80s Nails, Modern Lashes, and Choosing a Lash Stylist.


Xtreme Lash Eyelash Extensions are one of the hottest trends in the industry and are sported by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Xtreme Lashes are the world’s #1 brand for several reasons: Effect, longevity, quality, and safety. However, under-cutting competitors, peddling shoddy product, are doing to lashes what fungus did to nails in the 1980s.

For readers who side- stepped the ‘80s, like my little sister, economy product and inadequate sanitation practices caused a nail hullabaloo during this era. Running rampant was the spread of fungus–and HIV. Although acrylic nails were the white-hot trend, understandably, many clients quit having their nails done. Of course, not all nail techs offered botched or dangerous services. However, this stigma sullied the industry throughout into the 1990s. However, the problem has now created an inherent sense of standards. Clients are better educated and now know how to distinguish good nail salons from bad ones.

The standard that I want for you is the same one I offer my clients. 5 little questions will help you rule-out swindlers and highlight reputable lash stylists. Ask about:

  1. The Lashes: What are the lashes like? Ideally, they should be individually attached, not consisting of a 3-prong structure, so that they fall out naturally.
  2. The Adhesive: Many, many competitors are literally attaching lashes with superglue or other epoxies. This produces horrendous outcomes. Good lash stylists know about their products and are comfortable talking about how they work. After all, this product is going to be used near your eye! My adhesive is medical grade and was originally developed for surgical procedures.
  3. Maintenance: Lashes that are individually attached w/a quality adhesive physically cannot last longer than 6-8 weeks; this is the length of the hair growth cycle. Also, individually attached lashes fall out naturally, without pulling or damaging the lash bed, and will require fills between full sets. If someone offers lashes that do not require fills, or last longer than 6-8 weeks, run. They are either gluing the lashes to the skin w/ superglue, or are liars. No one likes a liar.
  4. Cost: High quality products are never inexpensive, so eyelash extensions shouldn’t cost less than $100/set. Ever.
  5. Portfolio: Good salon professionals offer clients a portfolio because they are proud of their work. Although experience often yields professionally photographed and re-touched photos, ask for “natural” before and after shots so that you can see how the lashes will really look.
Advertisements

Neutralizing Hair Color Splotches on the Skin


My friend took a leap of faith and allowed me to color her hair last night. That didn’t come out right. Her once blonde locks absorbed the rich color beautifully and produced a lovely brown punctuated by red. It’s absolutely stunning. What’s not so stunning are the spots of color on her face or the splotches on my forearms.

To counteract this effect, I always turn to green rubbing alcohol. A little of this and a cotton ball does absolute wonders! I won’t pretend like I know exactly why it works so well, aside from the fact that green is a neutralizing color, but this old hairdresser’s trick is tried and true.

I gave the dog a designer bath and all I got was this lousy growl.


The dog hates getting a bath about as much as I hated getting shots as a kid. I hid under the exam table; she slinks under the bed. I used to scream and cry and Lily can’t help but whimper. Poor Mother always received nasty looks during and after the whole ordeal. Karmatically, my canine companion reflects similar scowls. The whole thing sucks.

Although I’m forever changing pillowcases, when all the sheets come off the bed, the dog gets a bath; Lily is more instinctive than most Malteses and scoots under the bed before the comforter hits the floor. She gives me the please, no, Mama eyes.

I look away and a part of me wonders, what’s so terrible about dirty dogs, anyhow?

My inner-Aesthetician insists she’s going on strike if I allow a stinky pup to sleep on the pillow beside my face. My inner-responsible/mean dog owner concurs.

Lily’s regular shampoo is Matrix’s Hydrotherapy; it’s effective and gentle on her hair (the hypo-allergenic Maltese breed has hair, not fur), but she always retains the faint odor of wet dog. However, tonight we tried Pet Head’s Dirty Talk Shampoo and she smells even better than when I pick her up from the groomer.

The scent, “Fruit Fantasy,” smells divine and reminds me a lot of the [now discontinued] “Fruit Cocktail” conditioner Farouk produced until the mid-2000s. Pet Head products are all and cruelty, paraben, DEA, and sulfate free. Because the product is sulfate-free it does not bubble like other products containing foaming agents. As a result, the product rinsed away quickly and cut Lily’s torture time in half. Bonus.

She seemed a little less testy this time– all residual resentment melted as she methodically gnawed on a bone.

Father’s Day


As previously mentioned, I recently colored my hair in a shade of red very similar to my natural color. My decision was finalized due to Dad’s words echoing in my ear; he begs me to return to my natural every time I see him. In honor of my dad, I colored my hair red for Father’s Day (we like “gestures” of good faith in my family. For example, I allowed my nose ring to heal up for Mother’s Day one year).

