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Archive for January, 2011

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Straight Talk with the Curl Queen

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Ouidad, "Queen of Curl"

Salons seem to do a lot of double-talking or avoiding the whole straightening treatment discussion since it was revealed that Brazilian Blowout isn’t as natural as it was initially portrayed. I knew I’d get the straight scoop from Ouidad, the “Queen of Curl.” She warns that it’s not just the Brazilian Blowout brand, but many Keratin-based treatments that can contain formaldehyde, which can damage the hair – and your health. Less than 1 percent formaldehyde content is safe, she says, so don’t be shy about asking your salon if you can see the bottle. I was surprised by one of her suggested alternative: products containing sodium hydroxide. “It’s just salt,” Ouidad said. “It can soften the hair without dangerous chemicals.” The other option (and Ouidad’s preferred): Embrace your curl. “It just takes learning techniques to manage your hair.” You don’t have to go to New York to do it – Ouidad has trained stylists in her “rake and shake” method at Ovations Salon and Spa in Excelsior and Aafusion Salon Spa in Burnsville. Listen to my entire interview with Ouidad here.

Sarah Kurn Skincare favorites

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

White Bear Lake aesthetician Sarah Kurn joined the Shop Girls on Saturday with some winter product suggestions. And I’ve been receiving emails ever since from listeners who want that list. So, by popular demand, here are some of her favorite products. You can also listen to a podcast of the interview here.

Jane Iredale Liquid Minerals: A good winter alternative to mineral powders ($46)

Embryolisse: Celebs love it, and Kurn says you will too – it’s a workhorse: primer, moisturizer, makeup remover all in one. (Great for travel!) ($14-$25)

Rhonda Allison Skin Brightening Serum: Smooths and brightens, with anti-inflamatory properties. ($30)

Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse: Buy it a shade darker than your skin tone, mix a few drops in with your daily moisturizer and voila! You’ve got a tinted moisturizer. ($9)

The truth about Tabatha Coffey

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Bravo TV’s salon takeover queen  Tabatha Coffey saw right through my golden highlights.

“You need your roots done,” she told me when we met today at Mall of America before her book signing appearance. (More than 200 waited in line to meet her.)

“Really,” she added, as if I didn’t get the message.

But Tabatha, who vaulted to reality TV fame for being outspoken, only offered a review when I asked – repeatedly. At risk of ruining her rep, Tabatha couldn’t have been kinder. She walked out of the green room to meet me, shook hands and came across as genuine and gracious. She traveled sans entourage and even made light of the the below-zero Minnesota weather. “It’s not that cold today!” she insisted. The over-the-hand sleeves she loves even when not in the tundra were the day’s perfect accessory (she should check out Annie Fink designs).

Always in sky-high heels, Tabatha is thin and softer than she appears on TV. And she really does wear black every day…except, “in the bedroom.”

Reality TV couldn’t exist without stereotypes. Tabatha, the no-nonsense salon owner was made for Bravo. But her enduring  appeal is in owning her persona. When she’s tough, it’s with reason, not just for ratings (although she does admit to now and then surprising even herself with her bluntness). It’s all in her book, “It’s Not Really About the Hair: the Honest Truth About Life, Love, and the Business of Beauty,” which hits shelves Tuesday, Jan. 25. And watch for my video interview with Tabatha this week at

Perks of downsizing

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Zida Fashion Accessories has moved its original store across the parking lot outside Burnsville Center to a spot more visible, but about half the size. There are actually more bags hanging on the walls of the new space, without seeming cramped. The owners, friends and former flight attendants Machele Baird and Kelly Bray, have gotten savvier about merchandising, and lowering their overhead will actually allow them to take more risks. “We want to step it up,” Bray says. “Customers have been asking for more expensive (translation: higher quality) bags; we want to try some trendier pieces.” Just about everything, jewelry and handbags, at Zida is less than $50. The new store is at 14300 Buck Hill Road, Burnsville. Zida is also open at Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove.

Coming to Excelsior & Grand…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Got a sneak peek of Max’s new space at Excelsior & Grand in St. Louis Park – just across the parkway from the current store. I think it’s going to be a good move for this under appreciated luxe gift gallery, which specializes in jewelry, art and chocolate (trifecta!). The new space is wider and will allow for more display room. Max’s is scheduled to be closed for about a week and reopen in the new spot Feb. 5.

All’s well that ends well, but the truth is, this move was not owner Ellen Hertz’s idea. Excelsior & Grand is moving her to make room for CVS in the anchor spot that fronts Excelsior Boulevard, previously home to a couple of ill-fated restaurants. CVS. Sigh. On the positive side, it could bring some neighborhood traffic to this shopping district, which has struggled to fill vacancies and draw a crowd, despite the good location and bustling Trader Joe’s. Max’s has been one of the few shining stars – thanks to Hertz’s tireless promotional efforts and stellar merchandise. The biggest bummer about CVS, besides not exactly raising Excelsior & Grand’s profile as a shopping destination, is the waste of patio space. I ate at Laredo’s, not because the food was good (how do you screw up guacamole?), but because it was so lovely to sit outside on the wide stretch of sidewalk, near grass and a fountain. I hope they at least add some tables and benches – the place could use some loitering.

At least the spaces are filling. Also opening at Excelsior & Grand in February: Bubbly Paws, a self-serve dog wash and full-service dog spa form the owners of Pampered Pooch Playground and Get In Shape For Women, offering small group personal training (it’s new to Minnesota). And in March comes Oil & Vinegar, selling cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Customers will be able to make custom blends and take cooking classes.

What else would you like to see at Excelsior & Grand? Weigh in!

Golden Globes fashion 2011

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Sandra Bangs Bullock

Here’s what I think happened: Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds were goofing around, for baby Louie’s entertainment – singing, dancing, jumping about, when KAPOW! – like a scene straight out of “The Proposal,” they bonked heads, leaving Sandy with a honking hematoma, hours before the red carpet – thus giving birth to the evenings top hair trend not to follow: clip on bangs!

Natalie Portman

On the subject of hair, I have this to say about Natalie Portman (besides wholehearted congratulations on the win): I know she’s pregnant and probably worried about face-puffing, but really, she is amazing with short hair. Lop off the ballerina bun and own it. I was a big fan of her Viktor & Rolf dress with the sparkling red rose adornment – perfectly elegant, yet quirky and sweet to showcase her blossoming belly.

Anne Hathaway

Loved Anne Hathaway in her golden Armani Prive. What a bod. WHAT a bod. But it was also a rockin, unexpected choice – and so fun to see her in something non-princess-y. Moral of the story: Rachel Zoe could dress an A-lister from the delivery room – and that is exactly what she might have to do for the Oscars. Bananas.

Adored Olivia Wilde’s sparkling ball gown as well.

Green was the color of the night – loved it when first spotted on Angelina Jolie, but her actual dress was a bit boring and her fawing over Brad was entirely annoying. Red was another frequent choice..with some unfortunate results, like January Jones’ tacky straps and Julianne Moore’s one pouffed sleeve. Together, perhaps they would have had enough material to make something.

Olivia Wilde

Lea Michele stuck with Oscar de la Renta ruffles, but went pink…and proved that, well, black is better.

As for Halle Berry and Sofia Vergara why bother even discussing the dresses. They are obscenely gorgeous.

January Jones

Lea Michele

Sofia Vergara

Good move, Peapods

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Yes, you can take a neighborhood store out of its neighborhood without losing that critical sense of community. Stopped by Peapods Natural Baby Care on Friday at its new address, 2290 Como Ave., St. Paul, and the shop was hopping I’m guessing the regulars from the old store on Snelling will travel across town for the wooden toys and cloth diapers and organic cotton clothes, not because they can’t get those goods elsewhere, but because they know what they’re buying at Peapods: quality, eco-friendly products – many handmade – from local and/or family-owned companies. And the new ‘hood, St. Anthony Park, was ripe for more shopping. It’s got the charm, the leafy street, the coffee shop, the wonderful Micawber’s book store, and heck, the original Bibelot gift shop, still, the retail scene hasn’t evolved to make this area east of Highway 280 a true shopping destination. While small stores have come and gone, Peapods is poised to stay – owners Millie Adelsheim and Dan Marshall bought their building. And it’s already clear that they know how to create community, whatever their address.

Not another bunch of roses

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Got a sneak peak of Bachman’s new designer arrangements. Anxious to prove that it offers more than mass produced bouquets, Bachman’s is introducing a collection of edgier arrangements called “Daring and Different,” created by staff floral designers. Nine designs, which will change seasonally, range from $59 to $89. Look for them in Bachman’s stores (available for local delivery) by Feb. 1 – just in time for a unique Valentine.

Double the pampering

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Pampering is a steal at Extrados Salon and Spa in Linden Hills this month: just book a facial for 30, 60 or 90 minutes and you’ll receive a FREE massage for the same time increment. Free! The offer is only valid on services that happen in January, so don’t delay! Call 612-920-0051.

Cool boots – now, and later

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Love these Sigerson Morrison suede peep toe ankle boots from Pumpz & Co – shown today on Twin Cities Live: That’s Sharon Allemong – when she’s not modeling on TV, she runs Insite Interiors and the Sale Room @ IMS. She made a Classiques Entier dress from Nordstrom look hip and season-appropriate by layering a thin turtleneck underneath and adding a belted jacket by the same brand on top. Peel it apart and she can take the pieces into spring. Even the boots (which are $350), which would look great without tights too. Sharon led off the show today – see the other models and their boots here: – Boots.

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