Model Naomi Campbell
By Erickka Sy Savane

There was a moment a few months ago when I was getting ready for an event, standing in the mirror with a tube of lipstick, wondering why I was about to paint my face. I’d done it a zillion times without question, but this time, I just felt silly. What I really wanted was to go completely as I am. Now, I don’t mean butt-naked, but naked-face. Is this what it means to get older? Still, I went ahead and did it, and when I got to the event and posed the question to a few friends they looked at me like I was smoking crack. Wanna clear a room? Start talking about age. My bad.

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However, as Alicia Keys has continued to pop up all over the place sans makeup I feel vindicated. I mean, Alicia is a mom, like myself, and she’s getting older, plus she's got a lot to 'lose' by showing up as a star without the perceived 'shine' (makeup to give her that 'glow'). So really, I feel the need to ask, how do we feel about makeup?  Does saying no come with age?

Alicia Keys
I start with one of my favorite California girls, Angie B. T.
A model back in the day, Angie never left home without a fully made up face. In fact, sometimes she wore makeup to bed. How does she feel about it today, now that she's in her forties?

“I still love makeup, and lashes, and adorning myself with jewelry,” she says, “but what has changed is I don’t feel the need to wear it all the time. I appreciate my beauty without it.”

She says the change wasn’t so much an age thing, but more about the different changes in her life. She broke up with her finance, her mom and sister both passed away in the same year, and not long after she fell, fracturing both of her ankles.

“It was hard at first, not to feel sorry for myself,” she says looking back, “but being in that space where I was literally crawling to the bathroom with no makeup on for such a long period of time stripped away all the pretense I had in my life. I had to find my inner strength and what re-emerged was this beautiful woman that I am today.”

Wow, what don’t break you makes you stronger. She does still have two makeup must-haves…

“I have to wear a little concealer under my eyes and I must fill-in my eyebrows because I never had any growing up, and without them I look like an embryo,” she jokes.

Okay, so now I’m thinking about my partner in crime, super-producer Sidra Smith. Not because she looks like an embryo, but she is all about that face- no makeup, no hair, she don’t even care. Talk about a natural beauty. Has she always been this way or has it come with age?

“I’ve always been this way. Even back when I was modeling I was never that girl to run around after a shoot in full makeup. The only time I do feel a certain pressure to wear it is on the red carpet and making appearances with my twin,” she says. Ironically, her identical twin sister is ultra-glam actress Tasha Smith, and the two couldn’t look more different, and yet the same.

Sidra and Tasha Smith
So would she ever do red carpet appearances bare-faced?

“Absolutely!” she says with conviction. “I get more compliments and feel more beautiful without it. If anything, makeup makes me feel cheesy.”

She nailed it because, looking back, cheesy is how I felt at the event that night. Why did I ultimately do it? Vanity, and wanting to fit in. But when I really think about it though, it’s not so much about age or whether to wear makeup or not, but the freedom to live the way we want to live. Today, I put on bright green socks when I went for my morning jog, something that I’ve been wanting to do for weeks, but would tell myself that it didn’t match, and what would people think? It’s nice to know that I no longer care.

How do you feel about makeup? Is wearing it a must or does it depend?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com
Actress Sanaa Lathan
 By Lenora Houseworth-Weston  

Shakeya “Shakey” Mervin, known as "Shakey-da-Celebrity-Barber" on instagram knows about a bomb cut. The self-taught, Harlem-based barber began professionally cutting hair after she struggled finding a new job as a teacher just six years ago. During that time, she leaped head first into the male-dominated field after reading a Craigslist ad--and soon found a calling that allowed her to totally be herself, like in the classroom. Since then, she’s snagged clients like BET's 106 & Park, Mike Epps, Sidra Smith, Cicely Tyson and more.

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While short cuts by women transitioning from relaxed hair to natural are still the most popular, according to Shakey, there are women going through a "transformation" who want to see how they look bald. Some might credit actress Sanaa Lathan's recent chop for the movie 'Nappily Ever After' with spiking the meter. One look at the comments on her instagram posts and you'll see women who weren't necessarily thinking about going bald before giving it some thought. And though going bald is beautiful, with anything else, there’s key information you should know before going all in. Read on as Shakey gives tips on maintaining this fearless, hairfree, carefree look!

Know You Are Beautiful
Be comfortable with the skin that you’re in. If you feel comfortable enough cutting it, (know) it grows back. Some women are concerned with looking too masculine but there are so many ways you can cut it.

Keep It Simple
Dealing with short hair, you don’t want to do too much--argan oil spray just to keep the sheen and keep the moisture inside the head. On a low cut that is not bald, you can use the same products but just keep it natural--alcohol-free products that don’t cause flakes on the scalp. I suggest a T-Gel (Shampoo). Tea tree is also very good for the skin.

Film Producer Sidra Smith
There Are Levels to It
A person like Ms. Sidra (Smith), she goes triple zero, which is the level right before bald. It looks like it’s bald but it’s not. At a triple zero baldie, you want to come in every week because your hair is going to grow fast. The more you cut your hair the faster it grows. At a light Caesar (the next level above the triple zero), you want to come in every two weeks.

Beware of Razor Bumps 
A lot of barbers get accustomed to cutting one person after another without cleaning clippers each time so the blades get dirty and dull. To help alleviate the problem, when you get in the chair, ask the barber to clean the clippers in front of you. Also, women’s hairline is further down than men’s, so make sure the barber doesn’t raise the hairline at the back of the neck too high. Doing so can definitely cause razor bumps.

