I Simply Remember My Favorite Things…

Did I get that song in your head? Try searching YouTube for Saigon’s version. (That’s my favorite version, but WordPress doesn’t like to let me link.)

I’ve been the worst blogger ever this year–business has been BOOMING, so it’s hard to get to the many blog posts I want to write–but I’m trying! Today, I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite things from Summer 2012. Some are new (or new to me), some are old standbys, and they are not all beauty-related. I know this is a beauty blog, but I’m trying to be well-rounded…

In no particular order, I am loving:

Exfoliation. I have always been a big proponent and user of exfoliators. Three times per week seems to be my skin’s magic exfoliation number, so I try to make it easy for myself and exfoliate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My absolute favorite face exfoliator is ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville (Sephora). It’s both a physical and enzyme exfoliant, which means you can use it to either manually exfoliate, or you can let it sit on the skin and it will do the job itself. It doesn’t feel sandpapery, but it makes a huge difference in the look and feel of my skin. It ain’t cheap, but it is AWESOME.

Cupcake Wine. My friend Julie and I discovered the Red Velvet one last fall, and we were hooked. I’m not a big drinker, but I would find myself thinking about how good that wine was for a few days after whenever I drank it. It tastes like dessert, but somehow not in a super sweet way. I can’t write anymore about it because it’s making me want a glass and it’s 8:15am.

Pinterest. I’ve been on this website for a while, and it has become one of my staple sites. I don’t go on it every day, but usually at least once a week. It’s a great place to post ideas for my clients and for photoshoots, and I created a “Quotables” board that I love. I fill it with positive quotes, and sometimes I read them when I need a little mood boost. If you’re not on Pinterest yet and are thinking about signing up, just be warned–it can get addicting! 30 minutes can go by very fast when you are pinnning. And 30 more minutes won’t hurt…

Brazilian Blowout. I know, I know–formaldehyde. But I’ve had it done four times, and I feel fine! 🙂 It really has made a huge difference with the way my hair feels. I still have to round brush straighten my hair every three days, but the Brazilian Blowout makes my hair dry quicker, it almost completely eliminates frizz, and my hair just looks prettier.

Orange Leaf. Oh my God, this place. I have a soft serve addiction and Orange Leaf is my dealer. These self serve, soft serve frozen yogurt places are popping up all over the country, and I am thrilled. They switch the flavors out so you get variety, but my favorites so far have been Peanut Butter, Hazlenut, Coconut, and Wedding Cake. There are a ton of toppings (which I don’t use, because I’m a soft serve purist) and you can sample any of the flavors. So.friggin.good.

“Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss. I am big time into the connection between our emotions and how consistent negative thinking can cause disease, and this book thoroughly explains those theories. I borrowed it from the library and liked it so much that I bought a copy, because I knew it was something I would re-read many times.

Shellac Manicures. They are long lasting, they don’t chip and they stay shiny. To me, that’s the Holy Trinity of manicures, so I will look no further. I feel so much more polished–no pun intended–when my nails are done, and the no-maintenance upkeep for the shellac manicure fits right into my lifestyle.

The Diamond Ultrasonic Toothbrush. I bought one a few months ago with a Living Social deal and I love it. My teeth feel so clean, and I feel very futuristic using it. It took a little getting used to, but I caught on fairly quickly. It’s timed to turn off after a few minutes, so I don’t even have to think when I’m brushing.

Blueberry Vodka & Lemonade. This was my favorite drink during the summer, and I don’t see why I can’t carry that through the fall. My tastebuds don’t change just because there are leaves on the ground. I realize it’s not low calorie, but I typically don’t have more than two drinks per outing, so I’m cool with that.

Subdue Styling Cream by Minardi. I use this product before blowdrying, to get a smoother blowout and on dry hair as needed, to smooth it down when necessary. It smells good, isn’t sticky or heavy, and a little goes a long way. It is the only product I consistently use in my hair. I used to buy it from my hair stylist but she carries a different product line now, so my next tube of Subdue will probably come from Amazon.

LARABARS. I’m gluten-sensitive hypoglycemic and have a job that doesn’t always allow for sit down meals (or the whey protein shakes that I usually have for breakfast and lunch) so I am a nutrition bars girl. A few years ago, I was big on Zone Bars, then I switched to Luna Bars and I recently discovered LARABARS. They are dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and never contain more than 9 ingredients. Best of all, they taste GREAT. Some of my favorites are Peanut Butter & Jelly, Blueberry Muffin, Banana Bread and Coconut Cream. When I’m on a film or photoshoot set, I sneak them between takes and during setups and they are my saving grace after wedding jobs where I haven’t eaten for hours.

