The Hair Files

August 18, 2011

As of late I love hair products. I will try just about anything that’s repairing, hydrating, smoothing, shine boosting, protective, or restorative. My hair is super long because I’ve been growing it out and it’s also color treated. And, of course, I heat style about four or five days a week. I’ve found many successes and many failures. I’ve also had many lost loves that have been harder to find or discontinued.

This is the first installment of the “Hair Files,” where I tell you what worked for my hair type or style I’m creating, why I loved or didn’t love it, and if I’ve found a cheaper duplicate for a more expensive product.

I wanted to start the first Hair Files off with some dud’s because I like getting the messy stuff out of the way first. So, here are my least faves of 2011, thus far:

Top:

Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner: I loved how the Coconut smelled. It was light and fresh, and the conditioner detangled my hair very well. However, my hair did not feel soft afterwards.

Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner: My hair was left detangled and it also felt dry and coarse. Weird for a product that is supposed to smooth.

All in all, neither product from this brand was great and I’m glad I got them buy one get one free at Rite Aid and didn’t spend a lot on these. I have used other Organix treatments with great success (Coconut Split End Mender and Brazilian Keratin Anti-Breakage Serum) and I suppose the shampoos and conditioners are not a right fit for my hair.

Bottom:

Living Proof Humidity Blocking Flexible Hold Hair Spray: I love that this did not make my hair stiff. It did, however, make my hair feel stringy and sticky.

Living Proof Straight Spray: While I had less static while using this, it did not make my wavy hair any straighter.

Moroccanoil treatment: This oil was OK. It felt nice going on but frankly, there are better options on the market that aren’t as pricey. It is also supposed to reduce hair drying time and it did not. I also seemed to have more breakage while using this, when it’s supposed to counteract breakage.

Phyto Phytokarite mask: It made my hair feel dry, tangled, and something about the smell made me gag. I was told it has a floral scent but to me it smelled like rotten hard-boiled eggs and potpourri.

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September Faves

October 5, 2010

 

1. Tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner, $18, in eight colors, sephora.com: I haven’t been wearing eyeliner almost all summer, with the exception of a few days. I like the way liner looks on my eyes, I just really dislike taking it off at the end of the day.  Tarte liner lasted all day and was actually easy to remove! It felt a little cool when I was applying it and that weirded me out a bit because my lids felt wet but it subsided after a few minutes. I would love to buy other colors (I have black) and might add them to my holiday wish list. I even thought the ultra-slim stick was easier to handle and use for creating a cat-eye. 

2. Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol III, $54, sephora.com: Since I’ve missed out on previous book of shadows palettes, I figured I’d give this new one a whirl. I think it’s a good value for the assortment of shadow colors, two liners, and a primer. Oh, and the cute little diorama that lights up. Super cute! My only beef with Urban is the glitter shadows. I know the glitter is supposed to “lightly float under the eye creating a halo effect,” (those words were from a UD artist) but it makes me feel like a glitter bomb exploded on my face. Luckily this palette only comes with a few glitter pans and the rest have a light shimmer. It’s not yet on urbandecay.com and most Sephora stores should have them in-stock already or will be getting them soon. If you don’t see them out on display, ask. Mine came from the stock room. =) 

3. Ojon Volumizing Two-Minute Hair Mask, $34 6.5 oz, ojon.com: I love what Ojon’s products do for my hair and at the same time, I can’t handle the scent and had to stop using the brand a while back. Luckily a fellow beauty-junkie that knows my qualms gave me a new jar of the Volumizing mask and said, “I know you aren’t loving the rest of the line but try this. I promise the scent won’t make you gag.” Um…where has this mask been all of my life? The scent is more of a jasmine and “green” scent and not the traditional coffee/chocolate/woodsy/”natural” scent of the rest of the line. It makes my hair feel bouncy, hydrated, soft, and makes it smell so good. The texture is also feather-light and feels whipped to perfection and I always look forward to using it. 

4. Lancome Definicils Precious Cells Mascara, $29, lancome.com, sephora.com: I like natural looking mascara and this delivers the results I want with an added bonus of lash conditioners. I like the unique brush; One side has a traditional wand, the other has longer bristles. I did a more dramatic last by building up mascara layers for work one day and one my clients thought I had on individual faux lashes. It also promises lash doubling properties and less lash fall-out when removing mascara. 

5. GHD Blue Serenity Styler (MK IV), $230, sephora.com, ghd.com: Ohhhh, GHD, how I love thee. I already own a GHD MK IV and I’ve been worried that my most favorite beauty tool in the world (yes, in the world) is slowly dying. It’s starting to not perform as it once did. It’s still functional, of course. It’s just taking slightly longer to heat up and the little beeper no longer beeps at me when it’s ready. I’d been eyeing the sleek, pretty limited-editions for a while. The Blue Serenity color lured me in. I love the bonus quilted case even the hard black case it comes with. I’ve tried many brands of styling irons in the past and I’ll be sticking with GHD, possibly forever. 

