Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hair Care Regimen: Later weeks of a relaxer cycle

I am getting to the point in my relaxer cycle where it’s all about being creative when it comes to hairstyles, where the sight and feel of my scalp are distant memories, and I am counting down the days... and possibly weeks until my next touch up. It has been almost 6 weeks since my relaxer and this is usually when my hair starts to crave a slightly different regimen.

For the first weeks post relaxer, I use lighter conditioners like my beloved ORS Replenishing for my deep conditioning treatments as they give me great conditioning without weighing my hair down too much. However, as my new growth starts to kick into high gear, my hair craves more moisture. I am still sure to get some protein in as well; since the point where your new growth meets you previously relaxed hair (the line of demarcation) is the weakest point of the hair.

So, this is an example of what my reggie looks like in the last few weeks leading up to my relaxer:

Prepoo (15-20 mins with heat or 30-45 mins without heat)
Mizani Fufyl (this conditioner is a good mix of both moisture and protein- love multitaskers!) or Suave Tropical Coconut conditioner mixed with ¼ cup of EVOO or coconut oil (the oil helps to make detangling your new growth easier)

Keracare Hydrating Detangling

Deep Condition (15-20 mins with heat or 30-45 mins without heat)
Giovanni 50/50 Balancing Conditioner or Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner

Though I may normally be able to stretch washing my hair to every 5 days, during the later weeks of my relaxer my hair likes to be washed no later than every 4 days. If your hair still craves even more moisture, you can always add in a conditioner wash. I also like to do a light to moderate protein treatment with the Aphogee 2 minute reconstructor or Nexxus Keraphix every other week. I just apply it to my hair as a pre-shampoo treatment (prepoo). I find that doing these light protein treatments regularly eliminates the need for me to ever do a heavy duty treatment like the Nexxus Emergencee or Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment. I would just keep a close watch on your hair, though, as what is a light protein for me might be a heavy one for someone else and you don’t want to go overboard.

I have been relaxing my hair every 8 weeks but I’ll probably stretch that to every 10 weeks in the winter when hair generally grows more slowly. I more gauge on how much new growth I have; as long as I have a good inch of growth where you can easily see where the new growth ends and previously relaxed hair begins, I’m good to go as far as I’m concerned.

As far as hairstyling, I choose styles that allow to me to manipulate my hair as little as possible and allow my new growth to blend in better with my relaxed ends. So, braidouts, twistouts, and flexirod sets are my best friends. I continue to rollerset as well, but I just use smaller rollers so my hair will have more curl to it. This is the time where retention really becomes the name of the game because these weeks are primetime for increased shedding and breakage. So, I would recommend being extra gentle with your hair at this point and these styles are great for that. Also many of these styles also lend themselves very easily to air drying which is as gentle as you can get.

That’s all I have! Be sure to share your tips in the comments!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let's do lunch

My all-time favorite makeup line, Smashbox, has a thing they call Let’s Do Lunch on their website every Tuesday and Thursday. On these days if you purchase anything from their website during lunch time (9am to 2pm PST- for you east coasters like myself that is 12pm to 5pm), you get a free gift! And I’m not talking those little samples you get with your Sephora orders (though I love those too) but full sized products! Plus their site has free standard shipping all the time with no minimums! I love this makeup brand. Their stuff is of impeccably high quality (it is designed by makeup artists after all) and it’s all so wearable. They are all about making you look like yourself but better which is my mantra when it comes to makeup. There is a place and time for bright colored, statement makeup, but how few and far between are those occasions?

Either way, last Thursday I ordered one of their eye shadow trios in Big Screen (this was in their Curtain Call section which means it was on sale for $21.00) and received one of their Fusion Soft Lights quads in as part of their lunch special. They also threw in a sample of their incredibly popular O-Gloss too. Did I mention I love free stuff? If you haven’t tried their eye shadows, you are missing out something serious because they have the smoothest, cashmere-like texture. Their Soft Lights products are highlighters used to give you that flawless face look, like you’ve been photographed with ultra forgiving soft focus lenses. And if you haven’t heard of O-Gloss, it’s an evolution of their O-Glow blush that adjusts to your body temperature and skin tone to give you that perfect, natural blushed look. It’s supposed to be what you would actually look like if you were blushing. So, their O-Gloss is that same idea but aimed at your lips; your own customized gloss color. This stuff is pretty cool to see in action because it comes out of the tube perfectly clear but as it warms up to your skin, it turns your perfect, subtle color. It’s definitely worth a try next time you’re in Sephora.

