Thursday, April 27, 2006

I spy with my little eye

So today I am off to the Left Coast!

LA can be so wonderful with the ocean, the sun, the fresh fruit, the emphasis on exercise and healthy living...

Who am I kidding? I enjoy these things for exactly three days and then I cannot wait to get back to the land where people walk (and at a pace faster than snails), I can order a latte with cow's milk (NOT soy!) without being glared at or given a lecture by the person making my drink, and where people understand that The Times means a paper without a section called "Car Culture."

But Los Angeles does have its upside. There is always the added benefit of real celebrity sightings, as opposed to "David Greggory totally cut in front of me in line at Balducci's!" or "I saw Joe Lieberman at Social Safeway" or the ubiquitous Bush twins at Smith Point.

LA is also totally focused on beauty and have some of the best stores to browse around in. I have a whole day free to explore and shop, so I plan on going to Sephora (I really dislike the layout of the Georgetown store, even though the selection is above par) and also hitting Fred Segal like a ton of bricks. They always have the newest and coolest products and I am anxious to try the Monyette perfume that The Beauty Addict blogged about yesterday. Perhaps it will get me out of the Chanel Allure rut that I have been stuck in since college!

Don't leave home without it

...if you can remember

I might be one of the worst travelers. EVER.

I am, by nature, forgetful and a procrastinator. I dream of being one of those people who packs their T. Anthony carry-on with useful, multipurpose items that can go anywhere. Like those women in Bazaar magazine this month who claim that they can go out at night in St. Barts in a bikini and a sarong. Riiight. That's not me.

I wait until the last minute to pack, then end up going out for dinner and drinks to come home at 11 pm to a bed covered in clothes. I throw things into a bag at random until it is full, and then wind up where ever I am with four shirts, a dress, six pair of shoes and a bra but no underwear or pants. Beauty-wise, I'll end up bringing seven eyeliners and glitter eyeshadow, but no concealer.

So here is the list of beauty supplies I would never take a trip without, if I could remember to actually put them in my bag:
  • Vincent Longo liquid foundation in Porcelain
  • Clinique concealer
  • Eyelash curler and mascara
  • Nars Blush in Sin
  • Vincent Longo eyepencils in Silvertaupe and Smoke
  • Vincent Longo Eyeshadow Trio in Orbit Dusk (are we noticing a trend in brands?)
  • Chanel Glossimer Lip Glosses in Satinette and Glaze
  • Q-Tips
  • Ponytail holders
  • Ambien (unless you are prone to sleep-eating!)
  • Smith's Rosebud Salve
  • Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick
  • Kerastase Shampoo
  • Terax Crema Conditioner
  • Luna Bars (no one can look good when they are hungry!)
  • Cetaphil Face Wash
  • Erno Laszlo REM SPF 30 moisturizer
  • a Starbucks card

For my trip today, I forgot at least three of these things. But I did remember underwear! I think...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good Golly Miss Giada

I have a terrible addiction to The Food Network. And I know there are many who share my addiction. I'm sure there is a therapist out there who could talk me blue in the face about why I like watching other people make gorgeous and complicated food in pristine kitchens and then go out to eat, but what's the point? I would rather sit on the couch and ponder what color nail polish Giada De Laurentiis is wearing and how she keeps her perfect nails so perfect.

As many of you probably already know, Giada De Laurentiis is the star of Everyday Italian on The Food Network. She makes gorgeous looking Italian recipes that are often skewed towards a lighted and Americanized palate. She films in a beautiful, light, open kitchen somewhere in California and stays impossibly perfect looking while cooking.

Because 90% of her show is focused on the lush food that she cooking, there are many close-ups of her hands. In every shot, she has the most perfectly manicured nails in a shade of baby pink.

For the longest time, all I could wonder is: what color nail polish she was using?

(The second curiosity was how in God's name she stays so thin while constantly eating. I mean, c'mon! The woman is a toothpick with a really big head. Why is nature so good to some and so mean to others?)

I have always been partial to the Essie Mademoiselle/Ador-a-ball/Ballet Slippers trifecta. I layer them, I wear them alone, I line them up on my nightstand and admire them in all their sheer elegant glory. I was convinced that it was one of these colors that adorns Giada's nails. The good money was on Ballet Slippers.

I recently attended a book signing for Giada's new book, Giada's Family Dinners, and while I was up there with my friends gushing about her fabulous Chicken Tetrazzini recipe I suddenly blurted out, "What color nail polish do you wear on the show?"

My friends were mortified, as this was obviously the dumbest question ever, but she answered immediately. "Bubble Bath by OPI." She said that everyone thinks it is a Essie color, but she prefers OPI because they hold up better during all the washing of dishes and tearing of bread and such.

Who knew?!?

I (of course) ran out and bought Bubble Bath and plan on doing a home manicure for my big trip to the Left Coast this weekend. I'm hoping it will stand up to the grueling drive to Dulles and the endless turning of pages on the airplane. And then there is all that smog! This will be quite a test run.

