How to Ship Almost Anything with PayPal (Life-Hack!)

Next to DMV, the post office is up there with some of my most hated places. This is not beauty-related but I find it to be a relevant life hack to almost anyone. This is a trick that allows to make labels via PayPal and eBay without actually conducting an eBay transaction. I’ve been using it since the inception of my business. Just follow this link and sign into your PayPal account to create a mailing label for anything that you’d like to ship. No post office visit required! Free tracking is included. You just need some paper, ink and a home printer.

For some reason, ebay and Paypal like to bury this link but here you go! Hope this makes your life easier and saves you some time.


Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Getting Permanent Makeup

It's Who You Know

I belong to a women's networking group in LA which has been the biggest boon in so many ways. It's part castings, part feminist rant, part politico, part nightlife, part fashion and style, part comedic women all coming together to share their experience of working and living in LA. As a former casting associate of both scripted and reality TV, these types of groups are essential. Like they say, it's who you know in Hollywood and I got REALLY lucky in the friendship department. 

Of all of the incredible opportunities I've had because of this group, the beauty ones are a stand-out for me. There have been many times where someone in the group was looking for a "model"...although not your typical kind of model you'd normally think of when you conjure up the Los Angeles casting couch in your mind. For THIS kind of modeling, you lend your face/hair/body to be practiced or demo'ed on. I've gotten micro-pigmented brows and liner, lip filler on camera for a plastic surgeons ad ("look how painless it can be!" *don't flinch*) face filler by practicing MD's and RN's and free facials to name a few. 

IG Brows

Now I had long coveted getting permanent makeup, specifically eyeliner. I had read about international microblader Daria Chuprys YEARS AGO in a major women's magazine - but I never dreamed she'd get to teach her students on my face for free! Now, as you probably know, brow microblading is wayyy more popular than permanent eyeliner - at least it is today. Who knows why brows are the more requested service? For me, I already have full, dark, bushy wiry brows. They didn't really need it but it couldn't hurt to look as put together as possible every day. Just FYI, no matter who you go to, your microbladed lines don't stay as sharp and fine as you see in their artist's adverts. It all blurs and blended together and in my experience, the artistry doesn't matter as much as other places. Plus, boldness fades 80% in its final form. 

Cleopatra liner

For me, permanent makeup is about ease. Sloth makeup, as I like to say. Eyeliner was my first foray into permanent makeup. When I lived in Hawaii, I once commented to my roommate how great her eyeliner looked everyday even in the muggy tropical weather. "That's because it's tattooed on, girl!" Eye stuff is my legit phobia, but it was at this time I decided to forge ahead with LASIK, so I decided to bite the bullet and get the lazy pants perma-makeup I had always wanted.

First, Daria did my liner on top , me acting as the model. However, I wanted it thicker. So, I found another lady in LA in the Koreatown neighborhood, "Sherri Permanent Makeup". In the airy loftspace, I told her I wanted a thicker line than originally done and I was sure of it. After all, I had been doing my makeup the same way since I was 12 and I wanted my lash line to look lush - every day! The only thing she said she would not do was a "wing", for that would look "sad" as one ages. 

For my lower liner, my sister and I went to Spade Makeup in Redondo Beach to see the owner, Marjan . She is the is the sweetest! She uses organic ink only and does free touchups to get you to the boldness you want. Everyone's skin takes to tattoo ink differently. Mine likes to shove out the pigment, so I need a couple goings-over. Marjan took the time to gently swab and numb and chat while she did my lower line where she dotted the lines (mostly in the center of the lash line, below where your pupil is centered) This is a better look than a  instead of making a sweeping,, connected bold line going all the way across, which can actually make eyes look smaller. Again, I still want a thicker, more prominent dots on the lower line, so I will be going back for my touchup shortly. 

Lip Blush micropigmentation

(Sure to be the next big thing!)

Work by Nora Grace Stahl, a former special effect makeup artist in Hollywood, who works at Crispy Brows in the Silverlake area of LA.

Work by Nora Grace Stahl, a former special effect makeup artist in Hollywood, who works at Crispy Brows in the Silverlake area of LA.

