Saturday, April 07, 2007

Contest Entry #10: Toya

Although the contest winner has been announced, there were a few final entries that I thought had some great suggestions. Today's featured entry comes from Toya, blogger behind The Life of a Ladybug and product aficionado. In addition to writing about beauty products, Toya is a makeup artist, so she really knows her makeup (just check out how gorgeous her makeup looks in this picture!) I love that she mixes and matches so many different shades depending on her mood and outfit, and any girl who recognizes the power of a great blush is to be trusted when it comes to makeup.

Toya, 28

Skin type/color
: My skin is mostly oily, but I have some dry patches on my nose and the tip of my chin. The color is a medium golden brown, if you ask me, but feel free to look at the picture and make your own determination.

Hair type/color
: Lots of unrelaxed dark brown hair, with chunky blonde highlights (the color has grown out some since that picture). It is very dry and tends to frizziness and breakage, so I'm gentle with it and am very particular about what products I use.

Morning routine

Face wash
: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin. I love that this product is so inexpensive and widely available - it is the best cleanser I have ever used for my skin, gentle enough to not cause overdryness or irritation, but works well enough to remove make-up, dirt and oil.

: Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner. I'm very serious about not using alcohol on my face. Though my skin is oily, using harsh products like alcohol don't help, they just exacerbate the problem, since they make my skin so dry that it goes into oil-production overdrive. I only use toner after I've worn lots of make-up for if my skin is feeling particularly oily.

Serums and whatnot
: i.d. BareVitamins Skin Rever-Upper. I only started using this because it came in the BareEscentuals Get Started Kit that I bought. But now I'm glad I started using it. My skin feels very smooth after use and it works well enough to add a touch of moisture to my oily skin without causing it to grease up.

: On days when I don't use BareMinerals, I moisturize with Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 15. I also use a touch of Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel on the dry patches on my nose and chin.

Body moisturizer
: Lately, I've mostly been using Boots Body Butter in Olive and Honey (or something like that). It goes on very smooth and has a light, pleasant scent that doesn't interfere with my perfume. When I need more moisturization and/or am not in the mood for perfume, I use Carol's Daughter Body Butter in either Jamaican Punch or Almond Cookie.

: I have a few different powders/foundations that I use, but it's mostly powder foundations during the day, since I want to cut down on oil. Recently, I've mostly been using BareMinerals Powder Foundation in Medium Tan. I am also a fan of MAC Studio Fix in NC45 and L'Oreal True Match Powder Foundation in Warm 7/8. In the winter, when I need a bit more moisturization, I use the liquid equivalent of the MAC or L'Oreal foundations.

: On most days, I don't wear eyeshadow. (I know - it's scandalous for a make-up artist and beauty junkie to admit that!) I just don't have time in the morning when I'm getting ready for work and on the weekends, I'm usually running errands or in rehearsals/workshops at the dance studio, so there's no need. When I do wear eye make-up during a regular day, my favorites are MAC (especially the Veluxe Pearls) and NARS. I do like to wear eyeliner on most days, as it helps to "open" my eyes. I always use MAC Eye Kohl, particularly Teddy (my absolute favorite - a bronzy brown), Phone Number (charcoal gray) and Smolder (black).

Mascara: Recently, I've been using BADGal Lash, which gives darkness and length without leaving me looking like a raccoon. Maybelline Full 'n Soft is another fave for its naturally full look, without clumping.

Blush: I am a huge fan of blush and think everyone should wear it. My most minimal beauty routine is concealer, blush and tinted lip balm. I won't leave the house without blush - it does so much to make me look rosy, healthy, and awake. It's great stuff. My favorite blushes are: MAC Powder Blush in Fleur Power, Bobbi Brown Blush in Coral and Apricot, and Jane Iredale PurePressed Blush in Golden Apricot. As you can tell, my favorites are all peachy colors - that's what looks best and most natural on me because of my warm undertones. Besides these, though, I have bunches of others.

