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Beauty, Hairstyles, Fashion Trends & More | SheKnows

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    Most people who paint their nails on the regular can probably agree that there's nothing better than a fresh coat of polish — especially when you get it done at your favorite salon. The time spent there is rejuvenating, and your nails (and by extension, you!) seem to take on a new persona when covered in a new color.

    On the other hand, there are also those who have trouble relaxing during manicures because of the cost and time it takes. So whenever you do decide to get your nails professionally done, you should know how to take care of them properly in between appointments.

    More: The Real Reason Kate Middleton Never Wears Colored Nail Polish

    We talked to two New York-based leading nail ladies — Gracie J, nail stylist for season one of TNT’s Claws, and dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern — to find out how to maintain a mani between appointments and also how to keep your nail beds healthy 24/7.

    Fix chipped polish

    The most common (and frustrating) blunder that happens right after a manicure is chipping a nail. Sometimes, if the chip is bad enough, people will take the color off right away or just live with the imperfectly chipped nail. But Gracie J points out a better solution: “Find a matching color to temporarily mask the chip,” she says. The same hack applies to an expensive gel manicure, but Gracie J warns, “It’s best to get that fixed, because you don’t want the gel to keep chipping or in some cases, even lift.”

    Tame cuticles

    Taking care of your cuticles between appointments is something both nail experts strongly recommend. “The cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal and the key to overall nail health,” says Stern. “Do not cut! Instead, gently push back after a warm shower or bath with a washcloth or cuticle pusher.”

    Gracie J adds that using a cuticle oil daily to safely push back skin can minimize time spent in the manicure chair because you’ve already sped up prep time.

    More: 7 Bloggers Share Their Favorite Winter Skin Care Products

    Keep nails strong

    Whether it’s acrylic or natural, a nail break hurts, both physically and spiritually. If your nails are fake, Gracie J says to avoid ripping them all off since all products aren’t soakable. This means you could end up spending more time and money with a pro because it was done improperly.

    To avoid the stress of a fracture in the first place, Stern says a healthy diet is the key to maintain nail strength. “Nails are primarily composed of protein, and therefore, for general nail health, it is important to consume a protein-rich diet,” she says. “There is some evidence in the medical literature that Biotin (a vitamin B coenzyme available at health food stores) is beneficial for nail health.”

    So if you’ve thought about taking Biotin before, you just got confirmation that it works. To keep things simple, eat foods rich in protein, like chicken, quinoa and almonds.

    Avoid harmful ingredients

    Stern is no manicure newbie and a fan of polished fingers herself. But she’s careful about what she puts on them, and you should be too. When it comes to polish, avoid formulas that contain formaldehyde, phthalates, toluene, triphenyl phosphate, xylene and parabens, which are found in most beauty and personal care products. These chemicals can cause nausea and seizures, but also contain carcinogens, toxins and hormone disrupters.

    More: 9 Powerful Plant Extracts & Why They’re Good for Your Skin

    Be gentle

    Gracie J concludes with the reminder that “your nails are jewels, not tools. Treat them with the utmost consideration.” This means putting on gloves when you wash dishes and not using your nails to scrape or pry things apart — they’re too delicate for those tasks.

    No matter what you prefer, polished or bare, nails are a part of your body that need attention. They can get brittle and dehydrated, so it’s up to you to keep them looking just as good as the rest of you. With these pointers, you’ll be on your way to maintaining healthy, strong and beautiful digits in no time.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    In the world of DIY, you can pretty much just call us the Mayor of Pinterest. Make our own macrame wall hanging? Check. Spray paint that old dresser that's been sitting in the garage for the better part of a decade? You betcha. We'd even go so far as to build some nightstands out of crates, if we were in the right mood. But would we really make our own facial care products? We're talking about our faces.

    The answer is yes, we've totally attempted to make our own face scrub — and you should too. While using a DIY exfoliant seems a little iffy, they're actually really helpful when made and applied correctly. Not only does exfoliating slough away dead skin cells, but it also unclogs the oil and dirt that lives in your pores and causes breakouts. Most store-bought exfoliating products contain harsh chemicals and dozens of questionable ingredients that have unknown benefits — another reason to make your own. As with any other exfoliating treatments, these should be used two to three times a week, not every day. And keep in mind that when trying a new skin-care product (or in this case, recipe), test it out before you go to bed. That way, if you have an adverse reaction, you can give your skin time to recover while you sleep.

    More: The DIY Spray for Beachy Hair That Saves Any Bad Hair Day

    To keep things cheap and easy (and totally pinnable), we've put together four of our favorite natural exfoliators you can make at home.

    1. Basic baking soda scrub

    Baking soda
    Image: Geo-grafika/Getty Images

    The range of what baking soda can do just seems to be getting wider and wider. It can freshen the air, remove stains, clean showers and sinks and trigger explosions in science fair volcanoes. Oh, yes, we can use it to bake too. But there is one more non-food-related use to add to baking soda’s resume: face exfoliant. The grains in baking soda are just the right size to act as a gentle exfoliant, and many claim that it has helped clear up acne.

    Ingredients:

    • Baking soda
    • Facial cleanser
    • Water

    Directions:

    1. Mix baking soda with your facial cleanser to make it an exfoliating cleanser. (You can also make a paste of just baking soda and water.)
    2. Gently rub it onto your skin and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off.

    Next Up: Nourishing sugar scrub

    Originally published August 2015. Updated November 2017.

    2. Nourishing sugar scrub

    Raw sugar
    Image: fatihhoca/Getty Images

    Granulated sugar is another wonderful, natural exfoliant. Mix it with honey, which contains powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and a little lemon for clarifying purposes, and you have a wonderfully nourishing and effective face scrub.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 teaspoon honey
    • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
    • Fresh lemon juice

    Directions:

    1. Combine the honey and sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
    2. Mix the ingredients well.
    3. If the mixture is a little loose, add a bit more sugar.

    Next Up: Invigorating coffee scrub

    3. Invigorating coffee scrub

    Coffee scrub
    Image: Sohadiszno/Getty Images

    Coffee is another fantastic natural exfoliant. It contains caffeic acid, which has anti-inflammatory effects and can boost collagen production. Just as coffee stimulates our body in the morning, it can serve as a skin stimulant as well.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
    • 1 tablespoon water or olive oil

    Directions:

    1. To make the scrub, combine the coffee and water or olive oil. (To make this inexpensive face scrub even more economical, save the wet coffee grounds from your brewed morning coffee and use those.)
    2. If you use olive oil, skip applying a moisturizer afterward, as olive oil will leave your skin super-moisturized.

    Side note: Since coffee grounds can clog drains, apply the scrub and buff off the grounds over a plugged sink so that you can wipe them out or use a mesh drain strainer to catch them before they go down your pipes.

    Next Up: Soothing oatmeal scrub

    4. Soothing oatmeal scrub

    Oatmeal
    Image: minadezhda/Getty Images

    People who use oatmeal as a natural face scrub swear by it, and now I know why. Ground oatmeal not only serves as a wonderful exfoliant, but it also absorbs and removes surface dirt and impurities while leaving your skin nourished and hydrated. It has been known to soothe and heal everything from acne to sunburn to dry, flaky skin. Given its gentle nature, it is also ideal for those with sensitive skin.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon ground oatmeal
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon water or paste

    Directions:

    1. Combine ground oatmeal with salt, which boosts the face treatment's exfoliating properties.
    2. Add water to make a paste.
    3. Gently rub it onto you skin in circular motions, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and rinse.
    Insanely easy DIY exfoliating scrubs your skin will thank you for
    Image: SheKnows

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    Although we’re not fans of rigid beauty rules — like the one that says we can only wear vampy lipstick in the fall — there are certain guidelines we should prioritize for the sake of healthier skin. Sure, there are “bad” habits that are actually acceptable, like not washing your hair every other day, but others leave a little less wiggle room.

    Beyond the more widely known ones, such as biting your nails or using dirty makeup brushes, there are a host of under-the-radar habits you probably didn’t know were ruining your skin. With the help of a few experts, we’re here to help you kick them once and for all.

    Smoking

    OK, so we’re starting with an obvious one, but seriously; no other habit, regardless of how often you do it, causes worse damage. Plus, we could always use a reminder. According to Dr. Craig Kraffert, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care, vaping is the easiest way to curb your nicotine habit and eventually quit altogether.

    “[Smoking] provides zero beauty benefit — only damage,” he says. “Vaping is not as damaging to the skin as smoking and there is not a great deal of data yet to quantify the relative level of damage that occurs with vaping vs. smoking.”

    More: In-Flight Masks That Worth a Little Embarassment

    Not using primer

    If you’re a makeup wearer and find that your face is always melting off by lunch, it could be because you’re not properly prepping your skin beforehand. According to Megan Luman, senior Mehron educator and celebrity makeup artist, one of the biggest mistakes she sees both men and women make is not hydrating before they apply foundation and other powder/cream products.

    “Most people don’t understand the importance of a primer because no one has ever educated them on it. The skin is the largest organ of your body — therefore, it needs water!,” she says. “So anything you put on your face that contains water, i.e., liquid/cream foundation, you can count on your skin drinking it up.”

    Luman recommends using a silicone-based primer, like Mehron’s Velvet Finish Primer, as it better controls oil, fills in lines and even helps products blend more easily. “Silicone is a larger molecule that our skin cannot absorb, so it creates a barrier between the skin and the makeup. So essentially, the two never actually touch.”

    More: The 15 Best Korean Beauty Products

    Using makeup wipes as a cleanser

    If you’re constantly on the go or simply too tired to remove your makeup before bed, know that a makeup wipe isn’t where your cleansing routine should end. In fact, they actually leave residue on the skin and leave it dirtier than it was before. According to Kraffert, a lot of them also contain potentially hazardous chemicals, such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, that ensure a long shelf life, but ultimately dry out the skin.

