Saturday, March 22, 2014

Protect Skin from UV Rays!

Now that winter's chill has left the building, nix the fleece and slip into some skin-friendly sunscreen. PARABENS are preservatives that I'd like you to be conscience of (see my blog-post on Parabens: what's all the fuss about). Look for natural , paraben-free products that are kind to skin, yet offer superior BROAD SPECTRUM coverage, like Sunology suncare products. As you lean into the summer sun, be conscious of what you're putting on our skin and be aware that it's like a sponge. Skin is absorbent by nature. It soaks-in moisture, chemicals, UV rays, a sponge. Fortunately, there are many natural alternatives to choose from which will protect your skin without the use of harmful additives.


After a long, cold winter, I crave the sun's rays on my skin! However, its UVA and UVB rays are damaging and can even be deadly. Using a sunscreen whose spectrum is "broad" enough to protect skin from the danger of both UVA and UVB rays, is the key to safe summer play.

Think of UVA rays as the ultra violet  "aging" rays. These rays are the cause of pre-mature fine lines and wrinkles which appear on the face and décolleté. UVB are the ultra violet "burning" rays which emit radiation that cause hyper-pigmentation, freckling, sunburn and skin cancer. Although UVB rays do not penetrate the skin as deeply as UVA (see photo below), it emits more energy, causing more skin damage. UVB, burning, rays specifically target the DNA of the skin cells, which is reason enough to wear a good quality broad spectrum. If the DNA of a cell can be compromised, you need to educate yourself about how to proactively protect the skin. 

As you can see from the diagram above, UVA rays, although less powerful, penetrate DEEPER into the skin. Did you know that UVA damage is cumulative? A little exposure, here and there, over time, will add up. The effects are non-negotiable and require a conscious effort to protect the skin. 


The "UV Index" is a tool designed by the National Weather Service and the EPA to help the public plan their outdoor activities whist being conscious of the intensity of the radiation emitted in your area.

The UV Index predicts the risk of overexposure to the sun by calculating  UV intensity levels, using a 1- 11+ scale. If the number is low (such as 1 or 2), the risk of overexposure is minimal. A high number (like 10 or 11) indicates a severe  risk. The UV Index takes into account the weather condition, time of year, elevation, latitude and amount of ozone coverage for a particular area (see chart below). 

Although the UV Index guide is a terrific tool, do not allow it to dictate your use of sunscreen. Always wear broad spectrum coverage, regardless of the number on the chart. Your skin's biology is different from anyone else, and will react differently to a #3 index than mine would, for example. Be proactive, be safe and enjoy the sun in healthy moderation.

Thank you to the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine for the research and data included in this post. 

--CIAO for now  xo

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Put YOURSELF first: it makes for a better version of YOU

I often get asked if I follow the multitude of beauty tips I write about everyday; do I really take the time? My response? HECK YEA! I'm just as busy as anyone else, so my time is as limited as yours. If smooth, luminous, healthy skin isn't important to you, for example, then more power to you. I love sharing tips that have the power to create a better version of one's self, but if these recommended rituals seem overwhelming to you, then lean into them and start SLOWLY. Do what you can. I'm here to educate. Whether you wish to execute my tips or not is your decision.

I am a wife, a working mother of two, a housekeeper, a cook, an interior decorator, a financial planner, a chauffeur, a party planner, a professional organizer, a referee, a confidant, a gardener, a pool boy...yada yada, yada, I can go on and on. Can you relate? Of course you can! Just like you, my time is limited and quite valuable, however, above all that I mentioned, I put myself FIRST. Selfish? Perhaps. But that's ok, because when I put MYSELF first and take exquisite care of mySELF within my ability and means, I've created the best version of ME. Don't take the time, MAKE the time. Invest your time to create the best version of YOU. If you're happy with flakey, lack-luster  skin, bumpy arms and bushy eyebrows, then more power to you (this would drive me mad!). 
Am I obsessed and perhaps need therapy? HECK YEA! But at least I'll be going to the therapist without any qualms about my skin. 

