Fashion & Beauty

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I’m Wearing: Madden Girl Cactus Wide Calf Boots c/o Rack Room Shoes | Lucky Brand plaid shirt (similar & plus size) | Old Navy high-rise Rockstar jeans | Walmart statement necklace | Just Fab Pantheon handbag (similar & similar) | ICU Eyewear sunglasses (aff)

This time of year, everyone is styling gorgeous holiday looks that usually involve lots of glitz, glam and sparkle. I have my fair share of fancy outfits, but my lifestyle revolves less around parties and dressing up and more about comfortable outings with my family. That’s not to say I don’t want to look good. If you know me at all, you know better than that. It’s just that dressing up sometimes needs to come with pants. And comfortable shoes. So when I was offered the chance to style a holiday look around a pair of gorgeous, wide-calf boots from Rack Room Shoes, it was the perfect fit for the way I really live — and dress — on a daily basis.

Not to mention the fact that these boots are…well…see for yourself.

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Gorgeous, no? Anyone with large calves knows the pain of finding the perfect pair of boots — only to find that you can’t zip them or pull them up. Because calves.

These wide-calf Madden Girl boots fit perfectly, and I am loving the fly details. The studs in the back around the red zipper make them noticeable even from a distance, and they are really comfortable to wear. An ensemble like this is my holiday shopping/family time uniform. It’s the kind of outfit I’d wear to my mom’s house on Christmas day and still feel completely put together. I’m loving plaid shirts, though I need to get a red one, and these high waist skinnies are the business! The statement necklace (just $10!) helps a bit too :) Plus, if you love the boots, get $15 off a $75 purchase with this Rack Room Shoes coupon.

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I was feeling like a million bucks in my new boots, and the whole family went to the park, so I took the opportunity to grab a few quick photos with my girls.

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You can probably tell from her ever so precisely layered outfit that Ja’Naya has inherited my love of fashion. Also…she is only a half-size behind me in shoes(!!!), so she’s already raiding my closet. I imagine my new boots are going to make their way onto her feet sooner or later. Juliza has some catching up to do, but she’s holding her own in the fashion department.

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I’m Wearing: Madden Girl Cactus Wide Calf Boots c/o Rack Room Shoes | Lucky Brand plaid shirt (similar & plus size) | Old Navy high-rise Rockstar jeans | Walmart statement necklace | Just Fab Pantheon handbag (similar & similar) | ICU Eyewear sunglasses (aff)

So what about you? How to you “dress up” for the holidays? Link to your outfits in the comments below!

Before I go, I want to share a hilarious observation. My husband shared a meme with me that wonders why fashion bloggers are always looking at the ground. What, exactly, are we looking at down there? Well, I can tell you.

I’m looking about my boots, because they’re fabulous, and my footing on the rock…

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And here, I’m watching my step, because loose, uneven red clay + clumsy me are not a good combination.

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There. Mystery solved. Enjoy the holidays, ya’ll!

Disclosure: I have received product to facilitate this outfit and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own and completely authentic.

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30PlusStyle: LBD Lookbook

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I’m Wearing: Daisy Fuentes for Kohl’s dress (similar in plus size) | Forever 21 top (similar) | Thrifted Steve Madden pumps (similar & similar) | ASOS belt (similar) | Vintage purse (similar) | Gifted earrings (aff)

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What self-respecting fashionista has a closet full of clothes, but no little black dress? Well, apparently this girl.

I was invited to participate in this month’s 30PlusStyle challenge, joining a group of amazing women who regularly inspire me to step up my style game, and I was so excited! When they told me the theme was “Little Black Dress,” I thought, “awesome.” Until I hit up my closet and realized I didn’t own one. I’m still not sure how that’s possible, when I feel like there is SO MUCH BLACK in my closet, but alas, none of those black pieces were dresses.

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All this to say that this challenge required some shopping. I found myself scouring the racks at Kohl’s for the perfect LBD when I came across this beauty. It’s from the Daisy Fuentes collection and it is made of awesome, structured scuba fabric — a favorite of mine these days. The fit and flare silhouette is another favorite. And the best part? It was on clearance for $12.80. And I had a gift card, so I walked out of the store with a dress and no cash spent.

