Get Shop Around delivered to your inbox every Tuesday Morning.

Shop Around on Twitter
Celeb colorist Ian McCabe shares his pro tips. By Michelle Thomas
Ian McCabe Studio in Washington's West End. Photographs courtesy of Ian McCabe Studio.

Not many DC-based hair stylists can call themselves celebrity colorists, but Ian McCabe is one of those rare few. He’s the personal colorist for fitness guru Tracy Anderson, and his salon—Ian McCabe Studio in the District’s West End—opened in July. So it’s safe to say that this guy knows his way around a head of hair. We checked in with McCabe to get his take on how exactly a gal should adapt her hair hue routine for the rapidly approaching fall season. Read on for his expert tips.

1) Time it right. McCabe recommends booking a visit to your colorist at the end of summer to get your hair on track for the new season. “After a blissful summer of sun, salt, and sand, your hair is in need of a color rebalance,” he says. A head of fresh highlights and/or lowlights, plus a gloss treatment and a deep-conditioning mask, will help return your hair to its ideal color and shine. 

2) Soften up. Fall is the time for a slightly warmer hue. Gradually transition your hair color from bright to soft with lowlights. They’ll add depth and dimension while allowing your your highlights to pop.

3) Consider balayage. McCabe is a pro at this trendy French coloring technique, which uses freeform “hair painting” to create a natural look with lots of dimension. “Since artists are not confined to the square area that a foil would cover, they are able to free-paint hair so each section may be color-customized,” says McCabe. “With balayage, an artist also has the ability to lighten the tips of hair as well as the frame of your face, resulting in a natural sunkissed look similar to how a child’s hair looks at the beach.” Bonus: Because there’s a more natural growth line, the life of your highlights gets a boost from the traditional six to eight weeks to ten weeks or longer. 

4) Add some moisture. This step you can DIY. Winter is hard on hair, as there’s less air moisture and lots of drying indoor heat, so McCabe suggests planning an at-home conditioning treatment. His rec? A weekly deep-conditioning treatment, such as Oribe Masque for Beautiful Color, Gold Lust Transformative Masque, or Davines Vegetarian Miracle Conditioner.

5) Make it match. Make sure you communicate with your colorist the overall style and look you are trying to achieve to ensure your color and cut are complementary.

For more fashion and beauty tips and tricks, follow Shop Around on Twitter at @shoparoundblog

Read More

Posted at 12:25 PM/ET, 09/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
FLOTUS’s personal makeup artist dishes on her beauty routine. By Kate Bennett

Official White House photograph by Chuck Kennedy.

The First Family is off for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, but Michelle Obama didn’t leave town without lessons learned from her makeup artist, Carl Ray, who has worked with FLOTUS for the past six and a half years. “I’ve been changing up her looks and makeup textures according to the seasons, as well as the location of her appearances, since I started as her personal makeup artist,” says Ray, who is one of Washington’s most sought-after beauty gurus. When it comes to inspiration for the beauty looks, Ray incorporates the cultures, style, and surroundings of wherever the First Lady is traveling, be it a trip to China or a day at the beach. 

As for Mrs. Obama’s Vineyard getaway, Ray says FLOTUS isn’t overly made up. “She’s not trying to look totally glam. But polished and comfortable? Yes.” Ray cites Obama’s flawless skin as a great starting point. “I recommend drinking plenty of water, doing a light exfoliation, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.” Not a problem for the First Lady—or for her daughters. “Malia and Sasha know this, too, and have heard me say the recipe hundreds of times!” says Ray, who is based at George Salon at The Four Seasons when he’s not with Mrs. Obama. 

Ray recommends glosses like this pink one from his line.

Here are his five top tips for getting the First Lady’s summer makeup look: 

  1. “Sunscreen and moisturizer are a must—year-round. I like to use BB creams or tinted moisturizers for hot summer months. Most are available in a variety of different shades, and some have SPF built in.” 
  2. “Instead of bold or dramatic lip color, for vacation go with a sheer lipstick or gloss; again, there are plenty on the market that have an SPF component.” 
  3. “For that sunkissed glow, you can’t go wrong with a bronzer. Focus on your cheeks, but don’t shy away from a treating your entire face to a flushed, tan look with a few quick brush strokes.”
  4. “Swap out the darkened lashes and just go with one quick coat of waterproof mascara.”
  5. “Eyebrows are key. Don’t overlook the power of a great brow. Brush the hairs in an upward direction, and lightly fill in the brows with a pencil that matches your natural color.”

