02 July 2012

Gel Nails Craze - how to remove at home

My friend asked me the other day if I've ever taken gel (or shellac) nail color off at home because she was interested in saving money and doing it herself. 

Now, if you haven't tried shellac color polish yet you have to!  It is a girl's best friend.  Anyone that has ever done dishes, gone in a pool, or simply almost any every day task and ruined a perfectly good manicure can understand the need for a better option to color your nails.  Well recently gel nail color has been getting a lot of attention, and a lot of girls I know are trying it.  This is a picture of a shellac french manicure after 3 weeks.  You heard correctly, that was 3 weeks and not a chip!  You can see it has grown out at the base, but it is barely noticable.  Now if you get a color it will be easier to see it growing out, so you may not want to keep it 3 weeks, but I tend to anyway. 


I wrote a post not too long ago endorsing gel nail color (you can read it here).  However I've changed my mind about the best way to remove the color.  The method listed in the original blog post involves wrapping your individual fingers in foil and can be quite cumbersome.

Here are my new tips...
  • soak your nails in 100% acetone for 15-20 minutes
  • use an orange stick (or your thumb nail if it is strong enough) to scrape the peeling polish off
  • put both hands into a shallow bowl that is placed on top of a thick large cutting board (to avoid fumes ruining the surface you are on like wood or granite)
  • cover your hands with a hand towel so you don't have to breathe in the acetone fumes
  • once the polish is off, I use a square foam file (like this one) to smooth the nail
  • slather some lotion or oil on your nails to keep them healthy (I like to prick a Vitamin E capsule with a pin and apply that to my nails)  

13 June 2012

My 1st reader question - re: sunspots

I sometimes get asked about my recommendations for things beauty related.  Hence, the reason I started this blog.  I recently had a reader email me with a question regarding sun spots on her skin.

So I was at the spa last night and I was talking to the girl there about facials and I told her I wasn't happy with my skin. So we chatted some and I told her that what I wasn't happy about the uneven tone my skin has. It seems like it kind of started when I came off the pill, but maybe I am just noticing it now. Anyway, she told me that while a facial would probably feel good, what I really would want is a chemical peel to try and get rid of the spots and the sun damage and even my skin tone out.  She said the peel would be done in 6 treatments, once a month, for 30-45 minutes each and they send you home with their products to use so that you can get the best results.  So, since you are my contact for all things fabulous and beautiful, what are you thoughts on a chemical peel? Have you ever had it done?

I think that chemical peels can be a great solution for some people, but they aren't an option for me due to my sensitive skin.  So here was my response.

I personally have never had a chemical peel because I have sensitive skin, but yes they can even your skin tone.  They can be a bit scary though for sure.  If you do get one I recommend doing it on a Friday night when you have nothing going on for the weekend, so your skin can adjust a bit before you need to see people. 

The pigmentation can be one of 3 things... a sun spot, age spot, or liver spot.  BTW changes in estrogen levels are well known to cause dark spots.  So it probably did start when you got off the pill.  

Before signing up for any treatments that may be expensive I would see a dermatologist.  They can tell you if a topical product (like Clinique Dark Spot Corrector), chemical peel (like a glycol peel), or laser would be best to remove the pigments you are seeing.  If I could afford it I would do laser.  I did it once (at a dermatologist) to zap away a zit and take all the little red lines around my nostrils and blotches off my face and it was super amazing.  It was expensive though, so I only did it that once.  I'm not completely sure of the laser type that was used, but my face was only red for a few hours after... it didn't peel all off like some lasers cause.    

Once you correct the pigmentation problems, you will need to maintain those results. The big thing to do is to use sunscreen everyday.  I personally use a Beauty Balm Cream (which is like a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen) instead of a foundation.  My favorite one right now is made by MAC (Prep and Prime BB Cream), but it doesn't come in multiple shades like some do so it might not work for you. I also am obsessed with COR's silver soap.  It took all the red out of my skin tone after using it once a day for about a week.  It is expensive, so I recommend starting with the sample size bar for $12 and seeing if you like it.  That bar can last about 2 months if you don't keep it someplace humid (like the shower). Also, don't forget to exfoliate once a week (but skip this while you are getting laser or chemical treatments).  Everyone loves St. Ives apricot scrub for the exfoliating.   

I also recommend Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum.  Glamour magazine recomends it and it is one of Sephora's best selling items of all time.  Remember that prevention is really the key, but in this day and age there are so many options for correction out there too.  So get out there and find the eraser for you!         

