Must Have Tools for Braids

Lately, I have been braid obsessed… french braids, dutch braids, fishtails, waterfall braids, etc.  Oh the possibilities are endless if you combine different types.  Man, I love braids. Okay #endrant #braidobsessed

I’ve learned that certain tools and products are necessary for braiding.  As my lovely face below displays, if you don’t have these products and you love braids, you cray.  Here’s the arsenal of goods that you must have to perfect the braided look.

tools and products for braids

Bobby Pins:  Make sure they match your hair.  My hair is ombre, so I have blonde and brunette bobby pins to camouflage them.  I recommend placing the bobby-pins in the form of an “X” for a more secure hold.  Also the curved end should always face down.  I didn’t know these tricks until like a year ago.  No wonder I left a trail of bobby pins everywhere I went.

Clear Elastics: I bought a 500 pack at Target for less than $5.  They’re like the size of your pinky but stretch enough to secure a whole head of hair if necessary.  Use these instead of ponytail holders to blend more naturally in your hair.  Hey, they’re not just for 5 year olds!

Clip-In Extensions:  We’re all not blessed with luxurious, long, thick hair.  Braids shorten your hair.  When you see those Elsa-like braids, chances are there’s some extensions hidden up in there. The extensions will help the braid look fuller and longer.  I’d use at least 2 wefts for most braided styles.

Teasing Comb:  Use the pointy end to section off hair or even pull the braid apart.  Use the comb part to backcomb your hair and tease it.  You can do this along a section to secure extensions or at the top of the head to add volume.

Volumizing Powder:  My favorite is Smart Solutions Volumizing Styling Dust.  Sprinkle a little on your roots to add weightless texture, volume, and hold.  It’s perfect for most braids.  I swear, this stuff really did come from a fairy because it is a miracle worker.

Aerosol Hair Spray:  I finish off a braid with a healthy dose of Tresseme Aerosol Hair Spray.  I also spritz my teasing comb and then smooth along flyaways etc for a sleeker look.


4 Must Have Brushes

Wow, it’s been a month since my last blog post!  My bad.  Some may consider that slacking.  However, I made this video the day after my sister’s wedding… Obviously hungover.  Now that’s ambitious!  I truly made it because I couldn’t let that $85 hairstyle go to waste.  Looking back, I should have done a post on how to keep your updo intact.  I got 4 days out of that bad boy.  Instead, I talked about brushes… when I couldn’t even brush my hair.  Always botching and learning on the job.

Without further adieu… the much anticipated… brush vlog.

I’ve tried a myriad of hair brushes.  I’ve finally found the only 4 brushes I ever use.  With these 4 brushes, you can work hair miracles.

What are they?

The Tangle Teaser is perfect for getting through knotty hair without damaging. Don’t let the funky shape fool you.  This works!

The Wet Brush is another great detangling brush.  I use it in the shower, at the beach, whenever my hair is wet.  This can replace your comb, pick, paddle brush, etc.

If you want to rock the poof, you need a teasing brush.  Back comb the roots of your hair for extra volume.

I love Olivia Gardens brushes.  Talk about quality.  I discovered these beauties at a trade show.  They’re the real deal.  Here’s the one I use for  blow drying.

Hair Tutorial: Using the Perfector Heated Brush

One Christmas, my mom asked me for the Perfector.  A $99 heated styling brush.  I used a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon and got it at Harmons for $80.  It was a bit pricier than any hair tool I ever bought, but it was for my mom.  My mom has shorter hair, and she wanted to use it to just curl the bottom pieces under and add some volume in the back.

Anyway, I was home for winter break and decided to give it a whirl.  I immediately fell in love with it and went out and got myself one too.

So what is the Perfector?  It’s a heated styling brush.  Other heated brushes exist, and I’m sure they work the same way.  I particularly use mine for loose waves, and volume.  It smooths out an unruly blow dry and adds some shine to hair.

Here’s how to use this nifty gadget:

If you’re so inclined, it can be purchased here:

Calista Tools Perfecter Fusion Hair Styler Heated Round Brush Plus Bonuses


50 Shades of Hair

50 shades of hair

For the last decade and a half I experimented with hair color.  One day, my hair was sunshine yellow, the next day it looked like a liter of motor oil was dumped on my head.  I changed my hair color almost as often as I changed my sheets.  I’d attempt to dye it myself out of a box, hate it, and get it professionally done a week later.  I’d wear wigs, chalk it, and even “spray paint” it.  I’ve been bleach blonde, black, maroon, caramel, ombre, orange, etc.  Here’s what I learned about each color given my features.

