Category Archives: Beauty & Hair

Nailed It: An Intergalactic Look With Floss Gloss “Dimepiece”

The look of intergalactic nails.

The look of intergalactic nails.

Nail stories are always fun, so here is my latest. If you have been keeping up with my Nailed It series, you would have noticed that I have been wearing acrylic wraps for the past few months. I liked the look of my longer nails, and the strength provided in wraps, but I caved. I took off my wraps at home (not the best idea) the other day, because my long nails were hindering my work, which of course, involves a lot of typing.

With newly short, natural nails, I wanted my first mani to make a statement, so I decided to go forward with a glitter polish called Dimepiece by Floss Gloss.

With bottle in hand of "Dimepiece" by Floss Gloss

With bottle in hand of “Dimepiece” by Floss Gloss

I originally received the polish from NYLON magazine, being a part of their It Girl program, but I must say, the amount of glitter scared me at first. I kept the bottle in a safe place, and thought now was the perfect time to break it out. I’m all for quirky polish names, so when I read that the name was Dimepiece, I was all for it.

I did the manicure myself, starting with a hardener and a base, as my nails became thin from the acrylic. I applied three coats of Dimepiece to achieve the look in the photo above. The polish is a holographic silver glitter which has hints of pink, blue, and green when it hits the light. The coverage is wonderful for a glitter polish. You don’t need three coats, I just decided to use this many to give the appearance of a nail color/glitter polish in one, although it is all glitter.

Dimepiece is available for sale on the Floss Gloss website for $8, which is a wonderful price for the quality and coverage.

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ZOYA Nail Polish: Summer 2014 Preview!

As warmer weather becomes a constant and festival season is in full-swing, the folks at Zoya Nail Polish give a preview of what is to come for Summer 2014! Check out the video above for a teaser for the “Tickled & Bubbly” line, and stay-tuned here for collection previews and reviews!

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Jane Carter Solution Ulta Stores Launch Event + App Debut

A spread of Jane Carter Solution products

A spread of Jane Carter Solution products

“Home Grown Hair Care” line Jane Carter Solution celebrated a momentous occasion with the Bella PR team on Wednesday April 9th. The company has recently launched their natural hair care collection into Ulta Stores, one of the largest beauty supply chains in the country! In celebration of such, a launch event was held for bloggers and editors at Bella PR’s offices in NYC.

Jane Carter speaking to attendees

Jane Carter speaking to attendees

The woman behind the brand, Jane Carter herself, was present along with her styling team and models with various hair textures. Her products are healthy and homespun, specifically designed for all hair types that want to achieve a “healthy non-greasy look”. We were taken through a slideshow of the company’s history and product line, including the launch of a 2 oz travel size of their most popular product “Nourish & Shine”, a balm that can used to alleviate both dry hair and skin.

Attendees listening to Jane's speech.

Attendees listening to Jane’s speech.

In addition to all of this, the company has also launched a new mobile app for iOS and Android platforms. The app is a one-stop destination for all things Jane Carter Solution, from hair styling tips for all textures, product recommendations, event announcements, and one-click shopping! Check out some more photos from the event below.

I had a lovely time meeting and chatting with Jane Carter, as well as learning more about her company and products. Look out for products reviews soon on the blog!

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

 

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Beauty: Birchbox Launches The Limited-Edition “Free For All” Box, Featuring All Natural Products

The products inside Birchbox's "Free For All" box

The products inside Birchbox’s “Free For All” box

In the ever-changing beauty and cosmetic industry, the trend as of late is marketing more ethical and natural products. Many consumers with certain allergies or moral standards, seek these products out as they are both good for them, and for the earth. Birchbox, realizing how important this is, decided to  launch a limited-edition box called “Free For All”.

All items in the box are free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals and GMOs.

The box, which is not a part of the subscription and retails for $44 includes

This box is the premier product from the brand’s newest category, “Ingredient-Conscious Selections”. Check out the video above to get more information on the products inside the “Free For All” box. Happy shopping!

