Better Serving Bloggers and Creatives in 2015

As I pursue some new creative ventures this year, I have been spending a lot of time talking with bloggers and creativepreneurs about their individual questions, struggles, passions, and goals. It has been inspiring to hear the amazing things people want to accomplish, but also enlightening to understand what obstacles they face and what information they want to know more about (and definitely lets me know that I’m not alone in my own struggles!). One of my goals in 2015 is to better serve these bloggers and creatives and you’ll be hearing more about this as we move forward. But in order to do this, I need to know more.

Here’s where you come in, my dear readers and friends. 

I put together a quick, but very useful survey that will help me better understand what kind of tools and information you are seeking to pursue your creative goals, big and small. The more feedback I receive, the better I can learn from you!

I WANT YOUR FEEDBACK!

If you have a minute or two, would you click here to fill out this questionnaire for me? As a thank you for your efforts, I will be choosing one survey participant to win a $10 gift card to the store of his or her choice! I’ll be selecting a winner on Tuesday, January 13th.

Fill out this survey for a chance to win!

Thank you so much in advance for your help! Also, thanks so much for your patience as I make some changes around these parts :)

My Top 10 Wavy and Curly Hair Essentials

Despite the fact that the majority of people I know tend to have some sort of wave or curl to their hair (whether they admit it or not), there is still not a ton of knowledge to be found in one place for curly-haired people. And because every single curly has his or her own unique curl type that seems to have its own personality, it can be even more difficult to sift through curly hair resources to find information that is pertinent to you. It’s no wonder that so many curlies have resorted to using a straightener every single day. While I enjoy and appreciate straight hair (even for myself on occasion), I am a firm believer in embracing your waves and curls! Since discovering my waves once I hit puberty, it has been an uphill battle to find the products and techniques that work on my wavy curls. While I don’t think the journey will ever end, I feel confident in my research and experience that I have found a nice list of essentials that my curls could not do without.

It’s important to note that while these things work for me, they may not work for you and your curl type. If you’re going by the Curly Girl method, I have 3B/2C/2B curls and waves–somewhere between “wavy curvy,” “wavy whirly,” and “curly twirly.” Yes, it’s totally normal to have multiple curl types on one head. When I was in late elementary/early middle school, my best friend Chrissy always called my curls “wavy woos.” I think it works well. Even though you may not have the same hair type as me, a lot of these essentials can still apply to other wavys and curlies. While pricey and time-consuming, the best thing you can do for your curls is just to try different products and techniques until you find something that works. (And often times, you’ll continually have to adjust this routine as time goes on and your pattern evolves.)

Without further ado, here are my top 10 wavy curly hair essentials. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to enter in a very special curly giveaway!

My Top 10 Wavy and Curly Hair Essentials

1. Curly Girl: The Handbook (2nd edition)

If there was one “manual” out there that I would recommend for curlies, it would be this. Written by the fabulous Lorraine Massey, this book outlines in detail the various curl types, best hair cut techniques, recommended products for each texture, recipes for homemade treatments, and more. I received this book back in high school and it changed my understanding and perspective of curly hair dramatically. I’ve read another handbook of sorts (Curl Talk by Ouidad) and while it was informative, I still much prefer the CG Handbook and revisit it whenever I’m in a curly hair rut. And if you’re a curly girl, you know that happens cyclically and it’s important to have a go-to to rely on. (Stick around to the end of the post for an opportunity to win your own copy!)

Curly Girl The Handbook is my #1 Wavy and Curly Hair Essentialvia

2. A Curly Hair Artist/Stylist

A few months ago, I talked about my extremely positive experience with the lovely Kelly Elaine Inc., a specialized curly hair salon in Pittsburgh. Kelly and Victoria have been instrumental in making my curls more manageable and beautiful. Once you find a stylist who truly understands curly hair, you can finally relax when you go to the salon! Kelly recommends you look for a stylist who is part of Curly Hair Artistry. Founded by Scott Musgrave, this group of talented stylists regularly train and learn about curly hair cutting and styling techniques. Click here for a current Global Stylist Listing. Before you get a cut, ask your stylist if he or she cuts curls dry and what education they have to get a good feel of how they might work with your own curls. Read more of my interview with Kelly for more tips and advice for finding your perfect curly hair artist.