Black Hair was just a disaster.  I dyed my hair black when I studied abroad in Australia.  I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a hairdresser there, nor was I employed so I had no income to fund my hair whims.  I did it myself with a box of dye.  I also ended up dying my forehead dark for a week.  I wasn’t a fan of this look.  It washed my pale face out.   I was constantly pounding on the bronzer just to look alive. The only benefit was my hair always looked healthy (even though it wasn’t).

Burgundy Hair – I don’t know what I was thinking with this one.  It didn’t suit my personality.  Again this was a box job. The dye adhered to my head in a blotchy fashion.  Some spots were redder than others.  Also, the red never really left my hair.  There was always a tinge of red after, even when I dyed it blonde.

Bleach Blonde Hair – At the time, this was my favorite look.  But after maturing a little, I realized my hair looked trashy.  It’s bright and over processed.  It just appears fake (well… it is).  It was also expensive and time consuming to disguise those dark roots.

Ombre – I don’t care if ombre is in, or if it’s out… it is the best hair option.  You get to be multiple colors and don’t have to worry about roots growing out, because it’s supposed to look that way!

Blue – Don’t worry, that one is a wig!  But if Katy Perry can rock blue hair, so can you?!  Be warned though that people will look at you funny.  If you have enough confidence to rock the blue, by all means go for it!  While it’s completely unnatural, it does complement certain features.  However, I will leave the blue hair for Halloween.

Red – Don’t worry about this either.  It’s a can of colored hairspray.  Although, I do think I could pull off red.  There’s something intriguing and sexy about it.  After dying my hair burgundy and dealing with a tinge of red for a couple of years, I think the colored hairspray is the proper route.

Everytime I get my hair done, it’s a different color.  I also flip flop so much that it’s a process to get it back blonde.  That process brings me to 50 shades of blonde, hence the majority of photos above.

What You Need to Know About Beauty Boxes

Who doesn’t want a new present delivered to their door monthly?  For a low fee, companies like Birchbox and Ipsy will fulfill these wishes.  While it sounds ideal, there are mixed reviews from actual subscribers.  Plus, there’s enough choices out there to make your head spin.

In full disclosure, I’ve never subscribed to any of these services, but am seriously considering it.  But, I can’t make a decision of this stature (#dramatic) without consulting friends and doing research.  I HAVE gifted it before though.  It’s the best cop out gift.  You know the fall back when you don’t know what to get your friends or coworkers.  It sure beats the typical go-to presents like Bath and Body Works lotions or bottles of wine.  Well the latter is arguable.  Anyway…

Mommy Splurge is the best resource I’ve found to help you navigate the insanely stupid amount of offerings out there.  It breaks these offerings down by category like beauty, DIY, fitness, food, etc.  Then there’s brief summaries of what you’ll get with a subscription and a myriad of reviews.  For this post’s sake, we’re taking about beauty boxes!!

To summarize, here’s the basics of the most popular monthly subscription services.

beauty box

BIRCHBOX ($10/month)

Birchbox is obviously one of the more popular beauty subscriptions.  In the beginning, you’ll fill out a survey.  Then they’ll send you 5 samples or full sized products each month that supposedly fit your needs and wishes.

Here’s what my friends are saying about Birchbox:

“It’s just alright … I’m not loving it as much as I should… I feel like I wish it was a bit more customized”

“I had Birchbox and canceled after 3 months. I was getting too many samples I didn’t know what to do with them and most of them I never used or wanted to use.”

“I have had a Birchbox subscription for prob a year.  I’m obsessed with it”

The overall consensus about Birchbox is that it’s fun for a little.  It certainly makes a decent gift.  However, the samples aren’t always tailored appropriately.  Everyone I know who subscribed has received a red bottle of detangler despite what they said in their survey…

IPSY ($10/month)

Ipsy was founded by famed You Tube beauty vlogger Michelle Phan. You’ll take a quick quiz which helps them determine what goes in your Glam Bag each month.  That’s right, in additions to beauty products,  you’ll get a new makeup bag each month!  Then you can watch product tutorials from their stylists.

“I have Ipsy, I’m so in love with it every month!”

“I cancelled Ipsy-I barely used the products. Had it for 6 months.”

“Ipsy is much better than Birchbox, plus you get a cute makeup bag each month.”

“I used to subscribe to Ipsy. Was charged twice and sent order and shipment confirmations but never received the packages. I had to fight the charges through Amex.”

Based on my friend’s reviews, Ipsy is better than Birchbox. It seems like it’s tailored to each individual better.  However, there are some gripes with the billing process.