Jergens Natural Glow. I tried this self tanning moisturizer years ago when it first came out and every few years, I remember how much I like it. I got back into it this summer, both when I had my normal pale skin, and as my maintenance lotion during a spray tan. This stuff really works. Yes, it has a slight self tanner smell, but I think they all do. But it doesn’t really get streaky, and the gold flecks in it really do give a “glow.”

So, those are some of the tangibles that made my summer a little more enjoyable/prettier/easier. What are your favorites?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Feelin’ So Good

I like feel-good things. For me, that includes funny movies, beach days, soft serve and lunch dates with my mom. It means getting enough sleep, finishing a good run, reading a great book, and gong to Happy Hour with my friends. It also means wearing the clothes/makeup/hair that make me feel my best. I’ve had an amazing last few years and I feel really good about myself, my business, and my life in general. So I like my outside appearance to reflect that. It’s not a superficial thing at all–it’s quite the opposite.

I’ve come up with a list of beauty/fashion related things that make me feel my best, and I encourage you to make your own list. Why? Because it’s fun!

I Feel My Best When:

* My hair is wavy and big. Magazines tell me I’m fighting nature and should lovingly embrace my curly hair, but I don’t like the way it looks it on me. (Funny how they never tell people to embrace their naturally oily skin or emphasize their rosacea, isn’t it?) I like my hair best when I’ve straightened it with a round brush and blow dryer, and let the ends curl. And I’m big hair girl for life. Volume at the crown (not the sides) is the most flattering for my face shape, so I say tease it up.

* My lashes are black and thick. I was lucky enough to be born with somewhat long, thick lashes, but I like them even more when they’re coated in mascara. I can get a good fake lash effect from the layering of a few different mascaras, but I also love falsies. I tend to only wear them when I’m going out, but I always love the look when I do.

* My skin is tan. Although I’m mostly Italian, my skin is light. I lived in Florida for a few years and had quite the tan going, so I know I can get much darker than I am, but I refuse to do that to my skin anymore. The risk of skin cancer and the guarantee of skin damage/premature aging has caused me to give up sunbathing (those beach days I referred to always feature me covered in SPF 30 or higher, frequently re-applying). I do, however, have a great airbrush tan tech who I go to when I’m feeling a little too pasty. She does an amazing job and if I keep up with daily moisturizing, the tan fades nicely.

* My clothes are form-fitting. I have what is, I am told, a curvy, petite figure. If I wear outfits that are loose or shapeless, I either look lost in them, or ten pounds heavier. So I’ve found that clothes that skim my shape–not cling to it for dear life–look best on me. I tend to go for pencil skirts and 1940s style silhouettes. Skinny jeans, shorts, A-line dresses, and cap sleeves are styles that don’t work on me, so I avoid them. It’s not about hating parts of my body, it’s about wearing clothes that flatter the areas that I like.

* My hair has layers. Without layers, my long hair just looks blah. But if I cut the overall length too short, it doesn’t work with my bone structure. So the happy medium is long hair, lots of layers. It also gives it a style without me having to do much to it, which is wonderful.

* My eye makeup is contoured. I have several makeup looks that I love, but I have to admit that the most flattering eye makeup look for my eye shape and size is a contoured look. I have pretty big eyes, so accentuating that seems to work well on me. A darker color slightly above the crease (because my eyes are deepset), dark at the lashline and off-white liner in the waterline does good things for these peepers.

* My toenails are red. During my Florida years, I always wore opened-toed shoes. I used to switch up the polish colors whenever I felt like it. One night, I was out with some friends, and my toenails were painted red. Whatever jackass I was talking to at the bar said to me “I like the red polish. A girl should always wear red polish on her toes, I think it’s sexy.” I remember nothing about this guy, never dated him or ever saw him again, but for some bizarre reason, that comment stuck with me. Since then–and we’re talking about seven years here–I’ve only worn red polish on my toes. It had nothing to do with what he thought, and more that I agreed with the statement. If another guy says the same thing to me this summer, but he says it about pink polish–guess what? I’m still wearing red. It’s my signature toenail polish color.

* I’m at my high school weight. This isn’t a crazy statement, because I have only ever weighed 12 pounds more than I did in high school, so we’re not taking about some unattainable number here. I feel best when I’m at that weight because that happens to be the number I hit when I’m eating clean and exercising regularly. For some people, their high school weight might not be a number that is healthy for them now. I know people who were too thin in high school, and to get back to that now would not be good for their body. But for me, my healthy, strong, feel good weight happens to be the same that it was a decade plus ago. Two pounds more, I’m still good, and two pounds less, I’m still good. If I go any more in either direction (and keep in mind I’m pretty small, so two pounds is more like eight pounds for some people) and I know I need to reevaluate what I’m doing.

