Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
I decided to post Shamima's contest entry because she's the kind of product junkie who tries all the brands and sticks with a product based on what works best, not how strongly she feels about the brand. And like many of the people who've sent in entries, she varies which products she uses based on how much she's willing to spend at the time.
She mentioned a number of products that I've added to my "must-try" list, like MAC's Microfine Refinisher, Diorshow mascara and Elizabeth Arden's Overnight Success Serum. And I always love finding someone else who also loves some of my favorite products, like MAC's Blot Powder, Clinique's Buttershine Lipstick and Shiseido's SPF 55 cream sunscreen.
What about you guys? Can anyone also recommend products she mentioned? And does anyone have suggestions for a non-drying facewash for someone with her skin type?
Shamima, 28 years old
Skin type/color: olive/medium-dark, used to be very acne prone but after I turned 25 it changed majorly. Now I am incredibly dry which is weird because I'm so used to heading straight to the normal-oily or combination range for skincare.
Hair type/color: wavy black hair. I've never dyed, highlighted, permed or done anything like that to it
Shampoo: I switch between Pantene, Joico, Neutrogena, and Redken. I've tried a ton of different ones, and I am of the your-hair-gets-used-to-it-and
Conditioner: Again, I switch between Pantene, Joico, Neutrogena, and Redken. I try to use the same brand for my conditioner as I use for my shampoo because I figure they work better together. The most important thing is that I condition my hair every single time I wash it (even if I skip the shampoo)
Body Wash: I like to use a different every day! I have a slight addiction to shower gels! I have er...at least thirty under my bathroom sink. In the summer I use citrusy, fruity scented ones, and in the winter I prefer vanilla or sweet, cosy-smelling ones. I am not a snob – I give a chance to every brand of shower gel from the generic drugstore kind to pricy Origins to mid range Bath and Body Works.
Body Scrub: I love Origin's ones, (especially the Spreadable Ginger and the Bali Paradise) but they're so expensive I rotate them with cheaper ones like Savanna Bee's honey sugar scrub or Shopper's Drug Mart Life brand vanilla-fig/mango papaya ones.
Face Wash: Right now, Shiseido the skincare cleansing foam, but I think it is too drying! I want to try something else as soon as I finish it.
Face Exfoliator: I exfoliate a couple of times a week in the shower (it makes it easy to rinse off) and I just finished a tube of MAC's microfine refinisher. I LOVE IT and already repurchased. It has tiny granules but it really does the job. My face is super smooth and soft afterwards. It seems like a home-based microdermabrasian treatment to me.
Face Mask: I use this on the days I exfoliate, and often take a bath instead of a shower when I do so. I adore my GM Collins Mask (for oily skin but it works wonders on my now dry-sensitive skin) leaving it soft, glowing and just looking really great.
Body Moisturizer: None because I don't need one after my scrubs! Seriously.
Face Moisturizer: Biotherm Age Fitness 2. Love this stuff. It is gentle, doesn't make me break out, but really moisturizes my skin even with the harsh Canadian winter. I've gone through several jars, and my husband uses it too! The only thing I don't like is that it is in a jar (and thus, unhygienic)
Eye cream: Shiseido Beneficiance. You only need a tiny tiny tiny (did I say tiny?) bit for both your eyes and I just dab it on the brow bone and under my eyes and it works magic. It can be greasy if you use too much though.
Toner: I rarely use one, but I do have the Dove one which I like using when I feel like my face needs the extra step, especially after removing makeup.
Sunscreen: Shiseido SPF 55+ (the cream, not the lotion which I find too runny). I LOVE THIS and buy a fresh tube every year, even though it is pretty expensive. It doesn't break me out, and it doesn't feel yucky going on. I used to dread putting on other sunscreens because my skin felt suffocated under them - not this one! You do have to blend it in well though, because otherwise it adds this annoying whitish-tint to your skin!
Tinted Moisturizer: I actually surprisingly really love Covergirl's one, even though I have tired many others (including Laura Mercier). It gives sheer coverage, blends well into my skin tone and is a great price.
Powder: MAC Blot Powder, in Medium-Dark. This makes my skin look magnificent -- it just totally transforms it!
Eyeliner: Lately, I've been wearing Clinique egyptian. It is a stunning blackened green with shimmer. I also sometimes wear MAC blooz (a very sexy navy bright blue) or Laura Mercier brown copper kohl.
