Monday, November 27, 2006

Bergdorf Bazaar

The beauty department at Bergdorf's can often remind me of a very clean and shiny version of the bazaar in Marrakesh.

Or at least how I imagine the bazaar in Marrakesh to be.

You arrive via escalator and there are salespeople stationed at every turn to try to tempt you into a makeup chair and fork over your credit card. As you wander through the counters, they call at you like the Harpies:

"Can I interest you in anything?"

"Can I help you find anything?"

"Would you like to try...?"

It takes a lot of discipline to try to just look around. First, avoid eye contact with the salesfolk. They can smell weakness. Second, I always try to cut them off with a swift "I'm just looking."

Although it probably comes out a little shrill at the time.

It can be a little nerve racking to be down there, but DAMN! Bergdorf's has the absolute, bar none, best beauty department west of the Mississippi.

Okay, I don't even know what they've got west of the Mississippi, but I like saying it. And it can't be better. There. I said it again.

On a recent visit, I was scouting out Jemma Kidd's newish line (I loooove the hot pink packaging like it was by own child) when my mother announces that she needs a new lipstick.

So I suggested Cle de Peau, for reasons which are clearly NOT selfless. While my mother picked out a beautiful pinky nude color, I picked up a little finders fee in the way of the Eye and Lip Compact III.

Look at it.

It's so pretty.

The compact comes in a stunning shining navy case with a little plush bag (like a blankie!) and contains three eyeshadows, a lip stain and a lip gloss. The shadows are very sheer, but go on smoothly and have unbelieveable shimmer. The stain is also pretty light and requires lots of layering, but is intensified by the sparkly pink gloss.

Oh also, it comes with a little pad applicator for the eyeshadows (a little whatever in my opinion) and a mini double sided retractable lip brush! It's so cute I just want to cry.

Now, the price of this little baby could make you weep, but guess what? Pearl onions? Peeled about a thousand of those last week. Brussel sprouts? Make them baby and for 15 hungry people, I cleaned them. Yup. That's right. I earned my Cle de Peau compact the hard way.

But at least I didn't have to haggle with the gracious saleslady who sold it to me.

image courtesy of my boyfriend's adorable camera and my crappy photography skills.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not Just for Cheap Wine Any More

I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's.

Big Fan.

I'm a big fan of their mini chocolate peanut butter cups. I'm also a big fan of their four dollar wine.

Although my dentist is not, see: need for whitening toothpaste.

On a recent stroll through the store, I noticed and purchased a bright orange tube of their Mango & Honey Shaving Cream.

Since I have been using Skintimate since I was 13, supplemented by whatever my boyfriend is using at the time, this was quite different.

First, there is no foaming. This is more like a cream or body lotion. There wasn't as much stuff, but it did clog my razor a little and didn't wash away as easily as I would have liked.

Second, it did leave my legs feeling far more moisturized than previous products, for longer. Especially since I forgot to put on lotion (which is quickly becoming NOT an option, given the icy new temperatures and the moisture-sucking heat in my office) I was doubly impressed by the moisturizing aspect.

Third, it smells FAN-freaking-TASTIC. Running a close second to the Oscar Blandi Jasmine hair serum (seriously, they don't pay me. i wish). The smell is really great and not that fake fruity crappy smell that screams "GIRLY."

So, honestly, I think the smell alone is worth spending the extra seconds to get the excess off my razor, with the moisturizing as an added bonus. Also some nice features: it's vegetarian and unisex, although I don't plan on eating it and I can't picture my boyfriend giving up his Gillette for this.

Now, Trader Joe's is notorious for having something one day and then never stocking it again, so pick up a tube soon if you see it, and don't forget the Four-Buck Chuck.

PS. I'm not the only one who loves TJs, check out Monkey Posh's post on 5 reasons to love the place.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gettin' Kinda Spendy

I don't know if it's all the cheap beer flowing around the Hill since the Democrats won (Republicans like to hide the 12 year old Macallen from their staff) or the promise of the influx of all that new blood up here, but I have gotten the itch to get some nice new makeup.

Which, honestly, is nothing new to me.

But the difference here is that I want to buy something pricey. Something worth the effort of spending time in a department store talking to salespeople. Something I can be proud to show off on my makeup tray or brag to my friends that it's just the "only thing I can wear anymore!!"

I'm contemplating getting the Cle de Peau concealer.

Oh yes. This baby clocks in with a price tag that would make a defense contractor swoon, outpricing my regular concealer by approximately 500%.

