Philosophy Oil-Cleanser

Recently I have started using a water-proof, silicone-based foundation on days when I need to look extra professional. (I have quite sensitive skin, but I am finding Face Atelier Ultra Foundation to work quite well for me, in moderation. Reviews to come at the end of the summer, as I am still experimenting with it on myself and others.) The problem is, my gentle face wash just doesn’t cut it! I had been resorting to washing my face over and over and over again and really scrubbing to get it off. Not very nice for my skin!

My skin care routine prior to all of this was all Philosophy: Purity in the evening and Microdelivery in the morning. I love Philosophy. They market themselves extremely well, with thoughtful packaging that has a natural, but also a very luxurious feel. Now, I would not necessarily recommend them to people who are devoted to natural products because Philosophy does use dyes and a few other very chemical things. There are many products in the line i cannot use for this reason. But the cleansers are so gentle on my skin, much more than a lot of natural products that can be quite harsh, going overboard on essential oils. Just about everyone in my salon/spa uses some combination of Philosophy products, despite having a lot of different skin issues. So I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for something new. Also, the cleansers last a long time! Much, much longer than your St. Ives drugstore cleanser or other department store cleansers.

So, naturally I wanted to try this oil cleanser. I must say, I have been very happy with it. I am even using it on some days where I don’t need it. It also gets all my eye makeup off. I don’t wear a ton but occasionally I will have some stubborn black eyeliner and I use the oil cleanser and a Q tip to get it off. It is simple to use, so great when I am a bit lazy before bed. All I do is poor a little in my hand and then rub all over my face, dry, then rinse off after massaging for a bit. Sometimes I will use Purity or Microdelivery after, but there isn’t a need to. The lady at the Philosophy counter also said you could add the oil to either of the other cleansers to change the consistency.

It also makes my face more receptive to moisturizer, which is great. I am the sort that needs to reapply moisturizer over and over, no matter how much I exfoliate and no matter how wet/dry my face is when I apply it.

All in all, I am a big fan.

Let’s Talk About Brazilian Blowouts

Alright, alright. Clients and friends are always asking me about Brazilian blowouts, whether they are safe, if they should get them, if they will die a gruesome death if they get one. Moderately informed clients tend to have very polarized views. The same is true for hairstylists. I am not a chemist (which is something I wish more people would fess up to when they get on the Internet….) but I do have an opinion. So here it is:

Brazilian Blowouts are a godsend for clients with truly unmanageable hair. They leave some wave and body in the hair, but they take away the frizz and cut drying time in half. If the client wants to smooth their hair it will be easier. It will be manageable, pliable and incredibly shiny and there is nothing else that improves the condition of the hair like a professional keratin treatment. For perfectionists with minor frizz issues, there are more natural (weaker) alternatives to recommend.

The process is long. We shampoo with a clarifying shampoo, apply the product, blow dry the hair, flat iron the hair over and over. If this process is done incorrectly some people experience problems such as breakage or dryness. This is not a problem with the blowout and your hair, it is a problem with the person doing the blowout.

Now, I don’t do Brazilian Blowouts. I am severely asthmatic, and frankly, blow drying and flat ironing hair spray or any other product for three hours would give me a headache and sore throat. A client who has weak lungs or bad allergies may also find them unpleasant, however, the client is hardly breathing in anything compared to the hair dresser.

That said, the FDA may under regulate in some cases, but the Internet is full of conspiracy theorists and crazies. If you have ever googled your cold symptoms and thought you had bacterial meningitis than you understand that the Internet is an insane place. People exaggerate on both ends of the spectrum. I believe the truth is in between. I think in some parts of the US there are salons where stylists do a ton of blowouts in poorly vented areas, and I imagine there will be horrible repercussions for the stylists health. Still, as a consumer, I think the risk is minimal even in a salon like that. I think everything should be a cost benefit analysis and you shouldn’t get one if your hair can be managed fairly easily with product on a day to day basis.

Really I wish people would stop freaking out about Brazilian Blowouts so that stylists could product themselves and their clients with masks without anyone jumping up and down and saying, “See, I knew it was dangerous!” Because it really isn’t bad unless you’re around a ton of them, but they do have short term problems, mainly just throat irritation. But nothing you wouldn’t experience from spraying hairspray for that long. Actually, hairspray would probably be worse. I wish I could wear a mask for that..

