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Magical Relaxation

Bathtub

I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds myself feeling overwhelmed and stressed at the end of a busy week of work and school. I’ve explored different ways to unwind and let go of the stress I’ve managed to bottled up through the week.

While I’ve always known how stress affects my mood, through my classes at the Cinta Aveda Institute, I’ve learned of the physical effects of stress on our bodies. Stress can make us feel drained and helpless, lower the activity of our immune system, cause skin breakouts, and, in time, potentially lead to serious illness and disease.

Learning how to dissipate stress should become a priority. Personally, my favorite way to relax and de-stress is by enjoying an Epsom salt bath with aromatherapy. The combination of the Epsom salts and the aromatherapy oils is magical.

Epsom salts are not actually salt but rather a natural mineral combination of magnesium and sulfate. Both of these minerals are easily absorbed through the skin, making it easy for us to enjoy the large variety of benefits provided by Epsom salts: they reduce inflammation and help ease muscle pain or cramps, they relax the nervous system, and they help to produce serotonin by adding magnesium back into your body. When your adrenal system is overworked from stress, you are depleted of magnesium. Soaking in Epsom salts is a good way to replenish the magnesium in your body and create a feeling of calm. It even helps to heal cuts and detox the body.

Aromatherapy is a great tool to use in your life for transforming your state of mind and mood. Some of my favorite oils for a bath are lavender, bergamot, and peppermint.

A lavender bath is soothing and relaxing. It cleans the mind and body. Lavender also has wonderful benefits for the skin and can help with reducing discoloration. It’s also an antimicrobial.

Bergamot is great for an uplifting bath. It is known to work as a mild anti-depressant, is energizing yet also calming, and is also an antimicrobial.

Peppermint creates an energizing bath. It stimulates your mind and body. It helps to clear congestion, ease headaches, and perk you up after an exhausting day.

Aveda also carries single note essential oils that are wonderfully pure and effective. Pick yours up today and try a few drops in your next Epsom salt bath. I promise it will provide magical relaxation!

Tech Tips for Coloring Hair with Foils

Applying Hair Foils

When you foil with color, formulate your color one level lighter than the target level. For example, if you want to end up with a level seven highlight, mix your formula as though you want level eight highlights. Since the color is processed in foils, it’s not going to oxidize enough, and your highlights are going to end up a little lighter than they otherwise would

In similar fashion, when doing lowlights, I like to formulate a level darker to add some dimension to the existing color. If the color of the lowlights matches the existing color precisely, it will look too monochromatic.

Highlights and lowlights should be at least two levels apart from the background color in order to be visible.

When highlighting with color, remix your formula every twenty minutes. The trick here is to put the tint and the developer together in the bowl but don’t mix them until you are ready to apply.

You don’t need many foils to create special effects. Remember that highlights are just that: highlights. Fifteen to twenty foils are enough for partial highlights; quite often the desired effect can be achieved with ten to twelve foils. Thirty to thirty-five foils should be plenty for a full head.

Concentrate on the visual area of the head: the top and the front. That’s what everyone sees.

Stay ¼ inch away from the scalp to avoid bleeding. Remember that the thickness of a slice or a weave will influence the distance that you should stay away from the scalp.

There is a great technique called shadowing when you put highlights and lowlights in the same foil. The results are very impressive. Another way to do it is to weave highlight in one foil and then put pieces of the same weave into a different packet. You will have two back-to-back foils.

Cinta Aveda Institute Guest Speakers

Word Cloud

In the time I’ve attended the Cinta Aveda Institute, we’ve had many amazing guest speakers. I’ve taken away so much from the advice and information these professionals shared with us here at the Institute.

A great feature of our pool of guest speakers is their diversity. We’ve had guest speakers that covered everything from make-up artistry, to financial and business planning, to hair extension experts, to world-renowned hairstylists, to local salon and business owners. The range of speakers and their unique knowledge and experience was truly priceless.

We have also had guest speakers educate us on other important aspects of the beauty industry. For example, the importance of a presence on social media, how to read personality types, and real examples of the salaries a first-year cosmetology graduate commands.