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An Herbal Alternative for Your Tresses With The Herbalosophy Hair Care Line

Herbalosophy Curls Collection. From L to R: Smooth Curl Shampoo, Fortify Curl Conditioner, Define Curl Creme, Smooth Oil Mist.

Herbalosophy Curls Collection. From L to R: Smooth Curl Shampoo, Fortify Curl Conditioner, Define Curl Cream, Smooth Oil Mist.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the International Beauty Show (IBS) at the Jacob Javits Center. I was invited to meet the team at Herbalosophy, a botanically-based haircare line headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. I read up on the company prior to my visit, and I was totally about their products that are 80% natural, sulfate-free, and paraben free. They have two lines, The Nurture Serieswhich “features ingredients with benefits that focus on bestowing soft, manageable, protected hair and a healthier scalp”, and The Curl Series which “Leverages botanicals with benefits ideally suited enhance, de-frizz, shape and maintain curly hair”.

Finished look, view from the right side.

Finished look, view from the right side.

Given my texture, I felt The Curl Series was best for me, and decided to learn more about the products. The line infuses murumuru, aloe vera, and kelp, to soften and hydrate curls that are prone to frizz. The full line includes Smooth Curl Shampoo, Fortify Curl Conditioner, Define Curl Cream, and Smooth Oil Mist. After my info session, the team treated me to the full Curl Series to review, so here goes!

Finished look, view from the left-hand side.

Finished look, view from the left-hand side.

I washed my hair in warm water with the Smooth Curl Shampoo and rinsed. I followed up with the Fortify Curl Conditioner and fully saturated my tresses and distributed evenly with a wide tooth comb. I let the conditioner sit about five minutes, then rinsed about 90% of product out; it’s important to leave a bit of conditioner in your hair when it is prone to frizz.

Finished look from the front.

Finished look from the front.

Once out the shower, I distributed Define Curl Cream throughout my hair, and combed through with a wide tooth comb to ensure even distribution. I scrunched my damp curls for volume, then proceeded to let my hair air dry. Air drying time varies for different thickness and lengths, for me I let my hair air dry two hours tops so my roots are still damp, then I proceed to scrunch and dry with a diffuser on my blow dryer. When I achieve my desired curl pattern and volume, I spray my curls with Smooth Oil Mist to give my locks a smooth, hydrated look.

I liked the fact that Herbalosophy products were so easy to use and lightweight; my hair was full of bouncy, happy curls. I did notice, however, that some parts of my hair did look a bit frizzy. I think for next time, I will have to use a bit more of the Define Curl Cream since my hair is a bit thicker.

For more on Herbalosophy, head over to their website here.

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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Nailed It: Pinky Brown by Models Own

Models Own Beetlejuice Collection Nail Color in Pinky Brown, shot in indirect sunlight.

Models Own Beetlejuice Collection Nail Color in Pinky Brown, shot in indirect sunlight.

It’s been a hot minute since I have done a nail review, but best believe, it was worth the wait. During February, AKA “fashion month”, I received tons of goodies in gift bags, one that stood out was from the CURVExpo Fashion Night In. When rummaging through the bag, I came across  a sleek nail polish brand that I was unfamiliar with in a unique color.

Shot in indirect sunlight

Shot in indirect sunlight

The polish that I found was from UK brand Models Own in the color Pinky Brown. The iridescent color is part of their Beetlejuice collection, which features multi-tonal shades that are made to resemble the colors in the wing of a beetle. Pinky Brown is saturated glitter polish which blends brown, gold, olive, and pink. The multi-tonal flecks are seen under varying light conditions. Above, I shot the color in indirect sunlight. I currently have acrylic wraps on my nails, and two coats of color was applied, along with a shine topcoat.

Shot in indirect sunlight with flash.

Shot in indirect sunlight with flash.

