Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Tattoo Experience and Review of Ink-Eeze Numbing Cream & Dr. Numb Review



I was the never the type of person who wanted a tattoo. I could never think of anything I wanted on me permanently to endure the pain that comes with getting one. I was bombarded with seeing… er, um… mindless tattoos on people since childhood- kool-aid packets, various fruits, names of boyfriends who no longer mattered and faded bears paws done with bad artistry. Don’t take that previous sentence as a judgment. People should get whatever they want on them, it’s their bodies. For me, however, I LOVE my skin, and I saw no reason to “write graffiti on the side of the temple,” as my one friend so “endearingly” likens getting a tattoo to.

That is until my cousin, who was much like a brother to me, was murdered. Murdered in cold freaking blood. I know when many people die, they could have been horrible little savages, and their families would be like “*cue tears* ____ was so good. ___ never hurt anyone. All those records of felonious assault, burglary, and weapons charges were just mistakes on behalf of the ‘justice’ department.” But, Vince really was an awesome person, guys. You should have heard how his own principal spoke about him. One comment of his that stuck out to me was when he said, “Vince was the kind of kid you’d want 1,500 of in your school. His parents can rest assured that even when they weren’t there to be watching, he was making them proud.” My babe, who was way taller than me might I add, was a great guy. He was humble, peaceful, loved God and was an awesome athlete. Also, he was hilarious as all hell. Haha. He didn’t know it, but I was so looking forward to moving back from Asia and finally getting to spend time with him and the rest of the family. So, when he was taken from me before I got to do that, the pain truly was (is) unbearable. Without delving into too much personal detail (yes, yes I’m aware that’s what a blog is for), I will say that I started to want a tattoo for him, for myself, soon after. But, being the over-analyst that I am, I decided to wait until I could be sure it wasn’t just grief/guilt/etc that was causing my desire for the tattoo. I wanted it to be something I really wanted to be on me forever, and something that would make me think of him and smile (I had enough to reminisce and shed tears over).
Once I had a design chosen, I began researching tattoo forums and websites to get more information on what I should look for in a good artist and on what I could do to make the tattoo more tolerable (and thus deliver a better outcome because I wouldn’t be moving all around). I never knew that the same concept of using numbing cream for laser hair removal (and other medical procedures) was now being used for tattoos and piercings. Though I’m not sure how effective such a cream would be for a piercing, due to the layers of skin involved, I thought about the science behind it and decided a numbing cream for a tattoo was quite plausible. Through the forums, I discovered that many people  had a negative view of numbing creams- “Tattoos are SUPPOSED to be painful, that’s how you earn them!” “As an artist, I refuse to tattoo people with a numbing agent, it changes the skin texture and all the ink comes out after.” “People who eve think of the words ‘numbing cream’ are pussies.” LOL! In the midst of all that negativity, I found a few forums, one main one being Mike DeVries’ (Mdtattoos), where they actually civilly discussed the pros and cons of various creams. After weeks of research, I decided to purchase Ink-Eeze numbing cream- a blend of 3 strong numbing agents (Benzocaine 20%, Lidocaine 4%, & Tetracaine 2%), developed by tattoo artists; and Dr. Numb (recommended by my artist)- basically just 5% lidocaine. It no longer contains the prilocaine that the original formula had.