    “In Korea, makeup wipes are falling out of favor due to a general sense that they are not the best option for skin health and beauty,” he says. “I would recommend using a proper cleanser, such as Amarte Daily Wonder Cleansing Foam, for a deep cleanse without residual dryness or tightness.”

    More: In Your 20s? It’s Time to Start Using These Products

    Assuming makeup with SPF is enough

    You’re off to a great start if your makeup products include some level of UV protection, but the downside is that we forget to shield the rest of our body. According to Kraffert, “Although SPF is certainly an added benefit to makeup products such as foundations, the makeup isn’t applied thick[ly] enough and evenly enough in most cases… to key beauty zones — neck, décolleté, hands and arms — to be considered enough protection from the sun’s harmful rays.”

    The solution is simple: Invest in a body SPF, like the Amarte Ultra Veil Sunscreen.

    Sleeping on your side

    Ever wonder why celebrities like Kim Kardashian swear by sleeping on their backs? According to Dr. Jame Heskett, consultant for the antiaging brand HydroPeptide, having your face against a pillow, especially if it’s not silk or satin, actually speeds up the formation of lines and wrinkles.

    She says, “Practice just relaxing on the back when you’re awake. Once the body makes the connection between relaxation and body position, it will be easier to fall asleep in that position. If you can’t always sleep on your back, at least combat wrinkles with a powerful antiaging cream, like HydroPeptide’s Nimni Cream, so everything bounces back in the morning.”

    More: The Blogger-Approved Skin Savers You Need This Winter

    Exfoliating every day

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beauty junkie without his or her trusty facial-cleansing brush, which makes it easy to go overboard with exfoliation. Heskett says when we do this every or even every other day, it throws our skin’s natural bacteria balance out of whack. This, in turn, leads to random breakouts and other pesky skin issues.

    “The skin has a natural balance of good bacteria and oils that keep your skin healthy, glowing and youthful,” she says. “When you exfoliate too much, you run the risk of creating an imbalance in the skin, which can lead to redness, dryness and breakouts. Then, more products get thrown at the problem, which starts the vicious cycle all over.”

    Instead, keep your exfoliation to one day a week, and if you really want to curb this bad habit, consider shaving. “I know this sounds crazy, but the best exfoliation I’ve found is shaving,” says Heskett. “With a regular razor and shaving cream, shaving your face will remove dead skin cells like expensive spa treatments. And no, you won’t grow a beard.” (LOL, thanks.)

    More: Do All-Natural Skin Care Routines Actually Work?

    Cleansing with hot water

    At the end of a long day, nothing feels better than a steamy shower. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a nightmare for your skin. According to most dermatologists, including Kraffert, hot water “damages skin’s protective barrier and causes engorgement of tiny blood vessels, which may lead to permanently dilated skin blood vessels over time and result in skin ruddiness and uneven tone.”

    In fact, avoiding hot water is gospel in what we consider the skin care capital: Korea. So get into the habit of washing your face outside the shower and with a gentle exfoliant instead. “Washcloth exfoliation is hard to control and often misses the mark by creating too much exfoliation with irritation or not enough with suboptimal results,” says Kraffert. “Instead, I would recommend frequently exfoliating with Amarte Daily ExfoliPowder, a plant seed-based polishing cleanser that removes dry, dull skin.”

    Great expert tips, right? There’s no time like the present to kick bad-for-you habits and replace them with routines that’ll keep you glowy, healthy and happy.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    If you've ever perused through a Lush store, you know that it is an experience. The bright colors and amazing smells make you want to buy literally every single thing in the store — but purchasing a couple of their bath fizzies will set you back upwards of 30 dollars. And ain't nothing relaxing about that.

    We're not hating on Lush at all. In fact, bath bombs are one of our favorite indulgences and we're totally down to splurge on one every now and again. But if we want to treat ourselves to a bath bomb on a regular basis, we're gonna have to be able to make some ourselves.

    More: These DIY Exfoliating Scrubs Are Amazing for Your Skin & Super Simple to Make

    DIY Lavender bath bombs

    For this project, I used floral-shaped molds, added luscious lavender pure essential oil that can help you relax and a nice tint for some color. Lavender also has antibacterial properties, so it's perfect for bath time.

    These little bundles are so pretty, you might even consider giving them out as gifts. Pick your favorite pure essential oil to use, and if you'd like, add food coloring to the mix to make a pretty tint.

    Note: If you are pregnant, you should not use essential oils. For facts and safety information of essential oils and aromatherapy, check out the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

    DIY lavender bath bombs

    Recipe inspired by Homemade Gifts Made Easy

    Makes 4 (4-ounce) bath bombs

    What you'll need:

    • 1/2 cup powdered citric acid (found with the baking or canning supplies in most grocery stores)
    • 1 cup baking soda
    • Approximately 10 drops pure lavender essential oil (more or less based on your preference)
    • 1/2 tablespoon almond oil
    • Blue and red food coloring (optional)
    • Water in a spray bottle
    • Large glass bowl
    • 4 (4-ounce) silicone molds
    • 1-2 tablespoons dried lavender buds (optional)

    More:  No DIY Disasters Here — the Beauty Benefits of Honey Are Real

    DIY Lavender bath bombs

    Directions:

    1. If using, sprinkle the dried lavender buds into the bottom of the silicone molds (they'll show up just at the tops of your finished bath bombs).
    2. Add the citric acid and baking soda to the glass bowl. Use a whisk to combine the mixture.
    3. Add the essential oil and almond oil to the mixture. Drop in about 4 to 5 drops each of the red and blue food coloring (if using). Use the spoon to combine the mixture very well.
    4. Add a few spritzes of water to moisten the mixture. Don't use too much at once. Use the spoon to mix the ingredients well.
    5. The mixture should be the consistency of slightly wet sand, and should clump in your hand if you squeeze it.
    6. Use a spoon to transfer the mixture to the silicone molds. Pack it in very tightly, all the way to the top.
    7. Lay a few paper towels on a flat surface, carefully turn the mold over, and pop out the bath bombs.
    8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and transfer the paper towels and bath bombs to the baking sheet.
    9. Cover with a few more paper towels and allow to dry overnight.
    10. Package the bath bombs as you'd like.
    11. To use, drop in a bath with warm running water. Swish around with your hands and enjoy.
    DIY Lavender bath bombs

    Originally published November 2016. Updated November 2017.


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    When it's freezing outside and you're running around in the elements shopping your butt off, nothing beats a relaxing bath — and if you add in some bath salts, well, that's perfection. And we're not talking about those store-bought salts, either. DIY bath salts are so much better and cost a fraction of the price. Not only that, they actually make for great holiday gifts (so you can just ixnay all that shopping business).

    These bath salts are so easy to make! Use scents that evoke the season, like eucalyptus and vanilla.

    More: DIY Lavender Bath Bombs That Are Luxurious & Economical

    DIY Eucalyptus and vanilla bath salts | SheKnows.com

    The salty truth

    You can find Epsom salt at most drug stores. Epsom salt isn't salt, but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound known for many of its beneficial properties: helping to soothe sore muscles, ease stress and relax the body, reduce pain and swelling from sprains and bruises and more. We've included simple baking soda in our bath salts recipe. Baking soda in your bath can help alleviate minor skin irritations (think of dry, itchy skin due to the winter weather).

    Scent-sational additions

    Aside from smelling great, eucalyptus oil has many beneficial properties. This oil acts as an anti-inflammatory, a decongestant, an antiseptic and a deodorant. The scent of vanilla is comforting and relaxing — exactly what you want when you're soaking in the tub. An added bonus is that most vanilla essential oil comes in combination with jojoba oil — a wonderful moisturizer.

    Keep your bath salts in a glass container with a lid, and use about a spoonful per bath.

    Note: If you are pregnant, you should consult your health care provider before using Epsom salt. Also, if pregnant or you have other health concerns, you should not use essential oils. For facts and safety information of essential oils and aromatherapy, check out the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

    More: These DIY Exfoliating Scrubs Are Amazing for Your Skin & Super Simple to Make

    DIY eucalyptus and vanilla bath salts

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup Epsom salt
    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
    • 8 drops vanilla in jojoba oil
    • Green food coloring (optional)

    DIY Eucalyptus and vanilla bath salts | SheKnows.com

    Directions:

    1. Add the Epsom salt, baking soda and essential oils to a large sealable plastic bag.
    2. If you are using food coloring to give the bath salts a hue, add one drop to the ingredients in the plastic bag.
    3. Seal the bag closed and use your hands to massage the contents so the food coloring mixes in with the ingredients.
    4. Transfer from the plastic bag to a glass container with a lid.
    5. Use one spoonful per bath.

    Lemongrass body wash Shimmer body lotion Clay cuticle cream Apple pie body scrub Vanilla bubble bath Sweet and spicy sugar scrub Massaging foot soak Lavender shower gel

    Originally published November 2013. Updated November 2017.


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    This time last year, I had grown disillusioned with my hair. It wasn’t that I didn’t actually like my hair. Although it admittedly took years for me to do that, I was simply tired of throwing it into the same styles. And I’ve tried them all. Marley twists, box braids, cornrows, a simple blowout; you name it and I’ve probably done it… twice.

    prepping for my 2017 rebirth. big chop selfie soon come.

    A post shared by Nikkiiii (@missnikkibrown) on

    So, you can understand why I threw all caution to the wind and decided to chop all of it off. There was no deep meaning or epiphany behind my big chop. I did it on a whim without knowing what it would look like or how it would make me feel. The truth is that when my stylist first whirled my chair around to face the mirror, I Freaked. Out. There were no tears or angry words, but on the inside, I thought, “Wow. This is a lot to take in.”

    That confidence that I had walked into the salon with was gone. So I had to grin and bear it until I got into an Uber and could cover my TWA (teeny-weeny afro) with a beanie. One, my head was cold, and two, what had I just done?! After a week or so, my shock did subside and eventually, I grew to love this new version of me.

