What’s uP: Top Ten Drugstore Finds

19 02 2010

How many times has this happened to you? You walk into CVS to buy something simple like cotton balls or tampons and you end up in a drug store wanderlust, gleefully filling your basket with things that you absolutely can NOT live without (Pedi Egg, anyone?). Then you get to the counter only to find that your $3 trip to the pharmacy has turned into an $80 free for all.

For me, it’s almost a monthly occurrence. As much as I love my Beauty Professional makeup and shampoos, I’m a complete sucker for a drug store shopping spree and these are the top ten items I’d be lost without:

1.)  Burt’s Bees Original Lip Balm ($2.99)- I can’t even remember what my life was like before I started using this product. This is simply the best lip balm on the planet. Don’t mess around with the honey flavor or the red topped one, the original is the one and only.

2.)  Johnson’s Baby Oil ($5.25)- The single best eye makeup remover there is; a few drops on a cotton ball will dissolve even the most stubborn waterproof mascara and keep your eye area incredibly moisturized. Plus, nothing gets your skin softer than baby oil applied to wet skin after a shower and patted dry with a towel.

3.)  Maybelline Great Lash Mascara ($5)– I’ve tried every mascara on the market from $2 Wet-N-Wild to $50 Lancôme and the original pink and green Maybelline remains my absolute favorite.

4.)  St Ives Apricot Scrub ($4.25)- I like the Invigorating; husband likes the one for oily skin. At four bucks a tube, we can have one of each in the shower.

5.)  Vaseline Intensive Care Total Moisture Lotion ($4.50)- My hands are in color and water all day, every day, and this is my secret weapon to keeping them from looking like ugly old paws.

6.)  Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid ($10.50)- Oil of Olay was good enough for my Nana (who had gorgeous skin at 90) and it’s good enough for me. I like the one for sensitive skin with extra SPF.

7.)  Neutrogena Night Calming Cleansing Cloths (say that 5x fast, $7.99)- Some nights I’m so exhausted I literally fall right into bed. This is why I keep a package of these makeup removers in my nightstand.  They’re super gentle, even for contact lens wearers, and take makeup off in one fell swoop, no rinsing required.

Neutrogena- helping lazy girls everywhere remove their makeup in bed

8.)  Epsom Salt ($2)– It’s very rare that I have time to take lengthy, luxurious baths, but I still like to keep a box of Epsom salt in the bathroom to soothe muscle aches and pains. A10-minute foot soak with Epsom Salt is an absolute necessity for any runner or anyone on their feet all day.

9.)  L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Compact Makeup ($9)– I hate the feel of a heavy foundation on my face, but in the winter I need a little more coverage than just powder. This product is incredibly light, lasts all day and comes in a huge range of colors for all skin types and ethnicities (score!).

10.) Kushyfoot Knee Highs ($5/pair)- Part trouser sock, part reflexology massage, these ribbed bottom beauties are light years ahead of any other thin sock on the market. After wearing the Kushyfoots for one day, I went home and immediately threw out all my old Kathy Lee Gifford for Kohl’s trouser socks.

Tip: To avoid a drug store hangover, don’t even think of picking up a basket. The “All I can carry in my hands” rule generally keeps me out of serious trouble.


Wise uP: Hair Color Facts and Fiction

10 02 2010

In between sorting through the endless Farmville updates and Photo of the Day features on Facebook, I have many thought provoking, often hilarious conversations with my girlfriends about a wide range of topics. The past month alone has brought up at least three discussions involving hair color that I wanted to expand on. Hopefully I can debunk some classic hair color myths that have been hammered into our heads by that Giant of reliable information, Cosmopolitan magazine.

MYTH #1: You Should Always Color Your Hair When it’s Dirty

HOW THIS MYTH BEGAN: Even as recently as the 80’s, hair color contained about three times as much ammonia as it does today, making it much more irritating on the scalp. To prevent women from getting serious scalp irritation, hairdressers would tell women to wash their hair the day prior to color service (as well as putting sweet n low and cigarette ashes into the color bowl), allowing natural oils in the scalp to be a buffer between the scalp and the color. Somehow this evolved into coloring “dirty” hair.

