Numbness +

A year ago I was crumbling. If you asked me at the time I probably would have brushed it under the rug and said it’s fine. I’m fine.

What I didn’t realize was how poorly I was dealing with things. My dad’s death (among other things) were buried so deep inside I couldn’t even recognize them, and eventually I couldn’t recognize myself either. The hollow smiles and unspilled tears that settled at the bottom of bottles were feelings I had become comfortable with.

Emptiness and sadness weren’t unfamiliar to me, but I’d be damned if I let myself dwell in them. I was so afraid of falling back into the black hole I had clawed myself out of plenty of times before in my life, that I refused to let myself slip into any emotions I couldn’t control. Instead of working through my pain and being patient with myself, I felt that as long I held it together outwardly- I was making progress.

I was so wrong. Pain has a way of becoming warped when you hold it in. It’s subtle and powerful and will often allow you to think you’re in control.

And then you find yourself warped too. Unrecognizable. Questioning who exactly you are.

There’s a quote I like:

“Unexpressed emotions never die, they just come forth in uglier ways”

Which I was unfortunately finding to be true. I was doing things out of character. I was working for the weekend. Blacking out every single Saturday night and pushing through Sunday Fundays. Week after week.

My energy was so low and eventually it turned into self hatred. I hated how I looked, how I felt. I had no clarity. I was totally disconnected from my true self.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but I was subconsciously building a wall around me. To keep my emotions in, or to keep others out? I’m not sure.

I didn’t want to be hard to the world. I desperately wanted to feel normal again. Or to feel again, but it just felt like a concept that was so far away. I was numb.

In a way, icy coldness or fiery anger are both easier to deal with than numbness.

They are outer directed and you might actually have some control over them.

Being numb just is. When you are numb you lack empathy. You lack heartfelt reasoning. People become collateral damage because your indifference is more hurtful than flames or frost.

It took months before I could come to terms with this. It took months of working on myself. Releasing old pain. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. But mostly just focusing on who I knew I wanted to be and aligning myself to that.

Self development has always been a big part of who I am, but I learned (yet again) that the strongest lessons we take home with us are the ones we walk ourselves through and out of. We can read page after page of someone else’s life, but the lessons don’t truly resonate until we’re the ones putting out our own internal fires.

I had dog eared a page titled Numbness in a Rupi Kuar book. I found it today and reread it.

Reading it was so sad. Not because I could relate, but because at one point I did. There was a moment in time where I was so broken… I read this poem and identified with it so strongly that I marked it.

I had to read it twice before the memory of when I bookmarked it came back to me. Then it all flooded back in…

More than anything I feel relieved. To stand in a moment of time and feel the distance between who I was and who I am is powerful and humbling.

As days pass we don’t see change.

As months pass we feel change in what we see as microscopic increments.

But in the space of a year, the difference feels monumental.

Never doubt yourself when working towards anything. Ever. Those microscopic decisions pile up and eventually they’ll take you where you need to be. Just don’t stop. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Seek growth.

Ah, Roma.

In all honesty, Italy swept me off my feet.

I’d never placed it too high on my bucket list, but I absolutely wouldn’t turn down the chance to catch a flight with my boyfriend + best friends. So here we are.


Our trip starts and finishes in Rome. Over 12 days we’d take TrenItalia (the amazing railway system in Italy) to Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence and Saturnia.

Our first stop was Venice, the island with more than 170 canals running through it. Of course we hopped right on a Gondola (80 euros) and then explored the city by water boat. We ate way more pizza and pasta carbs than I’m proud to admit. Not much is open late in Venice, but we did manage to find a hole in the wall spot called Time Social Bar, where we drank wine like water while they blasted Queen. One of the best pasta dishes we had was from Dal Moro’s- a to go spot with tons of pasta options and a good sized portion. Also, if you have time, be sure to visit Libreria Acqua Alta, where you’ll find a some very Instagramable spots….and lots of cats.

