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Jun 10, 2016

Benz On A Budget: Garnier Whole Blends

It's Real Talk time.  I'm having hair issues since moving from NYC to San Francisco.  They're mostly my own fault, but they are issues nonetheless.  First and foremost, I refuse to get new hair stylists even though I know there are plenty of excellent and qualified people out here.  I've been going to my colorist in New York for about 6 years now I think.  That's a long time to be with anyone.  She's given me chocolates, reds, blondes, peaches.  She's given me all the colors I've ever desired so how am I supposed to go to someone else now?  And forget about the major girl crush I have on the lovely lady that cuts my hair.  SHE IS FROM SCOTLAND, first of all, so I hang on every word she says in that amazing accent.  Not to mention she just gets me and all my random requests I walk in with.  She's funny.  I mean what more can I say?
So yeah.  While I'm not sad AT ALL to move to the best coast, I miss my hair girls.  So I haven't had a cut or color now in... months.  Not weeks.  Months.  My sister-in-law is an incredible hairstylist, but she's in LA and I have to figure out how to get down there and see her face.  (Plus my brother's face, and the sweet faces of their cute dachshunds).  I'm getting into a bit of a tangent here.  My point is my hair is toast.  My color is faded from the sun.  And the roots are too much... it hurts to even talk about them.  The ends are totally fried.  I'm in bad shape here.
Cue my budget-friendly saviors that are helping me until I can either get down to LA to see my sissy or find a suitable replacement for my stylists from New York.  Garner Whole Blends hair masks are saving my hair and my sanity at the moment.  There are 4 deep conditioning masks in the Whole Blends lineup, and they're all good.  I like the Color Care mask with Argan oil & cranberry, but since my color is totally shot at the moment, I'm really just focused on nourishing my ends.  These bad boys are RICH.  There's no dry hair situation in my life right now that these can't fix.  Best way to spend $7 that I can think of.      

Honey Treasures Repairing Mask
This is all about the honey, honey.  If you don't know about all the moisturizing (and delicious smelling) benefits of honey and royal jelly, this is a great foray into that world.  I would be lying to you if I didn't tell you I own tons of honey products, from affordable masks like this, to super expensive honey face masks.  I've never met a honey product I don't like.  

Nourishing Mask with Avocado & Shea Butter      
As you can imagine from the name, this mask is already incredibly hydrating.  Avocado also happens to be my favorite food in the whole world.  I used to try and put avocado in my hair at home but ended up just eating it all the time and not saving any for my hair... so this really is a problem solver for me.  Not to mention how expensive avocados are these days.  Why waste it in my hair when I can just eat it, and use this cheap mask in my hair?  Problem solved.    

Side note, I found this fun hair color on Insta and think this is going to be my new color.  Stay tuned for updates on all my hair trials and tribulations.  

May 31, 2016

Benz's Book Club: It's Time For Summer Reads! All By Fantastic Women Writers

Ah, summer time!  Time to spend oodles of time with your feet in the sand and your nose in a good book.  For me, who is always face-down in some book, summer is usually the time where I incorporate some more light-hearted materials in with my regular reading materials that consist of nothing but kidnapping, murder, and various other things that keep me awake all night.  Don't get me wrong, you'll find plenty of those in the list below, but hopefully you'll also pick up something that is a little more whimsical.  No matter which story you pick from the list, they're all page-turners in their own ways.  


Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Don't worry, you don't have to have had read Pride and Prejudice to enjoy this book (though, if you haven't you may want to put it on your list for the summer).  Fans of Curtis Sittenfeld are well aware of her writing talents.  She's always written about diverse topics, from first wives to characters with psychic abilities, but always about strong women.  Women who find themselves through their struggles.  There's just enough humor in her characters to keep you from feeling like it's too serious.  You have to wonder who her inspiration is for some of these characters (like the CrossFit obsessed sister).  It's a truly, truly modern look at the old story that makes me wonder if Sittenfeld went to school for Sociology.  She really gets issues like class and gender, but more than anything she gets people.            