But it is also the stuff of legend.

Routinely mentioned in magazine copy as the best concealer you can buy (if you can afford it, of course) and recently mentioned as Alexis Bledel's favorite in Lucky Magazine. (Fine!! I just want to be Rory on Gilmore Girls. Sue me.)

But I have doubts.

First, is it REALLY worth the price of 19.04 double tall skim lattes from Starbucks?

Second, if I plan on spending that much money on something, shouldn't it ADD color to my face instead of blending it all in?

Third, can I truly expect anything to cover up the dark undereye circles which are bound to show up when I spend all of next January planning hearings?

Fourth, do you think the lady at the Cle de Peau counter would give me enough free swag for buying it to offset some of the cost?

Now, I have gotten a few other items from Cle de Peau and they are great (more to come in upcoming posts) but the balanced-budget girl in me balks just a little.

Help me out! Has anyone tried it? Is it worth my big splurge?

I'm thinking I may just have to pretend I work on Wall Street and just got a six-figure bonus, instead of Independence Ave and stealing binder clips from the government...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Walk the Line

It's not easy being a woman sometimes.

Especially when you live in a place like Washington.

Men can roll out of bed, put on a blue button down and a pair of khakis and people think they are the second coming of John Kennedy.

But for women, there is a thin line between wanting to look good and wanting to be taken seriously.

Dress in stylish clothes, wear makeup, blow out your hair and people think you are a vapid moron who clearly takes her appearance more seriously than her brain. Also, you might end up on the wrong side of the door of the cloakroom, if you know what I mean.

Buuuttt, dress down and wear coke bottle glasses and no makeup and no one wants to look at you or talk to you (unless it's behind your back).

Now, I know that I am not the first person (by a long shot) to realize this, but it is something I deal with on a daily basis and I think about it a lot.

So on Tuesday I was watching the election coverage of Hillary Clinton in New York and I noticed that she looked a little different, and it wasn't just that I-just-won-in-a-landslide glow that she had. I couldn't put my finger on it though.

Then the next day I received my copy of New York Magazine (yes, I still read this diligently every single week, it's so dishy! I love it.) with Hillary on the cover and it hit me.

She was wearing the most fabulous shade of dark purple eyeshadow.

Yes, gorgeous eggplant with just a hint of gold shimmer. And it made her look great. And it was heartening to see a women in politics walk the line between looking beautiful and being smart.

Oh, and I read the article too...because I care about things other than just beauty of course.

But seriously, if anyone knows what shade that is, TELL ME!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ask Capitol Hill Barbie: The Brow Beating Edition

Wow, you actually sent me some questions. This is awesome. I honestly thought I would have to make up some more questions and pass them off as reader questions.

So, while I probably have no business offering advice to anyone on anything, here goes!

Two of the questions I received dealt specifically with eyebrow issues. This is a topic to which I am relatively new, but have recently had some experience.

A little background: I have what might be the palest eyebrows ever. Not to drag out the old "Paul Bettany as the albino in The Da Vinci Code" analogy again, but for reals, yo! I think something went wrong between when I was younger and my hair was much more (naturally) blonde, and my eyebrows matched. Well, guess what? My hair got darker but eyebrows remained persistently invisible.

When ever I go to a makeup counter to submit to the spackling by another, the first thing the makeup artist does is comment on my eyebrows. Apparently they frame your face! You have to make them dark! Here is another product I must buy! Half the time, when I am undercaffinated (cough, cough, hungover) and my self-esteem tank is low (AH-choo, forgot to put on makeup in hangover stupor) I buy what ever they are hawking. If I'm feeling a little more with it, I get rebellious and think "makeup artist, please! I can do this crap myself" and walk away feeling smug.

However, my commitment to doing all things high maintenance and beautifying for this blog has lead me to some pleasant surprises...

Miss Informed asks: "I have a very round face and thick eyebrows. How do I determine how thin they should be plucked/waxed? I love the thinner look but I'm afraid it would make my face look even more round. Any suggestions?"

Well, first, I feel it is my duty to tell you that apparently full eyebrows are IN! Just look at one of my new favorite shows, Ugly Betty. But seriously, I happen to think a thin eyebrow can make one look a little surprised, y'know? And while that might be fine look for a staffer who maybe comes back from lunch on a Friday to find that his boss has quit, the door locked and the nameplate off the door, it might not be something you want to sport all the time.

I have seen those kits that have eyebrow stencils that you can hold up, fill in with a pencil and see how they look on you. However, I'm not a big fan of spending a buttload of money on something that does get fully used.

