Tag Archives: Ouai

Style Refresh, the Alex Brown Way (Ouai)

I was listening to Fat Mascara‘s interview with Jen Atkin recently and she said something that totally reaffirmed how I feel every single time I get a haircut. She said that it takes your hair two weeks to adjust to a style. The way she explains it, your cuticles go through a freakout period and people tend to get frustrated because they don’t think they can style their new haircut.


This makes complete sense.

I will walk out of a salon feeling brand new and then after that first wash get confused. The hair looks good but my normal styling techniques won’t work the way I expect them to.

Last month, I got a cut from Alex Brown, who worked alongside Jen Atkin for three years. So, yes, she worked on a certain family that begins with Kar and ends with Dashian. But that’s only part of her resume. Her Instagram is one big inspiration board with styles on some of the ‘gram’s biggest names. Don’t let the star power give you an impression of inaccessibility — Alex is a Midwest girl by birth (Minnesota!). She actually went to school at Mario Tricoci in Chicago before venturing to LA and she’s found her way back and opened up a one-woman salon in the West Loop.

She gave me a phenomenal trim – it had been 11 months since my mega chop – and yet, it still took me a minute to settle into it. It’s just our hair cuticles. Because Alex totally nailed what I was going for and totally understood me when I said I preferred one length with piecey texture at the ends. It was a relief to actually trust that I wasn’t going to end up with face framing layers (ala the Rachel, and yes, it still happens.)

The salon is wall to wall Ouai, as you would expect, and she’s full of tips and tricks on how to style your hair. She actually put the flat iron in my hands at one point so I could try out her technique. I tend to overextend my wrist but she goes much softer so that there’s just a slight bend in the hair. She recommends going tighter with the strands up front for more impact. I loved how it turned out and have been adpating my technique at home. This was a style refresh beyond just the cut but also how I do my hair every day.

Alex books over email (bookings@alexbrownhair.com) and schedules her appointments in between her trips around the world with the #JenAtkinArmy.

Her cuts will cost you $150 but, Chicago, she’s your go to woman for a new style. And, that is worth much more.

The Cult of Ouai

I’ve had all of the feelings for Ouai’s Dry Shampoo Foam. Mega anticipation before it launched, excitement when I finally snagged a bottle, frustration the first few times I used it and, finally, ease and contentment now that I’ve figured out how to make it work for me.

I think you’ve got to shift your thinking on this before you use it or your expectations might best you. It’s not really a dry shampoo, it’s more of a refreshing foam. Mindset matters here.

First, this is a really innovative product which is what I’ve come to expect from Ouai. I had a conversation with a girlfriend at work about the Wave Spray. She professed that she loved it but couldn’t really identify why. She said, “is it really working or is it just the hype?” In other words, are we in a Ouai cult? I thought about that for a minute. I tried to back away from my Oaui bias and put into words what it is I like so much about the brand. And, I think I’ve determined that they do work incredibly well but in a way we’re not expecting. Take the Wave Spray. We expect it to be like a beachy texture spray. Like we have to feel it in order to believe it works. But it doesn’t dry out hair or give it grit as we’d expect a “wave” spray to do. Instead, it strengthens hair and doesn’t add any weight. It works in mysterious ways.

Same with the Dry Shampoo Foam. It’s not dry, nor is it a powder. Rather, a mousse that cleans your hair without water to add shine and volume. It makes sense when you consider the instructions for how to apply.

You almost wash your hair, in a way. I take a big puff into the palm of my hand and then take small amounts and rub it on the top of my hair, extending it under my roots and down the length of my hair to my ends. From there, I massage it in really well. It starts to disappear into hair pretty quickly and dries at the same time.

I shared a gif on my Instagram so you can see how I really got in there.

This might be the best smelling hair product I’ve ever used. I know that Ouai is working on a fragrance but I want this smell in everything. Perfume isn’t enough! Gimme candles, room spray, laundry detergent, ANYTHING. The fragrance cult of Ouai, please.

