Friday, October 31, 2008

Ab Art Project

Geez, why am I getting up at 5am for a fitness bootcamp when I could just create abs of steel in a few minutes with this Abs in a Box kit? Evidently countless other women have had the same lightbulb flash; the kit's sold out for now, and there's a waiting list.

The kit, by IT Cosmetics, provides stencils, stains, shadows and highlighters, contouring brushes, a "Library of Secrets Manual" (very Harry Potterish!), a setting spray, and more. The kit seems to work best if you're at least slenderish, as shown in the photo at right. The results seem pretty impressive, but it's hard to assess difficulty level. Perhaps it's something friends could help each other out with -- a new spa party option!

If you're taut and toned but your man isn't, put the man's version under the tree this year. (You could always soften the blow by buying tix for an island vacation.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween looks from MAC cosmetics

Big election coming up. And I'm exhausted from a stint in fitness bootcamp. Add on recession blues, and it's a crazy season. So I thought I'd dress my kids up (toddler ladybug and baby bumblebee), grab my stash of good candy (to keep up my hip mama neighborhood rep), and call it a, eve. My pre-comeback Britney bod precludes sexy costumes, and my pride would suffer to show up in anything lame. 

So these great makeup ideas from MAC Cosmetics are made for me and you. Why buy a lame last-minute Jack Sparrow costume when you can go as a water sprite with this Amphibian look? MAC lists all the makeup you need to create the look,  with the idea that you'll print out the look and take it to a MAC counter nearest you -- after all, it's easier to pay for a Halloween makeover than to buy the considerable list of products. 

But if you're a DIY kind of person,  a quick search on YouTube will deliver you how-tos on putting it all together. There are several different ethereal looks, including a tribal look, a female robot titled "Tronika," and a more traditional skull. If you have a bunch of parties to go to or just want to be the wonder of your office Halloween party, check out MAC's lineup and make your appointment today!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Perfecting your O-face

First there was Nars Orgasm (now in Multiple!). This summer, Lancome's Oscillating Power Mascara sold out in mere minutes flat. (Good news: they've restocked.) Want to know what the latest purring in the makeup aisle is all about?

Benefit's latest blush-flush, Thrrrob (that's T to the H to the triple R OB, ladies). It's billed as a "turned on" face powder, in a sheer pink color that simulates your face when your heart races. Instructions call for brushing it on your cheekbones and forehead, and I'm labeling it a blush rather than the usual powder you use to lay your T-zone's shine to rest. 

At $28, it'll make any shopping trip an afternoon delight....

Monday, October 20, 2008

If it's good enough for Cate...

Cate Blanchett kicked the Spanish Armada's stern in Elizabeth. Cate Blanchett managed to make elf ears look cool. Cate Blanchett sometimes looks like Bob Dylan. Cate Blanchett has 3 kids and is thirty-nine years old and looks absolutely gorgeous. 

Let me state that this is not Hollywood gorgeous. (Compare CB to Nicole Kidman, her fellow Aussie, who IMO has sold her redheaded beauty birthright for a mess of blonde-botox-pottage.) Part of Cate's beauty is that she's not pathetically trying to stave off time or look like she's 25; much of her sheer gorgeousness is that her inner qualities -- talent, passion, intellect -- shine brighter than her physical charms. That said, her stint as the face of SK-II makes me want to buy up their entire line. I'm most charmed by this statement: 

...there is an intrinsic beauty in every living thing and ... we are at our most beautiful when we are true to this essence, true to our uniquely individual beauty - making our skincare ritual unlike any other.

And on to the products: what Cate espouses on the site are the Skin Refining products -- lotions, a mask, a cream, and a brightener that even out skin tone (in Cate's case, the melasma she had during pregnancy). If you're prone to sun damage or your skin needs a boost following a baby, you can find SK-II products at Saks Fifth Avenue stores or shop online here. The products aren't cheap, but one look at Cate's skin and my wallet is on the counter. 

What I'm waiting for: a TV show called "Cate Blanchett is my BFF." Sadly, anyone who repels the Spanish Armada would never star in that show.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bosom buddies: skincare for the cure

First, the bad news: breast cancer is still the sixth leading cause of death for women in the U.S. Now, the good news: you can support research via an immense number of skincare, makeup, and beauty purchases. Remember when all you could do was a walkathon or buy a pink ribbon? (You've come a long way, boobie.) Read on to find some great products that make pink the new black:

Body Drench lotion: Nicknamed "Bosom Cream" for its post-mastectomy use as a scar-reducer, Body Drench will donate a portion of its proceeds during the month of October to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

5th Avenue Bath Company's exfoliating coffee scrub: Here's an eye-opener: a full 15% of proceeds will be donated to I'm calling this my guilt-free Latte Factor.

