Monthly Archives

May 2016

Beauty, Hair

#OnMyVanity: My Summer Curl Cocktail

summer-curl-cocktail-top

I receive a slew of samples, and when I find something I like, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Finding the product formula that fulfills all of your hair needs takes time and patience, especially if you’re a curly girl. From the heavy pomades that shellacked my strands to the mousses that left my coif crunchy, I’ve pretty much been there and done that. But over the years, I have learned what works for my 3a/3B hair texture, and the industry at large has made serious strides towards deciphering what works for every type of curl out there. Case in point: Sephora recently launched a hub, complete with video styling tutorials, to educate customers on what types of products they should reach for depending on their curl type. I’m hoping it becomes a permanent part of the site, as so many may still be in the dark about get the most out of their mane.

Not to mention with summer unofficially here, I have to bid goodbye to blowouts, lest I sweat it out in the subway and start to frizz. With so many brands rolling out curl lines, I decided to roll up my sleeves and start sampling which beauty buys will withstand everything the season has to throw at my tresses.

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Beauty, Body, Skin

My Sunscreen Selections for Summer & Beyond

Photo May 26, 5 44 12 PM

If today’s temperature is any indication, this summer is going to be sweltering and filled with beach days, festivals, barbecues, and any other excuse to get out and enjoy the sunshine. But while most know the dangers of UV rays, they only slather on suncare when they slip into their swimwear. It also doesn’t help as a recent Consumer Reports study found that many sunscreen formulas aren’t protecting us as efficiently as we think. The report noted that many of the factors include not using enough (remember, you’re supposed to use a shot-glass amount on the body and a nickel-sized dollop on the face), not rubbing it in properly (there shouldn’t be a gray cast on the skin), or just not reapplying at all (seriously, you should know better by now!). Regardless of the excuses, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Prevention comes from daily protection and every inch of skin counts. In honor of “Don’t Fry Day” and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I scoured my stash of suncare solutions to serve up an easy regimen to ensure your skin’s health and safety is a priority, no matter what’s on your agenda.

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Beauty, Body, Hair, Makeup, Skin

Show Your Stash: Kat Graham Shares Her Beauty Secrets

via Kat Graham's Instagram

via Kat Graham’s Instagram

I know I’m not the only one curious about celebs and influencers’ favorite beauty buys as well as  who and what shape their view of beauty in the biz. 

Kat Graham has bewitched audiences since she was six with her moves, music, and magic on the big and small screens. Aside from being a well-rounded entertainer, she’s got serious beauty chops to boot. The Caress and Wet ‘n’ Wild ambassador regularly skips the glam squad in favor of doing it herself and considers fragrance to be the finishing touch to any ensemble. After meeting The Vampire Diaries star and learning more about her girl-powered attitude on beauty, I recently reached out to the multi-hyphenate maven to get her take on all things beauty, including how she channels her inner beauty, who she turns to for inspiration, and what her major must-have of the year is so far.

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Fashion

Swooning Over Ashley Graham’s Sultry Swimwear

Courtesy of SwimsuitsforAll via People.com

Courtesy of SwimsuitsforAll via People.com

Ashley Graham wants you to embrace your inner Bond (Jane Bond) on the beach this summer.

The mega model has linked up with SwimsuitsforAll to create a collection of espionage-inspired swimwear to make the straight and plus-size set feel super sexy. Though they’ve just hit the site on Monday, they’re selling out super fast. The 11-piece collection boasts a bevy of sultry silhouettes in sizes 10-24 for $79-$398 that will suit (wink wink) your style with everything from classic string bikinis, strappy monokinis, and other neoprene one-pieces that show off some serious skin. One of the standout selections includes a 007-inspired suit that Graham described as “truly like James Bond,” featuring a series of zippers for added sex appeal that doesn’t skimp on support. There is also a Swarovski-encrusted bikini (521 crystals to be exact) worthy of magazine spreads and personal style posts, though many wearing it will likely snag some of their strands in the process. I’ve already got my eye on Secret Agent suit that features a lace-up front. “I wanted [my customer] to not feel like a Bond girl but to feel like the badass Mr. Bond himself,” Graham told Refinery29. “When you put on these suits, you can take over the world… That’s what I’m doing! I put on a suit and took over the world!”