Cinque Terre was a fascinating site to see. It is comprised of 5 small little towns that are recognized as UNESCO heritage sites among the coast of northwest Italy. The rainbow buildings of Riomaggiore and Vernazza (the two towns we visited) touch the sky in the sweetest way, you can’t help but feel at ease, surrounded by the bright color.

We also spent some time in Porto Venere, which isn’t technically apart of Cinque Terre, but its still worth a visit! You can dine on the coast with views of the clearest blue water you’ve ever seen, and if that’s appealing to you, then you’ll love taking a quick boat tour around for only 12 euros to see the caves.

Saturnia is home to these beautiful thermal baths that are completely open to the public. We actually stayed in Grosetto, a nearby town, and rented a car to get there. It was 49 euros to rent the car from Eurocar, and was relatively easy to navigate the two hour drive from Grosetto to Saturnia. We also stopped in a very small, but stunning cliffside town called Pitigliano. I highly recommend taking advantage of the jaw dropping views this place has to offer on your way to visit the hot springs.

Rome felt a bit like the faster city pace of NYC, except cleaner, everyone seemed friendlier, and it is WAY more rich in culture. It was nice weather, which made walking everywhere really worthwhile. Every corner you turn there is a gelato shop, and I recommend trying as many gelato shops as you can stomach, because they’re all so different from each other! My favorite flavor was a combo of lemon basil + pistachio. This is where you’ll really see EATily come to life.

My top 3 favorite Gelato shops during the trip are:

  1. Gelaterria dell’Angeletto (Rome)
  2. Ara (Florence)
  3. Vivoli (Florence)

There is so much more to do, see and eat in Italy, and it’s crazy to think we only covered the northern part! I can’t wait to plan a trip through southern Italy and see more crystal blue waters and majestic cliffsides.

Side Note- the best thing I ever did was sign up for the AMEX Delta Skymiles Gold credit card. So many cards have foreign transaction fees, and that’s the last place you want your money to go when traveling. Another reason I love this card is because when you sign up, you get 60,000 bonus miles (which is a FREE fight, equivalent to Hawaii or Europe) as a welcome bonus. So there ya go, your flight to Italy is already paid for! Use my link below to activate this offer! (You must use the link to get the 60,000 miles)

If this is a trip you’d like to take, please share!

Guide to Your First Time at a Music Festival +

Before the fest:

Learn whether the fest you’re attending is one where you’ll be camping or if it’s in the city where you’ll be booking a hotel or Airbnb. If it’s the latter, I highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible. Hotel rates increase when there’s an event happening and prices go up the longer you wait.

Airbnb’s also get booked up quickly!

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can use my link for $40 off here.

If you like to travel solo, festivals are amazing because people are generally happy and welcoming for you to join their crew. If you’re trying to find a squad to join, try creating an account on the app Radiate. It’s a huge music festival forum where people write tons of useful info on whichever event you’re attending, resell tickets/wristbands, and give insight on the security + vibe at the fest. It’s honestly a super useful resource for any festival goer.

Plan your outfits! This is my favorite part. Shop any and everywhere! There are many dedicated rave/festie websites such as iheartraves, Rave with Mi Gente and Little Black Diamond.

Don’t forget a hydration bag!!!! Almost every festival allows you to carry one, even when they have size restrictions on bags. (Always double check through the festival Q&A on their website. You do not want to have to throw away your stuff or worse, wait in the entrance line all over again.)

My fav hydration bags are Vibedration!

Use code “KRIS” to receive a discount on their huge selection of hydration bags, backpacks and fannypacks!

Wear comfortable shoes. I repeat. Wear comfy shoes!!!!

You may see me wear heel booties more often than not, but I have a particular pair that I bought a half size big just to wear to festivals. They are broken in and super comfortable at this point. I prefer wearing booties cause I’m barely 5’2″! Lol.

If you’re not comfortable in a heel I would suggest sneakers (Chucks are perfect) or combat boots that are worn in. Definitely something closed toed as you will be shoulder to shoulder with drunk people at some point or another, and you don’t want your toes stepped on.

