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If Pat Benatar is right, and "Love is a Battlefield," then makeup is my war paint. And my artillery is as follows: concealer by Scott Barnes, foundation by Cover Girl True Match, shadow by Dior, eyeliner by Iman, mascara by Maybelline, rouge by Barbara Bilkerdijk, lip by Chanel and vernis by m2m damorejon, of course. Let's not forget, body wash by Victoria's Secret, body scrub by Nefertari Natural Body Care, moisturizer by Nivea, hair oil by Oh My Heavenly Hair, and eau de parfum by Tom Ford.

Let the battle begin (hear my Native American war cry, "Layayahah!"). I am ready for the world.

The beauty industry is a trillion-dollar industry. Make no mistake, CVS, Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel's, Bloomingdales, Macy's, and Sephora (the mother ship of all beauty stores dedicated to war paint), bring in a pretty penny. It is no chump change. Even Duane Reade is starting to look like a beauty department store all on its own. This industry is not to be taken lightly.

Getting facials used to be something that you had to budget for, or it was gifted for a birthday, graduation, or anniversary. Going out for manicures and pedicures was a special treat, considered a luxury, because it's just as easy to conduct a do-it-yourself nail polish session at home, watching your favorite TV show. Nowadays, the battlefield is expanding. And we have got to put on the full armor.

Helmet of Salvation

Your hair appointment was unmistakably not something you would ever consider missing. You can miss your doctor's appointment, get a rain check on a date, miss your mother's birthday party, but miss your hair appointment? You'd have to have lost your mind. I don't care what culture you're from, as Ted Gibson would say, Why do you think he is petitioning for an Oscar for hair? And, he's right. There's a phrase for it, the "bad hair day," for which hats were invented in my opinion. Hats improved in style just to accommodate those bad hair days.

There is a whole industry of artists getting paid lovely for each and every crisis. So, I decided to interview some of my dear friends and ask them what possessed them to join this war and why they selected their particular armor.

Ted Gibson, owner of Ted Gibson Salons, NY, and newly opened in Florida, is one of my all time favorite people. His spirit never wavers and he always seems excited about what he does, every time I see him. He responded, "a good friend of mine drove a great car, had a fantastic apartment and dressed really well; and he is a hairdresser. I thought it would be fun, then I discovered I was really good at it and loved it."

Tippi Shorter told me the most beautiful story. She got into it purely by accident, and not only masters the art of hair, but has created her own product line. This is after being a spokesperson for many years for one of the largest brands in the world. She says,"I was always interested in hair, make up and fashion. I chose hair because I felt like that was something that would allow me to make an instant impactful change in someone's life." Her must-have tool is the custom designed 1-inch flatiron.

This is what I heard from Debra Hare-Bey, the other love of my life, who made it cool for Black girls to rock all sorts of natural hairstyles, and for me to don my Afro every which way -- bigger and bigger, just the way I love it. Her story, " I really enjoyed doing hair-so-much-so that I started doing the kids in the neighborhood. This love affair began around age 12 or so. As an adult it became a viable way to make a living and raise my family." Her must have item, clear protein gel from her kit.

War Paint

Vanessa Evelyn. To watch her is like watching an archaeologist dig up the most precious of artifacts. Why? Because an archeologist's greatest possession is his/her bag of tools. He/She has a tool for each thing of value he/she is searching for. He/she carefully determines how it will be handled once retrieved. Her approach to a woman's face and eyebrows is mind-blowing and purely genius.

Then there is that blank canvas, on which an artist works--the skin. I have to say, hands down, Renee Garnes knows how to highlight the glow of a woman's skin. Her prep routine is very extensive, from what I have observed while working with her. From the moisturizer to the perfect blend of foundation, from the lightest of skin the darkest of blends her work is flawless.

The master of color is Frances Hathaway. Once she gets into the zone, everything else fades to black. The turning point of my nail career was working with Frances, beauty director Tasha Turner, photographer Michael Brandt, and hair god Chuck Amos. I did some of my best work while working with these geniuses. I watched this woman mix pallets, pigments, and create colors that I have never seen in the rainbow.

Sword of Righteousness

My weapon of choice has been nails. And nail wise, my inspirations have been the legendary Roseanne Singleton, Debra Bailey, Bernadette Thompson, Dida, Didi and Roxanna. These women put a permanent dent in the nail industry that has changed the game and created a need for manicurists on set. They were so in demand, that if you wanted to stand a chance of being even considered to be worthy of being looked at, you'd better have your triple "A" game on. These women were goddesses. I definitely know my position and was willing to earn my stripes following the steps off these warriors. Whether it was a manicure or nail art, I made sure I was well prepped. I went to three different nail schools, taught at a nail school, was a product educator for a brand, an examiner for the department of state and took training classes at beauty conventions and yet I still felt honored, and wanted to learn something from those that came before me.

It is with awe and amazement that I look at the life that I have had in this amazing industry to see how vast it is and how I have had the honor of playing a part in its rise. Now I ask myself, what sort of legacy do I want to leave behind for the next generation of warriors. I hope to have the same impact that those before me did; to leave a legacy of hard work, dedication, commitment, and always striving to keep your "A" game on at all times.

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