Mascara: Either Max Factor Lash Perfection for day, or Yves St Laurent Faux Cils/Diorshow for nights/parties
Blush: I am a blush-aholic. I love MAC's sheertone shimmer range and have at least a dozen NARS blushes. I also really like Milani blushes and L'oreal's true match line. I wear a different colour every night...but I rarely wear blush during the day.
Lip balm: La Roche Posay ceralip. My sister and my mom both bought one after trying mine. I am about to buy my second tube -- which I have never done before -- usually I always get a totally new brand for lip balm each time I need to buy one because as you might have guessed by now, I love trying new things -- but ceralip is that brilliant! It is very moisturizing, and it is actually a lip repair cream rather than a balm so it is a good base for lipstick/gloss once it sinks in. I find that it heals my lips too. But when I want colour and my lips are no longer battling winter, I use MAC's tinted lip conditioner in perfect plum.
Lipstick: Either Clinique Colour Surge Buttershine Lipstick in Pink Toffee/the breast cancer awareness one (it might be called Think Pink?) or MAC Sophisto (it is a luster formulation) all three of which seem moisturizing, and are sooo pretty in a "why, yes, my lips naturally are this rosy gorgeousness!"
Lipgloss: MAC Popmode lipglass/Prescriptives Rain gloss in Fig Splash/Chanel Spark glossimer/Revlon Superlustrous lipgloss in nude lustre are all staples. I am also a lipgloss junkie...I own way too many to count, so I do change it up a bit depending on my mood/outfit/rest of my makeup
Makeup Remover: Either Lancome bifacils (if I've got money to burn) or Rimmel (excellent, especially for the price. It is gentle, I don't lose eyelashes, and it doesn't sting). For a very lazy night, I use those makeup remover wipes (whatever brand is on sale at the drugstore, though I prefer Olay, and I love MAC's wipes but not at that price.
Treatment: Elizabeth Arden overnight success serum (this smells great, has a marvelous texture, and I've been using it consistently for a year and have gotten tons of compliments on my skin!)
Moisturizer: Elizabeth Arden good night sleep cream (nice smell too, and it really sinks in!).
Prescription product: Dalacin T (for when I break out -- though that is getting rare as my skin dries out)
Labels: Contest Entries
I tend to wear a lot of dark colors (mainly black, I looovvvee black) but as the weather warms up I realize I need to add a little color to my wardrobe. I decided to hit the mall with my mom, who was also in need of some color therapy, when we stopped by Nordstom's shoe department, where this pretty pair caught my eye:
I love the bright yellow- it's a color I wouldn't normally wear (I'm so pale that yellow tends to make me look sickly) but it definitely works on a shoe, especially when paired with dark jeans or black tights. My mom loved them too, but was drawn to the dark red (which sadly isn't available online but you can find it in stores).
"It's the matching mother/daughter look you never let me try when you were a little girl!"
"Okay mom, whatever you say..."
Here are 9 other great pairs for under $100 that are sure to brighten any wardrobe.
Guess? "Talia" Sandal, $84.95
Gabrielle Rocha, "Ellie," $69.95
Steven by Steve Madden, "Knockout," $99.95
Seychelles, "And The Winner Is" Sandal, $74.95
Exchange by Charles David, "Marine," $93.95
Steve Madden, "Cutsie," $83.95
Guess, "Carrie," $93.95
Linea Paolo, "Penny" Pump, $99.95
Nina, "Fashion-LS," $82.95
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I have a theory that there is an entire category of clothes that can only be worn by girls that are not only skinny and stunningly beautiful, but give off that effortlessly cool vibe that allows them to wear, for instance, dresses resembling trash bags, and still look good. This is why you can flip through the pages of Vogue, Elle and Lucky and think about how great the models look, but when you see the outfit in real life you realize that you could never, ever wear it.
I've come to accept this as a fact of life; skinny, gorgeous, cool girls are able to get away with things that the rest of us never will. And it's not like I even have the option of buying the clothes shown in Vogue, so I don't lose sleep over it. But "what does bother me is when I see something that's affordable and very cute, but that I realize 98% of women couldn't wear without looking ridiculous.