    More: The Fiercest Celebrity Hair Transformations of 2017

    The biggest takeaway was that random hair makeovers are not for the faint-hearted. I admire anyone with a tenacity for transformation, but if you’re like me, there are a set of guidelines that will definitely ease the transition into a new look.

    Read ahead for my tried-and-true rules for makeover preparation.

    Start with inspiration

    I’ve never been one to model myself after celebrities, prominent figures or other people in general (besides my mom, of course). However, I do wish I'd taken the time to browse magazines, Pinterest, Instagram and other social feeds for hairstyles I might actually enjoy wearing everyday. When I discovered the The Cut Life Instagram page after my big chop, it felt as though I had done everything backward.

    More: The All-Time Best Sephora Products for Textured Hair

    All. Of. This. - #thecutlife

    A post shared by The Cut Life (@thecutlife) on

    Here was a treasure trove of short hairstyle ideas that I could have saved and shown to a hairstylist beforehand and instead, I made an appointment without consulting first. The truth is, a good hairstylist will always recommend that you sit down to discuss the transformation beforehand, but at the end of the day, they’ll move forward if you tell them you’re ready. Patience is a virtue in many aspects of life, but especially when it involves our hair and beauty choices. Don’t be afraid to slow down and weigh your options before sitting in a salon chair.

    Know your texture

    With that being said, keep your hair’s curl pattern (or lack thereof) in mind when browsing potential hairstyles. Gravitate toward men and women who share your same texture; this is the best way to tell if a style will look good on you before going through with it. For instance, if someone with pin straight hair brought a picture of Alicia Keys to their stylist, a true professional would probably advise against such a drastic change because of the potential damage it will do to your strands.

    More: 7 Insider Secrets to Surviving a Bikini Wax

    There’s a little more wiggle room with hair color since so many temporary options are available. However, consulting with a stylist is still necessary so you can be educated on the healthiest way to manipulate your hair’s shade. A pro can also help you identify your hair’s texture if you have no idea what it is to begin with.

    Consider your lifestyle

    If there was one thing I knew my big chop guaranteed, it was a style that better fit my day-to-day schedule. My morning routine is almost always rushed and subsequently, leaves little time for hairstyling and makeup application. When considering a hair makeover, know that it will change your schedule in some way.

    More: Have Short Hair? Then You Need These Chic Accessories

    Maybe you’ll have more time to sleep in the mornings. Perhaps you’ll need a little extra time in front of the mirror. If your hair-spiration comes from a friend or family member, ask them to share their routine so you can ask questions and consider whether you’d be willing to do the same thing.

    Prepare for a new routine

    This is not to be confused with an overall lifestyle change. We’re talking about your product lineup; the spritzes, creams and sprays you use everyday. This was the biggest surprise for me because I assumed that shorter hair would equal fewer products on my vanity. Boy, was I wrong. I actually ended up using the same amount and even added a few new ones into the mix.

    More: The Black-Owned Hair Brands Curly Girls Can Trust

    Because I used this as an opportunity to adopt healthier hair habits, I was introduced to an entirely new part of the curly girl world and soon realized that hair length really has nothing to do with the amount of products you use. Your hair’s health is the first priority. For some, that means having a regimented multistep routine. For others, that could mean the complete opposite. If you aren’t able to consult with an expert about the best products for your new hairstyle, anticipate a lot of trial and error in the future.

    Remember it doesn’t last forever

    Lastly, know that you’re not permanently tied to a look you may not love. We obviously can’t turn back time, especially with drastic haircuts, but fostering a healthy hair routine means it will grow back faster and stronger than you think. More often than not, it takes a little extra time to settle into a new hairdo. Remember why you did it in the first place, and if that came from a place of preparation and a genuine need for change, you’ll be just fine.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    Halloween is officially in our rearview, but that doesn’t mean wigging out is off the table. Although women have always utilized wigs for everyday wear, I personally didn’t try it until earlier this year. It wasn’t until college that I discovered extensions, weaves and other forms of protective styling, so I’ve been admittedly hesitant to rock one simply because I had no idea how to do it.

    And I’m not ashamed to also admit that the thought of a random person snatching it off gave me anxiety. In all honesty, it took a big chop for me to realize that hair is supposed to be fun, not stressful. How we choose to style our hair is often an extension of our personality, so as someone who thrives on spontaneity, I knew it was time to throw on a lace-front and live my best life.

    More: How to Prep for a Major Hair Makeover

    My first wig is not for the wallflower. Latched and Hooked wigs, made by founder Tiffini Gatlin, are chemical-free, pre-curled and looped protective styles that are so realistic-looking, everyone was convinced I sat in a braiding salon for days to achieve my look.

    The options go from super-short to ultra-long and cover the spectrum of protective styling: crochet curls, bohemian twists and box braids to name a few.

    Because I thrive on doing the most, I opted for a waist-length micro-twist wig from the Crown Collection and wore it everyday for a week. Besides being able to swing my hair back and forth once again, there are a slew of lessons I learned about how to take care of it. If you want to venture into new hair territory, here are five things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.

    Finding your match

    According to Gatlin, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before wig shopping. The most important ones are: “How committed will I be to maintaining it?”; “Is it appropriate for the season?”; and “What’s my budget?” Set boundaries beforehand so you won’t drive yourself crazy with the endless number of options.

    With that being said, choosing the best styles for your face shape also make the search easier. “A round face could consider a wig that is layered and cut relatively close the face will help make the face appear narrower,” says Gatlin. “Beachy waves or wispy curls can help soften the shape of a square face… Oval faces can wear just about any wig because there is no area on their face that is more dominant than the other.” 

    For heart-shaped faces, she recommends “a wig with bangs or hair that can be brought across the forehead to soften their widow['s] peak or wide forehead.”

    Expect to spend at least $100 on a good synthetic wig, and if you’re looking online, steer clear of fraudulent retailers by reading customer testimonials. “The retailer should be able to provide pictures and testimony from past buyers. Social media is a great place to start,” says Gatlin.

    More: The Black-Owned Hair Brands Curly Girls Can Trust

    Human vs. synthetic

    One of the biggest choices wig-wearers have to make is whether they want to own a human or synthetic one. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with having both, but Gatlin says it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    While a quality human hair wig won’t be cheap and will require the same daily maintenance of your real hair and can react to weather (frizz, loss of curls), it’s also more versatile and tangle-free. On the contrary, a synthetic wig is usually more affordable and requires little to no maintenance. At the same time, you’re sacrificing versatility and will probably need to replace more often than a human one.

    Both styles can be made into a lace-front, which is best described as a wig with a mesh hairline. Gatlin says, “The mesh or ‘lace’ should have neutral tone that will blend with the skin tone and looks invisible once applied to your hairline.”

    Again, your choice is really a matter of preference and lifestyle, two things you should consider before buying. As someone who is constantly on the go and generally lazy with her hair routine, I fell in love with my micro-twist wig because I could throw it on and run out the door in no time.

    More: The All-Time Best Sephora Products for Textured Hair

    Storage & maintenance

    Once you’ve bought your wig, it’s time to invest in the proper storage, whether it’s human or synthetic. According to Gatlin, a mannequin head or wig stand is your best bet since it best maintains the interiority of the wig’s shape. Alternatively, you could also place it in a wig net and store it until your next use.

    Gatlin also says, “Most wigs should be washed of sweat, dust and dirt that may accumulate after normal wear… Human hair wigs can be washed and some synthetic wigs can be washed as well. There are nine different types of synthetic fibers on the market, so it’s extremely important to read the instructions or go back to the brand's website to find the care page for your particular wig.”

    More: The Fiercest Celebrity Hair Transformations of 2017

    Styling

    If you’re rocking a synthetic wig, like my waist-length twists, avoid putting any products on it to maintain longevity. For synthetic wigs and [Latched and Hooked] braided wigs, a customer would need to make sure the synthetic fiber being used can adapt to heat and at what temperature. Water tends to be the best when styling synthetic wigs.”

    When a wig becomes tangled or matted, Gatlin recommends finger detangling, since “brushing or combing daily could be too aggressive,” causing your wig to shed. And once a wig starts to lose its natural movement, that’s a sign that you should reinvest in a new one. Alternatively, if you’d rather manipulate it into a new style, get examples of the look you desire first and consult with a professional stylist who can do the work for you.

    More: 29 Celebrity Braids That Were Major Hair Goals This Year

    Pain relief

    During my weeklong wig adventure, I had one just one complaint — it felt so tight! Although mine came equipped with an elastic band for added security (no wig snatching incidents!), my days would end with minor headaches that only ibuprofen could heal. Gatlin says this is pretty common and that you should always remove a wig if it’s pulling at your hairline.

    “Unfortunately, all wigs are not one-size-fits-all. Some wigs come with adjustable straps so you are able to fit the wig to your head,” she says. Relieve your temples by placing your wig on a mannequin head overnight. This will stretch and loosen the straps or elastic band, making it more comfortable overnight.

    More: 17 Celebrities Who Wore Wigs That (Almost) Beat Their Real Hair

    Wig caps are also another way to protect your edges and pulse points. Those made of nylon are the most common and a godsend if your scalp is sensitive to synthetic materials. “Wig caps are optional,” says Gatlin. “If you are wearing a U-part wig or complete lace wig, you may not want to wear a cap, as wearing one would take away from the natural look of the wig. Consult your stylist or retailer for the best results.”

    What are you waiting for? Trade in that winter hat for a winter wig, stat!

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    We’ve all skipped working out once or twice to save a hairstyle. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common practice among women with textured hair. Believe me; I know the agony of sitting for hours in a salon chair only to watch my hairstyle lose its shape after five minutes on a treadmill. It feels like the money and time I spent just disappeared into thin air and took my sleek edges with it. It’s no wonder we steer clear of the gym after washday.

