went overboard just before the holidays, totally Edward Scissorhand-ing my poor brows until I was left with two sad, Pamela Anderson-looking arches that have yet to forgive me. The next morning, I emailed all my beauty contacts, desperate for some sort of remedy. I was sent a flurry of brow-thickening doo-hickies, but I settled on Anastasia NuBrow Brow Enhancing Serum ($35). I picked NuBrow because it was dreamed up by the legendary brow GENIUS, Anastasia (pronounced Ahhnahhstahhsya), but I was totally skeptical. The colorless gel-brow formula is supposed to stimulate hair growth while slowing down hair loss, restoring thin, over-plucked brows to their former fullness in 4-6 weeks (most take months and months). Whatever, but I tried it anyway. And I'm still in shock. The Nu Brow is tingly-good MAGIC! I wish I'd taken a before picture so you ladies could see how quickly and efficiently my abused brows returned! Which is a godsend, because I secretly LOATHE eyebrow pencils (they're fine in moderation, but my situation was so dire I had to physically draw my brows on every morning). Overpluckers everywhere need to embrace the!

PS: A round of applause for Miss BlakeMahogany, who won the Dec/Jan Stila Product of the Month contest!! Sweetie, email me your address at, so I can send you your prize. Congrats, beautiful!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Baby Got Back

Hi girls,
KEEP AN OPEN MIND. What I'm about to tell you is kind of gross and off-putting, especially first thing in the AM, but I would be completely remiss in keeping such a useful tip from my girls. Okay, you know how, when you're eyes are puffy and baggy after a truly epic night (or a pre-menstrual crying jag)? I've never been able to find a eye cream or mask to get the job done.

Until now.

My fabulous Aunt Mildred, who was a major dancer in the 60s and 70s, once gave me an interesting backstage tip at a Cabezas family dinner. She said that before a show, if the dancers had been partying all night, they'd slather hemorrhoid cream all over their eyes to reduce the swelling and bags. Gross, but it makes TONS of sense, since Preperation H was indeed formulated to reduce swelling (a markedly different kind, but again, OPEN MIND). I was grossed out, but mildly curious. Cut to the holidays. Aunt Mildred had an eye procedure, and her doctor gave her Tucks Medicated Pads ($7.99) to help whip her undereye situation into shape!!! She was SO vindicated, and I was officially sold. Preperation H was just too messy and anal to put on my face--but I'm a sucker for a medicated pad (I can't walk by a Strydex pad, it's a sickness). So, that hazy morning after New Year's, I tried the Tucks. And, as I live and breathe, my horrible puffy bags had peaced-out within the hour. I know it's weird and wrong, but so is Christopher Walken and he was delightful in Hairspray. Try it!

Love you,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hungover in '08

Hi girls,
Happy New Year!! Woo-hoo! Whose feeling great in '08? Um, I for one, am NOT. Girls, this was me last night around 11:45pm, shaking my thirty-two-year-old ass to Rebie Jackson's "Centipede." I don't have a photographic record of me around 2:10am, when I staggered home through the streets of Park Slope with a tipsy Dominican cutie salsa-ing by my side and a migraine so searing I thought perhaps it was Joanne exacting revenge on me for squelching her shine with a headband (my sister Devon/Brownie said I had to wear it because it complemented my mod moment!!). Girls, mama cannot bust a move like she used to. But despite the fact that I'm writing this post while rocking a Migra-cap (a goofy-looking but GENIUS Christmas gift from Mommy...if you're a headache queen, look into it), I'm still SO EXCITED about the prospects of entering a brand-new year! Aren't you?

And guess what? I'm officially kicking off '08 with an oh-so-glamorous new jobby-job! Starting tomorrow, I'll be working part-time as a Senior Writer at the venerable Fashion Week staple, The Daily! Every day of Fashion Week, Bryant Park distributes this totally dishy, hilarious, insider's look at the ins-and-outs of the collections...everything from who bumped who in Proenza Schouler's front row to where Marc Jacobs held his secret after-after-party (and which socialite was turned away at the door). Basically, it's fashion crack...and it's PERFECT for me, no? For the truly fashion obsessed, The Daily also comes in a "Mini" version, which is sold on the stands every two months in major cities...and you MUST check out their exhaustive, industry-staple website, (the blog, "Chic Report," is delicious). So much fun, right? Can't wait to bring my girls all kinds of insidery fashion dish in '08!

Speaking of fashion insiders, I have a new idol-ette. Yes, I'm still girl-crushing on Miss Kerry Washington, but I'm now harboring an enthusiastic yen for Keisha Whitaker, Forest's divine, red carpet-stalking better half. Don't you just love how she's bringing back that darling-I'm-chic-for-a-living stance of old school Hollywood Wives? Even better, she's just introduced a lovely new line of lipglosses, Kissable Couture. Not only are the glosses stunning on every skin tone, darling Miss Keisha has named them after each of her first kisses!

My personal favorite is Kissable Couture Lipgloss in Forest ($22) (aww), a vampy crimson shimmer that I only had to touch-up ONCE last night! This ultra-glossy, not too bold shade is the perfect "starter red" for those of us who usually rock neutral tones and want to experiment with a more ooh-la-la moment. Which is one of my New Year's resolutions, of course.

So, that's all I have for today! I'm so thrilled to kick off my third year of Shake Your Beauty with my favorite ladies. Hope your holidays were gorgeous, and here's to a beautiful '08!