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!

To chop or not to chop…that is the question

For all your beauty advice…


To chop or not to chop…Hair cutting chains like Great Clips, Fantastic Sam’s, Super Cut’s, etc. are often referred to in this industry as “chop shops”. Basically that just means that there are many, and a lot of them have a not so good reputation. So, what is the point of the chop shop? Well, the concept is that you can get a quality hair cut at a quality price without ever having to make an appointment. Wow, that sounds great! But, is it true? I know some of the places will take appointments…kind of. It’s not really an appointment so much as a wait list. You can call some of these places, I think Fantastic Sam’s does this, and tell them you’re on your way, and please put your name on the list. I know for a fact Great Clips doesn’t do this…even though customers will try to do it.

When I got my license 16 (wow) years ago, I had a job as an apprentice lined up immediately, thanks to the guys that once did my hair. (Gilbert and Cory, where are you??) They were working at Paul Garcia’s in Cherry Creek. I felt very fortunate that they wanted to hire me as soon as I passed the state board test and train me with all their knowledge. I can’t even tell you how nervous I was to start with them. Hairstylist’s are of a different breed! They, like most artists, can be very temperamental and suffer from ADD. I started working for them and eased into it slowly. It was a lot of shampooing, mixing color and sweeping. While on the job with them, I found out quickly that they were not fans of coming to work every day…really, that’s fine, but a phone call would have been nice. I can’t tell you how many times I got to the salon, got one of their clients prepped for her cut, just to have the receptionist come tell me that they weren’t coming into work that day. More than one of their clients left that place looking like a shaggy wet dog because they certainly didn’t want the assistant to even try to blow dry their hair. I scored a lot of days off, but when you’re working for cash under the table, this is not lucrative…or informative. I remember going in one day and having them hand me their appointment book and telling me to quietly write down all names and phone numbers of their clients. They told me later that we would be changing salons the following week to Charlie Price salon a few blocks away. Worked for me! I hated working at Paul Garcia’s. The stylists were unfriendly and I don’t think Paul Garcia himself ever said one word to me. In fact, I believe he was once voted worst salon by a local magazine! I was excited about our new place…maybe now I would learn something. Nope…here’s what I learned as an assistant: I learned how to shampoo hair (really well, by the way), I learned to fetch lunch/coffee/dry cleaning, I learned how to mix color ( knew that on day one of beauty school…heck, I knew that before beauty school) and I learned how to clean up after 3 stylists. Yes, 3, because now I had started working for one other stylist there. Gina…she was actually really cool and did teach me some stuff. And she’s now one of the proud owners of Blondie’s! Oh, I also learned how to drink margarita’s over lunch and go back to work slightly tipsy…you might want to rethink a 1:00 or 2:00 appointment on a Friday afternoon if your stylist likes to party…FYI. There’s always a chance cocktails were a part of lunch…many times cocktails were lunch! It didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t being taught anything. I wanted to learn, hands on! I decided that I was going to apply at Great Clips. Not really where I saw myself going in this industry, but it got me on the cutting floor and it was giving me experience.

When you first start at Great Clips, they send you to training to learn to cut hair their way. Great! You really don’t learn any technique in beauty school, just the basics, so I was thrilled to learn something. I will give GC props for their training and their method of cutting hair. I still use it to this day. Now, the reality of working there is surreal. I was in a busy spot and on average I think I did 25 hair cuts a day. I cannot even begin to tell you how exhausting that is. I wanted to go full time cutting hair, and boy did they throw me in full time! I was not the best stylist when I first started. Some people are…they learn the basics and their natural talent shines through…I really had to grease my wheels with practice in order to get good. My first few months were not good. I admit that. I am sorry for any haircuts I have screwed up along the way…but come see me now, I rock! The thing about GC was they truly expected you to be fast and good. To them a quality experience included a complete consultation, cut and blow dry all in about 13 minutes. The faster you were, the more you got paid. A whopping few cents more an hour, but hey, it adds up right? Well, not really. The amount they add on to your pay really isn’t a lot so it’s not motivating to go that fast. Plus, I’m just a firm believer that people want and deserve more attention than 13 minutes for a quality cut.

