Tuesday, July 21, 2015

{Beauty Bloom} Block Those Sun Rays With These Sunscreens

We asked for summer and here it is, folks! Here.it.is. I live in DC where bodies of water are not sexy. I mean the Chesapeake Bay is nice, but it’s a nice, long drive. May be worth it, but it’s not all that glamorous. There’s the Potomac River, which skirts the city, but that’s as dingy as an unkempt stable. You don’t want to go near that. But, when it’s 93F out and you can’t think straight enough to care about the effects of the ambiance you just want to be near a splash. Any liquid splash will do the job of cooling you off. And while truthfully, the real thing to do in that kind of torturous heat is to just stay indoors, covered by glorious air conditioning, it’s inevitable you’ll be outside at some point.

The heat is stifling. It’s borderline unhealthy, but no one ever rejected a day at the beach because of it. No one. But if you’re going to be out there, you do have to be smart and take care of yourself. You have to protect that beautiful, unbroken skin you have. Subjecting ourselves to high heat indices and super powerful rays is a sure way to cause damage down the road. Protecting our skin, especially our faces, is key to having a enjoyable time, no matter what you’ve got going outdoors. Wrinkles are not sexy – we all know that – but skin cancer is nothing to even play with. Wrinkles never killed anyone. Cancer does.

While I’ve not been the best at applying SPF and totally regret not doing so when I was younger, especially because we spent most of our childhood outdoors, now I’m attacking the effects by being overzealous in my application, no matter what. It’s like buttering my favorite loaf of bread – I add butter before making a grilled cheese, right --- same here -- I’ll lather up my entire body – even the most invisible parts – with at least 50 proof. It’s about protection and prevention.

Because if you didn’t know, melanoma ranks top in cancer killers. It’s bad. Really ugly kind of bad. So why not take easy steps to keep yourself in good health? Here are some of this summer’s (and some cameos) affordable lotions, sprays and creams to keep your mind free of stress – at least while you’re at the beach.


Avon  Sun+ SPF 25 Spray. I prefer prays over lotions, but even this could use a higher level. But it’s water resistant and broad spectrum, which you want in any protectant. $6.99

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion is back on my list because it’s so easy to travel with. Check out the original review here. I'll offer an updates if I try any of their new formulas. $15.

Neutrogena Cool Dry SPORT Spf 70.  This one is perfect for the active person exercising outside. There’s simply no way around wearing it. It’s what I apply when cycling and its claims to evaporate sweat is very true. 2 non-stop hours on the bike, in 92F weather, is a good test. It passed. $8.

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection for Face/Body 50+. This is on the more luxe end, but it works and one of my faves. It’s the 2nd year on my list because of the consistent nature. I featured it on TV here. It feels great, doesn’t leave white film – so not sexy on the beach and causes your eyes to itch (worse thing ever, especially when sweating) – and smells light and airy. It’s a spray, so win-win. $36.

Lancôme Benefit UV 50+ Sunscreen. I love this here! I swear by this and Artistry Beauty’s little purse-size bottle for every day. It’s my default morning routine sunscreen, but I also carry this in my purse just in case I find myself staying outdoors longer than I anticipated. I love most how light it feels, leaving no trace of white film. And, it doesn’t smell like you’re going to the beach instead of the office. $40.

L’Oreal Advanced Sun care Silky Sheer Lotion. Another option to consider this summer but with super added benefits. The entire collection, which boasts invisible sprays (not tried) and dedicated face lotions (not tried either), is not only about skin protection but education, too. While the lotion is just that  -- very silky and non-invasive, it serves a purpose. $9.99

The brand has partnered with the Melanoma Research Alliance for the next three years. Their contribution will be to donate $1 to the MRA for every advanced suncare product sold here in the US. I think that’s pretty nifty. Protecting our skin while providing research for cancer prevention?? I’m all about supporting brands that support bigger causes. Plus, with the different sizes available, notably the 3oz. size, it’s perfect to travel with.

And ladies with brown skin… don’t be fooled. We’re not 100% in the clear from sun ray risk and damage. Our beautiful melanin offers a priceless layer of protection, but it’s not enough. Take the extra step and keep glow really healthy, superficially and underneath. So yeah, girls, while you’re out about the summer, do yourself a favor, treat yourself right, and get sexy up and all of that goodness. Your later years will thank you for it.


Make sure to get a lotion or spray with broad spectrum; meaning it covers both UV and UB rays. All of these choices are.

Get water-resistant and ones that last at least 80 minutes. My suggestions meet this standard. Yet still, it is recommended you apply 15 minutes before sun exposure, then every two hours and 80 minutes after you’ve been swimming, been sweating or have towel dried.

