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.


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'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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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.

Hair Color Techniques



Booking an appointment for color has become a complicated ordeal. Salons often offer several techniques, but how's a girl to know what treatment may be right for her?


Do count on the stylist or colorist to determine which hair color technique is right, but don't be totally clueless.


Check out our guide to hair color techniques, compiled with expert advice and explanations of the most popular hair color techniques today.


Single Process Color: Single Process Color is ideal for covering gray and adding shine plus all over color to dull hair. Like any permanent hair color, roots will need maintenance every four to six weeks.


Double Process Color: Double Process Color is best when lightening up by more than two shades. The first process is to remove the natural hair pigment through bleaching, followed by a second treatment to add the pigment of choice back into the hair. Just remember, the further from the original color, the more obvious the roots. Tara Reid (pictured at right) is most likely an occasional devotee of Double Process Color.


Highlighting: An alternative to all over color services, several highlights are applied to individual strands of hair to brighten the overall hue. This technique adds contrast and complements the natural hair color. Highlighting requires maintenance about every six to eight weeks. Maintenance will depend on how much lighter the hair color is from the natural color.


Lowlighting: . Lowlighting is often used to break up over-lightened hair and add dimension. Results can be a simple subtle change or a dramatic hair color makeover. Touch-ups are needed every six to eight weeks. Kelly Clarkson's chic and choppy, multi-color 'do is the perfect example of highlights and lowlights used in unison.


The Big Bs: Blocking and Balayage are picking up steam as the new trends in color techniques.


Blocking is a process in which color is added in "blocks" giving new dimension to just a portion of the hair, such as bangs. To add three-dimensional color, the hair may be separated into dozens of sections with two to three colors "blocked" in alternating sections. This service must be touched up every four to six weeks.


Dimensional Balayage is a French hair painting technique. The literal translation of Balayage is 'to sweep,' and that sums up the process. Highlights are brushed on without using foils or a fine tooth comb to weave in the tiny streaks, but instead applied using a sweeping motion, with thinner strokes at the roots and thicker strokes toward the ends. The Balayage method garners a more natural look and allows for an easier growing-out process; the hair appears to be lightened gradually, from the root to the tip, mimicking the sun's way of lightening hair.





For the ultimate in tension taming, nothing is better than a relaxing massage. Well, nothing, except a massage customized to your individual needs.


Available at spas throughout the nation, there's a massage specialty to suit every ache, pain and point of stress.


Swedish Massage Candidates: Have Tension and stress concentrated in their upper to lower back, Enjoy a medium to firm pressure massage.

Description: Characterized by its long, sweeping motions and gentle to firm pressure, the Swedish Massage is, undoubtedly the most popular of all massage techniques. This massage is perfect for the massage neophyte who may be a little apprehensive about the treatment. Traditionally, this massage is customized to focus on the client's main areas of concern in their back and upper body.


Full Body Massage Candidates: Wish to work out tension not only in their back and upper body, but lower body as well.

Description: A continuation of the Swedish Massage, this technique covers the whole body rather than just the back and upper body. Traditionally, firmer pressure is applied, but can be customized to the client's preference.


Hot Stone Candidates: Can endure a more intense massage; respond well to heat therapy on aching muscles and concentrated tension.

Description: A "step up" from the standard Swedish Massage and technique, the Hot Stone technique employs, you guessed it, heated natural, smooth stones, to ease tension through massage. Throughout this massage, clients can expect medium pressure from firm stones accompanied by the lasting warmth of the stones. Whether the stones are strategically place to let the heat soothe aching areas r they are used in conjunction with massage oil to knead out stress, this massage is for the spa aficionado looking to expand their massage experience.


Reflexology Candidates: Have significant muscle pain or rage of motion difficulties.

Description: This unconventional form of massage is based around applying g pressure to the underside of the feet, which correspond to different points throughout the body. Massage Therapists certified in Reflexology can identify a pressure point located on the bottom of a client's feet to address their concerns.


Lymphatic Drainage Candidates: Want to promote a healthy lymphatic system, circulatory system, respiratory system, muscular system and endocrine system.

Description:This type of massage therapy offers a holistic approach to wellness by using a specified technique to improve the body's lymphatic system. The lymphatic system's function is to move toxins away from healthy cells in the body. The massage is focused on the lymph nodes and the therapy is believed to relieve allergies, menstrual cramps, colds and viruses as well.


Pregnancy Candidates: Are in their second or third trimesters of pregnancy and are experiencing low back pain, swelling, headaches or stress.

