Store Vs. Salon…Project Garnier

For all your beauty advice…

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog announcing my 2 week run on store-bought shampoo. (See Store vs. Salon for all the details) A lot of my clients are always asking me if there really is a difference between the affordable hair care you can buy at the store and the pricier stuff you can only buy at salons. I’ve used salon shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for years so I thought this was a good project to take on. I decided to give it a two-week run and see how I felt about store-bought shampoo. Here is what I bought and here are my thoughts on “Project Garnier”.

After a lot of browsing, I finally decided on the Garnier Fructis Body Boost line. (Again, see Store vs. Salon for how this came about) For 2 weeks straight I shampoo-ed, conditioned, and styled with everything in this line. Upon first use, this wasn’t a bad product. I thought it smelled really nice and it lathered up great! I absolutely love lathering up in the shower. Studies have shown that the lathering agent used in shampoo is not good for your hair at all. You should not hear your hair squeak when you are rinsing your shampoo, that means the natural oils are being stripped off your hair shaft and it’s causing damage. I know this…I have been taught this…I do not care to listen to this. I like suds-the more the better. (I think I just heard one of my beauty school instructors gasp!) The conditioner was nice, good at detangling and not too heavy. After my shower, I applied the Volumizing Gel. The gel in this line is very thick, so a little goes a long way. I will probably have this tube of hair gel for the rest of my life! After the gel, and right before styling, I applied the Root Booster. I styled my hair just like I do every day, I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. The result? Well, for day one I thought: “it’s only ok”. My hair felt clean so that was a good sign, but as for volume? None. It actually fell flat not long after I styled.

The second day I followed the same regime; I didn’t change anything from day one. After I was done styling, I noticed my hair was slightly fly-away and the texture of my hair was strangely soft. The only way I can describe this is it felt like there was a fine layer of “ick” coating my hair. Starting to wonder if I can really continue this for the 2 weeks I have committed myself to.

The third day I had a revelation! I hate this Volumizing Gel…I physically hate it!! It is so thick that just putting this crap into my hands before I work it into my hair has me on the verge of gagging. Maybe it’s just me? Personally, I don’t like a lot of product on my hair at all. The stylists that have gotten their hands on my hair think just because it’s thick, it needs tons of product. I remember one stylist putting styling mousse into her hand to apply to my hair and she literally filled her entire palm about 3 inches high with that stuff and then put it on me. I went home and washed it immediately. This gel did nothing for me…except make me cringe.

Five days into this project and I had the insane idea to go ahead and put the cheapest hair color I could find on my hair to see if it was a good product. (See Store Vs. Salon…Haircolor for that fiasco!) I damaged my hair and I was wondering if the conditioner in this line would be enough moisture for my now frizzy ‘do. No, it was not. Back to the store I went to find a good deep conditioner. I decided at this point that I had it with store product, so I went to the beauty supply to pick up a good salon quality deep conditioner and get my hair back in shape. The place was really crowded for some reason and I didn’t want to wait in line for one item so I put it back. I decided to stay committed to this project and I found a deep conditioner made by Garnier in their Sleek & Shine line. It’s a 3 minute hair mask for dry and damaged hair. I used this 3 minute hair mask every day until the end of my project. It helped quite a bit with the frizzies, so that was a good thing.

Day 15, the day after “Project Garnier” was over, I went back to my salon shampoo. I missed it! I will keep the Garnier shampoo and conditioner as a back-up in my shower, but I won’t be using it every day. My overall thought? It wasn’t bad. It didn’t cause my hair any damage or do anything fantastic to it, either. I think the main thing was I just hated the gel. And the Root Boost I mentioned earlier? Love it! I will definitely hold on to that one. It’s great if you apply it when your hair is about halfway dry. Pick up random sections of your hair on the top of your head and spray this product at the roots, you’ll notice good volume but your hair won’t feel coated. I admit I stopped using the gel after the first week, I hated it that much.

So, in this installment of Store Vs. Salon…I’ll say it’s a tie. Except for that gel. Anyone who wants to take it off my hands, I will happily give it to you. My personal preference is what I know, so I prefer salon brands, but when my clients ask me what I think of store brands and if they are any good, I’ll finally have an answer…and a good story.

