Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Your Guide to Makeup Brushes

Makeup Brushes, they can cost anywhere from $1 to $80 per brush. Any makeup lover will tell you they take great care of their precious brushes, but they also do not want to spend an arm and a leg. I am about to tell you my favorite brushes to buy, and which ones I stay away from as well.

Coastal Scents Brush Sets

Usually buying in a set is better and less money than buying individual brushes. That is the case with these guys. I will say that I this company has a pretty bad rep for having not so great cosmetics. Their brushes however, are awesome for the price! The set I am talking about is just under $30 and has 22 brushes. There is only 1 brush that I never use (the massive fan brush). I have had mine for 3 years and they are just
starting to show signs of aging. I use my brushes DAILY so they take a beating. I recommend this set as a great one for a budding beauty guru, or someone who simply can not afford a super nice set. You can check out the aforementioned set here!

It Cosmetics Brush Sets

These Brushes are ones that once you buy you will have forever. They have their regular line and a Velvet Luxe line, both of which are amaze! They are exclusive to Ulta Beauty but can be bought online through Ulta still. I have two sets that I usually recommend. The first is their Face & Eye Essentials Mini collection (pictured on the Left). This is because it is only $30 for 5 brushes. It is perfect for travel, and it has what even someone who does not wear much makeup needs. It's a great starter set.

I also love the It Cosmetics Beautiful Basics Airbrush 101 set. It does have a travel case (like the others) but they are full sized brushes, so it is more expensive. The set of 5 is $58. If you really want to treat yourself spring for the Velvet Blurring 5 Piece Ultimate Luxe Set. This set is made with their velvet brushes that are infused with velvet and satin. Not only do they last forever and work well, but they feel like your face is being kissed by angels! They are to die for, but are a true luxury not only in quality but also at their $98 price point for 5 pieces.

Ulta & Sephora Brand Brushes 
These to me are the big no. Ulta brushes are worse than Sephora brushes. They fall apart and only feel good for about 4 months. The Sephora brushes however do not make it more than a year. They seem affordable when they are in cute sets with fun cases but they are really not a great buy. I'd stay away from these.

Real Techniques Brushes

The real techniques brand is great for someone on a budget (especially because they regularly go on sale for buy one get one half off at Ulta. They have some great sets and their blender sponge is also one of my favorites on the market. However they aren't long lasting and if you just need basics I would spring the extra $10 and get the It Cosmetics Ones. Their Bold Metals collection is a true rip off, because the quality is the same but you are paying high end prices because they are shiny.

Good Brands
Some other brands that I trust and have had great experiences with are Japonesque, Urban Decay, Smashbox, Tarte and Crown Brushes. Crown Brushes in my opinion are the best on the market. I love them all day. They are expensive and worth it. These other brands mainly make cosmetics but their brushes are great. I love Urban Decays brushes because they are all dual ended (2 for 1!) and I am obsessed with their contour brush ($26) which is pictured on the left. Smashbox has a super innovative 3 in 1 kabuki brush that really works, but can be difficult to clean, and is not great for anything outside of personal use ($42) an is the picture on the right. Japonesque brushes are a full collection that are worth their investment, and the new Tarte Tartiest Sculpt & Slim brush is giving my love for Urban Decay's a run for it's money.

Brands to Avoid

Some brands that I am not a fan of are Eco Tools, Morphe, Elf, Bare Minerals and Benefit. These brands have all made brushes that are either not worth the price, or fall apart quickly. Bristles come off, and the handles break off fast too. Some of them also create brushes considered innovative when they are really just impractical.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Response to Inquiry

I would like to respond to this email I got today. On my blog there is a function where anyone can write into me to ask beauty questions and let me know what they want me to post about. Whoever wrote me this letter chose to go through that function using a persona instead of a name and a fake email address. I have no idea if I have ever met this person before, but since they signed it “an old friend” I would assume I have. Hopefully they are my friend on Facebook too. 

First I would like to say that I hate that old saying “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I think it is important to talk about what is going on in the world, your life and to council your friends, good or bad. Change does not happen by only saying positive things. However, you should reconsider voicing your thoughts if you are not willing to own up to them, and admit that this how you feel. The internet has made it super easy for people to hide behind personas and computers and attack people they know (or have never met) from the comfort and safety of their couch. It is called Cyber-Bullying.

