Fashion & Beauty

Pink hair, don’t care.

I realize I’ve been delinquent in my duties here. Like, really bad. Maybe worse than ever before. So it’s probably not the best time to congratulate myself on the fact that this blog came into existence almost exactly two years ago! Despite the fact that I’ve done a less-than-stellar job in recent months, my malformed brainchild maintains a pulse.

So on that note, I’ll get down to business. A few months ago, my lovely stylist Lauren updated my ombre with some vibrant pink and red. The result was beautiful, as expected, but as soon as I left the salon I was hit with the melancholy realization that I’d be unable to maintain the color on my own. I’d fly back to San Francisco and it would likely fade in a matter of weeks, even with the most delicate care and attention. I’d watch the fruits of her labor (and my time and money) circle the drain while crying into my loofah. The world would end and everything would be terrible, etc.

We all know that color-treated hair demands a little extra finesse– more time between washes (cold water only), extra hydration, touch-ups and more frequent trims… You know, the basics.

Well, it turns out there are some things that even Cosmo (or Harvard Law) can’t teach you. Enter oVertone Haircare, a relatively newish line of color-depositing conditioners that help to preserve your existing color or tint your hair gradually with consistent usage. The conditioners don’t bleach or lighten hair, they simply infuse it with a dose of semi-permanent dye each time you condition.

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Miserable face, messy desk, sub-par under-eye concealer.

If you’re a true Cosmo Girl, you know that color-depositing conditioners aren’t novel. What makes the oVertone line different is the fact that it’s actually good for your hair. Their conditioners lack the heavy alcohol content of regular dyes, so they won’t dry things out. They’re made of all plant-based ingredients and are gentle enough to use every time you condition. And, you can even use HOT WATER to rinse. Anyone with color-treated hair knows the pains of hunching over the bathroom sink to avoid a frigid shower.

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Another thing that I love about the line is the ability it gives you to customize your color. Each hue comes in different tones– pastel, vibrant or “extreme,” (the deepest of the three). You can also mix colors or use more than one conditioner at a time on different pieces of hair. Sounds like a lot of effort to me, personally, but if you’re an overachiever, be my guest.

Ultimately, I feel like the fact that I’ve used this stuff for the past three months with highly favorable results is a testament to its staying power. My hair feels as healthy as it ever had before dyeing, which is equal parts shocking and awesome. (I hate Halloween wig syndrome.) (You know what I mean.) And if you’re looking for a gradual, low-risk, semi-permanent way to try out a new look, this is it. So try out that lavender hair I know you’ve been coveting, y’all. Life is too short.

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Fashion & Beauty

Hair care tips and tricks from stylist Lauren Ramey

I’m really excited about this one, guys. Lauren is my longtime friend and stylist, and I’ve never met anyone more knowledgeable about hair. At just 25, she is the co-owner of a popular DC area salon, Elements McLean. She is certified in a myriad of cutting and coloring techniques and her styles have been featured in international hair magazines seen in over 30 countries. Despite the fact that she and her husband welcomed a new baby just a few weeks ago, she generously agreed to write a guest blog for me. (Because good hair can’t wait.) 

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My name is Lauren Ramey. My father, Irving Russo, and I own an organic hair salon that is dedicated to our guests’ health, the health of their hair and the environment. I got inspired to do hair simply from watching my father my entire childhood. He has been doing hair for 51 years, and has more passion for this industry than I have ever seen anyone have for anything. He has been my mentor, critic and biggest supporter, and I am truly blessed to be able to share his passion with him every day.

One of my biggest goals as a hairstylist is to give my guests the tools they need to carry their in-salon looks over into their daily lives. Here are a few of my tips and tricks to get the job done in a fun and healthy way.

Haircut Frequency: I recommend having your hair cut/trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks. There are a few reasons for that. One is that your hair will lose its shape. Layering and styling techniques only hold up for so long, and reshaping will make styling at home easier and less stressful. The other reason is simply for health purposes. Have you ever been bored and looked at the ends of your hair to find split ends? Those split ends have a nasty habit of traveling upwards through the strands of your hair and can eventually create frizz and damage. Trimming every 6 to 8 weeks prevents that issue.

