Saturday, December 29, 2007

Live, from Vermont!

I live in Vermont now. And Christmas is kind of a busy time for pastors, so I haven't been able to do much blogging lately. But I wanted you all to know the important discovery I made when I moved to the Frozen North: shampoo freezes if you leave it in your car for a week, and your car looks like this:

When shampoo freezes, it expands. All over everything else you packed with it. But when you bring it inside, it goes back to its original form and size. And, fortunately, the bottle hasn't actually broken -- or, at least, mine didn't. Whew!


If you are lucky enough to live near a LUSH store. GO NOW!

Their Clean Slate '08 Sale is not to be missed.

My sister and I were pleasantly surprised at DC's Georgetown store yesterday to find bath ballistics and bubble bath bar slices at Buy1 get 2 free. Yes, you read that right. 3 for the price of one. Everything else was at least Buy 1 Get 1 free.

They're trying to clear everything out before the New Year, so get down there now, so you can partake and start your New Year nice and clean.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

I'm cheating because I have to speed this up for the holidays, man! My fam is coming on the 19th, and I will be super busy tour-guiding.

So, dear anonymous female reader: this time around, the gifts are for you!

I've chosen four different perfumes that I find nearly universally pleasing. You'll notice they are all carefully-balanced blends of citrus, floral and "oriental" (as perfume people would say). If I were to buy a beautifully-wrapped little box of eau de cologne for each of you, I would choose the scents that follow. I wouldn't even cross my fingers. I'd know that nobody could really hate these perfumes. The worst that could happen would be that you'd find them nice, but not really 100% perfect, and therefore only wear them once in a blue moon when you felt like being someone else.

So here they are! Pick up one of these if you are clueless about what to get a fragrance-lover for a holiday surpise.

Jean Paul Gautier Classique

This is my top pick. My friend Annka wore this when we were students together in Paris in 2001. She shared an impossibly big, lovely, grand old flat on the top floor of a Hausmann building with three other students in the 11e. She had a tiny balcony and we spent all our time drinking out there, watching the hustle and bustle, and wearing weather-inappropriate clothing. Classique always reminds me of her, stylish, girlish, impractical and ultimately down-to-earth.

According to Sephora, it smells like: Orange Flower, Bulgarian Rose, Italian Mandarin, Star Aniseed, Orchid, Iris, Ylang-Ylang, Indian Ginger, Soft Vanilla, Woody Amber.

According to me, it smells like: French 1960s pop music meets a fresh, peach-colored shift dress meets vogueing it up in front of your mirror and then laughing out loud.

I had a good time watching the campy, pretty commercials Gautier has made for this stuff over the years. They are seriously fantastic. In one of them, an old, pearl-enlaced English dame morphs into Jean Paul Gautier!! Go watch them:

Wizard of Oz in Ladyland

Girlfriendz in the Powder Room at the Opera
Models Dish
And my favorite:
Cruisin' and Kissin'

BONUS: The bottle, designed a little differently every season, is like a Barbie with an atomizer for a head. Just what we all need.

Giorgio Armani She

Sez Sephora: Angelica, Cardamom, Bergamot, Mandarin, Heliotrope, Vanilla, Cedar, Musk.

Sez me: Soft and powdery, feminine but not frilly. Minimalist and modestly elegant. Like the perfect pair of classic black heels, stylish but barely noticable, or a locket you've been wearing since you were 5.

I wore this for a while in college. I catch a whiff of it occasionally from other women and think, "Ah, yes. Good choice." The bottle is well-designed and can easily slip into a handbag.

Hugo Boss

Sephora: Mandarin, Cassis, Lychee, Jasmine, Rose, Basmati Rice, Sandlewood, Ambery notes, Musk.

Me: Also soft and powdery, but with more of an energizing kick to it than the Armani scent. I think that must be from the jasmine.

My friend Ayumi wears this. I think she likes this perfume because it's so versatile. It's clean and restrained enough for her to wear it in a professional environment, and yet it smells modern and alluring enough to wear when she's out with me, hitting on good-looking single men. The perfume equivalent of a pencil skirt?

Last and least:

Flower by Kenzo

Sephora: Amber, Oppoppnax Resin, White Musk, Bourbon Vanilla, Almond, Parma Violet, Bulgarian Rose.
Me: Youthful, trendy, sweet, feminine, J Crew-y.

There's nothing really wrong with this perfume, but basically 1 in 3 American woman between the ages of 14 and 30 is probably already wearing it. Because it's already had such widespread appeal, I think it's slightly boring. I like to dig amongst the less-frequented stuff on the shelf. I also think the bottle design is middle-of-the-road kitschy. Classic I like, over-the-top kitschy I like, but middle-of-the-road kitschy is almost tacky.

All that trash-talking aside, it's still a good bet for a blind present exchange, and would probably be quite appreciated.

Happy holidays, you guys. Everyone gets one of each, for their own smelly pleasure. And no re-gifting, hear?

Monday, December 10, 2007

On the fourth day...

A quickie post, and another gift for myself (what a Grinch, right???):

Givenchy's Lady Pulp Lip Gloss.

Alright. Okay. Yes. The name. It's porn-y. I know.

I also must admit that the range of colors are not nearly as pretty or as varied as they could be for $24. But I tried on the Lady Cherry shade the other day and it was so nice! I really like the idea of a alluring, non-trashy matte color combined with the efficiency, lightness and silkiness of a lip gloss. This stuff comparable to MAC's Pro Longwear Lustre but much more comfortable, in my humble opinion.

Friday, December 7, 2007

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh Jennie! I wish I could get you bathtub and global World Peace for Christmas. Hell, that's such a good gift duo that I would even be willing get some for all our darlings of the Bush administration.

Broke as I am, I'm not going to place an order. But I hereby give you, for my third day of imaginary gift-giving, a super ersatz bath duo that I hope you will enjoy. Both are from Origins:

1. Some Shedonism! This is a very syrupy, only lightly bubbly bath gel. It has the very pleasant, sexy scent of Tahitian Tiare flower. Luxurious and yet subtle! It seems they have votives and powders and a ton of other offerings in the Shedonism line...I might have to imaginarily gift some of that to myself while y'all are not looking...

2. Some Ginger Bath Candy! Okay, so it's not as fun as a big blue and green ball, but these little fizzers were obviously made by following Lush's genius marketing concept - i.e., wash yourself with stuff to eat. Origins' Bath Candy looks like sweet little sugar cubes. Since you've mentioned your love of ginger-y smells, I thought you'd like it.

Merry Christmas, chérie! Save me some eggnog.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Christmas Wish

Dear Santa,

I'm not sure if you noticed this, but there are only 3 days and 2 hours and 42 minutes left to order up some World Piece. Shipping and handling is stupidly expensive, but you have a few kgs to play with there, so you could order a bunch and make lots of Christmas wishes come true.


PS- It may be that another race starts on Sunday, but I don't want to take my chances...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Christmas Wish

If you've never done it, you should really watch the deleted scenes from Love Actually, you should. Karen's horrible son Bernard has to write an essay on his Christmas wish and... well, it's funny.

Anyway, my Christmas wish? Is for the following products to be brought back. I've narrowed it down to two:

1. The LUSH World PieceBath Ballistic. Seriously. It was blue and green and smelled of pine forests, but lightly--not too forest-y and manly. It smelled of girly forests. And it turned your bathwater a most wonderful shade of blueish green. It was the best bath bomb that LUSH ever made and it is no more and that makes me sad.