THE pH: I recommend washing hair the night before a color service and not scrubbing your scalp too aggressively. You don’t want hair to be visibly oily or (gasp!) smelly. Too much oil can interfere with color and you want to make sure you get the most beautiful results for your money.

As a side note, this myth also applies to getting an updo or formal style. Please wash your hair the day or evening before an updo service.  While you don’t want your locks too flyaway, you also don’t want excessive oil or styling products to get in the way of your dream hair.

MYTH #2: Color Lifts or Lightens Previously Colored Hair

THE pH: I’d say that 70% of my corrective color clients are those who have dyed their hair at home, have been unhappy with the results and have then tried to “lighten” it with another box dye in another shade, only making it darker than before. Sorry girls, but once that color has been processed, another box of color will not make it come off and will certainly NOT make it lighter. If your “Espresso Brown” comes out more like “Elvis Has Left the Building Black,” I would first suggest washing your hair immediately with hot water and Palmolive dish detergent mixed with a little baking soda. Wash 2-3 times until there is no pigment left in the suds. Hair color takes approximately 48 hours to neutralize, so the sooner after the accident the better. If this still isn’t enough, call a professional, but whatever you do, do NOT buy another hair color kit!

MYTH #3: Color Safe Shampoos are a Marketing Ploy

THE pH: Oh really? Did you read what I just wrote about dish detergent sucking out your hair color? Many shampoos have the same ingredients as dish detergents or bath gels and have been designed to clean hair and remove styling products. Those same shampoos will lift your color out right along with your Aqua Net. My suggestion is a color safe shampoo and conditioner, preferably one with NO SULFATES.

Here are recommendations in three different price ranges:

EverPure Shampoo

Low range: L’Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free ($5.99).   A terrific drug store shampoo and conditioner, available for different types of hair.

Mid range: AlfaParf Splendore Volume or Hydrate ($17.99).  One of my favorite color safe shampoos by a wonderful Italian company, now available at Linensandthings.com.


High Range: Davines Glorifying Shampoo ($24).  I’m a huge fan of Davines products and this is my favorite for color treated hair.  Available in salons: davines.com

Davines Glorifying Shampoo

MYTH #4: Coloring My Hair Will Damage It

THE pH: It would be irresponsible of me to say that hair is never damaged by color, especially by over processing and pushing hair to the limits of its capacity. I will say, however, that hair color is improving every day and in many cases can actually be beneficial to the hair. Demi-permanent colors, or “glazes” contain no ammonia and coat the hair shaft, leaving it glossy, shiny and tamed. Since they don’t contain ammonia, they wash out gradually, rather than grow out from the scalp, leaving telltale roots. Hair color companies have also significantly reduced the ammonia levels in their permanent lines, making the smell much more pleasant, the scalp less irritated and leaving the hair in significantly better condition than in years past.

Even highlighting is gentler these days. I use a highlight paste in the salon that contains essential oils and moves very slowly to prevent the hair from blasting out blonde, and combine this with a hand-painted “balayage” highlight. This process of painting the hair’s surface eliminates the use of foils and the heat that comes with foiling, potentially causing breakage.

Now just because color is improving doesn’t mean that people are, and I’d like to take a moment here to address the topic of over processing. As a hair color client, you need to know your hair’s capacity. If you experience breakage, brittle or weakened hair, talk to your stylist about steps you can take to get your hair healthy again. Remember, not everyone is supposed to be a platinum blonde and a responsible colorist will work with you to ensure your hair’s optimum health. Blondorexia is a disease but it’s a treatable one.

Your colorist is worth a million Lady’s rags, er, magazines. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and gain knowledge about exactly what you’re doing to your hair. I welcome questions and will be happy to address any of your hair color needs.

Wise uP: Don’t Throw Out Those Nozzles!