Product Ingredients To Watch Out For: These are a few ingredients to be mindful of when choosing a hair care product (or any other beauty product):

  • Sulfates are lathering agents that companies add to shampoos to make them lather up like in TV commercials. They have no purpose other than to make bubbles. Look for Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate.
  • Parabens are preservatives that keep products good for long periods of time. Parabens have been found in large percentages of breast cancer tissue, and can be highly carcinogenic. Look for methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, and benzylparaben.
  • Phthalates are plastics that companies add to their hair care products to make hair look shiny. They coat the hair and weigh it down, eventually leading to the desire to switch products. Without phthalates, there is no need to have three different kinds of shampoo in your shower to rotate through.
  • Mineral Oil also coats hair, preventing good proteins and moisture from getting into the inner cortex of the hair to heal from the inside out.
  • Gluten is the last ingredient to watch out for. Most people know about gluten as a food denomination. It is a wheat protein that can be ingested, but it is also added into products as a strengthening agent. Just as people can be sensitive to eating gluten, one can be equally affected by it topically. Gluten protein can dry out the hair and scalp and can inflame skin.

Making Your Color Last: If you buy an expensive, dry-clean only cashmere sweater and you take it home and throw it in the wash with your dirty towels, is that not a huge waste of money? Isn’t it going to ruin the fabric and color of the sweater? The same holds true for hair. Why go to a salon and pay your stylist big bucks to make your hair shiny and bright just to go home and wash your hair with shampoo that contains plastics and artificial oils? It will taint the color, make it wash out faster, and instantly take out the beautiful shine we all want to keep around. If you’re using shampoo and conditioner that enhance your color, there is no need to worry about how often you are washing.

Heat Styling Tips: Using hot tools can be a fun styling aid, but they can also be mismanaged and can create long-term damage. The biggest thing I always say when you are new to using a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron: practice, practice, practice with the tool turned OFF first. There is no shame in getting the hang of round brushing your hair without the blow dryer on, barrel curling without heat, or running the flat iron through sans steam. Practicing will save you from scorching your hands or burning your hair to a crisp. Watch your temperatures, too. It’s easier to start cool and build up to the temperature properly, rather than cranking your tools up and not knowing whether they will be too hot.

Once you know your way around hot tools, try a few of my little tricks:

  • When using the blow dryer, don’t pick up a brush until your hair is at least 80% dry. Hair does not style when wet. Round brushing your hair while sopping wet is a waste of your time, and puts more stress on the hair (and aches in your arms).
  • When using the curling iron, curl each side AWAY from your face. By placing the barrel behind the section you are curling, you will curl the hair back and away. This will create a beautiful windswept look, and keep the hair from falling forward all day.
  • When using a flat iron, take smaller sections to create a more consistent look and cut down on time. I use the face as a guide to section out the hair for ironing. For the first section, use the tops of your ears as a marker. Use your pointer fingers or a comb as your sectioning tool and everything below your ears gets ironed first. Clip or tie up all hair you aren’t working on. For section 2, use the outermost edges of your eyebrows. To split up sections 3 and 4, divide the remaining hair using your temples as the midpoint. Splitting up your hair into 4 sections may sound tedious and seem like it’ll take longer, but give it a try. You may be surprised how much shinier and more uniform it comes out.

Using Food Products As “Natural” Haircare: I know a lot of people swear by a good avocado masque or olive oil treatment, and that’s great. But there are a few reasons why raw food shouldn’t be used as a form of hair care. The molecules in raw foods are too large to penetrate the cortex of the hair. So when you are putting olive oil, avocado, egg, or vinegar on your hair as a treatment, it is only working on the outside.

In reality, all forms of hair renewal and healing start from the inside. While it may feel as though your hair seems healthier, it’s only temporary. Once all traces of the food rinse off, your hair will return to the state it was in before the treatment. These treatments can alter the way hair color processes at the salon as well.

Vinegar is a huge one to be mindful of. Having vinegar on your scalp before a color process can irritate the scalp and cause undesirable results in color. I’m not saying any hair care product made with food ingredients is bad, though. In these products, the ingredients are processed, making them more useful for penetrating the hair. In short, I would stick with manufactured products instead of food in the raw.

Hair Trends For 2015: Long hair is in, and controlled chaos is the name of the game. It has been a trend for the last couple of years, and it isn’t losing steam. Messy braids, boho waves, and long ponytails are walking the runways this year.

I hope I have given a little insight into keeping styling fun while maintaining the health of your hair. Remember that hair is your most permanent fashion accessory, and that there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. It can change the way others see you, and how you see yourself!

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Lately

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Ocean Beach, SF at sunset.

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Ran from my apartment to the coast after work. Still kind of in awe that this is a real thing that I can do now. Unbelievable.

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ROGA (running+yoga) event on the Santa Monica Pier with celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska. Sponsored by Vionic. Working on a Saturday has never been so painless.

