Nov 072012

I’ve been living out of suitcases for a while now, trying to balance my beauty goods on the corner of tiny bathroom ledges and stock up on travel sized luxuries. I thought I’d do a quick “Loving Right Now” for a few items that are making life on the road a little easier. I’m really looking forward to the end of the project in a few weeks so that I can cocoon at home and spread out.

1. Travel sized Caudalie Divine Oil ($18/Sephora) and L’Occitane Eau Essentielle Immortelle  mini-spray ($13ish). The full review of this mini-travel Caudalie Divine Oil is here, one of my discoveries in Paris this summer. How delightful that our local Sephora stores carry this wonderful, moisturizing oil in a travel size. I keep one in my desk at work as well, to moisturize my hands and nails throughout the day.

I occasionally stop by any nearby L’Occitane boutique and ask them whether they have any tiny sprays.  Usually, they have a stock of them in the back, former limited editions that haven’t sold out yet. These are wonderful for bringing on flights to add moisture mid-flight. The types of waters and toners varies by season, so do ask. These little in-flight luxuries make those delays much nicer. By the way, this Eau Essentielle Immortelle is a wonderfully moisturizing spray for the dry winter air.

 2. Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lather Shampoo and Paul Mitchell Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment (roughly $20 each on and salons). I know, Paul Mitchell–it’s been years since I’ve thought anything in the line was worth exploring. Hear me out. 

My salon gave me a Wild Ginger treatment, which is a professional treatment. My hair was remarkably softer and smoother, and the stylist suggested that I maintain the look with the Wild Ginger Shampoo and Keratin Intensive Treatment. They are fabulous! They really leave my hair much more moisturized, softer and smoother than my more expensive home cleansers and treatments. They smell gingery too–very pleasant! Even though it was weeks since my in-salon treatment, I found these two products were worth checking out.

3. Perricone MD Formula 15 Serum  ($125). The original review for this product is here. That same evening that I published the review of the bottle sent by Perricone MD without charge to me, my bottle took a dive off of my tiny hotel bathroom ledge. Hysteria ensued. Now I’ve purchased my own. Awesome treatment for tightening, lifting, and generally youth-ifying. I love this and wish they made it in a great big bucket.  A plastic one.

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Jun 142012

I’ve been hearing some buzz about Serge Normant hair care, including the Serge Normat Meta Revive Volumizing Dry Shampoo ($13/2.0). Recently, Neiman Marcus began carrying the line and with a recent free ship code I thought it might be fun to give the travel size a spin.

This Serge Normant Dry Shampoo is an aerosol spray that has a nice unisex scent. It has a powdery, woodsy scent that has a touch of a sophistication that places it above some of the shrill florals that sometimes waft out of hair care products. It applies relatively clear–I found that it did not take a lot of work to get rid of any visual residue after the spray.

Unfortunately, this was not a match made in heaven for me. Although it gave my hair shine and volume, it left behind a stickiness and unmanageability. It was not the sort of stickiness that I was able to brush out, and I wasn’t able to restore my hair to a more manageable softness until the next shampoo.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be using this one up. I may offer it to my hair stylist so that she can try it out–perhaps a pro would have better luck? In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my Oscar Blandi and Kenra choices  (previously discussed here) and keep you posted on my dry shampoo journey.

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May 072012

Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($68/ 5 oz.) is a A-list product for hair. Although I’ve experimented with a shelf-full of leave-in conditioners, heat protectants, and oil, Shu Uemura offers a best-in-class that transforms dry ends into soft, healthy, shiny, luxurious hair with this very lightweight oil with the luxurious scent of camellia petals. It’s one of those rare hair care products that works extremely well and is an extreme pleasure to use.

I became curious about Shu’s Esence Absolue every since I saw this entry on Into the Gloss (what gorgeous hair!). I’ve long been impressed with Shu Uemura’s attention to both beauty and innovation, they are one company who typically delivers simply, effectively, and beautifully.  At this point, my search for a leave-conditioner is over. I have found my holy grail and it is Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue.

