Sunday, December 2, 2012

Moving Mountains: A Tale on Acne

Creams, potions, solvents, and prayer all add to your stress when it comes to your face.  I know in my experience, I have spent a lot of time and money trying to find the cure-all when it comes to keeping your skin clean and healthy.  It is important to first find out what kind of skin you have.   Oily? Dry? Combination? Sensitive? Which umbrella are you standing under?  For most of us, we have about 10-15 products aimed at different issues going on with our face in our bathroom.  Some products are shrinking pores and some are trying to prevent Father Time from drawing another line on our face.  Let's face it, it's a war we're somewhat losing and you know what?  I'm okay with it. 

I'm nearing the end of my twenty's and my face is starting to reflect that.  I am not saying this to incur the, "No, you're still a wee babe!" compliments.  I am saying it because it is a fact.  My skin is changing, as is everyone's as we get older.  I have oily skin that hates most products, and is super sensitive to anything that claims to be all natural or organic.  There are certain brands that make me break out into hives or a nasty rash.  I have to be very careful in what I put on my face.  There are also products that are aimed at oily skin that I swear cause me to have more break outs.  I'm not sure how or why that happens?  These same products will cause my face to dry out to the point that I have to use lotion so my skin won't crack or bleed.  Yes, that has also happened to me before.  I am not going to list the products because why should they get a free plug? 

I used to be a long-term Noxema fan.  That face wash really does a great job for my oily skin but I found another product I like a lot more.  Something I still am having a hard time understanding how or why it works better than other products I have tried in the past.  Baby body wash.  Yes, the basic stuff you use on your kid's skin (if you have kids).  I recently ran out of my old stand-by, Noxema, and found myself in a bind.  Another brand I was recently trying caused my skin to break out into a rash around my mouth.  It looked as if I was trying to moonlight as Joker in a cover band.  It was a terrible experience, my skin was really dry, and it made me feel horrible.  I did write the company a letter about their product, and I do my best to warn others of it.  They also will not get a free plug on here. 

There I am in the shower cursing silently at myself because I forgot to buy my stand-by to clense my face with.  I figured I would use my son's stuff in the mean time because hey, it doesn't have anything in it that would cause harm and it's inexpensive.  I was so impressed with the results that I never bought that new container of facial cleanser.  The baby wash doesn't dry my skin out and it cleans the dirt and excess oil while helping to control the oil balance in my face.  It also knocked that rash off my face in about 4 days total.  It would probably be less if I washed my face twice a day. 

Here you go for all skin types, no joke!  I use Target's brand of baby wash but for you label whores, you can buy Johnson & Johnson's brand. 

How often to wash:  Twice a day; It doesn't have to be strictly morning and night but give your face at least 8 hours of getting dirty time before you wash again.  That mid-day wash is totally unnecessary and actually works against you if it is your third time at the sink.
What to use:   Mild soap (baby wash), warm water and your spirit.  I'm not a fan of putting oatmeal or any other food product on my face, and I don't advocate it to others.  Skip the food facial and enjoy a yummy bowl of oatmeal (or order a pizza, you know, whatever makes you happy). 
Will it remove makeup:   Sadly, it won't remove your mascara or any left over eyeshadow.  You will still need a good makeup remover for that. 
Acne problems:   This process will help improve blemishes.  For anything that is persistent, you should talk to your doctor.  Some issues can be better helped with their professional input and suggestions. 
Ages:   Everyone.  Seriously, all ages.  I know women in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and above who do this simple regime and have fantastic skin. 
Will it make you look younger:   The only thing that will make anyone look younger is a time machine.  Sorry. 

Love yourself and your skin - stay beautiful! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let's Give Thanks!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, let's take a minute to divulge into the beautiful side of things.  While you are busy trimming the turkey, baking the 15th pie for an in-law you can't stand, or simply pouring a third glass of wine because hey, you deserve it - remember to take a minute for yourself!  Here is a simple list anyone can accomplish without feeling over done. 

