New Beauty Trend…Ombre Nails

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I still haven’t decided if I am all for the whole hair-color-fading-from-dark-to-light thing. Now I’m reading about keeping with the Ombre trend, but on your nails. So what is it, and how is it done? Well, the concept is to give the appearance of your nail polish going from light to dark, so each individual finger is polished a different color. It’s suggested that you stay within one color range. If you choose purple as your main color, you would have a very light lavender shade on your pinky. Your ring finger would be a slighty deeper shade of purple, and so on until you have the darkest shade in the purple family on your thumb.

Ok, I get it, but I don’t like it. The whole point of the Ombre technique is to fade. Having each nail polished a totally different color just looks to me like you can’t make up your mind. It looks like you had a 5-year-old polish your nails. And I can say that, because when my daughters were that age and they wanted to give me a manicure, that’s pretty much how my nails ended up! There’s nothing fluid to having each nail a different color, even if they’re all a variation of one color.

So, if you’re loving the Ombre craze and want to get behind this trend, here’s what I would suggest: Find a nail technician who is great with an airbrush and can create an Ombre look on each individual nail. I am sure some of my nail art savvy readers can figure out a way to do it yourself on each individual nail, so if you have any tips you want to share, throw them my way and I’ll share with everyone!

Ok, what are your thoughts? Ombre nails: Do or Don’t? I look forward to your response!

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

You’ve Been Beautified!

Why Are My Nails Doing That?

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I think one of the most common beauty problems people have are with their nails. I get tons of suggestions to do articles on nail disorders, and I get a lot of Q&A Monday questions regarding nail health. So, between my experience, and some good research, I thought I would bring those problems to the table (or the blog) and give you the reasons certain conditions are happening…and a new condition I’ve discovered.

Yellow Nails: A healthy nail looks pink on the bed of the nail (that’s the part that is attached to your skin) and white on the free edge (the part that grows beyond the fingertip). Your nails can turn yellow from wearing nail polish frequently. Why? One reason could be if you wear dark colors a lot, the dark polish could be staining your nail bed. Also, wearing polish all the time, keeps your nail from “breathing” and that can cause a slight discoloration. The best way to get rid of this is to let your nails go au natural for a while, and while they’re taking a break from polish, put some fresh lemon juice on them to bleach out the yellow, and make sure you always apply a base coat in the future to keep nail polish from staining. If you’ve noticed that your nails are yellow for a long period of time, it could mean there’s a health issue, so see your doctor about that.

Splitting/Peeling Nails: When your nails aren’t protected from water,chemicals, and cold, dry air,  the layers of protein the nail is made up of start to detach from one another, causing the nails to split and peel. The best thing you can do to cure this, and then prevent it is make sure your nails are protected. Start by making sure you are moisturizing. When you apply lotion, don’t just apply it to your hands. Make sure you are paying attention to the nails and rubbing the moisture in to them. Keep your nails protected with a clear nail polish. Look for one that adds strength to your nails. Also, any time you think about it, and especially before bed, apply a cuticle cream so your nails get extra moisture overnight and have some time to heal.

Nail Ridges: If there is a dip or a bump on one or more of your nails, it usually means that your nails stopped growing for a short time, due to stress or a health issue. When the nail resumes growth, the ridge is created in the growing out process. (I just had this happen to me) Also, I’ve noticed that ridges and peeling usually occur after I’ve worn artificial nails for any length of time.

I say it all the time: the best thing to do for healthy nails is to keep them out of water, if possible, and moisturize the heck out of them!

And now, the new nail condition I’ve discovered…the Texting Nail: Ok, laugh all you want, but how many of you have noticed the outside top corners of your thumb nails are splitting, peeling and just plain growing funny? It’s all from texting, my friends. I never had a problem with my thumb nails growing. For some reason, they always seemed to be my strongest nail, but ever since I’ve started to communicate via text, my nails don’t look as nice anymore. It makes sense; when you apply pressure to a certain part of your nails on a regular basis, they’re going to start growing funny. I’m going to have to think about what steps we can all take to make sure we all stop suffering from “Texting Nail”, and I welcome any suggestions!

I hope this information helps! What nail conditions do you deal with the most? Share your thoughts!

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

You’ve Been Beautified!

