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Facial Massage

I am a massage lover and a spa lover. In my dream existence I would have one long luxurious and nourishing facial/week, two massages/week and one foot reflexology session/week.
I believe you can keep your skin beautiful by getting regular and quality (of course) facials and your body healthy by getting massages. A while back I wrote about pedicures, that there are places that actually deliver an expert pedicure.....a meticulous one. Not the sloppy "cutting a bit of cuticle, rubbing some lotion on your calves and feet for a couple of minutes and slapping on two layers of polish" places and then you are done and out the door. I have, after some searching found one lady that's OK here in this village....I said OK, not great.
Another thing I am very particular about are my facials. I've had some BAD ones and then I found Anastassia in Anchorage (after somebody recommended her to me). Anastassia is a Russian lady, from my personal experiences Russians and Hungarians are the best schooled in the art of aesthetics.....because it is an ART. And not everybody has the talent, even after they finish whatever school they paid for to get some diploma. That's why I've had so many bad facials, because whoever carried them out sucked at it, despite all the hours spent in school. Anastassia gives an AMAZING facial massage (although she is lazy sometimes and skips it), I mean it's amazing. She has the touch and talent, I would visit her more often if I could (it's too far). I recently came across some articles about facial massages in a magazine. They list some places world wide that are known for their facial massages, of course they mention a spa in Budapest, Los Angeles (I might have to go there next time I visit), New York and Tokyo. I mean, how often when you get a facial does the esthetician give you a long and thorough facial massage? Not often. I've had that done two places, at Anastassia's and Aida Thibiant in Los Angeles and I've had facials all over the US.
Speaking of skin care, I have been using L'Occitane cremes for years, their Immortelle day cream and night cream and I love them. But a while ago I discovered Eminence. An all organic line, originally from Hungary. So far I have only tried a body lotion, Honeydew and it's fantastic and this bamboo face masque. It smells so good and I like it. I might have to invest in some other products like a day and night cream to mix it up with the L'Occitane. And when I had the masque on my face I just had to take a selfie only to show everybody what I look like with a masque on my face!





Necessities

Had to go out and get some necessities. Needed more lotion. Sometimes I use unscented Lubriderm but I love L'Occitane so I decided to try their vanilla cream. Some vanilla body butter from Body Shop too. And vanilla scented shower creme from Bath & Body Works. I like vanilla and I also like honey scented lotions and cremes. Mandy has this creme from Weleda, it's called Skin Food and it smells like essential oils/aromatherapy, I decided I needed some of that too. And a hand creme from Weleda, my other one I've been using it's almost empty.
I think I'm going to get some for my Mom (the Skin Food), it's really nice.
There is a mall here, I haven't been to a mall in about six months or so. I went to Victoria's Secret but they did not have any bras that I thought were cute enough for me. But I might have found some tennis shoes. I need a new pair, or two. I will go back to the mall in a few days and try them on, I'm excited! Right now I'm just laying in bed and relaxing......tired.



Essie Nail Polish

Today I had a pedicure. After searching desperately for at least a decent pedicure in this village I finally settled for Tina at Nail Boutique in Kenai. I've had some nightmare pedicures in Alaska, the standard of service that I am accustomed to and expect is sometimes lackluster here, in many areas. The worst pedi ever in the history of BAD pedicures for me happened at Allure Spa in Anchorage. Anyhow, Tina is OK. If I am going to spend money on a pedicure around here it will be with her only.
I dream of the pedicures I have read about, with a true pedicure master like Bastien Gonzalez, frequently hailed as the world's best pedicurist. An appointment with him lasts as long as it takes and the wealthy send their private jets to pick him up. Or maybe one day I will be able to visit Samuel So at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, the resident foot master. After a long soak he goes to work on your feet. "The result: feet so smooth that it feels sacrilegious to walk on them" according to an article I read. Another place not as far away is Jin Soon Chi's salon in New York, where your feet get an essential oil foot bath and the option to be coated in a thick layer of volcanic clay. THAT is the kind of pedicure I want. Not just somebody that haplessly cuts a few cuticles and slaps on some nail polish and then wants $40 for it. There is an art to the craft after all.
I hope you will enjoy my artsy sparkly heels and ESSIE nail polish pictures. I got creative just for you!





At Nail Boutique in Kenai......not Bastien Gonzalez but better than some other places around here.......I have decided.