Of course, the challenge was that the dress is sleeveless, and it just felt a bit too…summery…for this time of year on it’s own. So I added a sheer Forever 21 top underneath to give the illusion of sleeves, and I loved the silhouette. I like to think of it as an easy holiday party look. I got lucky with the weather when we had an unseasonably warm day here in Georgia, so I used it as an excuse to forgo tights and bare my legs for what is probably the last time until March or so.

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Now that I’ve added this baby to my closet, I get why every fashion maven from here to Timbuktu tells every woman she needs a little black dress. I can think of at least a dozen other ways to wear this, and I’m sure I’ll try a few before the winter is over. I have a lightweight collared sweater that’s just begging to be worn under it with some knee-high boots and leggings. Also?

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Shop My Look:

Please check out the other fabulously stylish ladies who are rocking the LBD this month! I already know I’m going to be taking some styling notes throughout the day:

What about you? Do you own an LBD? How do you rock it?

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PamperedPiggies #CollectiveBias

My oldest daughter is a girly girl. She loves dresses and cute shoes and painting her nails. I have no idea where she gets it.

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OK. Maybe I do. She likes getting dressed up about as much as I do, and we have so much fun when we get to do it together. The challenge is that I just can’t, in good conscience, let her use traditional nail polish knowing that it probably contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals. So what’s a mama to do? I want to give her a little creative freedom (on the weekends, at least), but I want her to use a product that’s safe.

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This is why I absolutely love Piggy Paint, nontoxic nail polish for kids — though I guess it’s really for anyone. Or at least that’s what I told myself this weekend. My girls and I had a little pedicure party on my birthday using Piggy Paint’s cute colors, and some of their other great products. And yes. The baby got her nails done too. Which is the beauty of using a product like this. I know it’s safe for her, too.

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Plus, I mean, it just doesn’t get cuter than this. Right? Right.

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We started with a little lotion to soften and moisturize our skin — because all of us are prone to dryness during the winter. Then we slathered on a little flavored chapstick. But the best part, by far, was painting our nails.

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Thankfully, baby Juliza was so intrigued by the process that she actually sat still for most of it, and I carried her on my hip until her toes were dry. With Piggy Paint, that doesn’t take very long.

I’m thinking this is going to become a regular date for my girls and I. Because as cool as it would be to have mommy-daughter mani-pedis at a nail salon, I’m in no hurry to expose them to the fumes that run rampant there. Piggy Paint has given us the gift of quality time spent on a shared interest.

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Piggy Paint is available in a ton of colors, as evidenced by the fact that we all managed to choose different ones, and you can find it with the other kid-friendly beauty products at your local Walmart.

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If you’d prefer to shop online, head to piggypaint.com and get 15% off your purchase using coupon code “piggypaint“. Valid through 12/23/14.

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I am one of those people who goes crazy for Christmas. I know, I know. I really shouldn’t buy into the rampant consumerism that comes with the holidays. Still, I love finding the perfect gifts for my family and friends, and I truly enjoy seeing the looks on their faces when they open them on Christmas morning. Still, one of my favorite traditions is less about that consumerism, and more about enjoying time with the people I love: Christmas pajamas.

So when Walmart asked me to share the PJs I could find for the whole family, it was easy to oblige.

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Each year, I shop for cute new Christmas sleepwear for my husband and kids. Our tradition is to open our stockings and one gift on Christmas Eve. Because I’m usually the one to wrap the gifts, I always make sure that gift is our pajamas. We open, hop in the the shower, dress in our new PJs and and stay up watching Christmas movies until we can’t keep our eyes open (or the kids are getting on our nerves with the begging to open more presents).

This year, I scored on affordable PJs for the girls and my hubby.

Ja’Naya has been begging for a pair of all-in-one pajamas. They weren’t nearly as hard to find as I would’ve expected. There were choices in both the girls section and the women’s department. So, in spite of my skepticism, I found her this cute fleece pink pair for — wait for it — just $10!

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There were character PJs and thick fleece options with hoods and fur. I thought this simple version with a nice snowflake motif would be the best bet.

For baby Juliza, I knew I absolutely wanted fleece, footed PJs. She’s still too young to sleep with a blanket, and she hates being cold at night. I’ve found that when she wears two-piece pajamas, the top always ends up bunching around her chest, leaving her stomach and back exposed. All that to say warm footies were non-negotiable.

