Tag Archives: Hair

Yes Ouai

Ouai Review

One of the best beauty launches this year has definitely been Ouai – pronounced ‘way’ so there are just SO.MANY.FUN. puns.  Ouai too many in fact. If you need further evidence of how much I love it, look no further than these less than half full bottles. I suspect Ouai will clean house in the ‘Best of Beauty’ accolades for 2016 because it is nothing short of incredible. It became a cult fav before it even launched I suspect. In part because it was developed by celeb stylist Jen Atkin – you know her even if you don’t because she is the woman behind the Kardashians, Hadids and Chrissy Teigen’s manes – and also because every product is inspired to help you get Atkin’s signature ‘undone chic’ look.  Effortless is defining the time right now.  I thought I’d weigh (OUAI!) in with my opinions on the line and my favorites.

Ouai Haircare


Ouai is to hair the same way that Glossier is to makeup. It’s accessible and modern – no one way (OUAI!) to use but adaptable to your style.

It has a made for Instagram vibe with a minimal aesthetic I can’t get enough of. And it just gets better from there. The Ouai scent is like a really luxurious (read: expensive) perfume, inspired by Atkin’s childhood in Hawaii and love of “soft, expensive-smelling things.” The obvious question: will this be a perfume eventually? Answer: yes.


For now, the Hair Oil can double as a perfume. This is my favorite product in the line and the one that carries the Ouai scent the strongest. As someone with straight hair I struggle to find oils made for my hair texture. This is the solution. It’s so lightweight and makes my hair glossy and shiny. I use it mostly on damp hair and let it air dry. I find it is also a great reviver to ends after multiple days without washing. This is the antidote to thirsty hair. It’s the best hair oil I’ve ever used.

It took me a bit to get in my groove with the Wave Spray but now I can’t imagine doing my hair without. I was trying (and failing) to do a scrunch-and-go air dry with this but it wasn’t working. Now, I use it every morning on my dry bedhead and I comb it out and let it air dry. Then I have touchable texture that makes styling my hair so much easier.

The Texturizing Hair Spray is probably the most popular in the line and it’s a no-brainer. It’s the lovechild of Dry Shampoo and Hair Spray so it revives hair, absorbs oil and is the key to Atkin’s undone styles. I’ve gone through several bottles of this already so it’s becoming a pricey habit!

I never realized how much I needed a lotion for my hair until I tried the Finishing Crème. Most other hair smoothers I’ve used have made my hair greasy or heavy. This is made for fine to medium hair (thank you, Ouai!) and gives hair a shiny lived-in look. I use it to smooth flyaways and massage out my wand curls. It’s also great to use before heat styling.

ouai finishing creme

ouai matte pomade

The Matte Pomade is one of Ouai’s newer products and one I use daily now that I have chin length hair again. It’s a medium control paste to help you shape and separate hair for that piecey look. I usually take a small amount, massage it in my fingers and rub about one inch from the ends of my hair. Then I massage it out some more to really shape how I want my hair to be. The hold is flexible but lasting.

I’ve tried samples of the Shampoo and Conditioner and really liked them as well. I guess I’m saving my pennies to feed my addiction to the Texturizing Hair Spray, though. Have you tried the line at all?

Birthday-ing is a Verb

Verb Products Pitchfork

In a few days, a new year begins for me. I’m turning 34! Birthday week! This one snuck up quick, on the heels of a big life change. Refresher if you missed the news: I moved in with my boyfriend, to a new place we are making our own. With this birthday, I’m not thinking about aging or any physical changes (though sun spots, I see you starting to creep) but instead living in the moment and taking care of a relationship that means everything to me. One of the bonds between us is music. Experiencing live music, listening to records at home and introducing each other to new sounds. He has brought me to punk shows and I’ve got him on a steady folksy run.

My actual day of birth (Saturday) is going to be extra fun this year because we are going to Pitchfork. It’s a three-day music fest in Chicago that is super chill. It’s one of my favs for that reason. I’ll also be hitting the stages along with Verb Products, the Austin-born, salon raised brand that I’ve dubbed the “grey tee” of hair care. Just like your t-shirt, the entire Verb line – every item is $14 – is effortless in style, light to the touch and completely layerable. Oh, and unisex. Total dude-approved. In a fun barter, I’ve given some Verb Sculpting Clay and Forming Fiber to my boyfriend in exchange for his t-shirts.

