Fashion & Beauty

Over the past year or so, I admit that fashion has not been as high on my list of priorities as I’d like. But having a hurricane of a toddler to chase will change your priorities in a hurry. I haven’t done much shopping, but anything that I do buy needs to serve multiple functions, and work with multiple outfits. So when Walmart challenged me to start the back to school season with a Day to Night outfit for busy moms, I thought it would be a great chance to put my skills to the test.

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Outfit 1: Faded Glory open cardigan, $14.96 | Faded Glory maxi dress, $9 | Faded Glory belt set, $8

I started with a base item: A black maxi dress. It works for summer because it’s light and breezy, but it can easily become a fall piece with the right layering. And while it is casual, it can easily be dressed up with a couple of key pieces. I added an open cardigan in a great print, and chose to belt it at the waist. I keep telling myself that open cardigans are meant to stay open, but I just personally prefer something to define my waist.

The cardigan is soft and really warm — much moreso than I expected. When the weather turns cooler, it will be great for dressing up jeans and boots, but for now, it serves as a great way to take this maxi dress up a notch. This is a great look for those days when I have to head to my daughter’s school for a meeting or sit to watch her at gymnastics team practice.

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And of course, and outfit shoot wouldn’t be an outfit shoot without a photobomb from Juliza. SMH. The child is a force to be reckoned with at all times.

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Outfit 2: Faded Glory maxi dress, $9 | Nine West heels | BCBG clutch | Statement necklace, bracelets and rings (gifted)

Of course, the challenge here was to create a look for day and night. In this case, all I had to do was strip back down to the dress, and re-accessorize. Instead of comfy flats, I wore my favorite strappy heels and grabbed a coordinating clutch. I added a statement necklace and layered rings and bracelets to add a little glam, and finished with one of my favorite red lipsticks.

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All of a sudden, this simple black maxi dress feels like a complete outfit instead of just part of it. I’d likely add a shawl, just to cover up my shoulders (and bra straps. Whoops!), but the dress works by itself. And I think my hubby would approve of this for a date night. You know. Whenever we get one of those.

Here are the two looks side by side:

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I’m partial to the nighttime look, but I’m sure the daytime look will get ample rotation when it really gets cool enough for me to need that sweater.

What about you? How do you rework pieces in your wardrobe for various occasions? Share your tips in the comments below!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Disclosure: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Just For Me. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Can I be honest for a second? I love my and my girls’ natural hair, but I hate wash day. There. I said it. My older daughter and I have a LOT of hair, which means hours spent washing, conditioning, detangling and styling on wash day. The baby’s hair is less of chore, except for the fact that she hates getting her face wet. With her, wash day devolves into a struggle to let me rinse her hair. Woosah.

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All that to say that I’m all about products that can make the process easier for all of us. So when I got the opportunity to try the new Hair Milk products by Just for Me, designed especially for kids with naturally curly hair, I was more than willing to give it a shot.

The products are available at Walmart at$5.49 apiece, and I received five of them to try:

  • Pre-Wash Softening Detangler
  • Moistursoft™ Sulfate-Free Cleanser
  • Silkening Conditioner
  • Hydrate & Protect Leave-in Conditioner
  • Leave-In Detangler

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It may not be super easy to tell from the photo above, but Juliza’s hair tends to get drier and drier the further we get from wash day. So by the time we go to wash again, it’s usually pretty tangled, even with daily attempts to add a little moisture. With that in mind, I was most intrigued by Just for Me’s Pre-Wash Softening Detangler.

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The directions told me to apply the creamy mixture to her hair from root to tip, then comb through it to release tangles. It is rare for me to comb Juliza’s hair unless it’s sopping wet, so I was a little skeptical. But as soon as I added it to her hair, I immediately felt it getting softer and easier to manage. I was actually able to finger detangle it before getting in the tub. I never would’ve been able to do that dry. Ever.