I was able to get her two pairs of Christmas-themed pajamas from Child of Mine by Carter’s for just $4.50 apiece! Cute, cozy and really, really affordable. The Frozen footed pajamas were cute, but not quite as thick as I would’ve liked for keeping her warm enough.

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Now, for the hubby. There were a few sets to choose from, but I know the way he sleeps. He rarely takes the time to make sure his pajama top and bottom match. So instead of giving him a set he’ll never wear together, instead I just got him some comfy Hanes pajama pants.

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At just $9.96, I actually want to go back and get him another pair, but I’m thinking this Fruit of the Loom matching robe and pants would be an even better deal.

Now, I just have to go find a pair for myself. There are ton of women’s PJs for less than $10, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a pair that works for me. Or maybe I’ll let someone else do the pajama shopping for a change…

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.

Outfit: Polka Dotted

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I’m Wearing: Skyline Selfie Top c/o Nicolette Mason for ModCloth | Forever 21 plus faux leather skater skirt | DIY polka dot tights | Thrifted Nine West booties (similar) | Gifted necklace | H&M stackable rings (similar) (aff)

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Yesterday, I shared what is quite possibly my favorite DIY project ever. Not because it was elaborate or difficult to accomplish, but precisely because it wasn’t. These DIY polka dot tights are so simple to do, but the finished look is amazing! Now, I just need to grab some tights in other colors so I can make more, perhaps even in other patterns. I loved the tights so much that I immediately put together an outfit inspired by the pattern.

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This top is the Skyline Selfie top, which is one of the pieces I won from the Nicolette Mason collection for ModCloth a few weeks back. If I’m completely honest, it’s not the type of shirt I’d usually pick up when shopping on my own. Mostly because big boobs mean that button-down shirts rarely lay flat in the front, and I never really know how to style them. But it was honestly the perfect pairing for these tights, and now, I’m looking for other ways to wear it. So thanks, Nicolette, for pushing me outside my comfort zone.

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Of course, I had to pair the top and tights with a skirt, because the whole point of tights in the winter is to be able to rock them without freezing. This plus-size faux leather skater skirt from Forever 21 is an oldie, but goodie, and it’s the type of piece that can be remixed dozens of ways. Check out how it wore it back in the summer.

Also worth mentioning? This topknot. I never thought I could get my thick, curly natural hair into a convincing topknot, but I did, almost by accident. I twisted the ends of my puff, planning to have a defined twist-out puff. But the twists didn’t set right and I just wrapped them into a bun instead. I’m digging, and this hairstyle is about to become a permanent part of my repertoire, because yes. Plus a red lip. Because a topknot requires a red lip.

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I’m Wearing: Skyline Selfie Top c/o Nicolette Mason for ModCloth | Forever 21 plus faux leather skater skirt | DIY polka dot tights | Thrifted Nine West booties (similar) | Gifted necklace | H&M stackable rings (similar) (aff)

So what about you? Are you inspired to try your hand making polka dot tights, now that you’ve seen how you could wear them?

I’tstylem linking up with: Style Sessions | Whitney NIC James

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I admit it: When winter rolls around with its icy temperatures and frigid winds, I usually put the skirts and dresses away. Not because I don’t want to wear them, but because my Caribbean-born legs just can’t take the cold. This winter though, I’m fighting back. I have too many cute skirts and dresses in my closet to just give them up for a season. So when Walmart challenged me to share a winter craft, I knew I wanted to do something that would help me extend my wardrobe. So here are two simple, warm projects to tackle: DIY polka dot tights and DIY boot socks (also known as leg warmers).

DIY Polka Dot Tights

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You’ll need:

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It’s so secret that the easiest way to keep wearing skirts during the winter is to add tights or leggings underneath. So what’s the problem? Well, finding plus size tights at all can be a challenge, but finding any with a cool pattern or even colors other than black feels almost impossible. So I decided to take the black tights I could find and dress them up myself. This is the kind of project I love: Simple, with a huge, stylish payoff at the end.

I grabbed some George tights from Walmart in the largest available size: Queen. They come with cardboard inside one of the legs, and you’ll want to leave it there. The polka dots are painted on, so the cardboard will stop the paint from seeping through the porous tights.

