You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.

QVC is launching a dedicated beauty channel in the UK.
  That’s beauty products 24 hours a day,
7 days a week!
  On Tee Vee!  Makes this Anglophile long to move to
London even more.

Update! You can watch online! Between my laptop and wireless
internet, I am never getting out of bed.


I left you, dear readers, with a cliff-hanger at the end of
the first installment of Human Lab Rat, which detailed my failed attempt to
color my hair sans chemicals. 

With my hair the color of an oxidized penny, I pulled a hat
down to my ears and ran to the only place I knew could help—Frederic
Fekkai.  I stumbled through Henry
Bendels with my hippy-dippy hat covering half of my face, shoving past the
perfume Nazis to get to the back of the cosmetic section where I saw the
displays of Fekkai’s lux products. 
As I starred at all the bottles, a sweet voice behind me sing-songed “may
I help you?” 

Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve tried all the acne products in the world, and nothing
cures the angry eruptions.  Here
are three low-cost bacteria busters to incorporate into your routine. Do this
religiously for about a month—they will make a difference.

  • Give the bathroom towel a break from your face. Keep a roll
    of paper towels   handy and
    use them to blot your wet face. 
    Using the same towel over and over again spreads bacteria back onto your
    freshly washed face. 
  • Change your pillowcase nightly, or cover your pillow with
    clean paper towels before you go to sleep. While you are sleeping, bacteria
    from your face rubs off on your pillowcase, causing acne to spread to other
  • Use disposable cotton balls to apply your makeup.  OK, this one may cost a few bucks
    because you will need to replace your old makeup. When you apply makeup to your
    face, and then dip the same applicator back into the makeup, you are also
    applying acne bacteria back into the product, which then gets spread onto your
    face the next time you use it. Use a clean cotton ball to apply makeup and do
    not double dip.  Get new cotton if
    you need to apply more pigment. 


How cool is this? Ellen
DeGeneres is the new spokesmodel for Cover Girl. Easy, breezy, beautiful
indeed!  A big kudos for Cover Girl
for making this inspired choice.

I am generally pretty meh on
celebrity cosmetic endorsements. 
The cosmetics industry loves their celebrities and, with very few
exceptions, the large, most visible brands go a more obvious route.  For Proctor and Gamble (parent company
of Cover Girl) to choose the down-to-earth talk show host and comedian, who
turns 51 in January and is not typically associated with red carpet glamour, is
a departure from the usual mugs that pop up in cosmetic shilling.  Particularly Cover Girl, which has
always trended towards younger faces—recent endorsers for the brand include Rihanna
and Drew Barrymore—since their target demographic is younger than, for example,

According to this story on
the endorsement deal in AdAge, a Harris Interactive pole listed Ellen as the
most popular celebrity in the United States, edging out the usually untouchable
Oprah.  The Ellen advertising blitz
begins in January, launching in Us Magazine.  

I came across an inspired post on the personal growth blog
The Bridgemaker about 10 Things You Wish You Had Never Learned.  I immediately applied it to all the
beauty boo-boos made over my lifetime, due to peer pressure (see number 4),
misinformation (number 5) or simply following ill-conceived trends (number 1).


According to The Bridgemaker, in order to live a fulfilling life, you must recognize the negative beliefs that you carry with you in order
to release them.  While I think I
have released a few of my 10 (see number 1), there are a number of them that
are still completely hard-wired and I have to make a conscience effort to
correct (such as number 6).

10 things about beauty I wish I never learned:

  1. I wish
    I had never learned that perms were trendy.
  2. I wish
    I had never learned that blue eyeshadow was tacky.
  3. I wish
    I had never learned that tanned skin equals healthy.
  4. I wish
    I had never learned that popping cystic acne would not cause scarring.
  5. I wish
    I had never learned that fad/crash diets were the best way to lose weight.
  6. I wish
    I had never learned that only neutral makeup was flattering.
  7. I wish
    I had never learned that it was important to wash your face at least twice
    a day.
  8. I wish
    I had never learned that hair should be washed daily.
  9. I wish
    I had never learned that shaving was better than waxing.
  10. I wish
    I had never learned that super-skinny women were healthier, happier and more successful.

Feel free to share your own lists. I would love to hear
from others on as we travel on the path towards beauty zen.


Human Lab Rat is a new semi-regular feature where I
experiment with more extreme (i.e. not easily reversible) or unusual beauty
treatments and technology.

My pilates instructor, Nancy, has a head-turning mane of hair.
It is long, thick and luminous. The color is a striking and vibrant shade of
red, streaked with coppery highlights. It is the kind of color that is either
enviously natural, or the mark of a sensational colorist (the one that uses the
smallest brush to apply highlights with startling precision and unbelievable


I was having a bad-hair year.  My at-home hair coloring for the past two years left my
color less than dazzling—ranging from too brassy to too muddy.  I have been short of time and cash to
get my listless hair in the hands of a pro. I also wonder what all the chemical
processing has done to my hair, not to mention my entire body.

When I found out Nancy colored her hair—herself—with henna,
it was like hair manna from heaven. I could get gorgeous color from a product
that was not loaded with questionable chemicals. I ran to Whole Foods and
picked up a package of red henna that said it would turn my shade of blond into
a copper.  My dull hair was about
to get a seriously healthy makeover!

