Monday, December 28, 2015

After-Christmas Plans in New York City 2015

Yes Virginia! There is a Santa Claus and tons of things to do in NYC after Christmas. Photo taken at Macy's
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year to visit New York City. From gigantic trees to mind-blowing festive windows and caroling in the streets, the city has something for everyone. What's best, with the holiday season the most tourist-averse gothamists tend to be a bit more patient with the crowds flooding the streets and the subway stations.

Although for some people Christmas is over the 25th of December, the city that never sleeps proves them wrong: There is still plenty to see and do if you plan to spend New Year's Eve in the Big Apple. I have selected my five favorite plans to enjoy what's left of the holiday spirit. Care to join me? Click on the pink links for all the info!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Last-minute gifts for the Beauty Addict


Are you still searching the perfect gift for the beauty addict in your life? Look no more! I've compiled a selection of what I consider to be la creme de la creme (aka the very best) gift sets available for the discerning beauty junkie. For more information on each product, click on the pink links in the description:


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers


'Tis the time of the year to start making a list full of wishes (especially if you've been nice!) For those of you who love to find a Christmas stocking filled to the brim, I have created a specially curated gift guide full of bonanza for all the family -with products just the right size to fit even the smallest of socks.

To learn more about these products, click on the pink link of each description.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Made in USA


Do you want to make a great gift and support your local economy? Then look no further! Today I'm bringing you a curated selection of gifts made in USA by small and medium companies that use the finest materials. 

Because more and more products nowadays are manufactured overseas, I think it's of great importance to support the work of the many talented entrepreneurs found on American soil. Aside from making beautiful products, they create local jobs.

To learn more about these products, click on the pink link of each description.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Gifts for Foodies

I have several members of my family who are literally obsessed with food. But sometimes gifting foodies can be somehow tricky (it should be a bit more complicated than roaming the aisles of Whole Foods, right?) My Foodies Galore guide features six amazing ideas of holiday gifts for foodies, including edible and non-edible ideas.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Gifts for the Book Lovers

We all have at least one bookworm (aka book lover) in our life. When it comes to gifting, many people assume that giving that person something else to stack in an already crammed and overflowing bookshelf is the best solution. However, finding the perfect book for a person is a bit like matchmaking, because no reader is made equal. My selection today includes some of my personally favorite books recently appeared plus a set of ideal gifts for bookworms that are inspired by books (though not necessarily a cellulose friend.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Geek Holiday Gift Guide

 If you've stumbled upon this post while looking for gifts for the geek(s) in your life, you have arrived at a great place. I have curated nine different gift ideas that include Star Wars products, a superb American artist, a geek subscription box, superheroes paraphernalia, and the most amazing geek make-up collection. Welcome to New York for Beginners... and have yourself a Merry, Geeky Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Organic Products



I am so glad to see that you're reading New York For Beginners today, because I'm starting a 12-day special with my specially curated Holiday Gift Guides. In them you'll find all sorts of gifting ideas from companies that will deliver them just in time for Christmas. So, if you haven't started your letter to Santa yet, I suggest you stay tuned for what's coming. I promise you'll love it!

I'm starting my Gift Guide selection with a compilation of the best organic products you can find for the eco-conscious, vegan, and toxin-free special person in your life.
Looks like we could have a green Christmas this year
Which is great as long as it snows on that day, d'ya hear
Just that special day
Then melt all away
Let's not go overboard, can't wait for spring to appear
 [A Green Christmas, by Jack Ellison]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Star Wars Loot Crate Sells On Cyber Monday



For those willing to have the Force on their side this Cyber Monday, Loot Crate has just revealed they will sell a special Star Wars Limited Edition crate for $100 (including shipping and handling.) 

Loot Crate is a company specialized in creating monthly subscription boxes for geeks, gamers, and pop culture lovers. Aside from their regular Loot Crate and Level Up offerings, they create special limited editions a few times a year. This upcoming Monday, November the 30th (aka Cyber Monday), Loot Crate will sell a special crate to celebrate the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The limited edition crate will contain 9 stellar Star Wars collectibles, 5 of which are exclusively manufactured for Loot Crate and not available anywhere else. The price is $100 for USA and $125 for other countries (including shipping and handling.) Collectively, the items inside the crate are valued at over $150+ total. What's more, 20 randomly-selected Star Wars Loot Craters will receive a Funki Hikari C-3PO variant figure valued at $80. As per their words, this is the biggest Loot Crate ever, and it's big enough to fit Yoda inside (a good Cyber Monday bargain that is!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Friday 2015: The Body Shop Tote is here


Via The Body Shop
 With Thanksgiving approaching, this week is seeing the unveiling of many awesome deals (such as the ones I featured here for organic cosmetics.) Today I'm bringing you my personal favorite: The Body Shop's 2015 Black Friday Tote.

This year deal is valued at $139 and can be purchased for $35 after adding an extra $36 worth of merchandise in your shopping cart. It includes:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Natural and Effective Deodorants


There is a lot being currently said about the cumulative effect of chemicals in our bodies. That is the reason why I'm starting a series of articles about green alternatives for those who would like to reduce the amount of synthetic components they are exposed to. This said, it's important to note that beauty products that use chemicals aren't necessarily unsafe (that's something that only the FDA can determine, and apparently there are not enough studies yet to reach a conclusion in this field.) However, I think it is important to help the consumers navigate the difference between natural, greenwashed, and chemical products so everyone can make an informed decision of what suits best their needs.

To me, the most important product on which we should fix our green objectives is the deodorant. It's a beauty product we use every day, and because there is an ongoing scientific conversation about the possible negative effects of aluminium entering our bodies, I've been researching cleaner alternatives.