18 11 2009

I recently spent the night at my parents’ house in NJ and as I was getting ready the next day, I realized that every blow dryer in the house was missing its nozzle. Now just because I’m a professional stylist does not mean that I need a super-expensive hair dryer to coif myself, but I can’t comprehend how anyone can properly dry their hair without the nozzle. I eventually found one under my old spiral curling iron from the early 90’s, dusted it off and reattached it to its proper owner.

FHI- My Favorite Professional Blow Dryer

As it turns out, my mom and sister aren’t the only ones who think the nozzle attachment is completely optional. Whenever I give my clients blow dry tips at the salon, they are amazed to learn that the nozzle actually does something. By adding that attachment to your dryer, you are keeping the air and heat in a steady, concentrated stream, rather than having air blowing every which way, fluffing up your locks even more. If it feels awkward to have it attached horizontally, try twisting it so it’s vertical. Either way, you want the nozzle to go across each section of hair.

It may take a while to get used to using the nozzle, but after some practice, you will have much smoother, shinier hair. So dig into those old hair product drawers, ladies and reattach!

Drying your hair should not make you want to reach for THIS!

Wise uP: The Glossiest Locks in Town

30 10 2009

Even as a professional colorist, I tend to be very skeptical of in-salon deep conditioning treatments. They are often meant to boost a stylist’s sales and are good for 2-3 shampoos before the hair returns to its original dry and frazzled self. But like many things, there are always exceptions to the rule and when I find something that really works, I will shout it from the rooftops. Here are three in-salon deep treatments that I would easily give up the commission for.

I.S.H. Ionic Rescue Treatment

Hair Type: Dry and/or damaged hair
Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
Cost: $100
The pH: All the benefits of the popular Keratin treatment without the cost, commitment and formaldehyde. Although time consuming, this is the most advanced deep conditioning and smoothing treatment available and the secret is in the “crystals” of aloe and jojoba that penetrate the hair when combined with thermal heat.

We start by shampooing the hair with the color-safe ionic shampoo, blow drying 50% dry and applying the HRC crystal conditioning treatment section by section, roots to ends. We then flat iron each section, which opens the cuticle and allows the crystals to penetrate into the hair shaft. After the entire head is flat ironed, the hair is rinsed and the conditioning sealer is applied. The hair is then formally blow-dried into the softest, silkiest hair you’ve ever had. Best of all, the I.S.H. treatment lasts six weeks and can be done right after a color service. ionic_rescue_product_03

Concentre Vita-Ciment by Kerastase
Hair Type:
Fine, weakened and/or damaged hair
Time: 5-10 minutes
Cost: $40
The pH: I’ll be honest, I find Kerastase a bit “culty” as a brand, but when stuff works, it REALLY works. This express treatment is like a protein shot for the hair. For those with hair that has been weakened by hormones, over-processing or age, this is for you. It comes in a vial that is sprayed on to towel-dried hair and is massaged into the scalp and ends for 5-10 minutes. It’s then rinsed out and hair is left feeling stronger and silkier. I recommend this to anyone who highlights, straightens or perms their hair in order to prevent breakage.


Nioxin Scalp Renew Natural Dermabrasion
Fine and/or thinning
Time: 15 minutes in salon combined with nightly take-home treatment for 14 days
Cost: $100-150
The pH: As someone who experienced major hair loss a few years ago, I’m both fascinated and completely skeptical of anything that promises hair restoration and density. So when we got this combination treatment in at the salon, I was naturally the first one to try it out. And I’m extremely happy with the results.
Although there are various reasons for hair loss and thinning, many people don’t realize that clogged follicles are often the cause and scalps need to be exfoliated regularly. The in-salon exfoliation takes approximately 15 minutes and is massaged into the scalp. It’s then shampooed out and the client is sent home with part 2 of the combo pack: The Density Restoration Treatment, which is massaged into the scalp each night for 14 days to reduce hair loss.
After two weeks, I’ve noticed a big difference in my hair with shine, density and what comes out in the shower. It also did not affect my color, so extra points for that.

I’m sure there are many other in-salon treatments that are blog-worthy, but for me, these really stand above the rest and are worth the time and money spent in the salon.