Shiny, happy hair! Finally!

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my hair.  People are constantly telling me how shiny and healthy it looks.  Two years ago that would not have been the case.  It used to be so brittle and dry.  So what’s changed since then? Well I broke some bad habits and started using the right products!

Gone are the days of blonde highlights and daily flat irons.  And I don’t brush my hair with a fine tooth comb while it’s wet.  I use a wide tooth comb and I’m extra gentle.  I have to treat my hair like a baby.  Our hair gets more and more delicate as we get older so we really need to give it some real TLC.  I also decided to go back to my original hair color so I don’t have to dye it as much.  I use less heat styling tools, and if I do, I use a heat protectant.

I’ve searched EVERYWHERE for the best shampoos and hair products.  I’ve spent more than I could afford on products that promised healthy, shiny hair and have been left disappointed.  But recently, I’ve struck gold!  Loreal came out with an awesome line called Total Repair 5.  It promises to repair hair even the most wicked, ugliest hair.  And guess what? It works like magic!

In addition to the amazing shampoo and conditioners, I use a deep conditioner twice a week.  I also alternate with Joico’s Revitaluxe.  Also a fantastic deep conditioner.

One thing I’ve noticed ever since I’ve stopped highlighting my hair is that it doesn’t break off as easily anymore!  Which is good news because my hair has grown pretty long (I felt like it never would grow ever again!)

Now I’m left with healthy shiny hair.  Yay!

Let’s get one thing straight: Your hair!

hair4My hair naturally

First off, I’m  going to say that I’m lucky to have been born with straight hair so I don’t really need to worry about straightening my hair.  Even though as a kid, I always wanted curly hair soooo bad.  I remember I would spend hours putting my hair in rollers and begging my mom for a perm!  I wanted to look like Tina Turner with a big curly fro!  For real!  But as I got older I realized that straight hair is actually a blessing.  It’s easy, simple and classic.

I have many friends and family that have been struggling with curly, wavy and frizzy hair.  My mom being one of them.  But years ago I introduced her to the flat iron and showed her how to use it correctly. She’s been thankful ever since! I have witnessed many friends straightening their hair with just a flat iron.  No brush, comb, or hair product.  But today, I will give you some tips on how to do it right.  In no time, you will walk away with straight, shiny, frizz free hair.

Smooth straight hair starts in the shower.  I recommend Joico’s Smooth Cure shampoo and conditioner.  These two will change your life!  The whole line is fantastic and they also have a straightening balm that works wonders.

hair7I HIGHLY recommend this product!

Coming from the shower, some of us can get away with blow drying our hair straight and be done with it.  I am one of them.  I don’t ever use a flat iron unless I want stick straight results.  However, if you have wavy or curly hair, you will want to blow dry your hair straight as best as you could.  I recommend using a big flat brush.  It may not be completely straight, but if you start with the blow dryer, it will take you less time with a flat iron.

When women flat iron their hair the biggest mistake they make is not sectioning the hair.  So you will need hair clips to section your hair off.  Use 1 inch to 2 inch sections and run the flat iron through it.  Secondly, women either put too much product or none at all.  You can use my favorite Bumble and Bumble’s Defrizz if you have wavy hair, or you can use Bumble and Bumble Straight if you have curly hair.  Don’t use too much because you don’t want to weigh your hair down or make it look too greasy.  I also recommend using a heat protectant so you don’t fry your hair.

hair6This should be your best friend when straightening hair :)

Another big mistake women make is just running the flat iron through their hair and not following it up with a brush or comb.  Following the flat iron with a brush or comb makes a huge difference.  I cannot stress how important this is when using a flat iron.  It tames the hair cuticle to lay and stay flat which reflects light and eliminates frizz.  Basically, it makes hair shiny and beautiful!

hair3cropFor best results, follow the flat iron with a brush or comb.

If you still have flyaways, I learned this cool trick from a hairstylist.  Take foil and spray it with hair spray.  Run the foil over your finished hair to hold the style and to tame any hairs that may be sticking up.  Finish the ends with the Bumble and Bumble defrizz for softness and added definition.

hair2cropMy hair nice and straight!

April Photo shoot: Malin Bylund

Boy, oh boy, it’s been a very long time since I have posted something on here.  Things have been so hectic with my life!  But I’m back in the game and I have some very exciting news!

