My Experience in Cuba/What You Need to Know

Hello friends! I know I have been M.I.A. but to be honest I haven't been inspired to blog.  But a recent trip for my 33rd birthday (May 11) gave me the inspiration I needed!  So since getting back I have been getting a ton of questions about my experience Cuba and I figured this is the best way for me to answer these questions in one place.  Before I went I feel like I read thousands of blogs to help me prepare.  I made sure I asked every person I knew that went a million questions. Somethings I read were true and some not quite. We were fortunate enough to have an acquaintance that had family in Cuba so she gave us some tips on how to prepare.So lets hop into it.



Most the blogs I read there was no straight answer to the best method on getting the most of your money.  To be honest there really isn't because the exchange rates change daily.  The day  bought Euros the exchange rate was $1.17.  I exchanged $400 and had to pay $465 for 400 Euros.  Then when we got to the airport we exchanged the Euros to the CUC.  My best recommendation is to check on the rates frequently way before you go and when the Euro is low buy whatever your budget is going to be.  Also keep in mind that our American credit cards don't work there so whatever money you have that is it.  So make sure you have enough for your whole trip. 1 CUC is the equivalent to $1. The good news is that it was so cheap there and I came home with $100 left over.


This is where you are going to spend most of your money.  Since there were 7 of us we split everything so it wasn't that bad.  The ride from the airport to our AirBnb in Miramar was 60 CUC and it was a 30 min ride.  Our ride from our AirBnb into Havana Vieja was 15 CUC.  Most of the time your host can also call taxis to take you where you want to go.  I highly recommend staying in Miramar because there were several restaurants with amazing food within walking distance but you're only 10 minutes away from Havana Vieja.



English was pretty limited. There were three of us in the group that spoke and understood the best so we got by. If you don't know or understand a lot of Spanish I suggest screenshotting general phrases in Spanish or using a translation app that works offline. For instance two of the girls had dietary restrictions. One is allergic to shellfish and the other is a pescatarian.

Also wifi is not so easy to come by and you have to pay for it. Our first day there we discovered wifi in Havana Vieja. It was 2 CUC for 1 hour. It's true what the blogs say that you can spot the wifi because many people will be sitting down trying to get connected. Another one of the girls paid 3 CUC for a wifi card but it could only be used inside of the hotel. Also please be advised that the wifi is also very slow because everyone was on it so it was definitely a struggle.



My friends and I stayed in an AirBnb. The area we stayed in was in Miramar which was like 10 minutes from Havana Vieja. I highly recommend to go the AirBnb route because its the best way to get recommendations on where to eat or what to do.   Something I thought was interesting is that our host actually stayed with us.  It was her her cousin Juliet and Juliet's daughter but they were in a different room.   Our host Anna Iris was amazing.  She guided us on food recommendations that were in walking distance to her home.  The food was awesome.  The first day she recommended we eat at a place called Olivio and it was $10 for the buffet and mojitos were $2! The best part was that it was in walking distance, about 3 blocks.


That night we ate at Tapas y Toro which was also in walking distance. This is when we discovered Lemonade Frappe's. The food was also delicious here.  But be aware if you don't finish all your food and need a to go box they will charge you 1 CUC for the box.  We learned that the hard way.

The next day she recommended an italian place called Nero di Seppia.  Contrary to what I've read the food was very flavorful which I was very happy about because I love food!  My friends were ready and packed seasoning just in case but they were not needed.

I'm pretty sure we ate some of the best snapper we ever had in Varadero!!  I don't remember the exact place but it was on Dos Mares Calle 53 ask for Frank!  Just to give price reference there was 7 of us and it was $12 per person.  Also the drinks in the whole pineapple for $5.

Also I recommend eating breakfast cooked by your hosts.  Juliet was the cook and made us yummy breakfast for two days and it was only $5 per day!

The only time I experienced "bland" food was when I ate a Cuban sandwich in Havana Vieja.  The cheese wasn't melted and it was dry.

