Natural Soap We Love: Meiling Skincare

Natural Soap We Love: Meiling Skincare

By Pretty City Editors

You start your day with warm water (filtered, of course) with a squeeze of lemon. Breakfast is organic strawberries and greek yogurt, after breakfast, you brush your teeth... with Tom's, naturally,  Then, it's out the door with your travel water (filtered, of course), housed in your aluminum, with BPA-free lining, reusable water bottle.

We get it, you take good health seriously.  

But when's the last time you considered the ingredients in the watermelon scented shower gel you use every.single.day or that anti-acne face wash you swear by morning and night?

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These Mother's Day Gifts Are Musts!

These Mother's Day Gifts Are Musts!

By PrettyCity Editors

Mother's Day is just days away and if you haven't gotten your Mom a gift yet, it's time to get your shop on. Immediately! There's  still time to get something shipped directly to Mom so you can skip the whole last-minute-digital-gift-card routine and, maybe even, make your mother believe that you've got this adulting concept covered. As if.

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2017’s Hottest Hair Color Trends: Balayage and Babylights

Hair.  Such a powerful four-letter word.  You have to admit…it’s the one thing we look at all day.  Whether it’s catching a glance in the mirror or a glimpse on the reflection of a cab door; we are always aware of our hair.

So much so that we touch it consistently, trying to poof, fluff, bounce, flounce, flatten, sleek, or curl.  Hair can make or break our attitude and determine how that new LBD really makes us feel.  It’s consistently "top of mind" and yet, always changing... like Kylie Jenner.

And speaking of change, two hair color trends that we are crushing on right now are Balayage and Babylights.  If you're ready for a new glow on those tired tresses, here's how Balayage and Babylights can light up your look... and your locks. 

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The Top 4 Ways To Prevent And Correct Stretch Marks

The Top 4 Ways To Prevent And Correct Stretch Marks

Ugh, stretch marks! We've got 'em... do you? 

Women of all ages, regardless of height, weight or even, whether or not they have children, are susceptible to stretch marks. Ultimately stretch marks come with pregnancy, puberty, and any other weight or muscle gain where the skin is stretched.

Dr. Kirk Brandow, founder and director of the Brandow Clinic for Cosmetic Surgery, shared with us the top four ways to prevent and remove stretch marks. Here’s the scoop...

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Fifty Shades of Darker Lipstick

Fifty Shades of Darker Lipstick

Everyone's abuzz about the kinky, sex-appeal of Fifty Shades Darker and we're over here thinking about what really turns us on... makeup! 

50 shades? That's nothing.. we've got more lipstick tricks than Christian has whips.

Darker? Why yes, we'd love to. Thanks for asking... and so, today, we're dishing about the deepest, darkest most flattering lipstick hues. How to wear 'em. where to get 'em and which ones have the most sex appeal. 

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Nail Polish, Not Poison.

Image via StyleTraces

Image via StyleTraces

Glue. Embalming Fluid. Nail Polish.  One of these things is not like the others. Or is it?

Actually, all three substances typically contain formaldehyde, a colorless gas compound that is also a carcinogen, meaning that it causes cancerous cell growth.   And while it’s no secret that we place a premium on looking pretty, good health is a building block of great looks.  So, to skip the carcinogens but keep the manicures, we’ve rounded up a bevy of lacquers that are long lasting, lovely and formaldehyde-free.

Zoya

Not only is Zoya Nail Polish formaldehyde-free, the collection offers hundreds of hues that go well beyond basics, like “Bevin” a dusty green with teal tones ($9 at Ulta) and “Charity” a faded mauve-purple with copper colored duochrome shimmer ($9 at Ulta).  The collection was created in 1984 when then-pregnant esthetician Zoya Reyzis foresaw the need for a nail polish free of harmful chemicals and carcinogens.  More than three decades later, the Zoya collection offers up high fashion hues with a healthy sensibility. 

