Which Pros To Go To?

In the world of beauty there are a multitude of professionals and when looking for specific advice the task of knowing who to ask is daunting! Hopefully this will help clarify each profession and guide you to the best advice available.


A dermatologist is a medical doctor with a specialty in skin care. For serious skin issues this person should be the most important advice giver you listen to. All too often I see people lack trust in their dermatologist’s advice because their medication is not working fast enough or as desirably as they would like. There may be a lot of science in becoming  dermatologist but the practice of being one requires more art. Not every medication will have the same effect on every patient and the only way to find out what works best for you is to trust their process. Don’t be afraid to be upfront with them about your concerns or challenges with their instructions. This person is here to help you and can’t give you the best advice if they don’t have all the information they need.


To become a licensed cosmetologist you are tested on more than just hair cutting and coloring knowledge. A cosmetologist is also licensed to do facials, waxing, and nails. The majority of cosmetologists go on to be hair stylists and rarely use the other skills covered by their license but they will have a basic knowledge about all of these things. Cosmetologists are not licensed to use tools that break the surface of the skin like pimple extractors.


This is always my first recommendation for any one with skin issues as their licenses covers 2 main aspects- skin care and hair removal. I find that their knowledge of the skin is the most helpful first step for any issues you might have. Visiting an esthetician is much cheaper than a dermatologist visit and they will recommend a skin care routine based on your skin’s needs. If you do need more help then they can offer you they will be able to diagnose that and possibly recommend a dermatologist for you to see. They will also have a knowledge of make up application in regards to sanitary applications but not all esthetics schools concentrate on make up artistry. If nothing else, go for the luxury of it! Facials are amazing and well worth the time!

Some estheticians also receive certifications in other types of services like eyelash extensions, permanent make up, or electrolysis. These services are not a part of their license testing.


A manicurist is licensed to do anything concerning nails. This includes manicures, pedicures, acrylic or gel nails, and some skin services like removing a callous from your heel or cutting back the cuticles on your nails. All too often I see nail salons offering body waxing without a licensed esthetician, be wary of them! Some states have also outlawed certain kinds of tools for use- like metal callous cutters, but these tools are still used by less professional ‘pros’. Check with your state board if you have any concerns about any tools your manicurist is using. Infections can spread much quicker in a nail salon from one client to another when the manicurist does not follow all the health and safety codes that are required of them. It is very important to watch for cleanliness for those with Diabetes or other medical illnesses to avoid health issues .

Unlicensed Professionals: This includes make up artists and any service provider that is without a state issued license. There are more and more different kinds of services with each new day and it is hard for state board officials to keep state regulations up to reflect each service. The most important thing to look for with these types of professionals are certifications. A certification means that they have had some kind of training over a certain amount of time. Some times a certification will take a few months but others as little as a few hours. For example I have a certificate in cosmetology from my school for finishing the cosmetology course but my state license has a completely separate testing entity.

There can be professionals who are certified and those who have certificates of completion. Certified most often means they were tested at the end of their education and had to receive a passing grade to receive their certification. Certificates of completion are basically attendance awards for showing up to a lecture, however, this does not mean that their education there is not valid.

Whatever service professional you are seeking it is always important to remember my 5 Tips For Beauty Without Painful Experiences post!

Are you paying enough for your services?

The economy has been bad for a few years now, everyone is looking to save a buck any way they can and often this means fewer visits to your beauty professionals. In response to this some beauty professionals have dropped prices or created bundling specials, others have stopped raising their prices, while others have held steady and are waiting the recession out.

What determines the price for your service:

For every kind of service there is a standard cost. This cost is determined by the cost of the supplies, labor/time, and the experience/education of the service provider.

The cost of the supplies can make a huge difference in price for some services. Extensions come to my mind first- the better quality the hair the more expensive the service, specially if the procedure of installing the hair requires expensive specialty tools.