  • Wash your face:  I know this sounds dumb but in reality this will help to remove any excess oil from any cooking you have been doing, or any excess grime.  I love to cook and after spending a few hours over a hot stove or baking endless desserts, my face is gross.  All the steam and heat open your pores and invite red, blotchy skin.  It's a free facial but who wants a facial 10 minutes before your guests arrive?
  • Invest in some waterproof makeup:  I don't use it all the time but it's worth having when you have to go 8-10 hours without washing it off and you are too busy hugging and kissing everyone.  Who wants to give Aunt Milly a free make-over with your favorite foundation or lipstick?   It's probably not her color.  
  • Remember to keep it simple:  What does this really mean?  Don't wear makeup? Look haggard in all your holiday photos? Nope!  All this means is stick to a simple routine that you feel comfortable with that brings out your natural beauty versus trying to make a smokey eye for the first time.  This goes double for any hair style. 
  • Remember to have fun:  Really, remember this.  I know there have been holidays past that I stressed myself out  to the point it was January 15th and I wanted a holiday do-over.  It's not worth it.  Be thankful for all you have around you still, the love you share, and the fact that you still have each other.  Without family who knows what our world would be like?  Remember that others may not have it as good as you do, or they may not have as much.  It really is the little things that matter most.  

Hug. Love. Be greatful.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Eyeshadow - From Caked to Cupcake

Sitting at your vanity, calmly applying the face you want to wear with the perfect light highlighting your visage  - Does this really happen to anyone?  My usual makeup routine is sandwiched between the other million things I have to do before I'm out the door.  That goes for any time of day too, even if I'm going out for the evening.  I specifically want to mention eyeshadow.  I absolutely love eyeshadow and using various colors to create a new shade or new look to compliment my outfit.  I'm a true artist and use my face as yet another pallet.  Does this mean everyone should have animal print eyelids?  No.

First things first, remember your audience.  What does that mean?  Is it a wise idea to cake on the makeup, go heavy on the lids for an important meeting or meeting new clients? No, not at all.  For most, if not all, work settings, it is truly best to stay as natural as possible, when it comes to your eyes.  Save the bright blues and coppers for a night out on the town.  A simple soft shade,  liner and great mascara go a long way versus trying to "express yourself."   Even if your boss is more lax and encourages you to express yourself; still play it safe.  You never know who you will encounter and what new connections / networking can be made. 

What about that night out?  Again, know your audience.  Are you going on that first date?  Play with colors but stick to something low key that enhances your natural beauty.  I don't think he or she would appreciate dating a Monet painting - they should be getting to know you.  What if you've been married for what feels like forever?  Break out your colors and play around until you find a combination you love.  Spice things up, have fun - be someone different that night.  Just remember that too much really is too much and caked on isn't cute.  I call it the "Cupcake" alternative.  It is just enough without being too much. 

Also, don't break the bank in search of the best eyeshadow.  The prices vary from very inexpensive to very expensive, and now there are brands that claim to last longer than 5+ hours on your face without issue.  I don't recommend wearing the same makeup longer than 10 hours.  Your skin needs to breathe - but that is another topic altogether.  Do make sure you test products out to find out what works best on your skin.  I haven't found that expensive brands work better than inexpensive ones, so don't feel the need to splurge (unless you want to).  Don't be afraid to try new colors either!  Mix, match and be fabulous!  The same rules apply to the brushes.  I find my cheap brushes do their job well and clean very easily so I don't waste endless q-tips (I call them Q-Tip$) in the process. 

Take a risk, beauty, don't always be on your guard.  Life is too short to go along with the crowd. 