Graham herself has become a beacon of breaking down the image of the bikini body. She served as the first plus-size model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Swimsuit issue in an ad for SwimsuitsforAll (natch!), she upped the ante this year by becoming the cover girl of the iconic issue this year. “I proved to them that, yes, people want to see a woman my size, and men and women are really excited about it,” she explained to The Daily Beast. “I don’t know that that was the catalyst for MJ [Day, the sports glossy’s Swimsuit Issue editor] to put me in, but it definitely proved a big point.” Not to mention the fact she strutted the runway in Paris for H&M, recently snuggled up to Joe Jonas in DNCE’s music video for “Toothbrush,” and regularly puts body shamers in their place on social media.

Aside from smoldering in front of the camera, she has taken her eye for style to design smoldering styles in the form of lingerie that’s been a hit at Nordstrom as well as workwear that can go from desk to drinks with DressBarn. And this isn’t just an instance where a notable slaps their name on a product and just watch the cash roll in, she’s dedicated to ensuring her pieces are perfect before hitting shelves and portray exactly what she wants (#GirlBoss). “At the end of the day, if I’m not involved, if it’s not genuine to my style, if I’m not going to wear it, it’s not going to sell,” she told Refinery29. “Because I want to also be able to wear it, I’m creating things that haven’t been done before, or haven’t been perfected before,” which fuller-figured fashionistas are psyched about and already getting behind it.

Head over to Refinery29 to see every suit in the collection and act fast! These are sure to sell out soon, especially with Memorial Day around the corner.

Beauty, Makeup

Move Over Mood Lipsticks—MAC’s Got a Major Lippie Look for Summer

Courtesy of MAC

MAC

MAC wants you to toss the mood lipsticks from your middle school days and upgrade to something that’s sure to stand out.

The brand has taken the magic from our school days and reformulated them into the upcoming Tender Talk Lip Balms that will hit retailers and the web on June 18th for $20 each. Though the details of the formula are under wraps, the smart lip conditioners not only hydrate parched pouts, they also use your body chemistry to craft a sheer wash of customized color. And unlike the tubes from makeup’s past, there are an array of shades you can select for every occasion and skin tone.

Mood lipsticks were my first mom-approved makeup that I could use. We all initially thought that the (usually) green tube could magically shift between shades like the rings that also shared the same moniker but quickly learned better. These new lip balms instantly revive those memories and offer an amazing no-makeup makeup option for the season, like Glossier’s Generation G Balms that have already become a phenomenon, that is bound to become a summer sensation.

Get up close and personal with the chic shades below!

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Lifestyle, Personal Musings

How to Feel Like an Adult When You Live with Your Parents

Can't believe this was already six years ago!

Can’t believe this was already six years ago!

Has your newsfeed been filled with customized caps lately? Have you had to run home to see your sibling, friend, or family member pick up their diploma? With graduation season in full swing, everyone thinks their future is so bright that they’ve got to wear shades. But the reality is that the Class of 2016 has the most student debt in American history with a total sum of $60 billion! While we’re not in the midst of the recession like when I was in school (hey class of 2010), that’s still a lot of money to pay back with a small starting salary.

Like most millennials, I returned to the nest after earning my degree to help save money while I paid off my student debt. But unlike many of my contemporaries, I’m still hanging at home with the ‘rents and I’m happy there. Over the years, I’ve heard: “Don’t you think it’s time to be on your own?” “Don’t you want to live in the city? Wouldn’t that make it easier?” They mean well, but it doesn’t mean I have to move out if I’m not financially ready. According to U.S. News and World Report and Rent.com, the average cost of a one-bedroom in the Big Apple is $3,044—not including utilities, cable, groceries, cell phone, etc. that can put a serious strain on your wallet. And I’m not the only one! A recent study by the Pew Reasearch Center found that 32.1% of millennials are currently living at home.

