Long, Pretty Lashes in Three Steps

Beauty trends come and go, but long, pretty lashes are pretty much always in. Here are my three best tips for making the most of your lashes:

1. Take your vitamins. I’ve been taking hair, skin and nail supplements for ages to help strengthen my nails and keep my hair looking healthy. A couple of months ago I switched to Nature Made Hair Skin Nails Adult Gummies (I can’t resist a BOGO sale) and didn’t think much about it until, a few weeks later, I noticed that my eyelashes looked significantly longer. Soon after that my sister asked me why my lashes were so long. Naturally, these fruity little vitamins are now officially on my must-have list.

2. Curl with a classic. You may not be comfortable with eyelash curlers – a good friend has confessed that she’s terrified of sneezing mid-curl and tearing all her lashes out – but you’d be surprised at how much of a difference a good curler makes. And by “a good curler,” I mean the curler: the iconic Shu Uemera Eyelash Curler. It is hands down the best one on the market. It gives lashes a gentle curve (not a harsh crimp) that will last all day, making your lashes appear longer and your eyes brighter. You’ve got to love a gadget that can make you look polished and well rested in under a minute.

3. Join the mile high club. No, not that mile high club. I’m talking about Wander Beauty Mile High Club Volume and Length Mascara, AKA the best new mascara I’ve tried in years. I love its sleek gold packaging, but that’s nothing compared to how much I adore the formula – a lengthening, lash-lifting black mascara that isn’t clumpy, even if you apply several coats. It stays put throughout the day without flaking or smearing and really does give lashes a noticeable lift. The best part? After months of daily use, this mascara hasn’t bothered my extra sensitive eyeballs, not even when I’ve forgotten to wash it off before bed. It’s the lash-lengthening mascara of my dreams!

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Pacifica Super Kale: Finally, a Kale I Enjoy

As much as I’m into health and wellness, I just never got on the kale bandwagon. I’m not wild about the flavor or texture. The only way I’ve had it that I liked it was in a kale chip, but they’re just not worth the effort. And as my best friend pointed out recently, any food you have to massage before you eat it is just too high maintenance. I’ll stick to spinach, thanks.

But while I’m not a fan of putting kale in my body, it turns out I have no problem putting it on my body, at least not when it’s in the form of Pacifica Super Kale Juiced-Up Shampoo and Conditioner. I ran out of conditioner a few weeks ago and stumbled upon these small green tubes while browsing the beauty section at T J Maxx. Their bright, pretty packaging called to me and since I’ve never met a Pacifica product that didn’t smell great, I picked them up.

Both claim to provide stress and pollution protection and contain detoxifying extracts. They are supposed to support volume and are especially good for fine or oily hair. Plus they’re vegan and cruelty free. I brought them home and gave them a try.

The shampoo is a nice purifying cleanser that completely eliminates product build up. Unlike many volumizing shampoos, it hasn’t left my scalp dry or itchy, just clean. The conditioner, while a terrible detangler (you’ve been warned), leaves my hair feeling soft, looking shiny and completely free from frizz or flyaways. Both products share a clean and extremely mild scent. Overall, my hair looks clean and healthy instead of dull and lifeless, which is how it tends to look this time of year.

I’m not sure if Pacifica is discontinuing this duo so I went back to T J Maxx and scooped up a couple more bottles. If you see these little beauties anywhere, do your hair a favor and buy them. And rest easy knowing they’ve finally found something useful to do with kale.

Pantene Micellar: A Gentle Clean

I was recently very pleasantly surprised to receive an unexpected delivery from Influenster – they sent me full-sized bottles of Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo and Conditioner free for testing purposes. I’ve been having some serious shampoo commitment issues lately, so I was more than happy to give these a try.

The combination of this gentle cleansing wash and moisturizing rinse is meant to transform fragile hair into strands of strength. After about a month of use, I can confirm that my hair appears to be stronger. I seem to be losing fewer strands throughout the day and my hair feels generally healthy. I’m also really digging the light floral scent of these products – it reminds me of lilacs and is perfect for spring.

The shampoo leaves my scalp clean – not dry – and my hair light and bouncy. The conditioner is lightweight and a decent detangler. They make a great daily haircare duo, but I must caution you if you (like me) like to skip a day between shampoos; about halfway through the second day my hair was embarrassingly limp and greasy. Definitely do not skip a day if you’re using these products!

Overall I like the way the micellar line makes my hair look, feel and smell. Have you tried it yet?

How Marula Oil Helped Me Make Peace with My Hair 

  I’ve written many times about my hair battles and woes. For the last 10+ years, I’ve had more or less the same hair cut and have tried with varying degrees of success to keep it straight without making it flat. You see, my strands are fine and like to get kinda curly when left to their own devices. It’s easy to flatten them with too much product, while not enough product (or too much heat) creates a pouffy mess. Humidity leaves my hair both limp and frizzy. The fight for a good hair day is not easily won. 

I’ve spent some time cycling through several shampoos and hair serums, trying to find the right formula to make my hair do what I want it to. But every combination left me frustrated. My hair either felt heavy and greasy or looked dry and frizzy. Then one morning, desperate for a change, my eyes landed on a little vial of Marula Oil I had purchased on a whim several months ago at my hair salon. 

