Product Review…Big Sexy Hair

For all your beauty advice…

A question that has come to me frequently over the years is this, “Is backcombing bad for your hair?”. Backcombing, or teasing, the hair has been around forever. It’s the process of combing the strands of your hair toward the scalp to create a nest of hair that adds major volume to hairstyles. If you do it right, it’s not necessarily bad for your hair. Just be more careful on hair that is chemically treated, or weak hair that has been breaking. So, while it’s not bad for your hair, the one bad thing about back combing your hair, is combing it out when you’re finished wearing the style. That’s the worst part of all!

For those of you who would like to avoid backcombing your hair, there is a cool product that will help you get the volume you want, with staying power, without all the tangles. Big Sexy Hair makes a product called What A Tease, Backcomb In A Bottle. So, what is it? Well, it’s a very firm hairspray that you spray at the roots of your hair to give you the look of a backcombed ‘do. The best way to use it is to style your hair as you normally do, then pick up sections of hair where you would backcomb and spray this product right onto the roots of your hair and let it dry. Don’t use too much, because it can feel sticky if you over use it. I know the instinct is ‘more is better’, but not with this. Also, don’t get too close, spray 6-8 inches away. Repeat this process all over your hair and you will have that “just been teased” look.

I know I went straight to the styling product in this line, but it’s their best product, so I wanted to talk about that first. Generally, I’m a fan of mixing up my product lines. But, when I want big hair, I go ahead and use everything in this line. Like most brands, this line-up is designed to work together to give you the best results. Big Volume shampoo is good for all hair types, it will hold in moisture, add volume (it better with the name of the line!) and it has the added ingredients to help protect hair color. Big Volume Conditioner complements the shampoo nicely. It’s a light-weight conditioner that detangles, de-frizzes and adds moisture.

If your hair is very heavy and thick, the styling product to use in this line is the Hair Root Pump Plus Volumizing Mousse. If your hair is fine to normal, you’ll want to use the Volumizing Blow Dry Gel. It maximizes volume and gives your hair so much body and movement. Use both of these products on damp hair and blow dry like you normally do.

I’ve already suggested the finishing product in this line, but there are other hairsprays Big Sexy Hair has to offer that do a great job, too. Maybe you want major fullness and not the look of a bump-it. No problem. Flip It Over Full & Wild Spray is a great product to give you extra volume and movement, and it will hold your style in place all day.

This whole line is so much fun and it will give you great results. I’ve been using it for years and it’s one of my go-to brands when I need a little change in my style. Check out sexyhair.com to find out where you can purchase Big Sexy Hair. It is a little on the pricey side, but if you’re already buying professional salon products, the sticker won’t shock you.

Have you tried Big Sexy Hair products? What do you think of them? What are your favorite products to give your hair extra volume, or a backcombed look? Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!

Home Pedicure Essentials

For all your beauty advice…

Not long ago, I wrote an article on how to give yourself The Perfect Pedicure. While the feedback was positive from my readers, I had some questions that went along with what I had written. My readers understood the steps I was talking about, but they wanted to know exactly how the tools I wrote about were supposed to be used, and where to find them. It’s pretty easy to find the tools you need for a home pedicure, and I am more than happy to point you in the right direction and tell you what you’re looking for, where to look for it, and why you need to use it.

Nail files are essential for any nail service. You can find them just about everywhere, but I like to buy my pedicure tools at my one-stop-shop…Sally Beauty Supply. You can find every nail file you can imagine at Sally’s. For those of you who prefer a crystal file, they can be found at Sally’s, but I prefer to use an old-school emery board for natural nails, and those are abundant at Sally’s. Ok, nail files are a no-brainer, but what about all the other tools?

Cuticle removers and cuticle pushers. Most cuticle removers don’t actually remove the cuticle from the nail. They do help with removing dry residue that adheres to the nail, but they’re not going to just take off the cuticle. Cuticle removers are often in a gel, or cream, that you apply to the base of your nail and they soften the cuticle so they can easily be pushed back and easier to trim with nippers. A cuticle pusher is a straight tool that is either metal and curved to fit to your nail, or it’s a plastic wand with an angled rubber tip that you literally push the cuticle with. Why? Well, since the cuticle remover has softened up this hard skin, you need to push it back so it’s off the nail and easy to cut.

