Archive of ‘Philadelphia Phocus’ category

Interview With Deidre Wengen, The Beauty Behind PhillyBurbs.com’s Beauty Blog

My husband says [of me] that he’s “never met anyone more proud to be a Philadelphian.” I think that pretty much sums me up. I love my hometown, and it is my pleasure to bring some global exposure to Philadelphia beauty brands, events and experts.

So listen up…whether or not you’re from the City of Brotherly Love, you’ll benefit from the knowledge I’m about to drop on you.

beautybeat Interview With Deidre Wengen, The Beauty Behind PhillyBurbs.coms Beauty BlogPhillyBurbs.com’s Guide For Her serves up tasty morsels of beauty, fashion, and pop culture news…and since discovering the site in May, it has become one of my favorite daily online destinations.

Recently, I interviewed the beauty behind the blog, Deidre Wengen. Here’s what she had to say:

When did you first realize that you were beauty obsessed?

That’s a tough one. I’ve always loved playing around with makeup and hair products for as long as I can remember. I am from a pretty small town so I was never really exposed to any big-name department stores or beauty supply stores. I think the first time I really got the beauty bug was when I walked into Sephora at the King of Prussia Mall during my first year in college. I was blown away by all the brands and products under one roof. I have recklessly proceeded to spend my money on beauty
products since then.

What is your favorite thing about being a beauty blogger?

I am really fortunate to have a job where I can write about and blog about things that I love. With that being said, I try to make my weekly column a cross between a blog post and an editorial feature. Our beauty coverage on PhillyBurbs.com is relatively new. I am just getting my feet wet in the already buzzing beauty blogging world. But meeting new people is my favorite part of being a writer in general. There are so many talented and dedicated beauty bloggers out there and I hope I have the chance to chat with all of them in the future!

If you had to limit the scope of your blog, which one of these categories would you focus on: skin care, hair, nails, cosmetics, beauty tools/implements, or fragrance – and why?

I hope I never have to limit it! But if I did, I would probably stick with cosmetics. I will never get tired of trying new lip gloss or playing with different colors. Plus, I am continually in awe of makeup can really enhance your features. I really think that it is somewhat of an artistic expression and I love the creativity that cosmetics offer.

What are some of your favorite under-the-radar beauty brands?

LaLicious Interview With Deidre Wengen, The Beauty Behind PhillyBurbs.coms Beauty BlogOne thing I’ve quickly learned about the beauty industry is that there are so many small or independently run companies that make exceptional products. Currently I am in love with a couple of bath and body brands such as Shea Terra Organics, LaLicious and Soaptopia. They all have amazing scrubs and body lotions that smell incredible. I also love Jaqua products, but I’m not really sure how under-the-radar they are since a lot of celebrities seem to love them as well!

How do you feel about Philly being named the ugliest city in America?

All I have to say is that the violence in the city is ugly, the people are not. Philadelphia has some beautiful, talented and incredibly artistic people. I cannot count the number of times when I have been walking down the street and been nearly knocked off my feet by a striking woman who just oozes confidence and style. There are plenty of good looking men too. I think that the claim is pretty bogus.

Name three beauty products that, in your opinion, are splurge-worthy.

bain+volumactive Interview With Deidre Wengen, The Beauty Behind PhillyBurbs.coms Beauty BlogOne would have to be Skyn Iceland’s Pure Cloud Cream. It retails for $75, but it is honestly one of my favorite products EVER. It is so light and airy- kind of like a marshmallow- and it make my face look glowy and feel super soft. Another would be Kerastase’s Volumizing Shampoo. The price is $32 which, to me, is kind of pricey for shampoo, but it works wonders for my limp hair. I love all of the volume products from their Volumactive collection. They’re amazing. My last pick would probably be Ole Henriksen’s Micro/Mini Peel System. It retails for $95, but it is seriously like a spa treatment that you can do at home and it lasts for a while because you only need to use it once a week. It really does amazing things for my complexion. I highly recommend it.

Which mascara do you swear by?

I have to say Fiberwig. Have you tried this stuff? It claims to be “Paint-on False Lashes” and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. It contains tiny fibers that latch onto your lashes and lengthens them. Plus, it doesn’t smudge throughout the day and it never irritates my contacts.

Do you have any beauty-related old wives’ tales that you actually practice?

None that are really well known. However, my grandmother used to always say that eating the crust on bread makes “Polish girls beautiful.” Needless to say, I always eat my bread crust – even though I don’t like it that much.