The Girls by Emma Cline
(Pre-order now for the release date of June 14th)
If you like any Charles Manson stories, you'll definitely appreciate Cline's debut novel.  It is NOT a retelling of the Manson murders, but certainly shares a lot of similarities.  Set in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960's, a very different environment than the tech behemoth it has come today, a teenage girl gets caught up in a lifestyle she never could've imagined.  She's fascinated by a group of seemingly carefree girls, and eventually by their manipulative and charismatic cult leader.  This is a great book club list, but you may not want to wait for your friends to read it because it's so good.  You'll certainly want someone to discuss it with, though.  It touches on many of the controversial issues of the Charles Manson case.  Do you believe those girls were innocent because they were coerced by someone who is a master at manipulation?  How long do you think these women should serve in prison?  Is there a way these situations can be prevented?  This may be fiction, but there are certainly real-life issues at hand here.          

You by Caroline Kepnes
This book is terrifying.  Not in that overt and obnoxious blood-and-gore way like so many scary movies today.  This is psychological.  This makes you think.  Told from a killer's perspective, it will definitely make you think about everything you're putting out in the world on your social media accounts.  Joe, the narrator/killer/stalker, is the new Dexter, but better.  You never see him coming.  By the end of the book you'll be wondering if you're on his side or his victim's.  And once you're done reading You, pick up the sequel, Hidden Bodies.

Watching Edie by Camilla Way
(Pre-order now for the release date of August 2nd)
Ok I guess I like stalker books.  How did you know?  Before you judge, this is a different book entirely from You.  This book is told from the stalker's and the victim's point-of-view.  You'll have trouble deciding who is the good girl and who is the bad girl.  A long-held grudge has you wondering what went wrong 20 years ago with a close friendship between two high school girls.  Now adults, they're both forced to reflect back on the night that changed everything.  More than that night, how are they going to go forward in their lives with all their baggage?  How are they going to raise daughters?  There's mystery, love, loss, betrayal.  All the good components of an eerie page-turner.  You surely won't be able to guess how it all plays out in the end.

The Last Boy And Girl In The World by Siobhan Vivian 
Have you read The List?  (If not, immediately add to your summer read list).  If you read this book by Vivian then you already know she has a way of writing about teen angst that resonates with you no matter your age.  There's nothing childish about the books.  They delve into the real emotions that we went through as teens, and what teens are going through today.  This story is a little more rare of a circumstance than the story in books like the list.  This is an End Of Days/What Would You Do story.  If you were told that your town would be under water in a few days and life as you knew it would be over, what would you do?  Then think about what your kids would want to do or how they would be feeling at that time, especially if you had teenage girls.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker 
(Pre-order now for the release date of July 12th)
This book is not easy to read.  It is a book worth reading but it's not going to be easy if you have even one ounce of human emotion.  This book centers around the violent rape of a teenage girl and if you have a soul you'll be eviscerated by emotion while reading about her struggles.  The book is an interesting read because you'll deal with a lot of heavy topics; violence against women, prison reform, mental health issues, childhood traumas, moral practices in the workplace, psychiatry.  I could go on.  It is not for the faint of heart but a captivating read, and even better if you have someone read at the same time so that you can discuss all of these heavy issues.  I know I'm making it sound really grim but it's an incredible book if you have any opinions on the aforementioned issues. I couldn't put it down.      

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
If you haven't read it already, you'd better get to it before the movie comes out this weekend.  (Don't worry, you will only need a few days to read because you won't want to put it down).  The movie is being touted as a great love story, and indeed it is.  BUT IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.  At the heart of the story is a very controversial issue, which I will not spoil for you here in case you haven't read it.  This needs to be discussed at length over book club or a bottle of wine with a friend, but regardless of where you're talking about it you'll need to keep the tissues handy.  And then buy a second box of tissues when you go see the movie.  

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin 
(Pre-order now for the release date of June 28th)
I'm already well aware that I don't need to tell Giffin fans to buy this book.  I'm sure you've already pre-ordered already.  But if you've never picked up one of her books, this is a good place to start.  Her voice resonates with real women who deal with complex emotions every day.  Feelings about motherhood, sisterhood, tragedy, and survivor's guilt are the pillars that the story is built on.  You can call it "chick lit" if you want, but if by chick lit you mean EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH STORIES ABOUT WOMEN, then yes it is indeed chick lit.  (Also, let's stop using that term negatively.  There's nothing bad about being a chick, and nothing bad about lit, so why would chick lit ever be considered bad?)
     
