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!