Dad and I had a pretty standard Father’s Day; food, family, swimming, presents. I kept waiting for him to notice the drastically reduced count of blonde streaks and highlights– I patiently flipped my hair around thinking he’d exclaim, “Oh my God! Your hair looks utterly fantastic! Did you do that for me?”

When he didn’t, I realized that daddies are men too. They don’t always notice when we change our hair, but it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate the effort it takes to look good for them. To my dad, I always look pretty.

He remembers the natural, born child– which is why I can excuse and love him for being blinded by bleached highlights.

Red Hair Dye + White Highlights= Pink Highlights


I had my hair colored in a richer hue of copper than I normally try–and I love it! My hairdresser, who I’ve been going to for nine years, has designed a highlighting pattern of weaves and large streaks she works around each time.

Anyone who has ever had their hair colored red expects their shower to look like a scene from “The Shining” during their first five shampooings; they also know the importance of separating their highlights from the rest of the hair in order to prevent the color running. I forgot this. My level 10 highlights grabbed the color and turned a light shade of pink.

In order to combat this color mishap, I turned to Matrix’s “So Silver” shampoo. The product itself is a rich blue color. To avoid dying the highlights blue, I worked the product in my hands rather than applying it directly to the hair and shampooed quickly. Because I previously separated the highlight lines (to avoid lifting ALL of the color on my head), I lathered the hair three separate times and rinsed within thirty seconds.

This product is one of the best on the market and is recommended for highlighting fixes. In addition, this product is great for all blondes as weekly maintenance to avoid brassy hues.

Summer Waxing


I recently received an email concerning at-home waxing techniques; I do not condone clients performing their own waxing services. Hair removal seems simple, but it’s a very strategic process. If waxing is not performed correctly, the client becomes victim to pain and bleeding (which can lead to infection) and even permanent scarring. When waxing, the first two (dead) layers of skin are removed along with the hair from the root; scarring occurs when more than two layers of skin are removed. Visual trauma, due to poor waxing techniques, is made worse and more obvious by the sun. Although salon services sometimes appear costly, their value and necessity increases when faced with permanent disfiguration. However, if you’re hell-bent on waxing at home, here are a few steps responsible Aestheticians always follow:

  1. CLEANSE: Cleanse the area twice with an oil-free cleanser to remove debris and surface oils. Apply a pre-waxing cleansing solution to a cotton ball or square and gently wipe the area to be waxed; this simulates a sterile epidermal environment.
  2. PREP: Once the skin has dried, apply a light coat of dusting powder. If you’re not using a professional powder, use cornstarch over talc or baby powder, which is loaded with perfumes and chemicals.
  3. TEMP TEST: Check the wax temperature on the back of your wrist. You don’t want to scald the skin.

Cream or honey waxes are good for facial, arm, and leg waxing; it also works well on the bikini and under arm area on clients who have fine body hair. If using a cream or honey wax, smear a super thin coat to the skin in the direction of the hair growth; globbing the wax will only “lift,” or remove layers of, the skin and lead to damage. Smooth the wax strip in the direction of the hair growth and leave ½-1 inch free so that you have something to grip. Hold the skin taught, grab the end of the strip, and pull in a fast motion parallel with the skin. That is to say, don’t rip up.

Hard wax is formulated for coarse hair, such as bikini areas, or male backs & chests. Hard waxing follows the same preparation and wax temperature testing practices as soft wax. However, it is applied in a thick layer in the direction of the hair growth. Instead of using strips for removal, create a small lip at the end of the wax patch. Wait a few moments for the wax to set (do not let it fully harden) and flip up the lip with your fingernail. Hold the skin taught, grasp the wax, and pull in a fast, parallel motion.

4. SOOTHE: Apply a post-waxing or oil-free moisturizer. Massage the moisturizer into the skin to remove any residual wax. If redness appears, or lingers for more than an hour, ice the waxed area to reduce puffiness and calm the skin.

  • Avoid waxing services at nail salons—you know the ones I’m talking about. Products are generally low grade, which lead to break outs, and their technique is generally under-par because they specialize in nails, not waxing.
  • Avoid waxing on or around your period; our bodies are more sensitive to pain and post-wax breakouts.
  • If the house catches on fire and you don’t have time to pull the strip before running out of the house, do NOT yank it off once the firemen leave. Instead, apply coconut or olive oil to the wax to dissolve its bond to the skin. This also works well if wax ends up on hair for which it was unintended.

5 Ways to Fight Breakouts


With oily skin that is also sensitive, I can always count on a semi-hormonal breakout the week before my period. To an Aesthetician, like myself, the tell-tale sign of a hormonal breakout includes blemishes along the jaw line, chin, and lower cheek area. Because I know my body, and a thing or two about the skin, I try to combat intrinsic conditions with 5 little steps:

1. Change Pillow Cases Nightly: In a perfect world, we’d all receive 8 hours of sleep per night. 8 hours of sleep, times 7 nights, equals 56 hours of sleep each week. Bacteria replicates in the presence of oxygen and skin oils collect in the cotton fibers. Changing pillow cases every 1-2 nights ensures you’re not replacing the bacteria you’ve just cleansed away.

2. Wash Makeup Brushes Weekly: Washing brushes is important for the same reasons previously explained. However, I feel this is a little more crucial simply because mid-day touch-ups occur on skin that’s been exposed to sweat, oil, and bacteria– brushes absorb these pollutants and are repeatedly deposited on the face with each flick of a brush. Baby shampoo works as a gentle, weekly cleanser for brushes.

3. Clean Cell 2x/Day: Sweat. Makeup. Oil. Tears. Germs from the counter top. Germs from your hands. Germs from your desk. On your face. Wiping your cell phone 1-2 times/ day will greatly reduce breakouts around the jaw line.

4. Cleanse 2x: Cleansing the face in the morning and at night is essential. The first cleanse removes dirt, surface oils, and makeup. The second cleanse, or lather, actually penetrates the skin and provides benefit. If you only lather your face once, your follicles may remain clogged; this leads to comedones (black heads), then pustules (white heads), and then papules (acne cysts).

5. Use Professional Products: Professional products are essential starting at the molecular level; the size of the particles is milled to a fine size that penetrates the skin with ease. In addition, the product itself is made with quality ingredients. Think of it this way: McDonald’s serves cheeseburgers which will fill you up, but a black angus burger on a whole grain bun actually feeds your body. The Image Skincare line  is organic, medical grade, and sells at a reasonable price.

Curling Wands


CURLING WANDS

My hair doesn’t like to curl. It’s never holds a curl with hot rollers, sponge rollers, or a curling iron. I once came close to making it through an entire night by curling with a flat iron, but this process is very dicey; it’s easy to burn off—literally burn off—the hair in mid-curl.

The most disheartening aspect to taking the time to curl ones’ hair is when the curl falls before you even leave the mirror. This all changed for me when I was recently introduced to the Curly-Q Tapered Iron. This iron is literally made of gold. The golden plates are gorgeous, but they more importantly offer even heat distribution; they also work to smooth surface frizz, which almost always occurs during the curling process.

48 HOURS PRIOR TO STYLING

Sleep in a thick conditioner (I recommend Biolage’s Conditioning Balm), or at least apply it to hair and hang out at the house for a couple of hours. This acts as armor, or hair insurance, against styling damage. However, generally, curly styles and up-dos work better on dirty hair. “Dirty” doesn’t mean filthy. I like to wash my hair, the night before curling, with TIGI’s Style Shots: Epic Volume Shampoo. This gives my fine tresses the boost they need to create a textured look.

JUST BEFORE STYLING/ PREPARATION

Prior to styling, I like to use CHI Iron Guard on my ends and work the product upward (apply only the residue to hair closest to the root to avoid a greasy effect). Smooth & Seal, by Sexy Hair, is a finishing spray which doubles nicely as a pre-styling mist. I like to use this from ends to the mid-way point of my hair. Brush your hair well and remove all knots and tangles to create smooth, silky curls. This step also distributes product evenly throughout the hair.

STYLING PROCESS

Because my hair is fine, I set the temperature at about 350 degrees. If you’re unsure how to classify your hair type, the Curly-Q package includes a descriptive chart with correlating heat settings. Place the protective heat glove, included with purchase, on the hand that matches the side you’re working on. That is to say, if you begin with your left side, put the glove on your left hand. Total, you’ll separate the hair into 5 layers, beginning with the bottom layer and ending at the top of your head. Within each layer, separate your hair into 1-inch sections for best results.

  1. Place your thumbs behind your ears and move straight back, until your fingers meet, to separate the first/bottom section. Clip the other hair atop your head. Isolate a 1-inch section of hair. Reach your right arm over your head, to the left side, and point the tip of the wand downward. With your gloved, left hand, wind hair from the broadest part of the barrel down to the tapered end. For loose curls, maximize the thicker end of the wand. For tighter curls, wrap hair mid-way around the wand and down. Hold, for no longer than 10 seconds, and release. Continue this process until you reach the mid-point. Switch sides.
  2. Next, separate Hair just above the ears, at the temples— divide the top layer into 2 sections and save the very front of the hair for last— and continue the 1-inch curling process.
  3. Once complete, rake your fingers through the curls to give a more tussled look. Finish with a healthy coat (or two) of TIGI’s Hard Head Hairspray.
  4. Enjoy bouncy, sexy curls throughout the night and into the morning!