Shimmer powders/bronzers: I wear a bronzer on most days - I like the added bit of warmth. My favorites are MAC bronzer in Refined Golden, KLS' Kissable Cocoa and CARGO bronzer in Dark. CARGO BeachBlush in Coral Beach makes a great blush/bronzer combo. Sometimes I wear shimmer/luminizing powders. I like Laura Mercier Loose Shimmer Powder in Star Dust and MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade.

: I am a lover of lipgloss. I think it's sexy to have moist lips and I love my naturally full lips and like to play them up. I wear lipgloss every day, unless I'm purposefully going for a 40s-inspired look (which isn't often, since I enjoy more natural make-up, mainly). MAC makes my favorite glosses, particularly Viva Glam VI, Viva Glam V, Pink Poodle, Prrr, Oyster Girl, Instant Gold, and Love Nectar. But I am also a fan of glosses by Kimora Lee Simmons (the Fabulosity Glossamers are to die for!), Bare Escentuals, Revlon, Tarte, and Milani, to name a few. Most of my lipsticks are from MAC, but I also like Bobbi Brown and Besame. All my lipliners are MAC (can you tell I'm a MAChead?), except for one by Vasanti, which is marvelous because of its smooth creaminess.

Night Routine

Shampoo/Conditioner: I wash my hair in the shower at night and only once a week. I don't use shampoo because it's drying to my hair. I cleanse with Suave Conditoner in Tropical Coconut, mostly and follow with leave-in conditioners and styling products by either Curls or Kinky Curly.

Make-up remover: I use Dove Cleansing Cloths when I've only used daily make-up, but if I've been onstage or out for the night and my make-up is heavier, I take off the first layer with unscented baby wipes, then follow with a cleansing cloth. I then use the same regime as I use for daytime, though I skip SPF.

Serums and whatnot
: I use Paula's Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Gel and an eye cream I got from Walgreen's (Walgreen's brand - yeah, it's cheap, but it works).

Body moisturizer
: Same as day. I also usually put baby powder-scented Vaseline on my feet as a treatment.

Saturday's Best of Blogs

Daddy Likey outdoes herself with a hilarious public service announcement against Lucky-style layering.

The Kingdom of Style Queens have a preview of Kate Moss's new collection for Topshop, which will only be available at Barneys in the U.S. Personally, I'm siding with the Fug Girls on this one.

Jodi at Ramblings of an Unemployed Writer has a great post on common courtesies that we often forget. has a helpful article on the best ways to pose for photos.

Have a great weekend everyone and happy Passover and Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Contest Winner!

I want to thank everyone for entering the Daily Routine Contest. I received over 100 entries from all over the world and it was a lot of fun to read everyone's routines. I now have a list of at least 15 new products I'd like to try, and I hope everyone enjoyed reading the routines I posted (a few of the ones I received right before the deadline were also post-worthy, so I'm going to put up a couple of them over the weekend).

To select a winner, I asked a friend for a random number (49), and then chose the 49th entry I received. That entry belonged to Robin from Canada, and I hope she gets something great with her gift card.

I'll have another contest in the next couple of months (though I haven't yet decided what the prize will be). Thanks for all your great entries and suggestions!

Friday Finds: Sheer Tees

I received the following e-mail a couple of weeks ago:

Hi Meg -

Your readers seem great on helping people find certain fashion/beauty items, and I thought I'd come to you with something I'm searching for, in case you wanted to post it.

There was a Sex and the City episode in which Carrie was wearing a sheer white scoopneck tee with a white cami layered underneath. I love the clean, modern look of it and while I already own a similar cami, am looking for the sheer tee.