Verb Products


Verb Products

Verb Hydrating Mask

I’m sticking with my go to music fest hair of beachy waves but got a fresh set of balayage to give me an even summery vibe. To get my hair ready for mucho sun exposure, I’ll be using the Verb Hydrating Mask in the shower to deeply condition my hair.

Verb Ghost Oil

And, the Ghost Oil is awesome after the shower on towel-dried hair. I only use one pump and then rub it in between my palms before massaging on my ends and then throughout the rest of my strands. Now that I’ve got extra blonde, I’ve noticed my front strands are more prone to breakage and this helps protect them from any further damage. I call this my unintentionally layered hair do. I try to flip the part around and keep a slight curl in so it isn’t as noticeable. I’ll spritz the Sea Spray after I curl and do some manual crunching and twisting of my hair so it’s imperfect.

Beachy Hair

Verb Products

For extra volume, I’ll squeeze some Dry Shampoo (with the uber smart narrow application tip!) along the roots but under a layer next to my part.

Forecast for Saturday is basically looking like the perfect day so I’m hoping all of the forces of nature are giving me good weather, and hair, for my birthday! Fingers crossed.

Anyone else in Chicago going to Pitchfork for any of the days? I’m most looking forward to Brian Wilson…love me some Beach Boys.

Thanks to Verb for sponsoring my Pitchfork birthday bash (that’s what I’m calling it, a giant party with thousands of fellow music lovers in Chicago!) and introducing me to the rest of their awesome line.  

Summer Concerts and Beachy Waves

Pantene Summer Concert Hair (2)

I have a full lineup of summer concerts ahead. First up is Pitchfork, where Brian Wilson will perform Pet Sounds in full, Lollapalooza, and even Riot Fest. Yup, I’m doing the full festival circuit this year. Whether or not you’re music fest-ing, summer concerts are aplenty. Chicagoans flock to Ravinia and Millennium Park for more excuses to do everything outside when the weather turns. Even my parents hit up their local bandshell for some jams.

I follow a few style principles for summer concerts. Comfortable shoes that can get dirty – usually my Tevas, because you know you can come home and throw those in the wash and you will need to – and loose tanks, and tees. I also like to give my hair beachy texture and let it run wild. It’s so much more fun at concerts when you can swing your hair around. It’s not the place for perfection.  There’s something awesome and so summertime about letting the elements into your hair:  a mix of sun, breeze and food vendors. Lobster corn rolls anyone (arguably worth the price of admission to Lolla alone)?

Pantene Summer Concert Hair (4) Pantene Summer Concert Hair (10)

I wanted to give you some tips on styling summer concert hair using Pantene’s newest set of suds and sprays.  The new Expert collection has a new look that stands out and a more concentrated Pro-V formula for instant gratification. The Expert Intense Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner is a tall drink of water for your hair – perfect for when you’re exposing your hair to the elements. I’m convinced this could revive the thirstiest head of hair. For even more moisture, like when you know you might want to extend your style for a few days, I’ve been using Pantene’s 3-Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner. Love this stuff – I’ve used way pricier hair masks that you leave on for 40+ minutes and still see or feel no difference. This saturates every strand and makes it stronger, giving you helpful protection during any music festival.
Pantene Summer Concert Hair (5) Pantene Summer Concert Hair (9)

Pantene Summer Concert Hair (11) Pantene Summer Concert Hair (7) Pantene Summer Concert Hair (6)

At this point, my straight hair is super straight and shiny. To get the beachy style I can ease into for a day at a music festival, I’ve got to add texture.

  1. First, I prime by spraying Pantene Smooth Airpray all over clean hair to give it a texture that you can still move and brush. This one is alcohol-free, so it’s not drying.
  2. Use a curling wand, holding each in place for 10 seconds to really let the curl take.
  3. Once they’ve cooled, brush them out. Tug on them, twist, and shake. Or shout (or not). The key is not to have pageant curls.
  4. Once you’re satisfied, spray Pantene Airspray in a medium hold on your ends and then massage throughout hair, concentrating on ends. I find this helps me get a piece textured without spraying my whole head with a hairspray that can hold everything in place perfectly.
  5. For a final shine, I spray the Smooth Airspray all over since it also acts like a humidity shield.