Nubar

Nubar's long-lasting, fast-drying nail polish collection is free of formaldehyde.  Those looking for carcinogen-free nail color will love Nubar’s hip hues such as “BOHO," an unconventional, free-spirited fringed rouge-rose that shows off layers & trails of subtle sparkles. Nubar nail lacquers are available online for $8.40 here.

Another of our favorite Nubar products is Nail Clear ($12.99), a nail mask for whitening nails and erasing stains sometimes left behind by harsher polishes. No need to soak nails, just brush on the mask and peel away. The key ingredient is grapefruit extract, an organic whitener that is also an effective antifungal.

Nail Tek

Citra III Formaldehyde Free by Nail Tek ($15 at Ulta) is an effective nail strengthener with a natural citrus-based alternative to formaldehyde. Citra is available in three formulas, one for healthy nails, one for soft, peeling nails and another for dry, brittle nails. We like to think of the collection as the cure for whatever ails your nails, all formaldehyde-free, of course.

Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips

Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips

Getting married is like preparing for a marathon. You start off excited and pumped up, and then the sheer size of this undertaking starts to weigh on you. Not to worry, with our tips on sporting picture perfect eyes and lips, you’re sure to win the trophy for chicest bride… and his heart.

Pucker Pretty

Soft, full lips are the ideal beginning (and ending) to a picture perfect wedding look. Lips that are Jolie-esque can be yours in four simple steps: Plump lips if needed, exfoliate, soften with a rich moisturizer and finish with a hue that complements your skin tone and your gown.

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Beat the Burn

Women who value great skin make applying sun protection a daily to-do, but in summer months we’re exposed to more sunshine than normal, meaning protecting skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is a must.

We’ve got your guide to beating the heat, including an easy to read refresher course in sun protection and our roundup of the top sun protection products for the season.

UVA vs. UVB

There are two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the most insidious of the pair, they can get you almost anywhere because they travel through windows and even light clothing. UVA is less likely than UVB to cause sunburns, meaning that even though you may not know your skin is being damaged, it is. In fact, UVA rays damage the deeper layers of skin resulting in loss of collagen and elastin.

UVB rays stimulate the cell that produces melanin, the brown pigment that causes suntans and is actually your body’s attempt to defend against UV radiation. UVB rays are also the primary cause of sunburns as well as a myriad of skin cancers. Plus, UVB rays contribute to wrinkling and aging of the skin.

In order to truly protect your skin, chose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage, meaning skin is protected against UVA and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends generously applying a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily, and re-applying every two hours, even on cloudy days.

Body Block

Everyone’s buzzin’ about physical sunblocks these days but what the heck are they? A physical sunblock contains ingredients that rest on the skin's surface and reflect away ultraviolet rays. Physical sunblocks cannot be absorbed into the skin and proponents say that this makes physical sunblocks safer than chemical sunscreens. Sunscreen contains chemicals that absorb UV rays before they damage the skin, while sunblocks contain particles that physically block UV rays from reaching the skin. And while sunscreen needs to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, sunblocks are effective the moment they are applied.

Many experts agree that physical sunblocks are most effective at blocking harmful UV rays, so for optimal protection choose a product that contains chemical sunscreens as well as physical sunblocks such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Product picks

We’ve tried and tested dozens of sunscreens/sunblocks and rounded up the top five in different price points for effectiveness, smell and appearance.

  • Not for the faint of budget, Kinerase’s Cream with SPF 30 is recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation and includes 6% Titanium Dioxide and 7% Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate ($135 for 2.8 oz. at kinerase.com). It goes on smoothly with an innocuous scent and promises to improve skin tone while reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Needless to say, our skin didn’t burn after applying this pricey cream.
  • Perricone MD’s Solar protection Body with DMAE SPF 45 is a broad-spectrum, chemical-free, water-resistant sunscreen that features DMAE to firm and tone the body. We’re fans of the entire Perricone collection and, in particular, this product’s promise to protect and firm from head to toe; $48 for 4.2 oz. at sephora.com.
  • Soléo Organics is an all-natural, organically sourced, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 plus broad spectrum protection. The Soléo collection is biodegradable and never tested on animals; $24.99 for 2.6 oz. at soleousa.com
  • Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 sells for just $15 for 3.5 oz. and is available at most local drug stores as well as online at burtsbees.com. Boasting a high level of titanium dioxide (8.58%) and no chemical sunscreens, this sunscreen continues in the Burt’s Bees tradition of offering up natural and effective products priced right.
  • Walgreen’s ultra-affordable Sunblock with Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears offers up an SPF of 45 thanks in part to 6.86% Zinc Oxide. Plus, the greaseless formula goes on clear and odor free. The price is oh-so-right, just $4.99 for 2 oz. at Walgreens.

