Why you should be resistance training like your life depends on it.

7.22.2014

Not long after turning 30, I noticed something peculiar happening to my body.   I noticed a subtle change.  I would feel my legs and could get a sense of what was happening beneath the surface. It was as if my inner thigh muscle was secretly & slowly being replaced by fat.  Worse yet, my legs remained relatively the same size.  So if I hadn't paid any attention, my muscle loss would have continued on.

At that point, I decided to get a gym membership. But instead of allotting all of my time to the treadmill and elliptical, I'd head upstairs and leverage the resistance machines.  Months later, the fat stores were diminished as muscle mass returned.  Clothes fit better, energy levels where up and, overall, I felt better about myself.

Then, I stumbled upon this image which clearly details what I thought was happening to me. It's a cross section of the thigh of two men in their 70s.  One lives a very active lifestyle. The other, sedentary.  From the outside, their legs appear to be around the same size. It's what's happening on the inside that's most alarming.  Notice how little muscle mass there is compared to the guy who works out consistently. The bone of the inactive person also appears smaller.  They say that resistance exercises can actually build bone mass.  This image seems to correlate with that.

Lean muscle is good for us in so many ways.  Our metabolism increases, along with our glucose metabolism which, in turn diminishes the risk of diabetes.  As we build muscle, our ability to burn fat rises.  Our energy levels skyrocket.  And let's face it, having good muscle tone is should be a life goal for each one of us.  But we don't do it simply to look amazing in our crop tops.  We do it because a 2010 study found that resistance training helped improved the cognitive performance (brain functioning) of seniors over the course of a year.  There are too many benefits to ignore. Your body looks better, your heart gets stronger and your brain functions better.  Just know that, with each day that passes in which we choose not to incorporate strength training our muscles atrophy.  Slowly fat will creep in to take its place.  No one wants that.

No one.


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Motivation Monday| Stop letting the beliefs of a child run your life

7.21.2014

I attended a seminar years ago, that opened up my mind to several powerful life lessons.  I'd like to share one of these lessons with you today. Maybe someone can benefit.  The seminar lasted two very long days.  Early on, I met an attendee who about 6 foot 5 inches tall and was probably a good 50-75 lbs over his ideal weight.  Since he had height on his side, the extra weight carried pretty well relatively speaking.  But overall, he was still the biggest (not the fattest) guy in the room.

During the conference, we were asked to share our thoughts (regarding the topic at hand) with a partner. This guy, let's call him Dave, just happened to be sitting next me. My first observation when I turned to him was how approachable he was despite his intimidating size. Dave smiled a lot and appeared very friendly and likable.  The more I observed him, the more I picked up on Dave's body language.  It seemed like Dave tried to (subconsciously) shrink himself by the way he slumped his shoulders in and took as little space as possible in the tiny chair he was sitting in.  I interpreted his demeanor as wanting to accommodate for my small frame so I wouldn't feel so inadequate sitting next to him.

The day went on and we were asked to form a group with those sitting close by, I noticed the same passive behavior from Dave. In fact, his personality & confidence seemed to shrink even more when we were part of the larger group.  I'm sure no one was observing him like I was.  His behavior was peculiar to me because his actions were in direct contrast to his outward appearance. It was like he was trying compensate for his size by doing whatever  he could to make himself appear smaller. He even spoke in a tone that was lower than what you would expect from a man of his size. Throughout the conference, attendees are invite to come up to the microphone to share their past struggles and subsequent breakthroughs they experienced as a result of the conference.  Near the end of day 2, Dave went up to the microphone, stood confidently and began to share his epiphany.


Dave recalled a time when he was around 10 years old. He was at a school function with music, snacks and dancing.  Dave was always the biggest kid in his class.  At this function, Dave wasn't looking where he was going and happened to back into the table that displayed the drinks and food, knocking everything to the ground.  Suddenly, the entire room (it seemed) was laughing at him, calling him names because of his size and clumsiness.  At that moment, Dave (as a child) made the decision that being the biggest guy in the room was "bad" and he had to do everything in his power to shrink himself.  He's lived with that limiting belief for over 25 years.  As I stood in the audience, listening to Dave's story, everything I observed earlier made complete sense.

