Everything You Wanted to Know About Sugaring But Were Afraid to Ask

Photo via Spa Zeeba

It had been a WHILE since I had attended to certain unmentionable grooming situations. So it was serendipitous that 7×7 magazine asked me to check out Habit, a hair removal establishment in Cow Hollow that offers waxing and sugaring (period, hair removal is their thing). Since I hadn’t heard of sugaring, I wanted to try it (look out for the 7×7 article in the March issue!)

Sugaring is like waxing, but so much better. First off, they for real use sugar. The golden (like when you caramelize sugar) substance contains sugar, lemon and water, that’s it. They say you can even eat it and it’s delicious (though I stopped short of a taste test). Amy at Habit rolled a blob of it around in her fingertips like a malleable crystal ball as she told me all about how she got started in sugaring. She started in waxing in L.A., but didn’t love it. She had heard tell of sugaring and wanted to learn more, so she made an appointment to try it out for herself. As luck would have it, her sugarer was Lisa Kennedy, the woman who invented the modern method of sugaring and is now the president and CEO of Alexandria, the country’s premier certification (it’s not included in a regular esthetician’s license) and sugar products source.

It didn’t take Amy long to fall for this new technique. It undid everything she disliked about waxing: It’s applied at room temperature and flicked away from the skin without fabric strips or tongue depressors. Instead of pulling in the opposite direction of hair growth, with sugaring you pull IN the direction of growth, which causes fewer ingrown hairs because you’re not yanking the hair backwards which can lead to the regrowth getting caught under the skin, i.e. ingrown hairs. There’s also less breakage, because sugar sticks to hair better than wax, and therefore is better at yanking the whole hair from the root, thereby leaving you smooth longer. Sugar only sticks to dead things, like hair, but not to alive things like skin. Also if there’s any residue left after the treatment, it rinses off easily with water because it’s just water-soluble sugar. Amy went on to get certified, moved to San Francisco, and now trains all of Habit’s sugar technicians.

I mean what’s not to like? I guess if you’re OK with wax—the pain doesn’t bother you and you don’t get ingrown hairs, there’s not a big reason to switch, since sugaring is a little more expensive. But if you have any issues with wax, you have every reason to try out sugaring. And you should really try it at Habit, because the place is gorgeous and the women, including founder Carrie Maxwell, are wonderful. I wanted to claim them all as BFFs by the time I left. Have you tried sugaring? What did you think?

What I learned from Six Beauty Appointments in Five Days

Look what hair genius @barbdoeshair just did!

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on

I just spent the last week on a special journalistic assignment that required visits to half a dozen beauty and wellness establishments in five days. The project came just before a trip out of town for my sister in law’s birthday Dance Your Ass Off party in SoCal, so I also needed nails and a facial, which fell outside of my professional purview. There were challenges, like when I had to rush across town from a chiropractic appointment in the Castro to a hair appointment in Union Square. The time invested was significant, and the planning required precision in order to fit everything in.

But I would never complain, because you would totally punch me for whining about a job that involves getting pampered.

I now have a perfect bikini line from Habit, a wonderful balayage with pops of pink from Barrow Salon (see above, the cut and previous balayage is by Anastasia at Hair Collective), flawless nails from my local ReFresh salon in Pacifica, pretty decent skin thanks to Sofia Skin Care and Serenity MedSpa, excellent makeup skills courtesy of The Balm, and a less painful back thanks to Fitwell Chiropractic.

While I was racing in between all these appointments, it occurred to me that this might be a normal schedule for women who are impeccable about keeping up their appearance. And I wondered, how in the name of god do they do it? I tend to get my nails done only when I have a special event, and I wear very little makeup on a daily basis. This was the first attention my bikini line has attention in … let’s say a while, and I get my hair cut and colored probably twice per year. Keeping everything perfect would require an expense that would infuriate the husband, and frankly I am lazy.

The feminist in me wondered: Why should women incur such expense—while getting paid less than men—to look perfect at all times, austensibly for the benefit of men?