JULEP MAVEN ($24.99/month)

Julep started as a nail parlor and has expanded to a cosmetic company.  They don’t use toxins or test on animals.  Each month you are given a limited selection of products to choose from, therefore you customize the box yourself.  You’ll only receive items from the Julep brand though.

If you love nail polish, you’ll likely enjoy Julep Maven.  You’ll get exactly what you wanted delivered to your door each month.  If you’re thinking of giving it as a gift, you don’t have to worry about it auto renewing.  However, those who subscribe on their own beware… the subscription does automatically renew!

BARE BLISS BOX ($16.99/month)

I don’t know anyone who subscribes to Bare Bliss Box, nor have I heard about it before today.  However, I like the spin it has.  Rather than commercial products, it appeals to a niche audience.  I’m sure all of you have a friend or two who only uses organic products or refuses to use products that are tested on animals.  This is the box for them!

There you have it kids.  The verdict is still out about these boxes.  Some people jump for joy you every time they come home to their beauty treats.  Others find it a total waste of $$$

1920s Costume – Dress & Hair

I’ve been to a dozen 1920s themed parties, and reinvent my look each time.  There are certain themes in attire, hair, and makeup that truly define the 1920s.  Here’s your guide to dressing up for a 1920s themed party.

1920s costumes

1920s Clothing

You could buy one of those cheesy costumes from Party City.  I’m guilty of doing that once, but it was unflattering and certainly my least favorite flapper look.

I advise you raid your own wardrobe or a thrift shop instead, look for the following:

  • Black dresses
  • Dresses with gold detail
  • Tiered dresses
  • Dresses with fringe
  • Dresses with scallops at the bottom
  • Dresses with sequins

Basically, you’re looking for ornate dresses or the complete opposite, the LBD which you can spruce up with accessories.

1920s Hair

Look One 

First I curled by hair.  Then,  I twisted the front section back to create a quiff.  I pinned the rest of the hair to one side.  I then placed a headband directly behind the twist.

Look Two

The headband around my head is from Forever 21!  I saw it on the mannequin and had to have it.    When placing the headband around the head, it’s all about positioning.  You want it to start at the top of your forehead and wrap around the top of your hair at a downward angle so the back of the band falls in the middle of your head.

My hair is long and curly in this style.  I know it’s not exactly 1920s, but you still want to look good and feel like yourself!

Look Three

I tried hard to follow the Gatsby inspired finger wave tutorial below.  But as usual, it didn’t come out anything like the picture.  I didn’t have the hair clips required nor the brain capacity to figure out the back  twists.  I’ll do a tutorial on how to achieve my version.  For the most part though, I attempted an s curl with a straightening iron, braided the ends, then tucked them under.

For the hair piece, I used a broken necklace.  I secured it to one side of my head with bobby pins.

1920s Hair Tutorials

I curated the below 1920s hair tutorials to get you started on achieving your own Gatsby party look!


1.  Gatsby Inspired Finger Waves

2.  Gatsby Curls Updo

3.  Rolled Updo Tutorial

You’re all going to look like a total Betty at your 1920s themed party.

Ombre Hair

It’s expensive being a girl, especially when hair salons don’t give you what you ask for.    So I’ll spare you the expense.  I mess up, do you don’t have to!!

Ombre Hair


I’m a natural brunette, although I try to fight it by consistently adding blonde highlights. I’d hit the salon every 2 months for a refresh… High maintenance!  Ombre highlights are the best of both worlds.  I can still be “blonde” without having to worry about roots.  I also save money from having to get it done less often too #winning


In the before picture, I asked for Lauren Conrad ombre, where it is brighter at the bottoms and in the front.  The request was a drastic change from my basic highlights so I made an appointment at a high end salon in New York City.   I should have ran out of that door when I saw a grown woman crying over her hair.  None the less I stuck it out.  The stylist hand painted bleach on my entire head.  I only wanted the ends brightened, but I let her do her magic.  As I sat there with my scalp burning I began to have more doubts.  When she removed the product, my whole head was practically white.  I asked her how the ombre fit into this.  She replied, don’t worry.  She then had her assistant apply something to the root of my hair, drag it down about 1/8th of the way and dye it brown.  While I liked the brighter bottoms (they were exactly what I wanted) the ombre effect was just plain awful.  I paid $300 + tip (excluding a haircut) to have roots!

The hair looked fine for a week.  But as it began to grow out the dark roots took control.  Then the ends of the hair became extremely damaged from the bleach.  They were fried and looked scraggily at the bottom.  My hair had really thinned out and my split ends were out of control.  I had to dump oil on it just to make them look remotely normal.  As it continued to grow, it looked trashier and ratchet, even with a haircut.  A quick trip to the beach and it was evident my hair needed some sprucing up.