OOOOOOO! British LUSH is having a contest where if they get at least 50 orders for a discontinued product, they'll make a special batch! World Piece Ballistics are 2.50 GPD ($5) and I don't know how much shipping will be from the UK! But! Holy Cow! I'm ordering a bunch! Help my Christmas Wish come true here! And then you can take a really awesome girly forest blue green bath too and know the joy.

So far it's just me and one other person, so I really need your help! Help!!!!!! You'll thank me!

Sorry. Got a little excited there, but with good reason, no?

2. Body Shop's Ginger Lily anything. Spicy and sweet, it came in shower gel and lotion combo. The shower gel felt like silk on my skin and the scent, ah. It will forever remind me of China (not that it smells of China, it was just the lotion I took with me) but it rather smells of what you imagine you would smell if you wandered around Princess Jasmine's garden in the middle of a humid summer night. A touch of the exotic, and yummy enough to eat. (However, I don't recommend eating it, because it tastes like soap.)

I still have a little shower gel left, that I picked up on clearance a stupid number of years ago. I'm using it up because it's taking up space in my shower, but it's hard to say goodbye.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From the mailbag: transformed lips!

This just in from reader Emily, a two-thumbs-up for Neosporin Lip Treatment.
"As someone that suffers serious dry, painful chapped lips pretty much from September to May, this stuff is amazing. My lips were always chapped and cracked, and itched from the chapping and cracking, which meant I'd bite my lips, leading to worse cracking, sometimes leading to painful blisters. Ouch! But this stuff is soothing, thick-but-not-sticky, long-lasting and mild-tasting, with the added benefit of a light analgesic to dull the pain from the chapped lips. The latter is the key ingredient for me. I've gone through a tube in 2 weeks, which sucks because it's relatively expensive (compared with good old blue Chapstick). But oh-so-worth it. In two weeks my lips have been transformed."

Thanks, Emily! I'll have to give it a try...I hate going out for drinks and realizing that I am distractedly biting my poor chapped lips between beers.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh, Mom!

I love my mom.

She's had a hard time of it, what with giving birth to two sarcastic, Marxist, feminist, mover-shaker-heart-breaker-talk-backer daughters who don't really know how to put on makeup or do their hair but somehow adore beauty products.

She herself hates anything - candles, perfume, hand creams, soap, deodorant, "atmospheric home scent" - that's not strictly fragrance free. She never craves anything fancier for her face than some good ol' Noxema.

Many a Christmastime have my sister and I come up with the perfect gift for Mom only to realize that we've willfully ignored her preferences. Fizzy lavender bath stuff, of course! Never mind that she never takes baths! Coriander-scented savon for the kitchen! Okay, so she washes her hands with the dish soap - what are you trying to say?

She is a wonderful mother, and as wonderful mothers are apt to do, she coos over the gift, hugs me, and stores the unopened package under the bathroom sink when I give her such stuff. I've weaned myself of the habit by now. After a few exhilarating successes (one was a manicure set, the other a bottle of Hermes' Caleche that she wears maybe three times a year) I decided to quit while I was ahead.

In my imaginary twelve days of gift-giving, however, I would love to give my mom a long day at a spa with a full spread of Harnn products at her disposal.

To the best of my knowledge, Harnn is a Thai company that produces a complete line of spa products, founded in 1999. I find their design is absolutely gorgeous and their prices quite steep. They have such an interesting and unusual range of scents, from subtle to forceful, that I think she would find a couple she really liked. I myself am seriously enamored of their Jasmine Pomegranate hand cream. So pretty! Such a ying and yang of smell!

Maybe some Red Rice soap for my mother?

Or some Night Nourishment cream, with essence of Water Lily?

Check out all of Harnn's smart and sophisticated stuff on their pretentious and somewhat new-agey website.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Well, it's not the first day of Christmas, but it is the first of December. The sidewalks of Paris were teeming with shoppers today. Mini trees for tiny Parisian appartments appeared overnight in front of all the florists and hardware stores. Yet the weather here is warm, around ten degrees Celsius (fifty degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny, which means a lovely temperature to wander away long hours outside while humming carols under your breath.

I did a little Christmas shopping and a lot of Christmas looking, and I got to thinking about all the gifts I would love to give and get if I could go crazy with the euros. I thought it might be fun to do twelve days of giving and getting beauty stuff, here on the blog!

I'll start out, and hopefully the other girls will do a day, too, if they feel like it. And feel free to give and get some twelve-days-of-Christmas gifts in the comments, dear readers!

The best gift from a true love is always one that takes you by surprise, one he/she thought up themselves. That's why I wouldn't actually want my baby to get me anything I might post on here. But if a secret Santa would present me with my desire of the moment, it would be a big flacon of Rumeur by Lanvin.

I tried on this scent for the first time today and it's a definite perfume crush. Like most of the other eventually-blazing-like-wildfire crushes I've fallen victim to, I started out completely nonchalant. Then something shifted and I was completely captivated. The scent in its current incarnation was launched in 2006; it's nothing new or exciting. It wasn't a perfume on prominent display, meant to move for the holidays. It was simply sitting quietly on a normal, overstocked shelf. Still, it caught my eye due to its sort of elegant, sort of feral gold lettering and the brass pull-ring decorating the nozzle cover - designed, I'm sure, for people that can't resist pulling something off when tempted. Like this young lady. Love her Elvis forelock.

I pulled and sprayed and there was an immediate blast of strong, sharp floral note. In the store, I thought, "Lily-of-the-valley?" but info on the internet tells me it was magnolia.

I thought, "Oh dear. Not so great. What have I gotten my wrists into?" but on second whiff I caught a citrusy odor that seemed to cut through the heaviness of the flowery smell and blend it with the straightforwardly musky base.

A half an hour later, walking around, I kept on smelling myself compulsively. I thought, "There has to be some sort of special, highly addictive ingredient in here that makes it irresistible! I'm not wowed, yet at the same time I have the urge to smell this perfume every three seconds..." Two hours later I was a hardcore Rumeur junkie and convinced that this was the next new scent for me. It's velvety and womanly, but spicily fresh. It's luxurious, but a bit punk. I'm not going to do a Venn diagram for this one, but let's just say if you like silver hoop earrings, leather pants on men and antique postcards from the 1910s, you should give Rumeur a try.

Ten hours later, it's still quite noticeable on my skin. This is the kind of power perfume that you'd have to spray in the air and step into to avoid pissing off the scent-sensitive on the bus.

Watch out, unassuming Rumeur testeuses. Don't say I didn't warn you.

And happy December!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside: Response

I've been wanting to do a full-on Lotion post for quite a while, and then Jennie posted about dry skin first. There is just not enough room in the comments for what I need to say on the subject. My dry skin merits its own post, and maybe even its own post label. So, it begins.

I have had a dermatologist since I was eight years old. My skin is crazy-dry everywhere -- flaking off like snow from delicate places like my face and arms, and cracking big ugly caverns in rough parts like my heels and hands. And my lips! With the constant splitting and flaking at the same time! It's not fun.

Anyway, as a result of being dermatologically challenged, I have always been freakishly careful about my skin and its moisture content. I aim to drink twice the recommended eight glasses of water per day (hydrate from the inside!), and I am still constantly dehydrated. I have four bottles of lotion on the back of my toilet (above) -- and more in the medicine cabinet, the cabinet in the other bathroom, a bottle next to my bed, a bottle next to the couch in the den, one in my purse, one at work, one next to the kitchen sink, and more in various other locations throughout the house. These lotions are of various brands, thicknesses, and moisture levels, but they all have two things in common: (a) the a main ingredient is Dimethicone, because that's what the derm said I need, and (b) they are all unscented (I've told you that before).

