Braids For Days

Woman with Braid

Braids are nothing new in the world of hair but, right now, they are hot. From Youtubers to Rihanna’s ID Magazine cover, we can’t get enough of them. They’re a great way to give yourself perfect next day hair and to have an easy updo that can go from the office to a night out.

I’ve been wearing braids since I was just a kiddo and love them for myself and others. As in any styling situation, product options abound and it really comes down to the results you’re looking for. So, here are some top tips!

  • Easy “Day Two” Hair

    Try a little hair potion at your roots and a deep side part with a French braid resting on your shoulder. It emits a poised and understated elegance rather than a ‘no time to style’ vibe.

  • Commuter Hair

    A super easy option is to wash your hair and add your favorite prep or leave in conditioner. I’m a big fan of Aveda’s BeCurly Style Prep. Add to damp hair and dry it about 80%. Now you can add a little Texturizing Crème or a hold product, part your hair down the center, and braid into two buns. Let your hair air dry while you do your make up or commute, etc. When you take out your braids, you’ll have perfect beachy waves!

  • Fun Updo

    This is a fun option if you have more time and are happy to put in a little more work: start similarly to “Commuter Hair” but dry hair completely, substituting Smoothing Fluid for Texturizing Crème. This will help control fly-aways and leave your hair silky and smooth. Section your hair into a top and bottom half. Curl the bottom and leave it untouched. Begin a french braid where you normally part your hair and wrap it around so that you have a braid crown with romantic curls flowing beneath. Use a few bobby pins to hold it in place, spritz a little hair control, and you have a hairstyle that will break Pinterest!

Going Beyond Skin Deep

Silhouette - Makeup Artist Applies MakeupBeing an esthetician allows you to meet clients, of course, but also possibly mentors and friends.

I had a makeup application and brow wax that took two hours. During that time, my client and I bonded over many topics. We talked about beauty, skin, hair and makeup. But we also talked about meditation, poverty, and nature.

Not only did I get to totally transform her face (and make her feel like a million bucks), but I got to go outside the realm of my practice. It was really satisfying for me to get a deeper understanding of someone by putting makeup on her.

I am a person who wants to know everyone’s story, I want to make a difference. This experience reaffirmed the path of my profession. I got to connect and transform my client and I could feel how much she appreciated it. She was more than satisfied with all the Aveda makeup I used on her. I used our copper and blue tones on her lid and taught her how to do a gentle and natural looking contour. I wouldn’t just use certain products and colors on her, I’d give her options.

I realized that, with a makeup application, you need to deeply communicate with the client. At the end of our appointment she asked me to take pictures of her, she was feeling so confident. That made me feel really good.

A makeup application can do so much more than just change someone’s face, you can really alter the way they see themselves. And you can go way beyond skin deep.

Steam Your Face With Herbs

Face Steaming

When Spring arrives, it will bring an array of useful medicinal herbs and flowers. For skin health, one of the easiest ways to incorporate these herbs and flowers is to use them in steams. Even if you live in the city and don’t have the fresh plants around you, you can have these herbs on hand. They should be dried and stored in glass jars out of direct sunlight.

Why is it Important to Steam?

One benefit is that the vapor imparts a glow to your complexion, and you will find that your skincare products penetrate deeper and work more effectively. The heat and moisture also open the pores freeing dead skin, dirt, and bacteria. It brings toxins to the surface. Oily and acneic type skin can greatly benefit from steaming—it helps get rid of both blackheads and whiteheads by opening plugged pores and softening blockages. Those with rosacea, severe acne, sensitive skin, or coronary issues should skip steam or consult with a doctor.

The process of steaming is very simple. Bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in a handful of fresh or dried herbs and flowers, simmer for two to three minutes. If you are using essential oils, remove the water from the heat before adding a few drops of the oil. Move the water to a comfortable location where you can sit alongside and keep your face 8 to 12 inches above the water, drape a towel over your head and the bowl to hold in the steam.

Some good herbs for use in a steam are rose petals, chamomile, lavender, sage, calendula blossoms, fennel seeds, and rosemary leaves. There are many more options but do your research first. Steaming too often or placing your face too close to the water can lead to broken blood vessels. Once a week should be sufficient. Follow with a splash of cold water and pat dry. You can then apply your serum, facial oil, or moisturizer.

Introduction to Micellar Water

Micellar Water Brand ExamplesIf you follow fashion week beauty or even some beauty vloggers, you may have heard of micellar water. Bioderma is the most well known brand. I first read about it years ago when it was only available in Europe. But as soon as I got my hands on a bottle, I wondered how I had ever lived without it.