I'm willing to bet that a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I think that Gap's new Boyfriend Trouser Khakis definitely fall into this category. I love their new commercial with Claire Danes (which you can watch here). I like the original take on the "battle of the sexes" theme and I find Claire and Patrick Wilson very appealing. They're attractive but still look like the best looking couple you know (as in, they're not Posh and Becks, "we don't exist in real life" good looking). And let's be honest, I'm a sucker for dance-offs.
But alas, not all of us look so lovable and pretty in baggy, fitless pants. I think you have to not only be Claire Danes to look good in them, but you have to have done that little dance first, wear them with your boyfriend's untucked dress shirt and do that hand on hip pose that she does so well. Don't believe me? Check out the print advertisements, in which skinny, gorgeous, cool girls can't even pull off the look:
Gap came up with a nice concept "wear your boyfriend's khakis!" and a likable ad, but for the umpteenth time, the clothes fall flat. It makes you wonder if they'll ever get their act together and bring The Gap back to it's former glory.
But one final note: this "boyfriend article of clothing" is nothing new, various brands market all kinds of shirts, sweaters and pants as "boyfriend" style, but the end result is that it's just a baggy, unfitted sweater that looks sloppy. I don't see any appeal in wanting to dress like your boyfriend. Do these imaginary women that clothing companies advertise to have boyfriends with such fabulous wardrobes that they're dying to steal a pair of khakis? They certainly aren't talking about any guy I've ever dated.
What do you guys think? Am I too harsh on the khakis?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Larissa, age: 35
Hair: fine, zero body, straight, brunette
Labels: Contest Entries
When I find another beauty product junkie, the first question that usually comes up is "what's your daily routine?" While a lot of the products you save for special occasions (makeup or fragrance for a night out with friends or a first date) are beloved and exciting to use, a product that's truly desert-island worthy is going to go in the daily rotation. It's a great way to let your friends know about your amazing lengthening mascara that you think they'd love, and to ask for suggestions when you're still searching for the perfect tinted moisturizer for your dry skin.
I thought it would be great to read about some of your daily routines, to recreate these fun conversations on a larger scale. I've decided to have a contest in which each person who e-mails me with the list of products they use every day is automatically entered into a random drawing for a $40 Sephora gift certificate.
Here's how it works:
Ideally I'd like a list of products you use on a regular day (if can be that day or any day if you switch things up frequently), in order of use. Include a description (it can be long or short) about your skin and hair type and any other special conditions that you treat. Then it would be great if you could comment on at least a couple of your favorite products and talk about why they're so amazing and if you have products that don't work very well, you can mention that too (hopefully commenters with similar skin/hair issues will respond with suggestions). Please let me know your first name and your age, and whether you're okay with my featuring your list on the site.
If you know me in real life (friends, family) you can participate, but you won't be entered in the drawing (sorry). Only one submission per e-mail will be counted. If you only write a list of products and don't discuss them, you'll still be considered for the prize but I won't repost your response. Also, don't spam me with fake entries- the goal of this is to learn more about products and share tips and advice with other readers. I won't be reposting every single response, but I'd like to put up 2-3 a week for the duration of the contest.
Just to make sure that everyone understands how this works, here's an example submission based on the products I use every day.
Meg, 20 years old
Skin type/color: prone to acne, dryness and sensitivity, very pale
Hair type/color: straight, fine, unprocessed blonde hair, oily scalp
Shampoo: Paul Mitchell Shampoo #2 (this is the greatest shampoo in the world for getting product, sweat and grease out of hair. use it after the gym and you'll be amazed at how squeaky clean your hair feels. also helps give my hair body.)
Conditioner: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Conditioner (this is alright, but I'm still looking for a good conditioner that will moisturize without weighing my hair down)
Body Wash: Product Body Crush on You all over, Olay Moisturinse on legs and arms
Face Wash: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (I slather it on, let it sit for a minute and then exfoliate with a washcloth. it doesn't irritate or dry out my skin but gets rid of all the flakies that come from using Retin-A Micro at night.)
