Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hair Tinsel

Okay, confession time.  I got hooked into watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, AND I liked it.  It was like a train wreck, you just couldn't look away.  Kelsey Grammer?  Loved him!  Now?  Hate him!  Anyway, I digress.
The one thing that just kept drawing my eye was Adrienne Maloofs hair.  So much of it!  It sparkled!  Not the healthy hair kind of sparkle, but the tinsel town kind of sparkle.  What was that in her hair?  I assumed she had extensions.  I figured she probably employed Rumpelstiltskin to weave gold threads into her locks.  How do I do that?

A quick look at my bank account confirmed I wouldn't be employing Rumpelstiltskin or any of his brethren any time soon.  Hmmm...what to do?  When in doubt, Google it!  Sure enough in a couple of keystrokes I was able to discover that the golden sparkle in Ms Maloofs hair was tinsel.  Yup, the same stuff you put on your tree at Christmas.  A bit thinner then tree tinsel, but you get the idea.  The tinsel can last in your hair for a week or two.  Beyonce wears it.  The Queen of TV, Oprah wears it, so why not me?

My wonderful stylist was quite firm, she does not do tinsel!  Back to Google I went.  Finally after much research I found a local stylist who does do tinsel.  Now the question was; was I going to trust my locks to a complete stranger?  Nope!  That's what 10 year old girls are for.  What little girl is going to say no to bright sparkly things in her hair?

Finally the big day came and off we went to the salon.  Miss S was so excited to get her hair tinsled.  I was so excited to see how it would look.  I knew what to expect from seeing it done on You Tube, so I was prepared.  What I wasn't prepared for were the color choices!  Innumerable shades of pink, green, purple, gold, blue, copper, and silver.  It was crazy!  Of course Miss S choose the rainbow tinsel, a metallic strand with every color on it.

The procedure was really simple.  The stylist straightened her part and simply tied the strands of tinsel onto the base of the hair shaft.  Evidently the look is most noticeable when the stands are tied on top of the hair.  In total 5 strands of tinsel were tied onto Miss S's locks and we were done.  Now, Miss S was thrilled, me not so much.  Miss S has a lot of natural wave and the strands of tinsel were bone straight, so they didn't blend well with her hair.  I had heard you can flat iron and curl them, but the stylist suggested not curling them because they stretch.

The next morning I flat ironed Miss S's hair and the tinsel held up well to the iron.  It looked much better on stick straight hair.  I like it on Miss S, but it's not for me.  Ms Maloof has the tinsel tied all over her hair, under every layer and that is perhaps how it is best worn.  Problem is, when you are paying by the strand, you want the most bang for your buck, and putting tinsel under your hair hides it.  You only see it, if you wear it up or in some fancy concoction.  Considering most of us don't have the time, money or access to an everyday stylist, this isn't the best option.
For the average glamour girl, I think tinsel is best reserved for special occasions.  I would recommend tying it under multiple layers of hair and wearing the hair up and loose.  This is a look that would be pretty for brides and prom.  It would be fun over the holidays.  For everyday?  I'm not a big believer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Have a...

For a lot of us, skin care is a battle.  Whether we are battling acne, wrinkles, dry flaky skin, eczema or rosacea we all face a daunting challenge.  To further complicate things, your skin is always changing.  Once you have found that HG (holy grail) product that makes your skin glow, that fickle skin of yours changes.  Now, what once made you glow, makes you look like an oil slick.

Cleansers have been one of those items that have been particularly troublesome for me.  Foaming cleansers may work for awhile, but they eventually dry my skin out.  Dry oils seem to work OK for me, but they're too messy (I'm a bit of a klutz).  Shu Uemera makes a great dry oil, but it's no longer available in The States.  You can order online, but that's too much bother for me (remember...LAZY!). Cream cleansers always seem to leave a film on my face, that at first is moisturizing, but later gives birth to cousins of Mt Vesuvius. 