The photo above was shot in indirect sunlight with flash. With the extra light, you can see more of the pink and gold undertones. Given it’s multi-tonal color, I believe this polish can work across various skin tones, but mainly those with olive and golden undertones.

Models Own nail colors retail for £5.00 on their official website and ship worldwide. On their site, they list other international stockists, ASOS offering the most affordable shipping to the United States. Are you digging the color? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments!

*All Photos By Andrea K. Castillo

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The Road To Silky Straight Hair With Shea Moisture & Agadir Products

Shea Moisture "Smooth & Repair Hair & Scalp Weekly Therapy"

Shea Moisture “Smooth & Repair Hair & Scalp Weekly Therapy”

For my friends in haircare,  I believe you all will enjoy this next review. As many of you know, I have quite thick, curly hair, which I have documented in previous reviews. Given my texture, and current shorter length, it has been much easier for me to style it natural as a time-saver. I haven’t truly straightened my hair myself since maybe December of 2012, when my hair was halfway down my back.

Fast forward to February 2014, and I am gaining some momentum in my hair reviews which means, I am receiving more product from companies. I recently picked up some Shea Moisture products during this past fashion week. There was a lovely array of goods in the gift bag from Korto Momulu’s Fall 2014 presentation. One such product is from their newer Tahitian Noni & Monoi line, which you see in the photo up top.

Seeing that the product was a smoothing treatment which contained keratin, I made sure to do my research as I did not want to try it out and possibly change my curl pattern. My research deemed it safe, so one Saturday I decided to use the treatment as step one of my journey to a smooth look.

I saturated my damp hair with the treatment for approximately 40 minutes, then followed up with a wash. I used Agadir’s Daily Moisturizing line which is sulfate free and infused with Argan Oil. I started with a good lather from the Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, followed by an ample distribution of Daily Moisturizing Conditioner. I always use a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute conditioner in the shower. I let it sit a few minutes, then thoroughly rinsed out the product.

Agadir products from left to right: Daily Moisturizing shampoo, Firm Hold Hairspray, Hair Shield Spray Treatment, Daily Moisturizing Conditioner

Agadir products from left to right: Daily Moisturizing shampoo, Firm Hold Hairspray, Hair Shield Spray Treatment, Daily Moisturizing Conditioner

Once out the shower, I worked Hair Shield 450 Intense Creme Treatment into my hair, starting at the ends and moving up the hair shaft. The product serves as heat protectant and hydrating properties that helps eliminates frizz, which is a constant pain for me.

The next step was blow drying. I used Agadir’s Featherlite Blow Out Hair brush which is infused with Argan Oil and Tourmaline to speed up the drying process. It was particularly simple to dry with this round brush given its light weight and the way in which it gripped my hair; I’m so used to my hair just falling from the brush given it’s thickness. I would say the blow drying process took a little over an hour, which I’m used to at this point.

My hair wasn’t super smooth with my blow drying technique as I am still a novice, so I followed up with the flat iron. I sectioned off pieces and worked my way from the nape of my neck to the crown. I use a CHI flat iron, and flips pieces by my face accordingly for a more wispy look. I finished the look with the Firm Hold-Volumizing Hair Spray to keep everything in place.

The final look is below.

A view of straightened hair from the right.

A view of straightened hair from the right.

The entire process from treatment to finish took maybe four hours in total, but I ate dinner in between (thankfully) so I would not pass out. I really liked the silky smooth texture my hair took on once the entire process was complete. I would definitely recommend all the products I used for people with slightly thicker hair of all textures. Given the formulas, I believe some products would be a little too dense for those with finer hair. All links are throughout the review.

A view of straightened hair from the left.

A view of straightened hair from the left.

I really hope my tips and product suggestions can help you on your path to silky straight hair. I would love your feedback!

