Category Archives: Beauty

Beauty Adventure: DIY Upkeep

(Suggested by my friend T, fellow struggler in the Quarantine Beauty Wars)

Who decided that hair salons and eyebrow professionals were “non-essential” services?!(Obviously, a man.) Ah well, one must soldier on during quarantine and strive to look semi-presentable for Zoom meetings as well as one’s own self-respect.

My current arsenal includes the following. What’s in yours, ladies?

L’Oreal Root Rescue.  Some wag recently wrote, “In 8 weeks, 88% of blondes will cease to exist.”  I do not aspire to the Pandemic Punk look (dark roots and lighter hair) so upkeep is mandatory! My highlights are still intact but my base layer needs ongoing assistance.  A zigzag part is helpful camouflage, too.

Texturizing scissors – If you snip a few layers around your face it will help freshen your style until you can finally get to your stylist.  Give him/her a larger-than-usual tip when you go!

Tweezers.  Does it get any better than Tweezerman?

Brow/Lash serum.  To boost skimpy eyelashes and/or brows, I like Godefroy double lash & brow, which you can find on Amazon. It’s an organic caster oil formula, and I’ve found it doesn’t redden my eyelids the way RevitaLash does. It’s also a lot less expensive but, then again, it’s also less effective.  (Why is this not surprising?)

Brow tint. Also by Godefroy, their TintKit comes in a lot of colors and is easy to use.  Start conservatively, e.g. 2 minutes, if you want a subtle change.

1000 Hour Lash & Brow Dye doesn’t last nearly that long, but is good in a pinch if you have pale lashes like mine and want some definition without putting on mascara. (And seriously, who’s putting on a full face of makeup for days spent indoors?) It takes practice and you need to go slowly, one eye at a time.

Moisturizers and face mask (the indoor kind). I’m currently on a retinol regimen so I’ve pared down a lot of my skin care, but am still using a few Murad products.

Nail care – I’m cursed with thin nails and a short nail bed so they never look great au natural, and all this handwashing makes them even worse.  Hoping Healthy Hoof will help strengthen them. To compensate, my red OPI Big Apple toes add some much-needed glamour.

DIY lip scrub –  Mix a tiny amount of butter with cinnamon and sugar.  The grains rub off dry skin, while the butter smoothes it.  And it tastes great if you happen to swallow any.

DIY body scrub – Mix sugar with any household oil, e.g. canola, olive or grapeseed, until you have a smooth paste that’s not too runny.  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

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Good News Monday: You Can Skip These 7 Wellness Trends

If endless days stuck at home have you spending extra time on the Internet, you’ve probably come across some of these trends. Many wellness crazes travel quickly — courtesy of celebrities and influencers — with little to no evidence to support their claims.

I’ve been interested to see a number of articles popping up recently with similar advice from doctors and nutritionists — you know, actual experts. They say we can safely ignore the following, no matter how popular they may seem at the moment.

Keto Diets

Sure, limiting carbs helps you lose weight in the short term. But that’s simply because 1) you’re eating less in general, and 2) your body will burn fat in the absence of glucose.

The keto diet — emphasizing high fat, medium protein, and low carbs — was originally used to treat epilepsy in children. (I did not know that!) But we need carbohydrates for proper brain function and energy.  Meanwhile, excess saturated fat is linked with serious issues such as heart disease, and too much protein can stress our kidneys.

This way of eating is hard to sustain. Doctors say we’re better off eating a balanced diet, limiting empty carbs in favor of fruits and veggies, and substituting healthy fats like olive oil for too much cheese and butter.

Activated Charcoal Detox

It’s probably been awhile since you spent a wild night binge eating or drinking. But this trend remains popular as a way to supposedly get rid of toxins or induce a bowel cleanse.

One nutritionist explains that eating coal will not bind up your toxins, as your body is already designed to metabolize these substances. Further, charcoal can be downright dangerous and bind nutrients you do need, potentially leading to digestive and motility issues, such as difficulty swallowing or using the bathroom.

Instead, we should be getting daily exercise, drinking lots of water, and eating fiber-rich foods to keep our digestive systems running smoothly.  Good sources like fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and whole grains are safer and more effective.

Charcoal Toothpaste

I admit I was seduced by this one. No more! If we shouldn’t eat charcoal, why risk any problem for your digestive system if you swallow a bit in your mouth? One dentist writes: “[Charcoal] will not take out the stains or internal pigments from the pores of your enamel, only peroxide can do that. Charcoal toothpaste is grainy and abrasive and has been shown to wear away healthy enamel and gum tissue.” It’s back to Crest Whitening for me.