P.S. I tried to find a pic to go along with this post forever but I just couldn't find anything that made sense. So, I decided to spare you guys a pic of a tuna sandwich or some sushi or something... mmm, sushi!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If it looks like a gloss, smells like a gloss…

You guys are getting a hat trick this week since it is our slow time at work. So, I mentioned last week that I placed an order at Avon for some (okay, 4) of their lip glosses since they were having a great sale on them at $1.99 a piece. Well, the shipping and processing were great because I got my package in 3 business days with their standard shipping. I ordered the glosses in cantaloupe (my favorite color- a sheer pinky coral color), gold digger (an opaque gold color), crimson (a deep, translucent wine color), and tickled pink (an opaque mauve color). Now that I’ve gotten a chance to try out these glosses, here are my two cents.

First of all, I wouldn’t really call them glosses. In the ad, they called them glosses but the name of the product is more specifically liquid lip color which is a much more appropriate description. They do not have the shine of your average gloss, but rather, more of a nice subtle sheen or shimmer depending on the color you get. If you are really into super glossy lips, then this wouldn’t be the item for you but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who aren’t into the high shine look for which these glosses would be a welcomed change. I usually go for the super glossy look but I like to mix things up as well. I think these would work great for a nice low-key summer look (especially the cantaloupe color); since they add some color without looking like you tried too hard. (For a great super simple and easy summer look I would use some clear mascara, bronzer, and the cantaloupe gloss.) And sometimes if your overall look is a little more dramatic, you may not want to amp it up even further with a glossy lip. Also, I’m sure the more mature femmes out there who love lipsticks but want to take a small foray into the gloss arena would love these as well, as these are a nice hybrid.

Well, it’s unfortunately not all sunshine and lollipops because I’m not in love with everything about these glosses. I think their more sheer colors would work best for women with darker skin tones as you won’t get that lips lighter than your face thing I am not a fan of. Unfortunately, though, they do not tell you on the website which colors are sheer and which are more opaque. So, while I love the cantaloupe and crimson, I hated the way the gold digger and tickled pink looked on my skin tone. Since, you all know I hate waste, I was able to salvage gold digger (and I’m sure it would work for the tickled pink color as well) by using a lip liner underneath the gloss. This completed changed the color of the gloss, mellowing out the gold, and warming it so it worked perfectly with my skin tone. I used a wine colored liner, so I ended up with a wine lip with pretty gold pop- perfect for fall since the dark lip is in but this look is much more wearable for most. And this way you won’t have to invest in a deep color you may not wear that often. So, before you call a lip gloss (or any lip product) a complete loss, try layering it with another product like a liner or lip stick. (Bonus: using a lip liner also ups the staying power of your glosses.)

Overall, these were a great buy. You can’t beat the price if you catch it on sale like I did (and look out for those free shipping offers). They are not drying at all to your lips, they have a great subtle scent, and they are a nice change from the hyper shine lip glosses. If you’ve ever tried the Avon Glazewear liquid lip colors, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is there a 12 step program for product junkies?

While I was on the thought of maintaining oneself, in terms of your appearance, I came across this blog post on the Sephora blog. It’s says that women, on average, use 12 beauty/toiletry type products per day while men only use 6. It really got me thinking about how many products I use per day. This is what I’ve used so far today:
  • Toothpaste
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant moisturizer
  • Avon Renew face cream (I used this on my cheeks because they have been dry latterly and this cream has a thicker consistency than the Aveeno)
  • Suave Tropical Coconut body wash
  • Jergen’s Shea Butter lotion
  • Dove deodorant
  • Donna Karan Cashmere Mist perfume
  • Revlon Colorstay eyeshadow quad in Sterling Rose
  • L’oreal Decrease (I haven’t sprung for the much loved Urban Decay Primer Potion yet. This stuff is cheaper, $8.99, and works pretty well)
  • Estee Lauder Sumptuous mascara (This was a free sample. It works well but I don’t usually go for expensive mascaras since you have to toss them so often)
  • Wet ‘n’ Wild liquid liner in dark brown
  • NYX Mosaic Powder Bronzer in Love (I like that this doubles as my blush and bronzer)
  • Avon lipgloss in Canteloupe
  • ELF clear brow gel/mascara duo (I've been using this for my brows; I’m not in love with it but I hate being wasteful and I’m all out of my Covergirl)
  • C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine (I use this throughout the day in lieu of Chapstick)
  • Johnson’s baby lotion (I have this at my desk at work for use after washing my hands; not pictured)
  • Hand sanitizer

