Monthly Archives

July 2016

Personal Musings

Girl, Where Are You?

A photo posted by Val’s Vanity (@valsvanity) on

Right here! Over here! 👋🏾

Sorry, kittens. I didn’t mean to ghost you guys! But it is for a good reason. I’ve received another amazing opportunity to share my love of beauty with even more people. The only snag? Trying to balance the hours between work and play again.

This isn’t the end — far from it. I’ve still got more beauty secrets to share, news to freak out about, and muses to inspire your next look. You’ll just have to stay tuned on Snapchat to see what comes next. But if you’re still willing to come along for the ride, it’s sure to be filled with more crazy twists, turns, and lipstick smears.

Beauty, Body

#ManiMonday: 4 Tough-As-Nails Top Coats

A photo posted by Val’s Vanity (@valsvanity) on

Most manis never last long on me. Having soft nails that easily bend and break, most top coats don’t stand a chance of lasting more than a day before I’ve either chipped or ripped off half of my nail. While I am a fan of gel manicures, my wallet doesn’t share my affections unless there’s an occasion that calls for a long-lasting look. Thankfully, the industry gets my — and many other’s— predicament and has answered the call with a series of top coats designed to mimic the lustrous look and long wear of the salon service, no lamps necessary. These are the top coats that ensure my nails stay in tip top shape!

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Beauty, Hair

A Song of Fire & Ice: Decoding Summer’s Hottest Hair Hues

via Christina Aguilera's Instagram

via Christina Aguilera’s Instagram

It doesn’t take much for me to change up my hair color, but the summer usually inspires everyone to break out of their color comfort zone. And this year anything goes as Austin R. Medearis, colorist at Ted Gibson, explained, “[There’s been] a universal shift into ‘exploring one’s individuality.’ We’ve moved into a time where we’re constantly hearing ‘love you,’ ‘be you,’ and ‘do you.’ This shift is allowing people to try things that they’ve never tried before. I, personally, don’t believe that any two women should have the same hair color.” But while the colorist is all about customization, two trends seemed to rise to surface that are worthy of closer examination: the red tide versus the icy white-out. He not only shared his take on the trends but also offered ways to get the look with minimal damage.

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Beauty, Entertainment

Gina Rodriguez Partners with Clinique to Inspire & Empower



Gina Rodriguez’s strands are set to stun thanks to John Frieda, but the star’s newest beauty campaign is looking inward to empower others.

The Jane the Virgin actress joins five other inspirational women as part of Clinique’s new Difference Maker campaign, which is aimed at inspiring confidence and empowering women to create change that affects their lives and their communities. The group also supports charities that focus on women’s healthcare and education through the brand’s Clinique Difference Initiative, continuing the conversation with the hashtag #DifferenceMaker. Rodriguez looked to her Chicago roots to help the youth turn education into empowerment by partnering with the brand for a special video.

In it, Rodriguez describes the scope of her upbringing in a “gang-infested” neighborhood with limited means of breaking the cycle of “can’t and won’t.” She notes that she had the “unfair” advantage of her family, who appear alongside her in the clip, pushed her to pursue her dreams, even with the many racial, economic, and social challenges she faced to break into the industry—all by giving her the ticket to success: education. “It pains me because I feel really lucky and thank God I had giants around me to stop that view of life, otherwise my life wouldn’t look as beautiful as it is today. I don’t want to be the only one living that though, ” she explains in the powerful video. And her parents are right! My mom taught me the same lesson from an early age, and it’s helped push me to where I am today and keep striving for tomorrow.

And it’s prompted her to talk to young people who still face those challenges and turn education into empowerment. “There’s a difference between my passion, which is acting, and my life’s purpose.My life’s purpose is to free someone from those invisible shackles because they are invisible; they are an illusion,” she points out. “What do you do? You go back, and you change it. I go and I talk to high school students, grammar school students, I go to universities and talk. We need people to say, ‘listen, I know what you’re going through, I know what you went through. I went through it too, and it sucks.’ Education is the only way to get out. It’s about confidence and self-worth. You can, and you will.”