** L’Oréal Paris will help fund the melanoma research through sales of its line of SPF sun care products, Advanced Suncare. Through December 31st 2015, for every Advanced Skincare product sold in the U.S., L’Oréal Paris will donate $1 to the MRA to fund the L’Oréal Paris-MRA Team Science Award, up to $250,000.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

5 Easy Ways to B! Chic This Summer {& a TV Segment on ABC}

Summer is in full effect! Pool parties, brunch, date nights, lazy Sundays and ambient backyard fetes... those are all the fun things that make up a fabulous life. My friends at ABC in Tampa called and invited me to come on to talk about a few of my fave ways to stay chic this hot summer. Check out the segment which just aired last Friday morning. Here are few extra tips I didn't get to go over live on the tube... you know, TV happens *this* fast!

1. Entertain with ease and style

I have dreams of owning a fabulous house with a 1500 sq. ft kitchen, customized deck overlooking 1/2 acre of a bucolic backyard, dressed with mini ponds, gazebos and tiki lights, just so that I can entertain all of my friends. I have a shed full of beautiful entertaining pieces and accoutrements, but only pull them out for food styling.  It’s a shame, really. But, when I do host a few of the girls or a family affair calls for my attention to detail, there are a few key things that make my hostess status enviable. This summer, it’s all about the vintage chic element. Invest in a few serveware sets that are pretty, but also functional. The point is to streamline your effort so that you can spend more time with your guests. 

This lovely Veranda Carafe wicker tray by Olive & Cocoa, gifting extraordinaire suite, is perfect for holding and serving your best sangria recipe. It comes with a carafe and 6 tall glasses which you can pre-chill to keep your drinks nice and cold. Ditch the plastic cups and serve in simple style.    

2. Rock a chic cross body bag

Whomever invented the cross body bag should receive a style award. I’ve always been a more demure, classic style of fashionista, especially with my bag choice, but cross-bodies changed my life. I don't leave home without one. It’s my American Express. They simply make moving around so much easier. The perfect cross-body isn’t intrusive and has the double feature of allowing you to remove the strap and rock it as a handbag. 

Wherever you go, a cross body will keep you hands free.  Mofé's Esthetic satchel/crossbody covers just about every need. For night, switch into a lovely clutch that’s diverse enough to dress up or rock with your fave skinny jeans. We’re loving the supple effect and bold color combo of  MOFé’s clutches. Their perforated detail seen in the Trifecta bag, sets them apart from your standard clutch. Not to mention the slip-through strap for your hand. From after-work dinner to date night, this perfectly sized clutch is an effortless go-to. Oh, and they have 50% sale going on now. Don't miss that! 

3. Keep your beauty regiment up to date 

Nothing like sun-kissed skin, supple hands, edgy hair and smell goods. The beauty industry is saturated with product launches every day it seems. It's hard to decipher what's good, what's great, and what really works. With all the testing I do, I've learned to look out for certain key points. Sometimes that means I get to go through an unheard of amount of goodies (or not so goody) before I find the right product that really does what it claims. Some brands are constantly on the up and up of appealing to our needs and senses. 

Here are a few goodies to keep you pretty, feeling and smelling sexy and happy. 

Estée Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge. Nothing like a powerful but sexy parfume. I've always loved rose-scented beauty products; I think as young as 13. This beautiful scent, now in its third release, is so perfect for the hustling women, relentlessly working on being the boss.

John Frieda. This primer will tame the most  unruly hair. I love it mostly because it's infused with coconut oil, and if you didn't know, I'll tell you the white creamy oil is everything a curly hair girl needs to restore damaged hair.

L'Occitane Immortelle Body Mist. Been running errands all day?  A bit of this super sensual, extra luxe spray will have you feeling like 1st thing in the morning after you shower. It's perfectly delicate and relaxing with notes of Chamomile and Immortelle flower water. A beautiful combination.

Le Couvent des Minimes lip balms. Nothing unsexier than chapped lips. The French brand's latest offers juicy and truly effective balms in 4 flavors: Pommee et Poire, Citrus Aroma, Orange Blossom, Rose & Berries Aroma. 

Urban Decay Revolution Lip Glosses. Can a girl have enough lip gloss? I think not. Especially when they're not sticky and gooey. Ewwww. UD just gets makeup and beauty. We all love their crazy coveted eye shadow palettes, but their glosses are right up there, too. These revolution tubes are the biz this summer. High colour, low goo, and great packaging. Oh, and pretty colors. Because that's important. 

