Friday, October 29, 2010

Fresh Face Beauty: 5 Minutes To A Perfect "No Makeup Look"

There are many days that I want to have more of a natural appearance without going completely bare. It is on those days that I do the "no makeup look". Although I am wearing makeup, it yields a fresh, natural, clean, ultra femme look! This technique is perfect for those long days running errands, lunch dates with the besties, and even a movie night with the beau! 

Read on for the skinny!


Choose a creamy hydrating moisturizer: This is the only time I use a store-bought moisturizer. We are going to use this moisturizer as a base to create a tinted moisturizer. Using a moisturizer as a base will leave your face uber dewy, glowing, and hydrated. - I use Cetaphil Facial Moisturizer

Need a bit more coverage? Add a tiny dollop of concealer to the foundation + moisturizer mixture to help up the ante on the coverage. Only a tiny bit is needed!

Time to mix: Mix the ingredients together on the back of your hand until well blended.

Apply with a foundation brush; Apply thin layers of the tinted moisturizer evenly in a light upward motion. 

Skip the eyeliner use a thickening mascara! Place the wand near the lash-line and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. This will make your lashes appear much thicker, and will also darken your lash-line giving you the appearance of open, brighter eyes.

Lightly fill in your eyebrows with a brow pencil and brow powder; don't overdo it on the brows, as this is usually a dead giveaway you are wearing makeup. When filling in your brows with a pencil, use light, short, strokes.

Line lips with a neutral liner; I used Flesh from Ulta. Flesh is my favorite nude liner to use!
Fill in lips with a taupey-nude lip gloss; I used MAC Plushglass in Wildly Lush.

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The First Step To Finding Your Passion: Reconnect With Yourself & Lower The Emotional Stakes

One of the main reasons we tend to get disappointed when trying to carve out our life path is because the stakes are too high emotionally. We feel as though our happiness, success, and wealth is riding on each venture, and we are hellbent on it leading to our ultimate goal. 

When you find yourself at the crossroads of life, take some time to regain a centered, balanced connection with yourself. This means letting go of your attachment to finding answers at that very moment, and instead, embarking on a spiritual journey of discovery and play. 

To reconnect with ones true self is to shed our pseudo-identity, and end the people-pleasing behavior. We need to tear down our false fronts, so that we can get down to our truest, most honest, child-like selves. You will heal once you confront your fears, imperfections, mistakes, pant size, latent anger, grief, joy and heartbreaks instead of letting them define you. 

Why do I need to get in touch with my inner child? 
As we grow older we tend to let life experiences shape our decisions. We become less spontaneous and more calculated, less playful and more reserved, we exhibit less passion and exude more of an automatic, slightly robotic state of being. We are afraid of risks. It is through getting in touch with our inner child that we can begin to take risks, and make the necessary mistakes in order to truly evolve into the person we are meant to be.

In order to reconnect with self, you must discover and commit to living by your values:
A simple way to discover your values is to ask questions about important aspects of your life. Often when we feel our values are compromised or disregarded, we feel disconnected from our clear, true self. It is that feeling of disconnection that breeds a feeling of suppression, a lack of inner direction, and insecurity.  

Writing Activity:
In a journal or simple notepad, answer the questions below to the best of your ability. Once you have answered all questions, you must then make a conscious effort to start living according to your values. This means getting comfortable with saying no to others. For those that have an exceptionally hard time saying no, you can still decline; yet offer an alternative solution that is still within your boundaries.
  • Am I true to myself, or do I try to please others as a mother, employee, sister, wife, friend, girlfriend, fiance, student, etc?
  • How do I compromise myself when playing out various roles? 
  • Take yourself back to one of the happiest moments in your life. What values were being honored at that time?  
  • How do I censor myself in everyday life? 
  • What do I want to contribute to this world?
  • What do I want to receive in return? 
  • What makes me feel fulfilled? 
To discover your core needs. In discovering these needs, you will create stability, self-fulfillment, security, self-confidence, and build character; while setting healthy boundaries for those around you.

Discovery Task: 
Pick one of your favorite hobbies. Engage in this hobby once a week [for at least one month] for about an hour. 
Optional: You can make a list of your favorite hobbies and decide to do one hobby a week for a month. 
Reading books at your favorite book store
Doing a weekly manicure or pedicure
Trying new recipes weekly
Working on a family tree
To create a healthy diversion with low emotional stakes. To learn how to engage in an activity without expecting a monetary reward or the praise of others. Engaging in an activity you find enjoyable is also a form of active meditation. Active meditation means that you are completely involved in your current activity, yet your mind is capable of recalling inspiration subconsciously. 

