I know that on a day like yesterday and today in Chicago, we’re all thinking about sun protection right? If you’re not, you should be. Even in the dead of winter - with recording breaking cold temperatures - if you are going outside, you should be wearing sunscreen. Even if you are sitting inside but near a window, you should be protecting your skin. I haven’t always been adamant about sunscreen but you bet you bottom dollar, at 29, I don’t leave the house without it. It took me about 26 years to realize the importance of protecting my skin from the sun’s damage. Because it took me so long, I am probably going to have a decent amount of issues pop up later in life, but I’m glad that I started later than never.
My family is relatively pasty across the board. German, Irish, Croatian and French heritage doesn’t lend itself to skin that handles the sun well. On my mom’s side, several of us have had suspicious freckles/moles removed or even as bad as actually having skin cancer. I myself, had a dark freckle taken off about 2 years ago that was almost in between my butt cheeks. How does an area of the body like that get a potentially cancerous spot? Tanning beds, my friends.
Probably 4 years after I stopped using tanning beds all together, my dermatologist found that spot. Sun damage usually doesn’t rear it it’s ugly head until much later than the time you initially spent in the sun, which is why it is important to constantly be protecting your skin because the damage isn’t always immediate, like a sun burn, and it is much more difficult to treat than to prevent sun damage.
There are two types of sun rays, UVA and UVB. UVA are the long waves that cause damage into the dermis of the skin (the under layer of skin). Damage from UVA rays includes, reduced collagen production, wrinkles, and skin cancer. UVB rays are the short, “burning” rays. Their damage include tans, burns and hyperpigmentation. SPF only protects against UVB rays, and indicates the amount of time you can spend in the sun before burning. It gets kind of confusing but imagine that your skin normally begins to burn after 10 minutes in full sun without any protection. A 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. That means 30 times longer before you start to burn, or in this case, 300 minutes (5 hours). That being said, sunscreen should be reapplied every 80-120 minutes to maintain this protection. A broad spectrum physical sunscreen, containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, will fully protect you from both UVA and UVB rays!
While reading a new book, "Ageless Beauty the French Way" I was shocked to learn what the true recommended amount of sunscreen that should be used per application was actually 1 tablespoon for the face and 1 ounce for the body. During the winter months, I really only apply sunscreen to my face, neck, decollete, ears and hands and I can say that I a using nowhere near 1 tablespoon of sunscreen to do so. Honestly, I feel like that actually sounds like an outrageous amount but hey, what do I know? I'm only 1/4 French.
It is very important for everyone to be taking care of their skin and protecting against the suns harmful rays. Ask my boyfriend, the big, tough, football coach that spends endless hours outside with his team several months a year. I have harassed him since probably our first date, or at least the first month of dating, to make sure he is wearing sunscreen at every game and practice! I can tell by his skin that he doesn't always listen to me and is probably not reapplying after the 80 minute mark when I am not around. That's fine, I'll be the youthful looking one, for the both of us! But it isn't just about the superficial look of sun damage, it can lead to some pretty serious implications, so try to do your best and protect the skin you have - it is the only one you're going to get.
Here are a few of the top sun care tips also listed in "Ageless Beauty the French Way":
1. No sun for kids under the age of 3 - keep those babies covered!
2. No sun between 1 and 3 pm. The best time for your skin to spend on the beach is between 5 and 8 pm.
3. Constantly reapply sunscreen (every 80-120 minutes) And buy a new tube/bottle AT LEAST every year. If you're using the recommended amount I described above, you may need a new bottle every week!
4. Hydrate skin before and especially after spending time in the sun.
5. Before sun exposure, prepare skin with antioxidants and eat foods containing vitamin c, e, and zinc. Foods containing these elements are not only helpful to your skin but your overall health - double whammy.
