Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quick Tip: VINEGAR & Skin-Care

I've written about the uber-importance of *acidic skin and how skin should be at a 5.5 on the 10 point pH scale. You know that my *CTM skin care ritual is essential in keeping skin healthy, hydrated and acne free. Now that you KNOW all this, you understand the importance of the T in CTM....TONER!

I get many questions from clients asking about the right toner to use for their skin type.  Products that are labeled "astringent" and which contain alcohol can be drying and can throw your acid mantle way off balance. If you have actinic skin, a toner with salicylic acid works really well, however, a simple grocery-store item such as VINEGAR, can work wonders as well.

 If you're in a pinch, are experiencing mild break-outs or like to experiment with different products, try making your own toner, at home.

Vinegar has natural *AHA's and balances-out skin's pH (it has a pH of about 3). But you need to use the "raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar".  If you're wondering about the little bits swimming around in the bottle, they are proteins called "the mother" which work magic on the skin, so be sure to shake shake shake the bottle before pouring. Some experts say that the natural AHA's in the vinegar help to lighten hyper-pigmentation.  Others say that the acids work as a safe chemical exfoliator.  All I know is that it works REALLY NICELY as a toner when mixed with distilled water (one part vinegar to two parts water).

Tip: Dispose of the your used vinegar-soaked cotton in a well ventilated receptacle. The one disadvantage of vinegar is that it's not the most aromaticly pleasing solution. Don't fret however, you're skin will NOT smell like a salad once the solution has dried.

--Ciao for now :)

* see my blogs on "Skin-Care 101" , "Exfoliate!" and "Keep Skin ACIDIC"

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beauty Benefits of AVOCADOS

With the the abundance of avocados my tree yielded this summer, I was inspired to utilize the fruit in a more creative way than just guacamole, so, I decided to make a hydrating FACIAL mask. In fact, one of my earliest beauty-treatment-memories as a kid was making at-home avocado masks for my brother and his friends! (yes, men need to care for their skin as diligently as women do).

When applied topically, avocados can be quite hydrating to the skin, as well as hair (and nails).  If you suffer from sensitive or dry skin, or would like to give your complexion a post-summer hydration-infusion, here's a quick and easy notch to add to your proverbial skin-care bedpost.

AVOCADO OIL:  Compared to other fruits, avocado oil has the highest vitamin E content. Vitamin E is a POWERFUL antioxidant that protects and repairs your skin. "Antioxidants" are like little soldiers that fight-off and negate the oxidant effect of free radicals.  "Free Radicals" are atom-molecules that damage the collagen, deep within the skin, and cause dryness and fine lines....yikes!  Moreover, these free radicals have a disproportionate number of electrons, which motivate them to invade and rob the skin of its "good" electrons, from healthy cells (such as those cells that make your skin firm and elastic). This Radical Ku can cause an explosive chain reaction, invading other healthy electrons along its march for destruction!  Antioxidants like Vitamin E act like army soldiers, and proactively prevent this Ku from invading in the first place. This is why, when looking for facial serums and creams, always look for those containing antioxidants like vitamins E, C and A. 

Avocado oil is also high in Sterolins (plant steroids), which help to deeply moisturize the skin.  It has amazing emollient properties, making it über-fantastic for mature skin (which I would classify as skin over 30).  This oil is also good for treating dry, itchy skin, psoriasis and eczema. You can purchase pure avocado oil very inexpensively at your local health food store or organic market.

OTHER USES:  If eye make-up removers are irritating due to your sensitivity, then avocado oil may work really nicely for you. A drop or two is all you need...just lightly massage the oil into the surrounding eye area, & lashes, and gently wipe the make-up away (swiping INWARD towards the nose).  For mascara, using a cotton ball and gently swipe the lashes downward, never pulling at the lashes. Avocado oil  is non-irritating to the eyes, however, reserve the eye-oil for your Ayurvedic treatment. 

HYDRATING MASK:  In a bowl or food processor, purée half an avocado, then add 1/3 cup of "full-fat" plain yogurt and 1/3 cup of raw honey. The lactic acid in the yogurt is an *AHA and acts as a chemical exfoliator.  Lactic acid is gentle on the skin and does not cause irritation or peeling....for this reason I would recommend it for sensitive skin. The honey, which has antiseptic properties, is a terrific moisturizer, and the oil in the avocado acts as an emollient, making this mask one of my favorites!  Keep a supply in the fridge and apply it to your face in the morning, as you're brewing your coffee. This mask is invigorating, moisturizing, and will leave your skin super soft and supple. The mask will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Spread the mask onto clean skin in an even layer (face, neck & decolletage).  You may feel a slight tingle, then a tightening as the mask dries.  Once dry, after 20 minutes, rinse the mask off with warm water (I prefer to use a washcloth). Moisturize as usual.  Your skin will be über-soft and hydrated!   
HAIR MASK:  Purée a ripened avocado and add one beaten egg, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of "full-fat", plain yogurt. Mix well until you have a creamy consistency. Massage the mask into hair (concentrating on the ends), then twist your hair into a bun and cover in plastic wrap. Allow the mixture to sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes, then rinse, shampoo and condition as usual.

You can also apply pure avocado oil to your locks as an intensive repair treatment. Massage the oil into hair, focusing on your dry ends. Twist your locks up into a bun and allow the oil to penetrate the hair cuticle for 20 minutes. Wash and condition as usual. For very dry hair, add a drop or two of this oil to the palms of your hands and distribute it evenly over your dry hair. 

EMOLLIENT CLEANSER:  Purée half of a ripe avocado, add a beaten egg yolk and half a cup of whole milk (or full-fat plain yogurt). Combine the ingredients until you have a milky, semi-creamy consistency. Massage the cleanser into the skin, using circular motions, for one minute, then remove with a washcloth and warm water. The lactic acid in the dairy acts as a natural chemical exfoliator and, of course, the avocado oil hydrates. If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, this cleanser works well, just 86 the wash cloth. 