3/4 or full length sleeves
Machine washable
Not terribly long in the torso
$30 or under


Though I don't remember that specific episode of Sex and the City, I know the look that Angie is referring to, the crisp combination of white on white is so fresh and summery, especially when paired with dark denim. And a 3/4 length or long sleeved top is great for cooler nights when you want a little more coverage. Here are a few of the tees I found that fit Angie's requirements:

Realitee Puff Sleeve Pointelle Tee, from Nordstrom, $28

J.Crew Perfect Fit Boatneck Tee, $29.50

Gap Elbow-Sleeved Ruched Scoop Neck, $19.99

Gap Elbow-Length Scoop Neck Tee, $12.99

Old Navy Tiny Fit U-Neck Tee, $12.50

If any has any other suggestions for where to buy a similar tee, let Angie know in the comments. And as always, I love hearing from my readers! If you have a question you'd like me to answer (finding an item of clothing or anything else), feel free to e-mail me at

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Shape Shifting: How To Dress A Part Pear/Part Hourglass Shape

I love getting questions from readers, but I know that there's a limit to how much advice I can give, based on my own experiences. So I like to throw these questions out to the rest of you guys, because I'm always impressed with the insights from commenters. If you've got anything to add on to my post, or if you disagree with what I've said, leave a comment and hopefully the question-asker can get the fullest, most informed answer possible.

Hi Meg,

Great site! My question: what qualities comprise the hourglass body shape? For years, I was convinced I was a pear--small bust (AA), slim arms, defined waist (4-6), ample hips/thighs/bum--and dressed accordingly. However, I just noticed that my shoulders and hips are proportional. Does this feature crossover into hourglass land, or do I still need boobs to make the cut?

Any thoughts and/or fashion advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Confused (yet content with her weird birthday suit nonetheless),


Hey Lisa!

So funny you should ask that, because I'm in the same position as you! Wide shoulders, medium bust, small waist, large hips (that are equal to shoulders). I've been trying to figure out the same question, but after years of wearing clothes that weren't totally flattering, I've discovered the following:

For people with our body type, I think the first priority is minimizing hips/thigh/butt. I try to stick to the rules about wearing darker colors on my bottom half, and tops that are lighter and have detail that draws the eye away from my hips (ruching at the bust, an interesting neckline, etc).

Short skirts tend to emphasize my bottom half, so I find that showing skin on top (sleeveless tops and anything with a V-neck tends to work for me), while wearing a knee length skirt or pants is the most flattering.

I also like to wear tops that fall below my hips, so they don't cut me off at my widest part. Long tops are also very trendy right now, so you shouldn't have any problem finding them in all price ranges.

A lot of times people recommend tops that widen or emphasize shoulders on women who are pear shaped (like blazers with very defined shoulders), and I always avoid that, because my shoulders don't need any extra emphasis, it's my bust that needs it.

And I think the biggest thing for our shape is emphasizing the curves by showing off the small waist (wrap dresses are fabulous, belted tops are great, and anything that's fitted at the waist and shows off the curves is a plus!).

But of course, I sometimes come across a really cute outfit that looks okay, but emphasizes the fact that my bust is so much smaller than my hips. Or a lot of times I'll find a dress that fits in the hips but is too baggy across my chest. I wear my favorite push up bra (it's actually a water bra, so it adds a cup size) on these occasions just so I'm more even overall.

I'm so glad you mentioned that you're still content with your body, it frustrates me that so many women hate their bodies because they have feel like they don't fit into a certain mold, or that clothes don't look good on them... one of the best lessons I've learned is that wearing the right clothes can dramatically change the way your body looks, if you pick pieces that fit great and are really flattering to your type. It was a hard lesson for me to learn that there are a lot of things that I simply can't wear on my body (tent dresses or any top without a defined waist, anything emphasizing the shoulders, and skirts that are stretching across my hips and thighs are definite no no's for me) but I know I'm better off buying what looks good on me, not just what looks good on the rack.

Anyone else have experience dressing this body type? If you've got other tips I've left out, please leave them in the comments!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Contest Entry #9, Erika

Most people assume that if you love beauty products, you spend hours a day "putting on your face." Ironically, some of the biggest product addicts I know have their daily beauty routines down to 30 minutes or less (we're talking shower, hair, makeup, the whole deal). Today's entry comes from Erika, the super sweet editor of The Makeup Bag, who has a fairly elaborate routine that amazingly only takes her 21 minutes. Lots of sites discuss beauty products, but The Makeup Bag always has the scoop on the latest releases from all the big beauty brands. It's a great read if you want to stay on top of the beauty news. Here's her daily routine:

I have about 4 shampoo/conditioner sets in my shower right now, but this morning I used Vavoom Bust Out Body shampoo & conditioner. This stuff works wonders on my fine hair. I used Shiseido New Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam to wash my face and then moisturized with Anthelios SX. I don't think I'll ever use another daytime moisturizer again. This doesn't smell or feel like sunscreen and it offers the most UVA/UVB protection of any product on the market. Love it!