Back to my secret women's group. I just saw a post for an artist named Nora in my group who has been doing permanent brows for awhile now, needed a permanent  "lip blush" model. Not too many people volunteered but there I was, waving my hands all over the internet. I mean, I always thought getting your lips tattooed was taking it a little far, but maybe she could just give me a flush a color? I *was* a bit hesitant. Growing up near Philly/Jersey Shore, I had seen some bad brown liner work and some overdone brows/liner.

However, like I mentioned before, my makeup looks haven't changed much over the years. 

1. Consider permanent makeup if you are lazy.

2. Consider permanent makeup if you live in a humid climate

3. Consider permanent makeup your makeup tastes have stayed the same for 15 years or more.

4. Consider permanent makeup if you are seek out the artists whose work you really love on instagram and travel to them.

5. Consider permanent makeup if you understand you may need multiple touchups soon after and every couple of years and you make sure to understand the touchups fees BEFORE getting started. 

6. Consider permanent makeup if you find an artist than can match your real life everyday makeup with a pigment/ink that have they can use in the studio you. (Bring your fave makeup shades WITH you so there is no miscommunication!)

What to do about Greasy Hair and Hard Water


Have you ever stayed out of town of noticed the quality of the water at a hotel or something can greatly affect how your hair looks and feels? I grew up on a peach farm in NJ and we had hard well water. My mom would get us huge 40lb bags of water softener pellets from the farm feed store we'd have to lug to the basement to keep our hair and skin nice.  Now, personally, I have the type of hair you (dry/coarse/color-treated)  don't have to wash for 4-5 days at a time. I can even put shine products on the ends and use heavy conditioner every time I wash. Because I do so much with hair coloring, I always have to use a sulfate-free shampoo (read:gentle) so I don't wash away my expensive dye job. I shower almost every day, but I've invested in high-end shower caps (avail at places like Marshalls) so I don't have to get my hair wet, washed and blown dry every day (Who has time for that?)

A couple years ago, my little sister moved into the nearby city of Philadelphia from our hometown. She said it was affecting her hair something horrible!  Interestingly, when we were little, the style of slicking down your long side pieces into a deep part and plastering it severing to the head with gel was in style. You'd see all of the Philly girls wearing their hair like this. Well, now Hollee said she knew why: "That style caught on because of this awful city water!", she lamented. "There's nothing else can do with your hair! It's so greasy! I can't go to work like this!"

She began to look for answers. She came up with two really inventive holy grail product/tools for her greasy hair: 1) Aquasana shower head water filter and 2) Degrease shampoo. Now she won't use anything else!

An interesting and funny post-script to this story: I recently noticed my little sister washing her hair a couple months ago. I commented on the fact that she used very little shampoo in her hand. She replied, "Didn't Mommy force you to use only a dime-sized dollop of shampoo?!" Um, no my mom never taught me this and our mom swears my little sis is making this up! Now, Little sister uses a generous amount of shampoo these days - and as you can imagine! - her hair situation has improved that much more! 

Degrease shampoo by Maple Holistics. Hollee is their best customer!

Degrease shampoo by Maple Holistics. Hollee is their best customer!

Aquasana shower head water filter: a godsend for those with hard water!

Aquasana shower head water filter: a godsend for those with hard water!

Lash serums' dirty little secret

So as I mentioned in my last post, I do my lash extensions a little differently than most, straying from what is recommended - but that's what works for me. As I said, I get my lashes done every 2 months, waiting until they are almost gone. I also layer castor oil and lash serums on WHILE I have extensions on. Personally, my lashes last forever (thanks to my lash tech, Em) so I'm not too worried about overgrowing the original hair follicle that is attached to the extension. I keep a lash serum next to my bed and a lash serum in my car, in the console so I can apply at stoplights before doing my makeup. ALSO - I use Physician's Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 eyeliner/lash serum which is a milder, less pigmented version of Kat Von D's tattoo eyeliner, as far as look and style go. I have some goop for Ardell that looks like clear mascara that is also a "lash conditioner" whose main ingredient is "castor oil". Plus, I glop on pure castor oil at night and take Multivitamin + Biotin + Fish Oil gummies (by NatureMade.) I'm serious about keeping the hair follicle underneath strong and healthy, you could say! My lashes underneath aren't AS long as my extensions -but- with mascara, the underneath real lashes pick up the mascara and seem comparable in length. However, compared to other people, I don't get the LENGTH that other people do, as much as I get new follicle growth - which kind of bums me out! I want my lashes to touch my eyebrows/sunglasses! But remember, lash serums don't necessarily makes your hair longer as much as it increases the growth cycle of the hair follicle. 

