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The New Year is a great time to pause, take stock, and come up with meaningful resolutions that will outlive the first blush of enthusiasm and make for a new and fantastic you in 2018. And while we cannot fundamentally change the face and body we were born with, there are a variety of natural, proven means available to enhance the looks, health, and mindset of any woman.

It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. With that in mind, here are a few basic but proven ways to keep your favorite beholder’s eye on you!

Image by Alexandru Zdrobău


The skin is the body’s largest organ, and its most vulnerable. Take care of it by wearing sunscreen 365 days of the year—rain or shine! UV exposure ages skin, promotes skin cancer, and is especially harmful in southern or tropical environments. Use a good quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30; moisturize every day, preferable after getting out of the shower and before bed. Don’t touch your face! Doing so can spread bacteria, lead to scarring, wrinkles, and even spread the flu. Keep hydrated, cut back on alcohol, and maintain a healthy diet, preferably one rich in omea-3 fatty acid, which can help boost your skin’s ability to hold moisture. Finally, try to exfoliate a few times a week, avoid direct heat exposure, and take care to keep your makeup brushes clean.

Image by Scott Webb


Need to shed a few pounds from that Thanksgiving feast? Want to improve your muscle tone, regain youthful vigor, or simply need to maintain a fitness level that will help you avoid chronic illnesses and promote a sense of well-being? Get moving! Whether you hire a trainer, join a gym, or begin a fitness regimen based on your own research and self-discipline, or simply dedicate yourself to long walks, getting into and staying in shape will go a long way toward building a healthy glow while boosting your self-confidence.


Image by Allef Vinicius


A bright, winning smile is your calling card to the world; make sure you maintain a regular schedule for dental care, fix neglected problems, and consider both the short and long term benefits of good, cosmetic dentistry. Finally, consider using an effective whitening procedure. Americans spent $11.5 billion on teeth-whitening in 2015. While there are a variety of unproven yet anecdotally successful home treatments for discolored teeth (oil pulling, brushing with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, apple cider vinegar to name a few), you can effectively prevent staining by limiting your consumption of products like coffee, red wine, and berries, and overall sugar intake. Still, to really take your smile to a new level, consider a professional teeth-bleaching procedure. Such a process, done properly, will exceed anything natural and over-the-counter products can achieve.

Image by Thomas Kelly


There is far more to beautiful nails than polish. Healthy, strong nails are a product of a healthy diet, common sense, and meticulous care. Start by keeping your nails dry and clean; too much moisture and/or hot water can contribute to the growth of bacteria and cause nails to split. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals. Make sure you cut nails straight across before gently rounding them, using sharp clippers or a manicurist’s scissors. Moisturizers, a nail hardener, or a biotin product prescribed by a doctor can help. Do avoid biting your nails, picking at cuticles, ripping out hangnails, or ignoring problems as soon as they arise. Also, when consulting a professional, be sure to select a salon that displays a current state license, and work only with technicians also licensed by the state board.

Image by Hannah Morgan


There are few things than can as significantly alter or enhance a woman’s appearance as a new and fresh hairdo. This is one area you do not want to tackle yourself! Find a proven professional, have a specific look in mind, and remember that—as in most things—you get what you pay for. Spending more up front can ensure that you acquire a look that will last, can be maintained, and that suits the unique qualities that only you possess.

Happy New Year as you toast to a new and more beautiful you!

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There is an old expression, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Never is this truer than in the planning, organization, and coordination of the biggest day of your life: your wedding day. With all the perils, pitfalls, and unexpected details that can derail even the most meticulously planned event, the decision to engage a wedding planner can be the most important one you make. In making this decision (actually, a series of decisions) there are many important factors, questions, and financial considerations to address. So, let’s get started!