  • Don’t let a stylist bleach your entire head
  • Run when someone is crying in a salon
  • Get a haircut when you dye your hair
  • Just because it costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better
  • If you have dark hair, bleach blonde is not the route to go
  • Question your stylist about the process and make sure she truly comprehends your expectations

Less than two months later I got my hair done in Astoria New York, it was far more affordable and I was much happier with the results.  Again, I showed the stylist the same picture.  Since my hair was already bleached, bright and damaged at the bottom she left that alone and worked with the rest of the hair. Here’s what should happen when someone does that correctly.

  • The stylist will tease your hair.  This allows the root color to remain intact and creates a more natural looking effect
  • There should be gradual shifts in color, not a straight line across your hair
  • Leave your root color alone so it grows out without harsh lines
  • You should see several different colors in your hair

I’m looking forward to months of low maintenance hair!  The stylist said this will bring me through the summer, and I believe her.

PS  both of these pictures were taken on Day 1 of getting my hair done.  I just happened to wear the same shirt. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t as great in the before picture, so it doesn’t do its harshness justice.

PPS Here’s the Lauren Conrad picture I showed.  It doesn’t look exactly like LC, because my natural color is darker than hers.  Also, it’s likely that the bleached out portions at the bottom are extensions.

lauren conrad ombre

Wavy Voluminous Hair Without Heat

I have many go-to lazy girl hairstyles predominantly consisting of buns and pony tails. If I let my hair air dry and leave it alone, it looks like a nappy, frizzy, unflattering disaster. So I’ve been experimenting with ways to let it dry on its own, but still look put together.  Here’s how you can achieve this look.

How to Achieve Wavy Voluminous Hair with No Heat

  1. Let your hair air dry about 3/4 of the way
  2. Braid it loosely, leaving out the top layer and chunks along the face
  3. Sleep in the braid, or at least leave it in for a half hour
  4. Remove the braid
  5. Spray your entire head with dry shampoo
  6. Jouge Hair [still figuring out how to spell that word, did I make it up?!] by that I mean scrunch it and push up towards the roots

Voila you’re done!

Girly Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Girly Gift Guide

Batiste Dry Shampoo – Find it at most drug stores.  Highly recommended after a sweat at the gym when there’s no time to shower.  A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Lauren Conrad Earrings – She has the cutest earring line at Kohls.  Most studs are $12 and under and Kohls always has super fab sales, so I scored a bunch of them for $8 each #steal

Beauty Blender – If you’re going to invest in any beauty tool, make it this!

Anthropologie Candles – Pretty much every scent is heavenly and the containers are stylish.  I want them all for my office and home.  Only problem is they’re so great I want to save them instead of burn them.

Selfie Remote – Amazon has dozens of these at affordable prices.  It’s not really called the selfie remote, but let’s be real – that’s what we’re using it for.  They’re bluetooth enabled so snap that selfie without your arm in it!

Journal – Marshalls and TJ Maxx have dozens of versions of the cutest notebooks!  They’re all $5 too.  You have no idea how many compliments I get on these.

Elf Lip Exfoliator – Banish flaky lips with this affordable must have.

Anne Taintor Flask – Her iconic artwork is on flasks, mugs, makeup bags, travel tags etc.  They all feature olden day women with sassy quotes for the independent, witty, and fun female.

* Did I use enough ! ! ! ! ! in the above?!?! I’m obviously very excited about these products… and my job has brainwashed me to use them in everything.

Halloween Costume: Cyndi Lauper

cyndi lauper costume

LOVED dressing up as Cyndi Lauper.  My favorite part was the BIG red hair.  But to pull off this icon, I also wore a black off the shoulder top, an 80s staple.  Cyndi is known for wearing tons of accessories.  Her style is a little punk too.  So, I wore lots of chains and bracelets.

To achieve the 80s hairstyle, I parted my hair above the arch of my left eyebrow.  Then, I used an entire can of red hair spray (don’t worry, its not permanent).    Note:  If you do choose to spray paint your hair, wear a T-shirt you don’t mind ruining.  Then I teased it at the crown, pulled all the hair to my right side and back combed my entire head of hair.

For the eye makeup, I applied Bare Escentuals in Envy to my entire lid, up to the brow bone.  I used black in the crease line and blended well.  Then I lined my inner lid and just below my waterline with Urban Decay Onyx eyeliner.  I finished off the look with liquid eyeliner and 3 coats of mascara.

cyndi Lauper

My other favorite part of being Cyndi was her facial expressions.  So fun to embody a fun-loving silly girl.  It’s not too far off from my actual essence although she definitely has more edge.