My skin is relatively sensitive, with moderate to severe rosacea.  When looking for a cleanser I look for something that will gently cleanse my skin, oh and not cost a small fortune.  I don't think that's too much to ask for, but it certainly is hard to find something that delivers. 

About two years ago I found my HG cleanser.  It was like the skies parted and the angels started singing.  Now I know that sounds silly, but for me it was a defining moment.  I had started to ignore my skin, because no matter what I did, it never looked good.

Purity by Philosophy is the cleanser that changed all that for me.  It's that single product that is a makeup remover, facial cleanser and toner in one.  It removes eye makeup, even notoriously difficult waterproof eyeliner, easily.  Purity rinses off the face with just a few splashes of water and leaves my skin feeling clean, with no film left behind.  When dry, my face doesn't feel like the Sahara desert.  Purity got me excited about skin care again.

Philosophy makes their Purity cleanser in three different formulas.  The one I use is the cream cleanser.  It's more like a lotion then a cream.  Philosophy makes Purity as a foaming cleanser and cleansing cloths in addition to the cream formula, but I haven't tried those.  The cleansing cloths might be nice for travel though.

Everyone has different skin, and what works for me,  may not work for you.  If you love multi-tasking products, this may be something you'll want to try.  It comes in 5 different sizes, with the smallest costing $10.  Not a huge investment for something that may change the way you approach your skincare.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bottom Lash Mascara-Yes, I'm Crazy!

"I need WHAT?"  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Was she serious?  I mean really, I was going to need yet another product?  Uh way, no how.

Flash forward 2 weeks and I'm meekly pushing my purchase forward at the register in Sephora.  I couldn't believe I'd been reduced to this.  BOTTOM LASH MASCARA.  It's bad enough, that I'm on the never ending search for my Holy Grail mascara, but now I had been reduced to purchasing BOTTOM LASH MASCARA! The poor sales girl smiles at me and all I can manage is a strained grimace.  This stuff better do the trick.

I have the mixed blessing of having decent lashes, with my lower lashes being maybe too long.  Coupled with the fact that my under eye area is rather oily, it doesn't matter what I do, I always end up with mascara smears under my eyes.  Powder will extend the life of my makeup, but the sacrifice is an emphasis on my fine lines (that may not be so fine anymore).  Hmmmm....mascara smears or wrinkles, neither is acceptable.  So off to Sephora I went.

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara is one of those products you don't think you need until you try it. The price isn't really all that bad $10, but yes it is yet another product in your ever expanding arsenal.  What I really like, is that it stays in place.  The longest test I've done with it is a 16 hour day and it didn't budge. It washed of easily, with no smudges under my eyes in the morning from the bits I left behind.
 The wand is super small, which at first irritated me.  Then I used it.  Duh! Of course it's small, I'm doing my bottom lashes.  So much easier to get all those fine little lashes with a little wand.  No cleaning up under the eyes is necessary.  The formula is thin and just a bit glossy.  Love it!  It emphasizes my lower lashes without making me look like a racoon.

Before finding Bottom Lash mascara, I had taken to not wearing any mascara on my lower lashes.  I can get away with this, because like I mentioned earlier, I do have some length down there, but lets be honest, it looked like I forgot to finish my makeup.  Does everyone need two mascaras?  Probably not.  If you're happy with how your mascara performs on your lower lashes, you can save your money.  If you're like me and always frustrated at the end of the day to see those smears under your eyes, give it a try.  I think you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back to Basics-Removing Nail Polish

Nail polish removal, sounds pretty straight forward doesn't it?  Put some remover on a cotton round and rub off the polish.  Sometimes that works, but other times you are left repeating the process over and over again on the same nail.
 Certain laquers are known to cause problems with removal.  Metallics take forever to dissolve, glitter clings stubbornly to your nails, holographic polishes threaten to never come off and dark colors leach onto your fingers.  How do you get that stubborn polish off with the least amount of effort?

