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 m├ętro 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.)