How to grow out your eyebrows painlessly!

Brows define the face. In fact, a good brow can make a face look great without makeup. I am totally guilty of over plucking my eyebrows. I have been doing it wrong since high school. It all started my freshman year: I got my brows waxed for the first time and I looked AMAZING! Unfortunately I thought I could keep up with the look by myself and started to tweeze the stray hairs as they grew in. BIG MISTAKE! It took me 25 years to realize that eyebrows are “sisters”, not “twins”.

What do you do about it? We all know that to stop tweezing those itty bitty stray hairs are easier said than done. I don’t know anyone that can stand the feeling of that one hair out of place. Personal restraint from pulling that little hair screaming at you is like dieting during the holidays. It’s torture.

Here’s my tried-and-true method for dealing with the awful phase of re-populating those precious little hairs:

  1. STOP TWEEZING! At all cost. Don’t do it. This is your intervention.eyebrow safety razor
  2. Use a safety razor meant for small areas on the face (see picture). This is the holy grail of growing out your eyebrows! Use the razor to closely cut the little stubbly hairs that are desperately trying to gain real estate on your brows. Be gentle, go slow. Wet the area you intend to shave with water and a little facial lotion. You don’t want to give yourself razor burn. Be careful not to accidentally shave the hairs that are already long and happily living in the right place. With this technique you will have smooth skin with no visible stubble for nearly 24 hours. YOU CAN DO THIS EVERY DAY until you have populated enough hairs in your little eyebrow farm.Anastasia clear brow gel
  3. When you are ready to see the fruits of your labor, let those little sprouts GROW! Within two weeks you will have hair
    long enough to fill in with a eyebrow pencil and powder. I promise, you will feel human again. With an angled brush, use a brow powder to create the shape and an eyebrow pencil to build wax on the hairs that create volume.
  4. Brush the hairs and use an eyebrow gel to hold the brows in place. I love Anastasia brow gel. It’s very sticky yet doesn’t coagulate like glue. At $22.00 it’s worth every penny, I promise.

The most important thing is to remain patient as your hairs grow out. They will grow out weird, but will eventually straighten themselves out. If you must remove the hairs that seem to grow on your eyelids, go ahead, pluck away. For the fine and fuzzy hairs that come in LEAVE THEM BE! If you must shape your brows use your safety razor. At least your eyebrows will still be there and you won’t be consistently damaging each of your hair follicles. And while they are goofy, you can at least count on brow gels and makeup to support your endeavor until they grow out in the correct direction. Expect your hairs to be back to their fullness and normal shape within a year. Then find yourself a proper eyebrow artist to maintain a crisp shape because you probably cannot be trusted to be your own “hair maintenance manager” from now on! Good luck!

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An Introduction to Chemical Peels


I LOVE chemical peels!

Before discovering chemical peels I had a good skin care habits yet my skin was dry, uneven, and I had many issues with recurring cystic acne. No matter what expensive cream or facial cleanser I used, I just couldn’t get my skin to look nice.

Things didn’t change for me until I met medical esthetician, Elizabeth Weiler, Owner of Med E Spa. Elizabeth educated me and encouraged me to begin doing a series of chemical peels every year. With Elizabeth’s help my skin has become soft, even in color, and with fewer fine lines for my age. I haven’t had a cystic pimple in YEARS! I am in my 30’s and I really enjoy being told I look “twenty something”!

The idea is to “bulldoze” the face to encourage the skin to produce healthy new cells. I thought it would be fun to document what it is like to get a series of facial treatments at a med spa. I also thought it would be nice to describe some basic information regarding the types of peels available and how to prepare for receiving them.

My Experience:

Visit 1 (initial visit in the series):

First thing Elizabeth did was dermaplane my face. A light alpha hydroxy mask and a heavy extraction followed the dermaplaning. The goal was to prep my skin to absorb further treatments.

Visit 2 – Chemical peel #1 (a couple days after the dermaplaning and alpha hydroxy mask):

After my face “cooled off” we did a superficial chemical peel (salicylic acid) with a “modified Jessner” solution. The salicylic acid aides in the breakdown of congested skin and the Jesner reduces signs of sun damage.

Here are some pictures to show the progression of my face after the chemical peel:

Day one – 9 hours after application: My face looks shiny and wind burned. There’s some tightness and a little residual peppery feeling from the initial application of the peel.


