Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Barber and stylist volunteers needed

In the spirit of giving and sharing, several events are scheduled or currently ongoing that pair the local beauty and wellness community with area philanthropies.

The Million Youth March of Charlotte will hold a free beauty and barber event for area students starting at noon on Dec. 7 at McClintock Middle School, 2101 Rama Road.

Event contact Keema Bouyer said they still need volunteer barbers, stylists and nail technicians to donate their services and time. Organizers are also asking attendees to bring a new or gently used, unwrapped toy to donate to a local agency for the holidays.

The event is open to youth ages 13 to 25, and attendees should arrive no later than 2:30 p.m. in order to get a cut or style. Those interested in volunteering should contact organizers by the end of day Friday.

Charlotte’s Million Youth March is scheduled for May 3. Modeled after the Million Man March of October 1995 in Washington D.C., concerned citizens locally will host the march this spring that aims to raise awareness of youth violence and how to prevent more deaths. Organizations geared toward youth ages 13-25 – such as churches city/county programs and job recruiters – are encouraged to get involved.

To volunteer:;

Additional details:

And through Dec. 21, Headlines Barbershop is hosting a drive to collect hygiene products for The Salvation Army Center of Hope Shelter on Spratt Street. Every individual that arrives at the shelter receives a hygiene pack that includes everyday toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and razors.

Headlines owner Derrick Bennett said it’s important for the local business to give back to the community. “Each of us has been so blessed in different ways and we should make it habit to share those blessings with others who may be down on their luck.”

This collection drive is one of several events that have been part of a giving-back initiative the barbershop started earlier this year. In July, Headlines hosted a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and said they collected more than 700 pounds of food donations.

To participate in the hygiene product drive, organizers said new products of any size (travel or full-size) are needed and welcome. Items may be dropped off at Headlines Barbershop, 5309-A E. Independence Blvd. For additional details: 704-537-1510,

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Countdown to cut

Growing ridiculously straight hair might be my one natural ability. So it seemed like a no-brainer to grow it out and donate it to a TBD philanthropic group.

But it’s almost embarrassing to admit that course of action started more than half a decade ago. I was barely out of college, single and living in Knoxville. What’s taken so long?

The best excuse I’ve got is laziness, though procrastination is a very close second. 

It started out as having to grow the blonde out of my hair, after reading Locks of Love can’t accept hair that’s been bleached. 

Christmas 2005
Summer 2006
(This entailed a relatively unattractive period of growing roots and slowly cutting all the blonde out. We'll skip that part of the photo album.)

My one requirement for hair length is that I've got to be able to pull it back/up. Locks of Love requires a 10-inch minimum donation in order to be used in a hairpiece, so once I could finally start accumulating length, I still had a long way to go. By this time I was married and we'd moved to Nashville. 

But it slowly started getting longer.
And darker.

Titans vs. Ravens 2008 playoffs. 
And because I apparently have the attention span of a fruit fly, I had to tinker with style without losing length, which is how I ended up with bangs for the first time since fourth grade.

Winter 2010

Fall 2011

Thanksgiving 2012
And the longer my hair got, the better care I took of it. Dead ends trimmed every 8 weeks with a pro Aveda repairing/moisturizing treatment, despite having stopped styling with heat. (Sadly, I wasn't this meticulous when I was coloring my hair.)

Under the premise of keeping it healthy enough to donate: I discovered that I can let my hair air dry (no flat iron needed), a single shampoo can last up to three days and Pinterest has endless updos and darling braids to emulate...

Enter the waffling stage.

"I don't know how short I want it/what kind of style to get."

"I heard some of these hair donation organizations aren't as altruistic as they make out to be, I need to do my research first."

"I haven't found a stylist I love yet."

What gives? What happened to being so gung-ho about sharing an abundance of hair with those in need?

Have I subconsciously been derailed by my husband's stated preference for longer hair? Or will cutting my hair short be a symbolic shedding of youth, now that I celebrate the repeated anniversaries of my 29th birthday?

