Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'll be your Mirror...

Having pale skin is gorgeous, but keeping it clear is a bit more difficult as it is harder to conceal imperfections and redness. While the right makeup is priceless, having clear, smooth skin is even better.
I have struggled for a long time with acne and I have tried everything. Finally I seem to have found a combination of skin products that work for me.
I was a longtime Proactiv devotee. Its key ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, seemed to be the only thing that ever worked for me. As the years passed though, it still worked but my skin was never completely clear. And forget moisturizer, every last one made my skin freak out.
So now I use Murad (www.murad.com) which is a salicylic acid -based cleaser that kills 99 percent of surface bacteria. A month later and I'm impressed with the results. As a moisturizer I am using Hope in a Jar by Philosophy (www.philosophy.com) and I love it. It's the first moisturizer I've used that is lightweight enough that it absorbs instantly and I don't have to wait to apply foundation It also doesn't make me break out at all, leaves my skin smooth and minimizes any developing fine lines. Highly recommend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Air Waves

I am an avid blow-dry, flat iron fan for my nearly waist-long hair, and I have to say that I have finally found my favorite product for doing the exact opposite...letting my hair air-dry, a concept I previously disdained upon hippies with frizzballs. It's a leave-in conditioner by Macadamia, chock full of all kinds of neat moisturizers, most notably Argan oil (aka Moroccan oil that is all the rage right now) and, you guessed it, macadamia oil. So without further ado, here is how to acheive waves without frizz or a blowdryer to go with your summer moon-tan.
1. You're filthy, take a shower.
2. Now that you are clean, towel dry and wrap hair in a fancy towel-turban
3. After about 15 mins, comb hair out, towel dry the ends.
4. If you have bangs or any sort of face-framing pieces, hit with a blowdryer please
5. Work Macadamia leave in from ENDS to ROOTS, not the other way around
6. Shake through the length with fingertips for separation.
7. You are now clean and will have fabulous hair when it dries. Yay.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Arch Enemy

For many years, my eyebrows looked a hell of a lot like Kate's here....and less. When I was nineteen in a fit of being young and overly gothic, I started plucking and then shaving off my eyebrows and drawing them back on. The first year or so was probably painful to look at, but then my best friend and I started trading tips and tricks and learned through some serious trial and error the art of drawing on one's eyebrows. I became quite good at it and racked up an equal amount of brow admirers and detractors. Some loved them, some love to hate them and never let me forget it. I promised myself that when I turned 22 I would grow them back. 22 came and went, but I did grow little mini-brows and started just drawing the arches back on. I even got the mini-brows waxed and did a fine job of upkeep on them. And now, officially as of last week and  five difficult years later I am proud to say I finally, truly, have one hundred percent real, beautifully arched eyebrows and I am here to tell all the browless bitches out there that it is not actually impossible like I previously thought it was.
When I was younger my brows were huge. People gave me waxing gift certificates for Christmas for god's sake. Whenever I need to drive home the point to people who didn't know me in those days, I point to the faded scar from where my idiotic sixteen year old self decided a ring should go. The scar is a good half inch below where my eyebrows sit today if that is any indication to you how big they were. So I went from one extreme to the next, having pencil thin brows that when washed off made me look like an alien from Planet Gotharella Abomination. Everyone asked why I didn't get them tattooed and I always answered because I didn't want any needles or ink on my face and I definitely didn't want to do this forever. So I tried growing them back for YEARS. They would always come back even though everyone said they wouldn't, but they would poke out in every direction and just getting used to the idea of having hair above my eyes when it had been absent for so long was maddening.
So for those of you with the unique predicament of growing eyebrows, I offer you these tips:

1.) Accept that you are going to look crazy for approximately one month or more.
2.) Accept that you shouldn't do this on your own. I highly recommend finding a skilled waxer to ease you through the shaping of the unruly porcupine manifesting on your face.
3.) Listen to said waxer. Your perception of real brows when you haven't seen them in years is pretty warped. They know best.
4.) BROW GEL and BROW POWDER are your new best friends. The gel will tame the poki-ness and powder will fill in any sparse areas. I still pencil my brows because I like them to look really sharp and defined and I blend with powder and an angled brush.

So, long story short... finding the elusive dramatic arch in your real brows is not as impossible as you may think as long as your hair will still grow, though it will take a couple months or more. Plus, it's just nice to not have to do your makeup when you need to run to the store for fear of looking like an alien asylum-inmate escapee.....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Just a Shot Away