I never realized just how many products I use during the course of the day. I haven’t decided if my total is a good or a bad thing yet. How do you measure up?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life is not a dress rehearsal

As my 25th birthday is fast approaching (November 7th!), I have been seriously thinking about what direction I want my life to take. On my last birthday, I posted this excerpt that was sent to me by a friend of mine in my cube at work: “The old adage that ‘life is not a dress rehearsal’ is so true, and yet we act to the contrary by putting off what is truly important or indulging in things that are not.” With this in mind, I have been assembling a “Quarter-life Goals” list of the things I want to accomplish or adjust in the months coming up to my birthday and beyond. I am mainly trying to give myself a swift kick in the rear and stop my procrastination and, let’s be honest, all out laziness at times! I was reading one of my favorite blogs, and we must some kind of mind meld thing going, because she is going through the same thing as she approaches her 30th birthday.

My list includes things like: cooking at least 2 times a week (I absolutely looove to cook but I have been majorly slacking as of late), exercising 3 times a week (I want to give myself a very attainable goal as I try to get myself back in shape), and to finally stop saying I want to go to Europe and just go! My husband and I have chosen Rome as our first destination and we have begun saving up. So, basically my list is getting me to finally put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and turn my thoughts into actions.

Most of the things on my list boil down to maintenance! Taking care of every aspect of your life so that nothing ever gets totally out of control; things mama tried to teach you growing up. So, yeah, keep me honest, chulas! Your girl is trying!

P.S. My list also includes you guys! I love writing this blog and I hope you all love reading it. My goal is to update at least once per week, though I like to show you some love at least twice a week.

P.P.S. This photo is a stretch in terms of how it relates to this post but I love this girl! Shawn Johnson has shown immense poise beyond her years and performed so amazingly throughout these Olympic games. And even though she is almost 10 years younger than me, she is a great role model and inspiration.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cult of Mac

I am sure my MAC addicts out there have been eagerly awaiting the Cult of Cherry Collection for quite some time now (though how can you keep up with the all of the collections MAC has been releasing what seems like every week now). However, I am not among you (travesty, I know) as I only have a few MAC products: a few lip glasses, some blotting powder, a lip pencil, and some tinted moisturizer, most of which I purchased for my wedding; I had most wonderful MAC artist do my makeup- shouts to Laura Vaeth!

Either way, I saw a few YouTube videos and read a few reviews on the eye shadow quads in this collection and I think I am in love. I am particularly obsessed with the quad in Spiced Chocolate. This quad is an infinitely wearable, totally modern take on fall neutrals. I think the colors would perfectly compliment any woman of color and the quad is a perfect addition to your makeup case if you’re just looking for a few things to update your makeup as we go into fall. The quad is $36.00 and will be available when the collection is officially released next Tuesday, August 19th (online; August 21st in stores). See you there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hot Hair, Hot Body

One of the most frustrating things about beginning a new workout routine is trying to figure out what to do with your hair. You certainly don’t want give up your new healthier lifestyle but you don’t want to walk around looking a HAM either. So, what is a girl to do? Well, don’t put away those running sneakers just yet; your hairmakeuplove guru has a few quick tips just for you.

1) Align your workout routine and your hair routine- You probably already have set days for cardio and weight training with some days slated as high impact versus low. So, plan to do your high-impact cardio (your longer runs, kickboxing classes, etc.) before your wash days and save your lighter routines for just after your wash.

2) Bump up your shampoo frequency to at least every 3-4 days - It is very important for your overall hair health and appearance that you clean your hair and scalp frequently. Allowing the sweat to sit in your hair for an extended period of time can lead to dry, brittle hair and slow your hair growth by clogging your scalp. Frequent washing need not be drying to your hair either. On the contrary, it can actually improve the health of your hair by keeping your moisture levels high and keeping your scalp clean. Just be sure to take advantage of the increased chances to deep condition by doing so, with or without heat, at least once per week. If you find the frequent shampooing to be too much for your hair, you can just alternate with conditioner washes and use a cheap conditioner to cleanse your scalp instead. You will still get a clean, refreshed scalp and you hair will get an extra conditioning boost.

