Beauty is one of my favorite topics to write about, so naturally I enjoy interviewing people in the know in the wild world of beauty.
Meet Laura Carson Miller – a freelance beauty author and staff writer for Sweet Lemon Magazine from Atlanta – whose experience in the salon and spa industry starts as a receptionist but progresses to her taking on the tough job of salon manager and then working as a licensed manicurist. Laura has a great, no-nonsense approach to beauty. Her tips make navigating the world of beauty easy…the way it’s supposed to be!
Enjoy my interview with Laura as we talk about how to have great summer skin, relief from common everyday beauty issues, fall beauty trends and the BB Cream craze.
PGTC: How do you define beauty?
LCM: I think it is different for each person. For some it’s about how your skin and hair look and about products, for others it is more inside type stuff ~ feeling as Zen as possible, knowing how you best manage stress, making good life choices ~including eating right, exercising and very importantly, surrounding yourself with positive people. Personally I’m about 20% products and 80% lifestyle choices.
PGTC: Summer is here! What can women do to keep their skin looking great?
LCM: Wear sunscreen, but you should be doing that EVERY DAY anyway. Sunscreen: all day ~ every day. I use the Neutrogena ones with Retinol and broad spectrum SPF. I rotate between one bottle of Rapid Wrinkle Repair with SPF 30, use that up, then I use a bottle of Rapid Tone Repair with SPF 30. An alcohol free toner can also be helpful for overly oily summer skin. Use a cotton pad to apply it after cleansing. You can sometimes see dirt you didn’t remove when cleansing!
PGTC: Give me your top 5 beauty must have and why?
LCM: 1) Fruit and Veggies ~ Good food makes you glow from the inside out, the way products never ever can. Check out the dirty dozen list and buy organic whenever possible. (LCMlifestyle Tip: if you will peel the fruit or veggie, don’t buy organic. A lot of the bad stuff can be in the peel.) I stock up on organic frozen fruit when it is on sale at the grocery store and just keep it in my freezer for smoothies each morning. I also buy kale and spinach and freeze it for green drinks. Water and green tea keep me hydrated. I make a big batch of really strong green tea each Sunday and have it in the fridge for the week. Then I do like the Starbucks baristas and fill a glass with half green tea and half water, and it tastes perfect. I also bought ice trays and freeze green tea (and strong coffee) into ice cubes to add to the drinks to keep them tasting flavorful in the hot Atlanta summers.
2) Exercise ~ It sounds like a no-brainer, and it is. Cardio and weights are equally important. Moving around fosters beauty! Really! Naturally there are days when I’m not motivated to exercise but if I just push through I am always rewarded. Never had there ever been a time when I’ve thought ‘I wish I hadn’t exercised today.’
3) Natural Oils ~ Olive oil and coconut oil are two of my best beauty friends. I use either as an overnight hair treatment and they are both great on brows and lashes, not to mention cuticles and lips. I put coconut oil in my smoothies sometimes (you need fat to help you stay full and coconut oil is a good fat choice) and use olive oil and apple cider vinegar on my salads. I am a food for beauty person who truly practices what I preach!
4) I would be lost without my glo•minerals Loose Base Powder for my oily t-zone. I’ve tried other brands and they just don’t stand up to the fabulous finish this Glo product provides. Plus it offers added SPF protection for my face. (I wear the Golden Medium shade.)
PGTC: Almost every major brand has developed and launched a BB Cream. What are your thoughts on the BB Cream craze?
LCM: I see BB Cream as what I call a ‘bandwagon product.’ One company successfully marketed it so many other companies followed suit. I’m not a person who likes to wear any kind of liquid or cream type foundation products on a daily basis, so I am not a big BB Cream user. I do understand its purpose though, and when Stephanie Green-Bass of PLA Beauty put her BB Cream product on one side of my face I could definitely see a marked difference. I wear it on special occasions when I might be photographed, as it is just a little something extra to help skin look smooth and even toned.
PGTC: I have a reader question and I would love your help. “What is the best way to clean my makeup brushes and how often should I be doing this?”