Pamela Des Barres (pictured left, center) is famous, if she, VH1 and the internet are to be believed. Not to be a cynic here, but I am of the opinion that individuals who base said infamy almost solely on simply being in the company of folk who are, you know, *actually* famous is kind of mind numbingly pathetic.  I won't act all high and mighty and go so far as to claim I didn't enjoy I'm With the Band, Ms. Des Barres ode to her sexual exploits with Jim Morrison, Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Waylon Jennings et al.  I could most certainly relate to her unabashed honesty about sex, music and mania....I even thank her for it because it brought several incarnations of a smile to my face. I actually think the concept of 'groupies' in the true, 1960-70s sense of the term is equal parts fascinating and sad.  Who doesn't get at least mildly curious as to what these legendary, unnatainable people are really like behind closed doors? The truth is kind of sickening, but we as a culture breed this kind of interest, the kind of obsession that drives tabloid magazines and TV shows. We look down on it and we can't get enough of it. We live in a society that makes Pamela Des Barres famous. Now let's get the facts straight shall we? Miss P. as is she known, states in her book that she believes she is the embodiment of female liberation as it was at the time because she was doing 'exactly what she wanted,' which was crossing off some very famous monikers from her sexual wish list. High fives to that, sister. I actually find it maddening the pseudo-logic behind women's liberation somehow equalling the destruction of femininity and labeling it oppressive, and basically saying that to be a strong, successful woman you essentially have to be, well, a man. But that's another subject, think about it. Back to the subject at hand, call yourself a feminist or whatever the hell you want all day long, but being a slut doesn't make you famous. (or I guess it does in this demented society, but I digress) Now, I have no problem with sexual freedom. If you want it I say do it and enjoy it, whatever makes you happy. I decided after reading this book that what I do have a problem with somehow basing an entire career on talking about your relationships with people who actually achieved something to be famous. If someone can write some of the most classic songs and create some of music's most lasting works, and then someone else can simply roll around in bed with that person, how do BOTH people come to acquire the 'fame' label??? It's even worse these days between reality shows where any idiot with a fake tan and a bad attitude can have their 15 minutes. The whole thing depresses me. Throughout I'm With the Band, Miss P. tries in vain to realize creative pursuits of her own and the furthest she gets is a few bit parts in movies and a short lived stint in a 'groupie group' called the GTOs under Frank Zappa's wing. She seems more than content to milk the cash cow that is writing about and appearing on VH1 countdowns about her heyday screwing rock royalty. I suppose that while I can completely understand the sentiments and love of the experiences, I fail to comprehend being totally defined by them. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Wintour Issue

I have a problem. That problem is infamous fashion editrix of Vogue, the eternally blunt-bobbed, black bespectacled, wisp-framed Anna Wintour. The problem is she is my new hero, and I can't stand her. I'll back up. Last night I finally got around to viewing "The September Issue," a documentary that follows Anna and Grace Coddington, Vogue's creative director as they create and later close the famous "September Issue" of the magazine, a massive tome and virtual bible for those in the fashion world. This movie pissed me off, and I will tell you why. Anna Wintour is famously depicted, as played by Meryl Streep, as the boss from hell and beyond in both the book and the movie "The Devil Wears Prada." All the reviews I read prior to watching this documentary talk about her 'withering stares' and 'icy demeanor,' and say that she is notoriously inhuman and a slave driver. I watched this hour and half documentary and you know what I took away from it? This woman is not warm, she is not talkative, she is unapologetic and she is DAMN GOOD at her job. Vogue is her life, it is her baby. She is a visionary, a woman miles ahead of the curve. Does she come across as demanding? Yes. Short and snappy? Yup. Cruel and evil and without a soul? Not at all. She laughs, she even mists up when describing how her family views her career, and never once does it seem (to me at least) contrived or sappy. I actually really enjoyed the documentary but I found myself thinking, "SO WHAT??" at the TV several times. It wants comes across as a juicy inside look at Vogue and make you say "Oh my god, what a bitch," but seriously, if it was any regular Joe idiot male boss doing what needed to be done and making no apologies for it, would I have been sitting there, watching a DOCUMENTARY on it? I sincerely doubt that anyone would have the inclination if it weren't such a highly publicized woman. I came out of it loving her, except that leads me to my problem of also not being able to stand her. Anna is staunchly pro-fur, and I cannot wrap my brain around anyone who condones wearing animal fur as fashion. She has said in interviews she has to travel with security mostly due to the fact that people throw anything from pies to dead raccoons at her. Oh Anna, I do want to love you but you're making it so very hard on me.
Long story short, if you like fashion, art, or just a good documentary, I highly recommend "The September Issue." 
Agree, Disagree? I want to know!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Into Your Blackest Eyes

So I realized recently that I am incredibly fortunate to know some insanely talented people, and they are the inspiration behind a new segment I'm introducing. Periodically I will be poking and prodding at the brains of aforementioned talented folk over seven questions for your reading pleasure, and to kick off this series I present to you my go-to lady for drop dead gorgeous eye makeup and dear friend Kenia Melinda (pictured left.) so without further ado, I present to you the first installment of Seven Questions.