I’m starting to do makeup for some photo shoots with my coworker, dear friend and amazing photographer, Phil Briggs.  He invited me to do my first shoot with his friend Malin Bylund.  Malin is a musician from Sweden living here in Los Angeles.  She is a joy to work with, and not to mention so beautiful!

I have to say as much as I LOVE doing makeup, I was extremely nervous for this shoot.  But as soon as I met Malin, I was at immediately at ease.  She has a very warm personality and a positive attitude.

Phil had requested that I create a soft, casual and playful look on Malin.  Because of her very fair skin, I decided to do a light smoky eye using mainly golden browns and rusty brown colors to make her blue eyes pop.  I used a black brown mascara on her already long lashes.  Black mascara would have been too harsh, I think.  Then  I defined her eyebrows with a light brown eyeshadow to lift up the eye area.  For this look, I really wanted to make her skin glow because I knew we would be shooting outside.  So I used a bit of bronzer to give her a beautiful glow, but also focused on contouring her face with it.  I used a bright pink blush on her cheeks topped with some highlighter.  For the lips, I kept it neutral with a pink gloss.

We did change up the makeup a bit for the second part of the shoot.  She slid into a dark plum sweater and we had her hair cascade in front of her face.  We started to get a more alternative vibe from the outfit, so we just went with it.  Phil had me darken her eye makeup and give her red lips.  The result was beautiful, dark and almost eerie.  I thought it was interesting how we went from casual and playful to dark and statuesque.

Here are some pics from our shoot! Enjoy!

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Photos by Phillip Briggs: http://www.pkbstudio.com

Happy Anniversary and Happy New Year!

Two years ago I made a new year’s resolution to start my own beauty blog thanks to the support of my wonderful family and friends.  So happy 2 year anniversary to my blog! It’s been a fantastic ride, and I’m looking forward to writing more! Thanks to everyone!

I also wanted to share some of my new year’s resolutions for 2013!

1.  Take ballet classes:  Believe it or not, I took ballet classes for about a year when I was 6 years old.  I wasn’t the best ballerina (even my ballet teachers will tell you that), and I lost interest quickly.  Now fast forward 22 years later…I wish I had stuck with it because it’s truly a beautiful art form.  I also think this would be a fun way for me to stay physically active but also tap into my creative side.  Just as long as I don’t end up like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.  Yikes.

img073crop(Yes, the little brat in the tutu is me)

2.  Travel:  I hardly ever travel or go anywhere.  And there is so much to see and do.  If I can at least get out of California for a bit, I’ll be happy!  (Meg and Rob, I will make it to Chicago this year!)

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(I want to travel to a different place!)

3.  Publish my comics somewhere or incorporate it into my blog:  For those of you who are Facebook friends with me, you know what comics I am referring to.  Most of you have begged me to seriously consider publishing these, and I’m grateful for the support.  So I’m going to take the steps to do it!  Thanks again, and hope you are as excited as I am!

cover(Yes, that’s me pregnant eating ice cream from my comic “Oh baby.”)

4.  Explore LA more: I know I just said in #2 that I need to travel and get out of LA, but while I am in LA, I’m going to make the effort to explore this city!  I’ve been living in LA for almost 10 years, and I know a lot of good spots.  But there’s definitely more out there.  This city is fascinating!  Specifically I’d like to see a good show at the Pantages because I haven’t been.  I missed Wicked when it was in town.   Oh, and I HAVE TO GO TO A LAKER game!  On top of that, I really want to be part of a Supper Club.  All this may take some time…

IMG_3761I wish you all a wonderful and Happy New Year!  Here’s to 2013! Cheers!

Beauty shipped straight to your door? Yes! I’m in love with Birchbox.com!

This post is long overdue, but one of my best friends, Diana, surprised me with a Birchbox subscription about 6 months ago.  I had heard about Birchbox, but I didn’t know too much about it.  Shame on me, a self proclaimed beauty addict, for not discovering this brilliant service soon enough!  (And thank you, Diana!)

If you are not yet familiar with Birchbox, you are missing out.  For $10 a month, you will be shipped a cute box of beauty samples.  In addition, you can fill out an online profile about yourself and answer several questions about what types of products you are most interested in.  You will then be sent samples straight to your door that are tailored to your preferences.  It’s a great way to try out products and figure out what you like and don’t like.  And if you like it enough, you can order it online!

I have discovered many products that I absolutely love love love! Here are just some of the goodies I’ve received in my box:

Bliss Incredi-“peel” pads for exfoliating the face.  Works pretty well!