* I’m wearing a perfume I love. Like Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Thierry Muegler Alien, DKNY Green Apple, Vera Wang Princess, or Cacharel Amor Amor. Our sense of smell is the sense most closely tied to our memories, so that could be why I love these perfumes (and I love each one for different times of day, events, moods, etc.). A spritz or dab of one of these is usually the last part of my beauty routine before heading out, and it’s the little step that makes me feel completely “done.”

* I have a gel manicure. It doesn’t really matter what color, I just like the look of polished fingernails on me. Even if I’m wearing yoga pants, a white tank, and a baseball cap, I feel more put together if my nails are done. And gel is the way to go! Shiny, chip-free, no maintenance nails? What’s not to like?

* I’m wearing heels. Most of the clothes I like to wear call for heels. And besides that, they make my legs look better. It’s the truth! I workout and eat healthy and I’m accepting about what I look like, but I can’t hate on that little boost I get from heels (no pun intended). Plus, anything that’s going to make it easier for me to reach things is okay by me.

* I have good accessories on. Sometimes this means my hoop earrings, my Biggie necklace, or the sparkly ring my friend Carina gave me. But I’ve found that one or two accessories can really make an outfit. It’s the little things in life, isn’t it?

That’s my list! It’s a big day or night when I have all of these things going on, but I feel freakin’ great when I do. None of these things would make me happy if I wasn’t already happy, but for me, they’re just a few more sparks of joy. The reason I say that is because I don’t believe that looking great alone will make you happy, and appearance isn’t the most important thing in life. But if it reflects what you feel inside, and/or gives you a little shot of confidence, why not go for it?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Nailed It PART 3: Shellac/Gel Manicure Review

My most recent nail product exploration: shellac. I had been hearing about this from friends and clients for a while and thought, That sounds pretty bomb. I was told it wouldn’t chip or peel at all and that once it was applied, it would be completely dry. So when Emily, a hair stylist/licensed cosmetologist who does work for my company, started offering the service, I felt it was time to go for it.

I chose a gorgeous red color called “Hollywood,” and Emily did the rest. I tried to pay attention as much as possible, but this was close to a month ago, so I’m not sure I’ll get it all. From what I remember, there was some cuticle pushing back, a base coat, two or three coats of color and a top coat. Also involved was a UV lamp (or little oven, as I called it in my mind) that my hands were placed in after each coat. The whole process took around 45 minutes.

When it was done, my nails were completely dry. Even so, I still acted like they weren’t. If there was one person in the history of the world who could somehow mess up a shellac manicure, it would be me. Don’t get me wrong–I completely trust Emily and know that she wouldn’t lie! But I couldn’t get used to the idea that my nails were dry, even though I knew they were.

I got the shellac manicure a couple of days before Thanksgiving, which was the perfect time to test it out. At my parents’ house, we have a Big Italian Thanksgiving, which means that roughly 400 plates, bowls, serving dishes, wine glasses and utensils need to be washed. And guess who is part of the dish washing crew? Miss Hollywood Shellac Nails.

My nails made it through Thanksgiving without even a miniscule chip. And since shellac makes your nails stronger while it’s on, I didn’t break any nails either (I always break at least one nail on Thanksgiving–our dish washing is intense.) For a total of three weeks, I did not get one chip or break a nail. And the polish stayed shiny the entire time. The only reason I had the shellac removed after three weeks is because my nails grow quickly and you could see a gap with natural nail showing through at the cuticle.

There’s a way to remove at home, but I went to a salon instead. It’s only $5 in my area, so I decided that was worth it. After the shellac was removed, the nail tech was nice enough to apply a layer of nail strengthener. I did have a nail break the following day, but I imagine there may have been more breakage without that strengthener coat.

I would absolutely, 100% get this done again. A three week manicure with nary a chip (that people frequently compliment)? It doesn’t get much better than that. Out of my three nail product purchases, this was the most expensive (ranges from $25-$45 in my area), but it also lasted the longest. It took the most time to apply, but there is also no dry time involved.

If you’re a low maintenance nail gal (or fella) like me, a shellac manicure is a great way to go. Once the application process is over, you don’t have to pay any attention to your nails for a few weeks. (Except to stop and admire how great they look, which I did regularly.)

So that’s the end of my Nailed It series. Anyone have any other easy nail products or techniques I should know about?

Have a beautiful day 🙂