Even if you can’t manage shampooing this often, try to at least cleanse your scalp with a dry shampoo such as T3 Refresh Volumizing Dry Shampoo. Dove and Aveda also make great reviving mists to freshen up your hair those days in between your washes.

3) Go with the flow- Since the constant sweating will cause your hair to be a little more voluminous, shall we say, than usual, don’t fight it by going for super sleek, straight styles. Embrace styles with more texture, such as rollersets, braidouts, and flexirod sets. These styles can also be beneficial to your hair in the long run as they do not require the use of direct heat (as in blow dryers and flat irons).

4) Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! – There is no better excuse to explore hair accessories. Headbands, clips, and scarves can hide a multitude of sins. Just let your inner Carrie Bradshaw out and have fun!

5) Be a multi-tasking beauty! – Try deep conditioning your hair while you work out. Simply apply your favorite deep conditioner to your dry hair, pin your hair up in a loose bun, and get your workout on. The heat your body produces while you’re working out will actually help the conditioner penetrate your hair better. Then once your workout is done, rinse the conditioner out in the shower, and style.

Share your tips on keeping both your hair and your body bangin' in the comments!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hello savings!

Somehow despite how many items I have crammed into my makeup traincase, I can still find some thing (or things) that I absolutely must have whenever I go to the mall. I have been more discerning lately, as I'm trying to stick to my $400.00 a month savings goal (so far, so good), but I must admit that I am an absolute sucker for a deal. Luckily for you guys it means the 411 on some great deals.

First off this weekend I ventured into ULTA to find that they are currently have a BOGO free sale going on for their ULTA Collection eyeshadows, lip products, and nail polishes. I nabbed two of their eyeshadows, one in Keywest (a beautiful, summery blue) and Granite (a gorgeous, medium dark gray). Their eyeshadows are normally $6.50 a piece, so I got those shadows for $3.25 each! Sufficiently happy with myself, I stumbled upon their clearance aisle and found an eyeshadow in Flame (a pretty peach color) for $2.99! Now, that's what I'm talking about. I left ULTA with my three shadows and a hair applicator brush (the kind used for applying hair color but I'm going to use it to apply my deep conditioners) for a little over 10 bucks including tax! I'm only bummed that I forgot to bring one of those $3.50 off a purchase of $10.00 or more coupons. I really need to just have these kinds of coupons in my purse because I never have one on hand when I truly need one. Oh well, still happy. By the way, the shadows are great. Great color payoff, not too powder, and wonderful staying power.

Not content to leave it at that, I also did some online shopping at Avon. I read a blog a few weeks ago that piqued my interest in their makeup. They have some great sales, often making them cheaper that drugstore brands, so I figured why not give it a try. Case in point, they currently have their lip glosses on sale for $1.99. $1.99!!! So.... I bought 4! I added a few more products to my happy little cart (some face lotion, a cleanser and couple of brushes) to make my haul complete. But what about shipping? You know I had that covered. I used a coupon code they sent me for free shipping on any order of $20 or more (code: AVN20SF is good until 8/14/08). Love it! Now, I just have to try not to be an impatient 3 year old until my package gets here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mmm, smells like coconut love

A few weeks ago my husband stumbled upon Suave's Tropical Coconut Body Wash and we have been in coconut heaven ever since. I say we because it smelled so incredible that I couldn't let him have all the fun. For once his frugality has paid off (I shop to balance quality and price, he wants to know: how cheap is it?) because I have been in love since. The rich smell permeates the house long after you have left the shower without being at all overpowering. I wouldn't call it a moisturizing body wash, which is what I normally go for, but it not drying either. I just follow it with my usual post shower routine of Jergen's Shea Butter lotion and a few spritzes of good ole Johnson's baby oil (I transferred mine to a spray bottle for easier application). If moisturizing then sealing works for your hair, why not your body, right? I was previously cycling between Dove's Deep Moisture body wash and Olay's Body Wash plus Body Butter Ribbons (which unfortunately leaves an oily film on your hands... ick) but this stuff is cheaper and just as fabulous.