Labor/time can make a big difference in the cost of a service, and labor/time costs can vary from stylist to stylist. Some stylists set their prices based on how long it takes them to complete the service. For example a perm might not have expensive supply costs, but if it is not a service the stylist does on a regular basis it will take them much longer to complete- so they will charge more. Even if a service is fast to complete but labor intensive for the beauty professional the price can be affected- pedicures often cost more than a manicure because the body position of the nail professional is crouched down and more taxing on the body than a manicure.

Most commonly a factor in the cost of hair services, experience/education can be a huge cost factor. A study was recently done by a morning news show that compared hair cuts at varied costs- one was a low end cut at around $15, another around $40, then one at $80 and a fourth at nearly $200. When strangers were asked which cut looked more expensive or better the $40 look won. This is not to say that big price tags are not worth the investment. Like I said there are a lot of factors that create prices for services, many salons impose pricing standards and dictate when, and how much a stylist can raise their prices. Sometimes the criteria for raising prices is how long the stylist has been with the company, how many classes/training courses they have attended, or how many clients they have. I feel this $40 cut won the popular vote because of the finishing this stylist put into their cut.

This stylists passion for their work out shined the other cuts, it is passion that greatly determines the outcome of any service. Everyone has a budget but take a stylists passion into account. Talk to the stylists before getting a service and find the one who you feel best understands what you’re looking for or the one you feel asks the right questions. These ‘right’ questions will be different for every one but they should all be a variation of ‘what do you want from your hair?’. Whether its about how much time youll spend on styling, your lifestyle, it should be more than just the basics of how long or short you want it.


The industry ‘standard’ is between 15-20% of the cost of the service but is all too often skipped or under done. Even if you are not 100% satisfied with the results there is a reason a stylist stops the service. It could be any number of reasons but always make sure you talk with them to find out why they finished their service the way they did.

For example, I read a lot about women being unsatisfied with a coloring service. Most often I hear of them having dyed black hair but now want it blonde and are unsatisfied with the reddish brown hair they leave with. As a cosmetologist 3 things come to my mind that justify this move by their stylists 1) Their hair would have become fried if the stylist tried to bleach the hair up that much and 2) Predicting how long it will take for hair to lift is a tricky thing to estimate- everyone’s hair is different and the stylist did not have enough time scheduled to complete the service to the clients desires 3) the labor of the service is more than they can handle in one sitting-it takes about 3 hours to bleach my hair up and while I might feel a little stiff at the end of it I know my stylist is exhausted by the end of the service from constantly moving.

There is a huge difference between a professional who is plain lazy and another who is taking the well being of your hair into consideration- this should be your basis for tipping!



Eyelashes (Photo credit: ftphotostudio)

There are a lot of things we do to make ourselves look prettier and one of the biggest ways involves your lashes. Some girls pack on the make up and use every kind of product on the market while others will only use a little mascara and lip gloss, in either case its obvious that enhancing eyelashes in a big ticket for just about any woman.

There are many routes for enhancing your lashes.


This is an industry of its own, there are choices between waterproof or not, thickening formulas or extending formulas, black-brown-red-blue-rainbow, its nearly endless with the claims each product has. Mascara is the most basic tool in making your eyes pop and at times the most confusing. Finding the right mascara for you is all about trial and error. Most product claims are exaggerated, and application technique can vary greatly product to product. All I can say is I’m glad mascara has evolved from its early beginnings (pictured below).



A standard for those who favor a more dramatic look are falsies. These bad boys can create anything from a natural but full look to a bold and wild fantasy.  I personally love these for a night out or for a theatrical show but proper application can be a hard thing to master.

Technique is everything for false lashes and everyone has their own set of tricks. The important thing with these is to practice, practice, practice. Once you get the muscle memory you’ll have no problem getting them perfect every time.

Experimenting with glue application is also very important. My personal favorite is Duo glue and I will apply the glue to the lashes and wait for the glue to become a little tacky before applying it to my lash line. I find that this technique creates less mess and has a stronger hold.