*All Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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An Evening of Glam with Saige Skin Care at Deify Spa

Panelists

Panelists

I’m always down for a beauty experience, so I was quite excited to attend #SaigeBeautyBar on Thursday, February 27th. Held at the gorgeous Deify Spa in Limelight Marketplace, the event served as the launch of TV personality Rah Ali’s new skincare line with renounced plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Greenberg, Saige Skin Careas well as a full-on beauty experience for guests. There were stations for manicures, eyebrow shaping, blow dry touch-ups, spray tans, and laser hair removal consultations. Drinks were provided by Myx Moscato, along with custom Saige cupcakes.

A guest getting her nails done

A guest getting her nails done

With the help of  Global Grind, the evening also served as a platform for women of color to talk about beauty and style in an open forum. Panelists included Rachel Hislop, style editor of GlobalGrind.com, beauty and lifestyle editor of HelloBeautiful.com Ty Alexander, Social Media manager of EBONY magazine Toya Menzie, Emmy nominated host and style maven Kèla Walker, owner of Deify Laser + Beauty Lounge Melissa Cavanaugh, and Glow Spray beauty expert Natalie Cupid.

Beverages provided by Myx Moscato

Beverages provided by Myx Moscato

I personally enjoyed a blow-out touch up and eyebrow shaping (which was the bomb, by the way!), along with snacks and great conversation with my fellow women. Check out more photos from the event below.

*Photos 1-4 used with permission. Watermarked photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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Re-Cap: VO5 #AScentIsBorn Blogger Luncheon

The set-up with VO5 products.

The set-up with VO5 products.

On Thursday, February 20th, I had the pleasure of attending VO5′s #AScentIsBorn Blogger Luncheon. I was part of a handpicked panel of beauty and mommy bloggers in NYC who’s opinion and know-how was wanted to choose the next fragrance for VO5. The luncheon began at 11 AM with opening remarks starting 30 minutes later from 360 Public Relations and international fragrance house, Firmenich.

What lunch looked like: sliders, fresh lemonade, and veggies galore.

What lunch looked like: sliders, fresh lemonade, and veggies galore.

We learned much about the history of VO5 products and its start in Hollywood in the 1950s. We also learned what the 5 in the product name stands for, five essential vitamins! In between time, we snacked on a lovely meal courtesy of Back Forty West, consisting of sliders, farmhouse veggies, fresh juices and coffee.

The three "delicious" VO5 scents we chose from

The three “delicious” VO5 scents we chose from

Upon completion of the meal, we put our noses to the test, smelling three “delicious” scents that have the opportunity to be the next VO5 fragrance. My personal favorite was scent 3 as it had a coconut and pineapple base, which reminded me of a vacation.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from the event.

You can get in on the fun too! Stay tuned for more info right here on how you too can help vote for VO5′s next fragrance!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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#NYFW Tales: Backstage With AJ Crimson at Fashion Palette

The master, AJ Crimson at work with foundation on hand.

The master, AJ Crimson at work with foundation on hand.

On February 11th (AKA the most hectic day of my Fashion Week experience), I had the opportunity to hang out and shoot make-up master AJ Crimson in action backstage at Fashion Palette. Fashion Palette is a showcase of emerging Australian designers during New York Fashion Week. This season’s presentation hosted designers Phillipa Galasso, Tightology, and Steven Khalil.

Make-up guides for the groups of models.

Make-up guides for the groups of models.

Given the fact that I was strapped for time, I was only able to shoot some make-up looks backstage, mainly that of Group B, which you see a guide for up top. The ladies of Group B wore very clean faces that were well moisturized, but blank, with a focus on deep, burgundy lips and show-stopping brows.

Final make-up look on a group B model. Fierce.

Final make-up look on a group B model. Fierce.

This was my favorite model, with the final face while getting her manicure done. I loved the simplicity of the look with a bold lip; it was quite balanced.

Check out more photos below of AJ and his team in action backstage! For photos from the runway, you can check out Fashion Palette on Tumblr.

