20 Feb

Winter Hair Care

I know I’ve been talking all about Spring lately, but for many of us around the country, it feels like Winter just started to hit!  With that in mind, today I’m featuring an interview with Nicholas Penna Jr., owner and lead stylist of Salon Capri.  His advice has been featured in countless beauty magazines, and he regularly styles hair for photo shoots and high-profile events such as New York City Fashion Week.


Here are Nick’s top 6 tips for keeping your hair happy and healthy in chilly weather…

1. Get Rich Quick.  Not your wallet—your shampoo.  Pick up a moisture rich shampoo and conditioner for the winter months, preferably one with vitamins and oils.  Nick suggests L’Oreal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Liss Ultime shampoo and conditioner.  “It’s good to change up the product you use every few months so your hair doesn’t build up immunity to the ingredients,” Nick points out.  

2. Be Exotic. “One of the hottest new trends is incorporating Argan oil into your beauty routine,” reports Nick.  Argan oil contains fatty acids, Vitamin E and antioxidants that restore your hair’s natural luster without a greasy shine.   Nick recommends using the oil like a serum.  “Use about a dime sized amount and comb it evenly through damp hair,” says Nick. Or, look for a conditioning treatment that contains Argan oil like Shu Uemura’s Silk Bloom Restorative Treatment.

3. DIY.  If you want a more wallet friendly way to add some essential nutrients to your ‘do, try adding a nickel sized amount of honey or olive oil to your daily conditioner.  Nick’s tips to creating your own spa night at home are to soak a hand towel in hot water and let it steam with you in the shower.  Massage your strands with the conditioning olive oil treatment and let it rest.  Wring out the hot towel and wrap it tightly around your head and relax for 30 minutes. Invite some friends over and you’ve got yourself a spa night!

4. Go All the Way. While blow drying and using hot tools definitely dries up your hair, it is somewhat unavoidable during the cold months.  “If you’re going to blow dry, always use a thermal spray or serum that will protect your hair,” urges Nick.  Try L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Absolut Repair Cellular Thermo Spray.   Moreover, Nick insists you go big or go home when blow drying. “Blow drying your hair half way will only create frizz and damage.  If you spend the extra 5 minutes using a round brush to blow your hair out to a smooth finish, it makes all the difference,” he says.

5. Avoid the Freeze. “Never go outside with wet hair,” says Penna.  Wet hair and even damp hair can easily freeze once temperatures drop into the 30s, and frozen strands mean split ends.  “If you have to run outside, be sure to work a quick squeeze of serum in your hair before tucking your hair beneath a hood or hat.”  Don’t be discouraged by hat hair—the serum will keep your hair smooth and moisturized, so you won’t have to worry about frizz or flatness.

6. Nourish from the Inside Out. Be sure to indulge in the season’s offerings—proteins, fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and essential oils that help keep your hair healthy from the inside out.  “Believe it or not, eating balanced foods will improve your hair’s natural shine, bounce and body!  Many of winter’s seasonal goods, like dark leafy vegetables, beans and carrots provide the exact nutrients to promote shiny, silky hair.”

How do you take care of your hair in the Winter months?  Have you tried any of these tricks?  Do you notice a big change in your hair when the weather shifts?  Tell me about it in the comments!

20 Apr

Happy Tuesday: an interview and a giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but I always get a little intimidated when I hit up the beauty counters in a department store.  The girls behind the counter are so adorable, and somehow I always end up there on the days when I choose to forego makeup.  Well, my days of beauty counter intimidation are over (and your will hopefully be too), thanks to an awesome chat I had with former Lancome employee, Megan McCauley. (And find out at the bottom of the page how you can win a sample of one of her favorite beauty products— Lancome Genefique!)

Megan says she has been interested in the beauty industry since about preschool (her first beauty product was a strawberry Lipsmacker— remember those?) Since then, she has taken in any and every beauty tip that she could. She just recently resigned from her job as a beauty advisor for Lancome to finish the last leg of her English degree at the University of San Francisco. Until then, she remained the go-to stylist and on-call makeup artist for all of her roommates and friends and family!

Check out our interview:

{blending beautiful}: What interested you about working in the beauty industry?

Megan: I think that beauty and fashion are extremely important. A lot of people view the entire beauty industry as vain. I began to understand this stereotype after working for Lancome—the cattiness and the immaturity that many of my coworkers displayed was astounding. This was a large part of why I left the job. However, this is not to say that this is representative of the entire beauty industry. I think that it is easy to get caught up in the idea that looks are all that matter. However, the thing that interests me about beauty is that it can do wonders for every part of your life. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you’re confident, and when you’re confident, you can literally do anything. The best part of working at a makeup counter was the women who would come by looking insecure, looking simply to refill their face cream, or their mascara. My favorite thing to do was to sit them down for ten minutes, and give them a fresh makeup look. They would walk away feeling so much better about themselves, with colors that they normally would never try. To me, beauty is not about getting guys to look at you, or even having people notice. It is about that amazing feeling you get when you know you are looking good that day, that may lead you to nail the job interview, or rock your final exam.