Kombucha

Probiotics support our immune system and feed our gut with healthy bacteria that aids digestion and helps neutralize inflammation.  But kombucha is high in sugar, outweighing any probiotic benefits, so it’s best saved as a treat.

If you want to try a probiotic drink, nutritionists suggest kefir — a fermented liquid that’s like a thin yogurt and is high in protein and calcium. Boost your probiotic intake with a daily supplement, and add 0% or lowfat plain yogurt, and sauerkraut to your diet.

Natural Exfoliators

I’ve read that YouTubers like Michelle Phan advocate mixing kitty litter with coconut oil to create a natural solution. Yuck! Supposedly, this combo breaks through grime due to its texture. But doctors say this can cause upper respiratory or lung issues from the silica dust that is often in the litter.  Plus, scrubbing with large particles is really rough on your skin. Don’t even consider this one!

CBD Skin Care

The ingredient in marijuana that doesn’t get you high, topical CBD is great for muscle aches and pains.  However, even though it might help with inflammation, there are no peer-reviewed clinical studies to show any  significant skin benefits.  You’re better off with a well-established anti-inflammatory such as niacinamide.  Check with your dermatologist.

Drinkable Collagen

Can you drink your way to firmer skin? Sorry, that’s an urban myth. Collagen can’t travel through your stomach to your bloodstream to improve your skin — your digestive enzymes will break it down long before it can do anything. Topicals don’t work either, because collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the dermis. Proven ways to stimulate collagen include retinoids such as retin-A, peptides, vitamin C, and pulsed light treatments.

silhouette of mountains

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

 

Pandemic Chic

March is usually a wonderful time of year for those of us who love fashion. The magazines and runway reports are bursting with inspiration, and we’re ready to do a little shopping and look forward to wearing our new acquisitions.

Not these days, though.  Where are we going to wear a dazzling dress or sexy shoes?

For anyone still craving that undeniable lift, why not order a new pair of sensual silk pajamas in which to lounge around all Nick-and-Nora-Charles and pretend it’s a simpler time while sipping your Quarantini*?

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 (per Reddit.com)    *Shout out to Betsy xoxo.

Toss in some maribou-trimmed slippers, while you’re at it.

Since we’ve had to cancel our trip to London — so disappointing — I’m consoling myself with possibly the world’s most glamourous lipstick.  Admittedly pricey for a lipstick, but pretty reasonable for Hermès and totally fabulous.

The refillable case, designed by Pierre Hardy, is lacquered, polished, brushed metal that closes with the solid click of a luxury automobile.

I’m determined to wear this, even if it’s only for my own sanity.

And if all else fails …

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S.W.A.K.*

Happy Valentine’s Day! What do I love, besides my husband, children, friends, and you, my dear readers? This week’s find: Clinique’s Chubby Stick in my-lips-but-better Fuller Fig, a rosy brown. (If you have less pink you might like the Curviest Caramel shade.)

The product has been around for years but somehow I never tried it. The moisturizing lip balm gives a subtle wash of color and feels light, not gloppy.  Won’t feather like lipstick or run like a gloss.

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Basic, and yet rather elegant in its functionality.

Hope you have a wonderful day and celebrate the one who loves you best: yourself!

Good News Monday: Sustainable Shopping Made Easy

News to me, at least: mega e-tailer Net-a-Porter is highlighting beauty and fashion products created with a sustainable future in mind.

From natural skincare to organically sourced materials, items in the NET SUSTAIN collection meet at least one of eight key attributes that align with the fashion and beauty industries’ goals for positive impact on human, animal, and environmental welfare.

Of course, not shopping — or shopping vintage and pre-owned items — would be even better, but sometimes the heart just wants what it wants.

woman holding card while operating silver laptop

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

 

Good News Monday: You’ve Got Some Nervines!

Got stress? Lately I’ve seen several mainstream press mentions of nervines, natural herbs that are reported to help support the nervous system.

These include tonics made from organic skullcap and oat tops, mildly calming herbs such as catnip and chamomile, and stronger relaxants such as valerian root and hops.

Lavender and chamomile tea are pretty mainstream these days but here are several I didn’t know about, per a few websites. Many are staple folk remedies that have been used for centuries.

Have any of you tried any of these? I can’t personally vouch for them and since herbs aren’t regulated the way drugs have to be, it’s always wise to consult a physician about dosing and possible side effects. Still, I’m intrigued. Any recommendations?

