Luxebeaute's Blog

November 11, 2012

The eyes have it: All about Eyelash Curling

Filed under: Cosmetics,Tips, Tricks and Advice — luxebeaute @ 10:31 pm
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I admit it- I am neurotic when it comes to creating the perfect eye. I have tried every single mascara and lash curler under the sun from $3-$30. It’s true, I have proof, just look in my drawer and view all of the products that never made the grade.  Here’s a day in the life of my eyes…1) Curl with Shiseido lash curler 2) use Preo side curler for smaller lashes 3)apply eyelash primer 4) apply light coat mascara (wipe excess off) 5) before it dries, divide lashes. 6) let dry and curl again using Revlon or heated lash curler. 7)quickly divide again 8) apply another coat of mascara, this time lengthening formula. 9) Gently divide lashes again with plastic comb. 10) Use Japanese side curler on bottom lashes (no mascara applied). And this is a normal day, skipping eyeshadow and fiber lash or single lashes at the corners.

Curling  is the holy grail of creating a perfect eye. Start here period whether used with mascara or alone- you can purchase the best curling mascara on the planet but it’s not going to work its magic to the best of its ability without it. If you are on a quest for perfect, long and luscious curled lashes I suggest no one go without ALL the following investments:

  • #1 Shu Uemura or Shiseido eyelash curler  ($20.00)
  • #2 The Preo Japanese eyelash curler ($25.00)
  • #3 Sephora Professional Heated Mini Eyelash Curler or Revlon ($4.00-$10.00)
  • #4 Lash divider- metal or plastic ($2.00-$20.00)
  • #5 Disposable mascara wands in various shapes ($5.00 pr pack)

Step 1- Pre Mascara Curling: Being that we all have different preferences, needs and eye shapes, it is very hard for me to say what the best brand is when it comes to Getting an overall pre mascara curl out of all the millions available (see mascara blog). Since I am pretty sure everyone reading this has heard that hands down, Shu Uemura makes the best eyelash curler, let’s start there. The Shu Uemura has a special shape to it in which has yet to be seen in American drugstore brands. The curve to this LC allows better lash definition and is very precise; it will catch the majority of lashes, as opposed to drugstore brands which IMHO work well only if your lashes are extremely long to begin or already “painted” with due to the high curve top. Is the Shu worth it? Yes. Then why is it I do not personally use it you ask? Well, the Shu LC comes with one curl pad refill only and when that has seen its day, so has the LC and another curler must be purchased- this I don’t understand. A lot of people have questioned why all the hype over the Shu and not a lot re the Shiseido if they are so similar- here is why: The Shu has more money for advertising and more professional promoters, period. I was told this by a makeup artist; I have also never known anyone who used both brands and done a side by side comparison who could notice any difference. But the Shu does happen to be available in 24K plate which is great for those with silver allergies. The Shiseido LC is exactly the same as the Shu in both outcome and price (give or take 2 or 3 bucks), but pad refills are available for the Shi. I (and everyone else I assume) would much rather spend $5 on pads every 4-6 months as opposed to the $20 for an entirely new Shu. Since the only difference between the two is convenience and a nice chunk of pocket change, which is important, I suggest going for the Shiseido and saving upward $60 pr year. [There is only one other comparable LC on the market to Shu and Shi- the Fanny Serrano Slim Thin Eyelash Curler. This has the same shape as above for precision and costs about $3. [But I spoke with an FS rep and was told there is no U.S. distributor].  To catch those pesky short inner lashes, the Preo eyelash curler is a must, not to mention a little known secret. Used for centuries in Japan where women traditionally have shorter lashes, the Preo LC is for individual lash curling and curls the outside, inside, or center of the lash line, as well as the bottom lashes. It is stainless steel and replacement pads are only $3.00. A bit on the pricey side but a must have; while I do not use mascara on my bottom lashes, this wonderful little invention really makes the eyes pop. Well worth the money.