Ink-Eeze is available (Here), but I got mine from (Here) for $10 cheaper. It was authentic and came with a verifiable lot # and expiration date. I bought my Dr. Numb from the official site (Dr. Numb). *Quick important note here- after researching, I decided that purchasing Dr. Numb from Amazon or Ebay would NOT be smart. It is expensive from the official site, but I used a discount code from right on the site to get 35% off. And many of the creams sold in other places are counterfeit.*
Anyway, I wanted to be prepared, so my plan was to purchase both and test them prior to getting my tattoo. I also purchased the Black Label numbing spray from Ink-eeze (for use during the tattoo).  I started my testing once all my products came in the mail. Shipping from both NeedleJig and Dr. Numb were pretty quick. Both products require that, 60-90 minutes prior to your tattoo, you rub in one thick layer on the desired area and then put another thin layer on top of that. Then, you have to wrap said area tightly with saran wrap, in a way that lets in as little air as possible. Well, I did just that. I wrapped my left side with the same surface area of the tattoo with Ink-Eeze, and my left forearm with Dr. Numb. I secured the saran wrap with surgical tape at the advice of a renowned Miami tat artist and waited the suggested time. I was happy when they both had worked once I removed the saran wrap. I allowed my family to use a safety pin to poke me in both areas- I felt nothing. I pinched both areas and was really pleased to not feel it. Unfortunately, both started wearing off in about 15 minutes, but lingered for about 30 minutes. This worried me, but I told myself, “Well Shar, you didn’t apply a super thick layer (in an effort to have cream left to get tattooed with) and you do metabolize drugs really quickly (ie. I always need an extra shot of lidocaine at the dentist).” I decided to go with Ink-Eeze for my tattoo, because it didn’t have a ton of reviews, but the ones it did have were positive for the most part. And, a few world-renowned artists that I actually got in contact with via e-mail, said it was the only they would use, should a client want numbing cream. Dr. Numb has a TON of reviews, but many are not really positive. On the tattoo forums, many artists reported that they used Dr. Numb and it made the skin “leathery and un-tattoo-able,” and some reported that it made the ink come out of a tattoo after they used it or that the healing process was much worse after.


                I followed the same strategy on the day of my tattoo as I did when I tested Ink-Eeze. I wrapped myself 70 minutes prior, but had it on much longer, because when I got to his shop, my artist was still drawing out my tattoo. Once I hit the 2 hour mark, I applied more Ink-EEze and even a little Dr. Numb in one area and re-wrapped myself. The tattoo was started about 50 minutes after my re-application. My artists said the skin was a little different but far from “un-tattoo-able.” I can proudly say, I didn’t feel a THING! He did the entire outline without me knowing it… then all hell broke loose. Lol the cream QUICKLY began wearing off, and I. could feel. EVERYTHING. I literally screamed. Luckily I had 2 of my sisters there and one of my brothers to hold my hands and laugh at my turmoil ( -_- ). Guys, it HURT. I mean I felt every single pierce of the shading. Now, I’m told that where I got it partially contributed to how much pain I felt. Also, probably being numb during the outline, didn’t allow any endorphins to flow in the beginning. But, even near the end of the tattoo, the parts that hurt, HURT. All that ish about “Oh, it stops hurting after a while because your body’s own endorphins kick in, is a LIE!” For me, anyway. Lol. I will admit, that some parts felt amazingly good, and some even tickled (I detest being tickled, but it was better than feeling like grumpy kitty was dragging his claws over a first degree burn). But yea, the numbing cream completely wore off after the outline. So I got a good maaayyybe 15 or 20 minutes out of it? I’m going to say 15. 

At the 1 hour mark (give or take), I requested that we use the Ink-Eeze Black Label Numbing Spray. He agreed and sprayed it on. We waited the allotted time. Yea… it did NADA. I still felt everything. At that point I just resolved myself to the fact that tattoos hurt, and I would just have to deal. 
Here's my tattoo right after finishing

Here it is up close

                I am happy to report that my tattoo looked fine right after, there was no excessive bleeding and healing has been a breeze. I was instructed to keep it covered for a couple hours after and then to let it breathe. My artist also told me to wash it 2-3 times a day and apply Aquaphor 3 times a day as well, and no baths (this was the hardest part for me, as I’m a bubble bathaholic). I followed his instructions to a T, and my tattoo looks great. It didn’t lose all the ink; it’s vibrant; and I had no scarring while it healed. It started off with the peri-skin around the tat being red and a little puffy (as is to be expected after allowing several needles to tear into your skin lol), and then it peeled in certain places. It itched a little as well, but nothing that using the Aquaphor didn’t help. I also used regular, unscented Eucerin lotion on it, when I needed something that wasn’t petrolatum-based for fashion reasons.


Here it is with Aquaphor on it after about a week. The Phoenix was peeling more so there's a lot of Aquaphor on it.

                In conclusion, I say that both of these creams work, but definitely will NOT last you through an entire tattoo session. Mine was close to 2 hours and it didn’t even make it half way. If you are getting a small tattoo done, it will be really awesome for you, and you won’t feel it. If you are getting a larger one and really want to be numb the entire time, you will have to break it up into sessions I suppose. 