Stay beautiful!  xox

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beauty In The Minds Eye

Time moves us forward and we are faced with a brand new season - Fall!  This is truly my favorite time of year.  I know that everyone is scrambling to dust off their favorite pair (or pairs) of boots, and locate as much pumpkin as they can, to consume it in a variety of ways over the next three months.  Also, they are leaving the windows open at night to let the house (or apartment) breathe after spending the last four months locked up to preserve the cool air from the air conditioner.  What is missing from all this?  I am sure everyone has a list a mile long in anticipation for the end of the year; I know I do.  That involves doing a lot of things for other people but what about you?  Where is the time carved out for you?  I'm not talking about wedging an hour here and there for a manicure / pedicure, or drinking lunch with girlfriends - I am talking about the quiet space in life, where you can find yourself and free your mind of thinking.

Beauty is more than applying products on your face, hair, nail, et cetera.  It all starts in the mind.  When the mind is cluttered with ideas, insecurities, deadlines, worries, and doubts, it is hard to remember who you are and where you are.  I know I forget sometimes and get lost among the labels in my life.  It happens to the best of us but there is a way out.  There is a way to push everything aside and say, "No, thank-you."  My personal favorite thing is to go on nature walks.  I specifically enjoy doing this alone to be at one with nature and God.  I know that sounds almost selfish but I don't care.  I work very hard in my life for the things I want and currently have and when I need "me time," I take it.  I suggest you all get out there and do just that.  Being in nature, for me, helps to clear my head and remember that I am just a small speck on a grand scale of beauty.  From the tall trees beside me, to the mud mixing with moss on the ground - that is true beauty.  It helps me maintain my perspective and inspires me to share it with others so we don't lose sight of what is around us and what we should preserve.

I want it to be a constant reminder that you do not have to seek out countless magazines or contemplate over which celebrity is best to emulate because there is a beauty standing before you - it's You.  Go out in nature every so often to remember that fresh air, quiet and peace of mind is one of the best things you can do for yourself - and your mind, body and soul.

Stay beautiful xox

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blond Ambition

I haven't walked into a drug store or supermarket-like store without walking past the wall of at home hair dye.  I call it a wall of dye because there are multiple choices in who you could turn yourself into in under an hour, at home, in your bathroom.  I, like so many women, started at a young age diving head first into the messy, smelly creams where your only protection was a pair of thin plastic gloves and a prayer that you can get the stain off your bathroom sink (or wall, tub, potty, floor, et. cetera).  I am also sure we all have our own horror stories as well.  I know I have ruined a number of towels in the process of getting the right color.  It's all part of the process.  I now take measured steps in making sure to cover parts of my bathroom with old towels because this stuff has magical powers and somehow manages to get everywhere - even in the smallest of corners.

If you don't feel comfortable or don't want to spend the time then by all means, visit your local salon.  There is nothing wrong with being pampered by a professional who will mix and mingle your hair into its proper hue (or natural hue).   I, however, have not met a colorist that I have fallen in love with yet.  I'm sure he or she is out there somewhere, armed with a bowl and brush ready for me.  I take care of all my own dying needs.  I go between semi-permanent dye and a rinse.  A rinse is just color that you can use after a good shampoo.  Simply apply on your hair, leave in for ten minutes then rinse out, condition and style as you wish.   Very little commitment with fantastic results.  I recommend using a rise before tackling  the semi-permanent dye as well.  That way it washes out faster if you end up hating the color.  It also does not strip the natural color from your hair as harshly as well.  The only downside is that a rise will not lighten your hair unless you have taken the proper steps first.  I do not recommend anyone lightening their hair unless you thoroughly research the products and know your hair type.  There are numerous products that will have you go from dark hair to light hair in about two hours at home but if you do it wrong, your hair may fall out.  Scary stuff, I know, but it's very possible so please, READ instructions carefully!  Your scalp is a tender god/goddess that deserves love too!