Micellar water is made up of micelles—tiny oil droplets suspended in water. They get rid of makeup, oil, and dirt from your skin with no need for rinsing. It doesn’t leave an oily residue on your skin nor does it dry it out. It’s also gentle enough to use as an eye makeup remover. Micellar water is great for sensitive skin types since it is formulated without harsh chemicals and soaps. However, if you are wearing heavy makeup, you’ll still need to wash your face or use makeup wipes in addition to micellar water.

I like to use it at night after washing my face for gentle, extra cleansing. It gets the traces of makeup that my cleanser may not have removed. I also use it as a substitute for washing my face in the morning, as I believe in a more gentle morning routine for skin.

It’s great a substitute for toner to freshen up and cleanse your skin without irritation while traveling.

Micellar water is no longer hard to find. As it has risen in popularity, many American cosmetic companies have released their own micellar waters.

Developing a Skincare Routine

Skincare Routine Application

Finding the perfect skincare regimen can be a hassle. Here are four essential must haves for developing the perfect routine to have flawless skin.

  • Skin Cleanser

    There are many face washes on the market for oily skin. I would recommend a gel cleanser. If you’re acne prone, it can contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. For sensitive or dry skin, you can use a cleansing milk or cream cleanser that is much more gentle and moisturizing.

  • Toner

    Start with a spray toner. These are easier to use and it’s just one or two spritzes and you’re done! Toners are good because they restore the PH balance in your skin and can be firming as well.

  • Moisturizer

    SPF, SPF & SPF! Make sure your moisturizer has sun protection factor in it. Depending on its strength, you may need to reapply it throughout the day. Also make sure it’s not a chemical SPF which can cause free radicals that can irritate and damage the skin.

  • Eye Cream

    Eye cream can be selected depending on your needs. There are a wide variety on the market, designed to treat different problems. Some are for moisturizing, some are for dark circles, some for puffiness, and so on.

Oh, and ask for samples! A lot of cosmetic stores offer take home samples so you can try out products before you buy them.

Two Quick Makeup Tricks

Lash Stamping with Mascara, Before and After.

Add these two simple beauty tricks to your everyday makeup regimen.

Mascara Stamping

Eye with Mascara Wand

Everyone wants their lashes to look fuller and thicker. Often that means using lash extensions or serums such as Latisse. But this beauty trick won’t have you spending an arm and a leg getting that fuller lash look. Mascara stamping gives this full lash illusion, and it’s as easy as pressing the wand into the roots of the lashes while applying your mascara, in a stamping motion. This will deposit color to your upper lashline, giving an appearance of having fuller lashes. It may be a bit messy at first but, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked!

Foundation Layering

Contrary to what we may practice and have been taught about makeup application, apply a powder before a liquid foundation. It gives better coverage and a flawless appearance that lasts all day. This trick may save the day, especially for those with oilier skin.

Get your base makeup to stay on longer throughout the day by applying a loose powder before your liquid foundation. You can use any loose powder, but Aveda’s translucent powder would be perfect for this application method. Start with a good amount of your favorite moisturizer, set it with a powder, and finish by adding liquid foundation on top. This will give your skin a fully hydrated feel, but with a matte finish. This application style should eliminate the need to add a loose powder as a finishing step, leaving you with a budge-proof base that will last all day!

Starting as a Receptionist

Around the Institute at Cinta Aveda

When I started school at the Cinta Aveda Institute, I completely fell in love with the beauty industry. However, I’d never worked a job in the industry, and really wanted to get a jump start on my esthetics career. As I did not have my license—and most spas are looking for estheticians with at least two years of spa experience—my only option was to work the front desk.

I ended up finding a job as a receptionist in a spa and worked there for over a year. It proved to be an amazing entryway to the field and gave me an edge over other newbies.

During my year as a receptionist, I learned a lot about what it’s like to work in a real spa—how the clients are, what it takes to keep a spa running, how the team functions, retailing, inventory, and a lot more.

As a receptionist, I got to polish my waxing skills as well. Waxing was an aspect of the field that particularly intimidated me. I loved giving facials and pampering my classmates but, when it came time to wax, I was quite shy. Ironically, my first job was at a waxing boutique, where I had the opportunity to ask all my coworkers the tips and tricks of the trade.

One of the most valuable and surprising piece of information I learned was that most of my coworkers were also shy and intimidated when they began waxing. They were these incredible waxperts, but had started with a similar fear of waxing. They gave me great advice and even let me watch the occasional Brazilian so that I could improve my techniques. In addition, I learned a lot of the do’s and don’ts of waxing.

To this day, when I’m in a room with a client, what I learned at my receptionist job sticks with me. I received a lot of information listening to the estheticians talk to their clients.

Many spas hire from within, so it could be a great opportunity for you to work your way up if you work hard and show interest. For a first job in the industry, don’t discount the receptionist gigs! As an introduction to the spa world, it is a great learning opportunity.

Make Your Own Lotion Bars

Homemade Lotion Bars

Have you ever used any of Lush’s scented lotion bars? Amazing, right? Those lotion bars are super easy to make at home and half the price!