6. Peace, Love & Juicy Couture, $18-$87, nordstrom.com and sephora.com: The newest offering from Juicy Couture is supposed to be inspired by the “free-spirited, sixties-style vibe of Malibu.” It reminds me of something familiar but can’t quite figure out what. It is actually quite nice. It’s lighter than the other fragrances in the Juicy range and a bit more girly. Out of the featured notes, the magnolia, honeysuckle, and patchouli flower come out more with my skin chemistry than the others. Interesting, since I’m not into magnolia or patchouli. If you happen to be in Nordies or Sephora, give this one a wiff. I like the rollerball size. It’s small enough that I’ll use it all up before I grow tired of it and the price is right. 

7. Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation, $50, lauramercier.com: In the past, cream foundations and I have not been friends. They felt heavy on my oily skin and they even looked heavy. I was given a small sample of this to try and I pretty much love it. It’s designed to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, a feature that I can’t really vouch for since I have neither. It doesn’t feel heavy at all, only perhaps a tiny bit tacky when first applied. I didn’t set it with powder one morning when I was in a rush to get out the door and it lasted the same amount of time on my skin as when I do set it. I was a bit more dewy than usual but no biggie. A little goes a long way and if cost is a concern, I’m certain the jar would last a very long time as I’ve been using my little 5 g sample for three weeks and I’m just now running out. I’m debating if I love it enough to buy a jar of my very own because I’m between colors. Warm Ivory is a little light and the next color up, Sunny Beige, is too dark.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Dear readers,

There is an issue I would like to bring to your attention that will hopefully help to prevent some disappointment from future purchases of certain beauty items.

So, lets say I’m in the market for a new hair dryer. I want salon quality without the price tag but any old drug store dryer just won’t do. The dryer I want is $150, but I see there is a travel size for only $100! Should I:

  1. Pick the travel size because it will save me some money and save space.
  2. Go with the original size.

If you are like most consumers, you probably picked the first option to save a bit of money. The best answer is really 2. By the way, this is just a pretend scenario. I happen to love my Conair from Target.

Most electric “travel size” beauty accessories (i.e. hair dryers, flat irons, styling tools, and skin care items that require an outlet or batteries) are just that- travel size and only for travel. They often have shorter warranties and are not intended for daily use. They will not usually hold up to every day wear and tear and are meant for occasional use, hence why they are for travel.

Think of it this way: If you wash and condition your hair at least five times weekly, little travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner would last, at most, only for that one week (maybe longer if you have shorter hair). You would possibly end up spending more on the smaller size items then to just shell out for full size shampoo and conditioner.

It is the same concept for beauty appliances. You might be saving a little money for the moment, but you’ll spending more in the long run, having to purchase a new one when the manufacturer deems the warranty void because it wasn’t used as intended. And, as previously mentioned, the warranties are often much shorter in duration, sometimes by up to a few years.  

If you really do intend to use it occasionally then you will be fine with purchasing the travel size with no problems at all. Just make sure that if you find yourself using it more often to invest in the full size/original size version.

XOXO,

A.

Skin Care Expiration

August 31, 2009

suggestion

 

Have you ever been using your favorite skin care or body product and think, “So when does this expire, anyway?”

Some products do have expiration dates, though those are few and far between. Many brands have an expiration suggestion printed on the back of the bottle, jar, ot tube. It looks like a jar with the lid open and has a number printed inside. This number indicates the number of months after opening the product that it should be good for. Conditions such as contamination (IE dipping unwashed hands into a jar) or forgetting to put the lid back on the product can shorten that amount of time.

In the above photo, one of my products is optimal to use until six months of opening, while another is good for 24 months. The amount of time will vary from product to product depending on factors such as ingredients (essential oils, plant or fruit extracts, parabins aka preservatives, and etc.).

if you are using a skin care product as directed, it should not last longer then the expiration suggestion. Some products (body items, for example) may last longer then the suggested amount of time. In these cases, it’s best to monitor the texture, color, and scent for any changes which can indicate it has spoiled.

Don’t remember when you first opened a product? I always try to mark the bottom or somewhere inconspicuous with the month and year, just so I don’t forget. This is also a good idea if your product doesn’t suggest any time frame of expiration so you will know how long it’s been around.

polor

Today was a much needed day off and I totally tried to enjoy it because I work eight days in a row without another day off this week. I can’t even begin to tell you how badly I want next Saturday to come so I can sleep in, get a facial and pedicure, and catch up on doing laundry. Below is a mini account of things I did today:

1. I’m house sitting/dog sitting for my aunt and uncle for the next few days. They have a dog sitting business so I am hanging out with a few four-legged clients while they are gone. I have full work days ahead and luckily they have a neighbor that comes over to play with the dogs while I’m away. I’m currently taking care of their two German shepherds (one was a rescue dog that only has three legs), plus a one-eyed basset hound, and a pudgy corgi. Two more dogs will join our party tomorrow morning.