Note: When I started writing this list, I had no idea it would be all women authors.  It just worked out that way.  I was almost done writing it and realized that so many of the stories are "coming of age" or "finding yourself" stories in their own way.  (What does that say about my mental state at the moment?)  Of course you don't need to be a woman to appreciate all of these stories, it's just that I think women will find them especially relatable.  And major kudos to all the women authors out there who are slaying the game right now.  Keep doing what you do!  

May 23, 2016

StriVectin TSV: Super Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment Set (plus a giveaway!)

Today, May 24th, there is an exciting StriVectin TSV (today's special value) on QVC.  This sale is only 24 hours long, so don't snooze on this one if you're a StriVectin fan!  The TSV price is $129 for the Super-Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment Set (a value of $315).  The sale includes a 3.4 oz Firming Neck Cream, which is one of the best-selling neck creams there is, and 2 bottles of the 1.7 oz Firming Face Serum (3.4 oz total).  Bonus: if you sign up for auto-delivery you will received a free Advanced Retinol Eye Cream with every shipment you receive (an additional $75 value).  
   
Giveaway:
We're giving away one StriVectin Super Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment set.  The set includes the 3 products pictured/listed above (1 Firming Neck Cream and 2 Firming Face Serums). 
To enter:
1. Follow @beautybybenz on Instagram 
2. Follow @strivectin on Instagram 
3. Comment on the above image on Instagram and tell us why you want to win!  
Contest rules:
The contest will start today, May 24th and end on May 31st, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be selected at random.  Contest is open to U.S. residents only.  Winner must have a valid email and U.S. postal address so that we can contact you in the event that you win.  Good luck! 

May 17, 2016

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish 003

We all know Pat McGrath is a makeup genius, but would you pay $72 to buy one of her highlighters? I bought BOTH OF THEM (that's right, $144 for 2 highlighting kits) to help you decide if it's worth it to you. By the way, that's not even inclusive of tax. 
When McGrath announced she was launching her own makeup line, instead of just collaborating with other brands as she's done in the past, people basically lost their minds. Myself included. Her first launch, Gold 001, was a gold pigment that sold out ridiculously fast. Not in need of a gold pigment, and not fast enough to get on the website even if I wanted it, I passed on that opportunity. Her second launch, Phantom 002, was a plethora of gorgeous pigments, included a blackest black, fuschias, and blue, but at a price tag of $240 I could not participate. Now here we are with Skin Fetish 003 at $72 a pop, and 2 available colors. I figured if there were ever a time to pull the trigger, why not do it with highlighters? We all know I have a fetish for highlighters (see what I did there?).

So here's the thing, friends: you don't NEED both highlighters.  Just as I didn't NEED to buy both of them and use my blog as an excuse to review the products.  Will you want both?  Probably.  I did.  And I'm glad I have both of them.  I'm a medium skin tone that can get pretty dark in the sun, and pretty darn pale in the winter.  For me, both might actually be necessary.  At this moment, I can easily wear both shades.  If you have a darker skin tone you'll definitely want to go for the Golden shade, versus the Nude shade.  The balm is clear on both of them (on one end of the highlighter/balm duo stick), and the pigment sort of looks the same at first glance, but they are very different. 
       


From left to right: Pigment 003 from Nude shade, Highlighter stick from Nude shade, Highlighter stick from Golden shade, Pigment 003 from Golden shade 

Of course, McGrath's Skin Fetish 003 shades are all mega-impact with very little effort.  They're totally fool-proof as far as I'm concerned.  The balm can be used basically all over the face: on the lids, for a shiny, but not greasy look, on the cupid's bow to highlight the lip without looking garish, or in conjunction with the Highlighter Stick or the Pigment 003.  Here are some swatches on my skin so you can see how the individual products look.  


Highlighter Stick in Nude
Highlighter Stick in Golden




Added the Pigment 003 in Nude on top of the Highlighter Stick

Added the Pigment 003 in Golden on top of the Highlighter Stick

So, like I said, did I need to buy both?  Eh, probably not.  Am I glad that I did?  100%.  I barely had to put in any work for that highlight and my skin feels radiant, but not like I'm wearing anything at all.  I'm in love.  Just what I would expect from Pat McGrath Labs.  