Description: Designed to ease the stress on a pregnant woman's aching body, pregnancy or prenatal massage, can help reduce stress, swelling and pain in a woman's changing body. Because pregnant women should not lay flat on their backs (as the weight of the uterus constricts the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart), pregnancy massages are often performed on a special massage table to allow the pregnant woman to lie face down, or are preformed while the woman lay on her side.




No matter the season or what the weather, extra fat and cellulite are never welcome to a spa girl. And, if hitting the gym and eating healthily aren’t producing the results you’re looking for, medical spas are where it’s at for offering slimming treatments to keep your bum looking less bumpy and thighs looking a little less thick. One such treatment is Mesotherapy.


What it’s all about:

A Mesotherapy treatment consists of any injection of medication into the skin, fat or other tissues of the middle layer of skin (the mesoderm). After being developed by French physician Dr. Michel Pistor in the early 1950s and modified up until present day, Mesotherapy has become a popular non-surgical offering in medical spas worldwide.


Medical spa Mesotherapy generally introduces microscopic quantities of homeopathic medications, traditional pharmaceuticals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids through multiple shallow injections into the skin. Most commonly, though, Mesotherapy is used to reduce the appearance of cellulite, promote weight loss or revitalize aging skin. It has also been used to treat acne, stretch marks, scars and wrinkles.


Therefore, depending on the desired result, different types of medication or vitamin-rich substances are injected into the mesoderm. For example, the emphysema medication Aminophylline is used in Mesotherapy to treat cellulite because it has been proven to break down the fatty tissue that causes cellulite.


What to expect:

During a Mesotherapy consultation, your Health Care Professional will determine what sort of medication will best suit the area you are treating. So, Mesotherapy injections are not one-size fits all; Mesotherapy “cocktails” should be formulated specifically for those receiving the injections.


Once the Health Care Professional determines the best medication (or combination of medications) for you, he or she will numb the area to be treated with a topical anesthetic. The anesthetic will dull the slight burning sensation common to Mesotherapy injections. Next, the Health Care Professional will perform anywhere from 20 to 50 swift injections (depending on the size of the area to be treated) at the site of the procedure with a small, thin needle.


Following the procedure, most patients experience a bit of discomfort, and may also experience swelling, bruising, tenderness and itching to varied degrees.


Keep in mind:

Before you rush out to your favorite spa to indulge in a Mesotherapy treatment, ensure that your Mesotherapy treatment is the best it can be. Because all people react differently to medications and substances, be sure that your physician performs an allergy test before trying a full Mesotherapy treatment if the drug Procaine will be used in your treatment. This will help avoid any serious allergic reaction. Also, most Health Care Professionals who administer Mesotherapy suggest their clients undergo five Mesotherapy treatments at two to four week intervals to see optimal results. So, stick with a medical professional who is able to perform all treatments personally. Plus, be sure to choose an experienced Medical Professional who can show you “Before and After” photos from the clinic’s own procedures.


Finally, stay active after your procedure. Medical professionals encourage patients toexercise regularly and keep a healthful diet to maximize the effects of Mesotherapy treatments.


Lipodissolve: Celebrity secret to burning fat


From stretch marks to cellulite, a treatment called Lipodissolve is being touted as a non-invasive alternative to Liposuction. 


And with celebrities such as Britney Spears rumored to have brandished this weapon in the battle of the bulge, a growing number of Americans are embracing the trend, choosing to “buy the burn” rather than feel it. In fact, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which does not endorse the procedure, approximately 28,000 Lipodissolve treatments were performed in 2006.


Lipodissolve calls upon a series of injections that promise to dissolve localized fat.  Other purported Lipodissolve benefits include the improvement of skin tone and elasticity.  And unlike Liposuction, Lipodissolve is said to treat stretch marks and cellulite. 


The key ingredients in Lipodissolve can vary based on both the area to be treated and the doctor performing the treatment. Typical ingredients include the likes of Phosphatidlycholine (a soy lecithin), alpha lipid acid, and plant extracts. The fat dissolving compound is then injected into fat layers and connective tissue. It’s important that consumers considering this treatment ask their doctor what ingredients he or she uses in Lipodissolve injections.


Anesthesia is not typically used, although many doctors recommend the use of over the counter pain killers pre-procedure as well as topical anesthetics. Using very thin needles, the compound is introduced to the body via a subcutaneous injection, an injection just under the skin. Within an hour of the treatment, the treated area should swell. That’s said to be the first sign that the procedure is working as the injections cause a reaction in the treated areas that dissolve fat. The fat which is released is then naturally metabolized by the body.