For weekly beauty tips, follow me on all social media @Beauty and Brow Girl or at

--CIAO for now 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Exfoliate LIPS!

There is no excuse for cracked, flakey lips....NONE! When lips are neglected, they rebel & have a flake-fest. To avoid this, keep a lip SCRUB near your vanity (not your sink). As you apply your makeup exfoliate your lips if you notice a less than smooth pout. A sugar scrub like @SaraHapp is what I grab when my lips are dry. Apply in circular motions & wipe off with a tissue (rinse if needed, but I never do). Moisturize with a hydrating balm like @Fresh (I luuuv the Rosé). Your lips will appear plump, impossibly smooth and  oh-so-kissably soft. 💋#LipScrub #Lips #SoftLips #KissablySoftLips #PlumpLips #KissMyLips #BeautifulPout #LipCare #SaraHapp #FreshBeauty #FreshLipBalm #creamsouthmiami @creamsouthmiami #beautyandbrowgirl 

STRAWBERRY LEGS: a problem for women of color

I live in South Florida, where  wearing short-shorts to sport your bronzed stems is an institution. Whether it's a casual trip to the market, a morning run or a night out in the Magic City (where heals go hand-in-hand with  "dressy shorts"), legs are a big deal here in the 305. But what if your legs had issues? What if they were peppered with unsightly dark legions or bumps that would not clear up, despite your efforts? What if you were so self conscious about your legs that instead of short-shorts you have adopted the long pant (what a travesty!)?

For many women, particularly women of color, STRAWBERRY LEGS are a big problem. You know you have it if you are cursed with dark, dot-like marks on the legs, which resemble the skin of a strawberry, hence the name. This is a follicular issue and can be seen with all skin types, however for women with a darker pigmentation, it is much more noticeable. Women of color have amazingly beautiful skin, so a condition like this can hinder one's freedom to confidently expose their legs. Luckily, there are a few solutions, but note that it may take a few attempts to find the method what works for you. 

These back spots are actually black-heads (open comedones), the same black-heads you might find on your nose or forehead. Sebum, debris and dead skin cells get trapped inside the hair follicle. When this "sebum-plug" gets exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black.

Daily exfoliation is key. Two days prior to shaving, alternate exfoliation methods using a granular exfoliant one day and a chemical exfoliant the next. "Granular exfoliants", such as a salt or sugar scrub, will aggressively slough-off dead skin cells, and encourage the follicles to release trapped debris (plus it feels wonderful on the legs).  A "chemical exfoliant" like a glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid cleanser is great as well. I'm partial to use Glycolic in particular, because it  penetrates deep into the skin, turning over that cell  build-up. Glycolic is an "alpha hydroxy", and for aggressive treatment of Stawberry Legs, I recommend you eventually work up to a 10% concentration, but start lower at first. Over the counter glycolic products come in a range of levels, 3% to 10%, but I would recommend starting at around 5% and graduate up to a 10% glycolic wash. 
Maintainin Stawberry Legs is a perpetual act, it is something that cannot be "cured" due to your body's predisposition, however, it can be maintained. The skin will require time to change. Therefore, a gradual incline in acid-intensity is what I recommend.

Salicylic acid is a "Beta Hydroxy" most commonly used to prevent acne by infusing the follicle with oxygen; this hinders the growth of bacteria. The key to an acid cleanser (whether it be glycolic, lactic or salicylic, is to massage it skin that has been softened with warm water from the tub or shower. Allow it to sit on the skin for a few minutes prior to rinsing, this will allow the product to penetrate the skin, melt away the dead skin cells and flush out the follicles. A change will not happen overnight however, an acid wash (3 times per week) should be introduced into your weekly skin care regime.

Now that you have exfoliated the skin for a few days prior to shaving, your skin is prepped. Soften skin in the shower or tub, using warm (not hot) water. Make sure that your skin is lubricated prior to shaving, so using a moisturizing shave cream, or even coconut oil, is necessary. I personally scrub my legs with a coconut oil-based salt scrub prior to shaving, then immediately shave my legs using the scrub in lieu of shave cream. 