We stumbled upon a cart making fresh churros. It was 1 CUC and was made to order and took like 20 minutes and they were yummy. The first day I didn't have any because I'm not big on sweets but my friends came raving about it so the next day we made sure we swung by to indulge.


I read that there was no toilet paper or toilet seats.  Our airBnb did have toilet seats and toilet paper. However when you are out in the city on whether or not there is toilet paper is a gamble.  While in Varadero we paid 1 CUC just to use the bathroom and there was no toilet seat(not like I'd actually sit on it anyway) or toilet paper.  Because I anticipated this I always had a roll of toilet paper and sanitizer, wet ones and anything I needed on me in my backpack.  Also keep in mind when you use the bathroom you can not put the tissue in the toilet.  They have garbage cans where you are to throw the tissue in there.  That was definitely an adjustment but you will get the hang of it.


So I wanted to take Salsa lessons.  We went to La Casa del Son and it was freaking awesome!  But be prepared to sweat so make sure you wear something comfortable as well as wear comfortable shoes. Because we had 7 people it was 10 CUC per person and I highly recommend it!

After Salsa lessons we walked the streets of Havana Vieja and did some souvenir shopping.  That area is the "touristy" area.

The next day we  took a vintage car tour to Varadero because we wanted to go to the beach. Make sure you reserve this in advance however you cannot pay in advance you have to pay when you get there.  Varadero was a 2 hour drive.  It was 300 CUC per car and you have the car for 10 hours.  They do have different tour options but this is the one we chose.

Before reaching the beach we stopped at Mirador de Bacunyagua. It was a beautiful bridge and there was music and food and also a place to buy souveniers. I bought a leather crossbody purse. With scenery so beautiful we had another photoshoot, duh!

The beach was the most beautiful beach  I have ever experienced.  The water was crystal clear and it was actually very shallow.  You could go pretty far out and still stand.  This beach was worth every penny we spent to get there. Cue a bajillion selfies and full on photoshoot.

Saturday we went back to Havana Vieja to do our final souvenir shopping before heading to the beach again.  We asked our host what beach was near and also good.  She recommended Santa Maria beach. This beach was definitely different from the Varadero beach. There was mainly beer bottles and beer cans everywhere.  This was the party beach as the locals were dancing and having a great time.  The water definitely did not compare to Varadaro but we still had a great time with each other.  I will say we witnessed some unique activities at this beach that made it quite interesting but we made the best of it.

Saturday night we went to 1830 which was a club that was actually in walking distance from where we were staying.  This place is awesome!!  I was excited to use my new moves I learned in Salsa class from Thursday.  Let me tell you that you will dance and you will sweat your edges, weave and wig out. It's pretty much Zumba on crack but so much fun!  I found it interesting that you dance as a group the whole night.  You know kinda like when someone does the electric slide at wedding except its salsa moves and its not for one song its the whole night. YOU. NEED. TO. EXPERIENCE. THIS.

Also we felt very safe there.  The police officers don't even have guns and crime is very low.  Not to get too political but it kind of made me wonder why guns in America are so out of control. It seems like we just can't get it right over here.


We were told after you pass security to head to Cuba to buy bottle water.  Each of us bought 3 to 4 large bottles of smart water that came in handy for our trip.   Also make sure that anything you are drinking that you ask that it is made with bottled water.  No one wants to have stomach problems.


Bring an outlet converter especially for your curling irons or to charge your phone. Also when you are heading back to the states don't change all your money back to dollars if you plan on shopping in the duty free.  We exchanged all our money back to dollars and the prices in there were so cheap but then when we got up to pay they were like those prices are in CUC and since you're paying in dollar we have to charge more.  So I would say keep like 20-30CUC if you are trying to bring back bottles of rum, coffee or cookies.  Also you get the visa as soon as you check in at the airport its $50 and we flew JetBlue.


Overall it was an awesome time.  I loved all the architecture, food, music and the spirit of the people.  I loved that it was filled with art.  Artists were everywhere.