BODY SCRUB:  Mash one avocado, then add 1/2 cup of coconut oil (from mature coconuts), 1/3 cup of fine sea salt and 4-6 drops of essential oil (grapefruit or orange work well). Combine all ingredients...adding more salt if you prefer a grainier scrub.  Do not use this scrub on the face, as the salt and essential oil can be irritating to the facial skin. A scrub like this leaves skin super soft, smooth and oh-so-hydrated!

Facial Mask for OILY skin: Purée one ripe avocado, squeeze-in the juice of one lemon, and add one beaten egg white. The lemon acts as a natural astringent, the proteins in the egg white nourishes the skin while tightening, and the oil in the avocado adds a balance to the mask. *Even "oily" skin needs hydration, so don't be intimidated by the oil in the avocado.

EYE MASK:  The skin surrounding the eye is the thinnest skin on your body and does NOT contain hair follicles, which means that no natural sebum (the body's natural oil) is dispersed onto this area. *Eye-area hydration is ESSENTIAL in preventing accelerated aging, so be conscious of how you're caring for this delicate skin.

For the eye mask, mix a bit of puréed ripened avocado with aloe vera gel. Spread the mixture around the surrounding eye-skin area and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. For a cooling affect, allow the mask to cool in the fridge before applying, then rinse with warm water. Hydrate with an antioxidant-rich eye cream.

* see my blogs on "the EYES have it", "EXFOLIATE!" and "Skin-Care 101"
--Ciao for now  ;)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Whiter Brighter Teeth in a SNAP!

We all understand the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth, however, teeth WHITENING may not be a priority for some. We all love our morning coffee or tea, but foods like these will stain teeth. SO, if a YELLOW smile is something you'd like to avoid, then read on!
There are many over the counter teeth-whitening products on the market, as well as medical-grade gels (obtained from your dentist).  But here are some quick and inexpensive methods you can produce in the comfort of your own bathroom....or kitchen :)

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (HP) is a fantastic germicidal, killing micro-organisms via oxidation. A 3 % concentration (found for under a dollar at all drug stores) is absolutely safe to use orally...just DO NOT swallow this product, as it may be harmful if ingested..... always spit it out!  Pour a capful of the HP in your mouth, prior to brushing your teeth; swish-around for one minute, then brush as usual. This method is safe, quick and easy, and can be used twice per day.

QUICK TIP:  Pour some HP onto your regular toothbrush, everyday, to disinfect the bristles. A beautiful smile will be negated by a bacteria and germ-clad mouth (which can lead to bad breath). Care for your toothbrush as you would your skin. The sonic-type machines work wonders, cleaning those pearly whites with steroid- infused power.

BAKING SODA & HYDROGEN PEROXIDE:  Mix half a teaspoon of HP with a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix the two, adding more or less product as needed to achieve a pasty consistency.  Apply the mixture to a toothbrush and brush well for one minute, then allow the mixture to sit on the teeth for an additional minute.  Rinse well.

BAKING SODA & LEMON JUICE:  Create a paste using a teaspoon of both baking soda and lemon or lime juice. The citric acid in the fruit causes a chemical reaction when combined with the baking soda, which works as an effective bleaching agent. Use fresh lemon or lime juice, rather than the store-bought bottled versions. Even though baking soda is abrasive, it is gentle for use on the teeth. Load your toothbrush with the paste,and brush your teeth for one minute, then rinse well.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  The acid in the citrus is corrosive and will damage tooth enamel, so limit your use to once per week. I suggest that you consult with your dentist to get his/her perspective (although I'm sure, they'll try and sell you their fancy and expensive whitening gels!).OVER THE COUNTER PRODUCT:  There are a myriad of whitening toothpastes on the market, but I have found that Arm and Hammer Whitening Booster works the best! What I love most about this product is that you ADD it to your own toothpaste, so if you have a favorite non-whitening paste, this is a great option. 

QUICK NOTE: I would suggest using a separate toothbrush when applying these treatments, especially the lemon juice. Residual acid can inadvertently sneak it's way onto the enamel  :)

LIPSTICK COLOR:  Ladies, be conscious of  the lipstick color you're using, as it can absolutely influence the color of your teeth. I'm obsessed with nudes, but I always make sure that I pick one with a pink undertone, as a pure nude can make teeth appear yellow. The same theory is true for oranges, so if you prefer a brighter lip, pick a berry version instead. If you like a bold red lip (reds can make teeth appear up to TWO shades whiter), pick one with blue undertones.  The blue will negate the look of stained-teeth and your smile will be uber-sexy!     
Happy GLEAMING smiles to you all!
--Ciao for now  :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

HAIR: the good, the bad and the NOT so ugly

HAIR MAKES OR BREAKS IT:  I always communicate to my clients that HAIR is the most important element of a woman's beauty.  I don't care how much time you spend on your make-up and wardrobe, assuming that your skin (and teeth) are in check, if your hair is off track, then your aesthetic will be OFF balance!

 I'm not just talking about the hair on your head either. I'm talking about what I call "NEGATIVE and POSITIVE hair".  For example: Your freshly waxed upper lip?.....definitely POSITIVE hair. Your post-salon cut and color....POSITIVE! That knarly chin-hair multiplying by the minute?.....NEGATIVE for sure. What about eyebrows that are Freida Kaylo-esque and have NEVER been groomed, or are OVER tweezed?......uhhhh, that's a NEGATIVE!!!!  Get my point?  I know, I KNOW, I sound harsh and should come from within, right?  Well, YES, of course, INNER beauty does come from within but what about outer beauty, one's physical self?  There's a difference.  All that valuable time and meticulous effort to primp and style one's self is completely NEGATED, in my opinion, if the negative hair over-powers the positive. Therefore, if you've grown a mustache (ladies), get rid of it!  Are your eyebrows non-existent from over plucking?  Then leave them alone, let them grow-in and consult with a professional like me to get them back on track.  Is your head-hair thinning and gray? Or does your color make your face appear lackluster?  Then go visit a hair professional and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT PEOPLE!  Hair is the MOST IMPORTANT element in physical attractiveness.  

