Product Review: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

I know that it’s been a while since I last blogged. Life got a little cray cray. But, the even though I didn’t get any time to blog, I’ve been able to try and test out a bunch of different products (yay!) during the last month and a half. And one of them, per this blog post, I REALLY recommend adding to your haircare arsenal just in time for Valentine’s Day! I have been trying the Living Proof brand for a while, and while I’m not completely yet sold on their shampoo and conditioner (let’s just say my love for TRESemmé and Shea Moisture is really hard to overthrow), I am in love with their amazing 5-in-1 styling treatment “Perfect Hair Day”. I’ll admit that skincare and makeup are my forte, and that means that haircare and styling falls a bit lower down the totem pole in priority for me in my daily routine. I’m always up for trying a product that tackles multiple functions at once, and allows me to save a bit of time in getting ready.

Over the years, I’ve also learned to go with the flow and let my hair do what it wants. I have very straight, thick auburn hair – it reacts best to being kept in a longer style, no bangs, and being washed every other day. About twice a week I either curl it with a larger barrel curling iron or flat iron it straight, so I try to keep heat styling to a minimum overall between washes. In addition, I color it every 8 weeks, so I notice that it gets dried out easily. That being said, I wanted a product that could treat and help with all of those factors. Enter the Perfect Hair Day!

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Let’s talk about what makes this product awesome:

  1. It handles 5 common, and essential, hair styling concerns: it volumizes, smooths, adds hydration, strengthens, and gives an overall finishing polish/shine. Score! I love the fact that I can use just 1 product, but achieve all of these benefits.
  2. It doesn’t weigh hair down, is silicone-free, and creates great volume and texture. Having straight hair, I definitely notice when a product causes buildup or makes my hair feel limp and dull the next day. Silicone can cause build-up on hair, especially from products that are left on hair strands all day. I love the fact that this product does all of the things it says it does (see item #1), but you can go into the next day using dry shampoo to refresh, and it still gives you the benefits you had the day before. I also like that it adds shine, but doesn’t make hair slippery.
  3. It’s super concentrated and a good value despite the $28 price tag for 4 ounces. It’s a cream formula, and you apply it to clean, damp hair. I shampoo and condition, like usual, and then apply about a nickel-sized amount all throughout my hair before blow drying.
  4. It delivers results! As one of the brand’s co-founders, Jennifer Aniston is one of my style icons, and my hair is actually very similar to hers in style and texture. I can see why she used to endorse this brand. My hair holds it’s style better, has had zero static or flyaways in this harsh winter weather, and has been healthier between colorings. She always looks amazing, including her low-key but polished hairstyle.

My only challenge to Living Proof is to change the packaging of this product – I think a tube would be a much better package, since the current cap gets clogged a bit. But this has now officially replaced my other serums and styling products that I used to layer. If I want a lot of added shine, I’ll use my Biosilk Original Silk Therapy on top of this, but I’ve found that I’m just not reaching for it as much as before. Other than my dry shampoo and hairspray, the Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 is my new go-to daily staple! Give it a try and see how it makes a difference with your hair.

Beauty Topic: Saving money in 2018 & top picks to stay on budget

It’s the start of a new year, and many of us make resolutions to improve our lives. Mine this year is to save more money. I want to travel more, and pay down debt, so in order to do that, I need to look at my overall lifestyle. If you Google “how long does it take to develop a habit”, there are few studies that come back with a variety of time ranges – anywhere from 21 days to 66 days is the average. But one thing that I think that can help in achieving a new goal, or fulfilling a resolution, is to think about the various factors that contribute to it overall. To achieve my resolution of saving money, I thought about the amount that I spend on beauty products in a given year and how I shop. Within the beauty industry, there’s a ton of marketing and advertising to drive the message home that you NEED to have prestige beauty products. But in reality, is that really the case? In a PeopleStyle.com study from March 2017, they determined that the average woman will spend $15,000 in her lifetime on beauty products. This doesn’t apply to services like hair cuts or pedicures, but just beauty products alone. I’m here to say “no” – you don’t need to spend a ton to look great and take proper care of your skin, hair, body and nails. Especially in this day and age, there are so many great brands that are delivering high-performance products that provide you with multiple options to spend exactly the amount you are comfortable with, without having to sacrifice quality or style. If you absolutely love a prestige beauty product (like perfume, foundation or lipstick), you can also look at splurging where it matters most to you, but then saving money in other beauty categories to make up the difference. Let’s take a look at some of these brands, products that deliver, and my top picks to help you spend less this year on beauty:

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Clockwise from the top:

  1. Trader Joe’s beauty: from skincare to body care, their formulas rival top dollar brands’ ingredients and performance, but cost a fraction of the price. The Nourish All-In-One Facial Cleanser is great for both men and women, and helps to combat acne while also being anti-aging. Their Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 15 is a great dupe for the Olay Complete SPF 15 lotion, and is safe for sensitive skin. If you love lavender, their Spa Lavender Hand & Body Lotion is naturally scented and soothes skin. I usually keep these stocked, as my entire family loves to use these products daily.
  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics: this brand was started years ago to provide quality beauty products for very low costs. I hate to call them “cheap” because it has such a bad connotation. What they do is remove the hype and high-cost markup that is found in prestige beauty brands, but still deliver on-trend and classic colors that perform. In addition to their Mineral Mascara (amazing!!), one of my favorite e.l.f. products is their “Tickled Pink” Blush, which is a direct dupe of the iconic NARS “Orgasm” blush. For $3, you can’t go wrong to give this a try and see for yourself.
  3. Simple skincare: available at almost all drugstores, this brand is focused on quality care for sensitive skin. I LOVE their Micellar Water, which gently removes all makeup, dirt, and oil as an essential pre-cleanse step in your nightly routine. This award-winning product rivals some of the most expensive French formulas on the market. I’ve often gone into a Walgreens or Target when traveling to pick up skincare products by Simple, especially if I realized I left an essential at home.
  4. LORAC makeup kits: yes, this prestige brand holds a special place in my heart. It’s founder, Carol Shaw, is an icon in my book. But what I also LOVE about this brand is that they often package their best selling products in kits or gifts at an incredible value! For example, a single LORAC Alter-Ego lip gloss is around $17 each. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I got this amazing Mod Goddess Alter-Ego lip gloss collection from ULTA on sale for less than the $26 sticker price! It’s a beautiful 6 piece set of high-performance lip gloss at a steal (worth $102). If you’ve never tried LORAC’s lip gloss, I highly recommend them – the color payoff is incredible, and the long-wearing formula deeply moisturizes. Makeup kits from prestige brands are a great way to save while shopping your favorites.
  5. L’Oreal mascaras: in truth, L’Oreal is one of the largest beauty companies in the world, and owns a large percentage of many beauty brands on the market. But one of their best performing values is the Voluminous Carbon Black mascara. If you want dramatic, long and full lashes, this is a go-to mascara for less than $10. Extra bonus, you can usually use coupons when purchasing or find a BOGO deal as well! Mascara needs to be changed out every 3 months to avoid eye infections, and there’s really no reason to spend more than you have to!
  6. EOS lip balm: while their classic round spheres are immediately recognized, I prefer the stick version of these awesome lip balms. I bought a few twin packs, as I keep one in my gym bag, desk drawer, night stand, and purse. Packed with organic ingredients and natural butters, they are a much healthier alternative to the petroleum-based lip balms and cost an average of $4 for a twin pack. I freak out if I can’t find my lip balm, so these packs make it easy to stock up and keep in convenient places.
  7. TRESemmé shampoo and hairspray: oh, how I love TRESemmé! One of my former coworkers once commented that she wished to be able to afford “fancy shampoo” someday. Why? There’s TRESemmé! I use their Extra Firm Control hairspray daily, and I’ll switch back and forth at times between their shampoos and other brands. They recently launched the Repair & Protect 7 shampoo, which is fantastic for color and chemically-treated or heat-styled hair. Shampoo goes down the drain, literally. So, I’m much more apt to switch up shampoos when needed, based on how much I want to spend. If your hair needs some serious repair, while maintaining color, give this one a try!
  8. Dove Sensitive Skin soap: this truly is a family-friendly, daily beauty product, and can be used from head to toe. It’s also incredibly budget conscious, and you can buy it in bulk at Costco, or multi-packs at Target. There are no synthetic fragrances to irritate sensitive skin, and it keeps skin healthy by cleansing without stripping moisture. Plus, it makes a really great shaving lather for legs!
  9. SheaMoisture skincare, hair and body care: this brand is fantastic! Not only for it’s social consciousness, but also it’s variety of quality, high-performing natural products. This brand is available at both ULTA and drugstores, and offers great solutions for beauty challenges, such as problem skin, dry hair, and anti-aging. If you want to take better care of your skin this year, and perform home facials more often, I suggest their African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask. Priced around $15 for a generously-sized jar, this mask deeply cleanses, soothes, brightens and unclogs skin, while being safe for those with sensitivities. Tip: Once a week in the morning, smooth this on your face, and then jump in the shower. The steam activates the charcoal in the mask, and allows it to work even better. As you wash your hair and body in the shower, let the mask sit for a few minutes to get spa-quality facial in a few minutes! Rinse and finish your shower as usual.