Pantene Summer Concert Hair (8)

Do you have any summer concerts you’re looking forward to? Anyone in Chicago doing a festival this year? Let me know! I’ll trade you tips on beachy waves if you can share any easy hair braid tricks for long bobs.

note: This post was sponsored by Pantene. All tips and summer plans are my own! 

The Science of Good Hair Days

Living Proof Your Best Hair

Why is that good hair days are just better days overall? They seem to be. I think the confidence we exude when we feel our best is a very real thing.  I’m all smiles these days because I’ve got my best hair down to a science. Or, more accurately, tiny molecules.

Living Proof Stylers

Living Proof Satin

They even have names! One is bae…or technically PBAE, but you know, I like to give nicknames.  Living Proof invented a molecule named PBAE to trick fine hair into behaving like it’s full and thick. As they explain, flat hair simply has no friction so this molecule creates a tiny (invisible) pattern of thickening dots on every strand so hair doesn’t simply lie flat. There’s also another molecule in nearly every Living Proof product that creates a thin (also invisible) shield around ever strand of hair to protect it from the world. The styling, the brushing, humidity, dirt, etc. It’s the kid gloves molecule, as I call it.

I’ve been experimenting with Living Proof for the last month – using it exclusively – for a fun project that I did with Clementine Daily. For more on that fun experiment, go check it out!

It’s a Beautiful Life (oh-oh-ooo-h)

312 Beauty

Did you just blink and wake up to realize it is the SECOND week in September? OK, cool. Me too. If I summed up everything I’m feeling right now, it would all ladder up to transition.  Between straddling life in two cities, being in a thrilling and fulfilling relationship and paving a new path professionally, I’m experiencing the intense in-progress and unknown. And legitimately struggling to come to terms with the fact that it is September. September in Chicago is a transition in itself between the ease of summer and the hustle of the rest of the year.  I’m still in the mood for easy and laid back but the morning air and earlier sunset reminds me that the window is dwindling. While I’m sorting out the feels, I’m also getting my fall beauty on. This is the fun part of it all! I’ve got a new color on my lips, appointment with my hair stylist on the books and am testing out some new treats. CoverGirl Outlast

Problem: summer Fridays are officially ov-er and I’ve been wearing pretty much the same shiny pot of lip color all summer long. Solution: Try a fiery new lip color to last through a full work day, including the multiple coffee runs and an UberEats delivery. CoverGirl Outlast Longwear Lipstick in Fireball (#910) fits the bill, for about 16 hours to be precise.


Problem: the sun is setting earlier. As in right on my forehead when I’m heading to the gym after work. While I can’t negotiate the solar equinox, I can pump up my moisturizer with SPF before I hit the pavement. I usually wash my face before getting my sweat on and go bare to the gym save a little moisturizer. Olay has you covered with the Total Effects Feather Weight Moisturizer SPF 15, it has Olay’s Solar Sheer Technology to protect against UVB and UVA rays. Plus, I really appreciate the air pump packaging here – no need to dig your hands into a jar.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Problem: I have no idea what to do with mine. Grow or cut? Continue balayage or go for a glaze?  I may not know yet but I am excited about what Pantene is doing today. It’s National Donate Your Hair Day and Pantene is issuing what they’re calling the #8or8 challenge. In 2008, when my hair was about a foot longer, I chopped it all off and mailed in a ponytail of my hair to the Beautiful Lengths campaign. I love this program – they create free, real hair wigs for women who have lost theirs due to cancer treatments. Beautiful Lengths has been around since 2006 and received more than 800,000 donations. It takes a minimum of 8 ponytails to create one wig, so every donation is really important. Today, Pantene is encouraging people to donate 8 inches, provided you have and want to do the chop, or donate $8 to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Fund.  My hair isn’t even scraping my shoulders so my support will be pledged with a donation! I’m all for women feeling like they have a piece of themselves again as they go through what must be the hardest transition of all. And, as I suds’d my hair up in the shower with the Beautiful Lengths Shampoo and Conditioner this morning and let my mind wander, I felt like the luckiest girl to be able to take on so much new in life.

Let’s continue this discussion over on Instagram — > there’s something to be had from my friends at P&G Beauty! Who, p.s., I will be working with the next 10 months to tackle the ups and downs of beauty in Chicago.

