Spa Pedicure at Utopia Salon & Day Spa in Hawley, PA

The best part of living in a tourist area (the Poconos), is that there are a lot of little gems waiting to be discovered. For me, this gem has been right in front of my face for 13 years. I've driven by Utopia Salon & Day Spa countless times, but Read more

Reflekt Facial Exfoliator Review

This luxury facial cleanser makes skin feel amazing! I've been using Reflekt Skincare for the last 6 weeks about 2-3 times per week. In the summer, a regular cleanser alone won't do the trick to thoroughly rid my skin of all the "gunk" that warmer weather brings when wearing makeup, Read more

Malia B Luv Perfume Review

Some of the best perfumes are made by indie brands. When I first began blogging in 2005, I came across perfumer, Sharon Bolton, and her amazing fragrances. For a few years she went off the radar, but I was so thrilled when she recently reached out with the relaunch as Read more

Erbaviva Organic Deodorant Review

Mention "organic deodorant" and you may get a few raised eyebrows combined with some skepticism. People often wonder - Does organic deodorant smell weird? Is it strong enough? What exactly is it made of? I'm going to be straight up honest, I've never tried organic deodorant before simply because I Read more

Dry Skin Solutions for Women Over 40

Sponsored by AmLactin Skin Care Check out the end of this post for a GIVEAWAY!   We all know that getting older comes with pros and cons. Older and wiser (that's a definite), knowing who you are and what you want... and then all those lovely skin issues. Dark spots, wrinkles, and other Read more

a girl’s gotta spa

Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser Review

I’ve found liquid gold…black gold to be exact. I was given a 1 oz sample of boscia’s newest face cleanser, Detoxifying Black Cleanser and I must say I’m glad I chose this cleanser over a lip gloss.

For those who haven’t heard or know anything about boscia, they are a preservative-free, botanically-based skincare line. “(boscia contains none of the 150 industry-recognized preservatives – not just parabens – that can irritate skin and cause blemishes, redness, eczema and more).” With the combination of cutting edge Japanese technology and active botanical ingredients, boscia’s philosophy is to achieve superior results without compromising skin health.   Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, skin care Leave a comment

Acne Treatment Review: Rx for Brown Skin Hydrating Acne Lotion and Acne Spot Treatment

My skin, for the most part, is pretty problem free but every once in a while…or more like once every month without fail…I tend to develop a serious case of acne that always seems to appear right before a big event or a photoshoot.  As soon as I notice that tiny red bump or feel that all too familiar tender spot on my skin, I start to attack it with lotions and potions intended to treat and prevent those bumps from transforming into pimples.  This plan of attack has resulted in one of two scenarios thus far; either it does not work and I just deal with a ginormous pimple for a few days…or a full week, or it works but also turns my skin into a dry flaky mess.

During this month’s battle of the breakouts, I used Rx For Brown Skins’ Clear Luminosity Acne Lotion and Precise Clarity Acne Spot Treatment as my weapons of choice and am ecstatic to say that I emerged victorious from this battle…finally.  The Clear Luminosity Acne Lotion did not leave my skin feeling dry and flaky like every other acne treatment lotion I’ve used in the past.  It was actually very hydrating and left my skin feeling softer and smoother, it also seemed to soothe my skin instead of irritating it.  The Precise Clarity Acne Spot Treatment helped to clear up my pimples, and while it was noticeably more drying than the lotion it still did not leave my skin a flaky, irritated mess.  With both of these products, the suggested application frequency is one to three times daily but I only needed to use it once a day and I generally used it at night, which worked out really well for me.   Read more

Posted on by Gail Lewis in acne, beauty, skin care Leave a comment

Spa Review: Sphatika

As a beauty lover, I’ve been to a good amount of spas. There are the boujis, “better than you” spas, the super-busy “get your facial and get out” spas, and your standard but efficient salon/spa combination. Once in awhile, however, a girl is lucky enough to come across a spa or treatment that is a true standout, one that makes her feel special, relaxed, at peace. For me, that spa was Sphatika in NYC.