Participating in a Discovery Task will also help you reconnect with your inner child-like spirit. In reconnecting with that energy, you will learn how to embrace basic fundamentals like creativity, self-understanding, curiosity, invention, and imagination; which you can later infuse into other aspects of your life. 

Discovery tasks can also help foster creative energy and talents we sometimes tend to abandon as we grow older. Starting this blog was a discovery task for me. It has been a major outlet, while teaching me a lot about myself, and opening up a world of possibilities I never knew existed. Never underestimate the power of play. 

Until next week my friends :-)

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Skin Care Quick Tip: 5 Reasons To Eat These Five Healthy Foods

What you put in your body can actually be more significant than what you apply topically. It is for this reason that I am trying to be more careful of what I eat. My snack-time selections runs the gamut from chips, to candy, sometimes shakes, and other things I'm not proud of; but as of late I have made some healthy substitutions.

Try substituting some of these healthy snacks throughout the day and see the difference it makes in your skin!

Berries [Strawberries, Blackberries, Cranberries]: Berries are chock full of antioxidants! Antioxidants helps to protect your skin from harmful free radicals, gives your complexion a radiant glow, and fights the molecules that damage skin cells which leads to premature signs of aging . Berries also help the body produce collagen which keeps skin, soft, youthful and supple.

Nuts [Walnuts, Brazil Nuts]: Walnuts & Brazil nuts are high in Fatty Acids, so they help lend a supple, smooth appearance to your skin. Brazil Nuts are high in Selenium which helps fight free radicals and also improves the elasticity of the skin.

Oily Fish [Prawns, Tuna, Salmon, Sardines]: The Fatty Acids present helps to prevent dryness, clogged pores, and improves skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis due to healthier cell membranes. Fatty acids regulate the health of the cell by keeping toxins out, and allowing nutrients in. Healthier cell membranes means that your cells are able to retain more moisture, and more moisture means younger looking skin.

Citrus Fruits [Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits]: Citrus fruits contains high levels of Vitamin C [otherwise known as Ascorbic Acid] that is instrumental in keeping your skin health and youthful. Vitamin C [often found in most anti aging serums and treatments] is a water soluble vitamin which means it cannot be stored by the body. This is why it's important to consume at least a few servings of Vitamin C daily. The Vitamin C found in Citrus fruits acts a powerful antioxidant that aggressively fights free radicals while keeping your skin smooth and firm.

Dark Green Vegetables [Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Watercress]: Like many of the foods mentioned before this food group, dark green veggies are high in antioxidants. The Vitamin A present in green veggies also helps regulate the production of sebum, which is good news to those with oily, acne prone skin. Vitamin A strengthens the cell membrane and also regulates the release of toxins from the cells.

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High-Tailing It: Everything You Need To Know About The Phony Pony

Wearing a phony pony is a great way to give yourself a break from the hassles of styling, while still maintaining a nice, sleek look! They are economical [Human hair ranges from $15-$25, Synthetic pieces run from $10-$15], easy to install, and comes in a variety of colors, textures, and styles. 

Benefits of wearing a phony pony:

Protects the ends of your hair: Phony ponies can protect the most delicate portion of your hair; the ends. By covering the ends, you run less of a risk of splits, breakage, as well as exposure to harsh weather and/or UV rays.

Helps cut down on excess manipulation and mechanical damage:
Wearing a phony pony means that you don't have to worry about excessive styling, combing, detangling, which equals more length retention for you [provided other aspects of your regimen are healthy].

Makes a sleek go-to style for nights on the town: Instead of fussing over your hair for your next outing, sweep it back into a chic ponytail, and slap on a phony pony! This is perfect for those that have yet to perfect other natural styles, but still want to avoid using heat and even those that are in a time crunch!

Don't like the variety of phony ponies in your local Beauty Supply?
Check out your local wig shop or an online source like Hair Sister's , Especially Yours and Claire Hair.

  • Do not wear your phony pony in the same spot for longer than one week, as it can cause thinning in that area. 
  • Think the phony ponies have too much hair? Try a children's phony pony instead. 
  • To lessen the amount of tension placed on your follicles, take down the ponytail at night. 
  • At night, gather the hair into a loose ponytail and tie down with a satin scarf to keep your hair laying smooth.This should prevent you from having to brush your hair everyday. 
  • Freshen up the style in the morning by tightening up the ponytail, spritzing your hair with water [this will reactivate any gel you may have added from the day prior], and adding a little pomade to tame flyaway's. Make sure to tie your hair with a satin scarf for at least 20-30 minutes to lay your hair down nice and smooth until the top portion dries.
  • Ease styling worries by choosing ponytails that are highly textured, in doing so, it will be less pressure to get your real hair super straight. 
  • For more of a natural looking pony, try to find hair pieces that are layered 
  • To detangle synthetic & human hair pieces, lightly spritz them with a homemade Apple Cider Vinegar + water mixture [1 cup of water + 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar].
  • Make sure to practice these healthy bunning & ponytail guidelines, as they will help keep your hair healthy, thick and free of breakage. 
Check out some of these products to help you nail this style!