I initially planned to use a sponge to apply the polka dots, but the only one I could find was too large. Instead, I decided to use the tip of the paintbrush. Not the brush end, but the opposite tip. I had paintbrushes of a variety of diameters, but in the end, I decided that I wanted decently sized dots rather than pin-points, so I chose my brush accordingly.

You may want to do a few test dots on a piece of paper before you start on the tights. My pattern was simple. Start in row one with four dots, approximately an inch apart. In the second row, place dots between the ones on the first row. On the test paper, I just did three dots on the second line, but on the tights, I did 4 dots on every row.

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Once you’re comfortable with your dotting technique, move on to the tights. I started pretty high up, right in the crotch area so I’d have some practice in an area that won’t be seen when you’re wearing clothes. You don’t have to start that high if you prefer not to.

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Simply follow the pattern until the whole length of the leg is covered. The dots don’t have to be perfect at all. In fact, imperfections lend to the handmade quality of it, in my opinion. Plus the dots will stretch when you put the tights on. Anyway, polka dot the front of both legs and let them dry. Then flip to the back and repeat the process.

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On the back, I did my best to line up the pattern. For example, if there was a dot right at the edge in front, I left space for the dot on the back. That way, there would be no dots right next to each other when worn. This was not foolproof, but I did pretty well lining it all up.

Let the paint dry well. The finished look here is, dare I say it, amazing!

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I have slim ankles and calves in comparison to my thighs, and that makes the dots stretch as they go higher up my leg. I actually love that look, and I want to do several more pairs in other colors. And there are a ton of other color options at Walmart.com.

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Talk about making a statement! I am so excited to rock these than in the next few days, I’ll share an outfit that I put together just for these tights!

DIY Boot Socks (a.k.a. Leg Warmers)

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  • An old sweater
  • Scissors
  • Embellishments of choice, buttons in this case

I have one pair of boots socks that I love, because they’re super cute, but also because of the added warmth factor. Realistically, leather boots can still sometimes leave my legs chilly. These solve that problem and they’re so easy to make that I plan to hit up Goodwill for a bunch more sweater so I can make more. If you don’t know how to knit, this project is a quick shortcut.

We all have a sweater in our closets that just doesn’t work anymore. The one I choose was a bit faded and had a couple of holes in the sleeves. Thankfully, those sleeves can still serve a purpose, warming my legs. To begin, before you cut, slide the sweater sleeve up over your calf to make sure the wrist whole will stretch enough to fit. I have large calves, so this step was important.

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Choose the length you’d like for the socks. I personally wanted mine all the way to the ankle so I cut them close to the shoulder. Baby Juliza helped. Not really. But she did like the buttons on the sweater.

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If you don’t want all that bulk inside your boots, you can definitely cut them shorter. My sweater had a cuff, so I likely could have cut just below the cuff, and that would’ve been enough to peek out of the top of my boots.

You can stop here if you just want simple socks. I wanted to add a little embellishment. I grabbed some simple gold buttons at Walmart to add to the sides. I laid the boot socks out so that the sleeve seams would be centered in the back. Then I found the center on one side and sewed two buttons on by hand.

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Crazy easy technique, but it made the boot socks feel so much more finished, especially when worn. Plus, you can customize them in a million ways: Add lace, rick-rack, tassels, pom poms, initials, and more. You’re only limited by your imagination.

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I think I’m going to make some of these as Christmas gifts, because I know my sister and nieces would love them as much as I do.

You can wear the tights and boots socks separately, or you can wear them together. Personally, I think the layered look is sort of fabulous.

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What about you? Would you wear polka dot tights or boot socks? Would you make them yourself?

More Winter Craft Ideas

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.

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He’s Wearing: Walls insulated work jacket c/o Walmart | Old golf shirt (similar) | Calvin Klein jeans | Timberland Moc toe boots (aff)

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I always dread the transition from fall to winter. I do love the summer-to-fall shift, when the weather starts to cool and I have to pull out my long-sleeved tops and denim jackets. But I’m not so fond of the need to be bundled into heavy coats and lots of layers. Still, that time is almost here, and even in Georgia, we still need a good coat for those days when the temperatures insist on staying below the 30s.

When Walmart challenged me to shop for outerwear options for my family, I had to do a quick inventory. Thanks to a couple of lucky months, I actually have recently acquired two new winter coats via giveaway wins, and hand-me-downs from my nieces delivered 6 coats and puffer vests to my oldest daughter. My mom grabbed a coat for baby Juliza at consignment sale a few months back.

