Wednesday, March 05, 2014

My vintage Chanel jumbo flap in action

Isn't it gorgeous!

Every year my pal Bunky gives a Valentine's Day tea party at the Ritz for all of "his ladies." We are all requested to wear red. This year I didn't have a red dress or suit to wear, so I made do with a red and white mini-check shirt and a red cashmere cardigan. Red lips and nail polish, of course.

Because that didn't seem dressy enough, I got out the big guns: two red Hermès bangles and a red and white Twilly tied to the strap of my circa 1990s Chanel bag. I've never seen a picture of me carrying it--it's a wow, isn't it?

I lunched with the two other ladies pictured here, and we had a terrific time.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where I've been lately

1. Trying to work on my "favorite products of 2013" series, except travel, and illness, and dry, dry, dry, desert-y dry skin.

I mean, is it possible to assess my various B.B. creams when my skin is so dry that I'm carrying a sample-sized pot of Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Seriously Rich Cream For Seriously Rich Old Ladies* everywhere I go, so I can dab a little on the places that might crack when I start laughing at my own jokes?

2. Shopping. And for high-end products. Chantecaille, Guerlain, the aforemention Estee Lauder cream.

3. Watching YouTube Beauty Gurus. And, naturally, emulating them:

* OK, that isn't really its name, but what is up with the long-ass names cosmetics companies give their products? Who can remember them? I can't remember the actual, official name of my day-time moisturizer, and I've used it for years. If I ever got laid up in bed and had to send my husband out to buy it for me, I'd tell him to get "the Garnier lotion in the ugly green pump bottle."

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The twelve greatest hits of 2013: body lotion

For the record, I've linked below to Amazon and/or, for which I receive not one brass centime.

I've recently been experimenting with lots of body lotions--I haven't even finished trying all the new ones I got for Christmas--but I've settled on my winners for 2013. Mind you, these are not lotions that provide a huge degree of sensual delight; they aren't wonderfully scented; the bottles are plain Jane; they don't feel luxurious. These lotions get the job done. There are three winners because these lotions serve slightly different needs, so I really need to have all three handy.

And the three winners:

Johnson's Baby Naturals Nourishing Lotion ($8.47/9 oz) isn't greasy at all, but it has more body than the average baby lotion, which I've always found rather thin and runny. It's paraben-free, with 99 percent natural ingredients. The fragrance is fresh--sort of a combination of cucumbers and lettuce--and it dissipates quickly, so it doesn't argue with my perfume. The bottle comes with a pump top, which makes it just that little bit faster and easier to apply when you get out of the shower. I use about six pumps to cover my entire body, so a bottle only lasts me about three weeks. I wouldn't say that it sinks in immediately, but it doesn't take long, and it doesn't feel greasy. I used it every day, sometimes twice on the days when I worked out in the afternoon, and it has kept my skin soft and comfortable even through Chicago's patented Polar Vortices™.

Vaseline Spray & Go moisturizer ($7.79/6.5 oz) is a thin, not particularly moisturizing lotion whose selling point is that it's fast to apply and fast to sink in. Frankly, this sounds to me like a problem  cosmetics manufacturers invented to sell us a cool new toy. Unless I'm using the original Nivea cream or Eucerin or bear grease, I haven't noticed that it takes my body lotion a long time to be absorbed--obviously, your mileage may vary.

I bought this lotion for one reason: the nozzle works from every angle, which means that it's possible to spray it upside down over my own shoulders and apply lotion to my back. I'm sure if I were using this stuff all over my body, it wouldn't be cost effective, but for that square foot of back, the bottle seems to be lasting a good while.

Amlactin Ultra ($14.99/4.9 oz) is the bomb if you've let things go and gotten chapped. Of course, we grown-up ladies are too smart to let that happen, but I can't say the same for the husbands and teenagers in my life, whose hands and legs get so red and chapped that it's painful to look at. I don't advocate using Amlactin all over because even this new and improved version of the classic cream smells ... OK, I can't think of a way to say this tactfully. But the humectant in this cream is derived from urea, which is urine, and so to me, this cream smells vaguely of pee.

