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Friday, March 30, 2012

::We interrupt Fashion Friday's regularly scheduled programming::

to share the experience I had with Keratin straightening! (regularly scheduled Fashion Fridays will resume as normal next week.)

I've been perming my hair curly since I was 12. Yeah... I know I know. My hair is stick straight naturally- the kind that won't hold a curl or have any volume whatsoever. After years of perming my hair though, I felt that I was finally ready to move on and embrace my natural texture. I had a little problem though- my hair is chemically processed in every which way imaginable and I was not about to look like a fool growing out a perm on my long hair. So what now?
A friend recommended Milady Beauty Salon's Keratin Treatment. This post will be a review on the salon (helpful if you live in or will be visiting the NYC area) and a review on the keratin treatment for my processed hair. I was concerned about doing a keratin treatment because my hair is not naturally curly but after some research online, I felt comfortable giving it a try.
The technician I worked with was Nilsa, and she was very friendly, professional, and understanding of my concerns. She gave me a full consultation where the whole keratin treatment process was explained and a hair diagnostic free of charge, and set up an appointment with me.
On the day of the service, she washed my hair and did not add any conditioner. She discussed the benefits of the brand of treatment she used, Rio Keratin, which you can read more about here if you're interested. After my hair was completely dry, she added the keratin treatment into my hair and straightened with a flat iron at 450 degrees. This was an extremely scary process for me, just because I never ever heat style my hair and if I do, I always add a ton of heat protectant (definitely more than necessary!) After the treatment was complete, she advised me not to wash my hair for a total of 4 days (EEEEKKK!!!) My hair gets extremely oily, so even with the use of dry shampoo I have to wash it every other day or else it looks awful. Nilsa also advised me that I should not use any products in my hair... including dry shampoo. Oh well, gotta take one for the team!

This is what my hair looked like before the treatment:

This is after the flat ironing:

The 4 days without washing my hair was excruciating for me. The day I could final wash, I swear I was like the old school Herbal Essences commercials- I was never so happy to wash my hair!! I was also partly terrified of what it would look like after I did wash.
After it dried completely, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was completely silky, smooth, and straight with no product and no styling- just wash and go.
This is after my first wash: (yes, I am totally rocking Hello Kitty PJ pants- love them!)

Overall, I had a very positive experience with both the salon and the keratin treatment used. For my long hair I was charged $125 which is a stark contrast to the $350+ charge of other salons. If you are interested in making an appointment, I highly suggest you request Nilsa. For more information on the salon, click here.

Feel free to leave questions or comments about either the salon or the treatment. Also, if anyone is interested in updates on the status of my hair, I'd be happy to do it so let me know!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

If its pink and its got glitter...

...then I definitely have to own it! This is exactly how I felt about Essie's polish in Pink-a-Boo from the  Resort 2012 Collection. Its a sheer light pink with glass-fleck shimmer in it- both blue and hot pink. I decided to free-hand a french manicure with it today:

It's a little rough but hey- not bad for my first try, right? The application on this one was tricky- you definitely want to wait a bit between coats or you will get bald spots. Also, because there is so much shimmer and the formulas is so sheer, the finish is noticeably gritty. However, since the shimmer is so unusual and so pretty, while this would usually bother me, I don't mind it with this polish. It reminds me of the Nicole by OPI polish in "Kim-pletely in Love" from the Kardashian Kollection, except with that one there's just light blue shimmer and its much more subtle.

Here's a closeup of the polish so you can see how the shimmer translates on the nail:

And lastly, here's a macro shot of the bottle so you can see all the gorgeous shimmer:

I just love this one. Have you checked out the 2012 Resort Collection? Any colors catch your eye?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Wipes

Love. This. Product! I recently picked this up after I noticed that my face has been getting much more oily as we move into warmer weather. I usually use Clean & Clear oil blotting sheets (another product I love), but I always feel like that takes off the surface oil while pores are still oily. I've used other Neutrogena products in the past so I decided to give these wipes a try, and I'm so glad I did.