If you’re anything like me, shopping and coffee are your drugs of choice. At this point in my life, caffeine has little effect on helping to wake me up in the morning, but a warm, delicious cup of coffee can really sooth my soul. A little bit of caffeine a day actually does show to be beneficial for the adult human body, with the recommended dosage of 400 mg (roughly four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two "energy shot" drinks). Plenty of positive effects can be found for the body but also for the skin, providing anti-inflammatory, exfoliating and anti-aging properties.
Caffeine and your skin: Caffeine has the ability to constrict small blood vessels and reduce inflammation making it desirable in many skincare products like eye creams to minimize dark circles and skin that sags around the eyes. It is able to decrease redness on a person with rosacea or reduce puffiness. Caffeine is also a strong antioxidant and helps the skin against free radical damage. Another thing I was shocked to find was that caffeine has the same pH as our skin, so it will never leave your skin too dry or oily!
Coffee grounds can also be used a manual exfoliator, although I wouldn't personally use it on my face. I don't really love manual exfoliators for my face and tend to stick to chemical but I'm all for a nice scrub down on the body, especially in the winter. If you are looking for a great body scrub, try a DIY coffee scrub at home. Side note: Coffee grounds are among the biggest drain clogging offenders so maybe try a coffee body scrub at someone else's house.
As much as I hate to admit, caffeine can have it’s downsides. Caffeine is known to be a dehydrator so this can show on your skin if you overdo it. Consumption of caffeine leads to a heightened stress response in the body. Stress hormones, like cortisol, may increase the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands, meaning you can be more prone to breakouts. Moral of the story, too much of a good (or freaking amazing) thing, can be a bad thing.
Caffeine and your body: “Studies have shown” that caffeine intake can help increase well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability. I haven’t read these studies personally, but I love caffeine so I’m going to choose to believe them. Once you exceed four or five cups of either tea or coffee however, it’s possible to experience symptoms like shakiness, headaches and nervousness. Caffeine can also interfere with the compound in your body that helps you fall (and stay) asleep. For this reason, I try to not drink caffeine after like 3 or 4pm, unless I feel like laying in bed late that night, staring at the ceiling, thinking about mistakes I made 15 years ago.
So to wrap up, drinking coffee everyday will keep you beautiful and happy. Kidding… although I will truly just keep telling myself that every day, I don’t want to lie to you guys. Caffeine has some great benefits, if used within reason; like most things in life.
That's some suggestive wordplay right there, huh? Sorry to disappoint you but this one's just about my dirty-a$$ hair and what I use to make it look semi-presentable.
Anyone that knows me knows that if I could go a month without washing my hair, I would. I am not ashamed. I’m sure you have heard plenty of times that “it’s not good to wash your hair every day”; and to that I say, to each is own and if you like washing your hair every day, I can think of a lot more things that are detrimental to your hair’s health than just washing it too much. That being said, if you’re like me and despise washing your hair and only choose to do so when your boyfriend won’t come in for hugs anymore until you do... dry shampoo is your friend.
I’ve tried a lot of shampoos and very infrequently do I make it through a bottle without tossing it in the garbage. Call me picky but I like what I like and anything floral-scented, I DO NOT like. I like my hair products to be either fruity, musky or un-scented if possible. I do not like my dry shampoos to be chalky and I tend to gravitate toward brands that have tinted shades, whether it be a “dark tones” or has a blonde/violet tint so that I don’t get that white cast on my roots. Even with having blonde hair, that is never a cute look. Unless you have bleach-blonde or grey hair, I would suggest trying one with a tint.
Below, in no specific order, are my top 3 favorite dry shampoo sprays and 1 dry shampoo foam that I don’t actually know how I feel about but I figured I would throw in the list for some “wow factor”.
Moroccan Oil Dry Shampoo $26
This dry shampoo comes in two colors, for dark and light hair. It “contains ultra-fine rice starch that absorbs oil, buildup and odor, leaving hair instantly cleansed and refreshed. UV-protecting, argan oil-infused formula contains subtle violet undertones to balance brassiness in blonde hair and bring out the best in light tones.” The dark tone ensures that there is no white residue on your roots if you have darker hair as well!