What do you think? Do the OPI colors stay on better than the Essie ones?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Love Song for Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown has long been known for her ability to create natural looking, pretty makeup products in a world where "natural" is not always a goal that people strive for. Almost every product she creates becomes a staple of makeup bags everywhere.

I have been a fan of her products for a while after a makeover in college showed me that blush is a good thing on someone as pale as I am and I always love Bobbi's work when she is a guest on The Today Show.

In the middle of the bar exam preparation induced hysteria this past summer, I stopped at the Bobbi Brown counter of Neiman's and subjected myself to the handiwork of the makeup artist there. Don't ask what I was doing shopping instead of studying. I was convinced that anything that made me NOT miserable must be purchased at any cost and would surely guarantee that I passed the exam. She introduced me to the Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Granite Ink which I have grown to love ever since.

But first! A caveat. I am HORRIBLE at applying eyeliner. The smudgy, smoky eye was the greatest thing to ever become a trend, because I always look like that when I put on eyeliner. Q-Tips are my best friends and the mention of liquid eyeliner makes me break out into a cold sweat. The fact that I wear contacts and have the annoying habit of rubbing my eyes does nothing to alleviate the problem.

However, the Gel Eyeliner has become my friend. I totally bought the little brush that goes with the liner and have become somewhat adept at putting it on properly. First, I dip the brush into the little pot of liner. Then I carefully dot the liner into the upper lash line and try to trace them together. I still often blend out the edges with a Q-Tip, but the greatest thing about the eyeliner is that it DOES NOT MOVE. Seriously.

It was apparently voted "Best Long-Wearing Eyeshadow or Liner" by InStyle Magazine too, and they are right on target. It stays on forever, as evidenced by the results of my Extreme Makeup Testing and the fact that I wore it every day during a DC summer and did not hurl it out onto the street in frustration.

The only downside is that it is a little hard to remove with just soap and water, but a little swipe of a towel or a little makeup remover takes care of that. I also bought the Violet Ink, which is fun, but not as great as the Granite. The new shimmer shades look intriguing though.

P.S. I passed the bar, so maybe my theory was right...

Extreme Makeup Testing!

I was finally able to test out some of those products during a workout this week. Due to a little lack of motivation and an unfortunate small accident, I did not attend yoga when I said I would. However, this past Friday and Saturday, I went twice and Mother Nature conspired to make it a rough trial for the products.

First, the classes were held in rooms that were heated up to be about 85 degrees. This is nice and warm when you enter the studio, and it really turns up the intensity when you get into the heart of the routine. Second, it was officially yucky out on Saturday here in DC. Yes, that is a meteorological term, "yucky." It describes a day where it schvitzes on and off and every once and a while there is a torrential downpour. Not the best conditions for looking pretty, but I was able to keep it together with some new products and some old ones too!

The Cargo Oil-Free Foundation went on very nicely and stayed put for most of the class. When I started to blot during the Sun Salutation B series, I noticed that some came off on the towel. Same goes for the Almay Touchpad Blush. The Bourjois Lovely Party and the Nars Cream Eyeshadow in Penelope both amounted to a little too much shimmer, I thought. Between the rain falling on my face and the heat from the yoga studio, I was glistening (re: wet) and shiny enough without them. (But more on the Nars shadow later!)

The big winners in the Extreme Makeup Test were the Bobbi Brown Gel Eye Liner in Granite Ink and Cover Girl Lash Exact Mascara. They stayed on throughout the classes and the walks there and back. There was a little fading with both products over the course of the day, but there was no smudging, especially under the low lash line (which always gives me that oh-so-pretty strung out look). I was able to go straight from class to brunch without that desperate five minutes in the bathroom fixing my makeup, which totally not zen. Now if there was only a way to fix my hair...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Les Cheveux Irresistibles!

I have always been slightly fascinated by the Kerastase hair products.

When I lived in Paris, I would see the hair salons with the lucite shelves just filled with the short solid bottles. They always seemed so chic, but they were not available at my local Monoprix (which was sort of like the Target of France, but with way better food). This meant that to purchase a bottle, I would have to work up my nerve and my French language skills, go into a salon and talk to the people about my hair. Let's just say I came home with the same Pantene I bought at the CVS at home.

So, over the years since I have been home, I have romanticized the Kerastase products, and put off buying them because they are pricey and I am a wuss. Well, I was rooting around in a bag of Christmas gifts (yes, they are STILL sitting in bag in our living room) and found that someone had given us a bottle of the Kerastase Bain Volumactive Shampoo! While it might not be my first choice from the line, I could surely use some more volume in my life!

I have been using it for a week now, and I am liking the results. I certainly noticed a little more volume and have noticed that after I take down a ponytail, even after working out, there isn't really that "ponytail bump." The only downside is that I have noticed that my hair isn't quite as soft as it is when I use my old standby of Pantene for color treated hair.

The saddest thing about the whole experience is that I have not turned into Catherine Denueve overnight or anything. Maybe I need the matching conditioner and hair mask...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I love the nightlife...