I moisturized my body with MD Skincare Hydra Pure Firming Body Cream. I just started using this product recently and it is incredible. My skin has never felt more supple and moisturized (and I live in the desert!).

After moisturizing, I move to the guest bathroom where I keep all my makeup and hair products. This is where I spend most of my time getting ready each morning. Usually my husband sits with me and we'll have coffee together and talk while I put on makeup, but we just opened a new restaurant so he's been leaving the house at 5:30 each morning!

I've been on a tinted moisturizer kick lately, trying several different brands. So far my favorite is Estee Lauder DayWear Plus but this morning I'm wearing BECCA Sheer Colour Makeup SPF 20. This one is super sheer and moisturizing, but I find myself needing blotting paper by the time I get to the office at 8:00 am. (Good for days when my skin is feeling dry). I then used BECCA Fine Loose Finishing Powder and Clinique Fresh Bloom All Over Color in Peony for blush. Aside from lipgloss, blush is my favorite makeup item to mix up each morning. Another one I've been liking lately is Bobbi Brown Blush in Soft Pink. It looks uber-bright in the container, but gives me a great pop of color that looks totally natural.

I always fill in my brows with Benefit Brow Zings and use an eyeshadow base (which, today, happened to be Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Wheat). My eyes are the most boring part of my routine, as I rarely stray from my usual neutral-toned palette. I have tons of variations of the same colors. Lately, I've been using MAC Retrospeck all over my lid, and MAC Mothbrown in my crease and over my eyeliner (Bobbi Brown Longwear Gel Eyeliner). Mothbrown has to be the greatest color EVER created. I don't know what I'm going to do when it runs out.

To finish things off, I used Shiseido mascara and Estee Lauder All-Day lipstick in Venetian Plum from their Heritage Collection.

For my hair, I always use a thickening serum/cream before blow drying with a big round brush to add volume. This morning I applied Biolage Bodifying Creme Gel. I used to love Big & Sexy hairspray, but my new favorite is Vavoom Freezing Spray. Keeps my hair from falling flat before noon (Ha!).

And there you have it. Twenty-one minutes from shower to 'ready'.

Women as Wallpaper

One of my biggest pet peeves is television shows (usually game shows) that use female models for no purpose other than serving as a pretty backdrop to the show's action. Typically clad in skimpy clothes and high heels, with big breasts and even bigger hair, these women flash glowing smiles and show off the "fabulous prizes" with enthusiastic arm motions, serving as one half of the magic game show formula of cash+sex appeal=ratings.

The worst offender when it comes to treating women as wallpaper is "Deal or No Deal," a show that features a wall of what are essentially Maxim models come to life, who collectively pout when a contestant loses the $1,000,000 prize or smile wider than what seems humanly possible when he wins big. Every girl has essentially the same body and wears the same black minidress, only distinguishable by their number (each girl has a number and keeps it throughout the show). Throughout the show, host Howie Mandel gives fun facts on the models ("Did you know that Leyla was featured in a recent Budweiser commercial?") and peppers them with trivial questions about their lives reminiscent of the Q&A's of sexed up C-list celebrities in men's magazines. He'll refer to "the gorgeous Anya" or "our beautiful Jenelle" and this flirtatious banter gets picked up by the male contestants who beg the models (they know them by name) to "give them a good number" so that their chances of winning are increased.

NBC plays up the model aspect of the show by heavily promoting the girls on the show's website, which features bios and a photo gallery of each girl, posing with PG-rated flirtatiousness. Here's a sample portion of one model's bio "Her down-to-earth nature and sexy, sassy appeal have led her to grace the covers of many internationally renowned calendars, catalogues, and magazines. The highlight was scoring the 2006 Maxim calendar cover.