I have a theory, called "The four elements of harmonic beauty", which include the hair on your head, your eyebrows, your lashes and negative hair removal. If these four components are maintained, there will be very little need for make-up to look your best; its about how well-groomed and maintained these four elements are. 

Hair creates esthetic balance. Hair is responsible for our best look and our worst look. Yes, I know, I'm a bit obsessive about HAIR....but I truly feel passionate about empowering ALL WOMEN and educating you, just a smidge, regarding the school for perpetual hair maintenance.

If looking our best wasn't an issue, then why do Americans spend BILLIONS of dollars each year on beauty treatments, hair treatments, beauty and hair products and cosmetics?  WHY???  It's because women, for the most part, are emotional creatures and "looking good" makes us feel better about ourselves;  Looking "our best" gives us more confidence. For some it's an investment in our love-lives or our careers. For others it just "makes us happy". Is that logical? No, it's emotional, but so what! 

Therefore, now that we have established that inner beauty DIFFERS from outer beauty, we've agreed that we are NOT being superficial, but rather, REALISTIC, and we've acknowledged that it is worth discussing. So let's talk about the uber-importance of looking good, and by "looking good" I mean, looking the best that we can possibly look, with the features and elements we were born with, with respect to our age and of course, always maintaining grace and "inner beauty"  :)

OUTWARD SELF:  As I just mentioned, Americans spend billions for the sake of looking good. But looking good doesn't mean looking like a super model, that's just unrealistic. It does mean, however, taking great care of one's self, choosing your best elements and emphasizing them. Is it your luminous skin you love the most? What about your eyes, are they a feature you're always playing up?  Or perhaps it's your cheekbones that you love most. Whatever your best element of physical beauty is, it will be completely UPSTAGED by negative hair.  That's what this blog-post is about. We all know, or can learn, how to care for our skin.  We all know, or can learn, how to apply flawless make-up. But so many of us do NOT comprehend that our negative hair is getting in the way of all that effort.
NEGATIVE HAIR:  Laser hair removal, electrolysis, tweezing, waxing, threading, trimming at the surface level....there are many ways to groom one's self and rid one's face and body of  negative hair.  What exactly do I classify as "negative"?  Many women don't take much thought about their nose hair, for instance (definitely negative). I see it time and time again...women with hair sprouting out of their noses, like a weed forcing it's way through a sidewalk-crack!  I know, it doesn't sound too attractive, however, the reality is that, regardless of sex, humans are covered in hair. You may not be able to see most of it, but it's there covering our bodies from head to toe (with the exception of the palms of our hands, soles of our feet and lips).  Nose hair differs from that fuzzy, facial vellus hair, and can become unsightly and noticeable, especially if you have a longer hair-growth cycle.  Electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal, however, as an Electrologist, I  would never treat the delicate nose membrane. For unsightly nose hair, I would recommend laser, waxing or trimming.  But ya gotta see whacha doin'!  So, invest in a light-up mirror, preferably with magnification.  Each time I point-out unsightly nose hair to a client, she is surprised to have never noticed it before (probably because she doesn't own a light-up magnification mirror!).

MORE NEGATIVES:  Upper-lip hair, chin hair, chest hair (for women), "side-burn" growth, bushy un-groomed brows, can all be treated with electrolysis. I never recommend waxing on the face (except for nose hair, and perhaps upper lip growth).  But keep in mind that waxing involves repetitive pulling of the epidermis, which can result in an eventual loss of elasticity.  I understand that waxing is a quick and easy form of facial hair removal, however, from a "healthy skin" stand point, I suggest that you reserve the wax for other parts of your body, such as arms (yes, you should be conscious of that unsightly arm hair) and bikini-hair. Moreover, I never recommend depilatory creams, as they can be irritating to the epidermis. Facial skin is delicate and needs to be treated gently. Trust me, I have nothing against waxing. In fact, I personally get certain bits waxed every 7-10 days (I'm a bit neurotic about it). But, I reserve my wax treatments for non-facial body parts only.  For upper lip and facial hair growth, I would consult with a doctor who offers laser hair removal as a treatment, you may be a candidate.  Not all skin types are candidates for laser, especially on the face, as some have the ability to hyper-pigment.  Therefore, do your research and consult with a doctor who comes highly recommended to you, and can provide you with a thorough consultation.....and ask questions about the laser being used on your skin!  Laser treatments should be taken seriously. Lasers are intense, invasive and can cause damage to the skin. An IPL laser, for example, would not be the best choice for a client with a darker skin type (Fitzpatrick 4 for example) due to the risk of hyper pigmentation, however, there are amazing lasers on the market that can work wonders. Do your homework and learn about which lasers work best for your skin type. 

HORMONES: Menopause, puberty, glandular issues, girly-part issues are just some of the reasons for hypertrichosis (excessive hair-growth in areas where hair does NOT normally grow, such as the chest area for women) and hirsutism (excessive hair growth in the "normal" areas of hair growth, such as face, chin and arms).  If you are a woman and have hypertrichosis or hirsutism I recommend you consult with an Endocrinologist.  These unusual hair-growth patterns may be a result of a hormone imbalance or a glandular issue.  An Electrologist should not treat these areas until he/she knows that you have been seen by a doctor first, and should ask for a doctor's note prior to treatment. It is not uncommon for women to start growing long, gnarly hair on her chin, or even on her chest, for that matter. Hormones can do crazy things to our bodies!