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Black Label Numbing Spray from Ink-Eeze. It did not work at all. Didn’t numb and didn’t even take the edge off.
I am actually planning to get more detail added to my tattoo soon and perhaps even another tattoo. Maybe I’m secretly a masochist. :-)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Interracial Love - A Response to All the Naysayers




 So I’ve taken a loooonnnggg hiatus from posting on my blog. Not sure why. But, an article from a certain C. Haywood brought me back (See it here). I thought that honorable and revolutionary fight that Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving fought was over (See their story here). I thought that we could all live and bask in the love and companionship that we found in another person without the dirty looks; without being told we’re “sell outs;” and without feeling like we were committing a crime.

However, people like Tommy SotoMayor & Cory Haywood, just can’t let it be. And, I can’t help but notice that a lot of the hate against interracial love is coming from black men toward black women. Because… you know, only black women date outside of their race, and we are the keepers of all things humane and sacred for “our” “race.” -_- Now, before you get mad and stop reading, this isn’t a post bashing black men or purporting that all black men bash interracial relationships. It’s a post to open up a discussion as to why so many people feel the need to bash relationships between people of different ethnic backgrounds. I want to hear from those with a differing opinion on why they think it’s not okay for me to want George Clooney to be my everything (lol okay, I jest but seriously, how hot is he).

Though I’m currently in a happy relationship with a black man, I recognize the beauty of, and even celebrate, interracial relationships. Heck, I wouldn’t be on this earth if they weren’t allowed. I find beauty in love and companionship period, but I’m no fool. It takes a certain kind of person to be willing to step outside of the socially (and maybe even traditionally) constructed parameters of what love should be, and not see color when it comes to love. I have generally found that most people open to having interracial relationships tend to be open-minded in many other facets of life. I personally find males of ALL colors to be incredibly attractive- I love fitness-focused White guys; I love Spanish men with accents; I love muscular Asian men; I love Black men who wear dress coats: and those are just a FEW of my attraction triggers (yes yes let the slut shaming begin haha).

Onto less mush. I found Cory Haywood’s article not only grossly offensive to black women, but also to white men. To imply that ALL white men only date outside of their race, particularly when they date a black woman, to make their racist parents mad; to prove to society they’re not that kind of white guy; or to fulfill some weird fetish with those rarely seen exotic creatures (aka black women) that they’ve heard of in books. How presumptuous does one get? I don’t even know where to start. Should start with him denigrating the intelligence of any white male who engages in a relationship by basically asserting that said white male doesn’t know what his own real motives are? Should I start with him implying that many of these white males have seething racists for parents who would drop dead if their children brought home a person of a different “race?” Or, should I start with how he just sweepingly paints any white male attracted to a black woman as evil, dishonest and vengeful?

In lieu of the aforementioned, you might wonder what was left to be offended at in Haywood’s article. Well, it could be that as a black woman, Haywood conveyed that I was “unwanted by ANY race of self-respecting adult male” because of my “rancid demeanor.” And, should any man want to be with me, I’m “nothing more than a social experiment” and said man is trying to prove that he’s “set apart from the other trailer-trash “rednecks” who feed into stereotypes drummed up by the media.” 0_o Well gee, here I thought as an intelligent, fitness-loving, multi-degree holding, bilingual speaking, global traveling woman that I was doing alright for myself? Not tooting my own horn, my point is that sweeping generalizations can be hurtful and inaccurate. Certainly, distasteful, disgusting, “Rancid-demeanor” having black women exist (those types exist in ALL “races” of women, by the way), but all are not that way. One of my closest friends is a black woman who finished her degree in Paris and went on to be featured in a nationally-syndicated finance magazine because of how well she managed her student loans and became debt-free. Another is a nationally known fitness model. The first is in a happy interracial relationship… I guess he’s just using his white knight magical powers to transform her into something suitable to parade around society, as Mr. Sotomayor and Mr. Haywood have suggested?  (Lol hope you could feel the sarcasm through your screens).

I refuse to post any links to Mr. Sotomayor’s YouTube channel because it provides an even greater platform for him to spread his foul language and vitriol.

In brief conclusion, because I could go on forever, I think ALL men and women of ANY “Race” or ethnicity should be free to date and love whomever they choose. I don’t consider black men traitors for dating white women (or any non-black woman). I consider them free. I don’t consider black women to be the scum of the earth for dating white men. I consider them free. In the words of a friend I met in Korea (Hi N. N!)- No one owns anyone. I don’t owe you my love simply because you’re black, and you don’t owe me a thing based on those terms either. Love who you want. Live freely. Laugh a lot. Pray. Treat others how you’d like to be treated or better. Repeat.