May 13, 2016

Beauty By Benz Approved: Youth To The People

Youth To The People is a foolproof skincare regimen that is gaining cult status for its chic simplicity.  Sometimes more is less, kids.  Forget about weird chemicals that you don't want to put on your skin.  This brand believes in superfoods inside and outside of the body, so their skincare line reflects that.  It's a simple 3-step process (cleanser, serum, and moisturizer) made of ingredients like kale, spinach, and green tea.  It's great for all skin types, which has served me really well in moving across the country and facing all different types of climates, but we'll talk more on that later.  Let's talk about the 3 products on the YTTP line.      
Age Prevention Moisture Cream ($48)
This super lightweight moisturizer smells faintly of greens (don't worry, it's not overpowering) so you know the ingredients are legit.  The smell is all natural, because there are no synthetic fragrances, sulfates, or artificial colors in any of the products.  
Age Prevention Cleanser ($36)
This is surprisingly my favorite product on the line, which is interesting because I don't generally like face wash.  I'm more of a micellar water type-of-gal.  This cleanser, however, is just the right amount of light suds to cleanse the skin, but not dry it out.  The scent is very light as well, smelling slightly of green tea.  
Age Prevention Firm and Brighten Serum ($62)
This serum uses Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, and kale to promote collagen synthesis in the skin.  Vitamin C is my absolute favorite ingredient in any skincare product because it helps with dark spots/hype-rpigmentation.  I use at least one Vitamin C product on my skin every day.

May 12, 2016

Glossier Introduces 3 New Balm DotCom Flavors

Glossier's Balm Dotcom is an every day staple in my beauty arsenal, and when they launched Coconut Balm Dotcom I thought life couldn't get much better.  It's the little things.  Now, here we are, with 3 new flavors added to the mix, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  The only caveat is that this trio ($30) is limited edition.  Hopefully some of these will go into permanent rotation.
 
Mint Balm Dotcom is sheer with a bit of menthol, so it's a great pick-me-up in the morning or mid-day.  Breath feels fresher and lips feel cool and tingly.  Rose Balm Dotcom has just the slightest light pink tint, so unless you're very fair in complexion, I wouldn't count on this for its color.  It does, however, smell so deliciously rosy.  It's definitely on par with other rose favorites like Smith's Rosebud Salve as far as smelling a bit rosy, but not being cloying.  I saved my favorite for last, because Cherry Balm Dotcom better become a permanent item for Glossier.  It just has to.  This one has a bit more of a pink tint to it.  Think just-had-a-cherry-popsicle stain, only it's not a lip stain because it has the amazing texture of Balm Dotcom.  Now my beloved Coconut Balm Dotcom has a rival with the new Cherry version.  What's a girl to do?    

Apr 21, 2016

The New Dove Campaign Kicks So Much Ass

I have loved Dove for so long, but their newest ad campaign just about made my heart explode this morning (in a good way).  As a biracial woman, I know a thing or two about women being made to feel that their hair is not something to be cherished.  I won't go on one of my diatribes here about how women are oppressed SO MANY WAYS, including how society makes us view the hair of women of color, because I do that all the time and will continue to fight the good fight.  I'm not going to do that here, because Dove is doing it for me today.  See the amazing video for yourself, and then check out some of the statistics below.  It's important for women to lift each other up, and sometimes all it takes is the cold, hard facts about how society has made us feel about our hair to realize we have work to do.  I'm so appreciative to Dove for sharing this message!
      
Did you happen to peep one of my fellow XoVain writers in the video (the very cool and pretty Sable Yong)?!  Anyways, let's talk stats, because these are very important.  Dove found out the following sad, but not so surprising statistics:
-81% of women feel that the hair we see in advertisements and in the media makes women in general feel bad about the hair they have. 
-Only 11% of women love everything about their hair and wouldn't change anything about it.  
-90% of women agree that they need to embrace their own hair and stop comparing themselves to others. 
-3 in 4 women believe they would have greater self-conifidence if they didn't feel that they were being judged by their hair. 

Those are some harsh numbers folks.  We can do better!  Let's start now.  Let's embrace each other as women (starting with ourselves, please!  You are beautiful!) and fix this.    
 