Step 2-Post Mascara Curling: Once that initial pre mascara curl has been achieved, clean your Shu or Shi and put it away. You want to get the most out of it. Because these are high end (ie pricey) curlers, if you are one of those ladies who curls after mascara application as well, I always suggest using either the Sephora professional heated LC or Revlon for one’s post mascara continual perfect curl quests! I rotate between both, depending on event, mood etc. The Sephora was created specifically for use after a coat of mascara; it will not work otherwise. After it has heated, hold it to the lashline as well as tips- I have found it does work well and the heat seems to help with thinning out excess mascara just enough to avoid clumpage. The Revlon, on the other hand, gives amazing definition and curl when used post mascara application but sure does create some serious Tammy Fae lashes which are hard to comb out.

Step 3-Avoiding Spider Eyes: If you are a “more than one coat” kinda gal (as are 99.999+% of all mascara users), combing out lashes is a must!  But forget those old bulky plastic lash divider brow brush combos- they do nothing in comparison to newer alternatives. The Perfect Lash Comb($15)  is supposed to be the best of the best- it divides, extends, lifts and Intensifies Lashes. Coming in close second is the Tweezerman lash comb ($7). These metal toothed type lash separators indeed do work wonders; unfortunately for me, I have had too many close calls using these so I have forgone them altogether. Warning: They are VERY sharp! I prefer (and use) the Ribiglo eyelash comb($2.75) as well as disposable mascara wands to eliminate clumps and separate lashes. The Ribiglo is a very affordable tiny plastic toothed comb with top and it works magnificently.

Step 4-Adding that extra “oomph”!: I love all of the little eyelash extras that have come onto the market recently and have pretty much tried them all from primers to fibers, falsies to lash extensions. Eyelash primers are mascara bases which (depending on the formula) contain vitamins and moisturizer or fibers and other thickening agents to maximize the results of mascara.  My three favorites are Shiseido Mascara Base ($23) Lancôme Cils Booster XL ($21.50), Estee Lauder Lash Primer Plus ($18.50), and Trish McEvoy’s Lash builder ($20). While these all work equally and having used them all I notice no real difference between them, the Shiseido, Lancôme and McEvoy go one white (requiring more mascara for coverage) and can be difficult to remove, while the Lauder primer is more translucent and comes off easily with remover. Lash extenders are an excellent alternative to false eyelashes, tho they take patience, careful application (they are messy) and are best for non sensitive eyes. I highly recommend giving Fastlash (15) and DivaDerme Tripple Action Lash Extender ($32) a try. Fastlash delivers amazing length is best applied to lash ends only to avoid clumps, while DivaDerme delivers … The main differences between the two are Formulation (DivaDerm incorporates Cellulose, Panthenol and vitamin E while Fash Lash is all fiber), color (DivaDerme is black and Fast Lash is white), ease of application (DivaDerme is a pain to use), and price. Both products deliver as promised. If lash extenders are not your thing (pricey, doesn’t work for you, or simply too much trouble) I say go with falsies! Not too difficult to apply and well worth the results. I recommend individual lashes and not strips; indies can be applied just where needed or desired, look natural, stay put and wash off easily while strips are bulky, very unrealistic looking, tend to loosen and the glue is difficult to remove which can result in loss of natural lashes. Individual falsies are extremely inexpensive and come in a variety of lengths, thickness and colors.

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August 16, 2012

The Leggings Debate: To do or not to do (that is in Question)

Wow, the legging trend is still going strong close to 3 years in? If not more… We started with bringing on the footless tights under medium length dresses and then moved into a complete and total 80’s revival and lastly into some serious fabric experimentation. Now there is such a huge variety- not all of which work well mind you. I have seen some serious disasters as I am sure you all have too. Here’s my opinion on the legging trend; you may or may not agree but hey, its my blog- so there.