Make sure that your razors are ONE TIME USE. Razors harbor bacteria upon use, so never use the same razor twice, so purchase a multi-pack of quality razors. A little tip I can give you in an effort to be frugal, would be to place your used razor on the top rack of your dish washer, in a high-heat cycle. The dish water will disinfect the used razor, allowing you to get at least 3 uses out of it. You never want to use a dull razor on your body, therefore toss it after a few uses. 

Next, shave hair IN THE DIRECTION of the hair growth. Shaving against the growth with encourage in-growns which will lead to infection. After you exit the tub or shower, wipe Witch Hazel on your freshly shaven legs, using cotton (I like "Thayers Witch Hazel"). This will soothe the skin and constrict the pores, as well as balance-out the skins pH levels, creating a more acidic environment (healthy skin is acidic skin). 

HEALTH TIP: when managing any bacteria-causing skin issue, whether it be acne on the face or Strawberry Skin, use a small, bleach-washed towel to pat the skin dry. Never use your bath towel which harbors bacteria. Another option would be to use a tissue or cotton. In other words, the use of a contaminated towel to dry your legs isn't a great idea, so have a stack of bleach-washed, single-use towels ready to dry-off the legs after bathing.

Lastly, moisturize your legs with a glycolic body moisturizer. You may feel a bit of a tingle after shaving, however, it will help keep skin exfoliated and hydrated at the same time (I use a 5% glycolic lotion on my skin).

If you've followed my instructions and are still experiencing issues, you may need to tweak your hair removal system. 

I would stay away from depilatory creams, as these products contain chemicals that can irritate skin and perpetuate your problem. My recommendation is laser hair removal, electrolysis or waxing. 

Laser hair removal can be life changing for many, however it can be costly so consider your budget. Never respond to a "group deal" for laser treatments. This is an invasive procedure that can damage skin if not done properly. Always consult with a recommended professional and find out if their laser treats pigmented skin. Laser hair removal works by the contrast in pigments: skin versus hair. The problem used to be that women of color were never candidates for laser due to their darker pigmentation. However, new developments in laser technology has made it possible to treat darker skin. The key is finding a top notch professional, with a state of the art laser, that will not injure your skin. So do your research on this!

Electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal. A micro-probe is inserted into the hair follicle, and a low current of energy is introduced, in an effort to slowly but eventually render the hair lifeless. The problem with electrolysis on large areas such as legs, is that it's tedious. Due to the low amount of current infused into the follicle, it will take time. I always recommend laser hair removal for larger areas, then follow up with electrolysis to tackle the 5%, more or less, of the hairs remaining. 

Waxing is the final method of hair removal I recommend. Although you should never wax on the face in an effort to preserve skin's elasticity, waxing the body is perfectly fine. I recommend going to a chain location for hair removal. A company like Euopean Wax Center is reputable and strict about quality control, whereby you will never see contamination (no double dipping!), essential for the skin's health. Their wax remains at 120 degrees (not too hot) and will not tear the surface layers of the skin (an issue that may occur with cheap wax or wax that is too hot). 

LEG BEAUTY TIP: Whether the issue is strawberry skin, varicose veins, spider veins, bruising or hyper pigmentation, most women have some flaw which is preventing the short skirts to make an appearance. Body makeup is a wonderful "quick fix" that I personally use and swear by. One of the products I use is "Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs" (which is available in varying shades at your local drugstore). 

It will cover most imperfections, will even out skin tone and will not rub off on your clothes! I do recommend, however, that you scrub your legs with a granular scrub, after the day has ended. You want to keep that leg-skin clean. Treat your legs as you would your face: you would never dream of going to bed without cleansing, toning and moisturizing your face, would you??