Read the rest of this entry »

Two very cool boy-blogs, To Every Man a Manswer and The
Civilized Life
, weigh in on men using loofahs or bath poufs in the


Having a manly man husband myself, I am sympathetic with the
plight of the pouf. But even a guy’s skin could benefit from a bit of
exfoliating. Enter the Japanese exfoliating bath towel.


About three foot long and one foot wide, this mainstay of
Japanese bathing culture is a master exfoliator but without the uncomfortable
scratch (not to mention the inflexibility) of a loofah or the girly-ness of a pouf.


You can get a Japanese exfoliating towel by Salux at Amazon for $3.50, but most Asian markets in
NYC carry them for about 2 bucks.

I couldn’t sleep last night so I did a late-night viewing of
Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. I am not a reality TV kind of girl (gave up on them
after the late Anna Nicole’s fabulously trashy show was canceled on E!). I had
never watched Sheer Genious, so I was a total Tabatha virgin.


It is not the best reality show I have ever seen, but
Tabatha, apart from her unfortunate eyebrows, was a delicious blend of
compassion and bitch.  The salon
she took over was filthy, though it appears like it may be one of the cleaner ones
based on teasers for next week’s episode. Some real ewww inducing moments
included a stylist who never cleaned out his brushes and an area of the floor
littered with old nail clippings under the manicure station.  And there was petrified dog shit on the
floor the owner’s office.  Nasty!


Cleanliness in salons and spas is pretty much the most
crucial part of running an upstanding business. Particularly when waxing or
extracting…. Bodily fluids, people!


If you are getting a service at a new salon or spa, and you
don’t think it’s clean, walk out. If you are getting waxed or extracted, your
tech should be wearing gloves to protect both of you. If you are getting waxed
and you see the waxing tech double dip, walk out.  I don’t care what anyone says, double dipping is not
safe.  Some argue that the stick
never touches the skin, but that’s patently false.  If you are being waxed properly, the stick will touch the


Many many years ago, before I knew better, I got my bikini
waxed at a small spa in the Village that was recommended to me by a
friend.  At the time, I did not
think anything about the double dipping, but after a few months of regular
waxes, I had the absolute worst in-grown hairs imaginable. They were everywhere
and so badly infected that they turned into actual boils all over my bikini
area. In addition to being horrific, it was incredibly painful.


I did not understand how it happened, since I used TendSkin
daily.  It turned me off waxing
until I went to school in February. 
That’s when I realized that the problem may not have been ingrown hairs,
but some sort of infection from a lack of sanitation…


There is just way too much nastiness out there to take any
chances.  If it makes you uncomfortable, walk away.

Over the weekend, the husband was replacing some old
insulation under the house.  It was
hot and he was sweaty, so he kept using his shirt to mop up the sweat that was
trickling down his face.  Of course,
he forgot he was dealing with fiberglass insulation, which was all over his
shirt—the shirt he was using to wipe his face with.


The next day, he noticed that his skin was peeling.  So he applied tape and proceeded to rip
the skin right off.  I was mortified,
but of course he had enviously soft skin. 
This prompted him to suggest I add a fiberglass facial to my treatment
menu.  Lovely!


I am no fan of mechanical exfoliators. I find that the
granules in the product are too harsh for my skin, leading to some serious
irritation. One of the all-time worst products I have used on my face is the
St. Ives Apricot Scrub. I know so many people swear by it—it always wins
readers choice awards in the glossy magazines—but my skin is as raw as
tenderized meat after I use it. 
The apricot bits are so rough and sharp that it leads to microscopic
cuts on the skin—sort of like my husband’s fiberglass exfoliation.


A while ago, a friend who works for Origins gave me a sample
of their Modern Friction, which they call “nature’s gentle dermabrasion.” Given
my mistrust of buffing products, it sat in my sample box for months. This
weekend, I misplaced my usual chemical exfoliation product.  It was late, I was tired, and I did not
feel like tearing up the house the find it.  So, I decided to give it a shot.


Using rice starch rather than any sharp edged granules, Modern
Friction gently sloughs off dead skin while lemon oil serves as a
brightener.  It also contains aloe
to keep irritation at bay.  My skin
glowed without redness, and a small cluster of blackheads on my chin completely

While flipping through the cable news channels right after
the RNC adjourned, I noticed a huge crowd had amassed behind the Fox News
bobble-heads, giving a nice sampling of the RNC crowd. Basically, it was awash
with doughy, pasty-white male faces with a few Stepford wives sprinkled
around—their teased hair, plastered makeup and pastel suits time warped me back
to 1987.  The visual image the
Republicans conveyed was curmudgeonly and out of touch.  It definitely looked like the political
party of my grandfather.



Considering celebrity rag US Weekly has devoted recent
covers to hot political stories— this week forgoing rehabbing sex addict David
Duchovny for Sarah Palin on the cover slot—political consultants may want to
examine the visual image their party is projecting.


With the sheer photogenic hipness displayed during last
week’s DNC, I think the dems may bring it on home come November.