But I also noticed something else, while standing at the mic, Dave's voice resonated throughout the room. His stance was broad and confident.  Dave had come to the realization that he allowed a child to make a decision for him that impacted his entire life. He then chose to let go of that belief and allow his true self to emerge.  If he hadn't visited that seminar he probably would have continue to "shrink himself" for the rest of his life.

Dave isn't alone. We've all made lifelong decisions determinations based on the assessment of a child (our younger selves).  I decided that dogs we scary and would have avoided them until the day I died if it weren't for my husband who brought home a pit bull puppy (against my will).  Today, that way of thinking no longer exists because, as a rational adult, I came to different conclusion about dogs than I did when I was 7.

We all have a slew of fears, beliefs, conclusions we've made about ourselves (and others) that we hold on to because we were experiencing it from the mind of a child.  If Dave would have knocked over the table as an adult, I don't he would have changed his whole being from that day forward.  He simply might have apologized and moved on.  Things happen.  As children, we made a slew of assumptions about ourselves and others based on the meaning we created from the experience.  If someone calls us stupid, we take it as gospel and begin to let that way of thinking become a reality.  If someone calls us smart, we take it to mean that we have to be perfect and become perfectionists. If someone abandons us, we think no one will ever love us. Someone makes a comment about our hair or skin tone and we forever believe that we are unattractive.  Whatever the case, I invite you to take a moment and run through your list of fears and beliefs.  Ask yourself, are these real fears based on my rational adult mind or were they generated by the mind of a child.  Would you let a 9 year old come up to you today and define who you are & who you will be for the rest of your life?

Maybe nothing comes to mind for you at the moment but the next time you tell yourself that you are afraid to speak in front of others, think back to see if this is a rational fear or something created from the past. Challenge every fear, every flinch, EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE ABOUT YOURSELF.  We evolve. Carrying around 20 year old beliefs is so limiting and useless.  After so many years of holding on to a perception, we become comfortable with it and avoid letting go.  But the truth is we can create new definitions of ourselves on a moment by moment basis.  We have to redefine who we are daily or those deeply ingrained beliefs will forever hold us back.

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Beauty Secrets of a 50 year old Super Model Unicorn

7.20.2014

Years ago, I stumbled upon a video interview of Elle McPhearson and, at one point, the host made mention of Elle's age.  In her late 40s at the time, I could barely believe my eyes.  It seemed like Elle was easily defying the aging process.  Silently, I wondered about her health and beauty regimen but couldn't find much info at the time.  A year or so later, I saw an image of her with her husband who is 5 years her junior but appears older than her.   That's when I knew that she does something special to appear so youthful.


Well, we finally got a glimpse of what she attributes to her good health and wellness. In a recent Instagram photo, she flaunted her bikini body with the caption "Super greens...After a super swim."  That simple pic sent waves across the internet as people scrambled to find out what was in her cup.  Turns out she was sipping on Super Elixer.  

Super Elixer is a blend of 45 key ingredients including super greens, Chinese herbs, digestive enzymes etc. that help keep your the body at a desired alkaline range. The Elixer also contains omega 3s, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The product sells for a bit more than your typical bottle of super greens powder. It's likely due to the high end designer packaging and celebrity endorsement (by Elle herself).  

Perhaps these greens has preserved Elle's beauty for all of these years.  Perhaps not.  But one lesson we can all take away from her is how important it is to keep our bodies in an alkaline state.  The pH of our body is the environment where each of our cells function.  If the environment isn't healthy, then our cells can not thrive.  Without healthy cells, we are not healthy.   Throughout any given week, I'm probably eating lots of fried foods, staying up late, and dealing with loads of stress.  All factors which directly contribute to creating acid in my body.  If I don't take action to counteract the acidity, things go down hill.  For this reason alone, I recommit to doing something daily to promote an alkaline body.  

We've talked about drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning as a way to detoxify and balance our pH.  Since I travel pretty much every week, having access to fresh lemons while on the road, is a task.  Powdered greens seems like a viable option.  A few months back I picked up some single serving packets of Green Vibrance but couldn't get used to the taste.  I decided to purchase a packet of The Super Elixer hoping the high price will motivate me to drink it regardless of what it taste like.  

Aside from the greens. Elle's other beauty secrets include drinking 3 liters of water a day. In one interview, she shares that she has six 500ml bottles that she makes sure are gone before the end of the day.  Elle also recommends 45 minutes of movement on a daily basis and getting plenty of sleep.  One thing that adds to her youthful look is her amazing head of hair.  She thanks her greens and water intake for helping to keep her hair healthy.  Lastly, another beauty tip Elle shares is to exfoliate daily.  She uses an exfoliating glove to "scrub her body quite strongly every day" and, just like Chilli, scrubs (exfoliates) her face on a regular basis.  I love being inspired by women who are constantly defying  stereotypes about what beauty looks like at 30, 40, 50 and beyond. 

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DIY Glam Glow treatment mud at home

7.19.2014

You already know how much I love GlamGlow Super Mud Clearing Treatment. Currently I'm on my second jar and, to be honest, I've been using it sparingly because I'm not looking forward to shelling out another $50.00-$60.00 at the department store when my jar runs empty.  Then I got to thinking, could I recreate a similar version of this amazing mud at home?


Seconds later I was checking out GlamGlow's ingredient list.  I smiled to myself as I realized just how much of it was already in my possession.

GlamGlow ingredients I had on hand:
  • Aztec Healing Clay
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Aloe Vera Juice
  • Eucalyptus Oil/Peppermint Oil
  • Mandelic Acid
Ingredients I added that aren't in GlamGlow
GlamGlow is basically made of a clay that extracts dirt & oil blended with activated charcoal for even more cleansing power.  Then they added a series of acids including glycolic acid and mandelic acid.  I just happened to have some mandelic acid on hand.  I've made clay masks at home before but  never thought about including an acid to exfoliate the top layers as the clay works deep within.  Thanks to the inspiration from GlamGlow, adding an acid to clay masks will be my thing from now on.  
I added a drop or two of Eucalyptus oil to bring a little tingle to the experience.  Although I included aloe vera juice as per the original formula, I decided to use coconut vinegar as the main liquid to blend everything together and bring the pH level down.  Every time I prepare a clay mask, I include manuka honey for the anti bacterial properties.  It also keeps my skin from feeling too dried out.  I knew that adding the honey would make my version of the mask a bit different from GlamGlow's but I was ok with it because the benefits are  worth it.  

The final result was very close in color and slightly a bit less thick than the original.  When I rinsed my face, several minutes after application, my skin felt smooth, looked bright, and felt soft to the touch.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the HydraFacial I had earlier this week, but my face felt much softer than when I use GlamGlow.  Because of the cost, I only used GlamGlow once in a while. Now  I can make a small batch whenever the need arises and treat myself to a clearing mask at will.

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Style Obsession | The Curly Top Knot

7.18.2014


The Top Knot has got to be one of my favorite go-to styles.  With little effort, anyone can create a this simple, modern version of the traditional bun.  What if we could take the top-knot to the next level with the addition of a few curls?

If you aren't rocking naturally curly hair, the look can be recreated by first adding a curl via flexi rods or steam curlers.  Once set, gather the hair into a high ponytail and pin to create the bun.  I've also recreated a similar look from an old braidout.

How are you wearing your hair this weekend?

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The Importance of Penetration in a Healthy Hair Regimen

7.16.2014

I came across this picture on Pinterest the other day and immediately was mesmerized by the strength and health of her hair.  Then I got to thinking about the importance of internal penetration and healthy hair. Especially for those of us who relax. If we want to make considerable progress in the overall health of our hair, I feel like we must do much more than simply moisturize and seal.  Or should I say, "we must always think about the internal strength or our hair as much as the external."


Until recently,  when I applied a daily moisturizer before sealing, it never crossed my mind if the internal structure was also getting some love.  Especially since breakage really comes from the inside out.  I'm now shifting my thinking to balance products that work on my hair's internal structure as well as the outside.

INTERNAL MOISTURE
When I reflect on my hair's internal structure, I think about replenishing it the same way I would on the outside. I'd provide it moisture, oil and strength.  Prior to learning about the L.O.C. method, I'd simply slap on some moisturizer, seal with Gleau and move on my merry way.  After learning about the power of adding a liquid to the routine, things changed.  People with chemically treated hair have high permeability levels when it comes to water due to a loss of 18-MEA.  Perhaps that allows for greater evaporation of moisture as well.  If this is the case, then perhaps we can find some benefit in hydrating the hair with water on a regular basis.  I can not rave enough about my secret weapon when it comes to daily moisture.  Evian Facial Mist is truly a God-send to my regimen. The water particles are small enough to absorb into my hair without over saturating it.  It makes a huge difference in my hair's moisture levels overall.