...And now for the bad news: Latisse/Careprost/Bitamaprost and their analogs (BabeLash, GrandeLash, LashBoost etc.) recently have been said to thin the skin around the eye, causing aging effects. Now, I haven't researched it myself bc A) I have an eye phobia and B) I don't wann give up my lash serums but my sister looked it up and said it's true.

Now I'll tell you the other personal downside: (aside from the redness from the vasodilation effect lots of people get) I get hair growing EVERYWHERE around my eye - sprouted in the corner near the tear duct and down my cheeks and under my eye. Now as I've mentioned before, I'm of Eastern European descent and my hair is strong and coarse. So I just end up dermaplaning with my DermaFlash or using a regular razor in a pinch or waxing the overgrowth. If I don't, my eyeliner/mascara drip will cling to the micro-hairs, making me look aged and tired. 


Cruelty-free and cheap at around $30-35 dollars!

Cruelty-free and cheap at around $30-35 dollars!

Cruelty-free but not highly pigmented

Cruelty-free but not highly pigmented


Top tips for lash extensions & growth serums (& alternatives!)

A girl told me once, when lash extensions were first beginning to be all of the rage in LA, that I would never like my face again WITHOUT extensions once I started getting them. And boy, was she ever right! I've been having a long love affair with lash extensions for about four years now, and I figured I'd share with you all of my tips and tricks and do's and don'ts. 

My friend Annaliese once said that lash extensions were her number #1 beauty treatment, as in the make the most difference in bang for your buck. And that's certainly true. Time-saving, too - meaning you can do this one thing for your face, and look totally put together without having a stitch of makeup actually on your face. That's always nice - to rock a clear and fresh face and still feel good about yourself. 

Let's talk price. Lashes are NOT cheap, as you probably already know. It's time-intensive, detailed and laborious work for a true luxury service. I've personally paid anywhere from "free" (as a model for those learning - do not recommend!) to $90, tip included. And that's super modest pricing.  And I've heard of them priced as high as $200 per set in LA for something called ActiveLash, a trademarked service that is supposed to last longer for the sweaty, athletic people. I have never tried it though.

Below is me, around 2014 before I started getting lashes at all. I should point out though, that I did have eyeliner tattooed already on. Now, I have both lash lines micropigmented heavily, and my lashes microbladed as well. 


The first time I found ring lighting in an LA area restaurant bathroom. 

The first time I found ring lighting in an LA area restaurant bathroom. 

I remember my first lash appt, actually. It was full beauty/spa day, I guess, because I had my first Brazilian blowout scheduled that day. The hair stylist had performed the service outside his Hollywood Hills home on his balcony, but it still was making me eyes tear up something fierce. So by the time I showed up at some random nail salon in East Hollywood, my eyes were super irritated from the fumes and the chemicals still on my hair. The nail/lash lady kept yelling me to stop crying and I couldn't! It didn't help that whatever lash glue that lady was using - well, it smelled like nail glue. Like, exactly like nail glue. Yikes. 

The second place I ever went to was on Melrose in West Hollywood. Since I had a super-healthy lash line, there was plenty of room for attaching for luscious volume. 

The second place I ever went to was on Melrose in West Hollywood. Since I had a super-healthy lash line, there was plenty of room for attaching for luscious volume. 

I was super-poor at the time, despite relocating to Hawaii for the rest of 2014-2015. I loved my new lashline tattoo, which worked well in tropical humidity of Oahu. Lash extensions hadn't quite caught on there yet, and even if I could find a lash artist, I couldn't afford her with Hawaii's exorbitant cost of living. So - I started doing something super-stupid: I started doing MY OWN LASH EXTENSIONS. This is idiotic and something my LA lash artist friend warned me against, but I didn't listen. You can't correctly apply your own extensions in a healthy way. That's because second party needs to examine your lash line (with your eyelid closed) and to see where is a healthy place to attach the extension to the eyelash strand so the artificial hair is not pulling or too weighting down the live hair follicle. If that happens, the lash hair follicle with stop growing naturally and you will have bald spots....and that's what happened to me, trying to cut costs. 

