Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vampire facelifts: This is a trend?

Sorry, come again?

Apparently if I kept up with the Kardashians (snort) I'd already be aware that as bizarre as they sound, Vampire Facelifts are a seemingly legitimate, registered and trademarked procedure.

Before you go Googling, take a second to think about what the name implies.

Vampire. Facelift.

(Are you trading your soul for eternally magnificent skin? What does the finished product even look like?)

Like those sparkling Cullens from the "Twilight" series, that - regardless of how idiotic they might be - were portrayed as genuinely good-looking?

Or Vampire as in Bela Lugosi in "Dracula"?

Not a bad looking cat, but that's not what I want my face to look like. 
Personally, when you start mixing mythical creatures like vampires with modern beauty procedures, I can't help but envision something like this:
Those cheekbones. The brows. Amazing.
So I'm going to need some clarification on what type of vampire we're talking about.

Thankfully, Carolina Wellness's Maria Hamrick - licensed esthitician, medical assistant and laser technician - took the time to walk me through what the Vampire Facelift entails.

The short version: A patient’s own blood is drawn, spun through a centrifuge and the resulting platelets are re-injected – in combination with a hyaluronic acid such as Restylne or JuvĂ©derm – at strategic points in the face, Hamrick said. That includes deep wrinkles and saggy skin that’s dull or grayish.

Lauded by fans as an alternative to Botox, the Vampire Facelift has been around at least since 2011 and allegedly improves skin tone and color, as well as lift saggy skin and fill lines and wrinkles. But critics call it a gimmick, with results comparable to other injectable dermal fillers.

If you head over to, the site spells out each step of the procedure. (The best is probably No. 3: "Injecting the magic into your face." WHAT?!)

So how much blood are we talking? About two teaspoons, Hamrick said, adding it’s the hyaluronic acid that provides immediate results. Apparently it can take a week or two before the "magic," erm, PRP, produces visible results.

A Vampire Facelift runs about $1,500 and is not something insurance covers, Hamrick said. But the entire session – which includes sitting for 30 minutes with a numbing cream on the face and about 10 minutes for the blood work, followed by injections – takes an hour tops with no downtime, Hamrick said.

Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Woo Charlotte: Excitement at the mall

I don't want to be a traitor to my generation, but I really hate the mall.

To be clear, I don't hate the stores, they're the reason I end up going. I just want to get what I need and leave.

But there's the mayhem of the parking lots - especially on weekends - and having to remember which entrance is the closest to the store in question, not getting trapped by the kiosk vendors as you power walk through the window shoppers ... It's too much.

With the mall experience in mind, I'm more than excited about the grand opening of Woo Skincare and Cosmetics tomorrow from 4-8 p.m. Photos: Store grand openings.

The store/spa, which had a soft opening Oct. 1, is in the Colony Road Shopping Center on Selwyn and has 1,500 square feet of luxury/niche brands that are usually the siren song of "the mall." (Fortuitous bonus: Blo Blow Dry Bar is Woo's neighbor.)

With a location like that, you could in theory, be in and out again in no time. That is, if you can stop shopping.

Laura Mercier. Bobbi Brown.Trish McEvoy. Nars. Butter London. Bumble and bumble. Those are just a handful of the "pretty" offerings.

When it comes to skincare, Woo has more that a few lines (Darphin, Natura Bisse) that include brands typically only available through doctors, (SkinCeuticals, Dermalogica, Latisse) thanks to medical director Dr. Robert Graper.

Gentlemen, they've got Jack Black, Supersmile whitening systems, St. Tropez products, Tan Towels and more.

But Woo co-owner and Charlotte native Kara Campbell is quick to emphasize the store "caters to all ages, all people, all price points.

"We love to educate the consumer. Our motto here at Woo is 'Everyone leaves happy.'"

The Woo concept is the brainchild of brand founder Woo Caroland, who's resume includes a number of NYC art galleries, Sotheby's and the art department of Vanity Fair.