And I can't say that the odor dissipates. When I've used it, I tend to find myself reaching for my more bang! pow! fragrances; big hitters like Hermès 24 Faubourg, Surrender by Killian, or Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia.

But if your skin is chapped, chafed, or red, this stuff will clear things up right away, without being intolerably greasy. And if you're using it on your hands or feet, you can always goop it on and then wear cotton gloves and socks to bed. Because that will really jump start your love life.

So when you use it, make sure the room is properly ventilated. And check to see whether any nearby cats start to try to bury you.

(Can you believe it? I hardly ever get feelers from cosmetics companies looking to partner with my blog.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

the best blush of 2013: Benefit's Dandelion

I hope they don't mind that I stole their picture.

Benefit's Dandelion is one of those products I've heard about for years. It pretty much won't stop winning awards.

Unfortunately, the whole award thing raises my hackles, as it should anyone's who has ever been suckered into buying a tube of Maybelline's god-awful G----- L--- mascara,* which is easily the worst, gloppiest, smeariest mess on the planet.

And don't think I didn't notice that Dandelion comes in pink and green packaging, "just like The Mascara That Can't Be Named," she thought, suspiciously.

But when I heard that my pal Wendy has gone through three boxes of Dandelion, I had to buy it and give it a try. Even though it costs an astonishing $28.

And what do you know--I love it. In fact, I've used it pretty much every day since I brought it home.

But first, the negatives: It comes in a little green cardboard box, which is a little bulky. There is a not very-good-quality mirror inside the lid, (although I pretty much ignore it, because it tends to be covered with, duh, a thin layer of Dandelion). Also, the brush that comes with it is only OK.

That's all the criticism I can muster. For pale-faced people, this gives a perfect soft pink flush. There's a tiny bit of sparkle, but it's barely noticeable--just enough to give it a tiny lift and prevent it from looking unnaturally matte.

It also makes a nice base for a second shade of blush. This is where you fluff on your Dandelion, than use a brighter or more intense shade to add a pop of color** on the apples of your cheeks. You're probably thinking "Why bother?" but keep this idea in mind, should you be feeling more dramatic or wanting to skew a little more coral or something.

* Not only will I not link to this product, I consider it The Mascara that Can't Be Named.

** From here on, all beauty/style blogger clichés will appear in italics, to let the reader know that I realize I'm acting like an ass.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The twelve greatest hits of 2013: Buxom lippies

I realize that everyone is going matte these days, and/or trying to get you to pull off super bright red lips. Which may not be the greatest look for us. I mean, has anyone else noticed how overwhelming Emma Stone's makeup is in the recent Revlon ads?

Anyway, cray colors (as in crayon colors that will make you look crazy) are all very well and good for chickabiddies like Emma. But we are adult women. We exist in the space/time continuum--a real place, where redheads do not wear fuchsia lipstick, for God's sake.

Sad to say that colors that look great on Taylor Swift or Scarlet Johansen or even Emma tend to make us look like a remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

I'll rock a red lip very occasionally. Very special occasionally, like when Mr. Buxom and I are going to a holiday party. And on those occasions, I make him promise not to look at me until we get to the party, where the lights will be appropriately dim.

The rest of the time, I wear my-lips-but-better shades. And this past year, I started using some products from the Buxom line--and not just because of the awesome name. I don't know whether these products make my lips look buxom, but they definitely look younger and fuller, and for that they win best lip products of 2013.

First, I outline and fill with Full-On Lipstick ($19)
in Brooklyn, a shade they describe as "harvest fig."

GIANT SWATCH OF BROOKLYN!!!! (Where are all the hipsters?)

Full-On Lipstick is matte without being drying or irritating. This is crucial, because keeping my lips smooth and soft is a challenge. Matte lipsticks and long-wear lipsticks are great, but my lips pay a price when I wear them. Consequently, I'm always looking for lip color that lasts, but isn't irritating.  