A Custom Curly Hair Cut and Review Kelly Elaine Inc

3. NaturallyCurly.com

In addition to having the Curly Girl Handbook, it’s equally as important to have a place to turn to for articles, product reviews, and forums. NaturallyCurly.com is one of my favorite resources to consult regularly. I mostly use it to look up products I come across at Target or see online and it is really helpful to see reviews from others who have the same curl type as you. You can also look up salons in your area that are “curly hair certified” and read reviews on them. You may have seen my review of Kelly Elaine, Inc. back in 2011 on there! There’s also some pretty cool giveaways and testimonials to check out.

4. Your Holy Grail Products

I am of the belief that you may never find your “holy grail” products, but you’re in luck if you come relatively close. For me, these products have changed over time, but right now I have had the most consistent results with the DevaCurl products. Here’s what I’m using these days:

In the Shower

Raked Through Soaking Wet Hair and then Scrunched Gently

I’m hoping to do a more detailed post about styling in the future, but this is the trickiest area when it comes to curls. Some curlies can achieve perfect coils with mousse and hairspray, while others require carefully distributed creams and gels. There is a big debate when it comes to ingredients, but typically try to avoid sulfates, parabens, and silicones–although not all silicones and other “no-nos” are bad for certain curls. I’ve been a huge fan of Curls Rock by Tigi (the original blue pump, not the new black pump) in the past and it is full of silicones. Trial and effort, people!

Tip: Don’t give up on a product until you’ve tried it both on soaking wet and towel-dried hair. I have had the best luck with soaking wet hair right out of the shower, but this may not work with certain products.

5. A Microfiber Towel

Please note that while I am recommending a towel, I am NOT recommending you pile your hair in it and wear it as a turban. This will promote frizz and disrupt your curl pattern greatly! Instead, I am recommending a smooth, absorbent towel (i.e. microfiber, not terry cloth) to use for scrunching out excess moisture. For me, this is the last step in the styling process before heat drying. For some of you, this may be before you apply products. Again, try out variations and see what works best for you.

6. A Diffuser Attachment

If you aren’t using a diffuser to blow dry your hair and you’re not getting frizz, you MUST spill your secrets. While I think air drying is very important, sometimes most often there is not enough time to wait three hours for your hair to dry (I’m not even exaggerating with how much hair I have.) AND I achieve more bounce factor when applying heat. To illustrate, check out this Instagram from a few months ago:

The Difference a Diffuser Makes on Wavy Curls@themodernausten

While I am actually on the search for a new diffuser, I have found that I’ve had the best luck with diffusers that have prongs to reach into the roots of your hair, rather than just the bell-shaped or “sock” variations. I’ll report back when I find some good options.

Tip: Don’t start using heat until your hair has partially dried on its own. I usually style my hair right out of the shower and then go get dressed, put on makeup, etc. before finishing up. Keep your hair dryer on low while using the diffuser to prevent frizz.

7. Metal Hair Clips

Curly hair can often be weighed down while wet, especially with product loaded in. Clip up your roots using sturdy metal clips like these to achieve lift and to help the drying process move faster. Try to clip your roots in a rainbow pattern, as Kelly demonstrates here.

Using Metal Clips to Achieve Lift at the Roots for Curly Hair

I used to swear by the “plopping” method for lifted roots, but I find I have a little more control with clips. I still think plopping* is a great option when you need to get hair out of your way or if you really need to take a nap or lay down in between styling and drying time.

*Plopping is using a t-shirt to pile your hair on top of your head, wearing the neck of the shirt as a “headband” and tying the sleeves together to hold it all in. It elevates the hair to provide volume and lift and discourages playing or messing with your hair, a common culprit of frizz and loose texture. (You know we’re close when I’m willing to “plop” my hair in front of you!)

8. A Hair Buff

I have the worst second (and third) day hair ever when it comes to my curls. Some curlies are lucky and their curl pattern gets better or less frizzy as days pass. My hair, unfortunately, looses its curl after a long day and it’s a big stringy mess after it’s been laid on at night. Things like “pineappling” haven’t been effective for me either, though they may work great for others. So far, the closest I’ve come to success has been because I used a Buff at night. Here, one of Kelly’s clients demonstrates the best way to use a hair buff for night-time to ensure great second (or third) day hair.

Even though I’m still fine-tuning the process, I still love using my half-sized Buff for all sorts of things! It functions as the best workout headband I’ve ever owned because it doesn’t fall off and it can be adjusted to take care of those shorter pieces of hair that fall out of my messy bun. Additionally, it’s perfect for keeping my hair out of my face when I’m doing my makeup, cleaning up around the house, or just need it out-of-the-way. Every time I wear it, I think how much more effective it would’ve been to wear a Buff during Girl Scouts back in the day rather than wearing a bandana while around the fire pit!