    More: The Black-Owned Hair Brands Curly Girls Can Trust

    Now, just because we all do it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. Regular sweat sessions are key to keeping blood circulated throughout the body, including the head, where hair follicles need that moisture to grow. With that being said, there are ways to get your cardio in and look cute doing it. And who better to lead us in the right direction than Taliah Waajid? For over 25 years, she’s been a leading natural hair specialist and even created one of the first chemical-free product lines for textured hair. Ahead, she shares the easy tips and tricks that will stop you from putting hair ahead of health once and for all.

    Gym bag essentials

    Regardless of your texture, length or lifestyle, there is a core set of items that should always have real estate in your gym bag. The first no-brainer Waajid recommends is a sturdy water bottle since “proper hydration prevents perspiration from taking a toll on the moisture levels in the hair, skin and body.”

    If you’ll be performing floor exercises, lifting weights or sitting on a stationary bicycle, you should also invest in a nongreasy moisturizer, like Taliah Waajid’s Nutrient Rich Shine Butter, and a set of gloves to protect against bacteria.

    For those with medium-long hairstyles, like braids, extensions or wigs, a scrunchy or large butterfly clip will keep you focused on your workout. “These protective styles are beautiful,” says Waajid, “but can be distracting if not properly secured into a ponytail or pinned.”

    Lastly, if sweaty edges are the stuff of nightmares for you, a moisture-wicking headband or satin scarf will control perspiration and keep them from expanding as you move.

    Waajid says, “Perspiration around the edges creates an imbalanced pH level, which can lead to hairline breakage. “Before wearing, I apply a leave-in conditioner and use my fingers to massage onto my edges. Accompanied by a headband, together they help whisk perspiration away from the edges, which, consequently, helps me maintain a healthy hairline.”

    More: The All-Time Best Sephora Products for Textured Hair

    Pre-workout

    Again, applying a leave-in conditioner, like the Protective Styles Strengthening Leave-In Conditioner, to wet or dry hair is essential before both low- and high-intensity workouts in addition to tucking the hair away into an updo or under a satin scarf.

    This is especially important for water-based exercises. According to Waajid, “Chlorine causes hair to weaken and become brittle, which can lead to split ends and severe breakage. It’s important, therefore, to prevent your hair from absorbing chlorine by coating hair strands with a barrier.”

    Apply the leave-in from roots to end, ensuring the product is distributed evenly. After that, you can apply edge control along the hairline, brush the hair around the outside perimeter of the head and secure with a headscarf. If you’re getting into a pool, use a swimming cap instead. “You can also use olive oil, Jamaican black castor oil or coconut oil to coat and prevent your hair from absorbing chlorine,” says Waajid.

    More: 6 Product-Free Hair Tricks Every Curly Girl Should Master

    Post-workout

    Contrary to popular belief, humidity doesn’t affect curly hair as much as straight hair. However, our roots are more susceptible to oil buildup, which means we should keep a shampoo on hand. How often you wash depends on the level of your workout and your hairstyle.

    “If you normally wet cleanse (shampoo) more than twice a week and engage in low-high intensity or water-based workouts, to recover your style, wet cleanse (shampoo) with a sulfate-free shampoo such as my Protective Styles Moisturizing Mint Shampoo, ” says Waajid.

    If you’re on the go and need a quicker recovery, use a co-wash instead. And when wearing protective styles like braids, twists or locs, treat your hair to a dry cleanser, like Waajid’s Protective Styles Bamboo, Avocado & Peppermint Dry Gel Shampoo, as well as a moisturizing or clarifying serum for the scalp. A dry shampoo is also ideal if you’re not washing your hair every week.

    All in all, there isn’t a laundry list of things you need to do to protect your curls. With a bottle of leave-in, a trusty headscarf and edge control, sacrificing workouts is a thing of the past.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    Coconut oil is one of those products you rarely hear bad things about. It’s touted as the ultimate all-natural multitasker, capable of transforming skin and hair the same way a more expensive alternative would. It moisturizes. It heals. It smells amazing. And most important, it usually lives up to the hype.

    More: The Lip Balms That Won’t Leave You High & Dry

    So you can imagine my surprise while watching one of my favorite beauty bloggers say she was done using it. Whitney White, more popularly known as Naptural85, has an informational YouTube channel dedicated to healthy hair and skin habits, with the majority of her recipes and tutorials being DIY. If you’re someone who likes to know the ins and outs of every product you’re using, White is a great person to reference since she spends a lot of time delving into the benefits of individual ingredients. In short, she knows her stuff.

    So what on Earth would make her want to stop using something as universal as coconut oil after several years? According to the video post originally shared late last year, it irritated her scalp and made her hair strands more brittle than they had ever been — even though she was using an organic, virgin kind. As it turns out, there are a number of reasons your hair and skin could have an adverse reaction to coconut oil.

    For starters, its positive reputation has led most of us to believe it can do no wrong. According to Monastery founder Athena Hewett, “The reason that coconut oil gained such popularity in recent years is that it was a very accessible oil, inexpensive and plentiful with a high level of medium-chain fatty acids.” Seems like a dream come true, right? To the contrary, there are three ways in which it can be quite the opposite.

    More: The Essential Oils You Need to Stay Healthy This Winter

    For skin

    I can guarantee you or at least one of your friends loves to slather her body in coconut oil, especially during the cold-weather months. Its thick consistency feels like a warm blanket this time of year, and for those with drier skin, it delivers the kind of moisture you don’t have to worry about disappearing throughout the day.

    Although that nourishment feels long-lasting, it can also suffocate your skin cells simultaneously.

    Hewett says, “On the comedogenic (pore-clogging) scale, it scores between a 4 and 5, 0 being good for the skin, and 5 being bad. This means that the oil will cause congestion in your skin… get trapped inside the epidermis and sit there, causing extra blackheads and breakouts.”

    Although this isn’t something that happens to everyone, it is worth monitoring if you wear coconut oil every day.

    More: 10 Spot Treatments That Clear Up Breakouts Fast

    For makeup

    Beauty experts also endorse coconut oil as an all-natural alternative to makeup remover or makeup primer. And although your skin may feel like butter, it can be difficult for makeup to stay put, regardless of whether you use a setting spray or not.

    “It also tends to be a very slippery oil (highly viscous), meaning that makeup loves to slide off of it and clothing loves to attach itself to it,” says Hewett. “Nobody wants to ruin their favorite shirt with a smear of coconut oil.”

    And again, since it is high on the comedogenic scale, your skin is even more vulnerable to breakouts since you’re layering coconut oil with makeup that could have the same thick consistency.

    For hair

    As far as your hair is concerned, the protein structure of coconut oil is capable of sitting inside the hair shaft. So it makes sense that so many of us, especially those with damaged strands, like to use it as a treatment or leave-in.

    However, Hewett says to “be wary of using coconut oil on any hair, including the hair on your head, as it causes tangling along with breakage.”

    And if Whitney White’s first-person account is any indication, these symptoms can also extend to the scalp, where irritation can breed. In short, it’s time to find an alternative.

    More: How to Layer Your Skin Care Like a K-Beauty Pro

    The alternatives

    We certainly aren’t the first ones to discover the potentially harmful side effects of coconut oil, which explains the rise of a new variation: fractionated coconut oil.

    According to Hewett, “This oil has been stripped of its medium-chain fatty acids and has been created into a dry oil (an oil that penetrates quickly). This chemical process does make the oil less comedogenic.” And at first glance, this does appear to be an easy solution. However, this also makes coconut oil much more expensive to work with, less pure and nutrient-poor.

    Ultimately, it feels kind of pointless to use in skin care since the old negative side effects are just replaced with new ones. So what are we left with?

    “There are many other oils that penetrate more beautifully and with less of an oily finish that are still packed with nutrients,” says Hewett. “Two that I like to work with instead of [fractionated coconut oil] are hazelnut and walnut. Make sure that if you are putting an oil on your skin, you are not only getting the moisturizing benefits, but also the nutritional benefits.”

    For eye makeup specifically, cleansers infused with castor oil, like Monastery’s Rose Cleansing Oil, will clean the lashes without penetration.

    If you’re hoping to kick your coconut oil habit, these not-so-fun facts may just be the motivation you need.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    There’s no shortage of skin care advice on the internet, but how much of it doesn’t require a trip to Sephora or the drugstore? Expertise aside, we’ve been hard-pressed to find priceless and easy (keyword: easy) tips outside drinking more water or prioritizing exercise. More often than not, there’s just not enough time to take in every article, tweet or infographic. Some of it requires more effort than our schedules allow. And a lot of it is just way too complicated to unravel. So, we put all our hope into an overpriced product hoping it will solve our problems overnight. Spoiler alert: It never ends well.

    Regardless of where your routine falls on the spectrum of minimal to extreme, we can guarantee you’ve spent money on at least one product without knowing if it actually worked. We’ve all been there; it’s the unfortunate downside of figuring out what works for you.

    But because we’re all about kicking bad habits, there’s no better time than the present to attempt a skin care makeover without breaking the bank. Yes, we’ll be hitting the gym and aiming to get our eight hours of sleep every night, but these expert tips are worth incorporating into your daily grind too.

    More: The Lip Balms That Won’t Leave You High and Dry

    Limit your cleansing

    Less work for better results? This one’s a doozy. According to Alana Riviera of Etta+Billie, her skin has never been happier since deciding to wash her face just once a day.

    “I wash my face at night to remove makeup and dirt with a gentle cream cleanser, then apply a solid face oil,” she says. “In the mornings, I rinse my face with lukewarm water, pat dry, apply a serum and a facial moisturizer. Try it; it’s a game changer.”

    Practice self-awareness

    Oftentimes, we’re in such a rush to fix our skin problems that we don’t take the time to really listen to our bodies. Claire Zhao, cofounder of Amareta, recommends slowing down and realizing that above all things, your skin care journey is a personal one. Ultimately, you may find that your physical challenges are linked to an emotional or mental setback, thus completely changing how you alleviate the problem.