Lisa is highly ambitious and extremely passionate about life and loves the challenges of the entertainment business and what it brings! Life is a journey and there is no stopping this talented blonde beauty." Even the girls who had college degrees were discussed in this dismissive manner, and I couldn't help but wonder why anyone whose ambitions were higher than wanting to be an FHM cover girl would be willing to be reduced to a glorified mannequin on this show.

I find it admirable that Deal or No Deal features racial diversity among their models, but they still all have similar bodies and are packaged to look, act and speak the same. Is that what we're supposed to want in a woman, or is it just what NBC thinks we want? Sure, each girl is given a few qualities to distinguish herself (one was a pageant queen, another has had minor roles in a number of films, yadda yadda), but these superficial distinctions do nothing to contribute to our image of these women as individuals.

When it comes down to it, I really just don't understand how something like this is completely acceptable and enjoyed in 2007. It would be one thing if they were going to objectify men and women (about half of the contestants and I'm sure a similar percentage of the audience are women), but the idea that a wall of hot but identity-less girls somehow enhances the show is beyond me. At what point will our society decide that treating women as objects is no longer okay?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Crocs, My Lovely Lady Crocs

Last summer I learned one of the most important life lessons when it comes to shoes, and unfortunately, I learned it the hard way. It was my first summer *really* commuting to work in New York. I was interning in NYC the previous summer, but it only took me about 20 minutes to get from my apartment to my job, with only 3 blocks of walking. For six blocks of walking each day, you can wear just about any shoe without fear of soreness or blisters. But last year my commute more than doubled, with about 20 minutes of walking alone.

My first couple of weeks on the job I wore a pair of open-toed shoes to work each day, not bothering to bring an extra pair because I didn't want to change at the office. I even wore many of the same pairs when I went out with my friends at night. My stubbornness certainly got the best of me when two weeks later my shoes (and feet) were a wreck, beat up and dirty from all the hard walking on dirty sidewalks and in icky subway stations. They were all pretty cheap, usually snagged off the discount rack at DSW, but even with a thorough cleaning, they were no longer nice enough to wear to work.

I learned two things from this experience: first, if you're doing a lot of walking in the city, don't wear open toed shoes, ESPECIALLY light colored pairs. Second, every working woman knows to wear disposable shoes during her commute and then to change into her Blahniks in the office bathroom when she arrives. This is something they should include in a memo to all interns and new employees, because I would've been saved quite a bit of foot pain and shoe-related heartache if I'd known this earlier.

So when I found out that I'd be working again in New York this summer, I knew I had to prepare my shoe collection. My first mission was to find a pair that I could wear to/from work and when I had to do a lot of walking. I needed something light, easy to store in a purse, fairly inexpensive (because they'll inevitably be destroyed by the end of the summer), close-toed (to prevent the dreaded "black toes") and of course, comfortable (because getting blisters from a pair of unsexy flats is like being punished for a crime you didn't commit).

After much searching, I came across a pair that met all of my criteria (and they were cute to boot), when I glanced over to check out the brand and saw that they were made by CROCS, the evil twin of the vilest shoemaker of all, UGGS. Could these lovely shoes really be created by the monster that gave Mario Batali his signature footwear? But as I read through the reviews of hundreds of women who already owned a pair in this style (for most of them this was their first and only purchase from Crocs), I decided to put aside my biases and go on and buy them.

Is this the cutest pair of shoes I've ever laid eyes on? Of course not. But they will certainly do the job when it comes to keeping my feet clean and comfortable, my pedicure intact and my other shoes looking good for longer. When I got them in the mail yesterday, I tried them on right away and was pleased to see that they fit my wide feet perfectly (many reviews on Zappo's recommended buying a size down, and since I normally wear a 9 1/2, I decided to go down to a 9). I began walking around my house to test them out, but within two minutes my feet started slipping in and out and making unattractive farting noises.