There are also perks to attending the Institute. For instance, when hair extension experts from Balmain came to present for us, they offered us an exclusive discount on their Balmain Extension certification course. When world-renowned make-up artist James Vincent came to speak to us, he gave us a discount on tickets to his Pop-Up Makeup Show here in San Francisco.

I feel fortunate to have attended these lectures and found them to be inspiring, educational, entertaining, informative, and priceless in terms of everything I took away from them.

Now that I’ve graduated from the Cinta Aveda Institute, my advice to a prospective student is to take advantage of all these guest speakers/mentors and all the wisdom they have to offer you.

Christmas? Throw Out Old Cosmetics!

Christmas Tree Cosmetics

How long should you keep your beauty products? Yes, it’s extremely hard to throw away that favorite lipstick of yours, but after two years it may be hazardous to your health.

Perhaps Christmas Day would be a good time to take stock of your beauty products and throw out those past their recommended shelf life.

In a series of tests commissioned by beauty retailer Escentual and conducted at the London Metropolitan University, out of date makeup products were found to contain unsafe levels of potentially harmful bacteria.

The University tested recently expired products—foundation (four months past date), lip gloss (still within its pull date), blush (nine months past date), lipstick (ten months past date), and mascara (four months past date). The results were horrifying.

Paul Matewele, a microbiologist at the University, said: “The foundation, lip gloss, and lipstick all tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis under strict laboratory tests. Enterococcus faecalis is the potentially deadly strain of bacteria that causes meningitis and septicemia and is one of the biggest killers for newborn babies.”

Rakesh Aggarwal, CEO of Escentual, said: “Most women are totally unaware that their cosmetics are a potential breeding ground for deadly bacteria. But if you think about it, you wouldn’t keep food for months after the use-by date, so why would this be acceptable for cosmetics? This research has even surprised us and has shown that there is a serious health risk here. Pregnant women or mums with small babies need to take extra care after our finding showed that the deadly meningitis bacteria were found on several items of out of date make-up.”

This is a wake-up call for all us beauty product junkies out there. In addition to taking stock at least once a year, I also recommend writing the purchase and expiration dates on your makeup products when you buy them. That way, you never have to wonder.

Aveda’s Products for Fine Hair

Aveda Thickening Tonic

As a lady with finer hair myself, I have always envied women who were blessed to have long, voluminous, thick, fluffy hair. Their messy buns always look perfect, their braids are thick and beauty, their hair never falls flat or dull. In the hair department, they always seem to have it going on! Luckily, Aveda’s Thickening Tonic was recently released to help us fine hair girls join the thick hair club and incite our own hair envy.

So you may ask how this magic tonic works? Well, certified organic alma fruit goes in. It helps thicken the diameter of every hair strand, resulting in the appearance of more hair from roots to ends which provides extra volume. Also, it contains wheat protein that helps to protect from heat-styling damage.

To use, it is best to “rough dry” your hair to about 80% dry, section your hair out, and spray generously from roots to ends. Once done, comb through to evenly distribute the product. Finally, blow-dry your hair using a round brush, making sure to point the hair flow down the hair shaft to avoid unwanted frizz. You will be left with instantly thicker hair and a gorgeous, full mane that will demand to be seen.

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, here are some product cocktails and styling tips to really help you make the most of your newfound thicker locks.

In addition to having finer hair, I also have curly hair and am no stranger to frizz or the fight against humidity. A personal favorite product combination of mine is the Thickening Tonic combined with Aveda’s Smooth Infusion Nourishing Styling Crème. The Nourishing Styling Crème is a great lightweight crème that helps to nourish hair while combating frizz even in the highest humidity using organic cupuaçu and shea butters. Following my application of the Thickening Tonic, I use about a nickel-sized amount of the Nourishing Styling Crème distributed through my mid-shafts and ends, and then blow-dry smooth and straight using a wooden paddle brush.