Ouchless Rubber-bands: These rubber-bands are free metal, thick, and offers a firm hold

Eco Styler Gel: One of my favorite alcohol-free gels. Alcohol-free means you won't experience the harsh drying effects like you would with gels formulated with alcohol.

Fantasia IC Hair Polisher: Another stellar alcohol-free gel! This gel is formulated with Olive Oil for additional moisture and delivers long-lasting hold!

Bobby Pins: To hide shorter pieces, reach for good quality bobby pins with thick rubber tips. Goody & Vidal Sassoon are my favorites.

Garnier Wax: If you're wearing your hair pressed or straightened, try this wax by Garnier! It imparts mega-shine, tames flyaways, and offers all-day hold! 
Tip: I especially like using this product around my hairline and nape area, it keeps the hair uber shiny, smooth, and tamed.

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Your Questions Answered: Will The Brazilian Keratin Treatment Damage My Hair?

I'm loving Emanuela De Paula's shoes in this pic; the hair is nothing short of amazing as well...

Last week, we talked about the adverse reactions the Brazilian Keratin Treatment can have in relation to your health. After that post, I received an influx of questions from readers inquiring about damage to their hair as a result of undergoing this treatment, so I thought I would address those issues here.

First, let us get acquainted with the procedure. Here is an short training video that demonstrates the Brazilian Keratin Treatment

Reader Question:
"Me and a few of my friends had lots of shedding and breakage around the crown after getting the Coppola Treatment. Was this because of the Formaldehyde?"
It may not be the Formaldehyde. My main concern with this treatment is the amount of Keratin [protein] used. Here's why; Certain proteins can cause hair follicles to be sensitive to DHT [a hormone]. If your DHT levels rise, or you have certain follicles that are sensitive to this hormone, chronic hair loss and breakage can occur. Here's how:
  • DHT shortens the growth span of your follicles
  • DHT causes follicle degradation
  • DHT reduces blood supply to your follicles
  • DHT can also weaken and shrink the follicles, causing the hair to fall from the root
A disruption in DHT levels can cause:
Hair Thinning 
Hair Loss
Chronic Breakage
Follicles that are sensitive to DHT are located around the crown, and this could be why you are experiencing breakage around that area. Ever see a man with Male Pattern Baldness? He is usually has hair loss in the crown, with the areas near the ears and nape intact. Male Pattern Baldness is caused by increased levels of DHT.
What to do if you are experiencing excessive shedding and breakage after a Brazilian Keratin Treatment?
Visit a dermatologist ASAP, as he/she may prescribe one or more of the following treatments to help curb further damage:
  • Scalp Injections
  • Nioxin or Rogain
  • Biotin 
I'm still interested in The Brazilian Keratin Treatment, how will I know my hair won't fall out?
Unfortunately, you won't. This is based on your inherited sensitivity to DHT. In other words, it is based on your genetic predisposition to hair loss. Does Male Pattern Baldness run in your family? If so, you may have a heightened sensitivity to DHT.
Other risks: 
Chemical Shock: Some curlies have complained of a burning, inflamed scalp. This is an allergic reaction brought on by the chemicals used in this treatment and frequently leads to hair loss [otherwise known as shock-loss].

Breakage/Heat Damage: Not everyone's tresses can withstand flat iron's that reach 450 degrees. However, this heat setting is recommended by the manufacturer as it properly seals the product into the hair.Using an excessive amount of heat for your hair type can resort in heat damage, porosity issues [for more on that click here], and excessive breakage.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY Goodness: DVF Inspired Floral Hair Pins

I'm a sucker for hair candy. So falling for these ultra femme Diane Von Furstenberg hair pins was a no brainer. Von Furstenberg's hair candy gives off a regal Grecian vibe mixed with a playful punch that's right up my alley! - With a few basic supplies on hand, I decided to take the concept and put my spin on it. 

The project took about an hour to complete and came out pretty nice. They weren't DVF, but they were amazing nonetheless. Floral hair-pins are extremely versatile in that they can spruce up a bad hair day or add the perfect touch to a TWA!
DVF Inspired Floral Hair-Pins
You Will Need:
  • 3 Different colors of scrap fabric
  • Scissors
  • Glue Gun
  • Blank Snap-On Hair Clips [purchased these at Joann's in the jewelry supply isle]
  • Needle/Thread
  • Hand drawn flower pattern [or I am sure you can locate a pattern like this one]
Prep your materials:
 I just drew a basic flower, nothing fancy!