I haven't used these wipes to take off makeup, though the package says you can. What I love them for is a refresher mid day, after exercise, the gym, etc. The wipes have a light, clean smell to them, leave my skin feeling amazing, refreshed, and clean, and leave no residue.

On the back of the package, it says what you can expect from these wipes:

I definitely agree with these claims. What sets these wipes apart from any other I've used is how they make my skin feel. Most leave my skin feeling not-so-clean; with a reside like they haven't done enough. Others make my skin feel really dry and tight. But these really leave you feeling so refreshed. The small size of the package would also be great for travel- to keep at work, in your locker, in your suitcase, where ever. I also think that these would be great to keep at your bedside on those days you are just too tired to take your makeup off. Plus, I had a mild break out and after just one use of these wipes, the breakout was totally GONE. This is definitely a 5 star rating from me!

Have you tried these? How do you like to keep your skin feeling and looking refreshed?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lush Goodies!

Two of my must haves from Lush are the Glitterbug and Black Stockings massage bars.

Glitterbug on left, black stockings on right

Glitterbug is a clear massage bar that has pink-purple iridescent glitters in it. Just like the other massage bars, you rub this little egg-shaped bar onto your skin until it gets warm. The product then gets melty and distributes the glitter for a fun, glam look. I've heard others say that this smells like vanilla, but to me it has that typical "Lush" smell- you know, that smell you smell as soon as you walk into a store? I know this is extremely helpful lol. The smell doesn't bother me at all and it isn't overbearing and awful like some of Lush's other products (I'm looking at you Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter!) Anyone who knows me also knows that I LOVE anything with glitter in it. Unfortunately, the Glitterbug is discontinued, but the good news is, you can recreate the same look at home! All you need is your favorite moisturizer (I would recommend using your favorite Lush massage bar for staying power) and body glitter or shimmer of your choice that you can pat (sparingly!) anywhere you choose. I love the iridescent glitter, so when my Glitterbug runs out (tear!) I will definitely be using this trick.
Anyway, here's what Glitterbug looks like up close:

I intentionally blurred the picture so you could get a better idea of what the shimmer looks like. I'm soooo sad that this product is discontinued (wth, Lush!). If this type of glitter is too full-on and/or you prefer something that has a more subtle sheen, then Shimmy Shimmy would be the product for you. It is a heart-shaped massage bar that has fine golden shimmer in it and also looks beautiful. It is not discontinued so run, don't walk to your nearest Lush ◕ ‿ ◕

The next product is Black Stockings. This product is meant to be a temporary bronze tint used on the legs or where ever to amp up the skin's healthy glow. It also works really well for those who are a bit pale and would like some temporary color just to warm up their skin tones. There are two versions of the tiny- Silk Stockings which is the same idea but a lighter tone, and Black Stockings, which is the darkest. To me, this product has a light cinnamon scent which disappears quickly.
Here's what it looks like:

I love to use this on my legs and decollete for a night out. On me, it translates to a rose gold, bronzey sheen which I really like as it makes my skin look bronzey, healthy, and moisturized. It sounds expensive at $9.95, but you do get a good amount of product and because a little bit does go a long way, you can get at least 10 or more uses from this.

Finally, here are swatches of Glitterbug and Black Stockings on NC25 skin:

Glitterbug on the left, Black Stockings on the right
Have you ever tried Lush massage bars? Which are your favorites? Any you hated? Let me know!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow!

Today's post is about a foundation that I've been using for a few weeks. Though I love my Chanel Mat Lumiere, I wanted something that would still offer me good coverage but feel light on my skin for the warmer weather. Its also important to me to allow my skin to breathe- and Oxygen Wow! lets your skin do exactly that. says:

  • broad-spectrum SPF 25 PA+++ protection
  • oil-free formula
  • natural finish
  • hydrating benefits
  • light-diffusing properties
  • available in 9 shades
  • The back of the box also claims that it has several ingredients that will prevent aging and will "plump" your skin. I love a foundation that will also benefit (no pun intended!) my skin.