Shea It Isn’t So

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Shea butter has been around for a long time, but it’s become more and more popular in beauty products in recent years. Many products advertise that they are enhanced with Shea butter to get the point across that it’s a very nourishing, and moisturizing product. Shea butter is a natural fat extracted from the nut of an african tree. It’s a very thick consistency, often solid at room temperature, but it’s uses are many. Shea butter is a major multi-tasker when it comes to beauty. It’s very thick, but it warms up quickly and it easy to spread around for whatever need you may have.

There are many brands of pure Shea butter on the market, but my all-time favorite is by L’Occitane. (I’ve been meaning to do a L’Occitane review…everything they make is amazing). It comes in a tin that will last you a very long time; it also comes in a small tin that’s great for your purse, or for travel.

So, what exactly is Shea butter’s purpose? It’s highly moisturizing because it’s enriched with Vitamin E. You can certainly buy products that are enriched with this good fat, but you’ll get the best benefit when you buy it in pure form. There are so many uses for Shea butter, and here are some of my favorite tasks for it to perform.

Use it as a lip balm. When I can’t find my go-to lip balm, or when I am out and I find that I have no lipstick, lip balm, or lip gloss with me (gasp! I know!!) I reach for my mini tin of L’Occitane Shea butter and use it as my lip balm. It feels a little strange at first, but once it warms up and absorbs into my lips, it feels great and it’s a wonderful lip treatment. Think of it as a deep conditioner for your lips.

Speaking of deep conditioner: Warm it up in your hands and apply to your hair at night. If your hair is long, concentrate on the ends and braid it and leave it in overnight. When you shampoo and condition the next day, your hair will feel soft and look shiny. You can also use it to protect your hair line when you do your own hair color. Not only will the layer of Shea butter keep hair color from staining your skin, it will nourish the skin around the hair, and keep your follicles healthy.

Keep your nails beautiful with Shea butter by applying it to your cuticles instead of cuticle oil. Not that there’s anything wrong with cuticle oil, but if you don’t have any, and you happen to have Shea butter on hand, you can use it as a cuticle and nail treatment. Rub it in, let it soak in and then apply a hand cream for a mini hand spa treatment.

Apply it where you are about to spray your fragrance; it will act as a primer of sorts and help the fragrance adhere to something, instead of soaking into your skin and wearing off. Your signature scent will last much longer.

Apply it to your feet, especially your heels, before working out. It will absorb into your skin as you warm up from working out, and when you’re done…voila! Mini pedicure! You can also apply it to dry elbows and knees, and if you’re suffering from a cold, dab it onto your nose when it gets dry from too much tissue use.

Pregnant? Use Shea butter to hydrate areas prone to stretch marks and you probably won’t get any at all. Just had a baby? Use it to treat diaper rash.

Traveling? Great! Make sure you have some Shea butter with you to replace any beauty products you may have left behind. It can be used to keep makeup in place; it can replace pomade for your hair so it’s great for short styles.

I could go on and on with how many different ways Shea butter can be used. It’s expensive, but when I tell you it will last a long time, I’m not kidding. I’ve had my huge tin of Shea butter from L’Occitane for over a year. Check out this link for tons of other ways to use your Shea!

Do you use Shea butter? What’s your favorite way to use it? I look forward to your response!

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

You’ve Been Beautified!

Home Pedicure Essentials

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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!

The Perfect Pedicure

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It’s officially sandal season! That time of the year when we break out our cute shoes that show off our cute toes. Unless you’ve neglected those toes all winter long, then it’s time to hit the spa and get a pedicure. What’s that? You can’t afford to get a pedicure?? Join the club. The good news is, you can easily give yourself a spa-worthy pedicure right at home. The bad news…well, I don’t believe in bad news, so it’s just good news all around. Just follow the steps I’m going to give you and your toes will be sandal-ready in no time!

Start by removing your old nail polish. You know, the stuff that’s been on your toes since last September and is now just a dot of polish on your big toe. Even if you don’t have any polish on, give your toenails a good swipe to get the surface rid of any oils. Trim toenails with a clipper, but don’t go too short, that hurts! File nails straight across (this looks best on toes and helps prevent ingrown nails) making sure to file in one direction…don’t saw back and forth with the file, that isn’t good for your nails.

Now comes the best part. Fill a foot bath, or container large enough to soak your feet, with warm to hot water, depending on what you prefer. You can put in your favorite shower gel and soak in bubbles or you can put a few tablespoons of baking soda in the water to help soften your feet as well. Enjoy this part! Like I said, it’s the best part. It’s actually the only part of a pedicure I like, I am so ticklish I have a hard time letting others do this for me. Sit back with a magazine or a good book and soak away. Let your feet soak for 5-10 minutes to soften cuticles and to prepare your feet for the exfoliation process.