1] Draw your "floral stencil" on a sturdy sheet of paper [I used an old manila file folder]
Here is my stencil pinned to the fabric
cut out 8 of each color

2] Cut out stencil. Pin your stencil to the fabric and cut out 8 flowers in each color 
I used the base of a glass to make this circle

3] Make a circle about 1 inch wide on a sturdy sheet of paper 
4] Pin your stencil to the fabric and cut out 8 individual circles in two of the three colors 

Assemble the floral hair pins [each cluster uses 4 of each color]:
1] Stagger 8 [use four of each color] flowers on top of each other so that they slightly overlap 
2] Fold the entire floral group in half, and secure with a few stitches
3] Fold that same floral group in half once more, then secure it with a few more stitches. Make sure to use sharp scissors, I used my daughter's craft scissors and the ends weren't as crisp as I would have liked.

4] Repeat the same instructions for the second set of floral headpins 

Assemble the second set of floral hair pins [each cluster uses 4 of each color]:
To make the rosette clusters, follow the instructions given in my previous tutorial {here}

Assemble the entire group: 
1] Glue each group on a separate hair pin with a hot glue gun

2] Pin them on your hair!

That's it! Here is the finished product! 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quicktip: 6 Small Tips That Can Make A BIG Difference In Your Twist Out!!

Braid outs and twist outs were not sooo not my forte early on in my hair journey. My hair always came out stiff, dry and had this weird crunch to it that for the life of me I couldn't understand [all pics have since been destroyed]. I was about two seconds from giving up on this "natural thing" [that's how I referred to it every time I got frustrated], and something told me to give it a bit more time for trial and error. Here's what I have learned: 

1. Depending on your hair type, products that contain polymers [we discussed that here] or any other ingredient geared towards hold works best for hair that doesn't have a defined curl type. The polymers found in most of the curl creams and puddings on the market today create a light film over the hair that keeps the curls in place. What this means for you is; less frizz, more of a defined curl pattern, longer lasting style. Here are my product recommendations that meet the aforementioned criteria [These three products have consistently given me great definition and with a light hold]: 
2. Only take down your hair when it is completely dry. This is a big one! Taking down your hair before it has a chance to thoroughly dry may cause excessive frizz and major lack of definition. This may not be so for those that have more of a defined curl pattern, but for curlies like myself; we need that extra time for the style to set.

3. "Smooth" your hair with a Denman brush before twisting.- This makes all the difference in the final texture of my hair! My hair has more body and has a silkier appearance versus the times I skipped that step. To "smooth" your hair, simply detangle well and brush each section several times with your Denman before applying your styling cream. 

4. A little bit of product goes a long way! I know I have mentioned the dime-size rule at least 500k times this year, but this is only because I find it so important to the final outcome of your style. When you are using products that contain Polymers and other film-formers, overdosing on these products could cause dull, dry, lifeless locks. Try using a dime size of curl cream per section of hair you twist!

5. Want to up the ante on the curls? Sit under a hard bonnet dryer for about 20-30 minutes prior to removing your twists. You should notice silky, springier coils that lasts a lot longer than your a normal twist out.

6. To create tons of volume, separate each twist as you take them down. The more you separate, the more volume you will have. Use a light oil to aid in keeping the hair neat, as well as preserving the curl pattern and preventing frizz. My oil of choice is Monoi De Tahiti Oil [found at Trader Joe's or online here]. For even more volume, lightly blow-dry the roots of your hair using the concentrator attachment. 
To add volume using a hair dryer, gently grab the hair 2 inches away from the roots, and pull hair in a light stretching motion while focusing the concentrator attachment near the roots of your hair.

What are your tips for perfecting your twist out? Any products you can't live without?

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Epicure: Panko-Crusted Chicken

I have to give my mom all the glory for introducing me to this Panko-Crusted Chicken recipe [if I don't she'll kill]. This no frills recipe requires minimal ingredients and a basic knowledge on how to navigate your way through the kitchen. If you can add oil to a skillet and brown meat, there's no way to foul this one up! The addition of Panko breadcrumbs versus traditional yields more of a light, flaky, and slightly crispy outer crust you're sure to love. Panko breadcrumbs are readily available in the Asian or "ethnic" isle of your local grocery store.

I recommend using fresh Basil for this recipe because it makes for more of a rich, earthy flavor. 

