Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dyeing Hair

I've colored my hair countless times, with countless hair colors, and my holy grail at-home kit is the Garnier Nutrisse line. Nothing comes close to it.

:: Garnier Nutrisse Permanent Creme Hair Color ::

Good things:
Colors are wonderful: they look natural but also vibrant
Gives subtle tones throughout, not flat color.
Hair stays healthy: soft, shiny, silky.
I love the grape seed/avocado oil packet.
The conditioner that comes with it is fantastic.
I'm not the only one who loves this, people rave about this product all over beauty forums.

Bad things:
I've never used this hair color and been unhappy. That being said, all hair color damages your hair in some way, and all hair color fades, which is why I usually stick to something close to my natural shade.

Do not choose your color by looking at the lady on the front of the box. She is an illusion. Use the photos on the side that show results for different hair colors to predict the results.
Have someone else apply it if you can. The application will be more even.
Rinse for longer than you think you should. Rinse, and rinse some more.
Your hair will be a little darker than expected the first few days. This is normal.
Continue to use a good conditioner daily. Your hair will be more dry than usual.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wet n Wild

I have fond memories of going to the Widmann's in my town as a little girl, looking at the makeup and dreaming of the day when I could wear it. My mom would buy me Wet n Wild makeup to play with because it was so darn cheap.

The thing about this line is that there are actually some remarkable products that cost next to nothing. The pigmentation is as good as (or better than) the pigmentation in brands like M.A.C., etc.

:: Wet n Wild Mega Eyes Trio ::

Good things:
Highly pigmented.
Finely milled.
Soft and blendable.
Long lasting.
Colors are great!
Cheap! (~$3.00)

Bad things:
I can't think of a single bad thing.

I like the Egyptian Sands and Belgian Chocolates trios.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brush-Brush Here, Brush-Brush There

I recently got hooked on a great brush that I never thought I'd need: the foundation brush. I've used fingers and sponges to apply foundation in the past, both with good results, but nothing beats using a foundation brush to apply your foundation cleanly and strategically.

Good things:
Apply foundation and blend exactly where you want it, not all over.
Small enough to use under the eyes and on blemishes to use foundation like a concealer.
Uses less product because it doesn't absorb like sponges or fingers do. (I usually just use whatever is in the cap.)
Sanitary, if you wash your brushes frequently.
Gives you the polished, smooth look (like you had your makeup done professionally).

Bad things:
Can be a bit small for large areas like the cheeks.
Washing the brush every day can be a nuisance.

I really love the Sonia Kashuk makeup brushes available at Target. I use the Foundation Brush with Cover Girl's Clean Makeup (Fragranace Free) and the Powder Brush with my pressed powder for a natural look.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Soft Hands

When I worked at Frito-Lay as a cheeto packer, I got a "Soft Hands" award for having the least amount of breakage in my bags of Tostitos. My secret:

:: The Body Shop Almond Hand Products ::

I use two products out of this line: the Almond Oil Nail and Cuticle Balm, and the Almond Oil Daily Hand and Nail Cream. I have a bad nervous habit of picking at the skin around my nails and cuticles, but using this every night helps to keep my hands looking healthy. I put them on while I watch soft porn in bed.

Good things:
The scent is amazing.
Very emollient, but absorbs quickly and gives you a healthy sheen.
Has wonderful water-binding agents to maintain moisture.
Consistency is great, not gritty like some cuticle balms.
Makes you feel like a princess.
Contains Community Trade shea butter from Ghana.

Bad things:
A little on the expensive side.
Hard to find if you don't live near a BS, which I don't.

Using these products and keeping my nails trimmed and buffed, I usually find that my nails look healthy and sexy enough without polish. Sometimes I'll slither on a coat of clear polish. My favorite is OPI Top Coat.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Keeping Pimples Away

In my teens, I was blessed to not have problems with acne beyond the occasional pimple. In my twenties, I've not been so lucky. I've spent the past few years trying to keep away the demons on my face. I've seen a dermatologist for prescriptions, tried every product I could get my hands on, all to no avail. The most success I've seen is with using the combination of products recommended by Paula Begoun.

In a nutshell, what Paula advises (and what others have recreated in overpriced products like Proactiv, et al) is that you use a gentle cleanser, a chemical exfoliant (BHA or AHA), and a disinfectant (Benzoyl Peroxide) on your face twice daily. Click Paula's link above to read more about this process and the research and science behind it.

You can buy products like these in a kit, some of which contain these ingredients in the cleanser, professing to save you time but what you're really doing is washing those ingredients away so they do nothing for you. Paula sells kits, and I've bought them, but they really aren't any better than the cheaper drugstore versions. I read ingredient lists like a maniac to achieve the same goal. Here are some of my current faves, though I switch products with the same basic ingredients from time to time.

I've already posted about Basis being my favorite cleanser. Cetaphil is also good if you have dry skin. There are many others out there and you can read on Paula's site about how to find the good ones.

Chemical Exfoliant (put on after cleansing and drying):
I have used both BHAs and AHAs but currently favor the latter. Right now I like the Alpha Hydrox brand AHA Souffle, a 12% AHA cream. It's perfect for my somewhat sensitive skin, though I wish it didn't come in tub form, which is less hygienic. I've found this locally at Wal-Mart*...sometimes I order it online. It always come with a mail-in rebate which is nice. You use a small amount and put it all over except for the eye area.