Before I go into this on that let me just say this about that….Do NOT wear leggings as pants! I repeat: Do NOT wear leggings as pants!!!! No one’s ass is nice enough to go here- trust me on this one! Unless you are Pat Benetar circa 1983, the short shirt and legging look is simply unacceptable. Or a jazz dance instructor- that’s the only other exception I can see to the rule here. If you follow the simple golden “tunic” rule (long sweaters, tops and tees) and/or under dresses and skirts this look will work for just about everyone and every size.

Also,  short of a stripper Baryshnikov, I’m sorry but no one can make the Lamé or satin legging trend work (and I don’t even know if he would go there)… Ditto for denim leggings- yuk.  Send this shit back to fashion purgatory please. On the other hand the gloss/high shine/wet look leggings can be fab so long as they are black, your ass is fully covered, the top is a lose long one and not a fitted long one.

And remember its the little details that can make or break this deal too, and I’m not talking about accessories.   stirrups, ripped and patterned=no; ruched bottom=yes. And remember: capris=flats not heels.

Sn my humble opinion, if you stick to the tunic rule anyone can do leggings pretty much any way you want, from casual jcrew types to high fashionistas and all in between. Stay with the program people and you can work a fierce legging look such as any of these:

Get of the mark and you could end up looking like this:


September 29, 2009

Wonderful Winter: Accessable Gowns (tips and tricks)

Odd as it may sound to LA and New Yorkers, Winter in the East Bay is our time to see and be seen. For us the majority of galas, balls, dinner parties, charity and auction events and everything in between kicks off in September and doesn’t end until the New Year. It may not equate to say Milan fashion week but it’s our chance to fashionably shine while giving back or simply kicking back. As an independent business owner in the beauty field, I get giddy when I receive notifications of upcoming events and invites and love taking part in order to get my products out there via donations for and auctions as well as for networking, relaxation and socialization; as a single Mother trying to make her way in a fluctuating economy, I have to find ways to pull out all the wardrobe stops on a budget, creatively. Obviously if you are financially well endowed, its no problem to attend such events in show-stopping haute couture one of a kind gowns; for the rest of us, we either need to invest in a high end designer gown that can carry over from one season to the next or something simple to be transformed with heels and accessories.

Being that the Bay Area is the hub of independent business marketing and social networking imho, I figure I cannot be the only one out there with such a dilemma. Here are some simple tips to effortlessly make the social grade while avoiding mortgaging your home for cloth…

  • Purchase afew high quality (designer or no name) yet simple (floor-length or cocktail) black dress in classic style (silk and velvet are superb). This is always Chic. Focus more on seasonal heels and high end jewels.
  • If going for color, texture or high end designer label, this usually becomes quite the investment (ranging from $800-$4,000.00). Such a purchase is fine in my book, provided it is something that reflects the classic and is in no way trendy so that it can be worn more than once. The IRS will not oblige you such a write off- trust me, I have tried.
  • Study styles you love and colors of the season. Research new couture designer collections to get a feel for what the trend is; typically you will find there are 3 looks that seem to repeat themselves (example: a neck line, overall cut or ruffle pattern). Armed with this knowledge, go on the hunt for a similar dress. I highly suggest high end bridesmaid and wedding dress designers. Don’t cringe ladies- times have changed as have wedding attire styles and quality, the days of bulky swallow you whole fabric and generic cuts are over. These newer gowns rival the best design houses; they are sexy, sophisticated and incredibly affordable.  If you do your homework (and by homework I mean google) you will be amazed.
  • Be sure your hair, browns and nails arein tune with your gown- don’t make the same mistakes as those starlets who walk red carpet events in a 12K gown and $2 buck hair. And don’t necessarily put all trust in your beautician; that is to say do some research on past red carpet praises as well as walks of shame! Here google is your best friend. You just never who you will run into or (if that lucky) know what mag or rag you will be seen in and hell, the better you look the more publications or www’s you will appear in/on (hence the more money you will make to afford your dream gown next year)
  • Jewelry and handbag (clutch please!) is important; rent or borrow and match accordingly.
  • Get your makeup professionally done! In all honesty, I advise a spa day, facial and ten hours of sleep. Since you are not spending thousands on a gown which you will never wear again, this is a small (financial) but huge (piece of mind) investment.
  • Do your best to bargain shop all the way around where gowns are concerned- and if you do (which I am hoping you will) take the money you have saved and divide it accordingly by putting $30-60% toward donations of the philanthropic foundations in which you are looking oh so pretty for. Put the rest in the bank and give yourself a pat on the back.