INTERNAL STRENGTH
It's also important to incorporate powerful proteins into my regimen that have the ability to go deep within to make a difference.  One product that comes to mind is Silk Amino Acids which boasts of it's ability to deeply penetrate the hair. I've also talked about functional keratin which has the power to better adhere to the hair because of how it closely resembles our naturally occurring keratin. Let's not forget about ceramides which are the naturally occurring glue that hold's our hair's cuticle layer together.   Which reminds me that I need to stock back up on Biolage Cera Repair which is an amazing leave-in.

Lastly, I find myself digging into my tub of coconut oil more frequently.  Many say that coconut oil can go deeper into our strands than other plant oils.  This makes it a great choice if you are rebuilding the hair from the inside out.  I think there is a place for penetrating and non-penetrating oils.  For instance, I may layer on some coconut oil and later mist my hair using my Misto sprayer containing jojoba oil. Jojoba oil doesn't penetrate the hair making it a great choice to seal the hair.

It's all about balance. Yes we need heavy creams and moisturizers to treat the hair strand AND we should also incorporate various products to get in on the inside.


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First Impressions | The HydraFacial Experience

7.15.2014

It's been over 24 hours since my first HydraFacial experience.  After first learning about this hot new facial that promised to treat multiple areas with problem skin, I jumped at the opportunity.  My intention was to see if this was a treatment that I would partake in on  a regular basis and if the Hydrafacial could give me even toned, glowing skin.

My appointment was set extra early making me one the first client of the day.  Because the Hydrafacial isn't your typical run of the mill spa treatment, it's mainly offered at plastic surgery centers.  While I waited for my name to be called, I flipped through a book of before and after pictures of various procedures ranging from nose jobs & tummy tucks to laser resurfacing.  Minutes later, I was escorted to a small, comfortable room where my eyes immediately landed on the Hydrafacial machine.

The woman assigned to conduct the treatment attempted to explain the process to me.  I, however, was fully aware of what laid ahead after watching hours of demonstrational video on Youtube.   After answering a few questions about my skin concerns, the facial began.  The Hydrafacial occurs in layers.  First they apply a solution to the skin that loosens up the dead skin. Then the exfoliation occurs using a tip that feels a little bit like my Riiviva microderm machine (only gentler).  Karen described it as a "wet microderm" because it applied a light solution to my skin while exfoliating.   Finally, she used another tip to apply a serum "deep into the layers of my skin."



Screen Shots taken from @tazangelsbeautybar Instagram page
After the HydraFacial

The entire process was only around 20 minutes.  Once the Hydrafacial was complete, I opted to finish off with a LED light treatment.  The LED treatment is an additional $25.00 but she was generous enough to throw it in at no additional cost as a birthday gift.  Once I made it home, I checked the mirror to examine my skin.

Normally, after a facial, I can see an immediately difference in my skin.  Particularly when I had troubled skin. After extractions and exfoliations, the difference in my skin would be night and day.  Nowadays, the Clarisonic Pro and the Riiviva helps keep my skin exfoliated and there is little need for extraction now that my acne is at bay.  So, in the end, I could see no real difference in my skin.  To be honest, I felt a little disappointed.

Then, hours later,  I touched my face and noticed how deeply hydrated my skin felt.  Last time I received a traditional hydrating facial, I left the center looking like I had a ton of serums on my face.  With the Hydrafacial, my skin looked absolutely normal but it was as if the serums were laying underneath the surface.  It felt amazing.  Like I was drinking a gallon of water a day for weeks.  Not a dry patch in sight.

I woke up the next morning and reassessed my skin which was still hydrated and soft.  But when I looked closely, I saw signs of something else going on with my skin.  Purging.  There were whiteheads on my nose and I noticed a little purging elsewhere on my face.  Instead of worrying, I took it as a sign that the impurities were fleeing so my skin could truly glow from the inside out.  After realising what my skin was doing, I simply walked over to my nightstand and grabbed the jar of GlamGlow clearing mud which is made for moments like this.  The GlamGlow did a fine job.  