What fragrance do you consider your signature scent?

That would have to be DKNY Be Delicious. I absolutely love it. But I have been cheating recently with a sample of Hanae Mori’s Magical Moon that I scored from Sephora – it’s the perfect summer fragrance.

If you could only use one beauty brand for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

tarte+cheek+stain Interview With Deidre Wengen, The Beauty Behind PhillyBurbs.coms Beauty BlogHands down, it would have to be Tarte Cosmetics. I have yet to meet a product that I was disappointed in from this brand. I am a blush addict and I am obsessed with their cheekstains.

Plus, I really admire the goals of their recent Health Couture initiative. I just love their products.

Deidre really is a wealth of knowledge, isn’t she? Head on over to PhillyBurbs.com Guide For Her. And while you’re there, check out Deidre’s interview of yours truly.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Give Away Some Shades!

ditasunglasses The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Give Away Some Shades!
A few weeks ago, I decided to write an article about sunglasses. I owed it to you to write more than a puff piece about which styles are in vogue, so I enlisted the help of an expert.

margo and camille The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Give Away Some Shades!
After work one day, I took a taxi to the Old City section of Philadelphia and instructed the driver to stop in front of Margot & Camille Optique. Upon entering the cozy boutique, I was warmly greeted by Valerie Vittu, Optician and Eyewear Image Consultant, formerly of Alain Mikli on Madison Avenue in New York City. Her boutique has an upscale feel, with artistic flourishes – like its saffron-hued walls and artfully displayed merchandise.

What I expected to be a 20-25 minute conversation turned out to be an hour and a half tutorial. In a frenetic French accent, Valerie schooled me on how to choose the right pair of sunglasses. It isn’t an exact science, she explained. A certain face shape plus a particular frame shape does not necessarily equal your perfect pair of shades. If I learned anything from this former sculptor turned optician, it’s that choosing a flattering pair of sunglasses is an art.

Obviously, the process involves a good deal of trial and error. It can be as confusing and frustrating as finding a pair of jeans or the elusive “perfect” swimsuit. But with a few tips, you can narrow the scope of your search and make the process much easier – and fun!

When shopping for sunglasses, consider the following factors:

Shape
Decide which styles work best with your face shape. Round Faces: If you have a round face shape, avoid sunglasses with rounded frames…this will only emphasize the roundness of your face. Angular shapes create a contrast that is visually slimming. Square Faces: If your face is square, look for rounded styles that can help to soften. Heart-Shaped: Find frames that balance a wide forehead and compliment your gorgeous cheeks and pointy chin. Oval Faces: You lucky lasses have the most options when choosing sunglasses. Almost any style will be flattering, but remember that face shape isn’t the only aspect to consider…

Size
When it comes to sunglasses, one size does not fit all. Oversized shades may be very on-trend right now – but what’s seriously stylish is wearing a pair that works with the proportions of your face and body. Sunglasses that are too big will swallow you up, and make it look as though they’re wearing you…too small, and people will think you beat up some poor little girl and stole her shades. You wouldn’t squeeze your size 10 derriere into size 2 daisy dukes. The same idea applies to your eyewear. But on the flip side, sunglasses that offer more coverage do a better job of protecting the delicate skin around your eye area.

Fit
Sunglasses should fit comfortably on the face. If they pinch the temples or pull on the ears, put ‘em back on the shelf. An ill-fitting pair, no matter how cute, is just going to give you a headache. If you have a low nose bridge or none at all, you should probably gravitate toward glasses with nose pads. How can you tell if you fall into this category? If there is a gap where the glasses sit on your nose, you’re a candidate for nose pads. I fall into this category.

Color
Stay in the same color family as your complexion and hair, and the effect will be neutral. You can also play with color to accentuate certain features or downplay imperfections. To highlight lips, for example, choose a frame or lens with rose tones. If you have olive skin or visible veins, stay away from green tints. If you have a ruddy complexion, counteract the red with blue tints.

Lens
If you’re going to get prescription sunglasses, don’t concern yourself with the lenses – because they will be removed. Otherwise, you might want to ask the optician or salesperson about different lens features. I have a personal prefence for polarized lenses, which help to reduce the glare created when light bounces off of some objects, such as water, highways and other similar surfaces. Here’s a cool trick that Valerie taught me: to see if lenses are polarized, hold sunglasses in front of a computer screen. Then tilt them sideways, on a 45 degree angle. The lenses will appear opaque black. Pretty cool stuff, right?