    I don't know about you, but it sounds pretty good to me! At $34.00, this foundation is pretty pricey, so how does it perform for your money?
    It comes in this snazzy, clean-looking pump dispenser. I love the fact that it is packaged this way because it keeps things hygienic. I also love that the pump is easy to control; it doesn't pump out massive amounts of product which ends up being wasted.

    my color is "toasted beige"

    The foundation itself is pretty runny. I was surprised by this and couldn't help wondering if it would give me any coverage at all.
    Eep! Don't run off my hand before I snap the picture!!

    I like to apply it was a flat top kabuki brush, buffing in small, circular motions around my face. I couldn't help but like what I saw. I wouldn't call this a full coverage foundation but at one application, it offered a natural, medium-coverage look. It is also buildable so at 2-3 layers, you can achieve full coverage that does not cake up. Best of all, it still looks natural, and feels absolutely weightless. You can't really feel this on your skin which is great. I didn't notice any "plumping" effects as the company claims, but this may be more oriented toward older women or those with dry skin.

    Here's a swatch:

    Unblended on the left, blended on the right

    The only downside to this foundation is the wear time. I have combination skin (not excessively oily by any means) and after about 3-4 hours, my nose starts to look shiny. Unless you have very dry skin, I would definitely recommend setting Oxygen Wow! with a powder for optimal staying power. With setting, I had no issues and really enjoyed the look and feel of this foundation and I can see myself reaching for this constantly as the weather gets warmer.

    Have you tried Oxygen Wow! foundation? Do you think it lives up to its claims?

    Happy Monday all! Its going to be a great week

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Fashion Friday: Structured Bags

    For the past few months, I have been using my giant Longchamps tote for everything. It's black and brown so it matches with everything and its so huge I can literally fit my whole life in it. I call it my Mary Poppins bag. However, for times when I want to look more put together, I opt for a more structured style- in black of course.
    I picked this little number up at Strawberry's (originally $70, reduced to $39.99- yay bargains!) Its from a brand called Midoni:

    I love this style for work, meetings, you name it. Plus, the faux leather is feels much more expensive than it actually is. It would also make a really cute laptop bag and the inside has several compartments which keeps all your stuff in order which is great for people like me- my bag is the land of no return.
    Speaking of the inside, its got a really cute silver and black lace pattern which is very chic

    Overall, I think this bag is a great find. It's an inexpensive way to channel the fashion greats such as Victoria Beckham and makes your outfit look smart and put together.

    Image credit: Google
    What kinds of bags are you loving right now?

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Flattie Flat Iron

    I abuse my hair like its no one's business, I admit it. Its not something I'm proud of, but it seems like I can never leave my hair alone. Perm, highlight, get sick of highlights, back to dark, need another perm, and the cycle continues. What I am great about, is hair hair- deep conditioning, Moroccan oil, all that jazz. Also, I never EVER heat style my hair.
    Today though, I decided to style my hair differently for a change. I used a ton of heat protectant, but I actually straightened it. What I used was an adorable 1/2" iron- a Flattie.

    teeny tiny flattie!
    This flat iron is literally the smallest iron I've ever seen. Its also extremely light-weight and would be GREAT to stash in your purse, at work, locker, etc. for touch-ups or emergencies (because we all know that happens!) It's also great for taming that "chick frizz" (aka baby hairs) around the hairline. While it doesn't have any heat settings or on/off switch (you plug it in and its turns on) it does heat up rather quickly.

    Here's what the ceramic plates look like up close:

    If you have a a lot of hair, this iron may not be ideal for you just because it would take forever to straighten your hair. Also, as it doesn't get super duper hot, it may not be ideal for ladies who have hair that is tough to style.

    I thought it gave wonderful results and for the price I paid ($12.99), I'm really happy with it.

    Here's what my bangs look like after I used the Flattie to style them (easy-peasy and great results!)