I really like the smell of this product, it smells like the lighter version of the oil that they have (or just Argan Oil in general). It has a nice consistent mist that doesn’t just shoot out and leave you with a blob of dust in one area of your head.
The price point is a bit high to me but if you have a buddy with a cosmetology license, have them grab you several to stock up! But if not, I definitely think the product is still worth the price.
Key Ingredients : Argan Oil: Extremely rich in tocopherols (Vitamin E), essential fatty acids and antioxidants, this natural oil helps to nourish.
Rice starch: A natural absorbent that draws out excess oil.
Batiste Dry Shampoo $5-10
If you’re looking for a great dry shampoo that is easier on your wallet, then I highly recommend Batiste. My favorite scent is Tropical but I also love their colored sprays as well. They have blonde, light brunette and dark brunette toned versions! It is both vegan, sulfate free for those of you that are into that. Batiste can be commonly found in drugstores, Ulta but if you’re lucky, you can find it at it’s best price in TJ Maxx/Marshalls!
Unlike the Morrocan Oil mister, this one is a bit more intense so be careful when spraying. Make sure you have a good 8-10 inches between your roots and the nozzle or you will end up with dusty and crusty looking hair. That being sad, you can always flip your head over and shake it out to get rid of some product!
Key Ingredients: Butane, Isobutane, Propane, Oryza sativa starch, Alcohol denat., Parfum (Fragrance), Coumarin, Distearyldimonium chloride, Cetrimonium chloride.
Design.ME Dry Shampoo $22
“Quickie.ME is a dry shampoo spray with a rice starch formula that absorbs, lifts and styles hair without the need for water. Rice starch absorbs oils and gives volume while the cetrimonium chloride and disiloxane condition.” I like the dark tone of this product because it is not too dark, so for my dirty-dishwater-blonde hair, it is perfect! It does come out a little on the dark grey side, so that is something to keep in mind if you have super dark or warm toned hair. The smell is great and it doesn't leave my hair feeling gritty or gross. Like the Moroccan Oil dry shampoo, it has a nice mist but I would still recommend that you shake well and spray 6-8 inches from dry hair. Let dry, massage and brush out.
Side note, this company also makes a really nice volumizing powder named, "Puff Me" so check that out too if you like extra volume!
Key Ingredients : Rice starch: A natural absorbent that draws out excess oil.
Ouai Dry Shampoo $28
This dry shampoo foam is a little weird to me. On my curly hair, I love it. On my straight hair, well... I wont try it, to be honest. Because I have naturally really curly hair, when I spend the time to straighten it, I really don't want to risk putting any moisture on my roots, activating my curly-q's. Quai states that it works on all hair types so if you're willing to try it out on naturally curly hair that is straightened, let me know how it goes!
Otherwise, I love it on my curly hair! It's the only dry shampoo that I've tried that actually makes my hair look and feel cleaner instead of just soaking up the oil while depositing powder on my hair. I would highly recommend this for anyone that has curly hair to refresh third or fourth day hair or to give naturally straight hair a little more life!
Hair products are really one of my favorite things to try out. If you saw my medicine cabinet, underneath my bathroom sink and the hallway closet, you would really understand just how much I like trying out new products. So if you have any product recommendations, please let me know! Or if you would be interested in knowing more about how I style my curly hair and the products I use on a regular based to achieve defined curls with less frizz, leave me a comment below.
Makeup brushes. How important are they really? Important. Super important, actually. Having good brushes in your kit or makeup bag are just as important as having high quality, pigmented makeup. There are a lot of great brush brands out there so I’m not going to talk brands but I do want to talk specifics of the different types of brushes out there and how they can be used optimally to improve your makeup application.