First, lets start with talking about nail polish removers.  There are all kinds available on the market, and I've found little differance between the $1.99 bottle at CVS and the $10 premium brand at Ulta.  The ingrediants do make a differance though.  For natural nails, choose a bottle that contains both gelatin and acetone.  The formulas containing acetone work quicker and the gelatin keeps it from drying your nails too much.  If you have artificial nails consult with your nail professional for what product works best with your nails.

Now lets get started.  Gather your supplies.  You will need...
  • nail polish remover
  • 5 cotton balls, pulled in half
  • 10 small squares of aluminum foil ( I keep a bunch in a small bag with my nail kit)

I find it easier to do 1 hand at a time, but if you're more coordinated then me, you could probably do them both at the same time.

Now lets get started.  Take 1/2 a cotton ball, saturate with polish remover and press it over your polished nail. 

Now take a piece of foil and wrap it tightly around the finger, so that it is holding the saturated cotton ball half firmly against your nail.

Repeat with your remaining fingers and wait 2-3 minutes.

At this point the remover will have dissolved the polish, so all you need to do is wipe it off.  Pressing down firmly against the nail, pull the foil and cotton ball off your finger.

Voila! All your polish should  of come off.  Sometimes a small stubborn patch will remain, but that will wipe off easily with a clean cotton ball and small amount of remover.

I have found that since using this technique, I'm using less remover and the overall process is less frustrating.  Glitter polishes may still give you some trouble if you haven't used a base coat prior to application and so I always recommend using one.  Base coat will also help prevent dark colors from staining your nails.  I hope you enjoy this technique as much as I do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What is a Birchbox?

I've debated with myself about writing this post now, versus in a couple of months when I have more experience with the product.  However, after receiving my first package, I'm so excited I thought I would share with you now.  I'll continue to post updates as the year goes on and my experience with them broadens.

What is Birchbox?  Birchbox is a membership service that delivers 4-5 deluxe size beauty samples to your door monthly.  The cost is $10/month and that includes the shipping and handling.  If you like what they send you, you have the option of purchasing full sizes on their website, many of them with free shipping. Membership also includes access to their website, which is loaded with beauty tutorials and the latest in beauty information.  They even offer a purchasing incentive.

When you join, you fill out a questionnaire that allows them to customize your box specifically to your needs. I'm not convinced they actually do customize the boxes, but I would hope they take notice of skin sensitivities ect. The boxes include high end makeup, fragrance, skincare, body and hair products.  Each month you'll receive something different. How fun is that?

March is the first month that I have been a member and I have been eagerly awaiting my box for days.  Today when I picked up my mail, my box was there.  It was like Christmas, only better because I haven't sneaked a peak at my gifts! The packaging and presentation is very elegant.

This month I received a skin brightening Kantic Mask from Alchimie Forever, that I have been dying to try. The full size is $60, so a bit of an investment.  My sample will probably give me 3-4 uses.  They claim it erases skin wrinkles and reduces skin redness.  Those are some big promises.  Reviews of this product have been fabulous, so I'm hoping it lives up to the hype.

Two Dr. Dennis Gross, Alpha Beta Glow Pads were included in my box.  I'm not too enthused about these.  They are little towelettes that have exfoliating and anti-aging ingredients. You apply it to your skin to ensure a streak free faux tan. A full size package includes 20 towelettes for $32, so the value of this sample is just over $3. I usually don't tan (fake or real), but I may give it a try.

The unexpected inclusion in the box is a tube of Marvis, Classic Mint Toothpaste.  Marvis is a high end Italian toothpaste that I have been hearing a lot about.  It's supposed to be great for smokers because the minty scent sticks with you.  Evidently it doesn't burn your mouth like a lot of breath freshening toothpastes do. The sample looks like it will last me at least 2 weeks.