The more time that passes, the more I like this facial.  The one attribute which I identified as a flaw is actually a benefit.  The fact that you walk out of the place looking very similar to the way you walked in (at least in my case), makes it a perfect facial to fit in during a lunch break or before a night out.  Lord willing, I'd like to incorporate this into my monthly regimen.  More importantly, I'd like to see if there's a way to emulate this at home between visit.  I'm bouncing around ideas like simultaneously using my Riiviva and Panasonic Facial steamer to recreate the "wet exfoliation" experience. We'll see how that turns out.  I'm also looking for an at home tool that has the ability to allow for better penetration of the product deep within the skin's layers. Will let you know what I find.



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Motivation Monday | Take the path of greatest resistance.

7.14.2014

Usually, when an idea or a reminder pops into my mind.  I notice something else shows up at around the exact same time.  This secondary "thing" that accompanies my inspiration shall be called resistance.  Sometimes my resistance is mild (like when I say to myself that I'll do something later), sometimes great (taking the exact action of what I know I should do).  I can tell it's an active force in my daily life.

What's worse, I think I may have given it more power over time simply by giving into the power of resistance over and over again.  A small example of resistance occurs whenever I'm working on a task.  My mind brings up other things I should be doing at that time (resisting completing what is in front of me).  Suddenly, I'm distracted and doing something else.  Resistance shows up again and soon, I've got a myriad of unfinished tasks and I haven't gotten anything accomplished.  Other times, I become aware of an action I know I should do to move my business forward, and instead, I resist by using my time to do something else that's way less important.

Last week I became intensely aware of how much of a pattern resistance has become in my life.  How do I know? Because there are a myriad of things I say I want to do (or I know I should do), that I have not done.  Something is stopping me.


Then I got to thinking.  What if I created a new pattern where I challenge myself to overcome a form of resistance at least 10 or more times a day?  You see, resistance isn't real. There's actually nothing (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING) stopping me from doing what I say I want to do. There is only feeling that pops up, or a reason I create, or an excuse I utilize.  But those things aren't real. They are a figment of my imagination.  So, in reality, I could simply move forward despite the reason, excuse or feeling.  Therefore I would no longer be granting power to my feelings.  I would take the path of greatest resistance.

I sat for a few moments to contemplate why I should even bother moving towards resistance instead of moving away from it.  Simple.  Because where there is resistance, there is something to be had.  On the other side of resistance, there is always a reward. The reward might be physical, mental or emotional. But rest assured, it is there.  The greater the resistance you overcome, the greater the reward.  And, on the opposite spectrum, each time we succumb to resistance, we lose a little piece of our greatness.  I'm comforted in the fact that I can easily reclaim my greatness each time I choose to step forward in the face of resistance.

When you think about overcoming resistance, I like you to think first about the small things.  Remember even the largest buildings in the world are made up of tiny atoms.  I am of the mindset that resistance can only be defeated when we do the very smallest things we resist first.  And when you've done something small, relish in the fact that you've done it. See yourself as a hero.  Do it many times a day.  Soon your natural way of being becomes someone who is unstoppable.  Meaning, the things that may appear as an obstacle loses its power.  The voice of resistance quiets and you can easily take bigger, bolder steps without thinking twice.

I want to practice this so much that I become a master of creating based on my word.  When I say I will do something, I know it will be done.  No more having to second guess myself & hiding from it by resisting.  Instead, I will move towards the reward each day.  A great read on this topic is Steven Pressfield's the War of Art.  He talks about resistance from a writer's perspective.   He does a great job of identifying resistance and the destruction it can cause in our lives if we continue to let it overtake us.


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First Impressions | Linange Shea Butter Relaxer Review

7.13.2014

Not too long ago I mentioned that, for the first time in years, I would be trying out a new relaxer.  More specifically, Linange Shea Butter relaxer.  The reviews alone were enough to interest me, but when I received even more confirmation in the form of a wonderful comment about how amazing the relaxer is, I was sold.