Bath And Brushes

It's past 2 am and I am up and wide awake. I heard on Coast To Coast the other night that people that like to stay up late at night are more intelligent than the ones that go to bed early. Not only that, people that stay up late are also prone to be anti establishment, they want to expand their mind and they are also more open minded. I don't know, read for yourself, there are plenty of articles to be found on the subject. If I had to get up at 6 am to go to work it wouldn't make any sense for me to stay up until 3 or 4 am (which is my usual bedtime when I'm not working) because I can't function unless I get adequate sleep. I have always been a night person though. Something happens to me at night, I want to do stuff.
Tonight (after getting some stuff crossed off my to do list) I took a bath and scrubbed myself and washed my hair. Put a honey mask on my face. Right now I use Manuka honey, I massage a rather thick layer of honey onto my face and leave it for at least 20 minutes. These are the products I used, in case you are curious and into hair and skin care.



Now let's talk about brushes. I have a Clarisonic Mia face brush - I love it. While in Sweden I got a face brush from a store called Iris Hantverk, they make brushes for your body and your home, made mostly from natural products. So I got a face brush (the one that is made to be used wet, they have one to be used dry also) and a nail brush. I clean my body with scrubbing gloves almost every time I take a bath. Sometimes I make a body scrub at home from brown sugar and olive oil......or coffee grinds and olive oil. I also have a body brush but I never use it, although I sometimes make a mental note and a promise to myself that I should start and then I forget . Brushing your body is supposedly really good not only for the skin but also for blood circulation and the lymphatic system, plus so many other benefits. I really should start dry skin brushing. After all, the skin is the largest organ.
I think everybody should have a quality face brush. If you don't want the Mia, then I do recommend Iris Hantverk, you can order a brush at www.irishantverk.se and the prices are in Swedish krona. That store is great.



Hair

Last year I thought I was going to do something great for my hair and coated it from the scalp to the tips in coconut oil and let the oil sit for 24 hours before washing it out. I did this a few times (maybe three). I started noticing a significant hair loss by Christmas and that went on for several months, I think it has stopped now......I really hope so! Yes, I am aware of the normal rate of losing hair, 50-100 strands a day is normal but mine would come out way more than that. It was either the coconut oil that clogged my hair follicles and made the hair fall out or my hair was going through the natural cycle of growth, rest and shedding.....I'm not sure. My hair that once was thick and cascaded down my back does not look like it used to anymore. I still have a lot of hair (compared to many) but it's not the same. It is so much thinner than it used to be. My braids used to look thick and they were heavy. Not anymore. Maybe in ten years I will have my hair back......and then it will start thinning again at some point due to aging. Yeay, FUN times lie ahead! When I was in Sweden I got some hair vitamins, I am going to start taking them now. Like tonight.



A pic from a past photo shoot that was deemed unusable....therefore you can see a red line that was drawn through the pic. My hair used to be so nice.......



I'm sitting here debating if I should drive and get some ice cream (feeling lazy) or if I should just stay at home, make myself some tea and be content with that.

Bad Pedi

Today I had another bad pedi, one more to add to the list of bad beauty services had in Alaska. I don't understand how a nail salon or a spa can let people that don't have the proper experience or knowledge handle a client's hair, skin or nails and then have the nerve to charge full price for it. If I wanted an apprentice I would go to some kind of a place where students offer beauty services for discount prices, while they are being supervised by an experienced teacher. The absolute worst was when I had a spa pedicure at Allure Spa (supposedly one of the best) in Anchorage, $80 and an absolute joke. I also had the pleasure of having a rather crappy facial at the same place. In Soldotna I had an upper leg wax at Karlene's last summer, also a place that advertise themselves as a higher end spa. It was the worst leg wax ever. No wonder I'd rather do my own toes and wax my own legs. Much cheaper and you don't have to sit there baffled, while somebody is handling you like they never performed a service like that before. And then they expect a tip afterwards. Really?
Some people just don't have the right touch, they only attended beauty school because it's an education that anyone that is willing to pay for can put themselves through and it might lead to a job afterwards. Not because they truly are passionate about the art of esthetics.
Never again will that old man that was handling my toes today going to touch them again.
He was nice but awful at his chosen craft and I went in there for a pedi, not to have the pleasure of sitting close to a "nice" man while he attempted to cut and file my toenails and then perform some fort of a pedi. A pedicure consists of more than removing the old polish and slapping on some new polish and a top coat.



I am excited over my new pretty cleaning products by Method. Especially the pink and the purple bottles, grapefruit and lavender.



