Healthy Hair Makes Laughing Blondes

DISCLAIMER: Function of Beauty did NOT sponsor this post. I’m writing this because everyone deserves to have healthy, gorgeous hair! If interested, you can buy their products by clicking this link- Function of Beauty

One of the things that I’m complimented on most is my hair. For most of my life, I’ve had decently healthy, relatively long locks. (This does not include the tragedy of 2007 when I asked for a shoulder-length cut and left the salon in tears because SHOULDER-LENGTH DOES NOT MEAN JUST BELOW THE EARS. Someone please let my EX stylist know that.. Side note – I had a little nub where my bouncy ponytail used to be, and it was not a cute look with my cheerleading uniform.) I’ve also been color-treating it for about 10 years now, as my natural color is a light brown/dark blonde. The majority of the time, it’s been done in a nice salon with proper chemicals, and it’s almost always to go lighter. But there have definitely been times where I was trying to save a few bucks and chose to do boxed color.. ladies, you already know how this turned out. There was the time I wanted to be a “rebel” in high school (which is ridiculous because I was a straight-edge cheerleading captain who to this day has never touched a cigarette in my life) so I dyed the bottom of my hair pink 3 different times. There was also the time that I let my well-intentioned stepmom try to highlight my hair but she left three inches of exposed roots, so I had my friend from work fix it (she actually did an amazing job, shout-out to Katey for that one!).

Fun fact: One time, I decided at the salon that it would really make my blue eyes pop if I went dark brown, so I did and when I went home, my mom flipped out and told me it made me look ill (I’m pretty pale), and made me an appointment for the next day at her salon. They did what they could, but it was still pretty dark because as we know, if you treat your hair too much with color, it can get really dry and damaged and end up breaking easily. So what did this 19 year old with barely any extra money do? I waited a few weeks for winter break to be over and when I went back down to school, I paid 2 of my guy friends in pepperoni pizza to do a box job on my hair. There is no excuse for this. I still live in shame about it.

So here we are. A decade of hair brutality later, and I’m starting to get concerned about its health. I’ve always had a lot of hair (not thick, just a lot of it), and it’s always shed a good amount because that’s just what hair does. In fact, according to Women’s Health Magazine , the average women loses between 60-100 hair strands per day! The number might surprise you, but believe me, it’s accurate. Just ask my boyfriend and he’ll tell you that he’s constantly pulling strands of hair from his peacoat, his bed sheets, his shower drain.. you name it, you can find my hair on it. I’m thinking of gifting him with a monogrammed lint roller at this point. But even with these numbers, I still get a little worried. Last winter, I started really noticing my hair was breaking much more easily that it had been before. I wash my hair every other day (this is generally the recommended amount), I do use heat tools, but not excessively, and I use a wet brush, which is supposed to help with easily detangling knots. Side note- how many of you get a giant knot by the nape of your neck if you wear your hair down for an extended period of time? Nobody? Just me? Ok, cool.

All of this leads me to the reason I was so excited to discover Function of Beauty . This insanely cool company collaborated with chemists and MIT engineers to develop revolutionary shampoos + conditioners customized to your #hairgoals. I’m not gonna lie. The pretty colors on the homepage are what drew me in. But the fact that these products are Sulfate Free, Cruelty Free, Paraben Free, have no toxins and are made in the USA are what convinced me to purchase. Their motto? “Celebrate Individuatlity. We believe your shampoo and conditioner should be as unique as you and your hair.” SIGN ME UP!

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According to their website, there are literally 12 BILLION possible combinations, so I’m thinking they’re pretty spot-on with this while “custom” thing.  Here’s how it works:

  • Build your Hair Profile: You select your hair type (my was wavy), your hair structure (I chose medium) and your scalp moisture (I leaned towards normal for this one).
  • Choose 5 Hair Goals: There are 17 to choose from, touching on the most common #hairgoals women have. For me, I went with deep condition, strengthen, hydrate, color protection and thermal protection.
  • Customize your Formulas: Here’s where it gets fun. You can choose what color you want your shampoo + conditioner to be (they can be 2 different ones) or you can go dye-free. Then you choose the fragrance you want, and how strong you want that fragrance to be. (I went with orange shampoo, blue conditioner and a strong grapefruit scent.) Last, you name your custom formula specific to you!
  • Size + Frequency: Finally, you choose the size and frequency of your bottles. I’ve never in my life run out of shampoo and conditioner at the same time. In fact, I usually buy 2 conditioners for every 1 shampoo. The ratio is ridiculous. But that’s what’s so great about Function of Beauty! You can choose to mix and match the sizes, or just buy one or the other. Totally custom.

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I’ve been using my set for a little over a week now, and I seriously already see a change in my hair. Winters in NYC are tough on hair, and the hydrating elements are doing an incredible job at combating the harsh climate. My hair started feeling healthier after the very first wash, but it’s been increasingly noticeable as each day passes. I actually just went to my salon yesterday – Timothy Pamment Salon in Madison, CT, and my colorist said she noticed that my hair seemed less dry + brittle, which is great news after just one week!

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Thank you to Coco and Maria at Timothy Pamment in Madison, CT for this gorgeous  cut + color!

Pro tip: If for some reason you don’t feel like it’s working for you, the company offers free refunds within the first 30 days. Basically, if by some stroke of bad luck this stuff doesn’t work for you, just send it back and you’ll be fully refunded. What’s the harm in trying? Best of luck, ladies. May the odds be ever in your favor.

xo, AJ

PS: Function of Beauty offers referral codes. If you order through this link, you’ll get $5 off and, full disclosure, so will I.

 

Will Travel for Brunch

*You can find the full Brother Bruno’s menu by clicking here

I have this terrible habit of saving videos that I want to watch on Facebook, and then never actually watching them. I have a hunch that most people are like this. You know what I mean- you see a BuzzFeed clip that seems like it would be funny, but you don’t think everyone else in your subway car would appreciate you blasting it on the 6:30pm commute ride, so you save it and then subsequently forget about it.

I have this problem with all videos, but especially with the Insider ones that feature these amazing cafes + restaurants all across the world with crazy cool menus and meals that literally leave drool running down my chin. So when I came across Brother Bruno’s in Wayne, New Jersey, I was determined to not let that happen. To me, this was the ultimate place to try one of these restaurants out! It was close enough to drive there on a random Saturday, but far enough away from the city that I wouldn’t be waiting in a line that wrapped around 15 city blocks and had a 3-hours wait time (BlackTap, I’m looking at you- I STILL have not had one of your 2,000 calorie milkshakes and yeah, I’m mad about it).

Earlier this month, I saw this INSIDER Food video that blew my mind. Breakfast pizza that you could customize with your favorite cereal and was stuffed with french toast? WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE! I decided I had to go, so that’s how I spent my Sunday morning.

When I got there, I found out that you can actually customize your dessert pizza into a sampler of sorts- I picked 4 different kinds (2 slices of each) and laaaawwwddd, be still my heart. I have found heaven, and it lies in the form of S’mores pizza. Though there are about 2o+ flavors to choose from, we went with Birthday Cake, S’mores, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (bc that is FIRE), and Girl Scout Samoas Cookie flavor.

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I’m not ashamed to say that I brought this whole box home and ate it while sitting on my floor watching Golden Girls (the whole series is out on Hulu, you’re welcome). What I’m slightly upset about is that I only got a few bites of each flavor before I had to run out and meet a friend for drinks. When I came back, it was after 11pm and I was slightly tipsy, so I got cozy on my couch and settled in for another round or Dorothy + Sophia going at it about something that happened in Sicily in 1912. This is when I noticed a shadow cross my floor, so I flipped on the light and saw a tiny mouse running away… you can’t imagine how hard I cried over this- I’m talking full on sobbbing, choking on my own spit kind of tears. I’m not proud of my reaction, but I can’t lie- I instantly considered moving. Not kidding. I don’t want to get into the sad details of it, but obviously I had to throw the dessert pizza away, because EW but also, ugh :(. Side note- in an attempt to not live my life in fear of a 1.5lb piece of fluff with a nasty-ass tail, I have tried to humanize him by naming him Jean-Claude. JC and I have not seen each other since the incident, and I’m hoping that he has chosen another apartment with healthier food options lying around for him to enjoy. This is how I’m coping, leave me alone!

Anyways, because JC enjoyed my pizza, I’ll be making a return trip to Brother Bruno’s soon- check out their flavors and write me a comment to help me decide on what to try next!

xo, AJ

Welcome to Miami 

If you live in a place where it snows in the winter, then you know just how brutal a winter can get. It’s all fun in games in late October and November, when the leaves begin to change colors and you need a light jacket if you’re planning to be outside for longer than a few minutes. You might even find yourself getting a little sad as Christmas inches closer and there’s no signs that snowflakes will be falling. But listen closely – there will come a time in early February, after there’s been 17″ of snow and icicles have formed on your eyelashes as you run to the subway, where you will curse the day you ever complained about it not being cold enough. That day, my friends, will come. Believe me.

That’s why I’m eternally grateful that I’m only a three hour flight away from the ever-beautiful, always hot weathered Miami. The minute you step outside of the airport, you can feel the difference in vibes. Especially coming from NYC where everything is go-go-go and you literally want to murder someone after the 3rd announcement of “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Please” (seriously, GTFO lady with the massive tote bag). I had the opportunity to take a much-needed 5 day getaway to the City of the Sun (is that a thing?) the first Friday in February, and it was just what I needed!

The Hall South Beach Hotel

My boyfriend and I flew down together and checked in to The Hall South Beach hotel. The experience went beyond my expectations from the beginning, starting with the concierge that checked us in. He was personable, friendly, and extremely helpful. He helped us change rooms so that we could check in early (we arrived around 9am and check-in isn’t until the afternoon), and gave us tickets for a couple of free drinks. Once we checked into the room, we were greeted yet again with a pleasant surprise. The room was bright, clean and well-decorated, and the bathroom was stocked with tons of Jonathan Adler products. The hotel has a restaurant called Sunny’s, which we found to be perfect for grabbing breakfast outside by the pool- it’s worth noting that the menu has a healthy amount of options, but the food wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, and it was a bit pricey. It definitely could use a few more people on staff, as it seemed as though the handful of servers were extremely overwhelmed, but they were all really helpful and sweet. Though we spent most of our time outside of the hotel, I did notice that there were some other great perks that The Hall offered. First, their pool is great! It’s quite large for a smaller hotel, and it has little cabanas along the edges for guests to relax in when they want some time away from the sun. Also, the hotel is located across the street from the beach, but they have an area staked out on the beach designated for their guests. Overall review: This is a great new spot on Collins Ave that’s reasonably priced with a fantastic staff. If the only downside is that their food could use some improvement, there are wore problems to have!

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The Delano Hotel

The Delano is a real Miami treat. While we were spending the first few nights over at The Hall, my mom and her friends were staying at the Delano, which was right on the beach and conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from us. We spent most of our time here (hey- if my mom is willing to pay for my over-priced Strawberry Dacqueri and umbrella chairs, who am I to say no?), and I seriously fell in LOVE. The rooms are all-white, spacious, and super chic- the only thing I have to say about that is that there was no dresser drawers in the rooms and I’m sorry but that’s the weirdest thing ever to not have at a hotel). The hotel’s entire first floor is breathtaking. The front area where the reception sits is open and bright, and the staff were quick to help us with anything we needed. As we moved through the hall towards the back, I became increasingly impressed. The hall was open and roomy, but quite dark. There was almost an exclusive feel to it, as there were thin white curtains hanging from the tall pillars lightly blowing from the wind and hiding the intimate seating that’s placed all along the sides.

As you walk through the hall and then out to the back, you see the outdoor restaurant. Because the hotel is right on the beach, it has a casual feel to it. The setup is well-designed, and the seating is quite comfortable – a huge plus in my book! The menu (for lunch, at least) isn’t as extensive as some other places, but they do a great job with what they serve. It’s expensive, yes, but if you’re already staying at the Delano, you’re probably not too concerned with counting your pennies. As you walk beyond the hotel, you’ll see a sign letting you know that access beyond that point is for hotel guests only. It’s a much-appreciated touch for the guests who are spending a lot to ensure a certain kind of vacation.

The pool itself was interesting – different from what you’ll typically see at most other hotels. Part of it only goes about 1″-6″ deep, and there’s a table with a set of chairs and a candelabra in the center – totally random and weird, but also kind of amazing if you’re looking for the perfect Insta photo- and let’s be honest, you are. The poolside service is what really stood out to me. The perimeter of the pool is lined with chairs and behind those chairs, there are cabanas available by reservation (and additional cost). I’m not sure what additional services are provided if you have a cabana -beyond the added bonus of privacy and shade- because sadly, I’m def. not bougie enough for that. I do know that the attentiveness of the staff for those of us peasants who were in the regular chairs was absolutely wonderful. I’m looking @ you, Jeremy the Bartender and Silver the Pool Guy. By day three, these guys were reading my mind when I went to order. Literally, I flagged Silver down and before I opened my mouth, he told me a Pina Colada was on its way and when I went to ask for chips + guac, he turned around and goes “and I’m assuming some chips + guac as well?” BTW it was 10am so that shouldn’t have been so predictable, but that’s a personal problem that I’m working on. Beyond the pool, the beach was gorgeous. But there’s not too much to write about there, because it’s the beach and it’s Miami, and I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. Overall review: This place is a must-stay if you’re willing to pay for it. Yes, it’s weird that the rooms don’t have dressers + yes, the drinks are very pricey. But the staff is INCREDIBLE and the views are unmatched. I’d stay here in again in a heartbeat! (As long as I’m going with my mom – ya girl doesn’t have that kind of champagne budget just yet.)

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Barton G’s Restaurant

Ahhh, Barton G. I almost didn’t even want to write about this restaurant, because nothing will prepare you for the experience you have here. I really mean that – nothing will prepare you. No matter what you order here, what you’re served will go far beyond just a meal. My boyfriend, for instance, ordered a Below-The-Belt martini. It was served on a wooden board that had an actual miniature wrestling ring set up, and a massive boxing glove to the side. And that’s just the beginning! My pasta dish came out with a disco ball and strobe lights, with a speaker that was playing Stayin’ Alive a a pretty audible volume. And for dessert, the Dolla’ Dolla’ Bills Y’all is a MUST. gold-dusted chocolate, s’mores that are torched right in front of you, gold coins, etc. This place does not disappoint, and it’s a must-see when you go.

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OLA

Ola is a Latin American restaurant that was so nice, we had dinner their twice! There’s virtually nothing on the menu that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve been known to be a picky eater, but I do try to give foods a chance, especially when I’m on vacation. That said, I tried their ceviche, a dish that I wasn’t too confident I’d like, and legit had to order seconds. It was THAT good. The staff on hand are really knowledgeable about the menu, and we found them to be quite helpful when deciding between dishes. I could go on and on about the food here, but you can’t go wrong with anything you order. I’d be hard-pressed to recommend one dish over another, and I’d jump at the chance to be able to go back here a third time.

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Starbucks Purple Drink 💜

You guys have heard about it before – the evasive Starbucks “secret menu”. You see all these crazy Instagram photos but don’t know how to order what you’re drooling over. Fear no more! I give you the Purple Drink recipe:

Iced passion tango tea with no water (sub soy milk, vanilla syrup and blackberries)


Enjoy!

xo, AJ 

Saturday in SoHo

This weekend I hit the streets of SoHo with my best friend get some quality shopping + eating in. Typical BFF things, obviously. When we got down there, it felt like a ghost town. We tried figuring out what was going on- is everyone on vacation? Is it seriously too cold out for New Yorkers to go shopping (the answer: never)? Is Barney’s having some major sale we didn’t know about and we need to go back uptown immediately? Then we figured out that it was NYFW, an event that drags thousands away from the cobblestone streets slicked with stomach-turning puddles and into chic warehouses filled with beautiful people. I can see the appeal.


Pop-Up Shop

As we celebrated the lighter-than-usual tourist traffic, we were approached out of nowhere by good-looking men handing out pink tulips. Now from my experience, men don’t typically hand out roses for nothing, and they definitely don’t do it unless they’re expecting something in return (sex, acceptance of an apology, he tells you his mom is coming to stay with you guys for a week). So we were skeptical, to say the least. They could for sure tell what we were thinking, and were quick to point out that the tulips really were free, and they were just promoting a Valentine’s Day pop-up shop around the corner. Well, it was 15 degrees out and just a few days before V-day, so we decided to head on over. The second we walked in, we were thrilled. They were handing out flowers out the door, had set up booth for local businesses with products related to Valentine’s Day, set up a photobooth and were providing free makeovers, massages and goodie bags! This place was HEAVEN!

Let’s start with some of my favorite local businesses that attended:

Cupcake Market : This insanely creative bakery (located on the Lower East Side) was selling cookies + cupcakes decorated with celebrity faces. There was everything from Kanye West to Donald Trump, and the artwork was truly awesome. My personal faves? The iconic Kim Kardashian crying face and the Sad Drake. $16 a cookie, but well worth it. You know what they say… #DoItForTheGram

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IXMUCANE :Branded as handcrafted botanical skincare, IXMUCANE stood at to me. Their setup was simple, but still lovely, and their products were high quality. I purchased the Balancing Facial Toner and the Rejuvenating Rose Mask, and I’ve already noticed a change in my skin. I have really sensitive skin, especially on my face – I have to be really careful of the products I use, or I break out and dry out instantly. Neither of these products had an adverse reaction with my skin (shocking, believe me), they smelled amazing, and I noticed my skin looking brighter! Total win!

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Gatherings Floral Design : Moment of transparency – I dressed up as a pink fairy for Halloween and had a flower crown and I have been sad every single time that I see pictures from that weekend that I no longer have it. Enter Gatherings. Not only did they have a beautiful set-up at the event, but they also provided flower crowns for the photo-booth. WHAT A WIN, LADIES! They were absolutely gorgeous, and it was so fun knowing that they were made by a local-owned business. Pro-tip: their arrangements are totally affordable. New Yorkers (especially men) are well aware of the high costs of bouquets in this city – you practically need to take out a loan to buy a nice one. This shop is well-priced and has great arrangements. 

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There were plenty of other shops, but these ones were my favorite. Check out @popupnation.co on Insta for more deets on the pop-up shop!


When You’re Too Tired to Shop Anymore, You Get Food..

After we left the #lovecraft event feeling spoiled, we walked a bit further over to Cha Cha Matcha . I honestly don’t know when this matcha craze took over, but I will never say no to going to a cafe decorated entirely in pink. Throw in some palm tree designs and cute coffee cups, and I’m there! Which is how we ended up at Cha Cha Matcha, a small cafe on Broome Street. It was super busy when we went, but I’m sure that’s mostly due to the fact that it was around 1pm on a Saturday, and this is a newer Cafe with Insta-worth aesthetics. Check it out on a random Wednesday (because on Wednesdays, we wear pink!) and I bet you’ll have a way more laid-back experience. Good luck!

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Moving on to Oficina 1m , which is just a few doors down from Cha Cha Matcha on Broome. First of all, I took a few clients out to lunch here last Friday and ordered some of their homemade bread with homemade chocolate hazelnut spread (basically their higher-quality version of Nutella) and WHOA. Order it. Just do it. Then one of my friends/colleagues offered me a bite of her mushroom ravioli, which I almost turned down because mushrooms are literally the most disgusting things in the world to me. But for some reason I took and bite… which is how I ended up back here on Saturday afternoon for lunch. I literally came back to this exact restaurant 24 hours later because I NEEDED to order that ravioli for myself. It was breathtaking. Ugh, I actually miss it just thinking about it. I sincerely apologize to my readers for not being able to post a photo of it – the one I have simply won’t do it justice. Somebody get me another reservation…

Anyway, the decor here is simple + cute, the staff is really attentive + friendly, and I had two really wonderful back-to-back experiences here. It’s not a dive, but it’s just casual enough that you don’t need to be dressed up to go, and you can go in wearing your sunglasses and dedicated hangover outfit without being judged. I’m a fan.

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Have any places that you think I should check out in the area? Comment below!

xo, AJ