Beauty

[Long] Hair Affair

Roughly ten years ago is when I was first introduced to the concept of the hair extension [be forewarned, gentlemen – this is a post for the ladies].

I must have been totally clueless because it literally never even dawned on me that occasionally female actresses and singers would suddenly have long, gorgeous hair and it literally seemed to happen overnight. [I know, right? Like, DUH, Sarah.]

At nineteen, I was finally getting to the point in my life where I was learning to put myself together. If I’m being honest, I was mostly a tomboy up until my senior year of high school. I never cared much for make up, fashion, or boys [yeah, lezbehonest]. I actually did spend money to get my hair highlighted, but that’s only because I couldn’t deal with the dishwatery mousy blonde that was growing naturally out of my head.

So when I eventually got my act together and boys actually started to notice me, I obviously became addicted to anything and everything girly. And I was completely awestruck with the idea of extensions. I’ve truly been trying to grow my hair out for my entire life, and it seems I am just one of those unlucky souls who is destined to have collar-bone-length hair for the rest of my life.

Or not.

Once I discovered the hair extension, I was completely hooked, and I have never looked back. I have been wearing them for ten years. Yes, TEN YEARS. People don’t even know I’m wearing them [which is, ultimately, the point]. I get a TON of compliments on my hair, and I feel a bit selfish keeping my secrets to myself. I believe that all women should be able to afford the hair length they want, and know that they can do it themselves without breaking the bank.

In these ten years of instantly “growing” my hair, I have tried almost every single type of hair extension under the sun. I’ve glued them in, I’ve had them sewn into tiny cornrows that were braided underneath my hair and against my scalp [I do not recommend either of these methods – they are both itchy, painful, and rip unhealthy amounts of hair out of your head], and I’ve also had them taped in. This is much better on your scalp and hair, but it’s expensive to keep up. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford the setback of $500 every few months.

If you’re living on a budget like I am, then I have your solution. I buy my hair at Sally Beauty. They have tons of different colors, lengths and varieties. I recommend buying the real human hair versus the synthetic blend – it’s more expensive but it will last longer. And because I color my hair myself, I usually buy two different colors and sew them together to get the desired tone. If you have a darker hair hue and you can’t find an exact extension color to match, feel free to dye the hair. Just like the hair on your head, extensions can tolerate darker dye. I have experimented with brown hair and have had to dye my extensions in the past. When putting the weave together, I generally sew two or three layers together to create a thickness that will mimic my natural growth. Instead of gluing the weaves onto my head, though, I sew them onto clips, which you can also pick up at Sally [you’ll also need a sewing needle and thread, which you can find there as well]. Then you just tease your hair against your scalp where the clip will go, spritz lightly with hair spray, put the clip in, and you’re done. Well, and style as desired, obvi.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE! This is important if you want longevity. In all of the years that I’ve been buying my own extensions, the quality has gone down significantly. These days, the weaves don’t have as much hair, and the hair itself doesn’t last very long. When I used to glue mine in, I would wash them, sleep on them, tease them, hair spray them – I treated them like my own hair. And they lasted for months without thinning or frizzing. I still buy the exact same brand of hair, but I have learned that I have to treat it 100% differently. I still sleep in my extensions, but I would highly recommend that you don’t. They get tangled and frizzy after only one slumber, and the ends get dry and crispy [yes, crispy. It’s not pretty]. Extensions don’t receive the same natural oils from your scalp, which is why I rub Moroccan oil into the ends of mine every morning. Also, DO NOT WASH YOUR EXTENSIONS EVERY DAY. The shampoo and conditioner will strip what little “preservatives,” if you will, from the hair. I wash mine every two weeks or so. And all it takes is a tiny bit of shampoo and conditioner. And make sure you let them air dry! Using as little heat as possible on them is vital. And using a high quality heat protectant before you style will help keep them from aging rapidly as well.

The hardest part about all of this is “building” your extensions. I usually set aside two or so hours to put mine together – it’s a lengthy process, but it’s worth it if it means you’re saving hundreds of dollars.

Instant long hair? Saving money? These are a few of my favorite things..

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Complexion Complexities

It’s no secret that we’re having a major drought out here in California.

Yesterday, the weather forecast for this weekend was rain, rain, rain.

This morning, as I pondered my appearance and checked the weather to coordinate my outfit accordingly, I was shocked to see that Saturday now has a predicted high of 66. Degrees. Fahrenheit. In Northern California. In the dead of January.

Now, if there was any way possible to convert the oil production made by my body into H2O, I honestly believe that we could cure the drought problem.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that drastic, but for those of you who know the all-to-familiar midday facial sheen (or, rather, the sheen that appears less than one hour after make-up application), it seems like it’s a constant uphill battle. And by uphill, I mean that you don’t actually get anywhere.

