My Love Affair with Beauty Products Week 1

My Love Affair with Beauty Products Week 1

In this week’s episode of “My Love Affair with Beauty Products” I’ll review a handful of my daily products that I use and adore. I would make this one long post but to be honest I love too many products and it would end up being longer than War & Peace. So I’ll keep it short and sweet and weekly.

Week1.1

Bioderma Micellar Water

Cleansing waters have become a staple to many women’s regimen the last several years after the French made them popular due to the harsh waters in Paris. French women also rinse their hair with Evian. I might try that this week too…Micellar cleansers are a no-rinse formula that are designed to be swept away with a cotton pad rather than rinsed off, they use tiny micelle particles to draw make-up (including waterproof mascara), sebum and impurities from the skin. I started using Bioderma a year ago and since then I’ve had the clearest and acne free skin in my life. I use about 2 cotton pads in the morning and between 4-5 at night depending on how much make-up I’m wearing. It has a light scent, no harsh scrubbing is necessary for a good cleanse, and it’s simple and straightforward for lazy girls like me. Swipe, swipe and done. And inexpensive too! A large bottle (569 kc or $23) will last me about 5 months.

La Prairie Anti-Aging Eye Cream SPF 15

This eye cream is such a luxury at night. I love how thick and creamy it feels and in the morning my eyes are plump and hydrated even if I drank a whole bottle of wine the night before. I’m not so much concerned with the SPF 15 since I only wear it at night but I’m all about anything anti-aging right now. It’s pumped full of botanicals to reduce the look of wrinkles (it won’t get rid of them, get Botox for that!) but it will help smooth out crows feet and give your eyes a boost if your skin is dry. The instructions say to use it during the day but it’s my night cream because of how thick it is. I slather it on pretty heavy before bed right before I say my prayers to the wrinkle gods.

Sephora Pearl Brightening Eye Masks

These little gems will change your life. Especially after a weekend of too much wine and not enough sleep. They’re a little slimy when pulling them out of the package but once you get them set under your eyes then they’ll stay put. Just 15 minutes and after you peel them off make sure you rub in all the left over serum and bam, mind blown.

Week1.3

Laila London Marula Facial Oil

Since moving to Prague and now living through my second winter here I’ve seriously had to change up my winter skincare routine. Eastern Europe is no joke compared to Midwest winters. It’s almost a part-time job staying moisturized all day. In the morning after I cleanse my face and apply vitamin C serum I started using a marula oil with jojoba and rosehip oil extracts. Marula oil is becoming the new “It” oil (sorry Argan!) and I’m completely in love with it. I used Josie Maran’s argan oil years ago when I was living in the states but over the years I moved back to other creams and potions to moisturize. I tend to get oily on my nose and forehead and was breaking out a lot when I was using argan oil but I have since cut dairy and sugar from my diet and breakouts are nixed now. So after reading articles on the new skincare trends for 2016 I decided to go back to oil again, we’re a couple again. The Laila London Marula Facial Oil contains Marula Oil, Argan, Grapeseed, Sunflower Oil, Jojoba, Apricot Oil, Rosehip, Vitamin E, Carrot Seed Oil, Rose, Geranium, Lavender, Neroli, Lemon, Myrrh and combined they are a powerhouse of antioxidants, cell renewal and collagen production. I only need about 1 pump in the morning and feel moisturized all day, it has a very light scent, after only using it for 5 weeks I notice a huge difference in my complexion. Usually in the winter I get ruddy cheeks and I haven’t even needed to use foundation. 5 stars in my book.

 

Week1.2

Sano Naturals Vitamin C Serum w/Hyaluronic Acid 20%

This is by far the number one product that I can attribute my fabulous skin to, I should really buy stock in the company too..I did a lot of research this last summer about skincare in your 30’s, preventative anti-aging etc etc., and I kept reading about vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid in nearly every article. Sano Naturals has one of the best natural and affordable products on the market. I’ve been using daily for 7 months and the results are phenomenal. My complexion is smooth and clear, breakouts non-existent and my dermatologist told me last week I have great skin. Coming from a Czech doctor, that’s the highest compliment ever! I only use this in the morning, after cleanser and before moisturizer, also on my neck and décolletage, I’ll be damned if I put in all this work on my face and end up with a turkey neck and old lady décolletage. I go through about a bottle every 3-4 months but it’s $11.00 so you won’t break the bank at all.

