The French Milkmaid Braid Tutorial

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As you may well know, I have been highlighting my hair for the better part of a decade. I have naturally ash blonde hair which just looks dull (or worse, dirty) if it isn’t brightened up. To keep my hair at its strongest, I’m always on the lookout for advanced technology hair care products that will restore my hair. I typically take a pretty proactive approach – I don’t wait until my hair is dry and brittle, I constantly maintain it with strengthening shampoos and deep conditioners. And I always use a heat protectant. Recently I’ve discovered the new line from Neutrogena® and I really like it–it’s called Triple Repair and consists of a shampoo, conditioner, and leave in treatment that works as a heat protectant up to 400ºF. What I really like is that this system is really nourishing and restoring, but it’s lightweight, which is perfect for my fine strands. It also claims to make hair 3x stronger after just one use. I’m all about instant gratification!

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Milkmaid Braids

To celebrate my newly strong hair, I did a fun braid look that is a hybrid between french braids and milkmaid braids…so how about we call it the French Milkmaid?

  • My hair is shoulder length so after braiding the sides individually, I made a small ponytail in the center with the leftover hair.
  • I then pulled it into a tiny half bun (like you do when you’re going to exercise and don’t pull your hair all the way through the elastic).
  • I swept and pinned the braids over and under the center loop of hair.

It really looks much more complicated than it really was! (You’ll just need a lot of straight hair pins–not bobby pins.)

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What do you think? I hope you like it!!

This post was brought to you by Pretty Shiny Sparkly, Refinery29, and Neutrogena!

Houston Meetup April 18th!

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I hope you get as excited as I am right now because finally we can do something we’ve been wanting to do for ages — a HOUSTON meet-up! It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know many of y’all living in Houston (or heck, Texas). So much of the time I’m talking to you but rarely do we get the opportunity to meet face to face. And Dove and I are partnering up for a fabulous event with refreshments, in the style of pampering (would we have it any other way?) with prizes for everyone who comes, plus extra goodies during a live Tweet Q-&-A session! It will be so fun and I hope you can make it! The Walmart hosting it is off of I-10 in the Heights area (on Yale street) if you’re familiar. Hope you can come!!

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Non-Makeup Favorites

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Hello lovelies! Today I’ll be sharing with you my favorites of the past month–those that aren’t makeup or fashion, that is.

Click here to watch those favorites! Lately I’ve been loving charcoal, so I’ve been obsessed with finding anything and everything charcoal-related. It does wonders for my skin without drying it out. Like nature’s little vacuum cleaner for pores! Daily I’ve been using the Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser to wash my face in the morning, and on a weekly basis I’ve been using the Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask – which is a lifesaver for those of us without a lot of pampering time (or if you just don’t like the feeling of face masks for more than a minute).

I’ve also got a few other random favorites thrown in there so be sure and click on to watch the video below to see everything!Please Click To View The Full Post →

Keeping Haircolor Fresh

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I have been highlighting my naturally ash-blonde hair since I was a freshman in High School, and although most of the time I’ve only trusted my hair to the pros (after a few at-home box-dye scares in the late 90′s) I’ve been really impressed with just how great DIY hair coloring has become. All the more intriguing are at home salon-quality glazes/glosses, which John Frieda pioneered.Please Click To View The Full Post →

Skin That’s Clear for the Holidays

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As the holiday season approaches, the number of photos taken of us increases proportionately. This can be at once inspiring, and anxiety-provoking. On the one hand, we’re making and preserving memories. On the other, we’re constantly focused on the S.O.S: State of Our Skin. In this post, I’ve outlined some tips I recommend to keep your skin in the clear—this season and all year round.

Clean, But Don’t Over-Clean

It’s counterintuitive, but most people I know either don’t clean their faces enough, or they’re cleaning it way too often (or too harshly). Contrary to popular belief, acneic skin isn’t hardy and tough; in fact, it’s quite sensitive and one of the reasons why it tends to overreact to most environmental and internal insults. It sounds counterintuitive, but I choose a gentle cleanser without active ingredients, for the morning, when my skin is its most calm. Then I save the cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients for use before I go to sleep. I typically look for an ingredient–such as salicylic acid–which exfoliates the skin to prevent clogged pores that can lead to blemishes. Cleansers containing benzoyl peroxide can be helpful, however I personally don’t like them in my cleanser because it bleaches the towel I use to dry my face. I usually just save the benzoyl peroxide for a treatment product.