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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#NYFW Tales: Backstage at Michael Bastian w/ AJ Crimson

AJ Crimson touching up a model's make-up

AJ Crimson touching up a model’s make-up

My lovely hometown of New York City is knee-deep in Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion week (or fall/winter if you insist), and you know what that means? Time for me to share my #NYFW tales! I’ve really been focusing on more backstage work and photography this time around, and I kicked off the season on February 4th backstage at one of my favorite menswear designers, Michael Bastian.

Model waiting for a touch-up before rehersal

Model waiting for a touch-up before rehersal

I was afforded this opportunity by the lovely team at Bella PR  (hey Sue!). Their client, make-up extraordinaire AJ Crimson, manned the beauty team of the show, and I had a first-hand look of the process. You may ask, “What make-up are they doing for men?”, which is a valid question. The focus for Bastian’s show was on skincare of course, making sure all the models had a glowing face to best complement his well tailored looks.

AJ Crimson's BB + D Cream

AJ Crimson’s BB + D Cream

AJ started with a pill mask to freshen up faces, followed by a light moisturizer, AJ’s own BB + D cream to even skin tone, finished off with a spritz of Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir to awaken the face.

AJ chatting with the ladies of Bella PR

AJ chatting with the ladies of Bella PR

I was able to stay for the actual presentation, which fused Japanese intricacies with Western styling; think silk brocade smoking jackets. The models, by far, were some of the best I’ve seen in a menswear show in awhile as they were manly men (which I like, what can I say). I would have included photos, but the camera I own wasn’t ready for the extreme low-light situation. I have since rented a Nikon D600 to cover other shows, so look out for those!

I’m really happy with how I’m growing in the fashion/blogging world. Stay tuned for more #NYFW tales!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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Nailed It: MAC’s ‘Rebel’ + ‘Sinfully Sweet’

New French Manicure. MAC 'Rebel' base with MAC 'Sinfully Sweet' tip.

New French Manicure. MAC ‘Rebel’ base with MAC ‘Sinfully Sweet’ tip.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a post on my ever-changing nails, so I felt now was the perfect time to do so. Over the past two years of having this little blog, I have kept natural nails for my manicures, but this time around, I felt like switching it up. In October, I went all the way and got pink acrylic tips (yes, Drea from Brooklyn was out in all her glory) and have been testing out updated French manicures, which I’ve realized is now my “thing”.

Up top I’m showcasing my latest mani, courtesy of my lovely manicurist Cindy at my local nail spot on Church Ave. I wanted to do a moody French manicure that was suitable for fall, so I figured it was the perfect time to try out my new MAC  ‘Indulge Collection’ nail colors. The creme base is called ‘Rebel’, a true plum merlot, which looks slightly redder in direct sunlight. For the French tip, I used a contrasting metallic shade called ‘Sinfully Sweet’, a champagne gold with metallic specks which goes on opaque. Since I love all things gold, I had my left hand pose with one of my favorite accessories right now, my Adopted brand black/gold leather wrap iPhone 5 case.

French manicure & the Adopted Leather wrap iPhone 5 case.

French manicure & the Adopted Leather wrap iPhone 5 case.

Both colors retail for $16 at MAC counters, as well as  local department stores, like Macy’s. Check the bottles below.

MAC 'Rebel'

MAC ‘Rebel’

MAC 'Sinfully Sweet'

MAC ‘Sinfully Sweet’

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

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Curls Alive! How ‘Mixed Chicks’ Saved My Mane

Front view of my hair styled with Mixed Chicks products.

Front view of my hair styled with Mixed Chicks products.

Since deciding to stick with a considerably shorter mane (ear-length to be exact) , it can be a task to keep my tresses intact. Shorter curls are bouncier and have  a mind of their own, so I knew I had to seek out product that would tame my multi-textured, multi-ethnic mane in a way that it would keep its bounce, and not be weighed down.