Apr 15, 2016

Chosungah 22 is a Brand You Need to Know

I didn't know what to think about Chosungah 22 prior to playing with the products.  They'd only had a few cute products in Sephora stores, but I wasn't ready to dive in and purchase any just yet.  Now Sephora has started selling a full range of their products and I got a chance to actually touch and feel a lot of them.  Lemme tell ya, you should not be fooled by the cute packaging.  Though the packaging is young and fun, it is great product for all ages.  You'll probably see me talking about them a lot in the future, so I'm just going to give a quick rundown of some of my favorite products for you to investigate on your next Sephora run.

Dong Gong Minn Brow Maker ($22)
This may look like a sharpie if you're just looking at the packaging, but do not be deterred.  The applicator is like a half of a mascara wand, and the other half is a very unique pointed sponge tip.  To apply you just brush the formula onto the brows, like you would do to your lashes with a mascara wand, and then use the pointed tip to fill in spaces like you would with a pencil.  Because the tip is a sponge, you don't get the harsh lines that you would usually get with a pencil that you'd need to blend out.  There are 4 shades; Light Blonde, Medium Blonde, Grey Brown, and Black Brown.  I'm very impressed with the Grey Brown because it's just a cool-toned brown (no, you don't have to have grey hair to wear this), which I think is hard to find in a brow product.  Most brown brow products are VERY warm, so all you cool-toned folks out there will love this Grey Brown version from Chosungah 22.   

So Tiny Lip & Cheek Face Color ($14)
These remind me, in a way, of my most beloved Becca Beach Tint, that I've loved for so many years.  They're tiny, as the name implies, but they pack a punch with the colors.  They go on very creamy, but dry to a more matte finish.  They're great to wear as a stain by pushing into your lips (or cheeks) with your fingers.  They feel good on the lips because they contain honey and Argan oil.  The colors are so good.  I'm the most in love with the deeper berry colors.          
From left to right: Baby Pink, Misty Pink, Scarlet, and Orange. 

From left to right: Apple Red, Dark Red, Purple, and Burgundy.



C&T Blend Luminous Liquid Foundation ($58)
This foundation lets you play artist with the amount of coverage you want.  On one side, there's the foundation, and on the other side their is a honey and hyaluronic acid mixture to moisturize the skin and give you a luminous foundation finish.  Want to be more dewy?  Use more of the honey mixture.  Feeling like you need a little more coverage?  Use more of the foundation.  It's surprisingly full coverage, so I use more of the honey mixture, personally, for a more dewy look.  The small amount you see in the picture above covered my whole face with a full coverage.      
If you're not into the idea of playing painter and mixing your foundation, there is a C&T Blend Fresh Mix Liquid Foundation that is already mixed together.  Unfortunately there are only a few shades at the moment, since they just came stateside recently, but I'm sure as they get bigger here in the U.S. they will provide more shades for dark skin tones.

The line has so much more to offer.  All of it is fun, from the packaging to the finishes.  You'll definitely be hearing a lot more about this brand from me in the near future. 

Apr 13, 2016

MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Pencils


MAKE UP FOR EVER is introducing the newest addition to their Aqua line; Aqua XL Pencils.  XL stands for extra long wear, which, knowing how long-lasting the original Aqua pencils are, is an incredibly long-wearing eye liner.  The liners are waterproof, sweat proof, and smudge proof. 

The pencils go on super creamy because of a combo of a new dry oil formula and mango butter. 
There are 20 shades, which are a mix of matte, satin, diamond, iridescent, and metallic formulas (indicated by the letter at the beginning of each color name.  S= satin, ME= metallic, etc). 
From left to right: M10 (matte black), D12 (diamond black), M14 (matte dark grey), M16 (matte white), S20 (satin teal), M22 (matte navy), I24 (iridescent teal), M26 (matte sky blue), M30 (matte mint), I32 (iridescent dark green), and I34 (iridescent bright green). 

From left to right: I36 (iridescent green/brown), M40 (matte yellow), ME42 (metallic bronze), S50 (matte taupe), M60 (matte chocolate brown), D62 (diamond brown), M80 (matte dark purple), I90 (iridescent purple), and M92 (matte light purple). 
Photo courtesy of MAKE UP FOR EVER

MAKE UP FOR EVER's new spokesmodel for the campaign is Charli XCX because of her bold stage presence and fun-loving attitude.  Also, who better to showcase a waterproof/sweat proof eyeliner than a pop star that is always performing on stage.   
Aqua XL pencils will be available in May at Sephora stores for $21 each. 

