Trial and Error

Lotion-making like life is trial and error. You can research as long as you can. Get a bunch of different advice. Yet, there are some things you only learn and get better at by doing.

I’ve been feeling encouraged by random people and a friend commenting on how soft my skin looked (or felt in the friend’s case) after consistently using the first batch of lotion I made. It felt good to know that it was because of my own little homemade concoction. I’d never really considered myself good at making things with my hands. This new hobby of mine is one more reminder of my little internal theme for this stage of my life: no limitations (cuz “I’m a No Limit Soldier known to keep it rowdy”–virtual dap if you know what song that’s from) and no labels.

Last weekend, I decided to make a Vanilla Shea Butter Lotion. This was the second time that I made lotion on my own and the third time I’ve made it in general (remember that class I took at Magalie Naturals?). I still had a teensy bit of those little butterflies of excitement that I had the first time I made lotion during Memorial Day weekend.

This time, I was very pleased with the consistency of the lotion. I used a little more sweet almond oil than shea butter this time. For some reason I thought the result would be a lighter lotion. However, the lotion was actually a little thicker and creamier. My skin absorbed it pretty quickly, but I did notice a little more dewiness (or shine) than from my last batch, which actually doesn’t bother me. It just means I can use even less of it at a time to have soft, glowing skin!

The only thing that I wasn’t super crazy about is the scent of this batch. I wanted to get all fancy and make some kind of green tea vanilla lemon goodness but wasn’t able to. Hopefully next time though!

Check out my ingredient list for my latest batch of Vanilla Shea Butter Lotion:

  • 70%    Distilled Water
  • 12%    Shea Butter
  • 10%    Sweet Almond Oil
  • 3%      Stearic Acid
  • 3%      Emulsifying Wax
  • 1.25% Vanilla Extract (McCormick brand)
  • 0.75% Optiphen Plus (non-paraben/non-formaldehyde preservative)

For more info on the equipment I used and measuring methods, check out my first post on lotion-making. I never got a more precise scale, btw, for those of you that remember my measuring dilemma from the first post. Oh well.

ingredients vanilla lotion

I gathered my ingredients together on the kitchen counter. You can see the regular-ole McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract that I used to add fragrance to the lotion. I’m wondering if I would have liked the vanilla scent a little better if I’d used a fancier brand/quality or even better figured out how to incorporate actual vanilla beans in some way. But hey, I’m lotion-making on a budget for now. I hope to use the A+++ ingredients one of these days though.

oil phase vanilla lotion

This is the oil phase. I melted the emulsifying wax and stearic acid in the microwave in 30 sec bursts, then added the sweet almond oil and shea butter. Since the mixture was warm, it didn’t take long to stir the shea butter until it melted completely.

two phases vanilla lotion

Here you can see the bowl with the oil phase and the other with the water phase. It may be hard to see the water in the second bowl. I tried to warm them in the microwave just a little to get each mixture to be about 70 degrees Celsius before I added the water to the oils in the large bowl. This is why I believe the consistency was so much smoother than the first time I made lotion at home. Remember in the post, Lotion-Making: My Very First Time, I said there were tiny waxy pieces throughout the lotion that needed to be rubbed in the skin a little bit longer than the rest.

mixing vanilla lotion

Mix. Mix. Mix.

vanilla lotion

And voila!

When was the last time you made something from scratch? It may be a little confidence-booster after you see how crafty you can be 😉 Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!

Essence Fest 2015 Tips and Tidbits

essence fest welcome sign

I know what you’re thinking…Yes, this is yet another post about Essence Fest 2015, but don’t worry. This will should be the last one! 😉 I just want to quickly shed some insight for those of you that have never been to Essence Fest/NOLA and may be thinking about heading there next year.

Here are some things that I either would have done differently or that I wish I had been prepared for before heading to the Big Easy:

1. Get a hotel in the French Quarter or close to it.
Although I loved the spacious 3-bedroom apartment we found on Airbnb in the Filmore neighborhood (subdistrict of Gentilly), I would recommend getting a hotel downtown so that you can be in the center of the action. Maybe not on Bourbon Street so that you can get some sleep (if you plan on sleeping), but a few blocks over from it. This way you can be within walking distance of French Quarter attractions as well as a short cab ride away from the Mercedes Benz Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for all of the Essence Fest events. Since we were a 15-25 min drive from the French Quarter and the Essence Fest events, having a rental car was great, but it did prevent us from really exploring on foot. I think we would have made better use of our time if we were already close to most of the action and didn’t have to drive to it.

2. Plan on getting up early if you want to see any of the empowerment speakers.
Each day, you will need to be at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as soon as they open if you plan on seeing any empowerment speakers for that day. The events at the convention center are free and open to the public. This means there may be a ton of people trying to see the same speakers or attend the same workshops as you. You can only grab tickets for events on the day that they will take place; you can’t get the next day’s tickets in advance. The upside is that you can get tickets for yourself and your friends so everyone doesn’t have to show up early to get the tickets if they don’t want to.

