Red Carpet Manicure: Gel Polish


Gel nail polish, by Red Carpet Manicure (RCM), is one of my favorite things right now. RCM provides a protective coat which helps natural nails grow longer without filing down or damaging the nail, unlike acrylics. Most importantly, the polish stays put (without chipping) and yields a gorgeous manicure for 2-3 weeks!

Although I am a professional Aesthetician, I’m by no means a professional manicurist. Because of this, I know you too will be able to tackle the RCM with ease. The directions are easy to follow and the manicure itself takes under 30 minutes to achieve– that includes dry time… well, there is virtually no dry time and the polish finishes nice and hard, as opposed to traditional nail lacquers; we’ve all meticulously painted our nails only to find the lacquer smudged, dented, or chipped as a result of mundane actions. Once the gel polish is cured, it really is set.

Here are a few tips (and pics) from my nail experience:

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1. I started with clean, dry nails. Before applying polish, RCM suggests shaping the nail, pushing back cuticles, and roughing up the nail itself.

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2. Roughing up the nail does not mean filing it down. Instead, you’re gently buffing away the nail’s natural shine in order for the polish to adhere more successfully (please pardon the soon to be tamed cuticles).

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3. The base coat takes 30 seconds to set and each layer of colored polish takes approximately 45 seconds to cure. Although the directions say the color takes 45 seconds, an RCM representative and I agree that 1 minute works best when using the RCM LED light–just to be safe. In addition, I like to leave nails under the light for 1 minute when curing top coat (Brilliance). The above color photographed a little darker than it is in actuality. However, RCM’s Oh So 90210¬†is quite comparable to OPI’s Strawberry Margarita.

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4. I like French nails and found this effect relatively easy to achieve with RCM. Upon fully completing the gel manicure in Tre Chic (this includes top coat application), I swiped Sally Hansen’s White Out across the nail tips and allowed the polish to dry for 15 minutes. Finally, I applied RCM’s Brilliance and cured for 1 minute to set my French nails.

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A trick that I recently learned from my manicurist, to prolong white tip longevity, is gently swiping acetone across the nail to remove dulling agents. This tip is only good for use on gel or acrylic nails and should be done in a swift, singular motion.

Enjoyūüôā

Reader Write-In: Mineral Makeup (In Memory of Joan Oliver)


Dear Ashley Evelyn,

Help! I need a new liquid foundation and powder! I’ve been using Mary Kay but I’m just not feeling it anymore and my aunt isn’t selling anymore. I’m in between normal and oily skin. And I like to hide my blemishes! I bought cover girl powder and it made me break out, so I need a good brand please and thank you!

-S.B.

Dear S.B.,

In my opinion, mineral makeup is the greatest thing since sliced bread and is good for all skin types. Not only does mineral makeup provide an array of coverage (from light to heavy), but it also allows the skin to “breathe.” However, the skin doesn’t breathe like our lungs do. In a nut shell, when properly functioning, the epidermis is constantly regenerating cells, sloughing dead cells, and expelling impurities. When dead skin cells, dirt, and excess oils are trapped within the follicle (pore), the tribulation of the common blemish occurs in three stages: Comedones arise (blackheads); white blood cells rush to fight underlying infection and form Pustules (whiteheads); finally, Papules (cystic acne) develop as a result of severe infection. Good skincare practices such as cleansing the skin, twice daily, and developing frequent exfoliation regimens can lessen these occurrences. However, switching to a mineral foundation also helps the skin to breathe easy– and function as intended.

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Making the switch from liquid foundation, to mineral powder, isn’t always easy for users. Before I became an Aesthetician, I suffered from severe cystic acne and loaded my face with thick, liquid foundation on a daily basis. When my Aesthetician suggested that I switch foundations, I told her that I couldn’t rely on mineral makeup to cover up my blemishes. She countered with the fact that my makeup wasn’t doing me any real favors in that department (the jig was up– my face was covered in pustules & papules) and my formula of choice perpetuated the problem.