As you use up products in your daily routines, and want to cut back on costs, think about where you may be able to save while still maintaining your personal style and quality. Plus, all of the brands I mention above are raved about by beauty editors and magazines alike – the proof is in their performance, and you’ll see a savings!

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Burt’s Bees makeup

For those of you who got gift cards to ULTA this Christmas, and you are looking for a fresh, natural new makeup line to try, I suggest looking at Burt’s Bees! Earlier this year, Burt’s Bees expanded their collection of makeup beyond lip glosses, lipstick and BB cream. They’ve added a full line of blush, brow pencils, eye shadows, mascara, eye liner, foundation, and introduced new colors of lipsticks. If you’ve read my previous blog post about natural beauty picks, I recommend the lipsticks from Burt’s Bees as being a great alternative to mass or big label brands. Their new full line boasts formulas that are paraben, petrolatum and pthalate-free. But I was wondering about performance, as natural makeup lines in the past have often lacked in that department. You also may have noticed in my last post about using multi-tasking products in your gym bag that I show the Burt’s Bees makeup line in my bag – I chose to try this line out for just that purpose, apart from my usual routine. I wanted to try the performance of this all-natural line, as well as being a space-saving and multi-tasking line of essentials in my gym bag. After trying them for the past 3 months, I’m super impressed with the quality, pigmentation, and long-wearability of the Burt’s Bees makeup line! Let’s do a deep dive and see what makes these an awesome choice for people who want more naturally based, but high-performing, makeup.

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First off, I wanted to try the Burt’s Bees BB cream, as I needed to have a multi-tasking product in my gym bag to act as moisturizer, foundation, and anti-aging treatment, as well as protect with SPF. BB cream to the rescue! This BB cream is a bit thick, but it smooths on easily, and hydrates without making my combination skin feel too oily. The SPF is titanium dioxide based, and delivers broad spectrum protection. I especially like the light coverage to even out my skin tone. In this last month, I’ve mixed a little bit of moisturizer (First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream) on any drier patches of my face, prior to applying the BB cream. The finish is a little bit dewy, but mostly a satin effect – the coverage is light, so it’s a great post-workout makeup to show off a healthy glow.

Next, I grabbed the classic black Nourishing Mascara, which promised to lengthen lashes and increase volume. I usually just go for mascara when getting ready after a workout, as I feel the skin has an awesome glow about it – I want to let my complexion shine a bit, and not worry about too much eye makeup. This mascara is great! It does what it says, and lengthens and volumizes. I wouldn’t say that it beats my other favorites (e.l.f Mineral Mascara, or L’Oreal’s Carbon Black Voluminous mascara), but for an all-natural formula, it does not flake or smudge! My only wish is that the brush was a bit thinner – it’s a great silicone-style brush, but doesn’t allow for the control that a skinnier brush would give.