3. Plan on not sleeping.
If you come to New Orleans during Essence Fest, you probably will get very little sleep because you won’t want to go home after the concerts in the evening. You probably will want to hit up the French Quarter. That will make it harder for you to get up early and make the most out of the free daily events at the convention center (see number 2). Bring a pack of Red Bull in your suitcase, prepare to guzzle some coffee, or just mentally prepare yourself to be a drunk zombie during your entire trip.

4. Keep that itinerary short.
You will not get to do half of the things you planned to do while in New Orleans.
Most people probably aren’t anal enough as me to make an itinerary, but if you are, know that you won’t get to do half of the things on there. Essence Fest has enough activities to keep you engaged all day, which makes it hard to take time to explore the diverse neighborhoods and dining options in NOLA.

5. You won’t see all of your fav musical performances. Be choosey.
You probably won’t get to see all of the artists that you want to see during the evening concerts at the Superdome. There’s very little time between the main stage performances and the superlounge concerts, which is probably intentional. If the performances didn’t overlap a little, there wouldn’t be nearly enough room in the superlounges. The superlounge concerts are a lot more intimate than the main stage performances. If you get to a superlounge early enough, you could end up standing at the front of the stage. However, getting there early would mean missing a good chunk of the main stage performance happening at the moment. I missed out seeing Raheem Devaughn perform in a superlounge, which I heard was amazing, only to see a disappointing mainstage performance by Missy Elliot. I’m still pissed at myself about that. Be warned!

Have you been to Essence Fest this year or in previous years? What would you do differently if you go again?

Essence Fest 2015 Recap Part II

Hey y’all! Welcome to Part II of my Essence Fest 2015 weekend shenanigans. If you’ve already checked out Part I, which includes a little intro and my Wednesday-Thursday adventures, keep on reading.

Less sleep, more drinks, and great food…

Fun at the State Farm booth at Essence Fest 2015

Fun at the State Farm booth at Essence Fest 2015


Friday was the official kick-off of all the Essence Fest events, including the empowerment workshops, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. I had plans to get inspired by Deitrick Haddon, learn about getting my side hustle together by the Queen of Side Hustles, Kandi Burruss, and get some fitness tips from Mr. Hip Hop Abs himself, Shaun T. Too bad none of that happened…

After waking up late because we spent a late night in the French Quarter, we arrived at the convention center around noon and found out that we needed tickets to attend the free empowerment workshops, which they were all out for the day. We were kicking ourselves for not getting there earlier but also ticked off that it wasn’t clear that we would need tickets for the workshops.

So what do you do in New Orleans when there’s nothing else to do? Drink. I was very close to slapped before it was even 5 o’clock. I must say that strolling through the convention center buzzed was probably a lot more fun than it would have been sober. We got silly and made a 30-second video at the State Farm booth (peep the video below) and did the electric slide on the Coca Cola dance floor to some jams by Cameo and other songs that I was too buzzed to remember now. I definitely remember being turnt tho.

Since we learned our lesson from the night before, we made it in decent time to see Kem, India Arie, Charlie Wilson, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly perform at the Superdome Friday night. Everyone was really good, but Charlie Wilson definitely got the party started. Uncle Charlie showed everybody how it was done. When he performed one of my favorite songs ever, “Outstanding,” my night was complete.


NOLA praline from Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar

NOLA praline from Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar

Being the sweets-lover that I am, I could not leave New Orleans without trying a praline so I stopped for one at Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar since I could actually see a lady making them at the front of the store. Mine was already wrapped and packaged up, but it still tasted fresh and delightful. It had nothing on my beloved beignets, but it was tasty.

Speaking of tasty, we randomly stumbled on The Rum House, a “Caribbean Taqueria” on Magazine street after the original place we had in mind told us the wait time was an hour and a half. Ain’t nobody had time for that.

I’m forever grateful that we found The Rum House because I was in taco heaven. I ordered the Taco Trifecta, choosing a seared-scallop taco, a chilled shrimp taco, and a steak taco with guacamole. I also chose their smothered greens for my side. Nothing on my plate disappointed. It was definitely my favorite restaurant out of the few that we visited. The frozen Sangria Margarita was lovely as well. All of that with a phenomenal waiter to top it off=good times.

My Taco Trifecta from The Rum House (scallop, shrimp, & steak), NOLA

My Taco Trifecta from Rum House (scallop, shrimp, & steak), NOLA

We took a little time to stroll down Magazine Street before heading to the Superdome that evening. We came across a cool vintage store where I picked up a “Do the Right Thing” tank and some parrot earrings. I’m kinda second-guessing the earring purchase now, but we’ll see how I feel after I try them on.

Macaroons at Sucre, NOLA

Macaroons at Sucre, NOLA

We also stumbled on the most beautiful little bakery that had so many colorful and decadent desserts on display. One of the handsome guys behind the counter let us try some delicious macaroons. I seriously thought about taking some of them home for my cake-decorating, future bakery-owner bestie, MsBijouWho, but the prices made me zip my purse up with the quickness. Yep, even on vacation, I think like a SAHM. Budget. Budget. Budget. Sigh.