Now that you know what strawberry skin is and how to manage it, the key is to be consistent. You must be consistent with your skin's maintenance. Change will NOT happen overnight, therefore I would give your skin at least 3 weeks to notice a change; everyone's biology is different, so there's really no way to know. If weeks have passed and you've followed my advise, but still do not see a change, then you will need to visit a Board Certified Dermatologist. He or she may prescribe a medical-grade topical cream or cleanser to treat your condition.

For daily skin and beauty tips, follow me on FB, IG, PERISCOPE & Tumbler:
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--CIAO for now  xo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

be COHESIVE with makeup & fashion

Hard vs soft, edgy vs ethereal. Your makeup (and hair) eed to be cohesive with your overall appearance. You wouldn't sport a sweet rosy cheek in the first photo, just like a smokey cat eye with a red glossy lip wouldn't work in the second. Face needs to be cohesive with fashion, always. 

CIAO for now xo

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Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm Glycolic obsessed! I may not have the most shiny hair, or the longest lashes or even the fullest lips....but you can bet your ass (& mine) that I have the SOFTEST, smoothest skin! Why? Because I EXFOLIATE. Every. Single. Day ....forehead to heal, I exfoliate daily. Whether it's my 10% glyco wash for face, neck & décolleté, my Mario Badescu AHA wash I use on my torso & arms, my Ultima Glycolic body lotion for my legs & heels, or my European Wax Center Papaya Enzyme scrub & glyco serum on my bumm & bikini area, no inch of skin is EVER neglected! The end result? Deliciously smooth, Keratosis Polaris-FREE skin that's always ready for a sundress, or 
a kiss 💋 

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--CIAO for now xo

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PARABENS....what's all the fuss about?

I often have clients ask me to recommend skin products which are "PARABEN-Free". My response to them is always the same: "Do you even know what the heck a PARABEN is?"  Ha!

Ok, here's the low-down. Parabens are preservatives. They're highly effective, inexpensive, synthetically-produced preservatives which are used in a myriad of cosmetics and skincare products. They are über effective due to their bacterial and fungicidal properties, which is why they're used by cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies in the first place. You can find Parabens in products such as shampoos, facial creams, shaving gels, makeup, toothpaste and even in certain foods. 

Yes, there are natural-preservative alternatives such as Grapefruit Seed extract, HOWEVER, natural alternatives aren't nearly as effective. If you choose to use a product with a natural preservative, be conscious of the expiration date and avoid touching the product with your fingers, which harbor bacteria; use a disposable plastic spatula or q-tip instead. 

Rule of Thumb: If a product is made with WATER, it needs a preservative. Therefore, try an oil-based, organic alternative instead, but again, be aware of its limited shelf life. 

The problem is that Parabens have been detected in breast cancer tumors which explains their controversy. Moreover, Parabens have been linked in causing reproductive issues in women. They have the ability to mimic estrogen which can lead to early-on-set puberty in girls (caused by "xenoestrogens") which in and of itself is a cause for concern. Research, however, has NOT confirmed the actual correlation between Parabens and cancer; no scientific evidence has been concluded to support this link.  Therefore, it's up to the public to become educated and simply BE AWARE of the Paraben content in the everyday products you use. 

Get in the habit of reading your ingredient labels. Ingredients are always listed in order of concentration, so if "glycerin" is the first ingredient printed on the label and Parabens are the last, that will tell you that the glycerin content out-weighs the Paraben content significantly.  Don't be fooled, however, if the Paraben concentration is low, it is there none the less. You'll be surprised, however, at the amount of products we all have in our beauty arsenal which contain Parabens, many of which have high concentrations. 

Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. What are the most commonly used 
Parabens? Look for the these names on your product labels: "MethylParaben", "EthylParaben", "PropylParaben", "ButylParaben" and "HeptylParaben".  Typically, these Parabens will be listed as one of the last four ingredients on the product label.

Parabens are practically non-toxic, however "MethylParaben" in particular, may react with the UVB rays of the sun, when applied to the skin. UVB rays are the "burning" rays, so be especially aware of this particular ingredient, especially if you'll be spending time in the sun.