The first Woo location opened in Nashville's Green Hills area in 1992, the second in Buckhead Atlanta in 2008. It was after visiting that location that Campbell said she and Woo met through a mutual friend.

Campbell also worked for years in NYC: seven years as executive director of Clinique International Cosmetics Division, and seven more leading marketing for Chanel's skincare and cosmetics division, Chanel Beaute, before returning to Charlotte in 2002.

Since meeting Woo, Campbell said, they've been eyeing the Myers Park area as a possible store location for more than two years.

"We knew we wanted to be in this neighborhood," Campbell said. "We wanted to be strategically placed away from the mall, but close enough to Uptown."

The mix of products and brands in the Charlotte location represent the best from both existing Woo locations, Campbell said.
The Atlanta store doesn't carry the Chantecaille (pronounced Shan-tuh-kigh) line, but Charlotte does.
(P.S.- Their holiday "The Diamonds" eye shadow trio is pure heaven. Are you listening, Santa?)

Woo is also the only game in town (and the region) to offer the Tata Harper skincare line, Campbell said, noting the products are organic, 100-percent natural, nontoxic and contain no synthetics such as parabens. "It's extremely effective," Campbell said.

Want more? Woo Charlotte has pro makeup artists and beauty experts that provide spa and salon services such as a range of facials - including Jet Peel, which uses oxygen and saline as an alternative to microdermabrasion - waxing, brow/lash tinting and fake tanning, among others.

10-percent of Wednesday's grand opening profits will be donated to Freedom School Partners.

"We want people who come here to be thrilled they came," Campbell said. "There's no pressure. We want to be a place where everyone would love to get a gift from."

Get friendly with Woo Charlotte on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pink Ribbon Pilates giveaway

Tuesday is yoga day at the Observer, when certified Kripalu yoga instructor Nancy Nicholson comes to the building and leads a class at lunchtime.

I've worked in enough other offices to recognize this is conveniently wonderful. Because once you get over the initial awkwardness of doing downward dog in front of one of your 12 bosses, it really is nice to get away from your desk and do something that helps prevent feeling like (too much of) a crazy person.

So, in the interest of physical and mental wellness for all...

Gaiam has released two new products in its Pink Ribbon Collection: the Pink Ribbon II yoga mat and a Pink Ribbon Pilates dvd, from celebrity Pilates instructor Mari Winsor. ($1 from the sale of each of these goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. )

This is Gaiam's second annual Pink Ribbon (3 mm) mat, which features inspirational messages and comes with a free download for a yoga workout. Suggested retail is about $22.

Pink Ribbon Pilates features four 20-minute Pilates workouts and includes a resistance band to help you get more from each session. Suggested retail is about $15.

We've got one copy of Pink Ribbon Pilates to give away. Email me with the subject line "Pink Pilates" and include your name and daytime phone number. We'll pick a winner Friday afternoon.

(And if you're ever in the area around noon on Tuesdays, you're welcome to come to yoga day. The first class is free.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

'You're not cheating on your hairdresser'

That's the motto of Blo, a franchise of blow-dry bars with a location slated to open in Charlotte next week. This location will be the first in North Carolina and the 32nd store worldwide.

It's a clever concept. There are no scissors. No coloring. Just washing, drying and styling. $35 will get you one of seven styles from the "menu", which includes polished topknots and fishtail braids, in addition to traditional blowouts.

(Gentlemen, no reason to feel excluded.  A simple head massage is $10 or, the Blo Bro - a 20 minute head massage, wash and style - is $21.)

While many women reserve having their hair done only for special occasions, Blo aims to integrate into daily life. Their website describes how great hair can provide "bulletproof confidence" when it comes to a big meeting at work (they'll be open by 7 a.m.) or for no reason at all.

Blo Charlotte opens Oct. 24 and will accept walk-ins, as well as appointments made online.
During opening weekend (through Oct. 27) blow outs will be $25, with partial proceeds benefiting Pat's Place. Their "Pink Carpet" opening will also feature food and drink.