A tranquil oasis conveniently tucked behind a Starbucks in Columbus Circle, Sphatika is a truly a hidden gem.

Sphatika takes a holistic, sensory approach to the entire spa experience. All spas are meant to make you feel beautiful, but Sphatika places a very special emphasis on treating the whole you “mind, body, and soul.” Their welcoming staff encourages you to create an intention for your visit, one that you have a chance to reflect upon during your personal sauna that kicks off your treatment session.   Read more

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in anti-aging, beauty, skin care, Spa Leave a comment

Hair Color Review: John Frieda Precision Foam Colour



We’re heading into the colder months, which typically means making the switch from highlighted hair to warmer tones. My natural hair color is dark brown, but typically I lighten or highlight it in the summer months. Being that it is only 6 weeks until Christmas, getting my hair colored at the salon was not in my wallet’s vocabulary, so I opted to color my hair at home. I made my way to CVS and decided upon John Frieda’s Precision Foam Colour. I went with 4BG  (Dark Chocolate Brown.)

My highlighted hair before, colored immediately after and results 1 week later.

I have to say, I don’t typically read the warnings on home hair coloring kits because I have been coloring my hair since I was 13 and they typically all say the same thing. However, I noticed John Frieda’s included some things I have never seen before like you need to remove all accessories you are wearing and cannot use metal tools. Since there seems to be an issue with metal, I assumed that the accessories they meant were jewelry.  So I removed my earrings. It also says you shouldn’t use this product if you have a temporary black Henna tattoo, as it is likely to increase an allergy risk. If you wear contacts, you need to remove them also…however I’m not sure how you could put on your glasses since you can’t have metal around. If you’ve colored your hair previously with compound hennas, metallic dyes or color restorers you have to wait until your hair has grown out and then cut.

And don’t try to put the foam on your eyelashes or eyebrows because it may cause blindness.

So, basically, by the time I was done reading that I was freaked out. Then I went on to read how to mix the product. It says you cannot shake the mix (you need to gently tilt it 5 times,) you cannot use the pump but instead have to squeeze the bottle to make the foam come out of the pump…which is psychologically confusing because you are holding a bottle with a pump…that you cannot pump. The bottle needs to remain upright at all times and you can only apply the foam to your hands first (in gloves of course) and not directly onto your hair.

So basically I felt I was going to mess this up big time.

Application was tricky because the instructions state that you cannot get the foam on your face or ears at all. My hair is shoulder length, so good luck with that Shannon! Trying to prevent the foam from touching my skin, while trying to keep the bottle upright and not pump it was like playing a game of Twister.  Additionally your hair needs to be “frothy” with foam in order to be “done.” Ok, guess what? Foam evaporates or absorbs into your hair. Especially if you have long-ish hair and are trying to make sure you get each section equally. Wait time from this point is 30 minutes.

I rinsed my hair, applied the conditioner, rinsed that out after 3 minutes and then blew it dry. I was pleasantly surprised with the color. I loved it. Tweeted about it. My 7 year old snapped my pic for me and I was happy I was still alive with great looking hair.

Fast forward 1 week and while my hair is still brown, as you can see from the picture…the color has significantly faded. Ugh. I do not wash my hair everyday, in fact I usually only wash it every other day. I also used sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, so I know it wouldn’t have been the culprit to strip my hair color. I also hadn’t washed my hair 24 hours before applying the foam as the instructions stated and I did not have any product build-up to prevent the color from adhering.

So was it worth it to save myself the $60-$75 of coloring my hair at the salon? Not really.

Have you used John Frieda’s Precision Foam? I’d like to hear about your experience (good or bad.)


Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Hair Care 12 Comments

Winter Weather Skin Care Tips from The Spa at Ravella

Guest post from The Spa at Ravella located at Ravella at Lake Las Vegas:

Cooler weather can lead to dry, flaky skin. Here are two tips from The Spa at Ravella, one for a spa visit and one for at home, to help keep skin soft and supple until warmer weather returns!