    “Get more in tune with your body, as our bodies respond to every little thing going on in and outside of us,” she says. “Skin is an organ that tells a lot about our bodies’ overall wellness. Spend some time everyday to connect skin health with how you generally feel physically and emotionally on that day. You will become more aware of changes that are taking place.”

    More: The Essential Oils You Need to Stay Healthy This Winter

    Accept changes

    To that end, you may find that it’s best to support whatever change you’re going through instead of trying to cover it. Zhao says, “For example, anything that occurs right before your period, such as cramps, breast tenderness, blemishes, bloating is considered premenstrual syndrome.”

    We tend to use pills or makeup instead of testing what works best for us individually. “Limiting salt, caffeine, and cutting out sugar will help reduce skin['s] and body’s water retention, thus reducing bloating… Find comfort in knowing that there are things you can do to support your skin.”

    Shorten your shower

    Few things are more satisfying than a long, hot shower, especially in the dead of winter. However, doing this everyday can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. According to Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, director of cosmetic dermatology at South Shore Medical Center and consultant for HydroPeptide, “showers should be lukewarm and no more than 10 minutes. When you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry and moisturize immediately.”

    Slay in your sunnies

    The winter sun may not be as bright, but UV rays are still running rampant year-round. Imahiyerobo-Ip says to “always wear your sunglasses. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on our bodies and is very susceptible to damage from UV rays. Wearing sunglasses will help prevent fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin cancer.”

    More: 10 Spot Treatments That Clear up Breakouts Fast

    Be mindful of application

    Just as K-beauty experts recommend patting instead of rubbing in skin products, Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends a similar method that won’t pull at the skin.

    “Apply skin care products in a circular, upward motion. This allows products to be absorbed more effectively and also helps stimulate collagen production.”

    Turn down the heat

    Those subzero temps will soon arrive, which means your heating bill will be going all the way up. But like a hot shower, it’s also one of the sneakiest ways to dry out your skin. This time around, keep the house a little cooler, and if you have a humidifier, utilize that instead.

    “Portable humidifiers or those that work with your heating system put moisture in the air that will be absorbed by your skin and hair,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip.

    More: 10 Stellar Cleansers to Try if You Struggle With Acne

    Master the lymphatic drainage massage

    OK, this one sounds way fancier than it actually is, but we promise it’s worth practicing. According to Monastery founder Athena Hewett, products are just one part of keeping the skin supple and youthful. She and other estheticians also recommend the lymphatic drainage massage, a technique that energizes and moves toxins out of the face. You can visit a professional to have this done, but it’s just as easy to do at home.

    “Press on your lymph sites; there is one located between your brows, one on each side of your nose, one on each your temples, and two above your lips,” says Hewett. “Press and roll on these areas. While you are there, give your face a little massage. Massage from the outside of the face towards the nose. Relaxing tense muscles helps them to work better in the long run. Healthy muscles fight gravity and hold your skin up nice and taught, so give them a little love.”

    More: The Cutting Edge Face Masks That Warrant a Shameless Selfie or 2

    Get into ice cubes

    After you’re done taking that lukewarm, 10-minute shower recommended by Imahiyerobo-Ip, create the illusion of firmer, glowy skin by rubbing ice cubes on your face. According to Hewett, “cold water tightens the skin by bringing blood to the surface.”

    Just remember to put a barrier on the skin first, like a cream, oil or even yogurt from the fridge.

    Put in what you take out

    Yes, drink your water and exercise, but be cognizant of the balance between your water intake and water loss. According to Dr. Helen Knaggs, vice president of global research and development at Nu Skin, having more or less of either one is what contributes to dry skin.

    “An inadequate skin barrier will increase transepidermal water loss, where water passes through the skin into the air,” she says. “This is an invisible and unnoticeable phenomenon that differs from sweat, which can be seen and felt. TEWL can be measured and is an indicator of the skin’s barrier function.”

    Selecting products that contain a combo of humectants, emollients and occlusive ingredients obviously help maintain a healthy level of moisture. But before you can think about buying anything, get familiar with your day-to-day water habits and see if you can make any adjustments there.

    Who says skin care has to be complicated? These tips are almost impossible to mess up.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    How many times did your parents warn against walking outside with wet hair? If you’ve always wondered whether this actually leads to a winter cold or not (and what happens to your hair itself), we have answers. We talked to four experts to get the undisputed facts: Holly Mills, hair stylist for Streeters; Melissa Peverini, Marula Pure Beauty Oil brand ambassador; Micky Kibbe, owner of Swoon; and Becky Marinich, national educator for Aquage Haircare.

    Mills and Kibbe filled us in on the health aspect, explaining that wet hair can’t directly cause a virus or cold, but it does affect your body temperature, which can eventually lead to sickness if you don’t catch it early. That’s because whenever you step outside with wet strands, your body struggles to stay warm because you’re losing heat through your head at an exponential rate. This in turn keeps your immune system from working to its best ability and leaves ample room for germs to sneak in, just like Mom said they would.

    Sniffles aside, subzero temps are also a breeding ground for breakage. This goes for any hair type — silky, textured, straight, curly, kinky and coil-y — but Kibbe said it occurs more quickly for curly hair.

    Marinich also broke down the science of breakage so you can better understand how your strands are affected from the inside out during cold. “When water reaches a freezing point, it solidifies and expands by almost 10 percent, so when you walk out on a cold day with wet hair, those water molecules that have adhered to the hair’s outer cuticle layer solidify and expand,” says Marinich. “This can cause the hair shaft to swell and cause the cuticle layer to lift, leaving hair vulnerable to environmental and thermal damage. When hair freezes, it naturally becomes less pliable — like an icicle, frozen locks can easily snap.”

    More: 50 Seriously Stunning Winter Hairstyles to Try

    How quickly your hair can break depends on the strength of your hair cuticles, which Mills says is different for every hair type. Cold, dry air can also lead to dandruff. “[Cold weather] can definitely dry [your scalp] out, just as it would your hair. We also tend to take very hot showers during winter months, which can really dry our skin and scalp out. If your skin is dry, it is likely that your scalp is also dry.” To prevent flaking, she recommends detangling with a boar bristle brush before you shampoo to loosen up dry skin on the scalp and stimulate blood circulation.

    To avoid wet hair struggles altogether, Mills and Kibbe suggest showering at night — especially during winter — but caution against sleeping on wet hair because patches of skin will stay moist longer than they need to. Instead, gently use a microfiber towel to absorb excess water or shake and squeeze your strands multiple times.

    More: The Best Essential Oils for Common Winter Ailments

    Even with all of these prevention techniques, you’re still bound to run out the door with wet hair every once in awhile. In that case, Peverini and Marinich shared two of their favorite products for keeping hair hydrated and protected in the winter elements — the Aquage SeaExtend Silkening Oil Treatment, a weightless argan oil that “seals the cuticle, locks in moisture, and speeds up blow-styling time by 40%” and the Marula Pure Beauty deep conditioner that keeps “dehydrated hair from [going from] dry-heat inside to cold winter air outside. Apply the conditioner to damp hair, put on a shower cap for 10 min, then rinse.” 

    The winter can be a tough time all around — running from place to place bundled up, darkness rolling in early, and So. Many. Holiday. Parties. But don’t let your hair be one of the reasons why have to slow down. It can be tempting to run out the door after a shower, but drying your hair beforehand could save you some sick days in the future.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    Last month, one California woman announced a lawsuit against Sephora, claiming one of its lipstick testers gave her herpes. And despite the fact that the retail brand was called out for negligence (i.e., not warning customers of the health risks that come with sampling products), it simply offered a “no comment” and follow-up statement highlighting its commitment to “health and safety.”

    More: Sephora Hit With Lawsuit After Woman Claims She Contracted Herpes From Tester

    It’s no secret that germs are pretty much everywhere, but we admittedly found ourselves questioning whether you could actually contract a lifelong disease from a measly makeup sample. Well, according to the Rossen Reports team at Today, the answer is an undisputed yes.

    This week, they went undercover at Sephora, Ulta and Macy’s to collect and test product samples for germs and other nasty bacteria. Spoiler alert: The results will make you squirm. Inside, hidden cameras captured customers (with blurred-out faces, of course) applying sample products to their lips and faces as if they hadn’t been used by dozens of other people.

    “People use it. Then you use it. Then other people use it. It’s like communal makeup.” Well said, Jeff Rossen, and reason enough to not do it.

    If that weren’t enough to gross you out, brace yourself for the lab results. All three stores came back with some samples that had harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae (bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract) and staph.

    Dirty Makeup Samples (video)

    Dirty Makeup Samples (video)

    And yes, herpes can hide in plain sight too. “It’s absolutely possible. You can catch the herpes simplex virus from an inanimate object, such as lipstick,” said Dr. Whitney Bowe, a consulting dermatologist. “In fact, that virus can survive on the surface of a lipstick tube for up to a week.” Well, that’s not comforting.

    Sephora has since offered a pretty lengthy statement, admitting that although bacteria can be found in public places, they’ve been vigilant about having hygiene stations throughout their stores. You can read it in full below:

    “Sephora’s foremost priority is the health and safety of our clients. While we cannot comment on the specific results of NBC’s findings or their collection procedures, we do know that the bacteria found is common in public places and if attended to swiftly, can be effectively treated before causing skin irritation or infection. Not only do we have hygiene stations available for client use throughout our stores, our testers are also regularly sanitized, replaced and replenished, and our associates are trained on industry hygiene standards to assist our clients.

    "Sephora’s entire retail concept is rooted in self-discovery and our goal first and foremost is to enable an immersive environment that caters to clients’ desire to learn and play uninhibited. That said, we take every effort to ensure we are following best practices in our stores. We also offer many other ways for clients to test products, including guided assistance from our associates, personalized samples, digital tools that allow users to try on hundreds of products virtually and a monthly subscription service featuring prepackaged deluxe samples.”

