Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Finding your Undertone

Figuring out what is your undertone is important in picking out the right foundation, lipstick and even hairdye. No one has the same coloring and coupled with the undertones of your skin what works for someone else might not work for you.

Your undertone are the colors that lie underneath your skin, while your skin color can change your undertone is always the same. Your undertone can either be cool,warm or neutral. Knowledge of the color wheel and where the colors are on the spectrum helps a bit.

There are several ways that people suggest for you to figure out your right color, some being more effective than others. I am only going to talk about what helped me figure it all out.

1. Figure out what colors look best on you. This perplexed me at first because It wasn't something that I really thought of and then when I did think of it I only came up with colors I liked not ones that necessarily flattered me. Think about the colors that you get complimented on from clothes to makeup.

2. Do you have any redness in your skin? Do you have blue or green veins visible? Is your skin tone sallow,yellow or pink? Taking these kind of things into account are also important as they help indicate towards your coloring.  Blueish colored veins tend to fall under the cool category, while green veins fall under the warm and if you can't really see vein color you are neutral. Pale, pink, ebony and dark red coloring end up falling into the cool category while warm yellows, pale peachy and golden colors tend to fall under warm. If you fall neither wholly into one category then you are neutral. Corals and reds like apricot,orange, tawny and brown red are flattering to neutral and warm but fall more so on the neutral side.

To see vein color look at the underside of your wrist in natural daylight to see veins. If you want to find it by looking at your face make sure you are in natural daylight with no makeup on. Also pulling hair back and draping a white towel around shoulders is a good way to see what your undertone is. You will be able to see your undertone with a neutral background.

3. What shade of red lipstick makes your teeth appear whiter? One shade of red isn't universally flattering, you have to pick the right shade for your coloring and it so happens that this can help you figure it out. Cool Red lipsticks with a blue undertone flatter Cool skin tones the best and make teeth appear whiter. Where as warm red lipsticks with orange, yellow or golden hues will make Warm skin tones teeth appear brighter. Wearing a lipstick shade that isn't flattering to your undertone will wash you out and accentuate any discoloration in the teeth.


If you want to find your undertone a good way is to figure out what your hair undertone is. I struggled with figuring out what my undertone was for quite awhile. I now know what it is and so what colors work best for me and you can also.

Once you know what your undertone is, picking a hair color to flatter you will not be a problem again. Luckily on most hair dye boxes you can find the words cool, warm or neutral which helps make it easier. If you are looking to go blond for instance and have a cool undertone your best bet would be to try champagne or Ash blondes colors. While if you have a warm undertone your best bet is to try golden or honey blonde colors. If neutral you are lucky enough to try either or and still have it flatter you.

Want to try a red color? Brighter reds have a blue undertone which suits cool undertones best. A darker warmer red is best for the warm undertones. Neutrals can experiment with either one.

Having the wrong shade of hair dye is a sure way to wash you out, so picking the right one is very important in looking your best.

Hopefully this gave you a little insight into figuring out your undertone and that you understand how important it is to find yours.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My way of Growing out my hair

This post is just going to be about what methods I took to grow out my hair. Results weren't overnight, it was a gradual process. My hair was up to about chin length when curly and has gone to about end of shoulder blade length when curly. At the time that I started my hair growth journey, it was heat damaged due to hair dying, heating tools and negligence of hair protecting products.There were other factors as well like not taking better care of hydrating and applying the correct products for my hair.

Scroll to end to see pictures of my hair journey.

To start off my hair is curly, over the years the curls have become looser than when I was younger but still curly. Curly hair naturally is very fine and generally dry. Frizziness is a common occurence and learning to deal with my hair texture is always a work in progress. I was ignorant to certain basic facts about curly hair and ignored most of what I did know about it. My hair type would be classified as a 3b.

So I started my hair growth journey after getting tired of having my hair shoulder length for years and never seeing much growth. Because of all the damage that I had done to my hair it wouldn't grow past my shoulders. I decided I needed to evaluate what I was doing and change things if I wanted my hair to grow again. These are the things I did to do that.

1st. Reduce or completely eliminate usage of hot tools. Consistent usage of hair dryers, curling irons or flat irons will damage hair. If you cant live without using heat on your hair then reducing the amount of times you use it is just as good. I wasn't much good at blow drying my hair so instead I would use a flat iron, problem is I used it on wet hair with no protection. I would hear the sizzle as I ran the iron through my strands and thought it was a good thing because it was straightening my hair. While it did straighten my hair it also made it dry, gave me split ends and damaged my curl pattern. On my journey I knew I was going to have to cut out using the flat iron. I barely brought out the iron to do my hair in the beginning and when I did I made sure to have a heat protectant and have hair already be dry.

