Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Armed and Dangerous (or: how I fought my demons and curled my lashes)



Everyone is entitled to at least one irrational fear. Mine is: "stuff that gets into my eyes". This is why it took me forever to learn how to apply eye makeup, and it wasn't until my very late teens that purchased my first mascara. I thought that even if it wasn't going to kill me, I was sure to go blind. Thankfully, I managed to get over that one and learned how to wield a mascara wand with the best of them.

One thing I was sure I wouldn't get anywhere near my eyes is an eyelash curler. This thing has always given me the heebie-jeebies. A metallic apparatus is not something I ever wanted to see at zero range. Having naturally long and thick lashes has always let me get by with only a light coating of mascara. The only problem is that said long lashes stick straight and there's only so much that Estee and Co. can do.

The realization that a beauty blogger worth her lotions and potions must not cower at the face of a beauty challenge has been dawning on me for some time now. Books, magazines and bloggers has been singing the praise of Shu Uemura's eyelash curler for years. Finally, I caved.

Sephora stores seem to only carry their own brand, though Shu and several other brands are available on their web site. I ordered online and waited patiently. When it arrived I reported at the mirror and went to town.

Well, not exactly. I did have several freakout moments while trying to place the clamps at the right place, way too close to my eyeballs that I would have liked. The strange pulling sensation that I felt (or imagined) didn't make me very happy, but finally I got it. The exact placing, the right angle and the hand movement.

Cue some kind of Hallelujah music. Or something from Lord of the Ring Score.

It works and it makes a difference. I had no idea that my own lashes can look this way, and I'm thanking the Shu from the bottom of my heart.

I still refuse to consider one of the heated curlers. You must draw the line somewhere.

Photo: Candy Darling by Robbert Mapplethorpe, 1972

Monday, February 26, 2007

L'Artisan Parfumeur- Bois Farine



I have a weird relationship with Bois Farine from L'Artisan. I've almost purchased a full bottle several times, both in store and online, but every time I stop and question myself. First, there's the issue of having to spray a substantial amount just to get the fragrance to stick for more than twenty minutes. Then comes the perfume itself.

I'm not getting the promised fennel seeds in the opening. For me it always starts with the flowery flour. It's one of the most curious notes I've come across. It's gourmand, for sure, like a flour-dusted sweet dough. The sweetness is subtle and milky, like a memory from childhood that I can't quite place. The floral part isn't heady. It's blended with milk and flour, not too feminine, but I don't know how many men want to smell like this.

It's a comforting scent, but yet carries itself in a very prim and proper way. It remains fully clothed and never disintegrates into flannel PJs and bunny slippers the way many comfort scents tend to do. There's something familiar in the pastry kitchen part, but the soft and smooth woody finish keeps a distance.

The problem is, that it's not me. Maybe it's the "me" that I could have been, had I been born somewhere else. Maybe it's the person I would have been  with a different life experience, different desires and interests. I guess Bois Farine is nicer, warmer and softer than me .

Maybe if I bought the bottle and wore it often enough I could become that other person. I'm just not sure I want to.

Image: pastrypal.com

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscars 2007

The big red carpet surprise is that there weren't any big surprises. It's the Oscars, it's Hollywood, almost everyone had on nice clothes and got cleaned up nicely. Like in the Golden Globes, I'd be happy to see less nude lips, but that might be just me.

I like Maggie Gyllenhaal's top part of the dress, her makeup is lovely (red lipstick=good). Not sure what's that thing in her hair or why she needs feathers in her hem.

Portia de Rossi. Love the dress, not sure about the root-exposing ponytail (it looks better here than on my TV, so might have just been a fluke).
Jodie Foster is also in blue. Didn't Meg Ryan have that hair a few years ago?
J-Lo The dress has no reason, unless she's pregnant. And I don't get the hair. It's not bad, it's just not her.Naomi Watts is pregnant, therefore the Empire waist makes perfect sense. She looks fabulous. I love the yellow dress.