There are two types of brush fibers, natural and synthetic. I think it’s pretty self explanatory as to what that means but in case it’s not – natural fiber brushes are made out of natural material like sable or goat hair and synthetic brushes are made of synthetic materials like nylon or polyester. Many companies sell both types, as they both have their benefits.
Natural brushes are great for powdered products, such as eyeshadow, blush or setting powder. The natural hairs contain cuticles that help pick up a lot of product and blend it easily. For this reason, natural fiber brushes may not be ideal for liquid products, as the porous cuticles will soak up all of your product! I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting product. Natural brushes tend to shed more easily and can be harder to clean because of the pores in the hairs but they are able to pick up pigment and distribute it in fewer motions than brushes made with synthetic hair. This allows makeup artists to have more control and precision when applying.
Conversely, synthetic brushes do not have a cuticle, making them ideal for liquid and cream products. Of course, the best thing about makeup are that there are no rules, so you are welcome to use any type of brush for any sort of makeup application. Synthetic brushes are typically less expensive and are easier to wash because the bristles aren’t coated with anything. Synthetic fibers stand up to solvents and do not dry out. They keep their shape well and dry faster after washing than natural hairs.
Along with natural versus synthetic fibers, another thing to consider is if the brush is dense or fluffy. A brush can be dense for two reasons, it contains more or shorter fibers. A dense brush is going to apply more product to a given area, like a flat top kabuki for foundation or a smaller dense brush to apply pigment to the eyes. Fluffier brushes have longer fibers and are great for applications like blending out a transition shade on the eyelid or for bronzer on the cheeks. Pictured below from left to right are examples of two densely packed brushes and a fluffier style brush.
When I first started investing in makeup brushes, I was drawn to the extra large, soft and fluffy brushes and would just love to brush them on my face without any product at all. HA! I have learned though, sometimes those brushes with large surface areas are not always ideal for a clean makeup application. They do have their time to shine but these days I do not pack those brushes in my kit very often and tend to reach for a more medium density brush for facial powder applications.
The brush to the left (or above if looking on your phone) features a special combination of 50/50 fibers to deliver two unique results on skin: One side provides a soft, diffused look, while the other fuses color onto skin for a polished, luminous complexion.
I love this brush for foundation application, above any other face brush that I have used. This duo-fiber brush offers different application, giving you a great bang for your buck!
Here you can see the difference (or at least you could if I knew how to take a better quality photo), the brush on the left is a natural fiber brush and on the right, a synthetic fiber brush. The synthetic fibers look smoother but to the touch, natural hair brushes usually have a lighter and softer feeling because they are not cut at the ends like synthetic fibers. The natural hairs have cuticles and because I have had this brush a long time, you can begin to see the "wear" almost like human hair that has been through the ringer. The synthetic brush has been dyed, where as the natural haired brush is well, natural! These cosmetic differences are just a few ways to spot a natural and synthetic brush.
All in all, there are a lot of great brushes out there and what you use is really up to your preference but I hope I was able to give a little more insight on the intention behind these different kinds of brushes. I know I said I wasn't going to talk about brands but I did want to list a few of my current favorite brush brands:
MAC Cosmetics - get on that pro discount thought girl, $$$
Morphe Brushes - say what you want about Morphe, but I have some brushed from them that have lasted me 5+ years so far!
Bdellium Tools - they have a bomb liner brush in their SFX collection!
Real Techniques - mainly their "setting brush" but I have like 6 of that brush itself so I feel obligated to mention
Anastasia BH - their brow and highlighting brushes are fantastic
Sephora Pro - actually has amazing brushes but they are also pretty pricey and no pro discount :(
I love a good skin treatment, so I recently got an IPL skin treatment. IPL stands for "Intense Pulsed Light", and is sometimes referred to as a photofacial. It is a nonsurgical cosmetic skin procedure commonly used to correct skin irregularities and reverse the signs of aging. What was I looking to improve? I had a lot of redness in my skin and the beginning signs of sun damage. I wanted to reduce the redness due to broken capillaries as well as form pimple scarring. A lot of the redness is just due to me being so fair-skinned so I knew going into it that all redness would not be reduced.