2nd. Stop or reduce how much you dye your hair. This was something like an addiciton for me, I loved to dye my hair. It was fun being able to change the color but I was doing it too often. I knew that in order for me to grow out my hair I would have to stop putting damaging chemicals in it. Not to mention I was using cheap dye that did nothing to moisturize it at all. So I made a promise to dye my hair if needed at most only once a year or not at all. This was a major factor in getting my hair back to what it should be.

3rd. Regular hair trims. I normally got pretty regular cuts, if not in a salon then I would do them myself. At the start of my hair journey I went to the salon around every 3 months to get a cut but got frustrated when they would cut what little growth I did achieve. Eventually I switched to cutting it myself because the salons I was going to were too scissor happy and trimming more than my split ends. I did try another upscale salon later on in my journey and there was the first time I did get a haircut where they trimmed my ends, maintaing my length without chopping it off for the heck of it. So now I cut my own hair because I trust myself to cut it more than other people. When I started my journey I had layers all over and even though I stressed how I was growing my hair out into one length the stylists would always recut my layers. By cutting it my self I've grown my hair out to almost one length (the bangs grow slower).

4th. Know your products and eliminate any bad ones. I had read an article early in my hair journey about curly hair and products. One that I eliminated was shampoo, the ones I would use had sulfate and only dried out my hair which I didn't want. A lot of products have sulfate in them which dry out hair and are what cause the foaming in things like shampoo. I never liked using shampoo so decided to cut it out and only use conditioner on my hair. About once or twice a month I would use a dandruff shampoo to clean my hair if I had too much product build up.

5th. Hydrate your hair- It's important to put moisture back into your hair, so for this I used olive oil spray as a way to quench my thirsty hair.

6th. Dry your hair properly. You learn somewhere along the way from emulating and being taught that using a towel to dry your hair is best, when in fact it isn't. I stopped doing this awhile ago because all it does is cause breakage and frizz. Instead of drying my hair with a towel, I squeeze out as much water as I can after washing my hair and then use something like a cotton shirt to pat dry it. This way it isn't causing breakage and the shirt absorbs alot of the water. Then I let it air dry.

6b. Manage frizz. This is just an added step that I thought was important because no one likes frizz. There are several ways I have eliminated frizz and thankfully don't suffer from it anymore unless I'm fidgetting with my hair. First thing I do is when washing my hair I never pile it atop my head and mush all over, that causes tangles which I don't want because then you get breakage. Rather I massage my hair and loosely gather the ends to the top. The second thing I do is detangle my hair when I condition it, having curly hair I almost never comb it because it tangle so easy so this is the only time I do it. I have used a wide toothed comb to detangle but most often than not I use my fingers making sure to comb carefully through hair. After I have completely washed out the conditioner I wet my hair all over with cold water and then wring out excess water. Since I wash my hair with medium heat water it opens up my hair shafts but with that comes frizz hair, so wetting my hair with cold water closes the shaft locking in moisture thereby reducing frizziness. The next thing I do is to make sure I wring out as much water I can from my hair before pat drying it with a cotton t-shirt. I make sure to air dry it even if I do place product in my hair while wet I leave it alone making sure not to touch it even after it dries. Running your fingers through your hair is a sure fire way to get frizz.

7th. Use minimal amounts of products.I eliminated gels and other products I would normally use to keep my curls in place. The only products that would go into my hair for styling were olive oil, heat protection and lotion. And on occassion a bit of hairspray but that wasn't very often. I had read an article also in the beginning of my journey about the effects of wetting dry hair and it turned me onto lotion as a hair product. The author stated that it would be better to use lotion to smoothe hair rather than water that would only dry and frizz it out. I started using that trick before giving up all my hair products and then decided to strictly only use that. It held my curls in place better and didn't give me that hard scrunchy feeling or look. I was always a stickler for using products that would keep my curls in place and this did the trick. At first of course my hair wasn't so managable but after continued usage my hair finally behaved. During that adjustment period I just became creative with styling in order to compensate for lack of products. It doesn't leave a greasy feeling and instead leaves my hair feeling soft and frizz free.