Day two – 21 hours after application. I feel some sensitivity similar to sunburn. The texture of my skin does not feel much different than usual yet it looks like there have been changes. The abrasions you see near my eye and cheek were extractions that required the proper use of a lancet.


Day two – 27 hours – after light foundation application. It was relatively easy to cover up the redness from the peel. I was able to go to work without feeling insecure about the appearance of my skin.


After airbrush makeup application (I had a date… this chemical peel won’t stop me!):


Day three – My skin feels tight yet it also feels like it is hovering over my under layers of skin. It definitely feels like the top layer is foreign. I can feel the texture of my skin starting to break up on my chin. The look of my skin is rough, as if I’ve aged and all my wrinkles are apparent. I know that I don’t usually have many lines on my face so I won’t freak out. I know that is just looser layer of yucky skin.


Day three – First signs of flaking. Flakes were highlighted by a HEAVY application of sunblock (Obaji Medical Nu-Derm Sun Shield SPF 50). My face itches.


Day 4 and 5 – I look terrible! But I know it’s for the greater good! I have to remember to not pick the skin off of my face! NEVER try to remove the dead the skin flakes before they are ready to fall off.





Two days later – While the flaking and peeling have ended I notice my wrinkles have become more prominent. I freaked out a little but calmed down after contacting Elizabeth. She explained to me that this was a temporary effect due to a lack of “superficial moisture” also know as Glycosaminoglycan – GAGs. GAGs have several functions and in this case they promote the ability of the collagen and elastin fibers to retain moisture.

Visit 3 – Chemical peel #2 – Two weeks later. (I didn’t have time to document all of the changes with photos). Rest assured my skin went through the same stages of peeling as the last time.

The third peel I received was a Glycolic Acid peel. The Glycolic peel felt tingly and needle-like while the others felt hot and somewhat spicy. Elizabeth allowed me to use a fan on my face during the process. It was mildly uncomfortable for only a short period of time. Over the years I have gotten used to the burning sensations.

Here is my face directly after the peel (the sun was in my eyes!). Notice that I am not wearing any makeup other than mascara. I had already shown improvement from the last session. This next peel really pushed my skin to produce healthy cells.


I really love the way my skin looks and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Now that you have heard my experience I want to provide you with a little more information:

What is a chemical peel and why do we want them?

As we age, our skin’s natural ability to slough dead skin cells and replicate healthy new cells diminishes. A chemical peel is an acid that provides a controlled burning of the upper layers of the skin. This burning of the skin jump-starts the body’s natural ability to rejuvenate the production of new skin cells. The end result is an evener skin tone, minimized pores, reduced fine lines, reversal of sun damage, reduction of bacteria causing acne, and a general improvement in the appearance of the skin.

Where can you get a chemical peel?

The strength of a chemical peel determines where you can get the treatment as well as who can administer it:

Light exfoliators – provide light surface exfoliation and minimal results. These types of treatments can be bought over the counter from places such as Sephora or Ulta. i.e. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula or Peter Thomas Roth’s AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel.

Superficial peels – only affect the epidermal layer and can be administered by any licensed and trained medical esthetician working under a physician. This is the most popular type of procedure and is the focus of this article. Medical estheticians typically work in a med spa (plastic surgeon or dermatologist office). This differs from estheticians found in spas typically associated with beauty salons.

Medium to deep chemical peels- penetrate the dermal layer and stimulate the production of collagen. A physician can only administer these peels.

Types of chemical peels:

There are many types of acids used in superficial peels. Any combination of these acids can be administered at a med spa by a medical esthetician to produce varying amounts of peeling. The amount of peeling (or depth of chemical burn) is determined by the initial condition of your skin.

Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA):

There are 5 types of alpha hydroxy acids: glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, and citric. Glycolic and lactic acid are the most commonly used at med spas. Malic, tartaric, and citric are weaker acids that are most commonly used as exfoliates found in over the counter skin care products. Alpha hydroxy acids are relatively weak and contain minimal risk in their use. Alpha hydroxy acid is more effective the longer it is left on the skin.

Beta-hydroxy Acid (BHA):

Salicylic Acid peels – These peels are a self-neutralizing acid that can be layered to produce different effects. The more layers applied, the more peeling you will experience. Salicylic acid peels are most commonly used for acne, enlarged pores, oily skin, and hyper-pigmentation in dark-skinned patients. Salicylic acid is also used to pave the way for receiving other, more aggressive treatments that penetrate at a deeper level. Salicylic acid is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is considered generally safe for people with sensitive skin.