EYEBROWS:  *The eyebrows are the most important part of the face, in my opinion.  They frame one's face and provide essential balance and symmetry. Brows should not be neglected or ignored. They should NOT be groomed haphazardly, or on the fly. They should be trimmed, shaped and shaded, in a way that is specific and deliberate, in an effort to balance one's face. The only way to manipulate the delicate and unique shape of one's brow, is by hand tweezing. Tweezing differs from waxing, in that the brow is shaped hair by hair, one at a time, rather than taking a strip of multiple "important" hairs and violently ripping them out. Therefore, empower yourself and learn how to tweeze your own eyebrows, or contact me and I'll help you find an expert in your area. Threading is fine, and not as damaging to the skin like waxing, however, make sure that your threader comes recommended to you. A quick-thread job can lead to an over-threaded disaster, so do your research and find a licensed professional who is precise and takes her time. Take note that eventually eyebrow hairs DO NOT grow back, so an over-tweezed brow may eventually result in a permanently deformed one. Furthermore, the skin surrounding the eye is the thinnest skin on the body. Repetitive pulling and manipulation of this skin may result in a loss of elasticity, sooner than you would want. Be conscious of the skin surrounding the eyes and groom those surrounding hairs delicately.

HEAD HAIR:  Dye those grays!  Just get rid of 'em!! The right hair color can work miracles by bringing all of your features to life. It's amazing how many women I see, on a daily basis, walking around with grays, or hair color that does not suit them, or color that is too dark or too light for their aesthetic. Dying-away the grays can add YEARS to your appearance...why accelerate the aging process?  Dying one's hair is affordable and easy to do, so consult with a professional stylist for the best hair style and COLOR suited for your face's shape and features. Consider what works BEST for your FACE (who cares about convenience!).  You may think that a short bob may not be the best look for you, however, your beauty professional may suggest a longer, face-framing style.

QUICK TIP:  If you're like most women over 35, a trip to the salon (to cover-up the grays) is a bi-monthly ritual.  To extend the process another week or two, I suggest using OLD mascara.  Yes, there are hair gels and wand-colors on the market, specifically for hair, to dab those grays in-between coloring. But oh-how-easy, cheap and convenient an old mascara tube can be!  Since you should turn your mascara over every two months anyhow, why toss it in the garbage?  Instead, label it clearly to indicate that it's OLD, then place it in your hair-product drawer.  A swipe here and there using mascara works great at camouflaging grays, particularly for women with darker hair. You know it's time to go to the salon when........your shower water runs black from all that mascara! 

EXTENSIONS:  If you're unhappy with your thinning hair, and if your hair does not grow beyond a certain point, due to a short hair-growth cycle, don't fret, you have options.  Hair extensions can be life changing, especially for those with thinning and perpetually short hair.  Whether you want to add volume, length or both, permanent hair extensions, made from human hair, is a great way to go.  There are a few different methods used in applying extensions, so I would suggest that you consult with your hair-care professional and inquire about the best extension-product for your hair and lifestyle. Extensions can be high-maintenance and pricey, so I would recommend that you first start-out with the clip-on/removable version and see if your new-found mane is something that is desirable to you. Permanent hair extensions are made to last for a year, therefore, if taken proper care of, these added-pieces can transform your look , as well as your confidence.

EYELASHES:  Most lashes beg to be thickened and lengthened. Mascaras, eyelash extensions and prescription lash-growth serums can work miracles when it comes to kicking those lashes up a notch; they really open up the face. Without a long, dark lash, the face can appear dull and washed-out.  Eyelashes open up and brighten the face in a spectacular way, so if you had to pick one make-up item to wear, let it be mascara. There are hundreds of mascara brands on the market. Just remember to toss it after 2 months. Mascara lives in a dark, moist environment which will eventually harbor bacteria, so be conscious of your purchase date.  If the practice of applying mascara is too high-maintenance for you, I would suggest you look into permanent eyelash extensions or topical hair-growth serums such as Latisse (which is available only by prescription).  If you choose to wear removable false eyelashes, try the  individual lashes, rather than the full-on version, they appear more natural looking.

PERMANENT MAKE-UP:  As a Permanent Make-Up professional, my favorite procedure is "Lash-Line Enhancement".  This is where pigments are permanently implanted in between each eyelash, creating a darker, more lush-looking lash line, emphasizing the hair. A permanent eyeliner-line can be added in addition to the lash enhancement (I prefer the permanent liner to be added to the upper lid only), creating an effect that truly enhances the lashes and make the eyes stand out.

Cheers to esthetic harmony! 

Related blog posts: Skin-Care 101, Brow 101, COCONUT OIL makes an uber-Rich Hair Conditioner and Bye Bye Dry Hair

--Ciao for now  xo

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quick Tip: use a TISSUE to dry your face!

What's the use of spending precious time and energy on your *CTM ritual if all you're going to do is contaminate your facial-skin with a dirty hand towel?  Most of us do not think much about how we DRY our face after washing, it seems irrelevant right?  WRONG!  Drying your face with a bacteria-free cloth or cotton is probably one of the most important steps in achieving healthy skin.

Healthy skin means bacteria-free skin and oxygenated skin.  Acne occurs when bacteria gets trapped within the hair follicle, preventing oxygen from penetrating.  Acne products are made to specifically infuse the follicle with oxygen which will, in turn, kill the acne. So, be proactive and prevent the bacteria from lurking into those follicles in the first place! 

Even after just one use, a hand towel can harbor bacteria!  Did you know that a typical bathroom hand-towel can house MILLIONS of potentially disease-causing microbes?  Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can set-up camp in your moist towels and multiply into the millions.  If you use your hand or bath towel on your face, you're simply redistributing that bacteria onto your beautifully clean CTM'd skin!  The simple and inexpensive act of using a tissue to blot your face dry, upon washing, can work wonders for acne prevention. If you must use a towel, use a freshly-laundered, bleach-washed towel each time you dry your face.......that's twice per day folks.

I prefer to use a store-named generic version, rather than a name-brand tissue.  The generic brands are less fibrous resulting in minimal fiber-deposits onto your wet skin.  But make sure that you BLOT, rather than wipe, your skin dry. Although tissues are soft, then can scratch that delicate facial skin, so blot blot BLOT your way to clean, healthy skin  :)

* see my blog on Skin-Care 101

--Ciao for now   xo

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Flawless Face Easily Achieved: LAYER YOUR BLUSH!