UV Protection
Don’t be misled into thinking that dark lenses offer higher UV protection. The UV coating on lenses is clear, so tint has nothing to do with UV. What is especially dangerous, Valerie warned, is to buy darkly tinted sunglasses that offer no UV protection – because the pupils are wide open and especially susceptible to damage. The FDA recommends you purchase sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation. The sticker should read either UV 400 or 100% UV protection.

Price
You might be tempted to go cheap, but a quality pair of shades is actually a sound investment. When you buy inexpensive sunglasses, you treat them like inexpensive sunglasses. You haphazardly toss them into your purse without a case, accidentally sit on them and warp the frames, or flat-out lose them. When you invest in a good pair of glasses, you handle them with care and keep tabs on their whereabouts. Valerie asked me, “How many Bic pens do you own and where are they?” She added, “You don’t know and you probably don’t care. But if you have a Montblanc pen, you know where it’s at at all times.” Valerie speaks the truth, y’all.

Personality
Finally, it’s important to take your personality into account. If you are athletic, you might want to look for sportier styles. Glamour girls might want to consult magazines before buying. As an optician, Valerie is committed to helping a customer select frames that reflect her identity and the way she wants to be perceived. And it’s always a good idea to take a family member or girlfriend with you – someone who will tell you the truth. “Make sure she’s honest, and not jealous,” Valerie joked.

etnia+barcelona+017 The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Give Away Some Shades!
This week, Margot & Camille Optique schools us in art of sunglasses…and they’re also spoiling you pretty with two fabulous giveaways!!!

etnia+barcelona+015 The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Give Away Some Shades!One grand prize winner will receive these limited-edition Etnia Barcelona N°00 sunglasses* - these babies retail for $295! And two readers from the Philadelphia area will win a $50 gift certificate* to Margot & Camille Optique!!!

To enter, send an email to spoiledprettycontests@gmail.com. Be sure to include your full name – and local gals, make sure to indicate that you live in the Philadelphia area. The subject line should read “Sunglasses Giveaway.” The contest ends at midnight (EST) on Sunday, July 6th. One winner and two runners-up will be chosen at random from among the entrants. On Monday, July 7th, I’ll announce the winners names. Please, only one entry per person; duplicate entries will not increase your chances of winning. Contest is open to U.S. & Canadian residents only.

Good luck!

*No returns and no exchanges on the sunglasses or gift certificates.

My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon

giovanni+%26+pileggi1 My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon
A month ago, I was invited to the grand re-opening of Giovanni & Pileggi, now located in an 1840’s Federal Period Townhouse at 256 South 16th Street in Center City Philadelphia. A few weeks later, I was invited back to the salon – this time, to have my hair cut and colored by one of their talented stylists.

Last Tuesday, I arrived at the salon and was greeted by Franc, whom I had met back in April at the opening. His friendly demeanor put me at ease, at least a little bit. But having been in a 13-year monogamous relationship with my hairdresser Erik, I was having heart palpitations about putting my hair in someone else’s hands.

daneen+and+franc My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi SalonWhen Franc sat me down in his chair and asked me what I had in mind for my new do, I surprised myself when I responded, “Do whatever you think is best. I trust you.” I removed the elastic from ponytail and Franc sized up my mane. “Highlights,” he said assertively. “Highlights will give your hair dimension.”

After mixing up my color, he quickly applied the mixture and foil to sections of my hair with amazing dexterity. While working his magic, I remembered I was there in a journalistic capacity and began firing off questions.

Franc told me that as a student at The Philadelphia High School for Creative And Performing Arts, he befriended some girls in the dance department and started doing their hair. Not long after, he realized that hair was his calling and enrolled in beauty school. After graduating from beauty school, he moved to New York City and worked at Bumble & Bumble. It was during his years in NYC that he noticed how segregated the industry was – white customers patronized white salons and black clients patronized black salons. So Franc decided to teach himself how to work with ethnic/textured hair, so that he could cater to all patrons.

In New York, he honed his craft working at the Bumble & Bumble salon – as well as doing fashion shows and photo shoots. But a few years ago, he got a little homesick and decided to move back to Philly to work exclusively in a salon setting. “I much prefer working in a salon because I enjoy helping regular people transform into better versions of themselves,” he said. “It’s not that hard to make a model look good. Plus salon work allows me to be creative. When you’re doing editorial or runway work, you’re following someone else’s template.”