Trimming the skin at the base of your nails (the cuticle) can be tricky. But, if you use the products I just mentioned, it will go pretty smooth. If you are serious about doing your own pedicures at home, you need to invest in a good pair of nippers. Yes, you can buy cheap ones, but if you’re performing this little task on yourself, it’s a wise decision to spend a little extra and get some really smooth nippers. Nippers look like a pair of needle nose pliers with a very short, sharp tip. Tweezerman makes a great set of nippers that stay smooth for a very long time and get those cuticles without pulling on the skin. (ouch!) Only trim away the skin that is totally detached from the nail. Don’t get the tool directly on top of your skin to guide it. This will result in cutting into your finger and that’s hurts like a *&$%#!!!!

What the heck is a pumice stone? A pumice stone is a porous stone that will buff away dry, dead skin on your feet and help reduce calluses. The best way to use a pumice stone is to get your foot wet and then work the pumice stone in circular motions over rough spots on your foot. A cool new gadget to try in place of a pumice stone is the Pedi-Egg. The cool thing about the Pedi-Egg is you have to do it when your feet are dry, so if you don’t have time for a full home pedicure, you can use this on your feet to soften up the rough spots. It has tiny files on it to smooth down the skin, and a cover that traps the icky stuff you’re shaving off.

Ah, the mystery of the toe spacer! I think toe spacers are a must-have for every pedicure, unless you’re not polishing your nails. I know it’s probably for sanitary reasons, but most spas and salons have their technicians weave tissue between your toes to separate the toes for applying polish, and I just don’t think that works good enough. The purpose of the toe spacer is just that, to space the toes. In case you’re wondering how to find these on your own, the only thing I can tell you is they look like spongy brass knuckles. If that isn’t a good enough visual for you, ask around, they’re easy to find. It will be much easier to apply your polish if you have toe spacers, because they separate the toes just enough that you can fully apply polish. If you don’t do your own pedicure, I still suggest getting some of these and taking them with you when you go to your spa or salon. Weaving tissue between the toes just doesn’t cut it.

As always, find a good lotion for your feet to make them soft and smooth. I love the Coconut Foot Creme by Burt’s Bees. Finding a good foot cream is pretty self-explanatory, but if you want really smooth feet, put on socks after you apply the cream and let it absorb overnight. The results are awesome!

I hope I’ve explained the tools properly, so now you know what they are, why you use them and where to look for them. Let me know if I missed anything and I’m happy to explain that as well!

You’ve Been Beautified!

Travel Friendly Products

For all your beauty advice…

With so many guidelines to follow now when we travel, it can be overwhelming when we’re purchasing items to take on our trip. Whether it’s a business trip, or a vacation (lucky!), the same rules apply. Nothing larger than 3 oz. can be in your carry-on bag. The airlines have reasons for these guidelines and companies are stepping up and creating travel-sized products that are airline approved. Since nobody wants to get their products confiscated at the security check, it’s a good idea to find out what’s out there and have a plan. By the way, if security tried to take my product from me I would cancel my flight…swear to God! Or, maybe I would have a self-addressed, postage paid box with me so they could mail it back. Not fair that they can take it. Ok, back to the subject at hand.

I love Philosophy products, and one of my all time favorite cleansers by this brand comes in a cute little bottle perfect for travel! Purity Made Simple is one of the best cleansers I have ever used. It is great for all skin types, it removes makeup, and it gets your skin good and clean. So, not only is the size great for travel, but with the benefit of it melting your makeup away, you can skip bringing a makeup remover with you on your trip. Even better news about this product? It now comes in a cleansing cloth! Yes, those convenient wipes you see in drug stores are now available in Purity! People are so excited about this because it gives them their favorite cleanser by Philosophy, and it comes in a fuss-free wipe. No worries about leaks or spills.

Also by Philosophy, great travel-friendly moisturizers! Just like Purity is a favorite of mine, Hope In A Jar is an amazing moisturizer that I have loved for years. You have a few choices with Hope In A Jar. It comes in the universal formula perfect for all skin types, a formula for sensitive skin, and an oil-free with SPF 30. I like the original, and I just recently fell in love with the oil-free version with SPF 30. Love the high sun protection you get with it, and unlike most oil-free moisturizers that leave you greasy at the end of the day, this one does not. Most people I know like to stay within one line when it comes to skin care. Philosophy lets you stay true to your brand and take it on a plane. Good stuff!

Ok, we’ve determined I really like products by Philosophy! What about hair products? A lot of hotels have really stepped up and added great shampoo lines to their toiletries they offer in the room, but a lot of them still use the worst shampoo and conditioner in the world! If I’m going to travel, I want my every day hair care with me. I love trying new products, but I tend to gravitate back to my old-school shampoo and conditioner. Paul Mitchell and Biolage have great every day hair products. Check out their websites, paulmitchell.com and matrix.com to find out where they are sold near you. Both of these lines also carry styling products in travel size, so you won’t have to sacrifice good hair days on your trip.