For some reason, there are not too many healthy and effective green alternatives to traditional deodorant. Of the few deodorants that contain no aluminiums and no parabens, just a tiny percentage seem to be really 100 percent natural. Unfortunately, many deodorants that contain no aluminium have substituted it for another chemical, yet market their product as "natural" to make the consumers perceive they are better than their traditional counterparts. To me, that's pure and simple greenwashing, a marketing technique used by many brands to change the consumer's perception about the chemicals there are in the formulas by using the world 'natural' or 'naturally' without actually having a totally clean composition.


Today, I'm reviewing four different brands: Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Aluminium Free Deodorant, Kelly Teegarden Finally All Natural Deodorant, LaVanila Laboratories The Healthy Sport Luxe Deodorant, and The Organic Pharmacy Deodorant Spray. I have personally used each of them for a week, read their ingredients and generally tried to understand whether their labels correspond to what they actually do. Here are my conclusions:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Black Friday Deals: Organic cosmetics

'Tis the time of the year... for great shopping! Thanksgiving is next week, which means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also a few days away.

Today I'm bringing you a few green beauty deals from Hollybeth Organics, Cecilia Wong Skincare and Oui Shave. More to come in the following days, stay tuned!


Disclosure level 0: The author received NO compensation to write this post. There are no affiliate links. This post is information-only.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My New York: Celebrities Talk about the City



Imagine I told you there is one book that captures the essence of New York: You'd probably know I am lying! However, what if I told you I found one book with extremely insightful stories of the many perspectives New York City offers? I'm sure that premise grabs your attention. So did mine.

My New York: Celebrities Talk About the City
is a compelling book written and edited by Alessandra Mattanza, who aside from a gifted writer happens to be a screenwriter and a fine-art photographer. This book, which in my opinion constitutes an ode to the chaotic essence of the Big Apple, shares the best of New York City through the eyes of 19 of the city's most iconic residents: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Spike Lee, James Franco, Taylor Swift, Moby, Jay McInerney, Daniel Libeskind, Jack Huston, Candace Bushnell, Cathleen Shine, Mario Batali, Siri Hustvedt, Steve McCurry, Cortney and Bob Novogratz, Lidia Bastianich and Yoko Ono.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: MyGreenFills natural laundry soap

I am really excited to bring you this new brand I very recently discovered: MyGreenFills. It's a small business that creates laundry products good for the planet and good for those families concerned with the effect of the continued exposure to toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, many of those are present in regular laundry detergents.

Let me begin by telling you my story: I have very dry, sensitive skin. Sometimes, conventional laundry detergents and softeners will cause me allergies, so I tend to wash my clothes with a Spanish brand of mild soap called Lagarto, which by the way does not exist in the States, or with other allergy-friendly solutions. If there are none available, I will wash my clothes with the mildest brand available in the market and put them through a second rinsing cycle. And I hate wasting water like that!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: ProfilePRO custom hair care






Good morning fellow Gothamists!

The weather has been crazy this past week. Which means that my hair has decided to live a life of its own once again, gifting me with a million flyaways due to the extraordinary humidity of the Big Apple. 

You may wonder from time to time how I tame my mane (whoopsie! I made a beauty poem!) One of my best secrets is ProfilePRO, a custom hair care line I have been testing for the past month. These guys create perfectly customized shampoos and conditioners adapted to your hair type, texture, behavior, scalp, condition and favorite scent. And you can order them online.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this product at first. The price seemed to be a bit on the cheap side for a formula totally customized to my needs (a set of full sized 10 oz. bottles of Shampoo and Conditioner runs for $34.95, and $24.95 with the Subscribe and Save program.) However, I was greatly surprised by ProfilePRO. Do you want to know why?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Beauty Hacks to Erase Halloween from your Face

I don't know about you, but this Halloween has been legen (wait for it!) dary for me. I was able to finally participate in the Village Halloween Parade, which meant I had to look for a great costume. And that was a bit of a drama, because my previous costume was so uncomfortable I ended up having bruises after wearing it. Bear with me, because this explains my little Halloween drama.

So I decided to use whatever I had at hand to concoct a cool Halloween costume in a couple of hours. Because I love Frida Kahlo so much, I got inspired by her painting "Las Dos Fridas" (The Two Fridas), where she vividly expresses her feelings about life and death. And I decided to paint half my face as a sugar skull, and the other half imitating her traditional make-up. I think I did a pretty good job.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Easy Halloween Skull Make-Up Tutorial


I love this time of the year! Halloween is a big festivity in New York City that brings out the most creative ideas from gothamists and visitors. Jack O' Lanterns, Ghost Tours, Haunted Houses, and terrific parades are just a small piece of what you can do and see in New York City for the next couple of weeks (for some ideas, please visit my article about the Best Halloween 2015 Plans in New York City.)

Because New Yorkers have virtually no free time, I wanted to bring you a quick and easy make-up tutorial to dress up as a skeleton. You will only need a few products that you very likely already own, a good mirror, your creativity, and a good make-up remover. And remember: Work with your mistakes! This make-up has a lot of free-hand drawing, so make the most of your ideas and don't fret over perfection!

Friday, October 23, 2015

From Japan with love: New DHC beauty products



A few years ago, I stumbled upon my first Japanese beauty product in a trip to Paris. In one of my many excursions roaming freely around the city (mind you, with no map and no smartphone), I stumbled upon a small Japanese shop and bought myself a magazine which contained a sample of DHC's one and only Deep Cleansing Oil. It was love at first sight, but I wasn't able to procure myself a full size bottle until a few years later thanks to an online store. To my knowledge, the brand isn't sold yet in my country (sigh.)

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an event where DHC presented its latest novelties. Being myself a huge fan of the brand I couldn't say no! Like Julius Caesar, I went, I saw and I conquered. And these are my impressions of the new lines of DHC:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Best Halloween 2015 Plans in New York City


'Tis the season to start digging our coats and preparing for the winter. Even though it is only October, a few Canadian gusts of wind leave behind a chilly trail that keep most (or at least myself) longing for spring to come.

However, and despite the dropping temperatures, no city celebrates Fall and Halloween like New York City. Get yourself ready for spook-tacular events, giant Corn Mazes, K-9 Halloween costume competitions, Jack' O Lanterns, and haunted houses.

Gothamists and visitors alike, are you ready for the best Halloween 2015 plans in New York City?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Room Spray signed Cire Trudon

Cire Trudon, one of the oldest French candlemakers, has a plan to sabotage my saving efforts. They know me so well that they've decided to give me a solution to my constant fear of setting my house (inadvertently) on fire by using scented candles. This mythic Maison has just launched the most luxurious and decadent room spray.

I have to confess this product has been haunting my dreams since I got their press release. I am a perfume person, and I love creating different ambiances in my house using scents. Cire Trudon's scented candles are, in my opinion, the best along with Dyptique's and Annick Goutal's. They are painstakingly manufactured with high-quality essential oils, thus creating no potential health risks (contrary to those manufactured with synthetic fragrances, which have been pointed out as the cause of many respiratory problems.) However, there is always an inherent risk in the combination of myself+ a scented candle: I might forget to blow it away before heading to Manhattan in a rush.

That is why I adore this new version of my favorite home scents: Cire Trudon Les Parfums d’Intérieur. It is a collection of carefully hand-crafted room sprays inside decadent atomizers. Ever with an eye to design and form, Cire Trudon has created its luxurious packaging with handmade bottles in molded green glass from Vinci, Italy. What's more: The beautiful atomizers are rechargeable, making them a one-time investment.

According to Cire Trudon's artisans, their Les Parfums d'Interieur are a cult object for those who take the French art the vivre to its latest extent. As I am very consistent with my tastes, I have dutifully jotted this wonderful invention down in my letter to Santa.

Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holland & Sherry Bespoke, Aedes de Venustas, and Gentry carry Cire Trudon's products. The room spray is sold for $190, and the classic candles retail for $95.
Disclaimer level 0: The author received no compensation to write about this product.

Nuevo spray de ambiente de Cire Trudon

Cire Trudon ha decidido que tengo que romper la hucha (o empezar a hacer una lista muy larga para los Reyes Magos). Como me conocen fenomenal, y saben que siempre me da yuyu haberme dejado las velas perfumadas encendidas cuando salgo de casa, la mítica Maison acaba de lanzar un vaporizador de ambiente cuidado hasta el mas mínimo detalle. 
Sin llamas y totalmente resistente a cabezas tan olvidadizas como la mía, sus vaporizadores son una obra maestra de la perfumería nicho para el hogar. El packaging no puede ser más hedonista: un maravilloso spray de vidrio verde artesanal, con una pera estilo vintage rematada en dorado y en armonía con el logo de la Maison. Como afirman ellos mismos, es un objeto de culto imprescindible para quienes llevan el arte de vivir hasta las últimas consecuencias.
Y como yo soy muy consecuente, ya me lo he apuntado en mi lista de 'musts' de cara a la nueva temporada. 

Los productos de Cire Trudon se venden en Estados Unidos en Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holland & Sherry Bespoke, Aedes de Venustas, y Gentry. El precio del ambientador es de $190, y las velas clásicas de la firma cuestan $95.

Disclaimer level 0: El autor de este post no ha recibido compensación económica para escribir sobre el producto. Este post contiene información general y opiniones propias.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Laura Luna, an alternative model breaking the norms of the fashion industry

Let me In, by Carlos Vaquero. Via: Laura Luna



Have you ever wondered what would your life look like if you had made different choices? Do you find yourself musing about what you really want to do, while your life seems trapped in an endless succession of worryingly identical days?
I must confess that was my case before I decided to leave everything behind and start living adventures in New York City. However, long before I made my decision, there was someone in my life brave enough to follow her dreams, against the norms that society dictated. That person is my really talented friend Laura Luna, who decided in her late twenties that being an awesome translator and published author was not enough. She decided to become an alternative model and an actress, regardless of the beauty canons ruthlessly imposed by the fashion industry.
I'm really proud to bring you today one of the most insightful interviews I've ever conducted. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you Laura Luna and an interview that I hope will change your views about self-acceptance, body image, and the courage to follow your dreams. Please don't hesitate to share your views on body image on the comment section below, and be part of the conversation!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walt Disney World Orlando: unas vacaciones mágicas

Disney es sinónimo de magia. Así ha sido desde hace generaciones, y así seguirá siendo por muchos años más. O al menos, eso esperamos. Sus maravillosos largometrajes animados han llenado de ilusión y fantasía los sueños de millones de niños a lo largo y ancho del planeta, y la visita familiar a sus sensacionales parques temáticos ha sido siempre la gran promesa que todos hemos anhelado en algun momento de nuestra vida. Con la cantidad de localizaciones y regiones tematizadas existentes, podriamos estar toda una vida satisfaciendo al niño que tenemos dentro disfrutando de todos los parques Disney sin poder verlos todos. 

Sin embargo, si tuvieramos que elegir un solo destino al que viajar, ese sería Orlando. Si, Anaheim (California) fue donde el insigne Walt Disney materializó por vez primera su idea de acercar la magia a los amantes de las norias y las montañas rusas, pero la ubicación de este auténtico imán turístico para visitantes de todo el planeta es una visita verdaderamente imprescindible para aquellos que tengan pensado relajarse en la siempre soleada Florida. La diversidad de opciones para los amantes de los personajes Disney es inmensa, con 6 parques que incluyen safari y dos áreas acuáticas.

Durante nuestra visita elegimos visitar sus dos parques más antiguos por considerar que son esenciales para empaparse de la esencia más pura de este fantástico universo: Epcot y Magic Kingdom.

For English, click here.

Walt Disney World Orlando: magical vacations!

Disney is synonym of magic. That's the way it's always been, and the way it will always be. This is what we hope, at least. Its wonderful length features have brought cheer and fantasy to millions of kids throughout the world, and the family visit to its sensational theme parks has always been the promise we have longed at some point of our lives.

With so many themed regions around the planet, we could be spending a whole life trying visit all of the Walt Disney World Parks to satisfy our inner child. However, if we would have to choose only one destination, our money would go to Orlando. Sure, Anaheim, California, was the original place where the good ol' Walt envisioned for the first time his vision of bring Disney magic to roller coaster and Ferris wheel fans. But the location of this true touristic magnet in the East Coast is an indispensable visit for those who want to spend their vacations in the Sunny State. The variety of available options for the Disney character fans is huge, with 6 theme parks including a safari and two aquatic areas.

We decided to visit its two oldest parks from all of them, the ones that still cherish all the essence of the old days Disney spirit: Epcot and Magic Kingdom.



Epcot

Undoubtedly the eternal unknown of all parks, Epcot is frequently despised as the less interesting one due to its decidedly divulgative vocation. Born as a prototype of the Utopian city conceived by Walt Disney himself, the unmerciful passage of time and the arrival of that same future that Walt tried to foretell have in some way mislead some people into think that Epcot is nothing more than a relic from the past (quite ironic, isn't it?) whose absence of attractions oriented to the thrill-seekers makes it lost interest. 



Nothing further from reality. Of course, if you are looking for awesome roller coasters, loopings and scream head down, Epcot is not precisely the perfect place to be. Its charm resides in other factors. 

On the one hand you will find Future World, the avant-garde showcase that made the park popular when it opened its gates in 1982 as a delicious example of both naive expectations and relentless faith in humanity's technological effort.

Attractions like Test Track, where visitors are allowed to "create" their own vehicle modifying aspects as power, efficiency or maneuverability in order to "test" it afterwards in an exciting race against the rest of the guests, is one of those nice and quiet experiences you cannot find in other parks. The flight simulator Soarin' and, above all, Spaceship Earth, the perfectly recreated journey through human history of communications in a huge sphere, are the two other must-do of the day.

Details such as the presence of completely functional futuristic bird houses located in the park's avenues put a smile on your face and transmits the same enthusiasm that brought Epcot alive long time ago.


On the other hand, World Showcase is an impressive recreation of some of the most beautiful countries and environments of Earth. Visiting Epcot es the closest thing to travel around the world without needing a passport...unless, of course, you prefer to buy one the lovely Epcot passports on sale that you can stamp at selected locations inside the park. We couldn't resist to get one!

The exquisite attention to detail of these 11 environments is just stunning. For a moment you would think that you're getting into a Moroccan bazaar, a typical British alley, the surroundings of a Japanese palace, a traditional boulagerie francaise or the streets of an Scandinavian town.

The architecture, design, gastronomy and, to sum up, the general atmosphere of superb neatness displayed in every single one of these ambiances is exceptional. Nobody should miss it. 

One morning in Epcot is one morning well spent. Resist for a few hours your thirst for adrenaline and treat your senses with this wonderful glance to the future that could have been while discovering by foot (or boat) some of the world's most perfect reconstructions. You will not regret it. 

Magic Kingdom


Of course, no visit to this area would be complete without spending at least one day in the most iconic, famous and, yes, magical park of all. If you could only choose one Disney park, the one that represents the purest form of its spirit, it has to be Magic Kingdom.

Its succesful approach has been implemented throughout the whole planet, from USA to Japan and France, as the best ambassador Walt Disney could have dreamed. Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland...epitomes of that kind of family-friendly fun that transports you to the inside of the most classics Disney films, either getting lost in Alice's Labyrinth, visiting the evil dragon-queen that lurks the depths of the Sleeping Beauty Castle's dungeons, trying to pull out the Sword from the Stone or riding the well-known Flying Dumbos...it's just impossible not to enjoy like a child while exploring these exquisite sets, waving the characters that roam the park and admiring every single detail.

For sure, the most courageous ones can test their valor with the fan-favorite indoor roller coaster Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion or, our favorites, the widely popular "mine trains" Big Thunder Mountain and the more recent Seven Dwrafs Mine Train. Unmissable all of them.

Magic Kingdom treasures that challenging combination of  passion, excitement and childhood memories that offers a superb time to people of all ages. Indispensable.


Transport and accommodation

If money or transportation is not a problem, the most desirable option is to book into one of the marvelous Disney hotels available to its wealthiest guests.

Located in Buenavista Lake, practically next to the main parks doors, these temples of magic are by far the perfect choice to make the most of your time in holidays. Nevertheless, if saving is your main priority or you don't own a vehicle, it's very convenient to find a room in one of the numerous hotels that fill the surrounding roads not only to Disney parks, but to other unmissable family entertainment classics such as SeaWorld and the two Universal Studios parks.

Even if the overall quality of these lodgings is variable, most of them offer early bird free shuttles that take you to the Disney parks almost every morning.

The variety of these restaurants, attractions and other family-friendly entertainment choices surrounding most of Orlando main roads make this option an experience to remember.


LOCATION: Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, 32830


PARK HOURS: Magic Kingdom: 8 AM-1 AM (August)
Epcot: 9 AM-9 PM (August)


Disclosure level 1: The author received NO compensation to write this article. The author received a complimentary day press pass to access the park and experience it firsthand. This didn't influence the author's opinions or the decision to run an article about this location. The opinions stated are the author's own and the links provided are information-only.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Flexible Hold Hairspray



I have to confess I have a penchant for niche, small brands modeled after the vision of entrepreneurs motivated to 'make something better.' Along these lines, I have recently discovered Carol's Daughter, a natural Brooklyn-based beauty brand that has recently turned twenty. Natural and local? It couldn't get any better! Or could it?

Turns out Carol's Daughter has a product formulated with Monoi (yep, the secret beauty weapon coming straight from Polynesia) that promises to keep hold of locks even in the dog days of the New York City summer.

The new Monoi Repairing Flexible Hold Hairspray is described as giving buildable, brushable, and invisible hold. No flakes, no sticky strands of hair in the 80s fashion. Made with Monoi oil, Carol's Daughter hairspray promises holding power without leaving any kind of residue. According to the brand, this product was created to specifically style, brush, and restyle without breakage with a unique formula that can stand up to humidity.

As I said, its main ingredient is Monoi Oil, a maceration of the petals of Tahitian gardenias in coconut oil. This very oil is what Polynesian men and women use to help undo and prevent damage to hair, and get gorgeous, glowing skin with a faint scent of paradise. To boost the action of this oil, Carol's Daughter hairspray is formulated with vitamin E to shield hair from humidity, and pro-vitamin B5 to help condition hair and enhance its natural shine.

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Flexible Hold Hairspray ($18) is already available at Ulta and www.carolsdaughter.com

I have seen many raving reviews about the product and the brand, and I'm curious as to whether you've tested it. Please feel free to leave your impressions in the 'comment' section below :)


Disclosure level 0: This post is information-only. The author received no compensation, nor samples to review the product. This post contains NO affiliate links.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cómo buscar un piso en Nueva York y no morir en el intento

Nueva York es una ciudad maravillosa, pero tiene un problema importante: cuando la visitas por primera vez y compruebas en tus carnes que te ofrece millones de posibilidades, quieres quedarte a vivir en ella. ¿El primer problema? El visado. Venir de turista desde España es muy sencillo gracias al programa de visado simplificado ESTA, pero para trabajar o estudiar la cosa se complica. El Consulado de Estados Unidos lo explica muy bien en su página web: http://spanish.madrid.usembassy.gov/es/visas.html

Pero imaginemos que estáis leyendo este post con vuestro visado en mano. Ahora toca buscar alojamiento, y a ser posible baratito porque el cambio de euro a dólar está fatal. Los precios de los hoteles en Nueva York están por las nubes (especialmente en los meses de verano, coincidiendo con el Spring Break, en Thanksgiving, y en Navidades). Así que toca armarse de paciencia, y buscar un piso en Nueva York.

Lamento deciros que no existen los pisos buenos, bonitos y baratos en Nueva York. En Manhattan, "barato" es conseguir un estudio por menos de 1,600 dólares y en un barrio en el que no te dé miedo ir al anochecer (en invierno anochece a las 4.30 de la tarde, tenedlo en cuenta).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hard Rock Cafe NYC Exclusive FDNY Collection


Yep, these guys (who model in the FDNY official calendar) look at me every single day from my kitchen wall
 On June 14, 1971, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton opened the first-ever Hard Rock Cafe in London, which expanded to 154 locations around the world. To commemorate its birthday, Hard Rock Cafe New York has decided to support the New York City Fire Department and its members who keep our city safe.

As a relatively new member of the NYC community, I can only praise the service of the brave women and men who work for our safety on a daily basis. I have always been extremely impressed by the professionalism of the FDNY Fire Department and the dangerous situations they often face. That is why I like supporting all their initiatives: These guys literally risk their lives to help others!

Hard Rock Cafe New York has launched limited-edition memorabilia to commemorate the 150th birthday of the FDNY. This exclusive, beautifully-designed collection includes a T-shirt, hat, magnet, water bottle and collectible pin, with prices ranging from $12 (pin) to $25 (T-shirt.) 15 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the FDNY Foundation, an organization that raises awareness of fire safety, offers training and support of its members, and provides enhanced technology and equipment to better protect New York City.

According to Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, "the proceeds from these 150th anniversary items will  benefit the FDNY Foundation, helping the Department better protect all those who visit, work and live in New York City.”

So, if in the upcoming days you want to purchase any kind of Hard Rock memorabilia, please remember that the sales of this particular collection can make a difference in many people's lives in New York.

Also, and to continue the support for local heroes, Hard Rock Cafe New York will invite FDNY members to participate in a live burger cook off later this summer where the winning recipe will be offered on the cafe’s menu for a limited time beginning in September 2015. A panel of judges and grilling experts will select the winning recipe based on taste, creativity, presentation and appearance, and how well it embodies the spirit of New York City. Once available at Hard Rock Cafe New York, a percentage of the proceeds from the new FDNY Local LegendaryTM Burger will benefit The FDNY Foundation.

If the burgers are as yummy as the firefighters portrayed in the official FDNY calendar, I'm sure it will be a total success!

For more information, please visit www.hardrock.com/newyork

Disclosure level 0: The author received no compensation to write this article nor press samples. There are no affiliate links in this post.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why I got hooked up on fake press-on nails by Kiss

Let me start this post with a confession: I love crafting. I love painting. But when it comes to doing my nails, my right hand ends up looking like a clown: colorful in all the (normally) wrong places.

I come from Spain, a country where 'fake nails' are used for two things: To dress up as a kid, or to dress up as an adult. It never crossed my mind that press-on manicures could actually look good. However, I recently attended the SHE event, where I came across the KISS booth. When they offered to test a 'fake' imPRESS manicure on me I was extremely curious. Apparently, their goal was to provide a natural, gorgeous-looking manicure without all the hassle.

(I have to confess that, at that point, I didn't believe it. I was too skeptical and conditioned by my upbringing.)
My first 'fake' manicure
Guess what? After they put the press-on nails on me, I started receiving compliments from total strangers, who were convinced my manicure was real and I had impeccable, gorgeous nails. Ehem! My nails are a bit of a disaster. Due to an accident, I got one of my fingers injured as a kid. I lost the nail, and when the new one grew back it was grotesque. It is still larger than the rest of my nails and has a strange texture to it, which only gel manicures are capable to conceal. Until now!

I wore my first fake manicure pride for over a week with no hassle. Because they are waterproof, they stuck with my real nails regardless what I did (including going for a spa treatment!) I trimmed them to my desired length, and they didn't bulge until I decided to remove them soaking my hands in acetone. People will usually peel them off after a hot bath, but I preferred to be on the safe side :)

So many options to choose from!
Pros: Easy-to-use (peel off the adhesive, peel them on your nails, press down and voila!) Natural results, similar to gel polish, without the nasty ingredients. Perfect manicure in a minute. Long-lasting (provided that you use the nail polish remover sheet included prior to sticking them on, and avoid water for half an hour after putting the nails.) This manicure doesn't damage your natural nails. Astonishing designs, with over 40 colors and patterns. Cheap ($6.99) and widely available (CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Kmart, Walgreens.)


Cons: The only downside to this type of manicure is that you have to be careful of not invading your cuticles too much when applying them. In my case, a couple of them got too close to my skin and whenever I typed I felt there was 'something' digging into my flesh. It wasn't painful, just a bit weird. Also, and because I cut them down too much, there was a bit of glue showing up. If your nails are as tiny as mine, choose a short style with less glue.

My verdict: They totally lived up to my expectations! I will definitely keep using them.

You can check out their range of colors and patterns at www.impressmanicure.com, and follow them on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram as @BwayNails.

I'm curious: Have you ever used a press-on manicure? How did it feel on you? Did your nails stay for a week, or is it that my nails are weird in that aspect?

Disclosure level 1: The author received a free sample manicure. There was no paid compensation to write this post. This post doesn't contain affiliate links.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Trend Alert: OPI Coca Cola Collection



As an OPI fan, I'm super excited to share with you what the new summer collection will look like. This year, OPI and Coca Cola celebrate the centennial of the iconic contoured glass bottle by launching a limited-edition, summer-feisty collection of nail lacquers and Gel Color which are simply to die for.  Icons of Happiness features two new shades and six classic colors that pay homage to the bottle's bold color and signature style.

The shades include (the underlined ones are new and limited to this collection):

You’re So Vain-illa, a sweet, creamy nude
Visions of Georgia Green (NEW), a sparkling green inspired by the classic Coca-Cola bottle. So far, my favorite shade from the collection.
Centennial Silver (NEW), a shimmering pewter
Coca-Cola Red, the iconic red that’s always in style
My Signature is “DC,” a glimmering silver
Sorry I’m Fizzy Today, a smooth and creamy pink
Get Cherried Away, an over-the-top black cherry
A Grape Affair, a deep, dark purple.

The collection will be sold at select professional salons and on HSN, June 2015. The Nail Lacquers will retail for $9.50 SRP /$11.50 CAN and the GelColor by OPI will cost $14.95 salon/ $18.95 CAN salon. 
 
Visions of Georgia Green is my new must-have shade

Although all the shades are extremely pretty, my favorite is Visions of Georgia Green. I had the chance to test it recently in a visit to a nail salon and it was just gorgeous. Also, it works great with all skin shades (some of the other colors, on the other hand, look a bit too pale-ish for my Spanish skin in my opinion.)

At this point, I have to confess I'm a mess when it comes to applying nail polish. I recently discovered the wonders of wearing disposable acrylic nails, and I'll be doing a review soon. However, there are a few brands that for some reason work well with me and my dubious skills. OPI is one of them. And aside from their gorgeous array of shade options, what I like about OPI is that their self-leveling formula helps me get an extremely polished-looking manicure without blotches. So it makes perfect sense to me to splurge a bit more and get a great formula.

Also, if you are fans of the Coca Cola contour bottle and want to know more about its 100th anniversary, you can visit www.cocacolacompany.com

I'm curious about what you guys think. Have you tried the new collection yet? Are you OPI fans, or do you prefer other brands?

Thank you for stopping by New York For Beginners!

Disclosure level 0: The author received no compensation nor samples to write about this brand/product.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sunscreen 101 by Dr. Julia Tzu

Source: Pinterest
National Sunscreen Day should be a reminder on how to protect our body's largest organ: The skin. However, many people still hold a few misconceptions about how and when to use sunscreen. Dr. Julia Tzu, a double board certified dermatologist and Medical Director/Founder of Wall Street Dermatology, offers the following easy-to-remember tips:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pureology: Two-in-one hairstyle for Memorial Day

Looking for fresh and easy hairstyle ideas for your busy Memorial Day weekend? Think no more. With this tutorial, you'll be able to quickly take your look from the poolside to a night on the town without skipping a beat with a “two looks, one technique” style from Pureology Artist Sandra Joseph.




Creating a bubble ponytail

1. Begin by taking a parting above the left corner of the eye and slicing a diagonal line to the right corner in the back of the head. This will create two large sections of hair. Keeping the hair soft, apply a small amount of Pureology Colour Stylist Anti Breakage Twist shine texturizer throughout both sections to add extra texture and shine.

2. Secure a ponytail with an elastic in the right section. Add another elastic 1-2 inches beneath the first elastic. Push up the second elastic to create a bubble.