For years I have tried what seems like every oil-fighting product under the sun, and to no avail. “Proven to minimize pores and reduce oil production!” LIE.

After resolving to make this year a better and healthier year for myself (and my dog, but that’s beside the point), I finally took some of my free time to do some research (okay, I’m at work. But desperate times call for desperate measures).

What exactly is it that causes this major fire hazard on my face? And, IS THERE SOMETHING I CAN DO TO PREVENT IT?! Or at least reduce it.

Since product trial-and-error has previously failed me, I decided to steer my research in a different direction.

When I was little, my grandpa wouldn’t each chocolate. He always said, “Chocolate gives you zits.” When you’re a kid, that’s like telling a child “The sky is green” when it’s clearly blue. I mean, obviously there’s no way that something that goes into your belly can affect what’s happening on your face.

Turns out, it can.

And, as it also turns out, everything that’s on my “Most favorite foods to eat in the entire world” list is a major no-no for people who have overly oily skin. Insert sad sigh.

As I clicked madly from website to website, hoping for some sort of variety (or at least a loophole), I kept seeing the same thing: “Foods to avoid: red meats and meats high in fat content, dairy, processed sugars, soda and alcohol.” So basically everything I consume on a day-to-day basis. Double sad sigh.

So, I guess 2015 really is going to be the year of a total lifestyle change. And while I could throw a tantrum and cry about it, I won’t. I’m going to look at this as an amazing opportunity to see if changing your diet really can affect your body, or if we can chalk it up to an old wive’s tale.

Because, let’s face it, while winding down your day with hot green tea and a yoga sesh is relaxing, it just doesn’t do the trick like a glass of wine and a box of chocolates..

Saving Face.. From Oil Slick to Clean Slate

Ah, finally. It’s five o’clock. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant across the street has happy hour and you can already practically taste the shockingly good martini they serve. A good-looking man across the bar has caught your eye. His loosened tie and whiskey-on-the-rocks indicates that he just stepped out of a stuffy office job and is looking for a relaxing, if not semi-wild, evening. There is even a sexy five o’clock shadow making it’s merry way across his gorgeous face. You want to catch his eye, so you make a quick, discreet peek in your cosmetic mirror to make sure you look presentable. You wonder who the hell got into your purse and taped an ugly photo on your mirror when – HOLY SHIT – it’s you!

Yes, the dreaded, ongoing battle of over oil production on the female face strikes again. And, of course, at the most inopportune moment (like always).

UGH.

I swear, if scientists could figure out a way to scrape the oil off of our skin and turn it into gasoline, we would never EVER have to worry about fuel shortages again. In fact, gas prices would probably plummet.

Legitimately, that is how much oil production happens on my face – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It is AWFUL.

And as a professional woman in the working world, I HAVE to wear make-up. Not a TON, mind you, but at least enough for a little bit of coverage. And it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to find make-up that is made for oily skin. Forget about trying to find an entire line of the same product that will battle the doomed midday oil explosion. That is completely out of the question.

So what is a girl to do?!

I can’t say that my methods will work for everyone, but they sure as hell have begun to work for me. The least I can do is share my secrets for the constant and ongoing oil reduction battle with my fellow comrades.

The first thing you must ALWAYS do is wash your face. I’ve always used plain Dove bar soap (just the basic navy blue labeled one), which is great for oily skin. It doesn’t completely dry out your skin, just cleanses and rids the surface of dirt and oils. Recently, I was turned on to a skincare line called “Say Yes to Tomatoes” (or grapefuit, carrots, blueberries). Each product is designed for a different skin type, but the “Tomatoes” line is specifically for combination/oily skin. If you choose to invest, it is best to purchase the whole product line. Not just the moisturizer or just the cleanser. They work best together (Say Yes to Tomatoes can be purchased at Target or Walmart).

yes to tomatoes

After cleansing you MUST apply moisturizer. I know it seems silly when you already have a ridiculous amount of moisture production on your face, but this is actually caused by excessive drying of the skin. Your body thinks it needs to produce MORE oil to compensate for the lack of moisture left in and on your skin post cleansing. There are a million moisturizes out there that are created specifically for oily skin. I use the “Tomatoes” brand, but Olay makes a great one as well (which also contains SPF 15, which is a plus).