Panko-Crusted Chicken [Adapted from Mom]
Can of Coconut Milk
4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper to taste
5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup chopped Basil
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs

  • Soak chicken overnight in 13 oz of Coconut Milk [one can will do]
  • After 24 hours has elapsed, remove chicken from Coconut Milk and pat dry with clean paper towel
  • Season chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Add egg whites to a small bowl and toss in the fresh basil. Mix well
  • Coat each piece of chicken in egg white mixture and set aside
  • Dredge chicken in Panko crumb mixture until well-coated 
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add Extra Virgin Olive Oil and heat
  • When oil is hot, add chicken and pan fry until golden brown on both sides 

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Protective Styling: Braiding Your Hair For The Winter? Here Are 13 Tips To Keep Your Hair Moisturized & Healthy!

Are you wearing braids for the winter? Wearing braids is a good way to give your hair a break from mechanical manipulation as well as thermal styling. The key to keeping your hair healthy while in braids is making sure your scalp remains clean, your hair remains strong and hydrated, and the tension on the follicles is minimal. If you can balance those needs of your hair during this time, you can successfully wear braids whilst retaining length. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind!

Have you had a chemical service in the past 3 weeks? If so, I would strongly suggest waiting another 2-3 weeks before braiding your hair. Chemical services tend to weaken protein bonds as well as the hair shaft which means hair is more susceptible to breakage and excess moisture loss.

Use Human Hair: It may be a little more expensive, however using Human Hair can help your tresses retain more moisture; as synthetic braiding hair has a tendency to suck the moisture from your strands. Synthetic hair can also cause breakage from the friction of your delicate hair against the coarse, rigid synthetic strands.

Are you experiencing excessive dryness, breakage, or chronic shedding?  You should definitely address those issues prior to getting your hair braided. Adding braids to a host of other hair issues would only exasperate those issues and cause further breakage or hair loss. Check out the following articles to help you get a handle on these conditions: 
Make sure the braids aren't too tight: Braids that are installed too tight can thwart hair growth and can also cause severe breakage, thinning and/or permanent hair loss. If you notice raised areas along your scalp or white bumps, your install is too tight.

Make smaller parts/braids around the hairline: Because your hair is baby fine along the hairline, it is imperative that you reduce the amount of stress placed on the follicles near this area. Making smaller parts/braids can help save your strands from hair loss and thinning around your hairline.

Shampoo braids once a week with a Sulfate Free shampoo [preferably one that has antiseptic properties]: Using a sulfate free poo will not only help cut down on frizz, but will also help keep optimal healthy moisture levels. Reach for a shampoo that contains antiseptic properties as this will help keep itchy, flaky symptoms at bay [because it removes bacteria] while leaving your scalp healthy and clean. I recommend Tea Tree Triple Treat by Giovanni.

Deep condition braids once weekly: Keeping your hair nourished and hydrated will help ensure your hair remains shiny, healthy and free of breakage. To deep condition, use your favorite conditioner diluted with a little water [it's easier to wash out this way] and cover with a plastic cap for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and style usual!

Spritz your hair with a strengthener once weekly after deep conditioning: Regular strengthening intervals will help prevent breakage and thinning as a result of prolonged tension from the braids. I recommend spritzing braids liberally with a diluted mix of Infusium 23 [1/2 water - 1/2 Infusium mixture]

Spritz hair at least three times weekly with a conditioner + water spritz: I recommend using a conditioner/water mix in lieu of braid sprays. The properties in the conditioner will help keep your hair soft, correct issues with elasticity and moisture retention. 

Seal in moisture: After spritzing your hair with your conditioner & water mix, lightly apply an oil [I recommend Jojoba Oil] to your braids to seal in the moisture and impart shine.

Try to go no longer than 2 months in the same braid install: It is recommended that you keep your hair braided no longer than two months for several reasons. First, your hair and scalp needs time to breath coupled with a bit of rest from all of the tension due to the braids tugging on the follicles of your hair. And lastly, this prevents any dreading and excess matting from occurring. 

Stay away from products that contain excessive amounts of mineral oils and petrolatum: These ingredients have a tendency to coat the hair with thick moisture-blocking film that is hard to remove when your hair is braided. Not only do they have a tendency to lock moisture out, but they can also create a sticky coating near the base of the braid which can cause matting and dreaded from your strands sticking to the film.

Nourish your scalp with an essential oil blend, or specialized scalp serum: Nourishing your scalp is an essential part of every healthy hair care regimen, but becomes even more important when it [your scalp] is exposed by wearing styles like cornrows and braids. Apply a scalp serum or essential oil blend to protect, hydrate, and nourish your scalp during this period. Not only will it breed healthier hair, but it will also eliminate issues like dandruff and psoriasis. 