Eyelash extensions are a pricey investment but can be beneficial if you feel that your lashes are an important part of your look. I personally have never had them, as I am lucky enough to be blessed with wonderful natural lashes, but they are a great option! If you only wear them once I feel that your wedding is the best time for it! I know many brides who splurged on their lashes and loved it. For many, their lashes even lasted all through their honeymoon and helped them look ravishing on the beach with no make up!

A full set can take about 2 hours so it is also the most time consuming option. Do your research when choosing a lash specialist, price should not be your only concern when considering lash extensions. What products they are using will make a huge difference in the outcome of the service and can mean the difference between a good experience and a bad one. There are a lot of different companies who manufacture the products for eyelash extensions so make sure your ‘lash expert’ is the real deal- they should have a training certificate from the company or at least their boss should. Obviously the person who attended the class should be your first choice but don’t disregard someone with hands on experience either.

The most important factor is to make sure they have a license with your state in either cosmetology or esthetics. People without this license might have an understanding of how to apply lashes but they do not understand the rules and regulations of sanitation that are required by your state! Licensed people will have more concern about health and safety (in theory), if you feel that any one who is licensed disregards any kind of health and safety standards it is fully in your rights as a consumer to report them to the state board. They could potentially pay a hefty fine or loose their license if they are found to not follow health and safety standards.


The newest form of lash enhancement is Lattice, a topical medication that stimulates hair growth originally created for cancer patients. This can be prescribed by your doctor, but unless you suffer/suffered from cancer it is unlikely that it would be covered by your insurance (but major kudos to you if it is!). There are a few over the counter products that claim to work like Lattice but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. I have heard mixed reviews about some working from some of my clients while others say they didn’t so if you find something that works for a friend it might work for you too.


In California this procedure is ILLEGAL. That being said there are still places who offer it and advertise it- research is the most important thing about any service, if you couldn’t tell already by how often I encourage it! Lash perming if done incorrectly can leave you blind, it is a serious risk to consider and that is why it is illegal in many states. If you still feel that you can’t live without it then make sure you are seeing an experienced, licensed person for these services.


I hope this has helped educate you about all the choices for getting the lashes you desire! Don’t be afraid to experiment with new things- just make sure its done right!

Decoding Cat Behavior


cat (Photo credit: Kenny Teo (zoompict))

Cats can be the most confusing creatures. But I hope that this can help shed some light on your cat’s curious antics.

Play Time Biting-

They want to play but end up attacking your hand. I believer there are 2 reasons for this: 1) they are over stimulated by your method of playing and see it as an attack, 2) they are responding to your hand with their natural instinct to play ‘kill the prey’ it’s the kind of playing you would see between two young siblings and is not intended to cause any damage to the playmate.

I think more often then not people think they are playing gently with their cat, in a way that would get the soft bite response when in reality their methods are most often in the first category. I see my husband doing this a lot with our fur children, one of whom tolerates his rough play and the other attacks or runs off faster than a bullet.

Look for cues from your cat to determine where they are emotionally. Pinned back ears, dilated eyes, hunched body are indicators that your cat is being overstimulated. Instead approach them calmly, point your finger at their nose and allow them to rub your finger first. Some cats are also easily over stimulated when they are rubbed from head to tail so only go about half way down their back while petting.

‘Chirping’ Meows-

Have you ever heard your cat make repeated quick small meows? That’s actually a cat’s natural response when they are hunting birds! My cats so this quite often from their cat condos in front of our living room window and even in response to a feathered toy! They do this to mimic bird sounds, which is believed to trick real birds into coming close enough for them to pounce on. It’s quite adorable and one of my favorite cat behaviors.

Cat Grudges-

With a dog you can rub their nose in the carpet with they poop in the house but if you do this to a cat you will have a lifetime of poop on your bed ahead of you. Cats process memories differently from dogs. A dog remembers that pooping the the house makes their owner upset but a cat remembers the same action as their owner is mean to them. Sometimes they will develop a grudge just because someone smells different!

There is a new wave of animal training that fully believes in positive reinforcement, specifically in regard to dogs but I feel this kind of technique is even more important with cats to avoid ruining animal-human relationships. So when that friend your cat hates comes over, have them feed your cat treats, little by little they will begin to like this person.