The next step for me is applying primers. I found a brand at Ulta called “Cargo.” Their products are designed for those of us with oily skin. I recently acquired a Mary Kay primer as well (also designed for more oily faces), which I apply after the Cargo layer. I use my fingers for both of these, but it’s probably best to use brushes for all make-up application. As I’m sure you’re well aware, our hands are constantly picking up dirt and grime throughout the day. Regardless of whether or not you’ve just washed your hands in cleansing your face, your hands still carry generic body oils that can be transferred back onto your face in make-up application. This is best avoided by using brushes (which you must cleanse at least once a week, as these will also grab onto your facial oils and carry them in their bristles, and then brush it all back onto your face – GROSS).

make up 1

Not everyone uses liquid foundation, but I have to. My skin isn’t all one color, and have small patches of redness that need to be evened out with a little bit of liquid base. I’ve tried every product under the sun, but the best ones that I’ve discovered are drug store brands – Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline, etc. These companies are constantly changing their formulas and developing new products. As strange as it seems, their make-up lines are always the most up-to-date products on the market. Revlon makes a great liquid for combination/oily skin, as well as Cover Girl. I recently switched to the Cover Girl – it gives me GREAT coverage and I hardly have to use any to get the look that I want. The bottle literally lasts for months. And it costs about $6. Can’t beat that!

cover girl

I never used to wear cover-up, but as I’ve gotten older and my eating and lifestyle habits have changed, I’ve found more of a necessity for it. In this I have also tried a million different products, but my two favorites are Tarte (they have two kinds, a liquid and a stick – I prefer the stick) and Too Faced Absolutely Flawless. They are both great for those pesky dark circles that magically appear under your eyes for no apparent reason, as well as covering annoying red patches that also happen pop up in the most random of places.

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While I let the liquid foundation and my cover-up soak in and “dry up” a bit, if you will, I move to my eyes. The first thing I do is apply an eyeshadow primer. Not entirely necessary, but it definitely helps to keep your shadow and liner on all day long without reapplication. The only brand I’ve tried is MAC Primer Pot, but I’m sure any other (namely: cheaper) product will work equally as well. After the primer I apply first my shadow(s) and then my liner. I use Kat Von D Ink Liner, or MAC Liquid Liner Pot. If you love the “cat-eye” look like I do, liquid liners are definitely the best choice – especially because they will last much longer without a necessary reapplication midday. Liquid liners also respond best to oily skin – even though oils are, more often than not, produced in the infamous “T-Zone” and sometime on our chins, occasionally some will make it’s way to the eyelids, which can be a disaster for eyeliner situations. I have found that liquid will power through an oil struggle a lot better than pencil will.

The next step is foundation. Again. For non-liquid foundations (aka loose powder or compressed/packed powder), the best for oily skin is usually loose powder. I did some research and read that MAC’s loose powders are the best for oily skin, but I cannot attest to this since it’s pretty much the only product I’ve ever used (I was already using their powder when I did some reading). I also have a compressed powder by Pixie (Target), and another loose powder by Bare Minerals. I use the MAC the most, but the other two combined work great as well. This is more of a personal preference, I think, but loose powders are definitely better and soaking up any lingering facial oils.

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If you wear bronzer, it is applied next, after the powder. Not everyone wears bronzer, but I do. I like to have a little bit of a glow, especially in the dead of winter when I look like Snow White after rolling around in a pile of flour. For bronzer I have used compressed MAC, but I’ve recently started to shy away from their bronzer because, in my experience, it is not good quality and doesn’t stay on my face. These days, I’m loving Too Faced compressed bronzer, and also loose Sonia Kashuk from Target. Again, personal preference falls into play here, since there really isn’t one bronzer that is going to be better at oil absorption.

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make up 3

If you fill in/pencil in your brows, this step would fall in here (well, it does with my daily routine, at least).

Once I’ve got the base of my face on (so, basically, everything sans eyelashes), I spray on Urban Decay’s De-Slick make-up setting spray. It’s designed specifically for setting your make-up, and, BONUS.. OIL CONTROL! This is BY FAR the BEST product, to date, that I have found. I have had it for about two weeks, and have not had to touch up my make-up a single time in the middle of the day. The bottle says to spray your face 2-4 times, but I limit myself to 1 or 2 and it’s definitely enough to last through the day.

85120_settingspray_deslick

And, finally, mascara, to finish off your beautiful, glowing (and from make-up, not oil) face.

I hope my make-up methods work as well for the rest of you as they do for me. At the end of a long workday, there is nothing more gratifying than peeking in the mirror to find that your face is still on and ready for mingling.

Heaven Sent

I am by no means religious. I do not believe in a higher power, and I don’t believe that an unseen “being” has control of every single person’s destiny. I don’t knock it, though. I’ve discovered that having faith in something can bring a lot of people peace and purpose.

