Wrinkle Reducing Products

When we're young, we take our flawless skin for granted, never considering that what we do early on will affect us when we're older. We try to rush things, like wearing makeup (and always forgetting to take it off), skip things like sunscreen and make poor choices like smoking. Read more

Onsen $1000 Gift Card Giveaway

It's my birthday week and I am turning the big 4-0. What better way to welcome in my 40's than with a giveaway for an amazing anti-aging skin care line? Inspired by the countryside baths of Japan, Onsen skin care products are made with the same restorative minerals found at Read more

Best Body Lotions

  The best body lotions are the kind that leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated, not just for hours, but for days at a time. I am incredibly picky when it comes to my beauty products, and when it comes to body lotion, I need something that delivers. Here's a Read more

Favorite Black Eyeliners

There's something that a black eyeliner conveys that brown or even brightly colored or metallic eyeliners can't duplicate. Black says bold, daring, classic, sexy. While there are times that I opt for brown or grey, a good black eyeliner is always my first choice. Some of my favorites include CoverGirl liquiline Read more

#AllDayLook Twitter Party August 19th at 1pm RSVP

Do you love a good Twitter Party? You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about beauty tips, celebrity looks and Neutrogena products available at Target. On August 19 from 1-2 pm ET, please join us for the #AllDayLook Twitter Party where we’ll be chatting about achieving an all day beauty look with help from Read more

a girl’s gotta spa

Hair Color & Cut at Lotus Salon at The Lodge at Woodloch

It’s no secret that the Poconos has an amazing destination spa tucked away in the hills of Hawley, PA: The Lodge at Woodloch. I’ve been to The Lodge at Woodloch several times and have had the pleasure of experiencing a facial, massage, pedicure, enjoying a weekend getaway with my boyfriend golfing and kayaking, makeup consultation with Christopher Drummond in their boutique and last week for the launch of their renovated Lotus Salon, along with the newest addition of Master Stylist Christine Lafferty, I headed up for a much needed hair color and cut.

First of all, while the spa may tend to be on the pricey side (it is a luxury spa after all) the Lotus Salon’s prices fall in line with what most hair salons in the area charge. So if you’ve been hesitant to try them out, put your wallet woes to rest. Lotus Salon uses Wella hair care products for color, which I have had a very good experience with in the past when I previously went to Salon L’Etoile in Jenkintown, PA. Christine used a demi-permanent color on me with a color lock. They also use Alterna (the LOVE of my life) and Moroccanoil (love their anti-frizz and hairspray) hair products.

Christine is amazing. She listens to what you want, skillfully cuts your hair all while engaging with you like you’ve been lifelong friends. And there’s nothing fake about it–Christine is super personable and it makes you want to hang out with her. But I’ve found that of most of the staff at The Lodge; just real, down to earth people (which essentially is what the Poconos is about–a truly hometown feel.) Christine previously had an upscale salon in Boston, but came back to Northeast PA when a family member was dying from ovarian cancer. Since then, she decided to remain in the area and landed at The Lodge at Woodloch (they are lucky to have her!)

Loved the outcome of my hair! Have you experienced the Lotus Salon, or any of the spa treatments, at The Lodge at Woodloch? To view all of their offerings see their website at www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com.

*Disclosure

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Hair Care, Pocono Spas & Salons, salon Leave a comment

PA Live: What I Wore & Apps for Holiday Shopping

Today I was on PA Live again on WBRE. It was my second television appearance, and can I tell you that I LOVE being on TV? What to talk about was no problem, as I love shopping and since it is the holidays I knew shopping apps would make a great topic–but what to wear? All I knew was the necklace I’d be wearing (provided by Delicate Raymond) and not much else.  So here’s what I decided on:

Fashion:

Dress: The Limited
Black Jacket: The Limited
Boots: Franco Sarto Upton Boots from Macy’s
Necklace: Vintage Monogram Necklace from Delicate Raymond (use code SPA30 to get 30% off their jewelry!)
Bracelet: BeadForLife Sanyu Bangle
Ring: Leela Bijou Sahara Ring in Olivine Green
Earrings: From my aunt when I was 13 (awww!)