The weird thing is the Buxom line is designed to act as lip plumpers. Lip plumping products contain ingredients like cinnamon, capiscum, or menthol that cause a mild and temporary swelling of the lips. I stayed far away from them for years because I'd heard that they could be uncomfortable, even painful, and I didn't want to use products that would dry out or irritate my lips. But the Buxom products don't irritate my lips--they have the minty tingle, but wearing them actually leaves my lips softer and smoother.

I use Brooklyn under other, glossier lipsticks to keep the color from migrating. (I love Revlon Lip Butters, but they just won't stay put.) I use Brooklyn under some of my more flamboyant glosses to tone them down. And I especially love Brooklyn under Full-On Lipcream ($19)

in White Russian

Which is a lovely, milky pink color with no frost or glitter. It has good pigment, but is a little pale for me to wear by itself. It's useful for lightening darker shades and making your lips look fuller.

Like the Full-On Lipstick, Full-On Lip Cream is supposed to plump your lips. It has a minty tingle that starts a few seconds after you apply them. I notice the tingle, but I haven't noticed much, if anything in the way of plumping. On the other hand, I won't object if my lips get a tiny bit fuller--even if I can't really see a measurable difference.

And this gloss does make my lips appear fuller. It doesn't do this by sleight of hand with glitter or shimmer. It fills in the lines in my lips like no other shade I've ever used.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The twelve greatest hits of 2013: the facial oil

Sanctuary Spa Therapist's Secret Youth Boosting Facial Oil
OK, don't remind me that the year doesn't have 12 days left in it, because I'll start realizing that Christmas is in six days, I have barely anything bought, have not done cards or shipped a thing to my family, not to mention that today is Mr. Buxom's 50th birthday and I have nothing for him, not even a supermarket cake. So as soon as I finish this, it's out the door for me! (Thank goodness I spotted this Game of Thrones atlas at the local bookstore. It's completely dorktastic! He'll love it.)

But first, I really need to tell you guys about this stuff, because it's wonderful. I've already mentioned it in previous posts, but I bought it in England, and I really try not to recommend products that aren't readily available in the States. I'm selfless like that.

However, I've discovered that Sanctuary Spa Therapist's Secret Youth Boosting facial oil is available on QVC. With free shipping. So now I feel free to tell you that I'm using this amazing, amazing product two or more times a day, after cleansing morning and night, and sometimes under my makeup, because I saw Wayne Goss do that in a YouTube video.

I'm a huge fan of facial oils. There is just so much concentrated goodness in them. Think about it--when you pay a fortune for a luxurious cream, chances are the first ingredient is water. You know how the detergent companies figured out that they could make their products much more concentrated and make us happy because we have to haul fewer jugs of Tide home from the supermarket? Well, it's like that. When you buy a pot of face cream, you're buying a lot of water, which, let's face it, you probably already have at home.

And a good facial oil isn't heavy or greasy. Therapist's Secret oil feels silky and sinks in quickly, leaving my skin feeling comfortable, dewy, and plumped.

Therapist's Secret is $36.36, but you seriously only use a couple of drops at a time. However, I'm sure you could find something great for less. Bird was asking me about argan oil recently, because it's all over the place these days. I don't have any experience with argan oil, but please feel free to suggest other kinds of facial oils in the comments.

Meanwhile I'm going to order at least two bottles on QVC, and, by the way, heeding the advice of my friends at Looks Good from the Back, heading through the eBates portal to get a 2.5 percent rebate.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sometimes, I really need to listen to my own advice.

(I've been working on a draft of this post for so long that I decided the only way to handle things is to structure it in the form of What to Expect When You're Expecting, i.e., as a series of stupid-ass questions followed by tl;dr answers. So.)

So, Poppy. Tell us about your skin. How would you characterize it?

Dry. I never had acne, although when I was a teenager, I thought I did.

So you're saying that you've always been a mindless consumer?

Oh, yeah. I started really young. When I was nine, I was poring over my older sister's copies of Seventeen, and by 12, I was spending my babysitting money on Noxema and Clearasil and Neutrogena and Seabreeze and Bonne Bell 10-0-6 lotion. They all worked, I suppose, because there was nothing wrong with my skin.