Day of the Fest:

Pull out cash!!! Sometimes vendors don’t accept cards and you may need to have money on hand. A lot of festivals allow you to pre-load money on your wristband, which is a convenient option as well.

Spray yourself with sunblock and don’t forget to pack sunglasses, hat, hand sanitizer, and baby wipes! You will thank yourself. Trust me.

Download the app for the music festival if they have one. Most have one. It will have the schedule and the map of the grounds, which you will find extremely useful when trying to navigate. Some festivals are huge and it’s easy to get confused. Use the schedule to plan out the sets you want to see in advance. Nothing is worse than missing out on a set you were dying to see.

Pro tip: one person save the map as their screensaver & another person save the schedule as theirs. It will save you battery! It wouldn’t hurt to pack a small portable charger as well.

Another useful app for your group to download is Fire Chat. This app doesn’t need signal to send messages, it works off Bluetooth. I wouldn’t count on having service during the event due to network congestion, and if someone gets lost it could be your only way to communicate!

At the Fest:

Fill up your hydration pack first and make a point to remember where the water filling stations are. Future you will be eternally grateful.

Be friendly!!!! Talk to the people next to you in the crowd. I’ve made so many friends at music festivals, and it’s so easy to. Music truly brings people together. Even if you’re the most introverted person on the planet, festivals have a way of bringing out the most radiant humans. It won’t take long to realize this for yourself.

Last but not least.

Be happy. Have fun. Let loose.

Is it safe to visit Egypt in 2019?

Probably the first question you think to yourself while considering a visit to arguably the most incredible ancient structures of all time- The Pyramids of Giza.

While I had my moments of hesitation, the Aries moon in me refused to be led by fear. Even after some kind Jordanians warned us of the difference in culture, we were determined to go. We flew into Cairo, Egypt from Amman, Jordan, which was a little over an hour of a flight.

One thing to note: I would not recommend any means of transportation other than Uber while in the city. Uber has created thousands of jobs in Cairo and there is an abundance of drivers on every corner. I would not consider renting a car here by any means- traffic is chaotic 24/7 and “rules of the road” are absolutely disregarded. If you think NYC, LA, or MIA is bad- Cairo is 100x crazier! Uber is also extremely affordable…just a couple dollars for a 10-15 minute ride.

If you’re new to Uber, you can use my sign up code: “kristenm9353ue”

Islam is the predominate religion in Egypt for over 90% of the population, and the main language spoken is Arabic. Islam is fully endorsed by the government and many laws are built around the religion. You’ll hear the prayer call echoing through the city multiple times a day. I would recommend searching the daily times so you know when to expect them! The first usually starts early in the AM, before the sun rises.

Also, it’s common for many Egyptians to speak/read little to no english, so having a translator app helped a bit. Be mindful of using slang terms or lingo- the translations are quite literal.

Visiting the pyramids was first on our itinerary. First we wanted to find the best view of all 3 big pyramids, which led us right to Pizza Hut across the street from the tiny, informal entrance building.

After we had a bite to eat + snapped some photos, we headed across the road and were quickly ushered around by an Arabic man who spoke fluent english + he directed us to the ticket office to purchase a ticket for less than $10.

While waiting at the front of a “line” (which was actually just a bunch of people crowding around the ticket booth waiving money at the man), I was skipped at least 5 times by men, until the usher stepped in and spoke on my behalf. The ticket booth man proceeded to tear off my ticket and hand it back to the usher instead of me.

The feminist in me was fuming, but I knew it was essentially pointless to express my aversion to the disrespect.

It immediately dawned on me that regardless of how independent and self-reliant I am, it didn’t matter here. I was a woman. I wasn’t taken seriously- I wasn’t meant to operate on my own & without a man dictating my every move, I was helpless. *CRINGE*

As much as I find joy in learning about other cultures and diving into them for an experience of my own, I found this to be really, really hard. The culture is much more aggressive than most of us are comfortable with, and they definitely take advantage monetarily if they know you’re American, UK or Australian. When asked where I’m from, I stopped saying America and started responding with “I’m Lebanese” and leaving it at that.