I'm most pleased with the Pangea Organics, Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Lip Balm.  This is a full sized product that retails at $10.  Considering I paid $10 for the entire box, I definitely got my moneys worth and some products I'm interested in trying.  As an extra, they also included a foil sample of Pangea Organics, Facial Cream with Nigerian Ginger with Lavender & Thyme.

The bonus gift this month is a brow brush.  Basically it's a spooly wand.  The same thing they sample mascara with at Sephora.  It's nothing special, but it's always nice to have an extra one. They also include a free song upload from Dutch pop star Oh Land.  Something new to listen to.

I haven't belonged to Birchbox long enough to say that I recommend them, but so far I'm pleased.  The contents of this box wasn't as exciting as some of the ones I've seen in past months, but I still feel like I got my moneys worth.  I'll keep you updated on future boxes and let you know my thoughts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lush Love-Part Deux

The love keeps going.  I've told you about the Bubble Bars, and those aren't even my favorite Lush products.  What girl or guy doesn't love a scented bubble bath?  Sometimes though, that's not enough.  You may need a little stimulation/refreshment or even just a soothing soak that leaves your skin feeling like silk. Those are the times that I reach for the bath bombs or the Bath Melts.

The bath bombs which Lush is so known for, are perhaps my least favorite item.  I do love the drama of them bubbling and fizzing away in my tub, but most of them dry out my skin. Some of the bath bombs are filled with flowers, glitter and other surprises that quite honestly make cleaning the tub afterwards a pain.  I do like the Butterball bath bomb.  It's a vanilla scented bomb loaded with chunks of cocoa butter that melt in your tub keeping your skin soft.  It lightly scents your skin and you can even skip the body lotion after your bath.  Perfect for how lazy I feel after a nice relaxing soak.

Sex Bomb intrigued me, not just because of it's name, but for the paper flower that was supposed to float in the tub after the bomb did its thing. I was picturing a pink tub with a beautiful rose floating around.  Sex Bomb was a complete bomb (come on you knew that was coming!).  The flower dissolved into mushy chunks, that reminded me of mucous. Nasty.  Of all the bombs this is the one that really left my skin dry and itchy.  It did offer dramatic sizzle and fizz as it dissolved, but that show was over in minutes.  All show and no substance.
 For an invigorating bath the Avobath fits the bill.  It's made with lemongrass oil and avocado.  The scent may be overwhelming to some, but I really enjoy the zippy citrus scent of lemongrass.  The avocado is supposed to moisturize your skin, but not in any way that I noticed.  It tints the bath a pretty green shade.
Dragons Egg is perhaps the most fun of the bunch.  It makes all kinds of crackling, fizzy sounds as it dissolves and changes colors.  Its starts off as a mottled white, turning into a bright tangerine foam that gives way to a glittery golden sheen.  The bomb releases confetti into the tub.  The confetti is made out of the same unpleasant material as the Sexbomb rose. The scent is that of an orange creamsicle, but not overwhelmingly so.  Be warned, ultra fine glitter all over the textured bottom of a tub is VERY difficult to clean.  This one makes a nice gift-someone else can do the cleaning.

Frog Prince is a Valentines special, which really isn't all that special.  Its a green frog, with red cocoa butter lips that quickly dissolve into your tub.  It promises to dissolve into a prince and it does...kinda.  Floating in your tub, you'll find a little piece of paper with a cartoon prince on it.  Whatever...

So far my absolute fave have been the Bath Melts.  Think bath oil in solid form, again saving on the packaging.  Ceridwens Cauldron is the one that I have bought repeatedly.  Lush describes it as, "an enchanting potion of oats, lavender and sandalwood".  Supposedly if you spit in the water 3 times your wish will come true.  Haven't tried that yet, let me know if it works for you.

One of the things I really like about Ceridwens Cauldron is that it comes wrapped in muslin.  So once the actual bar melts, you're left with a little bag filled with oats and flower petals that do a lovely job exfoliating the skin. The scent is mild, so if strong fragrances bother you, this might be the one for you to try. Like a lot of other Lush products, this one is Vegan.

MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment is a sweet smelling Bath Melt, not unlike the Creamy Candy Bubble Bar without the bubbles. The 2 of them together would make for a really nice bath, albeit a rather expensive one.  I easily can get 2 baths out of a single MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment.

The Dreamtime Bath Melt has a warm cozy scent.  It's perfect for those candle lit baths with a glass of wine.  While I can get 2 baths out of it, I prefer the feel of an entire melt in the tub.  Pure Luxury.

Cocoa butter, mango butter and avocado butter make up You've Been Mangoed, probably the most cheerful of the bunch.  This is the Bath Melt to reach for when you want to bring a smile to your face.  I haven't tried it yet, but I have heard that if you cut it into thin slices,  it makes a great body butter rubbed into your skin.

The Bath Melt that I really wanted to like was Happy Blooming.  Its segmented into 3 sections that you can snap off easily.  Three baths out of 1 melt and the sweet smell of cherries, what's not to like?  Well, the 1 wedge wasn't enough for my tub, the smell was rather artificial and the actual melt never completely dissolved in the tub.  It left a pinkish film clinging to bottom of the bath.  That might of been the calamine powder, but it was annoying none the less.  I'm thinking this would be a good one to keep on hand for skin irritations, but otherwise I just wasn't impressed. Kids might enjoy this one though, it turns the water a bright pink.

Last time I was in Lush I picked up a couple of their other products and I'll let you know about them after I've played with them for a bit.  I've got a fresh face mask sitting in the refrigerator, a shower gel hiding in the medicine cabinet (can't let the hubby use it all) and a luscious rose scented body smoothie waiting to be lathered on.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lush Love-Part One

I've seen the stores for years and have resisted the urge to go in. The bins full of bath bombs and logs of soaps just did nothing to intrigue me.  I mean really, an entire store that only sells bath bombs and bars of soap?  I figured they'd be out of business in a blink of an eye.  Well a decade later, I finally wandered into my first Lush store.  I'm thinking now it was probably a good thing I waited so long.

For those of you who are fragrance sensitive, this is not the place for you.  The smells in the store can be overwhelming and this is not a company that is interested in doing fragrance free. In fact, just being in the shop can be frustrating, since so many of their products are things that aren't familiar to the average person.

Sure, most of us know what bath bombs are and bars of soap are pretty self explanatory. Bath Melts, Massage Bars, Shower Jellies and Solid Shampoos are not something I'm real familiar with.  Even the bath bombs intimidated me. According to the web site, they make at least 42 different bath bombs, and I'm pretty sure my local Lush store had most of them.  One entire wall was covered in baskets of them stacked 3 deep! 

Have no fear though, Lush hires some of the most helpful sales people out there (think Nordstroms ten years ago). Friendly but not pushy, they helped me pick out a few bath bombs (bath ballistics to those in the know) suggested I try a few Bubble Bars (they make more then 30!) and Bath Melts.  Of course with Sierra there, it wasn't possible to leave without letting her pick out something for her bath. 

Now a month later and two return visits, I'm an addict. The Bubble Bars are crazy fun.  They tint your bath a lushious (sorry, couldn't resist) color and give you amazing long lasting bubbles.  The scents are divine and it's just a matter of finding your favorite one.  Bubble Bars are simply bubble bath in solid form.  By making the bubble bath solid they are able to eliminate the use of preservatives and packaging.  The Bubble Bars are filled with soothing oils that keep your skin from drying out like it can with so many other bath products.

The biggest draw back to the Bubble Bars is that they are rather expensive.  At best you might get 4 baths out of a bar and more likely 2 or 3 depending on the bar and the size of your tub.  They are a luxury, but then again so are baths,  shouldn't we make them as special as possible?