 

Most of these products I have to buy on Amazon because they’re not here in the Czech Republic so below are the links I use:

Bioderma Crealine (Sensibio) H2O Micelle Solution

Laila London Marula Oil

Sano Naturals Vitamin C Serum

 

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Just Another Victim of the Pixie Cut

Just Another Victim of the Pixie Cut

We’ve all been there at one point in our life, trying to decide what the f*ck to do with our hair to make it look like we’re not in the growing out phase. Ah yes, the growing out the pixie phase. Going through it will definitely award you another girl scout badge of honor and you’ll always think twice (or thrice) when your hairstylist suggests going short because it’ll make your eyes *pop*! Just say no. Once in a lifetime is once too many. I, like so many other women out there have lived through the awkward phases and now that I’m one solid year into my growth I feel I have some worthy tips and tricks to pass on to the next generation of chop shop victims.

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February 2015

1. You’ll see it on every blog and praised by celebrities left and right but they’re all onto something, VIVISCAL. I didn’t start taking it until about 6 months into my growing phase and I wish I had from day one, I’d be Rapunzel by now. This little vitamin has a hair growth punch that just can’t be matched. In truth, it does take around 3 months for it to really kick in but when it does then the results are amazing. I haven’t been able to find them in the Czech Republic so I rely on Amazon for my fix, Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets, 60-Tablets.

2. Along with Viviscal I also take 5,000 mcg of biotin everyday. Now not everyone can take biotin, a lot of women have reported that the most severe side effect of it is acne. I held off adding it to my regimen because of that worry but after about a week of no breakouts then I patted myself on the back and plowed on.

3. Put down the blow-dryer. And curling iron. And flatiron. It’s not like you have much hair to curl anyway! Heat damages your hair and right now you need the least amount of damage inflicted on your head as possible. Besides, the whole natural look is in now, embrace it. For the first 6 months or so of growing I would shower at night, add a little texturizer in it and sleep on it. I rocked bedhead for most of 2015. Now that my hair length is all even and I’ve regrown my volume back, I still wash it at night and will use the curling iron/flatiron sparingly for special occasions once a week or so.

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May 2015-Pardon my schluppiness, I was working in Iraq then…

3. Pick your products wisely. I used to LOVE switching up my hair products and trying every new bottle under the sun but this last year I’ve wizened up and realized that those 50+ unpronounceable ingredients aren’t the best to put on my baby locks. I’ve now switched to only natural, organic products or homemade. My favorites are Pura d’Or Argan Oil shampoo, a locally made olive oil conditioner, my own batch of leave-in conditioner of coconut milk/jojoba oil/coconut oil and a weekly moisturizing treatment of egg/full-fat yogurt/jojoba oil. Keep it simple ladies. You can find it on Amazon here, Pura d’or Premium Organic Argan Oil Anti-Hair Loss Shampoo (Gold Label), 16 Fluid Ounce.

4. There seems to be a toss-up between getting trims and not getting trims during this stage. Personally I have gotten trims just because I am a firm believer in the damage that split-ends can wreak on your progress. I am forever trying to explain this to my Love and he just shrugs his shoulders. You can’t fix split ends after they’re there. You can only trim them off. But if you keep them growing too long then they’ll grow up the shaft of your hair then you have to trim more. And we don’t have that much to trim off to begin with. So trim them off! I only had 2 major trims during the entire year to help shape my hair as it hit certain stages. Oh, and the duck tail. God bless the duck tail. If you don’t keep that in check then you’ll have a party in the back before you know it. I would trim the nape of my neck every 3-4 weeks, it wasn’t the most graceful trim but there’s no way around that when you’re holding a compact mirror in one hand and trimming scissors in the other.

5. Don’t do what I did around month 9 and drink a bottle of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, watch a lot of Mad Men and decide I wanted bangs and to be a red head. The bangs happened shortly after glass 3 and I drunk messaged my stylist on Facebook and made an appointment to go red that week. She graciously cleaned up my attempt at bangs and through no fault of her own I walked out of the salon with Paramour orange hair. I cried that day. And drank more wine. She let me come back a few days later to go a lot darker red but the only thing I learned from all of that pain was that natural blondes DO NOT hold hair color very well. A week after that incident my Love and I went on vacation to Costa Rica to meet my future in-laws for the first time and my red had faded to a very dry and brittle orange again and I couldn’t do anything about it.