Honestly, if you are using nail polish other than Zoya, why worry about the formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts? Most nail polish has formaldehyde… But not necessarily a cause for concern as it disinfects the little brush. Sometimes I see people eating the most unhealthy, processed non-food food and say things about formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts. Really? What goes in your body is going to make more of a difference in the long run. Exercise and a proper diet will make more of a difference in long term health and cancer risk. I shouldn’t even have to say this. It should be obvious. The bottom line is “formaldehyde” is a really nasty word and it is easy to get a gut reaction to it. I’m not saying we should be cuddling up with a taxidermied dog, just that we are not experts. Talk to a chemist about it. But not one from the Internet because they will most definitely be “on a side.”

If you decide to get one, choose wisely! As I said before, if they aren’t done well they can be rough on the hair. When done well they will be incredible. Don’t bargain hunt on this hair service, as the bargains might be with less experienced stylists. And take great care with your hair after! Listen to your stylist about how to care for them and buy your shampoo at the salon. Don’t just buy any SLS free shampoo because a lot of them have compounds that are very similar and may be just as harsh.

OCC Stained Gloss Lip Tar in New Wave

I was dying to try the new lip stains from OCC, and I must say, I am in love with New Wave, which is a bright pink shade (but sheer and glossy enough for every day wear). I also have the color Meta and it is more of an orangey pink. Very pretty! Not quite as every day for me, pinks are a little easier for me to incorporate into my makeup routine, but it is very nice and great for people who wear more coral tones.

First off, while very pigmented, they are not as intense as I expected. They can be layered to become brighter but they certainly don’t have the punch of the original lip tars. They are quite sheer, which disappointed me a little at first and then five minutes later I was ecstatic. They are the perfect pop of color for summer. My main lip stains I used prior are the Vincent Longo stains and Benetint. I expected the OCC stains to be very similar to the Vincent Longo stains based on the description (like stained glass) but I am finding them more similar to my Benetint, although not quite as sheer. I am curious if the darker colors would be more like my Vincent Longo stains, since the ones I ordered were brighter. I would probably still prefer my Vincent Longo stains for formal occasions.

My favorite thing about the OCC Stained Gloss is the texture. I hate gooey gloss and I have to say, these have a nice sheen without being sticky at all. They make my lips feel naturally moist, and that is very important to me.

The color lasts very nicely, too. Similar to my Benetint, it will subtly fade over the course of the day without flaking or peeling. It is sheer enough I am fine to just dab it onto my lips with or without a mirror over the course of the day if I want it to stay perfectly bright. However, even though there is some fading it keeps a nice color all day. It doesn’t fade to any strange tones. At the end of the day (14-16 hours later) my lips are still pink, just not quite like they were in the morning.

These will still be too bright for some people (those that like a very nude lip), but I absolutely love them. And it makes me feel great to know how natural and conscientious the brand is.


What’s Next Awards Part II


Here is a backstage photo of my model and me

The day of the show I began working on my model shortly before 9AM. I was pacing like a mad woman… going into the weekend I was just proud of getting to the finals and meeting lots of interesting people (and potential role models), but by competition day I was fired up with one singular vision, to win the spread in American Salon.

Starting off, I was hesitant about my design, since it was impressive in more subtle, technical ways and I wasn’t sure how it would read from afar. I knew the judges would spend time up close and I took the gamble that they wouldn’t downgrade me just because the look wasn’t quite as “runway” as all the others. My piece was extremely meticulous and I am the sort of person who uses every minute. I could’ve prepped in two hours or in ten hours and since we had ten hours I spent every minute possible really perfecting every detail. Seven or eight hours in I started feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with my piece. Still, I worked continually until the show began.

It was pretty incredible to see the show. It was very inspiring to see top artists from Sebastian’s Design Team do looks inspired by the same cities we were creating looks for (Berlin, Shanghai, São Paulo, and San Francisco). At the end of it all, I was in disbelief when Carole announced me the winner of the New Talent category. I stumbled up to the front of the stage, and was greeted by hugs and kisses from the Sebastian team. Before I had a chance to let the moment sink in there was confetti and a procession off stage and then off to the black carpet and the inspiration wall to take lots and lots of pictures.