To get the most out of my bars, I cut them into several pieces.  I crumble them under the running water while I fill my tub.  You can get more bubbles out of your bar by placing it in a clean stocking and holding that under the running water. More bubbles are good, right?

 I really like the Magic Mushroom, but unfortunately it's only available around Valentines Day.  The top of the mushroom is strawberry and the stem is cream.  Soaking in a tub of strawberries and cream, pretty sweet!

The Comforter is a fun bar.  Its scented with cassis (black currant) and tints the tub a pretty berry shade. It's the largest of the Bubble Bars that I've tried.  I can easily get 4 baths out of it and the bubbles last longer then the water stays warm.

Amandopondo is a pretty little bar, with a dried rosebud nestled on top.  I only got 2 baths out of it and the scent (rose with lemon and orange oils) was extremely delicate. It was an enjoyable bath, but not a bar that I will buy again.

Creamy Candy Bubble Bar was sweet and the perfect girly bath.  The scent is creamy, I don't know how else to describe it.  Using a stocking I easily got 3 baths out of it.  I just love the candy flower on the top.

Using Lush products is something you can feel good about. They use only ingredients not tested on animals, use little to no packaging, use fresh and organic ingredients and ethically source their ingredients.  If you haven't succumbed to the lure of Lush, now may be the time.  The Bubble Bars are just the treat you deserve.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

China Glaze Crackle Polish

I was so excited when I heard that China Glaze would be releasing a crackle polish similar to the Shatter introduced earlier this year by OPI.  Shatter has been extremely difficult to find and has 1 major draw back, currently it's only available in black. 

China Glaze introduced their crackle line in not 1, but 6 different colors.  After too many trips to Ulta and even more to Sally's I was finally able to get my hands on some.  Trying to decide what colors to choose was a challenge, so what's a girl to do?  Buy them all, well half of them.  Black Mesh was sold out, but that was okay, because I just wasn't that excited about black.  Crackled Concrete wasn't calling to me. I just haven't gotten on board with the whole gray polish trend.  Lightening Bolt reminds me of White Out, so that was easy to skip.

So what did I get?  Crushed Candy...a pretty Tiffany blue, Broken Hearted...a bright Barbie Pink and of course Fault Line...a gorgeous shimmering purple.  For those of you really into polish Crushed Candy is a crackle dupe of China Glaze's popular color For Audrey.

Soon as I got home I couldn't wait to play, and Fault Line was first up. I quickly slapped on a single coat of OPI's Flashbulb Fuschia and let it dry completely.  Once dry I painted a very thin coat of the purple crackle and in seconds I was watching the magic happen.  The crackle polish is a different texture then traditional nail laquer, in fact it's a lot like the consistancy of White Out with about the same drying time.  It dries to a rather unattractive matt finish, but once you apply a top coat the finish was shimmery crackles.

Fault Line over Flashbulb Fuschia


I loved the combo of the pink base coat and the purple crackle.  Everywhere I went people complimented me on my nails.  The wear was really good as well, but I can't comment on how long it lasts before it chipped, because I was so excited to try Crushed Candy.  I took it off after 3 days.

I applied Crushed Candy on top of China Glaze's Watermelon Rind, a lacquer with a green glittery jelly finish.  The Crushed Candy crackled more then the Fault Line, and while it doesn't have the shimmer of Fault Line, I think that the overall crackle is better.

Crushed Candy over Watermelon Rind

There is definately a learning curve with these crackle finishes.  They're not difficult to use, but you have to work quickly and apply a thin coat with as few strokes as possible.  The crackles start almost immediately and continue to form over several minutes.  The thinner the coat of polish, the better the crackle finish.

Overall I really like these polishes.  They are fun to wear and relatively easy to use.  I'm not sure that they are office ready, but they are definitely attention getters.  For a fun, easy and different look I really recommend these.  Like the OPI Shatter, they may be difficult to find.  I went back to Ulta the next day and they were completely sold out.  If you can get your hands on a bottle, grab won't regret it.