Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Charity of The Year: The Food Trust

Seasons Greetings Shine & Sparklers!

It is the holiday season. People are rushing around frantically acquiring gifts for their loved ones. They are primping and preening in front of mirrors for holiday parties, shopping trips, and other festivities. While lots of beauty bloggers are posting about the perfect holiday look and the perfect gift for him/her/mom/dad/puppy/goldfish, I want to take this time to draw some attention to those less fortunate.

I think part of being a beautiful person is appreciating what you have. The holidays in the Western world seem to emphasize consumerism. Thus, I started the December tradition of posting The Shine and Sparkle Report: Charity of The Year. 

Like all my images, I will gladly take them down if asked/someone throws a hissy fit.  That being said, common! It's for charity dude/dudette!

I would now like to introduce to you, to THE FOOD TRUST!

So, why The Food Trust?  While I have highlighted international oriented charities such as Project Peanut Butter and Free Rice!, I wanted to turn this year's focus on issues in my home country of the United States.  I was motivated this year by the idea that there are many people who simply do not have access to healthy foods which are the building blocks of not only beauty, but overall health and well-being.  Many families struggle to put food on the table and often the foods that are affordable/available are not the quality foods needed to fuel bodies.  Children especially need healthy foods to ensure they can concentrate and do well in school.  The following information was taken from The Food Trust Website.

The Food Trust's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, we've developed a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.

Programs and Activities
For more than 20 years, The Food Trust has works with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers in Philadelphia and across the country to change how we all think about healthy food and to increase its availability.The Food Trust's comprehensive approach includes improving food environments and teaching nutrition education in schools, working with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings and helping customers make healthier choices, managing farmers' markets in communities that lack access to affordable produce and encouraging other fresh food retail development in underserved communities.

Nationally, almost one out of every six children between ages 2 and 19 is obese.  The number of people suffering from other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, is also high.  Thousands of communities, both urban and rural, all across the country that lack access to healthy, affordable food. And nearly 30 million Americans, the United States Department of Agriculture reports, live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store.

Research has shown that you are where you eat, that the neighborhood you live in has a profound impact on the food choices you make. In partnership with PolicyLink, The Food Trust published Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research, a new report that provides an up-to-date review of the research. Three years after The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters, the large volume of new research demonstrates that improving healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color continues to be an urgent need.

Research also demonstrates the economy of lower-income communities is positively influenced by improved food access. For example, the development or presence of a grocery store can create jobs, stimulate investment in the neighborhood and anchor complementary retail.

Support The Food Trust

There a lots of ways to GET INVOLVED WITH THE FOOD TRUST.  This can be as simple as a monetary donation to volunteering/interning/working for The Food Trust. 

This holiday season, while you are enjoying family, friends, and partying it up, perhaps take a minutes to consider the less fortunate.  While I love everything that shines and sparkles, the most important place for you to do so is on the inside.  

Happy holidays and as always,

Shine & Sparkle

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SheaMoisture: Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner Review (Asian Hair Perspective)

Howdy Shine and Sparkle Report Readers,

Sorry for the late post Sparklers! I obviously love SheaMoisture's brand even though I don't have "ethnic" hair (but I have an ethnicity so that term deeply bothers me...getting off my soapbox now) but dear lord they have the longest product titles!  I mean seriously, I reviewed SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque and most recently I gave my opinion on the Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque.  If those aren't long enough, then how about the "Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner"?!  Long enough for you!  That's right, I think it is the longest product title in Shine and Sparkle report history. *applause for irrelevant benchmarks*.

Ok, I admit I was a bit scared to try this. There are a lot of potentially heavy oils that might weigh down my hair.  But it was buy 1 SheaMoisture product get one 1/2 off at Ulta, so I went for it with blind faith on one of my favorite brands.  And retailing at $10.99USD for 16oz this is a steal.  16oz is so much leave-in conditioner for me.  Maybe if you have even drier, thicker, more damaged hair than I do you will go through more of it.  But this amount is enough for over a year for me.

SheaMoisture Claims: 
A reparative leave-in conditioner that softens and detangles hair. Nourishes, moisturizes and supports elasticity so hair resists breakage when detangling. Conditioners provide a protective layer that improves the appearance of split ends. Peppermint oil stimulates the scalp for an invigorating experience.

Pretty much free of the big bad stuff.  It has no: No sulfates. No parabens. No phthalates. No paraffin. No gluten. No propylene glycol. No mineral oil. No synthetic fragrance. No PABA. No synthetic color. No DEA. No animal testing.

This Conditioner Features:

  • Organic Shea Butter - Deeply moisturizes while conditioning hair and scalp.
  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil - Loaded with repartive (Note: SheaMoisture made up this word, not me) omegas that promote healthy hair growth.
  • Peppermint -Stimulates the scalp for an invigorating experience

How SheaMoisture Says To Use It:
Apply to clean, towel-dried hair. Work a generous amount of product into hair from root to ends. Com through for even distribution. Do not rinse. Apply more to longer hair at the end of problem areas. Can also be used as a rinse-out conditioner.

How Ms. Sparkles Uses It:
In the third person.  Gawd I'm funny right? Anyway, I haven't used it as a rinse-out conditioner because I'm totally stuck on the Superfruit Complex etc... deep masque.  But if you follow me on twitter, I promise to give you a yay or nay on it's use as a rinse out conditioner.  As far as my usage, I find that "generous amount" should really mean "not very much".  I tap 4 fingers on the surface of pot.  I rub what sticks to my fingers between my two hands and apply it to damp hair.  I concentrate on my ends and then whatever is left I apply to my roots.  I do this before combing out my hair with a wide-toothed comb to take advantage of the detangling effects.  I find that this does not leave my hair greasy, but really nice and moisturized.  If I repeat this process to add a bit more product, it gives me some nice texture and helps to define the layers in my hair cut.  Since I don't wash my hair every day, I find that the ends can feel a bit dry on day 2 and 3.  A 2 finger tap into the pot gives me plenty of product to rehydrate my dry ends between washes (also without being greasy).  Because this is so healthy for your hair, I don't notice any build up--just more good hair days.

  • Deep Frying Hair Warning:  Do not use heat after using products with a lot of pure oils and no silicone!  In my silicone 101 post, I talk more in detail about how silicones help protect your hair from heat.  Without using silicones, you just have a lot of oil in your hair.  You apply a straightener/curing wand/hot blowdryer and you are essentially cooking/frying your hair in oil...eek!  You are being super nice to your hair with great oils, lay off the hotools.  If you must, make sure to apply a silicone based heat protectant before using heat.   

As usual,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Face Cleansing Quick Tip

Happy Fall Devoted Shine and Sparklers!

Today I have a really quick tip about washing your face.  I'm sure you never really thought about it, but here are my top tips for getting the best results from your facial cleanser!

What? Stock image?'s a quick tip!  I was lazy!  So sue me.  Actually, please don't. This image is property of the person who created it.  Like all my images, I will gladly take it down if contacted/someone throws a hissy fit.  

  1. Wash your face at the end of your shower.  As you shower you have body soaps, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, and all sorts of other products that might have ingredients you don't want sitting on your face.  Waiting until the end of your shower to wash your face ensures that you are left with the cleanest skin possible at the end of your shower.
  2. Massage the cleanser into your face for 30 seconds to 1 minute in small circular motions.  This seems like a long time, but to get the full benefits of your cleanser, wash your face for a bit longer than you think.  This gives the cleanser time to break down oils, tighten pores, exfoliating ingredients to sluff away dead skin cells, and all the goodness of your cleanser to work.  
  3. Dry your face with a clean towel. I actually have a number of small towels I reserve just for my face.  If you don't care about the environment, you can also use a paper towel.  The skin on your face tends to be more sensitive to bacteria (which can cause breakouts too!)  Using a clean towel to dry your face helps reduce bacteria and leave you with the best complexion possible.
  4. Wash your face 2 times a day.  Washing more than 2 times will dry it out.  It's good to get all the environmental particles, oil and makeup off of your face at night.  It's good to get all the oil and bacteria from your pillows off your face in the morning.  Hooray.
I know this was a super super quick tip.  But isn't that the point?

As Always,
Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Updated Lighted Asian Hair + Updated Hair Care Routine

Hi Everyone!

It has been requested that I do a post on my updated hair care routine since I posted about my hair lightening experience not just once, but I posted about it twice!  As a result, the contents of my last hair care routine update are out of date.  I'm using a few more hefty products to keep my hair healthy despite all the lightening with bleach.  I also don't wash my hair as much because it is drier and more prone to damage.  This means dry shampoo (which I talk about in my dry shampoo post) is my best friend more than ever!

For those who want a THIRD before and after more hair highlighting, here it is.  Again, Krystin at Groove Hair Salon is the best!  This much lighter is after 2-3 more highlighting sessions.  More blonding to come!

You know where you can see my hair as it becomes blonder in all sorts of lighting contexts? twitter! You should follow me! We can be digital buddies, whoo!  Also, you can get sneak peeks into what reviews/reports are coming next.  You can even tweet me ideas for what to do next.  You can also follow me on other social media like facebook page; or an instagram; or a bloglovin; or a google+

Side note: My after picture is at the end of a textured "beachy" hair day.  It's still quite smooth and strong like in the "before" picture.  Now that I've given you a lot of links to past hair posts, lets get started with the hair care routine:

Wash and Condition:
I know you are going to be thinking "Jeebus Ms. Sparkles, when do you have time to do all of this?!" The truth is, since dry shampoo is such a good friend, I only wash my hair fully about 2 times a week.  Yes, it sounds gross, but I do SHOWER every day.  I just don't worry about washing my hair every day.  On days inbetween wash days (when I've gotten super sweaty at the gym or something like that) I conditioner wash my hair (see my conditioner washing post).

  • TheBalm: Moisturize My Hair" Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner- My go-to shampoo and conditioner duo.  Use these at least once a week.  I use it when I wash my hair more than 2 times a week for whatever reason. 2 tbs of the shampoo works great and lathers even though it is sulfate free.  I'm also a "wash twice" person.  I don't know why washing once doesn't feel clean enough or something.
  • Paul Mitchell: Tea Tree Special Shampoo and Conditioner- I only use this once a week to clarify my hair of silicones and product build up.  It also really helps treat any scalp issues I may be having with dandruff or itchy-ness.  I also use the conditioner to co-wash.
  • Shea Moisture: Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque or Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque - I will replace my TheBalm conditioner with this when I feel it needs oils and my scalp is very dry. Leave it in for 5-10 minutes if possible.
  • CHI: Deep Brilliance Moisture Shine Treatment- I will replace my TheBalm conditioner with this just from my ears down, focusing on the ends when the length of my hair is very dry. Leave it in for 5-10 minutes if possible.
  • Aphogee: Keratin-2-minute-reconstructor- I will replace my TheBalm conditioner withthis just on my color treated hair (from wherever the dye starts if my roots are grown out), focusing on the ends when the length of my hair is very brittle.  I tend to leave it in for 3-5 minutes for best results.
  • Macadamia Professional: Deep Repair Masque- I will replace my TheBalm conditioner with this all over my head if my hair is in a huge funk and I have no idea what to do.  Works every time.  I leave it in as long as possible. I'll try to get out of the shower and let it sit for 30 minutes if I can.  Otherwise, 5-10 minutes works ok as well.
After Shower Care and Styling:
I let my hair dry in a micro-fiber hair towel while I do my skin care routine.  Then I gently detangle using a wide tooth comb or my Tangle Teezer (no I didn't make up the terrible product name).  I have also used The Wet Brush, but I find the wet brush to actually just be a better replacement for a normal paddle brush to be used only on dry hair.  I'd stick with a wide tooth comb or Tangle Teezer when it is wet.  Then I will towel dry for a few more minutes before applying leave in treatment if I'm using heat then serum (which I always use).  

  • Paul Mitchell: Super Skinny Serum- As my hair gets more damaged from the lightening process, my Suave Professionals-Moroccan Infusion Moroccan Argan Styling Oil is not quite enough to get the smooth, tangle free air dry that I do most often. If my hair seems to need even extra TLC, I will mix 3 drops of pure Argan Oil into 1.5 pumps of my Super Skinny Serum and rub the mix beween my palms before applying it below my ears and focusing on the ends.  Any remaining residue (maybe a few drops total of the mixture) I scruch/smooth into the upper part of my hair.  I'm in love with this stuff.
  • Macadamia Professional: Nourishing Leave-In Cream- Love to use this before my heat protectant if I'm going to blow dry/curl my hair.  It gives a little extra body, protection and softness. 
  • TRESemme: Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray-  Still my go-to for heat protection.  Cost effective, smells great, and never weights down hair.  It doesn't even feel like another layer of product.
  • Sebastian: Shaper Plus Hairspray-  I find this to be best to hold my curls and not make them crunchy.  No white residue either.  You can brush through the curls and there will be no icky flakes.  My curls can last days though! Hooray!

I think this just about covers it as of the date of this post.  I'm always experimenting and trying new things, so new products are always being tried.

Thank you for reading and as always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shea Moisture: Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque Review (An Asian Hair Perspective)

WAZZAP Shine and Sparkle Report Readers?! (Oh yeah, I totally just used early 2000's internet slang.  I'm so hip...)

Anyway, as you know, I totally love my SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque even though the brand is marketed at coarse, super curly hair.  Even though I have coarse, straight, bleached, and dry Asian hair, I love this product for all the healthy ingredients and smoothing/shining results.  No surprise, I jumped on this equally as long named mask "Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque"*.

You might have seen this picture on my twitter! You should follow me! We can be digital buddies, whoo!  Also, you can get sneak peeks into what reviews/reports are coming next.  You can even tweet me ideas for what to do next.  Social media is so cool right?  What was that? Do I have a facebook page; or an instagram; or a bloglovin; or a google+?  Of course.  #shamelessplug #IPromiseToNotOverDoHashtagsLikeThisOneUnlessIFindThemAmusingThenYouAreStuckWithIt

Like it's predecessor, I found this product to be a cheaper and healthier alternative to very expensive deep conditioners.  Found easily at Ulta or on Shea Moisture's Website, this 12oz tub retails for $12.99USD, but often can be found in a buy one, get one 1/2 off deal.

SheaMoisture Claims:
This intensive antioxidant-rich treatment helps to perfect and renew vibrancy to brittle, lackluster hair. When used weekly in our 10-IN-1 RENEWAL SYSTEM, it treats damaged hair while providing anti-aging benefits, color protection, hydration, nourishment, rejuvenation, strength, anti-stress, deep conditioning, softness and shine. Counteract signs of aging by nourishing the scalp with our SuperFruit Complex and infusing hair with ultra-moisturizing Marula Oil and Biotin. Ten Benefits Specific to our HAIR MASQUE : Age-Defy Nourish Anti-Stress Revive Body Color Protect Shine Deep Condition Strengthen Hydrate Soften.

This Conditioner Has:
No sulfates. No parabens. No phthalates. No paraffin. No gluten. No propylene glycol. No mineral oil. No synthetic fragrance. No PABA. No synthetic color. No DEA. No animal testing.  This is quite amazing and all SheaMoisture products seem committed to eliminating bad stuff ingredients/practices.

This Conditioner Features:

  • Superfruit Blend of Red Raspberry, Ketones, Goji, Acai and Guava Extracts rich in anti-aging antioxidants. 
  • Marula Oil - Contains natural plant peptides that help support hair's elasticity. 
  • Biotin - Nourishes individual strands for thicker, stronger hair. 
  • Shea Butter - Deeply moisturizes while conditioning hair and scalp.

How SheaMoisture Says To Use It:
Section clean, wet hair. Apply generously. Use a wide tooth comb to distribute evenly from root to ends. Leave in for 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. For deep penetrating treatment, cover hair with plastic cap and apply moderate heat for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. When using hair steamer do not cover, moist heat will add to masque's hydration.

How Ms. Sparkles Uses It:
I use this deep treatment 1-2 times a week.  Sectioning hair takes too much time and is unnecessary for my straight hair.  I gently squeeze (don't be rough with it or it will cause more damage and breakage see my healthy hair care post) out water that might dilute the conditioner then apply generous amounts of product to clean wet hair in the shower from your ears down if you are worried about greasy hair.  Since I have been slowing lightening my hair as seen in my hair lightening post #1 and hair lightening post #2 (part 3 coming soon!) I haven't had to worry about that.  I apply it to my whole head and massage it into my scalp.  Then I either leave it in my hair for as long as possible when I wash my body and shave, or I put it in a shower cap and leave it in my hair for as long as I want (at least 30 minutes), do some house chores, then go rinse it out.  My hair feels instantly protein and moisture balanced.  I love this when I'm not sure if my hair needs more protein or more moisture.  It simply solves everything.

  • Deep Frying Hair Warning:  Do not use heat after using products with a lot of pure oils and no silicone!  In my silicone 101 post, I talk more in detail about how silicones help protect your hair from heat.  Without using silicones, you just have a lot of oil in your hair.  You apply a straightener/curing wand/hot blowdryer and you are essentially cooking/frying your hair in oil...eek!  You are being super nice to your hair with a deep treatment mask, lay off the hotools. If you must, make sure to apply a silicone based heat protectant before using heat.   

Overall Thoughts: I found this on to be even more effective than the SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Mask for my hair.   It is a little less heavy on the hair (I'd say suitable for anyone unless you have very thin/fine hair) and produces great smoothing and shining results without it getting greasy quickly.  It is a little more expensive than normal drug store deep conditioners, but it is well worth the price.  It works better than some $30-$50 luxury conditioners and comes with a very generous 12oz of product.   I also ADORE the smell.  All SheaMoisture products I have tried have had an earthy smell that isn't unpleasant but not wonderful.  This smells like fruit and is simply luxurious.  Since this is such a natural product, I don't suggest on stocking up too much because it will probably go bad slightly faster than products with more preservatives.  I'm definitely going to need at least 1 back up though.

Let me know if you are interested in any other SheaMoisture (or any other) hair products for me to review! I love this brand and would love an excuse to try more items!

As usual,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter "Cookie" Power Smoothie Recipe

Hi Shine and Sparklers!

Sorry for the slightly late post.  Anyway, I'm just crazy about smoothie breakfasts.  So I keep sharing recipes with you guys.  Why is this a "power" smoothie?  Well, it is packed with tons of extra protein and even optional caffeine options!  When you really need a morning boost, after a morning work out, or just really want to super-charge your day, consider making this smoothie.  It seriously tastes like dessert!

Do you like my oh-so-high-quality paint image.  I should work for Pixar! Haha.  As usual, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if someone throws a hissy fit. 

The Shine and Sparkle Chocolate Peanut Butter "Cookie" Power Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup Fresh Spinach 
½ cup Non-fat Plain Greek or European Style Yogurt
¼ cup frozen banana (using frozen banana is best for this recipe because it gives it a super cold and icy texture)
2 tbs peanut or almond butter
1-2 scoops of chocolate protein powder 
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
¼ cup of classic rolled oats (I prefer this ingredient only if it is my breakfast.  I find it is not really needed after a workout)
Water or Chilled Coffee until desired thickness (Use Coffee to super-charge your smoothie and make it a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mocha!).

1) Add ingredients to blender.  If storing overnight in a magic bullet* cup, make sure the wet ingredients and oats are at the bottom of the cup. Then add the fruit and spinach on top.  This prevents the spinach from wilting and lets the oats absorb some of the liquid over night and get soft and easier to blend.  If making right away, just throw everything in a blender.

2) Blend.

3) Drink.

Presto! So easy right?  The oats, nut butter and chocolate protein powder give this smoothie an indulgent cookie taste. The spinach is mild so you do not even taste it. The banana provides great vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a great sweet taste.  The yogurt provides dairy calcium, probiotics, and protein.  The almond milk adds creaminess to the smoothie.  All the fiber and nutrients really keep you full.  Lastly, because of the protein powder this is jammy jam jammed full of protein which helps rebuild your muscles, especially after a workout!

I hope you have been liking all my smoothie recipes lately.  If you don't know about them all, here they are so you can check them out.  Keep those smoothie breakfasts interesting!

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Best Bottom Lash Mascara--"Maybelline Lash Discovery Mini-Brush Mascara"

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers,

Thank you so much for tuning in!  I have a really quick mini-review/product rave for you today. I know mascaras specifically are marketing themselves for your lower lashes these days.  I think the biggest difference in these mascaras is a much smaller mascara brush. I recently purchased the Maybelline Lash Discovery Mini-Brush Mascara (not waterproof) thinking that this might fit the bill and also be a great all around mascara.

I was really pleasantly surprised!  This mascara has the tiniest (but effective) brush I have ever seen.  It does a great job getting my puny lower lashes and making them really stand out.  It also doesn't smudge at all (which based on my face structure, is a reoccurring problem).  It is also small enough to use to coat my upper lashes on both sides after I use waterproof mascara on my top lashes to hold the curl.  This process gives me extra extra extra lash drama.  This is quite a feat since my lashes are naturally quite small.

Mascara Tip:
Did you know that waterproof mascaras are oil based.  This means they do not weigh down your lashes after they have been curled.  Using a non-waterproof mascara on your lashes will not hold a curl because they are water based.  Just like if you sprayed water on freshly styled hair on your head, it will not hold.  Use a water poof mascara to hold curl, you can apply your favorite non-waterproof mascara over it if you really want extra lash drama.

Overall, I highly recommend this mascara all on its own.   Add in the fact that it retails for around $8 when not on sale (you know Maybelline always has some kind of sale), and you have a completely winning product! If you have puny lashes like me, you will be very very pleased with this product.

Another Mascara Tip:
Love a mascara wand?  After you finish the product, wash it was soap and water.  You can dip it into any of your favorite mascara formulas and keep using your favorite wand.  This works especially great for the Maybelline Last Discovery Mini-Brush because the brush and wand are so small/skinny/long that they can fit into just about any mascara tube.  So once you have an extra mini-brush, I recommend trying the brush with other mascaras and see how you like it!

Let me know if you try this and love it too!

As Always,
Shine & Sparkle

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.