Body Moisturizer: Cetaphil Cream
Toner: La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water (I honestly have no idea if this does anything for my skin but it feels really nice)
Face Moisturizer/Sunscreen: Olay Total Effects Moisturizing Vitamin Complex, fragrance free with SPF
Tinted Moisturizer: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, oil free, in Porcelain
Powder: MAC Blot Powder, in Medium (this might be my favorite product of all time, I really can't go anywhere without it. A must-have for anyone with oil-prone skin)
Blush: NARS Orgasm
Mascara: Clinique Long Pretty Lashes in Black/Brown (I always curl my lashes first)
Lip balm: Blistex Lip Medex
Lipstick: Clinique Colour Surge Buttershine Lipstick in Raspberry Rush
Makeup Remover: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (fabulous for removing makeup and sunscreen, everything just melts off)
Same facewash, toner, face moisturizer as morning
Prescription products: Retin-A Micro 0.1% and Duac gel (both for acne, which is basically non-existent at this point thanks to these two products), Topicort LP (for dryness and sensitivity)
Body Moisturizer: LUSH Each Peach Massage Bar (you can use this during the day but I love slathering it on at night when the oils can really sink in)
Any questions about how the contest works? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. To submit your list and enter the contest, e-mail your list to firstname.lastname@example.org. You have until April 4 (three weeks from today) at midnight to send in your entry, and I'll announce the winner on April 5th.
Can't wait to hear about your routines and product recs!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
In the last 5 years the price of jeans has steadily risen to the point where you can easily buy a pair for more than the monthly rent of a starter apartment. Many boutiques offer customized artisanal jeans, where grinding, washes and stitching are spoken with the same hushed tones wine connoisseurs discuss vintages and notes. Even a pair from the lowly Gap now averages over $60. What's a denim-lover to do?
I've always shopped for jeans in the Juniors department of Nordstrom and Macy's, where I can find a basic pair of low-rise, stretchy bootcut or slightly flared jeans for around $45. I never gave much though to my jeans, as long as they fit well (finding inseams long enough has always been a struggle) and are comfortable enough to move in.
But in the last month I've started getting annoyed with my current rotation of jeans. First, they're just too low cut. Combined with the stretchy denim, I have to be careful when I bend over, because they'll slip down my hips or butt. Second, they don't fit as well as they should. I have wide hips and a thin waist, so the fit at the waistband is often too loose. And because I'm tall, I find that regular length jeans are a little too short, while long lengths drag on the floor, which ruins the bottom seams. Finally, it seems that none of these Junior styles are available in a solid, dark wash. They're always "distressed" (why do I want to pay for someone to beat up my jeans for me?), "whiskered" on the thighs (please, my thighs don't need any extra attention drawn to them) and they're always darker at the calf than on thigh.
I decided to venture into the world of expensive jeans (defining expensive as anything over $60), wanting to see whether higher prices equaled higher quality. I had the best luck at Macy's, which had an impressive variety of brands and styles (though probably no better or worse than similar department stores). Unfortunately, the service also sucked, so I was on my own to dig through styles and sizes and colors to find something that fit. I tried dozens of pairs, refusing to look at prices until I narrowed my selection down to a few pairs, when I picked the cheapest pair among the best styles.
It turned out that the two pairs I ended up deciding between were among the cheapest I tried and were the same price and the same brand. They were the Lola Boot and Lil' Maggie styles by Lucky Brand Jeans, a brand I'd seen but passed over many times.
I ended up choosing the Lil' Maggie (above) because it fit wonderfully (low cut but not too low and just the right length) and had a number of details that I just couldn't resist. I love the uniform dark wash, which is so slimming, and the contrasting yellow stitching. The denim has just the right amount of stretch, is easy to move in and keeps it's shape through multiple wearings. But the real bonus is the waist, which is cut higher in back than in front. I'm sure Lucky didn't invent this, but it has to be the greatest thing to happen to jeans in the last ten years. I can bend all I want without fear of exposing underwear (or worse). The freedom!
I tried all the trendiest brands, but I saw no difference in quality between these $98 Lucky's and the $200 Seven's. There are definitely a number of good, hiqh quality brands in the $80-$120 range that are a big step up from the teen jeans I was buying before, and I think I can safely say that I won't be digging through the racks in Nordstrom's BP anymore.
Jeans are so subjective, it totally depends on which brands and styles fit your body, and the Lucky's just happened to fit mine. So tell me, dear readers, what jeans brand are you devoted to?
Monday, March 12, 2007
Last Thursday's New York Times had an article about Calvin Klein's attempt to recreate the success of their CK One fragrance, which captured the spirit of the grunge movement and flew off the shelves. The question arose of how to sum up the ideals and values of this generation of 20-somethings (my generation, which they unfortunately refer to as "technosexuals," a term that only brings images of robot sex to mind).