If you're a fan of Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion -- and who isn't? -- you should know that $10 of the $35 purchase price goes straight to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. (Bonus: you get a darling pink ribbon charm and a Clinique "C" charm to gussy up your keychain.)

Put your money where your mouth is: YSL's Golden Gloss No. 27 (with real 24K gold!) makes your lips shiny-sweet. But here's another reason to kiss-kiss: 30% of your purchase goes to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund.

Remember, breast cancer awareness isn't about slapping a pink ribbon on a girly product. It's about curing a disease that affects all of us. To make every dollar count, go to Think Before You Pink's Critical Questions page so that you'll maximize donations and send them to real research.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Economizing: JK Jemma Kidd for Target

Looking to economize a bit on your makeup and skincare? You don't have to hit the dollar bins. In a move to upscale its makeup and skincare department, Target has added JK Jemma Kidd to its roster of designer lines. The JK line is priced a bit less than her prestige line found in department stores, but if you're looking for rock-bottom pricing, you won't find it here: prices range from $14 for an eye pencil to $36 for a cute fashion palette (shown).

I'm not sure if this is hitting at exactly the right time or not. Will women balk at spending $17 for a lip gloss or mascara at Target? Or is Target hitting that sweet spot of women who are keeping away from the malls but who still want a little something-something for themselves? JK Jemma Kidd seems to be the perfect indulgence for a girl who wants a shopping trip to encompass more than a TP-and-Kleenex run. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Classic Luxury: Watkins Natural Apothecary

When I saw these cool personal care products from J.R.Watkins, I had that "everything old is new again" moment. From the packaging to the ingredients, these very old products look as fresh as an organically grown daisy. But they also look luxe enough to be found in an upscale hotel or posh boutique. Even cooler: the company goes back 140 years! That's, like, in the time of the Crusades in American years.

There are two lines of personal care products: Watkins Natural Apothecary, which uses organic ingredients and sustainable production, and a "Traditional" line that is only slightly less organically-focused. The Natural line is described as "95% natural and above," but the Traditional line is also made with natural ingredients. (Confused? Me too.) Reading through the materials I also see that the Natural line isn't tested on animals and is free of things like parabens, silicone, and a list of other ingredients that have been put on the naughty list in the last several years. 

Natural and sustainable is the way to go, and it's nice to see that a longstanding company can keep its core values right where they always were. Again, I'm a big fan of the travel packs -- here's one from the Natural line.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Spa treatments for the Parseltongued

In the now-I've-seen-it-all category: snake massages. Take a little trip to Ada Barak's Carnivorous Plant Farm in Northern Israel, and you'll get to press the flesh with some snakes: big, small, slithery. For about $80 you can have a mass of snakes (corn snakes, milk snakes, Florida and California king snakes) plopped onto your back or tummy and have them squirm your cares away. Apparently the undulating movement of the snakes is supposed to be soothing -- assuming you have no fear of snakes, that is.

The Time reporter who underwent the massage deserves a medal. Or to be put into an asylum. Whichever. Rather than run away in my skivvies screaming, I prefer a nice Swedish massage -- which now seems like the old-lady version of contact, but I don't care a bit....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Skin smarts: making the grade

Summer's over, but think of autumn and winter as downtime when you can start "studying" to make your skincare grade better next year. At the American Academy of Dermatology, you can take a quiz called "Rays Your Grade" to rate just how well you know your sunshine, SPF and skin cancer facts. 

My grade? a "B". Despite my avid reading of every magazine under the sun (ha), I still apply sunscreen to my face and tend to forget the rest of my skin unless I'm hitting the pool or beach or an outdoor event. Frankly, I hate the sticky feeling of sunscreen -- and that stickiness is an immediate sensation, while skin cancer feels nebulous and improbable. (I know, I know. Evidently remedial tutoring is in order.)

So head over, take the quiz, and see just how smart you need to be to beat the odds.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Preservative-free products

With the growth of Green as a lifestyle there's a trickle-down effect. Ten years ago I wrote a piece for CNN detailing the ins and outs of the organic label on food. Hard to believe now that it wasn't easy to find organic food or products outside of what we called a "health food store." Now I'm buying organic everything at my local supermarket. 

But back to the trickle-down idea. Originally you just had organic food, and you hoped the label meant something. But now there's a whole concept of Green that includes housing materials, for goodness' sake And jeans! The big blocks of how we live, really -- food, shelter, clothing. As for beauty products and skincare, there were hippie chicks who made their own face masks and scrubs, Laura-Ingalls style. And I do remember the occasional magazine article on beauty treatments you could make at home in Seventeen magazine, but not much more.