Eventually I graduated to actual make up and gave up on trying out new skin products, because I never really saw a dramatic change in my skin. No matter how much I spent, or what I did (or didn't do) it looked fine. Those were my complexion's salad years.

Then what happened?

Flash forward 40 years, and that is no longer the case. In addition to the usual signs of aging--crows' feet, nasal labial folds, and sagging, I'm also getting kind of creepy. Or something. Little by little, I have developed ... bumps. Milia, solar lentigines, and actinic keratoses.


Totally. As my uncle once told me "In our family, we don't so much age as turn into lizards."

What the hell are these gruesome-sounding things?

Read on--and click the links if you want to see the results of Google Image searches of each term. (This is NSFS--not safe for the squeamish! You have been warned. DON'T CLICK!!!)

Milia --Look like whiteheads, but are actually hard white lumps of trapped skin cells.

Solar Lentigines -- Fancy talk for liver spots

Actinic Keratoses -- Little translucent rough patches. dooce has blogged about these. (I'm only four years behind the trend!)

Now that you've grossed out the internet, Poppy, what are you going to do to make things better?

All of these gruesome-sounding things are annoyances, rather than horrible problems. They're mostly caused by sun damage. Well, sun damage, and in the case of the milia, the skin's slower turnover rate.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go to the dermatologist; you should. I've just discovered a new one who is even more scalpel-happy then my old one, and I fully expect her to slice me and dice me like a Ginzu knife commercial. Good times!

But in the meantime, I've stepped up my skincare routine. Confession time: my Clarisonic died right about the time that I discovered Biotherm's Embrolyse cleansing water, so I started using it all the time. It's fantastic, but it doesn't exfoliate, and apparently, without exfoliation, and lots of it, my face starts to resemble the barnacle-encrusted bottom of a Boston Whaler.

And this made me unhappy. Like LPC over at Amid Privilege, I recently had a big event that promised to involve lots of photography, and I wanted to look my best. (She was getting married; I was celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary, but potato, potahto--we were both in the spotlight.)

What did you do?

For two weeks before our anniversary party, I used a Stridex pad both morning and night. Yes, this product is marketed for acne, but that's because the active ingredient in these pads is salicylic acid, which exfoliates the skin. Acne is caused in part by clogged pores, and exfoliation helps clear them.

What were your results?

Wow. I have never used a product that had a bigger effect on my skin. After two weeks of twice-daily applications, most of the creepy stuff was gone, and whatever was left was very much reduced. Seriously, if I had spent $300 for a peel at the dermatologist's, I would have been thrilled with the results.

What made the Stridex so effective?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid. No, I don't know what that means, either. But unlike alpha-hydroxy acids (lactic, glycolic, malic, etc., etc.) salicylic acid isn't self-limiting. Alpha hydroxy acids may tingle a bit when they're first applied, but eventually the pH of your skin will return to normal. At that point, they stop working.

Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is strong stuff; it softens the keratin and just keeps exfoliating and exfoliating until your creepy bits are gone. It also works its way down into your pores breaks up clogs, which is why it's great for acne.

This is why wart removers are essentially a super-strong salicylic acid solution. Prescription-strength wart removers are 70 percent strength; over-the-counter wart removers are 17 percent salicylic acid.

What do you advise, Poppy Buxom, Goddess of Aging Skin?

If you decide that your skin needs some exfoliation, you try a salicylic acid pad. And you might as well go cheap. I mean, you could try the high end stuff. Philosophy's Clear Days Ahead pads are .50 percent salicylic acid and cost $31 for 60 pads.

Peter Thomas Roth sells combination pads with 10 percent glycolic acid  and 2 percent salicylic acid. On Amazon, I saw these priced at $99.18 for 60 pads. You could go mental and try them.

Or you could be like me and go for a fast, cheap fix and use Stridex pads, with a 2 percent salicylic acid solution, at $5.00 for 60 pads.

Obviously, I suggest you start with the cheap stuff.

If worse comes to worse, you can use it on the bottom of your feet. Or download it on the nearest teenager.

Me, myself, and I

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