Thermal Reconditioning

Sandra Bullock. Penelope Cruz. Jennifer Aniston. All are reported to have fallen head first for the biggest hair treatment trend in years, thermal reconditioning. Thanks to thermal reconditioning even curly haired girls can keep their locks silky straight.

Thermal reconditioning or Japanese straightening is a permanent straightening process that promises pin-straight hair while maintaining health and shine. What does permanent mean? Only new hair growth needs further treatment. That's right. Once treated, hair is left eternally straight.

The revolutionary thermal reconditioning process reportedly originated in Japan in 1996 with the dawn of the Yuko system. The Yuko system uses heat to restructure the hair's protein bond, resulting in smooth, straight, shiny, sleek hair.

Now, nearly a decade later, thermal reconditioning has become a bona fide beauty phenomenon. And like any good trend, the popularity of the Yuko system spurred the invention of comparable brands including Liscio, iStraight, Bio Ionic and more.

While all the choices in thermal reconditioning are enough to confuse a girl, you don't have to become a brand expert in order to make an informed decision about where to go for this treatment. The decision to have your hair straightened should be based on the salon professional that performs the treatment and your specific type of hair, not the brand.

Most reputable salons will require a consultation before booking thermal reconditioning . This is your chance to come clean. Explain your hair type to the stylist. Be completely forthright about your hair history, from color to highlights to texture to split ends. This information is crucial to your stylist in determining which product to use, how much to use and where to apply it sparingly.

With thermal reconditioning prices beginning as low as $300 and exceeding $1500, it's tempting to bargain shop. But according to Leslie Correa, a nationally renowned thermal reconditioning expert and owner of Capelli D'Oro Salon Spa in New York , "price is not an indication of skill when it comes to thermal reconditioning ." Which means that those choosing a stylist from the bargain bin may get burned.

Graciela Nowik, owner of Hair Base Salon in Chicago and a director for the National Cosmetology Association concurs: "This is one service where price should be at the bottom of the list. The success largely depends on the chemical expertise of the stylist and ability to analyze the hair for the myriad variables that can alter the final results. We strongly recommend several strand tests be done at the time of consultation. This will give both the stylist and the client a sneak peak of what the hair will look and feel like."

Plus, the range in thermal reconditioning pricing is based on factors such as hair length, thickness, product usage and, of course, the cachet of the salon. Most salons charge an hourly rate, and it's wise to be cautious of any professional offering a flat rate for all clientele. Clearly, a client with long hair requires more time and effort than her short-haired counterpart.

Once you've taken the thermal reconditioning plunge, at-home hair care becomes crucial. For the first 72 hours after treatment, don't wash your hair, exercise or tie hair back.

What's done during these first three days may affect the way the hair will ultimately (and permanently) look.

Use specially formulated shampoos and conditioners for chemically straightened hair to help maintain your hair's health and the length and quality of the treatment. To minimize UV exposure in the first days after treatment, keep hair protected with a hat when possible.

Once you've made the initial investment, you'll still need the occasional touchup. According to Correa, "most clients will not need to retouch a thermal reconditioning for at least six to nine months, depending on how quickly hair grows and how curly it is at the root."

Properly treated hair should remain silky-straight for months, until the hair starts to grow out. Which means less blow-drying, less aggravation and more time to hit the snooze button.