Next time you splurge on a spa treatment, The Spa at Ravella recommends choosing a facial treatment that uses serums or enzymes. You can talk to a spa professional when booking a treatment and discuss further with your skin therapist once you arrive. Serums provide a powerful dose of nutrients and bioactive ingredients that penetrate deep into the layers of your skin much farther than moisturizers can, and work intensely to bring oil and hydration into balance, strengthen your skin, increase visible firmness and give a youthful glow. Enzymes help slough away dead skin cells and encourage cellular growth, leaving the skin feeling great and looking dewy and bright.

For similar results at home, The Spa at Ravella suggests creating a pumpkin enzyme mask – just mix left over pumpkin pulp with an egg, apply to face and let sit for 6 – 8  minutes. Tingling is normal but if feels strong, less time may be needed. Pumpkin is a strong exfoliant that brings the blood to the surface of the skin creating a detoxifying effect. The lecithin from the egg yolk will tighten the skin while the enzymes in the blend will stimulate cellular growth, allowing skin to look its best.

In addition to these tips, The Spa at Ravella is offering two seasonally-inspired treatments designed to keep skin in tip-top shape throughout the next few months:

Scrumptious Spice Wrap

Enjoy this aromatic concoction of fragrant fall spices. Cinnamon and nutmeg are mixed with organic brown sugar and vanilla to gently polish your skin. Relax with a soothing scalp massage while your body is enveloped with deeply hydrating body butter for ultimate smoothness and hydration. 50 minutes…$89

Pure Results Facial

This active organic facial uses high performance herbal enzyme peels such as pear fig, pumpkin or sweet cherry to target signs of aging with proven ingredients to deeply repair and hydrate the skin, Ideal for all sin types, including sensitive. 50 minutes…$99

Have you tried their at home treatment? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, skin care, Spa, Winter Beauty Leave a comment

Makeup Review: Boots 17 Falsifeye Mascara

I am a mascara addict. If there is one thing I will not leave the house without, it is a quick coat of mascara on my lashes. I’m fine with nothing else on my face. So I am always happy to be given the chance to try out any new mascara that comes onto the market and was therefore excited when I received a tube of Boots 17’s Falsifeye mascara, having heard good things about the product itself and already loving the brand anyway.

Falsifeye claims to “create wow effect eyelashes.”

I gave the mascara its first real outing for brunch with my girlfriends. Wearing nothing else on my face, just a lick of blackest black mascara. The brush is pretty big and looks like a mass of unruly bristles when covered in mascara but I wasn’t deterred and I was pleasantly surprised by the look it created: My lashes were left defined and curled* right to my little lashes at either side.


For a mascara that comes in at under a tenner I’d say I’ll be buying it again! Which is your go-to budget mascara? Or are you only a top dollar girl when it comes to your lashes?

Thank you to Shannon for letting me loose on her blog again!

You can find my beauty blog at http://the-eyeofthebeholder.tumblr.com and my fashion and lifestyle blog here http://sugar-and-spice.com.

*I should add, I do use a curler too as my lashes are flat, flat, flat!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Makeup, mascara 2 Comments

Pros and Cons of Shellac and UV Gel Manicures


 

Pros and Cons of Shellac (TONS of comments on this post - good and bad!)

When I first heard about Shellac, UV and LED gel manicures, I was over the moon excited. I could finally have polish on my nails sans chipping and polish peeling for more than 3 days and all without having to apply fake nails. In August, while at Cosmoprof, I received an awesome manicure from CND in Hot Pop Pink (pictured below.) The manicure took just as long as having acrylic nails or wraps put on (an hour) and the result looked just as amazing. I remarked to the manicurist just how gorgeous her own nails looked, as they were long and it didn’t even appear to be naturally her own. She told me they were and that wearing the Shellac helped her achieve the length. I believed her, until my own experience has led me to believe otherwise.