I had been researching curly hair products for some time, but have found  that many contain too much oil for my liking, more appropriate for coarser and/or thicker-textured curls. I became familiar with the Mixed Chicks brand maybe a year ago through trolling the internet, and watched videos from their founders Wendi Levy and Kim Etheredge. Through watching these videos, I decided that Wendi’s hair texture was closest to mine, and her curls looked bouncy and beautiful with the product, so why not me?

Side view of my hair styled with Mixed Chicks products.

Side view of my hair styled with Mixed Chicks products.

Fast forward a year, I’m checking my e-mail and I get a pitch from Mixed Chicks (hey Melissa and Ashante!). I told them how much I was interested in the product, and the lovely ladies sent over a sweet care package for me to test out. I’ve been using the products for maybe two months now, and my hair has never been better! The products are super moisturizing, whilst staying light and keeping my hair bouncy.

I use their guide “for bountiful curls” as a style guide when I wash my hair to attain the result you see up top. Here are the steps!

Sulfate Free Shampoo, $11.99

Sulfate Free Shampoo, $11.99

Deep Conditioner, $10.99

Deep Conditioner, $10.99

  • Squeeze out excess water and apply Deep Conditioner to wet hair (while still in shower). Comb through and rinse out after approximately 3-5 minutes.

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#NYFW Tales: Zink Magazine x Duane Street Hotel Blogger Lounge

Poster for the event upon entry into the hotel

Poster for the event upon entry into the hotel

The hustle and bustle of #NYFW can definitely be draining for a busy blogger. Running from show to show in heels and masterfully selected outfits can definitely bring energy levels down, especially when you haven’t eaten or really had a chance to sit. The folks at Zink Magazine understood this well, and held a blogger lounge in TriBeCa at the Duane Street Hotel the first weekend of #NYFW (September 6-8).

Upon entrance into the property bloggers and guests were warmly welcomed by a group of gracious women from the likes of Zink, Duane Street Hotel, and Yellow Sky Agency, which organized the event. Water and snacks were readily available in the lobby, and guests were able to partake in beauty services by expert Lora Condon. I personally took part in the 30-minute aroma-reiki relaxation session; in one word, BLISS.

Photographer Maxim Bashchenko and one of his photographs

Photographer Maxim Bashchenko and one of his photographs

The second floor hosted various brand experience in rooms. Stylists from ARROJO were on hand to style and touch up hair and fashion photographer Maxim Bashchenko was available to give bloggers tips on how to create memorable photos, as well as showcase his own works in a gallery style.

Love Candy bracelets, sold by Cultures of Love

“Love Candy” By Marcella Leon bracelets, sold by Cultures of Love

E-commerce site with a cause, Cultures of Love, hosted a suite with some of their best brands and items including Love Candy, Yamerra, Blenders, and more. All items sold on the site are socially-conscious, and give back in some way to various organizations. I LOVED the brand above, Love Candy by Marcella Leon, which supports the organization Woven Joy, which helps alleviate poverty-stricken women in the Philippines.

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#NYFW Backstage: Kryolan for Brian Lichtenberg SS14

The face for the presentation

The face for the presentation

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is in full swing in New York, showcasing Spring/Summer 2014 collections in various locations from September 5-12. It is one of the busiest and most exciting times in NYC, given the combination of fashion shows and presentations, launch events, after parties, and music events. Through building my relationship with the ladies at Bella PR, I was asked to shoot backstage on September 6th at the Brian Lichtenberg presentation.

Mid-transformation

Mid-transformation

Held in Chelsea at Pier 59 Studios, the presentation had make-up done by Kryolan, one of Bella PR’s clients. I humbly accepted the challenge and snapped away. The look for the show was very vampy and consisted of a matte scarlet lip, bare skin with muted cheeks, and show-stopping eyes which blended shades of plum, black, and grey, with highlights near the tear ducts and lash-lines.

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