For my cheeks, I chose a blush in the shade Shy Pink. LOVE!! It’s a perfect blend of peachy-pink, and with just the slightest amount of shimmer. And wow, the pigment is really strong! Just a little bit goes a really long way, and I can easily blend it with my travel kabuki brush from Eco-Tools.

Lastly, I grabbed their brow pencil in Blonde, which has a spoolie brush on the end. This is super easy to use and convenient – the wax is soft, highly pigmented, and very blendable. Like the blush a little goes a long way, and just sharpen before each use. Even though the temperatures are a bit extreme right now, I haven’t noticed any fading or smearing of color. My brows look groomed and even, with just the right amount of color.

Not pictured is my Burt’s Bees Lipstick in Blush Basin – it’s a gorgeous rosy-pink neutral, and is so moisturizing that I don’t need to prep first with lip balm. The great thing about this shade is that it looks completely natural, yet polished, and goes with whatever outfit I’m wearing after my workout. I’m seriously considering making a few of these a standard product in my daily routine, and not just keeping in my gym bag. The line is also very reasonably priced, and is fully available online at ulta.com. Target has the lipsticks and BB cream as well, but not the blush or eye makeup yet. If you are looking for a more naturally based makeup routine, but want high-performance products, treat yourself and give this line a try!

©28daysbeauty 2017

Beauty Topic: Packing your gym bag like a boss

It’s that time of year that we especially need to keep up with our health and exercise routine, despite the holiday rush and busy schedules. One of the excuses that many of us end up making is that it takes too much time to prep our gym bags. There’s also the challenge of trying to fit in a visit to the gym during the day, but needing to be at a company party or holiday celebration that evening – you don’t want to show up without looking your best. I totally get it – and I’ve found a few ways to combat this and help ensure I have what I need for the gym on a daily basis. Here’s some packing tips and products I’ve been using, and had great success with, especially during this busy season:

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  1. Grab unused makeup bags and organize products into groups: If you’re like me, you often shop during “gift with purchase” timeframes from your favorite beauty brands. This can result in a bunch of empty, unused makeup bags hanging out in your closet or bathroom drawers. Put them to better use! I currently have 3 in my gym bag (above) and use them in the following categories: a bag for makeup, a bag for shower items (shampoo, conditioner, etc), and a bag for feminine products. That way my gym bag always stays organized, and I can easily refill these bags when needed rather than fishing through my entire gym bag. Ziploc bags can also do the trick if you don’t have spare makeup bags. I also am re-using a fabric drawstring sleeve that held my bedroom sheet set as a shoe bag. It’s perfectly sized to keep the items in my bag protected from the soles of my shoes. (Hint: old pillowcases work well for this too!)
  2. For easier showering, use a reusable shopping tote bag to hold shower-only items: I don’t like having to haul my whole gym bag into the showers with me. I found a simple solution in using a reusable shopping tote (like my Bliss one above), and keeping my soap dish, razor container, clean wash cloth, and makeup bag for shower items (per my mention of this before) inside of it. That way, I can just grab it out of my gym bag and go right into the showers – I also use the tote as my “laundry bag” to keep sweaty gym clothes and used wash cloths from getting the inside of my gym bag wet on the way home. These tote bags are thin, and fairly weightless, plus they don’t take up much space inside your gym bag. If it starts to smell a bit funky, simply toss and replace as needed.
  3. Use travel-sized toiletries of your favorite products: I’ll admit I’m always kind of surprised when I see people hauling full-sized products around locker rooms. Why? There are so many easy options to either make your own travel-sized versions of your favorite products, or simply purchase travel-sized options – this saves both weight and space in your gym bag. Clinique, for example, sells a large amount of its product line in travel-sizes. I caution against using products that may be at the gym, like complimentary body wash – these often are loaded with synthetic fragrances, so there’s a chance you could develop a reaction if you have sensitive skin. Instead, use a solid bar soap for head-to-toe washing – CeraVe, Cetaphil, First Aid Beauty, and Dove make bar soaps that are gentle and appropriate for both face and body. Solid bar soaps don’t leak, last a long time, and they transport easily. Target has a great selection of travel-sized and TSA-approved bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that you can fill from your full-sized products. Travalo perfume bottles are great for keeping your favorite scents in a travel-friendly size – they’re easy to fill and fairly inexpensive. They make great stocking stuffers too!
  4. Use up beauty product samples: If you order online often from ULTA or Sephora, shop gift with purchase promotions, or have a subscription to a beauty box brand, you probably get a bunch of beauty samples regularly. These are perfect travel-sizes! From skin care to perfume, these make great options for using up within your gym bag. I just got my birthday samples from Sephora (Caudalie facial moisturizer and serum), plus had enough rewards points to get a new Kat Von D perfume vial – they are the perfect size for just this type of usage. It’s a great way to test new products, but also a convenient way to prevent these from piling up in your bathroom vanity.
  5. Get a travel-size version of your favorite hair tools: Many gyms offer hair dryers, but I’ve had more than one occasion where they just aren’t the power that I want, or in worst-case scenarios, barely work. I picked up a tiny Babyliss hair dryer that I absolutely love for under $35 – it’s powerful, and super lightweight. I also have a small flat-iron in my bag, that I use for controlling the ends of my hair. One item that I have discovered as a must-have is a plastic claw clip for my hair – it can keep my hair up in the shower (when I’m not having to wash it) or helping to style post-showering with either the blow dryer or flat-iron. I also have travel-sizes of dry shampoo and hair spray, as I prefer to use the formulas that I know and love.
  6. Lastly, use multi-tasking products: To save space and weight in your gym bag, use products that can be used in multiple ways. For example, BB cream can substitute foundation, moisturizer, SPF and an anti-aging treatment in one makeup product. The bar soaps that I mentioned above are great for face and body. You can also find an unscented, antioxidant-loaded lotion that works from head to toe to care for skin, such as First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lotion. Use a washcloth for exfoliating your body and face – it also helps to ensure that sweat and odors are washed away, and give you a polished glow. I picked up a pack of baby wash cloths at Target, and they are the perfect size to have one in my gym bag at all times. For makeup colors, I advise to keep neutrals (blush and lipstick) in your makeup bag; this ensures that no matter what you’re wearing, the colors will look natural and fresh. Look for a separate product review soon on the makeup I currently have in my gym bag!

Each of us has our own preferences when it comes to workouts. But if you plan a bit ahead, and make use of some items you may already have around your house, you may discover that it’s easier to make gym visits a priority. Once I started getting into the habit of making sure my bag had my essentials, I found it less stressful to make the time and go workout.

I wish health and happiness to you and your family this holiday season – if you take time to care for yourself, I’ve found that it keeps you feeling more joyful and energized despite the hectic schedule.

©2017 28daysbeauty

 

Product Review: H&M Cream Lipstick in “Penny Red”

I’ll admit that I don’t normally shop at H&M – I’m not a huge fan of fast-fashion, nor do I usually have spare time to wander into a mall for a day of shopping. But I was recently in Las Vegas, and had a couple of hours to walk through the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. H&M was one of the few stores that I actually felt like wandering through, as I wasn’t in the mood for high-pressure sales tactics. Having been in the retail industry for years, I knew that H&M had launched their own version of cosmetics back in 2015 – in the race for capturing impulse buys and becoming a one-stop-shop destination, it made sense that they would directly compete in this space. Old Navy fought back in their own way by launching e.l.f. Cosmetics in stores to directly compete against H&M, but they never really made that much noise about it. I’m an avid e.l.f. consumer myself (per my love of their $3 Mineral Mascara and blushes), so I was curious enough to see what H&M was bringing to the table to directly compete with one of the more respected, inexpensive makeup brands on the market today.