Main points:

  • This delivers glorious shine and moisture to dry areas of your hair. It seems to close down any frizzy areas, leaving remarkably soft, smooth, and healthy-looking hair behind.
  • It acts as a leave-in conditioner, by delivering beneficial oils to the hair.
  • The oil has a UV protectant.
  • This is safe on color-treated hair.
How to use:  You can use Shu Uemura Essence Absolue every day, by applying a pump into your palm and applying to dry areas either before or after styling. I’d recommend using it before styling on dry hair, it absorbs very quickly. You can also use it to pre-treat your hair before shampooing as a mask. I usually do this in the leisure of a weekend morning by combing several pumps through dry hair, and clipping up my hair for an hour or so prior to shampooing.
Bottom Line:  Liquid gold. I never, ever want to be without it. Will keep buying until they stop making it.
Here’s a little video about the product:

Available here online and at certain salons. Ingredient list:  Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol, camellia kissi/camellia kissi seed oil, ethylhexyl, mehtoxycinnamate, butylphenyl methylpropional, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitronellal, parfum/fragrance

Shu Uemura Essence Absolue was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review.

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Apr 262012

A few months ago, I stopped washing my hair every day. I realize that this is a controversial statement. Some may find that unthinkable. Others will find it surprising that any rational person would ever consider washing their hair every day. The beauty world imploded when it was discovered that Adele said in a 2008 issue of Glamour Magazine that she only washes her hair with water; and only uses soap every two months or so (for more on that, see She Said Beauty’s post on “Can You Really Avoid Washing Your Hair For Two Months?”).

To catch everyone up, the concept is that washing your hair every day strips out beneficial oils and dries out the hair. Some women embrace the unwashed look without concern–one can virtually see their beneficial oils doing their fabulousness to their tresses, even when pulled back into a pony tail or scooped up into a clip. Others prefer to tame down the oilier parts with a touch of dry shampoo. Over the last few months, I’ve played with a few. And yes, my hair looks miles better since I’ve stopped abusing it.

One thing I noticed right away is that, although I’m not sensitive to most cosmetic scents, the smell of the dry shampoo really mattered to me. Why? The smell seems to cling and become noticeable, unless many blush or foundation scents that seem to fade throughout the day. Dry shampoo scents, it appears, last forever. Looking at various product reviews, I found wide taste variation–some insisted that one dry shampoo smelled the best, another review of the same shampoo found it disgusting. Some of this might be product age–sometimes products “turn” if they aren’t shelf-fresh. But others might be personal taste.

The idea is that the powder absorbs the oil in your hair, extending its life between shampoos. But applying too much dry shampoo seemed to dry out my hair, at least temporarily for the day.  So go easy. You apply a bit, wait 3-5 minutes, then brush it out.  Failing to brush it out can leave white areas of your hair (not pretty). You can always repeat if you didn’t use enough powder the first time.

Here are some thoughts about the ones I did try:

  • Suave is the least expensive (around $2-3 bottle, available at drugstores). I couldn’t stand the smell and threw it out. Sorry, I know its a really popular one. But that’s why it isn’t in the picture, above. Also, it didn’t seem as effective in getting rid of oil.
  • Umburto Beverly Hills (around $8, available at Target) works pretty well and is a fairly low-priced version. The spray was finer than the others that I tried. Not a bad compromise, but the scent wasn’t my favorite.
  • Kenra Color Care Platinum (around $20, in salons) Worked really, really well.  The sprayer seemed to dispense the perfect amount every time. Very easy to brush out. Very effective. The smell is tolerable.
  • Oscar Blandi Proto Dry Shampoo ($21 at Sephora) There are a few dry shampoos in the Oscar Blandi line, I used the non-aerosol version (pictured above). I like that it’s earth-friendly (no propellant), you just shake the bottle to apply the powder. You can squeeze it too if you want a big “poof.” It easy to overdo, because shaking isn’t super precise, and you can get it on clothing if you aren’t careful. The powder works really, really well.  I found the scent the most pleasant of all of these. Easy for travel, because this is a bottle of powder (not an aerosol). It even comes in a travel size ($11 at Sephora for 1 oz.).

My favorite so far is Oscar Blandi’s Pronto (winner winner!!). I reach for the Kenra if I’m already dressed in a dark top, because it’s spray is far more precise, which happens less and less as I incorporate dry shampoo into my early morning beauty routine.

I don’t claim to be any expert on these–I’m really just reporting the results of my beauty experiment.  I know that many women use good old baby powder. Have you tried a dry shampoo? Which do you like? Do you wash your hair everyday? Tell us more….

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Apr 062012

Recently, QVC had a “Today’s Special Value” that featured T3 Voluminous Hot Rollers ($89.88). I’m not a frequent QVC shopper–my last order with the company was in 2008. Nonetheless, the demonstration really impressed me. I mean, which hair would you rather have? I’ll go with the one on the right, please.

The shine and volume that the models achieved was really impressive.

Hair that looked dry and damaged came out bouncy, healthy, shiny, and beautiful.

Since I love my T3 hair dryer, I decided to jump on it.