    More: Viral Photo Shows $1,300-Worth of Destroyed Makeup at Sephora

    So, is there a safe way to test products without making yourself sick? Bowe says to swatch on the side of your hand and stay far away from the eyes and lips. Watch the full report above and consider yourselves warned.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    Once again, Reddit has blessed us with a new beauty hack. This time, it comes from user MoonlightMichelle in the Makeup Addiction thread. Instead of spending money on a pricey makeup brush cleanser, she saves time, money and space with something you may already own: Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap.

    “So this morning I decided to clean my brushes and had ran out of brush cleaner so I used the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in Lavender instead,” she said. “IMO it worked better than any brush cleaner I’ve ever used, even the expensive ones from Sephora. My brushes haven’t looked this pretty since I first bought them my best discovery of today.”

    More: This Rihanna Fan Found a Clever Use for the Fenty Beauty Matchstix

    New way to clean makeup brushes | Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
    Image: Dr. Bronner’s

    Dr. Bronner’s, a common household item for many, uses organic and fair-trade ingredients with no synthetic preservatives, detergents or foaming agents. They preach and practice progressive business practices like giving free health insurance to employees and their families. And after all that earthy goodness, they offer range in sizing for their products — as in 2 ounces all the up to a gallon range.

    And the best part is a little goes a long way. Reddit user apnuyen says, “This is what I use to clean my brushes! The bottle lasts forever too because it’s so concentrated, I only need a few drops to clean all my brushes (I do it in two batches though since the water gets all mucky) And they have great scents :).”

    More: Dr. Pimple Popper’s New Blackhead Tool Is a Game-Changer

    Both the liquid and bar products work well for brushes and Beautyblenders, which means you’ll be left with clean skin and a heftier wallet. We’d like to thank Reddit (and MoonlightMichelle) one last time for being the real beauty MVP.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    You think a ring is an incredible accessory until you go to wash your hands and realize it's turned your whole finger green. A result of the acid in your skin mixing with the metal of the jewelry, the stain isn't harmful, but it is unsightly. And it's not just one metal — experts say several types of metals can result in a green tinge. Copper is most common, but silver and gold metals can cause discoloration too.

    Here's how to avoid the mean jewelry greens.

    More: 3 Ways to Make Your Hair Look Fuller

    1. Avoid cheap jewelry

    OK, so this solution is easier said than done, but it’s a start. In this situation, the saying "You get what you pay for" applies. A cheap ring may look cute and it seems affordable, but it’ll cost you in other ways. This type of jewelry will tarnish quickly and leave behind a green stain when worn.

    Stainless steel, platinum and rhodium-plated jewelry, which includes almost all white gold, are less likely to react to your skin. Look for these specific metals when shopping for rings and decrease the chances of buying jewelry that will turn your finger green.

    More: The Best Whitening Toothpastes That Actually Work

    2. Keep skin dry

    Keep soaps and lotions away from your ring finger if you want to prevent the green-finger effect. Something as simple as removing rings before washing your hands or before taking a shower can help. Avoid wearing rings in the pool as well. The chlorine from the swimming pool will damage your jewelry and leave the annoying stain.

    More: This Weird Product Gets Rid of Dry Skin on Your Feet in an Insane Way

    3. Seal jewelry with clear nail polish

    If you can’t stay away from accessories prone to leaving a dark stain, try clear nail polish as a quick fix. Apply a polymer coating to your ring and let dry. This creates a barrier between your skin and the metal so that the ring can’t turn your finger green. Just remember to reapply the coating often because it tends to wear off.

    A version of this post was originally published in August 2016.


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    A proper skin care routine can seem daunting, overwhelming and time-consuming. We all want beautiful complexions, but let’s be honest: It usually requires more time and effort than we actually have. We’re told to use a cleanser, exfoliator, toner, serum, moisturizer, night cream and the list goes on. And to top it off, it’s suggested that we do this both morning and night.

    If you’re anything like the modern woman (or me) and a professional juggler of many things, spending 20 minutes on a skin care routine may not be the best fit for you. However, it is possible to harness the same healthy benefits within minutes… even seconds. Ahead, we’ve rounded up advice from skin care experts and discovered how to master a routine in 90 seconds or less.

    More: The Household Item That Leaves Makeup Brushes Squeaky Clean

    Know the nonnegotiables

    With skin care steps multiplying each year, the days of a simple cleanse seem far, far gone. The dermatologists we spoke with agree that there are three essential steps: cleansing, moisturizing and SPF. “The benefits to a skin care routine lie in the ingredients that are being used, not the amount of products you’re using,” shares Dr. Francesca Fusco, NYC dermatologist. “It is possible to get all the skin care you need from 2 to 3 products.”

    Dr. Suneel Chilukuri, a Houston dermatologist, believes a common consumer mistake is purchasing a multistep regimen that isn’t customized for your particular skin. “Many will turn to these kits as an easy solution, but true experts create a regimen that works best for what you need,” says Chilukuri.

    If you take the time to pick effective and appropriate products, you can spend less time applying them to your face.

    More: The Top-Rated Hand Creams That Rescue Chapped Skin

    Eliminate extra steps

    There are serums, peels, night creams, masks and more that we invest in to target specific needs. However, if you’re narrowing your skin care routine down to 2 to 3 products, it’s simply not possible to include all of these. “Toners and serums are bonus steps that are OK to skip,” shares Dr. Dan Behroozan, director of the Dermatology Institute of Southern California.

    Though these steps can be effective, they aren’t absolutely necessary to achieving a healthy complexion.

    More: The Product-Free Skin Care Advice Experts Swear By

    Pick multitasking products

    We know which steps are essential and which we can nix. Now, let’s talk about the products. Whenever you’re cutting on time or money, you want to find products that are multitasking. “A great way to cut down on your routine is using multiuse products to provide extra benefits without additional time and steps,” shares Behroozan. For example, find a moisturizer infused with SPF or a serum that hydrates. Ahead are dermatologist- and editor-approved multitaskers to consider before downsizing your routine.

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | Dove White Beauty Bar
    Image: Target

    Dove White Beauty Bar

    This bar, which is made up of a quarter moisturizer, cleanses and hydrates your body and face.

    Dove White Beauty Bar, $1.29 at Target

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | StarSkin 7-Second Morning Mask
    Image: Barneys

    StarSkin 7-Second Morning Mask

    Dual-sided pads soaked in a serum meet all your skin needs in a simple swipe. The front side of the pad exfoliates and tones for a brighter complexion. The back side of the pad is loaded with serum, moisturizer and a leave-in mask for extreme hydration and nourishment.

    StarSkin 7-Second Morning Mask, $30 at Barneys

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | La Roche-Posay Substiane
    Image: La Rosay-Posay

    La Roche-Posay Substiane

    Keep skin über-hydrated while diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. This moisturizer is packed with antiaging properties that keep skin tight, firm and youthful.

    Substiane, $56.99 at La Rosay-Posay

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair
    Image: SkinMedica

    SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair

    A moisturizing serum packed with antiaging properties and vitamins to keep skin supple and nourished.

    Total Defense + Repair, $68 at SkinMedica

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | VENN Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate
    Image: Venn Skincare

    Venn Age-Reversing All-in-One Concentrate

    Talk about a powerhouse product! This concentrate replaces toner, essence, serum, lotions and oils in just one application. On top of hydration, this cream reduces the appearance of aging skin and hyperpigmentation and improves texture and tone.

    Age-Reversing All-in-One Concentrate, $185 at Venn Skincare

    Cut Down Your Skin Care Routine | PCA Skin Hydrator Plus SPF 30
    Image: PCA Skin

    PCA Skin Hydrator Plus SPF 30

    A lightweight SPF that hydrates skin without a sticky film or white residue.

    Skin Hydrator Plus SPF 30, $35 at PCA Skin

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    If you've ever envied a celebrity's gorgeous full locks, we hope you know by now they're probably extensions. It's not your fault if you don't roll out of bed with amazing beach waves. Extensions do more than add length; they also add volume. If you have hair that's at least 3 inches long, you can get extensions. You can have them braided, glued or woven in, or if you only want them super-temporarily, you can clip them in as well. And they come in all kinds of colors, so you can match your current hair color or add a highlighting or lowlighting effect.

    What to look for

    "A hairstyle can make or break your look," says stylist and hair extension specialist Cesare Safieh. Safieh cautions there are some important questions to ask when selecting extensions:

    • What are the extensions made from? Are they synthetic or 100 percent natural human hair? (Human hair is more expensive than synthetic counterparts.)
    • How will the extensions be applied and removed?
    • Can you choose from a variety of weights?

    Safieh is a fan of a method of extensions known as Thermo Plastique, which involves a relatively gentle process that can be removed without damage to your hair. (He also adds that the micro bonding points are barely visible.) He says older methods, especially glue, are damaging. "Tracks (sewing) can be too heavy, and metal clips wear out and are hard to brush through."

    "[The goal with] extensions is to have the most natural look you can achieve," says Tony Promiscuo, owner of Atlanta's Godiva Salon, who notes that while synthetic types are most plentiful, human hair is superior in its viability. (In addition, synthetic hair cannot typically be heated, so styling options are limited — meaning forget the blow-dryer and curling iron.)

    "Individual strands allow a customized, more natural look," says celebrity hairstylist and salon owner Philip Pelusi of New York City's Tela salon. "You can play with the color or length and fill in spots that need it more than others. It's a more accurate way to get the desired look."

    What to avoid in hair extensions

    "The most important thing is to avoid extensions and pieces that are heavier than your own hair. If extensions are too heavy, they will damage and break off hair — so hair needs to be long and healthy enough to withstand the pressure," Pelusi points out.