I'm a huge fan of *CC Creams, tinted moisturizers, and creamy foundations....they leave skin even-toned, luminescent and hydrated. The problem is that for many, especially those of us with oilier skin, these products can leave a less-than-desirable shiny residue, making us look like we've just walked out of a steam room!  Luminescent skin...GOOD.  Greasy glow...NOT SO GOOD.

The remedy? Upon applying your foundation of choice, use your fingers to dab a creamy rose-colored rouge to the apples of your cheeks.  Always ALWAYS apply powder to set these products in. Without a light dusting of powder, your face will appear shiny and your  foundation will not set properly.  But here's the trick: Always use a quality sable-hair fluffy brush in conjunction with a PRESSED powder, not loose. Pressed powders offer more control when loading your brush with never want to use too much powder. Lightly swirl your brush into your pressed powder of choice and gently swipe the product onto your skin, brushing downward to follow your vellus hair growth.... this technique will set your make-up beautifully. You may need to add a bit more onto the 
t-zone to control the oil.....and do not forget your jawline and neck! You want to make sure to blend your foundation and powder into your jawline, for a seamless finish.  

I love this creamy cheek color from Bobbie Brown ($38 NORSTROM) comes in several shades and the pigment stays put after you've powdered it in. The best part? I can use it on my lips as well, how fantastic!

Another Tip:  Always layer your blush. Using a light touch, tap the creamy blush onto the apples of your cheeks after you've applied your foundation and concealer. Next, apply a light dusting of powder to set it all in. Lastly, add an additional (light dusting) of POWDER BLUSH to the cheekbones, using a sable hair blush-brush. It seems like a lot of rouge, but this technique will add dimension and just enough color to your cheeks, the key is to set your foundation and cream rouge with powder. 

I love this concentrated powder rouge from NARS ($30 Bloomingdales). It comes in a several shades and is incredibly long lasting. The best part? A little goes a long way, so you don't need much. 

For added dimension, add a swipe of bronzer onto the CONTOUR of the cheekbones. Emphasizing the contour will allow your cheekbones to standout and emphasize your facial curves. Finish-off your look with a shimmery cheek-highlighter to the TOP of the cheekbone (the area just below your eye socket).  These multi-steps may seem like an a lot of color I know. The key is to apply these products using a light touch, and blot your skin as needed, with a tissue, in between layers, to tone down the color if you've added too much. A layering technique like this works really well at creating a bright fresh glow, perfect for spring. 

At this point you may want to finish off your entire look with a final light dusting of powder to set it ALL in.  Trust me when I say that layering blush adds a depth and dimension that you CANNOT achieve from just one cheek product. 

A powdered contour color like this Amazonian Clay from Tarte, works great!

This shimmery highlight from Physicians Formula is one of my favorites :) 

How to layer your cheek color:

Step 1: Creamy Rouge applied to the APPLES of your cheeks.
Step 2:  Set your foundation and cream rouge with a dusting of powder.
Step 3:  Swipe a dusting of powder-blush to the cheekbones. 
Step 4: Add a bronzing powder to the contour, and swipe the remaining residue from your brush, onto your forehead and jawline. 
Step 5:  Add a bit of shimmery highlight to small area just above the cheek-bone. 

Additional Tip:  With the remaining residue from your blush brush, swipe your upper lids, to infuse color and dimension on the eyelids as well. 

The layering blush affect, coupled with your shine-controlling powder will give your skin an even-toned, luminescent glow!  How great is that?

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Twitter:   @BeautynBrowGirl

--Ciao for now ;)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Luscious Summer LEGS

When I was a kid, there was a commercial for a leg-product who "dared" women to wear short-shorts.  This offends me!  Why should we DARE to show our legs?  Like the décolletage, a woman's legs are alluring, sexy and beautiful!  Ok, so some of us have discoloration, bruising, spider veins, and the occasional in-grown hair perhaps?  If aesthetics is preventing you from flaunting your stems, then read on!

 Forget about the cellulite people....forget about the wanting of thinner thighs....forget about your skinny ankles.....just FORGET about it!  Embrace what you have, acknowledge the beauty and allure of your legs, and tweak those aesthetic imperfections with some grooming and cosmetic camouflage.

EXFOLIATE:  I love using a granular exfoliator on my legs.....It is my belief, especially if you shave, that the skin on the legs require perpetual exfoliation.  I'm not so picky about *spherical scrubs for leg skin (as opposed to the face).  A salt or sugar scrub, every other day, work great.  I always exfoliate prior to shaving....always.  Exfoliating will prevent in-grown hairs and will maintain soft, smooth skin.

 TAN:  The sun's UVA and UVB rays are damaging. The problem with many drugstore self-tanners, however, is that they tend to leave an orange hue rather than the bronze glow many of us crave. I love the self-tanning micro-mist by Sun Laboratories.  It actually smells nice and tans my skin to bronze perfection.  Best part?  No sun damage!

COSMETIC CAMO:  I'm crazy about this airbrush-color by Sally Hansen, it works great!  It comes in three tones and when dry, does NOT transfer onto your clothes....yay!  Just spray the product into the palms of your hands and distribute the color all over your legs.  This product can be layered, so if you have stubborn discoloration or a small spider vein, add more color to those areas to conceal.  When dried (after about a minute), your legs are bronzed and even-toned with a shimmery finish....VERY short-shorts worthy I think :)  
MOISTURIZE!! Always, always, always, ALWAYS moisturize your leg-skin, especially after bathing and/or shaving.  I cannot live without this Neutrogena Sesame's delicious!  Sesame oil is light and is great for moisturizing the skin. This product leaves skin silky smooth, with a hint of sheen, and a lovely light scent.  The best part?  It costs under ten dollars and can be found at your local drugstore.