You’ve Been Beautified!

What I’m loving right now and mmmmmm… not so much!

For all your beauty advice…

Last week, I posted a review of three products. Two of them I thought were fabulous, one of them…not so much! I like the idea of reviewing 3 products in one post. It’s informative and a small variety. I thought of doing up to 5 products in one review, but I think 3 is good; it’s not too overwhelming. This week, I am reviewing products I have used for a long time. It’s hard to review a product I have only had for a short time, you don’t really know what the long-term results of a skin care item are going to be in just one week or so. This weeks products fall into all different categories…skin care, makeup and fragrance.

Product #1: Tarte Natural Cheek Stain in Flush. Tarte is an awesome line! One very beneficial thing about working at Sephora is all the training they give you. I’ll miss that when I am not there anymore. Not only do they teach you about all new products, but they teach you about the history of a product line. It’s interesting to hear about how some things come to life. What I learned about Tarte is that a woman named Maureen Kelly started this line in 1999. She wasn’t a makeup artist, but she loved makeup. Her goal was to find the healthiest ingredients for her products. I was told it wasn’t moving as fast as she wanted it to and she was getting discouraged. On the brink of deciding to give it all up, she lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks in New York City. This was her wake up call to dig in and do it, and boy did she! It’s a really inspirational story about not giving up and rebuilding your life. Anyway…I used to be afraid of cheek stains. I’ve said before that I have oily skin so anything that feels creamy or sticky, I stay away from. I decided to get over myself and try one of the stains. Now, when you check these out at your local Sephora, don’t freak out by the colors! They look very dark in the packaging, but they go on very sheer. The one I use looks like a dark, dark red/purple in the tube, but it goes on a nice pink and just gives my cheeks a subtle flush…hence the color name, Flush. It lasts all day, too! It’s got Acai fruit extract, Pomegranate extract and Goji berry extract. These all work to fight free radicals, brighten the skin, and they have anti-aging properties in them. Used over time, your skin starts to look amazing! It retails for $28 and it will last forever. A must have for everyone if you ask me! You can find this and all other awesome Tarte products at and

Product #2: Pacifica Solid Perfume in Lotus Garden Solid perfumes are a thing of beauty! I love how they aren’t messy and they don’t feel sticky after you’ve applied them. At least this one doesn’t. Pacifica is a fun line of perfumes, home fragrances and body lotions. They make all kinds of wonderful smelling stuff…All their products smell like a vacation. (If I can remember correctly what a vacation is) Check out their site at Lotus Garden fragrance is one of my favorites by this line. I don’t know exactly what notes of fragrance are in this scent, I just know I like it…a lot! It’s a good mix of floral, fruity and citrus. I like to mix the Lotus Garden solid perfume  with the Tuscan Blood Orange scent from this same line. Layering fragrances is a lot of fun and I like to wear more than one at a time. These solid fragrances retail for $9, so stock up and start layering!!

Mmmmmm…not so much: Pharmagel Firming Eye Gel. I bought this a few months ago at my beauty supply. I was using the cleanser and lotion in their skin care line and thought I would add an eye cream. I chose this gel based eye treatment because of my oily skin, but I didn’t like how it felt and I never saw any changes in the skin under my eyes. Not worth the retail price of $32. I highly recommend everything else in this line, but they missed the mark with the Firming Eye Gel.

I hope you enjoyed reading my review. Let me know if there is a product you are curious about, I’ll let you know what I think! Stay tuned for the next review.

You’ve Been Beautified!

Q&A Monday

For all your beauty advice…

Welcome to a new installment of Brookeknowsbeauty! Every Monday, I will be answering your questions about hair, nails, skin care, etc. I will give you my opinions on products you ask about, give you insider tips and give you advice on your questions. Please feel free to send me questions by replying to this post! This week, I emailed a large group of women and asked them to fire away with questions for me and I received a lot of great ones. I will try to answer as many questions as I can a week, but if you don’t see your question here don’t worry, I will try to feature it in a later post. Here we go:

I have a date tomorrow, my toes are french pedicured, but what color on my fingers will be sexy and modern????? LBseaHAG
French pedis are very cute and always look great. Sexy and modern on the fingernails…go for something dark and bold like a deep red/brown or dark purple. This allows you to have some fun, but still keep it neutral. I’ve seen some really cool blues and greens, but save those for date 3 or 4. From what I’ve heard, guys tend to be a little put off by crazy colors at first. Let him get to know you before you unleash all the fun nail polish colors! Have fun!!
I want a big change with my hair and my hubby wants me to go dark and shorter. I am afraid to go dark. What is your opinion on this?? How is the best way to pick a good color for your hair for your skin tone and face shape or does that even matter? Thanks for all your help!! I love the blog btw!! Kristi M. 
I would suggest going darker in stages. A great way to do this is to start adding lowlights to your hair instead of just taking the plunge and doing all over dark…that would be pretty drastic. Face shape doesn’t really matter with color, that’s more with cut. But do keep in mind that if you are going to go darker, you will need to make some small adjustments with your makeup application as well…slightly darker eye shadows, liner, etc. Good luck and let me know if you have any other q’s. Glad you are enjoying the blog!
How do I get rid of dark circles under my eyes? Jennifer B.
A great way I’ve discovered to start healing those circles is to take used tea bags and refrigerate until they’re nice and cold. Green and Black tea work the best for this. (herbal tea like chamomile won’t help) make sure it’s caffeinated because the caffeine helps with any puffiness. Cucumbers, raw potato and even kiwi are also helpful with reducing puffiness and improving circulation. Try doing this a couple times a week, you should notice a difference within a month. Benefit Cosmetics makes a good eye cream called Eyecon…it works on fading dark circles and any fine lines (not that we have any, right?). A good concealer always works wonders, too! Hope this helps! 
If you could make over any celebrity, who would it be and what would you do? Thanks, Holly Would
Love the name, Holly…If I could make over any celebrity…hmmmm, that’s a tough one. The entertainment industry is all about glamour and people have full-time jobs making celebrities look gorgeous so it’s hard to choose one.  After looking at some magazines this weekend, I came across a picture of Rachel McAdams. She is beautiful, but her blonde hair is washing that beauty out. I would give her a medium brown hair color with caramel colored highlights à la Jennifer Aniston. Maybe she colored her hair for a movie, maybe not. Either way, it’s all wrong for her and I would love to get my hands on that hair! If I could choose celebrities to make under, I would choose Mariah Carey and give her clothes in her size…she dresses way too tight for that figure. She needs to celebrate those curves, not suffocate them in her clothes! And, I would love to get the chance to do some reconstruction on any of the over made Housewives on Bravo.
I look forward to any questions you have for me…keep them coming!
You’ve been  beautified!


Family Spa Night!

For all your beauty advice…

We all know how valuable “me” time is. I can’t think of a more perfect scenario…all alone, bubble bath, glass of wine, mask, scrub, mani, pedi…all the time to yourself to think or just zone out and relax. As wonderful as that alone time is, it can be fun to include the kids! After all, where are our daughters going to learn the beauty of spa time if not first hand from mom? Every now and then, I’ll set aside some time to share the spa experience with my girls. This does not rule out boys. I see a lot of moms in our store with their sons picking out fun smelling bath products. By teaching boys at a young age how nice it is to pamper themselves, 2 things can happen. #1 he will appreciate taking care of himself as he grows older and #2 he will totally understand when his wife absolutely has to have a massage or she will die! May as well teach them this while they’re young, right? Here are just a few ideas that we’ve done. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a good bonding experience with the kids!

Bathtub Pedicures: This is one of my favorite treats to share with my daughters. It’s also one of the easiest! To set the mood, we’ll light some candles and put them around the tub. We run the water, add some bath salts and some bubble bath and then soak our feet. I like to enjoy a glass of wine while we do this, and I make sure my younger spa patrons are served something fruity and non-alcoholic in a wine glass. We’ll soak for about 15 minutes and chat while we enjoy the warm water and bubbles. After we apply a nice moisturizer and polish each other’s toe nails. Well, my girls polish each other’s nails, I polish my own because I’m a control freak when it comes to my nail polish.