Ironically, I didn’t feel as strongly while I was actually visiting the country. I felt safe. I felt capable. I didn’t feel like any decisions we made while visiting were made out of fear. It was fun exploring and seeing the pyramids in person was as breathtaking as you can imagine.

These feelings came after a lot of reflection once I returned home. Being in such a confined environment, and feeling the pressure to conform or be treated differently was a lot for my psych to handle. I’m a rebel at heart, and after feeling the oppression of women firsthand, so blatantly, on a country wide scale made me compassionate towards the women there.

From what I understand, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution, but Islam is the official religion and there is no “separation of church and state” as we experience to some degree in the USA. As I was in Cairo, I tried to open a webpage on “Christianity and Astrology” and was entirely blocked from viewing the post.

It makes me sad and a bit uneasy to know how sheltered many people are living, yet simultaneously grateful for the unlimited resources we have in America to make discoveries on our own and find an identity for ourselves.

Connecting in an unfamiliar world can be done, as difficult to understand as it may be. At the end of the day we are all living and loving and doing our best. I definitely encourage traveling to these areas (ideally with a male, guide, or someone fluent in Arabic) to prevent isolation, educate, and ultimately create connections.

Current Book Recommendations+

I want to share some of my recent reads through 2018. These are some of my favorites- they are relatable, honest and encouraging. I highly recommend every twentysomething pick some of these up- they contain guidance from specialists, professionals and intuitives in ways most people don’t have access to.

There are many things I wish I knew a long time ago, but I feel the best way to open doors to personal and external transformation is through learning from more experienced people- who are relatable.

I listed these in order of recommendation. So if you’re not sure where to start, begin at the top and work your way down the list! Click the titles to purchase and comment your thoughts on any of these! I’d love your feedack!

The Defining Decade

Girl Wash Your Face

The One Thing

the one thing book

The Universe Has Your Back

Living in the Light

The Best Wedding Gift Idea +

If you’re anything like me when an event approaches, you can’t settle for something on the registry that may have already been purchased for the lovely bride and groom.

I like to customize things for others because it feels a little more personal + thoughtful, which usually will make anyone feel special. And that’s what you want to do when there is a huge event for someone!

So my cousin got married + I obviously wanted to give them something that would last a long time, as well as regularly be used….and what can’t you go wrong with? WINE.

Thanksgiving? Wine.

Valentines Day? Rosé.

Christmas?? Wine.

New Year’s Eve? Pop open a bottle.

Traveling? What the hell. Wine.

I ordered a custom wine rack from Robert’s Craft Shop. There are multiple fonts, colors and wood styles to choose from. For me, simple and elegant did it nicely.

Then I went to a few different places to get a few wine bottles I love. In this case, I wanted a variety of colored tops for a variety of types of wine – different flavors suiting different events or holidays.

Hint: If you’re ballin on a budget, Trader Joe’s has some AMAZING wine for under $10!

Once I found bottles in the shape and colors I was looking for, I removed the previous label by soaking the bottles is lukewarm water with baking soda overnight – carefully avoiding the foiled tops.

After cleaning up the bottles, I was ready to put on my new labels which I customized for the newlyweds.

I ordered these sleek and clean looking labels from Pria&co. The shop had great ratings and included a useful guide for picking out bottles + relabeling.

They have a label for any holiday or event you choose.

And voila! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

You have a beautiful custom gift for the bride + groom you love. Now let’s see if they can make it to each holiday before drinking them all 😝

Best Home Air Purifier +

Being the Virgo I am, I’m overly conscious of random health issues. I’ve had an air purifier in my room for years + I highly recommend everyone have one in their home- or at the very least in their bedroom.

Air purifiers help remove dust, allergens and other gunk from the air- so that means if you have any type of allergies this will help you!