Beauty:

Hair: Exure Shampoo & Conditioner, Pureology ColourStylist RootLift, Zarran Diamond Mist, LiQWD Design Professional Working  Spray
Makeup: Laura Mercier Luxe Eye Portfolio, GlamNatural Hydrating Foundation, GlamNatural Cream Blush, 29 Cosmetics lipstick in Wine Lover (sold at Cake Plate Boutique), LashControl Mascara, Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips (didn’t even last 6 hours before they peeled off.)

What I talked about:

Shopping apps! My favorites (and if you’ve shopped with me you know I make you wait while I check in and scan!)

ShopKick.com
CheckPoints.com
RedLaser.com

Where to watch the segment: PA Live

So how did I do? Let me know what you think!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Pocono Spas & Salons Leave a comment

Brighten Your Skin for the Upcoming Holiday Season

Every woman needs to give themselves a good exfoliating treatment. Women you can use microdermabrasion products at home to gently exfoliate and brighten your skin. You will be amazed by how much better your makeup stays on and how refreshed you feel after this treatment. Giving yourself a microdermabrasion treatment in your home is quick and easy.

You can get your winter glow over this holiday season by using affordable microdermabrasion at home products. As a matter of fact, the perfect holiday gift for a sister, or friend would be a microdermabrasion kit. After using Isomers Duo Derm two step treatment you will have visibly reduced the size of your pores, firm, and tighten your skin.

So, what are you waiting for? Revive your skin with Isomers Duo Derm treatment from ShopNBC.

*Disclosure: Advertorial

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

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Holiday Gift Guide

If you survived Black Friday and are still in need of some holiday gift ideas for the family or friend who loves beauty products, then I know you’ll find our Holiday Gift Guide useful. Amanda, Gail and I put together some of our best and most favorite gift ideas (i.e. gifts we’d like to see under the tree) into a 13 page catalog. We opted not to create a multitude of holiday gift posts and thought a handy catalog that you can browse through and link directly to the product would make for a great all-in-one-place guide.

Here’s what we covered: Hair care, skin care, bath & body, holiday kits, cosmetics, gifts that give back and spas and spa treatments that we love. There’s some nail polish mentioned in there too!

Many thanks to Kelli & Co. for creating the cover for our Holiday Gift Guide. When reading it, make sure you view it at 100%; it is a downloadable PDF.

Enjoy the catalog and please feel free to pass onto your friends! Download it by clicking this link: Holiday Gift Guide

Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links and 2 brands mentioned are clients.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, holiday, Makeup, salon, 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

Brow Review: Gee Beauty at Bal Harbour Shops, FL

It’s no secret that since moving from Minnesota to Florida exactly one year ago I’ve experienced my share of brow challenges. Not knowing where to go, I’ve taken the advice of other people and ended up with insanely thick and overly arched brows, as well as, brows that were a lot shorter and gave me an E.T. like appearance.  I was resigned to either waiting until fashion week so that I could have them done by a studio I trusted in New York or magically having the finances to book a trip to MN every eight weeks to visit my usual brow studio there…neither option was very realistic, so I was relieved if not a bit anxious when I heard about Gee Beauty in Bal Harbour Shops…a mere fifteen minutes away from where I reside.

Gee Beauty was founded in Canada and have only recently opened their second location in Bal Harbour in August. As previously mentioned, I was a bit hesitant to try yet another brow studio in Miami due to my not so pleasant experiences, but my anxiety all but dissipated upon a brief visit to the Gee Beauty website.  I was instantly assured that my brows would be in expert hands as soon as I saw that they offered a service called Brow 911, which is specifically designed to “rescue your brows,” I could barely contain my excitement the day before my appointment , I just knew I would leave with much improved brows and Gee Beauty did not disappoint at all.

The space is absolutely beautiful, modern, clean, inviting and very chic. Besides being incredibly attractive with gorgeous brows, the staff was really friendly and seemed very knowledgeable about the products that they carry (based on conversations with other customers that I overheard.) My appointment was with Natalie Gee, co-founder of Gee Beauty and brow magician…also incredibly attractive with very expertly applied make up and brows to die for. Natalie explained that she would be threading my brows…which I always prefer over waxing since I always tend to break out after a brow wax and about fifteen minutes later she sat me up in front of the mirror and I swear I just about teared up at how amazing my brows looked…trust me you would have too if your brows had undergone any of the pre-Gee Beauty torture mine experienced. My brows looked incredibly well groomed, they were thick, just the right length and the arches were absolutely perfect, I could not have been happier.