I really don't like that thing Jennifer Hudson is wearing. Yes, I know metallics are all the rage, but that cropped whatever isn't flattering her figure. Trinny and Susannah would explain to her what well-endowed on top girls should and shouldn't wear.


And yet another blue dress. Emily Blunt. Looks a bit prommish. But she's super pretty.

Rachel weisz- love the makeup and dress. Not so much with the bling.

Cameron Diaz- Too much bronzer, but most of her makeup is pretty. However, the dress looks like an 80s bridal horror.

Helen Mirren is the picture of perfection.

Jada Pinkett-Smith: I love the color. Could use a brighter makeup.

Penelope Cruz is such a beauty, but the nude colored dress and the nude makeup are just a bit too nude to my taste.

Kelly Preston is taking tacky and trashy to new levels.

Jessica Biel usually looks much better than this. The hair isn't working for me, and neither is the makeup. This is why those pink lipsticks might not be such a good idea.
Kirsten Dunst- Ugliest dress so far. Just awful. And the hair looks like she did it herself.

Beyonce- I love the makeup and the color of her dress. Not so sure about the rest.

Gwyneth- A very beautiful and original dress. I love this color.

Cate Blanchett- As old Hollywood as they come. I love the dress and her entire look.

Not crazy about whatever that is that Nicole Kidman is wearing. The color is great, but that bow on the shoulder- not so much. According to my husband, she looks like a Lexus from those Christmas commercials.


Kate Winslet is the only one in the universe who can get away with these whispering colors. And she pulls off that dress perfectly.

Reese Witherspoon's dress is pretty and I love her hair. The purple is lovely, but I'm missing something (not Ryan, though).
And one request for Meryl Streep: Please, it's the Oscars. You're a beautiful woman and a huge star. Make an effort.
As for the men: Cary Grant is alive and well in George Clooney's body. I'm going to marry him. Even my husband says that I can.

Parfumerie Generale Coze


Based on the listed notes (canapa sativa seed oil, pepper, pimento, coffee, ebony wood, chocolate, bourbon vanilla pods) I half expected Coze to be Parfumerie Generale's masculine version of Musc Maori. But it isn't. The sweetness I'm getting in the opening isn't gourmand (not a bad thing, actually) but more woody. This opening is so pretty that some men might find a bit feminine, but only for a very short time. Within five minutes it becomes smoky and very incense-like.

On one hand, about half the time I'm wearing it, the dark sweetness is alluring and sexy to the point of it almost feels indicent. It's a night time scent that seems third date ready. The incense is sensual, and even though I'm missing the promised chocolate and vanilla, there is a yuminess aspect that adds to the illicit air. When it is bad, it's really good...

But.

Tobacco isn't a listed note here, but the smokiness definitely has a strong tobacco feel. So much so, that I find it off-putting. I'm a life-long non-smoker (never even tried) and I find the smell unpleasant. Every now and then I'd get a whiff that reminds me of the way my mom used to smell before she quit smoking. A mixture of cigarette smoke, Karl Lagerfeld's Chloe (the old EdP version) and a mystical air of beauty products and general femininity that mothers smell like to their daughters.

While this is not bad at all, the smoker's clothes accord is not my thing, and I find the combination disturbing enough that I don't enjoy wearing it as much as I'd like.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Calvin Klein- Eternity



Party Like it's 1988 (Memory Lane, Chapter II)

Technically speaking, Eternity is an 80s fragrance (it was launched in 1988). However, the Calvin Klein scent of the 80s is unquestionably Obsession, a heavy and sultry scent, worthy of Alexis Carrington, your mother and that lady who just left her mark in the elevator.

Eternity, on the other hand, is much more of a 90s scent, with the entire minimalist Calvin Klein look, Christy Turlington and your old pair of black pants. I started wearing it in late 1993 as a day fragrance, and have always had a bottle around, even at times that I could go for months without actually putting it on.

It's my happy scent. A sunny, sparkly little thing, never intimidating or pushy. It's floral, and a white one at that, but not in a diva, tuberose way. Christy Turlington embodied it well: pretty and clean, yoga-practicing, scandal-free, no drug benders or assistant assaulting. Who doesn't want to look and smell like Christy?