Disinfectant (allow exfoliant to dry before putting this on):
I use the Equate brand Acne Treatment Cream that says 10% Benzoyl Peroxide on the tube. It's $1.84 at Wal-Mart*. It will bleach your clothes/towels if you don't wait for it to completely dry before touching things to your face. Make sure you apply it to your entire face and not just to blemish areas. This prevents pimples from forming if you use it this way, which is why I like buying a big tube for $1.84.

Because you're using some powerful stuff on your face, it's gonna get dry even if it's normally oily, so I recommend using a light moisturizer with these products. I only use the moisturizer once a day (morning) and I apply it after all of the above products are on my face and it's dry. Anything that is oil-free and has SPF-15 (without added ingredients like retinols) work for me. I like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 30, Purpose Moisturizer with SPF 15 (unscented), and Clean and Clear Morning Glow Moisturizer with SPF 15.

Notice I am a stickler for sun protection. If you look at all the sexy ladies in the world that are older (Michelle Phillips, Julianne Moore, Demi Moore) they are all PALE. Pale is sexy, Paris Hilton is not. Embrace it.

When I use these products religiously morning and night, my face stays clear and radiant. Sometimes I get lazy though, and I find myself breaking out like a mother. This *really* works if you find the products that work for your skin and stick to them. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

*Disclaimer: I hate Wal-Mart...but there are a handful of products that I can only find there, so I time my trips accordingly. I am a hardcore Target girl because Wal-Mart makes my blood boil.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sulfates Suck

I usually have at least 3 sets of shampoo/conditioner in my shower, and rarely use the same one day to day. My current fave comes from Ken Pavés, Jessica Simpson's man-bitch slash hairstylist.

:: Ken Pavés Flawless No Sulfates Allowed Repairing Shine Shampoo ::

I use this with the Pavés Undamaged Goods Deep Conditioning Repair Cream. They work well together. The shampoo can feel a bit drying when you rinse, but once you put the conditioner in and rinse it, your hair feels healthy and soft without feely greasy. It's really hard to find sulfate-free shampoos in a drugstore, so I love that this is out there at such a great price.

Good things:
No harsh detergents (sulfates) to strip your hair = less lather but also less damage to your hair.
Keeps buildup and oil away.
Very high-end ingredients.
Drugstore price. (I found it at my local Weis for 75% off. I bought 6 bottles.)

Bad things:
A little hard to find.
I'm not a big fan of the scent.
I'm not a big fan of supporting any friend of Jessica Simpson's, but I'm making a rare exception here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wet to Straight

I hate doing my hair in the morning. I have very fine, poker straight hair. For it to look presentable, I have to blow-dry completely and run a flat-iron through my hair so it lays right. Most days, I leave the house with half-wet hair because I just cannot stand the time it takes to do all that.

ENTER: The Remington Wet to Straight Flat Iron

The idea of this product is that it drys your hair and straightens it at the same time, eliminating the need for a blow-dryer. I bought this from because I had a credit to use, it was on sale for $20 with free shipping, and I hoped that it would make my morning routine easier.

Verdict: Mornings are a whole lot lovelier now!

Good things:
Truly does what it says it will do.
Like all flat-irons, gives you that silky, shiny look.
Gets HOT as HELL (30 heat settings).
Beeps audibly when it's ready.
Has a wide plate (also available in a slim version).
You only need one tool in the morning--LOVE THAT!
Has a lock feature to close it for travel.
Safer and healthier for hair.
Makes your hair feel so good you want to rub your head all over yourself.

Bad things:
Takes several passes to dry hair completely, and you have to go slowly down your hair.
If you have really curly hair, not sure how this will work. I already have straight hair.
Steam burns if your hand gets in the way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Squeaky Clean Face Wash

No matter how many times I try new face washes, I always come back to this one Holy Grail Facial Cleanser.

:: Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash ::

Good Things:
Ingredient list is solid. Oil-free and Soap-Free
Lathers well. All makeup gets removed.
Rinses very clean, but doesn't leave your skin feeling dry.
Cheap! About $4.99 for a bonus-size tube.
Nice squeeze tube packaging. Gel-like consistency.
Smells clean (though I would prefer fragrance free).

Bad things:
Sometimes it stings my eyes.
If you have dry skin you will definitely need to follow-up with a moisturizer.

Runners-up in Face Soap Category:
Purpose Gentle Cleanser
Clean and Clear Daily Pore Cleanser
St. Ives Apricot Face Wash - Blemish and Blackhead Control
Olay Daily Facials Night Cleansing Cloths
Dove Sensitive Skin Bar Soap (with a washcloth)
Cetaphil (both the lotion-based cleanser and the Oily Skin pump-version)

I tend to use different cleansers because I like variety and I think my face likes it too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Is this thing on?

*clears throat* check one, two. check. check. I can't believe I'm blogging.

I'm going to start out by telling you about one of my recent faves.

:: badger lip balms ::

Good things:
They come in all sorts of flavors (my favorite is chai rose).
They glide on smooth. Kind of like the Neutrogena lip balms but with better flavor.
Not too waxy like Burt's Bees or Kiss My Face brands.
Only $1.99 at Wegmans.
They moisturize well.
Cute packaging.
100% Natural and Organic

Bad things:
Moisture doesn't last longer than an hour or so. (But that's true of most lip balms.)

Those who know me well know that I have been obsessed with lip balm since junior high. I carry about 4 and own at least 50 at any given time.

If you have truly chapped lips, get Aquaphor and put it on every night and morning until they are healed. Lip balms are better for maintaining already nice lips.

Now go put those smoochable lips to good use.