Don’t want to leave your tried and true products behind when you travel? No problem, just pick up some empty travel size containers and fill them with your favorite products. You can find them at The Container Store, among other places.  Just make sure, whether you purchase travel sized products, or you fill your own containers, that you take it one step further and seal them in a plastic bag in case they leak. Unless you’re using the Purity Cleansing Cloths, then you won’t have to worry about that.

What products do you take with you when you travel? Do you fill your own containers, or do you have certain brands you swear by? As always, I look forward to your comments.

Email me your Q&A questions at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!

Q&A Monday

For all your beauty advice…

Good morning, and Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Here’s to a fast and easy work week!! As always, thanks for the questions this week. Read on about face masks, freshening up after a long day of work, and mistaking a mosquito bite for a zit!

Dear Brooke, I love masking. I use all kinds of masks for my face. Some are moisturizing masks, some are purifying masks, I can’t get enough! I’ve never tried it, but I’ve always been curious…is it ok to put your face mask on at night right before bed and sleep in it? Rebecca H.

Dear Rebecca, Wow! It sounds like you love your products as much as I do! Glad to know that you are on top of keeping your skin in shape, just don’t over-do it with masking. Too much of a good thing can cause irritation, or breakouts, so read directions and ask your skin care consultant, or esthetician, the best way to alternate your masks and how often you can do them. As far as sleeping with your face mask on, there’s really nothing wrong with it. I have a couple of masks I like to put on before bedtime and sleep in to get the full effect. I absolutely love the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask by Fresh. I sleep in it when my skin needs ultimate moisture. I also have slept in the Anti-Aging Exfoliant Masque by Glymed when I need some extra “oomph” to my skin. Both are amazing products you should try sometime. So, to finally answer your question, yes, it’s ok to sleep in your face mask…just use an old pillow case on your pillow and be prepared for a mess in the morning…but your skin will look fabulous!

Dear Brooke, Other than a shower, what will help freshen a person up after a long, hot summer day and sweating while you work? Kristine K.

Dear Kristine, This is the perfect time of year for a question like this. What’s worse than sweating after a long day…besides sweating like crazy when you’re getting ready for your day? I hate feeling like I’m melting, and I’ll honestly tell you that I let anyone who’s around me know I’m melting and they better do something about it! Showering is the BEST way to cool off after a long, sweaty day of work, but sometimes it’s not convenient, or we’re just too darn tired! I’ve come across some cool products to help you stay, well, cool. Evian makes an awesome Mineral Water Spray that not only helps set your makeup or add extra moisture, it works wonders keeping you cool. It’s in an aerosol container and its light mist feels so good on hot days. Could you just put water in a spray bottle and spray it on your face? Probably, but you will be stripping moisture instead of adding it with this product, and the aerosol application helps it stay cool in the bottle resulting in a cool feeling on your skin. A great way to freshen up your hair after a long, sweaty day, is to use a dry shampoo. This will absorb any  moisture and make your hair feel clean again. My favorite one is by Ojon. Stay cool!!

Dear Brooke, I have what I think is a zit, but my wife insists it’s a mosquito bite. How can I tell which one it is, and once I am able to determine what it is, how can I deal with it. It’s huge and it hurts. Phil N.

Dear Phil, I love getting questions from men! Thanks!! I can see why you might be confused as to which one it is, zit or mosquito bite. Both start out as itchy, red bumps to begin with. Usually, a pimple will only itch for a small amount of time, and then it hurts to touch. A mosquito bite just plain itches all the time. After a few days, if it’s a pimple, a “head” will appear in the center of it. Mosquito bites usually scab over, because of all the itching. If you notice something is in there, it’s a pimple and you’ll want to keep the area clean, and once it’s ready, gently squeeze until you get what’s ready to come out. Don’t force it. A very inexpensive way to treat the area once you’ve unloaded it, is with hydrogen peroxide. If you don’t already have it in your house, you can buy it at any drug store for a few bucks. I hope it goes away soon!

Thanks again for emailing me questions. Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!

Salon Etiquette

For all your beauty advice…

Most spas and salons have “rules”, or guidelines, posted in their lobby. These guidelines usually cover what to ask for when you book your service, suggestions on when to show up for your service, tipping guidelines and general courtesy tips. It’s great that salons and spas offer these guidelines…it would be even greater if clients followed them. In my days of working in salons and spas, I often wanted to keep a book that had two sections. “What we HAVE to say” and “What we WANT to say”. Years in this industry have taught me the fine art of biting my tongue. So, read on about what clients are supposed to do, what they don’t do, what they have the nerve to do, and how the other side of the desk deals with it all.