So it's interesting that there's been an explosion in beauty and skincare of natural products that you treat (significantly, I think) like food. You can't get away with a vague "herbal" label anymore. Take Boscia's skincare line: with no parabens (the usual suspect when you're preserving beauty products), it comes with a "use by" date. It's botanically-based, with no chemicals. What's not to like? But if you're like me you have loads of product in your bathroom cabinets.... so I tend to buy small amounts of these products so I use them within the expiration date. (Here's a link to a best-of-Boscia kit at Sephora.) 

What's your fave "natural" line of products?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Set it... and forget it!

I've long heard friends rave about the smooth finish a primer gives to your made-up face. But this one is new to me: a spray to put on after you've applied everything, called Invisible Finish. Evidently it's like hairspray for your face: your makeup doesn't budge, even if you sleep in it, you naughty girl. (No more raccoon eyes to give you away on the Walk of Shame!)

The idea of sleeping in makeup feels a bit dirty to me, but beauty loopholes are made for products like this. After all, sometimes you apply your makeup and magically have a face that looks so good you want to immortalize it for at least one more day. And $17 bucks (find it here on is less than the price of professional application... oh, how easy it is to rationalize!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Silly, scary sun damage

For anyone who hasn't realized that the growing SPF ranges are aimed at her: The Sun Tattoo robe!

Directions for use: Put on robe and lie on your stomach in the sun for a few hours, keeping absolutely still. Remove robe. Hurt like hell.

Lovely pattern (if you like the human doily look). It's an anti-henna thing. Or a just-as-risky alternative to an inked tat. Or maybe it's a statement on getting Vitamin D fashionably without having to drink milk?

Frankly, I'm surprised I haven't seen this before. It's much more thoughtful than painting a "dork" sign on someone's chest with sunscreen, isn't it?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hands-free living?

Earlier this week, I read this NY Times article on how hands are the new beauty market with interest. Sure, there's the requisite doctor interviews and product plugs. But there's also this description of hand model Ellen Sirot's hand-protecting regime:

She said she hasn’t cooked, cleaned or held her husband’s hand in a decade. The latter activity would mean keeping her hands below her waist, which would increase blood flow and make veins more apparent.

What price beauty, eh? 

Now, I don't want to give up holding hands with my husband as well as other handed activities (which currently include letting a teething baby gnaw on my fingers), but I do want pretty hands, so I checked out one of the products mentioned: Moisture Jamzz moisturizing gloves. The gloves come in a bevy of sizes and types (for women! for men! for tweens!), with designs ranging from classic white to sexed-up leopard print. With a little spandex added for stretch, the mostly-cotton gloves are part of an easy-peasy, two-step process: lotion up your hands, put on the gloves, and go about your business. 

The designs are cute -- these could make good stocking stuffers for any hand-obsessed friends. And there's a line of socks, for people like me whose hands are fine but whose feet could use a little TLC. Best of all, they're only $12 -- a price I'm very willing to pay!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rock the (Natural) Vote

You know how it goes: you buy the yummy-smelling cream in the soothing green jar with artfully-illustrated botanicals. You get home, slather it on, and then check out the ingredients: petroleum, red dye #2, the blood of baby seals, etc.... Don't you wish there were a way to scope out products at a glance?

Here's your chance to cheer for a label designation that means something: Vote Natural. The official campaign is sponsored by Burt's Bees and the folks at the Natural Products Association. It's also endorsed by Julianne Moore, but you didn't need celeb cred, did you? Here's what you're voting for:

  • The product must be made up of at least 95% truly natural ingredients, or ingredients that are derived from natural sources
  • No ingredients with any potential suspected human health risks 
  • No processes that significantly or adversely alter the purity/effect of the natural ingredients
  • Ingredients that come from a purposeful, renewable/plentiful source found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral)
  • Unnatural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredient are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks

I'm a longtime fan of Burt's Bees products (especially their Baby Bee collection, which I use myself as well as put on my own two kids). But really this is about voting for an official seal of approval (much like the "organic" label for food) for personal care products that actually has enforceable statements behind it. Extra special goodies: Vote here and you could win a $500 worth of Burt's Bees products!

Monday, September 22, 2008

For Travel: Laura Mercier's Undercover Pot

Ah, Autumn. Falling leaves, bonfires, and jaunts over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. Unfortunately, what it also means is sharing bedrooms and bathrooms with your grown siblings. And, all nostalgia for the strains of "You sunk my battleship!" aside, these visits have new rules: namely, that your shower kit and makeup bag be as small and portable as possible.

Here's a product that's perfect for those hasty moments when you're applying makeup as your later-rising relatives are pounding at the bathroom door: The Undercover Pot from Laura Mercier.

Behold the holy trinity of coverup: the single pot holds all your best products in a single divided container. A top layer divides into a camouflage half and a concealer half, tackling zits and dark circles in one fell swoop. A bottom compartment opens to provide translucent powder, salvation from the shiny T-zone that has been your bane in family photographs lo, these many years.