According to its website, Marula Oil contains antioxidants and oleic acids that hydrate, tame frizz and add shine, “completely transforming hair.” I’m generally weary of beauty oils – a little usually goes a very long way – so I dabbed 4 or 5 tiny drops into my palm before rubbing my hands together and then working the treatment through my damp hair. The oil had a very light, clean scent that reminded me of the salon. It wasn’t greasy and made my hair very easy to detangle. I flipped my hair upside down to blow it dry and hoped for the best. 

After drying and styling my hair, I instantly noticed how healthy it looked. It was shiny, frizz-free, and felt weightless. Most notably, though, it wasn’t as straight as I’d expected, but in a good way. My sometimes unruly curls had been transformed into soft, pretty waves. And I actually liked it. 

Not long after discovering this new-found appreciation for my natural texture, I concluded that my tried and true long-layers hairstyle was no longer doing it for me. I decided to jazz things up a little with some side bangs and a lot more layering. The result is a flattering cut and a mane that’s much easier to manage. The additional layers give my hair some body and let more of my natural curl show through. The oil keeps my strands sleek and soft, so that even when humidity makes my hair extra wavy, it still looks healthy and pretty and not like a hot frizzy mess. 

It feels good to make peace with my hair, especially after so many years of fighting with it. Who knew a few drops of oil could do so much?

What Happens When You #ReverseYourRoutine

voxbox-blogimageI like big hair. Not over-the-top, teased up, Aqua Net big hair. Bouncy, voluminous hair that lifts away from the scalp and flatteringly frames the face. It feels youthful and care free and, at least on me, is much more attractive than flat hair that clings like Saran Wrap to my face.  

 That’s why I was so intrigued when Influenster sent me TRESemme’s Beauty-Full Volume Reverse System, which consists of a specially formulated pre-wash conditioner and volumizing shampoo. The idea is that by shampooing after you condition your hair, you wash away the residue traditional conditioners can leave behind, leaving your hair extra clean, weightless and bouncing. 

I tested the hair care duo several times and have to say that washing with the products is an extremely pleasant experience; the conditioner smooths, the shampoo lathers up nicely, and they share a salon-fresh scent that I enjoyed long after each shower was over. Every time I reverse-washed my hair I styled it in a different way – I tried air drying, blow drying and a variety of hair creams and serums to see how my hair reacted. Here’s what I found:

The TRESemme Reverse System left my hair feeling extremely clean and light. Freshly styled, my hair looked great every time – it had nice body and looked healthy and smooth. 

 

Some nice volume, right after washing and styling.

 
It didn’t take long, though, before the naturally curly nature of my hair – fueled a couple of times by some crazy humidity – overpowered any good my styling efforts had accomplished. Within 15 minutes my hair started to curl, frizz and puff up:

 

15 minutes later, my hair has started a frizzy rebellion.

 
By the end of the day my hair was huge, in a decidedly unflattering way. It didn’t matter what tools and techniques I tried. Once I reverse-washed it, there was nothing to be done. 

The verdict? I think the Beauty-Full Volume system is high quality, smells great and does exactly what it claims to do: leaves your hair weightless and voluminous. What I’ve learned from testing it, however, is that I personally need some of the weight that traditional conditioners leave behind to keep my hair from becoming an unruly mess. That said, I would absolutely recommend the system to anyone with naturally straight, fine strands, looking for a little lift. 
I received these products compliments of Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own. 

January 2016 Empties

Since we’re smack dab in the middle of winter, it’s no surprise that my most recent batch of empties includes skincare standbys and some soothing hair products. Let’s take a look:

  
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: This easy to use 2-step anti-aging treatment has been a favorite for years now. It smooths without irritating my skin and helps fight winter flakiness. I was thrilled to receive this little three-pack as a freebie with my last Sephora purchase. 

Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer: The only thing better for my winter complexion than the above-mentioned peel is following it up with a generous layer of my favorite moisturizer. This skin-softening, ultra-hydrating moisturizer is my winter favorite. 

Davines LOVE Shampoo & LOVE Conditioner: I didn’t love this smoothing shampoo on its own – it made my locks a little limp – but paired with the conditioner it left my hair soft and bouncy. It also kept my scalp moisturized. I’m really not a fan of its heavy floral scent, so I won’t be purchasing it again. 

Dove Advanced Care Beauty Finish Anti-perspirant Deodorant: I don’t know about the “beauty finish” part, but I loved the clean scent of this deodorant and it left me fresh all day long. A solid pick. 

Last-Minute Beauty Gift Guide

So Christmas is just a few short days away and you still haven’t finished shopping. Fear not! If you’re wondering what to get the beauty-obsessed on your list, I’m here to help!

If you’re looking to wow your most high-maintenance loved one, why not give the gift of great hair? Drybar’s Peace on Earth Good Hair to All! gift set is sure to make her year.

Great for beauty enthusiasts of all ages, Ciate Pick & Mix lets you create your own 3-piece nail polish set. Ciate is my favorite high-end nail color brand. I recommend adding one of the fun sparkly shades to your set to make it extra festive.

For the natural beauty on your list, you can’t go wrong with the Caudalie Winter Duo. She’ll stay soft and smooth all winter long in a natural, French-girl sort of way. Editors Note: this gift is actually on the top of my list, but it seems to be sold out online, so if you find it somewhere, let me know!

Of course, if you don’t have time to shop and/or need your gift to get there fast, you can’t go wrong with a Birchbox gift subscription or a gift card to Sephora or Ulta!

What beauty gift are you hoping Santa brings you this year?