{bb}: What are your top 5 favorite beauty splurges and why?

M: 1. Bumble and Bumble Styling Lotion: This is the do-it-all hair product! Spray it on wet hair before you blow dry for a sleek, shiny blowout, or spray it on your towel-dried hair for beachy looking waves!

2. MAC StudioFix Fluid Foundation: I have tried so many liquid foundations over the years, and while I worked at Lancome I tried to switch over to their products, but I never could stray from MAC’s formula. This foundation makes my skin look literally airbrushed. Every time I wear it, I get compliments on how great my skin looks! The only downside to this product is that you can NOT sleep in it! MAC is great for the daytime, but if I even sleep in this foundation one time I get an immediate break out.

3. Genifique Eye: I have to admit, I would never buy this if I hadn’t had the ability to sample it at work first. However, after I used it for a week, I was hooked! This is the essential eye cream for the college student. I use this over my regular eye cream to banish dark circles and puffiness. Although I don’t have fine lines yet, I still use an eye cream to prevent those. However, I DO have dark circles and puffiness already at the ripe age of 22 (all nighters or long nights of drinking, anyone?). Genifique Eye works instantly to banish dark circles—I see a brighter result almost instantly. I know this sounds like a Neutrogena commercial, but it really is true.

4. MAC 109 Small Contour Brush: Before I talk about this brush, I should probably admit that I live at the MAC counter. I love this brand. Their skincare is terrible, but their color and their brushes are unbeatable! This brush will change your life. It is a smaller buffing brush, but it can be used for foundation, bronzer, and blush! Sometimes I even put a bit of bronzer on it and buff it over my eyeshadow to blend it all together.

5. Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner: I am a big fan of the cat eye look for Spring. The Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner gives the perfect cat eye. I use an eyeliner brush from Sephora to apply it, and I just sweep it at the corners of my eyes, then run it over the base of my eyelids, as close to my lashes as possible. The only thing about this product that I don’t like is that it’s high-maintenance: you have to close the lid really tight after every use, or it will dry out. Also, you have to clean the brush after every use, or the bristles will get hard and gunky.

{bb}: What are your top 5 favorite inexpensive beauty products and why?

M: 1. L’oreal Vive Pro Shampoo and Conditioner: These shampoos and conditioners are super affordable, but the formula is amazing! Their line for color treated/damaged hair is amazing! I used to use Bumble&Bumble shampoo, and this beats it by a mile!

2. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser: For awhile, I was a slave to the makeup removing wipes. They were easy, and they took my makeup off quickly. However, they left my skin feeling slightly sticky and I noticed my skin breaking out more than usual when I used them. I started to use this face wash instead to remove my makeup, and it is actually quicker than the wipes! This cleanser also leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean.

3. Vaseline! I use it for everything, but mostly on my hands and my lips. I have really sensitive skin and this is one of the few things I can use to moisturize my lips without irritating them!

4. OPI by Sephora Nail Polish: This nail polish is amazing. It doesn’t chip easily, and they have the cutest colors!

5. Ardell False Eyelashes: These are my beauty secret when I am ready for a night on the town. I save my eyelashes for the night by not putting on mascara, and put these on instead! I get the thin, more natural looking ones and no one can ever tell that I am wearing them! One tip that I have learned is to cut them to fit, and also to make sure to let the glue sit for about 30 seconds before you apply them to your eye.

{bb}: You have great skin. Do you have a skin routine? If so, what is it?

M: Cleanse, tone, and moisturize! I always washed my face and moisturized… but until I worked for Lancome, I never realized how important it is to tone in between those two steps! If you don’t tone after you cleanse, you are missing the important step of sweeping away the dead cells. Ever since I have followed these three steps, I have had glowing skin!

{bb}: Are there any at-home beauty remedies that you use? If so, what are they?

M: I’ve never been very creative when it comes to at-home beauty remedies. But I am a firm believer in breaking open Vitamin E capsules on my scars. I have a lot of scars on my feet from blisters and such (too many nights in painful high heels…) and this always cures them!

{bb}: I posted an article claiming that men take longer to get ready than women. How long do you spend getting ready in the morning? And do the guys in your life take more or less time than you?

M: I take about an hour to get ready in the morning. I feel very accomplished that I have gotten my routine down to an hour! The men in my life are probably the lowest maintenance possible. I would say they all spend about twenty minutes tops.

Thanks so much to Megan for talking beauty with me!  Interested in trying one of her favorite beauty products?

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a sample of Lancome Genefique! Entries are due by midnight on Thursday— the winner will be announced Friday!

Update: Congratulations to Annie, the winner of this week’s giveaway!  If this is you, email me within 24 hours to claim your prize!