HairBangs

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October 2015-Post bangs and red decision

6. Which leads me to the next point…Avoid damaging your hair as much as possible. Between the two hair colorings and the subsequent bleaching after coming home from Costa Rica, my hair was dry and brittle and now had tons of split ends. So that drunken night cost me who knows how much hair growth. It took me a month of intense weekly moisturizing treatments and daily leave-in treatments to repair the damage and just a minor trim with my stylist to tweak the ends. And she’s still chuckling about bangs decision…To combat the brassiness from the bleaching I use L’Oreal Paris Professional Silver shampoo once or twice a week.

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November 2015-Post bleach (sorry for the nipple shot)

My hair is now chin length and my bangs are manageable now (I don’t even style them as bangs, just brushed to the side) so at this point it’s just maintenance and patience. And deep breaths. And lots of long hair envy on the metro. And wine.

 

Hello, my name is Jess. I am a Beauty Junkie.

Hello, my name is Jess. I am a Beauty Junkie.

It’s another beauty junkie day! I love and loathe these days, I love getting treatments and improving my skin but I’m such a baby when it comes to pain. Today I’m having a second (and hopefully last) Co2 laser treatment to remove a mole on my nose, laser rejuvenation on my face (second step following a chemical peel two weeks ago), and a second session of radiofrequency micro-needling of stretch marks on my arse. Neither of these conjure up the tranquil spa feel as if I were getting a two hour massage or soaking in a mud bath but they’re still a necessary evil. All in the name of beauty!

Honestly, I really don’t think my Love comprehends what all goes into keeping up with this body. I’ll tell him I had this done or that done today and he responds with something like “Why? You have great skin.” Well of course I do Sherlock, because I get these treatments done..Boys think we wake up looking like this still.

So I found my forever dermatology clinic in Praha 4,BcD Clinic and I’ve been over the moon with them. Dr. Begerova is phenomenal and has an excellent and warm bedside manner, which is lacking with most Czech doctors, but that’s another post…I first found the clinic when I was obsessively googling how to reduce stretch marks and knew that topical creams just weren’t going to cut it anymore. Now mine aren’t earth shattering but like every other woman in the world they’re enough to make me self-conscious naked. I had read an article about the effects of radiofrequency micro-needling for stretch marks and decided to give it a try. It’s basically a micro-needle machine that pricks your skin deep enough to “damage” the tissue in which your body will produce and send collagen to the affected area to repair. Sounds simple enough and no witchy woo creams promising miracles!

My first session was a little uncomfortable just because I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been in some interesting situations and positions at salons and spas (hello arse wax!) and this was no different. I had numbing cream applied to my butt cheeks and sat for 45 minutes then laid on a table for 20 minutes while the technician proceeded to obliterate my stretch marks. I wouldn’t say the procedure is pleasant nor unpleasant. The machine definitely causes some pain but it’s more aggravating than bringing me to tears. So I’ve had 2 sessions and will go for a third in a few weeks but I already see an improvement after the first. According to Dr. Bergerova I should need 3-4 to see a drastic improvement in mine, fingers crossed.

After the needle slaughter of my butt cheeks I then had my laser rejuvenation. This was the first time I’ve ever had this done so I had no idea what to expect. Since turning the dirty 30 this summer I’ve become obsessed with anti-aging (and becoming an immortal vampire) so I’ve seriously stepped up my skincare game. Two weeks ago I had my first light chemical peel and the good doctor suggested a rejuvenation as a two-step procedure. Of course I said! I can honestly say that was the most painful procedure to date I’ve ever had on my face. It felt like a mini-sandblaster was attacking me, a hot sandblaster. She did three passes over my face then applied a soothing cream and told me to come in for another one in 3 weeks. I almost cried. The shit I put myself through sometimes..

My skin felt super tight on the way home, and yesterdays 20F didn’t help but as soon as I slathered my Embryolisse moisturizer and poured a glass of wine I felt better.