After rinsing the dye out of my hair, a gloss was applied and allowed to marinate – to add all-over shine to my dull locks. But before long, I was back in Franc’s chair. He quickly blow dried my hair and whipped out his shears. Again, I shocked myself by telling him to do what he thought was best. He decided to keep the length, but add some layers that would give my hair shape and movement. Then he styled it without any input from me. So how’d he do?

highlights+060 My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon

highlights+044 My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon

highlights+043 My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon

highlights+041 My Date With Franc at the Giovanni & Pileggi Salon

Amazing, right?!?!?!?!?! I love my hair and I love Franc for transforming me into a better version of myself.

If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, even if it’s kind of a hike, you must get to Giovanni & Pileggi and pay Franc a visit.

Philly’s Got A Brand New Bag – Plus A LILL Giveaway!

phillylill Philly’s Got A Brand New Bag – Plus A LILL Giveaway!
Last week, I had the pleasure of touring 1154 LILL Studio‘s newest boutique. The 1154 LILL “design your own handbag” concept was born at a Windy City street fair in 1999 – and since its inception, 1154 LILL Studio has opened stores in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City. I’m so excited that they’ve found a home in my hometown, Philadelphia.

paula floralpink Philly’s Got A Brand New Bag – Plus A LILL Giveaway!The Philadelphia boutique boasts 1000 square feet, with wooden design tables throughout the space where customers can create the bag/accessory of their choice by mixing and matching some of the 150 available fabrics. The styles offered range from small cosmetic bags and headbands to large handbags and oversized totes, and cost between $26 and $200.

After touring the premises and hearing the company back story, I was elated to learn that 1154 LILL Studio was allowing me to create my own custom bag! For almost an hour, I played with fabrics, colors, and textures to make a fab bag for Spring. Here’s how the 1154 LILL Studio custom handbag concept works:

1) First pick your style of bag from over 25 current shapes and silhouettes in the line.

2) Mix and match colors, patterns and textures to select the right choice for each part of your bag: exterior, interior, pockets, straps, etc. 1154 LILL Studio introduces new fabrics every few weeks and have between 150 – 300 designer textiles available at any given time.

3) After placing your order, you simply have to wait 3 to 4 weeks for the 1154 LILL Studio team to hand craft it to your exact specifications. Your order will be shipped to you, or you can pick it up in one of the boutique locations.

Even though my bag is currently in the hands of the Chicago-based production team, here’s a sneak peek at my Spoiled Pretty satchel…

ANDI Philly’s Got A Brand New Bag – Plus A LILL Giveaway!
Adorable, right? Even if you don’t reside anywhere near one of their boutiques, a one-of-a-kind 1154 LILL Studio creation is at your fingertips – thanks to their online store. 1154lill.com is open 24/7 – and the customization tool lets you see your bag as you design it.

GiftCert Philly’s Got A Brand New Bag – Plus A LILL Giveaway!Wait…it gets better. 1154 LILL Studio has graciously donated a $100 gift certificate, so that one lucky Spoiled Pretty reader can design her very own creation!

To enter, send an email to spoiledprettycontests@gmail.com – be sure to include your full name. The subject line should read “LILL Giveaway.” The contest ends at 9pm EST on Sunday, April 6th. A winner will be chosen at random from among the entrants. On Monday, April 7th, I’ll announce the winner’s name. Please, only one entry per person; duplicate entries will not increase your chances of winning. Contest is open to U.S. & Canadian residents only.

Good Luck!!!

Check out this video of 1154 LILL Studio, behind the seams.

Philadelphia Phocus & Giveaway: Mother’s Nature Soaps

shower Philadelphia Phocus & Giveaway: Mothers Nature Soaps
It’s freezing right now in Philadelphia, and my heater is working overtime to keep my home toasty warm. So, nowadays, one of the things I most look forward to is a relaxing, hot shower. But because this time of year is particularly harsh on my sensitive skin, I have to be careful of the bath and body products I use. Luckily, I’ve discovered Mother’s Nature Soaps.

mns1 Philadelphia Phocus & Giveaway: Mothers Nature SoapsMother’s Nature Soaps is a family-run company that specializes in luxurious homemade soaps, bath products, and natural skin care products. Alyson, the owner, started making soaps in 2003 to help her son’s eczema. Five years later, she says the same amount of love that went into her first bar of soap still goes into every bar she makes now.

