Allure Daily Beauty Reporter: Do You Choose Your Hair Over Your Health?

Originally published for Allure here.

It’s one thing to sacrifice an hour of sleep to give yourself an early AM blowout, but it’s another thing to skip the gym over it.

The Huffington Post recently published an article claiming women today are choosing beauty over their well being. Last week, Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin warned attendees of the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show in Atlanta that women who skip exercising in order to protect their hairstyle should shift their focus. “Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,’” Benjamin said in an interview. “When you’re starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.” Now, I’m not used to being the voice of reason in these matters (I’ve postponed exercising because of Real Housewives marathons), but a blast of Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo will de-grease those roots post-workout, making your hair look fresh without a re-styling session.

Earlier this year, Benenden Healthcare Society polled 3,000 British women surveying their beauty and health habits. The study revealed that women spend $540 a year on makeup, hair care, and tanning compared to the $360 on gym memberships and vitamins. 84 percent agreed that women are more concerned with the way they look than their level of fitness, and 14 percent have even admitted to taking diet pills to drop a few pounds.

Obviously, having perfect hair and a glowing complexion is nice, but good health? That’s pretty much a necessity. What’s your take on all of this?

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Allure Daily Beauty Reporter: Lip Gloss: Love It Or Loathe It?

Originally published for Allure here.

Choosing what lip product to apply isn’t exactly rocket science. Your choices can be boiled down to three basic products: lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm. Every morning without fail, I slick on my favorite tinted lip balm, YSL Volupté Glossy Balm Crystal Colorin Dewy Papaya, and for a special occasion I’ll smooth on some lipstick. But I never grab a lip gloss.

If it wasn’t apparent from her ode to cherry Chapstick, beauty rebel Katy Perry is also a glossophobe. Jake Bailey, Perry’s makeup artist, says that she refuses to use gloss because it makes her feel self-conscious. “Many women, some of my clients included, have a slight phobia of lip gloss. Singers in particular tend to stay away because their lips can stick together slightly while they are trying to sing,” Bailey says. I can’t imagine Perry—who is basically the music industry’s Wonder Woman—feeling insecure about anything. But who hasn’t had a messy situation of your hair becoming glued to your lips after a chaotic gust of wind?

For those of us looking to face our glossy fears and experiment with the shiny stuff, Bailey recommends a lightweight formula that’s not too sticky and sheer in color. “Heavier formulas tend to glop up on the corners of the mouth and glosses with too much pigment can look sloppy if not impeccably maintained.” Bailey uses a brush to apply lip gloss onto his clients, “but when you apply it yourself its easiest to use your fingers unless it’s the kind that comes with a wand.” Gloss should be applied in a thin, even layer; “using too much product will start to look messy very quickly,” Bailey says.

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Allure Daily Beauty Reporter: Is Bee Venom Nature’s Botox?

Originally published for Allure here.

Kate Middleton isn’t the only royal creating a buzz with her beauty habits. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, reportedly slathers on a $90 bee venom-based face mask to combat the aging process. This “organic face lift” claims to smooth out wrinkles by tricking the skin to produce more collagen and elastin. Recently, the British beauty brand which makes the mask, Heaven by Deborah Mitchell, scored a $164 million, ten-year distribution dealin China. But is it actually a viable alternative to Botox? We ask dermatologist Jeannette Graf if the main ingredient in this $90 mask is really the bee’s knees.

Dr. Graf says melittin, the active compound in bee venom, does have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and can boost the immune system. Since the venom is anaphylactic, it temporarily relaxes the facial muscles, breaking down cell membranes and improving circulation—all of which can theoretically contribute to a tighter complexion.

But are the results comparable to Botox? “Everybody wants to be the next Botox,” says Dr. Graf, “but there haven’t been enough clinical trials to judge the effect of the venom.” With repeated use, it could cause you to develop a severe allergy—or even damage essential cell membranes (bee venom is also used to destroy malignant tumors—yikes!) We’re not entirely sold on spreading any insect by-products on our face, but we will say that Camilla looks pretty fabulous at 64. Dr. Graf agrees: “Whatever she’s doing, I say you keep it up, girl.”

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Allure Daily Beauty Reporter: Curls: Accept Them or Obliterate Them?

Published originally for Allure here.

Curls have always gotten a bad rap—just ask Allure contributor Judith Newman, who recently defended the naturally curly in the age of the Brazilian Blowout.

Being a curly girl myself, I know it’s not the easiest texture to tame—check my shower full of moisturizing conditioners and anti-frizz masks if you want proof. Still, I think curls can look gorgeous. So why does bouncy straight hair and soft waves always seem to triumph? I recently got a cut with a top New York City stylist, and what did he do to my hair? He forced my curls into pin-straight submission, armed with a Mason Pearson hair brush and an industrial blow-dryer.

We are not necessarily the most loved or coveted texture out there—think of any shampoo or hair-color commercial you’ve seen lately where the straight-haired model “shakes her head, and a glossy curtain of light-reflecting hair swooshes behind her. Let me reiterate the sound effect: That’s swoosh, not boing,” says Newman.

But I’ve come to terms with my lack of swoosh. In high school, I would flat iron the life out of my curls every single day, leaving it dull and damaged. I switched back to my naturally curly texture out of sheer laziness in college, and after seeing how confident curly-headed Sarah Jessica Parker was in Sex and the City, I really never looked back. Not a grandiose tale, but the lazy girl approach works for me.

How did you come to accept your curls? Or do you still prefer straightening?

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Photo: Getty Images