    More: The Best Antiaging Hair Products That Really Work

    Ask about getting a variety of weights, because a single one may not work for everyone. In particular, extensions that do not match your hair are most likely to give you problems. Safieh recommends a type of extensions called Hairdreams, which offer a variety of weights or thicknesses to match your true hair — as well as the ability to preorder highlights and lowlights. Hairdreams last up to seven months and the hair can be reapplied, which also helps to decrease cumulative costs of new hair and removal.

    Specialty methods have emerged from certain salons, such as the Goddess Loc, which has a silicon grip and plastic coating in order to avoid damaging your hair.

    Next: How much are hair extensions?

    A version of this article was originally published in July 2009.

    How much are hair extensions?

    The bad news: Hair extensions aren't cheap. Depending on how much you get, how you get them attached and the type/grade of hair you use, the cost can range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars — and that's not including maintenance every six to eight weeks. Cheap clip-ins retail for around $50, whereas celebrities pay upward of $4,500 for extensions. You will also need to make an investment of time, usually four to six hours, for the initial setup.

    The specialist who will apply your extensions may be called a hair designer, an extensionist or simply a hairdresser. No matter what title he or she uses, be sure they are experienced and have photos to prove it. Also, make sure you understand how they will be removed and how damage to your natural hair can be minimized. No one wants a bald spot.

    More: 7 Insanely Easy (& Pretty) Hairstyles for Wet Hair

    Is caring for your extensions going to give you a headache?

    Do extensions require a great deal of upkeep and time commitment? Not really, says Pelusi. "People just need to keep an eye on them — almost like you would with color or anything else," he adds, suggesting you allow for an hour at the salon every six weeks.

    Caring for your hair extensions

    Different types of extensions require different care, so always make sure to follow instructions for your particular kind. Here are some specific tips to help you care for your extensions:

    • Human hair extensions can be treated as real hair, but more gently.
    • Use a special brush (often a loop brush) made just for extensions so you don't damage the new hair or the bond.
    • A gentle shampoo is recommended, and use cool water to help minimize tangles.
    • A light conditioner will help reduce tangling and keep your new hair supple.
    • Sleep with your hair in a ponytail or braid to avoid bed-head and knots.

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    Being pregnant is probably one of, if not the, wildest experience a woman will ever go through. The body undergoes a major transformation that includes a slew of unpredictable changes. Some feel good and others are simply the worst. Your hair may be long, thick and shiny, but your skin could be in the middle of its worst breakout since sophomore year of high school.

    More: 50 Ways to Look Chic While You’re Expecting

    You just never know how your body will react to the hormonal roller coaster that is pregnancy. Ahead, two dermatologists with years of treating budding mommas break down the most common changes that occur during one of the most exciting (and challenging) times in a woman’s life.

    Your new skin

    Everyone’s experience will be completely different, but overall, there are three main skin concerns that are pretty pregnancy-specific. Melasma is the most common. It’s a condition that causes areas of the facial skin to darken. While melasma isn’t exclusive to pregnant women, it’s more common among them.

    There’s also a chance of developing new allergies when pregnant. Board-certified dermatologist, S. Manjula Jegasothy, CEO and founder of Miami Skin Institute, says these types of allergic reactions mostly manifest as hives.

    And then there is hormonal acne. Fluctuating levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone in your body can bring on the breakouts, and because of the laundry list of products you shouldn’t use while carrying, treating acne can be tricky.

    More: The Real Deal on How HPV Can Impact Your Fertility

    How to treat it

    You’ll likely have to overhaul your entire regimen to both avoid any bigger skin issues and ensure the safety of your budding babe. Melasma can be controlled during pregnancy by minimizing time in the sun, especially without sunscreen. Ladies, SPF is a must!

    The discoloration caused by melasma generally fades within a few months after delivery. If it doesn’t, you can reintroduce certain ingredients back into your regimen to help even things out faster.

    However, dermatologist Amy McMichael advises against cocktailing your own acne remedies. “It’s best not to use too many mixtures of products found over the counter, even if they are labeled as ‘natural,’” she says, as they may have additives that are dangerous. Instead, McMichael recommends using gentle cleansers and moisturizers with fruit acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid.

    “Some dermatologist use topical clindamycin, which is a prescription antibiotic, that helps calm inflammation,” says McMichael. On the not-so-frequent occasion the acne flare-up is major, McMichael says that a doc can use a baby-safe oral antibiotic. “This is usually only initiated in last trimester of pregnancy,” she notes.

    Ingredients to avoid

    “The most important ingredients that women should avoid when they are pregnant are vitamin A derivatives, such as tretinoin (Retin-A) or retinol,” says Jegasothy. They have been linked to birth defects. She adds that while vitamin A-related birth defects have only been documented with the oral ingestion of it, it’s best to play it safe and avoid retinoid-derived skin care all together while pregnant. Instead, Jegasothy suggests adding products with antioxidants such as vitamin C and botanicals like resveratrol.

    Your new hair

    More often than not, women will have some of their best hair ever during pregnancy. Sure, the prenatal vitamins may help a tiny bit, but the real reason your hair is long and thick is because it’s actually not shedding while you’re pregnant. McMichael explains that the growth phase of our hair is usually 3 to 5 years, and there should be about 8 to 10 percent of hairs shedding at any given time. However, during pregnancy, the hairs that are supposed to shed don’t. In short, you have a lot more hair on your head than you should.

    More: How to Support Your Friend Who Just Had a Baby

    How to treat it

    Where many women experience a shift for the worse with their hair is post-pregnancy. Once our bodies start to balance back out from all of the hormonal changes they just went through, hair kind of gets caught in the crossfire. The energy needed to keep it growing is eaten up by other areas of your body. And once the normal hair-shedding process cranks back up again, all that strand buildup from pregnancy will fall out. It seems like you’re losing a ton of hair, when in reality, it’s what you would have lost over time anyway.

    As for what you should or shouldn’t do with your hair during pregnancy, McMichael advises easing up on hair coloring and/or chemical relaxers even though there is little data available on this topic.

    More: What It’s Like to Be Tired During Pregnancy

    Stretch marks

    Let’s clear some things up about stretch marks. First off, they are genetic. Whether or not you get them is unfortunately already written in your DNA. It’s one of the few pregnancy skin issues that isn’t hormonally mediated. But just because it’s in your blood doesn’t mean you can’t help minimize how much your skin actually stretches — the keyword here being minimize, not prevent.

    “Keeping the skin lubricated with thick, bland moisturizers is imperative,” says McMichael. Additionally, make sure you’re using gentle soaps that won’t dry you out. Keeping skin super-hydrated can also help lessen skin sagging after the baby is born.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    When it’s good, it’s really good. And when it’s bad, it’s really bad. There’s really no other way to describe a Reddit thread.

    On any given day, we’re scrolling and clicking our way into an information black hole. What we come out with is always a surprise, especially when it concerns a beauty topic. Threads like MakeupAddiction and Skincare Addiction are constantly schooling us on everything from just-released products to honest reviews on cult classics. But neither of those topics are as entertaining or attention-grabbing as a good old-fashioned hack.

    More: Reddit-Approved Makeup Products for Sensitive Eyes

    We’re well acquainted with the “oldie, but goodie” ones, like mixing moisturizer with foundation or using body heat to warm up mascara. Those are great and all, but the ones we truly love sharing are offbeat and almost impossible to mess up. If you’re anything like us and love tips that live off the beaten path, familiarize yourself with seven of our favorite Reddit-approved beauty tricks below.

    Chafing gel as primer

    What’s made with the same ingredients as makeup primer and three times cheaper? According to Reddit user, i_tell_you_what, it’s Monistat Chafing Gel. Even though it slightly grosses her friends out, the unmedicated version is chock-full of benefits.

    “Its main ingredient is nontoxic silicone Dimethicone. If that sounds familiar it should. It’s the main ingredient in high end primers like Smashbox. I guess figure if you can use the silicone based product with your foundation,” she says.

    “I put it on and let it air dry about a minute. It make the skin very powdery smooth and keeps my foundation from sinking in or getting blotchy spots (which for dry skin is a killer)…An added benefit is when I sweat and I go to blot my foundation under my glasses area, it doesn’t pull off the foundation.”

    More: This Reddit User Discovered a New Way to Clean Makeup Brushes

    Lash-growth cocktail

    Lash serums and conditioners tend to fall on the pricier end, especially those made with ingredients we can barely pronounce. According to Reddit user _JustALittleLate, there’s an affordable alternative that works just as well.

    “Before bed, swipe a bit of your favorite oil onto your lashes. Brush with a spoolie if you’ve got one, then cover with a thin layer of Vaseline. Careful not to get much on your waterline or you could get sties. This has helped my lashes grow and stay strong, as they tend to dry out.”

    Homemade lip scrub

    User Offthepoint is also a fan of Vaseline. When she doesn’t have time to buy and test out premade lip scrubs, she makes her own on the fly.

    “Wet a paper towel and wring it out. Then make a paste in your palm of Vaseline and sugar. Rub the paste all over your lips to exfoliate and wipe that off with the wet paper towel.”

    More: 5 Ways to Save Money on Makeup According to Reddit

    Scrunchies for cleansing

    If you have at least shoulder-length hair, when’s the last time you used a scrunchie for something other than a ponytail? Well, if you also wash your face over a sink instead of the shower, they also prevent cleansers from creeping down your arm.

    According to NimetonTytto, “Putting hair scrunchies on your wrists when washing your face to prevent elbow drippage.”

    We’re assuming the bigger the scrunchie, the more it can soak up. Why didn’t we think of this?!

    DIY makeup eraser

    If you’re low on cash and need a cost-efficient tool for fixing makeup mistakes (because Q-tips don’t always work), you can make your own.

    Reddit user Atomic_Leda suggests ordering a refillable marker like this one on Amazon and filling it with your favorite makeup remover.

    “Works same as e.l.f. one, if not better…fill it with your favorite (better not oily) makeup remover. I use micellar water and it works good. That’s it:) You can get these markers with different tips, I got extra fine for precision. No more screwed up cat eye. Also cleans up mascara on your lids and feathered lipstick. Good to use on the go.”