Saturday night at the Superdome was amazing, mostly due to the super-entertaining and awesome performance by Ms. Erykah Badu. She is the truth. Everybody was out of their seat by the end of Usher’s set too. He was almost putting people to sleep in the beginning while performing some lesser-known songs and some instrumentals, but by the time he started singing “You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow,” and songs from his “Confessions” CD, I think everybody was like, “Okaaaaayyyy Ur-sher.” The only thing that was kinda disappointing is he didn’t take his shirt off, but I’ll give him a pass on that one I guess.


Sunday was bittersweet. There was so much that I still didn’t get to do in New Orleans by the time Sunday night rolled around that I was a little sad that the weekend was already over. Not to mention that that was the end of my unlimited girl time. And yet, I was really missing hubby and L-Boogie at home.

Bad Boy R&B group, 112 signing autographs at Essence Fest 2015

Bad Boy R&B group, 112 signing autographs at Essence Fest 2015

I didn’t get to eat as much fried chicken as I could handle at Willie’s Scotch House or really get to explore any of the neighborhoods, but I did get to see more celebs at the convention center on Sunday afternoon than I did in the previous days. I took a picture with journalist, Roland Martin and got a flier signed by Bad Boy R&B group, 112. My bae, Daron, even shook my hand. I could’ve died. Yeah, he shook everybody’s hand, but still…I told him he was my fav and he smiled!!!!!!! OMG!

That night, Floetry killed it at the Superdome, but Mary J. Blige proved that she’s still the Queen of Hip- Hop Soul (check out a video of her singing “Not Gon’ Cry” below). She had everybody on their feet during most of her performance and the crowd literally went nuts when she brought out Method Man while singing “You’re All I Need.” It was the perfect ending to the weekend.

We headed to Bourbon Street after Kendrick Lemar’s performance and although I tried to hang, my feet were killing me and I just couldn’t do it. I’d left my flip flops in the car earlier that day so I was stuck in some comfortable heels that turned into heels from hell by the end of the night. (In fact, my feet were still tingly and sore after returning home because of those dang shoes I had on.) So I got a few souvenirs and about 30 min of sleep before I had to be at the airport Monday morning. And that was the end of my Essence Fest 2015 getaway and reunion with my college besties!

Overall, my first grown woman getaway was a ton of fun. It was a much-needed break to recharge before returning home to my domesticated life as a mommy and wife. While I thoroughly enjoyed having a little flashback to those glorious sisterhood moments that I had in college when I was able to eat, sleep, and turn up with my besties 24/7, I realized that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life at the moment. It’s true that I don’t get a chance to just be a woman and do girly things nearly as much as I’d like to. However, Essence Fest weekend made me realize that even if Usher had taken his shirt off and I was able to try all the fried chicken that New Orleans had to offer, it wouldn’t have compared to hearing my toddler say, “Love you” or being in my husband’s arms.

So long NOLA! Can’t wait until we meet again! 

Essence Fest 2015 in New Orleans, LA Recap (Part I)

Little sleep and big drinks…

“Bourbon Street before the crowds come at night.” 14 February 2012 by Chris Litherland via Creative Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

I’m baaaaaaaccccckkkkk. Back in more ways than one. This is my first blog post after my little hiatus and I’m happy to be back to see what’s poppin’! The break was really good for me. Although I missed blogging, it was good to recharge and get my mind right. I have a lot more to say to my popped people than before the break so I’m pretty excited!

One of the things I want to tell you about is my trip to New Orleans, LA for Essence Festival 2015 during 4th of July weekend! This trip helped me mark a couple of things from my 101 Things in 1001 Days list, including:

2) Travel to a city/location in the U. S. and outside the U.S. that I’ve never been before (1/2)
3) Have a reunion with my besties from college
52) Go to a concert

I’m ecstatic to knock off 2.5 things from my list and can’t wait to share more with you about the trip. Let’s start with highlights from Wednesday and Thursday!

Wednesday night

I arrived in hot and humid Nawlins for a long-anticipated reunion with my besties from college, Di and Des. You all may remember one of them from one of my P.O.P. Women features, The Positively Optimistic & Powerful Destiny. I don’t think we’d all been in the same room with each other since my wedding in January of 2013 so we were really excited about this trip. One of the best things about college is that you have the opportunity to make friends for life that come from all over the U.S. (and world for that matter). We all rep the Midwest, but have such different backgrounds, experiences, careers, and personalities. This made deciding where to go and what to do a little complicated at times, but it also made the experience that much more interesting.

Coop's Place in New Orleans, LA

Coop’s Place in New Orleans, LA

We ate dinner in the French Quarter at Coop’s place our first night in NOLA. I’d read about it being a must-visit dining spot for real New Orleans food. Once I’d gotten there, I’d forgotten what they were famous for and had no idea what to order. The waitress wasn’t very friendly so I ended up trying the Coop’s Taste Plate, which consisted of a cup of seafood gumbo, red beans and rice with sausage, rabbit and sausage jambalaya, and a fried chicken wing. The best thing on my plate by far was the fried chicken wing. It had just the right amount of seasoning and it was pretty much everything. The flavors tickled my starving taste buds in all kinds of amazing ways. The red beans and rice and jambalaya were just ok. All that I really remember about them was that they were spicy. 