Next, use a scrub on your feet to slough away calluses and to soften your heels. You can also use a pumice stone in this step to concentrate on rough heels and other spots that a scrub won’t take away. Put your feet back in the water to rinse the product off your feet; get your hands in the water to really rinse away any of the scrub left behind between your toes and on your nails. Now that your cuticles are nice and soft, apply cuticle remover to your nails and take a cuticle pusher to gently push them back. If you’re not afraid to do a little trimming here, use a cuticle nipper to cut away the cuticles, but be careful not to cut too close. Rinse your feet again and get ready for the massage.

You can do this step yourself, or bribe someone to do it for you, but moisturizing is very important. I know a lot of people do a home pedicure and skip this step because they don’t have time. Like soaking, you can make this part as short or as long as you like. Use a foot cream, or any moisturizer you like, and massage into your feet and calves. You just took away all that dead skin to expose the new skin, so it needs to be treated and have that moisture put back. Once you’re done massaging, clean the surface of your toenails again with a quick swipe of alcohol or polish remover. If there is any residue left on your nails, the polish won’t dry or it will look lumpy…don’t you just hate it when you polish your nails and you see bumps in there?

Time to polish! Pick a fun color for your toes…it’s sandal season, make them bright! I think using toe-spacers are a must. Keeping the toes separate helps you apply the polish evenly and helps them dry. Start with a base coat to prevent the polish from staining your nails. Apply 2 coats of nail polish and let them dry. Once they are dry, apply a top coat for a layer of protection, and some added shine. There you go! An at-home pedicure to get your feet ready for the season. Easy enough to do on yourself, right?

You can pick up the supplies you need just about anywhere. Sally Beauty Supply is going to be the best place to get what you need, but most of us probably have everything we need for a home pedicure already.

Do you do home pedicures or do you splurge and get them done at a spa? What’s your favorite part of a pedicure?

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

You’ve Been Beautified!

Baking Soda For Beauty

For all your beauty advice…

Baking soda for beauty. Seriously. I’ve used baking soda in the past to absorb odor in my refrigerator, relieve heartburn, and to clear up a blemish or two on my face. I love to research natural remedies and recipes I can make at home with my family, and baking soda keeps popping up in my finds. So, I delved a little deeper. Come to find out, baking soda is extremely versatile in what it can do; from household fixes, to beauty fixes.

Baking soda can be used as a face wash. Just mix the soda with water to form a loose consistency and massage onto your face. Because it’s a very watery mixture, it’s going to be a little messy, but it will gently exfoliate and remove makeup, dirt and oil. If you want to exfoliate on a deeper level, on thicker skin like your elbows and knees, mix baking soda with water, but be a little heavier with the baking soda so it forms a thick paste. Apply to the area you are exfoliating in circular motions and rinse. Your skin will feel soft and smooth.

Baking soda can also take care of your hair. Add about a teaspoon of it to your shampoo and it will help remove build-up and residue from products, so it’s a great clarifying treatment. It can also be used as a dry shampoo. If your hair feels dirty or oily, sprinkle some on your scalp and let it absorb for a few minutes, then comb it through and shake any excess out. I’ve tried this with cornstarch and didn’t have much luck, but I know it works for some. It’s also good as a dry shampoo if you overdo it on product. Put some on your hands and work it through your scalp and shake any excess out, it will absorb too much gel or mousse and give you a little boost in volume.

Looks like it’s a good treatment for nail care as well. Add some baking soda to a brush and scrub your fingers and/or toenails and it will soften up the cuticles for healthy looking nails. Add 2 tbsp. baking soda and 1 tbsp. salt to a foot  bath and soak your feet. This mixture will help clear up dirt and grime for your feet. Keep a little extra soda on hand for after you soak and make the exfoliating paste to give your feet a nice scrub. Rinse with your foot bath water and moisturize and you have a nice and fast pedicure.