Every wedding, however large or small, has a budget. And not everyone has the means to set aside roughly 10% and/or several thousands of dollars that, ideally, could be used on a honeymoon, paying down credit card debt, or even towards a down payment on a home. However, the right wedding planner can usually get the most out of your money while reducing stress and unpleasant surprises. And, if money is tight, you may consider the lesser expense of what many professionals refer to as a “day-of coordinator.” Since the average American wedding is just shy of $32,000, the decision to hire a full time, all-inclusive planner versus one with a more limited role is important. And, as with any wedding expense, be sure that the cost of your wedding planner is budgeted for.

What, exactly, does a full-service wedding planner do for you? Actually, quite a lot! She or he likely will attend vendor meetings with you (with whom they are likely to have an advantageous relationship with), help design and organize your overall concept, pay attention to even the smallest of details, and make sure that everyone follows your “rules” and your timetable. If you do decide to hire a full-time planner, be sure to begin the selection process as early as possible! Allow time to interview several candidates and thereby determine with whom you are likely to have the most productive relationship. The full-time planner will ideally be experienced, certified, familiar with multiple types of venues, be clear as to both party’s’ expectations and desires, and have a good working relationship with the many vendors and services that are all a part of every successful wedding. And remember: trust your instincts! You and the wedding planner will likely be spending a lot of time together, and it is imperative that you like, respect, and understand each other

Image by Sweet Ice Cream Photography

A less than full service wedding planner is often referred to as a “day-of-wedding coordinator,” though they are monthly planners. Their main job is to organize the logistics of your special day, making sure that everything you have envisioned runs smoothly. Such tasks might include picking up flowers, deciding who oversees the gifts, packing up certain items at the end of the night, finding a place for the band to hide, and so forth. Again, the idea is to ensure peace of mind and reduce your stress. When hiring a day-of coordinator, make sure you understand how many hours they will work, how they might handle potential problems, and that he or she is truly listening to your needs and concerns. Again, trust your gut! You should expect your day-of coordinator to review vendor contracts, know the general timeline of the day, visit the site, and run both your rehearsal dinner and the main event the next day. Ideally, he or she will pack up everything at the end of the night, arrange for tips, and generally make sure that the entire show runs smoothly. Do not expect your day-of coordinator to arrange for your photographer or caterer or any other big detail that should have been planned well in advance; if any situations do arise that go above and beyond what you both consider to be par for the course, make sure you tip accordingly.

Image by Wilfred Iven

When searching for, interviewing, and working with either a full-time wedding planner or a day-of-coordinator, be honest about your finances and expectations. Make sure you have a reliable protocol for communication. And, above all, remember that the biggest myth regarding wedding planners in general is that you don’t need one!


 

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Let’s face it; when it comes to prospective bridal concerns, it’s all about the hair! Sure, there are more than a few other things to worry about (like everything!), but nothing says more about you and your dreams going forward than the perfectly chosen and coiffed hairstyle. Now, there are innumerable places (such as Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.) where you can view the latest, classic, or even obscure styles, but let’s be real here: the perfect hairstyle must be one that is perfect for you, and no one else! To achieve your own special look one must consider a variety of factors while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Now, a lot of women (and men too!) have a well-defined self-image that may or may not be accurate. Some of us have high foreheads, long noses, big ears, less than perfect cheekbones—you name it! In short, we may not always look like those beautiful models wearing those amazing styles shown in bridal and beauty magazines. This is where an expert—a professional stylist—comes in.  To work successfully with such an expert, you must have or develop a high level of trust. Find someone to whom you can communicate your desires, expectations, and concerns. Do not assume that your current hairdresser (talented as she may be) is the answer; what you need here is a specialized bridal stylist. Ask around, check social media, and make sure whomever you select is a seasoned, well-practiced professional with excellent recommendations.

Once you select the perfect stylist—one who can accurately assess your appearance, needs, and special concerns—you will still have questions. Make sure they are the right ones! Ask:

Once your stylist has met all of your exacting criteria, it is time to get down to business!