Sweat is definitely a problem with these shoes, as they're made out of some plastic/rubber compound that doesn't absorb moisture in the slightest. I had to go out and buy some cheap Odor Eaters Anti-Sweat inserts, which fixed the problem right away. While this material may not be good for sweaty feet, it's awesome when it comes to cleaning, it's super easy to throw your shoes in the sink and scrub off any stains or scuffs.

And if you're in the market for a new pair of shoes, Zappo's is offering free overnight shipping until the 30th, which is awesome if you're like me and love instant gratification.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Contest Entry #8: Corey

Today's routine comes from the lovely Corey, a product junkie turned new beauty blogger who's also a frequent commenter on the blog (I gotta admit, I am a little biased towards people who comment, I just love hearing what you guys think!). She's got a wedding coming up, and while she's got the skincare stuff down, I thought you guys might have some suggestions for concealers or powders, since she's not too happy with what she's currently using.

In fact, I could use some concealer help as well... I've been using MAC's Studio Finish concealer (great color, as I need something with a yellow base, but it really dries out my skin and looks bad within 6 hours of applying). I'm looking for something that won't break me out or dry me out, has a yellow base and will cover redness and undereye circles well. Any suggestions?

And finally, don't forget that Thursday (4/5) is the last day to enter the contest. I'll stop accepting entries on Thursday at midnight (U.S. East Coast time) so get 'em in before it's too late!

Corey, 28 years old

Skin type/color: Acne-prone combination skin, VERY fair.

Hair type/color: Thick, healthy, mostly straight (will frizz with humidity) and highlighted.

Morning Routine:

Shampoo/Conditioner: Switch between AG Hair Cosmetics Sterling Silver (helps keep my blonde super bright) and Paul Mitchell Super Skinny to keep my hair flat without a flat iron.
Body Wash: Sabon NYC Shower Oil in Ginger Orange. Keeps my skin clean, moist and the ginger lime is a fantastic wake-me-up scent.
Face Wash: Sabon NYC Seaweed Cleanser
Face Moisturizer/Sunscreen: Mary Kay Timewise Moisturizer with SPF and I always use Sabon NYC Eye Cream. It’s the best stuff!
Body Moisturizer: If I am wearing my favorite perfume (Japanese Cherry Blossom) I will use the coordinating Bath & Body Works Body Cream, otherwise I use LUSH Dream Cream if I’m going with another scent. I hate mixing scents! For my hands or quick pick-ups I like to use The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Lotion. LOVE that stuff!

Toner: I tend to stay away from toner as it dries my skin out too much.

…finish it up with Smashbox’s Photo Finish Foundation Primer


I am forever bouncing on this depending on mood, clothing and so forth.

Concealer: I just started using LORAC coverup and so far I’m content. Not in love though.
Powder: This is something that I bounce between about 4 to 5 (seriously) different brands on with the end result of most of the time not using any because I don’t have a love for one.

Foundation: Mary Kay #204. Just don’t tell the rep that sold me it. She thinks I’m allergic *cough*
Eyeliner: Rarely do I use an eyeliner, but when I do I tend to use Avon Duplicity in either brown or black depending on eyeshadow color. My eyes are on the small side and eyeliner tends to close them in more.
Eyeshadow: I tend to match my eyeshadow to my outfit, I am so picky about matching colors! Depending on the outfit I either use Clinique, Estee Lauder or some stuff I have left over from my Barbizon Modeling (if you call it that) days. Ha!

Blush: I’m one of the few that actually liked Smashbox’s O-Glow I use a teeny dab of it on the apples of my cheeks and finish it off with Cover Girl Peachy Keen Cheekers.
Mascara: Tattoo Lash by Mark or Comb Out by Mark depending on the look I’m going for. LOVE them and they were cheap!
Lipstick: Givenchy Pop Gloss in Hip Hop Red (new found love, it is THE perfect red!), Tarte Inside-Out Apple-a-Day Lip Gloss (amazing stuff, not sticky and almost a balm feeling to it) or a discontinued shade/lipstick that Revlon had in 2000 called Black Cherry. I bought 5 tubes of it when they discontinued it and I’m still hoarding it but I LOVE it. It’s the perfect wine color that mixes well or can be worn alone without looking vampy on ANYONE. I have many friends that have used and love the color. I rue the day that this shade is gone forever from my drawer!
Lipbalm: Ohio Valley Wild ‘Erb Lip Balm – I found this at a local faire and I looooove it. Thank god for their website because I lost it and my lips were just not the same. Great stuff – it also heals burns which is a great bonus since I’m accident prone.