I also have a little pot of Burt's Bees Hand Salve in my knitting bag, and a tube of store-brand Vitamin A&D Ointment for the really harsh days. You can find "A&D" (as we lovingly called it in my parents' household) in the diaper aisle, because its primary use is for diaper rash. I mostly just put it on my cuticles, but it also comes in handy for minor cuts and scrapes. And one tube of this stuff (approx $3?) lasted my mom twenty years. (And I inherited my skin from her. Thanks a lot, Mom.)

The other product recommendation I picked up as a result of inheriting my mom's dry skin issues is mineral oil. Slather it everywhere you can reach. It doesn't sound very glamorous, but it works better than anything else. Unfortunately, I've been living in the South for five years and have not been able to find mineral oil in the stores anywhere. I've looked. I've made special trips. I've searched various unexpected sections, like the baby section, and the automotive section, and the do-it-yourself-plumbing section, all to no avail. Apparently they don't believe in mineral oil down here.

One thing that has been nice about living in the South is that winters aren't nearly as harsh as where I come from (the Midwest) or where I'm moving next week (Vermont). It mostly just rains here in the winter, and "winter" doesn't even start until mid-January anyway. But my skin freaks out every mid-November anyway, because somehow my body just knows that it's time. I am such a Midwestern gal at heart.

This morning was the first time I'd showered in at least three days (hot water is drying! and I always smell like roses anyway). I took extra-special care to pay attention to my skin routine, so I could share it with all of you. So here you go:

Normally, I use a washcloth to exfoliate, but I forgot to grab one before I got in the shower. That's okay, because I'm trying to use up my Store Brand Apricot Scrub before I move anyway, so I scrubbed lightly with that (careful with this stuff, walnut shells can be really harsh on skin if you rub too much). After I rinsed off, I turned off the water and put on my Aveeno Shower and Bath Oil. I took the opportunity to clean the shower a little bit, then rinsed and patted dry, just like the directions say to do. I put about a fingerful of Pond's Dry Skin Cream on my face.

Then came the real moisturizing. I always begin by lotioning up my hands thoroughly, so the skin on my hands doesn't absorb all the lotion I want to put elsewhere. This time, I used Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking Lotion. Again with the using up products before moving. I like this stuff probably better than any other moisturizer I have right now, and the ginormous bottle is so close to empty that I've taken off the pump and have to whack it against my hand to get anything out. I'm committed to this stuff.

Today I started the moisturizing process with my legs (I usually do, but not always). I squeezed a generous dollop (about the size of a Pocahontas Dollar, maybe a little bigger) of Jergens natural glow Daily Moisturizer (for Fair Skin) into my hand, and slathered it all over my right leg. Then I took another generous dollop of lotion for my left leg. By the time I finished my left leg, my right was completely dry again. So I repeated the process, right leg, left leg, generous dollops for each one.

Then it was time for arms and torso. Four full pumps of Jergens Skin Smoothing Cellular Renewal Moisturizer each. About four more pumps for my front torso. Three for my back (since I can't reach the whole thing anyway). Two more for each arm, and a extra one just for my shoulders and neck... and by then my legs were bone-dry again, so two more full pumps for each leg. And three more for my front torso again; two more for my lower back.

I'm not kidding. I am that dry.

I put about one and a half pumps of Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 all over my face, ears, and neck.

I sat down on the bed and did my feet: one nickel-sized blob of Curel Fragrance Free Moisture Lotion for each foot, twice (because by the time I finished my left foot, my right foot was dry again, of course).

Finally, I washed my hands (they'd been footified) and relotioned them, using Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion. And drank a glass of water (hydrate from the inside!).

I'd say the entire process took about 40 minutes. And people wonder why I'm late to everything. They don't believe me when I say "I was putting on lotion." So yeah, I get my own label for that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

And then BAM! It's winter.

I don't know about you, but when the seasons change, my skin and hair FREAK OUT. Humidity and temp changes, plus end-of-term stress make things not nice. But, just for a couple of weeks, so I don't want to completely change everything in my routine, just hold me over until my body adjusts. You know?

First off, hair. I could go for some serious deep conditioning right now but... did you see the bit about end-of-term stress? Who has time for such things? So, say hello to my good friend, Vo5 Hot Oil. Yes, it's a little late 80s, but it adds an extra boost of lovely and doesn't really add anytime. You only need to leave it on for a minute, and you heat it up in a cup of hot water. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Then comes my skin. Dry dry dry. I could use a nice bath with some moisture bubbles, but, once again, STRESS. So, I start using a Body Shop nut butter scrub thing. They come in handy travel sizes and are uber-moisturizing. Very nice.

Plus, I start using my night cream as a day cream too. Plus my day cream (because that has the SPF protection!)

Do you have any good tips for getting through this time? Or am I the only one who does this?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Do Good While You Travel!

I'm not a person who travels much.

Don't get me wrong, I love to travel. I'd travel all the time if I had the time or the money. And there have been times in my life when I did have those things, but the last five years or so have not been those times.

But I have been traveling quite a bit lately. I've flown up to Burlington, VT twice in the last month, because I was being courted for a job up there (which I've accepted, and I'm moving in 3 weeks!). I've stayed in a lovely local hotel up there, and in an, um, acceptable Days Inn. Each trip was three or four nights at a time. On someone else's dime, thankfully.

(Side note: that Days Inn put two "eye makeup remover towelettes" in my bathroom every day, but there was no iron in the room. Makes me wonder who they think their customers are. And I was counting on having an iron, dang it. No, I did not try the towelettes.)

I am one of those people who does not use the hotel toiletries. I prefer to travel with my own, even though it's a pain in the neck these days. Three-ounce bottles, one-quart zip-top bag, blah blah blah. Grrr! Still, I'm not inclined to leave my hair to the hotel toiletry fates when I'm traveling for a job interview. That's just not smart.

But I still take the hotel toiletries home with me.

That's right, I stockpile them, even. I squirrell them away in my suitcase so the maid has to replace them. I sometimes stop by the front desk and ask for extras, even though there are usually more little bitty soaps in the room than I would ever need in the first place. I bring my own toiletries and use them carefully so I can throw away the container the morning I'm heading home... in order to make room for the hotel toiletries I'm stealing.

See, those tiny soaps and bottles of shampoo, while I'm not going to use them, can be used by somebody. My church collects them to donate to a local homeless shelter, to go into "toiletry kits" for people living on the streets. It's possibe to donate directly to a shelter and bypass the middleman, but my church makes it easy: I'm going to church anyway, whereas I'm not necessarily going to go out of my way to swing by the shelter as I'm riding back into town. And voila, I've done something good for someone who needs it, all by saving something I wouldn't have used otherwise.

If you are a person who travels a lot, or you know someone who does, do a little research about resources for the poor and homeless in your area. Find a church or community center that makes it easy to donate your unused hotel toiletries. If you belong to some kind of House of Worship, ask whoever is in charge of outreach/mission work to do a little research on the congregation's behalf, and put out a collection bin every week to accept donations.

Use your traveling to do some good for your fellow human beings. Everybody needs to wash their hair. Not everybody has the money for a giant bottle of shampoo -- or a place to store it. I went to Burlington, VT this weekend, and bought a house. And now there will be three more people in Atlanta (without houses) who can, at the very least, wash their hair a couple of times.