This post was sponsored by P&G Beauty. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that support 312 Beauty.

The Grey Tee of Hair Care

VERB on Tour

This has been the summer of outdoor music for me. After Mumford, Pitchfork, Lolla and last week’s Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson show at Northerly Island (yes…that day was the greatest day I’ve ever known), I’m ready for a more intimate gathering. Not that dancing around Grant Park as Florence battled a lightning storm wasn’t one of the most epic moments, ever. It was. And you should watch her pour her heart into the Dog Days Are Over, which was the last song she was able to perform before the storm won.  Chills. She even tore her shirt off! All hail Florence. I was full-on ready for that rain after three days of sweating it out in 95 degree weather. If there’s any time that reminds you to just embrace what you’re naturally working with (plus lots of SPF), it’s outdoor music fests. Straight hair, don’t care.

VERB2 VERB Products

It was around the time of Pitchfork that I discovered VERB. They’re from Austin – so you know they’re pretty cool – and have an easy living, no-nonsense approach to hair care. The line is no-frills with a modern aesthetic. It’s like the grey tee of hair. It was created by stylists that wanted to make the hair care found in their salons more affordable, which I love. Which is why every product is $14 – all of’ em. The Sea Spray, which gives a nice beachy texture to hair. I can’t get my hair to naturally feel this way so I love this stuff hard.

VERB Dry Shampoo

And the Dry Shampoo, which is the model for all dry shampoos should be packaged. The tapered dropper means you never accidentally pour half the bottle on your head on a sleepy morning. Even the Ghost Oil rivals any of the big salon-known shine serums.  Beyond styling aids, the Shampoo and Conditioner has a slight citrusy oat scent that is pleasant and safe for color-treated hair. Everything is unisex, too, and there’s a few dude-centric clays.

Consider me a convert. I took all of my VERB on tour with me to Toronto! Along with several grey tees.

Shu Art of Hair and Mixology

Shu Art of Hair MixologyI love a good mixology theme, obvs. And when it’s in the context of hair care, it really is happy hour. Bonus: no hangover! Not that there’s anything wrong with sweating whiskey out of your pores during a workout the next morning. Builds character.

Shu Uemura flies way under the radar but is top notch. I find that there is this underground community of Shu devotees and they usually have incredibly shiny hair. Let’s see; there’s the Cleansing Oil shampoo that defies all shampoo-ing norms. Before you gasp at the price (it’s OK…I did, too), let me tell you the oversized bottle lasts at least twice as long as anything and it’s so moisturizing you can basically ditch conditioner entirely.  And, let’s not forget about this nifty clicker that is part dry shampoo/part texturizer. I’ve got heart for the Shu.

They’ve upped their offerings at Shu Art of Hair Salons this month with a new bar mixing up “shots” of hair “cocktails” based on your individual hair needs. Naturally, I headed to Dennis Bartolomei salon in River North for a drank. Every cocktail has the same base treatment and stylists whisk in a special moisture or protein treatment depending on your hair needs.

Dennis Bartolomei Chicago Salon

After a near sleep-inducing massage with the gardenia-rich Cleansing Oil Shampoo, I sat for about 15 minutes with a modified shot of ‘Divine Drench.’  Moisture is what gives your hair shine and bounce—and I guess that I always assumed moisture was a heavy weight on my fine hair. Turns out, no. As someone who cuts their hair minimally, I was leaning in to the tip from my stylist Jordan about doing this in-between trims. I’ve been known to stretch it out a good six months back when I was rocking longer hair. Of course hair gets super dull in that amount of time! It’s also a great way to nurse hair to health when you’re doing color. And, when you add in the pre-shampoo and post-rinse, it’s basically like 25 minutes of head therapy and massage. Feels incredible. Anytime you’re massaging your scalp (or someone else’s – because who rubs their own that way, ever?!) you’re getting blood flow going which helps stimulate the hair follicles which is good for growth and overall health.

What I know for certain is that I walked out of Dennis Bartolomei with an extra bounce in my step, and hair. There are quite a few Shu Art of Hair salons in Chicago and around the USofA – peep this for a locator. And, all are rolling out the bar! Services range from $28-40.