2. I’m attending and doing makeup for a wedding Sunday. I had a dress in mind to wear but I just realized the wedding and reception will be outdoors and it will be crazy hot that day, so I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to wear. I also need to find comfy flats. Whatever I wear to the wedding also needs to be appropriate for a meeting since I have one scheduled for that evening. Eeeeeeek!

3. While at Target, hoping they’d have cute inexpensive flats (they didn’t), I found a new book to read. It seems promising.

4. While at TJ Maxx, hoping they’d also have cute flats and a colorful inexpensive dress (they didn’t), I found some Korres products on sale! I love, love, love Korres watermelon scrub. Yum. I was so excited to score a few tubes at only $4 each. The one I went to had a lot of the Lemon Basil body wash and lotion. FYI: Korres is changing the size of their body washes and a few other items, hence being at TJ Maxx.

5. I also got a cute new hair cut today.

6. My dinner consisted of: wine, wheat thins, rice, and carrots. There’s food here at my aunt and uncles but nothing I can make an actual meal out of. I’ll be grocery shopping tomorrow for sure.

ao

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Josie Maran Argan Oil under my PM moisturizer (currently Korres Thyme Honey Moisturizer). Love, love, love! I want to bathe in it but alas, I only have a small sample vial of the product. You can also use Argan Oil as a hair treatment, on your body, and it’s also recommended for dry cuticles and eczema.

My oily skin is prone to occasional breakouts, especially when I’m PMSing. Since I started using it, my skin looks clear, radiant, and feels a tad less oily. It’s certainly not a miracle product but I do admittedly adore it, so far. The texture is neither thin nor thick, it is quickly absorbed, and doesn’t have a heavy scent. I’d describe it as slightly earthy in a good way. While I like this brand, I am also researching other brands that sell the same product for perhaps a bit less. I might break down and buy a bottle if I don’t find a suitable alternative. Buyer beware: make sure you check ingredients of what you are buying as some companies add fillers to keep the price down.

lpsm

I gave up on my hair years ago. It’s impossible to manage so, for the most part, I let it do what it wants. I tried tons of anti-frizz products that all claimed to be the best, when all they did was coat my hair in silicone and made it look greasy and heavy. And, if I didn’t shower before bedtime, my silicone treated hair would get my pillow icky and I would break out.

When I received a tube of Living Proof No Frizz Straight Making Treatment, I thought, “Yeah right, like this is going to work.” Color me skeptical but I had serious doubts. I knew not to get my hopes up. I didn’t have anything to loose anyway.

Oh. My. Goodness. How did I ever live without it?

I’ve been using it religiously for a week (I wash my hair almost daily), and while my hair is still kind of out of control, just try to find a frizzy stand, I dare you. It also feels softer and is easier to brush through. You kind of have to try it to know what I mean.

And…it’s silicone-free!

You do need to coat the entire strand of hair, from root to tip, for it to work. I have a lot of hair so I divide mine into sections and apply the product then brush through. It also works better the more you use it and is great with heat appliances.

Don’t worry about the straight vs curl defining decision. If you want a little hold, go with the curl defining. If you don’t, then straight making is for you. Straight can use curly and curly can use straight. I also love that these are for different hair types, although since the product is lightweight, you can go up to the next level if you need more hydration. There is also a diagnostic tool on livingproof.com to help you decide which is right for you.

Saturday I bought a GHD IV styling iron and it’s pretty much dreamy. I wanted the sleek limited edition Dark IV on the right below (that comes with a cute matching heat-resistant bag), however, my Sephora doesn’t carry many special sets . So I got the regular GHD IV. There’s no difference in performance of either.

ghd

Some of my favorite key features of the GHD IV include :

  • Automatic shut-off if you leave the iron unused for 30 minutes. Also, automatic shut-off if it overheats.
  • A smart microchip that senses how much you’re using the iron and heats itself back up to prevent what I call cold-iron syndrome (after you’ve straightened half of your hair, you realize your iron has dropped in temperature and you have to wait for it to reheat until you finish the other half).
  • Heats up quickly. Seemingly faster then the speed of light!
  • Easily creates curls and waves.
  • Is less damaging to hair then other irons.
  • Leaves you with smooth, shiny, silky hair.

I timed myself and it took a total of 8 minutes to straighten my hair. With other irons it can take upwards of  30-45 minutes. I’d say the GHD was an investment well made.