All of this led me to try Suave's Tropical Coconut conditioner which I got on sale for about $1.50. I've used it mixed with coconut oil as a prepoo (pre-shampoo treatment) and as a quickie conditioner in the shower. I must say this stuff is wonderful! It really is an instant conditioner because all I did was apply it on my hair and rinse it off about a minute later and my hair felt so incredible. I could not believe it. I normally use Nexxus Humectress as my in shower conditioner (this used to be my staple deep conditioner but I have since found things I love even more so I am using it up) but this Suave works just as well (if not better, shhh) as an instant conditioner. And you cannot beat the price! Mind you, I would not use this as a deep conditioner without some finagling but as a instant or a conditioner wash? Puhlease! This stuff is the ishh. Sorry, Brooklyn moment. Either way, it has the same great smell as the body wash too, so all I need is a coconut body lotion and I'll have the trifecta of coconut deliciousness.


Water (Aqua), Cetyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum), Distearyldimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Glycerin, 2 Bromo 2 Nitropropane 1, 3 Diol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Propylene Glycol, Silk Amino Acids, Honey (Mel), Nettle (Urtica Dioica) Extract, Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Extract, Coconut (Cocoa Nucifera) Extract

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Recession Proof Your Beauty Routine: Hair Edition

Right about now, everyone is feeling the pinch and looking for ways to save. So, how could I not provide you with tips on how to still get your beauty fix without going broke? I am starting a series on how to “Recession Proof Your Beauty Routine” that will give you tips on how to still look fabulous while staying on a budget, something we all should be doing regardless of how the economy is performing (this is the financial analyst in me talking now).

Anyway, first up is hair care. The nature of our hair often requires more hair products and higher quality hair products to maintain. Though, I will not dispute the fact that the more expensive products are often of higher quality, with greater concentrations of the key ingredients, there are still ways to save.

First, consider taking things into your hands… at least partly. If you add up how much you spend on salon visits, it can easily be a couple thousand dollars per year. I recommend leaving the chemicals to the professionals, however, you can learn how to wash and style your hair yourself. This can save you tons of the money in the long run and it can be very satisfying knowing that you are not dependent on a stylist for your hair care. If you can’t imagine only going to your stylist for relaxers and hair color, consider only going to the salon for every other wash. This will still result in a big savings.

Secondly, try looking at those cheapie conditioners in the grocery store with a new eye. Cheapies like Suave, VO5, and Tresemme are not only great straight out of the bottle for conditioner washes and leave-ins but, if you are willing to become your own kitchen chemist, you can turn these into great deep conditioners as well. Think of the conditioner as just a great base to work off of. Try adding oils like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or jojoba oil to your cheapie conditioners to give them more punch. Also, you can try adding an egg to a cup or so of your favorite cheapie to turn it into great protein conditioner.

Thirdly, know where to spend and where to skimp. If you do have a little extra money to spend, I would recommend spending your money on conditioners as these can have the greatest effect on your hair’s health. You can rotate your newly upgraded cheapie conditioner with your salon quality conditioner, to extend your buck even further. Where I might skimp would be on shampoos. The main issue with cheap shampoos is that they can be stripping to your hair; however, you can counteract this effect somewhat by doing a pre-shampoo treatment (prepoo). This will leave a coat on your hair that will provide a barrier against the harsh effects of the shampoo. You should also be sure not lather your hair until you get to that squeaky clean stage (this should be a must no matter what shampoo you choose); two lathers should be more than enough to cleanse your scalp. You can also try rotating your shampoo washes with conditioner washes (where you use a cheapie conditioner in lieu of a shampoo).

Lastly, know a hair care bargain when you see one. There are a lot of hair care gems out there that are both affordable and high quality.

Here are my all-stars:

1) Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner and Hair Mayonnaise– You guys already know I love the Replenishing Conditioner but the Hair Mayo is a wonderful protein treatment as well.

2) Giovanni 50/50 Balancing Conditioner and Smooth as Silk Conditioner – These are my favorite moisturizing conditioners for the latter weeks of my relaxer cycle. They leave my hair incredibly soft for days for about $6.99 at your local drugstore, ULTA, Target, or even grocery store. Look for this stuff on sale too. My local grocery store had these on sale for $5.99 yesterday. If you cannot find it in your local stores, try purchasing this online at Vitacost. It is ridiculously cheap there even after you factor in shipping. Vitacost has great prices on hair oils as well.

3) Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor – This a great light protein treatment that you can find in your local beauty supply store. I often use this in my post relaxer hair care routine.