Seafood Gumbo at Coop's Place, NOLA

Seafood Gumbo at Coop’s Place, NOLA

Besides for the food, the service and ambience left much to be desired. Even though we were able to sit down right away, there was a hella long wait for the food, flies buzzing around, and the tables were so cramped that I had to keep getting up during my meal to let people pass behind me. That definitely killed my vibe. My food was lukewarm as well, which was probably my fault. I had to run to the car to get a change of clothes right when the food came because I’d spilled my drink all over my lap. I’ve noticed that I have a pattern of spilling drinks lately. Maybe because my drinks are so few and far between that the buzz catches me off guard and I get clumsy. But, I must say that the one, delicious chicken wing on my plate and the good conversation stopped that dinner from being a complete fail.

After leaving Coop’s Place, we strolled down Decatur street and guess what I saw…Café du Monde. The thought of scarfing down some hot, sugary beignets was one of the main reasons that got me down to New Orleans. Let’s just saw I was not disappointed. They were a doughnut-lover’s dream come true. It was an orgasm of powdered sugar in my mouth. They were everything. I could have eaten them everyday I was there, but my stomach fat and our schedule wouldn’t let me.


Western omelet with cheese, hash browns, and biscuit at The Trolley Stop Café in NOLA

Western omelet with cheese, hash browns, and biscuit at The Trolley Stop Café in NOLA

The official Essence Fest festivities didn’t kick off until Friday morning so we spent Thursday late morning/early afternoon eating and strolling a mall in downtown New Orleans. We ate at The Trolley Stop Café and it was everything. The long wait was worth it when I finally got a taste of my western omelet with cheddar cheese, hash browns, and biscuit. The food was so good that we ate there twice, once during brunch hours and the next time at like 2 or 3 in the morning, after coming from a (somewhat wack, wannabe bougie) club nearby. It’s open 24 hours during the weekend. Definitely a must if you’re vising NOLA!

Yours truly before leaving for the Kevin Hart show. Yep, I was def one of the most fully clothed women at Essence Fest ;)

Yours truly before leaving for the Kevin Hart show. Yep, I was def one of the most fully clothed women at Essence Fest 😉

Thursday evening we headed to the Mercedes Benz Superdome to see Kevin Hart’s What Now show. Lecrae and Trey Songz were his musical opening acts. Due to poor planning and the unexpected inefficiency of the process of getting into the superdome, we didn’t get to our seats until Trey Songz had already started performing. I was a bit bummed about missing Lecrae, but I did get a peek at him a few days later at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during some Essence Fest festivities. I would’ve loved to see how the crowd responded to a Christian rapper preforming right before Mr. “Invented Sex” Trey Songz. That should’ve been comedy in itself!

Kevin Hart’s show definitely had its hilarious moments as expected, although, I wouldn’t say it was better than his previous stand-up that I’ve seen on TV/DVD. (This was my first time seeing him live.) I must say that he was not playing games when it came to his “No camera/No cell phone” policy during the show. Anybody seen pulling their cell phone out during the show was kicked out. Let’s just say that it was too many people being escorted out to count. That little man meant biness!

After the Kevin Hart show, we headed to the French Quarter and looked around. There was a good amount of people out, but the huge Essence Fest crowd didn’t really show up until Friday. We had our first Big Easy daiquiris. I had a strawberry one and it was delicious. We just loitered around until we were ready to turn in for the night. It was hard to go home when everything was still bright and open way into the wee hours of the morning. It reminded me of Times Square in NYC but at a much slower pace. Clearly, NOLA never sleeps, but it’s a relaxed insomnia unlike the hustle and bustle of NYC.

Stay tuned for Essence Fest 2015 Recap Part II! It feels great to not only be home with the fam and catch up on zzzzzzz’s, but to also be back in the blogging saddle 😉 Keep it poppin’ until next time!



Until next time…

Until Next Time

I’m going to take a little time…a little time to get myself in order.

Lately, I’ve been feeling myself slipping. One of the biggest ways I’ve been slipping is on getting enough sleep. And it’s not like I’ve been staying up late for a particular reason. Earlier this year, I was so excited about starting this blog that I would stay up well until midnight or sometimes later to have a post ready for the next day. This wasn’t a huge deal because I would just take a nap the next day while my daughter took hers.

However these days, my staying up has nothing to do with being what I consider productive. I just find myself staying up web-surfing or lurking on Instagram instead of tossing my phone aside and trying to get some sleep. But even on those nights, like last night, when I put my phone away and get to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night to tinkle and can’t manage to get back to sleep. I find myself lying there with my mind racing. Or falling in and out of sleep and having crazy dreams that scare me enough to have me running back to the bathroom. (That’s when I know I’ve been watching one episode of Criminal Minds too many.)

So I’m going to take a little time to work on me—to figure out my sleep/anxiety issues and to work on getting out of the writer’s block that’s been creeping up on me these past few weeks. Don’t worry, I won’t completely fade away because I’ll still be lurking on other blogs and commenting. But, I will be taking a much welcome break from Facebook so the best way to reach me will be emailing if there’s something my popped people want to tell me.