If you are a creative this is definitely the place to go to inspire you and get those creative juices flowing.  I am so glad I got to experience Cuba before our American influence taints it.  I definitely want to go back  because I feel like there was still so much to experience.  Comment below if you've been to Cuba and what was your experience like. VIVA LA CUBA!

Special thanks to Amy, Joey, France and Amber for answering all my questions and guidance to prepare for Cuba!

And special thanks to my girls Ebonie, Georgia, Tiffany, Karlene, Erin, and Jasmin for taking this trip with me!

Jolie Bloom Review

I am always on a hunt for awesome skincare products.  I mean who doesn't want flawless skin?  After all my skin is my money maker in my industry.  As a makeup artist we always preach that a great makeup application starts with the care of your skin. So  let me introduce you to Jolie Bloom.  All of their products are handmade with  natural ingredients.  I'm such a sucker for natural skin care products.  There is something comforting in using products that have ingredients you can pronounce.

They recently had their 2 year anniversary sale and this was the perfect time for me to give them a shot.  Not to mention I had the opportunity to do the owner Jheanells' makeup for her rebranding website.  If you follow her snapchat she always posts behind the scenes videos of her whipping up the products right here in Orlando to fulfill orders.  Also you will see her husband placing labels and packing orders to ship with the assistance of their 3 year old son! I love knowing that when I make a purchase that I am directly supporting a family who makes each product with love!

Now on to the products! The 2 products I picked up was the Wake up Scrub for exfoliation and their Summer Time Shine essential oil body lotion.  I was a little bit concerned that the coffee smell would be too overbearing for me but it wasn't at all.  After you use this product your skin feels amazingly smooth!  You don't even need a moisturizer!  Also, typically I don't like to use oils on my skin but if you do your research oils are very beneficial to your skin. The Summer Time Shine is a good balance of lotion and oil.  I particularly use this as a moisturizer for my face and you really don't need a lot because a little bit goes a long way.  Literally my skin drinks this stuff up.  Also sometimes when I pour a too much out I just rub the rest all over my body.

Also something special to know ahout this company is that Jheanell started this company 2 years ago in memory of her daughter.  I think it is amazing that she was able to turn something very deastating into something positive.  She has an amazing story and I'm sure there are many women that can relate.

These products are amazing and if you are interested definitely check out the website for more at and instagram @JolieBloom





***Products were purchased with my own money and opinions are all my own

The Makeup Show Orlando 2016


After a year hiatus The Makeup Show Orlando is back again at the Hyatt Regency Orlando 981 International Dr!  For a quick refresher on my experience from last year click here. So many new products launching at this show and so many deals you'll want to know about upfront.  Check out some of the discounts:

Scott Barnes Beauty: New Multi-Media Foundation will be for sale along with his other products 30% off!

Ricky's NYC: offering 25% off retail value

Dermaflage: Launching fastFX- the fastest and easiest way to create dimensional injuries  Emmy award winner Melissa Street will be doing tutorials and they are offering 40% off at the show.  I'm actually really intrigued by this brand because they are used by makeup artists and medical professionals.

Gleam by Melanie Mills: offering a show discount of 25% off.  I mean hello, who doesn't want to get their glow on?

Eve Pearl Beauty Brands: offering a show discount of 50% off

Norcosto Pro MUA: Offering buy one get one half-price on makeup palettes

Frends Beauty Supply: Featuring Stilazzi products and Frends makeup cases as well as Ben Nye, Viseart and more.  Discounts will be offered at levels higher than normal pro discounts.  Word on the street is they increased their booth size to bring more goodies!

The Lip Bar: Everything 2 for $30 featuring lipsticks and glosses.  I remember these ladies on Shark Tank!  Glad to see they are still pushing despite not getting the deal!

AJ Crimson:  Offering 30% off.  I am actually working his booth (C10) so make sure you stop by to say hello and to grab some of his amazing foundations and lipsticks!