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Before I talk about the actual product that I bought (H&M Cream Lipstick in “Penny Red”), I do want to talk about the merchandise presentation, and how it varies from what I’ve experienced in Old Navy stores, or even Target. Within H&M there is a designated beauty section, which is near the checkout counters (similarly to Old Navy’s set-up). But the shelving, packaging and self-service / try on stations are elevated in their appearance and functionality. As a customer, you’re free to test, try and take your time – not interrupt or shuffle through the line at checkout. I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised with the display presentation – it did not look or feel like most of the products within the shelves were roughly $15 and under. During the time I was at the H&M store’s beauty section, I sort of forgot that I was actually in an H&M! The gold / black / cream colored packaging is pretty and elegant, the displays were well-lit, and the textures of the products were true to color and vibrant. When I researched more about the product resourcing on H&M’s website, it does list several cosmetic manufacturers in Europe (Germany especially) that are designated suppliers. H&M is a European brand itself, so this made sense after researching a bit more. The presentation of product, and the products themselves, do not feel like an inexpensive brand.

And now for the product! I love lipstick, and I was impressed by the large range of shades and finishes available to test. I love cream lipsticks most, as I’m not a fan of glitter or sparkles – I want more of a moisturizing, glossy look with the opacity of a true lipstick. I also wanted a shade that was closer to a soft wine color for winter – and I found it! I have a true cherry red lipstick from Clinique, but I definitely wanted something a bit tamer for every day. “Penny Red” is a beautiful cross between red, light plum, and a deep rosy pink. The formula is silky, easy to apply, and hydrating. I also found that it wears well during the day – it doesn’t dry out or get cakey. This is also a total beauty-geek thing for me to say, but I love that the cap clicks shut – I hate packaging that can’t stand up to the day-to-day stress of riding around in my handbag, and there have been a few other lipsticks that I’ve had to toss after caps fell off and made a mess. After wearing this shade for the past few weeks, I’m really liking it, and I am impressed with the quality of the $9.99 formula. I also appreciate that it looks chic and yet is a very wearable color, even during the day. A side benefit of red lipsticks is that they make your teeth look whiter, and this one definitely delivers that!

I’ll keep this shade in mind for the future, as well as potentially testing out other H&M cosmetics. If you happen to love shopping there, give their beauty line a try – I’ll give them credit and say that they definitely put thought and quality into their product line, as well as a great variety of options in formulas and finishes.

© 2017 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Going to the spa on vacation & spa etiquette

As I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite extensively so far in my life, one thing that I’ve noticed is that my fellow Americans don’t usually plan for or consider spas a part of their vacation activities. Let alone their day-to-day routine. Which, to me, is really unfortunate. Our culture will spend tons of money for food or experiences, but often pass up a spa visit because it may be classified as too elitist or “luxurious” for the money. Spas, or “baths”, have been considered a part of civilization for thousands of years, and were truly meant to be a part of routine health and well-being. Since working in a spa as an esthetician early in my beauty career, I’ve realized how important it is to plan spa visits for myself regularly, as well as into my trip itineraries whenever possible – it truly adds to the pure relaxation of your vacation, or can help you during stressful times of your daily routine to escape for a bit and unwind.

In 2016, my husband and I were in Assisi, Italy, and stayed a night at the Nun Assisi Spa, which is not only heartbreakingly beautiful, but also is the recipient of numerous awards as a travel destination. This small spa hotel is a historical site dating back to time of the 1st century, and the services, products, and staff are amazing. As my husband and I were planning our Italy trip, we made a point to devote a day to just relaxing at the spa, and receiving massage and nail services. The underground infinity pool is warm and calming, and is next to the traditional four rooms of a Roman-style bath: the Tepidarium, Calidarium, Sudatorium, and Frigidarium. These rooms range in temperature to help purify the body and soothe the mind and senses. The modernization of the ancient space was so intelligently designed – it kept parts of the original Roman columns, yet the treatment rooms and amenities are beautifully done. Robes are plush, and there’s a lightly scented aroma throughout the spa. The day we spent at this spa was so incredible, and our services were so comforting and well done – it was such a nice bit of relaxation within a busy trip of sightseeing and touring. Given the opportunity to go back to Italy in the future, we’ll make it a point to stay here again!