While living at home eases my budget, there are benefits and pitfalls that both the child and the parent(s) have to contend with. What I’ve found is most of the problems that come along with this setup boils down to a few things to keep in mind so everyone can find harmony:

Respect: First off, this goes both ways no matter what. While you are under your parents’ roof and should adhere to their rules (within reason, as I know some households are stricter than others), they also need to understand that you’re an adult—which may be more of an adjustment for them than it is for you. They may still see you as a child, which can cloud their judgement and color how they treat you now. They need to understand that though they have endless life experiences and advice to offer, you have to make your own mistakes in order to learn from them—they’ll be there to catch you when you fall.

Communicate: Remember, you’re grown now. So that means you can’t give them the silent treatment when things don’t go your way. It only creates resentment that will build over time before it explodes, leaving everyone’s feelings hurt. Going back to respect, be upfront with your feelings when it comes to the space you share as well as how you assert your independence within the household. And your parents should hear you out and respect your opinions whether they agree or not. Once both sides are out in the open, it’ll make it much easier to find a compromise and resolve the conflict.

Contribute: Just because Mommy did your laundry before college doesn’t mean you treat your home like a hotel and sit on your butt while they do all the work. All of you have busy lives filled with jobs, bills, a social calendar, and more, but the house is a communal space you share. Whether you assign weekly chores or rotate responsibilities, you should all do your part. Pitching in not only makes it easier to maintain a household, it also compels you to feel like the house is also yours and teaches you the basics of running a home for when you finally leave the nest.

Still live with your parents and have tips of your own? Or if you’re already out on your own, what’s the biggest lesson living at home taught you? Let me know if the comments below.

Decor, Lifestyle

10 Motivational Typography Prints to Get Over the Hump-Day Slump

shelfie

I’ve been feeling seriously sluggish lately, and it’s not just because of EDC (there will be more on this later). It could also be the batch of good weather we’ve finally received on the East Coast—I mean, I have to enjoy the sunshine while I can, right? Whatever it is, I find myself distracted by everything and I really need to focus. I can make promises as much as want, but unless there’s something there to remind me to complete my tasks, they can fall by the wayside. But I’ve decided to get myself in gear starting with my space.

While my decorating has stalled a bit with a bunch of boxes that I can’t get rid of just yet, I’m looking up when it comes to making my house my home, namely with some wall art that adds some motivational mojo. I’m a visual kind of person—if I can’t see it (or feel it tangibly) I just won’t get it. I’ve been on the hunt for cool prints that give me the life advice I need minus the saccharine clichés that already clutter home decor shelves. No shade to “Live, Laugh, Love,” but I need a swift kick in the butt, not a hug, to get stuff done. If you’re in the same boat, I’ve found a few favorites I’m adding to my cart to ensure I can Carpe that Diem and stay on track to making my dreams come true. 

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Beauty, Makeup

3 Beauty Trends You Didn’t Know Were From Drag

 

via zap2it

via zap2it

After a season filled with avant-garde fashion, loads of laughs, and lots of leg, season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has ended with comedienne Bob the Drag Queen stepping into the winner’s circle purse first. While I wished all three could take the crown (seriously, I honestly couldn’t choose, I loved them so much), I won’t lose sleep, especially knowing that Kim Chi makeup line is likely in the works and Marc Jacobs already has Naomi Smalls on speed dial for his next campaign. Most may believe strobing and contuoring are techniques culled by social media’s elite, but you’d be surprised at how all these new so-called “beauty trends” are actually time-tested techniques that drag queens have used for decades. There are loads of makeup mavens borrowing tips and tricks from the contestants to stun on social media—you’ll see what I mean. Given the celebration of sequins and fierce beauty that the House of Ru has stirred up in recent years, I’m breaking down a few of the techniques you’ve already tried to share their origin.

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Beauty, Body, Lifestyle, Personal Musings

Surviving Festival Season & Not Sweating the Small Stuff

I like to tell people I grew up in a pit—a mosh pit to be exact. I went to local metal shows in high school and cut my teeth on the Vans Warped Tour and the Bamboozle before Coachella and festival season itself became a thing. So when I got to listening to house and EDM music after college, I thought the same concepts I could apply to my festival-filled past. Well, not exactly.