Shimmer can be a dangerous, dangerous thing. When used properly, it can illuminate your face, making you look happy and healthy and glow-y. But! It can also be used as a tool for evil, which makes you look shiny, sweaty, and just plain irridescent (but in the bad way, not the good way).

On Saturday night, I tried out Bourjois's Lovely Party Primer in hopes that I could achieve that healthy sexy springtime glow for an evening out.

Now, I have always been a huge fan of Bourjois ever since my grandmother introduced me to the brand at the mini Galleries Lafayette that used to reside in the Trump Building on Fifth Ave. There have always been the rumour that it is really a big big designer makeup brand's products in a different packaging but I mostly like that they come out with fun new products all the time and have the cutest packaging. While it is WAY cheaper in France, it is still at the lower end of the Sephora price points, making it a fun experiment.

So, a past experience with this primer has showed me that I should not use this as an actual primer, as in put it all over my face. Hello, disco ball face! This evening I judiciously applied several dots to my cheekbones and up around my eye socket and rubbed in. It was really a nice little glow, right around where the light hits. It was a smashing success.

However, the night was not all fun and games in the world of shimmer. That very night, I saw firsthand the terror that shimmer can inflict. There was a girl sitting at the bar that night who had on so much of whatever product she used that she was lit up like a christmas tree light! One of my companions actually remarked that she was glowing in the dark and another responded that you could see her face from outer space. And these were men saying these things!

A moment of silence while we all make resolutions not to abuse the shimmer. There is no twelve-step for this, people. Be careful out there.

She blinded me with science!

Well, not really, but I'm pretty sure I could blind someone with my shockingly pale legs! I am naturally VERY white and am totally incapable of tanning. Yup, I'm one of the lucky few who can go from white, to burned to a crisp, to totally white again.

Normally, I can revel in my pale skin and disdain at all those who must go to tanning beds. I wear SPF-a million and simply stay away from colors that tend to match my skin tone (off-white is my enemy). However, every spring and summer, I read about all the latest new developments in self tanners. There are the spray booths, the foams, the gels, those bizarre pills you can take. And every year, like clockwork, I fall prey to trying something new out. I have no aspirations to being golden brown to the color where I could actually wear coral nail polish or something, I just need a little something to take the edge off the pasty tone my legs accumulate over the winter.

So, this year, I have fallen prey to the hype surrounding Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. Last year, in what was undoubtedly the greatest marketing ploy in history, Jergens only made about three bottles of the stuff and had product placement everywhere! There was a huge craze and people started hoarding it like there was some Y2K self-tanner conspiracy out there. Friends who were able to get a hold of it raved about it.

I like that it comes in a variety for fair skin tones (although there wasn't a "for those of you who are so pale that people can see your veins and mistakenly tell you that you have pen marks on your face"). However, I am fearful. Yes, terribly afraid of the streaky freakish orange tints that I have been in the past. But I will be brave. I will report back if children start crying when I walk by.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Let's get physical, physical!

I honestly and truly never thought I would be one of those women who worried about what makeup to wear to the gym. I also wanted to grow up and be first baseman for the Yankees. Things don't turn out exactly the way we planned.

And let's not get drastic, I maintain no delusions about keeping makeup looking fresh and pretty during a spin class or Bikram yoga. But there are definitely times when I want to go from a regular yoga class to brunch without looking like I just rolled out of bed. I envision myself looking like Sarah Jessica Parker during the last season of Sex and the City; glowing, dewy, with perfect hair. (yes, I am perfectly aware that she was fictional, they had tons of makeup and hair people, and coordinated lighting, but it's nice to have goals, right?)

So, on a recent trip to Sephora, I picked up a few items that I plan to test drive during a yoga/post-yoga Saturday morning in combination with a few long lasting products already a part of my arsenal:
  • Cargo Oil Free Foundation
  • Nars Cream Eyeshadow in Penelope
  • Almay Nearly Naked Touch Pad Blush
  • Cover Girl Lash Exact Mascara
  • Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner
  • Bourjois Lovely Party Primer

Reviews to follow!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Once upon a time...

in a land far, far away (well, actually Manhattan) I heard a scary tale from a friend who worked in beauty public relations. She told me that her firm would routinely call magazines such as InStyle and tell them that a certain, very hot, very now celebrity was using a client's product and the magazine would print the blurb and a picture, thus generating an enormous sales boost for the product.

This is neither shocking nor particularly scary. That part comes now.

She told me that most of the time, they just made it all up. Complete fabrication.

Now, maybe this is not an industry wide practice. Perhaps there is a PR code of ethics that my friend was encouraged to violate where you only get a mention if you have actually sent the product to said celebrity and they called you back to rave. Who knows? It does seem mighty suspicious that the same products get mentioned over and over again, magically, in every single magazine on the newstand (and yes, I know this because I read ALL of them).

Yet, I still fall victim to nifty new packaging and the editorial claims that the eyeshadow transformed a life and rush to Sephora to buy it. I'll admit it, I love beauty products and I'm a sucker for all things new and nifty.

So, I plan on sharing the wisdom which I have gained through experience and post about that which I have enjoyed and those which have left me wanting.