    I purchased this product at my local beauty supply store (I swear they love me in there!), but if you're interested, you can pick one up here.

    What's your favorite way to style your hair? Are there any tools you absolutely cannot love without?

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Nubbin Party: Update

    So its been about a week since I started using my nail hardener (Quimica Alemana) on my nails. I thought I'd update you on how my nubbins have fared.
    First, here's what they look like now:

    After about a week of use, my nails feel a bit stronger and have not broken at the corners or chipped in any way. You can also see by the picture that compared to last week, I have a few centimeters of free edge- pretty fast for a week. As my nails are still not to the strength that I desire, I will continue to use this product for about another week and re-evaluate then.

    Any nail hardener recommendations? Any that absolutely did not work for you? Leave them down below!

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Guest Mani!

    Hey all!

    Today's post will feature my friend Jessica's mani. She used Essie Lilacism and Essie Cute as a Button for the accent nail.

    Image credit: Jessica
    I love the way she used two of the hottest color trends for spring- a pastel and a bright coral (you guys know I'm all over coral right now!)
    If you aren't into brights, pastels, especially lilac, is very flattering on every skin tone. A great alternative to Lilacism is Essie's St. Lucia Lilac in case you can't get your hands on Lilacism.

    What do you think of Jessica's manicure? What fun colors have you been trying for spring?

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Coral Lip Trend

    By far, the biggest trend I've been seeing for spring is coral. With this, everything goes: makeup, clothing, accessories- coral is a gorgeous color that brightens up any look. I thought I'd kick off the week with my top 6 coral lip colors. The best part is, they are all under $10! Happy Monday! ☺

    First up, is Milani's Coral Cabana. This is a pretty peachy-coral lip color that has gold shimmer to it. This is not a bright or in-your-face color, which is perfect if you aren't used to wearing a lot of color but would like to experiment with the trend.

    Milani Coral Cabana

    Next is Avon Liquid Lip balm in Coral Sands. Though its labeled as a liquid lip balm, to me this is more of a gloss. Its absolutely gorgeous and is more on the pink side. This would look amazing on fairer skin tones or those who want a more sheer wash of color. Coral Sands also smells AMAZING. It reminds me of summer as it has a very tropical, coconut smell. I purchased this a long time ago and did not see it on the Avon website, but there may be a few left over that Avon can track down for you if you call them

    Avon Coral Sands

    This next color is a matte by Revlon in Smoked Peach. I have to admit, though I love the color, I haven't had much luck with Revlon's matte formulation. They're not the typical matte and its really hard to describe because its not drying, but it feels... slippery. Also, minor point but to me, the name of this color is really unattractive. Smoked peach? Pleh...
    Revlon matte Smoked Peach

    From the Revlon Colorburst Gloss line comes Sunset Peach. This is a really pretty but muted peachy-coral that warms up your look. I also love the multidimensional quality the golden and pink shimmer add. I also love that this gloss is not sticky and relatively long lasting (about 3 hours on my lips). This color goes really well with a smokey eye.

    Revlon colorburst Sunset Peach

    Milani 3D Glitzy Glamour Gloss in Stylish. This is a more orange gloss but it does have coral, pink, and gold shimmer in it. It would also work really well layered over any coral lip color to add shimmer to it. Plus, it smells like animal crackers! Always a plus in my book.

    Milani 3D Gloss Stylish

    Last, but definitely not least is the LUSH Lip Tint in Chilli Tingle. In the pan it looks like a tomato red but, on the lips it packs a punch as a reddish coral. This will give you a statement lip and is a beautiful color. I have found that the LUSH lip tints tend to dry my lips out, so you'll want to apply a lip balm under this one.

    Lush Lip Tint Chilli Tingle

    And... *bonus*! Swatches of all the colors mentioned:

    From left to right: Milani Coral Cabana, Avon Coral Sands, Revlon matte Smoked Peach, Revlon Colorburst Sunset Peach, Milani 3D Gloss Stylish, LUSH Lip Tint Chilli Tingle.