3. Gather all hair from the left section and secure with an elastic to the right ponytail, making one ponytail. Add another elastic 1-2 inches lower and again, push up the elastic to create a bubble. Continue this pattern until you reach the end of the ponytail. Layer Pureology Strengthening Control zero dulling hairspray throughout the Bubble Pony for added support and shine.

4. To create a finished look, drape the Bubble Ponytail over one shoulder.

Creating a bubble chignon

5. For an easy chignon, take the Bubble Ponytail you created using the above steps and roll around the base, securing with bobby pins. Finish with another light mist of Pureology Strengthening Control zero dulling hairspray for added hold.

To find a salon, book an appointment or buy genuine Pureology products visit Pureology.com

Disclaimer level 0: Author received no compensation to write this article.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Universal Studios: Lights, camera... attraction!


Hollywood: Undisputable Mecca of professional actors, lifelong dream to celebrity wannabes and, yes, the home of the most famous giant sign in the world. The shiniest stars in the planet share space with hardcore moviegoers, excited honeymooners and noisy families, all of them eager to be a part of the surreal and unreachable world of their idols, either enrolling a guided tour among their Beverly Hills mansions or just taking hundreds of photographs to the star-filled sidewalks of the biggest scenario in the world.

Yes, Hollywood is a formidable destination. A place where you can feel the excitement of the Oscars night inside the Kodak Theatre, compare the sizes of your hands and feet with your favorite actors in the historical landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and visit gift shops that are an absolute nirvana for devotes of the Seventh Art. But if you think the Walk of Fame is the essence of Hollywood, wait until you read our review of one of the best and most successful theme parks in America, where you can visit in situ the sets where the icons of both small and big screen have performed some of their more memorable roles while enjoying the best attractions that an amusement park can offer. Movies and rollercoasters…can be anything better? Welcome to Universal Studios Hollywood, realm of the family entertainment and absolute paradise for the movie lover.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Universal Studios Hollywood: luces, cámara…¡atracción!






Hollywood. Meca indiscutible de actores profesionales, sueño eterno para aspirantes a famoso y, sí, hogar del letrero gigante más famoso del mundo. Aquí las estrellas más brillantes de la pantalla comparten espacio con recién casados en su luna de miel, cinéfilos de todo tipo y pelaje y ruidosas familias numerosas. Criaturas todas ellas ansiosas por formar parte del surrealista e inalcanzable mundo de sus ídolos, ya sea en un tour guiado por sus mansiones en Beverly Hills o tomando cientos de fotografías en las estrelladas aceras del escenario más grande jamás creado. 

Sí, Hollywood es un destino sensacional. Un lugar donde es fácil sentir en tu piel la emoción de la noche de los Oscar dentro del Kodak Theatre, comparar el tamaño de tus manos y pies con el de tus actores favoritos en el histórico Grauman’s Chinese Theatre y visitar tiendas de recuerdos que son lo más parecido al nirvana para los devotos del Séptimo Arte. Pero si pensáis que el Paseo de la Fama es la esencia de Hollywood, esperad a leer nuestro análisis de uno de los mejores parques temáticos de América, donde visitar in situ los sets utilizados por los iconos de la pequeña y la gran pantalla mientras liberas adrenalina en las mejores atracciones que un parque temático puede ofrecer es la definición de un día corriente. Películas y montañas rusas… ¿qué más se puede pedir? Bienvenidos a Universal Studios Hollywood, reino del entretenimiento familiar y paraíso en la Tierra para los amantes del cine.


Para leer el resto del artículo, pincha aqui

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Rituals Urban Samurai For Men



As a guy usually proud of his own manliness, I have always been suspicious of having (let alone using!) skin and body care products. Creams, lotions…heck! Even the after shave seemed a bit “girlie” to me! 

However, sometimes, only sometimes, a brand surprises you with a refreshing mix of innovative products, daring approach and superb customer care. That’s the way I felt with the recently launched Rituals Ancient Samurai line, inspired by the exquisite and strict beauty criteria adopted by the legendary Japanese elite warriors. No, I am not kidding. What, haven’t you seen the meticulously groomed beards and the dreamlike topknots they wear into battle? Being a bad-ass and kick asses was important for the samurais, but the dedicated beauty care also constituted a crucial aspect of their code of honor.

But enough with the History lesson. In my case, this brand didn't have a "surprise factor" for me. I knew it was good. Rituals has been an old friend since my days back in Spain, a perfect source of gift ideas and an unique oasis of peace and relax amidst the most crowded malls. Even at Christmas! That is why I was delighted to attend the Ancient Samurai exclusive event that Rituals  recently held in its New York City’s SoHo shop.

From the moment I stepped in, I was treated with the most attentive and courteous care. No wonder why my wife loves attending events! A professional hairdresser groomed my scruffy beard with the Ancient Samurai products while I sipped a Heineken beer and nibbed some of the nicest sushi in Manhattan. A few minutes later I felt completely reborn, with my chin smooth and my facial hair neat and clean. I told my wife I kinda liked it, but the truth is it was one of the most relaxing experiences in my life.

SKIN. SHAVE. BODY.


The Rituals Ancient Samurai line consists of 22 products catering to men's three basic needs: skincare, shaving products and body care. All of them treasure in their core powerful botanical components oriented to satisfy the most demanding standards. The Japanese Mint, for example, refreshes and revitalizes both mind and body, whilst the Organic Bamboo, Ginger and Tiger Grass protect and nourish the skin. Every aspect of the daily care is covered, with products like Samurai Cool Scrub and Samurai Cleanse Face wash for exfoliation purposes, Ice Shower Gel for body washing and Cool Deo Spray for a 24 hours odorless protection. The objective: To provide you, the average urbanite wage-earner, with the same sense of confidence and inner strength that the Samurais of the past felt knowing that they were not only the best at what they did…but also pretty damn handsome.



MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I'm not very good at admitting that I like cosmetics, let alone creams, but I found a new bestie in the Samurai 24h Hydrating Face Gel. My skin felt supple, hydrated, and even my wife appraised its new softness. Kinda deal for 29 dollars, in my opinion. IMHO, the shaving cream is the second best product of the line. It is perfect for achieving great shaving results without dryness or redness. It actually makes shaving my strong beard easier.

To sum up, using this line is not only a treat to your skin, but a debt of honor to your personal appearance. Thanks to Rituals, now it’s easy to prepare for your daily battles with the proper look!


Disclosure level 1: The above author was fed during the event and given samples of the products to try at home. There was no paid compensation. This post doesn't contain affiliate links.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Celebrate a Beauty-Full Earth Day

Yes, I am against animal testing. And yes, I love PicMonkey.


Earth Day is approaching, and many of my favorite beauty brands are creating special initiatives to remind us the importance of recycling and becoming eco-conscious consumers. Scroll down for my curated selection of treats, special editions, and recycling programs to celebrate beauty in the upcoming two weeks:

Kiehl's Rewards its Eco-Conscious Customers

Kiehl's ongoing program Recycle and Be Rewarded!, is one of my favorite in-store recycling program. Available only in Kiehl’s free-standing stores nationwide, it allows eco-conscious customers to return their empty Kiehl’s bottles, tubes and jars for recycling, in exchange for product.

Kiehl’s retail stores  will also be celebrating Earth Day with the following activities:

Recycle & Be Rewarded!: From April 22 through April 26, at all Kiehl’s retail stores, customers can receive 5 stamps for every 1 Kiehl’s empty returned (normally, it’s 1 stamp per empty), AND customers who bring in an empty skincare jar or bottle from ANY brand will receive a deluxe sample of Kiehl’s skincare.

Complimentary Lip Balm!: From April 14 through April 27, while supplies last, customers spending $65 or more will receive a complimentary Lip Balm #1.

20-Minute Seated Facials & Dehydration Skin Tests: From April 22 through April 26, at all Kiehl’s retail stores, customers can experience a 20-minute pampering facial, and full healthy skin check, including skin analysis with Kiehl’s new Dehydration Analyzer Tool.

 Switching to Plant-Based Cosmetics Without Breaking The Bank

Using green cosmetics is another responsible step towards respecting Mother Nature. Good for your body and good for the environment, their formulas deliver amazing results without negatively impacting health with nasty chemicals. In the past ten years, the natural cosmetics industry has, literally, exploded. I still remember the first attempts reaching the Spanish market when I was still a teenager. Those creams were all right for me, because I only needed hydration. But more advanced features, like potent and quick anti-aging properties, were still under development or extremely expensive.

Nowadays, it is possible to find natural and affordable formulas (just take a look at the Whole Foods cosmetics aisle!). Although not all of them are organic (which I strongly recommend after my experience of many years), many of them are at least stripped off nasty chemicals, which makes them a win-win option.

Here are a few brands that won't break your piggy bank and can be a great introduction to the natural cosmetics world:

Salon Grafix Healthy Hair Nutrition Collection ($7.99, Duane Reade): An alternative to harsh shampoos and conditioners. The multi-purpose sulfate and paraben-free cleansers are formulated to rebalance natural oils with pure ingredients and leave hair clean and soft. An all-in one formula, it's a good solution for those who, like me, are allergic to SLS.


Agave Healing Oil Treatment ($40, Sephora.com): Advertised as the only plant-based oil on the market, it is formulated to smooth, restore and transform unmanageable frizzy hair. Unlike traditional nut-based oils, the oil contains extracts from the Blue Agave plant, and the non-greasy, lightweight formula is ideal for all hair types. Amino sugars from the plant are included to hydrate hair and preserve color. Just a few drops are needed in each application.

Oil Essentials ($12.99, Target): A collection of natural beauty oils that can be used on hair, hands, and nails. These oils are free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic colors and are safe for sensitive skin. The collection includes the 6 following combinations: Argan and Wheat Germ; Omega 3,6, 9 and Evening Primrose; Neroli and Avocado; Seabuckthorn Berry and Borage; Sweet Almond and Macadamia; and Lavender and Rose Hip.

Hairiette (12.99 to 15.99, at the brand website shop) is a new soapless haircare line by Tanya Wright, actress of Orange is the New Black and True Blood. Hairiette is made with amazing natural ingredients  like Kokum Butter and Marula Oil. Curl Creme for defining, Oil Blend for Moisture. I am particularly intrigued by  her co-washing solution, which seems to be ideal for fine, curly manes like mine. 



Garden Apothecary Bath Tea ($12 at the brand website shop) is an all-natural, herbal remedy to soak in after a workout in the gym or a particularly hectic day. The natural minerals in the formula, based on a combination of Epsom salts and botanical ingredients, help support the skin and body. They are ideal for an instant and effective boost of hydration and relaxation.

 
Come Clean Pop Culture Soap for humans and pets ($14 at the brand Etsy Shop) is a handmade glycerin soap bar from New York with all natural, vegan ingredients. It is paraben and sulphate free, and has neutral pH, for both humans and furry friends! The Detox Monkey Soap contains one of the hottest beauty ingredients this summer: Activated Charcoal.

Get the Earth Day Look!

For the conscious fashionistas, the new eco-conscious collection at H&M ($18 to $350) is a must-have. Created as a sustainable clothing line, its collection features elegant pieces that are a sure fit for your business and your party wardrobe. Tailored with organic materials like linen, silk, hemp and cotton, recycled wool and sequins, this collection uses volume, a Japanese inspiration and ruffles so consciously it's the epitome of effortless-meets-eco-chic.

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?

Disclosure level 0: I did not get paid nor sent samples for this article.