I’ve carried my air purifier from place to place as I’ve moved and changed the filter regularly (as needed). Mine comes with two filters – the main one inside that removes at least 99.97% of common household particles, which lasts 2+ years and the prefilter which traps large air particles, lasts a few months.

After moving into my current (and terribly old) apartment, I put in brand new filters. Granted, I allow mine to run 24/7 and keep it on the “allergen” setting to minimize dustiness and also since I have two cats running around.

This is what I pulled out of my purifier after 8 MONTHS in our new place!!!!

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Left – old

Right – unused

This filter is supposed to last TWO years and it’s clearly disgusting & needed replacing after 8 months!!! Lol.

You never know what’s in the air you’re breathing and what kind of dust your home collects- especially if your home is older!

This is the air purifier I use!

I’ve had this Honeywell one for 5+ years and it still works great. (if you can’t tell by the photo!)

Here’s the correct pre filter and here’s the correct HEPA filter.

Let me know how this air purifier works for you!!

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Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas +

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Ahhh getting dressed up for weddings is one of my all-time favorite things to do- I wish I had more friends getting married!! This post was highly requested, so here are some of my current favorite wedding looks. I tried to find dresses that will look flattering on many body types/shapes. If you’re like me and extremely picky- I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple here that’ll suit ya. These are almost all Florida friendly dpending on the time of year!

Looking to spend under $100?

Here are some beautiful dresses that still maintain a look of quality.

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LAUREL OFF SHOULDER DRESS IN MAUVE

img_5310JAMIE CUT OUT DRESS IN BLACK GINGHAM

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ELISE FIT & FLARE DRESS IN SEAFOAM

img_5312JONI DRESS IN BARE FLORAL SKETCH

img_5313ASYMMETRIC HEM CHOKER NECK DRESS IN WINE

X REVOLVE SHINE ON DRESS IN MAUVE

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ADONIA MINI DRESS IN BLUSH FLORAL

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BEATRICE VELVET TUBE MINI DRESS IN TEAL

Don’t have a strict budget?

These beauties are $100 and up. Typically, if I find myself spending an arm and a leg on a designer dress I can’t live without- I purchase it & resell it on Poshmark!

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VIVIAN DRESS IN GOLDEN RUST FLORAL

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VERONIQUE MINI DRESS IN TEAL

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ATHENA FRILL DRESS IN DEEP NAVY

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SOPHIE VELVET FLORAL MINI DRESS IN PANSY

Fall Favorites +

I’m always trying out new products so I really wanted to put together a post featuring some of my random current favorite things!

girl

book: Girl, Wash Your Face

purchase here!

I had seen so many people post about this book, I finally had to read it myself to see what all the hype was about. Let me tell you, it totally blew my expectations away! It’s extremely relatable and honest- two important factors I consider for me to give a book recommendation.

protein

protein: Arbonne Chocolate

Guys this is LITERALLY the best protein I’ve tried and its 100% vegan. I’ve bought endless amounts of protein brands and flavors- loved some/hated some, but this one by a LONG SHOT is the most delicious. I realized again how much better it is when i tried finishing my tub of old protein + took one sip and dumped it out. I promise. This is it.*

purchase here!

chips

snack: Korean BBQ Chips

My boyfriend Kevin is obsessed with KBBQ, so I found these and bought them for him. While its not my favorite dish, the chips are super yummy…I almost ate his whole bag myself!

purchase here!

mind

supplement: Mind Health

When I’m at work I do my best to focus and give my guests 100% of me, but sometimes it’s just hard. I add my packet of Mind Health to my drink every morning + I’m able to see a significant improvement in mental clarity!*

purchase here!

towel

hair product: DevaCurl Towel

I love this towel because the microfibers prevent your hair from frizzing…and DevaCurl tried 15 different materials until they found the PERFECT one! It’s also hug, which is perfect for girls with long and thick hair.

purchase here!

oil

essential oil: Arbonne Focus Blend

Ahhh this oil scent is so grounding and truly gives me a sense of focus. I pair it with my Mind Health in the AM, putting it on my wrists and behind my ears. I also use it before the gym to help with mind-muscle connection.*

purchase here!