I would rather buy my six thousandth pink lip gloss.

So here is my suggestion. Seek help. At least on the first try.

I used to be from the "screw eyebrow waxers! have tweezers, will pluck myself" school. So every once in a while, I would pluck like six hairs, get annoyed by my extremely low pain threshold and quit.

So, I went to a waxer. It hurt like POO!! Again, I am a SUPER wuss when it comes to pain. I also have really pale skin that turned bright red after the wax and then promptly broke out.


Needless to say, I needed a new strategy. So, after hearing about threading in the Going Out Gurus Chat in the Washington Post (oh, please, like the government gets anything done from 1 to 2 pm on a Thursday) I decided to give it a shot.

I picked Threads in downtown DC (located next to a pyschic! SWEET! can she tell me if I will get a job with a committee chairman in January?). The woman who did my brows was great. The pain was actually pretty minimal, although there was some redness in my albino face afterwards.

I got a little hyper about them being too thin, but since threading is very precise, she was very good about just taking off a little, then asking me what I thought. Also, these people do this for a living, and they have a pretty good idea of what looks good on what faces.

So here are my next steps for you:

First, try penciling in a thin brow with a dark eyeliner and see if it looks freakish. You can try using the stencils at Sephora until the staff starts to yell...then run like the wind or lie and say you were planning on buying that godawfully expensive shower head filter by Jonathan Antin to shame them. Then run like the wind.

Second, seek out a waxer or threader near you. Explain that you are thinking of going thinner, but gradually. Bring hydrocortisone cream and concealer.

Third, remember, natural always looks better than unnatural, so keep your brows a little full because it probably suits you.

Says the girl with the highlighted hair, painted nails, bare legs in 40 degree weather in 4 inch heels.

Jen asked: "I'm dying to know: What's the best product I can use to "fill in" my eyebrows without making them look drawn on? I have very thin eyebrows, light brown, and currently just use pencil. Is there a better way? The pencil wears off, and looks fake."

Yeah, I know this one. Where the lady at the counter says that a pencil is best because you can draw in individual hairs. Yeah....riiiightt. Because a pencil is sharp enough and I'm talented enough to draw in EXTRA EYEBROW HAIRS every morning? Like I'm Pissaro over here or something with tons of extra time built into my morning routine.

The best solution I have found is the Trish McEvoy Brow Gel. (I use the "Light Brown" color, but for some unknown reason, this seems to be unavailable online) I find that it makes my eyebrows darker and the hairs fuller which seems to let people know that I actually HAVE eyebrows. Also, it keeps my eyebrows locked into a groomed shape, even when I start rubbing my eyes to stay awake at some particularly long markup sessions.

So, I have done a little research to come up with some alternative eyebrow gels to suit your fancy. I have not included any clear gels because they always smack of hooey...

Anastasia Brow Gel - three shades from the woman who is supposedly the Michael Jordan of eyebrows. Raven haired girls seem SOL from this one though.

Benefit Speed Brow - again, three colors, but the dark one looks good for brunettes, the blonde shade looks a little funky though.

Bourjois Eyebrow Mascara - you've got to love that they just call this what it is. Best color selection so far, including an auburn shade for the redheaded stepchildren among us.

Sephora Lash & Eyebrow Mascara - The blonde shade is a little funky, and the brown is pretty reddish, but priced lower than most of the others here, could be good for someone just testing.

Stila Brow Polish - excellent range of colors, sleek silver tube.

Dior DiorShow Brows - Best dark brown of the bunch, but apparently only at Sephora. Damn them!!

Lancome Modele Sourcils Brow Groomer - Famous for their mascaras, maybe it gets better above the eyelid.

Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper and Hair Touch-Up - I take it back, this one has the best color selection.

So...try some of these out and let me know what you think. Or, if you have experience with these gels, share! Or if you think brows stink, share too! Also, if anyone knows why Trish McEvoy Brow Gel is only available in clear now, please let me know...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Calling All Q's!!

Okay. That's it. I can only make up so many questions one my own.

And by that I mean all two of the questions I made up. That's right. Two. Count 'em. One. Two. It's not as easy as you may think.

I would like to make "Ask Capitol Hill Barbie" a more regular feature here so here is the directive:

Bring it on.

Email me any questions you may have about beauty, fashion, life in DC, life on the Hill, how beauty and fashion may be affected by upcoming Congressional races, whatever your little hearts desire.

Gimme some Q's, and I promise some A's.