Here I am with the judges and Daniel Lozada, the Professional category winner!


Sebastian What’s Next Awards: Part I

Hello everyone! I am home from Los Angeles, and, as many of you know, I won the New Talent Category at the What’s Next Awards. I have so much to say about this weekend, I wanted to divide it up into a few different posts. Of hundreds of entries, four New Talent and four Professional finalists from all over the United States and Canada were flown to Los Angeles for a hair-packed weekend. My husband, Richard, was able to make it out and keep me company.

The first night we had a cocktail reception on the hotel’s rooftop garden. Hair dressers, especially successful hair dressers, are so much fun. Such an eclectic, creative and charismatic bunch, and so incredibly approachable. Some of the Sebastian Global Artists were there, as well as a lot of the Sebastian educators, some of the folks from the business side of the brand and, of course, the other finalists. I learned a lot the first night about the brand and the beauty industry, and just generally had a fabulous time. And it certainly didn’t hurt that my stylist friend, Elysia, lent me a killer dress, completely perfect for a rooftop in LA.


I also met the other finalists, and the more I look back on it, I couldn’t have spent the weekend with a better bunch of people. There was a lot of camaraderie from the very beginning. We were competitive, but we were friends. People lent tools and supplies freely, gave advice and honest opinions gently, and we talked (and laughed) openly. I hadn’t ever experienced something quite like the What’s Next Awards before, but the comparable experiences I’ve had were extremely intense weekends where at the end of everything, you have these intense moments with other people and then you know at the end that you will probably never see them again. The absence of that feeling was (is) one of the best parts of the trip. The idea that whatever “What’s Next” in my life, it will probably lead me back to some of the funniest, most original and most genuine people I’ve ever met.

Day 2 was a full day of practicing on our model and then meeting with wardrobe stylists and makeup artists to complete our look. It was very cool to see everything come together. Practicing was stressful because I am much more stubborn than I realized, determined to do things the hardest way possible and not use hair extensions at all. I was battling with a snake braid most of the day, a very tiny snake braid, which seems foolish for a runway show, but I am extremely detail oriented and also knew that the judges would be able to see all the detail up close before the show. For those that don’t know about snake braids, they are three strand braids where one strand does not move, so you run out of hair on the outer strands very quickly. Once braided the hair on two of the strands has compressed to a third or a quarter of the length. So when going around the whole head with a snake braid you need to add in more hair after every three inches or so. This problem was compounded by the fact that, like most women, her hair was shorter in the front than in the back. In the end I found that I needed to weave long strands underneath her hair to meet up with the snake braid where it ran out and then begin again a few times. At her forehead I used an extension tool to pull the braids into each other, which was quite a task. In the end I had a seemingly seamless snake braid.

More on the style and the rest of the event on Friday!


Black Ops, Pittsburgh

Yesterday I went to Sebastian’s Black Ops event in Pittsburgh held at Capristo in Shadyside. Sebastian sent in Design Team member Will Bostock in from Philadelphia to teach a few cuts, a short cut from the Nightshade Masquerade collection and a medium length cut from the Urban Explorers collection. I was thrilled to see the short cut because, after seeing it on a Sebastian video earlier this year, it inspired me to start growing out my top and undercutting the bottom. I love the versatility, the movement, the texture… I can’t imagine having any other haircut at this point in my life. (Although I say that every time I really love a haircut.)

Will had a similar cutting philosophy to the Dove’s, so it was a nice follow up to my class two weeks ago. I really like the intuitive, organic approach to hair, although it is interesting to have someone else explain it because it really is about how you see hair and how you visualize it. Will has a very soothing disposition and it was refreshing just hearing his passion for hair. He talked a lot about staying present within one’s craft and about staying energized and attentive in between those energizing moments we all feel. Something about the way he talked seemed to resonate and connect with many moments in my past with all of the different art forms I’ve dabbled in. Almost spiritual, and reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, though he is a Philadelphia native.