The amount of Parabens in any product will be small. In general, be conscious of the ingredient-content within the everyday products you use. Don't stress over it! By being aware of your product-ingredients, you've just empowered yourself towards the road to optimum skin health. If your Eye Cream, for example, contains a Paraben which is listed as the last ingredient, then don't sweat it. I would be more concerned with a body lotion or sunscreen, which covers a larger area of skin and is often reapplied throughout the day. Trust me, you want a good preservative in your $80 Eye Cream in order for it to repel contaminants. However, an everyday, often-used product, like body lotion or sunscreen can be substituted for "Paraben-free" since these products will turn-over and deplete relatively quick. 

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---CIAO for now :)

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By appointment only. Contact me at 
--Ciao for now 😘

#MultiLicensedTeacher #BeautyEducator

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

EYE CREAMS and the Skin They are Made for

    They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. Well, I don't know about that, but I can tell you one thing that is absolutely certain: the eyes are the window to youth and are incapable of hiding our emotion, our health and, particularly, our age. So what's the latest and greatest advancement in the care of this delicate skin? The answer lies in education; understanding your skin, as well as the product-ingredients for which you choose to maintain that skin with. To educate one's self about the uniqueness of your own skin, particularly the eyes, is truly empowering. To know that there is a pause button, in terms of aesthetic-aging, that YOU are in control of is fantastic! However, there's no Potter-esque spell that a magic wand can fix; the key to youthful eyes is simple: maintain a consistent, daily ritual, involving quality eye-specific products, period.

     I often get asked about my suggestion for the best eye creams on the market; it's a subject that many women, and men alike, want to know about. Virtually every skincare line carries at least one eye-cream or serum. I'm a bit neurotic about the care and maintenance of my own skin, especially the skin surrounding my eyes. I like to layer my eye cream in conjunction with a concentrated eye serum like Lancôme Visionnaire Eye, Advanced Eye Contour Serum ($60 at Macy's) and alternate between Laura Mercier Eyedration Moisture Eye Cream ($45 at Nordstrom) and La Prairie Cellular Radiance Eye Cream ($320 at Nordstrom). Do these products work for me? They meet my expectations, so yes, they do. Being realistic about what you expect your facial products to achieve is essential, but more importantly, knowing that you are doing all that you can possibly do, within your means, to delay the inevitability of wrinkled eye-skin, is priceless. This doesn't mean, however, that what works for me will work for you. Therefore, before I suggest the best cream or serum for your skin, I would first ask you about your skin type, your life style, your budget, your diet, your race,  as well as the climate you live in. Is your home-town's weather arid, is it tropical, does it snow? Do you have allergies? I would ask if you wear make-up on a daily basis, and what eye-care products you've used in the past, if any at all. I would need to know  about your skincare regime: do you enjoy caring for your skin or is it a chore? Do you prefer a light-weight serum, a thicker cream or a cooling gel? How disciplined are you about your skincare rituals? Do you even have a ritual? 

     Before you select an eye cream, you would need to assess your skin, in addition to your concerns: is the issue lack of under eye hydration, dark circles, fine lines, proactive anti-aging or all of the above? In a nutshell, what I really want to know is "what are your expectations and what end-result do you want your eye cream to achieve?"

     If you think I've given you question overload, you're probably right! There are a myriad of product lines which cater to various skin types. The key, however, is to find one that will address your specific concerns in a realistic way. Let me say that again, "In a REALISTIC way".  In order to cater to your skin's needs, I wouldn't be able to help you unless I have an understanding of your lifestyle. Therefore, as I mentioned: what works for me may not necessarily work for you. 