You'll look holiday gorgeous -- as long as you ditch the matching holiday sweaters.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Potential dangers of untested supplements

I found this New York Times article on the hidden dangers of supplements to be a little unsettling. The piece focuses on some aryuvedic supplements and lead levels and pulls out to talk a little about the lack of testing on other types of supplements as well. (In other words, the writer isn't piling on aryuvedic practices or supplements.)

Frankly, the fact that some supplements are untested (or not tested by independent labs) and potentially dangerous isn't news -- charlatanism, quackery, and snake oil are as old as mankind. But the kinds of questions I'd want to ask about complementary medicine include: Are there "alternative" medicines that DO undergo rigorous testing? Can we trust the results? Who's watching the watchers in the case of non-FDA-approved, alternative medicines? It's obvious that we can't trust sellers fully -- as the article states, over 20% of the 193 products bought online from American and Indian websites contained lead, mercury, or arsenic. (My skepticism is aimed at big pharma, too -- think of all the medicinal recalls you've read of recently.)

I also found it interesting that most of the people in the article utilizing the supplements were doing so for skin problems like cystic acne. It's a tough call -- would you rather have a potentially dangerous "natural" treatment for a serious skin condition, or take something like Accutane, where even a single dose can cause horrible birth defects if you get pregnant while taking it? The article's subject is important, but it's just describing the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clean and Clear for senior year (like, awesome!)

I recently attended my high school reunion. Hair highlighted? Check. Fresh makeup application? Check. Cute heels? Check. Then came the accessory to ruin it all: a nametag with my senior yearbook photo on it.

In the don't-let-this-happen-to-you category, we have a great treat for all Big Apple citizens in need of a photo to stand the test of time (or at least til your next big reunion): a cool promo to kick off the launch of the CLEAN & CLEAR Advantage Blackhead Eraser Exfoliating Cleanser.

CLEAN & CLEAR(R) is inviting teens to "Erase Their Worst Year Book Picture" at a pop-up photo studio in Times Square; New York City. On Saturday, September 20th from 12 noon to 4pm, teens can stop by for the chance to erase their worst school yearbook picture and replace it instantly with a stylish headshot. Cosmetic and Medical Dermatologist, Dr. Gervaise Gerstner of Wexler Dermatology in New York City will be on-hand to offer skincare consultations, and an all-star team of celebrity hair and make-up artists will touch-up teens for the shoot. Teens will then leave the photo booth with a backpack containing the CLEAN & CLEAR(R) Advantage(R) Blackhead Eraser(TM) Exfoliating Cleanser, a print copy of their photo, and their digital picture on a USB drive for easy uploading to their own social networking sites.

Actually, my skin wasn't so bad in that pic. The curled-under bangs and the goofy smile? Much harder to live down.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dewy is the new Matte

Those of you whose fall begins in September and October have a jump on those of us in states where cooler weather doesn't even breeze in til November. You're enjoying the deeper shades and matte makeup of autumn while we're still peering into our summer bags for our peachy-pink lipgloss.

But this little number just may bridge the beauty gap for all of us: Clinique's new Blushwear Cream Stick, part of their new "Modern Matte" line for Fall 2008. It goes on like a cream (i.e., it's blendable) and dries like a powder. The shades are just light enough for LA and just deep enough for New York, with a color called "Glow" that's great for an all-over bronzing effect.

For those of you still fanning yourselves in the heat, it's a great way to cozy up to fall -- and at less than $20, it's far less expensive than a leaf-peeping vacation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's... Alive! (your skin, that is...)

Recently I was on, looking for some juicy dishing on new products via their new "Ratings and Reviews" system. I love the tell-it-sister nature of learning about a product via people who have bought and used it. (And something tells me that Sephora's R&R will be more fun than, say, reading Amazon reviews.) The review system has only been up a week, so it's time for everyone to get over there and spill your guts about your raves, faves, and guilty pleasures!

Anyway -- in the new product section I came across this: Alive! by Tricia Sawyer. Tagline: "A moisturizing enhancer infused with botanical oils and color to give skin the look and feel of being alive."

Well, I thought my skin was already alive, but just in case I need help convincing others, this product is easily applied (hmm) "over existing skincare regimens and foundation." The thought of applying anything over foundation makes me want to break out on the spot, but you know what? The sweet phrase "sheer rosy bronze" is making me take a second look. At $36 it's a pricey buy for an unknown, but here's hoping I can go into the actual store and test the product. If you've test-driven this one, skedaddle over to Sephora and kick that ratings system into high gear!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Rosewood (spa) by any other name...