The hand-crafted soaps are made with pure rainwater, oils of olive, coconut, sunflower, palm, castor and canola; some of the soap formulas also contain extra nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, honey, buttermilk, organic milks for extra skin moisturizing benefits and are colored with natural pigments. Noticeably absent from the list of ingredients are the synthetic chemicals found in many conventional bar soaps. Mother’s Nature Soaps are also rich in natural glycerin, which draws moisture to your skin to promote a healthy, youthful appearance.

My favorite product is the Monkey Farts Soap, a unique blend of bananas, fresh grapefruit, with strawberries, kiwi, bubble gum and a touch of vanilla. Alyson says that it’s a hit with kids and adults. I’m also wild for the Butter Kisses; they literally melt on your skin and moisturize with pure cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil and Vitamin E.

Mother’s Nature Soaps is located in Middletown, Delaware (a half-hour drive outside of Philadelphia), but their website ensures that – no matter where you live – their all-natural products are just a click away.

But this week only, Spoiled Pretty is giving you the opportunity to win some of these wonderful products! One winner will receive a Mother’s Nature Soaps Gift Basket, filled with the following goodies: Lavender Fields Soap, Monkey Farts Soap, Lavender & Eucalyptus Soap, Clarity Bath Salts, Lavender & Mint Body Polish, Soap Saver, 4 oz Lavender Whipped Body Butter, and Chocolate Mint Lip Balm. This gift basket retails for $50.

A 2nd place winner will receive a $25 gift certificate, and a third place winner will be rewarded with a $15 gift certificate.

Entering the giveaway is easy. To be eligible for the contest, you must be a Spoiled Pretty subscriber. Subscribing is simple and quick – just click here (don’t forget to verify your email address). Plus you’ll be signed up to get posts delivered directly to your inbox. Contest closes at 9pm EST on Sunday, January 27th – and the winners will be revealed on Monday, January 28th. Good luck!

Philadelphia Phocus: Linda Harding (Giveaway Edition)

rescue rittenhouse1 Philadelphia Phocus: Linda Harding (Giveaway Edition)
Last week, I called my friend after a trip to Rescue Rittenhouse Spa Lounge. After about a minute on the phone, she asked, “Why are you slurring your words?” Not having noticed anything different about my speech, I asked what she was talking about. She responded, “You’re facial drunk, aren’t you?” As I thought about her question, I realized she was right. I was facial drunk. My ‘Zoom Facial’ with award-winning esthetician Linda Harding was, quite literally, intoxicating. I mean, she isn’t called the Skin Diva for nothing. What makes Linda the best of the best? How long have you got?

 Philadelphia Phocus: Linda Harding (Giveaway Edition)When I visited the spa, I was warmly greeted and escorted to the waiting area – where I sipped on lemon water and perused some fashion mags. Considering that my last facial was three years ago (the horror!), I was somewhat apprehensive. But when Linda came to meet me, she immediately put me at ease with her friendly demeanor.

Once inside the facial room, I undressed, wrapped myself in a towel, and was tucked into the heated table; thanks to the cushy environs and tranquil ambiance, I already felt like a new woman – and the facial hadn’t even begun. Linda started with a careful study of my skin. “There’s good news and bad news,” Linda announced. “The good news is that you have great skin. The bad news is you’re doing all of the wrong things to it.”

She explained that I should be exfoliating every day, not just twice a week, which had been my usual routine. Then I closed my eyes, and Linda’s magic hands went to town on my face. First, she used a machine that employed the use of sound waves to remove layers of dead skin. This new method is as effective, for certain types of skin, as microdermabrasion; but unlike microdermabrasion, you can use it under the eyes, and it doesn’t irritate skin. It’s so gentle, yet effective, that Linda uses this machine on brides the morning of their wedding! Amazing right?

lift facial Philadelphia Phocus: Linda Harding (Giveaway Edition)My other favorite part of the facial was the Valmont product Linda used on my face. Valmont uses salmon roe DNA in most of its skincare products, which might sound yucky – but my skin found it absolutely yummy, and eagerly drank it up. Then, Linda used an electrical micro-current machine to push it into deeper layers of my skin – to boost the moisturizing and regenerating properties of the product.