Another great product cocktail is Thickening Tonic + Aveda’s Phomollient Styling Foam. Phomollient is an amazing product that helps to create a weightless hold for finer—to medium-textured hair by using certified organic honey, burdock, and marshmallow. First, apply Thickening Tonic and then apply about two pumps Phomollient to the mid-shafts and ends. Divide your hair into about five to six sections and, using a round metal brush, start in the nape and, as you near the ends, begin to turn your wrist so that the ends of the hair curl around the brush. Be sure to evenly heat up the hair so that the metal round brush will act as a curling iron. When the hair is thoroughly dried, gently unwind the hair from the brush and continue working through the remaining sections.

Braiding Hair

Different Styles of Braid

For a regular braid, take three sections of hair. From left to right, number the sections 1, 2 and 3. Take section 3 and place it over the top of section 2. Now from left to right, again the sections become 1, 2, and 3. The middle section is number 2. Take section 1 and place it over the top of section 2.

Continue taking the outside sections and placing it over top of the middle section. You will take section 1 and switch it with the middle strand, section 2. Repeat all the way to the end of your hair and you will be left with a braid!

If you already know how to do a regular braid and want to learn something a little more advanced, try a fishtail braid. For this braid, you will be working with two large sections. Section 1 will be on the left and section 2 will be on the right. Take a small piece of the back of section 1 and place it over section 1, joining it with section 2. Then take a small piece of the back of section 2 and place it over section 2, joining it with section 1. Repeat all the way down to the ends of your hair until complete and you are left with a beautiful fishtail braid.

French braids are easier to learn if you practice on someone else before attempting it on yourself. Take a section of hair at the top of your head and divide it into three sections. Begin a regular 3 strand braid. Then begin taking small sections of hair and adding it to the outside piece of hair before braiding it over the middle strand. Continue adding small sections of hair every time you braid a strand over the middle piece. Once you run out of hair to add, continue with a regular 3 strand braid and you are done!

A Dutch braid is also called a reverse braid or an inside-out braid. You will begin again by taking a section of hair at the top of your head and starting it off with a regular 3 strand braid. Again, you will take a small section of hair and add it to the outside strand of your braid. Instead of placing it over the middle strand, you place it under the middle strand. Then on the other side, take a small section of hair and add it to the outside strand. Then braid the strand underneath the middle. The steps are the same as a French braid except you are braiding underneath instead of over the top. Continue adding hair until all of the hair is added to the braid and finish it off with a regular 3 strand braid and you have completed your Dutch braid.

Benefits of Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood Oil Bottle and Chips

For centuries, sandalwood has been highly respected and even worshiped, especially in the Hindu religion, where it is considered to be holy. In every step of life, it is considered indispensable, from birth to death. It is used to anoint babies on their birthdays, to decorate brides and grooms, and, mixed with flowers, it is used to embalm bodies. It is also used on the funeral pyre when cremating the dead.

Beyond its cultural uses, it is also a great antiseptic. The essential oil of sandalwood is safe for both internal and external applications. When ingested, it is said to help protect internal wounds and ulcers from infections. When applied to the skin, it protects wounds, sores, boils, and pimples from developing infections or from becoming septic.

Sandalwood paste and its essential oil is also an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It has a nice cooling effect and provides relief from all types of inflammations in the brain, and in the digestive, nervous, circulatory, and excretory systems. It can be used for infections, fevers, the side effects of antibiotics, poisoning, insect bites, or wounds. Sandalwood essential oil is also particularly beneficial in cases of nervous and circulatory inflammations.

I’d have to say that Sandalwood is my favorite oil because it has so much to offer.

Tips for Color-Treated Hair

Cortney Garig with Blue Hair

I’m a person who colors her hair blue. I only dye my hair once a month, which many people don’t believe. But you should believe it because it’s true! But I still find it very important to take extra care of my color-treated hair.