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 08/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Faith Hunter—a yogi who uses meditation and mindfulness to promote a more sustainable world—shares her secrets for achieving a healthier, natural glow. By Michelle Thomas
“I've been using Pangea products over the past year,” says Faith Hunter, who calls the body polish “delicious, yummy goodness for the skin.” Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Faith Hunter, 43, owns the Adams Morgan yoga studio Embrace. The Louisiana native fell in love with yoga in the early 1990s, when she found that the discipline’s meditation and mindfulness helped her cope as her brother was dying of AIDS. She has twice graced the cover of Yoga Journal.

Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

1. Mind and Body

“These oils are soothing and invigorating. I place them on my wrist and behind my ear. My faves are Kali and ‘M’ Blend.” Curandera NYC Aromatic EO Blend, $45 at

2. Like Butter

“Jāsön cocoa butter is one of the best softeners for feet, hands, my entire body. The thick cream goes on silky and lasts all day.” Jāsön Softening Cocoa Butter Hand & Body Cream, $7.97 at

3. Polish It Off

“To keep my skin baby-soft, I polish weekly with Pangea Organics Brazilian Brown Sugar Body Polish.” Pangea Organics Brazilian Brown Sugar With Cocoa Butter Body Polish, $22 at

4 & 5. Fresh Face

“I’ve been using Pangea products over the past year. My face feels fresher, youthful, and I have had fewer breakouts.” Nigerian Ginger with Lavender & Thyme Facial Cream, $38, and Australian Wild Plum & Willow Facial Cleanser, $30, at

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 07/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Homegrown brands whose products have natural appeal. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

Lilikoi Living

This organic skin-care line from founder June-wei Sum incorporates antioxidant-rich passionfruit—lilikoi is the fruit’s name in Hawaii—as well as other good-for-skin ingredients such as hibiscus, ginseng, and chamomile. The facial wash exfoliates using powdered bamboo and crushed walnut instead of the conventional plastic beads.

Where to find it:

Shea Yeleen International

DC’s Rahama Wright founded this fair-trade line, which works through a West African shea-butter cooperative. The shea butter is free of chemicals and preservatives, and the formulas are made from essential oils and plant-derived ingredients. The line includes body butters, balms, and soaps.

Where to find it: Selected Whole Foods stores and

Waxing Kara

Kara Brook—an artist who works in beeswax—has branched out into honey-derived products such as body butters and soaps. Tinted lip balms contain moisturizing honey and protective vitamin E.

Where to find it: Lauren Liess & Co. (776-A Walker Rd., Great Falls; 571-926-7825), Honey House (10989 Red Run Blvd., Suite 204, Owings Mills; 410-415-3027), and


Sara Damelio landed on the formula for her signature Combat-Ready Balm after experimenting with hundreds of versions in her kitchen, and her followers credit the skin salve with alleviating complaints ranging from eczema and sunburn to insect bites and diaper rash. The entire line is handcrafted in small batches from natural and organic ingredients, without parabens, petrochemicals, fragrances, or dyes. Plus, the brand, headquartered in Silver Spring, is committed to using nontoxic cleaning supplies during production and incorporating recycled and biodegradable materials.

Where to find it: Various stores throughout the area; to find the nearest, see

Stubble & ’Stache

Founded by Nicholas Karnaze, a former Marine, this men’s grooming line combines a philanthropic mission to support veterans with a dedication to naturally derived, high-quality products and, as Karnaze has said, a “James Bond meets ‘the Most Interesting Man in the World’ ” credo. The collection includes a duo of two-in-one products—a combination face moisturizer/beard conditioner with jojoba and argan oils, green-tea-leaf extract, chamomile, and vitamins, along with an energizing face and beard wash that contains aloe, eucalyptus, rosemary, and ginseng.

Where to find it: The Gentlemen’s Quarters (105 S. Union St., Alexandria; 703-836-7330), and

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 07/22/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Nora Pouillon—an organic restaurateur working to promote a more sustainable world—shares her secrets for achieving a healthier, natural glow. By Michelle Thomas
"I have been doing organic and healthy living for 40 years," Nora Pouillon says. "Everything I use is as natural or as organic as I can get." Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

A pioneer in the organic movement, Nora Pouillon, 70, opened Restaurant Nora, in DC’s Dupont Circle, in 1979 after moving here from Austria. In 1999, it became the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. Pouillon also helped initiate the network of FreshFarm farmers markets and is active on a host of environmental and conservation boards and campaigns.

Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

1. New Hues

“I love this lipstick. Dr. Hauschka is all-natural. He doesn’t use any synthetic preservatives or chemical fragrances, and he has great colors. I have like six different ones.” Dr. Hauschka lipstick, $23.99 at Whole Foods.

2. For the Best Brush

“I am not a big fan of fluoride. Tea-tree oil fights infection naturally and is good for your gums.” Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste, $6.99 at Whole Foods.

3. Good as Gold

“Now that I am older, I need something a little stronger,” says Pouillon about Biodroga moisturizer, which isn’t 100 percent natural but is derived from botanical extracts and plant oils. “The all-around cream, Golden Caviar, is very good.” Biodroga Golden Caviar 24 Hour Care, $98 at

4. Go Aloe

“Sandra Cope is in Alexandria, and her products are aloe-vera-based. She has very clean products. Unfortunately, she doesn’t use organic—she said she tried but it was too expensive—but they are very mild and effective. Step #1 is the cleanser I have been using for 10 or 15 years. It doesn’t sting your eyes, even if you have mascara on.” Sandra Cope Step #1 Cleansing Creme, $31 at

5. To Dye For

“What I like about Naturtint is that it was the first hair color out there that didn’t use any ammonia or parabens or resorcinol. It doesn’t have a nasty smell, and I think it’s important to have a clean product because it’s close to my brain. I don’t want to put chemicals on my head. Also, if you have gray and white hair as I have, the color is absorbed differently, so people always ask me if I do highlights. I never do—it’s just the natural way of the color. It doesn’t look like my hair fell in a pot of color.” Naturtint hair color, $17.99 at Yes! Organic Market.

Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 07/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Good salons and spas that offer toxin-free, organic treatments for nails, hair and body. By Diana Elbasha
Beauty and wellness go hand in hand at the Emerald Door, where facials, manicures, and other services are done with eco-friendly, natural products. Photograph by Kate Warren.

Comfort & Joy Wellness Spa

With vegan, nontoxic nail products by SpaRitual, it’s easy to get an all-natural manicure ($25 to $90)—including a long-lasting option comparable to Shellac—at this no-frills Fairfax spa. Ancient Indian rituals are also a speciality; a relaxing Ayurvedic facial ($115) employs aromatic essential oils and herbs to restore the skin’s balance. An extensive collection of natural and organic products available for purchase will catch your eye on the way out, too.

9514 Main St., Fairfax; 703-425-8800;

The Emerald Door

Along with a luxe, modern interior made of “green” materials, spa services at the Emerald Door utilize toxin-free products. The brightening facial ($125), for example, incorporates organic lavender and local honey; you might spot yogurt, cranberries, jasmine oil, and other natural ingredients on the skin-care menu, while milk and honey steal the show for manis ($35) and pedis ($60).

8311 Grubb Rd., Silver Spring; 301-587-5800;

Juniper Eco Salon

The botanical-enriched hair dye is the biggest draw at this friendly Old Town salon, whose organic formula results in such bold and healthy-looking color that you’d never guess it’s ammonia- and paraben-free. Complimentary scalp massages with essential oils come with each shampoo, cut, and blow dry, and terrific eco-friendly brands such as Davines and Soma line the shelves.

632 N. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-549-9323;

Nectar Skin Bar

A healthy, natural-looking glow is what you’ll get with the Chocolate Sun sunless tan ($55 for full-body) at this chic Georgetown spa. The cool, velvety formula is made of water, sugar, and antioxidant-packed cocoa beans but is free of dihydroxyacetone—or DHA—the ingredient in typical spray tans that results in a chemical smell.

1633 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4332;

Nusta Spa

The country’s first LEED Gold-certified spa, downtown DC’s Nusta is as kind to the environment as it is to the body. The only acids you’ll come across here are derived from citrus, such as those in the indulgent, ginger-lime-kombucha Enliven pedicure ($65) or the fruity, exfoliating Flash facial ($75). Massages ($105 to $185) and wraps ($110 to $205) involve organic oils and scrubs derived from sage, mint, coconut, and algae, leaving the skin smooth and nourished.

1129 20th St., NW; 202-530-5700;


This girly, New York hair-removal salon is a relative newcomer to our area, having opened its first Washington location just south of Dupont Circle last year. It’s best known for sugaring ($11 to $290), performed using an all-natural gel composed of lemon juice, sugar, water, and glycerin, making the service less painful and gentler on the skin than traditional waxing. Threading ($11 to $77) is also an option—and achieves ultra-precise results.