01 May 2012

So I went on a bit of a spree

That is the loot I picked up today at the mall.  Some of it was refilling or replacing stuff I already have, but I'll admit some of it I didn't NEED.  As you can see I went to three stores 1) Bare Minerals 2) Nordstrom and 3) Sephora.  I enjoy shopping at all 3, but I need to tell you how much I LOVE Nordstrom.

The quality of service you get there is like no other.  Every time I've shopped there I have felt like I had such personalized service.  Each sales associate made me feel like I was an important customer.  One time I was trying on dresses and the associate thought the dress would be so much more flattering on me if it was a few inches shorter (and she was right).  So she called the seamstress for me and had the dress hemmed while I shopped... for FREE.  They really go above and beyond.  Its amazing!  I love this store so much I've already thought about how there isn't one in New Hampshire, and if I move there (which is possible one day) then I'll be completely bummed.  At least you can buy on line!  

Anyway, back to my fabulous experience there today.  While there I had assistance from a beauty associate almost as soon as I walked in.  He didn't work for a particular brand in the store, so he was able to help me with all my purchases (perfume and two different brands of makeup).  I was there to purchase Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner, but based off his recommendation I got the Yves Saint Laurent Effet Faux Cils Eyeliner instead.  By the way, the reason for his recommendation was that the Bobbi Brown eyeliner tended to gunk up after  decent amount of time.  Seeing how you use very little at a time, I thought it best to get one that might not clump over time.  I was so happy to have an honest opinion from someone who knew all the brands and not just the opinion of someone who works for Bobbi Brown (who would obviously never have recommended the Yves Saint Laurent brand).

Best part was we got talking and I mentioned I was purchasing products to try out for my blog and he grabbed me some samples.  Check out the free stuff he gave me.

I'm so excited to try out my new stuff (both purchased and free).  Reviews to come shortly!!!

26 April 2012

Be nice to your hair, and it will be nice to you

Do you deep condition or moisturize your hair?  You should!  It is important to take care of your hair just as much as your face.  You could have the most beautiful skin and makeup, but if your hair is a frizz ball it negates it all.

I've recently tried some organic products and was pleasantly surprised.  My sister happens to be a Neal's Yard Remedies consultant, and knowing my love of products she provided some samples to try.  I thought they would all smell weird (and some do)... BUT I fell in love with a hair mask... so much so I purchased the full size product.  

This is the Rosemary and Cedarwood Hair Treatment.  It is a mask that you apply to your dry hair, leave for at least 30 minutes, and wash/style as normal.  The product is vegan (but please don't eat it haha) and made with 100% organic ingredients.

The hair treatment is a solid, but as it warms it turns more into a liquid.  I take a small amount out of the jar with the stick (remember Hood Ice Cream LOL) in order to prevent cross contamination which could promote bacteria growth inside the jar.  I warm it in my hands, and apply the mask onto my hair.  Then I clip up for the half hour waiting time.  The mask smells sort of minty and like a spa.  Once I wash it out (not just rinse but wash with shampoo and then apply conditioner) my hair feels and looks rejuvenated.  I think I'll get 5 or 6 uses out of it (and I have very long hair) because you really don't need to use a whole lot.  That isn't too bad for $15.    

It may sounds strange that me, a chemical engineer, is recommending organic products.  What is important to note though is that although I understand the value of chemicals they don't always belong in or on our bodies.  Organic farming and production helps the environment by not releasing polluting chemicals in the atmosphere.  Organic beauty products are also never tested on animals.  One thing to note though is that there are no legal regulations stipulating what standards beauty products need to adhere to in order to label themselves "organic" (unlike foods where if it says organic it is organic).  So be sure to do your research and make sure what you are getting is what you are looking for.  In the case of Neal's Yard Remedies I have done the research and concluded that the beauty products ARE in fact organic.       

If you have an interest in purchasing Neal's Yard Remedies products, please consider getting them from my sister at this link.  For the rest of this month (only a few more days) 25% of all proceeds (her entire commision) will be donated to the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis in support of the Vivers' Givers team

Do something good for your hair and for a good cause all in one.

PS- The jar is really a beautiful blue glass... so when you are done use warm water to remove the label and reuse it for something.

12 April 2012

The secret for young looking hands

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize (and use SPF).  I keep lotion everywhere.  There are probably 15 different types in my bathroom, 3 at work, at least 1 in the car, and one in my purse.  Each one has different things about them I like... some are great for soft hands, others are better on larger parts of my body like my legs, some just smell nice.