*If you are allergic to Tylenol, do not use Salicylic acid.

Jessner’s peels:

Jessner’s peels or “Modified” Jessner’s peels – A Jessner’s peel contains an equal combination of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol. Like a salicylic acid peel, a Jessner’s peel is self-neutralizing and can be layered. This peel is great for reducing hyper-pigmentation and acne. It can also be used to prime the skin for more aggressive treatments administered by a physician. Most peels created are considered modified Jessner’s peels.

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) Peels:

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is a medium-depth, self-neutralizing peel that is usually administered by a physician. TCA comes in different concentrations and should be used with caution.

Phenol Peels:

While not frequently used, Phenol provided a very deep chemical burn. Phenol peels are not recommended because other medium-depth peels can be used to provide the same result with less down time. Phenol is considerably toxic, uncomfortable to receive, and requires local or general anesthesia.

How to “prepare” for a Chemical peel procedure:

After consulting with your medical esthetician, you may be advised to use varying products or treatments to prime the skin prior to receiving a chemical peel. Examples include creams, exfoliation treatments, facial cleansers, and masks:

*Retin-A (Tretinoin) – a form of vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself.

*Salicylic Acid – from the bark of a willow tree, Salicylic Acid is a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. This acid is the main ingredient in tylenol (a fever reducer and pain reliever). In lower percentages it is found in acne creams, foot creams (to treat warts), shampoos that treat dandruff, and Pepto-Bismol.

*Derma Planing / Epidermal Leveling / Blading – a manual exfoliant that removes the outer most layers of dead skin cells. Treatment is performed by using a #10 sterile surgical blade held against the skin at a 45 degree angle and stroked along the skin in a shaving-like motion.

*Microdermabrasion – tiny crystals are sprayed onto the skin to gently remove the outer layer of the skin. Modern versions of microdermabrasion use wands with a diamond tip instead of crystals.

*Skin lightening creams – work to reduce melanin pigment in the skin.

Some precautions:

DO NOT self diagnose or self treat a medical condition. All procedures mentioned in this article should be discussed with your doctor first.

Chemical peels affect the epidermal layer of the skin and result in photosensitivity. An SPF of 30 or higher is recommended for a minimum of 2 weeks following a treatment.

Do not wax any part of the face at least two weeks before or two weeks after a chemical peel. Please follow aftercare instructions carefully.
Please be sure that your esthetician reviews your medical history and goes over any questionable health issues.

If pregnant or nursing do not receive a chemical peel.

Essie Nail Polish Review

Essie Nail Polish Review

Essie Nail Polish Review

On a whim I purchased two nail polishes by Essie. I must admit that I was super impressed and decided that Essie’s “Mint Candy Apple” and “Lapis of Luxury” nail polishes deserved a review. If I had to coin an expression to fit my emotional response to these nail polishes, it would be “artistic expression”.

My Review:

I admit I’m a sucker for mint greens and pastels this season. Just add a little hint of coral from last summer, and lemme tell ya, I am in color heaven! The hues are rich and very shiny; “Mint Candy Apple” has just enough blue to make it not too earthy with just the right amount of white to make it pop. “Lapis of Luxury” has a great balance of purple, blue, and gray to make it the perfect color for Summer.

At first coat I was a little concerned the application wouldn’t be opaque to my expectations, but, I was pleasantly surprised as the second coat managed to do the job. Not only are both polishes pretty, I was really shocked at how quickly these colors dried. After adding a quick dry/cuticle oil for safety, I was happy to see the color hold without any dulling. I highly recommend checking these two colors out, by themselves or together.



How to clean your makeup and brushes

 Chicago Makeup Artist

Occasionally I work with talent that brings their own makeup. Sometimes they bring their own out of fear that an artist will not be available or out of personal preference for their specific brand. Often, their bags look very dingy and in need of some major tender loving care. This article is dedicated on how to clean your makeup and brushes.

I got to thinking about how we treat our pretty makeup packages after we glowingly come home with them and ceremonially place them in our caboodle or bag. It doesn’t take long before we toss them around, drop shadows on the floor, keep products we don’t use, and apply them with dirty brushes! I myself have a bag covered in a film of broken powders and eye pencil remains and I am guilty, guilt, guilty of hoarding makeup I don’t like! I am also given quite a bit of makeup for free from companies that I have worked with. I can’t possibly use all of this stuff before it expires. I know you’re thinking, HEY! GIVE YOUR EXTRAS TO ME! Visit me in my salon and I have have a little basket of free samples and goodies for clients to sift through. Moving on…

How do we keep our makeup supplies neat and tidy?