There are a variety of specific looks that will complement short hair, medium length hair, and longer tresses. Indeed, the length of your hair will certainly limit—or expand—your possible choices, but be assured that there is a great look for every length of hair. Try to consider your overall theme: are you going for a formal, romantic look that screams updo? A classic, vintage look? Glamorous? Or, are you a casual, outdoorsy type who thrives on a more natural look? In making this decision, consider not only your specific facial features and hair texture, but your wedding dress as well. The goal here is to complement, not clash, with your gown. Example: if you are wearing a low neckline, long, down hair might work best; if the neckline is high, then pile it up!

As a rule, the more elaborate the dress, the simpler the hairstyle should be. Another consideration would be whether you will be using a veil. Your hairdresser will know best. Keeping this is mind, do not be distracted or annoyed by comments from family and friends (“that’s not formal enough,” or “in my day we wouldn’t dream of doing that!”). When conflicting opinions arise, go with your instincts. It is your wedding, your look, and you should be confident and comfortable with whatever look you select.

Image by Olenka Kotyk

Another factor to consider is the venue itself. If you are going to be married on a windswept beach, your hair could be affected; likewise, if your ceremony is on a dreamy tropical locale, it might be hot and humid enough to wilt even the best designed looks. Let the locale influence your choice. Outdoors? Think natural, flowing, or less formal. Indoors with air-conditioning? Then that carefully executed and intricate updo with remain intact. Just remind the groom to be careful with that veil!

Image by Tom Pumford

Remember, comfort is important! It is going to be a long day and possibly night, and you want to make sure the look you select will endure the dancing, partying, and general craziness of a fun wedding. As for accessories, make sure that your petals, barrettes, or tiara (if you’re that kind of girl!) matches the overall style of your dress. And, that they don’t poke, prod, or make you uncomfortable during the ceremony and reception.

Image by Tom The Photographer

So, with all this great advice. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, quite a lot!  Your natural, cascading hair turns frizzy in the rain; your upsweep comes undone, your extensions fall out, your bun unravels, your painstakingly crafted curls go straight. All of these “disasters” can be either prevented or fixed so long as you have done a trial, carry extra hair pins, bobby pins, and a super-strong mini can hair spray, engage your stylist for the duration of the day, and employ  good sense and humor. Because, in the end, your wedding day is about you and how you feel; this is the day you should be laughing, sipping champagne, shedding tears of joy, and basking in the love of your spouse, family and dear friends.


 

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Destination weddings are all the rage these days, and why not? Who wouldn’t want the most important day of their life to be celebrated amid exotic scenery, an idyllic climate, and a memorable locale, all the while being surrounded by family, friends, and a lifetime of memories?

Still, destination weddings present a unique set of challenges—some thrilling, and some cautionary—that you should consider when planning a wedding far from home, be it within the United States or in an exotic foreign locale. While some of these factors have been cited and debated elsewhere, now is a great time to reexamine in detail the many joys and practical considerations that will either make or detract from the most exciting day of your life.

Destination weddings have many advantages: control, cost-efficiency, a fresh, non-traditional setting, and less family drama. They are also a great way to reconnect with far-flung friends and family. Once you have decided on a destination wedding, there are three main areas that will require careful planning, commitment, and consideration. These areas are: You, your guests, and your budget.

 

Never, ever forget that this day is yours! And when I say yours, I mean both you and your spouse. You are the one who is committing to a lifetime of love and devotion; you are the one who will be the focus of all your family and friends; you are the one who will make most, if not all, of the financial decisions that will impact your life in both the near and far future.

The word “destination” means exactly that! A special place where you and your loved ones will travel to celebrate your special day. When deciding on exactly where this destination will be, it is crucial that you consider several things. First and foremost, select a locale that is special to you. Maybe it is a place where you grew up, or where you shared special moments, or an imaginary idyllic setting perfected in your dreams. Regardless, it is vital that you consider such things as availability of accommodations, local décor possibilities, and seasonal weather trends. If possible, visit your destination in advance; this will not only give you a real-world feel for your chosen location, but allow you to make important vendor contacts while eliminating surprises. With such information in hand, you may be able to tailor your weddings dress and the attire of your bridesmaids along local styles and traditions, thereby saving money and emphasizing individuality.

Your guests will not only be close family and friends, but many people from your spouse’s family who may be new to you. Timing, accommodations and expenses, special needs and destination wedding etiquette are all practical considerations that need to be carefully considered. Let’s break them down one by one.

Timing: With destination weddings, it is essential that you start early. Forget the old rule of six to eight weeks’ notice for traditional weddings; you will need to inform your guests of your plans at least four, and preferably six months in advance, with frequent reminders and information updates (without being a pest!) along the way. And, remember to consider the season! Wind, rain, tides, and sun can make or break the most carefully conceived event. If you are traveling to the Far East, do not schedule your wedding during monsoon season! Likewise, consider how both “up” and “down” seasons will impact you and your guests’ costs. As with any large endeavor, research, planning, and communication among families and guests will be key.

Accommodations and Expenses: If there is a downside to destination weddings, it can be the cost of travel and accommodations. However, one of the upsides is that most “exotic” locales provide all-inclusive packages (some including airfare, rooms, meals and beverages), on-site expertise, and local planners. Likewise, local flowers, styles, and practices can be utilized to lower expenses for the bridal party. If the cost of accommodations is too high for some in your party, try to provide or recommend lower cost lodging and/or group rates within the same vicinity (preferably no more than fifteen to twenty minutes away). It is important to remember that not all guests will possess the same financial means, so use honesty and tact while trying not to make anyone feel obligated to spend beyond their means.

Special Needs: It is possible that some of your guests will require wheelchairs, transportation assistance, pharmaceuticals, or baby-sitting services. These should be researched and addressed well ahead of the event. Be sure to offer such thoughtful amenities as maps, lists of local attractions and activities, itineraries, and “guest bags” containing water, snacks, and some welcome hygienic needs.

Destination Wedding Etiquette: There are no hard and fast rules here, as every situation is unique. Generally speaking, guests pay for their transportation to and from the destination, hotel rooms, and meals, activities, and special needs outside of “official” wedding events. Wedding party participants are usually paid for by the bride and her family, whereas groomsmen are the responsibility of the groom’s family. Like all “rules” these can all be amended, altered, or customized to suit the destination and your guests and families’ situation.

Destination weddings can be expensive, certainly, but they can also be surprisingly affordable! Unlike traditional weddings, which rely on a variety of vendors, coordinators, and conflicting family advice, a destination wedding can take advantage of many all-inclusive packages and local professionals who specialize in such events on a near daily basis.

Naturally, destinations within the United States will vary in cost as compared to foreign locales. If planning a foreign destination, be sure to consider such things as local marriage requirements, passports, and language issues. Also, regardless of where you are traveling to, be sure to bring your wedding dress as carry-on luggage, as the last thing you want is a missing luggage crisis! Finally, if you are truly in love with your selected destination, you might also consider the possibility of combing your wedding with an accompanying honeymoon!

As you can see, a destination wedding requires a great deal of forethought, preparation, and commitment to both honesty and constant communication. In short, it can be a challenge for all involved!  On the other hand, a destination wedding, set amidst the locale of your dreams, can be an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience not only for you, but for the loved ones who will share the rest of your marriage and life together.

 


 

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“What can I do to grow my hair longer?”

“How can I make my hair grow more quickly?”

“Are there any products I can use to help my hair grow?”

As a stylist, I find this is one of the most frequently discussed topics. The struggle is real! A lot of us ladies grew up on Disney movies such as Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, and Rapunzel where women we admired had long, luscious locks. I mean, who didn’t dream of growing up to be a Disney princess? Hair style trends are constantly evolving and we watch celebrities change their hair like they change their outfits. Envy gets the best of us and we want that instant gratification that they are able to obtain! Unfortunately, these types of resources aren’t available to most of us but, whether you’re recovering from a bad haircut, your hair just doesn’t seem to grow, or you are just wanting to grow your hair longer, I have mapped out some helpful tips to help aid your process.

Your Health:

Your personal health is key! Getting proper rest at night, eating well, and drinking water are huge components of not only hair growth, but overall positive body development. Making smart, healthy decisions benefits us in more ways than we can count. Consuming foods high in vitamins, minerals and proteins will get you well on your way! Iron and zinc are said to help hair follicles grow and can be found in lean, red meat. Also, soybeans and lentils are rich in vitamin-c and boost iron absorption. Protein, one of the building blocks of life, is very important to consume because it supports cell growth and boosts hair strength! It is ideal for a woman to consume at least 46 grams a day. Eating fatty fish high in omegas 3’s can also help keep your hair hydrated while actually relieving depression and helping your heart.

Supplemental vitamins:

Who hasn’t seen the Instagram posts marketing “Sugarbearhair” vitamin gummies? Celebrities claim to use them so they must work, right? I can’t vouch for their validity, but I do know there are more vitamins than ever on the market for hair growth. One of my favorites is Biotin; a safe, natural vitamin for hair, skin, and nails. Also, a women’s daily vitamin is helpful for your hair and your overall health. Some women determined to grow their hair quickly have even deferred to prenatal vitamins. Several studies have found that vitamin D aids in hair growth. Excessive exposure to UV rays can be harmful, so it is best to take a 1,000 IU daily supplement instead. Not all supplements are treated equally; be sure to choose vitamins that are natural in origin and drug free.

Trims:

No, this is not a marketing ploy to get you to spend more money on haircuts. You really do need to “trim”/”dust” your hair every 8-10 weeks to avoid split ends. These split ends will only end up giving you the haircut you didn’t want. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine thank me profusely for getting them in for trims. “My hair is growing faster than ever, thank you so much for keeping me on track!”

Washing:

I could write a blog on this topic alone. A lot of people do not understand how to properly wash their hair. When you wash, shampoo should only be rubbed into your scalp. As you wash the suds away the ends will get the cleaning that they need. When you condition, start with your ends and only use the residual product near your roots. Using too much conditioner near your roots will only lead to an oily scalp and you needing to wash your hair more. Also, DO NOT OVER WASH. The more you wash, the more dry your hair will become, leaving your hair brittle and more prone to damage and breakage. Your hair needs the natural oils. Sounds gross, but the less you wash your hair the better. Aim to wash your hair no more than 3-4 times a week. Lastly, are you using a good shampoo and conditioner? Avoid shampoos with sulfates and other harmful ingredients. Stick to salon grade shampoos that protect your color (if you color your hair) and are suitable to your hair type.

Masks/Treatments:

Oh how I love masks! They smell delicious and make my hair feel SO good. One of my personal favorites is the Oribe “Gold Lust” Mask because it hydrates my hair without completely weighing it down. I am also a big proponent of Olaplex leave-in treatments. If I know I am going to wash my hair the next day, I rinse my hair the night before (do not wash), towel dry and apply the “Olaplex Hair Perfecter o. 3” from roots to ends. I actually sleep with the mask and shampoo and condition my hair the following morning. I always feel as if my hair is dramatically healthier, leaving it less susceptible to damage or breakage.

Hairstyling:

I know you don’t want to hear it, but limit how often you use hot tools. Your hair will thank you! A fantastic diet and every vitamin in the world will not help you if you are using an excessive amount of heat on your hair. I would recommend limiting the use of hot tools to 3-4 times a week max. Once your hair becomes healthier, it will look better natural. In fact, there are many YouTube tutorials out there to help you style your hair without the use of heat. Remember, when you do use heat, a heat protectant product is always your friend.