Yogurt and Honey Face Mask: My girls always like to watch me mask. It used to scare them when they were really little! The way the mask dries and turns a strange color would make them freak out…I guess I looked pretty bad, but I love the end result.  They are always wanting to try my products, but obviously putting a deep cleansing clay mask on such young and sensitive skin is out of the question. I looked around a lot on the internet and in stores for a mask my kids could do with me. I came across a recipe for a yogurt and honey mask. It’s great for sensitive skin, moisturizing and very easy to make. Take 1 tsp. of plain yogurt; 1 tsp. of honey…you will want to microwave the honey for about 20 seconds to get it to a runny texture. If 20 seconds isn’t enough, try 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency. Mix the two ingredients together, make sure it’s not too hot and apply to your face, leave on for 15 minutes and remove with a warm, wet washcloth. This recipe makes one mask, so double or triple the measurements as needed. Follow with a light moisturizer and you’ve just had a mini facial!

Hand scrub/mini manicure: Another fun spa treatment to do is a hand scrub you can make at home, followed by a mini manicure. It’s made with olive oil and brown sugar…2 ingredients almost everyone has in their pantry. It’s very simple to make. 2tbs. olive oil, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar. Mix together and rub into your hands, pushing your cuticles back while you’re scrubbing. Rub into hands for about a minute, you can leave it on for up to 5 minutes for maximum softening results. Rinse well under warm water and follow up with a moisturizer. Moisten a cotton ball with a little rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to remove the lotion or any residue from your nails. If your nails are oily, the nail polish won’t dry. Finish up with polishing your nails and your spa night is complete.

We like to set the mood for the night when we indulge in Family Spa Night. Bathrobes, slippers and a stress free attitude are required. I enjoy these night with my girls, even though they are not often enough. I hope you enjoy some of these tips with your family. Don’t have kids? No worries, ask some girlfriends over or have a really quiet spa night with just you and your hubby!

You’ve been beautified!

What I’m loving right now and mmmmmm…not so much!

For all your beauty advice…

I have a lot of makeup…a lot. I am sometimes embarrassed by the amount of “stuff” I have in my bathroom. Once upon a time I worked at one of the L’Occitane boutiques (this is pronounced lox-ee-tahn). They have incredible products there! When I worked there and we were doing a floor change, a very unique display piece was about to be thrown away. I couldn’t let that happen, so I took it home with me to organize my makeup. It is made of wood and has levels that resemble stairs and many compartments on the sides. A friend of mine once deemed it “the altar”. I’ll try to post a picture of it one day. I definitely had plenty to fill it up and I am constantly rotating my products around and rearranging it. It’s a very cool piece and I feel like it was made just for me. I have enough products on this “altar” to keep me busy experimenting, and now writing. I will post on here weekly about what products I am in love with and which ones I kind of wish I never met. Here are two products I am loving this week…

Product #1: Laura Mercier Shimmer Lip Colour  in Amaretto. It’s kind of a mauvey-bronzy-brown. It’s a good neutral and can be worn with a light lipliner and a shimmery gloss on top of it for a daytime look. If you want to take it into an evening look, just apply it a little heavier and top with a bronze gloss. Laura Mercier products are very nice to touch and she’s an amazing makeup artist. This lipstick goes on so smooth, I often reach for it over lip balm when my lips are feeling dry. It retails for $22.  Some may think this is way too much to spend on a lipstick… my husband sure does. It’s not the cheapest thing in the world, but it will last you a long time, so if you break it down over the 3 or 4 months it will last you, then really it’s not that bad. You just have to get over the initial sticker shock and know it’s going to be around for awhile.

Product #2: Benefit “Honey…snap out of it!” scrub. I love Benefit for a number of reasons. (I don’t like them for discontinuing my favorite product. To see more on that look at my blog titled “Discontinued”) This is a great scrub that can be incorporated into any skin care regime. It’s made with honey, Vitamin E, and finely crushed almonds for a great scrubby texture. It smells awesome and so far, I’m loving it! It can also be used as a mask for a deeper cleansing experience. It reccommends use in the a.m. but using it at night is just fine, too. It retails for $28, so it’s a bit of an indulgence, but I think it’s worth it. You won’t be using it every day; my guess is it will last 4 months or more so when you break the initial price down, it’s affordable.  My personal experience is, I like to feel like a scrub is really “scrubbing” my skin, but of course not taking off a full layer like using a Brillo pad might feel. Definitely worth it, so next time you’re in the market for an exfoliator, this one is a great one to try! Hint: A little really does go a long way with this product…no need to use a ton!