Hair Color And Products

A friend discovered some gray hair on my head when I was 18 and she was playing with my hair while we were in class. Well, I'm not 18 anymore (technically but physically and mentally I am). The gray hair spread throughout the years and I've been coloring it to blend it in with my natural hair color whenever I feel it is necessary. Usually every other month or so, it's a boring process that I rather not bother with too often. I'm waiting for a miracle pill that will eliminate gray hair and restore the hair back to it's original color. I read that Jennifer Lopez started graying at a young age also and she dyes her hair every two weeks or so. That's like a full time occupation! But she is supposedly completely gray, I am about 30% gray a hairstylist recently told me after she looked at my hair. So I only color the regrowth and most of the gray is in the front around my face and especially in one spot. When I first started coloring my hair I used box color. I didn't know what I was doing and it took a few tries to find the right shade.
The first time it got too dark. Another time somebody that was working as a hairstylist colored my hair at my house and she did it way too light. Even professionals can get it wrong. I'm not going to go to a salon to color my hair when I can do it at home. I'm not putting in highlights or lowlights or trying to bleach it or do something complicated, all I'm doing is coloring the gray. Well, after the box color I started experimenting with other colors that I would get at Sally Beauty Supply. I started with Clairol and then I tried One'n Only Argan Oil color. I would mix two and then three different shades together. It was good enough for me. Although now I'm back to using box color. I think that the One'n Only Argan Oil was too strong, the developer or something. I noticed lots of breakage and my hair got dry. I don't think my hair was breaking from the box color, it's probably gentler on the hair.....that is my guess but I don't work with hair so I don't know for sure. The last time I colored my hair, which was last week, I tried Garnier Olia. I was a little nervous that the shade was going to be wrong but it turned out OK, so I think I will stick with it for a while. Now I have a bunch of Clairol and Argan Oil colors at home, I can open up a salon here and start coloring some hair. Me with hair color in. You have to leave it in for about 45 minutes, perfect for some selfies and the rest is boring time.




I also lost A LOT of hair since about October or November. That's when I started noticing.
And when I say a lot....I mean a lot. To me it seems like a third of my hair fell out. Of course I was worried. That's why I had my thyroid checked and I also did a complete blood panel when I was in Vegas and everything came out fine. So it could be stress. I live a fairly calm life I think. I do not like a lot of drama, please spare me your drama and psycho episodes.....thank you. There were two people that added some drama to my life last year. Awful.....ugh. Or it could be the natural growing and shedding cycle of the hair. I guess hair has a resting phase, a growing phase and a shedding phase - anagen, catogen and telogen. Again, this is something I read about. OR it could be another thing that caused the hair loss. Last year I wanted to moisturize my hair the natural way and read about people using coconut oil on their hair and scalp. I thought that sounded like a great idea and coated my hair with coconut oil and massaged it thoroughly into my scalp and left it in for over 24 hours on three occasions (that I can think of). Then I read some more about it and found reports of people that noticed a significant hair loss after using coconut oil like that. Well, the coconut oil clogs the hair follicles and that might cause the hair to fall out. So now you know, do not rub coconut oil into your scalp. It didn't work for me and my hair didn't feel noticeably moisturized afterwards anyways, not more than usual after using a good conditioner. Now I REALLY regret using that coconut oil on my hair and scalp (I'm sure it works for some hair types but not on mine). To me my hair is now thin. Long and thin. That looks bad. I still have a lot of hair (compared to some people) but NOT like before. So now I'm sad. :-( Well, I could also be losing hair cause I'm getting older, some people do experience hair loss when they get older. Now I'm even more sad! :-( :-( Then of course there is one more possible explanation.....some evil and jealous Baba Yaga might have put a curse on me but I am sending the same curse back at the Baba Yaga tenfold.
I like to try new products for my hair all the time. So I recently tried the Mane'n Tail shampoo and conditioner, I have the leave in conditioning spray but haven't tried it yet. I got an Aveda shampoo that is supposed to exfoliate the scalp. It's from their new Invati product line for thinning hair. I also found some serum Phytocyane by Phyto Paris that you are supposed to massage into your scalp for about a month. You open up a vial and rub in the contents two-three times a week, again I'm lazy but I will give it a try one of these days. It's for temporary hair thinning due to stress, fatigue or pregnancy. I got a leave in conditioner called It's a 10 that I have been using a few times now. I was curious about the Wen products so I got a leave in replenishing treatment spray that I tried and a moisturizing mask that I haven't tried yet. And some other deep moisturizing masks from L'Oreal. Plus whatever other products I'm already using......it seems like a lot but it's really not. I wash my hair every three or four days, less if I'm lazy and don't work. I use shampoo, conditioner and sometimes a deep conditioning mask. Leave in conditioning spray as of lately. I did experiment with the coconut oil, never again. I also mixed egg, olive oil plus a bit of honey and put that in my hair a few times this year and last but the egg made my hair feel weird (the protein in the egg I suspect). Then I color the grays every other month or so and that's it.
No straightening, curling, spraying, blow drying, extensions.....I spend 0 time on that stuff.
I air dry my hair and comb it. That's it. Hopefully my hair will grow back fast ( but since it's long it will probably take a while).