Cat do all kinds of odd behavior that seem nearly impossible to understand (like running in circles- sideways) some are just hilarious and others are bothersome, regardless cats are hard to ignore.

How To Use Your Tools



All too often I see some ladies admire a picture for the styling and think a hair cut is what will make their hair look like the model’s. That might be a part of getting the style you desire but most often how you use your tools is much more important.


The type of curl or wave pattern is determined by the angle that the hair is wrapped around the iron, how you hold your iron, and how it cools.

By taking a flat section of your hair and flatly wrapping it around your curling iron you will get a softer look when it is brushed out, its great for an old Hollywood look or beach waves. Another option is to twist the hair as your wrap it around the iron, this makes the sections stay more divided and more like a curled rather than wavy texture.

The angle you hold your iron is also very important for the final results. For an old Hollywood wave I use my iron in a vertical fashion, with a slight tilt (almost parallel to the outer half of my eyebrow) in the front sections. When I want more of a Marilyn Monroe type of curl I hold the iron horizontally.

Finally, the cooling position of the hair is the most under used and highly important step of the whole service. If you’re hair is notorious for loosing its curl completely or not holding the shape you want for more than an hour this is the step that will change your life. For old Hollywood waves I don’t pin my hair, but I will hold a curl for about 30 seconds after removing the iron. The Marilyn look needs to be pinned to the roots until it goes ice cold. If you have extremely difficult hair this will take some practice before it looks perfect. You not only have to train your hands to do what they need to do but your hair needs to learn how to hold the shape as well. Ask a naturally curly friend of yours who straightens their hair daily- they’ll tell you that their hair isn’t as curly or as hard to keep straightened as it used to be. It’s because their hair and their hands have learned to do what they practiced doing!


Sectioning is important for all kinds of styling but I really feel that with straightening it can make or break a styling. The angle of the sections and their size are the most important things to keep in mind.

When I had my hair in a forward bob, longer in the front and short in the back, I found diagonal sections with the hair directed towards my face worked best.

As far as sizing goes, it should be proportionate to the size of the iron. If you use a mini iron your sections will be much shorter than if you use a larger iron, however the thickness of each section should never be more than one inch! Taking sections larger than an inch are not evenly distributing heat to your hair, and if your hair is curly you’ll spend more time going over your hair again and again to get every bit of it straight than if you just take smaller sections to begin with. By taking less hair in each section you’re going to get more control of how each section looks.

Some styles can be done multiple ways so try things out and find what works best for you.


For more styling guidance please also read my other post What Tools You Should Be Using.

Lengths like Rapunzel


While many celebrities and hairstylists are claiming that cutting it all off is the summer trend I can bet that most of us dreamed of having long, lush hair at least once in our lives. Why does it seem to take an eternity for our locks to reach those lengths? Well here I will explain the basics of hair growth rate and what you can do to make the most of it.


Hair grows at a set length, it will vary for each person, but on average only about 1/2 an inch a month. At 6 inches a year it will be a slow process to reach those mermaid lengths, but they are attainable! The chart below is my favorite illustration of hair’s growth rate from bald to waist length.


Hair also has 3 stages of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. In the anagen phase the root of the hair is actively being fed by proteins in your blood and is actively growing. These hairs will hurt when they are pulled out accidentally. The catagen phase is when the root begins to detach from the blood supply, the hair will no longer be receiving protein and the root will begin to shrink- these hairs are the ones that you find most often in your hair brush. Eventually the hair will fall out completely. The telogen phase is the resting period between a hair falling out and when a new hair begins to grow. The image below illustrates the 3 stages.



There are a few things to keep in mind when growing out your locks, some might sound counter productive, but they are your best chance at reaching the length you are looking for.