Below [collage 1] are some of my top choices for easily accessible designer gowns for Winter gala’s from various 2009 collections. They are gorgeous and unique with interesting and intricate details, yet simple or classic enough to carry over from season to season or year to year. All are carried at Nieman Marcus, Saks 5th Ave and Bergdorf and run in the $3k to $6K price range. With the exception of the De La Renta, Robert Rodriguez and burgundy Marchesa gown, all of these styles can be found else ware within the $200-$350 price range, none of which lack in quality. If you take a look at my top choices for “bargain” gowns [collage 2], you will see I am not just all talk and no walk on this matter; yeah, I take my gown comparison and discount shopping very seriously (matter of fact I found2 of the Alvina Valenta’s for around $150 (retail in the $300 range), the black Alfred Angelo for $100 (retails $160), and the pink $250 Jim Hjelm online for $90 (tho’ it is more appropriate for day and eve envents) – I swiped them up quickly. AND Check out that hot long black asymmetrical jersey dress (STYLE:  G543J) and tell me it doesn’t rival the Versace (forgive me Donatella but I actually dig the offshoot version more and will be purchasing it once I am done writing this); matter of fact if I saw someone wearing it I would assume it WAS Versace. Pair it with some bright suede YSL platform heels or similar in Pantone Fashion Color Report trends for the season in question and no one will know you’re a bargain babe I promise.

blogneimans

High End Designer-Left to right: Alexander McQueen ($5,420.00), Oscar de Larenta ($5,290), Carmen Marc Valvo ($2,860.00), Carmen Marc Valvo pleated silk ribbon gown ($3,190.00), Carmen Marc Valvo tiered gown ($3,520.00),Marchesa strapless organza ruffled gown ($6,820.00), Robert Rodriguez black label strapless rosette gown ($3,000.00), Kay Unger NY Tiered red gown ($490.00), Black Versace ($4,440.00),David Meister one shoulder blue velvet gown ($450.00) Affordable Formal Gowns-left to Right: ?, Jim Hjelm Occasions # 5938 ($240.00), Jim Hjelm Occasions #5819 ($258.00), Alvina Valenta #9838 ($270.00), Alvina Valenta #9739 Duet satin draped gown ($246.00), Alvina Valenta #9834 Silk De Chine strapless gown ($232.00), Saison Blanche #SB2070 ($290.00), Bari Jay #774 (130.00), Amsale #G543J ($300.00), Lazaro #3899 ($225.00), Alvina Valenta #9837 ($260.00), Alfred Angelo #6583 ($160.00).

July 20, 2009

To Spend or not to spend (and how to spend accordingly)

“How can you afford your clothes?” I have gotten this question a lot over the past 5-10 years and even more frequently when starting this blog, so I figure its high time I did an entry about it. Well, first off my size rarely fluctuates and since I mainly collect vintage, DVF wrap and Cavalli dresses, and handbags and shoes this is good and extremely economical being that the pieces last and carry over well; some of my pieces I have had for 20 plus years. Also when making a purchase,  I always break down pricing with how much use I am going to get out of an item; obviously if something’s worn or used 1 or more times per month (or even season), I’m definitely getting my money’s worth.  Keep in mind I am not rich- far from it actually. I have been investing in designer pieces for a long time; some of those years I had money to burn, now like 80% of the U.S. populous, I absolutely do not. Like everyone else in the post Bush war era, I now barely have extra cash after the bills are paid. I have been on a major budget in the past few years so lucky for me my past investments are classic and timeless, easing from season to season seamlessly.