8th. Work with your texture. It's improtant to know how to deal with your hair texture no matter what it is. For most of my curly haired life I have always tried to work against my hair and failed miserably. Getting knowledgeable about your own hair type and texture is important to maximize the health of your hair. Doing what might work for another hair type might not necessarily work for you, but adjusting it to your hair type can. That's something that I'm still learning but feel have come a long way with, learning through my mistakes what works and doesn't.

Here are photos that show the difference in growth as I started, I chose to show straight hair because you can get a better idea of how long it has grown. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE ALL OF THE PICTURES

So as you can see there is a marked difference from when I started to now, in terms of hair growth. I followed my hair growth tips as much as possible and even though the growth wasn't overnight it grew. I was stuck for about 2 1/2 years with my hair up to the length of my neck and it wouldn't grow, so to have it to the length it is now has taken a lot of patience and perseverance. 

Now currently my hair is around 2-3 inches shorter than the last photo because my ends were to dry. I used my flat iron a lot more this year and for the first time I bleached it (so bad for the hair), so for the last month and until the end of the year I have stopped using heat on my hair. I want it to grow further and I am going to take it easy on my hair again. I'm still learning more about my hair and I want it to get to its up most healthiest and long as well. My goal for the next year is to hopefully get it to grow to around my waist and try to get it thicker.

So you can try what I tried and possibly have the same results, I have no idea because I don't know of anyone besides myself who did what I did. I think most of what I did was pretty basic hair care knowledge that should apply to everyone, like reducing heat damage. I just wanted to share my hair journey, hopefully you got at least a little something out of it. Hope this helps!

Video about this post here:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Managing Frizz

So this post is about managing frizz and what steps I take to do that. I hardly ever get frizz anymore and it normally only comes about from me constantly touching my hair. If you want to eliminate frizz then maybe some of these tips will help you.

First thing I do is when washing my hair I never pile it atop my head and mush all over, that causes tangles which I don't want because then you get breakage. Rather I massage my hair and loosely gather the ends to the top. 

The second thing I do is detangle my hair when I condition it, having curly hair I almost never comb it because it tangles so easy so this is the only time I do it. I have used a wide toothed comb to detangle but most often than not I use my fingers making sure to comb carefully through hair. Take out the knots now instead of when it's drying which will cause frizz. 

After I have completely washed out the conditioner I wet my hair all over with cold water and then wring out excess water. Since I wash my hair with medium heat water it opens up my hair shafts but with that comes frizzy hair, so wetting my hair with cold water closes the shaft locking in moisture thereby reducing frizziness. When I skip the cold water step I see a marked difference in my hair being frizzy.

The next thing I do is to make sure I wring out as much water I can from my hair before pat drying it with a cotton t-shirt. A towel will cause your hair to stick to it especially if you're brusquely rubbing it around your head. Using a cotton t'shirt will absorb most of the water and the patting will do it gently without causing frizz or breakage. 

I make sure to air dry it even if I do place product in my hair while wet I leave it alone making sure not to touch it even after it dries. Running your fingers (or comb) through your hair while drying is a sure fire way to get frizz. While freshly out the shower just style it how you would like it to dry and then DON'T touch it.

If you put in product when hair is dry and not wet then scrunch it in hair (if wavy/curly) or pat it (if straight) in. 

At first my hair took some time to adjust to this new regimen but now it's the only one I do. It works all year round in the cold, humidity etc. The only thing that makes my hair frizzy now it my own hands fidgeting at it. So long as I get that in control, I have manageable frizz free hair even in the summer with nasty humidity. Give one or all of these a try and see if it makes the difference.

Quick Astringents

I wanted to talk about astringents and give you some easy tips on making your own. Astringents are good for shrinking pores and tightening the skin. You would apply it after you have cleaned and cleansed the skin. I've always been a fan of astringents using them sparingly, not everyday but often enough. When you do use it often, spending the money to replenish it might be a problem for some. Prices range anywhere from $4 and higher.

Here are a couple of natural alternatives to making your own astringents that really don't cost much at all.

So the first tip is just plain cold water.

 The astringent property of cold water is very refreshing. If you don't want to splash water on your face then wrapping a washcloth with some ice cubes might be an alternative for you. Gently pat it over your face for some time.

Second tip is some lemon juice and cold water.

 Lemon juice has amazing multiple purposes and being an astringent is one of them. It helps disinfect and tone the skin. Dilute it with some cold water and pat onto your face. Make sure not to use lemon juice and tan out in the sun as it may cause irritation.

My 3rd tip is using some Apple cider Vinegar.