My CND Shellac lasted me 3 weeks. I was ecstatic. I applied CND’s SolarOil to my cuticles and under the tips of my nails on a daily basis as instructed by the manicurist. My nails had grown a bit during this time and I was excited to go for round two of another CND Shellac at my local salon. This time I went for a French manicure CND Shellac. My nails were finally long enough to adorn some white tips and I was stoked. I went about applying the SolarOil again daily, but this time it only took 3 days for one of my nails to peel and the Shellac to come off. Day 4, one of my nails broke and it became clear how brittle my nails were becoming. By day 5, all of my nails were either peeling (the nail itself, not the polish) or breaking.

 

Looking at my very soft, peeling nails, I decided to not apply any polish at all for 2 weeks, but continued to put the SolarOil on them. But sadly, they didn’t seem to recover. In the meantime, I had been sent the complete Red Carpet Manicure LED Starter Kit and as I was about to have my first television appearance, I knew my nails had to look amazing. So I used the kit, which comes complete with a portable LED light and is a DIY home LED manicure kit. Colors were gorgeous, time was still about 1 hour to complete the manicure and I used their Revitalize cuticle oil daily. But by day 3, my nails were peeling and even more brittle. I now had stubs for nails (even shorter than pictured above.) Finally I asked fellow friends in the salon business and fellow bloggers if they experienced the same of gel manicures, and it was a resounding yes.

Pros:

Manicure can potentially last up to 3 weeks
No chipping
Manicure is instantly dry upon last UV go round
Mirror finish (nails look wet, but aren’t)
Can DIY and look just as amazing as at the salon
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous

Cons:

Very drying to your nails
Repeated application (without a breather) will result in brittle and peeling nails
Wear time gets less and less with each application
If you don’t apply the cuticle oil daily, your nails will dry out a lot quicker
Costs add up, especially if the manicure doesn’t last 2-3 weeks
CND Shellac requires it’s own Remover Wraps
According to some doctors, the UV lamps can cause skin cancer (but the jury is still out on this)

So it appears that, at least for me, a CND Shellac or UV gel manicure will only happen for special events (like holidays, TV appearances, events) and cannot be worn all of the time. Unless I want to continue having man hands with my stubby nails.

In the meantime, I will be in nail re-cooperation with Qtica’s Cuticle Repair Balm and Qtica Nail Growth Stimulator to regain my length.  I’d love to hear from you: what has your experience been with UV gel manicures?


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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish 71 Comments

Gold: Is it Worthy of a New Standard in Skincare

Gold is the new black given just about every other investment is enfeebled by the economy. It might be a better bet than government bonds, but other than a gold tooth – an acquired taste – should gold be considered an essential part of your beauty arsenal. Every now and then cosmetic formulators venture into alchemy and go for gold (E’shee, Nutra-Lift and just the other day it was mentioned in our interview with Cherie Dobbs, founder of Dermastart). But I can’t help but wonder: what is its true value in skincare?

Dermastart has a serum called AU 24K Gold and I am just starting to test it. Cherie Dobbs says that “gold works with our own body makeup and helps with blood flow and oxygen.”  I haven’t been able to find any specific evidence for that but claims for the medicinal benefits of gold date back many of thousands of years and ancient Indian, Egyptian and Chinese medicine used gold-based medicinal preparations for such ailments as smallpox, skin ulcers and measles.

The use of gold compounds in medicine is called chrysotherapy. One of its modern applications is the soothing arthritic symptoms. Gold salts (the ionic chemical compounds of gold) are injected to reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Gold nano-bullets are being used, according to Science magazine, as a cure for cancer. And isotope gold-198 is used in some cancer treatments and other diseases.

As far as skincare is concerned, gold is said to minimize collagen depletion and boost elasticity. There’s even a gold thread face lift in which a 24K gold mesh framework is inserted permanently under the surface of the skin where it is supposed to stimulate collagen production which then plumps and firms up the skin and reduces wrinkles.