Or have my locks become an adult security blanket by which I've measured some major milestones of my life?

It's likely I'm completely over-thinking this and making it far more difficult than it needs to be, which is pretty typical. Because currently, these strands are nearly at my waist and cutting off  even 15 inches wouldn't bring it above my chin. 

It's almost become a menace. My hair gets stuck in rolling up car windows, coat zippers, under handbag straps. (Pulling it out from under coats/scarves is the ultimate generator of static electricity, which equals immediate and irrational anger.)


While I may not have the answers to life's big questions I do know I'm motivated by deadlines and a friend gave me a gift card (about six months ago) for a cut at Plaza Midwood's Bang Bang Salon. (She tells me they offer clients lovely adult beverages that may or may not include vodka.)

So I'm giving myself till the end of the week to make an appointment. And this hair has till the end of 2013 before its tenure is over. 

I'm not particularly enamored with New Year's prompting "fresh starts," but it seems like a fitting deadline. Especially since one of my besties and her husband come to play every NYE, and I'm hoping to time the cut so she can come for moral support.

Yes, change is daunting, especially when you have a look that's been working for you. (For years.) 

But it's not as if more ridiculously straight hair won't grow again. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Monograms & Mimosas' at Lilly Pulitzer SouthPark

On Sunday, Lilly Pulitzer SouthPark will host a book signing of Cynthia Brumback's "The Art of Monogram" from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The book documents 13 centuries of monograms through photos and historical vignettes.

Guests can meet and greet the Florida author, who thoroughly understands that southern girls love a monogram.

A signed copy of Brumback's book will be raffled during the event, as well as a few Lilly items, said store manager Erin Porter.

Added bonus: Mimosas and free monogramming on any full-price Lilly Pulitzer item purchased during the event.

Details and to RSVP: 704-770-3980.

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Kids Helping Kids' holiday cards

We're gearing up for the 12th annual holiday card contest at the Observer (details to come), so I've got cards on the brain this week.

It seemed fitting to share another one of MAC's collections, this one benefiting children (and adults) living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The six designs in the 2013 Kids Helping Kids campaign were created by children who are also impacted by HIV/AIDS, and are featured on holiday cards and gift tags. $10 gets you six holiday cards or 12 gift tags. (Envelopes included,obviously.) Every cent goes to the MAC AIDS Fund.

This holiday initiative lines up with the company's ongoing "Viva Glam" campaign, started in 1994. The proceeds from the signature lipstick and lipglass also provide international help to those touched by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The lipstick colors and campaign spokespeople have changed over the years, but the current incarnation is actually the original in both cases: RuPaul's burgundy red.

Scrolling through the slideshow of celebrity spokespeople is a mega-nostalgia trip: kd Lang, Elton John, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga and Missy Elliott, among others.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Defeating the dry skin of winter

Not sure about anyone else, but this week – despite a Burt’s Bees addiction – my lip got so dry it cracked. I’m about one sniffle away from a serious nose bleed and static electricity is reigning chaos in my clothing and hair.

Thanks so much, frigid outdoor air and comfortably convenient, yet drying, central heating systems. How can shins go from gloriously tan to scaly-looking in such a surprisingly short amount of time?

“The winter months are colder, drier, our skin just can’t hold on to water,” said skin health specialist Melody Robinson, a licensed esthetician at Charlotte Plastic Surgery.

“Skin can get irritated and itchy, and there are other areas besides the face (such as arms, hands and lower legs) that are more affected by drier skin.”

Robinson shared a number of pro tips and recommendations to help keep skin hydrated, if not glowing.

(Gentlemen, pay attention to this, you can benefit too.)

Robinson's No. 1 pick for combating winter withering?

"In November, as soon as I turn my heat on, I put a cool mist humidifier in  my bedroom," Robinson said. "(Turning it on overnight) helps with everything," she said, adding the humidifier will up the moisture content in the air while you sleep. Whether it's avoiding a dry throat in the morning or escaping a nosebleed, your body will thank you.