A little secret I don’t share with many – I used to go tanning. I know, I’m just as mad at myself as you are. And to twist the knife a little more, there was a time when I would go to two different salons to be able to tan twice in one day – tragic. I would never wear sunscreen outside and bake in the sun for hours, I even applied oil – my skin’s crying right now. I suspected that I would have a lot of sun damage to try and reconcile.
IPL treatments offer a gentle, long-lasting solution for visible signs of skin damage. This can include, removing age spots, alleviating rosacea, eliminating birthmarks, fade freckles and erase broken capillaries. Sun damaged areas darken temporarily after treatment, almost looking like coffee grounds, then slough off in a matter of days. By delivering broadband light in highly focused pulses, IPL provides pinpoint accuracy to capillary removal that won’t disturb healthy tissue or other blood vessels in the area. It combines dramatic improvement with virtually no down time – I had a little bit of down time though, I will explain more later. In a nutshell, this is the procedure:
I got my IPL treatment at the Dermatique Med Spa in Geneva, IL. The treatment was $350 for the entire face. I believe they have a spot treatment option for $175, for if you were maybe only getting a birthmark removed on one area of your body. I have to say, I loved this place. The staff was VERY nice, and that’s saying a lot about a full staff of women in the beauty industry. You know what I’m talking about. I mentioned to them that I have my esthetics license as well and they seemed genuinely interested, so I appreciated that. They followed up after my appointment to see how I was doing and if I was experiencing any issues. The price was a little high, but you get what you pay for and I truly trusted the doctor that administered my treatment.
Did it hurt? Like hell. As I’ve said before, I’m kind of a wimp but I thought this was pretty painful when getting over the entire face. The doctor tested the laser on me with a few blasts to start out and I remember thinking “oh wow, this will be a breeze!” but by the time she had finished half of my face I was full on sweating. When she was ¾ of the way done I was happy for all the Botox in my forehead and the fact that I was wearing goggles, so she couldn’t see the expression on my face – I thought I was going to melt onto the floor I was so uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is the best way to describe it. Very uncomfortable. The pain is bearable, but it is not a breeze. Treatment on a smaller area of the body would be significantly more bearable but the entire face was a little brutal, in my opinion.
Was it worth it? Yes and no. The treatment definitely worked. I noticed a reduction in my broken capillaries and some redness. The part I am on the fence about was actually not a problem with the treatment, but I thought that I would actually have more sun damage to fix. Apparently, my skin was resilient against my best efforts to look like a leather handbag in my teens – I only noticed a small amount of “coffee grounds” on my face after a few days which to me meant that I didn’t have a lot of hyperpigmentation to get rid of. So, although the treatment worked great, I don’t think the results were worth $350, FOR ME. This is not to say if you have a more severe issue that this wouldn’t be worth it, I 100% think it would. This is something I would definitely consider doing again later on in life when those pesky age spots start to appear or if my skin drastically takes a turn for the worst, but it is not something I would do again soon based on the changes I saw with the skin I have at this point.
So, I had mentioned I had a little downtime, it was not much, and I was still able to go about my life as normal, but I just started to look like Jocelyn Wildenstein for a day or two there. The area under my eyes swelled to the point where I was a little scared they might swell shut. It was the worst 3 days after the treatment but on the fourth day I woke up with no signs of swelling. It was weird. Other than the swelling, there were not really any visible signs that I had anything done. The spots of sun damage that darkened just looked like freckles until the spots fell off within the week.
Since the treatment, my skin has been acting a fool, (I do not believe this is due to the IPL but instead to my sugar addiction) so I have not really had a day where it has been completely clear of pimples or redness. This is a little annoying because I want to see the full results of the treatment but from what I can see, this treatment works. I would highly recommend to anyone with skin issues they are looking to help reduce or if you have nice skin but $350 to blow! Dermatique was a great place to get this treatment for the first time, the staff was great and made me feel comfortable. I will list there website below if you would like to check out their other services!