Recently the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts group opened up a lovely new property, The Mansion on Peachtree, here in Atlanta. I was with a group of women who were there for a professional dinner. Then came a tour of the Spa. It was a stop-the-presses moment. You could see all of us eyeing each other, thought bubbles looming over our heads like "if I hide under this massage table, I can be first in line in the morning." Everything was in restful shades of brown, cream, and blue, from the smallest details on the shelves to the gently-pattering fountains. We spoke in whispers -- the sheet threadcounts and luminous tile really did say "hallowed ground," I swear.

Now, I'm more of an Everygirl. I know that my lot in life is not to visit spaces like these every week (or, sadly, every month). And I'm not the coveting sort. But if I write the next Harry Potter, or discover how to cure cellulite, or somehow inherit a fortune from a long-lost Hilton relative? You'd have to pry me out of Spa 29 by my cold, dead -- and exquisitely-manicured -- hands.

Intrigued? Check out a sister Mansion/Rosewood spa in Dallas, New York, or California. And report back to us. Was it good for you, too?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Look like an angel

So the other day I happened to catch an interview with Lil of Seraphim Skincare on our local news morning variety show. What I saw -- a simple routine for better skin, focusing on retin-A products applied with an easy-peasy 2-step technique. Lil's no-BS manner and warm personality (and great skin!) drew me to check out the website, where I took a look at the amazing before and after pics. Her skin really does look younger, with nary a freckle in sight. When I punched up the product listing, I saw the terms "peel and bleach" -- which would normally have me running away like a bandit. But based on what I saw on the TV how-to, the peeling is nothing more than a good exfoliation. And let's face it: like most women, I use SPF but not consistently, and could use a little turn-back-the-clockage on a few sunspots. If you're scared of retin-A, you may want to take a second look and see what the technique can do for you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Afraid of the Dark (Circles)?

I have dark circles under my eyes. There's no good way to ignore them as you get older -- what may have been alluring shadows in your twenties just make you look haggard in your thirties. But for a lark I went in to a local beauty boutique for a mini-makeup session and came out with a product that really made my skirt fly up: the Magic Wand by Face Stockholm. I've used and liked other concealers, but this one really pulls the rabbit out of the hat and makes it tap dance.

What I love: there's no cakey or thick feeling -- this stuff melts right into your skin with a few soft pats. And I swear it reflects light. After sleepless nights (I have two kids in diapers -- hear that tiny violin playing?), this stuff can make me look fresh as a daisy in seconds. I love it so much I subjected my mom to a driveby de-circling, and she looked amazing as well. My other concealers are languishing in a drawer, and the best part is that at only $30, this could be a fabulous weapon in anyone's look-younger arsenal.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Forget Perfect

I'm a big believer in the one-off--you know, hair that's not too perfect, or a made-up face with lipstick-free lips. Well, it seems that this theory works for teeth, too. The New York Times reports that dentists and dental ceramicists are being asked to create dental veneers that are slightly stained, a little crooked, or otherwise not perfect (read: realistic). I think it's a great concept--there's nothing scarier than bright white chompers that are all the same size.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is Your Moisturizer Safe?

You may have heard recent reports about certain moisturizers being potentially dangerous. A study from Rutgers University found that some moisturizers, including the dermatologist favorite Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream, seem to spur skin cancer growth in mice. But before you freak and toss your favorite lotions, hear this: previous studies on mice have been found to be unrelated to any effects in humans. In any case, for all my obsession with face lotions and potions, I stick to completely natural stuff for the rest of my body. (My all-time favorite: Mother's Special Blend, a preservative-free blend of different nut and vegetable oils. It's made to prevent stretch marks but it does wonders for the whole body). Will this study effect what you slather on your skin?

Monday, August 25, 2008

La Creme de la Creme

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine who always looks good, but on this particular afternoon, looked amazing. Her skin was absolutely glowing, and she looked easily five years younger than the last time I saw her. I raved about her appearance (secretly wondering to myself, did she have work done?) and she confessed that she'd recently started using La Mer foundation. "You must try it," she told me. And I want to ... but it's a whopping $85 for 1 ounce. I'd like to try it at a makeup counter to see if it's worth the hype. The thing is, given how great my friend's skin looks, I'm truly worried I'm going to get hooked, and that's one expensive addiction. How much are you willing to spend to look good?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beauty Icon: Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields, who is a stunning 43 years old, graces the cover of In Style Makeovers, a special edition that hit stores this month. In an interview with the magazine, she says she only shampoos every five days, because her hair looks good dirty. (That's something I could never get away with--two days max for me!). Although she's best known for her brows, Ms. Shields says that she keeps her trademark tresses long because she knows what works for her. I like Brooke precisely because she's not trendy--she's a true classic. Are you a fan?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Works (Really!)