For beautiful pictures of interracial families and a nice rebuttal to Haywood's article,check this out: http://www.beyondblackwhite.com/black-women-need-men-like-cory-alexander-haywood-like-fish-needs-bicycle/  One thing I'd like to mention: I don’t agree with is attacking Haywood or even that horrid Sotomayor based on their looks. Neither of them are my cup of tea (actually Cory does have a great body lol), but attacking their looks undermines the point. Attack ideas, not people (even valid character attacks are better than attacking physical attributes).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Henna Loves Me: Ayurvedic Hennna Treatment

I promised another post was soon to come and here it is! About 2 weeks ago I decided to do an Ayurvedic Henna treatment on my hair. I decided to use a sort of...mega mix. :-)

Here's what I used (I wish I could give amounts but, I'm lazy  I sort of just tossed things in:
  • 1 part Cassia - 2 parts organic red Egyptian Henna
  • Amla powder
  • Brahmi powderr
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground cloves
  • Hibiscus powder
  • Marshmallow root powder
  • Vatika oil
  • Raw honey
  • Distilled water
How I used all that:
  • While the water boiled, I sectioned my hair into fours and twisted it.
  • I added all of the above ingredients in a bowl and then added the boiling water to it. 
  • I stirred for a while, then let it cool until it would be a safe temperature to put on my head. I wore plastic gloves while I applying it with an applicator brush (the same kind one would use to apply color).
  • After applying it generously to my scalp and hair, I covered with a plastic cap....and left. I ended up leaving it on for about 3 hours. You, by no means, need to leave it on so long- 30 min to an hour should do.

Looks like poop on my hair LOL
  • This mixture (really henna period) can be very time consuming to rinse out completely. I ran my head under the faucet of the bathtub for a while (it looks so gross rinsing out, liken to mud).
  • I then did a 30 minute deep conditioning treatment under my steamer (any moisturizing deep conditioner should work).

The 2 top pictures are with no flash or editing of any kind. My hair looks really shiny!

  • Finally, I rinsed everything out in the shower. There was still a LOT left over from the henna treatment

Again, top 2, no flash. The bottom 2 have flash. You can see a bit of color deposit. And no I don't have a bald spot, just the way it's parted, plus flash, plus product on it.

I know all of that sounds like a lot of work, but I really love the sheen my hair has now. It also feels a lot stronger. I didn't have a preference for color deposit or not, but if you want the conditioning and strengthening effects of henna without the color deposit, you can use this same recipe without the henna, hibiscus powder (enhance the red color) and cloves (can deposit a brown color).

I had to cut off quiiiiittteee a bit of hair in September (I'm talking multiple inches.) In these photos, I can't remember if the top photo is right before or right after my cut, but the bottom one is where it is now. Sorry these aren't better quality, but I wasn't expecting to do this post when they were taken, and my hair is currently in a protective style. I think the bottom pic shows a little progress- in the top pic, it stopped right at my shirt, now it goes past it- what do you think?






I purchased all of the above ingredients, with the exception of the vatika oil, honey and water, from: Butters-n-Bars.
Vatika oil was purchased from a local Indian grocer, and I'm sure yours would have it as well. If not, there's always Amazon. :-)
The raw honey was purchased from a local Farmer's Market (always support small farmers when you can!)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ummm... Google Talk... What Happened?

This will be random and quick. I just want to know why Google, a company who seems to pride themselves on innovation, refuses to update the Google Talk chat client? I love it, but the mobile and desktop apps have not been updated in forever. The "in the lab version" was just abandoned and no longer works for most people. I'm not even sure why the download link is still available for it.