These can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them: some double as air purifiers and require filters, others are made for kids' rooms and are shaped like cows/penguins/frogs, etc.

On the lips
Robinson swears by Aquafor Lip Repair by Eucerin. "I've been using it for 12 years. It has Vitamin E, shea butter, it keeps lips hydrated and keeps moisture in." Appropriate for all skin types, Robinson said, it can be used as needed throughout the day and doctors often recommend the balm to patients on Acutane. (An acne treatment procedure that's the queen mother of all drying processes.)

Be advised though, this product doesn’t contain sunscreen, which is still necessary no matter what the temperature, Robinson said.
Available at most national retailers. The cheapest we found it online was for $3.59 at
The holiday glow
After a long summer of religious sunscreen use and sweating, Robinson said, fall and winter are a time "when you're really trying to heal, exfoliate, regenerate and hydrate and get that glow back." 

Five steps to follow for your face: 
1) Cleanse with a gentle face wash that removes excess oil, dirt and makeup without stripping the skin, which can lead to dryness and irritation, Robinson said. Definitely look for a product without sulfates. Her recommendation is Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, available at drugstores.

2) Gently exfoliate, with a lactic acid solution such as Theraderm Fruit Acid Exfoliant, which gently scrubs away dry outer-skin layers and stimulates new growth and collagen production, Robinson said. 

She also recommends using a Clarisonic brush, a type of cleansing unit, a few times a week, as it allows for better product and moisture absorption. 

A heads up, not all facial brushes are created equal, Robinson said, which is why Clarisonic has the corner on the market. Yes, Neutrogena and Oil of Olay, among other brands, offer much cheaper versions. 

But the drugstore brands might be too harsh with dry, sensitive skin; they don't have interchangeable heads - Clarisonic makes brush heads for delicate, sensitive, acne-prone and normal skin types, among others - and move in a way that pulls skin too much, she said. 

"Clarisonic has ultrasonic vibrations," Robinson said. "I've had mine for years, everyone needs one ... they're a really good investment to make, no one would be sorry." Clarisonic brushes retail at $100+ and are available at fine department stores, beauty specialists such as Sephora and Ulta and online.)

3) Address discoloration with alpha hydroxy creams and chemical peels or broadband light sessions. Robinson recommends SkinMedica Lytera Skin Brightening Complex.

4) Moisturize. This will vary by skin type. Oily or acne-prone skin should look for oil-free products (with sunscreen), Robinson said, where as those in their 50’s would benefit from regenerative, anti-aging products. Her pick: NIA24 Intensive Recovery Complex.

5) Prevent further damage. “Thinking you don’t need sunblock in winter is a misconception. You can get UVA rays on your way to work,” Robinson said. For those who are often outdoors or headed for the ski slopes, she recommends Revision Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50.

Cosmo UK tweeted about their winter beauty commandments Wednesday afternoon, many of which line up with Robinson's advice.

Now to find a fix for my fly-aways...

Monday, November 11, 2013

H&M opening goodies

Charlotte's first and highly-anticipated H&M store will open at noon Thursday at Northlake mall, and as if they need to, officials are enticing shoppers with a few freebies.

The first 200 people in line will get a free t-shirt and an "Access to Fashion Pass", valued from $10 to $300, among other promos.

The approximately 26,000 square foot store will offer women's and men's collections, with separate “store within store” sections for accessories, lingerie, sports apparel, maternity and the plus-size line, H&M+. The Northlake location will also carry the children's line, outfitting newborns up to age 8.

The Swedish retailer opens its doors in Charlotte just in time to hype its Holiday 2013 trends, which reportedly include "sequined and embroidered knits, lightweight down jackets, sheer dresses and slim fitted trousers for women; and wool jackets, oxford cotton shirts and tweed trousers for men."

The Northlake store is also one of the H&M locations participating in the American Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes program, which provides cards and personal messages to troops during the holiday season.