While CK One touched on feelings of ambivalence and alienation felt by young adults in the early 90's, CK in2u is intended to evoke a generation whose relationships are defined by casual hookups instigated through online contact. Basically, we're so incapable of having real relationships that we're forced to sit around all day searching the internet for people to have one night stands with. Will this scent feature notes of computer plastic, sweat and latex, with a fast drydown meant to evoke the short lifespan of these person-to-person interactions? And does anyone (besides Prince circa Purple Rain or 12 year old text messaging addicts, maybe) actually converse in shorthand like "i'm in 2 u"? Seriously, what were they thinking?
Aside from the obvious point that I can't imagine anyone wanting to identify as a "technosexual," it just amazes and frustrates me that this is the simplistic and patronizing way my generation is perceived. Granted, the popularity of hooking up and finding relationships through the internet is unique to this time, but those don't seem to be things people are proud of, or want to openly identify with. Our parents had the hippie movement, classic rock, youth activism, drug experimentation and the Vietnam war and we have... MySpace hookups, Paris Hilton and poor social skills?
Obviously there are other things that can be pinpointed to define this generation: an unparalleled pressure to overachieve that begins at an early age, a world greatly changed by 9/11, an increased interest in religion and spirituality, a greater openness to non-heterosexual relationships, and the more positive aspects of widespread internet use, such as availability of information and ease of communicating with people all over the world... and these are just a few things that come to mind immediately. Granted, none of these are ideas that could be used to market a perfume (if they release a "fragrances of the Ivy Leagues" to capitalize on the prestigious college feeding frenzy, I'm throwing in the towel). So why not acknowledge that they hit gold last time but that making pronouncements about an entire generation of people is a risky move that can easily backfire?
Calvin Klein predicts that the fragrance will be a huge hit, and I have to wonder whether I'm alone in not wanting to identify with the generational traits this product identifies and glorifies. I hate to criticize a product before it even comes out, but at this point, CK in2u looks and sounds just plain lame.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Last Friday my spring break began and I spent the day driving from Massachusetts to Michigan. I actually enjoy driving, so I didn't hugely mind the 12 hour trip, though it certainly isn't the prettiest drive in the world. The middle leg of the trip is through Canada, and I alway make a point to refuel my car (and my iced tea supply) in Niagara Falls, NY so I don't end up with excess Canadian money that I won't use.
But as I drove down the uh, beautiful Wayne Gretzky Parkway, I got to thinking about what I may be missing by speeding through "our neighbor to the North." For instance, I've heard a rumor that you can buy pink grapefruit flavored Mentos in Canada. Anyone have proof that such a delicacy exists? And I know that there are a lot of beauty products that are unavailable in the U.S. (like European sunscreens, for instance). So I need to ask a favor of all the Canadian readers (and I know you're out there! No more lurking!)... when I drive back in 2 weeks, what exclusively Canadian foods/treats/beauty products should I try? I won't have time to go an explore any cities or browse through malls, but there has to be a number of things I can get at a grocery or drugstore. Any recommendations?
And finally, I have a message for New York State: Your Thruway is wonderful. For those of us who regularly drive the 300 mile stretch between Albany and Buffalo, there is no better route. People drive fast (a godsend for a trip this long), cops are mysteriously absent and there's a clean, non-sketchy rest stop every 20 miles or so. This is all admirable. But there is one very important thing missing from your Thruway, and that's Subway restaurants (or any healthy eating options in general). In those 300 miles, there is not ONE sign for a Subway, and the restaurant options within the otherwise lovely rest stops are limited to Cinnabons, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, Edy's and the like. Have you considered that your drivers might want something that isn't going to give them a heart attack?
Do you realize that the lowly Ohio Turnpike basically kicks your ass when it comes to dining options? They have Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Max and Erma's (a great Midwest family chain). Salads and sandwiches and wraps that fill you up but won't make you feel gross when you're still driving 6 hours later.
I realize that it's very unlikely that any New York state or local representatives are reading this right now, but I just had to get it off my chest. If any upstate New Yorkers have suggestions for where I can find healthier food without traveling too far from the Thruway, please let me know. And thanks to everyone else for allowing me to indulge in this rant.