Like lemon, apple cider vinegar is an old true and tried astringent. It helps in cleansing and toning your skin. Mix it with some water and you have yourself a homemade astringent.

By no means are these the only astringents you can do at home, there's the option of witch hazel, peaches or even rose water. These are just examples of some simple things you can do without having to spend a big amount of money.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Color Correcting

To get an even skintone and hide problem areas, I believe color correcting is very beneficial. I always color correct, and I'm the better for it. If you suffer from acne marks or just discoloration then this is something you should consider.
My skintone isn't even, with certain places being red and others having scarring. To eliminate visibility I make sure to use the correct colors to camoflauge my problem areas.
Color correcting works by using the opposite of certain colors to cancel it out. So for instance if you suffer from redness on the skin you would choose a green color corrector. They are opposite each other and so neutralize each other.

Here is a quick guide to finding the correct color correcter for your needs;

Green cancels Red
Helps hide rosacea, broken capillaries

Yellow cancels out Black, Blue or Purple
 Helps hide dark circles, spots or bruises

Purple cancels out Yellow
Helps even out complexion if it is too yellow or sallow

Peach cancels out Ruddiness
Helps brighten up lack luster complexion that looks too dull

Even with this simple guideline you could break it down further but this is sufficient for a general sense. I prefer cream corrector's for spots that way you can go in and cover it completely with concealer. I mix in a color corrector with my foundation and then go in individually to cover any other blemishes.

Give color correcting a chance and see how much of a difference it will do for your complexion as opposed to going without.

If you are interested in some brands that have color corrector's here are a few; L'oreal, Smashbox, Graftobian

Handling Stress

Stress is a part of everyday life, the causes vary from person to person. How you deal with it is an important aspect in your quality of life. I'm sure you've heard suggestions like meditating or yoga, but those aren't what I do. I just want to give you some tips that maybe you might not have thought of, but they definitely are effective for me. I find myself a lot of times feeling stressed without an obvious reason why. We don't realize how much stress we carry around subconsciously until we react to it. When ever I feel stressed these are the things that I do that help completely eliminate or mildly relieve it.

Relief 1: Music

Music can affect our moods in so many different ways, we use it to express our different emotions also. When I'm stressed I want to listen to something that is soothing to relax my nerves. I opt to listen to classical music, the kind depends on my mood though. In general I like to  put on some new age classical music that is predominantly piano based. I concentrate on the music at first then after while I drift off and end up getting lost in my thoughts. I've also just put it on and after awhile of it being background music my thoughts will shift from being anxious ones to calm ones. In a matter of minutes I always feel better and much more calmer. I use this to also help me concentrate.
Studies have shown that music from the Baroque period is very effective at relaxing you. Music from that period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music, the mind id able to concentrate and the body becomes relaxed and alert. It has also been shown to decrease blood pressure and enhance the ability to learn.

Remedy 2: Vocalizing

I call this vocalizing because you are making sounds with your throat but not speaking per se. For this I try to find a comfortable position and somewhere that I won't be disturbed. I've done it while outside in crowds just quieter. 
So its similar to the chant OM except that I say Ah. I sit still and just continuously say a long Ah for as long as my breath holds of course. I repeat that over and over,mindlessly doing it and trying to relax all the while. After a time you will find that you become relaxed and most of your stress has been alleviated.
The vibrations are what eventually calm you down together with the effort of concentrating on relaxing. Sometimes you just need to scream or let it out rather than stifle it in, so this is my way of doing that without actually screaming. Its much more soothing. I sometimes change the pitch and frequency to create more or less vibrations. The point is to stimulate the vocal chords and creating a vibration from the throat to the chest.
Tibetan monks do something similar known as Overtone singing or known as Throat Singing. I first heard of it in one of my speech classes and realized that I was doing something similar. That resonance that you hear when they sing is more or less what you feel when you say Ah. 

If you are interested in some classical musicians here are some that I listen to; Yiruma, Enya, Josh Brickman, Ashram, Beethoven, Bach, Mendel etc.

Another remedy that normally works is having some chocolate. If I'm feeling very stressed and overwhelmed taking a bite out of a regular chocolate bar makes me feel better. It's better than having my favorite comfort food.

So next time you are feeling that staggering weight give one of my tips a try and watch your stress be washed away for the time being.