Most important thing of all…show up a few minutes before your service, if not right on time. We know you get frustrated sitting in the waiting area and watching the clock tick by, but I’ll be up front here and tell you that 9 times out of 10, your stylist is late because of a client being late, not because they’re slow. Stylists and technicians run behind, because you run behind. And understand that if you don’t have the courtesy of showing up on time, you don’t get the privilege of getting your full service. It doesn’t work that way.

Turn off your cell phone…seriously. High powered attorney you may be, but when you’re arriving for an appointment, the front desk needs to get your information to check you in, and that can’t happen if you’re on your phone. Don’t dominate the reception desk by placing your bag on the counter, holding up your finger to the receptionist signaling, “one minute” and finish your phone call. Most salons and spas like to promote a tranquil environment, and this can’t happen when you’re yappin’. Really, no one’s that important. I honestly think spas and salons should confiscate cell phones from people at the time of arrival. It would solve tons of problems.

Remember to tip the person performing your service, and anyone who contributes to your service. If you’re at a spa and you get served a lunch, a tip is greatly appreciated by the person serving you. No, they probably didn’t make your meal, but they did plate it nicely and they created a soothing atmosphere in the dining area for you. A stylist’s assistant also deserves a tip. Keep in mind that they work for peanuts and they’re doing most of the grunt work that the stylist is happy to pass on.

Be nice to your stylist, the assistant, or the technician performing your service. Just because you come from millions, or sleep on a $10,000 mattress (Yes, I knew a client like that) doesn’t mean you can talk down to salon/spa workers. Your wealth and status doesn’t put you on a pedestal. You are human, we are human, let’s treat each other kindly, with that in mind. Coming in to the salon or spa with an attitude is only going to result in conversations about you when you leave…and they won’t be nice conversations. What do you expect?

Know that emergencies happen. Stylists and technicians have lives and sometimes those lives get turned upside down with an emergency. If they have to leave and can’t do the service for you, it’s nothing personal. Please don’t get upset and cause a scene because you were scheduled with someone else. If you had answered that phone you’re always on, you would realize that a receptionist or manager was probably trying to call you to tell you something happened, and was giving you the option of rescheduling, or trying someone else.  The correct response to the emergency is not “What about my nails?!?!” It is, “Wow, I hope everything’s ok”. Remember, at a spa or salon, we are not curing disease or fighting for our country, we’re doing beauty services and the soldiers over in Iraq don’t give a you-know-what that you have to go to a different person for your manicure. It’s just that…a manicure.

When you are shown products to purchase at the end of your service, please keep in mind that these were set aside for you because your stylist or technician knows what’s best for your skin, or hair, and they only have your best interests in mind. Yes, they receive a commission on product sales, but the product is being suggested for your benefit. However, do not feel obligated to buy them. If you are not interested, or you just can’t afford them at the time, just say no thank you and the front desk will get the message. If they don’t, that’s bad service on their part.

Go ahead and reschedule your next appointment, please. This is perfect for both you and the front desk! You will get the best choices of appointment times if you book weeks in advance. By doing this, you won’t be calling at the last-minute begging someone to squeeze you in.

And, one final, very important piece of advice: Make the receptionist your best friend. She who holds the appointment book, rules the world. Enough said.

Well, there’s your insider’s view of Salon Etiquette…thoughts, comments? Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!

Beauty On A Budget…L’Oreal Go 360 Clean

For all your beauty advice…

I’m sure everyone has seen this cleanser on store shelves. It’s hard to miss because of how unique it is. For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, L’Oreal has a new cleanser that includes a scrubbing pad that literally pops in and out of the front of the bottle. I’m a sucker for packaging, so this definitely caught my eye. I was needing an inexpensive cleanser at the time and I still suffer from breakouts, so I decided to give this one a try. Under $7 for a 6 ounce cleanser…you can’t beat that when times are tight!

This cleanser comes in 4 formulas. The green bottle is the Deep Facial Cleanser. There is one in blue that’s the Deep Facial Cleanser For Sensitive Skin, the orange one is the Deep Exfoliating Scrub, and the pink bottle is the Deep Cream Cleanser. I chose the Deep Facial Cleanser in the green bottle. Like I said, I still get breakouts, and I have oily skin so this seemed like the best choice. Anything claiming to help keep my oil at bay is worth a try. (On the up-side, if I stay this oily, I will look 30 when I’m 60!)

At first glance, the scrubbing device that comes with this cleanser looks like it could be painful. It’s a little plastic disk with these tiny little plastic “spikes” all over it. It sits in the center of the bottle and pops out for use. I popped it out and was very surprised at how soft this scrubbing disk is. It’s a very flexible plastic that will bend and twist to get into every different shape there is on your face. Now, that’s cool. Actually, since L’Oreal has come out with this cleanser, I have seen other companies come out with a scrubbing disk that looks just like this one. Guess they’re starting a trend.