     Products used on the eye area, should be eye-specific, which means: never use face creams, facial lotions, body lotions, petroleum jelly or any other product not intended for under-eye skin. The skin surrounding the eyes is extremely delicate and vulnerable. It should be treated consciously, not haphazardly, and this includes the way we touch that skin (always tap inward towards the nose, never pull out towards the ears). Eye skin is the thinnest skin on the body and the first area to show signs of aging, yikes! Moreover, the eye skin does not contain hair follicles which make it void of sebaceous glands (your skin's natural oil-producers). The body's natural moisture-balance occurs through the hair follicles, utilizing the hair shaft as a roadway to disperse oil onto the skin. Do you ever fret about your shiny forehead? That shine is sebum (your body's oil), which is über-nourishing for the skin; it's what cosmetic companies attempt to simulate when formulating hydrating products such as eye cream. So, the next time you attempt to blot that shiny face, do it with a smile! I'll assume that your main concern, in selecting an eye cream, is from a hydration and anti-aging stand point; it's what women are most concerned about, for the most part. 

     I'm a big fan of Mario Badescu's skin care line, particularly their Glycolic Eye Cream ($20 at Cream, South Miami). Why? It's thick and creamy, intensely moisturizing and contains vitamin E (an anti-oxidant, which means it blocks those pesky free-radicals which accelerate skin-aging); but best of all, this product contains Glycolic Acid, which is an alpha hydroxy. 

     What's so special about Glycolic? This AHA exfoliator has old-school charm without any gimmicks. It sloughs away dead skin cells to reveal new skin, it helps to thicken skin (this is a good thing) and perpetual use of Glycolic will stimulate not only collagen production within the dermal layers of the skin, but Hyalauronic acid production as well (the stuff which promotes moisture in the skin). Chemical exfoliation, such as Glycolic, is essential for product penetration (the concept of exfoliation pertains to all aspects of skin, from face to toe). In addition to cell turnover, skin needs to be perpetually exfoliated in order for serums and creams to penetrate at their maximum potential.

     I need to note that my Mario cream leaves my eye skin dewy soft. I like that. You may, however, prefer a product that is quick to penetrate the skin without leaving any evidence that it was there in the first place. You may have a preference to a lighter weight cream, or one which contains a vitamin-A derivative such as a Retinoid. 

     High-end quality lines like Chantecaille (Nordstrom) or Shseido (Macy's), are formulated and engineered by chemists to penetrate deeply within the skin; it has to do with the molecular structure of products. Luxury products like these are amazing at penetrating deep into the dermal layers of the skin to specifically stimulate the production of collagen as well as Hyaluronic acid, which infuses skin with super-moisture. Deep penetrating products work due to their molecular structure. Remember chemistry class? Can you picture those ball-like molecule chains? Well those "balls" are processed in varying sizes; if the ball is too large, it will not be able to penetrate the skin. Which is why Glycolic works so well; it has the smallest molecule of all the acid exfoliators, therefore penetrates the deepest.  Think of skin as a screen with tiny holes. High-end super creams and serums are able to penetrate those tiny holes because of the product's chemistry. The process of creating a serum or cream with micro molecules small enough to penetrate the epidermis and into the dermis is costly. You may not be able to tell the difference between a $100 white cotton t-shirt and a $30 version, however, in the case of skincare, the adage is right: you get what you pay for. You cannot get that micro-molecule, deep-penetration from a drugstore brand, you just can't. 

     Regardless of what product you use on the eye-area, be consistent, but most importantly be realistic. If you think a product is too good to be true, it probably is. The advancements in skincare, even in just the past decade, are enormous. The skincare technology on the market today will make your skin significantly better in terms of tone, texture and moisture. as well as the reduction of fine lines. However, do not mistake "better" for "a wrinkle cure". What's my recommendation, now that you're a bit more educated on the subject of eye creams? You're going to consult with a professional (like me) to determine your skin's blueprint. Then, once you choose the products best suited for you, apply them (as directed) twice per day, morning and night. (BEAUTY TIP: whatever you apply to the face, do the same to the neck and décolleté. I always recommend for my clients to add a dab of eye serum and cream to these areas, specifically the cleavage where skin has a vulnerability to crinkle). Bottom line, the key is to be consistent with your skincare routine, treat your eye skin gently, never pulling or tugging. Remember, the eye skin is like a fragile flower; it needs to be nourished, hydrated and treated tenderly. Allow your eyes to be as youthful as your soul.

--CIAO for now xo

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