There are a zillion different products on the market that promise to reduce wrinkles ... but, as most of us know, few deliver. According to a new study in The Archives of Dermatology, there are just three anti-aging treatments that are actually clinically proven to be effective: topical retinol, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing; and the injection of hyaluronic acid (think Restylane). Now, those last two are a bit extreme for my taste--but topical retinoid is something that's easy to use, and you can even get it over the counter. Years ago, my dermatologist recommended RoC products, and I still use the eye cream regularly (although I use Rx Retin-A for the rest of my face). Do you use retinoids?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Big and Bushy

I lost my tweezers. To another woman, this might be a minor crisis; for me, it's a major ordeal: I've had the hardest time finding ones that really work, and yet for the life of me, I can't remember where this beloved pair came from---which means I'm going to have to start the hunt all over. In the meantime, I'm going to steal a trick from a makeup artist friend and use the tiniest bit of concealer to cover the stray hairs that threaten to turn me into Frida Kahlo. (Thank goodness full brows are all the rage this season--I suspect there's only so much a bit of Bobbi Brown can do). Any recommendations for tweezers that really work??

Friday, August 15, 2008

Best Beauty Blogs

Happy Friday! Just a quick shout-out about some of the other fantastic beauty blogs out there. Here's where I go to get inspired:

Style Bakery
The Girls in the Beauty Department
Jack and Hill
Makeup Bag

What are your favorite beauty sites?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Au Naturale

I eat as organically as possible. But when it comes to beauty products, most of the organic products I've tried (with a few exceptions--love Weleda and Avalon!) haven't wowed me. But lately I've resolved to become a more natural beauty, so to speak--after all, who needs more chemicals? First on my list of changes: healthier hair dye. I'm going to try out the much-hyped Grace Heaven salon in NYC, which uses herbal, non-toxic products that are so gentle, pregnant women can even safely color their locks. Have you tried non-toxic hair dye?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beach Beauty

I haven't been to the ocean once this summer (which my dermatologist is no doubt cheering about). But in the spirit of the season, these two beach scents will take me there, if only in spirit:

*Bobbi Brown Beach ($55). This dreamy fragrance is the perfect mix of sea spray and suntan lotion (the good kind--trust me).

*Carol's Daughter Ocean ($27). A fabulous blend of floral scents like hyacinth and lavender along with a splash of cucumber, this perfume brings me back to the shore.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Motopowered Mascara

I'm all for power tools. But mascara wands that vibrate? Really?? Estée Lauder Lauder just introduced TurboLash, which contains a wand that produces 7,5000 vibrations per minute; Lancôme responded by launching Ôscillation, with a wand that produces 7,000 micro-oscillations per minute. Supposedly, the mechanical brushes coats lashes more evenly. They're not cheap--$30 and $34, respectively--but the limited amounts that the companies have released sold out quickly (one sign our economy hasn't gone completely belly-up). Would you buy them?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Short and Sassy

I've been contemplating cutting off my long locks, but have held back because it's often said that short hair ages women--and I didn't want to end up with a "mom do". But then I came across photos of the lovely Mariska Hargitay, who in my opinion looks far, far better with short hair than she does with long. Which made me realize that it's not really about the length--it's about the cut, color, and of course your face shape and what compliments it. What do you think--can short hair look young and chic?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beauty Deal of the Day

Glycolic peels do wonders for your complexion; the glycolic acid sloughs off old skin and encourages the growth of new cells. Trouble is, go to a medi-spa or dermatologist and you'll pay $100, minimum, for a glycolic peel ... not exactly cheap. Which is why I was thrilled to recently get the chance to try out Boots' new DIY glycolic peel kit, which costs just $25 (and is good for several uses). It contains about a third of the acid that you'd receive from a medical peel in a doctor's office, but certainly enough to be effective--my skin certainly looked glowier after using it. Bonus: the lower acid content means it stings less (read: barely at all) than an Rx peel.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who Knew?

I read in O magazine that pumping your mascara wand in and out of the tube doesn't help it pick up more product. Huh! And here I've been doing that every day for, oh, 20 years. (Mascara and blush are the two things I never leave the house without putting on). Turns out that you're getting the same amount every time--so if you want more, you have to apply another coat or two. Lesson learned!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Terrible Trend: Beauty Before Health

Need to get an appointment to see your dermatologist? Tell him you want to find out about Botox. According to the New York Times, dermatologists see patients who want cosmetic procedures--ones not paid for by insurance--far faster than they see patients who need, say, psoriasis or a suspicious mole checked out. Some docs even have separate waiting rooms for cosmetic patients vs. medical patients. Personally, I think this is ridiculous--but given my recent run-in with my dermatologist, it doesn't surprise me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scent I'm Loving Now: Calendula