Here are a few steps you can take to live a happy and sanitary makeup life:


makeup you have not used within the last 6 months. That “tinker bell” glitter you have been holding onto since grade school has probably had its day in the sun and shouldn’t be renting space in your beauty supply closet.


broken packaging. Tape, pin, rubber band, or MacGyver your way through those broken pieces of plastic. If you want to take it a step further, depot your shadows into a Z-Palette. The Z-Palette saves space and makes it easier to see what colors you own in a pretty display. Click here for instructions how to de-pot your makeup. If you want to repair broken powders, you can press it back together with a few drops of 99% alcohol or Beauty So Clean. I don’t personally like doing this with my broken powders because it messes with the integrity of the oils in the makeup. I prefer to place broken powders loosely in new containers.


all surfaces with a baby wipe damp with alcohol. A paper towel damp with alcohol is also sufficient.


I cannot stress how important it is to clean your brushes. It is unsanitary to reuse a brush as well as ineffective in applying makeup.It is unsanitary because once you touch your brush to an area where there is inflammation or lesion on the skin (such as a pimple or acne), you risk transferring the same bacteria to other areas of the face that are otherwise healthy. A dirty brush is ineffective in applying makeup because it muddies the true color of the product. For example, you cannot use a brush dipped in black and brown and then try to swipe a cream or light pink over the lid with the same brush! You are an artist and the tools your use on your canvas should be clean so that you get the best results! For the average consumer, I recommend cleaning your brushes with a hair shampoo. It is gentle on the brushes and very effective. If you want to splurge, purchase Cinema Secrets brush cleaner or MAC Cosmetics brush cleanser. I tend to use a bar soap found at the art store called the Masters Brush Cleaner.

Bridal Trial

Bridal Trial Runs

You’ve decided that you want to look flawless for your wedding day and will hire a professional hair stylist and makeup artist to execute the job. It is important that you look your best and the additional cost of a bridal trial will prove to make your day run a little more smoothly. Here’s some advice:

– Test-drive the artist –

You wouldn’t buy an expensive car without taking it for a spin. Your artist should be clean, punctual, and organized. In addition, your artist should be patient, a good listener, friendly, and skilled. Most importantly, a professional should be able to adjust to your preferences.

– Wear your bridal trial hair and makeup for a few hours –

Notice if your look will last an entire day of pictures, hugs, dancing, and kisses.  If you have the time, consider using a professional for your engagement photos, engagement party, or wedding shower.

– Make sure you look and feel like yourself –

Sometimes a bride has a tendency to want their makeup heavy with a lot of dazzle. They feel it is their one and only day to look super glam. Be careful, you want to avoid looking overdone.  Your look should be timeless. Play dress up another day.

– Know your theme –

Do you want to look beachy casual or channel something from the 1940’s era? Don’t know your theme? Find pictures that appeal to you in bridal magazines or Pinterest. A professional hair stylist will help you decide which look is best for your hair density, length, and texture. They can also offer to cut, color, or add extensions to your hair before, during or after your wedding trial. A professional makeup artist can help you choose the best makeup look as well.

– Simplicity is best –

You want to flatter your natural beauty, not draw attention to one aspect of your look. In other words, the hair, makeup, and dress should look like a natural part of YOU. If you want your hair to look elaborate and ornamental, consider working that into the back of the hairstyle. Just note that if your wedding dress has a lot of decoration in the back, consider toning down the hair intricacies so that there is some balance in the look. You paid a lot of money to wear that dress for one day, don’t confuse the audience.

– A bridal trial run allows you the time to work out the details –

It is here you will finalize the hair accessory style, the accessory placement, and possible haircut/color recommendations.

– Schedule your bridal trial 7 -8 weeks prior to your wedding day –

Allow at least 3 hours to execute the trial for both hair and makeup. If you have a bridal trial for only hair or makeup, expect the appointment to run about an hour and a half. You do not want to rush the consultation or the artist. Your trial will ultimately prepare all parties for quicker execution on your wedding day.

– Bring a friend who will give an honest and objective opinion –

Please only bring one person with you to the trial run. It’s a fun and exciting experience yet you don’t want to lose focus on the task because you have a wild audience.