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At the time, Bare Minerals Makeup was known as Bare Escentuals– and only available through QVC. Today, the line may be found at department stores across America and specialty makeup stores such as Ulta. However, the Ashley Evelyn of yesterday picked up the phone and ordered the Bare Minerals starter kit. I was amazed by how beautiful my skin looked and felt under mineral makeup! No longer did I feel like I was wearing an oily mask of paint to the world. Instead, the light formula allowed my clear skin (forehead, nose, and chin) to shine. The concealer brush added heavy coverage where I needed it most (cheeks). And, because Bare Minerals foundation acts as a dual concealing medium and foundation in one, my blemishes virtually disappeared upon application.

Today, Bare Minerals appears in its traditional loose powder (my medium of choice), but is also found in pressed powder and liquid form.

HONORABLE MENTION:
1. Jane Iredale Makeup
2. Pur Minerals

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This post is dedicated to the late, Joan Marie Oliver. She taught me how to be a great Aesthetician and provided me with skincare when no one else wanted to–or thought they could– help my problem skin. I am eternally grateful to Joan for her help and insight. Rest in peace, Joan. And, thank you.

Santa Brought Inspiration for Christmas!


I’m back! I hope you all had a beautiful holiday; I know I did.¬†Since last posting, I’ve made what’s called an “interstate move,” from Orlando to Nashville, and been busy settling down– only to plow right through Christmas.

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Santa Claus knew I had everything a girl could dream for: A loving family, a beautiful Lily Dog,  and a new winter wardrobe. However, he also knew that my beauty closet was MISTAKENLY packed away in portable storage unitsРincluding my professional brush setsРand I was suffering miserably. So, he took a trip to Ulta and got me several makeup GEMS.

Devout readers know that I’m a fan of Carbon Black Mascara, by L’oreal over expensive brands. However, Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara is my new favorite! The formula itself lengthens and thickens lashes, but the wand proved amazing as well.

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I’ve generally avoided non-traditional wand styles, but this one separates lashes like a dream and coats evenly. In addition, the egg shaped ball at the tip of the wand creates the perfect tool to lengthen lashes with vertical strokes. I really like this product and encourage everyone who is frustrated by their mascara formula to grab a tube!

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My second cosmetic introduction, of the season, was to the Australian originated line by Napoleon Perdis. I am in love with the neutral metallics shadow palette– and might have to go back for the purple one too! Sometimes, I feel like metallics look a little…funky. In a bad way. However, these finely milled pigments spread evenly and produce a glimmer suitable for a day at the office or a night on the town.

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Aside from the gifts Santa Claus brought, I would also like to mention the makeup brushes I recently picked up at Target. E.L.F. brand brushes are a must have for anyone who wants a nice brush set, but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for them! In fact, I like them better than some of the “professional” brushes I’ve purchased in the past. The selection is decent, the quality is good, and the price is right as they range from $1-$5 each! I especially love the contouring brush. This is a testament, once again, that you don’t always have to pay high dollar for quality tools and cosmetics; one often finds themselves paying for the brand name as opposed to the product’s actual value.

So happy to be back blogging! What fabulous cosmetics did Santa bring you this Christmas?

Terrorizing the Low Maintenance Boyfriend: A Trip to the Beauty Supply


As previously mentioned, my boyfriend, Mike isn’t exactly salon savvy (although he’s no stranger to the barber shop). After working a sixty hour week, we used his day off to run errands. While cruising down the street, a beauty supply shop caught my eye.

“I need to stop in there real quick,” I said as I hung a sharp right.

“Where?”

“The beauty supply– you don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.”

He raised his eyebrows. “No, I’ll go with you.” Mike is the sweetest type of boyfriend who will follow you to hell and back– just because you’re feeling needy or codependent.

My running list included: Hair cholesterol, 2 pumice stones, 1 nail buffer, 1 nail file, pink nail polish, and topcoat.

Although I moved swiftly to the hair masque section, Mike stopped and stared in a state of quizzical wonder. His eyes followed the shelves up and down and I smiled to myself and grasped a tan colored jar.

“What’s that?”

“Cholesterol.” I explained, “It’s like, super-duper strong conditioner.”

He followed me to the next aisle. “Why don’t you just use eggs in your hair?”

I said, “Because I’m a feminist.”

“What?”

“Never mind. Why would I use eggs when I can just use cholesterol?”

He eyed the price tag. “It seems cheaper.”