Sebastian is all about texture, shape and feel. At the class, they went over a lot of different texturizing techniques with a razor, scissors and texturizing shears, as well as an overall approach to cutting where texturizing and creating shape go hand in hand from the very beginning. Here is my cut from the class:


Since becoming a finalist in the What’s Next Awards, I have been sent numerous interviews and I keep getting different variations of: What do you want out of your career? That question has also come up a lot with friends and family. My husband finishes college at the end of the year and we are no longer tied to Pittsburgh. It isn’t that we want to move, but simply that our world opens up a little bit. So all these questions of my future have been bombarding me the last several months. And I kept wanting to say, “I will know by the end of April,” with a frightening certainty. This month has taught me a lot about myself and the beauty industry. A little bit of travel has helped me think realistically about the kinds of cities I will feel most alive in. And I am on track to having a pretty good idea what I want from my career by the end of the month.

Sephora Advanced Airbrush Set

Hello All! I wanted to write today about my favorite Christmas present this past year, Sephora’s Advanced Airbrush Set. Truly, I love absolutely everything about these brushes except their name. I think it is a shame that they feel the need to throw airbrush into the name for marketing purposes, because these brushes are stellar even though they don’t really have anything to do with airbrushing.

These brushes are extremely reasonable for high-caliber brushes, at only $65. It is an impressively concise set. I use each brush on almost every makeup application and not many other brushes. They are synthetic so they work well with cream and powder and they are very durable. They are still like new after countless washing the last four months. These are amazing for a professional kit but reasonable enough that they would be suitable for at home use.

Brushes included in the set:
Airbrush Powder – Extremely soft and durable. Clients compliment this brush all the time. Dense and fluffy, depending on the motion you use you can either sweep light amount of powder or really pack it in with a dabbing motion.

Airbrush Precision Foundation – My favorite brush in the set! Very soft and dense. I save so much product by using this brush because foundation really stays on the outer ends of the bristles and applies as a thin, even layer. No microexfoliation, which is huge! No streaking! With other foundation brushes I either get flaking/microexfoliation or staking and need to dab with a sponge but this brush is amazing at comfortably applying a thin, even layer of liquid or cream foundation.

Airbrush Concealer – The perfect brush for blending out concealer lines! It is a little big for applying the concealer but I have small, cheap brushes for that. I use this one more for blending lines or bigger blemishes. Sometimes I use it for delicately contouring or highlighting with creams.

Airbrush Crease – This brush is a little big for some eye shapes but it is great for softly distributing powder on lids. I always shake excess powder off, though, or there would be a bit of fallout.

Airbrush Shadow – This is a very versatile brush and I actually use it with cream concealer more than anything. It is so dense and tiny so it is great for undereyes and buffing in a thicker cream primer on the eyelid. With other brushes I have felt like they just can’t get cream products smooth enough on the eyelids, like it would just be easier to use my finger to press it in, but fingers are too large and I try to minimize using my fingers on clients. This brush is the answer! It is a great size but the right balance between soft and firm so I can get the result I want without causing discomfort. It is great at packing in and blending out powder shadows also!

Natural is Not Necessarily Best for Sensitive Skin

I truly believe that the trend towards more natural foods and cosmetics is a wonderful development. It is a great step and it is a necessary step. I think there are a lot of unknowns in regards to all of the chemicals we consume on a day to day basis. That being said, I do not see why people see the words “natural” and “organic” on cosmetics and believe that they are fundamentally unable to cause irritation.

It is completely bizarre to me that some women will smell a flower, sneeze countless times, and yet believe that their skin will only improve if they rub a concentrated essence of that flower on their face. A few weeks ago, while visiting Portland, Oregon, I had a lady at a department store cosmetic counter doing a makeup application on me. I told her ahead of time my allergies/sensitivities and yet she didn’t look at the back of any products. Luckily I knew the product line fairly well and knew I was mostly safe, but she snuck a serum on my face and the tingling turned to burning. I told her how my face felt and she looked at me like she didn’t even believe me and said, “Well, I don’t know how that could be, everything in this line is completely natural.”

