We SAID: Spring Detox

Staff Writer

Spring has sprung and we’re all busy cleaning up homes, phones, and emails (no really, there’s an app for that), but what about bodies? Beyond getting ready for summer with a renewed fervor for the local gym, some of us are headed back to the sauna for a good old fashioned detox.

sweatheory

Note that all saunas are not created equal. There’s a difference between heating coils in the corner of a wooden box, and being completely surrounded by infrared heating panels. Enter Sweatheory in Hollywood. If the surroundings look familiar, it’s because they are. Formerly Sweat Shop LA… then Cedarhouse… Sweatheory is the latest (and perhaps final) incarnation of this urban day-spa. It’s been through one heck of an upgrade, with an expanded retail space and even an infrared yoga studio.

What’s special about this place is the manner in which you can customize your sweat, at a very attractive price point. The rooms are private (and yours for up to an hour), and contain a sauna, shower and a full length mirror (for post-sweat selfies). There are towels and toiletries and even a fluffy bathrobe to complete the urban spa experience. Your base experience will run about $35. You can sweat alone, or with a friend (some saunas are large enough for two people) and add all manner of cayenne, minerals, and even music to your sweat experience.

And once you’re done, it’s just a few steps next door to Life Food Organic, which serves everything from fresh made salads to customized smoothies and desserts. In between sips of organic wheatgrass and ginger shots, there are shelves of supplements and bath & body products designed to keep you detoxed and in ship shape between sweat appointments.

We recommend making an appointment for Sweatheory, as most customers have preferred times and even saunas for their detox pleasure. With spring in full bloom, now is as good a time as any to get your sweat on.

We SAID: Oscar Gorgeous

Staff Writer

Winners, losers and major upsets aside (poor Faye Dunaway may never recover from the Best Picture snafu), the stars hit the red carpet last night with a clear mission to put their best … everything… forward. There was a noticeable effort to stand out in the best possible way with clean lines and polished makeup. And even those who went for a … bit… of embellishment (Janelle Monae, we see you) balanced the look with subtle shimmer and gorgeous flesh toned makeup.

Red rules! Viola Davis looked every bit a winner in a svelte red number that flattered her athletic figure. Did we mention that she also made history as the first African American Woman to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony for acting? The woman is a powerhouse, and she was not here to play on the red carpet. Ruth Negga softened up the powerful rouge hue with lace and a full skirt, and sweetened the look even further with soft curls and a girlish head band.

Metallics were a big deal on the carpet this year. Emma Stone continued her gold trend with another number that on anyone else would have been doing the most. But even with brocade and fringe, the Givenchy dress lent an elegant ease that matched her famous smile. Amy Adams might not have been a contender, but that didn’t stop her from investing in lots of double-stick tape for a structured shimmering number. And Jessica Biel will definitely split the vote for best/worst dressed. Her golden high collar *doingwaytoomuch.com* ensemble at least deserved honorable mention. Her husband was opening the show, and we imagine she figured she had to make a statement by any means necessary.

Speaking of honorable mentions, we could not go without mentioning Charlize Theron. She was presenting this year, so the pressure was off. And her ease showed in a dark oscar-4metallic dress that was more practical than not. A little weight gain softened her normally sharp edges, and it’s not a stretch to say that it looks really good on her. She’s a stunning woman at any size, but it was nice to see her moving comfortably in her skin with a genuine smile and sans outrageous fake tan.

On the other end of the spectrum, Janelle Monae was doing more than her little frame could probably carry. oscar-8Her dress featured all manner of designs and embellishments. It looked like the designer simply couldn’t commit to a single idea, and decided to do everything and hope for the best. Her stylist even had the nerve to slap an embellished tiara/headband thing on her head. Fortunately, Monet is just quirky enough to pull it off, and managed to even look calm and collected in the frenetic ensemble.

At least Monae’s makeup artist got the memo about balance, and calmed things down with gorgeous flesh toned shimmers and a soft smoky eye. Her makeup was definitely among some of the best that the night had to offer. Other big hits of the night included Hailee Steinfeld (when did that child grow up? She looked STUNNING), Emma Stone and Naomie Harris.

Overall, it was a good night for fashion. We even forgive Halle Berry for showing up looking like she hopped out of the chair while her hair dresser was desperately trying to style those curls, and for wearing the millionth dress that looks just like all the other ones she wore on red carpets’ past.

We SAID: The Best Brands You’ve Never Heard Of

Staff Writer

In a globalized market full of products from every conceivable pocket on the planet, it’s hard to stand out in today’s beauty industry. Every season, we’re inundated with products that promise to change our minds forever about what we think we know about skin and hair care. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and most savvy consumers are hard to impress. So it’s always a refreshing surprise to see brands really shine with an impressive list of ingredients, and the performance to back it up.

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FACE:

Bella Aura Instant Lifting Eye Contour features a formula that hydrates and tightens in a single drop. Full of feel good ingredients like Argan and Nigella Sativa, it lifts the eye area without the signature dry feeling associated with most firming formulations.

Luxe Botanics Kigelia Clarifying Moisturizer might be the crown jewel in the company’s cozy skin care selection. Featuring Kigelia Africana, this clear moisturizer cuts inflammation, and acne-causing irritations from the very first application. It feels more like a serum than a traditional moisturizer, but still manages to hydrate oily and acne-prone skin.

HAIR:

Mirai Clinical Purifying & Deodorizing Shampoo claims that this formula is so moisturizing, you don’t need a separate conditioner. We’re happy to report, it’s actually true. The low-foaming formula cleans your hair without stripping it, and leaves strands feeling light and hydrated.

BODY:

Aleavia Enzymatic Body Cleanse claims to clean and heal the skin in one shot. The formula is so gentle that it can double as a shampoo and even a facial wash. You couldn’t ask for a simpler lineup of ingredients; there are only 7.