Second I would like to give you some clarity about what it is that I actually do. I celebrate people.  I help them feel good about themselves and confident. I listen to them tell me stories about their lives and I grow to care about them. I have cried with the guests in my chair, I have opened myself up to them and I have hugged them. I have befriended, I have helped and I have walked with them through periods of their life. I watch them struggle and battle with loss, illness, divorce, choices, unemployment, the choices of their loved ones and more. I am a relief for them after a long hard day of work, where they get to chat and relax and get away. I am the guaranteed 3 hour break a new mom gets every other month where she can look in the mirror and remember how beautiful she is outside of the spit up and diapers. I am the person who helps a young girl who has struggled with loving herself her whole life look in the mirror and feel beautiful for her wedding day. That is what I do.

I would now like to address some of your specific beliefs about what I do. The first being that I tell people they have to spend a lot of money so that others will approve of them. That is not what I do at all. People ask me all the time “What shade am I?” and “Will that work for me?” Rarely do I actually tell them that they should reconsider a lipstick or a hair color. My response is usually that they should do what makes them happy. If they want red, let’s do red! Hair styling and makeup artistry is not there to make others like you, it is here to help you feel confident and beautiful. So who cares if that lipstick is your shade? Do you love it on you? Then buy it! I am an artist, I accentuate beauty and I bring it out in men and women. I help other people discover it in themselves.

On days where I sit around and watch tv and do some light cleaning I do not feel motivated or accomplished. On days where I wake up late and have 15 minutes to get ready and run out the door to work I do not feel energized or powerful. When I look in the mirror and I do not like what I see I do not feel ready to ask for a raise or to go for a promotion. However on days where I wake up and I take time (usually about an hour total) to take care of myself and groom myself and invest in myself, and when I finish I feel beautiful and confident, those are the days I get stuff done! I help people have those days, those weeks, those months! I help people find the confidence to say yes, I do, will you and no! I help people love what they see when they wake up in the morning and that is powerful.

The last thing I am going to address is the incredibly rude comment you made about my future daughter having a complex. First of all, how dare you make a judgement about my parenting, when I don’t even have a child?! How asinine can one be? Second I hope I have a daughter in the future. I hope I do so that I can teach her to be smarter than me, and to dream and to dance and to laugh and to love fiercely. I want to teach her to have an open heart and to love those who do not want it, and to try to understand those she is having a hard time loving. I want to teach her to stand up for herself and to fight against nay sayers, and bullies. Most importantly I want to teach her to know herself so well that when cowards like you come out and try to define her and tell her who she is, she doesn’t even have to blink before knowing that you are wrong and continue on her path to happiness and success.

Have a beautiful day
-Angela Woodward

REVIEW: Big Sexy Hair Get Layered Hairspray

Packaging - 6 (incredible)
Scent - 3 (average)
Dry Time - 4 (very good)
Longevity - 3 (average)
Hold - 3 (average)

So here is the skinny on this hairspray. It is pretty average. It dries quickly, (although not as fast as Quick Dry by Redken or Control by Living Proof) but quicker than the average hairspray. However you have to use a fair amount to get hold, and it's hold is average. "But then why does it have 4 stars" you ask? Because of the kick ass packaging.

I know it doesn't look like much but have you ever had your hairspray nozzle get covered in product so it doesn't spray out of the bottle right? I feel like I am constantly picking at and braking up layers of crusted hairspray on my bottles! However this products nozzle CLOSES! It doesn't have a traditional cap or lid. Instead you just twist the top piece to the right and you will hear a click. This will stop you from being able to push down on the top (which releases hairspray) and keeps the nozzle product free! Plus for those of us who are always loosing the caps to our product (that's me!) this is great for traveling. So if you are not picky about your hairspray, or you like a simple average hairspray, but hate "nozzle problems", this is for you!

REVIEW: Jouer Conditioning Lip Treatment

Packaging - 5 (excellent)
Longevity - 5 (excellent)
Wear - 5 (excellent)
Healing - 6 (incredible)
Hydrating - 6 (incredible)

I am a little super in love with this stuff! But basically it is an amazing lip therapy gloss. The packaging is effective, elegant and durable. A little goes a SUPER long way! When you put it on the gloss effect will last for at least 3 hours (which is insane for a gloss). However what I love most about it is that it heals and hydrates well.