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Next in the lineup was the Moistursoft™ Sulfate-Free Cleanser, a shampoo. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I used shampoo in her hair. I usually just wash and massage her scalp with water and conditioner, mostly because many shampoos tend to strip natural hair and leave it feeling dry and straw-like. This product built up to a good lather, but it was not drying at all. On the contrary, after using it, her hair was really, really soft to the touch.

You may notice the boat and water toys in a few of these photos. This is the other reason I only comb Juliza’s hair wet. In the tub, while she’s contained and entertained with her toys, I can detangle and manage her hair without much resistance. The same is not true otherwise. When I try to comb her hair, while she’s awake in…say…the living room, it devolves into me trying to catch her when she inevitably takes off. This system is less stressful for both of us. But mostly for me :)

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Anyway, next, I rubbed the Silkening Conditioner through her hair. It was already soft and silky after the other two products, so I probably didn’t need to use as much as I did. I let it sit while I bathed her, then rinsed it and moved onto the next step.

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I like to twist JuJu’s hair in the tub. So I added the leave in conditioner and started parting her hair into sections that I could detangle and twist. First things first, her hair was SO soft that parting was incredibly easy. Usually when I wash her hair, parting can be a challenge because of the tangles. By this point in the process, there was very little resistance. I was shocked by how easy the wide tooth comb worked through her hair, and I finished parting, detangling and twisting in a lot less time than it usually takes. Really.

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This was honestly the easiest wash session I can remember. Next time, I’ll probably use just the leave-in conditioner instead of both so I can avoid having to rinse her hair so many times (and get her face wet O__0). Still, overall, the process of dealing with her hair was absolutely painless.

Juliza was so relaxed afterward that she almost fell asleep when I was getting her dressed.

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I really, really like the way these products work, and the pre-wash softening detangler is quite possibly the best thing ever. Next, I’m going to try the products on Ja’Naya’s much longer, thicker and often much more tangled hair and hope for similar results. My only gripe is that the ingredients aren’t as natural as I would like. The products are free of dyes, synthetic color and paraffin, and they contain shea butter, soy milk and honey, but they also contain a couple of other unpronounceable ingredients that I’ll need to do a little research on. Still, the results can’t be denied: Juliza’s hair was soft and manageable in a way that it usually isn’t, and that made washing and styling infinitely easier.

Speaking of which…

Take the 5-Finger Test

Finger detangling Juliza’s hair is something I don’t attempt often, because her constant dryness would make that painful. However, after using these products, I’ve been running my fingers through her curls nonstop, and the tangles are almost nonexistent.

You can take the #5FingerChallenge too. Try the Just for Me detangling products, and make a video of you running your five fingers through your kids’ hair (or have them do it themselves) to complete the ‘challenge.’ Post it on your favorite social network with the #5FingerChallenge hashtag and tag your friends so they can join too.

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When I started my natural hair journey with my big chop way back in 2009, I admit that I started as a product junkie. After years of using the same products I’d used basically since childhood, I learned really quickly that they wouldn’t work the same at all on my new tightly curled hair. So I spent months trying dozens of products, trying to find what would work. Once I did, I gave up the incessant product testing and stuck with what worked. Six years later, my hair regimen still mostly consists of those go-to products. Which means that I often miss out on great new products because I “know what works”. So when I got an opportunity to try out Beautiful Textures, I was actually excited to try not just new hair products, but products that are actually designed for kinky, curly hair.

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Why is this important? Well, thick, curly hair may appear to be super strong and impermeable, but it’s actually pretty fragile. And when I’ve gone too long (I won’t say just HOW long) without a good deep conditioning and detangling session, lets just say I need products that are meant to bring me back from this:

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I received the Beautiful Textures Rapid Repair and Moisture Butter, and I knew I had to start with the Rapid Repair. For obvious reasons (see the photo above).

The directions on the jar recommend soaking the hair from root to tip and finger detangling before use. I knew finger detangling wasn’t going to happen, so I settled for soaking my hair and stretching it with my hands as much as I could. I slathered on the repair cream and pulled it through my hair section by section. I wanted to make sure I coated all of it so I could feel the full effects.