My hands down (no pun intended) absolute favorite one is the Aveda hand relief moisturizer.  Check out the picture below of it on my desk at work (where I most frequently apply lotion because the antibacterial soaps in the dispensers there are really drying).

I realized it was my favorite when I had all intentions of leaving it at work, but noticed I was always throwing it into my purse because I wanted it with me all the time.  Everyone else seems to love it too because it has a 5 star rating with 1,091 reviews on the Aveda web site.  

I purchased this small 1.4 ounce tube style bottle at my local spa.  I had been there for a treatment and used the sample container on the counter on the way out.  I loved the way it felt on my hands, and the subtle lemony scent was divine (and gender neutral).  It was completely non greasy too.  The lotion can be rather pricey ($8-$15 depending on if you buy in a store or need to pay for shipping), but I promise that just a small amount is very effective.

The ingredient list has a lot of stuff, but most of them are moisturizers (obviously), plant extracts, anti-inflammatory ingredients, emulsifiers, surfactants (soap like substances), emollient (softeners), fragrance, and preservatives.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  

Here is a link to the Allure magazine review.  The reviewer thinks it smells like orange-lavender-eucalyptus.  I got lemon, but I'm sure it's slightly different for everyone.

You know that feeling when you are parched and you finally have some water?  Your hands are probably wishing you would give them that same relief right now.  So go ahead and slather them up, then reap the benefits.    

27 March 2012

Sometimes the good old way is the best way

I have VERY sensitive skin and my lower legs tend to get very dry and scratchy in the winter (well in the summer too now that I think about it).  I've scratched my legs to the point of making them bleed.  Once I saw an allergist that had me stop using all products on my legs... and yes, while that made the itching stop, it simply wasn't practical to not shave or wash my legs.  So I started using products meant for sensitive skin and sort of had the situation under control.  I still had moments of absolute agony when I couldn't stop scratching my legs though.

Until one day while I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs (the Pioneer Woman from the new Food Network show) I noticed the blogger had an entry on their "home and garden" section titled "Cure for Itchy Legs".  I don't normally read that section, but the title immediately got my attention, as I had been struggling with that for years.  As I read the post I realized she was describing exactly what I go through with my legs, word for word.  Her advice that worked for her "friend" was to stop using those razors with the moisture strips and fancy shaving creams.

I couldn't bring myself to use a 1-blade disposable Bic like she suggested.  However, I did purchase a bottle of Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser (to use as a shaving cream substitute) and the Venus disposable razors from Target.

After using this combination to shave my legs I immediately noticed the itchy skin was gone after 2 weeks.  I still get very dry skin and use baby lotion or the Cetaphil lotion frequently, but the difference in my skin is amazing.

You can use a disposable razor more than once, but I suggest no more than 3-4 times.  Also, don't store it in the shower where it is more susceptible to bacteria and rust.  

If you think about how long your "re-usable" razor has been in your shower, you may just want to switch to disposables because it offers a visual reminder that you aren't supposed to use it too long.  Even though re-usable razors are manufactured with higher quality metals that prevent divots to harbor bacteria and corrosion for rust, most people use them too long to entirely prevent those issues.  

So if you suffer from the crazy non stop itchies .... do yourself a favor and try disposables and Cetaphil.       

29 February 2012

If I were stranded on a deserted island...

... and I could only have one beauty product it would be Vaseline (i.e. petroleum jelly).  You can do so much (both for beauty and practical aspects) with Vaseline it is amazing!  It is recognized by the FDA as an over the counter protectant.  However, it does not absorb into the skin.  Therefore, it has no medicinal properties, but it does seal in your skins natural moisturizers and out harmful bacteria, so it accelerates healing.  

You can use Vaseline to;
  • remove makeup
  • dab some on your eyelashes in place of mascara
  • on your lips as a fantastic lip gloss
  • on your cuticles to moisturize
  • on your elbows and other dry rough patches of skin
  • on your nose after too much blowing (not so pretty, but do it at night before bed and no one will see) *only the outside of your nose, use on the inside can result in lipoid pneumonia (rare, but still no reason to increase your risk)
  • put it on your wrists prior to spraying with perfume and the scent will last longer
  • use it as the base for a scrub
  • dab on cheeks as an illuminizer
  • create a dye resistant line around your face when applying hair color
  •  on the ends of your hair to hide split ends
So hopefully there really is no deserted island in your future, but just in case be sure to throw a travel size jar of Vaseline in your purse!