Want to go?
Blo Charlotte

Colony Road Shops
2850 Selwyn Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209

I've not been to a Blo location before, but a group of us went to a salon with the same concept while in Atlanta for my stepmom's birthday a few years ago.

My stepmom, Nancy, on the right. 
I won't lie, it was impressive what they got my stick-straight hair to do with only a blow dryer and a flat iron. Even at the end of the second day there was still a lot of volume, so I thought it was money well spent and would likely go again.
More than 48 hours later, the curl was mostly gone, but there was still plenty of body.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pink hair and free manicures

As October progresses, the focus on Breast Cancer Awareness hasn't waned in the Charlotte area. Here's a small sample of some of the BCA-goodness out there:

Evolution Salon and Day Spa will host its first "Cut for the Cause" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at 452 Williamson Road, Suite C, Mooresville.

Event services include $30 women's cuts, $15 men's cuts and $5 pink peek-a-boo extensions. All proceeds will go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The event will also include refreshments and a raffle for gift cards and prizes. Event appointments are encouraged: 704-662-0805

Speaking of pink hair...

Pink Hair For Hope is a national campaign that all-natural hair extension company SHE by SO.CAP.USA started eight years ago. More than $2.3 million has been raised for a number of breast cancer charities thanks to salon participation nationwide.

Clients who donate $10 or more to Pink Hair For Hope can get a 100-percent natural pink extension (in a variety of hues and lengths) professionally bonded to their own hair, or a clip-in version they can take out and re-wear.

Available September through the end of October, Pink Hair For Hope donates 100-percent of the net proceeds.

A campaign spokesperson said Charlotte has two salons participating:

T. Reid & Company
429 East Blvd

Carmen! Carmen! at Belk SouthPark
4400 Sharon Road

Both salons said they're happy to take walk-ins interested in Pink Hair For Hope.

(P.S.- Yes, I plan to do my part and get at least one.)

In other Breast Cancer Awareness news...

During the month of October, Aveda experience locations, participating salons and will donate $4 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every purchase of the limited-edition Rosemary Mint aroma Hand Relief lotion.

In addition to the $4 donation to BCRF, Aveda Institute Charlotte's "Kiss Cancer Goodbye" campaign offers a free manicure with each purchase of the limited-edition Hand Relief through Oct. 31. Appointments: 704-333-9940.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

'Follicly fighting domestic violence'

Alright, men of Charlotte: I want to see some stubble.

Beards BeCAUSE will launch its 7th campaign at 7 p.m. Friday at NoDa Brewing, 2229 N. Davidson St.

The grassroots nonprofit aims to raise local awareness of domestic violence - as well as funding for battered women's shelters in the community - through a two-month facial hair "growing season."

Participants are challenged to grow their best beard and collectively raise $50,000 before the Dec. 7 finale at Neighborhood Theatre.

To date, Beards BeCAUSE has raised more than $217,000 for organizations such as Safe Alliance.

Director Jared Yerg said Beards BeCAUSE started as an idea on a bar napkin, a competition among friends for charity. He loved the dichotomy of the concept: something as masculine as facial hair for a cause that mainly affects women.

"Back before beards were kind of hip and cool, and everyone had one, it was something that was not the norm. Our guys stood out a little more," Yerg said.

"What we go through for two months is nothing compared to what women going through domestic violence are going through. We want to take people out of their comfort zone."

The fact that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month is often lost in a sea of pink, as Breast Cancer Awareness is front and center, Yerg said.

But domestic violence affects the same number of women as breast cancer, he said, noting it's estimated that one in four women will deal with one or the other.

"Not too many people are as comfortable talking about domestic violence as they are about other things."

So how can you help? There are a couple of ways to get involved.

Growers: These guys start out clean shaven and pledge not to touch a razor for at least 60 days. "It's two months of unadulterated facial hair growing, no trimming," Yerg said.