Mar 30, 2016

Benz's Book Club: Inspiration Edition

Writer's block, or any other form of artistic block, plagues many every day.  When I get writer's block, I have to make sure I don't get sucked into a Law & Order SVU marathon.  It's too easy to turn on Bravo and get lost for hours.  For me, a source of inspiration, that helps me unblock, is reading.  Normally, I turn to fiction to wipe out whatever's blocking me and get lost in someone else's world.  On occasion, I turn to inspirational books like the ones listed below.  While some are focused mainly on the craft of writing, some of the books on this list are great reads if you're in any creative field.  One book, I have basically been recommending to every woman I've ever met.  Read on for my inspirational finds.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812996372/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0812996372&linkCode=as2&tag=bebybe-20&linkId=P23DULEPZXZA4VFH

Love, Style, Life, by Garance Dore
You may remember my glowing reviews on How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, and this is right up that alley.  This book is written from a more "creative lifestyle" perspective, since Dore is also a blogger, but it's still written with all the witty French-ness you're hoping for.  Add to the list Dore's stunning photography and illustrations, and you have the ultimate coffee table book.  It's beautiful to look at it, cover to cover, but, more importantly, a great read.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594634718/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1594634718&linkCode=as2&tag=bebybe-20&linkId=LFUCHRHIFNQ6RCEO

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
I know this is a very unpopular opinion, but I did not like Eat, Pray, Love.  Not even for a second.  My Amazon kept recommending Gilbert's newest book to me, and I kept wondering why on earth it kept happening when I so loathed her previous best-seller.  After having a conversation with another blogger friend, where we were discussing my writer's block at that moment, she recommended this book to me.  I gave her my whole spiel on hating Eat, Pray, Love, and she informed me that this book was absolutely unrelated, and helped her when she was completely overhauling her website.  Intrigued, I purchased the book, but with low expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised that Gilbert and I share a lot of the same ideas about how the universe works.   Most importantly, Gilbert addresses a lot of the shame, hesitation, and fear of rejection that holds us back from living our most creative lives.  Regardless of which creative field you're working in, this is an important book about getting over some of our personal hurdles that hold us back. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439156816/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1439156816&linkCode=as2&tag=bebybe-20&linkId=NGRNAUEYVYHRCLFB 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
This book is specifically about writing, by my favorite author.  Stephen King is still killing it with his writing game.  I've already pre-ordered the 3rd book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, which comes out this June.  Needless to say, I'm a big King fan.  I frequently find myself going back to excerpts from On Writing.  You learn about King's relatively normal childhood (is anyone's childhood all that normal anyways?) and realize that you don't need to be messed up in the head to write great stories.  Gilbert makes these points in her book as well, but you don't need to be a martyr in order to be a great artist.  You just need some motivation to get started, and King's book is the perfect motivation.  Really he can do no wrong in my eyes, but I'd say this is the greatest book about the art of writing that has been written.  

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476777098/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1476777098&linkCode=as2&tag=bebybe-20&linkId=SPWBPCJVSC5GCKBO 

Yes of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes
Ok, this book... THIS BOOK.  Every woman should read this book, whether they're in a creative field or not.  This is the woman behind Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal, so you know it's hilarious and tear-jerking.  What was the most amazing thing to me, though, was that Rhimes is just like the rest of us weirdos on this planet.  She may be a creative writing genius, but she has faults.  She has anxiety about stuff.  She has fears.  This book is about overcoming those fears, but not in a holier-than-thou way.  It's SO relatable.  You finish this book feeling like you could be friends with Rhimes.  More importantly, you feel like you, too, can overcome your fears and be your best self.  You can be great.  Shonda believes in you!      

Mar 25, 2016

It's Official. I'm Ouai Addicted.