Have you ever put on a lip balm and your lips tingle and feel like water has just been dumped on them but 20 minutes later they are dry again? I have! This product doesn't do that! One of the things I love using it for is when I do makeup on a client the first thing I do is look at their lips. If their lips are dry and cracked then lipstick will not look good on them. So if they are dry I put on the Jouer Lip Treatment and while I do their hair or the rest of their makeup I let it sit. (at least 30 minutes) and then wipe it off. The canvas is usually moisturized and ready to go! I have had TONS of great feedback from models and clients too! So yes I definitely recommend this!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

REVIEW: Redken Wind Blown 05

Packaging - 5 (excellent)
Scent - 4 (very good)
Texturizing - 5 (very good)
Hold - 4 (very good)
Longevity - 5 (excellent)

This product became a fast favorite for me and is one that I continually buy when I run out instead of trying a different brand. Wind Blown is not your average light hold hairspray. Normally when you spray hairspray the actual product comes out very softly and is supposed to land on your hair in a way so as not to disturb the style or look. Windblow does not do this. The product is compressed more than others so that when you spray a gust of wind and product blows your hair! This creates texture and gives your hair a more lived-in feel. The every so popular shoulder length casual curl trend (pictured below) is perfectly executed by doing some curls with a flat iron and then spraying this product through out your hair!

The packaging is pretty and high end looking. It smells really good however it is a little strong for my liking (hence the 4 instead of the 5 on scent). It adds a high amount of texture and it has a light hold that does a pretty good job. This is a light hold hairspray so I wouldn't expect it to have a high hold, however if your hair doesn't hold a curl you may need to follow this product with a higher hold hairspray. A little goes a SUPER long way! I was very impressed with that. I have nothign bad to say about this product! I am hooked!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

REVIEW: Jamberry Nail Wraps

Packaging -5 (excellent)
Ease of Use - 3 (average)
Longevity - 5 (excellent)
Removal - 1 (bad)
Variety - 6 (incredible)
Value - 3 (average)
Nail Health - 1 (bad)

Okay so first I am going to get a little disclaimer out of the way. I AM NOT  A REP FOR JAMBERRY. I do not sell it, I do not get paid to promote it, and I am not going to link you to anything that gives me rewards or money. Now that that's out of the way, I am going to talk about what Jamberry is.

So it is a direct sales company (like Mary Kay or Scentsy) which you may or may not find annoying. I think it's awesome for people to try and earn an income however they can and I appreciate and respect the hustle. I have tried multiple direct sales businesses and it is not for me, they are a lot of hard work. So I admire those who do it. Jamberry are little "nail wraps" that you can apply to your nails instead of polish, that give you long lasting, chip free looks, that are also super cute. Nail art, prints and patterns you wouldn't be able to do at home, you now can!

So moving onto the actual criteria of the rating. Packaging I gave a 5. It comes in a cute bubble envelope that has the logo on it. The packaging for the actual wraps is cute and simple and effective. So now onto the variety, which is great! They have easily over 1000 wraps include sports teams, college insignia, seasonal looks, and a disney collection! They have so many options it's insane! I was super impressed by that!

So next it some of my not so favorite things about Jamberry. First things first, these are not super easy to use in my opinion. Basically what the nail wraps are, are stickers with a strong adhesive on the back of them. You peel the sticker off and then heat it up (either with their $20 warmer or with a hair blow dryer) but you can't touch the sticky side with your hands so you have to try to peel it up with an orange wood stick first and use that to get the heat on the wrap and then place it on your nail. The glue cools and dries and you are done. But you also have to buff or file the nail bed and cut the wrap to fit your nail. It is time intensive and definitely has a learning curve. And if you drop your warm Jamberry wrap on your carpet GOOD LUCK. The process is to trim and file the free edge of your nails. Push back your cuticles and buff the nail plate. Then use an alcohol wipe or acetone to clean the nail plate. Then you have to trim your wrap to fit your nail if it doesn't already and then remove your wrap from the sheet with an orange wood stick (they feel like a thick stiff sticker) and then warm it up using a dryer or warmer. Then apply it to your nail and wait for it to cool and use scissors to trim the wrap so it fits your nail and doesn't hang over the edge. Then you have to use a file to get the rest of the wrap filed off so it looks right, and then you put it back in front of the warmer or dryer to let the adhesive really adhere to your nail. It's just a lot of steps. It took me over 20 minutes to do one manicure.