I find I have the best results with this when my hair is severely in need of wash. After an intense workout or if I have bad bedhead hair – usually the case when I bathe at night but don’t wash my hair but it gets partially wet and I just go to sleep. The Foam layers well day after day. It really does just disappear into hair so you don’t feel any buildup. That is all good, but the one diss is it isn’t giving me volume and I do really want the lift.

Bottom line, I had to try this because it’s Ouai. This isn’t my go to for volume or texture but it does clean my hair. On the plus, my bottle will last longer since I don’t use it as much.

Best of Beauty 2016

best beauty 2016

I am all about the reflective year in review. I do it through a beauty lens here and from a personal POV in my journal. I used to find this time of year rather sad because it was saying goodbye to a year but now I see it as hopeful. And, let’s be honest, is anyone else really sad to see 2016 go? Peace out, you were ruthless.

And about that beauty lens. This year was awesome from that view. The 90s came back with a vengeance, YouTubers put 100 coats of makeup on for fun and rainbow highlighter was a sensation. Not all my jam but trends that made this year what it was in beauty. We’re also living the rise of skincare as makeup and individualism, ala Glossier – an ascension I am 100% on board with moving into 2017.

beauty favorites 2016

I’ll get to it. My top 10 favorite beauty launches of 2016.

Honestly, Glossier everything. But especially the Stretch Concealer and Super Pure serum. I use two shades of the concealer (Light and Medium) and often use that combo in place of any other face makeup. They are so creamy and dewy.

Lancome had maybe the best idea for a liquid eyeliner: make the handle bend so application is easier. It works. And, to boot, the eyeliner formula itself is extra inky and concentrated so there’s never any tugging or skipping.

Technically, this is not a 2016 launch but I didn’t discover it until this summer. Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara is the best drugstore mascara, ever. It lengthens and curls lashes, holds them in place all day and is 100% budgeproof – even the non-waterproof version.kiehl's midnight recovery cleansing oil

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil squeezed in just under the wire – but I’ve been using it for a month now and it’s love. This definitely has a place in every top of the year list. It breaks down makeup beautifully but its power is in bringing you the zen. I swear using this at night this helps separate me from the stress of the day.

As I said in my original review, it’s really rare that I want to use a multiuse product as intended. Inevitably, they are always best on the cheek. Not so with the Bite Beauty Multistick at all. Somehow every color works as an eyeshadow, wears comfortably as a lipstick and looks good on cheeks. Cashew is my favorite shade.

diptyque eau des sens

I love having a Diptyque boutique in Chicago. I remember trying their spring fragrance, Eau des Sens, on a freezing cold spring day. It gave me hope of warmer days to come. The best way to describe it is like an orange tree. But not just the sweet blossom but also the greenery and tree itself. In-freaking-credible.

elizabeth arden prevage spf

As you can see in my photos, I am about to squeeze the last drops of my Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF. This isn’t merely a really fancy sunscreen (but forgive me, I’m known for that at times…) but the most essential step in my daytime skincare routine. This formula is the color of pantyhose and the consistency of a thin lotion. It is loaded with Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage and helps protect against all of the damage you encounter outdoors – sun and pollutants. It truly is for city girls.

Like Glossier, Ouai had a sensational year. This line cropped up what felt like out of nowhere and for months it was all I heard about. As soon as I tried the line (review here) I understood the hype. The Hair Oil is a standout for me. It helps my hair dry shiny and bouncy and smells like an exotic vacation.
Mac Liptensity Driftwood

I try and love a lot of lip color. But most of all I love MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Driftwood. It’s a pinkish mauve that runs cool. I’m always attracted to these colors but find they can go awry. Not Driftwood – I give off healthy vibes with this one. I love that it is unlike anything I have in my collection.

So there you have it: my year in beauty. What rocked your world in 2016? Beauty or otherwise.

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?