In addition to brow services such as brow tinting, clean up, shaping and complete brow overhaul, Gee Beauty also offers a vast array of beauty services such as makeup application and lessons, facials, tanning, faux lash application and tinting as well as an entire menu dedicated specifically to the fellas…if I were a fella I would definitely go for a service called The Sean Connery.  Gee Beauty also carries some pretty amazing and hard to find beauty brands such as SkinCeuticals, Malin + Goetz, Rodin Olio Lusso, St. Tropez Tan and Talika…to name a few.

With the season in Miami getting in full swing and the holidays right around the corner, I can’t help but feeling like I got wind of Gee Beauty just in time.  I mean the brows I had before seeing Natalie would have been just fine for Halloween but I would have faced some difficulty explaining them after October 31st and I am ecstatic that now I won’t have to.

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, brows, brows 5 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?

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too

*Disclosure


Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish 62 Comments

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Celebrates 6 Years of Blogging (and a Giveaway)

Monday, October 24th, was a pretty busy day. Then about 9pm it hit me…something amazing happened on this date 6 years ago. I opened a Blogger account and launched A Girl’s Gotta Spa! (<–This link takes you to the old site.) I sat back in my chair and welled up with tears. Do most people cry when celebrating longevity in their career? Maybe not, but when it is one that has changed your life and the path you were on, I think it’s reasonable to say it’s OK to cry. Happy tears of course. :)

Six years ago (if you are mathematically disabled like me–that is back in 2005) I just wanted to connect with other like-minded women from my home in rural PA (otherwise known as the Poconos.) I was still new to the area I was living in and didn’t know many people. A Girl’s Gotta Spa! gave me the ability to talk about my passion (beauty) while doing something I always wanted to do (write) and then hear from complete strangers from all around the world. I’ll never forget the day 2 years after launching when an editor for the Finnish magazine Trendi emailed me to tell me my blog was popular in Finland and they wanted to feature me in a story. I was like: holy smokes, someone in Finland knows who I am? That was mind blowing.

This blog, and my readers, have seen me through good times and bad–babies being born (Duncan and Brody), a divorce, a new happy and healthy relationship with an awesome guy, downsizing in a job, creating my own career for myself, being on the verge of broke to recovering and being financially stable…it has been one heck of a ride.

So I thought it would be appropriate to hold a giveaway. I know that is rare for this blog, I never want to be known for just constantly giving away stuff because I want your eyes for learning and connecting, not freebies. But amongst my pile of beauty overload, I have a bunch of products from MAC Cosmetics Wonder Woman collection. Fitting, no? Many of my friends and colleagues have referred to me as Wonder Woman (and Superwoman) so I thought it would make for an exciting giveaway.

(Image is not representative of all of the products listed, just some of them.)

Here’s what you’ll get (retail value of $600):
Wonder Woman Invincible Mirror
Utility Belt Face Brush Set
Bulletproof Blue Makeup Bag
2 Powder Blushes– Mighty Aphrodite and Amazon Princess
3 Lipglass–Athena’s Kiss, Secret Identity and Wonder Woman
2 Eye shadow quads–Valiant and Lady Justice4 lipsticks–Marquise d’, Russian Red, Heroine and Spitfire
2 Nail Lacquers–Obey Me and Spirit of Truth
4 Opulash Mascara–Victorious, Army of Amazons, Themyscira and Bad, Bad Black
2 Pigments–Marine Ultra and Bright Fuchsia
2 Reflects–Reflects Pearl and Reflects Bronze
2 Mineralize Skin Finish–Golden Lariat and Pink Powder

What you have to do:
Follow me on Twitter
Like me on Facebook
Subscribe to my blog

The rules (I’m a mom and all moms have rules.)
Must 18 years of age or older, you can only enter 1 time (I track IP addresses so don’t cheat or you will be disqualified), products are as is (although they are brand new and unused), products cannot be exchanged for cash, no product substitutes and I have the right to cancel this giveaway at any time with or without cause. And yes, this giveaway is open to everyone–even if you don’t live in the US.

Contest begins today, October 25, 2011 and ends November 2nd at 12:01am EST. I’ll announce the winner on November 3rd.

Good luck my pretties and thank you for 6 great years!

xo Shannon

Contest is over. Winner is Jennifer B. and she was notified–congrats Jen!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, giveaway, Makeup, Pocono Spas & Salons 18 Comments