But really it’s not about how but more about why…As stated above, before making any purchase I always calculate the amount of wear I will get from an item vs. cost- if a pair of shoes or handbag retails $500 and above  I factor in amount of wear with cost (I do this with body and facial products also- case in point: if you spend $25 on a mascara and it lasts 6 months, or a perfume to last 1 yr., consider how affordable that breakdown actually is)… Much of the time before I even make a purchase I sit at home and take the time to go through my closet I record (via digital photo) what it will work with and how many varied looks I can get from it. Once I have established between 5-10 looks from casual to dressy, I look at my calendar and factor in when and where those looks are appropriate or will work. Once I know for fact an items purchase is a good idea, I move forward. Again keep in mind that I never buy trendy clothing cuts or patterns or shoes in designer labels ever and all of my expensive designer pieces are more plain/rarely patterned; I always make sure they will be wearable from one season to the next. Also when it comes to clothing I do not buy high priced designer tops of any kind, only dresses. I have found there are a plethora of outlets which carry high end designer sweaters, tops and tees and I can honestly say its because of this I don’t think I have ever paid more than $60 for any kind of top (even those of cashmere or originally priced up to $300). This same rule applies for skirts too.

In my old age I have discovered that mixing and matching designer and off the rack works wonders, trust me. If it’s a casual affair I’m doing expensive jeans paired up with a vintage bag, H&M tee and high end designer shoes; if its cheaper jeans or pants I take it up a notch with designer shoes or boots and designer bag. As for dresses and skirts, if it’s more casual or funky I sort of play shoes by ear but if it’s a designer dress I always go with good designer heels and a vintage clutch so not to over do it (yes I know, I am quite predictable).

As far as accessories go, all designer purses in my collection are of classic design; Fendi Z, Prada nylons, etc… The only acceptation to this is my Fendi crescent bag which is sort of Pucci esque. Any and all colorful unique handbags I own are vintage and mostly clutches of patent leather and animal skins. I only buy these on Ebay for way cheap- no acceptations, no regrets. Where jewelry is an issue, I love to mix and match funky cheap chic with high end- I am definitely one to break out my Gucci watch along side a one of a kind indie designer necklace (Ebay or Etsy) costing less than $20, or an Alex and Chloe piece (esp. my death of Coco necklace) in conjunction with some Forever 21 bangles ($2-6 each). As far as shoes go, I admit I am an elitist whore to fashion on that one. But again, I have many in classic styles which I have had for decades. And in truth I don’t feel I break the bank when it comes to shoes anyway- I am completely content with one pair of Louboutins (Very Prive), Channel riding type boot, 2 pairs of Gucci (Malibu slide w/detailed heel and also a pointed toe pump), Prada pointy flats, a Charles David lace up boot, etc.

All in all, I could sit here and claim I must do high end based on necessary appearance via my work in the beauty biz blah blah blah but I won’t… I do what I do because I love it and I am explaining how I do what I do and why in the hopes that others out there get a better understanding that they shouldn’t cheat themselves. Hey, I’m not the hottest (by any means!) or thinnest or richest or most fashionable- please! So I guess what I am saying here is that if you find a piece out there which is exquisite, take my tips in their “do and don’t”, “pros and cons” to heart … I bet you will find if you integrate outfits or calculate use vs. cost appropriately, you can have what you want and create an exceptional and stylish look that makes you feel great!

October 19, 2008

The Wonderful World of Mascara

Filed under: Cosmetics,Tips, Tricks and Advice — luxebeaute @ 7:29 pm
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Every girl seems to be on that never ending quest to find their holy grail mascara- I know I am! But which is truly the best? Unfortunately there is no answer considering that not everyone is looking for the same result from mascara.  Some want curl, length, thickness, volume, natural look or wet, water or smudge proof, conditioning, botanically based or high tech additives, and let’s not forget brush type.  Being that this is the case, I have done a ton of research on brands which are constantly popping up as the best of the best and have decided to list them (in no particular order) divided into three categories: High end, Drugstore and my personal favorites.