UNSIGHTLY VEINS:  Consult with your general doctor for information pertaining to vein therapy, you may be a good  candidate.   There are amazing technologies using lasers and micro-needles that may help you  manage those unsightly veins.  If spider or varicose veins is what's causing your insecurities to flaunt your stems, then do something about it!  Don't let a cosmetic issue dictate what you wear :)

UNWANTED HAIR:  There are various reasons for excessive hair growth; hormones, ethnicity and certain medications are the primary. If dark prickly stubble upstages your creamy white legs, then laser hair removal may be an option for you.  Laser hair removal can be life changing, especially for women with light skin and dark hair.  It works by killing-off the blood supply to the hair follicle, resulting in semi-permanent hair removal.  If you're a woman, chances are you know of at least one other person who has been treated for laser hair removal.  Ask a friend for their recommendation, inquire about the laser being used on your skin and do your research prior to your treatment.  Ask if that particular laser is appropriate for your skin type. Take lasers very seriously...if not performed properly, the laser treatment can burn the skin and/or cause hyper-pigmentation. Therefore, make sure your doctor or certified technician comes recommended to you.  As previously mentioned, laser hair removal is only semi-permanent (Electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal).  Therefore, for larger areas, such as the legs, I recommend laser hair removal treatments, followed-up by Electrolysis (upon post-laser, sporadic growth).

* see my blog on EXFOLIATE!

--Ciao for now  ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Quick Tip: Micro-Scrub in an Instant

If you read my blog on *exfoliators, you understand the importance of sloughing away those dead skin skin cells, to reveal the new skin lying underneath. 

A fantastic uber-intensive micro scrub that I recommend doing once per week is one you make right at home, for a nominal cost. In a small container, mix a few teaspoons of baking soda (yes, that yellow box found in the grocery isle) with a squirt or two of your favorite mild, liquid cleanser (I like Cetaphil).  What's nice about baking soda is that its granules are spherical, hence will not be abrasive to the skin. Mix the soda and cleanser until you have a pasty consistency (add a few drops of water to thin down a bit as needed).

Rub the baking soda scrub onto wet skin (face, neck and décolletage).  Using gentle circular motions, massage for one minute (that's 60 seconds less!). Rinse with warm water until no baking soda remains on the skin. 

Baking Soda is extremely *alkaline, so use a mild toner to balance-out your pH levels. Moisturize as usual as per my recommended "CTM" skincare *routine. I recommend using this scrub at night prior to bedtime, no more than twice per week, and is good for all skin types; adjust your moisturizer accordingly as per your skin type. Your skin will be super-duper soft, refreshed and renewed!  

*see my blogs titled:  Skin-Care 101, Exfoliate! and Keep Skin ACIDIC

--Ciao for now :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

the EYES have it

I often get asked about my suggestions for eye creams.  Before I suggest one, I would first need to ask you about your skin type, your life style, the climate you live it arid? Is it tropical?  I would ask you your budget, whether you wear make-up on a daily basis, and what products you've used (if any) in the past.  I'd also ask about your skincare regime and whether you prefer a lighter weight cream, a thicker cream or a gel-based lotion. I would need to assess your skin type and if you're concerned with under eye hydration, fine lines, proactive anti-aging or all three.  

Products used on the delicate eye area, should be eye-specific, which means: Never use face creams, butt creams, facial lotions, petroleum jelly or any other product un-related to the eye area! The eye-skin is unique and should be treated consciously, not haphazardly.  I'll assume that your main concern is from a hydration and anti-aging stand point, since that appears to be the main concern for most women, 
therefore I'll focus on those issues in this post. Should you have additional questions, I encourage you to ask them! Questions make me happy :)

Before we talk about the different eye creams and serums on the market, we need to address the unique eye-skin itself. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on the entire body, and to make matters worse, this skin does NOT have hair follicles. Why does this matter? It matters because the sebaceous glands live within the hair follicles and use the hair-shaft-highway to disperse sebum (your body's natural oil/moisturizer) onto the skin. The human body is covered in hair follicles from head to toe (with the exception of the eye-skin area, palms of hands, soles of feet and lips).....whether you see the hair or not, the follicles are there. The biology of all humans differ, obviously, that's why some of us have more oily hair and skin than others. For those of you who have excessive facial oil, oh how lucky you are! Sebum creates a moisture barrier on the skin (this is what fancy creams attempt to simulate). Blot away the excess oil from your T-zone to tone down that shine, but do NOT attempt to use astringents or harsh cleansers to remove the oil; these products will strip away that precious, pH-perfect moisture (see my blog on Skin Care 101). 

I'm a big fan of Mario Badescu's skin care line. Their Glycolic Eye Cream is one of my favorites. It's thick and creamy, intensely moisturizing (which I love) contains vitamin E (an anti-oxidant), and best of all, contains an alpha hydroxy acid, Glycolic (see my blog on Exfoliators) which gently sloughs away dead skin cells and reveals new skin (essential for product penetration).

If a lighter version is what you prefer, I recommend Mario Badescu's Hyaluronic Acid Eye Cream. It's incredibly moisturizing, but a bit lighter than it's Glycolic sister,  for those who prefer less of a product-presence on their skin. 

Hyaluronic Acid 101:  It is naturally occurring in the's what gives skin it's volume and juiciness.  Notice the cheeks and skin of a baby....deliciously smooth, full and plump right?  This is the Hyaluronic Acid affect. Injectables such as Restylane use a synthetic form of the acid to smooth-out the prominence of wrinkles by filling in and smoothing out the crinkled area. 

Another amazing thing about Hyaluronic Acid?  It's like a magnet for water, attracting moisture.....what a beautiful thing!