Tattoo Regrets

Tattoo Regrets

30% of the world’s population has tattoos and the current population is 7 billion people. That’s a lot of ink! But how many people regret getting their tattoo(s)? I’m definitely one of them! I regret getting all 4 of mine to be exact. At the time I got them I was going through a rebel bad girl phase that was partly brought on by the current job I had in Afghanistan. Guns, danger and tattoos go hand in hand and I just kept the ink rolling for a few years. Now that I’ve come up for air, cleared my head and realized that I don’t like the way I look wearing my traditional little black lace dresses with massive tattoos on my leg and arm. So I’ve been obliterating them from my body for the last several months through laser removals. Two words. Pain train.  My first session was at an esthetic clinic in Praha 1 and I wasn’t happy with them. I started with my forearm tattoo and they didn’t want to zap it all at once but had me come back once a week for three weeks. It’s not a huge tattoo and I think they didn’t have a lot of experience in tattoo removals. I’ve since found my forever clinic at BeautyPro Studio and they are incredible affordable, very professional and all of their technicians are certified masters on their laser (Q-Switched Nd Yag). I just went in for my fourth session on my forearm tattoo and my first session on my left ribcage tattoo. In two weeks I will go in for my first session on my hip and two weeks after for my first on my leg. And my Love had his first session on my forearm while he was home on break in October and the next day the results were amazing. Unfortunately my tattoos are about a decade newer and better quality (sorry Love!) so they’re taking a little more zaps to remove but overall I’m still happy with the results. I wish I could post videos of the laser in progress but because of the high intensity the technician hasn’t allowed me to take video or photos during. They would probably be filled with F-bombs anyway. But I do have several photos of this last session posted below and I will keep adding more as each session is completed on ALL of these bastards.

BirdTat1

This is my first tattoo, circa 2012. Luckily it was just gray ink and shaded so the clinic thinks I will only need 2-3 sessions. The photo is about 6 hours after the treatment, red and slightly swollen but still not as bad as my arm sessions. The photo below is of the tattoo 2 weeks later. Definite fading but I won’t go back for the next session for another 4 weeks.

ArmTat1.png

Fair warning! My forearm photos are gnarly! It always bleeds and gets crazy swollen. This is my fifth session and I kinda screwed myself for two of those. My arm was healing (superficially) by 4 weeks after the sessions so I was going in every month for 3 sessions but I noticed that they hurt a lot more and I wasn’t seeing very good fading in between. When I went in for my third session the technician told me I should really wait 8 weeks in between to allow my body to really purge all the ink and let my skin tissue fully heal. So I waited 3 months this time (was traveling a lot and missed my 8 week mark) and I also had her increase the intensity of the laser (she doubled!). I’m praying I see even better results and fingers crossed it’s gone by summer. So with the doubled intensity I was hurting…and the aftercare was even more important because of the increased risk of infections.

ArmTat2

The morning after..not pretty.

armtat4

One week later, no longer bandaged and I’m already seeing some fading. God I love progress…Next session is on my hip next week. Sigh.

New Year, New To-Do’s

New Year, New To-Do’s

So..I’ve become very obsessed with making To-Do lists over the last several years and starting a blog has always been pushed to the next month, then the next year etc..But this year I am finally doing it! I think part of my procrastination was not knowing how to begin, and thinking everyone is blogging and I’ll have nothing to contribute. But then I thought I am forever googling how to do this, or what is that, or what is the perfect lipstick for blondes and I’ll peruse hundreds of blogs in a week easily. So why not add mine to the mix? I love reading reviews of products, beauty treatments and salons but there aren’t many blogs by expats for expats (excepts expats.cz) specifically for spas, salons, doctors, or products in Prague. Now I love this city, I love living in the heart of Europe and my transition this last year from Midwest girl to European woman has been worthy of a Netflix documentary series but I am sick and tired of reading blog after blog after blog of where to eat in Prague, itineraries for 2,3, or 4 day trips to Prague, the top 10 sites to see and on and on and on. I wanted more daily living info and because I didn’t have any girlfriends to lean on for my girlish endeavors it made for some stressful times and wasted money. So this will be my contribution to the expat ladies of Prague, my raves and rants of my favorite things in life, my IKEA obsession, travel tips I’ve developed after years of globe trotting, oh and planning my dream wedding in New York City!