So, the question is, is it worth it to try a chop shop? I would have to discourage you from this. Why? Well, #1 these places have really raised the price of their haircuts in the last few years. At GC, if you start adding on things like a shampoo (that should be included in the price, if you ask me. It’s absolutely gross to just wet down dirty hair and start cutting it. Did that make any of you sick?) or having the stylist just round brush your hair while they’re drying it, you could end up paying very close to what you would pay at a full service salon. #2, the atmosphere in a chop shop is very clinical and pretty boring. I think walking into a place that is edgy or pretty should be part of the experience. And #3, (most importantly) You really don’t know what kind of stylist you’re going to get. Are you getting someone straight out of school that only knows the basics, or are you getting someone who’s been at it awhile? Is the stylist that calls your name having a bad day. Seriously…you do not want to get a haircut from someone in a pissy mood. And, unfortunately, a lot of the stylists who work in chop shops are in pissy moods…all the time! You might wonder, if it makes you so angry to work there, why work there? Well, it’s easy to get stuck in these places, I know I did. Your clientele is there for you, so you don’t have to work on building it up and it’s fast money because of the tips. Plus, I wasn’t in a place where I had the luxury to work at a full service salon and build up my business. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good stylists who make their careers in these places. I worked with one girl who has been there 10 years, Josie at the Colorado Blvd. and I-25 location. She is awesome and she has built up a good customer base, but because she is so popular, it’s kind of hard to get in with her and since GC doesn’t take appointments there’s always a long wait for her. But really, for the most part, you are just going to come across people who won’t be there long and they hate their job, so getting a good cut is just what I said…hit or miss.

Would I go to one of these places to get my hair cut? Honest answer…no. Maybe it’s because I know what truly goes on behind closed doors at these places, but honestly I think  you just don’t know what you’re going to get and if you’re going to spend any amount of money on yourself, it should be at a place where you feel pampered. Beauty is an investment, so do it right!

You’ve been beautified!

Store vs. Salon

For All Your Beauty Advice…

In a previous post, I mentioned that makeup you can  buy at Wal Mart, Target, etc. is very different quality than what you get at Nordstrom, Sephora, etc. Many studies have been done that show they are basically the same product, made with the same ingredients, you are just paying for the brand name. They may have a lot of the same ingredients, but I know they are made with different levels of all that stuff they put in there. In my personal opinion, I notice a big difference in quality. I do believe there is a huge markup on the retail price when it’s put into a high end store, but I also believe you get what you pay for. So, if that’s the take on makeup, I am wondering if it’s the same on hair care.

Having had my cosmetology license for 16 years now, I rarely buy my hair products at the grocery store. Because I can buy hair products at a wholesale price, there’s never really been a need to purchase my shampoo and conditioner from anywhere but the beauty supply. What you might be paying for Aussie or Pantene, I am paying for Biolage or Paul Mitchell. I mentioned the markup on the price of makeup, it’s the same in hair care. Think about it, if you are paying $12 at your local salon for an 8 oz. bottle of shampoo, I am able to get it for $6 at my beauty supply. Ouch! There has to be some profit they are making from the stylists purchase and it just gets better for the manufacturer when it’s purchased in a retail outlet. (Seriously, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry and I want a piece of the pie!)  But, is it really better for you than the stuff you can buy anywhere? I don’t know…but I’m going to find out!

I ran out of shampoo and conditioner this week. I live right by my beauty supply store (that’s pretty dangerous!) so I stopped in there a few days ago to purchase my goods. The supply places are usually pretty small and only have one person at a time working there. The last few times I’ve been in there, I grab what I need and head to the register…only to find myself standing in line behind a salon owner who happens to be stocking her back bar…this means she has a huge purchase to make and I have to wait until they have rung it all up and recounted it to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. Given my level of patience, this has been a whole lot of fun for me when I just need to pick up one tube of haircolor! But, out of respect for a fellow stylist, I put my happy face on and mentally pull her hair! I went in on Monday to grab what I needed and, you guessed it, I had to wait…and wait…and wait…and wait (is that irritating you yet? repeat that about 40 more times and you might feel a little bit like I did then!) I realized this was going to take forever, so I put back my product and left. Note to Aerial beauty supply: this is getting really irritating and I am thinking of finding a different place to get my products…not that you really care…