Dr. Brandt Body Shaper & Cellulite Smoothing Creme. We all have it, let's be real. It's a known thing amongst us that cellulite are the evil cells that live within us. Massage this creme and see some noticeable changes in your thigh's firmness. Not overnight  but sure thing. Staying hydrated with the proper drink -- lots of water and caffeine! -- makes a difference, too. 

4. Go sporty chic 

I'm not into trendy fashion, but there are some looks that make the rounds on the interwebs that you just can't help but obsess. Those looks make so much sense! Take the skirt with sneakers. It's cute, easy, comfortable and ultra feminine. The combo has quickly become my default outfit. This is the best thing ever especially for heel-wearing girls that can't really justify wearing flats outside of the gym or on the beach. But this just works. The vibe has gone from acceptable with a denim skirt to a flowy midi to pleated maxi length. The key is to have some amazing kicks. 

I'm a bit biased to NIKE sneakers, so anything they come out with is a must-see. Their flyknits are a good option for every day, but if you want to jazz up a pair of shorts, jeans, overalls, a simple dress or a distressed mini denim skirt, go for a pair from their super slick flower power Nike Air Max 1 Ultra City edition collection.  Love, love, love these bucolic pattern shoes. Pick your fave city and throw up peace signs. You'll make a strong statement. 

(NIKE shoes, model pics via Pinterest, not my own)

5.  Get a new hairdo

One of the easiest things you can do to update your look and stay chic any time of the year, is to redo your do! A new haircut or style can do wonders for your every day look, taking super casual to edgy chic.

Getting a new do is personal favorite upkeep trends this season. Perhaps because I have a love/hate relationship with my mane and I've been struggling for three years to get it to a place where I'm comfortable. In an effort to correct and revive dying curls and texture, I chopped off my hair last summer. Great decision, bad direction at first. I finally settled into a great stylist who gave me a refined, precision cut. It's been a year since I went short, but I'm finally getting with it. After 3 months of not allowing shears anywhere near (in a super sorry effort of growing it out!), I went in for a trim last week. That trim turned into a really short do -- the shortest I've had in 18 years. And I think I love it. It's chic, edgy, and definitley adds style to any look! It's requires a bit more maintenance, but who ever said beauty was painless? 

Keep it sexy, ladies!

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Monday, June 08, 2015

'East of Havana' 10 Years Later the Message is Still the Same


Things are changing in Cuba. Seemingly, they are moving at a pace the rest of the world is enjoying but anxiously waiting to speed up for its great benefit. However, word on the street, especially in Havana, is that the mediocrity (and that may be a bit of fluff) is still felt. Food is still rationed, lines are still long, people are still hustling. People still can't leave.

Long before the idea of "opening" up Cuba, giving her access to the US, people on the outside were curious about this mystical place with a beautiful malecon. What makes Cubans so special? So happy? So enigmatic? WHO are its people?

It's a question many ask but few explore beyond the news conferences, popular Cuban-American politicians in Miami and even Pitbull  -- a highly glorified Cuban rep.

But even Pitbull's claim to fame -- though he was born and raised in Miami -- has a root. His love for hip hop, the culture, the message, and his distinctive beat, comes from an underground culture in Cuba. There exists an unglorified and barely-seen rap culture that many Cubans live in but few, if any outside the island, know about.

I first saw 'East of Havana' by sheer accident in 2008. I was living in Atlanta at the time and flipping channels one night when I saw a tittle that caught my attention. My family lives in east Havana. But in the few times I've visited, I've not seen any of what this documentary illustrates. I was shocked and excited. Confused and enamored.

Beyond the artistic talent Cuban youth and young adults share with the rest of the world in so many realms (baseball, dance -specifically ballet - jazz, and boxing), there's the message their medium holds. In the case of rappers and hip hop culturists, which is the scene this Charlize Theron film explores,  it's about freedom. Not just figuratively, but also literally. The message is of anger, resentment, truth, and hope.

This documentary was released  a little over 10 years ago. You and I can sing a very different song if it were based on our individual changes in a decade. For them however, their songs still carry the same beat, have the same message, perhaps, only the rhythm is a bit faster.

As things continue to change and evolve on the island I was born onso intimately love and have so much to still get to know, we'll see an influx of ideas, stories told and surfacing anecdotes of a time when Cuba was the Caribbean Island's paradise. A time when music was a love story and not a plea.