I DO, however, believe that there is Heaven on Earth. And it is known as Lake Tahoe.

I am blessed and fortunate enough to have a beautiful home on the east shore of Lake Tahoe (the “Nevada Side,” as those who frequent the lake deem it). Our three-story townhouse is nestled among many other homes and condos along a private beach just north of Zephyr Cove. My dad’s family has a place as well – an old, large cabin just down the beach that comfortably sleeps 15-20 people. This past week, my family and I rented the “Big House,” as the cousins call it, and spent a week in the glorious paradise of Lake Tahoe.

If you aren’t from California or Nevada, and you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe before, you are probably wondering what all of the hype is about. After all, there are lakes EVERYWHERE. While this may be true, Tahoe has a certain aura about it that locals just can’t get enough of.

First of all, it is only two hours from Sacramento. In two hours I can go from a stifling 100 degrees to a comfortable 80 with an offshore breeze. In that same two hours, I can go from miserable, wet rain to beautiful, white snow. Winter or summer, the weather in Tahoe is ideal. And the place is just beautiful. No matter where you are on the lake, the views are immaculate.

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The picture above was taken last week in Glenbrook, Nevada at sunset.

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The above is a photo taken from the famous Thunderbird Lodge, located off highway 29 between Sand Harbor and highway 50.

Another wonderful thing about Lake Tahoe – there is SO much to do!

I’ve been going to Tahoe my entire life. My grandparents bought their condo in the late 1970s, and before that, they brought my dad and aunt up to the cousin’s house every year since as far back as they can remember. I can safely say that the magnetism of Lake Tahoe runs in my blood. It’s beauty and how I’m drawn to it are ingrained in my being. However, because of this, I have spent little time playing tourist. I drive straight to my house in Glenbrook, and then I don’t leave until it’s time to drive back down to Sacramento.

Recent new developments have made South Lake Tahoe a prime tourist trap. In the summer, wandering the strip, window shopping and trying all of the fancy restaurants in the Heavenly area are fun things to do. These options are also available in winter, but it is significantly colder and much more uncomfortable. Guests all around Lake Tahoe can rent anything from jet skis to boats, paddle boards to paddle boats. Anything water-related can be rented and used for pure enjoyment.

There are various restaurants scattered around the lake that, in addition to regular access, also have boat access. Boaters can float right up to the dock and tie up their boat while they enjoy a “Wet Woody” (a famous Tahoe cocktail) and a fantastic brunch in the beautiful Tahoe sun.

Various other activities include camping, zip-lining, riding the gondola at Heavenly in South Lake, horseback riding, paddle boat cruises, and tours of historic points around the lake.

Just a short car ride down the road from my place in Glenbrook is the historic summer home of George Whittell, also known as Thunderbird Lodge. It is best seen from the lake side, as it is completely invisible from the road, but once on the property the views are breathtaking. The home tour itself is not so spectacular – but learning about its original owner and his weird “quirks” is definitely worth looking into.

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The two above photos were taken from the property of Thunderbird Lodge, overlooking Lake Tahoe from the east shore. The top photo shows the gazebo, which allows an almost 360 degree view of the lake. The bottom photo is of a well, which was built for fun, not for actual purpose.

The Thunderbird Lodge gets its name from Whittell’s famous and beautiful wooden boat, which can sometimes be seen cruising around the lake with a boat full of people. The Thunderbird can be rented by anyone for the price of probably your first born child, but jetting about the like in a pristine and classic wooden craft is an experience unlike any other, I am sure.

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The top photo is the entrance to Whittell’s house (or Thunderbird Lodge), and the bottom photo is taken in the boathouse on the property – a rear view of the famous Thunderbird. This summer, the boat is out of commission – the lake water is too low to launch it, and, conveniently, its engines broke down and cannot be repaired without funding and donations.

Although Tahoe offers a wide variety of entertainment options, my favorite thing to do when I am there is just relax. If you’re fortunate enough to stay somewhere with beach access (ahem, the California side is heavily rock-ridden with only dock entrances to the lake), I highly recommend a comfortable beach chair and a good book (and a large bottle of sunscreen; the thin air will fry your skin in no time at all). There is no better paradise than lounging on the beach and just letting time go. And, of course, a cocktail in one hand doesn’t hurt, either.

Whatever your choice of entertainment may be, Lake Tahoe is without-a-doubt one of the most beautiful places that America has to offer. While pricey, it is worth every single penny to be able to enjoy the wonders of nature and a truly serene and wonderful place. I highly recommend a stop in Lake Tahoe, if you ever have the opportunity to come out this way.

**To donate or visit Thunderbird Lodge, visit http://thunderbirdtahoe.org/.