The long lasting dry-down, with its sandalwood goodness, is still uplifting and cute. It's not deep, moody or very evocative, but the reason for it is perhaps all those years of Calvin marketing. It does call back some old memories, but they can't be separated from the Eternity image and ads.

I no longer bother with full-sized bottles. My local Target has it in 0.5 oz bottles of EdP, which are perfect and just enough for my needs.

Much Ado


My experience with DuWop products has been underwhelming so far. Yes, they make lovely eye shadows in some of the most beautiful combinations available. But, I deeply disliked their toe polishes (all of them looked cheap) and have found the much-hyped Lip Venom to be nothing to write home about.

Subsurface isn't going to land in my product hall of fame, either. I've been using it here and there for months now, hoping that eventually I would get what it's all about. No such luck.

As with many of their offerings, the basic idea is great. It's a double-duty product that is supposed to deal with two problem areas. One side contain an anti-blemish solution, while the other side is an under-eye primer. It's supposed to be a pre-concealer treatment with some anti-aging action. The problem? Both sides do diddly squat.

The anti-blemish cream is runny and thin. It might contain salicylic acid, but any drugstore product with the same ingredient performs better, and it doesn't come close to my Holy Grail of pimple fighting .

As for the concealer primer, I wonder why no other company that I'm aware of has come with a similar idea. After all, this is a part of the face that can always use some extra help. We have face primers that make foundation more effective, we have eyelid primers that make eye shadow look better and last longer. It makes sense to have a product that help us make the most of our undereye concealer. Unfortunately, this isn't the one. The primer goes on easily enough (I find the brush a bit stiff for such a delicate area), it's very wet and as such quite pleasant and makes the skin feel refreshed, but any non-greasy eye cream would achieve a similar sensation. You need to wait a minute or two before you can apply concealer, but when you do, there's no difference in application or feeling.

I've gone as far as to use the primer only on one eye so I can compare. No difference detected. My dark circles are alive and well, and since I'm using Secret de Vie instead of an eye cream, my undereye area has been happier than ever. The DuWop primer isn't contributing anything, except for adding a couple of minutes to the time it takes me to put on my face.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum



It's been six weeks of religious use of Caudalie's Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, so it's time to take a good look at my face and review the results. The bottom line is that the freckles and little spots are still here, but the large one on my left cheek might have faded a little. Obviously, no miracle was performed. The fading action is giving me some hope that eventually I'll get rid of them.

Other than that, my skin is happy, but that can and should be mostly attributed to seriously moisturizing and SPFing. Still, I know that a good serum is a must, and this one does seem to be working nicely, as (I'm guessing) most decent anti-oxidant products that one isn't allergic to would be.

I haven't fallen in love with Vinoperfect, despite its overall niceness. I find the texture to be too runny and not very serum-like. Also, the packaging is annoying. It has a dropper that when the bottle was still full I used as an applicator, since it was covered with the goop, but as the bottle empties, the dropper has a hard time pumping enough serum for application. I much prefer pump bottles, both for ease of use and for hygiene. But, it smells nice, which is always a plus.

My bottle still has about 10 days worth of product, and I intend to finish it up. I like it enough, but my quest for the perfect brightening serum is far from over. The next one from Remede is already waiting its turn, and after that I plan to try a vitamin C product, probably the one from Lancome. You'll be in the know.

"And it was all yellow"


As a latecomer to the "stuff you put on your eyes before makeup" scene, I haven't tried Lemon-Aid from Benefit Cosmetics until recently. This isn't exactly a primer, nor is it a concealer, which is why expectations should not include eliminating dark circles or making makeup last longer. What this product does is take care of red and purple discoloration of the eyelids. It isn't supposed to be used on the under-eye area and doesn't provide coverage or any de-puffing action.