Friday, November 9, 2007

L'OCCITANE--a love/hate thing

Every day the people of Provence celebrate their pleasant lifestyle and abundant soil.

Dear L'Occitane,

Your store seems to bottle something... classy and classic and then try to sell it to me for $20 for 8.4 oz. and, well frankly, I'm a little sick of it. Every time I allow myself to splurge and buy stupidly priced bubble bath, or lotion, I'm sorely disappointed, and yet, I keep coming back for more. Your milk bath is not moisturizing, needs a stupidly large amount to get enough bubble, and, worse yet, smells vaguely of chlorine when I'm bathing in it. Your shea lotion is sadly under moisturizing. Your shea butter ultra rich conditioner? Meh.

Then, some of your perfumes smell good at first whiff, but then start to scarily remind me of what Tinkerbell perfume smelled like back when I was 8.

But yet, I keep going back for more. Why is that?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Perfume review: YSL's "Elle"

It's officially Christmastime in Paris! Well, according to the commercial sector, at least. I don't know who tipped the French off to the "anything goes after Halloween" rule, but tinsel and candy canes started appearing in stores promptly on November 1, just as they do in the USA.

All of the Sephoras and their equivalents have begun pushing the new perfumes introduced this fall. And I mean pushing. There are a ton of gift package combinations on sale. Testers not only sit neatly in line on the shelves as usual, but are also strewn around the stores like hand grenades on all sorts of makeshift pedestals. Scent advertising has been plastered all over the TV and the métro for the last couple of weeks, too. Spritzkrieg!

All of this perfume abundance prompted me to test drive Yves Saint Laurent's Elle, a new scent introduced this October. Elle (which you all know means "she" in French) also has her own website, where the fragrance is described as "floral and woody." Apparently the head note is composed of citron, litchi and peony, the middle of freesia, jasmine and "pink berries" (Pinkberry???), and the base of "vetiver, amber and patchouli."

Do you know what I smelled when I spritzed it on my wrist? Well, if I had to transcribe it, it would be like this:


I actually sneezed after sniffing myself.

No hint of woodsiness, which was disappointing. I like a good deal of woodsy. Instead, the perfume was a clash between sharp, acidic teenager and heavy, claustrophobic rich-lady CEO that (curiously) didn't have much staying power.

I truly want to like YSL perfumes. I love the goth-y, luxurious, subtly tailored, urbane look of their clothing, Parisian to the hilt. I wish I could find a scent in their offerings that captured that look and transformed it into a smell. Alas, I always have the same problem: to me, YSL perfumes smell like mutton dressed as lamb. And I can't think of anything less alluring and edgy than smelling like a rich woman of 67. Elle is no exception.

Although I've decided that this perfume is a Do Not Want, I must compliment whoever was in charge of its marketing. It perfectly captures the aggressivity, the shrillness, and the bombastic qualities of this scent. (Side note for architecture dorks: the commercial is filmed inside Jean Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe!)

Anyone looking for a nice cocktail of scent "infusions" and "complementary tones" should look elsewhere. With the pink bottle and elongated shape, Elle may be posing as a Cosmo but she's really a vodka shot of some flavor of Absolut. With a Red Bull chaser.

As if that analogy weren't enough, I made a little diagram for you. I love perfume and I love diagrams, so this will be the way I end all of my reviews--so much more informative than 1-5 stars, don't you think? So behold, these are what I think of as the perfect wearers of YSL Elle:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fruit Spritzers and Donut Lips

I’ve been a fan of Cover Girl Wetslicks lipgloss ever since Horsey Foreign Model and Small Orange Man sang its praises on the best-ever season of America’s Next Top Model. It really does have a great, nonsticky texture, and it does indeed smell like cupcakes. On the other hand, my enthusiasm for Wetslicks has never been quite enough for me to keep one of my three tubes anywhere I could find them, and if I had to guess, I’d say they’re slumming around the bottom of one of my lesser-used makeup bags with about twelve other rarely-used lipglosses that seemed like a good idea at the time of purchase.

The newest Wetslicks incarnation, Fruit Spritzers, has recently rekindled the flame. Packaged in a convenient squeezy tube, rather than the wand-applicator Wetslicks of yore, the only real difference is that these glosses taste and mell like assorted fruits, not cupcakes. That was enough for me to buy three and throw them all in my bag.

Of the three I own, the lemon flavor is the weakest, and a disappointment. Papaya is considerably better. The flavor/fragrance of Fig Splash, however, is awesome. To me, it seems like more of a chocolate flavor than straight-up fig, though I rarely eat non-Newtonated figs so I may not be the best judge here. Way, way better than cupcakes.

The color of Fig Splash, on the other hand, I can’t recommend. It's the frostiest lipgloss I've ever seen. Crazy frosty white shimmer. If you use any more than the tiniest dab, your lips will look like a day-old glazed donut, guaranteed.

This may be a beauty blog, but we recognize that there are times when you must choose your own interests over how you look to the outside world. And for me, Fig Splash time is one of those times. I don’t care how I look, my lips are soft and figgy fresh. And that's all I need.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I have a midterm due tomorrow. And four homework assignments. And I'm doing National Novel Writing Month. Plus all that usual life/work stuff.

So, of course, what did I do this morning? Clean my toothbrush and put a new head on. (I have a Sonicare.) Why didn't I change my head sooner? I try to do it every six months, but HOLY COW! I forgot how clean teeth could feel! It's dentist clean! And that's why I love the Sonicare (that, and I once went three years without seeing the dentist and Ms. Sonicare made it so I only had 1 minor cavity.)

But, cleaning it can be a bitch. There's a lot of small grooves for toothpaste and spit ick to get stuck in. But, sometimes reading helps. This fall, I read the fantastic novel Cupcake by Rachel Cohn. The main character often weasels things out of people by promising them the secret to cleaning their electric toothpaste.

You should read the book. It'll make you want cupcakes, after which you'll really need to brush your teeth, but I'll share the secret now.

Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.

It totally works. And, ten hours and two meals later? My teeth are still-scuzz free (even if I do have garlic breath.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kiss My ooh la la.

Kiss My Face isn't permanently inducted into my Beautifying Hall of Fame quite yet, but two products they make have become serious favorites of mine.

One big dislike: they have zero label chic. Pea-soup green is so eco-1998, Kiss My Face! It has the aesthetic quality of a bottle of sunscreen from Rite Aid!

However, what they lack in design they make up for in name fun: Kiss My Face! Face My Kiss! My Kiss Face! My Face Kiss! And so on, and so on. As you can imagine, I had about a million naughty ideas for the title of this blog post.

Then I saw a picture of the founders, whom (prejudiced as I am) I had thought were women.

Mais non

You can read their story here.

A little bit "you can kiss my face anytime, guys," right?

(Okay, maybe it's the skin care equivelent of beer goggles, and maybe the one on the left looks a little bit like Ben Affleck with curly hair, and maybe I dislike Ben Affleck, but still.)

Kiss My Face makes a truly excellent moisturizing shave lotion that you should try. It's very creamy and rich and leaves your legs feeling satiny and fabulous after you shave them.

I was given Vanilla Earth as a gift. I'm not especially a vanilla-scented type of girl, but luckily this lotion is by no means agressive and fades nicely. If you are a vanilla-scent girl, I think you'll really enjoy it. Next time, I'll probably pick Lavender or Key Lime, two more options.

Kiss My Face excels at giving you plenty of fragrance free options, too, so you people who, as my mother says, "just want something to smell like nothing for once!" will be satisfied, as well.

And did you check out the price? Seven bucks for 11 oz. I think that's pretty good.

On to product number two:

Natural Liquid Rock Roll-On Deodorant!

A mouthful, I know. I can't remember where I picked this up, but I'm sure it was a conventional grocery store and it was an impulse buy. I really, really like it. It works like a charm and it was only marginally more expensive than conventional, crappier deodorants I have known.

This is not an anti-perspirant, so if you sweat heavily, you may not want to use this. For everyone who does a lot of desk-sitting during the average day like I do, this stuff is just perfect. Don't believe me and my crazy hippy underarm talk? Check out the reviews at! Then go buy yourself some in, say, Peaceful Patchouli.

I'm hoping especially that you, HolyKnitter, will give it a try and end your natural deodorant travails! If you don't like it, well you can just Kiss My...heheheh. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. Let me know what you think, dear readers!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Man Sure Does Have Some Sneaky Ways!

I found the link to this blog as I was going through some old unread commercial emails. It's clearly an attempt to get you to give your money to the Whole Foods empire, but there's a video podcast with info about "natural" makeup products and how to apply them. Some folks might find this helpful.

In other news, I'm not really liking the new deodorant very much. It stays sticky for a very long time after I apply it and when it stops working it really stops working, and makes the odor worse. I'll keep trying it for another couple of weeks or so, just to see about longer-term results, but I'm not lovin' it so far.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


In what is already shaping up to be an awful week, there have been 2 bright spots and both are related to Christmas.

1. We purchased our plane tickets to go home for the holidays.

2. Bob and is back! Along with all of its other holidays-only treats, LUSH has reintroduced Bob!

It's spice-y and citrus-y all at once. I love cinnamon/clove mixed with fruit. It smells great on me. It's a weird shade of green mixed with orange that will turn your shower water a dirty brown but! It smells so lovely and leaves you nice and clean. (And the little bits of gold glitter will not stick to you.)

It's time to make a trip to Georgetown and stock up for the year ahead.

Also check out the champagne snow showers. Very yummy. I love that it's out in a solid perfume. Still wintery, but a lighter fragrance than my normal Chanel No. 5, which is a little heavy for day wear.

I love the fragrance and this was only out in shower jelly last year. Those are weird because why would you want to keep something in your fridge? I'm sorry, but am I the only person who's refrigerator is at the opposite end of the house from the shower? But whose bed is really close to the shower? When I'm all clean, the last thing I want to do is trudge back downstairs to put my shower gel back in the shower. I want to curl up in bed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Metalmouth part deux

So, for all of you at home biting your nails (bad girls!) about lead and lipstick, you are cordially invited to read Paula Begoun's take on the matter.

In brief: Paula says it's fear-mongering and we should double our efforts to get the lead out of other, higher-impact environmental sources like food and water. Paint your faces, harlots!

Now, I really like Paula Begoun and her handy product reviews...but the woman calls herself the Cosmetic Cop. Yikes. Overstatement of authority much? She knows a lot about which cosmetics make you look pretty but maybe less about whether a pregnant woman is putting herself at risk by wearing Cover Girl. As for the FDA, I trust it them as much as I do our other glorious government agencies like FEMA, the DoD, Homeland Security and the DEA: as far as I can throw them.

I'd recommend anyone curious to check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Then you can make up your own mind on the matter. Since I'm not in a high risk group for lead, I'll keep using conventional lipstick. I like to live on the edge, you know?

I'm happy for the heightened awareness of questionable makeup ingredients. I will definitely look into the companies that the CfSC lists as having pledged to keep carcinogens and other hazardous materials out of their products. "Good-for-the-earth" and "good-for-my-health" make me nearly as happy as "beautiful bottle" or "heavenly scent." (Of course, it's only fair of me to point out that the corporations listed by this non-profit website are completely for-profit and interested in catering to a niche market.)

Is it hard to get a nice, shiny red without lead, I wonder? I'm quite in favor of asking L'Oreal to make products with no tracable lead levels. I'm also going to write a quick email to Nars, my favorite lipstick maker, and ask them where they stand on the issue.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I Did It All for the Nookie

the single best dinosaur comic panel ever.
image from Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North

Let me just clear something up for the entire world: Everybody wants to have sex. Everybody. Including you.

Okay, not everybody -- there are people who are asexual, or who find sex to be painful or traumatic or gross or wrong, or who have taken a vow of celibacy, or who haven't yet reached puberty. But, generally speaking, if you walk into a bar, most of the people there probably want to have sex with someone at some point.

Just probably not right this moment, and probably not with you.

The question, then, is: how can you tell? We can talk more freely about sex than generations past, but it's still not polite to walk up to a stranger and say, "Hey, I feel like having sex. Would you like to have sex with me?" It might even get you maced .

After all, sex is still something good girls aren't supposed to want and nice guys aren't supposed to be after. So, instead of coming out into the open and saying it, we're supposed to lure and trick each other into bed. So we have The Rules and The Game and, for the remedial class, The Axe Effect. The goal is to appear indifferent while members of the opposite gender fling themselves at you, drawn to you by a mysterious power.

And -- this is a beauty-product blog, after all -- we have pheromones. Nature's pick-up artist. Trust in a bottle. Ten years ago, pheromones were relegated to the black and white ads at the back of the magazines. Today, you can find them in hair gel.

Do they work? About as well as a baggie tied around the genitals.

In the interest of journalism, of course, I decided to conduct an experiment of my own, forgoing the baggie and instead opting for a sample of Booty Parlor Flirty Little Secret Firming Cream from Victoria's Secret. It is a bit comforting, I'll admit, to realize that not everyone who shops at Victoria's Secret is an already-firm model who has no trouble attracting the boys. The plan of action was to slather this lotion all over, head to my boyfriend's house, and see if I noticed a difference. (Sorry for not telling you earlier, dude. Journalistic integrity and all.)

The lotion smelled generic but pleasant, light and fruity. It had gold shimmer, of the variety and degree that shimmer lotions had back when I was in high school: obvious individual glittery flecks that collect on your hands and turn them obnoxiously sparkly. I had a ton of that stuff in high school! Peach-scented and sparkling, but not noticeably firmer, I headed out the door, expecting great things.

So what happened?

Two dogs started growling at me and would have probably tried to maul me had their owner not held them back. A cat hissed at me. And my boyfriend? In bed with the flu. Even if he could have detected the fruity whiff of sex appeal on me, he certainly didn't have the energy to do anything about it.

It's not enough evidence for any medical journals to accept my abstract, but it's certainly enough to make me think this stuff doesn't work. And would you want to live in a world where it did?

Flirty Little Secret wishes Magnetik was taller, but she'll take what she can get.

Aw, dang, indeed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Damn The Man and His Ploys! Or, I hate buying deodorant

I will begin by saying that I am a very bad blogger and I just-plain FORGOT to take pictures for this entry. I had all good blog-journalistic intentions for my mission, thinking up fun and interesting things to say about my experience of shopping for deodorant, and completely forgot to take any photographs until I was in the check-out line -- at which point, it's a little awkward to say "I'm sorry, I forgot to do something" and run back to take surreptitious cell phone pictures of the deodorant aisle. I think that kind of thing might get you kicked out of your friendly neighborhood Red-And-White-Vaguely-Archery-Themed Big Box Retailer.

With that in mind, I would just like to say that shopping for deodorant can be a mind-numbingly frustrating experience. It makes you forget the things that are Really Important. Like taking pictures for your blog.

Okay, the thing about deodorant is that... well, let me back up. The thing about underarm stink is that there are actually two completely separate sources of the smell we associate with the Dread Monster Body Odor. The first Source of Stink is our own pheromone-y sweat, which our body produces in times of hormonal "high stress" like when we're having sex. There's really not much we can do about this source, unless we want to stop having sex. Or hormones. And really? Anybody who's that close to you shouldn't have a problem with that smell, or they have no business being that close to you in the first place.

The second Source of Stink is the bacteria that live in our armpit skin. Yeah, it's too gross to think about much. But the bacteria is what you're combating when you put on deodorant. Deodorant doesn't actually kill the bacteria, it just prevents the bacteria from producing odor as quickly as it normally would (this is why you smell by the end of the day, no matter how much deodorant you've put on in the morning). So, like all kinds of bacteria, eventually the little guys living in your armpits (ew) get used to your deodorant, and the product becomes less effective.

This usually happens when you're about two-thirds of the way through a stick. Deodorant companies know this. Don't think they don't! They totally package their product so you buy more than you can use before it stops being effective. And then you throw it away because it "doesn't work anymore," and you go out and give the deodorant companies more money. Deodorant is made by The Man!

The solution, of course, is to go out and buy a different kind of deodorant. The little bacterias get all confused and stop being stinky for a while, until you're about two-thirds of the way through the new stick -- and then you can switch back to your old deodorant, which you didn't throw away, thereby beating The Man at his own game.

So there I was in the deodorant aisle. Not only had my armpit bacteria gotten used to my current product, but I had also maybe dropped said product in the toilet. I could not remember which brand I currently use, except that it's blue and starts with an S (which could be Secret or Suave, you know). I started looking at everything that wasn't blue and/or started with an S, and there were still a LOT of options.

Okay, so I like Ban a lot. But there were no Unscented sticks to be found. And HI! I have sensitive skin and I'm not putting fragrance on it. And also? Why in the world would I want to smell like Powder Fresh or Summer Rain or Baby Puppy Fuzz or something like that? It's not any better than smelling like Underarm Bacteria, and Underarm Bacteria is what my underarms actually smell like! I want the Dread Monster Body Odor to go away, not to morph into the Dread Monster Some Other Kind of Chemically-Manufactured Odor.

The Degree section had the same problem. Too smelly. Am I strange for thinking that a product whose sole function is to make smell go away shouldn't smell?

The Dove section looked particularly attractive. But, at $3.44 for one (or a two-pack for $7 -- do retailers think we're actually stupid enough to pay MORE for two wrapped together than we would for two individually packaged? When we know the product will stop working when we're two-thirds of the way through the first one?), it's not the best deal. There are less expensive options out there. AND! There is a new Dove product, called
Pro-Age ("Because Beauty Has No Age"), and as far as I can tell it's the exact same product as their regular deodorant (same exact ingredient list, except that one product is in a slightly different place in the order, which means there's a little bit more of it). Marketers seriously think older women are going to buy this product just because you wrap it in burgundy plastic instead of white, and give it a different slogan? Also, it was the same price as the regular Dove, and I'm not going to encourage The Man in His thinking that I'd buy it because it's a different color package. Duh.

My eye wandered. To the very bottom shelf. To the
Tom's of Maine. Ohhh, beautiful "natural" deodorant. How I do wish I could afford to spend nearly $5 on a product that promises to be completely ineffectual.

And then? I found
it. Right next to the Tom's of Maine. The $2 version of the same idea. "Natural" deodorant. Aluminum Free. Paraben Free. And NOW Alcohol Free! Really, I'm pretty good about taking care of my health, but my deodorant is one place where I'm generally a shirker. And given the recent links between Alzheimer's and a high aluminum content in the brain, going aluminum-free can only be good for me. There is a tiny bit of fragrance, but it's not a generic Horrible Deodorant Fragrance, it's just a mild aloe-y fragrance, because there is actual aloe in the product. And vitamins A and E! Because there's nothing like absorbing your vitamins through the skin of your underarms. And the company's website makes them look like they're one part homegrown hippie co-op and one part Sketchy Pyramid Scheme. (And the product is $2 in the store, but $6 on their site. Hm.) I'll let you know if it works. If not? It was only $2. I don't feel like The Man is really taking advantage of me if I only use $1 worth. Besides, The Man didn't make this one, some other guy did.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking

Cute shoes are rarely sensible.

In fact, the only time I wear really sensible shoes is when I'm on vacation and walking all over the place. But my feet aren't used to such support, so it's blister city. But what I am supposed to do? Climb the Great Wall in heels? I think not. (Even though I always see Europeans in super-cute super-unsensible shoes climbing tourist mountains and the like. WTF?!)

Anyway, after the mess that was my feet after three days of running around in Istanbul, I thought I'd try something out in China.

I would like to say that Band-Aid Blister Block is totally awesome. I don't understand the science behind it, because it goes on smooth and clear like lotion, but it keeps the blisters away! Since getting back, I've also used it with super cute flats when I didn't feel like wearing nylons. Last time I did that with those shoes, I cut the @!$# out of the back of my heels with all the blistering. Not this time. All nice and lovely and pain-free.

And it's a stick that goes on like lotion!!!! Clear! Not greasy!

That science is some amazing stuff.

I would, however, recommend reapplying every 8 hours, because it starts to wear off a bit.

And, I did get 2 tiny blisters in China (but I walked miles and miles for days and days and did things, like climb mountains, so it's to be expected) I used to the CVS generic of Blister Band-Aids. You can't take them off and they stick to your socks and are kinda gross. But! You can walk for tens of miles with blisters on the bottom of your pinky toe PAIN FREE. And I can put up with some gross sticky sock fuzz for that.

I spend a lot of time pampering my feet. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, October 15, 2007

MAC Halloween Looks

If you're still not sure what to be for Halloween, and you're not interested in the sexy witch/sexy pirate/sexy bee costumes, you can always get your inspiration from MAC and go as a robot or a doily or something.

But it can't be done, you protest. Sure it can! If you can pull off one of these face charts, you will win the people's ovation and fame forever.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Hmm, just read an article at Reuters that multiple red lipsticks, from $5 to $50, contain significant traces of lead:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said tests on 33 brand-name red lipsticks by the Bodycote Testing Group in Santa Fe Spring, California, found that 61 percent had detectable lead levels of 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm).

Oh la la. That's not good. I want to wear some vibrant red lips this fall and winter, and I don't want to have to wonder what I'm putting on my mouth! I'll have to do some further investigations about what brands specifically are affected.

On the other hand, I lived in an apartment with lead paint for a couple of years. My roomate and I knew about it, and from the research she did at the time, she strongly believed that the only potential harm was to pregnant women and children. The article quoted above confirms that non-pregnant women aren't at high risk, but also quotes an expert on the fact that there is no "safe" level of exposure to lead.

I'll be curious to see the beauty world's reaction--whether or not this report is even picked up.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Mrs. Dean hasn't posted her introduction yet, but this little exchange I had today was too good to wait. Background: I work in an elementary school special ed classroom, and one of the few times in my day when I get to interact with kids who can talk is in the early morning when I'm on bus duty. This morning, two little girls I vaguely know jumped off the bus and gave me hugs...