So, this week I am loving Laura Mercier Shimmer Lip Colour and Benefit “Honey…Snap Out Of It!” Scrub. Two great products that have made me happy!

Mmmmmm…not so much: Maniac Liner by Sephora has truly disappointed me. This was surprising, because I really like the Sephora Collection and I’m not just saying that because I work there. This liner enticed me for a few reasons. First, it was really affordable. $6.00 for a lip liner? I’ll take all of them!! It has the liner on one end and a brush for your lipstick or gloss on the other end. Great packaging, too! However, the liner is very dry and falls out of the pencil. It is impossible to sharpen and that’s just irritating! I think I have only been able to use this product once and it was a struggle to get it to go on my lips. I got hooked on the Sephora Collection when the store first became popular. What enticed me was the price of everything in the line is so affordable. The glosses are amazing and the eyeshadows come in so many colors, it’s hard to choose. I was excited to try this lip liner because I liked the neutral brown it came in. But, in the end, this lip liner did nothing for me. I don’t reccommend it at all. I do know that Sephora recently reformulated a lot of their eyeshadows and lipsticks, so maybe this one is going to get a makeover? It can use it!

I hope you enjoyed reading my review. Let me know if there is a product you are curious about, I’ll let you know what I think!

You’ve been beautified!

Store vs. Salon…hair color

I am still in my 2 week trial of what I am going to call “Project Garnier”. It got me thinking that if I am going to try shampoo, conditioner, and all the styling products, maybe I should give hair color a twirl too? It’s been about 2 months since I last colored my hair, so I decided to take the plunge and pick up something from Target. I don’t color my hair too often…just when I’m bored with it or I want to play around. When I do, I always stay close enough to my natural color so I don’t have to keep up with it all the time. This is one of the reasons I have never indulged in highlights…I know for a fact that I am not going to stay on top of that every 6-8 weeks, so I stick to all over color.

I picked up the most inexpensive color I could find. I was actually very surprised at how expensive hair color is at the store. I guess in comparison to what you are charged at a salon it’s a good deal, but I am used to paying around $5.00 for a tube of hair color and about the same amount on a bottle of developer that will last me a long time. Just as I felt lost in the shampoo aisle at Wal Mart, I was a little lost picking out a hair color for myself at Target. I am used to seeing and touching a hair color swatch to see what the color is supposed to look like, but I found myself starting at various models on the front of the boxes and wondering why they all had one eye covered by their hair. No one really wears their hair that way…a friend of mine says it’s a driving hazard to have your eye covered like that, I had to remind her after they take the picture I am sure the hair is moved out of the face. I had to remind myself that and refocus on a color. I ended up picking Revlon Colorsilk #32, Dark Mahogany. I picked up the box, and then I looked at the price. $2.99. Wow…all the others were $9.00 or more, why is this one only $2.99? I am going to find out.

I have to admit, I’m a little scared. I have the box right here in front of me and I am examining its contents before I take the plunge…The box says it will leave my hair in better condition. My hair is pretty fabulous (my sister’s is even better!) so if it can improve my hair, then right on! Wow, that was really arrogant, but I am going to keep it! It’s permanent color and it’s advertising 100% grey coverage…I don’t need that because grey hairs are not allowed to grow on my head. I’ve had this conversation with them and they know better…they will be plucked out and disposed of. There is an old saying that goes “If you pluck 1 grey hair, 8 will come to its funeral” Not true…I’ve done my research on this subject and pluck away my friends! Unless you have only grey, then you’re toast if you pluck all those out and that’s your issue, not mine.  Ok, back on track here. Inside the box it has the color bottle that has the developer in it, a separate little brown bottle that I add to the developer to make #32 Dark Mahogany Brown come to life, after-color conditioner and an instruction sheet that has gloves adhered to it… Whoever thought of that? Genius! I don’t have to follow the instructions, but I will so I can’t find fault if something goes wrong. But the gloves? Probably won’t wear them. I’ll advise anyone else to wear them, but having done this for years, I prefer to really have my hands in the product..even if it does burn after a while! (please don’t try that at home! Use the gloves, and I will try to remember to use them too) Ok, here I go. I will report back with my “after” experience…