Also something different they are doing this year is an exclusive Makeup Tour at Universal Studios. This is taking place on February 1.  Guest will join celebrity makeup artist James Vincent and Universal Studios' Michael Burnett for an exclusive tour of the park with some of the hottest makeup pros.   This includes full access to all of the rides and attractions at Universal Studios.  There are two options for purchase, 9am-7pm for $125 of half day ticket from 2pm-7pm for $78.  Guests can reserve their ticket with the purchase of The Makeup Show Orlando ticket or by emailing

So lots of new and exciting things this year!

For a complete list of the brands and schedule of events be sure to check out and also don't forget to purchase your ticket!

Naked Bar Soap Co BYOB Session

Lately my skin is having some issues and I feel like I haven't found the right skincare to remedy my situation.  When I got invited to attend a BYOB (Blend Your Own Bar) for Naked Bar Soap Co I immediately was thinking how awesome it would be for me to create my own face soap to cater to my own skin needs.  Naked Bar Soap Co is located in College Park and hasn't been open that long.  When you walk in the beautiful aromas of the different soaps immediately greet you when you walk in.  I love the earthy and minimalism decor of the store.

All of the soaps start with a base that they pre make before you get to personalize your own. They go over some additional ingredients that you can add in depending on the effect you would like your skin to have. In my custom blend I added marigold and ground oatmeal.  I chose marigold because they said it is good for mature skin and babies and I chose ground oatmeal because its good for sensitive skin.  The essential oil I added in my soap was lemongrass because I love the refreshing smell.


With this particular process they teach in the blending class it actually takes 6 weeks for the soap to cure before you can use it.  They said it will teach you a lesson in patience.  What they didn't know is I'm the most impatient person you will ever meet!  Anyway it was fun blending the soap but since I had to wait 6 weeks to use it, I wanted to see if they had any soaps already made that would help me out in the meantime.


Some of the awesome soaps! Aren't they pretty? They each have a description of the ingredients so you know exactly what you're getting


My skin is dehydrated because I don't drink nearly as much water as I should.  So I'm very dry in some areas and oily in others.  I decided to go with the triple butter soap.

As you can see it has very moisturizing ingredients and I have to say my skin LOVES it.  It has help me achieve smoother makeup application as well.  I found that my foundation kept settling in my fine lines due to the dryness my previous face wash was causing and even though I would follow up with a moisturizer it still wouldn't help.  The best part about this soap is that I can pronounce all of the ingredients so I know that it's something great for my skin.





So its been 6 weeks and I couldn't wait to see what's been cooking this whole time.  It smells amazing and I was surprised at how soft it was.  It was so soft I had no issues cutting it.  It feels super moisturizing and I can't wait to use it!

The best part about this company is that it is owned and run by 3 beautiful ladies and I'm all about girl power!  Make sure you check them out on facebook, instagram and twitter and sign up for a BYOB session!




* This was a press sample and all opinions are my own

My Nail Journey

Anyone who knows me knows that I bite my nails.  I have bitten them for as long as I remember.  I do have anxiety and I find that I really really bite my nails during high stress times or situations where I feel very anxious.  To be honest its something that has been quite embarrassing.  I always hate when people are always telling me to stop biting my nails.  Its a bad habit, I know!  But lets be you really think I wans to be biting my nails????  Also as a makeup artist it is not very appealing to show up to a clients home with chewed up nails.  This year one of my goals was to stop biting my nails.  Don't get it twisted,  I have tried sooooooo many times to stop biting my nails and have failed.  But right now I'm proud to say so far its been about 1 1/2 month since I've bitten my nails!

How I was able to stop was I got acrylics for 2 weeks and then I took them off.  Then I went and got the gel nail polish and so far I've been able to stop biting them.  Its definitely a daily struggle but I know I can keep it up.  And now that this is on my blog its my way of holding myself accountable! So to my fellow former nail biters, what are some tips that helped you to resist the urge and stop biting your nails?