 The set arrived a few days ago, and I absolutely fell in love with it. My hair is longer than shoulder length, and has been permanently colored for years. Over the last year, I’ve changed hair stylists because I found that my former stylist’s dye was too harsh for my hair. Although it looks much healthier now, the damaged middle-to-end portions will not be grown out for some time. I’ve been looking for ways to restore the shine, life, and smoothness that healthy hair should have.

The set comes with a travel case, a heating base, eight rollers and clamps. The QVC Special Value added an additional four rollers and clamps, for a total of twelve. Unlike the sets of the 1980’s, these rollers have flocked surfaces that don’t superheat hair. The rollers are comfortable, and don’t get very hot at all (about 250 degrees).  The key is to curl without damaging the hair (or as little as possible!). The T3 technology allows the rollers to hold the heat for a full 20 minutes, so the hair gets low heat for a longer time than many other rollers (which heat at a higher temperature, and cool more quickly). These are the small rollers–the mediums use the same base but the rollers are larger. There’s even large diameter rollers. You can buy extra roller sets in pairs if you want to mix up the sizes.

The heating base comes with a power cord that attaches to the back of the unit. Each roller has electrical contacts which must line up with the base to heat the roller.

I had to make sure that the rollers were sitting properly on the base, otherwise they won’t heat up.

 The heating base must be turned on to operate.

 The rollers are super easy to use. The red indicators turn white when they are warm enough. You roll the hair around the flocked surface (hold the rollers by the cool ridges on the ends), put on the clamp and leave on for 20 minutes. The clamp should sit at a 90 degree angle from your scalp, just like in the video below. This keeps the roller in place so that you can move around without any falling out. I found that the rollers, although a tad heavy, stayed in place pretty well when I placed the clamps properly. Also, it’s pretty easy to place the clamps properly–just make sure that they’re standing straight out from your scalp.

Because the rollers have heating elements and insulation inside, you do want to guard against dropping them on a hard bathroom floor (not that you would!). According to the manual, the unit is auto adjusts to the power supply (110-240 volts/ plug configuration adapter needed outside the U.S.)

It comes with a little booklet, but T3 has a Youtube channel that was far more useful. Here’s a taste:

Also, this page on QVC has the on-air demonstration (at the link “Videos” and then the “On Air Presentation”). Seriously, I couldn’t be happier with this set. Although I’m used to curling with a straightening iron, I found that my hair looks so much more voluminous and healthy with the hot rollers. Even my new stylist says that my hair looks fantastic. I absolutely love these.

Although the QVC offer is over, the sets and additional rollers are available from Sephora, Nordstrom, T3’s own website and other retailers like

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Mar 242012

Recently, I picked up Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist ($24/ 4.2 oz.) at my local Sephora to use as a leave-in conditioning treatment. My hair is medium length, fine and I’ve had it permanently colored for years. The ends can get dry, and and I wanted something to smooth and condition.

Being a beauty junkie, I actually spritzed my hair with the Alterna right there on the Sephora sales floor. I know, right-one of those people (in my defense, the store was nearly empty). Anyway, it gave me a soft shine without weighing my fine hair down or making my hair look greasy. I bought the Alterna on the spot. My hair looks much silkier and alive–it even seems to give it a really shiny glint. When I use it, my hair looks soft, shiny, and fully conditioned.

I’ve used Leonore Greyl and Morrocan Oil in the past. I like the fact that the Alterna Bamboo has a spray applicator that has a very fine mist–both of the other choices do not. The Alterna takes two or three spritzes to fully condition my ends, so I don’t have to be too careful about over-doing it on very busy mornings. Also, I far prefer the scent of the Alterna (this is personal, I realize). Although the Leonore Greyl is a strong jasmine scent, it can become a little too strong for my taste.

Contains organic bamboo extract with multiple essential fatty acids (Omegas 3,6,9) and antioxidant tocopherol. Readers will want to know that the ingredients also list dimethicone.

Do you use any leave in conditioner? Please share!

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Jun 022011

As part of my obsession to achieve frizz-free, I tried L’Oreal EverSleek (around $5-6 at drugstores).  This tub of rich conditioner is both silicon-free and sulfate-free, perfect for those who don’t want their hair products to strip color or shine from hair.  I’ve been using this for about two weeks as a daily conditioner, and find it performs extremely well.  After leaving on for 3-5 minutes, my hair rinses clean very easily.  I’ve had no skin break-outs or clogging.  My hair is significantly softer and the frizziness is reduced.  It doesn’t weigh my hair down, or feel heavy.   Highly recommended.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

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