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.

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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.

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.

We SAID: Skin & Sea Buckthorn

Staff Writer

Sea Buckthorn may be among the most un-celebrated skin care gems around. While many brands are touting the effects of some rare plant or weed that no one has ever heard of, Sea Buckthorn has been quietly soothing irritated skin, calming acne and healing dry and cracked skin for less than the cost of your average over-the-counter face cream.

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The leaves, flowers, and even the fruit can be used. Chock full of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and a ton of antioxidants, some practitioners even use  it to treat arthritis, improve blood pressure, and control blood pressure diseases.

Some skin care manufacturers have wised up about this fairly inexpensive but highly effective plant; Fresh might be the most poplar with its Sea Berry Face Oil. Be prepared to pay for it though. Three fairly inexpensive oils make up the formula, but that didn’t stop Fresh from packing it into a dropper bosea buckthornttle containing less than 2oz of product an charging $52 for it.

The purest concentration may come courtesy of Russian brand Natura Siberica. Made of 100% Organic Sea Buckthorn, the multi-purpose oil can be used on scalp and skin from head to toe… at half the price to boot. Be warned: because of the concentrated nature, the oil is a dark orange and will tint anything it touches. It can easily be washed away with a mild cleanser and warm water, but if you’re not a fan of orange skin you might want to dilute it before use. The oil’s ‘dry’ nature means it can be mixed with a number of products, including foundations and serums. If you’re marginally schooled on color theory, you can even ‘warm’ an ashy product with a few drops.

If you’re impressed with Sea Buckthorn, you should be. The fruit can even be used to make jellies, juices, purees, and sauces. Ingesting it will reportedly help with digestive issues, internal inflammation and chronic joint pain. Talk about feeling good from the inside out… whether you take it in or slap it on, Sea Buckthorn is a valuable addition to just about any lifestyle.

She SAID: Pleased to Meet You

Shahada Karim

The PHAMExpo wrapped in Pasadena over the weekend after 2 days of pageantry, product launches, and people watching. Because of the professional nature of the convention, attendees get first crack at new beauty brands (and enjoy deep discounts off old favorites). Several young companies really stood out for 2016 with high marks for care, quality, and customer service.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and Miss Casanova’s Dirty Little Secret is no exception. Professional Makeup Artist Edica Casanovapleased to meet you got tired of packing a ton of brushes for a single shoot, to make sure she had a clean one on hand. Cleaning between uses often leaves the too damp to use right away, and wet brushes can damage product. So in 2015, Edica designed and released a brush cleaner that works fast for quick color changes, at a price point that will make any pro happy and willing to stock up.

Marlena of Makeup Geek is proof that social media can pleased to meet you 1work, if you know how to work it. She took to Youtube nearly a decade ago to share makeup tips and tricks. But she upgraded her platform to include personal struggles with image, weight, surgery and perceptions of beauty. Her open attitude garnered a huge following, and when her brand Makeup Geek was formed, fans were only too happy to support. That support was evident at PHAMExpo, pleased to meet you 2where fans lined up for pictures, to share stories, and get their hands on the latest offerings from the brand, including new reformulated blushes.

Crimes of Beauty wants you to say it with your chest. Featuring apparel and accessories for the professional and the makeup enthusiast, the brand has carved out a cheeky little niche for those unafraid to declare their love for all things makeup and hair. CEO Whitney Bansin says the brand is a stickler for quality, and it shows. The shirts are durable and easy to clean, and some are 100% modal for comfort and a flattering fit. Tights are on the horizon; Bansin says the company is working to find the perfect balance between high quality and a reasonable price point.

She SAID: Get Your Hair Did

Shahada Karim

Do you know what good hair looks like? Kazumi Morton does. Dubbed ‘The Brunette Master’, Morton is known for treating tresses on the likes of Kristen Stewart and Zooey Deschanel. She’s also the mastermind behind the cult-status hair fixer Root Vanish.

Morton got her start at Vidal Sassoon and firmly established roots in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and New York. Now she’s found a permanent home at Kazumi Salon in Beverly Hills. The cozy loft is saturated with light, and embraces her philosophy of taking care of the hair simply and effectively, without gimmicks or potentially damaging products. Instead of obvious highlights and tricky styling, Morton focuses on rich nuanced hues to enhance each person’s unique complexion.

Services run between $75 and $600.

Kazumi Salon is located on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.