1730 M St., NW; 202-912-8455;

Simply Bliss Salon

On a leafy street in DC’s Cathedral Heights, this hair salon is known for its top-notch treatments using minimal chemicals. It specializes in organic coloring ($90 to $135), using a formula that’s free of scalp-irritating ammonia, animal products, and plastics found in typical dyes. The Keratin treatments ($350 to $500) are performed using a mix with one of the lowest possible formaldehyde levels on the market.

400 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-462-0093;

Spa on the Hill

In a charming rowhouse two blocks from Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market, this quaint spa is known for its all-natural facials, including the Fire & Ice ($150), which promises that oxygen, plant-derived stem cells, and enzymatic botanicals will have a cooling, anti-aging effect. There’s also a slew of options for the body; the detoxifying mud treatment ($180) involves 90 minutes of massage and exfoliation using a mixture of oat, kelp, and green tea to stimulate and brighten the skin.

1007 E St., SE; 202-543-5950;

The Spa at Mint

Brides flock to the spa at this high-end gym for its Whole Glow sunless-tanning service ($60 for full-body), an organic spray tan formulated with essential oils and botanicals. The 15-minute service is beloved by such eco-conscious A-listers as Jessica Alba, and a built-in dryer in the tanning equipment eliminates the need to wait before getting dressed.

1724 California St., NW; 202-328-6468;

The Still Point

Using all-natural cosmetics brands such as Vapour, this Takoma Park spot is ideal for eco-conscious makeup services, such as brow and lash coloring ($15 and $25) that utilize vegetable dyes. Lycon, the maker of a well-known wax derived from natural resins and beeswax, is the brand of choice for hair removal here. Guests can enjoy drinks from Bethesda’s Puree juice bar to round out the holistic, natural experience offered in the spa’s beautiful space.

1 Columbia Ave., Takoma Park; 301-920-0801;

Tulsi Holistic Living

Seekers of all-natural pampering will appreciate the organic spa at this serene wellness center in Georgetown. Herbal masks and eco-friendly naturopathic mixes are used in facials ($105 to $145), while a body-scrub/massage combo ($95 to $135) features products derived from sugar and Dead Sea salts. Don’t miss the herb and flower garden out back—a tranquil setting to enjoy the herbal tea that Tulsi’s practitioners will offer while you wait for your appointment.

3325 M St., NW; 202-333-7025;

Varuna Salon Spa

From hair-removal products derived from soy to water-based spray-tan formulas, there isn’t one service at this peaceful Annapolis spa that isn’t done with naturally derived products. Daylong packages ($150 to $395) featuring such luxe treatments as rosemary-mint body wraps and French-lavender aromatherapy massages are available; haircuts and blow-outs use organic products by Aveda.

1 Park Pl., Annapolis; 410-268-2828;

Wellspring Skin Care Clinic

Organic skin care is the expertise of this wellness center in Gaithersburg’s Kentlands whose owner, Li-Sann Mullings, has a medical background. The Bio Organic facial ($150) uses a seaweed-and-radish-root formula to calm and brighten dull skin, while shea butter is an ingredient in a variety of massages and body treatments—such as the exfoliating “back facial” ($135). Waxing ($13 to $93) involves skin-softening plant formulas.

309 Main St., Gaithersburg; 301-987-8140;

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 01:20 PM/ET, 07/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Why you should do your homework, take advantage of your grocery store, and more. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph by Juice Images/Alamy.

1. Do your homework.

While the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate a definition for the term “natural,” companies may use the word on labels only if it’s truthful and not misleading. Look carefully at ingredients.

“Do some investigating—find out what the company means when they say natural,” says Farah K. Ahmed of the Personal Care Council. If a product claims to be natural or naturally derived, the brand will typically go into more detail on its website regarding its approach, including whether that includes fair-trade practices, sustainable processes, and organic ingredients. You can also check for certification, such as a seal from groups like the Natural Products Association or Ecocert, or the USDA’s organic certification. Remember that a product may still be all-natural even if it doesn’t have a seal.

2. Start with the products that are on your skin longest.

If you don’t want to replace all your beauty products at once, start with body and face lotion, cosmetics, and deodorant.

“Think about what sits on your skin all day,” says Tara Foley, a Washington native who owns Follain, a natural-beauty store in Boston and Nantucket. “Your body wash and shampoo are important, but they’re on your skin for seconds and then go down the drain.”

3. Shopping for soap? Skip antibacterial versions.

Antibacterial soap usually contains the chemical triclosan, which advocacy groups say may be contaminating water supplies. “There’s also research that shows they may disrupt the thyroid,” says Heather White, executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). “And one of the concerns is that these chemicals can lead to antibiotic resistance.”