Sore Throat

Since it's starting to get progressively colder I figured I would do a post on something that afflicts a lot of people, sore throats. As we transition from warm weather to cold we sometimes tend to forget to cover up well. I have always been a sufferer of sore throats for as long as I can remember and have found ways to minimize them.
One important thing I always keep in mind is to either carry a scarf or a hat and at best both. You lose the most body heat from your head which is why a hat is important. If you forget a hat or don't want to wear one for vanity reasons then always be sure to take a scarf. Cold air escapes easily when your clothing isn't insulated and keeping your body heat. Without a scarf you walk around with an open space that lets air out. Also you can wrap a scarf around your head and neck if its long enough which will help some at keeping out the cold air. For that reason I love to wear pashmina scarves, they're long and a good thickness, I always try to have one handy.

Now if you do happen to get a sore throat then these are some of the things that I do to prevent it from getting worse. It's always effective, natural and easy.

Remedy 1: You will need; lime juice

I always have a bottle of lime juice in my pantry but if you don't then squeezing out the juice of lime is just as good.
Make sure to gargle the juice so that it coats the back of the throat, then spit it out and gargle some cold water if you want. You can gargle and then swallow the lime juice also, it will coat your throat more and its natural so not harmful to you. 

Remedy 2: You will need; salt and water  

Mixing equal parts salt and water you are going to gargle it for about a minute making sure it coats the back of your throat. After just spit and rinse your mouth with some water if you want to get rid of the taste. If you want to swallow instead of spitting it out that's your choice, it definitely is a strong taste. I've only done it a handful of times when my throat has felt  and looked pretty bad.

Remedy 3: You need, lime juice,water and salt

This one is just a mix of the first two remedies and its just as effective as both individually. You can gargle or swallow the mixture either way it works.

Remedy 4: You will need Listerine and water

This is another remedy that I've used a couple of times, it's been effective but I prefer the other remedies better. Nonetheless if you don't mind it then this is a good short term remedy. I like to add a little bit of water to slightly thin out the listerine. I gargle it for about a minute or two and then spit it out. I have swallowed a tiny bit of listerine itself but in general I don't like doing it.

So here are my tips on getting rid of a sore throat, I always use these whenever I feel the slightest discomfort in my throat. It's always been very effective and by using this in conjunction with proper attire doctors visits are remarkably reduced. I rarely make doctors visits for throat infections anymore and its a godsend being able to deal with it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Makeup Removers

I wanted to talk a little about Makeup Removers and what I'm really loving. So if you wear makeup you obviously remove it either with soaps,wipes or other facial products. There are so many different products out on the market that are meant to remove makeup, most aren't that efficient at doing so. I always wear liquid foundation plus moisturizers and powder to set it, so there's alot of product on my face. When I go to wash it off many products that I have used aren't successful at removing much of my liquid foundation. I will have patches of skin that still have a lot of makeup and then have to wash and scrub my face with more facial products. I have tried different products to remove makeup and I have finally found one that I am absolutely in love with.

I bought Almay's facial soap for combination/oily skin. The first time I tried it I couldn't believe how well it got rid of my makeup, so I kept trying it out. Now, this is the only thing I use to wash the makeup off my face, its that good. I don't have many products that are my absolute favorites but this one is definitely on the list. After rubbing in the soap to my skin I instantly see my makeup start coming off. Also sometimes to make sure I get everything I use a little exfoliant pad to scrub at my skin. My skin feels really clean afterwards, I love it.

Another product I use for makeup removal are makeup wipes. I try not to use them very often, usually only reserved for when I'm too tired to wash my face. Makeup wipes usually last quite awhile for me because of that reason. The one that I'm currently using and bought at the same time as my Almay soap is a product called Absolute Makeup Cleansing tissues.

I know I definitely didn't pay more than $3 for this but I can't remember how much exactly. It comes in different scents, the one I have is rose scented. The rose scent is pretty strong but different compared to the soap or baby powdered ones out there. So far I have no complaints about the product, I haven't had any reactions to it. Initially I was worried about getting something scented for my face but it hasn't affected it, but then again I don't use it daily. I had never heard of this brand before, usually I opt for well known brands but I decided to give it a try. One thing I have to say is that there are so many wipes inside, Its a pretty thick pack for the money you pay for, which is nice.

Here's a tip on makeup removal; use some lotion. If you want to remove your eye makeup really quick then dab some lotion onto your lids, rub it in and then wipe off with some tissues. Its quick, easy and inexpensive. I wouldn't recommend using lotion to remove facial makeup because it will leave your face feeling sticky and heavy. 

Another tip is to use a little bit of olive oil to wipe away your eye makeup. Too much and it will be too greasy, so just remember a little goes a long way.