Unfortunately, there is no magical pill that will help your hair grow and extensions can be ridiculously expensive! Treat your hair and body well by staying hydrated, getting rest, eating well and consuming the proper nutrients. Don’t abuse your hair by washing incorrectly, using poor products, or heat-styling often. These tips may seem like no-brainers, but are you actually making sure you are doing them? Be patient and diligent and your hair will grow longer in no time!

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Your wedding vendors are secured, your dress has been chosen and the particulars are slowly starting to fall into place. You breathe a sigh of relief, thinking “this wedding process isn’t so tough after all.” Before you throw your feet up, remember: “the devil is in the details.” As someone with a type A personality, I didn’t struggle to make details a priority; but for the more laid-back bride, you will want to consider how important details such as your wedding accessories are.

Establish your Metal

Gold? Silver? 9 times out of 10 you choose your dress before anything else and, based on the embellishment of your dress, the metal is decided. If there is no metallic detailing on your dress, then you get to decide! This decision should be a culmination of your personal preference and what best suits your skin tone. As a typical rule of thumb, white is best matched with silver, whereas ivory is best matched with gold. Once you have decided on either gold or silver, be sure to stay consistent. A ‘mishmash’ of metals can become a distraction and nothing should detract from you on your big day!

Belt / Sash

Unfortunately, I cannot determine if a belt or sash is necessary for your gown through a blog entry. My best advice is to examine the amount of detailing already on your dress. The key is to determine whether adding a belt or sash accentuates the dress or overpowers it. I will say, the addition of a belt can certainly convey a custom feel without the price tag. Another general rule of thumb is to make sure the belt is no more than 3 inches thick. A belt larger than this can be very unflattering and off-putting. Also, consider the length of your torso! If you have a long torso, wider belts are considered more flattering; if you have a wide torso, thinner belts are more complementary.

Veil / Hair Accessories

You may choose to wear one, the other, or both! Veils are an iconic accessory that come in a variety of options. Be sure to choose a style, color, and size that complement you and your dress. If your dress has small detailing, go for an ornate veil or vice versa. If you are small in stature, consider a longer veil to elongate your figure. If you are taller, try a mid-length veil to visually break up your length. Lastly, if you are wearing an ivory gown, please wear an ivory veil! Hair accessories can also add an extra wow factor. Be discretionary when choosing hair accessories; remember, less is more!

Removeable Sleeves/Straps

Sleeves or straps can be a fantastic way to enhance your bridal gown and this trend is seen more and more on brides lately. On my wedding day, we got married in a Catholic Church and I wanted to make sure that my shoulders were covered. I had my seamstress create a removable cap sleeve overlay that I could remove for the reception. I personally love glam and wanted to switch my look for the reception in an unpretentious, cost-effective way. I accomplished this by removing my embellished sleeve overlay and adding a statement necklace and belt. I LOVED the ability to do this because it gave me a different look for my pictures and allowed me to have a more fun look for the reception. If you have a strapless gown consider the different possibilities of long sleeve, short sleeve, cap sleeve, halter, spaghetti strap, etc.!

Shoes

Make sure that you choose your shoes before your first fitting! This will allow your dress to be the perfect length. What’s nice about choosing shoes, is that you can pick them before or after your jewelry. In most cases, bridal gowns are floor-length and the shoes only really make a debut in your bridal photos. If there is any metal detailing on your shoes you will want to consider your metallic theme early on, as I explained previously. The most important piece of advice I can give is to choose comfy shoes or make sure you buy two pairs: one pair for the ceremony, and one for the reception where you will be dancing the night away.

Do you understand why you should start looking for bridal accessories NOW? These details play a large roll in your overall look as a bride. This day will be one of the most important days of your life and you will want to look and feel your best. Most of us live busy lives with limited time to ourselves. Deciding these details over time allows you to make it happen. Plenty of other unexpected tasks will come your way; be proactive and you will have time to face them all.

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