I’m planning to only be away from the PBWB (as far as writing posts are concerned) for a few weeks or so, but once I return I should have a ton of things to share with you. I should be able to check a few things off of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list like:

  • #2-Travel to a city/location in the U. S. and outside the U.S. that I’ve never been before (at least the city in the U.S. part)
  • #3-Have a reunion with my besties from college
  • #52-Go to a concert

I’m also getting low on that homemade lotion I made Memorial Day Weekend so I should be trying out a new recipe within the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to share that with you all when I come back from my hiatus. Wish me luck!

Of course, if there’s something I just have to share with you all whether it’s on the blog or on the Popped Black Woman Blog Facebook page, I will. I’m gonna try to lay low though and live life a little so that I have more to blog about later 😉

Until next time…keep it poppin’ 😉

Lotion-Making Fun: My First Class

Magalie Naturals Storefront

Magalie Naturals, Chicago

Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of taking my first real, lotion-making class at Magalie Naturals, a French handmade cosmetics boutique in Chicago. The class was called “DIY Natural Protective Wild Verbena Lotion!” and it was taught by the CEO and owner of the boutique, Magalie D. According to her website, she has been making natural, handmade cosmetics since she was a 12 year old girl in France. She offers several classes on an ongoing basis that range from learning how to make “Shiny Smooth Conditioner” to “Sweet Chocolate Night Scrub.”

I must say that I enjoyed the class and learned a lot, especially about different kinds of ingredients and when to use a certain kind. In addition to being extremely informative, the class was also pretty laid back. It’s BYOB so you can bring liquor and Magalie is super-friendly and has an adorably thick French accent that I’m sure you will love.

During my small class of 4 (the class usually has up to 15 people I believe), we made Wild Verbena Lotion as the title of the class suggests. Here are the ingredients we used:

Natural Protective Wild Verbena Lotion Ingredients from Magalie Naturals

The set-up and all of the supplies looked extra professional and clean.

The set-up and all of the supplies looked extra professional and clean.

For the Aqua Phase

–   Aloe Vera Juice
–   White Verbena Floral Water
–   Floral Water infused with Dried Grapefruit
–   Caffeine Powder
-for toning (must be added in the aqua phase to release benefits)*

For the Oil Phase

–   Avocado Oil
-great for a moisturizing body lotion*
–   Rice Bran Oil
-10x more antioxidants than Vitamin E oil and less expensive*
-good for fine lines and for under the eyes*
–   Karanja Oil (with Urucu Macerate Seeds steeped inside)
-the urucu macerate seed has more beta-carotene than carrots, has antioxidants, and offers UV protection*
–   Emulsifying Wax
–   Soy Lecithin
-not mandatory but helps make lotion creamier*

Additives added to the Oil & Water Mixture

–   Honey Powder
–   Guar Gum
-thickening agent*
–   Benzyl Alcohol & Cedarwood Essential Oil
-to help extend shelf life*

The * means “according to Magalie.” Magalie was great about explaining the benefits of all of the ingredients and the role each one played in the final outcome of the lotion.

The final product.

The final product.

While I have no doubt of the hydrating and other benefits of the ingredients used, I wasn’t crazy about the scent of the lotion after all was said and done. At first I really liked the scent, but after applying the lotion at home over the last few days, I ‘m definitely not crazy about it. It reminded me of green peas and smelled earthy in a not-so-good way. Despite the fact that the scent didn’t mesh well with my naturally sexy and poppin’ scent, I wouldn’t change a thing as far as signing up for the class. Different strokes for different folks; what smells good on you may not smell good on me and vice versa.

The Wild Verbena Lotion is very moisturizing and a little bit goes a long way, despite the fact that it is a little thinner than the Lavender Shea Butter Lotion I made Memorial Day weekend. Another difference is the Wild Verbena Lotion may only have a shelf life of 1-2.5 months since no chemical preservative was used. I don’t see that being a problem since I’ve already used about a quarter of the bottle a mere 2 days after the class. I can’t wait to use everything I’ve learned from Magalie’s class to experiment more on my own.

I’m going to leave you all with some general tips and insight from the class in case you want to try making lotion or for when you’re out checking product labels on lotion you’re about to buy at the store.

Tips from “DIY Natural Protective Wild Verbena Lotion!” Class at Magalie Naturals

  • Grapefruit is good for toning skin.
  • Quality floral water should require refrigeration.
  • Floral water can be used in place of a toner and it’s usually much cheaper
  • Know the difference between a dry oil and a regular oil.
  • Regular oils don’t penetrate the skin well on their own and should be mixed with a dry oil.
  • Dry oils can be applied on the skin as a moisturizer without adding anything to them.
  • It’s good to use a regular oil when making lotion. If using a dry oil, mix 50/50 with a regular oil.
  • Some dry oils are coconut, hazelnut, sesame, and macadamia nut oils.
  • Some regular oils are olive and avocado oils.
  • Hazelnut oil is good for oily/combination skin (like mine!) because it balances sebum production.
  • Add the oil phase to the water phase when making night creams and other products designed to penetrate and nourish the skin–for denser products.
  • Add the water phase to the oil phase when making a protective lotion like the one discussed in this post.
  • It’s best to mix the oil and water phases when both of them are at 70 degrees Celsius.