I left there with the thought that I want to try new things and review them, so the next time I had to run to the grocery store, I would put shampoo and conditioner on my list and get it from there. Yesterday was the day…I actually felt a little lost wandering the shampoo aisle at Wal Mart (yes, I shop at Wal Mart sometimes, but only the one off Arapahoe, the one off Hampden makes me violent!) I saw familiar names, Pantene…what I know about that is, Vitamin E broken down to its smallest molecule is still too thick for your hair to truly absorb it, so it’s just coating your hair, weighing it down and giving the illusion of soft and shiny. Moved right on by that one. Aussie…did I want to add some ‘roo to my do? No…Dove…I like what they’re doing with their advertising with real women and not stick figures, but nothing caught my eye. I was looking for something equivalent to what I put back at the beauty supply. I was going to purchase some volumizing shampoo by Big Sexy Hair…the name is horrible, but I like their stuff and lately, I’m all about having some volume in my hair…maybe it’s a nod to the ’80’s making a comeback in fashion?

I was about to give up and just go back and get my stuff at Aerial when it caught my eye. Garnier Fructis Body Boost…I hadn’t tried it before and it was certainly eye catching in it’s neon green bottle…I think I had a purse this color in the 8th grade. It smelled pretty good and the price wasn’t too bad, either. Sarah Jessica Parker endorses their stuff and if it’s good enough for Carrie Bradshaw then it must be ok, right? Someone once told me that when a celebrity endorses a product, they are only required to use it 1 time, then they can say they are a user and then it won’t be false endorsement…don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s always interested me. I put the shampoo and conditioner in my cart and then I saw some stuff they were getting rid of from Christmas. There was a gift set (who gives shampoo for Christmas? that just seems odd…but ok, I guess) that contained not only the shampoo and conditioner I was buying, but two styling products in there as well. So, I picked it up for $8.00. Not a bad deal considering I got 4 full size products for the price I was about to pay for only the shampoo by BSH (Big Sexy Hair).

I am going to use all 4 products on a daily basis for the next two weeks and then report back on what I think of this line. Will it dry my hair out? Will it give me static? Will I truly notice a difference from store vs. salon? I have been taught since beauty school that this stuff will ruin your hair if it’s not a “professional” line. Am I nervous to try it? Honestly, no…but I am curious to see if it can impress me or not. Stay tuned…

You’ve Been Beautified!


For all your beauty advice…

Why does this happen to us?? Right now I’m just wondering why it happens to me? You find a product you absolutely love and when you go to stock up on it, it’s gone! Really?? I understand that one’s treasure is another one’s trash and vice versa, but what a dark moment it is when your favorite, go-to, beauty product just up and disappears. I am really bummed out right now, I might hold a service of mourning this weekend. This seems to be happening a lot lately, and not just with makeup. I used to love those South Beach lunches that were like Lunchables for adults. Went to stock up on them one day and after searching 3 grocery stores, I finally contacted Kraft via email and asked what was going on. (Yes, I contact companies all the time. Dorky? Maybe, but they actually do like to hear from the consumer…plus sometimes they’ll send you free stuff, and I’m all over that!) They wrote back and told me they pulled all South Beach lunches from the shelves and will make them no more…there simply wasn’t enough demand for them. THEN…I go to buy my favorite yogurt. Have you ever tried White Chocolate Raspberry by Yoplait? OMG!! It’s like dessert…or it was until Yoplait decided it wasn’t popular enough to keep making it. (Yes, I contacted them and that was the email response I got!) Are you kidding me? I used to sell that stuff to strangers browsing that aisle! I would tell them how good it was and they would pick it up…Yoplait owes me a supply of White Choc. Raspberry…or commission for the products I sold, right? Ok, this isn’t about food, but I’m just trying to make a point that this happens everywhere,
all the time.

