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Embrace What’s Yours

Curly Hair

For the past six years, I have been altering my curl pattern: keratin, Brazilian blow out, and at home relaxers. At the time it was all great. I was getting those long beach waves I’d seen in Allure or Vogue. I felt like I needed to be something I wasn’t in order to “fit in” and feel sexy and confident.

When you’re in middle school, your body is awkwardly changing, your face doesn’t fit the rest of the picture, you have braces, and your curly hair just doesn’t cut it. Throughout high school, I styled my hair constantly. I saw the curl permanently change from beautiful tight ringlets to looser and looser curls, eventually turning into awkwardly straight/curly hair.

I didn’t understand how beautiful my old curls were.

Since attending Cinta Aveda, I’ve been trying to transition to my old curls again, returning to my roots. With all these style gurus around me, I got to ask them a million questions about how to get a curl back again!

I’ve been emptying my pockets on products for my poor hair, and I’ve finally found a certain routine that gets them to ringlet again. They are coming back to life!

Yes, there are days when I feel like I want to flat iron my hair, making it picture perfect and obtaining a certain look. But mostly, I feel like myself again–fully myself.

As a word of advice, embrace what’s yours.

Skin Foods

StrawberriesBeing in the Esthetics program, my focus is on skin care. We spend many hours learning about the skin on different levels. We study skin diseases and disorders. We study the various types of skin based on hydration, or lack thereof. We spend a lot of time learning about ingredients and products to put topically on the skin to address and balance each person’s unique issues.

It’s also very important to treat the skin from the inside out. It’s important for the skin to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. But what are good foods and herbs that can enhance and beautify the skin?

Certain foods have powerhouse ingredients that keeps the skin supple and smooth and help to fight age related damage.

Per serving, strawberries have more anti-aging vitamin C than oranges or grapefruit. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who eat foods rich in Vitamin C have fewer wrinkles and less age related dry skin than those who don’t. Vitamin C fights free radicals, which damage cells and breaks down collagen, leading to fine lines. You can also apply a berry mask for smoother, more hydrated skin.

Olive oil is another powerhouse for the skin. It has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. You can use it topically to soften skin and create more radiance. It is also wonderful as a lipgloss or for rough patches of skin that may occur on the elbows or knees.

Another excellent addition to the diet is green tea. It is filled with antioxidants. There are studies that show drinking green tea may reduce your risk of skin cancer. Green tea contains tannins which act as an astringent. When applied to the skin it can reduce puffiness. You can use this feature of green tea on your eyes: chill damp tea bags in the fridge and put on eyes for 10 to 15 minutes.

Stay aware of what we put both in and on your body.

Coconuts: Who Knew?

Coconuts in TreeLiving in the Philippines, coconuts were plentiful and not really out of the ordinary. We drank the milk and ate the meat: we drank coconut water straight from the young coconuts, most of our desserts had coconut. The women in my family used the oil as a hair treatment. Even so, I didn’t realize all of the health benefits one can get from a coconut until the coconut craze began a few years ago here on the western part of the world. Now, I’m seeing many different brands of coconut water, and reading all these articles about coconut oil. It seems that the world has discovered coconuts.

Coconuts are a great source of antioxidants and they have antibacterial properties. They can fight infections, lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and support the development of strong bones. And these are only a few of their many wonderful benefits.

Coconut water is one of the more popular coconut products. It’s a refreshing drink that contains electrolytes. When purchasing coconut water, make sure it comes from organic young coconuts, is not heat pasteurized, and does not come from concentrate. My favorite brand is Harmless Harvest.

Coconut oil is another great way to enjoy the benefits of coconuts. It can be used for cooking, removing makeup, and as a moisturizer. There is still ongoing debate about whether it is good or bad for consumption due to the amount of saturated fat it contains. Look for an organic brand.

Coconut flour is also available and is a great substitute for regular flour for those with a gluten intolerance and is also a good source of fiber.

And, of course, they’re delicious.

Haircare for Chemically Treated Hair

Woman with Chemically Treated Hair

After-treatment care is crucial for lightened hair. Let’s face it, breakage is a nightmare. The texture of highlighted or lightened hair may feel dry and like hair.

Here are some tips for keeping your locks luscious and healthy after a chemical process:

  • Shampoo less

    Shampooing less can sound scary. But every day shampooing can strip your hair of natural oils leaving your hair dry and even turn your ashy or golden locks brassy. Try to shampoo every other day, use a dry shampoo, or just condition and skip the shampoo. You can put your hair in a bun or a ponytail on the days you don’t wash it.

  • Hair Masks

    Use a hair mask treatment at least once a week. This type of treatment will restore proteins in the hair. Furthermore, your hair will feel softer and not as dry.

  • Deep Conditioning Treatment

    Most salons offer professional deep conditioning treatments. Usually, you can do them once a month. They are more concentrated than your at home hair mask.

  • Use Fewer Hot Tools

    Skip the blow dryer and try air drying. If you’re going to use a flat iron or a curling wand, apply a heat protectant beforehand to minimize heat damage.

Removing Gel Manicures

Gel Manicure

When I first started getting gel manicures regularly, I thought I’d discovered heaven. A manicure that actually stayed for two weeks? No way! But after time, my nails started to get so paper thin underneath that I was forced to stop getting them done all together. Now, I give my nails some time to breath between manicures and get gel manicures done way less frequently.

I am not always the most patient when it comes to getting the gel manicures taken off however. I’ve found that removing them the wrong way can leave your poor nails in a world of hurt. Follow these steps to remove your gel manicure as painlessly as possible:

First, get your hands on a nail file, the grittier, the better. Start by buffing off the top gel layer, leaving the nail feeling matte and gritty.

Next, soak a cotton ball in a generous amount of acetone. Place it squarely on the fingernail, as tight as you can against the nail. Do the whole hand’s worth of nails and, if you’re able, your other hand as well.

After about 30 minutes, you should notice some flakes beginning to shed off of your nails. Push the polish off your nailbed horizontally and gently. Instead of digging into the nail on those stubborn spots, douse cotton balls in more acetone and continue to soak the nail until it comes off gently.

The healthier your nails are, the better your results are going to be with this process. And definitely do not peel the gel off of your nails. It’s tempting, but you’ll just make more problems for your nails in the long run.

Home Facial Massage Techniques

Facial Self Massage Woman

Facial massage can be used to help stimulate and strengthen facial muscles in order to maintain muscle tone and help more mature skin to become bouncy and plump. In addition to muscle toning, facial massage has other benefits. It can help flush out toxins that exist in the lymph fluid just below the skin’s surface. Pressure point massage can help calm angry and congested skin.

If you can afford bi-weekly or monthly facials, then you can reap many of the benefits of facial massage during your treatments. In between treatments, however, you can make a habit of giving yourself a calming, purifying, or stimulating massage at home. Making this a nightly or weekly routine gives your “at home” regimen a boost. All you need is your nightly moisturizer or creme and a few basic movements. Once you have cleansed, toned, and applied your nightly serum, grab some of your moisturizer and follow these guidelines.

There are four basic Swedish massage strokes that you can incorporate into your massage routine. Don’t be afraid to get creative. As long as you aren’t too aggressive, any routine you come up with is sure to be beneficial.

The first movement to know is effleurage. This is a soft, smooth, gliding motion that can be used to warm up the muscles, as well as to calm muscles and move lymph. Remember when massaging to always move in an upward motion, as we want to counteract the effects of gravity that tends to drag our muscles downward.

The next massage movement is called petrissage. This is a kneading and pinching movement. Apply this movement near the jaw muscles to ease tension in the masseter, as well as to stimulate muscles around the jawline. In addition petrissage can be used to stimulate oil production in dry skin types or help to expel excess oil in more impure skin types. Pinch and knead in areas where these imbalances occur.

The third massage movement is called tapotement or percussion. This is a light tapping movement over areas that you wish to stimulate muscles. It works well to tap with all ten fingers—almost like playing the piano—around the cheeks, forehead, and very lightly around the eyes. This movement is amazing for toning muscles, as well as maintaining muscle tone in younger skin types.

The last massage movement is friction, which are small movements using controlled pressure over a certain area. It can be very soothing and relaxing. Use light pressure and compression along the cheekbones and the temples to ease tension. This will feel amazing and you may ease facial tension that you did not know you had.

Test out these basic Swedish massage strokes at home before going to bed. Just remember to be gentle, to work against gravity and, if you have extra sensitive skin, take care with the more stimulating movements.

Make Your Own Lip Scrub

Homemade Brown Sugar Lip Scrub

Crusty dry lips are gross. Lush makes a really nice lip scrub. But since I discovered that it’s so easy to make it at home, I’m no longer willing to pay Lush’s price.

There are many variations of the sugar lip scrub that you can make at home.

Ingredients (for single use)

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, brown or white
  • 1 tablespoon of honey, or coconut oil, or olive oil, or even maple syrup
  • 1 drop of vanilla extract (optional)

Method

Combine the sugar with the honey or oil. If it’s too dry, add a bit more of the liquid ingredient. Stir in the vanilla. To make a reusable amount, scale up the ingredients and use a small glass jar or another sealed container. Stores in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

There are many ways to flavor this mixture to your liking. Add peppermint essential oil, or cinnamon for an extra kick.

Can ‘Expensive’ be Cheaper?

Tarte Cosmetics Product Collection

Before I started at Cinta Aveda Institute, I’d buy all my cosmetics from the Ulta Beauty Store. Ulta displays their pricy, high end cosmetic lines and products on the left side of the store. To the right, they have typical drugstore lines like CoverGirl, Maybelline, and Rimmel London. To me, makeup has always been a “Want to Have” rather than a necessity, so I always went for the cheaper side. I figured I could find some pretty descent stuff for a low price. For years—and I mean years—I had used Rimmel’s liquid foundation and CoverGirl’s pressed powders. I was happy with the products and I never noticed any problems that I might be having with them.

Once I started school however, some of the first topics we discussed were makeup. To my surprise, I found that it is a lot more important to use good quality makeup than I thought. I learned that you shouldn’t judge a line based on their price, and that the more expensive products can be the best for your skin. The cheap makeup I was using was actually the reason I was breaking out so much, and the more I broke out, the more makeup I used.

I finally decided to take the plunge and shop on the expensive left side of Ulta. To my surprise, a lot of the brands I was interested in weren’t that much more expensive. On top of that, I wasn’t going to need as many products. I started trying bare minerals first. I used that for a couple weeks, but it made my skin itchy and it basically covered up nothing. I used so much of it that it only lasted me 2 weeks. So I went back to find something I knew would be healthy for my skin and still give me perfect coverage.

I tried Tarte Cosmetics and instantly fell in love. Tarte has easily become one of my absolute favorite makeup brands and has really transformed my face. Tarte is made from Amazon clay which helps to really get the coverage you want, but it’s not heavy on your skin. You barely notice it’s there. It also lasts the entire day and doesn’t get greasy-looking. Finally, the company is socially aware. It does many things to help people and the environment with their profits. I love Tarte and my skin finally looks and feels great because of it.

Instant Eye Lift

Eye with makeup and individual false eyelashes.“Falsies” are my favorite part of any make-up routine. I believe every woman looks better with a little eyelash enhancement. Whatever look she’s going for — natural, voluminous, or dramatic — any woman can find the perfect lashes. But with all the different brands, styles, lengths, and colors, picking false lashes can be quite the conundrum!

My obsession with eyelashes began eight years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles. A friend I met had the longest, most gorgeous eyelashes I had ever seen. I knew I wanted mine to look just like them. I asked her what kind of mascara she used, hoping to learn about a new brand, when she told me that they were falsies. I couldn’t believe it! With no eye makeup on, I figured I would be able to see the ends of the strips she was wearing. But I couldn’t. I asked her to close her eyes. Still nothing. Then she opened her eyes wide and looked up at the ceiling. That revealed a bunch of little black beads on the inner waterline of her lids. She was wearing individual eyelashes, something I had never seen or heard of before, and she told me she put them on herself. That same day she applied individual eyelashes to me and I’ve been addicted to them ever since.

Since that day eight years ago, I have been taught different techniques to achieve many different looks. My personal technique for applying individual lashes is the one my old friend taught me.

With my non-dominant hand I hold the upper eyelid up and away from the eyeball, revealing as much of the waterline as possible. Then, using tweezers with my dominant hand, I pick up an individual set of lashes, dip them in a dot of individual lash adhesive (Ardell dark glue is my favorite), and place the lashes on the waterline. I start towards the middle and first work to the end and then move back towards the inner eye. I carefully place each individual bunch apart from the next to avoid the lashes clumping together.

Applying the individual lashes on the waterline and under your actual eyelashes gives the ultimate look of naturally long and voluminous lashes. The best part about individuals is that you can make them as thick and long as you desire! Stack them close, place them few and far between, or just apply to the ends of your eyes for a sexy winged eye effect. Whatever look you want or whatever the occasion you can achieve it without harming your real lashes. And, let’s face it, any woman’s beautiful face will always look better with a little lash enhancement!

Benefits of Lemon Water

Lemon Splashes in Water on Black

Lemons are with filled with nutrients, including vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Because of how hard lemon juice can be on the enamel of your teeth, it’s important to dilute it with water of any temperature (lukewarm is recommended). Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. This will help you fully receive the benefits of lemon water, some of which are listed below.

  1. Reduces inflammation

    If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body, which is where disease states occur. It removes uric acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.

  2. Aids in digestion

    Lemon juice not only encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, it helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, burping, and bloating.

  3. Suppresses hunger

    Lemons contain pectin fiber, which assists in fighting hunger cravings.

  4. Cleanses your system

    It helps flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, stimulating your liver.

  5. Keeps your skin clean and clear

    The antioxidants in lemon juice help to not only decrease blemishes, but wrinkles too! It can also be applied to scars and age spots to reduce their appearance and, because it’s detoxifying your blood, it will maintain your skin’s radiance.

  6. Boosts your immune system

    Vitamin C is very important for our immune system and lemon juice is full of it. The level of vitamin C in your system is one of the first things to plummet when you’re stressed, which is why it is recommended to take extra vitamin C during especially stressful days.

  7. Excellent source of potassium

    Lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function.

  8. Freshens your breath

    It helps relieve toothaches and gingivitis. Because the citric acid can erode tooth enamel, don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water. Wait a bit until the citric acid has been diluted from your teeth.

  9. Gives you an energy boost

    Lemon juice provides your body with energy when it enters your digestive tract, and it also helps reduce anxiety and depression. Even the scent of lemons has a calming effect on your nervous system.

  10. Helps you cut out caffeine

    Replacing your morning coffee with a cup of hot lemon water can do wonders! You will feel refreshed, and no longer have to deal with that afternoon crash. Plus, your nerves will definitely be thankful.

  11. Helps fight viral infections

    Warm lemon water is the most effective way to diminish viral infections and the sore throats they cause. Plus, with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, you’ll also help fight off the infection completely.