It is recommended that you cover your hair with a plastic cap and sit under a hair dryer for 15-25 minutes, but I didn’t have a dryer. I just covered it with a cap and let it sit for 30 minutes. The heat from my head alone did a pretty good job of warming the repair cream, and by the time I was done, my hair already felt a lot softer and more manageable.

My only issue is that the rapid repair doesn’t have a lot of slip, so I knew I’d need something else for detangling. I washed out the rapid repair cream in the shower and went through my normal detangling routine. Because I’d been so lazy with my hair for such a long time, it was more tangled than usual. However, I know the repair cream helped, because my hair was softer and easier to manipulate than it would’ve been without it, and as a result, I didn’t lose as much hair as I could have.

After detangling, I like to style my hair when it is still wet. The Moisture Butter is a styling product that can be used on wet or dry hair, and it worked beautifully. I really like the texture — it’s thick and creamy, and it has a light hold with no visible residue. My hair absorbed it as I was twisting, and it was left shiny and bouncy.

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My real test for any styling product, however, is how my hair looks and feels when I untwist. In this case, I was pleased with the outcome. My twistout was super well-defined and my hair was still soft and shiny. Score!

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Overall, I really like the performance of both these products. However, going forward, I think I’m more likely to keep using the repair cream, only because I’m not a huge fan of the fragrance of either product, and the smell of the moisture butter lasts longer since it doesn’t get washed out. Fragrance is completely personal, and my daughter says she loves the way they smell, so I know I’m really particular.

And I know I’ll need the repair cream because — if I’m being honest — I tend to get lazy with my hair. Often. Chalk it up to the fact that I have two other heads of thick, curly hair to manage with my two daughters. So this is going to be a staple product when my hair needs a boost before I tackle the gargantuan task of detangling it.

So what about you? What are your go-to products when your hair needs some extra love? Would you try Beautiful Textures? Check out BET’s Healthy Hair page and share your personal stories for #HealthyHairMonth .

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Strength of Nature. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Petersen household is well into the summer swing of things — which really just means that we’ve gotten good at waking up late and relaxing. Given that I work from home, that is where we spend most of our days. But when we do go out, we definitely want to look our best. I took care of the girls with a little shopping trip to Walmart a few weeks ago, but when Walmart asked me to take another look at their summer fashion options, I decided it was time to get a little something for me.

And what I found was the perfect summer pants.

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Juliza liked them so much, she had to get in a photo too:

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OK. Not really. But it was cute, tho.

Generally, I’m a skinny jeans kind of girl. When they fit right, they’re perfection defined. However, Georgia is way too dang hot in the summertime for skinny jeans — or any other kind of jeans other than shorts. But I don’t have a lot of shorts, because it’s so tough to find ones that fit right. So what’s a girl to do? Wear lightweight, relaxed-fit pants instead, of course.

This pair from Walmart ran me less than $13, and they are so comfortable that I’m tempted to sleep in them. However, unlike a lot of soft pants, it doesn’t look like pajamas, mostly because it has a flat front with the elastic in the back of the waist. My only complaint is that they’re a bit on the short side, so next time I’ll wear them with flats or lower on my waist. Or both.

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Still, I love the print and the comfort, so they’re going to become a wardrobe staple when I need to throw something on without looking like I just threw something on. I paired it with a $4 Faded Glory crew neck tee and a $4 necklace for a little something extra. Bam! Instant summer outfit. The only thing I need now is a great pair of sunglasses. I have my eye on a great pair from Hard Candy in the Walmart Vision Center, but those will have to wait until next time.

Anyway, this look is perfect for running errands or doing this with my girls:

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So what about you? What do you wear for ease and comfort in the summertime?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I’ll fully admit that Father’s Day is a difficult shopping occasion for me. What in the world do I give my husband? He has very specific interests, but I try to hit those for every gift-giving occasion. So when Father’s Day rolls around, what do I give him?

Luckily, my husband loves looking great just as much as I do, so I know I can always cater to that whim and make him happy. And luckily, Walmart makes shopping for Dad style easy and really affordable. First, I’ll share some of my favorites, then what I chose for my hubby.