This is the documentary in its entirely. Watch and enjoy. It's worth the knowledge.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

{Beauty Bloom} Parisian Frills and Spring Pastels

Audrey Hepburn gave us all a gift when she coined "Paris is never a Bad Idea!" She could not have been more on target. It's the perfect place to feel the gift of life, to feel gorgeous and embrace all there's to enjoy. The Seinne. The vintage flats. The lights. The crepes. The macarons (especially a white truffle and hazelnut from Pierre Hermé). The fashion. The Eiffel Tower. The Opera Garnier. The parfum houses. Chanel. The art. The history. The tulips.

It's all perfect. Even on rainy day, it's a great city to be in.

But when spring breaks and all is bright and sunny again, the air evokes a completely different feeling. You feel lighter, more energized, and most definitely inspired to seek all things beautiful.

With winter having been so rough, at least on the East coast, and spring in full effect, pastel colors are inviting and keep us in happy places. Yea, bold reds and dark plums are fabulous, but soft pinks, nudes, mint green, light turquoise and the whole gamut of more genteel colors, are the way to go when the wheather is warm. Plus, the softer palettes complement the bucolic walks you'll fancy on a perfect morning.

If you can't get to Paris this year to frolick in the mood and textures, relish in some of the this season's prettiest makeup and beauty products in softer hues. A few for the liking, and very reasonably priced are from the luxe counter brands.

Lancôme takes the Paris theme the farthest with their Paris Innonence collection, perfectly designed to keep you flirty. Soft grays, pinks, poppies and greens are embedded in metallic casings picturing Parisian gardens. The eyeshadow pallete with 9 colors is pretty enough to refill down the line. It's one of those things you keep forever and pass down to your granddaughter.

The collection is full with nail lacquers, eyeliners --  which actually stay on for more then 4 hours and lip sticks in colors dainty but mature colors like Rose Victoire. 

Bobbi Brown lovers will not part with her latest Face and Body Bronzing Duo in 'Antigua' and 'Golden Light' from the Sandy Nudes collection: one to illuminate and one to give ambiance. This long-lasting marriage will complete your soft daytime look without looking too dollish. You'll shine and glow into the evening poolside fetes.

Michael Kors has lovely nail lacquers in 'Blush' and a lightly shimmery 'DayDreamer' for the classic girl. They're absolutely perfect for French manicures.  And, the Fire Coral is my new lip crush. Doesn't stick. Lasts long. Blends well. Plus, what's not to love about a gold metal top case? They take glam to the next level with small details like that.

And if your'e ever looking for the perfect, take-everywhere-you-go lipgloss, look no further than L'Oreal's latest duo gloss and balm in 'Rose Tatoo' and 'Lasting Ginger." Wear over your fave matte color or simply rock on its own for a really subtle look.

The market's saturated with all kinds of luscious and beautiful looks this spring and summer, but I've tried all of these and love them. Pretty for now and great for pulling out on not-so-sunny days. Because even Paris has plenty of those!

Throw on a lovely skirt, your best heels, fabulous sunglasses, wear some teal eyeliner and enjoy the day!

Find a carousel.

And eat a fancy macaron. Life is so much better with a macaron in hand.

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Friday, May 08, 2015

B! Inspired Mother's Day Luxe Gift Guide, 2015

"This Mother’s Day is super special for me: it’s also my Mother’s birthday; on the same day. She is so thrilled and anxious about this double whammy, which seems to only happen every few years. She’s been suggesting ideas of what she’d like to do, how she wants to be pampered, and by whom she’d like to be surrounded. We all comply and indulger her fully. I can only imagine how special it must feel to be recognized for two significant occasions in one single moment. If it were only Mother’s Day for, it would still be okay.

My Mother’s double day inspired the brief but targeted message in this issue, designed to be a gift guide for last minute ideas for the Mother’s in our lives. As my mother and I get older, I realize and relish in that Mother’s day is every day. The work, sacrifice, and rearing she does never ends, really. My sister and I occasionally compare notes on our interaction with Maim and agree that no matter our differing lifestyles and needs, Mami always serves up the perfect solution. Whether it’s a joke, making the challenge lighter, or a stern stamp of disapproval (or approval), her judgment and counsel never fails. She’s spared both of us tremendous pain with her wisdom and love. My sister and I are thankful for that."

Read the rest of the my 'Welcome' message, find out who's on the cover, and enjoy this year's luxe gift guide for MOM-- the greatest give ever! Click through below. 

We send love and blessings to you and your Mother!


Enjoy other Gift Guides and our Soft Launch Spring Issue!

Valentine's Day, 2015
Christmas and Holiday, 2014
Mother's Day and Spring Issue (soft launch), 2014
Valentine's Day, 2014
Christmas and Holiday, 2013

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