The person most in need of a new coat was my hubby, who has been wearing the same two for more than 5 years — one of which has a huge hole that I’d been unable to repair. Thankfully, Walmart had a ton of options to choose from.

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Given that we are in the South, there were a lot of lightweight options, more akin to windbreakers or sweatshirts with a bit of lining than a real coat. But he has a few of those in the closet already. What he needed was something heavier. Unfortunately, my store didn’t have any men’s puffer jackets in stock, though there were plenty of those for women and children. Instead, this wall was the answer:

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The Walls work gear is heavy-duty and tough, and I knew it would appeal to my hubby’s sense of style. He chose the tan coat, mostly because so much of his wardrobe consists of Earth tones.

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At $54.96, it was definitely one of the priciest coats available, but if it lasts him as long as his last two did, it will be well worth the cost. Given that it is designed for folks who do tough jobs, I think it’s safe to say it will work for everyday use. The hood will be a great feature for days when he leaves the house without a hat, or when the wind chill put temperatures in the frighteningly low range. Plus Walmart‘s no-questions-asked apparel return policy means that if the performance isn’t up to snuff, we can take it back.

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He loves the rugged look and clean lines. And I think he could model for a men’s big and tall catalog :) So we’re both happy.

Additionally, I did sneak over into the baby section and found some cute coats for Juliza, though I forgot to snap a pic. Most were in the $15-20 range. There were none I liked in her size, but I headed to Walmart.com to check out the options there. I fell in love with these printed puffer jackets from Child of Mine by Carter’s.

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The coat she has now is more of a peacoat, so it isn’t waterproof and it doesn’t have a hood. It’s nice to know that, especially for a baby who will probably only wear it for one season, I can get a coat that is both affordable and durable. I just can’t decide between the navy polka dots and the leopard coat with the mint lining. Maybe both?

What about you? Are you shopping for winter coats this year? What do you look for when shopping for coats? Style? Quality? Price?

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.

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When I decided to grow out my natural hair way back in 2009, the decision was based upon one factor: My desire to rid my life of as many toxic chemicals as possible. I never really thought about what my texture would look like, how I would style it, or even how long it would get. The realization that I needed to consider those things came later.

Now that I’m 5 years into my natural journey, I think it’s about time that I start paying closer attention to the health of my hair. It is “healthy” in general terms — I drink lots of water, manipulate it (ie. comb or brush) infrequently, and try to keep it moisturized. But beyond that, my regimen is really low maintenance. Mostly because I’m lazy. I never focused on length — neither achieving it nor maintaining it. That all important “bra strap-length” achievement was never even on my radar.

But now, I’m curious to see how long it could get if I actually work toward that. Only, I know myself better than anyone, and I know I’m not going to keep up with a high-maintenance routine that has me washing my hair every other day, or styling it in elaborate protective styles. That’s just not going to happen. But I will take a supplement to help my growth. This is where Hairfinity comes in.

Over the years, I’ve heard lots of great things about the Hairfinity vitamins, and given my love of Instagram, I’ve seen my fair share of before and after photos of the growth people have achieved while using it. Photos like these:

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A little more about the product: Hairfinity is a nutritional supplement formulated with essential nutrients for healthy hair. This hair-specific formula contains Vitamins A, C, and D, a B-Vitamin Complex, Biotin, MSM, and more. Hairfinity is clinically proven to increase the hair growth rate by 155% while decreasing shedding. Two capsules are taken each day, and each bottle contains a one-month supply.

These vitamins are designed to work from inside out, from scalp to root to ends, to encourage growth and make your hair shinier, thicker and longer.

Unfortunately, it is not recommended for use while nursing, so I’ll have to give my three-month supply a try once baby Juliza weans, but I can’t wait to see the effect it will have on my hair.

Once I decide to move forward, I’ll be sure to take advantage of Hairfinity’s free “Healthy Hair Consultation“, which is a personalized recommendation for my specific hair issues and goals. For me, one of those issues is dryness, which in turn creates tangles. The idea that I can get a consultant to recommend a routine based on my experience is great, and I can’t wait to use it.

So what about you? What are your hair goals, naturally curly or otherwise? Would you try Hairfinity?

​Disclosure: I was compensated for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own.