The next issue I have with Jamberry is they are pricey in my opinion. You get one set for $15-$18 and they will do two manicures and one pedicure if you cut them right with a few accent nails. I thought "would I buy these at Walmart if they only did one manicure per set at $6 each?" and my answer would be no. Once they are on they feel like nail stickers. They are stiff and if you work with your hands (which as a cosmetologist I do) they edges get worn and stuff gets in the crevice and it looks not so nice. They don't feel or look like a cute mani to me. I guess in comparison to a $25 manicure they are a decent value at $6, but I would rather have a manicure which is higher quality. They have an image that says the sets will do 2 manis, 2 pedis AND have 8+accent nails left, but I did not find that to be true. I suppose if you cut them with surgical precision it would be true, but I couldn't figure out how to make that work.

Also removal is a huge pain. If you do not do it right you will RUIN your nail beds, because you are removing dried glue from your filed nail plate! The recommended way is very tedious. The company recommends you use their products of course, but basically you need a polish remover, a bowl, cotton pads, an orange woods stick and a "steady heat source". All that to remove a manicure guys! You start by warming up your wraps in front of the blow dryer or heater for 10-20 seconds or until it starts to lift. Then you use the stick to gently lift the edge, and then you soak your fingertips in polish remove (so say hello to dried out and dead finger tips and cuticles) and then you use the stick to continually peel the wrap little by little going back into the bowl to soak when it stops coming off. If you do this by going away from or towards the cuticle instead of side to side you will also damage the nail bed. If the wrap lifts throughout your week and you tear it or pick it off you will destroy your nails beds. Then after you will likely have left over residue and have to use more remover and maybe even more heat to buff it off with a cotton round. It's once again a lot of steps, it took me 40 minutes to remove all my wraps even with their special remover, and I just don't have time for that! So in addition to a frustrating removal you can also easily damage your nail beds worse than the regular application which is why there is a very low score on nail health.

I am trying to update this a little to add some more current information. A couple other positives about Jamberry wraps are that they are free of the top 8 cancer linked chemicals commonly found in nail products (woo hoo!) and are made in America! They also stay on until you take them off, which is great! They are chip free if you apply them properly.

If you are interested you can pick some up here!

Monday, February 15, 2016

How do I Protect my Hair Color from Chlorine?

As we approach spring I am hearing this asked everywhere more and more! We all know that when you're swimming your hair takes a hit. It starts to feel drier if you swim often, and your color fades quicker. Some people even experience a greenish tint on their hair. So how do we protect our hair from the effects of chlorine when we swim?

1- Wet Your Hair First
before you go swimming get your hair very wet. Whether it is by dumping a water bottle of water on your hair poolside, jumping in a shower at the gym in your suit, or even using the facilities restroom to collect water in your hands and saturate your hair as much as possible in the sink, getting your hair wet with tap water (or better yet purified or distilled water) will prevent the negative effects of chlorine.

Why does this work? Because when you get your hair wet, the water molecules actually lift the cuticle layer of your hair and enter into the hair strand. If you have the strand saturated with distilled water, then when you jump in the pool the strand is already filled with distilled water and cannot take in anymore, which mean the chlorine will only be able to reach the outside of your hair strands. Now obviously the longer you are in the pool the more time your hair has to slowly allow the chlorinated water to penetrate it, but it takes much longer if you saturate your hair before entering the pool. after saturation you will get best results by putting your hair in a bun or braids.
2- Condition First Too!
You don't have to use a super fancy deep conditioner, but after saturating your hair as instructed in step one, you can also throw some conditioner on it. Once again this takes up room in the strand so that the chlorine cannot penetrate, however it is stronger than water alone, and will work even better! You do need to combine the conditioner with water. If you put conditioner on dry hair it will not be as effective. No need to break the bank for this conditioner. I like the Sauve Professionals Infusions Macadamia Oil & White Orchid Conditioner. It is not as healthy for your hair as a salon professional brand, and I would never recommend it for regular use, but to use in the pool as a hair filler? Why not! MAKE SURE you wash your hair with a high quality clarifying shampoo and conditioner after! (no co-washes).