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ROGA is over for the summer, but picks up again in the fall. Check out http://santamonicapier.org/roga/ for more information.

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My neighborhood. The Richmond, SF.

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This weekend’s hike. Sea Cliff, SF.

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Rad Theory sweater that I scored for $20 at Wasteland (more on that obsession later). H&M necklace, Tahari pants, Vionic sandals (on sale now!).

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New nose stud and ragged hair. Passed the two month mark without a cut before conceding that something had to be done. Miss you, Lauren!

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Awkward face, double chin, fresh layers via The Cutlery SF. Highly recommended!

That’s all I got for now.

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Fashion & Beauty

Five pick-me-ups for days when you feel like this:

There’s a phrase I’ve coined for my own occasional bout of crippling insecurity: “having a moment.” Like my personal heroine above, we all experience this phenomenon at one point or another. It’s natural. But here’s the thing: these feelings should last only a moment. They should be only temporary; nothing but a blip in your day. Acknowledge them– indulge them, even. But then pick yourself up, slap some spackle on your face and go to happy hour. Here are five fool-proof ways to make yourself feel at least 50% better in a time of need.

1. Fresh Coat of Mascara
This might be obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less true. There are days when I slum it at work– throw on leggings and a long sweater and call it a day. There are days when I don’t even accessorize. But I don’t ever go anywhere without mascara. If you’re drooping and find yourself looking haggard in the fluorescently lit ladies’ room mirror, throw on another coat. Mascara instantly brightens your eyes and makes your whole look appear more polished. I recommend Eyeko London’s Black Magic Mascara. It layers well and doesn’t clump, smudge or flake.

2. Under-Eye Concealer
My dark circles are probably the biggest culprits when it comes to having a bad face day. And, oh God, if anyone dares approach me and inform me that I “look a little tired,” forget it. Can we all just agree to never utter those words? In my mind, you’re basically telling me I look like a refugee of the Carnival Cruise disaster or something.

My favorite concealer is Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer— it’s oil free, light, and doesn’t crease.

3. Add Some Color to Your Cheeks
This is one that my mom likes to advocate. Swiping some blush or bronzer on your cheeks will instantly make you look healthier, and you know, less pallid, sickly and/or near dead. I am absolutely addicted to Josie Maran’s Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Honeymoon Honey, a warm brownish tone that makes it look like you’ve been sitting out in the sun. (Ha! Fat chance.) Because it’s a gel, it gives you more of a natural glow than a powder would.

4. Dry Shampoo
If you haven’t yet discovered the wonders of dry shampoo, you need to do so, and quickly. Dry shampoo doesn’t just work on dirty hair– it’s a great tool for creating volume. If your hair is looking flat at the crown or dull after not having been washed for a day, you can easily resurrect it by flipping your head over and spraying away. One of my favorite tricks for the days when I’m too lazy to wash my hair: dry shampoo at the roots, and a spritz of water on the ends to tame any wonkiness. Then I pull all of my hair up in Princess Leia buns while I apply my face. When I’m on my way out the door, I pull out the buns and tousle my hair. Easy loose waves.

My fave, as I have mentioned before, is Klorane’s Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Extract.

5. Add a Coat of Nail Polish
This may not be an option if you’re really on the go, but if you have ten minutes to spare, add a coat of sheer, shimmery polish like Butter London’s Knackered to that boring shade you’re already wearing. Earlier this week I had on some blah mauvey color for a meeting, because that’s what my imitation of professionalism looks like. I got sick of that pretty quickly. Now I feel much more like a unicorn/princess, which is always the objective.

If you’re worried about not having time to fix your nails, say, when you’re about to head out on a date after work, you’ve got to grab Seche Vite’s topcoat. Your nails will be hard as… nails… in less than five minutes. Real talk.

Happy Thursday!

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Fashion & Beauty

Beauty Essentials… Kind of.

So we’re getting ready to go to Boston for a wedding tomorrow, and I’m spending the evening packing up all of my beauty “essentials.”

The quotes denote sarcasm here. You’ve probably already guessed that these things are not actually essential to surviving a weekend.

But, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a number of years trying to figure out the way your skin and hair behave, and have settled into a comfortable routine. I’ve spent a good amount of time battling with my skin—since before high school—and have only recently begun to feel like it’s calming down and becoming manageable. Part of it is probably aging, but naturally, I don’t want to rock the boat by changing up my regimen, even for a few days. Plus, I’m really high strung about this kind of thing and love carting around a bunch of crap. I am a Taurus, and we love stuff.