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Fashion & Beauty Ethos: DIY Art Deco Manicure

This is more than likely the easiest, fuss free nail design I have done to date. Truthfully, I attempted another design prior to this that was an epic fail, so I played around with designs until I came up with this one. I am pretty pleased, you can swap the colors and make Cheetah print nails, or throw some glitter polish to add more of an edge. The good thing about this quick mani is that you don't have to be good at drawing to nail this design, all you need is a steady hand. 

You Will Need:
Base Coat
Main Nail Color [I used Done Out In Deco - OPI]
Darker Accent Color - For larger spots [I used Over The Taupe - OPI]
Lighter Accent Color - For smaller center dots [I used Java Mauve-A - OPI]
Top Coat
Small Paintbrush

1. Paint your nails with a basecoat; my favorite is the protein basecoat from Essie. 

2. Paint your nails with (1) coat of your main color

3. Using a small paintbrush, lightly apply dots of various sizes on each nail with your darker accent color

4. While the darker dots are still wet, lightly apply a smaller dot in the center of the larger dot using a lighter accent color - Allow nails to dry for 15-25 minutes, then apply a top coat! 

5. Enjoy your new nails!

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Reader Question: How Do I Get Shedding Under Control? How Much Shedding Is Normal?

"Hi Nik! For the past few weeks my shedding has been out of control. I'm so afraid I am going to lose all of my hair, I was thinking about relaxing again. Is this normal? PLEASE help!"
Determine if your hair is shedding or breaking off: Simply put, hair that is shedding usually has a white bulb attached to the beginning of the strand. Hair that has fallen due to breakage is usually shorter without a bulb.

Next step is to determine if the shedding is normal or abnormal: First lets get a basic idea of the growth cycle. Hair goes through several cycles throughout it's stint on your scalp; the first cycle is the anagen phase. The anagen phase is when the hair is actively growing, this typically lasts about 2-3 years [although this is just a rough estimate; the final number of years is genetically pre-determined]. The second cycle is what is known as the catagen phase. This is the phase that signifies the end of the anagen cycle and stops hair growth [typically lasts about 2-3 weeks]. The third and final phase is the telogen phase. This phase is what is known as the resting phase of your hair follicles [typically lasts 3 months]. Healthy hair should shed during the telogen phase at about 50-100 hairs per day.

Abnormal Signs of Shedding:
It is normal to loose from 50-100 shed hairs daily, however your hair should always grow back in it's normal density. If you notice any of the following patterns, this may be a sign of abnormal hair loss:
  • You are noticing small/large bald spots
  • You are noticing significant thinning
  • Hair is growing in thinner and malnourished
Chronic shedding can also be the unfortunate result of a relaxer: 
A relaxer that is improperly applied, or left on the hair for too long can cause chemical burns. One of the many side effects of chemical burns is a weakened hair shaft. It is at this time that you may experience chronic shedding and possibly irreversible hair loss.

>> Also keep in mind that the less you shampoo or comb your hair throughout the week, the more hair fall you will notice. It isn't because the hair is shedding more than usual, it is because most of the shedding tends to fall when you are styling, combing/brushing or shampooing.

Not sure if you are experiencing abnormal shedding?
Wash, detangle and dry your hair. Grab about 20-25 strands of hair holding on securely with your thumb and middle finger. Gently tug on that section of hair taking note of the number of shed hairs. Repeat test over several different areas of your hair. Normal shedding should be about 1-2 hairs per section [as 10% of your hair is in the shedding phase], and abnormal shedding would be about 5 plus hairs per section [based on the theory that hair sheds at a rate of 50-100 hairs daily].

Do you have abnormal shedding? It can occur for numerous reasons such as:
Seasonal Shedding [I typically notice more shedding during the winter months]
Starting or stopping birth control
Recent immunization 
Postpartum shedding
Thyroid issues
Major surgery
Nutrient/Vitamin deficiency
Low protein intake 
Medication Side effects
Sudden change in diet
Crash diets 
Chronic illness [Lupus, Sickle Cell, Cancer

If you experience prolonged shedding, or your symptoms worsen or persist after three months [remember the telogen last for about 3 months] it may be necessary to consult a physician to diagnose possible underlying health issues.

Natural Remedies For Excessive Shedding:
Create an essential oil blend: Some essential oils contain healing cell regeneration properties that helps penetrate the cortex to repair damaged follicles and extend the anagen phase [growth cycle]. Essential oils can also stimulate hair growth and nourish the follicles resulting in healthy hair growth.