I'd never given much thought to calendula, an herb that looks a lot like a marigold. Then a friend of mine gave me some Weleda baby products for my daughter, including their Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash. It wasn't long before I was poaching it for myself--it's got the most delicious, woodsy, honey-like smell, and leaves my skin unbelievably smooth. Added bonus: Weleda products are free of all kinds of chemicals, like parabens, that you'll find in most other beauty products.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spa Swindled

Spa dermatology is on the rise, and while I generally think it's a great concept, I found out the hard way this week that it can have its drawbacks. I went in to a new dermatologist, who practices in a med-spa-like facility, to see what I could do about a pesky rash I have on my arms. He suggested a glycolic peel. I assumed that it--like my visit that day--was covered by insurance, and the dermatologist never mentioned otherwise, so I agreed. Well, when I went to pay my co-pay after the visit, I was informed that I owed several hundred dollars for the glycolic peel!! Needless to say, I was furious--if not illegal, it seems extremely unethical to not disclose fees up front. I won't be going back to that dermatologist again ... lesson learned.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Something's Fishy

I'm not squeamish, but when I heard about fish pedicures, I was officially grossed out. You stick your feet in a pool of water with tiny carp, and they eat the dead skin off your feet. Supposedly, the beauty treatment, which originated in Turkey but is now available in the U.S., doesn't hurt, but I don't think I could handle dozens of scaly minnows attacking my toes, no matter how effective it is. Would you try it?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shortcut of the Week

Short on time? Who isn't? Well, uber-talented (and semi-famous) dermatologist Dennis Gross M.D., creator of MD Skincare, has devised a product that will cut your p.m. beauty routine in half: the EZ4U 4-in-1 Facial Treatment. These pocket-sized towelettes contain cleanser, tone, wrinkle fighter and moisturizer. Just wipe your skin down and crawl between the sheets. Brilliant!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friday Fantasy

I got a press release yesterday for a tropical getaway spa package at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego. This over-the-top treat includes a "tropical essence massage”, (coco-mango body polish and a rub-down with Ylang Ylang oil), followed by the "signature spa terre facial”, and last but not least, a manicure and "passionflower pedicure," complete with a rose-petal milk bath. At over $500 for the whole package, I won't be indulging myself in it anytime soon. But it sounds nice, doesn't it?

In any case, have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Aren't I Callus?

After nearly two months of sandal season, my feet started to look rough--literally. We're talking hard-core calluses. I recently wrote about how I usually turn to topical solutions to get smoother feet, but even that wasn't cutting it anymore. So I did what any well-heeled woman would, and turned to my Tweezerman callus remover. I know some women are terrified of callus removers because they use a razor blade to take off dry, dead skin. Personally, I've never so much as nicked myself (thank you, safety shield) and nothing, and I mean nothing, is so effective at giving me gorgeous tootsies.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Those Brits know how to do it, don't they? I tried Boots No7 Maximum Volume Mascara this weekend. (For the uninitiated, Boots is a super-popular UK health and beauty retailer who makes many of their own products, some of which they're now offering in the States at Target). Swoon! I'm always looking to make my lashes look lush, and this mascara is as good, if not better, as one of my other favorites--Chanel's Inimitable--but is less than a third of the price. My eyelashes looked longer and thicker without appearing clumpy. I'm checking out some other of Boots' products later this week; rumor has it they have a DIY glycolic peel. Stay tuned ...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stress and Your Skin

Do you need to relax more? A quick peek in the mirror holds the answer. As it turns out, recent research shows that stress can hurt your skin. "We know that stress can have a dramatic effect on the immune system," says Joshua Fox, MD, founder of Advanced Dermatology and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "And quite often, that can create immune- related responses in the skin." Read: the more stress you're under, the more you're prone to breakouts, flare-ups with chronic conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and even wrinkles. Dr. Fox's de-stress suggestions: try meditation, hypnosis or biofeedback. Personally, I'm using this as evidence that I deserve a massage!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Beauty-full Brows

Like many women I know, I over-plucked my brows for a long time--and have come to regret it. While they've mostly regained their full shape, the outer edges are a bit thinner than I'd prefer (especially now that the Brooke Shields "full" look is back in!). However, most of the brow powders and pencils I've tried have looked super fake--you could spot where I'd filled out my arches from 200 feet away. No longer: I picked up Anastasia's brow pencil at Sephora (one of their saleswomen recommended it), and it's ridiculously effective, yet you can't really tell that I've used a pencil. And the pencil itself, while not cheap, seems to last forever; it's been six months since I bought mine, and I've still got at least half left. It's a must-try!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beauty Icon: Nicole Kidman

Adding to the evidence that 40 is the new 30, Nicole Kidman, 41, just gave birth to a daughter, Sunday Rose. Nicole's one young-looking mother: nary a sunspot or wrinkle, despite the fact that she grew up under Australia's blazing hot sun. I'm guessing she has an amazing dermatologist to thank--and, judging from her perfect pale skin, a steady regime of SPF.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Spa for What??!