I had a woman come in our store last week looking for a certain nail file. Not a best seller, but clearly she liked it. I guess Sephora replaced it with something new and better. Guess what? She didn’t want something new and better, she wanted her freakin’ nail file! She was seriously pissed at Sephora and me, I think, for giving her the news. I hate it when customers get angry and take it out on me. But, I totally understand, sister! I would be huffy with the salesgirl that told me my favorite product was going to be put down…what a dark day. We find these items and they really make us happy. Remember when the small things in life made us happy? Well, cosmetics are small (large price, though) and they make our routine worth it when we find something that works just right…the Goldilocks of products.

The first time this happened to me was with a Christian Dior lipstick. Anyone who has tried a Dior lipstick knows that it’s nice stuff you’re putting on your lips. Makeup from the house of Dior? Ahhh…such luxury and bliss. I tend to have a hard time finding a nice shade of pink/mauve that stays the true color. I can find something I like in a tube, but much like fragrance changes with your chemistry, so can color. Most pink lipsticks turn orange on me after awhile. (Maybe I should try orange lipstick on and it will turn pink? Just a thought…) I found the perfect pink/brown/mauve lipstick by Dior years ago. I would get the most compliments on how it was just the right touch of pink, but looked really natural and nude too…Kim Kardashian didn’t invent that lip she’s so popular for, I was all over that years ago…I just don’t have a sex tape to put me in her market. Hmmm…I’ll have to talk to my hubby about a possible production… Another great thing about Dior…the lipsticks last forever. Well, not so great for me because when I was ready to replace my tube of perfect starlet pink/brown/mauve guess what? Yes! It was gone. I have yet to find that perfect shade again. I have learned to recreate it by layering different products and colors, but it was really nice to have it all in one tube. Oh well, I mourned and moved on.

That’s the thing about this industry. It’s constantly turning over and reinventing products to keep them fresh and keep the consumer interested. Great for the people who are raking in the dough in this multi-billion dollar industry…not so great for the people who come to rely on certain products. One great thing about Mary Kay is, even though they are constantly changing and keeping up with the trends, they really listen to their customers and they keep the products that we’ve come to rely on. Extra Emollient Night Cream, Raisinberry Lipstick (please tell me that one’s not gone…it rivals that Dior!) etc. They have the old classics but are still constantly changing themselves. I’ll refer to Mary Kay quite a bit. (Stop one second before you groan or roll your eyes! There’s a reason that brand is still around and didn’t die when Mary Kay Ash did in 2001. So, open your mind and check out the catalog sometime, you might be surprised).  That line has really impressed me with how far they’ve come. I’m not a snob about cosmetics…if I like a color, I don’t care if it’s from Wal Mart or Nordstrom. Is there a difference in quality? Reports you see on 20/20 and The Today Show say they’re the same, but really they’re not. I happen to notice a difference. But, it’s always fun to try new things.

When I decided to start this blog, I was thinking of the one product that blew me away that I could review. Well, I’ve noticed at work that this product has been missing and I decided to do a little research this morning. Benefit has discontinued F.Y…Eye. My life is over! This was the most amazing eye shadow primer in the world. I have really oily skin and anyone with oily skin will tell you how frustrating it is because makeup never stays on. Your skin never feels clean, so you have to find the right products that will really make your makeup last. I had found this in my F.Y…Eye. It was a mousse-textured, creamy base that you would apply and let set for a couple of minutes. You apply your eye shadow on top of it, and you’re set for the rest of the day. Seriously, even in 100 degree heat that stuff held my shadow in place. Was I the only one who loved it so much? Why are they taking it away from me? I’ve been loyal to it for 5 years. I don’t want to try something else, dammit! I want my Benefit F.Y…Eye and I want it now!! (deep breath…) I’m pretty steamed! This was going to be my number one, can’t live without product review. Guess I’ll have to learn to live without it. You know how you feel when someone breaks up with you and you don’t want that? You know that frustration?? Well, Benefit has broken up with me right now and I need to heal. Information on the memorial service for this product will follow shortly…I need a tissue…

You’ve been beautified!