But then that feminist in me realized that truth is, we don’t do it for men. We pamper ourselves because we like the creativity of getting pink hair, the art of an awesome cut, the orderliness of an attended-to bikini line, and the beauty of an unblemished face. Or not! The other beautiful thing is that we can pay as much attention to aesthetics as we like.

Also, with each new fabulous woman I met during these treatments, I felt more and more like I was in this club of women who loved women. Not in a sexual way, but in a way that we all take care of each other. Girls’ girls, if the term doesn’t offend. There wasn’t competition or judgement, there was support and acceptance.

As Courtney Martin of Feministing says in this video, “I think that part of the work of feminism is to admit that aesthetics, that beauty, that fun do matter.” Amen, sister.

2015 Is the Year to Go for a Crazy-Awesome Hair Color

Gray blue balayage hair

This is the year I stop being late and also the year that I get purple hair. Or possibly blue. Probably with a touch of gray. This is the year! Why the F not. It’s been a popular trend for a few years, but it’s not going anywhere. There are tons of inspirational photos on Pinterest but it’s not easy to find exactly what I have in mind. I want the color to be mostly on the ends, like my ombre, but I for sure don’t want a hard line between colors. Or, like the one above, completely freakin gray.

Here are some of my faves. Maybe the next post will be of my own ‘do, woo!


dark blue brown ombre hair

demi-lovato purple ombre

m-k-a gray pink lavender hair
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Cover Your Roots With This Powder That Doubles as a Dry Shampoo

root touch up

Madison Reed, the non-toxic, non-damaging option for hair color that I wrote about for 7×7 back in August, now has a new product for last minute root fixes called Root Touch Up ($30, available online-only). It’s a lightweight powder compact that comes in eight shades from platinum blond to jet black. It brushes on dry, blends in with your color, and stays put until your next shampoo. Awesomely, it serves as a dry shampoo too—it’s a fine, micro-milled powder so it absorbs oil, adds volume, and has a light, lovely fragrance that revives second- (or fifth-) day hair, so it’s extra great for dirty hippies like myself.

See before and after below:

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French Braids: When You Need to Get the Hair Out of Your Face

french braids111
Photo by Richard Philipkoski
My mom has been telling me to get my hair out of my face pretty much my whole life. When I was in second grade, my hair reached past my waist, and my mother hated combing it. She informed me that she’d tolerate it only until after her wedding that year, in which I would serve as “junior bridesmaid.” After that, I was going short whether I liked it or not. I cried in a corner of the playground during recess at the prospect.

At 8-years-old, my hair was already my security blanket.

Now, a few decades later, it’s still is. I almost never wear my hair up. Shrouded behind hair, my imperfections are less evident, or at least they feel that way from beneath the mane. So it was kind of a big deal for me to be out in the world with French-braided hair. But I knew even without my mom telling me that I needed to get it out of my face for travels from Pennsylvania back to San Francisco with a toddler. Having my head exposed to the general public may have been disconcerting had the extreme volume and energy of my child not dominated every last one of my senses.

But the experience got me thinking of all the hairstyles I sported during my school years post-shag: I had a Dorothy Hamill cut circa 4th grade. That grew into a “feathered” style up until 7th grade when my older cousin from New York taught me the magic of a curling iron. The tool transformed the flat feathers into barrel curls that I then brushed into two big wings, one on each side of my face, until they met at the back of my skull in a vertical line that resembled a butt crack.

Then came the mullet. We called it “ears cut out.” It felt very cool. The following year or so I let it grow in to a shoulder-length bob with bangs and a perm. In my senior year of high school, I had it all chopped into an extremely short-in-the-back style that was longer on the top. I swooped that long part onto one side and sprayed it stiff. In my first year of college, I let one side grow longer than the other for an asymmetrical hairdo. Eventually it grew longer, possibly because of limited access to my stylist and/or lack of funds. I let it grow super long and got my first spiral perm circa 1988. I’ve had nearly the same hair, minus the spiral perm, ever since.

