Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sale Find at Anthropologie

Today's dress is one I found while shopping at Anthropologie with my mom and sister last month. It's a super cute dress, and extremely comfortable, and has just been marked down even further online! It's now only $50! The material is a little heavy, so it's absolutely perfect for fall in Atlanta. Since it's black and white, you can add any color jacket when it's chilly outside.

Outfit Details

Dress: Valery Structured Dress (Anthropologie)

Shoes: Jimmy Choo Lang Sandals in Flame

This picture today also marks the first time I've been photographed with my "new eyebrows." The color is still coming in, so I am filling in the gaps with makeup now that my ten days have passed. I may need to go darker with the color next time. What do you think? Do they look natural? The skin is still a little tender, but overall, I'm so happy. I know I'm still early on in the process, too, so things are only going to get better.

I also want to add that it's been really nice to share my microblading experience and get so much positive feedback. Just a few people knew I was getting the procedure done beforehand, and everyone was so wonderfully supportive and encouraging. Thank you!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Eyebrow Microblading In Atlanta with Brows by Milly

I recently went to Brows by Milly in Atlanta for eyebrow microblading, and I wanted to share my experience and advice about the whole process.

During my research, I found a lot of information online about microblading, and to be honest, some of the stories scared me so much I almost didn't show up for my appointment! But now, with my first microblading session behind me, I can honestly say...

I'm so glad I did it.

It actually took a very blunt friend of mine saying that I absolutely "had to do something about my eyebrows" for me to realize that my thinning eyebrows weren't just something I was noticing -- other people were noticing the issue, too.

Read below to learn more about how I decided microblading was for me, and my overall experience with Brows by Milly in Atlanta.

The Problem: Thinning Eyebrows

My eyebrows have long been an issue for me. During the 90s and early 2000s, I was committed to waxing and tweezing my eyebrows into thin strands that rested in perfect lines above my eyes. That look quickly went out of fashion, and by the time I was saying 'I do' to Chapin in 2003, I was desperately trying to grow my eyebrows out -- and having limited success. I was only 25 years old.

My mom struggles with thinning eyebrows, as do other female members of my family, so I'm thinking maybe it's a hereditary issue stemming from my (mostly) Italian roots. Despite trying to grow them out, my eyebrows remained thin... and just kept getting thinner as I got older.

(From left) My mom, middle sister and me - May 2014 - Age 36.

Trying to Fix the Issue -- Naturally and Unnaturally 

I have always loved makeup, but I guess because when I was learning to apply makeup I didn't really pay much attention to my brows, I didn't buy my first brow tool until I was well entrenched in my 30s.

I just never really thought about it.

Keeping up this blog, and taking daily pictures of myself, helped me see myself in a new light. Around 2014, I realized that from far away, it looked like I didn't have any eyebrows at all, and up close, you could barely see them.

I knew I had to try something to get them to grow.

May 2015 - Age 37 - This picture highlights my sparse brows at the time.

From coconut oil to castor oil, wands and serums promising to help grow my strands, changing my diet... nothing worked. NOTHING WORKED! My eyebrows remained as thin as ever.

That's when I started trying to get creative with my makeup. From far away, it looked... okay. Up close, though, I felt like my eyebrows were drawn on, and it morphed into an issue I was starting to feel really self-conscious about. Even when I would run a 5K or see people out and about in more of a "make-up free" setting, I still would not leave the house without some kind of makeup on my sparse brows.

Eyebrow Makeup Obsessed

Over the last few years, I've been trying to find ways to draw in my eyebrows in the most natural way possible. Here is just a sampling of the products that made their way into my eyebrow arsenal:

I don't even want to add up the cost of all those products!

And while I thought I was doing a decent job filling them in... obviously I wasn't. That's when I started looking into microblading.

Investigating Microblading

Many people don't even know that microblading exists, as it is relatively new to the beauty scene. Basically, microblading is a series of semi-permanent tattoos that mimic the look of eyebrow hair. They are not permanent -- the marks don't go as deep into the skin's layers as they do when getting a permanent tattoo -- but they will still last up to one year.

Most beauty magazine and bloggers have covered microblading in some form or another, so when I started my research, there was plenty to read and understand. You can't let the research scare you out of having microblading -- like most things, there are a few horror stories out there -- but you also can't be ignorant of the risks.

Why Microblading

Microblading is a committment, so you have to really want thicker eyebrows. If that's the case, you have to go to the RIGHT place with the RIGHT technician. Microblading is, at its core, an art form, so don't just go anywhere. Be confident with your decision to get microblading, then be confident once you choose the right place for the procedure.

My Microblading Advice

I'm not an expert on microblading, but I do have some advice to share:

Do Your Research
First, you have to decide if microblading is really the right option for you. If you feel self-conscious about your brows like I did, I say go for it. But the decision has to be yours and yours alone. Don't let anyone else talk you into (or out) of it.

Narrow Down the Location
I had a lot of microblading options here in Atlanta. I narrowed it down to two places -- one I found on my own and one that my dermatologist recommended. You may want to even ask friends for recommendations, maybe even put something out on Facebook. Most likely someone you know has had this procedure! Whatever the case, once you've done your research, just focus on a few places so you can really feel confident in your decision about where to go.

Get a Consultation
Most places will offer a consultation, but it's not mandatory. Even though I had to pay for my consultation at Brows by Milly, I'm glad that I did. I asked a lot of questions, felt more at ease about what I would be signing up for, and viewed the location in person. I'm not sure I would have just signed up for microblading without taking that first step.

Read Reviews:
One of the biggest reasons I decided to go with Brows by Milly was the reviews. I couldn't find anyone who had a bad experience there. I would have to drive almost 50 minutes to get there, but I didn't care -- I felt confident I was going to the right place.

Review Before and After Photos:
I was concerned that my brows, being so sparse, wouldn't look natural with microblading. I found several Before and After photos showing women with similar looking brows, and the After photos always amazed me. Yes, I know that photos can be Photoshopped and altered, so I looked for videos, too. The Brows by Milly Instagram page had so many photos, it was easy to see the team there knows what they're doing!

My Personal Microblading Experience

I read everything I could about what to do before and after microblading, so I did not have any caffeine the day of the procedure. I was extremely nervous, and almost decided not to go to my appointment. But -- usually -- when I make a decision, I stick to it, so that's what I did. (I told a lot of people I was doing it, so I think that made it a little easier to stay with my decision.)

So, now for the answers to some frequently asked questions about microblading:

Does It Hurt?
A little... definitely not as much as I thought. I have sensitive skin, and an especially sensitive brow area -- I constantly sneezed when I used to pluck by brows -- so I was expecting some intense pain and discomfort. But I sneezed just once and generally found the pain to be very tolerable. After the first ten minutes, they put some numbing cream on, and once that happens, it's smooth sailing. My eyes did water constantly, though!

Did You Wear Makeup the Day of the Procedure?
Yes. I had an afternoon appointment, so I worked in the morning and was in full makeup when I arrived. They will sanitize the area they are working with, so don't worry about that!

Who Was Your Technician?
My brows are by Niki Marques, the sister to the famous Milly. She did an amazing job and really put me at ease when she saw how nervous I was on the day of the procedure!

How Does It Look?
The short answer... fantastic!

Photo: Brows by Milly/Instagram

What Happens Next?
After the procedure, you basically can't get your eyebrows wet for 10 days. No sweating or wetting! That has maybe been the hardest part of this whole experience. I can't take a shower like normal and I can't run or workout. Ugh! 

What Do Your Brows Look Like Now?
Here are my brows on Day 8, and they still look wonderful. At this point, I hadn't experienced any scabbing or peeling! Note: I'm not wearing any eyebrow makeup -- you actually can't for the first ten days!

Most people haven't even noticed; they just think I have natural, beautiful brows!

By Day 9, I had started to see more scabbing and the pigment coming away in more places. Check out my video from Day 10:

How Often Do You Have to Get Microblading Done?
In about a month, I will go back for a touch-up, and then I just need to go yearly to keep up the work. I will definitely be doing that.

How Much Does It Cost?
Microblading is not cheap, especially if you go to a reputable place. You should budget about $650 for everything, from the consultation to the main appointment to the touch-up. The cost will go down for regular appointments, but you can expect about $450 per year. To me, it's worth that for the peace of mind and confidence I feel right now.

And if I don't want to keep it up, all I have to do is stop going, and the color will fade from my brows.

Now all I'm asking is... why didn't I do this sooner?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Belle of the Office

I'm in another dressy dress today -- but this one cost me only $35!

Dress: Belle by Badgley Mischka Blue Metallic Brocade Vienna Dress

I bought the dress on Rue La La, and it's still available via Bluefly.com. The dress is beautiful and well-made, and a steal at $35. (It retails for $229.) Just remember that this brand tends to run large, so you should plan to size down.

I felt a little silly being so dressed up at work, but I always say that if clothes make you feel good, you should wear them... so that's what I did.

Many major retailers carry the Belle by Badgley Mischka line, including Dillards, Lord & Taylor and Saks Off 5th. The dresses are generally very chic and feminine.

Shoes: Valentino Rockstud Crisscross d'Orsay Pumps

These Valentinos are probably my favorite pair of shoes right now. They are just so gorgeous, and I really like the way they bring out the gold in the dress.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Party Everyday

I know today's dress is a bit fancy for work, but I just recently purchased this dress from Rue La La, and couldn't wait to wear it! Isn't it gorgeous? It looks more like a party dress, but when you work as much as I do, you have to make everyday a party... right?

Dress: Alice + Olivia Clora Red Lace Layered Dress

The dress is still available for purchase at Net-a-Porter and BlueFly, and I also found it on eBay. If you like the Alice + Olivia brand -- it's one of my favorites -- I also have to mention the site is doing its annual Friends and Family sale this week, so everything (including sale items) is 25% off!

Shoes: Jimmy Choo Romy Embroidered Satin Pumps

This exact style is no longer available, but the Romy shoe comes in a variety of colors and prints.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Missing Fall

It's almost October, but it certainly still feels like summer here in Atlanta. It's hot and humid, and I start sweating the moment I step outside. Ugh! Since Fall weather is still a few weeks away, I'm taking this opportunity to wear a summery dress I recently purchased for just $30 on RueLaLa.com.

Dress: Donna Morgan Seersucker Belted Dress (no longer available)

This particular dress may be sold out, but here is a similar dress from the Donna Morgan brand you can still buy on Amazon.

Sandals: BCBGeneration Jakalyn Gold and Clear Ankle-Strap Sandals

Thank goodness it's Friday! I'm exhausted from this week, and ready for a relaxing weekend, when I can sleep, eat sushi and watch all the shows that just recently returned to the air. I'm especially excited about the new season of The Good Place. It's one of my favorite shows, and if you're not watching it, you should be!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall in the South

Well, it's officially Fall in the South, although that really doesn't mean much to me. Atlanta is still seeing temperatures in the 90s, so everyone's Fall clothes will be staying out of sight for awhile longer.

Today's dress, a silk creation from Shoshanna, is at least in Fall colors. I love this Marigold hue, a perfect blend of yellow and gold, which goes great with the tan I have somehow developed over the course of the summer (via dog walks and running). The floral print also features shades of chocolate brown, blue and orange. With this color scheme, I feel like this dress would be right at home in the 1970s!

Dress: Shoshanna Carmela Floral Silk One-Shoulder Dress

You can still buy the dress at Neiman Marcus or ShopBop -- and it's on sale! I'm wearing a size two for reference.

Shoes: Manolo Blahnik Specchio BB Pumps in Bronze

I chose the bronze pumps to complete the 1970s vibe, but nude, dark brown or even light blue pumps would work well here, too. The BB Pumps from Manolo Blahnik are still popular, and you can buy them in different fabrics, prints and colors from major retailers like Bergdorf Goodman. (I like shopping there because the store does not charge sales tax in Georgia.)

I tried to relax as much as possible this weekend, because I'm gearing up for a busy week at work. Hopefully it won't be too crazy!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Gauze and Eyelet

It's Monday, September 17, 2018, and fortunately, Hurricane Florence is behind us. Atlanta lucked out and got virtually no rain or wind from the storm, but of course many parts of North and South Carolina were flooded, suffered through high winds, or saw record rainfall. My heart is with all the victims and their families, and I'm planning to donate to the American Red Cross and The Humane Society to try to do my part to help.

I have a busy work week ahead of me, so I wanted to wear something today that was really comfortable. Today's dress, from Rebecca Taylor, is light and airy, most likely due to the combination of gauze and eyelet. I like that you can dress it up for work or dress it down to wear on the weekend.

Dress: Rebecca Taylor Mariana Gauze and Eyelet Dress

The dress is still available on the Rebecca Taylor website (and marked down), but there are only a few sizes left. I'm wearing a size four, but I probably could have gone with a size two; the dress must run a little big.

You can also find the dress on ShopBop in white, or on eBay!

Here is a similar dress from Rachel Pally that is on sale for under $100 at 6pm.com.

I just happened to get my nails done over the weekend -- both my fingernails and toenails are blue -- so it was a perfect day to wear this dress.

Shoes: Jimmy Choo Fearne Glitter Criss-Cross Wedges

I had a busy weekend, but definitely a fun one, as I attended the 40th birthday for a friend of mine from high school, and spent a lot of time with my sister, Laura, who is here for the time being after evacuating from Newport, North Carolina. Here are just a few pictures from the weekend:

My brave and strong sister, Laura, with her son, Cole, and my Norman.

Celebrating my friend, Lindsay, at her 40th birthday party.