When I heard that Jen Atkin was launching her hair care line, Ouai, I was one of the first minions in line (aka online) to buy the product.  If you don't know who she is, she's the reason that celebs like the Kardashians, always look on point.  Now I'm not someone who automatically buys something that a Kardashian sister has endorsed.  I don't even own a single Kylie Lip Kit.  I am sort of obsessed with Khlo Money, but I digress.  The thing is, whether you're obsessed with them or not, their hair is flawless.  Always.  So, naturally, when I found out that their hair guru, Atkin, was launching the line I was READY.  I was honestly hoping it would be "just ok" so I wouldn't have to feel like I was always spending my money on it.  The thing is, it's perfect for my hair.  To the point where I'm contemplating throwing out a ton of my other products.  I have fine hair, but the ends are dry and frizz-prone.  I need body and texture, but also moisture.  Well, kids, this stuff could be my holy grail.  I've been using it for a few weeks now and I've been having some of the best hair days of my life, but I've put in next to zero effort.      

Full disclosure, I don't need another beachy wave spray in my life, but of course I went out and bought the Ouai Wave Spray.  You know what?  I have zero regrets.  It gives you a nice matte finish liked you'd expect from this kind of spray, but it feels a LOT less crunchy.  Oh, I should mention here that Atkin put up a bunch of how-to videos on her site, so if you're sort of hair-inept, like me, you can enjoy those.  There's a couple videos about creating beach waves with this product that have basically made this lazy girl's dreams come true.        

The Finishing Créme is supposed to give a "model off duty" kind of finish.  It adds a little smoothing and shine, but still with texture.  Nothing too overdone.  Again, lazy girls?  You can thank me later.  This protects from heat styling, but mostly I've been using it on my hair when it's dry and/or styled already.    

The Texturizing Hairspray is like a texturizer/hairspray/dry shampoo hybrid.  It's like Oribe's Dry texture spray except with more of a hairspray hold.  And more volumizing.  You really don't need a lot of it to get great volume.       

The Dry Shampoo is VERY texturizing.  If you're not someone who is into texture and volume... well, first of all, why the heck not?  But if you don't like texture and volume, then you won't like this formula.  Which is a shame, really, because it doesn't leave any white residue. 

My favorite product of the line, hands down, is the Hair Oil.  I've been using it every single day now since I bought it (I'm guessing it's been about 1 1/2 months).  I have a lot of trouble finding an oil that moisturizes my frizz-prone parts, but doesn't weigh down my fine hair.  It smells incredible.  It gives just the right amount of shine.  It's perfection.  I can't say enough good things about this oil.  It can be used on wet or dry hair, and I've been using it on both since it has heat and UV protection.  I use a pump on my damp hair before styling and then use another pump once my hair is dry.  Now, for hair as thin as mine, 2 pumps is pretty unheard of, but this stuff absorbs into my hair in minutes and just leaves it feeling shiny and not heavy.   

So, in case you haven't noticed, this line is all about voluminous, textural, sexy hair.  But still somehow effortless.  Everything smells clean.  There's a light scent there (Jasmine?) but mostly it just smells fresh.  I'm not even remotely surprised that when Atkin came out with a hair care line that it would be good, but I didn't think it would be THIS GOOD.  I'm thrilled and looking forward to many good hair days ahead.  

Formula X #ColorCurators: Ballet Beautiful

The latest Formula X #ColorCurators collaboration is with the founder of Ballet Beautiful, Mary Helen Bowers.  I'm SO excited about this one, because, as a former dance teacher, this collection speaks to my soul.  I got to celebrate the launch yesterday with a Ballet Beautiful class with Mary Helen herself, and, while I'm sore today as I type this, I'm feeling inspired by the gorgeous Soho studio and the colors of the collection.  Satin Slippers is a pale, peachy pink that Mary Helen worked on matching EXACTLY to a pair of dance slippers.  Lilac Fairy was inspired by the famous Sleeping Beauty ballet; its colors, its tiaras, and all the amazing fantasies that this particular show encompasses.  Ballet Barre is a metallic grey that is inspired by, you guessed it, the barre.  The barre was important for Mary Helen to get in the collection because it is the root of all ballet practice.  
Check out the collection (at Sephora stores now!) below and some images from around the gorgeous Ballet Beautiful studio.    


From left to right: Satin Slippers, Lilac Fairy, and Ballet Barre








Wearing Ballet Barre on my hands, and Satin Slippers on my toes

 

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