    More: The Best Plant-Based Brands for Sensitive Skin

    Shaving gel alternative

    Tread lightly with this one. Shaving gel feels great on our skin, but anyone with a busy schedule has resorted to using conditioner or shampoo instead. Although this saves time and money, it can also dull the blades on your razor more quickly and leave them covered in gook.

    Instead of using a gel or lotion, TheHeianPrincess saves her shaving for a bath.

    “I actually don’t use anything to shave my legs, I know it sounds gross but I shave them underwater and it’s enough to stop friction. I read it in a magazine somewhere and haven’t used anything since!”

    Your bathtub may or may not be covered in hair after, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

    Broken palette cure

    There’s nothing more tragic than a broken eye or face palette. Thankfully, there is a quick fix. Reddit user MakeLifeLovely puts the pieces back together by adding a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the compact and allowing it to sit overnight while covered in plastic wrap.

    “The alcohol has to dry out, and once it does your makeup will be totally back to normal, and the alcohol smell will be gone! My blush was perfect the next day, and you never would have guessed that it was a crumbled mess the day before!”

    Now these are hacks we can actually master.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    About a year ago, I read an article about how successful people tend to wear the same thing every day. I happened to read it on the same day I had a particularly brutal early-morning freak-out over what to wear. After realizing my wardrobe dilemma caused me to be more than a half-hour late, I decided to give uniform dressing a try for the rest of the week.

    That night, I went straight home, completely tore apart my closet, and eventually found what was to become my signature look. While uniform dressing of skirt suits paired with power pumps might be common in corporate offices, as a freelance fashion writer, there’s no need for me to dress that formally, nor is it a practical combo to wear as I run around to meetings.

    Instead, I found that I felt my best and most comfortable in a pair of fitted jeans or tailored trousers worn with a slightly oversize sweater or lightweight blouse (depending on the weather). I always seemed to gravitate toward these pieces anyway, but now, instead of figuring that out on the third or fourth try, I’m was able to pull together a look I was happy with immediately.

    While I intended to try this fashion experiment for just a week, I wound up never looking back. Reaching for the same fashion formula day after day has helped me look more pulled together while keeping my mornings stress-free.

    Here are the six biggest ways uniform dressing has changed my life for the better.

    Never being late

    The days of me running to catch my train are finally gone. Before I found my go-to style combo, it didn’t matter how hard I tried or how early I set my alarm. I somehow always managed to be running late. Even on the mornings I didn’t hit snooze or spend that extra 10 minutes lying in bed scrolling through Instagram, I would still manage to get behind schedule as soon as it came time to get dressed.

    The daily question, "Do I want to wear a skirt or pants?" would start running through my head. The inevitable follow-up questions like, "If I want to wear a skirt, are my legs shaved or do I have to wear tights?" trailed behind, and before I knew it, I would be 15 minutes late and still not dressed! Now that I’ve taken the guesswork out of what to wear every day, getting ready in the morning is a breeze. I even have time to make breakfast and chill before I start my day.

    More:  7 Ways to Find Your Uniform, According to Your New Gay Best Friend

    Extra closet space

    Once I found my preferred fashion formula, I cleared my closet of anything that did not fit my new uniform. Now, I only keep classic, versatile pieces that coordinate perfectly with everything else I own. The extra space changed the whole aura of my room, making it feel less cluttered. Plus, it’s much easier to stay organized.

    After I removed the extra pieces, I stopped second-guessing my daily outfit choice. I no longer have to come home to a pile of rejected looks that always used to end up on the floor of my closet. I even made some extra cash in the process by selling my rejects on sites like eBay and Poshmark.

    More free mental space

    I’ve found that adopting a signature look frees my mind from worrying about how I look and allows me to concentrate on other things. I’m no longer concerned about whether my outfit matches or if these pieces I’m wearing look good together. Having a consistent look has helped me feel more confident in knowing I look polished — and like myself — every day. Instead of worrying about what to wear to a meeting, I’m focused on the actual meeting itself.

    More: How to Wear the Mismatched Shoe Trend Like a Street Style Star

    No longer a slave to trends

    As someone who works in fashion, I’ve spent years looking to magazines, blogs and social media to find out the latest trends and how to wear them. Now, while I still love to see what looks are in, I no longer feel the need to constantly replicate them.

    That doesn’t mean I have to fall behind the curve. If there’s a new trend I’m into, I simply incorporate it into my uniform. For example, when bold red tones took over the fall 2017 runways, I was completely enamored — but instead of going overboard and buying everything I saw in the bright hue (like I might have in the past), I simply added a single fiery-red sweater into my rotation.

    Becoming a smarter shopper

    After curating my wardrobe and finding the pieces that work best for me, it’s easier than ever to shop. I can make my way through a store and figure out what options will complement the items in my closet faster and with less hassle. I’m also more willing to invest in high-quality pieces, as I know I’ll get more use out of them.

    Instead of going into Zara every few weeks and spending $300 on six pieces that will be out of style in a month, I take that money and use it to purchase one luxe item, like a cashmere sweater, as I know it will last for years to come and I’ll reach for it time and time again. While I have no problem wearing the same piece two days in a row, if there’s one particular top or pant that makes me look and feel good, I’ll buy it in several colors. That way, I can switch things up and not look exactly the same each day.

    More: 21 Robe-Inspired Dresses & Tops That Basically Let You Wear Pajamas to Work

    Packing is a breeze

    When I traveled in the past, I always stuffed a huge suitcase to the brim with everything and anything I could cram in there because for some reason, I thought it was necessary to pack 12 tops for a five-day trip. But once I was on vacation, I noticed I would always tend to gravitate to the same three or four items during the entire trip.

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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    Ask anyone what their favorite oil is and we can guarantee the answer will probably be coconut, argan, jojoba or any of the other “essentials” toted by wellness experts. There’s much to love about all of them; they’re inexpensive, multitasking and all-natural. While they’re not always the best choice for everyone, their popularity never seems to cease.

    I am one of the few who actually enjoys a more lightweight formula simply because I recognize that something labeled “all-natural” isn’t necessarily natural to my body. This month, I discovered squalane oil and am convinced it will become one of those “must-have” ingredients in 2018.

    Here’s what you should know about it according to Teresa Lo, senior director of marketing at Biossance, a brand that uses plant-derived squalane in each and every one of its products.

    More: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Always Use Coconut Oil

    It’s not squalene

    For starters, squalane shouldn’t be confused with squalene, which you’ve probably heard of before. Squalene is a key component and naturally occurring part of the skin’s lipid barrier. Lipids are essentially the building blocks that make up our skin. The squalene inside our lipid barrier protects us against environmental stressors and also acts as an emollient (softener). In short, we were born with it.

    But according to Lo, “The amount you make and retain decreases over time — reaching peak levels in your teens and starting to decline in your 20s, leaving your skin rough, dry and vulnerable.”

    So, for as long as we can remember, beauty brands have combatted this by putting squalene in their products since it’s an effective moisturizer and mimics the chemistry inside our skin. The problem is that historically, most squalene was and in some cases still is harvested from shark livers — which has a devastating environmental impact.

    “Since squalene is naturally present in high concentrations in mature shark livers, especially deep-sea sharks, they are killed in order to harvest the liver,” says Lo. “The hunting and overfishing puts these species in danger of extinction and negatively impacts the marine ecosystem, as it takes a long time for sharks to reproduce and reach maturity.”

    More: The Best Plant-Based Brands for Sensitive Skin

    It’s safe for the environment

    Thankfully, industry pros have since switched to squalane, which is both a highly versatile emollient and more stable version of squalene. A lot of squalane is derived from olives, an obvious step up from the shark-derived kind, but you just never know what you’ll get in terms of quality.

    That’s why brands like Biossance opt for plant-derived versions instead. They’ve proven to be more sustainable, highly pure and actually effective.

    “Plant-derived means the starting material is a plant source as opposed to animal or petrochemical source,” says Lo. “Our squalane is plant-derived through our proprietary biotechnology, which involves a fermentation process using sugar from sugarcane that is sustainably grown in Brazil.”

    More: Why Your Skin Care Routine Doesn’t Need Extra Steps

    It’s an all-in-one product

    All of that chemistry aside, squalane is simply good for the body. “Because your body already produces squalene, it instantly recognizes squalane once applied to the skin, so it absorbs quickly and easily, unlike other oils that might sit on top of the skin’s barrier. It’s almost like a lock and key — it fits perfectly,” says Lo.

    It’s also weightless, scentless and suitable for the hair and skin, so you don’t have to worry about it causing any irritation. And you can use it in a myriad of ways: hair hydrator, skin moisturizer, cuticle oil, post-sun skin treatment, post-shave treatment… seriously, take your pick. What I love most about squalane is its ability to absorb quickly into the skin without leaving greasy residue behind.

    Lo also says, “Squalane helps preserve and maintain essential moisture, leaves skin exceptionally soft and smooth, accelerates cell turnover and helps reduce signs of redness and irritation.”

    If you still need a little more convincing to trade in your coconut oil for some plant-derived goodness, take a chance on one of my favorite Biossance products below.

    Squalane Oil is the Ultimate Multi-tasker | Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
    Image: Amazon

    Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

    A squalane-infused gel moisturizer that you can apply every morning for healthy-looking skin.

    Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer, $90 at Amazon

    Squalane Oil is the Ultimate Multi-tasker | Biossance 100% Squalane Oil
    Image: Amazon

    Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

    The weightless multitasking stuff we’ve been talking about in a bottle.

    Biossance 100% Squalane Oil, $97 at Amazon

    Squalane Oil is the Ultimate Multi-tasker | Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
    Image: Amazon

    Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

    A lightweight face oil that brightens, moisturizes and firms the skin.

    Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, $144 at Amazon

    Originally posted on StyleCaster.


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