Organic skullcap in bloom with purple flowers

  • Oat tops – Although they may not produce an immediate physical feeling of relaxation, oat tops are called a superfood for the nervous system, meant to support nerve functioning over time. Suggested for anyone who is overworked or relies on caffeine to get through the day, this herb is said to calm the nerves, reduce fatigue, relieve emotional instability, and help restore peace and tranquility to over-stressed and chronically upset people.
  • Skullcap – Helps relieve occasional tension and stress, circular thoughts, and nervousness. Can be used throughout the day during stressful situations or at night before bed to calm worried thoughts. I’m curious to try this one. Considered to have anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, herbalists recommend skullcap for muscle tension, insomnia, chronic headaches and relaxation.
  • Chamomile – A classic, relaxing nighttime tea, the herb is also helpful for relieving mild daily mental stress.  If you don’t like the taste, try adding a little lemon and honey.
  • Lavender – This lovely calming herb is often used in aromatherapy applications. Wonderful in the bath or shower, massage oils, pillows, room sprays, and fragrance.
  • Lemon balm – Sunshine in plant form, this citrusy herb helps with nervous exhaustion, gloom, and restlessness, while also providing pure aromatic pleasure. Rub a leaf between your fingers and inhale deeply for an immediate mood boost.
  • Catnip – Gentle, calming herb suggested for sleeplessness in children and the elderly. Are we all cats at heart?
  • California poppy – Used for its calming properties, this plant helps promote relaxation in those seeking rest. Picture that wonderful scene in The Wizard of Oz!
  • Passionflower – Considered helpful for relieving general tension, occasional nervous restlessness, and supporting restful sleep.
  • Hops – With a distinctive flavor and action known well by beer drinkers everywhere, this plant supports relaxation and helps calm a nervous stomach.
  • Valerian – When sleep seems impossible thanks to nervous energy and a brain that won’t shut off, this potent herb encourages relaxation. Caution: for some people, valerian can have the opposite effect, causing stimulation and even more anxiety.  If this happens, an herbalist can suggest something else.

Wishing you all a relaxing, stress-free New Year.  We all deserve one! xx Alisa

Hump Day Hacks: How To Luxe Up Coach

Happy Wednesday! This showed up in my in-box, and while it’s a sponsored post promoting Amazon products, I thought there were some good ideas for adding comfort to a less-than-luxurious coach experience.  CLICK HERE

Plus, some tried-and-true tips:

  • For a late evening or overnight flight, bring makeup remover pads to clean your face (yes, men, too). Then, pat on a creamy, heavy duty moisturizer to combat airplane dryness
  • Lavender-scented hand cream is pampering as well as soothing
  • Compression socks help prevent leg cramps and DVTs (deep vein thrombosis)
  • A small roll-on arnica pain reliever (preferably not too smelly!) —  try Cryoderm or BioFreeze — for the back of your neck, upper shoulders, and anywhere else you can easily reach
  • A lightweight cashmere shawl can function as a wrap, blanket, or be rolled into a pillow
  • Disposable hotel slippers — another layer between you and the less-than-pristine carpeting
  • Sleep mask, preferably silk. Even when the plane is dark, there’s always light coming from someone’s computer or TV screen.
sea of clouds

Photo by Shane Kell on Pexels.com

Hump Day Hacks: Put On a Happy Face

Dear friends,

I’ve been off my writing game for over a week now, thanks to a nasty cold acquired while traveling despite copious applications of hand sanitizer and Wet Wipes.

Finally emerging from my self-imposed cocoon (and beauty purgatory), I wanted to share five quick tips for a flawless finish, now that summer’s in the rearview mirror.

  1. Prime skin with moisturizing sunblock.  I like L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur with SPF 30. Smooths out imperfections, protects from damage, easy to find and quite inexpensive. You might not even need foundation, but if you do…
  2. First, add highlights.  It’s counterintuitive to do this before applying foundation, but makeup artists swear it leaves skin glowier. Dot liquid highlighter (like the classic Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat) on brow bones, cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and the “Cupid’s bow” above the center of your upper lip. Once you add your foundation, the highlights will blend in beautifully.
  3. Get even.  This often means combining lighter and darker shades of foundation to get the right custom color.  At this time of year, you may be phasing out a tan or finding that your face and neck are slightly different from each other.
  4. Apply from the center out.  Start your foundation application with a light dab in the center of your forehead, nose and chin.  Blend outwards with a sponge or brush for a light touch that avoids the dreaded mask look.
  5. Save concealer for last. Let your foundation dry so the concealer has something to cling to, and don’t go more than one shade lighter than your base.

Stay gorgeous!

oval brown wooden framed hanging mirror

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