My favorite essential oil blend:
4 ounces of Jojoba Oil - Found at most health food stores in the cosmetic section or online {here}
4 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil - Found at most health food stores in the cosmetic section or online {here}
3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil - Found at most health food stores in the cosmetic section or online {here}
3 drops of Thyme Essential Oil - Found at most health food stores in the cosmetic section or online {here}
2 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil - Found at most health food stores in the cosmetic section or online {here}

** All of my Canadian, UK, Japanese, Portuguese & Chinese Curlies can order the same products {here}[New Directions Aromatics is a trusted vendor I have ordered from many times in the past] 

To Use/Store: Combine all ingredients in a dark amber bottle and store in a dark, cool place. To use, massage scalp with treatment oil every other day before bedtime. 

Practice a healthy lifestyle: It is important to note that most cases [cases caused by metabolic abnormality] of chronic shedding can usually be self-corrected by eating a diet rich in proteins [as well as keeping up with the recommended servings of fruits and veggies], as well as practicing proper stress management techniques. 

Ayurvedic Treatments: Ayurvedic treatments work very similar to essential oils in that the properties help cell regeneration and also nourish the follicles and cortex to promote a stronger hair shaft.

Ayurvedic treatment for shedding + hair loss:
Brahmi Powder - Can be found in most Indian Grocery stores, or online {here}
Enough water to make a paste

Mix powder and water until it's a thick yet spreadable paste. Apply liberally to damp unwashed hair [apply throughout entire head], cover and allow to sit for 30minutes to an hour. Rinse well, shampoo and style as usual.

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Vintage Shopping Demystified + My Favorite Places In L.A

  Thrift stores are filled with 70's tops and high-waist trousers like the one's picture on Solange!

If you're looking for eye catching clothing that makes a statement while easy on the pocketbook; thrift shopping is for you. You can find an array of statement items from funky blazers, to bold jewelry, eccentric accessories, timeless dresses and everything in between. The key to making the best out of your thrifting trip is knowing first what you're looking for, then what type of store to visit to find those items.

Know the difference between Specialty Thrift Shops, Consignment Shops, & major thrift retailers like Goodwill & The Salvation Army:

Specialty Thrift Shops:  Proceeds from the sale of merchandise normally goes to foundations, churches and schools. I have found that the prices are a bit higher than major thrift retailers yet the quality of clothing offered tends to be in great shape. These are the stores I normally get quality items like cashmere sweaters [$10-20], vintage shoes [$10-40], and unique purses [$8-15]. [Genre of clothing most likely found; Early 60's - current]

*Want to find a listing of thrift stores in your area? Check out The Thrift Shopper for a comprehensive list

Consignment Shops/Vintage Shops: Consignment shops are normally higher than both Thrift Shops & major thrift shops, yet can be chock-full of designer goods. Items are usually in great condition and have minimal signs of wear and tear. I have purchased signature Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses [$20-40], Gucci Trousers [$45], Versace Blazers [$65] and Marni wedges [$70]. Consignment shops are a haven for those looking for quality designer items and collectible vintage pieces at a fraction of the cost. [Genre of clothing most likely found; Early 50s - current]

Goodwill & Salvation Army: These stores are the most reasonable out of the bunch, however you have to dig a little more. Major thrift chains usually stock an abundance of 80's pieces like beaded and sequined blazers [$3-10], secretary dresses [$2-8], trousers [$2-8], a variety of tops [$1-5], belts & jewelry [$.25-2.00] and interesting purses and clutches [$1-8]. [Genre of clothing most likely found; Late 60s - current]
*Not afraid to get down and dirty? Check out the Goodwill Clearance center in your area to get most clothing for $.50-1.00 a pound. This is the best kept secret in thrifting, as most of the flea market vendors and specialty stores flock to the clearance center in hopes of snagging a few jewels. I scored Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Lanvin & Diane Von Furstenberg for .50 a piece! My favorite clearance center is: 342 San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, CA 90031 - Bring a mask and gloves. Seriously.

** For more collectibles, antiques and jewelry [usually the best stuff you won't find in your local Goodwill], check out the Goodwill Auction website.  

**Estate Sales: I find a lot of my best pieces at Estate Sales.  A lot of my vintage collector bathing suits [$.50-5.00], hats [$1.00-3.00], dresses [$.25-5.00], capes [$.50-5.00], jewelry [$.25-5.00] and vintage furs [$50-100]  have all been purchased at Estate Sales for little of nothing. If you like a lot of the items found in Consignment Shops, you will love Estate Sales as that is where most of the merchandise originates. It is not uncommon to run into collectors, consignment shop owners and dealers at these sales. [Genre of clothing most likely found; Late 40's - current]  

**Check out EstateSales.Net for listings on future estate sales in your area.

What to check for when thrifting:
Check the hems of all clothing: This is normally where you find holes, rips and tears
Check the underarms of dresses, shirts, and jackets: Look for holes, rips, and discoloration
Check the zippers: Make sure all zippers are in working condition
Check for missing buttons
Inspect sweaters for holes

How to care for your garments: 
Dry clean the following items:
  • Items that are made with two different types of fabric
  • Items with lots of embellishments [trim, beads, buttons, sequins]
  • Silk, velvet, wool
Other garments can be washed with Dreft or Woolite

Tips For Thrifting: 
Sale Days: Most thrift stores and consignment shops have sale days where merchandise is 40%-75% off. Pick up a calendar from your thrift shop to take notes of these special promotions.