Have any of you taken a DIY cosmetic class? If so, what was it and what did you think? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. And as always, keep it poppin’ 😉

Lotion-Making Fun: My Very First Time

As you all may remember from a few of my previous posts, especially “Happy Mother’s Day from PBWB,” I have wanted to try making my own lotion for some time now and I ordered lotion-making supplies last Mother’s Day weekend. Well, my supplies have arrived and I made my first batch of lotion this weekend! I was so excited! And the more amazing thing is that I was able to eat lunch, plan and calculate ingredients, and make my lotion all within the timeframe of my daughter’s nap time on Saturday afternoon!

I used a recipe that’s been on my Pinterest board for awhile from a blog post called “Gift Series-Lotion Tutorial (from Scratch)” on a blog called Soap Queen. I used many of the same ingredients as Soap Queen except for the type of preservative used. I also left out avocado oil. I used her recommended percentages of ingredients for the most part. The process wasn’t too bad at all. There are definitely some changes that I would make for next time that I will explain later, but as I said it was a pretty quick process. I probably spent no more than an hour to an hour and a half actually making the lotion, including planning and a lazy cleanup (I didn’t wash all of the dishes right away.)

Carla’s Lovely Lavender Lotion Ingredients 😉

–    70%    Distilled Water
–    15%    Shea Butter
–    7.75% Sweet Almond Oil
–    3%      Emulsifying Wax (to bind the water and oil/butter together)
–    3%      Stearic Acid (for texture–known to make lotion thicker and fluffier)
–    0.75% Optiphen Plus (a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative)
–    0.5%   Essential Lavender Oil

Tools & Equipment

I used the same items as the Soap Queen with the exception that I used three (expected to use 4 but I’ll explain later) 4 oz jars and plenty of paper towels. I also used pH strips because of the type of preservative I used.

Ingredients with website
I had a pot of boiling water on the stove. I used a strainer on top so that the steam could help melt the emulsifying wax and stearic acid. Looking back, it would’ve been a lot simpler to just use the microwave to melt these like the Soap Queen blog suggested. That was me doing too much. Smh.

The emulsifying wax and stearic acid before I melted them.

The emulsifying wax and stearic acid before I melted them.

Once the emulsifying wax and stearic acid were in liquid form, I added sweet almond oil and Shea butter to the warm mixture.

I stirred the shea butter in until it melted. For a few seconds, I put the mixing bowl inside the strainer that was on top of the pot of boiling water I had on the stove to speed up the process.

I stirred the shea butter in until it melted and even heated the bowl a little on my makeshift double-boiler on the stove.

Once the oil/butter mixture was liquefied, I measured and added distilled water. I didn’t warm the water first, but I definitely will next time. The distilled water was room temperature, but it caused some pieces of wax to form in the bowl, which could’ve been avoided if I’d warmed the water. The lotion turned out pretty smooth after mixing, but I have noticed some tiny clumps that feel waxy. If you try making your own lotion, avoid my mistake and HEAT UP YOUR WATER!

After adding distilled water, I stirred the mixture with a spoon, then used a hand mixer until it seemed well blended.

After adding distilled water, I stirred the mixture with a spoon, then used a hand mixer until it seemed well blended.

During the mixing process, I wished that I’d used a bigger mixing bowl because tiny drops of lotion splashed from the bowl from time to time. It wasn’t a ton, but I think it could’ve been avoided by using a deeper bowl.

The pH looked okay to me. Optiphen Plus can work above a pH of 6, but that's not an optimal environment for it.

The pH looked okay to me. Optiphen Plus can work above a pH of 6, but that’s not an optimal environment for it.

After the lotion looked smooth and fluffy (despite air bubbles that eventually went away as the lotion settled), I checked its pH and temperature. The preservative I used, Optiphen Plus, is most effective in products with a pH of 6 or below. The temperature of the product must be below 176 degrees Fahrenheit/80 degrees Celsius before adding Optiphen Plus as well. Once everything seemed fine, I added the fragrance (essential lavender oil) and preservative.

me pouring lotion
Overall, I consider my first try at making homemade lotion to be a success. I love how it feels on my skin. Hubby even likes it too and we tend to differ in our lotion preferences. I’m usually #TeamAveeno while he’s #TeamVaselineBrand all day, everyday. My skin feels very moisturized, but not too greasy. The consistency of the lotion is good for warmer weather. It’s not heavy, but not too watery either. It absorbs right into the skin after rubbing it in for a few seconds. Because of the Shea butter, a little bit of this goes a long way. I can’t wait to experiment with scents! The lavender smell is present in this batch, but it’s kind of overpowered by the Shea butter scent.

Besides for the things I’ve already mentioned, here are a few more things that would’ve made the process run more smoothly.