Once my facial was finished, I was emotionally torn. Part of me couldn’t wait to see my reflection. On the other hand, I was sad that the process had come to an end. Once I looked in the mirror, I was amazed. My skin glowed and I couldn’t stop smiling. The results of my facial are indescribable…I can only liken it to peeling off the outer layers of an onion, revealing the fresh, hydrated layers beneath.

As if my new face wasn’t gift enough, Linda gave me a bottle of Biologique Recherche P50 Balancing Lotion – to maintain my new mug. P50, the cornerstone product in the Biologique Recherche line, is a vitamin-enriched exfoliating potion that purifies, hydrates, and tones, visibly improving whiteheads, blackheads, and symptoms of rosacea.

Before parting, Linda imparted some wisdom; avoiding stress, drinking lots of water, and using the appropriate products for your skin type are her top three tips for stunning skin.

Jealous that I had an appointment with The Skin Diva and you’re just reading about it? Well, here’s your chance to meet with Linda, get a Zoom Facial, and receive a bottle of P 50. If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, post a comment below or email me at spoiledpretty@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name and email address. Be sure to enter by 9pm EST on Thursday, December 20. One winner will be picked, at random, and I will reveal his/her name on Friday, December 21. Good luck!

Philadelphia Phocus: Erik Robinson

Friends and strangers often compliment me on my hair, especially on the rare occasions when I sport something other than my trademark ponytail. But to be fair, the condition of my hair has less to do with the products I keep in my bathroom, and more to do with the company I have kept for the past thirteen years.

Erik+and+Nancy Philadelphia Phocus: Erik RobinsonErik Robinson is my mane man; that’s him (to the left, with his wife) at my wedding reception. He is the only person I would even let think about touching my hair. And for good reason – he’s been in the business for 20 years, he holds a state examiner’s license (which means he tests other who are seeking their cosmetology, esthetician, and managers license), and he knows hair.

Usually, when I’m in Erik’s chair, we gab about pop culture and the latest antics of my crazy family (Erik is also my mom and sister’s hairstylist, and my dad’s barber). But when I stopped in a few weeks ago, Erik and I talked (beauty) shop – and he had some tips for touchable tresses that I’m excited to share with all of you.

Erik says that it’s normal to lose 50-100 strands of hair per day. So if you notice a clump of hair in the shower drain – don’t break out the Propecia just yet. “Typically, your hair will tell you what’s wrong. The key is learning how to interpret the signs,” he said.

fantasia Philadelphia Phocus: Erik Robinson“Women are going flat-iron crazy right now, and they wonder why they’ve got broken tips and split ends. When you regularly use thermal styling tools, you need to coat hair with a light oil or serum to protect it from the damaging effects of heat,” Erik explained. One of my personal favorites is Fantasia Heat Protector Straightening Serum. It moisturizes, repairs, and smooths the cuticle – leaving hair shiny and frizz-free. It’s brilliant for preventing breakage, and at less than $8, it won’t break the bank.

When you start noticing half-stands on your pillowcase or collar, over-processing is usually the culprit. “Overlapping chemical processes, such as relaxers, perms, and permanent color, can take a toll hair – especially if hair isn’t strong to begin with.” So if you insist on altering the chemical structure of hair and its hue, you might want to consider a more gentle hair color (one without ammonia or peroxide). Look for products with the words “temporary” or “semi-permanent” – fortunately, there are plenty of great products out there, at every price point. And when in doubt, go to a salon; it beats wrecking your hair and having to see a professional anyway to repair the damage.

Finally, Erik warned that “losing whole strands is an indication that a person requires a major change in lifestyle. Diet, stress, hormones, and medication could be factors when your hair falls out at the root.” In such a case, a trip to the doctor is often necessary to get to the root of the problem (no pun intended).

fekkaiprotein Philadelphia Phocus: Erik RobinsonAt the end of our pow-wow, my final question to Erik was this: if he had to narrow it down to just one thing, what would he say is the secret to beautiful hair? “Beautiful hair is healthy hair,” he stated simply. “And the key to healthy hair is maintaining a stable pH level, which ranges between 4.5 and 5.5. Keeping hair in this range involves using balance of moisturizing and protein products.” So, in laymans terms – if you’re only using products that hydrate, you’re not adding enough strength to strands; conversely, if you go overboard with protein products, hair becomes so strong that it can literally snap. Try following a moisturizing shampoo, like Technician Shampoo For Dry, Damaged, Color-Treated Hair, with a protein treatment like Protein Rx Reparative Treatment Mask – both by Frederic Fekkai.