Girl 1: Wow, you're soft! How come you're so soft?
Me: Um, what do you mean, I'm soft? (I was so afraid she was going to say "squishy" or something referring to my breasts!)
Girl 1: [patting my forearm] Your skin. It's really soft. How do you do that?
Me: Well, I put on lotion, Sweetie.
Girl 1: Ohhhh, right.
Girl 2: She puts perfume in her hair!
Me [to Girl 1]: You do?
Girl 2: Yeah, and she even sprayed it in my hair once!
Girl 1: I like it, it makes me smell really good all day long!
Me: What kind of perfume is it?
Girl 1: Um, it comes in a blue bottle shaped kinda like this [gestures inarticulately with both hands] and I spray it on my head like this [pretends to spritz A LOT of perfume around the crown of her head].
Me: Oh, okay, and how old are you?
Girl 1: I'm six.
Me: [holding back a "you're way too young to have access to perfume!"][to Girl 2]: And how old are you?
Girl 2: I'm four and a half.
Me: Well, that's nice, girls. Go get your breakfasts, you don't want to be late for class.

A six year old wearing perfume? Where are this girl's parents? (And I'm really hoping it's not actual perfume, but more like a body splash/spray or something!) But part of me was really hoping to get a six-year-old's perfume recommendation, just for the blog hilarity factor. I might ask her to show me the bottle sometime, if she has it with her, so I can follow up.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Meet Diversey!

Finally, my introduction. I'm Diversey, of the long-dormant Diversey Stinks. I'm sure the entire readership knows my real name, but really, what's the point of having a blog if you can't go by a fun nickname?

I'm not high-maintenance by any means. I just love product. I'm also a sampler, and my tastes change as often as my socks. It's more expensive than product loyalty, but also much more fun.

My current rituals and rotation are:

Face: My skin is probably combination, possibly sensitive. I occasionally get breakouts, but I'm more concerned about the enormous and constantly clogged pores on my nose. They're not particularly ugly or bothersome, and I can spackle over them with some primer with no ill effect, but I'm still fixated on figuring out how to ungunk them. I've put everything on my face from apple cider to milk of magnesia (olive oil is next), and in the meantime I entertain fantasies about tiny vaccuums and microscopic construction workers with minuscule shovels to dig the stuff out.

Until I find a product with magical pore-digging powers, I am using Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cleanser on some days, and generic Cetaphil on other days, not because I like it but because it's what I happen to have with me. I wash my face only once a day, twice if I really need it, and I don't currently do much in the way of scrubbing or toning. And, although I know it's a beauty crime, I haven't been moisturizing either. I apologize. But when I do moisturize, I have used JASON 5,000 IU Vitamin E Creme every winter for years, and I use Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer in all other seasons.

Body: I usually have at least six shower gels and soaps in rotation in my shower at any given point. My only requirement is that they smell good; I prefer shower gels because the scent doesn't fade. For all-purpose, moisture-style washing, Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash works well for me. Instead of scrubby gels, I use this thing that looks like a toilet brush or bath gloves; both are fantastic. I can't tolerate shaving my legs with anything with less than 3 blades from Gillette. Seriously, I've tried everything else.

I keep swearing never again to buy lotion with a strong fragrance, because sometimes you need lotion but not stinkiness, but occasionally I falter. The greatest lotion ever is Gold Bond Ultimate Healing, though I do really like The Body Shop's Brazil Nut Body Butter. Scented dry oil sprays and Lush massage bars are excellent for getting soft and fragrant right after a shower.

Hair: I try to do as little with my hair as possible. Unfortunately, this often means I am three months overdue for a haircut. My ends tend to dry out, and the roots of my hair are almost always darker than the ends, even though I haven't dyed my hair in over a year.

I swear by Suave products, particularly the Daily Clarifying Shampoo and the Professional series conditioners. They work as well as anything else I've put on my head, and they're dirt cheap, which is important if I'm going to dump a handful of conditioner on my head every other day. If I feel like a splurge, I like Redken All-Soft Heavy Cream (which, like Jennie, I also will use as a daily treatment) and Rusk Sensories, particularly Full shampoo and Calm conditioner. Clinique used to make a shampoo that I loved, and that smelled amazing despite being fragrance-free, but it's discontinued and I miss it.

I never blow-dry and I dislike styling, but if I have to I'll bust out a ceramic flat iron and whatever silicone anti-frizz product happens to be the cheapest, because they're all essentially the same. My current bottle is from Got2B, though I think Garnier makes a good product, but really, just go poke around the drugstore and compare ingredients and prices and volumes.

Make-up: Oh lordy. I own so much of it, but rarely wear it on a daily basis. For my face, I like tinted moisturizers with SPF; Neutrogena and MAC both make ones I really like. Maybelline Pure Makeup offers a little more coverage, but still looks natural. I'm still searching for the perfect heavy-duty full-coverage makeup that doesn't make me look chalky.

I don't use primer very often, though I own both Smashbox Photo Finish and Laura Geller Spackle. Since I don't wear heavy foundation, I don't see the need for it.

I do, however, love Clinique Pore Minimizer Instant Perfector for filling in those aforementioned nose pores. Often I can get away with just this and no makeup.

And this is another one of my crazy household tricks, but I swear that a very light dusting of plain cornstarch is just as good as any translucent powder for matteness. If you look at the ingredients list of something like Bare Minerals Mineral Veil, you'll see that cornstarch is the first ingredient. See? I'm not crazy, and I just saved you eighteen bucks.

I don't use blush particularly often, since my cheeks are pink enough anyway, but like just about everyone else in this world I own Nars Orgasm and have to admit that I like the way it looks on me.

Lipstick never lasts particularly long on me, so I prefer stains. A tiny dab of LORAC Sheer Wash does the trick for me. I prefer lip stains to be water-based rather than gel-based, and closer to brick red than pink red, so it's hard for me to find a stain that matches my specifications. If I need something less sheer, I'll go for one of those long-lasting lip products that have the tube of special gloss included. You know what I'm talking about. Cover Girl is as good as anything in this field. I own about eight hundred lip glosses and balms in various colors, so I'll skip that entirely. That's an entry for another day.

Eye makeup, however, is my true weakness. I own, at last count, at least thirty MAC eyeshadows, though if you're looking for a cheap bit of color I recommend Milani or Sally Girl shadows. Larenim makes some gorgeous, sparkly eye colors that have to be seen to be believed. Ben Nye and Kryolan are also fantastic; look for them in professional costume supply stores, or check out the lovely Shrinkle on Ebay for Kryolan products and fabulous false eyelashes.

If you are going for a look using a lot of eye color, Urban Decay Primer Potion is a must. I used to think, "eyeshadow primer, pfft, just another product I don't need," but believe me, it really is a must. Colors are much brighter and stay put much longer. If you prefer a more subtle, natural eye, you can skip the primer, but if you do have electric blue shadow and want to do it justice, get the Primer Potion.

(Though if you're the type who just wants to dab something sheer on with your finger and be done with it, you will be very happy with MAC Rubenesque Paint Pot. I love this stuff.)

With all the eyeshadow I own, you'd probably think I go for insane ultra-lengthening-thickening mascara, right? Not quite. The same DNA that has given me embarrassingly dark arm hair and straggly hairs on my toes is responsible for my naturally long eyelashes. They just need a little bit of darkening, for I have the same blond lash tips as Izzy Willy-Nilly. (Come on, you totally read that book in middle school.) So, for the one-legged teenager in you, Neutrogena comes through once again with their Clean Lash Tint. I'd recommend a thicker mascara, but do you guys really need one?