For next time…

–    Get a scale that has .1 g or .01 g precision! It was tough to get the measurements right because my scale would only show me 317 g instead of 317.5 g, which is kind of a big deal, especially as I start to repeat recipes and need the same results each time. I was able to get a little more precise by checking my weights in ounces, but I think my lack of precision is why I didn’t yield as much lotion as I expected. I planned to make 16 oz, but only yielded about 10 or 11 oz.

–    Think about using a pipette to remove and add ingredients while weighing things on the scale. This would make it easier to go from say 0.11 oz to 0.12 oz when measuring ingredients. Yeah, I definitely have my Type A personality moments. I like things to be just right.

–    Use a larger beaker for measurements, especially for measuring out the distilled water, and use a large beaker for making the lotion itself so that it will be easier to pour the finished lotion into their jars or bottles.

That’s one more item checked off of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list! Will any of you try to make your own lotion? Have you made some in the past? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Growing Some Ovaries (101 Things in 1001 Days Update)

I have a “101 Things in 1001 Days” update for you all! I was reluctant to publish this because I thought that I only had 2 things to check off, but I do indeed have 3 whole things that I consider DONE!

For starters, I am beyond grateful to say that I can check off #63, “Reach one hundred followers on this blog!” This goal was actually met back in March of this year! In fact, the blog has 148 followers to date! WOOT WOOT! YAY!!!!! I am so happy about that! It may be small beans in the ginormous world of blogging, but it means the world to a little blogging novice like me! Thank you all so much for supporting the Popped Black Woman Blog!

Secondly, the next item that I can check off (the one I almost forgot about) is #60, “Learn how to enjoy working out without listening to ratchet music.” You may laugh, thinking what’s the big deal, but it was hard to let go of that twerk and “Run Up Get Done Up” music, even for a peacoat-wearing, motivational book-reading, Downton Abbey-watching gal such as myself.

Peep this quick video to see the kind of music I used to listen to at the gym:

Even though a good beat helps get that blood flowing in the gym, I believe music has a huge influence on our thoughts and outlook on life. I think that negative song lyrics can make it a lot harder to stop thinking negatively in general. I listen to pretty positive music during the day-to-day. Specifically, the Janelle Monae station on Pandora is one of my favorite stations ever right now! But, letting go of my DMX and “Knuck If You Buck” stations on Pandora during my workouts has been hard. (Yeah, I luh the old school even when it comes to rap, which crazy enough can now be applied to music from the early 2000s!)

All of the drop it low hooks and talk about whoopin’ somebody’s a$$ used to make me go harder on the treadmill. But, I’ve noticed that the songs that used to get me turnt up, hurt my spirit a little bit now. I no longer can listen to music that calls women hos and still feel empowered. I’m in a different frame of mind now, which is wonderful! I don’t think this means I will give up the old stuff entirely. I mean, music like the “Regulate Jammin’ Remix” by Warren G and Nate Dogg will always be a classic in my book and the lyrics aren’t so bad, but I don’t need to feed my gangsta alter ego to enjoy my workout anymore. Won’t He do it! 😉

Lastly…drum roll please…I got my nose pierced again (#35)! As I said in one of my introductory “101 Things in 1001 Days” posts, the first time I had my nose pierced was my freshman year of college. I had freshly turned 18 and nobody could tell me nothing. I wanted to do it and I did it. This time around, I was so nervous! Not nervous about the pain because I knew what to expect, but nervous about what other people would think about it. It reminded me just a little of the dread I felt over the negative reactions I knew were coming from a few old school family members when I cut my relaxed hair off back in the day, which also happened right after I turned 18.

Um...disregard all that shine #oilyskinproblems

Um…disregard all that shine #oilyskinproblems

Where was that “I don’t care” attitude that I had when I was 18 this time around? I’m a hellava lot grown-er now than I was then. It’s been almost 10 years! I’ve experienced life in the “real world”—had several jobs, had my own apartment and my own bills, got married, had a child. Who or what was I afraid of?

I questioned if it would be appropriate now–whether I would be setting a good example for Little L. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more convicted I became to GROW SOME OVARIES & DO IT! By expressing myself in this way, I felt like I was showing my daughter that she is free to be who she is, which may not be popular and celebrated by everybody, but it’s worth it to be herself in the long run because she’s in charge of her own happiness. I never want to discourage her from doing something simply because everybody won’t like it. If it doesn’t hinder her personal and professional goals, why not do it?!

I stopped worrying about the what ifs–what if ish hits the fan and I have to go back into the workforce and it’s not acceptable to have a nose ring? I’ll cross that bridge later if it gets to that point. It’s only a tiny little piercing that can close at anytime if I take the stud out. It can be pierced again just as easily! It’s crazy how we can turn the smallest things into much bigger issues than they really are. I feel free. Free to be whoever I decide to be at any moment and it feels great!

Have any of you checked off any items from your 101 Things in 1001 Days/Bucket Lists lately? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook! Keep it poppin’ as always 😉

Happy Mother’s Day from PBWB!

It’s Mother’s Day! Woot woot! I hope you all enjoy loving on all the mothers or mother-figures in your lives today by sharing something that’s more precious than anything you can buy: time.