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Last month, my husband was in Las Vegas for business, and I decided to join him at the end of the work week for an extended weekend getaway. We stayed at the Mirage, and even though I’ve been to Las Vegas several times, I’ve never been a guest there before. The Mirage actually houses an award-winning spa, and has a local following of routine clientele. I’m not a gambler, and seeing as though I was smack-dab in the middle of one of the most sought-after hospitality destinations in the world and had the time, I couldn’t pass up making a massage appointment to try out the spa.

The spa itself is beautiful, and is a welcome relief from the constant blur of lights, sounds, smoke, music and crowd moving through the casino floor. There is a private set of jacuzzis in both the women’s and men’s divisions of the spa, and the waiting rooms are quiet and pristine. My therapist was professional and fantastic in her technique – she was caring, attentive, and was obviously proud of her spa; welcoming me to enjoy all of the amenities and take my time. The robes here were some of the best I’ve ever used, not a one-size fits all, but sized appropriately for a woman’s body frame. My few days away felt like more a true vacation, being able relax for half a day in the spa. I’ll definitely come back to the Mirage Spa again, given the opportunity to return to Las Vegas.

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So, now that I’ve talked about a couple of great spas and why to visit them, let’s chat about proper spa etiquette – which is applicable at ANY spa environment. Note: I’m giving you these recommendations not only as a person that used to work in a spa, but also as a patron of spas – I’ve seen some bad behavior over the years that definitely impacts other guests, and your ability to truly enjoy a quality spa experience.

  1. Be quiet!!! Seriously, you don’t need to talk that much at all. The technician is also not there to make small talk – they are there to focus on your comfort, and your treatments as scheduled. It’s YOUR time to relax, reflect, rest, and just be still. I’ve worked on people who have literally talked their entire way through a facial or a body treatment – that’s not relaxation, nor does it make the technician’s job easy to focus. Turn off or silence cell phones too, and keep them in your provided locker.
  2. Be mindful of other people’s space and relaxation. Especially if you are in a group of people, like a bridal party. The walls are only sound-proof to a point – I get that you are there to enjoy yourself, but laughing, shouting, and drinking excessively (usually champagne) is not appropriate behavior within a spa. Even in the waiting room or lounges before or after your services. Also, put your dirty towels and robes in the baskets provided, and dispose of used napkins or leftover snacks in the garbage. Unless you’ve rented out the whole spa for your own use, keep in mind that other people are paying to have peace and quiet.
  3. Understand that paying for services doesn’t just support the technician, but also pays for your amenities provided during the time you are there. That includes the jacuzzis, showers, products, towels, robes and staff that keep the spa running. Prices are not something to haggle over or complain to the staff about. Also, if you feel that a service isn’t being received as you expected, speak up immediately and not after the service is done – it’s much easier to fix or correct a service mid-way through, if you feel something isn’t right.
  4. Be honest and clear about any allergies or health conditions before your treatments begin. If you have skin sensitivities, or have an existing injury, talk with the staff to ensure that they take that into account before your services begin. As an example, I always explain that mint or peppermint essential oils can easily irritate my skin, and I request them not to be used during a facial, pedicure or massage. This eliminates any reaction for me, and also helps the technician understand what products are best to use in the treatment.
  5. Get over being “awkward” about your body parts. This one is always one that makes me laugh, because spa employees are very much like people in the medical profession – the body, to them, is not something to be prudish about. It’s just part of the gig, and they are used to working on various parts of the human body and studying anatomy in their training. For example, in Europe, the standard is for the person receiving massage treatments to usually be completely naked, with the exception of paper underwear. In America, our technicians are much more compliant with modesty, and will drape the body accordingly. Just a word of caution, as cultural standards for treatments are not necessarily the same in different regions of the world.