Store Stocking Days: Find out when your local thrift shop stocks their shelves! This is when you can get first dibs on the best merchandise.

Go during the week: Drop in your local store during the week to avoid the crowd and get your hands on a better selection.

Drop in regularly; I usually stop in my local thrift store about 2-3 times a week to scour the racks for new threads. New merchandise is sometimes put out daily.

Set a budget & bring cash: If you bring cash, you are more likely to stay near or under your set budget.

Bring an ipod: I literally comb each rack when vintage shopping, having an ipod with an upbeat playlist will help keep you focused!

Check out stores in towns with a large elderly population: Some good places to check out are Palm Springs, Palos Verdes & Palisades

Be creative: A lot of my most coveted pieces have come from the costume section [lacy dresses and capes] as well as the children's section [rompers and t-shirts].

Dress for the occasion: Some thrift shops may not have dressing rooms, wear a pair of leggings and a fitted top to try on items inside the store.

New to vintage shopping? Keep it simple and stick to blazers, jackets, men and women's trousers, high-waist skirts and dresses until you're familiar with the fit different silhouettes.

Did you find perspiration stains in silk or linen? Skip these items as the chances of removing them from those fibers are slim to none.

Find mildew? I have never been able to successfully remove mildew from any items.

My favorite thrift stores around Los Angeles:
Valley Thrift - Super huge selection of clothing from [$.25-15.00] - 9007 Lankershim Blvd, Sun Valley CA 91352

Goodwill [South Bay, Reseda, Palos Verdes & Canoga Park locations] - These locations have the best selection of vintage and current clothing. -

Salvation Army [Canoga Park, Palos Verdes, South Bay, & Sunset locations] - These locations have the best selection of vintage and current clothing. -

American Way Thrift - 3226 West Magnolia Blvd, Burbank CA 91505

Rodeo Drive Resale - Consignment shop with tons of designer items - 13727 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks CA 91423

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Instant Funk: I'm Currently Coveting..

Statement garments with unique structural elements

Curve hugging pants

Stripes & Polka Dots

Loose-fitting trousers

Nice comfy jumpers

Breathtaking displays of colors and interesting patterns

Ripped shorts and slouchy tops

The juxtaposition between masculine & feminine

Just making a mental note of things to keep an eye out for as I restock my closet. I am having one of those moments where I am completely over my wardrobe. I foresee Estate Sales and Goodwill trips in the near future. 
[photo sources: 1, 2, 3]

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Mixology Quicktip: Make Your Own Anti-Aging Serum

Nia looks absolutely wonderful in these photos. However I was floored when I found out she was knocking on 40's door. Granted her budget may allow for more pampering and R&R, but don't count out youthful just yet. - You can make spa quality treatments at home minus the preservatives, pretentiousness, and high price tag with just a few ingredients. 

Here is a simple anti-aging serum formulation that will tone, tighten and bring that youthful glow back to your skin!

You Will Need:  
A scant pinch of Hyaluronic Acid [in powder form]
A scant pinch of L-Ascorbic Acid [in crystal form] 
1/4 cup of Aloe Vera Gel 

To Make: 
Add Aloe to small bowl and drop in Hyaluronic Acid & L-Ascorbic Acid. Mix well until H.A & L.A is well blended.

Transfer mixture to clean container with a secure lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To Use:
Apply a small amount of this facial serum on your face and neck nightly. Allow your skin to soak up the properties of the serum for up to 15 minutes before applying a moisturizer.  

Where to purchase ingredients?
All ingredients can be purchased at The Herbarie or via your favorite raw ingredients vendor.

About This Formulation:
  • Hyaluronic Acid is found in healthy, supple skin. As we get older our levels of HA tends to drop. Adding Hyaluronic Acid to this formulation will increase the skin's ability to retain moisture, and will also keep skin soft, smooth and supple.
  • L-Ascorbic Acid also known as Vitamin C is one of natures best natural anti-oxidants. The L-Ascorbic Acid in this formulation will help soothe and protect your skin.
  • Aloe Vera Gel is filled with regenerative properties that help soothe and protect the skin [AVG is filled with anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties]. Aloe Vera Gel is also chock-full of skin loving nutrients and enzymes that will impart a radiant glow and fade blemishes if used regularly.

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