Karen's Essentials

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Oyin Handmade Hair Dew Giveaway #1

Oyin is one of my favorite natural hair brands; Oyin also holds a special place in my heart because the company is a local Baltimore based business. Oyin products are sold at Target and on their site. Hair Dew is one of my favorite leave-ins; it smells like shortbread cookies ( my favorite) which if you don’t like sweet smells you may not like this. The scent isn’t overpowering or too sweet. It has the consistency of a body lotion (hence the name lol) that isn’t too thick. I use the Hair Dew as a leave-in for my wash n go’s, or twist outs, it can be used on wet, damp or dry hair; the versatility of this product is amazing. My hair is moisturized for days after using this product, a little goes a long way and it has a good amount of slip.

I have used it with various styling products, gels, twisting butters and it works well with them all. Since this product has a great balance of moisture and oils I don’t have to use an oil to seal the moisture in as I would with other leave-ins. I use it to retwist my hair, to refresh my wash n go’s I have even used it on my body.

If you have not tried this product you are missing out! Oyin Handmade Hair Dew and Oyin’s Ginger Mint Co-Wash (see review) Oyin Ginger Mint Co-Wash Review round out the Wash N Go giveaway prizes.

Details Coming Soon.

Have you tried Oyin? What’s your favorite Oyin Product? What would you like to try?

Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic Review Giveaway #1

If you guys have been following me for awhile or know me personally you know that this product right here is Bae, all-time favorite never let me down gel. I am never without this product and I always have a back or 3 lol. I have been using UFDCM for years and years when the company first launched. I am a product snob when it comes to my hair, ingredients reign supreme.

There are 4 things I am looking for in a styling gel and UFDCM meets each requirement:

  1. Ingredients- UFDCM has stellar ingredients that are natural, many of the key ingredients are organic and I can pronounce each ingredient. Some of the key ingredients and extracts are Marshmallow Root, Chamomile, Horsetail, Nettle Organic Aloe Vera Juice, and Organic Agave Nectar. I love the list of ingredients because they soften the hair, add tons of slip which make the product easy to apply to the hair evenly, the ingredients are also super moisturizing and provide a great hold without making my hair hard and crunchy.
  2. Slip- The ease in which the product applies to the hair is everything to me if the gel is too heavy or has no slip I struggle and it slows me down. Slip is also key to prevent frizz because you can easily smooth the product unto the hair.
  3. Moisturizing- my hair like most naturals tends to be really dry and I have worked at keeping my hair moisturized by deep conditioning weekly, using a leave-in everytime I style my hair, adding moisture when needed throughout the week. Why throw away all that work to keep my hair supple and moisturized only to ruin it by using a styling product that isn’t moisturizing. The key to maintaining moisture, in my opinion, is using ingredients that promote moisture each step of the process being careful of course not to over moisturize (yep that’s really a thing).
  4. Must Play Well With Other Products- Kinky-Curly Curling Custard was my jam early on in my natural hair journey (still love it) but this product is super finicky if not paired with the right leave in. UFDCM pairs well with all of my favorite leave-ins, butters and other stylers. It is no fun doing your hair only to find out the products used don’t like each other (by flaking, the little lint ball things). Who wants to start that long process over not me and unfortunately I have learned the hard way.

UFDCM- is versatile I use it primarily to do wash n go’s but I also use it to refresh my hair, to slick my edges, and BOMB twist outs that look like a wash n go. I have tried so many gels over the years and there have been several that I have liked but UFDCM is my absolute favorite. Uncle Funky’s products are sold at Target in a 12-ounce size and on their website. I buy my stash twice a year when it’s on sale from their site, which has the larger 18-ounce size.

To celebrate my 1 year blog anniversary I am doing a few giveaways, I will review the products in the giveaway. The first giveaway theme “Wash N Go Giveaway”. UFDCM is the first product in the Wash N Go Giveaway. Details coming soon.

One Year Blog Anniversary


One year ago today I hit publish and shared my first blog post; I am amazed how well my blog has been received. I have learned a lot about blogging over this last year but I have learned so much more about myself! I knew absolutely nothing about blogging to make things even more challenging Word Press is not the easiest platform to navigate for a new blogger. The last year I have had hundreds of ideas that I have cataloged for a later post some may never see the light of day, but the process is what I enjoy most.

My intention in starting this blog was to share my love of all things beauty with women over 40 I love doing reviews, sharing my thoughts and opinions! What has been the most rewarding and also the scariest is sharing my heart and allowing myself to be vulnerable with a community of women. You guys have been so supportive and also very transparent I love reading your comments as you share your own very personal journeys.