Within three weeks of the procedure, benefits from Lipodissolve should begin to emerge. Several treatments, two to four weeks apart, are usually needed to produce optimal results. And in another one of life’s little cruelties, consumers with a lower Body Mass Index will see better results with Lipodissolve. In fact, some doctors only guarantee results for clients with BMIs of 28 or lower.

Liposuction vs. Lipodissolve


Liposuction permanently removes fat cells, Lipodissolve does not.

Recovery from Liposuction can be significant; Lipodissolve is marketed as a no down time procedure.

Lipodissolve can be an effective supplement to liposuction, dissolving smaller pockets of fat and serving as a post lipo body sculpting method.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal


Lately, it seems we are obsessed with hair, or rather, the lack thereof. From waxing to tweezing, we're finding new ways to go completely hair free. In the past few years, the urge to be hair free has gone from the esoteric to the everyday. While women and men alike line up for Brazilian Waxings and Eyebrow Shapings, some are opting for an even more permanent solution - Laser Hair Removal.


We decided to put this procedure to the test and determine once and for all if the body of the future really is bald.


Laser Hair Removal promises the removal of unwanted hair using a laser light, an intense, pulsating beam of light. It's generally agreed that the darker the hair and the lighter the skin, the more effective Laser Hair Removal can be, although new technology is making the permanent removal of unwanted hair a viable option for many skin types. No matter what your skin type, hair must be short and visible in order for the laser to work at its optimum level.


I booked an appointment with a favorite doctor for Laser Hair Removal. My doctor suggested that I let my hair grow (underarms- my area of choice) for 2 to 3 days before coming in. She also asked me not to tweeze or wax the hair that I wanted lasered. On the day of my appointment, the doctor began by slathering my underarms with an anesthetic cream. About thirty minutes later, the cream had taken effect and we were ready to begin.


The procedure itself is very quick and mildly uncomfortable at worst. I was told that the feeling was akin to someone snapping a rubber band on your skin. In my experience, that was quite an exaggeration as I found the actual procedure to be fast and pain free. The doctor gives clients a pair of goggles before essentially zapping the skin being treated with the laser. The laser emits a beam of light that destroys the hair follicle without destroying the surrounding skin. The actual treatment took about 10 minutes to complete. After the treatment, my underarms did sting a bit; the feeling was akin to mild sunburn. Some first timers are surprised that there is no initial hair loss- not to worry- within ten days you should find the treated area to be hair free.


For complete and permanent hair removal or reduction a series of Laser Hair Removal treatments is recommended.


From arthritis and headaches to digestive and emotional problems, for some, acupuncture is the antidote to any health woe. And, while acupuncture has been widely used and accepted in Asian cultures for thousands of years, it is still considered an alternative treatment to the rest of the world.


Celebs and Plain Janes alike swear by the Asian-inspired treatment. While we won’t make up your mind for you on the treatment, we will fill you in on the basics of acupuncture and, if you decide it’s for you, tell you the best places to find treatment in your area.


What it is:


Historically, acupuncture has been a fix-all remedy in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Predicated on the belief that stimulating certain areas on the body can relieve pain and ease symptoms of illness, practitioners administer the treatment by inserting thin metallic needles to stimulate pressure points.


Acupuncture is now readily available in the US and is growing in popularity. But before going under the needle, it’s important to make sure the practitioner you choose to administer treatment is qualified and certified, as an inexperienced or uneducated application can leave you with more aches and pains than you started with.


What to expect:


Any good practitioner will make sure they are in the know when it comes to your expectations for treatment. Be sure to inform your practitioner of what problems are experiencing, including sources of pain and discomfort, and how long you’ve experienced the problems. From there, your practitioner will formulate a treatment plan, sometimes setting up a series of sessions to treat your every ache.


As for the actual treatment, patients often have a wide range of reactions and experiences. Due to the extreme thinness of the acupuncture needles, most people report no pain or discomfort during treatment. And much like another widely practiced Asian wellness routine, yoga, the after effects of treatment are variable with each patient. Some are energized after treatment while others are relaxed and exhausted after treatment.


You can expect your treatment to be completely customized to your needs and produce equally customized results. And, if the idea of needles isn’t your cup of tea, be assured that under normal circumstances, no external evidence of your treatment will remain (so don’t worry about stocking up on band-aids for your pin pricks, as the pins do not penetrate far below the skin’s surface).


So whether you are needle shy, or an old pro, visit these beauty destinations for a certified treatment: