Sunday, November 9, 2008

Popsicle Lipgloss

If you're like me and you prefer lipgloss over lipstick, you know that sometimes life can get a little boring with that YLBB (your-lips-but-better) sheen. A few weeks ago I was pawing through my makeup bag and decided to try something new. 

You know when you were little and sucked on a red popsicle and the insides of your lips would be this gorgeous cherry red color? Yeah, for some reason I think that's really sexy, and just decided to stick some dark red gloss on the part where my lips touch. It's not hugely noticeable (I doubt anyone other than me takes note) but for some reason it makes me happy.

Here are some photos, which have more to do with the love I have for my iPhone and the fact that lipgloss photos are sexy, than for any need to really illustrate the process.

:: Popsicle Lipgloss Technique ::

Step 1. Apply a light pink, candy-colored gloss to the whole lip. I used L'Oreal Color Riche Lipgloss in Soft Pink (110).

Step 2. Apply a dark cherry red gloss to the insides of your lips, where they meet. I used the same brand listed above in Rich Red (300).

Step 3. Rub your lips together a bit to blend. 

I'd love to hear your lip gloss techniques in the comments.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Giovanni Nutrafix

I rarely use the same products in the shower day to day. Even when I love something, I need variety. I need to switch it up every few days. That's how I know I'm in love with this Giovanni Nutrafix Deep Conditioner. Because I've had it for a few weeks and I've used it every single day since I got it. *cue lovebird music*

:: Giovanni Nutrafix Hair Reconstructor ::

Good things:
  1. This is marketed as a deep conditioner. I don't use deep conditioners, though. If I do, it weighs my fine hair way too much and I end up looking like Olive Oyl. This conditions *so* well, but it doesn't weigh your hair down at. all. Even when used everyday.
  2. Adds protein-y ingredients to reconstruct your hair shaft. Kind of a line of bologna in general, but this does seem to repair damaged hair better than any higher-priced conditioner I've ever used.
  3. Has amazing slip without using silicones (which are bad for your hair) like most conditioners do.
  4. Leave it on for 10 minutes, which is a long time, but it kind of forces you to hang out in the shower and pamper yourself.
  5. Easily rinses clean without feeling greasy.
  6. Giovanni is a natural, organic line of hair care. Good for the polar bears!

Bad things:
  1. I can't think of a single one.

I found this in the organic section of my local Wegmans.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Go Nads!

I had a request a while ago for some tips on eyebrow grooming. I started writing a post several times and each time didn't feel quite comfortable with it. I kept imagining you people waxing off your entire eyebrow and hating me forever. I grew up around a lot of eastern European women who had no eyebrows and drew them on with pencil. While they were (and still are) fantastic women, I will never quite get over thinking that the same would happen to me one day.

So I'm going to tell you what I like. I'm going to give you some tips. But if you don't possess fine motor skills, my best advice would be to leave it to the professionals. Some things in life are worth shelling out cash for. This is one of them.

Every girl should own a pair of Tweezerman tweezers. Even waxing involves *some* plucking, and you'll go nuts if you try to do it with a shoddy set of dull tweezers. These have a lifetime guarantee, and if you send them back to the company they'll sharpen them for free. They're not too expensive. I've seen them at CVS and Bed Bath and Beyond for $10-$20.

That being said, I'm not a huge fan of plucking, especially if you have more than a few hairs to remove. It's like torture for me when the pain is concentrated in one small, pin-head sized area. Call me a masochist, but I much prefer the blanket pain of waxing.

I've tried various brands of at-home waxing kits. I've had my brows waxed at the salon. I didn't think they did a better job than I do, and it's much cheaper to wax at home. If your brows have never been shaped before, it would be worthwhile to take a trip to a good salon and have them shape your brows, and then you can keep up the shape yourself at home.

My current favorite brand of wax is the Nad's line. I had seen the infomercials for this when I was in high school and thought it was hysterical. It wasn't until a few months ago that I actually considered buying it. I was shocked to see my other favorite brand of wax had been discontinued, and in looking for a replacement I settled on this. I've been *very* happy with it on the whole. I prefer the tub product for the face with a stick and strips that you can cut up. I do *NOT* like the pre-made strips that you find with just about every brand. I also don't like those roller-applicators. They just don't allow the precise application that the stick offers.

Good things:
  1. Doesn't require heating like traditional waxes do, which is both convenient and less painful.
  2. The strips are washable! You just rinse them with water and dry them out. Better for the environment and your wallet.
  3. The product itself is water soluble, so you don't have to use oil to remove the excess product like you do with wax.
  4. I've found that this irritates my skin less than hot wax. It doesn't seem red as long, and it doesn't cause prolonged irritation/breakouts.
  5. It's natural, and you can supposedly eat it. If the end times roll around I'll have one more thing to eat for sustenance.
  6. At around $20 for a large tub, and with the reusable strips, it's very affordable.

Bad things:
  1. Like most products, sometimes it leaves a few hairs behind that didn't take hold. This is where the tweezers come in handy.
  2. The name. I'm sorry. All I think about is gonads.

If you want to know more about the proper way to shape your brows for your face/eyes, take a look at the beginning of this YouTube video which illustrates how to use your nose as a guide for the length of your brow and the arch. (The important stuff goes for the first 3:00.)

  1. Before you start, make sure your face is clean and dry. 
  2. You may want to trim your eyebrows first if they are long, using a small comb and a pair of scissors. This will help to keep your application precise without things getting in the way.
  3. When you apply the wax/sugary goodness, then lay the strip over top, make sure you rub hard with your fingernail over the strip in the direction of hair growth. The better you do this, the more likely it will take off all the hairs without leaving some behind.

If any of you have advice or recommendations on this or other methods of eyebrow grooming, please leave a comment. I know threading is hot right now, but I've never had it done. Chime in!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Revlon Beyond Natural Foundation

I'm always on the quest to find foundations that are light but give enough coverage to make your skin look its best without looking fake or overly done. I stumbled upon this because it was buy-one-get-one and I already love Revlon's Colorstay and thought I would give this a whirl. It's truly on the verge of taking over Neutrogena's Tinted Moisturizer as my new holy grail summer foundation.

Good things:
  1. The skin matching technology is basically that the makeup comes out of the tube almost white like a lotion and it has tiny microbeads of color that are supposed to "match" your skin magically. Doubtful that there's any magic going on, but I like that it gives sheer coverage without feeling like you've got no coverage at all.
  2. This gave me an even, natural, semi-matte/semi-dewy finish. I felt like it was my skin showing through at its best.
  3. Completely neutral. I *hate* when foundations have pink or peach added to them and this is one of the few drugstore lines that is a neutral/yellow base. 
  4. Lasted throughout the day, and I've even worn it on days when I'm outside and sweating all day and my face still looks reasonably put-together.
  5. SPF. Nuff said. If you're not using an SPF product on your face I don't even want to talk to you.
  6. Love the packaging, i.e. love when products are in a squeeze tube so you don't have to contaminate the product just trying to get it out.
  7. At $13.99, pretty affordable considering the quality.

Bad things:
  1. So far nothing, but I will unload a truckload of fury on Revlon if they discontinue this.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rec Request: SPF Lip Balm

You guys have been hot with the comments lately, and I love it. Keep them coming.

I had a request for a recommendation on a lip balm to replace a beloved Lip Smackers addiction. Personally I'm not a huge fan of Lip Smackers, save for the Dr. Pepper flavor which is just inexplicably addictive. (Did you know there's prune juice in Dr. Pepper?) They always feel slightly filmy to me and my lips feel drier in the long run. 

My holy grail lip balm in terms of overall delivery of moisture, shine/plumpness, and SPF content has to be Neutrogena's Lip Moisturizer. This balm makes your lips look *so* good, it glides on smoothly with no waxy feel, and it has an SPF of 15 to protect your lips from shriveling up and rotting off (as one commenter so vividly put it).

If you've never tried this, I would suggest picking up a tube. You will probably find yourself picking up a few more so you have spares. It's difficult to find but if you live in my town, you can find it at Wegman's.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cetaphil: the fresh maker

I just had to pass along this brilliantly written review of Cetaphil from the Sephora Spy at Jezebel. 

My favorite line: If you get the big 16 oz. size that comes in a pump and the pump gets slightly stopped up, does it sometimes go squirting across the bathroom and stick to the wall like a load of slightly iridescent semen from hell? Absolutely.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tell Me What You Love

I'm really curious about what you consider your "holy grail" beauty products. If you've just read this, I implore you to leave a comment and tell me at least one thing that you couldn't live without, or that you think is the cat's pajama. I'll probably test a few of the products and write about them here if they're enjoyable.

Ladies and Gentleman: The Ped Egg

If you're like me, you saw the informercials for the Ped Egg months ago and thought, "Fuck me, that is a cheese grater for the foot!"

I stand here before you as a die-hard Ped Egg fan now. And I know others who will stand up on this podium with me and shout to you non-pedeggers: GO. BUY ONE. NOW.

The concept is this: you have a little vessel with a grater-like contraption on one side. You rub it against your dry foot and it *gently* removes any of the calloused skin and collects the shrapnel inside the vessel.

Sounds disgusting. I know. 

But for some reason I bought one. It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to my feet.

The best way I can explain the beauty of the Ped Egg is this:

When you get a professional pedicure, they use a "shaver" to remove the dry skin from your foot. The shaver works beautifully. Your feet are smooth and soft. But your feet are going, "HOLY SHIT. SOMEBODY JUST SLOUGHED OFF A FEW LAYERS OF SKIN. WE NEED TO MAKE MORE DRY SKIN TO PREVENT SUCH AN ATTACK IN THE FUTURE!" It's a great business model. They take it off, your feet make more, you go back again in a month.

Those little pumice stones are supposed to remove dry skin without shaving it off. The problem is that they're worthless and no matter how long you soak your feet and rub the pumice over them, your feet never quite get that baby smooth feeling that they do with a professional pedicure.

The Ped Egg comes in right in the middle: removes ALL of the dry skin, minimum amount of work on your part, and the callouses don't come back because you haven't removed *too much* of your skin. It's a beautiful solution to an oft-not-talked-about problem.

You're welcome.

Skincare 101, updated

This is a long one. Brace yourself.

I've nestled into a really great skincare routine lately. One product I've been using for several months is something that I'm a little reticent to rave about. It absolutely deserves a rave, but it goes against a lot of the things I've learned about skincare and it took *me* a while to accept it, so I wonder how my faithful readers will take to it.

It's Jojoba Oil. Yes, on the face. Yes, rubbing oil onto your face. As a cleanser. Years ago I was told by a dermatologist to never use products with oil on my face, so the thought of putting pure oil on my face...well, it had me nervous to say the least. But when I read about it, and really put some thought into it, I decided to give it a try. The idea is that oil helps to attract and whisk away oil, without upsetting the natural balance of your skin. So much of the "oil-controlling" crap that we put on our faces actually makes our skin dry, and therefore it will create more oil to compensate. The oil cleansing method is supposed to gently restore your skin's suppleness and doesn't leave you greasy at all, which is sort of counter-intuitive but I assure you, it works.

Even on the first day, it *felt* right. It felt wonderful to massage it into my skin, and I noticed improvement in the texture of my skin immediately. I used it for a month, and the results were quite good. Then I got a little freaked and stopped for a few weeks. That was a mistake. I realized that using the jojoba oil as a cleanser really was making my skin soft and smooth and luminous. So now I'm hooked. I do it every morning, and I follow-up with a small dab of gentle cleanser to emulsify the oil and wash it away. I don't really need to use a cleanser afterward, because the oil itself is the cleanser. I guess a small part of me is still nervous about not getting it washed off completely. 

I use Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil, about $10-$15 for a bottle that will last a long time.

The other two products I've been using have reached holy grail status quite quickly:

The first is Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream. This cream was listed in Paula Begoun's media list for 2008, and got huge rave reviews from women online. I am never convinced about a product even when it has great reviews, but this one won me over completely after the first week of use. I use it at night after cleansing. It's a retinol cream, but unlike other retinols, it's so gentle and doesn't irritate me at all, but has helped to make my skin smooth and shrink pores.

The second is actually a product meant for psoriasis, Dermarest's Medicated Skin Treatment. I don't have psoriasis, but I decided to give it a try because it's really just a 3% salicylic acid BHA product and a lot cheaper than most BHA's, which tend to come in small bottles marked as "spot treatment" and cost an arm and a leg when you're using it all over your face. In case you haven't read my previous posts, BHA's are really just made of aspirin (salicylic acid) that penetrates the skin to exfoliate gently and remove dead skin cells. There are oodles of BHA's out there, some have inactive ingredients or formulas that make them worthless. This particular formulation is a gel consistency and I really love how it penetrates quickly but is easy to spread. It contains anti-redness ingredients too, which aren't necessary for me but certainly haven't hurt. This is by far the best BHA I have ever used, and I can't get over how huge the bottle is for only $10. I found it at my local CVS.

So to sum things up, here's what I'm using on my face:

Gentle Cleanser
Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream

Jojoba Oil, rubbed on face and left on for a few minutes
Small dab of gentle cleanser to remove oil
Dermarest's Medicated Skin Treatment (3% BHA)
SPF 15

Thursday, March 20, 2008

2008 Best Products List from Paula Begoun

She is my hero in terms of shedding light on which products are scientifically superior, not just overhyped and overmarketed.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So Sexy

:: Victoria's Secret So Sexy Hair Care Products ::
I am sooooOOoo in love with the "So Sexy" line of hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, styling products) from Victoria's Secret. There is something really intoxicating about the scent. The formulations on these products are reasonably good too. I could extoll to you their virtues, but the scent is really what I'm raving about here, and I don't want to waste time talking about the ingredient list. Just run and get these. They are on sale currently, 3 products for $21. If all of my friends' hair starts smelling this good, I may end up sniffing hair all damn day long.

While you're at it, pick up a few of the Beauty Rush lip glosses. I own a lot of balms/glosses, so trust me when I say the Beauty Rush formula is really stellar. The color is subtle but rocks, and they moisturize so well I find myself feeling like my lips are marinated. I know that's a weird analogy but it's how I feel, so deal with it.

Triple Treat

I've had this set in my shower for a couple of months, but already I feel like it will be a staple of mine for years to come. 

This was recommended to me and I kept passing it over because I wasn't a huge fan of the smell from the bottle. But when a handful of people are telling you to give it a try, eventually you succumb to their wishes.

Good things:
  1. The Giovanni Tea Tree line is great if you have that unfortunate problem of having oily roots and dry ends. It cleans hair really well and treats the scalp, without drying out the shaft.
  2. It's a natural/organic product line (I found it at the organic section in Wegman's.) which isn't in and of itself a reason to buy something, but it does feel good to know you're not coating your hair with unnatural chemicals.
  3. This is supposed to be good for itchy/flakey scalp. I can't attest to that as I don't have that problem, but I've read a lot of reviews from women who say it helps.
  4. Sulfate-free shampoo. Won't lather as much, but it's better for your hair in the end.
Bad things:
  1. I wouldn't use this everyday. Maybe once or twice a week.
  2. This does contain some irritants (peppermint and eucalyptus). Gives you that tingly feeling you crave but for some people it may cause problems. It didn't for me.
  3. The smell isn't very nice, but it doesn't linger long.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skin Effects Enzyme Scrub

I recently had my first spa experience on a weekend shopping trip with girlfriends. It seemed well worth the money at the time and I loved getting my "personal prescription facial," but I couldn't help feeling guilty afterward that I'd spent so much money with no *real* lasting effects.

The one product the Aesthetician used that gave me amazing results was a high-end, European brand exfoliant that uses fruit enzymes. I was tempted to buy it at the spa, but when I saw the price tag I gulped and put it back.

At home, I was determined to research and find a drugstore product with similar ingredients and effects. This scrub is almost identical to the expensive scrub used on me at the spa. I've been using it for 2 months with great results. It's a gentle scrub (I have extremely sensitive skin) and you can really feel it working if you leave it on for a few minutes. It leaves my face bright and glowing, with no redness. It has reached holy grail status.

Oh, and the best part: only $6.99. The Skin Effects brand is available only at CVS.


Yes, I knoooooooow I haven't posted in forever. I had a traumatic experience writing for another blog before the holidays. They were snotty and mean and I should have known better than to leave you guys for greener pastures. I know now; this is where I belong.

The tag line for this product is "nothing else even comes close"....and I would say they are not lying. I've been using this product for a long time, and there's nothing else like it on the market. I have never had acrylic nails, but I like to think that this product makes your real nails feel as strong and thick as those fake suckers. I like the way my nails look with a few coats of this: strong, thick, and righteously healthy.

There are different formulas. I recommend the Formula 2 or the 2 plus if your nails are dry, peeling, or weak. (They recommend you never start with 2 plus, but I am a warrior and I've done it. Nothing horrible happened to me.) 

I would start by trimming and filing your nails, doing a little at-home mani of sorts, and then apply this in one good coat, going over the tip of the nail to cover it as well. Apply one coat everyday, removing all coats every 3-4 days and starting over again. In a few weeks, your nails should look you are a QVC hand model. 

The one drawback is that a tiny bottle of this stuff is $10. It's well worth that price, but I have to flinch every time I buy it. Find it at salons and CVS.