And it doesn’t take a high-profile to shake up the systems of oppression and make positive changes for the future. “All of us are capable of being difference-makers,” she told the glossy. “All of us have that power. It’s the small stuff that makes the great amount of change. Our voices are so powerful, and I think that’s something we can start giving to our youth.”

Head over to to check out the video clip but keep those tissues handy.

Books, Entertainment

Tony Stark Hands Iron Man Mantle to Riri Williams

Image via

Image via

Sorry Robert Downey Jr., you’re not the man in the iron mask anymore.

Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis announced Wednesday that at the close of Civil War II, the limited series that serves as the sequel to the comic series and latest installment in the Marvel movie universe, that the billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist will hand over the reigns to Riri Williams, a black woman. Similar to Peter Parker’s entrance into the Avengers in this summer’s superhero blockbuster, Stark takes an interest in Williams, a science prodigy who enrolls in MIT at 15—the same age that he started at the same school! But she doesn’t sit around waiting for him to hand over the suit, instead choosing to reverse engineer one of her own in her dorm. Now that’s taking extra credit to the next level!

Bendis, who is also the writer behind Jessica Jones, was inspired to create the savvy scientist by a real Chicago teen. “It just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me,” he told Timenoting that Stark and Williams haven’t officially met, but he’s already impressed with her insight. “[Tony’s] aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she’s doing it. Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can’t help but go maybe I should buy her out.”

The comic creator didn’t shy away from the backlash that has come about with the recent wave of diverse casting either, stating, “I’m not saying if you criticize you’re a racist, but if someone writes, ‘Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles?’ that’s a weird thing to say. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. All I can do is state my case for the character, and maybe they’ll realize over time that that’s not the most progressive thinking.”

A similar sentiment was shared earlier this summer as comics author Mark Miller (you probably know him from Sin City, Wanted, and Kingsmen: The Secret Service, just to name a few) has shaken up one of his own universes by casting a black woman to mask up as Kick-Ass. “Comics is not short of white males aged around 30; that demographic seems pretty well catered for in popular culture,” Millar told The Hollywood Reporter in June. “I don’t think many blonde white guys around 30 feel under-represented when they pick up comic or watch a movie. Being older or younger or female or African-American just seems more interesting to me as a writer because this character is quite unique and opens up story possibilities that haven’t been tried in almost eighty years of superhero fiction. This woman has a completely different take on Kick-Ass.”

Though the details on the upcoming character are currently under wraps, it’s set to be a full top-to-bottom remix with a different city and supporting characters alongside the new lead. Moreover, Millar said the superhero moniker will be a legacy similar to how we’ve seen James Bond change over the years with more focus on the story rather than the man or woman behind the mask. “Every four volumes or so I want a different person in the mask. Sometimes it might even only last a single volume or even a single issue,” he said.

But there is one caveat to both of these developments: both Bendis and Millar are white. As Refinery29 writer Arianna Davis pointed out, no matter how creative the pair are, they won’t be able to bring the authenticity needed to portray these new heroes accurately. She also noted that there is no shortage of great black writers, including “Erika Alexander (you might recognize her as an actress from Living Single and The Cosby Show), who created the series Concrete Park; Juliana “Jewels” Smith, the writer behind (H)Afrocentric; and Miz Caramel Vixen, who launched Black Comic Month in January of last year. And actress Amandla Stenberg (a superhero in her own right, in my opinion) even released a coming-of-age series called Niobe: She Is Life last year,” as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is currently writing the new Black Panther series.

Within the past few years, fans have seen a major shift where women and minorities have moved to the forefront of the superhero genre, on newsstands more so than on-screen with Muslim teen Kamala Khan taking over the role of Ms. Marvel; Sam Wilson stepping behind Captain America’s iconic shield; Asian-American Amadeus Cho inheriting the Hulk’s abilities; as well as Miles Morales becoming one of the most popular web slingers as the new Spider-Man. Plus I’ve honestly been hoping for news like this, as I and many others regularly imagine what a genderswapped Tony Stark would entail, how differently she’d be portrayed compared to the likes of RDJ and his iconic comic counterpart, as well as who would play her should she ever come to life onscreen. While Lena Heady and Lana Parilla are currently the fandom’s frontrunners, the choices are sure to change with this new and exciting development.