Polos & Shorts

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I’ll be honest — I’m not sure that a single polo shirt or pair of shorts would make a spectacular gift. But put them together, and you’re delivering a stylish outfit to the dad in your life. I have hubby’s style down after all these years together, and a great polo and a pair of cargo shorts are his favorite summer go-to outfit. Walmart has a ton of great Solid polos for Dad and Printed Polos for Dad to fit any dad’s taste, for less than $10 apiece.

Watches

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My husband can’t seem to keep a watch for very long. He’s just rough on them, intentionally or not, no matter the price point. But he still likes to wear a stylish timepiece on his wrist. For me, that means not spending a whole lot of money, but still finding a piece that looks great. This Timex Expedition men’s watch is water resistant and rugged, but still fancy enough to work even when he wants to feel dressed up. And right at $40. Works for me.

Cologne

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My husband loves to smell good. No really. And I love that about him, so I take any opportunity I can to encourage that. Walmart has a great selection of fragrances from the designers and celebrities you can find almost anywhere else. I picked up a bottle of my personal favorite fragrance for my hubby: Chrome, by Azzaro. I love the way this smells on him, and it cost me just over $30 for a 1.7 oz. bottle. And there were tons of other options to choose from, all affordable.

What gift ideas do you have for the style-inclined dads in your life? Feel free to share in the comments below so I can keep some in my pocket for next time!

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Whew! For the past six weeks, I’ve used six different Schwarzkopf hair products, and I have to say — this is the most attention I’ve paid to my hair in a long time :) When Walmart asked me to try the products for such a long stretch, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Because — as I’ve said time and time again — I’m particular about my hair, and my hair likes what it likes.

Well, as it turns out, my hair actually likes these products. One in particular is my absolute favorite and will become a part of my regular hair care routine. Check out the video to see which one I liked best:

In case you didn’t — or couldn’t — watch the video, my favorite product of the group, by far, was the Schwarzkopf wax powder.

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It’s a product I never knew I needed, but now will use all the time. It lays my edges down perfectly. Every. Time. Like it did today:

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It does tend to build up a bit, so it requires washing my hair after I use it for a few days, but I’m usually using it when wash day is approaching anyway.

My other favorite product is the hair beautifier/repairing cream, which is light enough to use every day, and really has helped my hair retain moisture.

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Some of the other products, like the shampoo and conditioner and curl defining cream, get a “no” from me just because I can’t tolerate the smell. Too perfumey and artificial for my tastes, and I can’t walk around hating the smell of my own hair. Otherwise though, they were really effective. The other products just don’t really have a place in my hair care routine. I’d almost never use them.

Still, at the end of this, I’m pleasantly surprised to have found a few products that I’ll keep using, and that any of them worked on my hair at all. I can honestly say I’m glad I did this.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

OK ladies and gents. We’ve reached week 6 of my Schwarzkopf hair care experiment, and I have to say — I’m digging the way my hair looks and feels right now. To recap, Walmart challenged me to use 6 different Schwarzkopf hair products for 6 weeks and share my results. The vast majority of the products have worked really well for me in spite of my own expectations that they wouldn’t. So I’m happy to report that I really like the sixth and final product in the lineup: Essence Ultime Omega Repair & Moisture 11-in-1 hair beautifier. (Side note: All of these products have really long names!)

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This is a light hair dressing cream that you can apply to wet or dry hair as a leave-in moisturizer and hair repair aid. I saved the sharing of this product for last because I’ve actually been using it for few weeks and I wanted to share after I’d seen what it can do over time. While it does add moisture when you first add it, it’s designed to be used daily.

My hair has a tendency to be really dry once I get a few days out from a wash. I usually spritz it with water or conditioning spray and add some sort of creamy moisturizing product to combat that dryness. It’s just a fact I’ve come to accept. I took this photo of my hair 2 weeks ago, when I was in need of a wash.

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You can see how dry and straw-like it was. It happens pretty regularly.