3- Rinse Right Away
So you go swimming at the community pool with your friends. After you plan to go grab a burger and watch a movie at a friend's place. That means you will not be home for hours after your swim. Do not be afraid of gym, pool and high school locker showers! Get in there and rinse your hair with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner before toweling off and changing into street clothes. The longer you wait the longer the chlorine has to damage and dry out your hair! Plus if you did step 2, then you will want to remove that buildup of conditioner as well! You NEED to use a clarifying option though. See Step 4 for more on that! Throw a travel option into your (like this one)  bag with your towel for easy access.

4- Detox
If you swim more than 1 time a week, you may find that even using these steps you still have built up on your scalp. This buildup will feel heavy and like a greasy scalp, usually with dry ends. This is usually a mixture of oils, chlorine, other pool cleansing chemicals, and hair product. Strip it out by using a detox or a heavy clarifying shampoo. The Clarifying Shampoo Three from Paul Mitchell is one of my favorites as well as Detox from Abba! Finish it with a good moisturizing conditioner.

5- Skip the 2 in 1
Cleansing Conditioners are all the rage right now, but these one steps are not a good idea if you swim more than once every two weeks. This is because these two in one systems gently cleanse while adding a lot of moisture, however they are not strong enough to cleanse the chemicals from the pool.

6- Know when to Skip the Swim
If you get your hair lightened (highlights or any form of blonde-ing) you should avoid the pool for 2 weeks after your appointment (MINIMUM ONE) because your hair is more porous and susceptible to chemical damage. If you hop in the day after your appointment the likelihood that you will have dry and green hair is high. So maybe skip the swim and wade in the shallow end with your hair up, or relax poolside with a book.

***Thanks to BrittneyRadcliff for this question***

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Facial Cleansing Brushes, are they worth it?

This question is referring to things like the Clarisonic and the Olay Pro X Brush. SO here is the thing, yes and no. I hate that answer but here is what you need to know.

Why These Brushes Are Recommended
When we clean our face using our hands and a wash cloth, we usually only get about %40-%55 of the dirt and oils that are built up on our skin. Using brushes like these can help us make sure that we get at least %80-%90 of the dirt and oils on our skin.

What To Look For
There are three things you will find when purchasing a facial brush. The most common is a brush that has a head that spins in a circle. The next is a brush that rotates back and forth in small short movements. The third is a brush that vibrates. When you get a brush that spins it loosens a lot of surface dirt and oils, however it can push those dirt and oils deeper into the pores of your skin, and will not help you to get dirt and oil from below the surface. A rotating brush is better because it will help to loosen debris but not push them down further into your pores. A vibrating brush head does not help to loosen dirt and oils on the surface as much, but does help to release and break up what is in your pores.

What Brushes I Recommend
The best one hands down is the Clarisonic. I have never met someone who has a Clarisonic that doesn't love it. It has a brush head that rotates and vibrates so you get the best of the features! I have also had a really good experience with and feed back on the Michael Todd Soniclear systems. If you are looking for the poor man's version, I recommend getting the Dermalogica Exfoliating Facial Brush (picture on the right) to use in conjunction with the Neutrogena Wave Sonic. This is because the Dermalogica brush will gently exfoliate dead skin and get rid of surface oils, but the wave sonic will vibrate to help break down oils in the pores. I recommend using the Wave Sonic, then the Dermalogica brush, and the Wave Sonic again, so break up dirt and oils, then exfoliate and cleanse, and then to be sure none of those dead skin cells got pushed into the pores.

***Thanks to Sharney for asking this question***

Monday, February 1, 2016


Look what I found on Ulta's home page!

Buxom has been exclusively at Sephora for YEARS however I am a bigger fan of Ulta Personally. They have a better rewards program, more sales, better deals, a better black Friday and cyber Monday and I like that they sell makeup, hair care and skin care that are both high end and drug store brands. So having Buxom come into Ulta gives me hope that other brands like Kat Von D and Makeup Forever may follow!