    What do you think of the spring coral trend? Is this something you'd want to try? What are your favorite coral lip colors?

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Fashion Friday: Spike Studded Ballet Flats

    As the weather is getting warmer, I can no longer turn to my go-to winter footwear- Uggs. Instead, I've been gravitating toward chic flats. I picked these up at Strawberrys Clothing store. I don't remember exactly how much I paid for them, but I believe it was between $20-$25:

    These are the "Pewter" style, which describes the color perfectly because they're a warm type of silver (read: neutral). I love that they're a classic, comfortable style but the front is spiky, glam, and edgy all at once.
     Here's a closer look:

    I used the flash because the lighting didn't pick up the contrast of the studs and spikes (which are a gunmetal color). I wear these with jeans and they look great, but my favorite way to wear them at the moment is with leggings and a slouchy top. It makes a no-brainer outfit look put together and modern.
    If you'd like to order them, you can find them here. I suggest you order half a size- a size larger than you typically are because when I was trying them on in the store, I noticed that these tend to run small.

    Are you also gravitating toward ballet flats for spring? Tell me what your favorite styles are!

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Sunless Tanner

    I've tried several self tanners that I love- even, streak-free tan that does not look orange and lasts at least a few days. I always crave a darker color and I had yet to find the self tanner that was the darkest of them all. That was until my trip to Ulta on Saturday, that is. I've used the "Dark" formulation of Sun Labs self-tanner before and I liked it, but it didn't knock my socks off. I happen to notice that they had a "Very Dark" formula, so I decided to take a gamble and snatch it up- and I'm glad I did!

    I took the picture above after I'd used the product, so that's why the spout is dirty. If you click to enlarge, you can get a better sense of what color the tanner is. It leans toward an olivey-brown color which is definitely something to look for in a tanner because that means it won't leave you looking orange. I feel like the worst thing that could happen with a self tanner is that it leaves you ORANGE.

    Image credit:
    Not a cute look! Anyway, here's what I looked like before I applied any self tanner:

    The application was really easy. I've had self tanners that dry so super quickly that you have to rub it in at lightning speeds lest you streak horribly. This one was not like that at all. It's a lotion that gives you plenty of time to blend everything evenly, I even used this on my face. While applying I noticed that it smelled exactly like CND Cuticle Oil. I know that sounds weird but they do smell exactly the same- a cherry almond scent. It's not my favorite, but it's also not a deal breaker.
    As I waited for the color to develop, I wore loose fitting clothing and did notice a strong "self tanner" smell as the DHA (the active ingredient which gives you the golden brown color) reacted with my skin. I do hate the self tan smell, but I feel like the results were worth it.

    This is what I looked like after letting the self tan "marinate" on my skin for about 8 hours, and after a shower:

    I am really happy with the result- definitely my new favorite tanner. While I hate the self tan smell, I love the dark color I achieved after one use, the fact that its paraben-free, Sun Labs does not test on animals, and it did not rub off on my clothes. If you want a natural looking deep dark tan, this is definitely the way to go!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Nubbin Party!

    Lately my nails have been breaking really easily. The corners were all breaking and looking not-so-nice, so I chopped my already short looking nails into nubbins. I also retrieved my favorite nail hardener from my stash. I came across it at my local beauty supply store a few years ago, and this is my second bottle. I don't always use it, but I can depend on it when my nails are in need of some serious strengthening. Its called "Quimica Alemana", which is a Colombian brand (sold in the U.S.).

    The formula is a milky white color, which goes on clear. The box (not pictured) advises you to paint on one coat every day for five days. At the end of that, you remove the polish and begin the process again until you are satisfied with the results. Though everyone is different, for me this usually takes about 2-3 weeks of use. I've tried other nail hardeners that I wasn't really happy with, the latest being Nail Tek Intensive Repair. This product however, I swear by. The best part is, its inexpensive and ranges from $7-$9 depending on location. It must be noted however, that this nail hardener is NOT big 3-free. That may or may not be an issue for some of you, but I did want to let you know.
    Here's the ingredient list:

    Lastly, here's my nubbin party:

    For more information on this product, click HERE.