45 minutes later…I let the color process for 25 minutes just like the box said. 2 minutes into this process and my head was on fire. Wow! Chemical reactions in the making and I was not enjoying this!! If you have seen the movie The Hangover, you probably remember the smoldering chair in the ‘day after’ scene. This is what my head felt like. At 16 minutes left, I poured a glass of wine to hopefully put out some of the fire. I asked Scott if my head was smoking like the chair from that movie…he actually looked close to see if there was smoke; there was not. Really? Ok. My eyes are starting to tear up because of the overwhelming scent of ammonia in the color. I am calmly waiting for the timer to go off so I can rinse.

Whew! I feel like I ran a marathon. Seriously, my heart started beating faster during the coloring process. The after-conditioner had a nice texture to it and it smelled nice. It’s hard to tell right now what the final result is and if I will like it. Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

8:00 a.m. Sunday morning: Ok, I have damaged my hair. It’s not beyond repair, but trying to shampoo my hair thoroughly this morning proved to be a challenge. If your hair feels like straw and tangles into a big clump on top of your head while you’re cleansing it, that’s a pretty good indication that there is some damage. Trying to style my hair was fun, I fought just to get a brush through it. Once it’s dry and styled, I take a closer look. The color is not bad. It’s a little lighter than what the box advertised and I always prefer to go darker. There isn’t much shine unless I use a ton of product. Feeling my hair when it’s dry and styled, it feels like it’s had a layer stripped off it and it’s very dry. I can’t remember all the chemical differences that I learned in school like what the PH is supposed to be, alkaline vs. acid, etc. but I do remember what dry, damaged hair feels like…and I’m sporting that now. Lovely. Well, I was curious to see if there was a difference and yes my friends, there is…a big one. In this installment of Store vs. Salon, salon won…big time! It’s not the end of the world, time and a good deep conditioner will have my hair back to normal and fabulous soon enough. And, just so you all know, you don’t have to have a license to get your hands on the professional color. You can pick up professional color at Sally’s Beauty Supply, you just have to know how to mix it and apply it right, and that’s what I’m here for. Fire away with any questions!!

Hopefully this post has been informative. If I have saved just one person from fried hair, then that’s enough for me. No need to run out and damage your hair…I just did it for you!

You’ve been beautified!

Long toenails…cool or creepy?

For all your beauty advice…

A truly fantastic friend of mine posed this question to me today (Yes Kim, you are that friend!) Long toenails…cool or creepy? For some reason, letting your toenails grow has become a bit of a trend. I have seen a lot of matching manicures and pedicures that have quite a bit of nail art on them. I admire people who can do nail art, it is a true talent. But, I think the whole long toe nail thing is a little creepy. I wanted to do some research on this subject and when I googled “long toenails” I was pretty disgusted with what images popped up. I just wanted to see what the trend was all about, not have my eyes subjected to the horror that I saw! I don’t even know if I have the ability to grow my toenails that long, but I do know I sure as heck will never try!

It takes a lot to really gross me out. Cutting hair and doing manicures and pedicures in a beauty school that was right next door to a senior high-rise, I’ve seen it all!! Hair and nails that have fully gone through the aging process will toughen up even the most squeamish person! I’ll spare all of you the interesting details/insider information on giving someone a pedicure…there are certain things that are better left unsaid! I know a lot of people who won’t even look at someone’s feet without freaking out. I am cracking up right now as I’m trying to write this and give an honest, professional opinion on this subject! I can think of quite a few angles I could go with this, but I think I will just get to the point and say: No, it is not cool. It is creepy and unattractive and I honestly don’t know why people are doing this!

That’s not to say that nail art and fun colors don’t look great on a nicely pedicured foot, they do. With spring right around the corner, spas and salons will soon be booked solid with women who want some fancy looking feet. I just hope that everyone takes it to heart that really, the length of the toenail should not exceed that of the toe itself. There are enough ways to bling yourself out and accessorize your nails without growing out what I call a “monkey toe”. If I  have thoroughly grossed any of you out, I apologize  but just know, it could have been worse…a lot worse. Toe-tally bad! Sorry…couldn’t resist!

You’ve been beautified!