That notion also extends to hair. I am lucky (unlucky?) to have the kind of Asian hair that basically does one thing all the time, regardless of which products I use, though there are certain things that I feel have a good (placebo?) effect when it comes to volume/shine/health/whatever.

I’m not going to get into the makeup here, because that’s a whole ‘nother animal, and I can’t get into it or I’ll get overwhelmed.

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Starting with skin:

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser: I have pretty sensitive skin, and I stay away from cleansers with any added fragrance or “acne-fighting” ingredients. The salicylic acid that’s used in many of them is way too harsh, and only seems to only exacerbate dryness and breakouts. I spent a long time looking for a mild cleanser that also produced a lather, because in my mind, bubbles = clean. This stuff is cleansing enough to break down makeup (even mascara), but it doesn’t make your skin feel dry or tight.

Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Lotion: I started shopping around for anti-aging products at 23, because I am vain but also diligent. And you know what, I’m glad I did, because I’m pretty confident I found something pretty amazing. This lotion is extremely light, and I use it both day and night. The price is steep ($75), but my current bottle has lasted me since May and I’ve still got about a third left. I am always cautious with moisturizers because the heavier ones sit on top of my skin and make me look/feel oily. I’d like to speak to its anti-aging properties, but I think the results are inconclusive as of yet. I will say that it’s definitely improved my skin’s general appearance over the past two years. It’s also made with some sort of patented algae stem cells from San Francisco, which you can read about on the company website. I certainly can’t do it justice. The pictures of beakers and test tubes have convinced me that the science is legit, though.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado: My friend Rachel’s boyfriend works at Kiehl’s, and once when I was having a particularly rough week, he was nice enough to send me a care package filled with a plethora of amazing things. The one I’ve continued to buy myself is this eye cream. Sometimes when I stay up too late on ebay or reading about Scientology, my under-eye circles get really out of control. I get this sunken look that’s really disconcerting. This cream makes my skin feel more… plump? It’s hydrating, and actually makes my eyelashes stronger and thicker. This could be some sort of optical illusion, but I think it is actually happening. I only use it at night because it’s on the heavier side, and makes your eyelids really shiny.

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion: I just started liking this product less because I had to type all of that. Just kidding, it’s really good. I got this sample size in a kit from Sephora that they put out every summer, which features a ton of sun-care products. I like this one because it feels substantive even though it’s only SPF 30, it has anti-aging properties, and it’s unscented. It also just has the feel of a high quality sunscreen—there’s no white residue, and it blends easily.

Boscia Self-Defense Vital Antioxidant Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30: Another Sephora sample. This formula is completely different, though, in that it’s thinner and less viscous. It absorbs really quickly, which is better for really hot days.

Moving on to hair:

Surface Bassu Hydrating Oil: My hairstylist has used this on me for years, and I continue to buy it despite the price tag. A quarter-sized amount is enough to coat your ends before styling. The oil is light, and leaves your hands feeling dry, not greasy, after you run them through your hair. It protects your hair from heat and also makes it shiny and less susceptible to tangles.

Klorane Dry Shampoo: This was a recent find that came to me through Birchbox. I liked it so much that I bought the full size. Honestly, up until a few months ago the thought of leaving the house with unwashed hair gave me extreme anxiety. After trying a few dry shampoos that left me with a ton of white residue in my hair and greasy strands around midday, I kind of gave up on the cause. Klorane leaves minimal residue, has a really fresh scent, and makes my hair look almost the same as it does on a wash-day. I use it sometimes even on clean hair to give it volume.

And lastly, I’ll throw in my latest perfume:

Tokyomilk’s Sencha Blue, #57: I had read a lot about Tokyomilk’s fragrances before buying this one the other day. The label describes it as having notes of hyacinth, iris, citrus zest and crisp greens. It’s a light, refreshing scent (definitely more floral than anything else). The one complaint I do have is that it’s fleeting, and you’ll probably have to apply it a couple of times throughout the day. At only $30, though, I was really pleased to get such a sophisticated scent… and it’s the perfect size to travel with.

I buy a lot of my stuff on ebay or Amazon, which can be risky, but much more cost effective. That’s why I’m not linking to where to buy these products. I do a ton of searching before making even the most seemingly insubstantial purchases, because if you’re addicted to using stuff that doesn’t come cheap, you’ve got to figure out ways to mitigate the cost. I would recommend only buying from sellers with a lot of positive feedback who promise new, unopened products. And, if possible, you should sample the product from a reputable source before buying, so you’ll know if you’re receiving something that isn’t right. Once you find sellers that you trust, you can continue to use them to re-stock on what you need, so it’s really not as scary as it seems.

More to come…

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