    What are your nail hardener recommendations? Do you use any you swear by?

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Loreal Infallible 24 Hour Eyeshadow

    When Loreal came out with a their 24 hour line of eyeshadows, there was tons of hype in the blogosphere about them. When I checked them out in person though, nothing really stood out to me, they all seemed like colors I already had in my collection. However, awhile back, I was perusing the aisles of the drugstore feeling sorry for myself after a particularly harsh day. This usually leads to the inevitable decision of  rewarding myself with a little pick-me-up. So I picked up one of the 24 hour shadows for $7.95- #892 Amber Rush.
    I was hesitant about these because the packaging is typical of a pigment and I just tend to not reach for pigments as much.

    This is the front of the product- a screw-top jar:

    The back of the jar is flat and allows you to clearly see the shadow

    When I unscrewed the jar, I was surprised to find that the shadow is not a loose pigment as I thought it was. Here's a close-up so you can see what the texture and color are like. You can see that I've swatched from the left side of the jar and the right is untouched. The pigment is extremely smooth and creamy. Love this.

    It does come with a pigment press which it tells you not to discard (you should replace the press back onto the shadow after each use)

    I was really impressed with the first swatch. The 24 hour seems to be a pressed pigment that has AMAZING color payoff. I barely touched my finger into the product and had rich, metallic color:

    And here's a swatch on my hand:

    I barely applied any pressure and used only the product on my finger to swatch this. Amer Rush is a medium, warm bronzy color that looks like rose gold. It looks like I've foiled (applied pigment wet) for the swatch, but I haven't. Its just great color payoff!

    This is a great product, and others have compared it to the Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill. I haven't used any of those eyeshadows, so I wouldn't be able to directly compare but what I can without any hesitation say is that for a drugstore product, the 24 hour eyeshadows are truly outstanding. In all honesty, this shadow blows many other department store products out of the water. This is definitely something you should check out! I'm currently on a no-buy ban but I can't wait to check more of these out!

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Marc Anthony Dry Shampoo: An Experiment

    My hair tends to get oily super quickly. Usually I can never go more than two days without washing it. When I discovered dry shampoo, it was my saving grace. Though my HG is Baptiste, I am always experimenting with new ones to see if they perform better. Today's experiment is on a new one my Marc Anthony, called 2nd day Clear Dry Shampoo.

    This is what my hair looked like after 2 days of not washing- especially my bangs which tend to look piece-y and limp when dirty (apologies in advance for blurring some of the background- my space is going through some changes and is a MESS!)

    As this product is clear, it does not leave a white powdery residue in the hair as other dry shampoos can. This is a plus for very dark hair which can look ashen or grey at the roots otherwise. What I like about this product is that it has a subtle scent- fresh and clean, almost citrusy which freshens the hair but dissipates in about 10-15 minutes.

    The directions advise shaking the product, then spraying quick, short bursts onto roots. You should then let it sink in a minute and rub in with fingers or brush out. This is what my hair looked like after:

    As you can see, my hair looks much more refreshed, fluffy, and clean. My bangs are no longer piece-y and I have some volume at the roots. I do like this dry shampoo but still prefer my Baptiste. I feel that though it does add volume, my hair feels slightly stiffer after use. Therefore you FEEL the product in your hair. Also, while it makes your hair look great for a few hours after, I begin to notice that my hair starts looking a bit greasy again which doesn't happen with my other dry shampoos.

    Overall, I do like this Marc Anthony Clear Dry Shampoo but feel like it may not have what it takes to really sop up the excess oil from my hair. If your scalp doesn't get overly oily, you may end up really liking this product. I can see myself reaching for this as a styling product to achieve more volume, to refresh my hair if its slightly oily, or if I want a refresh the scent. However, when I need a top notch dry shampoo, Baptiste is still the top gun for me!