It comes in two sizes (I wear the half version, but if my hair was past my shoulders, I probably would’ve gotten the full size).  Kelly thinks one of you might want a Buff too…keep scrolling!

9. A Wide-Tooth Comb

Throw away all of your combs and brushes. The only comb you need is a cheap wide-tooth comb (preferably with a handle) that you can find at the dollar store. The trick? You’ll ONLY use this in the shower when you apply your conditioner. (Some of you may use it to distribute product, too, but I haven’t found this to work well for me, as I have to many waves prone to pulling straight with brushes and combs.)

10. A Spray Bottle

It seems silly to put a spray bottle on this list when you could so easily splash and scrunch water on your hair to revive it, but a spray bottle will do a much better job at distributing the moisture and minimize the amount of interfering you’ll do with your hands. Spritz your hair when you need a little pick-me-up or make your own spray gel to evenly distribute gel during styling.

What would you add to this list, curly guys and girls? Share you top picks in the comments below!

A special surprise

Wavy and Curly Hair Essentials Giveaway

Because Kelly Elaine Inc. is so incredibly awesome, Kelly has given me the opportunity to reward two of my curliest readers! We already gave away two product kits a few months ago, and now it is time to give away two of my favorite essentials!

Prize #1: Curly Girl: The Handbook (2nd Edition) – valued at $13.95

Prize #2: Original Full Buff – valued at $20

Giveaway is open to Continental U.S. residents only. Winners’ entries will be verified and contacted via email. First winner randomly chosen will have the choice between the two prizes. Giveaway runs from 12/11- 12/18 at midnight. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: Kelly graciously provided me these items to giveaway in exchange for the review I posted a few months ago. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the brands that make The Modern Austen possible!

Signature Style with Miglio Jewelry

There’s something to be said about timeless simplicity when it comes to jewelry. I tend to err on the side of more understated jewels and baubles (you won’t find me in giant hoops or gaudy chandelier earrings), yet I somehow don’t own a pair of diamond studs. I know, I’m not really sure how that’s possible.

Given that I’m all about classic styles that are not overdone or overly flashy, I’ve been on the search for my “signature” every day earrings for quite some time. And you guys, I found them. And they’re perfect.

Miglio Jewelry Signature Studs

Miglio Jewelry Signature Studs are the perfect accessory for any outfit

Gorgeous Miglio Jewelry Signature Studs

These Signature Studs come from Miglio Jewelry USA, a fantastic jewelry retailer that sells gorgeous high-quality jewelry for both every day and special occasions. I’ve always thought classic studs had to be that small pronged look, but I absolutely love the circle cut and Swarvoski crystal. The size is perfect–not too big and bold, but not unnoticeable. And as you might’ve noticed, my hair often covers up my earrings, so it’s important that they can stand out on their own.

What I really love about Miglio is the fantastic woman behind it, Bryony. This is not just your average online store–it has a friendly neighborhood boutique feeling that gives personal and customized attention to each customer. Want to know what your favorite pieces might look ON instead of in its listing picture? No problem. Bryony is more than happy to provide you with styled looks so you can see how it looks on AND what other pieces might go well with it. I know that I have a really hard time mixing and matching jewelry when it’s not in a set (even though I much prefer the mix and match look), so this is a really big perk.

While the jewelry may be a little pricier than what I would typically pay, the quality is great AND you can often purchase items that have multiple styling options. For example, you can purchase earrings that can be worn three different ways or necklaces that can swap out various enhancers to change-up your look.

Thanks to Miglio Jewelry USA, I’ve teamed up with a few other fabulous bloggers to give away one Signature Necklace to a lucky reader! The #1 best-selling necklace can be worn two ways and it features Swarvoski crystals. Gorgeous.

Be sure to stop by and say hi to: Angelica from SyntaxxErrorrr, Meghan from Hayes Days, Jess from Bookworms in Dresses, and Laura from Life With Lolo! See how they styled their Miglio pieces!

Miglio has also been so generous as to provide us with a coupon code for 20% off throughout the whole giveaway. Simply use the code: bloglovin at checkout! Then be sure to share your pictures with Miglio on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Enter To Win

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Link Party

We want to see how you accessorize your outfits! Link up one of your favorite accessorized looks below.

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Disclaimer: I received these earrings in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank for you supporting the brands that make The Modern Austen possible!