First off, not true, it is a brand I like quite a bit (so I won’t mention the name here) but it does use dyes and it does use fragrance that isn’t denoted as organic, on top if the natural oils it uses. This sort of miseducation bothers me a lot as a cosmetologist because it gives us a bad name. The general public doesn’t believe us when we talk because department store workers who are on commission occasionally lie (or say the “correct” answer without checking) to sell more product. I also don’t like the fact that they feel a need to lie because the public is so obsessed with the elusive “truly natural” product.

One argument in favor of organic products is that the ingredients have been around forever so we would know if they caused significant harm to humans. However, it is not the actual substance that is the problem, it is how it is processed and the concentration. A hundred years ago people may have been using perfumes but not in the quantities we do today. Natural or otherwise, how much do we really know about any kind of fragrance used multiple times a day in virtually everything we use on our skin. Products aside, just the frequency with which we use everything is crazy relative to how much people used to shower.

Even natural substances our occasionally found to be harmful, for example, coumarin, a popular choice in men’s fragrance (for that earthy, fresh cut grass scent), used to be in many food additives before it was banned by the US, and other countries, because it was toxic to lab mice. There is no evidence at this point to necessitate banning it in fragrances, but between an unknown synthetic fragrance and a mildly toxic natural fragrance I would probably prefer the synthetic.

Most of us are not chemists, which makes us extremely vulnerable to marketing. Things can say sulfate free and call something that is basically sodium lauryl sulfate organic coconut oil. If you go back far enough, everything is from nature.

All I am trying to say is: listen to your skin! It will tell you what it likes, and it won’t necessarily be any old thing that says “organic” on the bottle.

Blinc Tube Technology Mascara

Hello Everyone! As many of you know I have bad allergies that keep me from wearing much eye makeup. I am also not into huge eyelashes (for myself) on an every day basis. I have never been big on mascara and one of the biggest problems has always been getting it off. Whether it is the various eye makeup removers or the actual product getting into my eyes I am not a happy camper!

Blinc Tube Technology Mascara works by coating lashes with copolymers that form into tiny tubes surrounding the lashes. It isn’t paint that will smear or smudge, once dry they are cohesive units surrounding each lash.

Blinc’s mascara is wonderful for people like me. I love definition and I don’t need my lashes to be enormous, although they do have an another formula for bigger lashes that I haven’t tried, and primers and things like that for serious big lash fans. They just need a little pick-me-up that won’t get in my eyes, under any circumstance. Literally, you could swim in this mascara and be fine as long as you just dabbed your eyes with a towel, rather than rubbing. It comes off so easily. All you have to do is wet your eyes and gently massage the little tubes off. It is very strange the first few times, especially if you have forgotten and a few lash-tubes comes off when you wash your face, but it is great to be able to wash my face without becoming a raccoon!

Blinc needs water AND light pressure to come off, it will not come off with the water or just pressure no matter how much of either you apply.

Since my hair is near black naturally, sometimes I use it on my brows, too, just to thicken up a few areas. Sometimes I will also fill them in with shadow, other times that is enough for a casual look. I wouldn’t recommend this for many, but if you have black or near black brows it is a nice trick and the product won’t budge until you wash your face.

Here it is, on one side, brows and lashes, no other makeup:



Nigel’s Beauty Emporium in North Hollywood

Had a great day in Los Angeles yesterday! Woke up in a charming hostel after six hours of sleep and we hit the town running. We bused out to North Hollywood, had some delicious breakfast at Eats and hit up Nigel’s Beauty Emporium and a bustling farmer’s market.

Nigel’s Beauty Emporium was great! I had heard a bit about the store and was excited about their pro discount program. The staff was so helpful! For those that don’t know about Nigel’s it is like a Sephora (minus the expensive atmosphere) containing all the best makeup, skincare and hair brands for film/photo work. It was cool to play with some Face Atelier products, which normally have to ship from Canada, which is a pain. I was very happy to ask questions with the girl there about which products are best for which situations. I came away with a few brushes, a few shade of Amazing concealer, some illuminaters from Face Atelier, and another shade of lip tar. Reviews to come!

As an added bonus a lady on the wouldn’t stop staring at me and when I caught her she complimented my hair. She slowly made her way towards me and asked where I had my hair done. I was proud to say, “Pittsburgh, PA.”

Also, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a pretty sweet Kubrick exhibit how and some awesome large scale pieces in their contemporary art building!