Night Routine: Essentially the same as morning but I will typically take a bath and throw in a LUSH Bath Bomb. Do not need the Ginger Lime zing at night! I also will use LUSH Ocean Salt Scrub on the days I feel my skin got really cruddy on my face as a cleanser instead of the Seaweed Cleanser and I also will hit the oncoming zits with the ZENO. I’ve yet to decide if it is working or if I’m just getting better about my routine.

Makeup Remover: Clinique Eye Makeup Remover, Mary Kay Makeup Remover or Seaweed Cleanser which can be used as a makeup remover. Basically whichever one I latch onto in my line of vision first.

Prescription products: None.

Comments: This year’s New Years resolution was to take better care of my face. I’m getting married in August and do not want to be a spotty face bride! I don’t have a bad acne problem but I have those pesky few that make my face marred and not flawless so thus the resolution. I’m still getting into the swing of things and miss a lot of routines but I have noticed my skin looking ever so slightly better!

Giving Anthelios Another Shot

For Spring Break, I spent some time in sunny, beautiful South Florida. The official purpose of the trip was to celebrate my 21st birthday and my best friend Jess's 22nd birthday (hers was in late February, mine's in April) and we had a wonderful time catching up on pleasure reading on the beach, swimming in the ocean and eating the warm weather foods we haven't had in ages (I think I've had every possible combination of fish and citrus known to man).

Though the hardest decision we had to make during the past 3 days were where to eat for dinner, I was constantly calculating whether I had enough sun protection. As I've mentioned before, I'm very pale and on top of worrying about burning (I go straight from pasty to tomato in about 20 minutes) I'm concerned about my high risk of skin cancer. I knew I needed a very effective, long-lasting sunscreen that would hold up against 3 sun-drenched days, and I decided to take the strongest stuff available in the U.S.- La Roche Posay's Anthelios SX.

Long-time readers will remember that I first tried Anthelios in January and ended up with a terrible allergic reaction that left me blotchy and swollen for an important internship interview (I didn't get the job, so I'll blame it on the sunscreen). But my skin is no longer as dry and sensitive as it was then, so I hoped that I wouldn't experience a similar reaction this time around.
The day we arrived, I slathered myself head to toe with the Anthelios... and waited for the prickly, burning feeling that comes whenever my skin decides it hates a product. I didn't feel anything, so I looked in the mirror to check to see if I looked okay. No redness, no swelling, no blotches... score! I packed up my beach bag and headed to the pool. I tried to reapply every few hours after I'd gone swimming, and even though I wasn't perfect in my application, I was amazed to see that by the end of the night my skin hadn't darkened at all.

Update: It's been over a week and despite daily use, I still haven't had a problem with the Anthelios. I'm glad that I decided to give it a second chance and I'm even happier that I've found a sunscreen that isn't drying, greasy or irritating. It's definitely going to be my go-to sunscreen this summer and I highly encourage anyone who's concerned about skin cancer or aging to give it a try.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Few Awesome Things

A lot of the bloggers I read and love regularly have posts where they list what they're reading, watching and listening to on a given week. It's a great way to peek into someone else's life and to learn a bit more about their personal tastes and interest, and I've often stumbled onto something I ended up loving from these posts.

I would love to have a weekly feature like this, but it's rare that each week I come across something new that's good enough to recommend. It takes me a long time to get through pleasure reading during the school year, since I have to spend so many hours each day reading books and articles for classes. I have a few TV shows I watch each week, and usually only pick up new ones at the beginning of the season. And while I love music, I can't say that my tastes are interesting or sophisticated enough to recommend to others (is it terrible that I've been humming "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" all week? Okay, it is).