Want to clear up some blemishes? Don’t we all? We’ve all tried the old toothpaste trick for clearing up a zit fast, but did you know that baking soda can help this as well? Yes, it can. I’ve tried it and it does work. When I’ve used it, I use it as a spot treatment. Again, make a paste with baking soda and water and apply it to the blemishes. Let it sit there for 10-20 minutes. I know that’s a long range of time, but keep it on there for a shorter time if you have sensitive skin, but if it’s not bugging you, keep it on for as long as 20 minutes. You can also use it as a weekly mask for oily, acne-prone skin. Make enough paste to cover your face and keep it on for about 10 minutes, rinse and moisturize as usual. Use it consistently over time and you may notice your skin with less oil, fewer blemishes and acne scars fading because of the exfoliating properties of the baking soda.

Brush your teeth with baking soda and water for a brighter smile, and if you gargle with baking soda and water, it acts as a natural mouth wash…without the minty aftertaste. That makes sense. If baking soda absorbs odors in our refrigerators and freezers, why wouldn’t it absorb odors in our mouths? Kind of gross to think about, but sometimes the process of becoming beautiful is not always pretty!

And, of course, if baking soda can clean your skin and various household items, it can clean your brushes and combs. Remove any hair from your brushes and soak your brushes and combs in a bowl of warm water with a few teaspoons of baking soda. Just like baking soda will remove oil and residue from your scalp, it will also do this for your styling tools.

Wow, one little orange box, endless possibilities! Have you used baking soda in your beauty routine? Tell me how you used it. I love feedback from my readers!

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

You’ve Been Beautified!

Beauty And The Beer

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When I told my husband what the title of today’s article was going to be, he asked if it was about the two of us. Ha ha. Well, I guess I’ll take that as a compliment to mean that I am Beauty, because he’s most definitely Beer! No, this is not an article about us. I recently came across an article in a magazine that caught my eye, claiming that you might be able to reverse signs of aging with beer. According to Woman’s World, Polyphenols found in beer and wine (yippee!) are strong antioxidants, which fight off free radicals. Free radicals cause 80% of premature skin aging. You can find Polyphenols in certain fruits like blueberries and raspberries if you’re not a drinker, but this is good news for those who like to crack open a cold one after work. I started reading on it further and I found loads of information on the beauty benefits of beer.

Apparently this is old news. Really old news. Many moons ago, beer was not only offered to gods at festivals, but women used it to refresh their skin. High in vitamin B and brewer’s yeast, beer can cleanse and nourish the skin, and even clear up acne.  Certain spas around the world are even offering beer baths. It’s been noted that even Cleopatra kept her skin looking beautiful by bathing in beer. (She’s #1 on my list of who I would want to attend my fantasy dinner) I’m not sure I would want to sit in a tub of beer, but I can think of a few people who would thoroughly enjoy visiting a spa that offered that!

I’ve always heard that rinsing your hair with beer once a month is a great way to make the hair soft and shiny. The proteins found in the malt and hops are said to repair damage and add shine. People who use beer to treat their hair claim that a beer rinse also makes their hair look and feel thicker. If the proteins from the ingredients in the brew really do attach to the hair, it can strengthen the hair as well. It’s a pretty simple process to do a beer rinse. Just take some flat beer that doesn’t have a strong odor and after shampooing your hair, apply the beer to your hair, working it all the way through and rinse with warm water. I think odor would be a big issue here. I’ve been the victim of an accidental beer bath once or twice in my life, and that smell stays with you. My advice would be, if you’re going to do this rinse, do it when you don’t have to be anywhere.

So, if beer can slow down aging, cure acne and make our hair feel thick and strong, I wonder if it can do anything for the nails. After all, our hair and nails are made from the same protein so I did a little more searching . No trends on beer manicures, but I did find out that a beer and vinegar soak can kill nail fungus on hands and feet…interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see beer treatments popping up in spas all around us. I mean, if you can get a fish pedicure, why not a beer manicure? Maybe I’ll have to do some experimenting at our next Family Spa Night. More men might start flocking to spas on a regular basis if their treatments involve beer!

It was fun researching this and to see how much information is out there. I even found some products that are produced with Brewer’s Yeast, including beer shampoo. Hmmm…haven’t tried it, but if I do I will certainly let you know what it’s like. Bathe in it, drink it, or shampoo with beer, it looks like it can keep you beautiful. In moderation, of course. Even though the ingredients in beer can be beneficial to our health and beauty, the alcohol in it can counteract that and speed up the aging process…but that’s a whole different Oprah.

What about you? Have you ever rinsed your hair with beer? Tell me about it. I want to know how your hair felt after and if the smell stayed with you. Have you ever bathed in beer? I really want to hear about that!

Send me any questions you want answered for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

You’ve Been Beautified!