Pink lipgloss and cute ear buds to match.  Now I can listen to my music in style.

Blender Cleanser brush cleaner and fun nail colors by Color Club.

Eyeko’s liquid eyeliner:  Ultra thin applicator, smudge proof and a beautiful teal color.

Birchbox is awesome, and it’s great for both women and men wanting to discover different beauty products! Since the Holidays are coming up, it also makes fantastic gifts!  To learn more, check out Birchbox: http://www.birchbox.com/

In Living Color: The Best Products for Color Treated Hair

If you enjoy torturing your hair with highlights and dyes as much as I do, then keep on reading.  I am a high maintenance woman with high maintenance hair.  So I am not going to settle for just any hair product.  I have been dying my hair since high school, and I can’t stop.  Highlights are especially addicting. I love the depth and dimension it gives my hair.  But I hate the way it makes strands feel brittle, dry and lifeless.  So what’s a gal to do?  There’s no point in spending hours achieving the perfect hair color if it’s only going to end up dull and faded.

Luckily there are many products out there for color treated hair.  Some are great and some are simply a waste of my hard earned cash.  After many years of searching for the best products, I finally struck gold with Goldwell’s Color Extra Rich shampoo!  It’s from their dual senses line.  There are two versions of this shampoo and conditioner: regular color and Extra Rich.  I use the Extra Rich one because the label describes my hair exactly: “for demanding color treated hair”.

This shampoo is great because it gently cleanses the hair without stripping it of moisture.  It preserves the color beautifully and makes hair shine.  The conditioner is lightweight and leaves hair feeling ultra soft.  I would recommend these two products if you regularly get highlights to keep them from fading.  It also smells really good (pomegranate and raspberry) which is a plus.

Before I found Goldwell, I was using Biolage’s Color shampoo and conditioner which I think is also really great.  Again, it’s gentle and preserves your hair color.

The hair mask I am truly in love with at the moment is also from the Goldwell line.  This is a hair mask to repair strands that are dry, damaged and prone to split ends. It’s Goldwell’s Rich Repair 60 second hair mask.  I cannot tell you how much I love this product!  It’s great because it literally just takes 60 seconds to penetrate the hair and leaves you with super soft shiny hair.  You can leave it in longer if you want, but it’s perfect for those mornings when you don’t have a lot of time, but you want to give your hair a good conditioning treatment.

These are my top picks for color treated hair.  Give it a try, and if anyone else finds awesome products for color treated hair, I’d love to hear about it!

A big appetite for beauty: My Thanksgiving weekend so far

(That’s me and my man after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner last night)

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m tired of eating.  So I decided to spend the day at the salon sitting around and getting pampered.  Great way to burn all those calories, right?  Or..not.

(That’s me getting foiled up. Like my halo in the back?  I’m such an angel, I know)

My appetite for some turkey and gravy were satisfied yesterday, but I had an appetite to be beautified!  Besides, I wanted a slight change with my hair color.  I went with a richer and darker base color, and popped in some golden blonde highlights.  I love the contrast and dimension it gives my hair!

And here is the result!  Very pretty, I think.  I may keep this hair color for a while!

How to: Get healthy looking skin!

Yes, you can get healthier, more beautiful looking skin!  So what does that mean for you?  It means that taking good care of your skin should be bumped up on your priority list.  I am a firm believer that when it comes to healthy skin, it is all about achieving balance.  To me, that means it is neither dry nor oily, it is neither irritated nor dull, and the tone of the skin is even on the entire face.  It’s not always easy to achieve healthy looking skin especially when you live in today’s world.  There are many factors that contribute to the overall health of your skin.  Weather conditions, harsh chemicals, environmental pollution, sun exposure, stress and your diet are all things you should be aware of when it comes to maintaining a beautiful complexion.  You may not always notice it, but your skin communicates to you on a daily basis.  When it’s red and itchy, it’s shouting “I’m irritated!”  When it’s dry and flaky, it’s saying “I’m thirsty!”.  When warning signs like this come up, your skin is telling you that something is not right.

When I was struggling with mild acne years ago, I started to pay close attention to my diet and the products I was using.  I was eating a lot of junk, which showed in my skin (they always say you are what you eat, right?).  So I started to incorporate more vegetables and fruit in my diet. Back then I was also switching to different skincare products every week, and putting on a number of creams and serums.  I thought I was doing my skin a favor by lathering on all these different products, but now I know that less is more when it comes to beautiful skin.  I also learned that you have to find a routine that is best for your skin.  Since my skin is both sensitive and oily, I stopped using heavy creams, and also started looking for products that were hypoallergenic.  Sometimes products can cause an allergic reaction in your skin, which causes redness, dryness, itchiness and even acne.  After a few years, I found a routine that is gentle on my skin and keeps my skin balanced.  I really love DDF products and you will see some of them listed in this article.