Department Store Mascaras: The top makeup artists as well as Allure, Glamour, and Style magazines all give Lancôme Definicils the top spot for the best lengthening mascara- as do I. Lancôme Définicils mascara provides the ultimate in shaping and separation for lavishly long, perfectly defined lashes. Phenomen’Eyes Effet Extension by Givenchy  is touted as a magnificent lengthening formula with an amazing and innovative brush which captures all lashes. I personally give Lancôme Definicils a million thumbs up (if I had that many) but the Phenomen’Eyes Effet just did not deliver as promised. Please keep in mind these two mascaras are lengthening formulas only; they will not curl or volumize. Four of the top 10 high end mascaras which claim to thicken, lengthen and curl are Diorshow, Le 2 de Guerlain, Chanel Inimitable Mascara and Clinique High Impact. In my opinion I have found the Diorshow easily clumps while Chanel mascaras tend to easily smudge; I have not yet tried the Clinique nor Le 2 de Guerlain. If you are lucky enough to have plenty of length yet need a boost of color and thickness, Bad Gal by Benefit is said to be amazing. Also winning rave reviews are MAC fibre rich lash and Fiberwig, both of which contain micro-fine interconnecting fiber.  Kiss Me by Blinc has also become a cult favorite; Kiss Me coats lashes to form water-resistant “tubes” for maximum amplification and hold, rather than painting them like conventional mascaras. While I give both the MAC and Fiberwig 4 out of 5 stars for both length and thickness with minimal clumps, the Kiss me mascara gave me major spider eyes which seemed to never fully dry and certainly does not lengthen.

Drugtore Brand Mascaras: Voted #1 time and time again is Maybelline Great Lash mascara. It is said to condition while it thickens and never clump. I must say I have made quite a few attempts to love this product but it does not work for me; its another one of those products in which never seems to full dry and it does nothing at all for length which is what I personally want out of a mascara. But to be fair, it is not advertised as a lengthening formula now is it?  I have friends who swear by GL and indeed their lashes are amazing when wearing this. Again, my gal pals who use this and look amazing doing so have naturally long but thin light colored lashes while I have thick black lashes naturally- so I think GL is just not a fit for me personally but must indeed be a great product, esp. considering the price. Other top thickening formulas are CoverGirl Lash Blast,  Maybelline Define-A-Lash, Max Factor Volume Couture, Max Factor 2000 Calorie, and L’Oreal Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara. As for length, Illegal Lengths Mascara and Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length (both by Maybelline),  and Telescopic Mascara and  Bare Naturale Luminous Lengthening Mascara ( both by L’Oreal) are getting rave reviews. Beauty tubes (mascara and primer combos) are now becoming a big hit in the drug store mascara isle, driving down the  price and upping availability which is great. Two which are winning the most praise are Maybelline XXL Volume and  L’Oreal Double Extend and Revlon Lash Fantasy Total Definition Mascara.

While I do not use any of these brands commonly found in my local drug store or supermarket, I certainly do not believe one has to purchase mascara from a dept or specialty store to get a great mascara. It is just that I have tried all of these brands in one formula or another and they just did not work for me personally- I am certain the reason for this is wholey due to not being able to try it on before purchase, having nothing to do with quality of product overall.