You Are What You Eat
Some women don’t know that diet can cause dandruff and dry scalp. Our diet shows up on our skin and scalp. Healthy living and eating is the best thing for everything.



Get the Perfect Brush

In between cuts, you now have length so you want to get a brush to get it the texture you want and get it to lay down. I recommend the Diane brush...It depends on your texture--there are Diane brushes with two sides on each side and you can determine which is best for your hair.

Learn to Let Go

“You have to be comfortable with the shape of your head once the hair comes off. It’s very scary at first, but the ease of maintenance is what excites women at the end. They come back to me two weeks later and say, ‘Shakey, I love it!”’.

Make sure you check out Shakey’s work on Instagram!

Have you ever rocked a baldie? Will you? 

Lenora Houseworth-Weston is a social media strategist and writer based in Jersey City, NJ by way of the Windy City. Her work has been seen in places such as Yahoo.com, Glaad.org and BlackEnterprise.com. Jay-Z lyrics and avocados are her life. Follow her adventures on Instagram @LenoraSheWrote!
 
  








By Mwabi Kaira 

 Imagine, 18 years ago, before ‘Queer As Folk,’ ‘The L Word,’ or ‘Noah’s Arc,’ a film centered around the lives of four black lesbian women navigating friendship and love. The name of the film was, ‘A Luv Tale,’ it was written, directed and produced by Sidra Smith, and it starred Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Gina Ravera (Soul Food), Michele Lamar Richards (The BodyGuard), and Angela Means (Friday).  Shown at a host of film festivals, it was a fan favorite that won many awards, including the Audience Award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Now streaming on amazon for the past month, ‘A Luv Tale’ is racking up record breaking viewership numbers- with no advertising- and a perfect 5 star rating. 
Though it was a bit ahead of its time then, the timing couldn’t be more perfect now. Just look at Lena Waithe's Emmy-Win for the ‘Master Of None’ episode she co-wrote based off of her real life experience coming out as a lesbian. She received a standing ovation from the star-studded audience, and gave a big shoutout to the LGBTQ community. Yes, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn’t is the lack of content representing this diverse community.
Wrap party for 'A Luv Tale' 1999, (left to right) Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Holly Joy, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Gina Ravera, and Sidra Smith
While Sidra has kept busy throughout the years since creating ‘A Luv Tale’- she was a film and TV casting director, and producer of the NAACP Award-winning documentary ‘Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,’- fans have never stopped asking what happened next given ‘A Luv Tale’s  juicy cliffhanger ending. Well, now they get to find out!

With the advancement of digital programming that wasn’t available back when ‘A Luv Tale’ the movie was released, along with the triumphs and challenges facing the LGBTQ community that are rarely highlighted, Sidra is now bringing ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ via the web. And she’s launched an Indiegogo campaign so that those who support the LGBTQ community and want to see this type of content, can contribute by giving as little as $10 or play a much bigger role by becoming an executive producer.

Just recently, we caught up with Sidra to hear all about the campaign, so get comfortable and listen in!

Curly Nikki: What was the inspiration behind writing “A Luv Tale’ 18 years ago?
Sidra Smith: I didn’t really see anything that represented queer women of color and I kept asking myself, what would that story look like?  And how could it be told in a way that didn’t feel like a ‘gay’ story filled with stereotypical views.  Winning the audience award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival spoke volumes to me because this was not an LGBTQ festival, the audience enjoyed the story and connected with the characters because they were great characters.

Curly Nikki: ‘A Luv Tale’ was before the TV Series, ‘The L Word’ which many felt was the first lesbian TV series.  And although Bette, the lead character was biracial, it was geared towards a white audience.  During that time was there any interest for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series for women of color to enjoy?
Sidra Smith: ‘The L Word’ and ‘Noah’s Arc’ definitely made it feel possible for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series. People who saw the film always wanted to know what happened next but I was never approached to do a series back then.  The current digital platforms available have made it very possible now and the timing is right.

Curly Nikki: What are the noticeable changes in the LGBTQ community from 1999 when a ‘A Luv Tale’ was released and present day?
Sidra Smith: Visibility and openness in a positive and welcoming way are very present now for sure. Gay characters in TV and Film were not visible. Now they are and I want to highlight them in A Luv Tale: The Series. Our lead characters are an artist, model, advertising exec and a musician. Think 'Sex and The City' meets 'Insecure.' It’s going to be fun to explore and share their worlds.  

Curly Nikki: We live in a fast-paced digital world where the audience has more power than ever before with platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.  Did fans of ‘A Luv Tale’ make their voice heard and ask for the series?
Sidra Smith:  I can’t tell you how many requests on social media and emails I get from people on a daily basis asking for more. The film was shown at festivals and I sold VHS tapes there as well, that was the only way to see it.  Fans still show me pictures of their VHS tapes.  So yes, I was definitely motivated by the fans.

Curly Nikki: Why an Indiegogo campaign? Why not go directly to networks?
Sidra Smith: Indiegogo is another platform that allows me to take my campaign directly to the fans to get the series made. In addition to having the creative freedom.  

Curly Nikki: Talk about ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ and what your hope for the series is.
Sidra Smith: The series will be set and shot in Harlem with an entirely new cast of fresh talent, picking up where the film left off.  The series will continue to explore love and friendship between women of color who happen to be gay, through a world filled with fabulous art, music and fashion.  I plan on showing today’s Harlem Renaissance.  I can’t wait to tell the story again in this way. My hope is that it is as well received now, as it was then. 

To contribute to the campaign or learn more, visit  here!

What do you think? Are we ready for a LGBTQ web series?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/