With these changes becoming a major movement, whose the next superhero that should receive the genderswap treatment? Who would you cast as Riri Williams for the big screen? Let me know in the comments below.

Beauty, Makeup

6 Long-Lasting Lippies for International Kissing Day

Image via StyleCraze

Image via StyleCraze

Forget the spring fling! If our horoscope is any indication, we’re all primed for a little summer love this week, mainly because today’s International Kissing Day! I know, right? So whether you’ve been going steady with your sweetie for a while or snuggling up to someone new, no one wants to walk away with lipstick smeared all over your face or collar. So as such, I dug through my cosmetic case to share a few of my favorite formulas that will keep up with your romantic rendezvous without moving an inch, regardless of your beauty budget.  Pucker up!

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Beauty, Makeup

Waterproof Wonders: Makeup Musts for the Fourth of July and Beyond


via T:Two Photography

I’m the first to admit that I sweat at the drop of a hat, which makes commuting a much dirtier job in the summer. Aside from refreshing myself with a cleansing wipe or two as soon as I get to my destination, it’s still hard to look put together after enduring the swelter of the subway.

Some looks need more than just a little concealer and mascara though we all try to lighten the makeup load during this time of year. And sure, primers are a great option to keep your look in place, but unfortunately, not all can stand up to oilier skin types when it mixes with sweat. There have so many times where visible rivulets of sweat have carved through my contour and transformed me into a cross between a zombie and a drowned witch—and it was not Halloween. So whether you’re putting together a spectacular Fourth of July look or searching for beauty buys that won’t budge amidst the sun, surf, and sweat of the season, I’ve pulled together some of the most fabulous formulas (with a patriotic twist of course) you need to add to your cart ASAP!

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Beauty, Makeup

Totally Diggin’ NARS’ Fall 2016 Collection


Sure, we’ve all got vacation on the brain with the Fourth of July nearly here, but it never hurts to think ahead, as NARS is giving everyone a peek at what’s going to be chic for fall.

The sights of Studio 54 are alive and well with an array of natural tones to sculpt the cheekbones you wish you were born with, shimmering shadows in hues of white, rose gold, and rich indigo while the matte lip trend continues in classic, romantic shades of garnet and bordeaux. But the stand-outs are the eyeliners, which range from the bright white of Las Pozas to the smoky haze of Darklight, allowing disco darlings to go bold no matter which shade is selected. The new makeup musts will hit NARS boutiques and its eponymous site on July 15th before rolling out to other retailers in August—just in time for back-to-school season (these do count as school supplies, right?).

But I can’t get over the campaign that features model Aya Jones, who you’ve recently seen rocking Marc Jacobs’s Resort 2017 runway, channeling the pure glamor of the disco era in the new age with a sparkling neutral palette, gorgeously glowing skin, and a cool reverse cat-eye I can’t wait to try. Jones is the perfect face of the campaign, given the brand’s penchant for featuring an eclectic cast of muses and the model’s recent Vogue Spain cover. Plus she joins the ranks of Naomi Campbell, Charlotte Rampling, and Daphne Guinness, further diversifying the newsstands and ad spaces we’re all meant to share. Can you dig it?

Check out the full collection below!

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Beauty, Makeup

#OnMyVanity: Shiseido’s Rouge Rouge Kiss Lipstick



I receive a slew of samples, and when I find something I like, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Before the bold blues, the nearly nudes, and the pretty pinks, there was red. The color of passion and action, it’s the hue that beauty buffs from across the globe for the last 5,000 years (you know, just using gemstones or, in some cases, crushed bugs to achieve the look)! It’s also one of the trickiest to coordinate with your complexion. But Shiseido is serving up a slew of solutions with its new Rouge Rouge Kiss line, a collection of 16 shades suited to your skin tone and mood.

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