As your facial hair fills in, it becomes a conversation-starter, a chance to educate and fund raise all at the same time. (Plus you'll have a jump on "No-Shave November.")

Bearded Ladies: "We don't ask them to stop shaving anything for the two-month period," Yerg said of the women who choose to fund raise and represent.

(For the ladies who feel half the fun/challenge is in faking it, is just the tip of the faux facial hair iceberg.)

FUNrazors: "These are participants who either don't want to shave an existing beard, or can't grow a beard because of work or relationship constraints," Yerg said. "They participate in strictly a fundraising capacity."

Each category has its own award for fundraising, given at the campaign finale, Yerg said.

"We also have a beard judging contest with awards for the best and worst. (We name) a Most Valuable Grower, who may not have raised raised the most money, but did the most throughout the campaign: representing us and doing their part as far as advocacy is concerned."

Each Beards BeCAUSE campaign typically has between 50 and 75 participants, Yerg said, noting there is no minimum fundraising requirement.

"We started a grassroots, blue-collar campaign for a reason. A lot of good people in the community can't afford $100-a-plate dinners, galas, balls," Yerg said.

"We just ask everyone do their best and try and be on the forefront as far as advocacy is concerned."

Can't make it on Friday night? Registration will remain open for about two weeks after.

Participants are encouraged to hold their own fundraising events - there's already a local CrossFit marathon and self-defense class planned - and the group's website will keep an updated calendar of events.

Yerg said there will also be the occasional "Five o'clock Shadow" party at The Thirsty Beaver that participants can look forward to throughout the campaign.

Want to learn more?

Go to the Beards BeCause website; Facebook page and follow @BeardsBeCAUSE on Twitter.

RiRi hearts MAC Fall

Yes, I realize the title of this post is moderately ridiculous.

But it's the actual name of the fall color collection that pop mogul Rihanna and MAC Cosmetics released earlier this week.

If you follow MAC at all, you know they crank out new collections and products every few weeks. (Seriously. I get "new release" text messages from them, and I get them often.)

While I'm not much of a Rihanna fan, the seasonal colors - for eyes especially - appear to be universally flattering.

As the case often is with these limited-edition MAC lines, you've got to strike fast.

MAC emailed RiRi's release around noon Monday and by 6 p.m. Tuesday, one of the two eye quads, one type of false lashes and the duo fiber face brush had already sold out online.

But if you're really smitten, it's worth checking with the area MAC counters and stores.

Belk Northlake: 704-494-8876
Nordstrom at SouthPark: 704-442-6000
MAC SouthPark: 704-365-6611
Belk Central Carolina Place: 704-543-9888

It's been my experience (Christmas 2005's mint green, liquid glitter eyeliner) that some items no longer available online, blessedly, aren't a hit in the local market.

So if you're on the hunt, good luck!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So much pink...

It's Oct. 1 and there's already been an inundation of pink everything leading up to the official start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Over the next few weeks, there will likely be a lot more pink-related local news (and maybe a few give-aways) featured here. But in terms of today...

Pinnacle Institute of Cosmetology in Mooresville announced it will do a couple things differently this month to help raise awareness and funding.

The 70-plus member student body will wear pink tees and provide customers with free info about the warning signs of breast cancer, as well as take-home instructions for self-exams.

Through the end of October, Pinnacle will also donate $1 from every salon service - and $1 from every product sold - to the Go Jen Go Foundation. The nonprofit was started by survivor Jen Pagani, of Charlotte, to help provide financial, social and emotional support to women fighting breast cancer in the Carolinas.

Salon services that Pinnacle offers range from hair cuts/color and mani/pedis to waxing and specialty hair services such as pin curls and corn rows, among others.

Pinnacle is open to clients from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday, 461 Plaza Drive, Suite C, Mooresville. Walk-ins are welcome but advanced appointments can be made: 704-235-0185.