“That’s old fashioned. My grandma and her sorority sisters used to do that.”

Mike’s eyes glazed over as we perused the bountiful nail shaping supplies and he dialed his best friend. He¬†said, “Hey, man! Guess where I am right now?” Pause. “Nope. At the beauty supply store with Ashley.” Pause. Laugh. Pause. “She needs hair cholesterol.”¬†When I motioned, Mike stuck out his pinky and allowed me to test two lacquers on his unpolished nails. I held up the bottles and he picked 80s pink over a bubblegum color. “Cholesterol? Oh, it’s like an intense conditioner.” Pause. Mike moved the receiver away from his mouth. “He says you should just put eggs in your hair!”

I rolled my eyes.

Good Read: Robert Jones’ MAKEUP MAKEOVERS


There are a lot of makeup books and tutorials out there, but none that I’ve seen can compare to the sage wisdom Robert Jones shares in Makeup Makeovers. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Robert Jones is an amazing celebrity makeup artist; he’s worked with one of my personal favs, Cindy Crawford (remember what she taught me about eyebrows) and done makeup for all the major magazines.¬†For those who want to simply take my word for it, the man knows what he’s talkin’ about, Willis.

The book is divided into three parts and consists of a collective, twelve chapters. Part one is a bit of a vocabulary lesson and focuses on the meaning behind makeup terminology. What different cosmetics do and how to apply them– and what purpose the tools serve. Part two discusses the individual and is where the book really heats up. He neatly describes skin tone classifications and the contrast between warm versus cool tones. In addition, the book discusses face shape and contouring with simplified diagrams. During the third part, appropriately titled, “Putting it all together,” Jones discusses how the reader can take what they’ve read and apply it to their specific face.

The book is somewhat repetitive, but this angle works well for the purpose of a how-to. His consistency assures the cosmetic novice and inspires makeup savvy girls. Although Jones’ writing is clear and helpful, the greatest testament to his skill is in the before and after photos. Amazing. The women in the before photos could be Walmart, Publix, or Dollar General shoppers. The results, however, reflect a sophistication projected by women in the media. The faces depicted are “real” people. That proves how good “we” can look and showcases Jones’ skill. And, of course, he shows how gorgeous ridiculously, pretty women (models) are when all glammed-up.

I hungrily blew through Jones’ book in an evening and enjoyed his perspective. His take on natural beauty is refreshing–and so is his makeup style. Wether you’re a working Makeup Artist, like myself, or are newly curious about cosmetics, Jones’ methodic book offers a strong education.

Halloween Makeup and the Dollar General.


Still up in TN & wishing I hadn’t left FL so quickly; I forgot my makeup kit and all my Halloween, latex pieces. I’ve seen so many new, awesome looks I’d like to try! Really, though, I’m just jonesin’ for the salon. This is the first time in seven years that I haven’t done anyone’s Halloween makeup.

The town that my boyfriend and mom live in, Goodlettsville, is quaint. However, shopping is rather limited in comparison to Orlando. My funds are similarly limited due to lack of work this week. In an effort to pick up a little makeup, without breaking the bank, I took a trip to the Dollar General Store. During my visit, I also appeased my inner-Makeup Artist.

While perusing the makeup aisle (which was more impressive than expected), I ran into several other last-minute Halloween makeup ladies. One woman asked which eye shadow I liked better and I ended up giving a consult during which her skin type was assessed. Another woman asked, of the Dollar General assortment, had I ever tried any of the mascaras– and if so, which was my favorite? I’d tried them all, but directed her back to the “Old Faithful,” Maybelline’s Great Lash. Great formula. Great wand.

After telling everybody their business, I picked up a set of false lashes for myself and headed to the register. A blonde clerk, in her early 20s, eyed the lashes and held them in her hands for a few moments after ringing them up. She said, “I overheard that you’re a Makeup Artist…have you ever used fake lashes before?”

“Sure. I use them a lot.”

“I’ve always been too scared to try them… but I wanted to get some when I get off work.”

My eyes glazed over. I gave her my previously mentioned LASH TUTORIAL and she seemed empowered to give the lashes a shot. Even though I didn’t actually apply any makeup, I did have fun helping the ladies of Dollar General.