I can’t find independent research on gold and improving the skin, but there might be a clue to gold’s plausibility as an anti-ager in its used against arthritis. This is an inflammatory disease and chronic inflammation is believed to one of the causes of aging. So, theoretically, gold could help the skin by being an anti-inflammatory.

Except that the mechanism by which gold drugs operate to treat arthritis is a matter of scientific debate. Harvard Medical School thinks it’s not an anti-inflammatory and that gold works by making the proteins associated with autoimmune diseases inactive. Other theories are that gold helps in the transportation of drugs to their sites of action.

Also there’s much debate around the kill or cure theme. Once absorbed into the cell, gold is proposed to be linked to anti-mitochrondrial activity and induced cell apoptosis, so it might be affecting healthy cells as well as unhealthy ones. On the other hand, research indicates there’s an anti-inflammatory action from ionic gold nanoparticales with little or no toxicity. Although research on rats had less positive results. ). After a lot of burrowing around on academic websites, I did turn up some evidence that gold salts boost collagen lll.

All this contradictory research is a bit frustrating. As is finding out that the most common reaction to oral gold medication for rheumatoid arthritis is, ironically, a skin rash (source).

For more honest reviews and information about beauty and personal care products, visit Truthinaging.com

Posted on by Marta Wohrle in anti-aging, beauty, Beauty Trends, skin care, Spa Leave a comment

SHAPE Magazine’s Best Beauty Blogger Nominee: A Girl’s Gotta Spa!

“O.M.G…omg omg omg omg!”  I shrilled in my most 12 year old voice ever when I accidently came upon an incoming link from SHAPE Magazine naming A Girl’s Gotta Spa! a Top 20 Best Beauty Blog. I practically hyperventilated, then I called my boyfriend and then I told my friends also mentioned on the list. An email into SHAPE confirmed that I indeed was put on their list after being named by some of their readers as their favorite beauty blog.

WOW and holy freakin cow.

And I am SUPER excited!

Because you know what? A Girl’s Gotta Spa! turns 6 on October 24th! What better way to celebrate than to be given this accolade! But it doesn’t stop there, SHAPE is asking that of the 20 of us mentioned, YOU vote for ONE as the BEST. I’d like to hope and pray that my readers would choose me. (And tell their friends to vote for me, who tell their friends to vote for me…and so on!)

I have some pretty stiff competition. I am among a really incredible bunch and let me even say that my friend Kathryn of The Budget Fashionista is in there. Can I even begin to tell you how BEYOND that is for me? To even be named in the same category of fabulousness as her? Stick a fork in me, I’m done! Holy smokes!

So here is what I need you to do: Click on the link to vote A Girl’s Gotta Spa! as Best Beauty Blog. Then click the link that says “Vote for this blog!” It will bring up a voting form and then just click A Girl’s Gotta Spa! And that’s it! No registration is needed and you can only vote once. Voting ends on Oct. 28th.

If I make it as one of the 6 finalists (there are 6 categories, not only beauty) then I would win a $100 American Express Gift Card (which honestly I don’t plan to keep if I win it, but will instead gift it to a needy family here in Northeast PA), but if I am selected as the grand prize winner of the 6, then I have the opportunity to shoot a paid video series to be launched on Shape.com. (DUDE I totally want that!)

Thanks in advance for voting for me and thank you to whoever the SHAPE readers were who nominated me to begin with!

xoxo
~Shannon

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Pocono Spas & Salons 3 Comments

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Welcomes Marta Wohrle from Truth in Aging

As I look to expand my contributors here at A Girl’s Gotta Spa!, I am very excited to announce that Marta Wohrle from Truth in Aging will now be contributing a post here on a weekly basis. Why would I be so excited about this you ask? Because I have long been a fan of Marta’s blog and how she provides real and truthful reviews of products. She definitely is a great fit here! Some of Marta’s team will also contribute posts from time to time as well.

So please help me in welcoming Marta and the Truth in Aging team to A Girl’s Gotta Spa!

Interested in being a contributor here as well? Please submit your request and where I can find your portfolio via my Contact page and I will get back to you with the details.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty Leave a comment