LCM: I recommend cleaning your brushes once a week and am the first to admit I don’t do it often enough! I need a swift kick in the pants! HA! I start by rinsing the brushes with the water flowing down away from the handle. Then, using makeup brush cleaner or a mild cleanser such as baby shampoo, I put a drop or 2 in the palm of my hand, mix in a little water and swirl the bristles around with a gentle motion. You’ll see the gunk coming off as you swirl. Rinse and repeat several times until you see the water run clear. Lay them on a towel to dry; roll part of it up so that the brushes are situated in a fashion that the handle is higher than the bristles so any water can run out. It’s best to let them air-dry overnight. It’s important to wash your brushes frequently because dirt and loose cells from your face build up on them and are re-deposited onto your skin each time you start swiping those brushes across your face! (I’m going to set an alert on my phone to remind me to wash my brushes each week.)
LCM: Braids are big now and I think that trend will continue into the cooler months. Semi and demi-permanent hair colors are gaining popularity, as many women with a hint graying hair don’t want to take the permanent color plunge. These formulas do a bit of a camouflage job on strands and wash out as you shampoo your hair. In makeup, cranberry lip hues and bronze and silver eye colors are showing up. The Chanel Mystere LES 4 OMBRES eye shadow Quad is a wonderful example. Nail art will still be the rage but for women like me who prefer a more subtle nail look, I think the nude line from Jenna Hipp X RGB is going to continue as the top pick. And luxe lashes and defined brows will continue to define what is currently considered beautiful.
PGTC: Here are some quick-fire questions. Suppose someone approaches you and asks the following:
1) I have oily, congested skin, what products would you recommend I use to get my skin under control?
LCM: Purchase a cleanser containing salicylic acid. Buy something at your drug or grocery store; it does not need to be pricey! I am not a proponent of pricey skin cleansers. It just goes down the drain! There are many perfectly good cleansers that will thoroughly clean your skin, are reasonably priced, and can be found at your local CVS and the like, or local supermarket. Neutrogena makes a very good one and Aveeno has one on the market as well. You might try using it every other day if not every day. An alcohol free toner can also be beneficial for congested skin.
2) I have very sensitive skin and want gentle products to clean and moisturize. What would you suggest?
LCM: I love the products from Simple skincare. Again they meet my standards in that they are very effective yet reasonably priced and readily available at drug and grocery stores. I’m a personal fan of the Replenishing Rich Moisturizer.
3) I really don’t like wearing a full face of makeup everyday. What areas of my face should I focus on to look great without applying all those products?
LCM: I can personally relate to this, as I am not a face full of makeup person, at all! I find that applying a little mineral powder on my t-zone, defining my brows a bit, curling my lashes and applying whatever lip color I like for that day is my go to look on a daily basis. Some days I might apply a little eyeliner. I think defining lips and some sort of focus on the eyes, choosing between curling lashes, or applying a little liner and a touch of mascara on tips only, makes for a quick way to look pulled together without looking overdone and it can be completed in 3 minutes flat!
LCM: A few other things I would like to add about beauty is that if you take responsibility for nourishing yourself, inside and out, beauty will come naturally. I think you have to learn what works for you and commit to it. If buying bottled water is the way you will drink more water, I’m all for you buying it in bulk! Recycle the bottles. If you love to wear makeup but are too exhausted every night to wash and moisturize your face, buy a pack of makeup wipes to keep by your bedside. There are lots of brands and a few swipes will remove at least some of it from your face. Trust me, your pores and your pillowcase will thank me! If you enjoy spa treatments, figure out how to shift your budget to enjoy them regularly. Give up a few lattes and cocktails and get a massage or body wrap. Nurturing yourself supports natural beauty! By just knowing what works for you and committing to making preparations to let beauty flow naturally, you’ll find that you spend less time focusing on what the next super skin care ingredient will be and more time on the much more fulfilling aspects of your fabulous life.
To keep up with Laura and to read her fab lifestyle tips, follow her on Twitter: @lcmLifestyle and check out her debut article for Sweet Lemon Magazine. Also, visit her website www.lauracarsonmiller.com for even more informative health, wellness and beauty articles on the Clips page.
Scoop: I love demi-permanent hair color! I have worn it for years and now that I am starting to get a few early grays, demi-permanent color is a monthly must-do for me. I have tried so many brands but my fave is Clairol Professional. The coverage is amazing and it lasts through several washes.