A few things to remember when taking care of your skin is to BE GENTLE.  I can’t say it enough.  Stop picking at it, stop using harsh soaps, and simply stop touching it throughout the day if you can help it.  Make sure to use sunscreen whenever you will be exposed to the sun.  As I mentioned before, the condition of your skin will depend on the climate and environment you live in.  In the Midwest, I grew up in extreme weather conditions.  We had cold, dry winters that transitioned into hot, humid summers.  It takes a toll on your skin, so you really have to change a few habits every season to maintain healthy skin.

Now that I live in southern California, I am constantly in dry, hot weather, so my main priority is to keep my skin moisturized and hydrated.  That means using a moisturizer on my skin day and night, and drinking plenty of water. My goal for the past couple years has been to improve the clarity and tone of my skin so that I no longer have to wear foundation.  I’m doing very well so far, and I don’t even feel the need to use foundation on a daily basis anymore since my skin looks pretty good when I wake up.

Below I have listed the skincare routine that has been working wonders for me, and I hope this works for you as well.

My simple daily routine for both day and night in 3 easy steps:

  1. Cleanse:  I cleanse with Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Wash.  I have been using this face wash for as long as I remember.  This really helped balance my skin out when I was having acne problems.  It gently cleanses your skin without leaving it feeling tight, itchy or dry.  This is truly one of THE best products ever made, and I always recommend this face wash to anyone who is experiencing skin problems.

2.  Tone:  This can be optional, but I use a toner after I cleanse and before I moisturize because my skin tends to be on the oily side.  I use a little bit of DDF’s Glycolic Acid Toning Complex.  I pour a little bit on a cotton ball (a little goes a long way) and apply it all over my face. To me, this has been a miracle worker because it has evened out my skin tone, treated my acne, and has controlled the excessive oil production in my skin.  I recommend this toner if you have oilier skin, have dark sun spots, mild acne, or are concerned about the prevention of fine lines.  From what I know, Glycolic Acid is part of the Alpha Hydroxy  Acid family and it helps increase cellular turnover in the skin.  That process usually promotes a clearer and more refined skin tone.  I know some people have used this to treat their acne and it really does give you a more clear complexion.  If you are new to using toner, you can use this every other day for starters (especially if your skin is on the drier side) and see how your skin reacts to it.  If you don’t think its right for your skin, you can skip this step and just focus on cleansing then moisturizing.

3.  Moisturize:  What’s the best moisturizer out there?   Is it a DDF product?  Yah, you betcha!  I love DDF’s Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew.  I really do recommend this moisturizer for everyone.  Even if your skin is oily, you can use this moisturizer because it’s not greasy or heavy.  It uses grapeseed to comfortably hydrate the skin.  Once you apply it to your face, your skin absorbs it right away and feels as though you are wearing nothing.  Another perk is that this moisturizer is perfect for sensitive skin.  It’s hypoallergenic and dye free.  There’s no perfume or scent.  And it contains healthy vitamins such as A, E and C.  They make two different versions of this moisturizer.  One with SPF 15 and one that is without.  I recently purchased the one with SPF since it’s the summer time and I’ve been more exposed to the sun.

Once a week treatment:

Origins Modern Friction Face Scrub:  They say that this product can give you almost the same results as if you went and got a microdermabrasion treatment at the dermatologist’s office.  I have never gotten microdermabrasion done, so I can’t compare.  However, I can tell you that this product is one of the most amazing products ever made in the history of skincare products!  My mom and I discovered this about 8 years ago, and we have both been using it ever since.  It sloughs away dead skin cells, makes your skin appear brighter, and leaves you with a youthful, smooth face.  This is a great exoliator that you can use once or even twice a week depending on your skin.  I use it twice a week, but that may be too much for some people.  I just love it so much haha!  Remember to be gentle on your skin when using this product.  If you feel your skin is on the dull side and needs some revitalization, then this is a great product to use.