My Personal Recommendations: Without question, I am a Lancôme lady. I love every single mascara made by them. The trick with Lancôme (and likely many other brands as well) is to pair up different formulas because they tend to make singularly specific formulas (which may have something to do with why they work so darn well actually). Virtuôse Black Carat is my everyday main staple, tho’ I do rotate between that and Définicils (or both together). I am also a sucker for Japanese mascaras. Because Asian women are in constant search of both volume and length and the blackest of black shades, these unknown brands work wonderfully for me. Top faves are Sana (which contains 15 denier fiber that keeps volume and curl all day long and vitamin E), Lash Code in shiny black (w/curl keep polymer and pantenol), Cosmagic, and Fairydrops. When it comes to day eyes- not too much volume but plenty of length and curl, or when I need to give my lashes a break from all that va va voom, I use every Latina’s best kept secret: Apple Mascara. Virtually unheard of in mascara maven circles, this stuff is amazing. At less than 3 bucks and no frills packaging, I suppose you could call it our version of Great Lash. Apple comes in quite a few shades (including various blacks) and each formula has a mega conditioning base; Jajoba, Almond and Alvarado to name a few. I try to use these 2-4 times a week… Application is also very important to me, and I tend to wash out all brushes from old empty mascaras and reuse them. As for my other eye staples, I cannot go without my trusty Shiseido eyelash curler, Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base by Lancôme, Rubiglo eyelash comb (I have injured myself far to many times with a metal one!), and a variety of disposable mascara wands.

May 10, 2008

Cute Curls: The Best Hair Products for Curly Girls

Filed under: Tips, Tricks and Advice — luxebeaute @ 9:19 pm
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I happen to be both blessed and cursed with long, coarse, naturally black tight curls… I am not one of those people who take things for granted either; I am fully aware that there are people out there who perm and dye to get what I was born with, and I do truly appreciate and thank both of my Parents for their genetic disposition in which was bequeathed onto me. My Father (who is of Puerto Rican decent ie or in our genetic case African, Spanish and French) gave me my color,curl and uniqueness while my Mother with her silky golden waves (Slovic, German Irish) evened out the hair playing field and  is likely the only reason why I am not sporting a huger than life, kinkier than kink afro right now as I type. Not that there is anything wrong with that but it just does not necessarily suit my style, being that I have a Rapunzel complex and am on the never ending quest for high shine, definition and growing the longest locks I can.

When it comes to hair health and maintenance, I have tried every single product out there for curly hair- I am not exaggerating. From the inexpensive to ridiculously priced and all in between; I have even gone so far as to  research and purchased both unknown and popular products made in countries where women have similar hair issues as I (Spain, Dominican Republic,etc) as well as made my own products.

The Truth about Curl Maintainance: I am not going to go into a huge 101 explanation about curly hair types here as I think most women with curls have already done plenty of  research on what type they may be. But I will say, even the most diligent curl efficianato is not always aware of the many affordable unsung hair saviors that exist. Much like cosmetics, we tend to be under the impression if its pricey it must work. Though this can at times be true in the cosmetic world (when it comes to such saviors as foundations, lotions and the like), it is absolutely not the case with hair care for curls. I know a lot of you out there have been tempted to buy and try a few of those highly advertised pricey products; being that this is the case I will tell you what to try and what to just not bother with to tame your locks.

Best Daily use shampoos and conditioners: In all honesty (and to help be sure my dear readers do not wast $) there are only a handful of products out there in the over $20 range which are worth their high price tag.  Three brands immediately come to mind: Alterna, Pyto, and Diva Curl. The White Truffle ($30 shampoo/$75 Conditioner)  Caviar ($20 shampoo/$50 conditioner) and 10 lines ($40 shampoo/$50 conditioner) are all made by Alterna.  While these are not specifically made for curly hair, they all do an excellent job at deep conditioning leaving even the coarsest hair incredibly soft. The truffle line is made with truffle oil (a major source of vitamin B) and the caviar line is infused with caviar extract and omega 3; Their 10 line on the other hand contains both white truffle oil and caviar extract, as well as cacao extract, Champagne Grape Seed Oil, Bulgarian Evening Primrose, Arabian Frankincense, Moroccan Quillaia Bark, and Amica Flower. The Phyto line is a beloved staple in France, actually an over the counter drugstore brand. Although all of their haircare products are of superb quality, for curlyheads I recommend the shampoos- specifically Phytorum Fortifying and Phytospecific Intense Nutrition shampoo (both $25 each). Phytorum contains rum, egg yolk and lechitin While Phytospecific Intense contains kukui and macadamia oils. These ingredients are stand out for extreme shine and conditioning, and will soften even the coarsest hair. When it comes to great shampoos, DivaCurl also makes excellent shampoos which cater specifically to curly hair; their shampoos are available in a low lathering or non lathering formulations. These formulas not only further condition your hair unlike any shampoo which claims to does, but they do not dry or damage delicate curls and seem to intensify the results of conditioners. While each and every one of these high end hair products are indeed great, there are comparable if not better products out there at a fraction of the cost.