adidas

shoes: Adidas NMDs

The comfiest shoes EVER! They changed the game for me when I wear them doing cardio or leg day. There’s so much support it feels like you’re walking on a cloud. The price tag is 100% justified! These are simple black but with cute pink detailing.

purchase similar here!

eye mask

face mask: Arbonne Gel Eye Masks

These babies are golddddd. Literally. They’re gold masks. I like to keep them in the fridge and pop them under my eyes either first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep. They allow my skin to look fresh and bright instead of showing how sleepy I actually am!*

*I recommend becoming a preferred customer from Arbonne to get a huge discount

purchase here!

bra

sports bra: Nike Seamless

When I was at the store I only grabbed one of these and have been regretting it since! This is the comfiest sports bra ever and even though it says “light”, I’d still say it gives medium support. I’m normally a small, but I had to size up and get a medium- they run somewhat small!

purchase here!

Yay I can’t wait for you guys to try out these products and I hope you love them as much as I do. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment!

salon letter board ideas, no bad hair days

Studio Salon Hacks +

If you’re in a private studio, salon loft, or even just beginning as a salon owner, I’m sure you’re trying to do everything as efficiently as possible. Maximizing space is essential while working in a smaller area, but keeping a workspace organized and clean when it gets easily messy is crucial.

Here are some easy ideas I’ve implemented throughout my career as a stylist that make my job go a little more smoothly:

1. Two words: Rubber. Broom.

Let’s face it- we sweep multiple times a day and no matter how thoroughly we do, THERE IS STILL HAIR.

The hands-down best purchase you will make for your salon is this broom. The hair is completely up the first time you sweep over an area. It makes cleaning the salon 1000x faster!

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2. It’s 2018. Get an Eye-Vac.

Ditch the dustpan and quit working harder than you have to. Eye Vac quietly sits in the corner until you sweep your pile of hair in front of it. Then VRROOOOM. The hair is gone. I recommend the larger size so you’re not stuck emptying it too often. Buy my vacuum here.

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3. Voila- Framar Foil Dispenser.

Framar creates many a wonderful tool for the modern everyday stylist- but the one I just can’t live without is my foil dispenser. You can create whatever size foil you need to customize your client’s hair. I started off purchasing the small one but after a couple years, I upgraded to the larger. The large dispenser holds more foil – so less hassle of replacing the empty roll regularly. Here’s the dispenser and this is my favorite fun foil to use.

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4. Get more organized by LABELING.

If you use Redken Shades EQ, Joico Lumishine Demi, PM Shines, or any gel toner in a 2 oz bottle, the best way to organize them is to get at least 3 small bins like these and separate them into warm, neutral, and cool tones. Then to get even fancier, get a metallic Sharpie like these, and write the shade on top. Once you throw them in the bin it’s easier to find what you’re looking for and they don’t topple over.

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5. Shears are expensive- why not decorate with them?

Instead of throwing your expensive tools in a drawer, utilize your wall space. I like to hang mine up with a magnetic knife strip.  This way they’re proudly on display and easily accessible.

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6. You can never market too much.

I like to create a positive atmosphere in my loft by putting quirky, funny, or motivating quotes on a letter board. This is perfect for advertising any specials or discounts your business is offering!

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7. Keepin it cohesive.

Backbar gets messy. Real messy. If you have shampoo bottles from a light colored brand it’s hard not to notice the color stains all over them. I replaced mine with these amber glass bottles. The 32oz holds most shampoo and conditioners. I also like to use 16oz bottles for my deep conditioner and Olaplex no. 2. Here are the smaller bottles. They’re quick and easy to wipe down at the end of the day.

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8. Make your own magic.

Keeping a few Magic Erasers in the salon will definitely come in handy. When color gets virtually everywhere, it helps to remove the stains!

Have any other useful ideas you want to share? Leave a comment below!

Want more info about my private studio? Check out my website here.

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