  1. Wash your hair as little as possible

    This may sound gross, but I only wash my hair about six times a month. Yes, my hair does get oily, but in a healthy way. Over-washing your hair not only strips the color, but also makes the scalp produce more oils to compensate for losing its natural oils. My advice: try using a shampoo like Scalp Benefits or another cleanser to remove dirt and stick with Color Conserve conditioner for the ends of your hair. This is my approach but other people have different techniques. Personally, this has helped me remove dirt and add moisture while doing as little shampooing as possible.

  2. Rinse your hair with lukewarm or cool water

    I can almost hear you exclaim, “Are you crazy? Cold showers? No!” But this is not really what I mean. It doesn’t have to be cold, just a nice cool temperature. Why is this so?

    • It seals your cuticle—the outer layer of hair—from the environment. When you leave the cuticle open, you are leaving it so that anything in the environment can get inside your hair. That can make your hair brittle and dry.
    • It promotes shine and growth.
    • It makes your skin soft. If you have dry skin, this helps make the layers of your skin seal up as well, keeping it soft and supple.
  3. Try to stay away from heat

    I know this sounds laughable, but it is unhealthy to curl or straighten every day, especially if you bleach your hair or dye it often. Your hair can slowly but progressively break more and more.

  4. Try supplementing your approach

    • Braid your hair to add texture.
    • Add smoothing crème, slicking your hair back to wearing it in a bun. This gives a straightened look.
    • Use roller sets for a curly look.
    • Twist your hair with texture crème for a beach look.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Golden Flaxseed Grain, Unground

Flaxseed warms the human body. The seeds need to be eaten as a ground meal. If eaten whole, flaxseed is not digested by the body. But if ground and taken daily with water, flaxseed provides the appropriate amounts of fiber to keep your digestive system working, as long as you keep your fluid intake high.

Flax is well known for its cholesterol-reducing properties. A couple of spoonfuls of ground flaxseed provides the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are generally present in fish oil. If you rarely eat omega-3’s you’ll be missing out on the benefits of lower cholesterol and beautiful skin.

Flaxseed is another way to get nutrition for pescatarians. Eaten in combination with nuts and fish, flaxseed can be a great help. The alpha-Linolenic acid—an omega-3 fatty acid—helps reduce the inflammations that can contribute to chronic heart ailments, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes. It can even help guard your body against colon cancer.

The high amount of fiber in ground flaxseed is responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effects. High fiber diets help you feel full, so you tend to eat a little less. In turn, this can stabilize your blood sugar and help your intestines function well.

To me, antioxidants and phytochemicals spell an advertisement for an anti-aging cream. Flaxseed contains lignans—a type of phytoestrogen—which work in our intestines and convert to become substances that balance out hormones in women. These have been proven to promote fertility, reduce the risk of breast cancer, and reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Hydrating Effects of Serums

Aveda Tulasara Serums

Light, silky, and fast-absorbing, facial serums are a must-have skincare product. They are especially useful if your skin has taken a beating over the summer and is in need of moisture ASAP. Truthfully, the fact that they have instant hydrating effects on the skin makes them almost addictive.

Serums are water-based moisturizers that contain a high concentration of active ingredients, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and/or plant extracts. It hydrates your skin and makes it look more radiant. Unlike regular moisturizers, serums do not contain occlusive emollients like shea butter, so they penetrate the skin quickly as opposed to sitting on its surface.

Serums have the smallest-sized molecules of all skincare products. That’s how they can penetrate deep into the skin. It’s also why, on a molecular level, they are especially effective for battling free-radical damage. When skin is damaged by the sun, molecules in the skin can lose an atom and become unstable, referred to as a free-radical. To make matters worse, the unstable molecule steals an atom from a stable molecule to cause more havoc within our skin.

Generally, serums’ silky texture comes from smoothing ingredients such as glycerin or “slip” agents such as silicone. Some are treatment-oriented, perhaps to target dark spots or firm the skin. So make sure to check the package before use. You should consider adding a serum to your routine whatever your skin type to increase skin hydration.

How do you use a serum? Apply, wait five minutes to let it sink in, then apply your regular moisturizer. If you have oily skin, a serum can be worn alone.