Trim Regularly: Cut your hair to grow it. Like I said- some things will sound counter productive but I promise they’re not! Keeping your hair split end free will allow it to grow longer than if you never trimmed your hair. Hair is dead by definition- if it was alive we would feel pain when it gets trimmed. That being said, split ends are like mummified bodies- dried out, empty, and easily broken. To keep that ‘mummified’ texture from spreading up to the rest of your hair shaft the hair must be cut. Skipping trims can lead to hair breaking off or causing more hair to be cut off later! The trick with trims is to get them done as soon as they are needed. For most people that will mean a salon visit every 6-8 weeks.

Style Smartly: Using styling tools are beneficial now, but the damage they could be doing can cause your hair to require more frequent trims and more time to reach your desired length. Make sure you are using your tools correctly and at the right settings! No-heat styling should be your new best friend. Read my post about what tools to use, and how to use them here.

Moisturize me: Keep your hair moisture rich- this means conditioning treatments. Spending major bucks at a salon for this is not required but not discredited either. I definitely recommend having your hair analyzed by a professional from time to time. Hair types vary, just like skin types, some people are prone to dry hair and others are not. If you are prone to dry hair then conditioning treatments are something you should be considering at least once a week. If you are lucky enough to be one of those annoyingly perfect hair types of people (cough) then conditioning treatments should still be something you do from time to time but not nearly as frequently as dry hair types.


Anything that you can get over the counter that claims to increase your hair’s rate of growth is lying. Nothing applied topically (shampoos or serums) or taken orally (pills and vitamins) will have any affect on your rate of growth. If there was truly a miracle product it would make major headlines and infomercials would be unnecessary.

That being said, they can’t hurt either. Hair needs protein and blood flow to grow. If a shampoo or scalp serum has an ingredient that increases blood flow, then it can encourage hair to grow. A pill or vitamin might not provide the exact protein that your body needs to produce hair, but it can encourage the absorption of these proteins. The important thing to keep in mind when considering these ‘miracle’ products is to remember that growing hair takes more patience than most of us would like, and this product will not get your hair to the length you want over night.


Growing long locks is a slow process but maintaining healthy hair will get you there. You have already educated yourself about how hair grows so now you can make better decisions about how to style, trim, and condition your hair. True ‘miracle’ products might not exist, but now you are better equipped to weed out the gimmicks and find products that really can encourage your hair to grow at the fastest rate possible.

Whatever length you’re at right now, don’t lose hope! Just think about how great you will feel once you reach your dream length and push on!

Summer Trends… TO AVOID!

Every year I see girls, some friends and some strangers, indulge in the following summer ‘trends’ and it takes everything in me to not shake them vigorously while shouting “Don’t you know how bad that is for you!?!?”

But of coarse I don’t, because i know they don’t! Here is my plea for women around the world to stop indulging in these summertime activities, I hope to guide you all into healthier and more productive activities.


This is so terrible for your hair! Any kind of citrus, or sun-in product used to ‘naturally’ produce highlights is very damaging for your hair. Some people swear by it and defend it to their last breath- but these people are not cosmetologists! Hair has a pH of 4.5-5.5 whereas lemons (and many of these sun-in products) have a pH of 2. This might not sound like a big difference, what could be so bad about a 2 point difference you might ponder… well battery acid has a pH of 0, and I’m sure we can all recognize the jump from lemon juice to battery acid is huge.

Hair shafts are a lot like fish, they have scales- and when the hair is healthy all the scales are smooth and tightly lay over each other. Lemon juice breaks open these compacted scales and allows moisture to evaporate, taking the melanin that colors your hair with it. There is no stopping point for the lifting that lemon will do to your hair though, it will keep ripping away at your cuticle layer and leave it in shambles.

The best way to highlight your hair is to use professionally formulated products. These products do cause damage to your hair, but in a much more controlled way. Hair color has a stopping point, where the product will no longer rip open your cuticle and that is controlled by the volume level that is mixed in with the color. Bleach is a little more volatile, but again is much more controlled than lemon juice.