A quick tip for acne prone skin:

If you have acne prone skin, I recommend DDF’s Sulfur Therapeutic Mask.  Sulfur has proved to banish acne for me, so I would recommend using this mask once a week if you are having acne problems.  You can also use this as a spot treatment at night.  Just take a q-tip and apply it to your pimple(s).  I will warn you though, it does have a slightly unpleasant odor since it is using sulfur (like rotten eggs), but the results are amazing!

Hope you found this helpful!  Now go show off your beautiful skin!

Holy brow!! Yikes! What’s going on with my eyebrows

(These are my eyebrows so far in the growth process)

No, this is not my mug shot.  Haha, nice try.  And never mind the unstyled hair in the picture.  I’m writing this quick post to tell you a little bit about what has been going on with my eyebrows.  Now, for anyone who has seen me in person recently, you probably noticed that my eyebrows have been unkempt.  This is because I am trying to grow them back as much as possible, and I’m not plucking them at all.  Bye, bye tweezers! Over the years, my eyebrows have suffered many harsh waxing jobs and unnecessary plucking which has resulted in very sparse brows.  Not to mention, as we age, our eyebrows do get thinner and do not grow as much.  I was actually born with very FULL, thick eyebrows which I inherited from my mother’s side of the family.  I hated them so much, though. So in high school, I started plucking them and plucking and plucking them…and eventually I ended up with tadpole eyebrows.  It never has really grown back to the way they used to be.  With that said, it’s been my mission these past few years to grow them back, but sometimes I fail and find myself tweezing away! Well, these past few months I’ve done a great job and have not touched them with tweezers at all.  As you can see, it’s still very uneven and they aren’t even the same shape.  One side needs to catch up on the growth process.

Some people believe that full or thick brows are unattractive and look too masculine.  While it is true that thick, full brows tend to be more of a masculine feature, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s unattractive. Fuller brows definitely look more assertive and youthful.  Very thin brows with high arches tend to age people in my opinion.  I think a full brow with a slight arch looks more natural.  I really love Kim Novak’s eyebrows in the movie Vertigo.  Thick, boyish eyebrows were the trademark of the Gamine face in those days.  It’s all about being a sexy, strong woman.

Below, I’ve posted two pictures of me to illustrate the difference eyebrows can make.  The first picture is from 2004, and the second picture is what I look like today.  I know the first picture of me looks a bit gross because my skin is all oily, not to mention I am wearing the wrong color foundation!  (Trust me, it took a lot of guts for me to post this picture!  But let’s focus on the brows!) I look a lot angrier in the first picture but I’m not!  My eyebrows were just plucked to the end of its life.  The second picture shows how much my eyebrows have grown since then.  And yes, it did take that long to grow it out.  I really think that I look better with fuller eyebrows.  What do you think?

(Anorexic eyebrows in 2004)

(Thicker, but still uneven eyebrows July 2012)

Eyebrows are so important and I only started to appreciate them a few years ago.  When it’s in proper shape, it really balances the entire face and frames the eyes beautifully. I always suggest defining brows with a pencil or brow powder and brushing them.  It just makes a huge difference. We don’t realize it, but eyebrows can make or break your entire look.  It can either make you approachable or unapproachable.  It can make you look angry, nice, timid or strong.  Have you ever noticed that in cartoons the villain always has super high arched eyebrows?  It’s somehow associated with evil and unfriendliness.  However, I think some people can still pull off thinner brows beautifully.  Also, some people are just born with thinner brows so filling them in with a little bit of pencil or eyeshadow works.  But if you have been blessed with thick eyebrows just be aware that whenever you change them, it changes your entire face.

So how did I get them to grow out this much so far?  Well, it definitely took a lot of patience! I also had to restrain myself from the tweezers and any waxing.  It has been very difficult.  I just want to pluck one hair..just one!  But I won’t!  There’s still more growing to do in some areas.  I’m a bit hesitant to use some of the over the counter growth serums.  I’m still researching those.  I have also been trying to eat a balanced diet while taking Biotin supplements to help accelerate the growth process (Biotin is great for skin, hair and nails).  I think it’s going okay so far.  My boyfriend has been a good inspiration through all this.  I am in love with his eyebrows because they are just naturally thick with slight arches.  He doesn’t do a thing to them either.  So it’s a good thing I have him around to remind myself to be patient with growing out my eyebrows!  If I go out, I usually just brush them up with a spooly brush and fill in any gaps with a pencil or brown eyeshadow.  But I’m looking forward to the day I have full even eyebrows again!  I’ll keep you posted throughout this journey!