No word yet on when the 17,000 square foot H&M at Carolina Place in Pineville is expected to open, though signage on the storefront announces they've reached the hiring phase.(However, the website only shows positions at the Northlake store.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Free haircuts for veterans

Solace Salon and Spa in Concord will offer free haircuts to all veterans with military ID from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 12. Solace will also accept donations for the American Legion.

Local owner Raegan Brogdon wanted to give back to the community after moving to a new location and invites veterans to enter a world of calm and tranquility when they come through the door.

Solace is located at The Rossean House, 5160 Poplar Tent Road, directly off George W. Liles Parkway in Concord.

Walk-ins are welcome but advance reservations are recommended: 704-795-7627.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Getting ahead of the holidays

A couple of local events are happening this weekend to help prep and perfect your look for the holiday season.

On Friday and Saturday, Aveda Institute Charlotte is offering complimentary makeup applications and holiday hair styling. If you're already in Christmas shopping mode, there's the added bonus of a free shampoo and style with the purchase of two full-size Aveda products.

The institute is located at 1520 South Blvd. Ste. 150, Charlotte. Additional details: 704-333 9940,

Also on Saturday, Charlotte Plastic Surgery will host its Fall Skincare open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its Uptown location, 2215 Randolph Road.

This event includes specials on skin care products, injections and surgeries. The open house will also feature raffles and giveaways, the biggest of which is the facial rejuvenation package. This consists of two laser treatments, SkinMedica products, Botox and Juvederm. (Package valued at roughly $2,600.)

Doctors, estheticians and staff will be available to answer questions on procedures, products, etc. Additional details: 704-372-6846.704704.372.6846.372.6846704.372.6846

(Also, keep an eye out next week: CPS Skin Health Specialist Melody Robinson shares tips and recommendations on keeping that glowing complexion now that heating systems have kicked on.)

No RSVP is required for either event.

And now that you've hauled out your winter wardrobe and identified the items that no longer fit/you're not loving anymore...

The Delta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority will host two clothing drives for business attire and related items, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Delta Zeta Chapter property, 4248 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.

The following items are requested in good, presentable condition.

For men: Solid colored suits (navy, black or dark gray); white or off-white shirts; dress slacks (navy, black or dark gray) and ties.(No bold colors or patterns, please.)

For women: Suits (navy, black or dark gray)' white or light-colored blouses; dress pants and knee-length skirts (navy, black or dark gray.)

Other items: Plain cover portfolios, computer bags, resume paper, etc.

As part of the Delta Zeta Chapter's 79th anniversary, members want to help those who are seeking employment (but are short on resources) look their best. All the donations will be distributed back into the local community, whether through a city-wide announcement or through an assistance service partner. (The method will depend on how many items have been donated.)

Details or questions:

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Catching Fire" and CoverGirl

Happy November.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," movie comes out in three weeks and CoverGirl is playing to the female fanbase with the limited-edition release of its Capitol Collection.

The line features a range of products - eye shadows, lipstick, nail polish, etc. - in 12 different looks, representing the 12 districts of Panem.

"The Capitol Beauty Studio" on CoverGirl's website breaks down each look with the products used, inspiration source, a video tutorial, a before and after photo mash-up of the models, tips on toning down the fantastical elements of the look for everyday wear and each district's "nail look." (Probably the most fun.)

The product designations centralize around "Catching Fire" as a common theme, with "Flamed Up" curl mascara; "Sizzle" lip gloss and nail polish names such as "Inferno," "Sulfur Blaze," "Scalding Emerald" and "Black Heat," among others.

The Capitol Collection appears to be available at most national retailers, as well as number of online merchants such as Amazon.

I find it interesting that a makeup company is hyping "The Hunger Games" franchise.
Not only because the dystopian story revolves around teens (the most likely consumers) killing one another, but particularly because author Suzanne Collins used outrageous cosmetic procedures - such as vividly dyed skin and hair - to show how vapid and wasteful Capitol citizens were.


I trust this campaign will still make millions.