Below are photos of the progress starting from day one after treatment, through the third day after treatment that I had mentioned I was super swollen, and the final picture is 2 weeks post treatment:
Wednesday morning, I woke up a new woman. Not in the way I would hope though, I woke up with crows feet. I don’t mean I woke up with those deep sleep wrinkles that go away in an hour or so, I mean “oh, hello old age!” type wrinkles. At 28, I knew this day would come but I thought I had a good few years left in me. I know, I am dramatic - we established this in my last post - it’s part of my charm. I feel like it was life playing a joke on me though, as I had already scheduled my routine Botox appointment for that afternoon. Funny joke, huh? Hilarious. I had only gotten Botox in my forehead at that point. I have a love-hate relationship with Botox. I love that it gets rid of my fine lines, but I hate that I “need” it. So, I guess you could say that I actually have a love-hate relationship with my skin and I’m in a thriving, committed relationship with Botox. I have been getting Botox for 6 years, every 4-6 months which is longer than any real relationship I’ve had so you could say that I’m optimistic about our future together.
What is Botox you ask? Well, welcome out from under your rock! But in all seriousness, it’s a toxin. BOTULINUM TOXINA is a neuromuscular blocker. It can be used to treat severe muscle spasms and help with excessive perspiration, but I feel like it’s more commonly known to treat frown lines or lines between the eyebrows on the face. For those of you saying, “OMG why would you want to inject yourself with a toxin?!” my response is, first and foremost – vanity. I work in the beauty industry and it's scientifically proven (probably not) that makeup looks WAY better on smooth skin. Secondly, do you eat conventional meat? Toxic. Do you smoke? Toxic. Do you drink in abundance? Toxic. Do you live in a city? Toxic. Try to go a day without encountering a toxic environment/substance. If you can do that for even one day, feel free to judge away! Literally though, judge AWAY, we don’t need that negativity around here.
In order for our muscles to contract, our nerves release a chemical messenger – acetylcholine - at the junction where the nerve endings meet muscle cells. Acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the muscle cells to contract or shorten. Botox prevents the release of acetylcholine, preventing contraction of the muscle cells. Botox is administered by diluting the powder in saline and injecting it directly into neuromuscular tissue. It takes 24-72 hours for botulinum toxin to take effect - so if you’re planning to get Botox for a big event, let’s say your wedding, my suggestion would be to get at least 7 days prior. The results last anywhere from 2-6 months and this depends on your metabolism. So if you’ve got that beautiful hourglass figure (I hate you), you may have to schedule more appointments throughout the year than someone with a slower metabolism. I would consider myself as someone with a fast metabolism and I start to notice the effects wearing off at about 3.5 months.
Botox injections are generally well tolerated and there are few side effects. I personally, have had it administered by 4 different doctors in the last 6 years and I have definitely noticed different styles of how they administer the solution – which may result in different side effects. Luckily, the most severe reaction I have seen is headache and/or bruising. (One time I did pass out but that is because it was an early appointment with no food in my stomach and I don’t like needles, so maybe do as I say and not as I do?) The injection needle is small and about the size of an insulin needle so the bruising is very minimal, if at all. I would love to tell you it doesn’t hurt but I’m a big baby so it hurts me but it’s tolerable and very quick – results are totally worth it.
This is a short post but I thought why not give you guys a little knowledge and maybe a little laugh, at my expense. I just want to put out there that I 100% support anyone doing anything that makes them feel better about themselves (that doesn’t directly harm another person) and Botox is no exception, but I have also talked a lot of people out of Botox because they truly didn’t need it. I guess none of us really need Botox, but you get what I mean. If having smooth skin makes your days worth living, then I support you and your skincare addiction. We have meetings on Wednesdays, bring a snack to pass.