Basically I'm totally boring, and when I fall in love with a book or movie or TV show, it's usually something that everyone was talking about like 2 years ago. BUT, this week was very different, as I came across three totally amazing and underrated things that I felt compelled to share with all of you.
I read the many positive reviews of Dave Eggers' biographical novel What Is the What when it was released last fall, but I let it sit on my Amazon wish list for months because I was intimidated by the book's size and depressing subject matter (the story follows the life of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, from his village in Southern Sudan in the early 1980's to his life in Atlanta today). It probably was a good thing that I waited to buy and read it until my spring break last week, because if I'd read it any other time I probably wouldn't have gotten any work done as I spent 2 days glued to the book. I was in beautiful, sunny Florida, but all I could think about was wanting to finish "What is the What" and find out what happened to the incredibly likable and compelling protagonist, Valentino.

I was totally wrong about the book being depressing; while the protagonist's story is no doubt harrowing at times, Eggers carefully lays out the story in a way that acknowledges these events without dwelling on them. The story is so uplifting, and because early on it's established that the protagonist ends up moving to the United States, you're always aware that there is hope for Valentino. And if you've read Eggers' other novels (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a great one), you know how adept he is at drawing the comedy out of ordinary situations and people. It's been a long time since I've read a book that affected me as much as this one did, while simultaneously teaching me so much about a culture and historical event, and I can think of no better praise for a novel.
I've been waiting for Volver to be released at a movie theater near my school, but I lucked out when I came home and found that it was showing at the local independent theater near my family's home outside Detroit. Pedro Almodovar is my favorite movie director, and when I heard that Volver was possibly his best film yet, I couldn't wait to see it. I'm happy to report that Volver lived up to all the raving reviews, and it's surpassed "Talk to Her" as my favorite Almodovar film ("All About My Mother" is a close third though).

I knew that Penelope Cruz was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the film, but I had no idea that she had a performance like this in her. She and Salma Hayek are always pigeonholed into the role of "sexy Latina bombshell" in American movies, and it's strange at first to see her playing an intelligent, mature, complex character. But she totally kills this role, and her character has stuck in my mind weeks after I saw the movie.

Volver is also one of the richest and most intelligent female empowerment films I've ever seen, and Almodovar is so skilled at showing the complexity of female relationships that I left the theater looking at my relationships with other women (mothers, sisters, neighbors, friends) in a whole new light. Despite the language and cultural differences, the story and the characters really resonated with my relationships and experiences (which may be Almodovar's point- that the female experience is universal in many ways).While it's a movie that any reasonably smart guy should be able to appreciate, you'll probably have a better conversation on the ride home with a group of women.

I normally don't watch TV shows on the basis of reviews, but I was at the gym a couple of weeks ago and every magazine I read had a rave review of "The Riches," the new FX series starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. I downloaded the first couple episodes on iTunes to watch on my flight back from Florida and I was floored by how good the show was. FINALLY, cable TV has picked up on the fact that HBO and Showtime have been kicking their butt when it comes to creating high quality shows (which is why cable channels end up syndicating premium channel shows). "The Riches" is definitely on the level of HBO favorites like "The Soprano's" and "Six Feet Under" (granted, I've only seen three episodes at this point and I have no idea if it can retain this kind of momentum, but it's very intelligent and well-written). Like both of these shows, "The Riches" follows a quirky family in a unconventional line of business (in this case, they're Irish Traveller con artists) and explores and challenges the idea of the American Dream. The show's discussion of class and what it means to be outside of mainstream society are very interesting, but it's the dry, often sarcastic humor (particularly from Eddie Izzard, who's fantastic) that keeps the entertaining. I don't want to give any more away, but I highly recommend downloading the first episode from iTunes (it's only $1.99) and checking it out for yourself.

So tell me, are there any great books, movies, TV shows or albums that you've gotten hooked on in the last few weeks? Share your recommendations in the comment section, I'm always on the lookout for a new obsession.