You can see the super-irregular lash pattern here from doing my own lashes.    

You can see the super-irregular lash pattern here from doing my own lashes. 


Not only was I being dumb and doing my own lash extensions, I was doing them poorly - with strip lashes (wtf was I thinking) and individual lash glue (which forms like a semi-permanent glass bead bond) *insert screaming emoji here*  Here I am, at Long Beach airport which a strip of falsies cemented onto my lash line with individual glue (not the gummy white latex stuff that comes off when you wash your face). 

Not only was I being dumb and doing my own lash extensions, I was doing them poorly - with strip lashes (wtf was I thinking) and individual lash glue (which forms like a semi-permanent glass bead bond) *insert screaming emoji here*  Here I am, at Long Beach airport which a strip of falsies cemented onto my lash line with individual glue (not the gummy white latex stuff that comes off when you wash your face). 

When I realized it was causing major damage (that could be permanent), I knew I had to do something different. Lash extensions are addictive, plain and simple. But I could not afford to hire someone else - nor could I keep destroying my lash line. One of the first beauty entrepreneurs I had known in real life was Courtney, owner of GBY Beauty in LA. I had read an article where she recommended = 1 month of lashes, 2nd month, 3rd month of taking a lash break. She's something of a lash connoisseur, so I began to heed her advice.

Now, I adapted her "lash vacation" routine a bit. I was never big into getting "refills". Normally, the lash tech recommends you come back every 2-3 weeks for never-ending cycle of touch-ups. That's a "No" for me. Too much time and money. I do a set every six weeks- two months, then do the tips below for a couple weeks, and then get another full set. 


Lash extensions tip list:

1. Find an artist that cares about the integrity of your lash follicles. Just like there are women that now regret over-plucking their brows and have permanent sparseness, so there will be those with permanently patchy lash line baldness in the near future. I just refuse to be one of them. 

1B. Find a lash artist whose work stays put. My current lash artist in Huntington Beach, Em Lashes at Mystique Salon - her work stays put up to two months!


2. Alternate between taking lash breaks, getting good at using falsies + latex lash glue, and using makeup apps on your phone if you have lackluster results in your selfies. I love the free Makeup360 but I also know girls that swear by Facetune, etc. 

3. Invest in a quality lash serum that doesn't break the bank to use on your lash vacations. I love GrandeLash because it's cruelty-free and only $30. Don't use with lash extensions though, as the lashes will grow out too quickly. Stay away from overpriced MLM lash serums and know the side effects. A little goes a long way. (I HAVE seen some studies that say that lash growth serums can age you and thin the skin under your eyes, but I am going to pretend that I didn't)

4. Keep your lash serum something where you will remember to apply it everyday. I keep one tube by the bed and one tube in my car to apply when I do my makeup on my morning commute.  I used to use the generic Careprost from but it took forever to ship and the bottle came with a tiny makeup brush to apply. The lash serums come in a tube for easier application. 

5. Do NOT let your lash artist use lash "flares" aka lashes that come in a bunch of three. They make your lash artist job quicker and easier- and they look positively voluminous- but they are way too heavy for your individual hair follicle. My lash artist just did this to me the other day and I have to talk to her about it. I'm so strict with limiting lash weight and thickness. 

Lashes with makeup app, Makeup 360 - basically my BFF during my lash breaks. 

Lashes with makeup app, Makeup 360 - basically my BFF during my lash breaks. 

6. Do invest in a biotin hair gummy that A) isn't too pricy B) tastes great. Of course, I had to try marketing brainchild Sugar Bear Hair Gummies. Yes, they taste great, but $30 a bottle,  they are super overpriced for what they are. My gf Kaitlyn recommended this pink bottle drugstore brand Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin and Nails, but they taste awful to me. I hate waste, but I think I'm going to chuck this bottle. Instead, I found Nature Made adult gummies Multi for Her with Omega-3s. Bottle is huge, tastes great, hits all my nutritional needs and I found them at Big Lots. 