Lemon-Aid is a light yellow cream that has a somewhat waxy textures. It needs to melt a little before patting it on the skin. I know that for some people the texture makes it a bit difficult to use, but I had no problem with application. The tiniest amount is enough to do the promised trick and get rid of the redness. I wouldn't go as far as to say that you don't need eye makeup when wearing it, at least not in my case, because of my naturally dark eyelids, but it provides a good starting point for makeup application, especially for light colors that I sometimes have a problem making them show.


In this sense, it does work the way you'd expect from a primer: Easier application, you need less because shadows spread more evenly and looks better. However, unlike the wonderful Urban Decay eye primer that is a cream-to-powder formula, this waxy product is all cream, which means that sooner or later (two hours in my case) you start seeing creasing, and the makeup doesn't last as long as it should. I tested it with several Dior eye shadows as well as with the Bourjois I reviewed a few days ago. All are very high quality, so the blame isn't on them. Lemon-Aid is just not a primer, and can't be expected to perform like one.

It can be used in combination with a real primer. The question is: Why? I'm as high maintenance as the next beauty blogger, but I don't like loading up my face with layers of products. This is actually why I resisted the primer revolution for as long as I did. I'd rather not use two primers where one is sufficient. Then again, I don't have that big of a problem to cover.
I'd still use Lemon-Aid when I don't need my makeup to hold for a full day and I'm trying to keep things light, but it isn't a must-have as far as I'm concerned.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lauren by Ralph Lauren- Down Memory Lane Part I




The number of new perfume bottles and samples in my possession has grown exponentially since I started this blog. They seem to multiply like bunnies, almost as though I don't have a hand in it (the Greek chorus is kindly asked to stop giggling). But, despite my Andy Tauer addiction and Serge Lutens habit, there's still a place in my heart and on my shelves for several of my old loves.

I don't remember the exact year I started wearing Lauren. Probably around 1991. I was in business school but longed for the real world, or at least for my fantasy version of adult life. I wanted to be sophisticated and feminine, but in a strong and powerful way. Around that time I came across an interview with Ralph Lauren. I was quite fond of him and his faux horsey-set image, the one from the old ads that represented all that I thought I ever wanted to be.

The interview focused on Ralph Lauren's perfumes. The newer one, Safari, and the classic Lauren. I don't remember a word that was said regarding Safari (though I later got interested in that one as well and bought a bottle), but I remember how he described Lauren, as the fragrance for a woman who is confident in her style, who wears cotton and linen shirts under a leather jackets and is radiant with a natural, healthy tan (yeah, I know).

I wanted to be that woman, from the horsiness of it all, down to the linen pants. A few days later I went and bought the maroon colored bottle. Of course, it wasn't quite as I anticipated. A 21 year old college student with the wrong boyfriend and wrong ideas isn't necessarily Lauren material. However, I wore it religiously and did my best to fit into the fragrance and the image, even if I couldn't really appreciate the nuances.

I wore it occasionally over the years, replacing the bottle at least once. I have very little left at the moment, and at the rate I've been going through it, a new one should finally be purchased. The floral top notes (I smell more carnation than violet, and it's mostly green) are crisp. They work for me as a reminder of the promised spring (much needed after the last few weeks of cold and snow). The green is new and tender, not lush. I get very little of the wood notes, and definitely not warm spice. Even the wood smells springy and fresh, not heavy. It isn't a cozy scent, more of a leather jacket than a cashmere sweater, and yes, a sharp and well cut white cotton shirt.

It fits better in my current fragrance wardrobe than it did back then, though I no longer dream of life in a Ralph Lauren ad. It suits me as a mid-week, daytime scent. It's pretty and calming. I only wish that they'd offer it in an EdP version. A classic fragrance should last longer than a couple of hours.

Notes: pineapple, spearmint, tagetes, rosewood, cyclamen, muguet, rose, jasmine, musk, cedarwood, oakmoss, sandalwood.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring in Paris


Let's take a break from ridiculous looking makeup and enjoy spring products done right. Bourjois Paris (a Chanel-owned company) has just introduced Petite Guide de Style, adorable eye shadow pairs. The packaging looks like a tiny booklet, and I love it for practical reasons: It takes minimal space (can even fit in your pocket), and unlike the usual plastic compact isn't prone to breaking (important when a certain kitten gets into my cabinet and starts tossing things out. I wish I were kidding).