Wash your face twice a day–you are allowed extra washes if your face gets visibly dirty (playing in the mud, mm?), or if you are post-workout. Again, extra washes should be with a gentle cleanser.

Here are some of my tried-and-tested, absolute favorite cleansers:

What Causes It: Bacteria

Pores are like a motel vacancy sign to bacteria (the most common being Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes).Bacteria cause inflammation and pimples. 4 The pimple is actually your body trying to rid itself of the acne: it tries to kill it with white blood cells, the body’s immune system.This is pus (gross, I know, but you should know that pus = white blood cells, not pus = bacteria).The bacteria are invisible to you. None of this would happen if your pore was never clogged in the first place. Does that make sense?

Choose a Topical Regimen and Stick With It

No matter what route you choose (3-step systems at the department store, drug store products, or even prescription products from your dermatologist); I really believe that you must stick with it. Remember, your skin could fall right back off the wagon if you aren’t careful. Don’t quit just because you’re ahead – that’s the most common mistake I’ve seen my fellow acne sufferers make (myself included, on countless occasions). It’s easy to get confident and think you have “cured” your skin of acne, but that hasn’t been the case with me.

Did you know? P. acnes has never shown resistance to benzoyl peroxide. Antibiotic resistant strains of P. acnes have emerged over the years, but old reliable benzoyl peroxide has proven to be effective, when applied properly.

If you have already tried OTC (over the counter) products and they haven’t worked for you, the next step is to see a dermatologist or your regular doctor.

The Good Stuff

I’ve talked about Epiduo® (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel 0.1%/2.5% before and it’s still one of my favorite choices because it contains a pore-unclogging medication (adapalene, a type of retinoid)7D as well as antimicrobial benzoyl peroxide in one step. In one step. Can you see now why I like it? As always, remember that Epiduo is a prescription acne treatment, which you can get from your regular doctor or dermatologist.

I could write about a lot of things, but there is such a grey area when it comes to fighting acne from beyond the drugstore. It makes me sad to see so many people throw their money away on this system or that system – when what they really need is to make an appointment with a dermatologist or their regular doctor. It can save a lot of money in the long run, with far more effective results, in my opinion. Save on your Epiduo prescription with a rebate here.

As always, nothing I say here should be taken as medical advice (again, please see your dermatologist or regular doctor).

I like Epiduo® Gel, and if you think you need that next step, I recommend you make an appointment with your dermatologist or regular doctor at their next check-up – don’t wait until the problem gets out of hand. You can use AAD’s Dermfinder to look for one. You want clearer skin for the holidays, don’t you?

Important Safety Information for Epiduo® Gel:

Indication: EPIDUO Gel is indicated for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris in patients 9 years of age and older. Adverse Events: In controlled clinical studies, the most commonly reported adverse events (≥1%) in patients treated with EPIDUO Gel were dry skin, contact dermatitis, application site burning, application site irritation and skin irritation. Warnings/Precautions: Patients taking EPIDUO Gel should avoid exposure to sunlight and sunlamps and wear sunscreen when sun exposure cannot be avoided. Erythema, scaling, dryness, stinging/ burning, irritant and allergic contact dermatitis may occur with use of EPIDUO Gel and may necessitate discontinuation.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.  Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1–800-FDA-1088.

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Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Galderma Laboratories, L.P., the makers of EpiduoGel. I would never write about, or endorse, a product that I did not thoroughly research and subsequently approve of whole-heartedly. EpiduoGel is a product I personally and professionally stand behind 100%.

Summer to Fall Makeup Tutorial

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Hello friends! Today I have a very special video for you, many weeks in the planning: a makeup tutorial consisting of how to best transition your summer makeup look into fall. Yes, we’re approaching fall/autumn, can you believe it? Trish McEvoy shared some of her tips on how to gracefully transition (keyword: definition!) with me, and I am passing them along to you guys! I hope you enjoy! Be sure to tune in to Trish on HSN TV throughout the day on August 1 and August 2, including the 8pm Beauty Report on August 1st! Watch the video after the jump!Please Click To View The Full Post →