1.) What types of art did you draw from (i.e. books, films, music, etc.) when developing your signature artistic style?
I drew inspiration from movies and old art nouveau pictures. Edward Scissorhands, Legend, Dracula, you get my drift. Some dark comic books I own as well. I love big, smudgy eyes as well as very defined, symmetrical lines..sometimes I get creative with a bit of victorian filigreed influenced linework and such.
2.) All artists need skill but they also need the best tools. What are the absolute staples of your makeup kit?
I HAVE to have at all times: A hard bristled angle brush, eyelash curler, black shadow (cheap stuff works just fine whether you want glittery, glossy or matte), a deep port wine lipstick, and of course lots of every kind of eyeliner you can name..pencil, liquid, white, green, purple, felt..etc..
3.) Which makeup artists, if any, have influenced your technique?
No makeup artists have influenced my style, really.
4.) You create a lot of subtle highlights with color on top of your signature black . What are some of your favorite colors to mix, and why?
 I use mostly black and blend it into the lid in the middle to make it grayish. People always think it's a different color but nope, it's just good ol' black shadow! I love to mix purples and greens with it too, and purples really make light colored eyes pop as well! Browns work well with just about any eye color too..but it's totally boring in my book ;-)
5.) Do you have any tricks for creating the perfect 'cat eyes'? I know a lot of people ask about this.
Hmmm...this can be tricky because it's really about just creating a shape that looks different on everyone, but the result is always stunning. I use a short handled liquid liner for the lining, all around the lashlines, top and bottom. Make a little point on the inner corners as well if you wish for a sort of cleopatra vibe. Then just glop on the mascara or fake lashes if you have them. The key is to create the darkest outline possible, and mascara is VERY important.
6.) Famous person you would most like to do makeup for?
I would absolutely LOVE to do Kristen Stewart's makeup. She is so gorgeous with amazing yet subdued features that you could really get creative with!
7.) Famous person whose style (makeup or otherwise) you'd like to borrow for a day?
I'd love to just BE Rachel Brice one day! Style, makeup, you name it!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hips of Steel

Far from being skin deep, real beauty comes from good health. Some of the topics I plan to address include skincare, diet, and exercise. A wealth of tight, toned muscles can do wonders for one's posture, carriage, and general face to the world.  I can think of few more serpentinely acrobatic sets of such muscles as those belonging to Rachel Brice, founder and choreographer of The Indigo, one of the most famous tribal fusion bellydance companies dancing today. Bellydance has been part of my workout regimen for the past four years, especially the darker, snakelike movements of tribal fusion with its earthy textures and sharp locking punctuations. Tribal in particular will develop one's abs, glutes, and arms into steel traps if practiced frequently. Bellydancers often practice yoga and pilates for flexibility and posture, which brings me to the DVD I am going to review for this segment, entitled Yoga, Isolations, and Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice. (For those not familiar with the hypnotic feats Ms. Brice can perform with her abdomen I am including a short video for your viewing pleasure.) The DVD's menu is broken down into three practices.....15, 30, and 45 minutes. Each segment begins with a yoga warm up consisting of sun salutations, lunges, and locust pose. Then Rachel conducts the video in voiceover format in a very matter-of-fact, instructional manner which has gained a lot of criticism for coming across as 'not very warm.' I say screw that, I want to be molded and shaped by the best, not invited over for tea and crumpets. A dancer's 'warmth' factor means little to nothing to me. Anyway, depending on which length practice you selected, she will break down hip locks, chest locks, chest slides, bellyrolls up, bellyrolls down, hip circles and pelvic locks. I think the main misconception about this dvd is that is for beginners because the information is very 'basic' which is a really skewed idea about who this is intended for. This was actually the first bellydance dvd I ever did, but it really isn't for beginners. Anyone interested in learning beginning bellydance would do well to try out classes with live instruction first so as to be corrected and adjusted so you don't form bad habits right off the bat, but barring that I will include a list of dvd titles at the end of this topic. The audience this is intended for is someone who already takes classes and wants a practice COMPANION to do drills and more drills to build the muscle memory necessary to execute the building blocks of tribal movement to perfection. Many other reviews of this instructional lament in all caps that "OMG this is sooooo basic OMG I expected more from Rachel OMG my five year old chinchilla can do these moves." These are all wildly missing the point. She is showing you how to drill your basics so you can build upon them. She has been quoted as saying her secret is simply to drill moves until she has them so well they begin to look otherworldly, which is a mild way of putting what it is that she does with movement. The practice comes to a close with a yoga cooldown. All in all I am a big fan of this work. Ok so let's say you think that's great and all but are just looking for a good intro and are not quite ready to practice with the Brice machine....I am a big fan of Ariellah's dvd for tribal (http://www.ariellah.com) because it is very thorough in its instruction and breaks down the movements in detail. She also takes you through some combos and yoga practice. Some of my very favorite bellydance dvds include: Rachel Brice Arms and Posture, Tribal Fusion Bellydance with Sharon Kihara,  Tribal Drum Solo Choreography with Zoe Jakes, Tribal Fusion Fundamentals, the Suhaila series and Fat Chance Bellydance Advanced Workshop. Stay tuned for more posts on various fitness topics, including Jivamukti Yoga and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.
And now, a small treat for you!: