Reader Write-In: How to diminish the look of puffy eyes?

The time has come for my first Reader Write-In response. In my treatment room, all information shared by my clients, concerning their body or otherwise, remains confidential. In the interest of maintaing a sense of privacy, I will keep Reader Write-Ins anonymous.

Our fellow follower, who is in her twenties, writes to us with one of the most universal–and fixable problems pertaining to beauty and the body. She writes:

Dear, Ashley Evelyn

Can u do a post on puffy eyes? I have perpetual bags (so I’m good at concealer) but sometimes when I wake up the lids are so puffy it changes the whole shape of my eye! It was the worst it has been in weeks this morning… I pretty much looked like Rocky at the end of the first movie! Haha!


We all suffer from puffy eyes from time to time. Swelling often occurs as a result of: Staying out late, alcohol consumption (dehydration), stress, crying, allergies, and lack & surplus of sleep. Sometimes, under-eye inflammation seems to happen for no reason, but a closer look at our diet usually acts as our first step toward skin health.

1. Hydrate & Limit Sodium: Often, external problems are due to the result of an internal imbalance. Sufficient hydration reduces swelling and increases cellular & organ function. Remember, the skin is the largest organ in the human body! Likewise, limiting salt & alcohol intake reduces the body’s need to hoard its water supply. Although 8, 8oz. glasses of water/day is the generalized minimum, has a hydration calculator which is more specific to individual needs.

2. Spooning: This is one of the easiest and cheapest methods of soothing puffy eyes and was passed down to me by my grandmother (she also advised that Preparation-H reduces the size of under-eye bags, but I’m not necessarily condoning this). Before bed, place 2 metal spoons in the freezer. When you wake, place the curve of the spoon under your eyes for about 5 minutes. The cold reduces inflammation and constricts blood vessels– just like when we ice sore bodies after working out.

3. Facial Cleansing: Once you’ve applied the cold compress spoons to your eyes, execute your morning cleansing routine with cold water. Cold cleansing reduces inflammation and reinforces the spoon method, but also shrinks the size of dilated follicles (pores). When pores are contracted, they create a nicer finish for makeup application.

4. Cucumber Slices & Tea Bags: This remedy is similar to spooning, but is boosted by the power of antioxidants. Cut several cucumber slices and refrigerate–or, moisten 2 tea bags and let them chill instead. Apply to the eye for about 5 minutes or until the bags reach room temperature. Tea contains, tannin, a natural astringent proven to tighten the skin and reduce inflammation.

5. Aloe & Vitamin C/E: Aloe is one of the best sources, natural anti-inflammatory relief. Although it is soothing to the skin, aloe oxygenates and increases blood flow. Vitamin E protects the skin from free radicals and pollution which can age the skin over time & also works as a natural anti-inflammatory. Vitamin C, my favorite, stimulates collagen production & increases blood flow.

Image Skincare’s Vital-C Hydrating Eye Recovery Gel works beautifully and is what I use on my own skin.

If your swollen eyes cause pain, discomfort, or blurred vision, please contact a doctor; you may have an eye infection or condition requiring medical attention.

Do you have a beauty or skin related question? Email me at


Synthetic Dreadlocks

While attending a belly dance performance, I noticed girls sporting colorful or natural looking dreadlocks. The dreads themselves were locked nice and tight. Although each lock maintained its own “individuality,” they were sectioned in such a way that they appeared uniform and professional. For the tribal style belly dance performance, the dancers decorated their locks with flora and fauna and even added beads or shells for further affect. The elaborate styles were very eye catching and beautiful, but the girls’ natural hair remained in a state of detangled health.

I asked my friend where the girls got their dreads and she referred me to a girl named, Katie. “Katie,” I was delighted to learn, is a good friend and fellow alumni from our days at Paul Mitchell the School. Since receiving her Cosmetology license way back when, she has grown into a fabulous hairdresser, achieved her certification in massage therapy, and asserted herself as the #1 dreadlocks & creative extension specialist in Central Florida.

Her website, iKandi Hair Design, features the most impressive and quality dreadlocks portfolio I’ve seen to date. She is happy to provide in-salon SoCap fusion extensions to clients throughout Central Florida, but also creates custom hair pieces to ship to domestic & international clients. Katie’s products include an impressive array of extensions, wigs, and falls. In addition, her web site offers detailed information for wig and natural dreadlock maintenance.

I thought these hairpieces were just too cool not to share. Classic beauty is always in style, but it’s fun to mix things up in an exciting way. I think these pieces are great for: Dancers, Performers, Models, Costumes, Festivals, Photography and Individuals!

For more information & quotes on these fabulous (and reasonably priced!)  hair pieces, you can contact Katie directly.

Guess who fried her hair off…

For the past 3 days, I’ve been noticing my hair has been particularly dry– although, I’ve slept with conditioner in my hair for 2 nights in a row. And, I’ve saturated my hair with every heat protecting product in my beauty closet. Yes, closet:

While flat-ironing my hair this morning, I felt the unmistakably crispy texture of singed hair.

“Oh, hell, no,” I thought as I flipped up my bangs.

There it was. Brittle, dehydrated, kinky tresses. Then, light bulb, I checked the heat setting on my BaByliss iron and, sure enough, my thumb had knocked the temperature up far too high for my fine hair.

The Moral: If you’re having issues with your hair, there may be more than 1 factor causing the trouble. Don’t have a blonde moment– don’t just blame it on what you’ve done in the salon, but consider what you do at home.

SHAVING: Avoiding the Sasquatch and/or Scaly, Dragon Look.

I have Type II Skin and am rather sensitive. That said, I’m not one who those girls who can shave her legs with soap and live without itchy consequence–nor, shave my legs the night before going to the beach without my shorn skin breaking out in stinging, red bumps in reaction to the salt water.

These are the shave mediums I’ve tried over the years: Baby oil, gylcerin soap, French milled soap, moisturizing body wash, shave gel, men’s shaving cream, and shampoo. Baby oil produces a slick shave, but clogs the follicles and eventually leads to ingrowns. Soap is very drying to the skin and always leaves me ashy–same thing with expensive shave gels.

The only shave medium I use on my body, ever, is Biolage’s Hydratherapy Conditioning Balm. Conditioner is pH balanced to the skin. The formula remains non irritating as it’s free from dyes and fragrances. In essence, by shaving with this quality conditioner, the skin is infused with moisture.

Since making the switch, I no longer have to wait 12 hours between shaving and beaching. My legs stay silky smooth for longer than before and I never suffer from painful razor burn. In addition, this method saves me cash because I only have to purchase one product, not two. My razors also seem to last a little longer.

Sounds good, right? A boy looked at me like I’d gone totally nuts when I suggested that he use the conditioner on his face.

“You shave with conditioner?” He wrinkled his nose as if I’d offered him a jar of lard.

“Sure, it works great.”

He looked from the jar, to the razor, and at his face in the mirror. Maybe he was imagining his face broken out and cut to hell and back. As he cut his eyes to me, he probably waged my ability to pull-off practical jokes. What joke? No joke. Baby smooth skin. No cuts or razor burn. Smiling in the mirror.


Nudity, Magic Mushrooms, and Amethysts… I Promise I’m Talking About Makeup!

I’m pretty darn familiar with Too Faced Makeup. I fell in with their Naked Eye palette, a few years ago, and especially fancy the illusive “Satin Sheets.” Unfortunately, “SS” is only sold in palette form. Despite my weakness for light pink, iridescent shadows with champagne flecks… I couldn’t justify such a large purchase in order to obtain one, measly shadow–again.

Guess what costs half the price and is perhaps a nicer, everyday shade? Too Faced’s single serving of “Magic Mushroom.” It’s absolutely gorgeous with a light purple or brown liner. I jazzed up the shadow by accompanying it with black liner, after work hours, and the glowy shadow made my tired eyes seem brighter. The above photo captures how the “MMs” shimmer in bright, direct light. The photo below depicts the shadow in more natural light. Because the shadow is so diverse, the blend of pink and gold looks lovely on all skin types!

Pairs really nicely with Bed Head’s Cyberoptics shadow, “Amethyst” for a lighter, smokey look.

What’s your favorite, new shadow?

Little Ballet Dancers Grow Up to be Adult Women with Jazzy Tendencies.

I’ve loved to dance since my first class at the age of three. I remember learning the 4-count break down of the Pas de bourree, Arabesque, and mastering the basic foot work positions. Mostly, I remember feeling a strong sense of belonging and joy which urged me to keep dancing.