The colors are gorgeous and wearable, the combinations make sense, and the quality is great. The shadows are nicely pigmented, easy to apply and last without flaking or creasing (I use them over a primer). I could probably wear them all, with the notable exception of Coquette Rosette, a too rosy/too violet duo that doesn't agree with my coloring. The one I finally chose is the very springy Miss Spirit, that you can see in this picture. The lighter shadow has just enough peach in the beige to warm up the skin, the dark green is pretty, works well to define and complement my eyes. It's shimmery, but not overdone. Just what a (good) spring look should be.

Proenza Schouler for Target



I'm sorry, but I don't buy my clothes at Target, no matter what designer du jour is making money out of putting his name on their products. Those are still cheap (and more important: cheap looking) items, and the fact that they are so over-hyped isn't helping any. The Proenza Schouler for Target is definitely not on my wish list, and neither would be Alber Elbaz for Wal Mart or Tom Ford for The Dress Barn.

Monday, February 19, 2007

O No



I was skeptical as soon as I saw O-Glow, "the first intuitive blush" which is the latest offering from Smashbox in a Sephora newsletter. Frankly, it reminded me way too much of those horrible mood lipsticks from the dark age of makeup, the tacky 80s. But I decided to wait before writing a scathing post, until I get to try this miracle on my own sallow cheeks. After all, this might be the biggest breakthrough since makeup primer and the joke would be on me...

Actually, the joke was on me. On my face that is. Because upon first contact with my skin, the clear gel has turned fuchsia, and remained in its ugly purpleness until I managed to wipe it off.

Like all liquid and semi-liquid blushes, O-Glow isn't easy to apply right (as in the right place and the right amount) for those of us who feel safer with a compact and a puffy brush. As far as my skin tone goes, this is a big No Glow.

(Just a reminder: My skin tone, while definitely on the warm side of the scale, has more of a green undertone than a yellow. The only celebrity I can think of with a very similar complexion is actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Two Notes to the Good People at Lancome

1. Please consider adding Socialite to the regular Artliner collection. Please? This metallic taupe color is incredibly versatille and I use it often. It makes a lovely evening look combined with the regular black Artliner closest to the lash line and Socialite just above, to higlight and illuminate. I'll be very sad once my stash is gone.

2. Are you serious about this Proenza Pink lipstick? Bubblegum pink is bad enough, but who can wear something so very pale and still look alive? And these tips about applying it over matt foundation and powdering it aren't going to make any woman look pretty.

(This is the new limited edition color that is supposed to send everyone to their Lancome counter and put their name on the waiting list. It's a one-per-customer deal which will soon appear on eBay and draw crazy bid wars. I'll pass on this one)

Here's the screen capture straight from their website, because soon enough it will be gone:

A Blonde


She might have a penchant for weird baby names, but Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the very few truly fabulous celebs. I like her style and the fact that she's never messy and disheveled.
These pictures are from last Thursday (taken from Hollywood Rag). I love the outfit. She shows that you can wear a mini and still look classy, even if you're over 30 (thank you, Gwyneth). Her shoes are fun and the makeup is very pretty. I'm not too crazy about the lip color, though. If she has any flaw, it's her too thin lips, and such a dark lipstick draws a bit too much attention to them. But, the look still works and she's nothing but lovely.

Cuteness


I found Jenga Januska's cute jewelry through Modish and fell in love. She makes adorable necklaces and bracelets from vintage game pieces. The look is unique and playful. I bought the toucan necklace and this lovely domino bracelet. It's quite heavy and has lots of presence. I wear it now with black cashmere sweaters, and it'll be just as nice with summer t-shirts.

Hippie Dippie


I'm spoiled. It's not very often that I come across a Really Bad Product. My guess would be that it's the same for most of my readers. When was the last time you tried a beauty product and found it horrible? I don't mean something that doesn't work too well with your skin or a color that doesn't match. Nor do I mean a fragrance you hated. That's more of a taste and skin chemistry. I'm talking about a product that is so bad you can't believe that in our day and age someone is actually selling this.