Regardless of what product you use on the eye-area, whether it be Mario Badesco or a drugstore brand, be consistent. Apply your eye cream during your twice-per-day "CTM Ritual" (see my blog on Skincare 101). Be consistent with your skincare routine, treat your eye skin gently (never pulling or tugging at the skin). Tap-inward towards the nose whilst applying make-up or other eye-products.  Avoid pulling at that skin, as well as tugging outward towards the ears. This skin is fragile and thin (the thinnest skin on the body); it's precious and it's the only eye skin you've got. Treat it kindly and with lots of TLC! Why aren't there more eye creams or concealers with SPF on the market??  Hmmmmmm...Don't know why!!  I'd have to guess that the extracts and/or chemicals used to formulate SPFs may be irritating to the eyes. Personally, I have to admit, I do NOT practice what I preach.  The eye area, more so than any other part of the body, needs protection from the sun, so I use a dab of my CC Cream with broad spectrum 30 SPF around my eye area (after I've applied my eye cream). I lightly, and gently, tap the product inward, towards my nose (using my ring or pinky finger...these fingers use less pressure), ensuring that my delicate eye skin is protected from the UVA and UVB rays. The best part for me?  I receive added hydration from my CC Cream and the coverage helps to conceal my under-eye circles! I do add a bit of concealer to my inner eye area, closest to my nose (never apply concealer to the outter "crow's feet" area of your eye skin). The key here is to apply a light application of CC, however, if you experience any irritation to the eye area, keep the CC Creams away from your eyes (see my blog on Luminescent Skin and CC  Creams). 

For DAILY Beauty and Brow tips, follow me on Facebook, Instagram & Tumbler:
@Beauty and Brow Girl  or on Twitter: @BeautynBrowGirl

--CIAO for now xo

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Don't neglect the DÉCOLLETAGE!

Do you have crinkly cleavage? What about speckle?....can you draw connect-the-dots with all the freckled sun-damage on your upper chest?  Does your chest resemble crepe paper?  Do you know what I'm even talking about? Do you even care? I'm talking about a woman's décolletage....her most alluring, most beautiful, most sensual and feminine asset, in my opinion. The décolletage is the part of a woman's body, from neck to bust-line, including the shoulders.  It is, however, fragile, often neglected and forgotten........oh the horror!

Similar to a woman's hands and eyes, the décolletage is one of the first areas on the body to show signs of aging. This delicate skin is a bit drier (similar to the hands), and is vulnerable to sun exposure. It is often ignored, and can crinkle, freckle and dry-up quickly so listen up!

Ever present throughout the body, collagen is part of the skin's connective tissue which keeps the skin plump, firm and supple (think of the cheeks of a 6 month old baby). Although collagen is needed for the renewal of skin cells, production slows down significantly as we age and eventually these cells weaken, resulting in the inevitable: saggy, wrinkled, thin skin.  Collagen breaks down significantly after repetitive, unprotected exposure to the sun. Aging is obviously a factor as well, however, there is no question that the UVA and UVB rays of the sun affect this break-down considerably. 

Let's compare a  75 year old woman to a 15 year old. Regardless of serums, creams, "collagen boosters" and sunscreen, the aging process is inevitable. Take proper care of yourself and the aging process can be a beautiful and graceful transition....why accelerate the process by denying your skin the protection it needs?  However, most women spend countless hours and money on facial products and treatments, yet seldom think too much about their décolletage. 

Think of the décolletage as an extension of your face. Have you ever received a professional spa facial?  The treatment is offered from forehead down to cleavage.  Why?....because this skin is as important  as the delicate skin surrounding  the eyes, and needs to be cared for as tenderly and as thoughtfully. Aside from the breakdown of precious collagen, sun damage also breaks down elasticity in the skin (also a member of precious connective tissue). Think of how a brand new rubber band looses its snap after repetitive use....that's precisely what happens to epidermal elasticity over time and/or as a result of sun damage. 

How can one remedy crepe-paper cleavage? Here are a few basic tips:

1. Do you exercise? Is your bra size a B cup or higher? If you answered yes, then WEAR A SPORTS BRA....a good one!  I like Under Armour's padded sports bra.

It's comfortable and wicks always the sweat....but most importantly, it keeps everything in place. Repetitive movement of the bosom can wrinkle the cleavage. If you exercise often (as all women should) then invest in a few good quality, supportive sports bras  

2.  Do you sleep flat on your back all night long?  If you answered no, then you'll need to support your bust as you rest! The position in which we sleep is a MAJOR factor in cleavage-crinkling.  So if you're a side sleeper, then think about investing in a few cotton  camisoles with a built-in shelf bra, for support. There are cleavage-supporting pillows and devices on the market made specifically for sleep (believe it or not), so look into what will work best for you and your lifestyle. 

 This one's from Victorias Secret. They come in soft, stretchy cotton, come in a bunch of colors and are comfy enough to dream in. Best of all, they provide invaluable bosom-support for those side sleepers like me :)

3.  Serums and Creams:  Don't neglect the décolletage!  There are a myriad of "neck and décolleté" creams and serums on the market (hallelujah). To ease into décolleté maintenance, however, I recommend using what you've got (for now). For instance, when you apply eye cream to your eye skin, add a little to the space between your bosoms as well. When you apply your day or night serums, as well as facial creams (SPF for day), then APPLY TO YOUR DÉCOLLETAGE as well. Whatever your skincare routine is, pertaining to facial maintenance, institute the same routine for your décolletage!

4.  Sunscreen:  As previously mentioned, the damaging rays of the sun break down precious collagen and elasticity in the skin. The skin of the décolletage is fragile, therefore, protect it with a minimum 30 broad spectrum SPF (on a daily basis)....and don't forget the space between your bosoms! The cleavage is vulnerable to the sun, especially when wearing lower cut garments, so be conscious of the parts of your body being exposed to its damaging rays. 

5.  Injectables and Laser Treatments: If you are really unhappy with the skin on your décolletage, not all hope is lost. Visit a recommended dermatologist or doctor specializing in medical esthetics. There are options such as injectables (like Restylane) which can create a temporary plumping of the saggy area. Laser technology is amazing as well. There are lasers that can firm and tone the skin, as well as boost the production of collagen. Laser technology is fantastic and can help minimize the appearance of crinkly skin. The only draw back?  These procedures are costly, so they're not for everyone. 