Kind of in honor of Mother’s Day, but not really, I decided to treat myself to something that I’ve been wanting for a long time. No, it’s not a necklace from Tiffany’s, but hopefully I’ll make that happen one day.

Jar of cream sunshinecity via flickr

Image by SunShineCity via Flickr, CC By 2.0

I decided to take the first step towards making my own lotion by ordering a few supplies from Amazon. This is a huge deal for me because as a stay-at-home mom, or maybe just as a mom in general, it’s so hard to not be overwhelmed with guilt when I buy something just for me.

I’ve been wanting a new hobby for some time and I think lotion-making will definitely get my creative juices flowing. It doesn’t seem too difficult, judging from the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. Yet, it seems to involve just the right amount of chemistry and experimentation to put my brain to work. Also, maybe this can lead to that profitable business I want to start or at least a nice little side hustle! (Remember #’s 1 and 45 on my “101 Things in 1001 Days List?”).

At the very least, this may be a way to ensure my family is exposed to a few less potentially harmful cosmetic ingredients on a daily basis. Often, I’m  disappointed with the cosmetics I find on store shelves, even the ones for babies. Most cosmetics have questionable preservatives and too many chemicals with long names. The products with ingredient listings that I like tend to cost too much to buy on a consistent basis. I can’t wait to make products how I want them at a fraction of the cost of quality store-bought products! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated once I make my first batch.

On another note, I would like to leave my popped mothers with just a little something I wrote for Little L that I’m sure many of you can relate to.

To my Poo on Mother’s Day 2015:

I think of you even when I’m not thinking of you;
We are so entwined that I could never not think of you.
No longer attached by a cord, but tied by spirit,
I feel you when I can’t see you.
Hear you before you even make a sound.
Your laugh is the music that makes my heart beat;
Your smile dances in my dreams.

Me and London at Pepe's

Happy Mother’s Day! Have any of you mothers out there decided to treat yourself to something special this weekend? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!

I Hate Change. Oh, and a 101 in 1001 Update!

Change. I don’t like it. I can talk all day about how I want certain things in my life to be different, but the reality is that growth requires change. And I don’t like change. Yes, I have my spontaneous moments when I’m around friends that bring out my whimsical side, but for the most part I love routines and predictability. But the thing about routines is that they have to start somewhere. Before my toddler started associating milk and storytime with sleep, I had to teach her that. It’s no different with me. New routines can be unsettling, but once I get used to them, they just become the norm.

This yearning for growth, but fear of the change that must take place for me to grow, makes me grateful for stumbling on the 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge back in January. Although most of the items on my list may seem minor or even trivial, they represent stepping stones of change for me.

A couple of the items on the list are in the works, but I do have a little update to share! I’ve completed two more. As you may remember:

36. Dye my hair and/or get a hair cut
100. Buy a needed item from an African American-owned business


Yours truly next to the River Thames in London shortly after my last Big Chop in 2009 #TeamNatural

Soooo…I DYED my hair y’all! While this may seem minor to some, I have been deathly afraid of putting any chemicals in my hair since doing my last Big Chop in the summer of 2009. (Before that, I had honey blonde highlights on my relaxed hair in high school.) I remember the day like it was yesterday, I was on summer break from college and about to study abroad in London, England for 6 weeks. I knew it was the perfect time to cut the last of my relaxer off. I made a natural hair salon appointment and never looked back. Since going natural, I used henna several times. I noticed a slight reddish tint which some of my coworkers seemed to notice, but it wasn’t bold enough for me to get too excited about it.
All that to say…on March 13, 2015, I dyed a front portion of my hair with Clairol Textures & Tones in Cherrywood. It took me so long to decide on a color, that I just picked one and hurried to the check-out line in the store before I changed my mind and put it back. My heart was beating fast on the day when I decided to apply the color. Would I look a hot mess if I don’t dye all of it? Would I look a hot mess if I DO dye all of it? I don’t want to have to tint my eyebrows. Will folks look at me crazy? Lord, how is this color going to look on my head because I look nothing like the lady on the box?! I decided to just jump in and embrace the change with the thought that if it turned out to be a disaster, I could always get a cute hair cut and just be free. Aren’t we just either sick and tired of our hair or either overprotective of it depending on our mood? Smh. I didn’t like the results at first, but after a week or so, I really liked it!

My "I don't know about this" face

My “I don’t know about this” face

Now on to #100 on my 101 in 1001 list.

Little L and I took a stroll in the beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, which is where I purchased some much needed earrings from a Black-owned cultural arts store called Kilimanjaro International. I’d lost the only pair of earrings that I could find and felt naked without any. I headed to a spot that I’d purchased from a few times before, but not since a couple years ago. I purchased some beautiful handmade earrings: one is a depiction of an Igbo tribal mask while the other is a symbol of prosperity (once I remember its origin, I will let you all know).

My new earrings from Kilimanjaro International in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago

My new earrings from Kilimanjaro International in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago

That’s all I got for you all today! How do you view change and/or what’s new with you? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook. Stay positively optimistic and powerful folks 😉