The cleanser smells good, very clean and not too strong. It’s very easy to use, like most cleansers. You wet your face, and you put a  little bit of the product on the disk and start moving it in circular motions over your skin, concentrating on trouble spots. It lathers nice and rinses away clean. The good thing is, that even though this is a deep cleansing product, when you rinse it off, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling squeaky clean. If a product does that, it’s stripping way too much of your natural oils away and this is only going to make your skin produce more.

Overall, this isn’t a bad product. The results of the cleanser over a few weeks weren’t anything miraculous, but it wasn’t a total disappointment. I would purchase this one again if I found myself needing to spend a little less on skin care. The best-selling point on this, is the scrubbing disk! I love this little guy! I’ll hold on to that once the cleanser is gone. Like I said, other companies are starting to go this route and Sephora sells one that’s identical to the one that comes with the cleanser.

The final thought on this product…L’Oreal go 360 Clean gets your face clean…but not Clarisonic clean 😉

Have you tried L’Oreal Go 360 Clean? If so, which formulation did you try? What did you think? I look forward to your response.

Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!

Scrub A Dub Dub

For all your beauty advice…

Just like I love a good shower gel/wash, I also thoroughly enjoy a good body scrub. It feels good to lather up, that’s for sure. But, it also feels good to get your hands in a salt, or sugar, scrub and exfoliate the heck out of your skin! This doesn’t mean you should take a Brillo pad to reveal new skin, but it does feel good to get that top layer off and feel how soft your skin is underneath it all. I’ve been suds-ing and scrubbing for years, so I wanted to share with you my favorite scrubs. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s a hand scrub, or a body scrub…bring of the exfoliation!!

I love the sugar scrub that Bliss makes. It gives your skin a nice, gentle exfoliation and leaves your skin feeling soft after you use it because of the sunflower oil in the ingredients. It smells amazing! It comes in the scent Blood Orange and White Pepper. I know that sounds like a strange combination, but it’s one of my favorite scents. This scrub is a multitasker because it foams too, so you get suds with your scrub. Not to get all “Hannah Montana” on you, but it’s the best of both worlds! (Yeah, sorry, that song will be with you all day now!) It’s on the pricey side at $36 for 12 ounces, but it’s pretty awesome.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Satin Hands collection by Mary Kay. I’ve used it for years, and I always go back to it. I haven’t had the pleasure to use it in a while, though, so anyone out there who sells Mary Kay…feel free to send me some!! The hand scrub in this collection is one of the best hand scrubs I have used. Unlike a lot of hand scrubs that are oil based and are supposed to leave your hands feeling moisturized (translation: greasy) after you rinse off the scrub, this one isn’t like that at all. The best way to describe it is like a lotion that has a grainy texture. You wet your hands with water, add a little hand scrub, massage for as long as you want and rinse. It rinses off clean and leaves your hands feeling like, well, satin. Follow up with their hand cream, which is also amazing. Mary Kay is changing all the time, so I’m not sure what the price on this is now. But, it’s easy enough to find a consultant if you don’t have one, just ask around. Everyone knows someone who knows someone, etc.

Being the mother ship of all cosmetics, Sephora has a great body scrub in their signature collection. I love using this scrub before I shave my legs…it helps you get a clean, close, shave. It comes in a lot of different scents to choose from, my favorites being Apple Pomegranate and Coconut Cream. It leaves your skin soft after using it and moisturizes with Macadamia Seed Oil. The tube it comes in is just under 7 ounces and it retails for $16, but the Sephora Collection is almost always on sale, so you can usually get it for a lot cheaper than that.

These are all great scrubs, and as easy as it is to pick one up, it’s also pretty darn easy to make your own at home. I love creating treatments with recipes from my kitchen. Sugar used as the exfoliating property will give you a more gentle scrub. If you want something that feels a little more aggressive, use coarse salt. Take about a cup of sugar, or salt, and add a cup of oil. I would suggest almond oil, or sunflower oil. You can use the olive oil you have at home, but if you’re putting this in a jar, olive oil tends to stink after a while. Add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice, and you just made your own body scrub. Homemade scrubs make great gifts, and they’re so easy and inexpensive. Your best bet is to pick up your ingredients from Vitamin Cottage. You won’t spend as much there as you might at other natural stores.

What are your favorite scrubs? I know there are many others I could have mentioned, and I probably will at some point, but these are some of my favorites right now. Looking forward to your response!

Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!