Fly Me to the (Air) Mall

Have you ever actually spent time shopping at the airport? No seriously. Besides the typical meal, occasional tourist t-shirt, and the rare neck pillow, have you ever spent your layover browsing the stores and boutiques? I know that up until the past month, I never took a second glance at the stores in the Pittsburgh Airport (or any airport for that matter). Why? Well, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe I didn’t think shopping + flying made sense. Or perhaps the designer brands threw me off. I didn’t really think there would actually be feasible shopping opportunities for me.

Interestingly enough, I was proved wrong! While I wasn’t able to personally attend, I was invited to Pittsburgh’s Airmall #FLY2014 event to celebrate the opening of a ton of new stores as a result of a huge $10 million renovation, including Furla, Pinko (the first Pinko boutique in the U.S.), Lacoste, Metalsmiths, Tumi, and Collezioni-The Beauty Gallery. The event included a runway show and a makeover session from Carmindy of What Not To Wear! (Yes, I was super bummed I missed it, but you can check out Jess’s recap here.)

Photo credit: Kristi Jan Hoover

Pittsburgh Airmall #FLY2014 Event Furla

Pittsburgh Airmall #FLY2014 Carmindy What Not to Wear 5 Minute Face Makeover

Carmindy from What Not to Wear book signing for Bloom at Pittsburgh Airmall #FLY2014 event

Pittsburgh Airmall #FLY2014 event runway show

Pretty awesome, huh?

Even though I missed out on all of the cool events, I was given the opportunity to explore and shop for an afternoon a few weekends ago! (Fun story: It almost always feels so awkward going through security, but it feels even more anxiety-inducing when you aren’t even flying and you have to get a special day-pass and you’re not carrying anything…I still sent my typical “Made it!” text to my parents once I got through. #nerd)

Sticking true to myself, I am not a high-end designer girl. I just can’t do it. But I can at least appreciate it. I spent some time browsing in Furla, drooling over their gorgeous handbags and loving on some of the fun pieces in Pinko. Their clearance rack was actually fairly reasonable. Moving on to some of the more “me” stores, I really enjoyed browsing Metalsmith, which is a great place to get a claddaugh ring or a special “life event” gift like a communion, graduation, wedding, or anniversary. Eventually, I got my shopping on at Nine West, L’Occitane, and Collezioni.

Here’s what I snagged:

My purchases at AirMall Pit from Nine West L Occitane Collezioni

This red Hudson Leather Crossbody beauty is really great, BUT I have been looking for a black leather crossbody for a long time and I was disappointed that they didn’t have the black in store. I bought it anyway and really do like it, but I know that the black will be more practical and I can just order it online and exchange it. What do you think?

Since almost every loafer I’ve ever tried on has instantly hurt my feet, I was surprised that these Lobster Smoking Loafers were fairly comfortable. Since these were something I would likely never buy on my own (out of sheer practicality and budget when there are so many other shoes to buy first), I used this opportunity to get something special and fun.

I’m at that stage in my life where I want to take better preventative care of my skin (beyond Accutane). I know pricey hand creams seem ridiculous, but I was sold once I tried a tester of this shea butter lotion trio (along with everything else at L’Occitane). It’s a “luxury item” that I am willing to buy since it will be so useful in the months to come. Additionally, I’ve been looking for the perfect perfume for basically forever and I think I may have found my match! This Cherry Blossom roll-on is light, fresh, and feminine without that powdery or overly floral scent. I think I am going to add the full size spray to my Christmas list.

Going along with my skin care goals, I added two Clinique products (Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector and All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Massage) and have already been seeing improvements in just the week or so of use. I threw in Essie’s Chinchilly after seeing it on Angelica and am so surprised that I was willing to step WAY out of my comfort zone (You may recall my polish preferences in this fun video). Collezioni was SO much fun to browse because they had beauty products and fragrances from a wide variety of popular brands.

I was impressed to see that prices were the same as what you might find at a mall, so even though food prices might be higher, you don’t have to fork out extra cash to shop at the Airmall.

…Which is good news for one very lucky reader BECAUSE I’m giving away a $100 gift certificate for Pittsburgh’s Airmall to be used in any store or restaurant! This gift certificate is valid until September 17, 2015, so that’s almost a full year to make it to the airport to shop your heart out before or after your next trip. Head on over to Instagram to enter to win! The giveaway will run until Saturday, October 25th at midnight. Winner will be announced on Sunday, October 26th :) Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Pittsburgh Airmall provided me with a gift certificate to shop and one to give away in exchange for my media support. As always, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Modern Austen possible!