It was difficult, at first to decide between their texturizer and relaxer so I decided to try the stronger formula this time and, if I so desired, I'd experiment with the texturizer next touch up.   The lye formula comes with nothing other than the jar contianing the relaxer.  No activator needed to mix in like with my Affirm Fibergaurd.

With sprush in hand, I prepared myself for the experience.  Normally, I would mix a little Pure Protein into my relaxer but, for the sake of this review, I decided to add no bells and whistles.  Minutes prior to relaxing I applied excessive amounts of coconut oil to the length of my hair allowing it to soak in a little before touch up process.


 I separated my hair in small sections and began to apply the thick cream.  The consistency was heavy enough that it didn't move when applied.  That's a good thing.  My only thoughts were about how I demonstrated no discipline with regards to scratching itches in the days leading up to the relaxer application.  I silently hoped that Linange would spare my scalp from intense burning and subsequent scabs.

Linange didn't have that "relaxer chemical" scent and when I applied it throughout, it barely affected my new growth.  Another thing I noticed was how little scalp irritation I was experiencing.  After it was applied throughout, I began to smooth with my gloved hands.  Again, very little irritation.  Since it appeared that my hair wasn't over-processed, I allowed the relaxer to do its thing for a few more minutes before washing out.  The best way to describe what I love about Linange is that allowed my hair to retain its structural strength.  I felt like it respected my hair. I know this sounds weird but typically, after a touch up, I can tell that my hair was been "weakened" by chemicals and I immediately begin the process of reintroducing protein to my regimen to try to reverse some of that damage.  This wasn't the case with Linange, It did its job without wreacking havoc to my hair. I can only imagine the long term benefits of this.

With Linange, my hair doesn't feel damaged AT ALL.  It processed my hair enough to loosen my texture without making it weak  and fragile.  I almost felt like I didn't need a protein step after rinsing the relaxer but I did it anyway.  Oh, and I left the experience with ZERO damage to my scalp. No scabbing....nothing (even though I didn't deserve it).  I would say the experience was pretty flawless with one exception.  Everything was perfect with my newly relaxed hair but, I felt like my previously relaxed hair dried out a little from the impact of the relaxer run off as I rinsed in the shower.

The good news is that dryness was combatted with the help of Kerastase Nutrithermique and Kanechom Shea Butter.  Throughout the week, I kept the hair nice and moist using Evian Facial Spray, Aveda Damage Remedy moisturizer and Gleau Argan oil blend.  Next time I touch up, I'll come armed by applying Avlon's preservo serum to the length or perhaps I'll experiment with using their nuetralizing conditioner on my previously relaxed strands.

Lastly, the one jar was enough to do my entire head and leave a little for next time.  I will still need to purchase a second jar when I do this again in 3-4 months.  Overall, I'm a believer in Linange. It has now become the official relaxer of Relaxed Hair Health Blog until further notice.  For those of you interested, I would say that if you aren't looking for the "bone straight" look, consider trying Linange out and seeing if your hair likes it. Most of the people who tried it (including myself) are very happy with the results.

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Currently Craving | The Hydra Facial

7.11.2014

It's been way too long since I experienced a professional facial treatment.  Since I have a birthday coming up, I thought I'd treat myself. But I didn't want a typical facial. I've been there done that.  I want something that can transform my skin. And....I didn't want to spend a ton of money.


Then, Instagram taught me about the hydrafacial. This facial is like the holy grail of skin care treatments. It exfoliates like a mircoderm treatment.  It helps fill and plump the skin, cleanses and hydrates.  The skin is extracted and moisturized all at once.  Fine lines are diminished, dark spots faded,  pores purified, all from one simple procedure.

My search to find out more led me to Youtube where I viewed countless videos describing the wonderful nature of this super-facial.  Immediately, I Googled a local spa that offered the service. Two results popped up.  The first was only $149.00 but the easthetician was out for the work requiring me to have to wait until Friday.  The second place was offering the hydrafacial for only $99.00 and could take me on Monday.

Sold!

I'm so looking forward to the experience.  At only $99.00, I can afford regular treatments (at least once a month).  I've saved a ton from not having to buy skin care products ever since I got serious and purchased heavy hitters like the Clarisonic Pro, my Riiviva and drank loads of water.  Now I'm finally at a place where I can begin to create phenomenal skin and it feels good to be here.

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