When I started this blog I really had no goals of having a huge following or reaching the masses, this last year has been about me allowing God to STRETCH me! Hitting publish every week still makes me uncomfortable and nervous the crazy thing is I like that I am being challenged!

My blog is modest by most blogging standards I don’t have a huge following, brands aren’t chomping at the bit to work with me and that’s okay with me for now lol. Karen’s Essentials has been a resounding success not because of the numbers, likes, hits, and followers but because of YOU. I have struggled with comparing myself with other bloggers and what they have to offer. I have learned there are literally millions of other blogs that are “better” but no one can be me except me! You guys accept me for me warts and all and I am so grateful.

The blog has become the baby that I have loved and nurtured for the last year, and just like having real children I have at times been overjoyed, proud, excited and then there are the times I have felt overwhelmed, exposed, angry and disappointed.

Where do we go from here? I would like to grow and enlarge our community of women and I have some ideas how to do just that. Thank you all for coming along with me the last year, thank you for your support, encouragement and honest feedback. Thank you for sharing your heart in such a public forum I know it’s not easy!

Before I become too emotional WHEW; there will be a giveaway to celebrate this milestone. I haven’t decided if I will do one big give away or do a few throughout the month I will share the details soon.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for hanging out with me for the last year!






Mented Cosmetics Review

Mented Cosmetics

In my last post I shared I wanted to try more Black Owned Brands (BOBS) (not just natural hair products).  Over the last few years many BOB cosmetic brands have launched. Mented Cosmetics is a brand that has created nude lipsticks for women of color. I am a nude girl when it comes to lip color, lip sticks and foundation are my absolute favorite makeup products. Mented Cosmetics had a sale last week 25% off, free shipping and orders over $45 received a free full size lip stick.

First impressions from ordering online to actually receiving my order was a seamless process. The site is easy to navigate and user friendly. There are pictures of multiple hued women of color wearing the lipsticks which makes it easy to imagine how the shade may look on you. For example for each color lipstick there were 4 models wearing the same shade.

I ordered 4 lipsticks and got one free. The lipsticks are $16.50 each, you can also buy collections of 3 for $45  or you can create  your own collection of 3. My order shipped quickly and  I received my order in about 4 days. The packaging is beautiful, it came in the box pictured above with the lipsticks bubble wrapped and a beautiful thank you card also pictured.


Minted Cosmetics $16.50

I ordered the shades Nude LaLa, Foxy Brown, Dope Taupe, Brand Nude, and Mented #5 (freebie). The packaging is very similar to Mac Cosmetics lipstick they even have that vanilla smell which I love. The formula is very creamy,  and super moisturizing that glide on effortlessly, the formula is super pigmented. Even though the lipstick is a cream formula it doesn’t move all over your face and outside the lip like some cream formulas. I normally prefer a matte lip because you don’t have to reapply as often and I love the look of a matte lip. Cream lipsticks are a little more high maintenance since they must be reapplied more often. I did have to reapply after eating, but even then the color wore off evenly not patchy, the color faded evenly. I absolutely love the formula! Mented Cosmetics is a brand to watch there is also a collection of nude glosses and nude nail polishes.


Are you a nude girl or do you prefer more color? Do you prefer matte or cream lipstick?


Favorite Black Owned Natural Hair Brands

Over the years I have tried dozens and dozens of natural hair products and have narrowed down my favorite black-owned natural hair brands; most of these brands are owned by black women. I want to support and promote as many black-owned businesses possible. There was a time most of these brands could only be purchased online now most are sold in stores that are easily accessible. I actually don’t mind purchasing products online that work for me; I have to plan though to ensure I don’t run out of the product before repurchasing.

Oyin Handmade https://oyinhandmade.com   (Target)

Uncle Funky’s Daughter http://unclefunkysdaughter.com   (Target)

Camille Rose Naturals https://www.camillerosenaturals.com (Target)

Darcy’s Botanicals http://darcysbotanicals.com

Curl Junkie https://www.curljunkie.com

Curls https://www.curls.biz

Qhemet Biologics https://www.qhemetbiologics.com  (Sephora)

Moisture Love https://moisturelove.com

Donna Marie Beauty https://www.donnamariebeauty.com


I love these brands and have used all of them for many many years! If you would like to hear more about any of these brands and their products let me know and I will review them for you guys.

There are so many black-owned brands in the beauty industry and beyond; I want to expand my support to other black-owned businesses and review their products on the blog. Stay Tuned.

What are your favorite black-owned brands? What brands would you like me to try?