Remember, a little Biotin goes a long way for most people and can cause breakouts if overdone. Also, you don't want to supplement with Biotin if you are having laser hair removal (another dumb mistake I made). It will empower the hair follicle to keep growing and not die, especially for an East European like me who already has super-strong hair follicles that just. won't. DIE. 

7. Don't apply mascara to lash extensions. If you MUST, apply just to tips. 

8. Do use oil-free face wash and shampoo as this can affect lash extension loss. 

9. Do bring podcasts and earphones to every lash appt. TRUST ME on this one! You should be able to fall asleep if you have a gentle enough artist. 

10. Do put a pillow under your knees on the table to increase comfort and decrease fidgeting. 

11. Do keep your lashes dry for the first 24 hours. Some people shower with swim googles but I don't go that far. 

12. Do try to experiment with pure castor oil on a spoolie on your lash breaks. Castor oil is a big part of Kiss My Brass's new formula and people SWEAR it makes hair grow like crazy. Try it for yourself!!

13. Do remember that humidity, water and sweat and oil are the enemies of lash extensions. Summer, salt and chlorine water and hot yoga are especially hard on lash extension glue. 

What's in a (brand) name?

I own Mermaid Aloha, the makers of Kiss My Brass shampoo additive. I chose the name after an initial flirtation which had the name of a hairstyle in it. It became clear that the style would be out of fashion one day ("The Original Ombre Company"). I decided to have a more beachy, surf name to indicate the Hawaiian roots from where the company originated - the island of O'ahu. I added "Mermaid" to "Aloha" since I collect seashells and seaglass so that's what friends call me. That's how Mermaid Aloha was born and it still makes me happy, to this day - as it conjures up images of feminity and tropical paradise. It also gave me many choices for logos: hibiscus flowers, palm trees, seahorses, shells, ocean waves...all of the things I love. 

A ridiculous logo someone made for me that I didn't have the heart to turn away - so I'm using it here. 

A ridiculous logo someone made for me that I didn't have the heart to turn away - so I'm using it here. 

Truer words were never spoken

A house is not a home until I’ve damaged at least one of the bathroom surfaces with red hair dye. - AnnaRose Kern


That's my friend AnnaRose. She's Jac Vanek's bff and a celeb/union hairstylist that works crazy long hours on TV sets in Hollywood. I just love how she wears her hair and I can totally relate to the sentiment. I wish she did regular salon stuff because I totally let her cut and color my hair! Isn't she just the babeliest redhead babe?!

Upcoming Beauty Ingredients for 2018

Marula oil is made from the fruit of the African marula tree. The oil is non-comedogenic and won't clog pores. Marula is full of essential fatty acids that hydrate both the skin AND hair - which is why you'll be seeing everywhere. I love Paul Mitchell Marula line. It's cruelty-free and it smells amazing!

It's a similar story for Kalahari Melon Seed Oil. African, lots of essential fatty acids, non-comedogenic, can be used on both skin and hair. Plus, it's nourishing in antioxidants, similar to Evening Primrose Oil. Finally, it's a super non-greasy option, making it a great choice for oil cleansing, hair masks and for being a carrier oil for those ever-popular essential oils. Kalahari is esoteric now but due to it's ultra-hydrating properties, it won't be for long.

You will be seeing more and more of Castor Seed Oil. Now, I just bought some yesterday and the cashier said, You must have some bad kids! Being childless, I looked around. Then I realized he was referring to the olden days, where parents would make naughty kids drink castor oil as punishment for bad behavior.  But Castor oil, you see, has made a resurgence because - wait for it - it makes hair grow!! At least, anecdotally. Castor oil contains called ricinoleic acid, which stimulates circulation of the hair follicle. Beauty gurus swear by applying a thin layer of castor oil to the brow and lash line. On the scalp, at the very least, castor oil is said to be anti-dandruff. It has very powerful levels of antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties that even Cleopatra swore by. Castor oil of the Jamaican Black Castor Oil variety is especially popular.

Lastly, you will be seeing Orchid extract featured on hair and skin products. Now, as far as flowers go, you've seen way more of Lavender and Rose extracts for their soothing properties. However, Orchid extract is a great skin food because it contains calcium, magnesium and zinc. You will also see orchid extract pop up in color-protecting shampoos such as Nexxus.