I got the chance to explore the technicolor world of the Electric Daisy Carnival when it hit NYC on May 14-15th, thanks to Secret. The brand has had a unique shift in focus from the barre babes and the Soul Cycle set to the summer music scene where calories are burned dancing in the heat of the moment rather than in a hot yoga studio, embracing the unfiltered fun and rush of summer music festivals. Last year, Tokimonsta took over as Secret’s festival face, but the brand put the power in the people’s hands (and arms, too) by offering a body paint station smack dab in the middle of the grounds. There, ravers of every flavor could water-marble their limbs and snap up a travel stick of the deodorant to swipe on between DJ sets. Though I initially felt out of my element at the vibrant affair, I learned a lot more than I expected before slipping on the neon wristbands.

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Lifestyle

New York’s Newest Hot Spot: The Period Shop

sarah-michelson-u-by-kotex-period-shop

We usually take to social media to squee over our latest finds, to fangirl, and air our grievances with the universe—we just never expect someone to listen and take action. But that’s what happened to Sarah Michelson when she took to Tumblr to call for something we didn’t know we needed: a period shop. Yeah, really, a period shop. And it’s coming to life today in the Big Apple, at 138 Fifth Avenue, where shoppers can snap period-themed items from the like of Aelfie, Ban.do, Baggu, and more thanks to U by Kotex.

If there were shops that could shill one item like hot sauce, men’s shaving products, and more, Michelson reasoned a period shop could mean serious success. “We have stores for men’s shaving gear, hot sauce, random crap that may not be necessary to our experience,” she said during  the shop’s preview Thursday night. I was on my period, and I kept having these thoughts, and it became this merging of ideas.”

While visions of pizza and pain relief danced in her head, Michelson’s post took off on the platform gaining thousands of notes and got noticed by U by Kotex. The current advertising and marketing major—she’s switching to focus on cosmetics and fragrance marketing next semester—worked closely with the brand to deck out the space with everything needed to make that time of the month much easier to handle, including tampons, pads, and pain relievers mixed in with sweatshirts, sweatpants, and pins decked out in feminine-care couture, and, of course, lots and lots of chocolate. Best of all, the proceeds benefit Susan’s Place, an NYC-based transitional residence for homeless women, who are often left without the feminine care products they need compared to clothing and food donations received.

“I wish the period store could be around all the time because then I’d be here [on my period],” Michelson admitted. “More typically, I’m home in sweatpants, getting drunk on ice cream and chips, eating literally everything, listening to music, chilling, moaning, groaning, bitching about life. But things like this make the experience so much more positive.”

And that’s really the end game: de-mystify the drama of our monthly menses. Whether you want to call it Aunt Flo or (my personal favorite) Shark Week, we’re now seeing a shift from stigma to social acceptance of a normal bodily function. “I think the stigma attached to periods is not just the older generation; I experienced it in high school, which was not long ago. It sucks, but I feel like it’s something everyone has a collective culture [about it],” Michelson explained. “It’s just a shop; it’s just a period; it’s just a tampon—the whole thing that’s surrounding it is so biblical, it’s ridiculous. The fact that U by Kotex is doing this, making this a reality for regular women, shows that this is what we can do. I think that the best thing people can do is talk about it—mothers, daughters, friends, talk about it, and eventually the stigma will be gone.”

So if you’re in New York City, the shop will be open to the public starting today May 13th through May 15th.

Hours:

May 13th: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with DJs on deck 12:00-6:00 p.m.; Nail Art available 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; and a comedy show 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

May 14th: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with a Carmilla cast meet and greet 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; DJs on deck 12:00-6:00 p.m.; Nail Art available 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m

May 15th: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with DJs on deck 12:00-5:00 p.m.; Nail Art available 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m; and PMS massages 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Head over to UbyKotex.com for more details and check out my Snapchat ASAP to get a behind-the-scenes look at the space.