Happy Halloween, y’allūüôā

Darth Vader learns to share.


Halloween is a very special time for children and is also a time I was not allowed to participate in as a child. Yes, I was the “freak” whose mother wouldn’t let her trick-or-treat, dress up, or even color worksheets related to what she called, “the devil’s holiday.” There was only one other child, in my entire elementary, whose mother was as mean as mine. Together, Larissa and I watched episodes of Reading Rainbow in the Media Center, while our classmates got to participate in the school’s hay wagon ride and play the games comprising the Fall Spooktacular. When I complained to my mother that all my classmates got candy and that Larissa and I missed out, she offered to buy a bag at the grocery store. It wasn’t the same; I hadn’t earned my candy.

Today, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and my belief system appears inverted. I view the holiday as harmless–and fanatical parents (such as my mother, who NOW agrees that a little trick-or-treating really wouldn’t have hurt anything & if she had it to do over, she’d let me be a heathen for one night out of the year) as in cohorts with the devil. It’s a strange paradox.

When my boyfriend mentioned the trunk-or-treat event, hosted by a local school, my eyes lit up excitedly. “Do we get to dress up!?”

He said, “No, it’s for the kids only. Parents and adults don’t dress up.”

“Are you sure? I think we need costumes too.”

“No. The twins aren’t even dressing up. Just Will.” The twins, Annsley and Makayla, are thirteen. Will is seven.

“Fine.”

Twenty-five minutes before it was time to leave for the trunk-or-treat, the girls toyed with possible last-minute costumes. I suggested they put on their fleece onesies and go as big babies, but Annsley decided she couldn’t be seen in public like that. Makayla suggested that she and her sister wear matching outfits and go as twins. So they did. Mike offered to put on a pair of blue jeans and a cowboy hat to go as a shirtless cowboy, but it grossed out the kids (although I liked his idea).

When I asked Will earlier in the week what he was going to dress up as, he said, “That one guy. Luke’s dad.”

“Darth Vader?”

“Yes! That’s him.”

Darth had just chopped off my neck, so I was trying to look horrified.

I would like to point out that I am NOT wearing a costume, but rather the warmest sweater I could find in my closet. I will also mention that upon arriving at the trunk-or-treat, most of the adults WERE dressed up.¬†Darth Vader’s costume was, by far, the most impressive of any other boy’s garb.

He made several laps around the candy circuit, but Mike and I only made it through two. During Darth’s travels, he made sure to snag a Reese’s cup for my mom and a box of Nerds for me. However, as any Star Wars fan knows, there’s a limit to Darth’s generosity.

Upon arriving home, Darth said, “One piece per person and that’s IT!” He meant it. The dark force was strong with that one– two meltdowns over the loot had proven it so; no one was up for a third challenge.

In the morning, however, Darth awoke with a certain change of heart. As I walked into the living room, to call the kids for breakfast, I noticed Miss Annsley pawing through the candy bag. I eyed the  bag nervously.

Darth had apparently gone through an overnight transformation. He said, “I told her it was OK [to go through my candy].”

I said, “Darth Vader has learned to share.”

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Parents, please don’t turn your children into the school-wide dubbed freak over a little superstition. Although Darth stormed the galaxy for a night, he resurfaced as our sweet, little Will by morning.

Ombr√© Hair: The Hottest Recession Special.


I’ll probably catch a ton of heat for saying this, but I feel the ombr√©¬†trend, currently sweeping the nation, is utterly heinous. The only thing separating Khloe Kardashian’s hair from that of trailer trash is a flat iron and a keratin treatment. And, because Khloe is my favorite Kardashian, this is said in love.

However, despite the fact that I miss Khloe’s rich locks, they look way better than other ombr√©¬†supporters. Jessica Alba’s “womens’ correctional look”¬†is obviously influencing the hottest mugshots in the United States. Check out these other hot ombr√©¬†looks found through FL inmate searches and mugshots.com.

This woman speaks with her eyes, Just like Jessica, but her hair isn’t quite trashy enough. Jessica’s face framing tresses reflect the color of washing with untreated well-water. This woman is obviously just sporting recession hair–or is it ombr√©– and having an even harder time as she’s just been arrested.