As I said, it's a very rare occurrence for me.

My local Whole Foods Market has a separate Whole Body store next door. It's a lovely place with a big selection of natural products, supplements, aromatherapy and anything else bath, body and beauty related. It's not Sephora or anything like that, but I go there to buy pure oils, shea butter and organic aloe vera gel. The last time I popped in to buy jojoba oil (which I use on my skin to make whatever perfume I'm wearing last longer) I stopped in front of the deodorant display.

This was probably another proof for the power of advertisement, as the thing that lured me there was a poster inside the main store about how much better and healthier are deodorants made of natural products, or something like that. I decided to give it a try and randomly chose Kiss My Face Active Enzyme deodorant. It looked innocent enough, active enzymes sound like something that is both natural and powerful and it promised to last all day.

Huh.

The first problem I encountered was actually getting the deodorant on my skin. It is so poorly made that unlike any stick deodorant you or I have ever seen, its shape is concave. I had to reshape it with a knife. Then there's the texture that is very solid and doesn't yield without putting some effort, but when it's finally on the skin it's unpleasantly sticky. Who wants to have sticky pits?

But the worst part was that it does nothing. At all. It just doesn't work, and all I can do is thank the patron saint of beauty bloggers for: a. this being winter b. trying it on a lazy weekend at home, within running distance from my shower.

To add insult to injury, the scent I chose, Peaceful Patchouli, serves to remind us why dear old Patch has such a bad rap. I love patchouli as a note in several good fragrances, but the way it was used here was in its stinkiest, dirtiest incarnation. Like an unwashed hippie.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Parfumerie Generale Musc Maori



I've been pondering my options for that dreaded day that my bottle of Lea Extreme runs out. It is a limited edition, but still available at Luckyscents, so I can hoard bottles if I really have to. However, I'm not sure if it's such a good idea, considering that the bottles are (too) big at 100 ml and might turn before I actually get to use them.

I was hoping to find something similar. A very non-Angel gourmand scent that is chocolatey and musky without hitting you over the head with a sweet stick, and that doesn't smell like it belongs in a discounted gift set from Macy's.

Musc Maori by Parfumerie Generale is just that. It boasts several notes: Cumaru wood, green notes of coffee tree blossom, white musk, cocoa bean, amber and tonka bean. On my skin it was exclusively vanilla, cocoa and that lovely white musk that characterizes Lea Extreme's drydown and is probably responsible to the craving Lea fans tend to get.

Unlike Aomassai, another rich gourmand offering from PG, there are no weird notes in this one and it's unlikely that anyone would find it objectionable. If anything, it might be criticized for lack of innovation. It stays the same without much development throughout its short-to-medium skin life and doesn't surprise you at any point.

Musc Maori smells more delicate than LE, it doesn't have the almondy-coconuty note in the opening and carries an air of sophistication that Lea Extreme sadly lacks. Still, it has the same satisfying, comforting effect, a similar warmth and its sexiness is just a bit more grownup. I might have just found the solution for life after Lea.

Photo: Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball on the "I Love Lucy" set between the scenes of the Chocolate Factory episode

Rock Bottom


It's no longer funny (though The Superficial is doing his best).

Maybe Not


This is how Tyra Banks attended a pre-Grammy party. I don't have a rational explanation for this look, so I won't even try. Her dress was pretty bad, too.

Blue


It's the smallest things that can make a huge difference.

I wanted a touch of blue in my eye makeup, something dark enough to not be weird, but not navy. I wanted a hint of color, something bright enough to definitely be blue, just without the 80s associations. The answer was a touch of Loreal's Wear Infinite eye lining pencil, in a color called Deep Sapphire.

Like all the other L'Oreal pencils I've tried, this one is creamy and soft, not pulling my skin and the color stays nicely in place without bleeding, migrating or smudging.