Truth be told, neither of the above lines can hold a candle to the amazing results of the Elucence or salerm brands. Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo ($8) is an extremely gentle low lather cleanser containing peach extract, Irish moss, ginseng and wheat protein and the conditioner ($10) is made of olive oil and coconut. As for the Salerm protein palsam conditioner and shampoo are excellent. I prefer the Elucence and Salerm products to any others out there on the market, hands down.  My runner ups here are Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner by Jessicurl and Baba de Carol Deep Conditioner and hair rinse (all abt $12). Other products that get a thumbs up are Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner ($12.00), One N Age Renewal Conditioner ($5.00) and Silk Elements Luxury Moisturizing Conditioner ($3).

Best Deep Weekly Treatments: #1 winner in the deep conditioner category is Selerm Mascarilla Capilar ($8.00) which contains wheat germ oil; this is my very favorite deep conditioner. Coming in 2nd equally are Jessicurl weekly deep treatment ($12.00) and Borghese Fango Hair & Scalp Mask ($37.00). I recomend purchasing both the Selerm and Jessicurl as they are innexpensive and alternating between the two. Oil treatments are also must in my book for thick curls although I tend to do them 1-2 per month only or as time permits. I prefer flexibility in an oil treatment and baring this in mind my favorite is all incompassing oil is Monoi Tiare Tahiti from Hawaii. These are made from pure coconut oil and can be used on the skin, as a deep oil treatment for hair to be rinsed out, or even as a leave in for vibrant shine and curl definition. Monoi oils are available in Gardenia, Jasmine, Plumeria, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla and Coconut scents. Venetian Blends Essential Oil Treatment is also excellent and will soften even the coarsest of hair and curls; unlike a lot of other oils, it smells great. Queen Helene Jojoba hot oil treatment is also a wonderful revitalizer and strengthener- both the VB and Jojoba oils  cost less than $2 each.

Best Leave in Treatments (Conditioners, Serums, Stylers):  My number 1 choice for leave in conditioner is Lacio Lacio High Shine ($9); it will give unbelievably defined curls and shine when used immediately out of the shower. There is no heavy weight to LL and therefore works well on both fine and coarse hair. If your hair takes well to oils (as mine does) , I highly recommend giving Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade a try ($8.00). Not only does this stuff work miracles at softening, defining and defrizing, it smells unbelievable. This is more suited for thick, damaged or frizz prone or course hair and a little goes a long way- I suggest taking the preferred amount (depending on length) and rubbing into your hands to liquefy before application. If serums are your finishing product of choice, invest in Alfaparf Diamante Cristalli Liquidi Illuminating Serum ($15-$30) or Salerm Silk Touch ($13); both will smooth and soften hair, seal cuticles and produce high shine. For curl definition that is out of this world and suitable for all hair types, do try Rocking Ringlets and Awe Inspiraling Spray both by Jessicurl as well as one of my newer HG hair discoveries, Naturelle Park Ave Medium Twist Curl Creme. Both the Park Ave and Rockin Ringlets may leave you with a tad of “crunch”- no biggie, simply run hands over dry hair and the problem is quickly rectified and your left with soft bouncy curls.

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