– Make sure the artist takes notes! –

Make sure the artist writes notes about the products used. They should take a picture for their reference as well. At the closing of the bridal trial you should receive a contract and go over scheduling details.

– Dress comfortably and EAT something prior to the bridal trial –

Sitting with an artist for up to three hours means that your blood sugar will likely be low. Bring a snack or eat well enough so that you can be totally present and focused. Wear comfortable clothes and a shirt that somewhat mimics the neckline of your dress. Also realize that you will look less ‘made up’ once you are wearing your beautiful wedding dress!

– Relax and have fun! –


Click to see  wedding menu and prices. 

Chicago Photographers

I have a few favorite Chicago photographers to suggest:

For a whimsical touch see wedding photographers Chris and Cassie Scott: Camera Obscura Photos 

For the best in model testing with the most natural look see Bryan Whitely: Bryan Whitely Photography

For commercial print ads that are both interesting and crisp see Rachel Hanel: R Hanel Photography 


Colorist Tom Dispenza – Class Overview

Here is an overview of a class led by colorist Tom Dispenza for Cosmetologists Chicago on 4/1/13:

– Eye color is an indication of how hair will lighten.

– A clarifying shampoo prior to color service will aid in gray coverage near the hairline and temples.

– Using neutrals in red formulations are unnecessary and can actually add unwanted violet tones to the final product.

– Hair grows an average length of six inches per year.

– As we age our hairs internal structure changes. In fact, as our hair ages, it grows more and more likely to contain a hallow core called a medula. The medula is what makes most gray hair appear more stiff and “wirey”. Very interestingly, the medula is also the material that makes up a porcupines needles (quills).





I was happy to be a part of the Comedy short DATE OF THE MONTH.

The short features Chicago Second City Mainstage actress Holly Laurent

The short was accepted into the LA Web Fest 

Date of the Month Club

Created by Blythe Haaga & Ben Fast
Written by Blythe Haaga
Directed & Edited by Ben Fast
Produced by Ben Fast, Blythe Haaga, and John Sabine

Holly Laurent
Blythe Haaga
John Sabine
Joey Romaine
Lily Sullivan
Maria Randazzo
Dannielle Owens-Reid

Music & Theme by Michael Malarkey
DP — Mike Bove
B-Cam — Corey Powers
Sound — Ben Stockton
Make-Up — Jennifer Johnson

Building a Headdress

For no reason I have decided to build a hair piece that defies gravity. Pictures will post as I progress!





Hair Extensions


Hair Extensions

Hair extensions are a fabulous way to accentuate your current style! Hair extensions can be used to accentuate a bridal hairstyle on your wedding day or add length and volume to your day-to-day look. There are many hair extensions available at different price points. Hair extensions are chosen after completing a detailed consultation with the client.

Types of hair extensions:

Clip in hair extensions

These are the most commonly purchased hair extensions for bridal hair styles. Hair extensions are 100% human hair (remy) and are fitted to the client. Average cost is $250; including the fitting. Clip in hair extensions are also recommended for the client who seeks to add volume to hair that is already lengthy for special occasions – specifically for hairstyles that are down and curly. Remy Hair is considered to be the finest quality of human hair because the cuticles are kept intact and not stripped, like in most other hair extensions. Remy hair is also prepared under a microscope in order to make sure that the cuticle is placed in the proper direction of natural growth. This creates extensions that are completely natural in appearance, soft, shiny, silky and completely tangle-free throughout its lifetime. It is the best for achieving natural, long-lasting curls.

Micro – tube hair extensions

Clients are offered Dream Catcher brand hair extensions. Dream Catcher hair extensions are the best in the industry and are the most ideal for  long-term wearability and function.

Positive attributes of micro-tube hair extensions:

-No damage – no glue, solvents, wax, heat, or clips are required. This leaves the hair free from traction, mechanical, or heat damage.

-Widest range of colors – There are 30 colors to choose from. Hair can also be colored if needed. Clients are encouraged to mix colors and create a “highlighted” look with their hair extensions. This is a cool way to have a multi-tonal variety in your hair without the chemical damage.

-Hair is placed in smaller bundles, allowing for more control of the style, volume, and length.

-Dream Catchers are made of the finest remy hair and can be styled, brushed, permed, and colored. This allows the client to treat the hair extensions exactly as they would their own natural hair.