La Moss


One of the Beauty Addict's posts last week as part of her excellent Fashion Week coverage was from the Jason Wu show. The makeup featured was all MAC and inspired by Kate Moss. Kristen is quoting a MAC makeup artist who defined this Mossy look as " very overstated, messy, disheveled".
My question is: Who wants to look like that?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tragic

Somewhere, someone is already writing the very trashy book, and you know that the cover will not be one of the photos from her glory days. It's incredibly sad. We've all been watching Ana Nicole Smith's train wreck of a life stopping at all the wrong stations. But I just keep thinking about her 5 month old baby, the one whose paternity question is yet to be determined (the options are Sleazy and Sleazier. It's your pick which is which), who is reportedly being cared for by family(?) friends in the Bahamas.

This should be a huge wake-up call for Lindsay, Britney and their social circle. Please, take care so you don't show up under similar headlines.

Glossy


The one beauty-related subject that I know nothing about is hair coloring. I've never dyed or highlighted my hair, making my non-blonde mane pretty useless for testing products such as the new conditioner from Clairol.

Luckily, my friend Teresa has the right head for this, and she tested the conditioning gloss on her blond locks. Here is Teresa's review:


Every girl who dyes her hair at home knows that the last moments of the whole process are the most rewarding moments. As she slathers her hair with the contents of the tube of conditioner she found in the bottom of her hair dye box, she feels almost…self-indulgent. At that moment, her hair is as soft as it can be. That’s why when I got my tube of Nice ‘N Easy ColorSeal Conditioning Gloss in the mail, I was eager to give it a try.

Though I suppose it’s the promise of healthy and shiny hair that really matters, my first glance at the lacklustre tube of conditioning gloss leaves me disappointed. I must admit that I am one of those consumers who likes pretty packages; I am one of those fools who often buys the shampoo for its pretty container as much as for its promises. While the blue and silver tube in my hand is simple and sleek, I’ve seen this particular design inside my boxes of hair dye before. This product won’t jump off the shelf at me; it’ll take a little advertising to sell.

After putting all my strange hang-ups aside, I hop (not literally—though I am excited, there are no jumping beans in my panties!) into the shower to see what comes of actually opening the product. I read the instructions on the tube and I can say that as I put the quarter-sized amount of conditioner in my hair, I think to myself it’s about time they put this stuff on the store shelves! I’ve always wondered why they limited this stuff strictly to hair dye packages. After about a two minute wait, I rinse out my hair, and there’s that familiar but decadent sensation of touching smooth, extremely moisturized hair.

We all know that companies make promises. This time, they’ve vowed to keep my hair from “looking faded, dull and dry” just by sealing the cuticle of my hair once a week with ColorSeal Conditioning Gloss. After having tested it out, I am optimistic this time; I’ve got a little tube of conditioner that I believe in. If anything is going to protect my hair from becoming brittle and dry this winter, this could be it (I wonder if they make a facial moisturizer?) And I can use it with any of the various hair dyes I grab off the shelf—extra-light blond on the cheap? Great. Put it in the cart! (Who’s to be expected to remember which one they used last month?) At least I have the comfort of knowing that even if my hair turns green, I can still make it smooth, shiny, and soft. That might seem like a small order to some but after having been a hair dye addict for so long, I’ve done some damage to this mop of mine.

Thumbs up to Nice ‘n Easy for finally doing it.


As far as I know, this product hits the shelves next month, but looks like the good people at Drugstore.com have already got it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Profumum Fumidus and Heeley Spirit Of The Tiger


This hasn't been the best of weeks as far as fragrance sampling goes, and not for lack of trying. The two new-to-me scents that I tested ended up being horrible scrubbers, of the kind that still linger even after you actually scrubbed yourself silly, and their memory is enough to make me shudder. We all know that fragrance is all about body chemistry and that there's a skin for every scent. I'm just not sure that I want to meet the skin that can make those two work.