Live Head First

Laurie Leopold 312 Beauty
No one day is the same. Sure, we have routines and structure to keep us grounded and functioning but what a thrill to be reminded that every day begins uncharted. I could stand to remember that more often. Think about it: how can this Monday be different than the last? Or the one before that?  New opportunities to learn, laugh, get silly, connect—or better yet, disconnect (from that tech life, yo)—and strengthen your sense of self. You could say it’s about living life head first. I’m teaming up with Head & Shoulders this week to do just that. It’s a belief I fully embrace. I’m throwing myself into my days with no hesitation. And sass. The new haircut (chopped it again!) is license enough to bring it on. In fact, I think I’ve amended Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky line to have a third word…sassy. It’s implicit on the label. And evidenced by the new look of their limited edition bottle available at Target right now. Trust me. Just as no day is the same, neither is your hair on any given day.

Head & Shoulders Target Style

The start of spring…like real spring not calendar spring…is prime time to get silly wit it. I whipped my hair around and reveled in feeling good on the inside and out without focusing on being perfectly coiffed. Where’s the fun in too much polish?

312 Beauty

In between twirls and laughing with my girlfriends, I thought about what it really means to live head first. I don’t consider it to be charging ahead with reckless abandon or impulsivity but rather striking a balance between mind and body. It’s where the conscious and rational compromise with passion and intuition, which can be hard to do. We owe it to ourselves to indulge in what feels good so long as it benefits us as individuals. How will you know? Maybe we won’t and that’s OK. Don’t overthink a decision because experiences help us grow regardless of outcome or how we feel in those moments. I think it comes down to allowing your head to keep up with your heart. Feelings and emotion tend to wash over us intensely and quickly and the mind needs time to understand what it even means in the context of our lives.

Take comfort in the fact that no day is the same. It means we’ll always know more tomorrow!

Head and Shoulders

P.S. If you find yourself at one of my fave beauty destinations, a.k.a. Target, my (sassy) Silky & Smooth shampoo is promo-ing through May 16. If you buy 3 Head & Shoulders products, you’ll get a $5 Target gift card (which I would put toward these…just sayin’).

Disclosure note: Thanks for supporting the brands that support 312 Beauty. This post was sponsored by Head & Shoulders at Target through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Head & Shoulders at Target, all opinions are my own.

Photography by Lindsay Humes of White Oak Creative + Shaheen Khan

DreamDry Hair-apy

DreamDry Lincoln Park

Hairapy. It’s a real thing. I thought I was clever coming up with that term but turns out there is a whole culture around this word. The experience that sparked its usage for me was a visit to DreamDry. I don’t consider DreamDry to be a blowout bar, though that’s precisely what the Rachel Zoe-fronted salon is. It’s more of a hairapy destination. You walk in feeling meh and walk out all BAM. I got my hair DID. Dramatic sashay down the Lincoln Park storefront stoop optional, though mighty tempting. A good hair day does wonders for your state of mind; let’s not gloss over that important detail.

Blow dry-only bars are aplenty now in Chicago but there’s something special about DreamDry that I really appreciate. The atmosphere can best be described as relaxed elegance and the stylists are majorly skilled in freshness. The breezy Oribe-scented air is intoxicating and from the moment you plop down into that cushy black leather seat, you are in a dreamy state of mind.

DreamDry Chicago

DreamDry Style Menu

They use the right amount of product – always customizing it to your liking – and tools to achieve the desired look. There’s no hair brushes stuck in your hair or weird tricks with the dryer. It’s just classic styling and a menu that flexes for all lengths of hair and types of styles. Up, braided, sleek, wavy and even  BYO-picture if you have something in mind. The most popular style at the Lincoln Park location is the ‘Stevie Undone.’ I spend most days trying to recreate that look but always like it better when someone else does it for me. As I was saying, hairapy.

DreamDry Stevie Undone

My Stevie, Undone

To make the most out of your DreamDry (or other blowout) experience, I suggest going in the afternoon on a Friday or Saturday. That way you can enjoy it for most of the day and it relaxes some before you go out for the evening.  Before bed, to preserve the integrity, tie your hair up in a loose scrunchie (yes, a scrunchie…) or fan it out across your pillow. For good measure, dust some dry shampoo into your roots before bed as well but don’t blend it in all the way. The powder will eventually soak into your roots and give you a little lift by morning. Oh, and check the forecast. Nothing cramps a good hairapy session like rain.