Lake County, Florida’s Sarah Jessica Parker look-alike totally rocked her mugshot! Mascara? Check. Baywatch tank top? Check. It’s like she sat in her hairdresser’s chair, one Spring Break, and demanded a color that would last through hurricane season. 5 months of growth looks gorgeous– this ombr√©¬†look is a must-have if you want to look amazing while being booked.

This girl is so dedicated to trendy hair that she seductively whispers, “ombr√©” as the officer snaps her mugshot. The peek-a-boo brown strands, in conjunction with the bleach blonde, and ash roots makes this a classic ombr√©¬†look; one almost forgets they’re staring at a booking photo and believes they’re glancing at a designer perfume advertisement.

These¬†USO performers¬†are obviously hot, but blondie’s roots indicate only 7-12 weeks of hair growth, in comparison to Jessica’s 6 months. Nice try. However, the girls win bonus trashiness points due to the Lindsay Lohan resemblance. Nice try.

Seriously, though, my point is, I find it ridiculous that the new hair trend is to try and look trashy–when there are plenty of poor people in the world who would kill for a dye job to cover their whole head. Imagine a woman who is down on her luck and doesn’t even have the money for job interviewing attire (or clean clothes, period), let along to have her hair fixed. Don’t you think she probably wishes she had the cash to look good and project confidence? Choosing and paying to look unkempt seems a little wasteful and silly…

*If you live in the Orlando, FL area and would like to donate job interview attire to women in need, check out the Dress for Success webpage. Finding locations outside of Florida is easy as most states are in participation; US & international participants are listed here.

*If you live in the UK and also want to help those in need, otherwise, click here for several options & an informational article.

P.S. Ombré Honey Boo Boo Mom.

Terrorizing the Low-Maintenance Boyfriend: A Lesson in Eyebrow Waxing


To hear my boyfriend tell it, I, “came at [him] with a pair of tweezers.” This statement implies two things. First, his words suggest an attack movement on my part, however the plucking was done with love and care. Second, it’s not like I didn’t warn him by saying, “Sit tight–I’ll be right back with my tweezers.”

Let me tell you a little about Mike: Ex-Marine. Quarterback. Basketball shorts. Despite a successful career in toughness, Mike’s kind heart affords him the tolerance to withstand my “torturous” whims– which brings us back to brow maintenance.

I combed and trimmed his brows with ease and marveled at how this step makes such an amazing difference every time–especially on men.¬†Aestheticians, including myself, do this before plucking or waxing; combing brows upward and trimming offers instant results and low risk to ruining their shape. However, the tweezers pushed Mike over the edge.

“Just let me wax them,” I offered.

He retorted, “Hell no!”

“But this is my job. I do this for a living- waxing is way easier than tweezing.”

“No.”

“But you get pedicures…”

He growled, “That’s for the [leg] massage! No.”

Boyfriends and beaus past always accepted my brow maintenance attempts with quiet reserve and surrender. Mike’s resistance presented a new challenge and I silently vowed I’d get to wax those brows. Later, I casually mentioned the football coach who is a body waxing client. “No.” I told him I wouldn’t do a complete brow design, but would only clean them up. “No.”

He called his mother to say hello and tattle about how wicked I was for daring to tweeze three eyebrow hairs. She told him, flatly, that her husband waxed regularly. Although Mike raised a bushy brow in consideration, he maintained the¬†“devil wax” wouldn’t leave the Honee pot.

A few hours later, I was offered the deal of a lifetime when Mike bartered information for brows. My eyes lit up. “So, if I tell you, you’ll really let me wax them?”

“Yes.”

High levels of testosterone, as found in males, generally indicate a surplus in hair growth. The hair is often thick, coarse, and dark. Unless you’re a Doctor, an Aesthetician, or work for Animal Control, don’t look at the next photo if you’re eating. One, lower-brow swipe did a world of good in the low-maintenance man’s brow routine:

When I swiped the wax across his lower brow bone, he commented that the warm wax was soothing. When I pulled the strip, Mike said the pain was nowhere near what he anticipated. In fact, it really didn’t hurt. We might go for a full-fledged brow design next time, but I considered our session a success:

WINNING!!!!