Bottom line: The FDA says plain soap and water are just as effective. If you need a hand sanitizer, try ethyl alcohol.

4. Avoid anything that includes the generic word “fragrance” in its ingredient list.

“It’s a catchall term for a chemical cocktail,” White says. The exact mix varies, and it’s often proprietary information, but tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name-brand fragrance products—none of which were listed on the labels. Frequently the combo includes diethyl phthalate, a controversial synthetic. One way around the issue: Buy scent-free when you can.

5. When picking a sunscreen, choose mineral and physical barriers instead of chemical ones.

Oxybenzone is a common chemical sunscreen filter that has been found in the bodies of almost all Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and some groups such as EWG voice concern that this chemical mimics estrogen and can possibly disrupt the hormone system. But that doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen.

Instead try a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—both mineral blockers that can’t easily penetrate the skin—and use such physical barriers as clothing, sunglasses, and hats.

6. On a tight budget? Look in your grocery aisles.

There are plenty of more affordable, single-ingredient, straight-from-nature items in the supermarket that can double as skin care.

“Cold-pressed coconut oil is an amazing low-cost product that you can use to cleanse, to take off makeup, to moisturize,” Foley says, citing one example. “And tea-tree oil is an antiseptic that’s great for anyone with acne or oil-prone skin.”

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 07/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Rachel Mlinarchik—who works with nonprofit CARE to promote a more sustainable world—shares her secrets for achieving a healthier, natural glow. By Michelle Thomas
Rachel Mlinarchik likes that Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is 100 percent biodegradable—meaning you could, in theory, bathe with it in a lake and not harm nature. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

By day, Rachel Mlinarchik, 32, is director of development at CARE, a nonprofit that supports global poverty-fighting projects. By night, the Dupont Circle resident shares her stylish takes on sustainable fashion on her blog, My Fair Vanity, where she focuses on items that are made in the USA, fair-trade, handmade, or secondhand or that incorporate “upcyling” techniques.

Photographs by Jeff Elkins.

1. Moisture Mask

“I use this mask year-round for chapped winter cheeks or when I’ve had too much fun in the sun. I sleep with a thin layer on and wake up with happy skin. I use several Origins facial products because they have natural, skin-soothing ingredients.” Origins Drink Up Intensive overnight mask, $24 at Origins.

2. Scent Story

“This small business churns out edgy, all-natural scents using only organic grape alcohol and essential oils. Walking into their store [in Hudson, New York], is to swoon with scent happiness, and I love knowing it’s unlikely anyone will be wearing what I’m wearing.” 2Note perfumes, $70 oil and $100 spray, at

3. Two-in-One Scrub

“I hold this scrub above all others not just because of its organic ingredients but because it includes shea butter and coconut oil, which means I don’t need to use lotion after the shower. It’s also great for preventing ingrown hairs from waxing or shaving.” Deep Steep Sugar Scrub in grapefruit bergamot, $10.95 at

4. Oil and Water

“I’m obsessed with this oil. A few drops in the bath and my skin feels baby soft, plus I love the delicate scent.” TerraNova Shea Butter Soothing Touch Massage and Bath Oil, $22.35 at

5. Matte Moment

“I love Tarte lip products because of their vibrant colors and because they’re formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, or sodium lauryl sulfates.” Tarte LipSurgence matte lip tints, $24 at Sephora.

6. Minty Clean

“I swear by Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in peppermint. The peppermint oil gives a tingly, fresh feeling.” Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap in peppermint, starting at $8.99 at Whole Foods.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 07/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Organic skin-care products can be less harsh and can work wonders. Here’s what local experts swear by. By Michelle Thomas, Diana Elbasha
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 12:07 PM/ET, 07/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Local vlogger Claire Ashley shows us how to get a long-lasting, melt-proof look for summer. By Diana Elbasha
Photographs courtesy of Claire Ashley.

This past week has been one of the hottest DC has seen all year, which, along with the sweaty work commutes, means absolute disaster for hair and makeup. Luckily, we’ve got such beauty pros as Claire Ashley in town to help us get through these trying times. With 130,000 subscribers to her increasingly popular YouTube channel, which just celebrated its five-year anniversary, this self-trained makeup artist and vlogger knows her stuff. In the past, she’s helped us out with DIY bridal makeup and the hard-to-master summer glow, among other tricky beauty feats. In a special video tutorial made just for Shop Around, Ashley shows us how to acheive a gorgeous, glowy summer makeup look that lasts through hours of hot temps. 

Read More

Posted at 12:38 PM/ET, 06/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()