Most of all, enjoy yourself and the amenities provided. Spas take great pride in providing comfort, and the amenities are there to make your stay even better. Also, you can usually find fantastic spas pretty easily. If you are on vacation, ask your hotel concierge, or simply look at Google or Trip Advisor. I truly recommend giving this a try the next time you vacation, or even looking in your surrounding community if you are feeling the need for a quick escape. The health benefits of relaxation, and being able to feel comforted and treated, is totally worth it for all of us.

©2017 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Dry brushing & argan oil for healthy skin

With the arrival of fall weather, many people cringe at the thought of their dry skin getting worse. There are few tools that you may not be familiar with, but that are very effective at keeping skin healthy, glowing, and conditioned – dry brushing and argan oil. Both are actually ancient practices, dating back to Middle Eastern and Japanese cultures. But in our Western culture, it’s not something that has been usually taught or recognized in our day-to-day lives. When attending beauty school, I learned about both of these topics as means as both treatments and a healthy routine to adopt daily. Plus, they are easy and affordable to use!

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Let’s talk about dry brushing first: this is a method of lightly brushing the skin with a specially designed brush to gently exfoliate body skin, and promote a healthy lymphatic system. There are a bunch of YouTube videos and websites that talk about techniques on how to brush, as well as recommendations on the type of brush. For me, I love Sephora’s Dry Body Brush ($14), since it has a easy to grip design with two circular sections. Dry brushing should occur in the morning, and only take you about 3-5 minutes total. I do caution people with hyper sensitive skin that 3 minutes is usually enough – you don’t want to over-stimulate the skin, or risk irritation. For basic technique, start near the tops of your feet, using the larger of the brush’s sections to start circular, quick motions up your legs and body. I then use the smaller section on my arms, chest and shoulders in the same circular motions. After brushing, shower as normal. The benefits from routine brushing include helping to stimulate circulation, improve lymphatic flow, detox the body, and reducing the appearance of cellulite.

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And now let’s chat about argan oil: this oil has been used for centuries in Morocco, in both food and cosmetics. You will see it named or packaged differently within the beauty industry as Moroccan oil or argan oil, but it is essentially the same thing. Argan oil has a high content of Vitamin E, fatty acids, and is more resistant to oxidation than other plant oils, such as olive oil. But the benefit is that it’s easily absorbed into skin, and helps promote healthy moisture balance and skin cells. Some people do dry brush after applying oil to the skin – but I’ve found that this just makes the dry brush a bit gross after a few uses. So, I prefer the other common method of dry brushing first, showering, and then applying oils or lotion after showering. I don’t usually use argan oil just on its own – I especially like to boost my body lotion with a few drops of oil (combining both in the palm of my hand) to help my skin hold moisture. Argan oil mimics the skin’s own sebum, but it does not cause clogging even within combination or oily skin types. I love Trader Joe’s Argan Oil, which is a steal at $6.99. There’s no added fragrance that would irritate skin – it’s just pure, organic argan oil!

Another benefit to having a bottle of argan oil on hand is that it helps tame frizzy hair (just a drop or two), heal dry cuticles, and boosts the effectiveness of any moisturizer. I don’t recommend using it on the face during the day, for two reasons. One, if you have somewhat oilier skin, this can cause your makeup to slide a bit or not last the full day. And two, oil breaks down SPF protection – which you should be wearing during each day! Unless you have extremely dry skin, I suggest using argan oil on your face at night if you typically wear a full face of makeup.

Give these a try, especially if you typically suffer from dry, itchy skin. It’s also great practice to keep up with year round – you’ll notice smoother, radiant skin without having to spend that much!

© 2017 28daysbeauty