I have been a blond in my life.  Yes, a blond.  I enjoyed it for a few months then went back to dark hair.  I didn't look like myself or feel like myself so I chose not to kept it.  It was also very hard to maintain the color.  I had to deep condition my hair more often.  We're talking almost twice a week versus once every seven to ten days.  Also, my ends were split more often as well.  I was not a happy camper.  The worst part of all, when I went for my usual hair trim, the woman suggested I cut more inches off due to the damage done by the process of going lighter.  That was enough to convince me it was time to change.  Over a year, I went for regular cuttings and once I was able, I cut most of my hair off into a bob to finally release myself from my blond nightmare.  I am not speaking for every "blond" out there, but for me, it was a no sale. 

I have used various products and had an allergy to some.  I won't recommend a certain product because I don't use the same product each time and I have tried to not use semi-permanent dye on my hair.  Au natural, is the way to go.  I am currently growing out a recent dye job.  I went more auburn this time and use a rinse every few weeks so my roots' rebellion doesn't ruin the party. 

Be you. Be beautiful.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wash, Rinse, Repeat?

"You wash your hair too often!"   My Mom always insists that I do, but parents just don't understand.  Ah, shampoo - the one 1/4 of my heart to which all foundations should stand.  Yes, it all comes down to what you are using and how often you are using it.  As I have blogged before, I have very oily hair and it is thick. This results in the fact that I have to wash my hair every two to three days.  I am not one of the lucky ones who can go a week to ten days without washing it.  They can get away with using dry shampoo, and probably can sleep in an extra thirty to fourty-five minutes in the morning.  C'est la vie, mes amis.

Being the adventurous type, I have spent a lot of time and money on various products, both expensive and cheap, and you know what?  It varies.  There isn't a secret, hidden product that is being kept from you in an exclusive salon.  I've used salon brands that are fantastic and used inexpensive brands that are also fantastic.  I have currently settled on the Dove haircare line.  I feel like it cleans my hair without weighing it down or drying it out and keeps it moisturized, even if I have to wash my hair so frequently.  They do have different products for different hair types as well, so don't feel like it is only suited for one hair type.  Also, it's not too expensive - that's always a great advantage in our current times. 

I also want to throw out there and advise that everyone should use a clarifier every four to six weeks to help remove any impurities in your hair.  Most salon supplies stores carry the product and it is not too expensive or you can use baby shampoo.  Believe it or not, it is a great shampoo that cleans well without stripping your hair of its natural oil.  It works on all hair types as well.   Even the generic store brands work as well as any name brand baby shampoo. 

Remember, get to know your hair, even if it's thin, thick, limp, dull, colored - whatever.  Make friends with it, treat it well and it will return the favor.  It all starts with a good shampoo then you will be ready to face the world. 

Stay beautiful!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Humidity? Suffering In Silence

My silence is never so silent - it is more of a calm roar like that from a lioness taking a rest after a long day of being a lioness.  It is rough out there, especially for your hair.  This weather is really playing havoc on hair styles, patience, and your wallet.  I love and prefer my hair styled with my trusty blow dryer, straightening iron and touched up by my curling iron.   Yet on days like these, I do not care enough to waste over two hours just to walk outside and my hair is instantly frizzy!  I have done that before and then started to cry silently in my car while waiting for the air conditioning to come to my rescue.  I rely on a good shampoo,  conditioner then a leave in treatment to help my wavy/curly hair regain some semblance of a curl with my faithful salon like clips. It is not my favorite style but I tolerate it because it is wash and wear and I still look human. 

I have two products that I go between due to finances really.  The cheaper option is Suave "Professionals Mousse, Captivating Curls, Whipped Cream Mousse."  It varies in price depending on where you usually shop but it's inexpensive and works well (even if it is a mouthful to say).  Even though it is a mousse product, it does not make my hair crunchy or greasy.  They advertise that it works for 24 hours.  I find I get a good 18 hours out of the product before I am ready to wash it out.  Then again, my hair is very oily so 18 hours out of 24 hours is a very good deal.  Also, this product does last a while.  You truly only need a small dab and it will do ya'.  My hair is also very long and I do not need much for my desired result.  