Eyeliner has usually taken a backseat to eyeshadow for me, but I still own plenty of it. I like a gray, bronze, or burgundy shadow for subtler looks, and reserve black for bolder looks. I have no brand preferences for eyeliner pencils, though I far prefer the twist-up variety to the traditional kind that needs a sharpener. If you're handy with a brush, try MAC Fluidline, which stays on for days, or Urban Decay Liquid Liner. Or just get a skinny brush and try one of your eyeshadows wet.

Fragrance: Suffice it to say I own a lot, and the details of my entire collection will certainly emerge in posts to come. My current favorites are Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, L'Artisan Dzing!, Demeter Lychee, Arrogance Mix Litchi Almond, Kiehl's Original Musk (the oil, not the EDT), and Creed 2000 Fleurs.

I'm also a fan of body sprays from Bath and Body Works and Victoria's Secret. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

...And I've only scratched the surface. There's more to come. Lots more.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Meet Natasha!

So guys. I have to tell you first and foremost that I am wowed already by the productitude on this page. And we've only just begun! Here's my intro.

I really don't use that much stuff. But I do love to sample things, smell things and just generally play around with face/body/haircare.

I'm an American in Paris this year, and damn if I don't love going into French pharmacies and picking up exotic new pastes, gels, and lotions. If there's one word (three times) to describe my tastes in just about everything, it's FICKLE, FICKLE FICKLE. I have a beauty routine, but the beautifiers I use are destined to 3 months on the bathroom shelf and are then never heard from again. I like to try new things, and then I often miss the old but get distracted by the shininess of yet another screw-off lid. I plan to blaze through products over here, from L'Occitaine to some obscure Tunisian homeopathic soap. And I'll tell you all about it.

Skin: Oily like Exxon. Or used to be, until I got on the pill. Now it's nearly perfect (thank you modern medicine!), so what I use to wash my face depends on the season. In autumn and winter, I use more "milks" and "creams" and in spring and summer I use more "cleansers" and "scrubs."

Hair: Thick, brown, curly. I am happy to have such nice hair but I can never seem to find to get a cut that gives it the right shape! Fiddling around with cuts means a lot of fiddling around with styling products, like this from Aveda and this from John Frieda. (If you noticed that the two hair sprays I've chosen are actually counteracting each other, give yourself 5 points. Urrgh.)

Shamp and Cond: I have no patience for shampoo and conditioner. I so love all the different scents and shit, but I just can't waste my time on two rinse cycles. So I buy 2-in-1. (Am I going to have my contributor status taken away now??) I am currently using a way too vanilla-y smelling one from Timotei. 2-in-1's are marketed for penny-pinching sports girls, which, okay, I might be a little bit of. But I tell you, I'd be happy to pay $20 for a "bergamot and fig" version!

Showers vs. Bath: Let me tell you a little something about the French and showers: it's just not worth it. I don't know why, but so many people here have a shower nozzle that doesn't attach to the wall. Getting up in the morning is enough of a production as is--I don't need to be splashing water all over the place and spraying myself in the eye. In the States I usually take showers, but let the bubbles begin. So far, I've bought myself Le Petit Marseillais bath gel (green tea and ginger scent). It was cheap and is gingery. C'est correct, quoi. More exciting things to come.

Day-to-day: Haven't found a good facial wash here for everyday yet. I used to use Nivea Visage but I couldn't commit. I did find this awesome pink clay masque by Cattier that I've been using every couple of days against the stress acne. I get a kick out of the pinkness, its smell is very subtle yet fragrant, it's organic, there's no animal testing, and it's manufactured locally right outside of Paris. Win win win win and win-situation! The only negative: it's kind of ugly. I am very picky about label design.

More about make-up and perfumes to come.

À plus!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Meet HolyKnitter!

Hi. For now, my name is HolyKnitter, but in another month or so I can tell you my real name. See? I already have you on the edge of your seat!

My skin is insanely dry. You have no idea. Insert future post here.

My hair is fine, but it grows in thick. It's naturally big-curly, but also easy to straighten (I'm the luckiest woman in the world in this one area). Not color-treated at the moment. Fairly frizzy, but I'm learning how to "encourage" the frizz to join the rest of the curl, and it seems to be obeying me pretty well now that I'm finding the right product routine. I shampoo every 2-3 days in the summer, and every 4-5 in the winter.

My daily routine looks like this:

Face: in the morning, Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15; at night, Ponds Dry Skin Cream.
Eyes: Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

Lotion: oh, darlin', I buy whatever's on sale. I probably have 20 bottles and tubes of lotion in my house. Like I said, it's its own post. I'm partial to Aveeno, Curel, and Vaseline Intensive Care, but also have some Suave and Lubriderm and Jergens in the mix. The two common elements are (a) Dimethicone is a major ingredient (future posting); and (b) they're all fragrance-free. Smelly lotion makes me feel nauseous (nauseated? I can't remember which one is correct) and irritates my skin.

In the shower: I don't use soap. I do use a washcloth. I use St. Ives Apricot Scrub on my face, sometimes my feet and elbows, too. In the winter I finish up with Aveeno Shower and Bath Oil. I shower as little as possible, and I take a bath about once every six months, if it occurs to me.

Hair: I begin with a dandruff shampoo (me! dry!), either Neutrogena's scary-looking orange T/Gel Shampoo, or Head and Shoulders. (Neutrogena also makes a H&S equivalent, T/Gel Daily Control, and that's what I'm actually using right now. I had a coupon. I would definitely buy it again for full price.) Then my "rinse and repeat" 'poo is Pantene Colour Expressions Red Shampoo. I've got really strangely-colored hair, but there is some natural red in there and I like to bring it out. Also, the scary Neutrogena stuff smells bad, and the Pantene smells good! For conditioner, I use Pantene HydraCurl, which apparently isn't on their website, so I'm wondering if they still make it (eek! not the Search for the Perfect Conditioner again!), and glad I bought an extra bottle last time it was on sale. Occasionally, I use Bumble and Bumble Deeeeep Conditioner, but I usually forget it's there. Ideally, I'd remember it about once every 3 shampoos. After I'm out of the shower, I use Kiehl's Panthenol Protein Hair Conditioner Softener while it's still wet, and comb through once with a big pick or a wide-toothed comb. If I've showered before bed (this is ideal), I just go to bed at this point, and in the morning I use a combination of John Frieda FrizzEase Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme and Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine (maybe with a drop of Bumble and Bumble Anti-Frizz serum, too). If it's morning, I either leave it alone after that (the I'm-in-a-rush option), or I use Bumble and Bumble Curl Creme and use roller clips to make pin curls and let my hair dry curled up. I do not blow dry. Blow-drying is Of The Devil for curly hair like mine.

Makeup: I subscribe to the "if you don't put it on, you don't have to take it off" school of makeup. IF I wear anything at all, it's usually:

Eyes: Neutrogena Weightless Volume Wax-Free Mascara in Brown Black; one of several brown eyeliners; one of several highlighting eyeshadows; Eliza's Eyes Eyebrow Shaper/Gel.
Face: BareEscentuals Mineral Powder; when I'm feeling especially fancy, BeneFit Dandelion blush
Lips: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Lip Therapy. There's more here, but this is also a post in itself. Maybe several.

I take it all off with Kiehl's Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover. And water. And a washcloth.

A washcloth, you ask?
What can I say? I'm an old-fashioned gal like that.