By the time I was five, I was ready to mix it up. I’d seen the movie, “Annie,” starring Ann Reinking and fell in love with Ann’s cool, sensual dance moves. To me, the child immersed in 1980s Miami culture, all dance was either street style or ballet. Ann’s style of dance was graceful like ballet, but edgier like street dance. My mother said the style was something called, “Jazz.” Jazz.

We left Miami-Dade and moved to Orlando a few months later. Mama and Grandma took me to a little dance studio, down the street from our new home, and and we toured the location during class time. The studio owner asked me, not my family, what style of dance I liked.

I peered through the window where an advanced jazz class was taking place.  I said, “I dance ballet, but I like jazz.” She liked jazz too and had danced with Fosse; I didn’t know who he was yet. The teens, in their jazz boots and scrunchies, whipped around the floor with grace and ended their expression in crisp, dramatic poses.

I affirmed that I wanted to enroll in jazz and my grandmother assured that I would continue ballet in addition to new disciplines. While I waited for the new dance season to begin, I kept my dance skills sharp by diligently doing Mousercise on the weekends.

I was the youngest one in my beginning class, but rocked my first recital to the tune of “Hip To Be Square.” The upper dance instructor, Miss Cheryl [O’Neill] allowed me to register in intermediate dance the following year, despite the fact that the age difference in that class was even greater. I was six and most of the kids were nine to eleven years old. Despite being the class baby, Cheryl knew that for me, Jazz was expression of emotion. I danced my heart out for her– and moved up with the big girls to the advanced class the following year.

Jazz connected my heart and body and stirred feelings I wouldn’t understand for some time– some, I can hardly decipher as an adult. Last Fall, I started dancing again for the first time since my teens. My gym, formerly known as Lifestyles Family Fitness, offered dance fitness. I was very skeptical before trying the class. Step aerobics and Zumba don’t count as dance for me. However, after my first Sh’Bam class, I was hooked.

Sh’Bam blends jazz, hip-hop–and even shades of belly dance and latin disciplines. We did real choreography. We formed friendships and encouraged each other… but, of course, like every cosmetic or product I’ve ever sworn by, the class was cancelled last week.

What will I do now? I have family and friends who dance at Florida Tribal Dance in Orlando– I’ll be signing up for my first beginner’s class in 22 years and I couldn’t be more excited to see where this new dance will take me…

What does dance mean to you?

What do Troll Dolls and Swimmers Have in Common?

When my sister was a little girl, her blonde hair turned green every summer. Hours in the pool made it so. Of course, any hair color may be altered by excessive summer swimming, but the chlorine in the pool is not the true cause. In the presence of chlorine, copper and other waterborne metals oxidize. Oxidized metals bind to the hair shaft and produce a greenish hue.

Science and yuck aside, these chemicals and very drying and damaging to the hair. In order to prevent broomstick-like goldilocks, my sister and I always wet our hair before getting into the pool; the hair shaft initially absorbs pure water rather than that which is chemically treated. Second, we lather our tresses in Biolage Hydrotherapy Conditioning Balm to create a protective barrier around the hair shaft.


Eyebrows. And Thinking Too Much.

My eyebrows are more naturally askew than a mismatched pair of argyle— and striped socks. The right one grows smoothly and the left one looks like this:

Eyebrow design challenges aside, irregular brows present difficulties in day-to-day life. The problem is looking like an unkempt freak. In order to hang properly, like fresh-cut bangs, eyebrows need training.

I first tamed my unruly brows in 7th grade. I wasn’t allowed to pluck or wax them (or shave my legs either—yeah, I was that awkward girl), but Mom presented a can of hairspray and a brow comb. I thought she was seriously delusional until she pointed me to the makeup mirror and forced me to try her method. I looked awesome. I looked like this:

Fantasies aside, within a week, the wayward brows found themselves tamed.

I remembered middle school this morning as I applied my makeup. Rather than reaching for a defining pencil, I grasped a can of TIGI Hardhead Hairspray and a brow comb. A tiny spritz saturated the wand with plenty of product to comb both brows. In that moment, I missed the 90s: Yaga shirts, the Real Word Boston, the first Counting Crows album, and drinking sodas before carbs counted. I thought about friendships.

Some people will forever exist in the 90s. Some friendships only endure through Facebook. A strange paradox arises from the realization that change and regeneration excludes or accepts those around us… and although people come and go, my beauty practices remain the same.