The more expensive option is a product called, Miss Jessie's "Quick Curls."  This product is amazing but expensive at $32 for 8oz of product.  I shampoo, condition then add a small amount of this product to damp hair and away I go.  It dries well, no oily feeling on the hair, no odd smells, nothing!  This does last a solid 24 hours and you will get your money's worth from the tube.  I have not seen it in stores but that does not mean it is not there. 
Miss Jessie's Products  This is a link to the website where you can research the product plus other wonderful items. 

All in all, do not let the bad weather make you loose all hope for cute summer hair styles.  I am making more of an effort to work with my hair sans styling tools and I think I hear it quietly saying, "thank-you!"  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Seriously, the Dollar Store? Yes.

The Dollar Store.

Normally, your first instinct is off brand food, cheap candy and other miscellaneous items that you probably will never need in your life but at such a low price point you feel compelled to spend at least $10 every trip.  Would you ever consider buying makeup there? I was always skeptical over this.  How can their makeup be good for your skin since it's so cheap?  Does it really last for a few hours, or does it fade within 10 minutes after application?  My mind was always tormented with the how's and why's until I decided to give it a shot.  I was in need of some new eye shadow and wasn't in a position to spend upwards of $30 just to restock on various colors of eyeshadow.  I spent a total of $8 (plus tax)  which covered an eyeshadow brush, blush brush, liquid eyeliner, and five compacts of eyeshadow.  I was very anxious to get started. 

I have to add that I have very sensitive skin and can not use most makeup brands on my face.  I have an allergy to a lot of makeup brands that claim to be hypo-allergenic or are meant for sensitive skin.  When I started using the dollar store brand of makeup, I kept my allergy medicine handy just in case I broke out into a rash or worse.  I am very pleased to announce that not only does the makeup last five to seven hours with out a touch up, also I had no adverse reaction to the makeup.  No rash, no itchy eyes, no hives - nada!  I couldn't believe it and part of me still can't believe it - to be honest.  I have been using it for almost a month now and still have had no issues whatsoever.  The liquid eyeliner goes on smooth, doesn't smudge and looks great.  The brush is thin enough to do a basic line around your eye, or add curved lines on the side of your face, or create the "cat eye" look. 

I have nothing against expensive brands but if you are ever in a lurch and can't afford to fork over another $40-$50 for department store makeup, take a trip to the dollar store.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  There is also a wide variety of eyeshadow colors, blushes and liners that you can mix and match to completely customize your look. 

My loot from the dollar store

My custom color eyeshadow.  This was taken about 5 hours after application.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's Your Unibrow Situation?

I have thick eyebrows that try and meet in the middle to discuss politics, or whatever they do to shame me into not wanting to go out in society.  I used to pluck them when I was younger, sat through wax torture one time in my life and have settled upon using an eyebrow razor to keep them in check.  This has somewhat worked but I knew they didn't look as great as they could.  Let's face it, we all want that perfect arch that actually lasts longer than a day (or three if you are lucky).  If you have found something that works well for your face, mazel tov!  My experience with waxing was so incredibly painful that it changed my view on torturing war criminals.  I was later told that the girl wasn't too experienced and it shouldn't hurt "that much."  C'est la vie?  C'est mal. :(     To me, pain is pain, and I don't believe beauty should be so painful that your skin is red for most of the day,  and your hair doesn't grow back properly afterward. 

As we age, our skin changes; period.  Everything changes.  Eyebrows included.  Skin sags, and if you over pluck or over wax when you are young, once you hit your 40s, they won't look right on your face anymore.  You will get your intended result of the hair growing in finer but it will be harder to style on your face.  If you are looking for an alternative or want to try something new, I suggest the technique of "Stringing."  They use regular string to whisk away unwanted hair on your eyebrows, upper lip, chin - whatever you need done on your face.  I am not sure how many higher end salons do this but it gives proven results and it is fairly inexpensive.  Mine cost $12 (plus a $2 tip).  I think $14 every month is worth it.  There is an extra charge if you want your upper lip done as well and any other facial hair but it is still worth it.  The results last and your hair will grow back in at a slower pace each time you have it done.  It's also not too painful and is great for sensitive skin.  No creams, no wax, no redness - just positive results. 