I'm filing this one under "now I've heard it all": the first pelvic fitness spa is opening in Manhattan this month. The spa, called Phit (pelvic health integrated techniques) will offer below-the-belt beauty services that center primarily on Kegels, as well as surgery and laser treatments to help women look and feel better where, um, the sun don't shine. Interestingly enough, the spa will also offer regular spa services like micro-dermabrasion and velasmooth (a laser treatment for cellulite). Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it all. Would you visit a pelvic fitness spa?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Luscious Lips

Confession: I'd love for my lips to look fuller and younger. I'm not talking Angelina Jolie-inspired pillows--just less deflated (and flaky!) than they are now. Which is why I was so excited to try Olay's Regenerist Anti-Aging Lip Treatment. I've only been using it for 3 days, but I'm already impressed--maybe it's all in my head, but I swear my lips are smoother already, and maybe a bit more plump, too. I'll check back in a week or two from now to let you know if I've seen more improvement.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Footloose and Frizz-Free

I've got pin-straight hair--that means it should be frizz-free, right? Guess again. In hot, humid weather--like the kind we've been having here in NYC lately--my hair turns into a tangled, frizzy mess. Adding a bit of hair spray (I like Frederick Fekkai's) after I blow dry my locks helps a bit. One of my colleagues swears by Japanese hair straightening, a.k.a. thermal conditioning (yes, even for already straight hair--particularly if you like that super-flat look that's in style right now). But another friend with hair similar to mine recommended that I try a far less expensive solution: Citre Shine's Shine Miracle Anti-Frizz Serum; I'm going to give it a go later this week. At less than $8, it's worth a shot!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Don't Forget Your Hands!

When it comes to fighting aging, I usually concentrate on my face: does my forehead look sun-damaged? Do I have new crow's feet around my eyes? Do my lips still look plump? What I rarely think about are my hands, which is a big mistake: dermatologists say that the skin on the backs of the hands often ages as fast, if not faster, than the skin on the face, because it's thin and contains less fat and collagen. There are a slew of anti-aging hand creams on the market--for example, Lancome's Absolue Hand--but I'm taking baby steps and starting by applying my SPF/anti-aging face products to my hands in the morning. What do you use to keep your hands looking youthful?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Like Fine Wine

It's often said that men look better as the years go on, while women ... just look older. I disagree: I can think of at least a dozen women in Hollywood alone (and many, many more in my personal life) that look better in their 40s, 50s and beyond than they did when they were in their 20s and 30s. Take Halle Berry for example: now 40, she's more glowing and gorgeous as each year passes, which may explain why Revlon brilliantly chose her to head up their beauty advertisements four years ago. Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore and Demi Moore are other "better with time" icons that come to mind. Thank you, ladies, for showing us that beauty knows no age!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When In Doubt, Toss It Out ... Or Not?

Space is at a premium in my small NYC apartment, so I recently cleaned out my linen closet in an attempt to make more room. That meant I was forced to face all the beauty products I'd been holding onto. I was embarrassed to realized that some products were nearly five years old--like the Bobbi Brown blemish cover stick in a shade that matched my skin for one nanosecond during a very tan summer, and the Sebastian Dry Clean Only hair spray that never really did make my dirty hair look just-washed. It pained me, but anything that I hadn't used in six months went into the trash (with the exception of my Coco Chanel perfume, which I almost never wear, but can't bear to part with). Now, of course, I'm wondering if I'll regret discarding anything?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Soak Away Stress

If you do one nice thing for yourself this week, take a bath. After several especially stressful days, I took one mid-week last week ... and loved it so much that I took another two days later. I wanted the whole spa experience, so before I filled the tub, I lit a few candles, poured myself a tiny bit of wine and grabbed a stack of magazines. For my first bath, I added a homemade herbal mix (lots of lavender and rosemary--mmm) that a friend had given me; for my second, I wanted bubbles, and I used some California Baby Calming Aromatherapy Bubble Bath (which a friend bought for my daughter--but as it turns out, it's brilliant for adults, too). After a quick soak, I was feeling 100 times more relaxed. When's the last time you took a bath?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Slough It Off

There's no question that dry, flaky skin is instantly aging. But try to slough off too much and you're left with red, irritated skin, which doesn't look any younger, or better! Although I do go for microdermabrasion treatments on a regular basis, I've been using Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub (on my body, not just my face!) for years; for me, it's just tough enough to remove unsightly dead skin cells, but not so harsh that it leaves me blotchy. What do you you use to keep your skin looking youthful and smooth?