She SAID: New Beauty

Shahada Karim

The  new year is off to a colorful, albiet decidedly muted start. Some of the spring collections got an early start during Holiday ’16, and we’ve noticed that they’re not much different in texture (and in some cases, color) than what trended through the end of the year. From Burberry mattes to Chanel smoke, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Ever the little company that could, Viseart continued it’s multi-tasking philosophy with the new Warm Mattes Palette. Made up of warm neutrals from off white to brownish red, the palette features the same creamy texture and high pigment that Viseart has become famous for. Also released was an extension of the new pro palettes, which are a fraction of the size and feature complimentary mattes and shimmers.

The Burberry Silk & Bloom Palette might be the most appropriate ‘Spring’ offering, in a decidedly bright pinky-plum shade. The company also released a collection of  Liquid Lip Velvets that apply and dry like a typical matte liquid lipstick, without the additional feature of remaining transfer-proof. On the up side, they remain very comfortable on the lips, unlike many formulas that leave lips parched and thirsting for relief.

Anastasia Beverly Hills  began her legacy with brows, and created a makeup empire that now includes just about everything else on the face. The company’s latest offering comes in the form of a highly anticipated lip palette, that includes both traditional and primary colors to bring out the mixologist in every beauty lover.

Chanel  got out early with the new CODE collection for Spring, by releasing it in December. The crown jewel of the collection is Blush Harmony, with four distinct colors to blend or use alone at your discretion. Two new eyeshadow palettes and a slew of lip colors have the potential to get lost in Chanel’s other permanent offerings, and the eyeliner in Petrol Noir is fun but forgettable.

If there is an up side, it’s that the trends from Holiday (or even spring/summer of ’16) haven’t really changed. That’s good news for anyone hoping to embrace the new year effortlessly and beautifully, without breaking the bank.

Holiday 2016 Makeup Gift Guide

Shahada Karim

By now you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey, and are well on your way to checking off your holiday shopping list. And if you haven’t started on the latter… you’d best get cracking. Millions of Americans are expected to shell out more than $950 billion this holiday season, and they’re off to a running start with Thanksgiving falling a little earlier this year, and Black Friday sales starting even before that. And the best part is, most people never left their homes to do that shopping. While there were plenty of sales to be had at big box department stories, a record number of shoppers simply turned on their computers and clicked ‘buy’ without ever breaking a sweat.

For that reason, limited edition offerings are flying out of the stock room no sooner than they’re posted for online consumption. One of the most high demand items comes courtesy of legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath. Her ‘Metalmorphosis 005‘ Everything Kit is the latest offering in a series of pro-centric high impact pigments and inks. The full kit is the best value at $165 (vs. $60 for one of four kits), complete with eye ‘marker’ and Mehron mixing medium.

For the lipstick lover, there is no better expression of the perfect pout than from Bite. The company has made it its business to know what you lips want: deeply pigmented comfortable lipsticks that smell as good as they perform. The newest Amuse Bouche formula smells like citrus oils and slides on the lips to wear for hours with no fade and no flake.  The limited edition lipstick vault sells for $195, which is is a steal compared to Louboutin. The Holiday Lipstick Coffret is back (after its initial debut at Sephora) for $275. If you want the set in terms of presenation, it’s worth the money. But if you break down cost, each lipstick is actually more expensive than if you just purchase them separately and just wrap them yourself.

Chanel is back with a little bit more this holiday season. In addition to the annual holiday palette, there are also two mini brushes to make a set. But it’ll also cost you a little more. At $105, you’re paying Chanel back for adding the brushes and putting it all together in a set for you.

And the decidedly British gift idea of ‘advent calendars’ comes across the pond courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury. The 2016 version features 12 skin care and makeup minis to get you through the 12 days of Christmas in style.

Holiday Hair Saviors

Staff Writer

Let’s face it, getting hair to transform into thick, luscious, shiny locks is at best a combination of good genes and good hair care and at worst a skilled extension job that will from-russia-10fool everyone into thinking that maybe you were born with it. The Holiday Season has fully descended upon us, and that means many opportunities to put your hair on display and pray that it acts like it has some sense just this once.

If you’re like us, you’ve got an enviable collection of hair products that promise to transform you into a vintage Hollywood icon, but what they actually do is deposit a bunch of silicone and synthetic fragrances onto your scalp, and leave your hair mediocre and hardly tamed. There is no shortage of hair care products on the market that make outrageous claims and deliver marginal results. Well, if we may be so bold, consider your quest for the perfect coif a done deal.

This collection of life changing hair masks comes courtesy of Natura Siberica, an organic Russian brand that specializes in harnessing the power of nature to transform your hair. Sound familiar? We thought so too… until we actually used these masks. Each massive jar of thick cream goes beyond simply coating the hair shaft (and potentially weighing it down) to truly nourish each strand. Each of these masks are full of specific ingredients designed to do specific things, but regardless of hair type it’s hard to find a bad one in the bunch.

The same can be said in general for the entire company. There is an actual effort to make products and perform as well as they claim. There is some discrepancy with the shampoos (we found a few to be a little harsh) but  overall a vast majority of the collection perform as expected if not better. The body selection isn’t too shabby either.

Unless you’re fluent in Russian, we recommend getting whatever you can find from Amazon (do due diligence regarding sellers), and the rest from Fresh Spa. The latter will cost you a pretty penny in shipping and the wait time averages about 65 days, but we’re convinced it’s worth the wait. So if time is of the essence, Amazon is your best bet. No matter what you choose, Natura Siberia is on a quest to earn your business for life. You’ll know it’s true from the first scoop of a mask, to the inevitable panic that sets in once you realize you’re about to run out.