What I’d like to know is: where did I get the confidence to chop off all of my hair my senior year of high school? I remember boys in my class looking at me with wonder asking “why?” “Because I like it!” I said. I didn’t feel one bit self conscious and I didn’t regret the cut for one second. I only wish I could have bottled that confidence so I could take a dose of it now!

snowy vertical edited_Fotor_Fotor_Fotor

I did enjoy the French braid for a change though. My hair didn’t get caught under my bag strap and Frida didn’t get food in it. I could also see when I searched for diapers and toys and tranquilizers (just kidding) in my carry-on.

I wore this particular outfit the day before our travels following a French braid test-run. The jeans are Gap, booties are c/o Freda Salvador, I bought the jacket at the Alameda Vintage Fashion Faire, and the turquoise earrings are from the Susquehanna Trading Post.

Acne + Wrinkles = the Joy of Skin in Your Forties

Sponsored post alert!

Restoring some balance

Restoring some balance

Photo by Jennine Jacob

Earlier this year I went public with my age. Not that I was lying about it or actively trying to keep it a secret, but I didn’t volunteer the information. I certainly didn’t have the year of my birth on my Facebook account, but now I do. Maybe it was getting fired or maybe it’s just getting older and more comfortable with myself, but I had an epiphany that I want to be as honest about who I am as possible. So now anyone who cares is welcome to the information that I am 46 years old. 
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Three Actually Easy Hairstyles for Dirty Hair

Dirty hair, don't care.

Dirty hair, don’t care.

Photo by Ashley Batz

Historically, I’ve been obsessed with having clean hair. Not washing my hair daily as a teen spiked my angst, and my grooming obsession lasted well into my 30s. And OK really into my early 40s too. It took having a child and no time to deal with my mass of hair to learn that not washing it has many benefits: 1. You save time, obviously, especially when you have a lot of hair; 2. You save money on products; 3. Your hair can actually look better on the third (or sixth) day after washing it.
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Miracle Beauty Product of the Week: M.A.C. Haute and Naughty Mascara

MAC haute naughty mascara

I received M.A.C.’s Haute and Naughty mascara gratis (usually $22) at a dinner celebrating the grand opening of a new MAC cosmetics flagship in San Francisco’s Union Square. Truth be told I haven’t bought mascara in about five years because I get so many samples and freebies (I’m not complaining). So I set it aside until I needed one. Admittedly because if it’s impressive packaging, it rose to the top of my pile. For the first two weeks I used it, I had no idea there were to applicators, because I don’t read instructions. When I figured that part out, I was excited! Still, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with each one, so I used the fat brush first, and then the sparser one. The results were dramatic and wonderful (see them after the jump!)
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Can Tiny Needles Deliver Improved Skin? A Review of MicroPenning at SkinSpirit

Eclipse micropen

I try to be OK with my age and the changes that come along with getting older. But sometimes when I look in the mirror I think: “WHAT is that? Let’s see what we can do about that.” And then I search Google until I find ways to remove the offense. Think it won’t happen to you? I totally thought that too. Before the things started happening.
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Learn How To Keep Your Cool After Becoming a Mom


If you’re expecting, or trying to adopt, even if you’ve been trying really hard to be a mom for years like I did, you might have all kinds of fears about what life is going to be like after your little person arrives. I certainly did, and I would’ve loved something like Lovemade, an events series created by my friends Jeanne Chan of ShopSweetThings and Janette Crawford of Sun + Dotter and Homepolish.

Their goal is to reassure you that you will not lose your cool, your edginess, your character, or any of the other awesome stuff that makes you you, just because you’re a mom. Their first workshop is on Saturday, where expecting moms will learn about nursery design, maternity and baby fashion, breastfeeding, get a makeup tutorial with Bare Minerals artists, get baby bump photos with Sarah Hebenstreit of Modern Kids, plus listen to a panel about work-life balance with Katie Hintz-Zambrano, founder of Mother magazine, Erica Chan Coffman of Honestlywtf and Liz Stanley of Say Yes.

The workshop costs $375 (sign up here), and includes a SWEET gift bag stuffed with goodies from International Orange spa, Freshly Picked baby moccasins (which make me want to have another infant immediately), The Honest Company diapers, bibs, bottles and lots more. Space is limited to 15, so sign up quick!