Facial

A visit to Anchorage is not complete for me unless I visit Anastassia for a facial. Her place used to be called Anastassia's but she changed it to Adagio Day Spa a while ago. It's located on 404 K Street.



She also opened another salon inside the Captain Cook Hotel. Esthetics European Skin Care. Good for her! Captain Cook Hotel is probably the nicest hotel in Anchorage.



I love Anastassia's facials, I have been a loyal customer for years, she is very good at what she does. But she can be unpredictable and I don't really like that.....at all. One facial might last 90 minutes, whereas the next time it might be close to two hours long, which of course I prefer. Most of the time she includes an absolutely heavenly and long face massage but sometimes she skips it. She used to give a neck, arm and hand massage during the mask on the face time, lately she has been skipping that too and leaves the room instead. I'm not sure what to make of it, I will continue going to Anastassia because I think that the facial she delivers is high quality but I like consistence in the treatments. I will explain the lack of both the face massage and the neck/arm/hand massage this last time I saw her with that she was busy and stressed out a bit due to the new salon opening that same day.
Here I am getting steam blasted on my face. The steam opens up the pores and allows for a thorough and deep cleaning. Even though the extractions can add up, it felt like she squeezed out gunk from every pore in my face this time.....you never leave the salon with a red and irritated face. Anastassia pampers your skin with nutrient rich masks that smell like essential oils and herbs.



I wish I could have one of those face massages right now. It would be so nice to have a personal esthetician and a massage therapist on call 24/7. I would keep them busy, because going to the spa is one of my favorite things to do. I would probably have twice weekly facials and a full body massage everyday. Bliss!

Face Spray

I love spraying my face with flower and herbal face spray, especially in Vegas where it's dry. My absolute fave has been Caudalie since a long time now, it's smells strongly of herbs and it's very refreshing. Also not animal tested and no parabens. But the other day I found these two at Whole Foods and decided to try them out, by Evanhealy, a rose petal spray and an Immortelle one. Also not tested on animals and vegan. I was curious about the Immortelle, because that is the flower that is used as the main ingredient in the face creams I use by L'Occitane.







Adagio Day Spa

I had a facial yesterday with Anastassia. She is changing the name of her spa from Anastassia's to Adagio Day Spa. She has taken on more employees, even an apprentice that was present during my facial, and therefore wants to change the name of the place. And she is expanding the business, opening up a spa inside Captain Cook, I told you she was good!
I am a facial afficionado, I know what I want and like and I want quality. I've had facials at Opulence and Allure in Anchorage before, the facials were terrible. I also had a pedicure once at Allure and it was so bad that I honestly thought for a minute that it was a prank of some sort and I didn't think that I should pay for a sorry pedicure like that. Especially since Allure claims to be voted the top 5 salon in the country. Not what I consider the best, not even good - overpriced, overrated and bad quality. Anastassia gives an amazing facial, I walk away feeling great and that I did something good for my skin. And after every time I can't wait to come back for more. The facials are long, meticulous and thorough, only quality products are used and there are plenty of small important touches incorporated, like essential oils, the heated bed you lay on and warm Himalayan balls that get placed under your neck. Also the face massage is THE BEST, Anastassia has that magic touch. I've been to some high end and great spas in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, so I think I can say that I know what I'm talking about.
Anastassia has been complimenting me on my skin the last couple of times I have been there. I am not doing anything unusual, still using L'Occitane day and night cremes. I have been using Josie Maran argan oil on and off for about a year now. Only at night, sometimes alone and sometimes under the L'Occitane night creme. Since a year now I have been using the Clarisonic Mia face brush between one - three times a week, I love it and many people swear by it. If you are into skincare and don't have a Mia face brush I think you should invest in one. To the men reading this, give one to the woman in your life (makes for a great gift).
Besides that, I rarely use sunscreen (I'm lazy in that department) and I do a clay or honey mask once in a while. I have oily skin and slightly large pores and I have noticed a few sunspots around my eyes, so maybe I should start using sunscreen after all. Either that or undergo Fraxel. I don't like that I work in a smokey environment because that is so very bad for your skin and overall health but according to Anastassia.....my skin looks great. ;-)
Here I am with a face mask underneath and a hydrating and great smelling cloth mask on top.