I don’t think I need to go into as much detail about why this is such a bad idea. Most people these days realize the health hazards that come with tanning but what kind of California girl would I be without mentioning this? I am half Mexican and half white, so I can go from being really pale to looking tan-orexic with just a few laying out sessions, but using oils and creams while laying out to enhance your tan’s tan are not worth it! Not only do these products do very little to actually deepen the color of your tan, they actually allow sun damage to penetrate deeper into your epidermis. If you insist on laying out or using a tanning bed to get a tan don’t over do it. Use sunblock to protect your skin from the stronger uv rays, the others will get through enough to give you a glow. Mostly I wish people would just accept their natural skin tones! You are beautiful the way you are! I think it’s a little ridiculous to dramatically change skin tones every year for a few months but if you must at least do it the fake bake route!


Gels, Pencils & Shadows… Oh My!


Every day I have clients who come in with ‘problem’ eyebrows. Sometimes that means their shape is wrong for their face and other times it means they have hardly any at all! Either way, a good 50% are unsatisfied with some aspect of their brows and they turn to me for a solution.

This post is for the women who have dents, holes, or missing portions of their eyebrows. I’ve personally tested each product on myself and/or clients and this is what I feel provides the best looking results for a specific problem.


I personally use the MAC Fluid Line in Dipdown to fill in my brows. After years of over tweezing my eyebrows refuse to return to their former Mexican-Bushy-Glory. I find that this product really fills them in and gives them a pin up style density but also dries quickly enough that I can have it blend off into a soft edge. It is a dramatic change, but I rather like the boldness of it. Gel liners have amazing staying power too, I can swim, sleep, and do whatever without a care- as long as I am careful to wipe or rub around my brows to vigorously they aren’t going anywhere.

Gels work best for the most troublesome brows, I find that shortly trimmed brows also get the best applications. Gels are great for that bold brow that exudes sultriness and strength.


I’ve used several different kinds and they all provide great coverage, but are second to gel in staying power. I often feel like there are 2 ‘speeds’ of pencils- so soft and too light or super bold and too harsh. It can be tricky to master this tool but it can be a great product. I feel the best results come with a combination of a pencil and a clean lip liner brush. Waiting a few minutes after pencil application I find that a clean brush will give a gentleness to the edges and a more natural look.

Pencils are great for eyebrows that only have minor shaping issues like dents or length issues but can also be great for adding density. Pencils are great for adding a little spice to your eye make up.


These can be the trickiest to maneuver as shadows are harder to control. Shadows will add depth to your eyebrows if they are very fair without being too harsh as long as you can master the application. Some people feel that using a wet brush makes the process easier but If you’re making a shadow paste I think it’d be easier to buy a gel or pencil. Using a damp brush does help though. Keep concealer and another brush handy to trace the edge of your brows  after finishing with powder, this will clean up any shadow that got away from your eyebrows. Another trick to fight fading is to apply clear mascara or hair spray with a mascara brush.

Shadows can require more patience and cleaning up but work great for blonde brows that look barely there or ones that need a little oomph. With correct color choices shadows can create a subtle yet beautiful brow.


Which ever method you choose, the most important thing to remember is proper shaping and correct color choices, everything after that is personal preference and there are no wrong answers there! Below is a diagram to guide you in shaping, I’ll do another post soon with more details about achieving the perfect brow shape for your face.


Thank You

I didn’t realize how quickly I have been gaining a following! I know I’ve been blogging a few months but I was talking about it to a friend the other day and underestimated my number of subscribed followers! I am very glad to be wrong and appreciate that my thoughts matter to you!

I want to make this the best blog I can write so please submit questions to me! Anything that has to do with hair, make up, skin care, and animal related questions are my main focus but I am willing to take on anything. I started writing this blog because I believe that sharing knowledge improves lives and can improve our world. Even though sharing something like how to apply lip liner is a small thing, if it is shared with an audience of women from a nation that traditionally frowns upon make up then that means things are changing there!

Big changes always start small and I believe in inspiring small changes everyday.

I get inspiration from everywhere and I want to include more of you in that process, so please start a dialogue with me about what you want to know and what inspires you!

Find me on Instagram @dinacristina to discover the extent of  what a crazy cat lady I am!