There are a lot of locations, I usually go to the location in my local mall.  I do have a few suggestions before you head in.  Make sure you know your face.  If you have thick eyebrows, just have them clean up the edges and trim their length. The trimming is included in the price.  For those with thinner brows, have them contour your eyebrows so it will be easier when/if you use a pencil to fill them in.  Also, a big one, make sure they use hand sanitizer before they start working on your face.  If they don't have a bottle sitting out, or they say they don't use it or make a big deal out of using it- get up and leave.  They are working very close to your eyes.  You don't want any extra bacteria sliding down there.  Why risk getting yourself sick or an infection?  That is not cute.

I have been doing this over the past year and love the results each time. 

On the left is the before, and the right is the after.  

Good luck! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey, What's Your Color?

Pretty nails, cute toes; top coat, primer, base and go!  

There is nothing more relaxing and satisfying than a mani/pedi, even if you do them at home. It is even better when you have a beautiful color on your nails that does not fade, chip or cause damage to your nails.  I put my nails to the test each day by washing my hands multiple times, doing dishes, laundry and a whole host of other things that normally cause my nail color to chip off and look horrible a day or two after I paint them.  I used to go through the long process of base coat, mineral coat, paint, top coat and gloss for nothing.  If I'm lucky, it ends up peeling off which strips my nails of any goodness they had.  I have used various brands too.  Nothing compares to OPI, of course, but who has the money to shell out for one small bottle?  What if you want multiple colors to change to every other week?  The cost really adds up!  I have found a reasonably inexpensive nail polish that will last through a week of being human.  The hand washing, showering, laundry, kids, and work - you know, life. 

Sinful Colors Professionals is a great product found at most stores, and it is under $2 a bottle.  I still go through my process of mineral base coat, nail polish then top coat but this brand lasts a week and still holds up.  I would say on day 8 or 9 is when I noticed some chipping but it wasn't anything compared to what I have experienced before.  I currently have 7 bottles in my rotation and plan to buy more as we get closer to summer.  Do yourself a favor and test it out.  I also have to mention that if you don't have the time to do the base coat, polish, then top coat, this product by itself will last around 5 to 7 days without chipping or fading. 

Stay beautiful.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is Straight Hair for the Birds?

I have tried a lot of products in an effort to have healthy straight hair.  Who hasn't?  I have spent a lot of time and money on products promising to provide results and they have left me flat or frizzy.  The most important thing to know is what kind of hair do you really have?  Do you need the heavy duty serums or a good mix of shampoo and conditioner?  If your hair is already straight or thin, you may want to skip this one but if not, stick around.   After a long quest, I have settled upon using John Frieda's "Straight Fixation" smoothing creme.  This product promises silky straight styles for up to 24 hours and they are not lying.  I apply in wet hair, then dry and straighten and my hair is a dream!  For the next day, I have great manageable hair.  I finish off my style with John Frieda's Moisture Barrier hair spray.  Both products are a bit on the expensive side but you can purchase these anywhere.  They are a great product to try before you make the leap to salon brands and end up spending $15-$20 for only a few ounces. 

I have thick, wavy hair but it is oily.  Using these products does cause my hair to get very oily by day two but it's worth it.  I use it a few times in the week and it does not cause build up in my hair either - a great bonus!  I would not recommend the Straight Fixation Creme to someone with thin or fine hair.  It would make your hair too flat and limp.  Everyone else?  Try this out!

I am not wearing makeup in this picture but I wanted to show how well these products work in my hair.