Erik Robinson’s wealth of hair knowledge is inspiring; if I wrote half of what he told me, we’d be here all day. But what is even more remarkable is his innate, creative talent. Erik is the best hairdresser I’ve ever had, and he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. So if you live in – or are passing through – the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend that you make an appointment. Erik is skilled in women’s and men’s hairstyling, hair cutting, and hair coloring – and if you mention Spoiled Pretty, he’ll knock 30% off all services over $20*!

Erik Robinson
Salon DuBose
107 South 22nd Street (between Chestnut and Sansom)
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215.564.5340

*For Erik’s price list, contact me at spoiledpretty@gmail.com.

Philadelphia Phocus: Ursula Augustine

ursula1 Philadelphia Phocus: Ursula AugustineWhen I visited Ursula Augustine in her Rittenhouse studio, I patiently waited while she finished the makeup of a customer. As she was leaving, the woman warmly hugged Ursula and said, “See you on Saturday” before walking out of the door. Being that it was Thursday, I asked, “Is she a regular?” Ursula explained that the woman isn’t just a regular; she does her makeup 20 days out of every month. The moral of this story? Ursula Augustine has skills, and she takes care of her customers.

Ursula is a board-certified cosmetologist with an impressive career that spans over two decades. Earlier this year, she opened Philadelphia’s only makeup studio, About pHace – and since then, has been very busy, thanks to features in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine (she was voted Best of Philly 2007, Makeup Application). Ursula’s creative talent is no news to me, as we have been acquainted for years. So for my first Philadelphia Phocus, I decided to pay her a visit and find out how the new business is doing.

The first thing I noticed while touring Ursula’s studio was the organic tea bar; depending on the day, Ursula’s customers can choose blends such as Blueberry Echinacea or Exotic Chai. And while they sip tea, customers can leaf through some of the books in her library. Ursula prefers non-fiction, particularly biographies – from Marlon Brando to Chuck D, and everyone in between. Ursula’s space, is a calm retreat in the midst of bustling downtown Philadelphia; with its waterfall wall sconces and meditation area, it’s easy to understand why Ursula’s customers come back again and again. But, naturally, talent is her ace in the hole.

ursula2 Philadelphia Phocus: Ursula AugustineIn addition to her makeup artistry, Ursula recently unveiled her own line of cosmetics and skin care products that blend natural products with beautiful packaging. Her makeup line is mineral based, but this is no Bare Minerals knockoff. The foundation is liquid powder – so it’s minerals without the mess. The foundations and powders come in a variety of shades to compliment every skin tone.

Ursula’s eye shadows and blushes are gorgeous, yet very wearable – and her lipsticks are available in three finishes: matte, lip shine, and micro-bubble (which release oxygen to the lips throughout the day, keeping them hydrated). The item that blew me away, however, was the Retexturizing Face Primer – which, literally, melts into skin and leaves an invisible layer of silk on the face. Amazing is the only word to describe it.

Ursula’s own line of skin care is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and natural preservatives. When asked to name her favorite product, she couldn’t decide. “It’s like picking your favorite child,” she complained. Finally, she narrowed it down to two – her Oolong Tea and Carrot Oil Eye Cream (which smells like she poured it straight out of the teapot into the jar) and the Pumpkin Apricot Walnut Facial Scrub that she kindly gave to me as a gift. The scrub, which Ursula created years ago with her Cuisinart, is unlike any I have ever tried. It uses ground walnuts (not walnut shells) because they are gentler on skin. And the product can be used without water – just apply and tissue off, which means that you can pamper your skin anywhere, anytime.

It gets better…Ursula offers “pHace Lift Parties” – so you and a group of your friends can enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres while taking a “Smoky Eye Class” or learning how to get that “J.Lo Glow”. She divulged that she’ll soon be adding karaoke to the menu!

Ursula’s About pHace Rittenhouse Makeup Studio is located at 1700 Sansom Street, Suite 201. For more information and to contact Ursula, visit her website.

Spoiled Pretty Tip: If you visit Ursula’s studio, ask her about the TGBIW brush. The acronym stands for “The Greatest Brush In the World”, which was shortened to fit on the brush’s handle. Created with a blend of sable, mink, and inner-thigh goat hair, the brush’s name doesn’t exaggerate.

Photos courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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