I hate that there's no option to "Email chat" as there is with other messengers. It leaves me wondering... Will they ever include the new and cool features of some other chat clients? Will they EVER allow us to decide when we want to be seen as "Idle?" Will Now & Laters ever NOT stick to my teeth? Okay...sorry, got a little off topic there, but you get my point. The mobile app signs itself out on many phones all of the time, it has an outdated look, and well... it's just poo. I use it, but it's poo. Believe me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My RecoverBot Data Recovery Review




Hi all. If any of you are on my Facebook page, then you know that my hard drive crashed about a month ago. I was using a Dell Inspiron 15 laptop at the time and was all too familiar with this happening. So, you’d think I would have learned my lesson, huh? Noooope. Well, actually, to give myself a little credit, I actually had backed up my data a few months prior, but the portable HDD I used wasn’t functioning properly. I was told by Western Digital that I’d probably have to reformat it or partition the drive again- which would result in a loss of my backed up data. Swell. Well, I am not a tech person, but I am a fast learner and quite resourceful, so I utilized an HDD docking station and tried to extract my wanted data that way, which did work for a while…until it didn’t. I got about 1GB off before the disc just became completely unbootable. It wasn’t making any abnormal sounds, and I’m pretty sure a corruption in my operating system was to blame. I should mention that it was relatively old- 1 year to be exact. Is that old for a hard drive (lol, see, I’m no techie)? I decided I had to start looking into recovery options, even if that meant the use of expensive professional services.


I had a 500GB Toshiba: MK5065GSX. Thus, even though I only needed about 75 gigs of data extracted, it would cost more just because of the size of the drive alone! I began researching software to recover data online, and actually did find some wonderful and free options, but they just weren’t good enough. The first I tried was ZAR (http://www.z-a-recovery.com/digital-image-recovery.htm) to see what images I could find without any expensive software. It is a free part of this software. Surprisingly, it did find a LOT of my pictures. But that’s all it would find for free, so I kept searching. Next, I looked into Recover My Files. It would cost $69.95 for the software, which was nothing in comparison to the $550 minimum quote I was getting from most of the companies where you send your hard drive in to be serviced. However, I saw pretty mixed reviews on their Help and Support offered, so I decided to get help from the "professionals." I went to support.dell.com and attempted to chat with them about my issue. 4 agents and an EIGHT hour phone call later I just happened to see an ad on their site for RecoverBot. Newly partnered with Gillware, Dell now offered a link to download their awesome software (https://www.recoverbot.com/). RecoverBot was especially made for retrieving data off of drives that were no longer bootable. Here are the basics:
  •   You download RecoverBot from their site and are given a unique ID number.
  •   You burn the downloaded software to a disk and put it into the CDROM drive of the computer in question (of course the damaged hard drive has to be currently installed).
  •  Also, you are asked to plug in another hard drive, large enough to hold all of the data you want to recover.
  •  You select a few options and let it do its thing, remembering not to turn off your device or disconnect the other hard drive. Afterward, it shows you a preview of every file it finds. If they are the files you want, you pay for your unlock code, type it in and Bam! You have your data back. It copies all the found files onto the connect external HDD.
I like to research things before I use them, so before biting the bullet and trying it, I searched the net for some information. To my dismay, there was none. Their own site’s FAQ section was also a bit lacking. Unlike the usual cautious me, I went ahead and tried it anyway, and I don’t think I could have made a better decision, given the situation. RecoverBot takes a pretty long time to run, so I just went out with the beau and left it alone. Several (and I do mean several) hours later, I returned and went into a frenzy. The instructions specifically say not power off your machine during the process, and my bf had accidentally unplugged my laptop. I turned it back on to see RecoverBot saying that my HDD was too damaged to search any further and asking if I’d like to see the files it was able to recover. I was able to view the files, but there was no option to unlock and copy to disc. I thought all was lost. I contacted their support team and had a wonderful experience. They were professional, kind and patient. I specifically communicated with a Kirk Harvell and a Jesse Clark. They told me that the recovered data was safe, and that I just needed to try removing the internal HDD (the damaged one), and booting from the RecoverBot CD again. You see, RecoverBot works by creating disc images of the salvageable portions of your hard drive, and copying them onto the connected external HDD. It worked! I paid for the code immediately ($69) and began the process of retrieving my data. This took quite a long time as well, but it was worth it for me. It recovered 98% of my data.

All in all, I am very satisfied with my RecoverBot experience. I’d give it 5 stars out of 5 stars. It doesn’t get better than a working product AND great customer service to back it. However, don’t even bother asking the Dell technical support or software specialists about RecoverBot. Even though their site states that they have now partnered with RecoverBot, Dell has not yet trained any employees on the software, and they cannot answer even basic questions about it. I didn’t see any reviews on RecoverBot, so I wanted to make sure I wrote this one. Too often consumers remember to complain but not to praise. ^_~