Heeley- Spirit of the Tiger
The problem begins with the inspiration for this scent, the Chinese pain relief ointment Tiger Balm, which is more or less like Bengay. Do you want to smell like Bengay? Didn't think so. What made the noses and minds at Heeley think that this was a wonderful idea? Your guess is as good as mine.
The fragrance starts with sharp mint oil that is soon joined by camphor, to give you that medicinal touch. And if that wasn't enough, there's nothing warm and spicy in the clove note. I love clove when it's either in a gourmand gingerbread-like blend or accompanies carnation, but here it smells exactly like my late grandfather's dentistry clinic. A perfume that makes me think of the drill and of backache is definitely not a good thing.


Profumum- Fumidus
There's no nice way to say this: I hate this one. The listed notes sound quite lovely: Essence of distilled scotch, vetiver root and birch bark. The reality is that this is liquid smoke. The babble on the website says something about castles and owning a forest. The only forest here is a forest fire, and it stinks to high heaven. It was very persistent and took some work to scrub. A trace of really bad bbq remained for a while.

I think I'm going to be wearing some sweet and feminine stuff in the next few days.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Very Light Reading


This is probably not the greatest beauty book ever, but still worth mentioning. Allure editor-in-chief Linda Wells and her team of beauty editors have summarized all the ideas, facts and techniques that one needs to know when it comes to makeup and skin care. It takes a couple of hours to read, you might want to take a couple of notes while doing so, but mostly it's like an extended beauty section in a magazine. There's no new gospel here and their simple how-tos will not make you into the next Bobbi Brown, but the advice is sound, the facts are established and everyone can learn something.

I especially liked the myth busting. If enough people read it and pay attention, maybe we'll stop seeing the stupid advice to use toothpaste on pimples on every beauty message board.

What I found most useful is the part about ingredients in skin care products: what to look for according to specific needs, what should be in a good anti-aging product and why we need to use it. It puts order in the chaotic and saturated market.

They don't talk about any brand and don't make specific recommendation. But you do get the tools to use when shopping- the lingo and the labels are explained, and that's what important.

The bottom line: It's worth a couple of hours of your time even if you're well seasoned in makeup and beauty products, and would make a very nice gift to anyone who is just starting.

Nothing's Perfect


I've been using Carol's Daughter Hair Milk for the last three weeks, and my hair has never been happier. I needed to learn just how much product (how little, actually) should be used, because this stuff, despite it's milky consistency, is very rich and moisturizing. The old cliche- a little goes a long way- is very true in this case. I'm used to loading my hair with leave-in conditioners, but if I do the same thing here I'd get s super greasy and limp hair. It's amazing, but a dollop of this is all that my extremely long and thick hair needs to stay soft and frizz free.

Because of its weight, my hair is more wavy than curly. It needs lots of moisture. Hair Milk gives it exactly that, keeps it shiny, doesn't let it puff up, but still retains the shape of the long waves and ringlets, something that most products simply can't do.

It smells better than most creams and conditioners. I love the light lemongrass scent.

However, like many other hair products, I must keep it away from my hairline. Last week I wasn't paying attention and let a little lotion contact my skin. The result was a breakout along my hair line. Three unsightly pimples that required the return of my trusty pals- Laboratoire Rem├Ęde Double Oxygenating Booster and Mario Badescu Healing Cream. As far as I'm concerned, those two are miracle workers. The former kills zits like nothing else I've ever come across, without the nasty drying and flaking that accompany most drugstore products. It might take more than a single application to eliminate a really bad one, but the first results are visible after one night.

The Healing Cream does exactly what it says. It takes care of the redness and heals the skin quickly, even after a really bad pimple. Results are quick and despite its sulfuric base it doesn't stink. While I replaced most of my Badescu cleansing products with a simpler routine, followed by my favorite moisturizer, the Healing Cream is something I must have on hand. It's a skin saver.

The bottom line is that I'm going to be much more careful from now on. Carol's Daughter Hair Milk is an excellent product and does exactly what it promises. It's a great solution for anyone with thick and curly hair, and a tiny amount would solve any dryness problem. However, its side effect for those of us with more sensitive skin can be unpleasant. Not a reason enough to give it up, just apply it v-e-r-y carefully.

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