Well, I started using the hair beautifier daily as I was styling my hair. My hair soaks the stuff up like a sponge, but it is pretty light. I’d simply smooth it over my edges and run it throughout my ends. I’m not going to sit here and claim it’s some magic potion that will end dryness, but I can say it’s worked well for me with daily use.

This is my hair after washing and styling with the beautifier.

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My hair is still a little damp, but you can see it looks a lot better than it did in the previous photo. I still have to apply it daily, but it feels like my hair holds moisture longer and my ends don’t seem to get tangled as quickly. That’s a big win for me.

If I had a complaint, it’s that the bottle it comes in is so small, and I use quite a bit of it for my thick curly hair, so I can go through it pretty fast if I’m not careful. It also has the same fragrance as some of the other products, and I’m not a fan of the smell. However, the smell seems a lot lighter in this product that some of the others, so it doesn’t stick around as long.

Overall, I really like this product, and this is one of a couple I’ll likely continue using once this product test is over.

Early next week, I’ll share my thoughts on all the products I’ve tried, including which ones I liked and didn’t like, and which ones I’ll keep using. Stay tuned!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

It’s finally here! My oldest daughter is out of school, and baby Juliza is — well — being baby Juliza. But finally, the days have come when the kids can sleep late in the morning and stay up late at night, and we can spend afternoons lounging at the park. The challenge? Well, both Ja’Naya and baby Juliza have grown at a pace I could not have predicted, which means that their summer wardrobes are a bit lacking. So when Walmart challenged me to find some summer gear for them under $30, I couldn’t wait to see what great, inexpensive goodies I would find.

Of course, there’s the cute factor too. :)

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“Dressing” Up

For my family, summertime is all about doing things the easy way. For me, that means wearing maxi dresses that let me look put together without much effort. For my girls, that means cute sundresses they can throw on with some flip flops.

For Juliza, I grabbed this lightweight Healthtex striped dress with awesome contrast detailing around the waist. At just $4.97, it was too affordable and too cute to pass up. Plus, just look at her in it!

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The back has a cute bow detail and a cutout that shows off her little baby rolls. Swoon!

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Ja’Naya picked out this pattern-mixed, bow back dress from Faded Glory for $9.97, but there were tons of cute options to choose from.

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I love the stripes on the bodice and the floral pattern under the tulle skirt. Super cute!

Now that she’s almost sized out of kids’ clothes, it can be tough to find clothes that fit her properly, but I can usually count on Walmart‘s 14-16 sizing to fit well.

Swim Time

Warning: The images you are about to see may render you senseless due to extreme cuteness.

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See. I did warn you.

There were so many cute baby swimsuits that I wanted to bring home, but come on. Was there ever really a competition when this tulle skirted one-piece from OP was among the options? Just. Had. To. Have. It.

Juliza spent a solid 30 minutes twirling around the room in this swimsuit. It took more than 100 photos for me to get a couple where she was standing still enough for me to use. Most of them looked like this:

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SMH. The girl is a bundle of personality.

Ja’Naya chose a great OP crochet-style tankini in bright neon colors. I love the fact that the tankini top is long enough to skim the bottom, making it look like a one piece.

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She loves the fact that it is a two-piece, which she says are more comfortable. She’s probably going to spend half the summer like this:

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Given that she’s constantly upside down, I’m not sure how wise this choice was, but we absolutely love the styling. And we really can’t complain about the price: Like Juliza’s, this one was just $8.97. We could likely outfit the whole family — including my hubby and I — with swimwear for less than $60.

Something for Mommy?

I admit I left the store feeling a little jealous. I’m still carrying post-baby/breastfeeding weight, and my own summer closet is a bit sparse. I love the red maxi dress I bought last month, but I’m planning to head back for more, because there are a bunch of new styles available since then. I also need a new swimsuit, and the mix and match swimwear shop at Walmart.com has already got my eye on a few options. Mama wants to go to the pool in style too. And with the right swimsuit, we just might make room for a trip to the beach this summer.

What about you? Are you and your family stocking up on new summer clothes? What are some of the first things you look for?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.