Lotion bars are solid at room temperature like a bar of soap, but when rubbed on the skin, they melt leaving your skin super soft and moisturized. You can add any mixture of essential oils to customize the scent. You can even add coffee beans to make a massage bar. These are fun presents, and can easily be made for baby shower gifts, birthdays, Christmas gifts, or just for yourself.

Did I mention the directions are super easy to follow? This recipe can be adjusted to make any quantity that you’d like. I make mine with 1 part=1 cup so I used 1 cup of coconut oil, 1 cup beeswax and ⅓ cup each of shea butter and cocoa butter (you could also just use 1 cup of any for the individual sized bars). I also added some vanilla essential oil. I set them in silicone baking cups, though any mold or shape would work. The recipe I used made exactly 12 lotion bars. You can store them in any plastic container. I keep mine in the fridge, labeled so nobody tries to eat them!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup shea or cocoa butter or a mix of both together equal to 1 cup
  • 1 cup beeswax
  • 1 tsp. vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 30 drops of essential oil like vanilla (optional)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients, other than the optional essential oils, in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a smaller saucepan with 1 inch of water in it.
  2. Turn the burner on and bring the water to a boil. Stir ingredients constantly until they are melted and smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and add the optional essential oils. Gently stir until essential oils are incorporated.
  4. Carefully pour into molds or whereever you will be allowing the lotion bars to harden. I used silicone baking cups, though any mold will work. Different shaped molds can be used for holiday gifts (hearts for valentines, flowers for Mother’s day, and so fort) or made in a square baking pan and then cut into actual bars.
  5. Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before attempting to pop out of molds.

† If you add an extra ounce or two of beeswax, you get a thicker consistency, which leaves less lotion on the skin when used.

Exploring The Product World

Jumble of Beauty ProductsFinding the perfect products sometimes feels like a never-ending journey. I am still trying to find the perfect products for myself. The truth is you will never stop searching. Everything is in constant change—your life, your environment, your skin. What you eat, how much you sweat, cry, use the sauna, bake in the sun—it all changes constantly and affects which products you need.

The key is to find a base product that will take care of your needs now and one that you can be confident using into the future. Makeup, cleansers, moisturizers, and shampoos—products are never perfect and can always get better. You’ll need to do a lot of exploring and testing.

Going into the Esthetics Program at Cinta Aveda institute, I walked in with my nose up. I had no intention of giving their products a chance. I had it set in my mind that none of their products would work for me, and I wouldn’t want to offer them to my future clients. It took working on other students, and testing them on myself, to really see the magic Aveda’s products were doing to my skin. I can now honestly and confidently recommend these products, especially a few favorites.

Hand Relief is my go-to. I use it after every facial and, from washing my hands all day, it really saves my hands.

I like everything in the Green Science line, specifically, the face crème. Since I have dryer skin, the thickness of it just leaves my skin feeling new and fresh.

And I really enjoy the Tourmaline Skin Refiner. This exfoliant does great things for my skin. The fact that it is all natural and will dissolve into my skin just makes it even better!

We all need to keep our minds open to new products as our needs change and new products become available. I hope that you find a set of products that really work for you.

The Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Since I started school, my friends have been asking for my recommendations on skin products. In particular, I have one friend with acne prone skin that suffers frequent breakouts. She has always struggled for clearer skin.

I started researching key ingredients more than product lines, hoping to find an active ingredient present in many products that would help her. I found tea tree oil, which has became one of my best friends because of all its benefits on the skin and for hair. Instead of using harsh topical ointments, like benzoyl peroxide, I suggested she tries an organic remedy. I recently heard back from her that tea tree oil has helped more than any other acne product she’s ever used!

Not only does tea tree oil help with acne, but it’s also great for use on eczema, psoriasis, ingrown hairs, itchy/flaky scalp, and fungal infections.

It kills bacteria in the skin, making it a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide. Tea tree oil is much cheaper than speciality products, usually only costing between $3 and $10, and there are plenty of great products which contain tea tree oil as their main active ingredient. Here are a few I like:

  • Pure Tea Tree Oil
  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil line
  • Dr. Bronner Tea Tree Liquid Soap
  • Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner by OGx
  • Tea Tree Oil Skin Ointment from Vitamin Shoppe
  • Tea Tree Water from Lush

Tea tree oil may not be for everyone. It can have major side effects and is extremely harsh on the skin if used incorrectly. If you have sensitive skin, try diluting your tea tree product with water.

I have had outstanding results since I started using tea tree oil products, especially treating my dandruff and dry scalp, as well as on my constantly dried-out cuticles. I encourage any one suffering from dry skin, dry hair, dry scalp, acne prone skin, and even any rash or irritations to add a little tea tree oil to their lives.