6. Drink plenty of water and avoid salty foods. There are on-line calculators which can help you figure out how much water is needed for your body, based on weight, sex and age. But keep in mind that fruit and veggies (like oranges and cucumbers) are hydrating as well.  Salt is dehydrating and too much of it can create lackluster skin. Be a conscious eater and enjoy salty foods in moderation. It's incredible how diet (and exercise) can affect skin, in a positive or negative way. 

I recommend that you consult with your doctor or dietician and inquire about what the recommended daily water in-take for you is (as well as what nutrients you may be lacking). A good dietician can customize a water and nutrient-rich diet that works best for YOU. Despite what the Supreme Court says, we're not all created equal (when it comes to the histology of your skin that is). Therefore it is important to have a customized, YOU-specific dietary plan in place. 

7. Exfoliate: (see my blog on Exfoliation).  I recommend using a chemical exfoliator (a few times per week) with an Alpha Hydroxy Acid, to encourage cell turn-over. If you have stubborn sun spots and hyperpigmentation, consult with your dermatologist. A medical-grade microdermabrasion procedure may help. However, your doctor may suggest a topical prescriptive. 

8.  Wear a turtleneck!  If you're like Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, you may not
"give a damn" about whether your cleavage is crinkly or not.  If that's the case, then COVER IT UP!.......But oh, what a travesty that would be......just ask Scarlett ;)

For daily beauty and brow tips, follow me on Facebook and Instagram:
 @Beauty and Brow Girl, or on 
Twitter:  @BeautynBrowGirl

--Ciao for now  xo

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Keep skin ACIDIC

WHAT IS HEALTHY SKIN?  The epidermis consists of many layers, the top layer being the Stratum Corneum. The Integumentary System (your well as the largest organ of the body) is an amazing actually has the ability to regulate and heal itself. It is self-serving and efficient, and does NOT require expensive, fancy shmancy serums and creams to keep a youthful appearance.  The problem herein lies with cumulative exposure to the sun, life-style choices, improper diet, lack of exercise (ya gotta sweat those toxins out) and not enough water consumption (imperative for healthy skin!).  That's why, for thousands of years, women have explored unique and different ways to care for their skin, in order to maintain a luminous, healthy and youthful appearance....the ultimate goal right?

Setting-up camp on top of the Stratum Corneum is something known as the "acid mantle".  Your body has the ability to create a healthy, needed, acid layer generated to protect the skin.  Remember, the skin doesn't care about beauty blogs, it has many important health-related functions: To keep-out pathogens, to regulate body temperature, to keep our internal organs and fluids contained...just to name a few.   

When is this acid mantle at its best?  The moment you wake-up in the morning after a good nights rest. While you were sleeping, your  skin was working diligently, getting your acid and pH-level on track. Why is this such a big deal?  Because healthy skin is *acidic skin. The acid mantle needs to have a pH of 5.5, more or less, in order to ward-off bacteria. Bacteria cannot survive in an acidic environment. Moreover, bacteria just ADORES sugar.  So, if you continuously strip the natural oils from your skin by using harsh detergents to wash your face....and if you continuously feed your addiction to sugary snacks, then guess what's gonna happen?  Acne will have a big fat, loud and boisterous party on your skin!  

Skin needs to maintain a 5.5 pH level in order to avoid an environment for bacteria to grow. This is why Salicylic Acid treatments are so affective for those with mild to moderate acne. 

Normal skin turns over (sloughs away naturally) every 28 days. If you force your skin into a higher pH by using harsh astringents for example, you will dry it out. The dryer the skin, the higher the pH (not good), rather than every 28 days, this skin will turn-over every 7-8 days. Your skin needs time to build-up and heal itself. A 7-8 day turn-over is not healthy skin, but rather, dry flakey unhealthy skin....yuck. 

REMEDIES: Use a mild cleanser (at around a 7 pH level), a mild "toner" (4.4 pH is good), and a light moisturizer (for day)....a good moisturizer should be right at 5.5.

Although I can't vouch for this cleanser from LaRouche-Posay, I love love love that they announce their pH smack-dab on the label!  Good for you LaRouche!

Do your research, find out your product's pH levels, ask questions, understand the basic histology of your skin, and always remember that acidic skin is healthy skin.

* see my blog on Skin Care 101

---Ciao for now :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Infuse those LOCKS!

I recently blogged about the versatile uses for Olive Oil....I truly swear by it to condition my hair in a pinch (prior to washing)'s easy, cheap and works fabulously well!

My over-styled, over-chlorinated, over-sunned, dry summer hair, however, was in MAJOR need of a trip to the hair-emergency room and required something much more intense than my extra-virgin stand by.

I'm obsessed with my hair gurus, I just love them!  I visit my salon once per week for blow-outs and hair-TLC because they really know what works best for my aesthetic, as well as the health of my hair. Not all hair can be treated equally, so when you find the right hair-God (and in my case it's Hair-Godesses, both named Stephanie), then hold-on tight and never let go!  My girls have moved their location over the years, currently residing at Paradise Salon and Spa (how apropos) so I happily shlep my locks way out into Miami's western territory to feed my hair-grooming obsession....yes, they're that good. 

On my recent visit, one Stephanie  suggested that I was in serious need of "Steam Infusion", an intensely hydrating conditioning treatment.  After a quick trim and blow-out she applied a product by Redken, "extremé anti-snap", to my overly-styled hair. The serum was massaged into my dry locks and was then sealed into my cuticle, using a special tool which infused steam and allowed the product to penetrate the hair shaft. Section by section, the product was steam-infused in, sealing and hydrating my frayed ends.  My hair was super shiny and oh-so silky smooth! The best part? was quick, it didn't cost a fortune and it lasts for three washings. My hair prescription? I was told to steam-infuse every 6 weeks or as needed.  I can do that!

Before steam-infusion....

Silky, shiny, healed hair....easily achieved. 

--Ciao for now :)