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Here in the Northeast, it is officially Fall. The trees are just starting to turn and the air is getting a whole lot nippier, not to mention a whole lot drier. I recommend switching it up with the change of seasons. Skin’s needs change with the weather patterns, so now is the time to reinvigorate your skincare routine.

Try a cream cleanser

DakarSoyaDry, cold air literally sucks the moisture from your skin. For any skin type (except oily) I recommend a gentle cream cleanser that will remove the day, not the moisture. As regular readers know, I have a tough time with cleaners and have created my own formulation. But for backup (i.e. days when I run out and don’t have time to make a new batch), I have Sonya Dakar’s Soya  Wash on hand. It’s a light creamy consistency that cleans without leaving the skin greasy. While lots of ballyhoo has been made about the inclusion of soy, I actually love that the second ingredient is rose water, one of my favorite hydrators.

But only at night

You really don’t need to wash their face morning and evening. Is sleep really so strenuous that it merits another go in the morning? A splash with tepid water should be enough to wake you up, but leave the cleanser in the cabinet. Don’t strip your natural barrier against the cold,  dry air just because the label says to use twice a day!

SPF still matters

Yes, the sunlight is not as intense, but your skin is still absorbing the damaging rays. Keep using that sunblock! The only time you don’t need an SPF is when it’s pitch black.I prefer people use actual SPF and not those in makeup or skincare formulas. I don’t think those are strong enough blockers.

Think of your daytime moisturizer as a barrier

JurliqueBalDayCreamOn particularly cold and blustery days, I love Jurlique’s Balancing Day Care Cream, which I layer under my SPF. It forms a great protective barrier on the skin. It can feel filmy for the first few hours of wear, but I actually love that. It makes my skin feel protected!

Now is a great time to add an AHA serum

JuiceBeautyWaning sunlight means that it’s time to go back to the alpha hydroxy acids (but only if you promise to keep wearing that sunblock)! Most AHA’s are great moisturizers, and the serum is an extra concentrated way to get the AHAs. It’s my preferred method to get my AHA boost! I love Juice Beauty’s Antioxident Serum, which is packed with vitamins A, C and E as well as a dose of CoQ10, resveratrol (a potent antioxident from grape seeds) and peptides to help fill out wrinkles.

Make that evening moisturizer a little richer

balancing-bio-peptide-cremeReaders will know I love my aloe for summer moisturizing. But colder weather means I want something more potent. Image Skincare’s Ormedic Bio-Peptide Cream has an aloe and olive oil base plus green tea, cucumber and more of those magic peptides. (Full disclosure: Image is one of the lines I use in my skincare practice and I do retail the products).

So it looks like this has been up on YouTube for a few years, but I am just now paying attention. And you should too!

This is part of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, and shows everything that goes into making a model perfect, right down to Photoshop.

Manly man husband is an expert retoucher, and he does it for a living. Years ago he did piles of celeb and model retouches. When I was younger and gave a shit, I used to ask him to doctor pictures of me as well. He did a fantastic job. I looked not quite myself, but the not quite myself always looked a lot better than my real self did.

I am not a fan of Dove products (too drying) but I am pretty impressed with what they are doing with their campaign. I don’t want to be skeptical of their motives, as I usually am with corporate entities who decide to jump into one cause or another, as large corporation motives are usual driven solely by monetary gain. But since Dove started this campaign, I do have a warm fuzzy feeling associated with the brand. That doesn’t mean that I will buy their crap products, but I will support their push to educate the public about how these images are crafted.

These look perfect for sloshing through dirty ice-water City sidewalks!

These look perfect for sloshing through dirty ice-water City sidewalks!

I come from a Big Foot family–even the diminutive kin have some pretty huge hoofers. So my size 8 soles were always a small source of pride. When I was little, my mother would hold my foot in her hands and marvel at their smallness.

Then I got pregnant. After spending my 20s in high heels (sneakers and flats were not part of my fashion forward  footwear), my feet suddenly began to swell and one day I just could not squeeze my feet into my shoes anymore.

I assumed it was only temporary. Afterall, preggos usually experience swelled feet. Once the kid popped out, I assumed everything would re-adjust and fall back into place. So, a little while after she was born, I made my first zappos purchase of a beautiful pair of sandals. I put them on, they felt OK but by the end of the day my feet were aching. Assuming I was just not used to wearing heels after many many months low to the ground, I waited for a few days and tried them again. And once again within a few hours I had throbbing pain. And on and and on this went.

When I started my pilates training, at my initial consultation, I was told by the trainer that I was flatfooted. Ah ah! I thought I had found the reason behind all this foot pain. Perhaps my shoe problems would be solves with inserts. But the inserts made it worse. My toes were still going numb and my feet still experienced searing pain after an hour in shoes.

I eventually moved my way up the size chain to a 9 1/2. I had heard that sometimes feet just get larger from pregnancy and never go back to normal. But not even the larger size eased the burden. I was resigned to spending the rest of my life in Converse and flip-flops, the only shoes my feet were willing to tolerate. Perhaps all those years in heels had finally caught up to me.

Spending what is now close to 6 years in intolerable foot pain put a crimp in my shoe style. Pre-pregnancy, I was as shoe obsessed as any woman. I would look far and wide for the perfect pair, marveling over colors, styles and heel heights, looking for the most whimsical and to the most stylishly utilitarian footwear. An afternoon of shoe shopping was intense pleasure. I loved meandering down the old 8th Street in the West Village and hitting the endless rows of shoe stores.

The idea of shoe shopping turned into intense pain. It was a necessary evil, to cover up the feet for fear of infection or frostbite. I spent as much time as possible barefoot, even kicking the shoes off under the desk to give myself a break. Workouts were barefoot or in socks. A workout in cross-trainers left me limping.

Last week, I hit situation critical with my shoes. It had been a year since my last true shoe purchase (the pre-summer disposable flip flops  don’t count), and the turning weather made it harder to leave the house with my feet exposed. Since I refuse to drop a lot of cash on an item that leaves me in agony, I search for the cheapest, most utilitarian shoes  I can find.

Since Manly Man Husband wanted to go to Sears to look at something testosterone-fueled, it was easy to head over to the shoes and pick something out. After trying on some heels in the hopes that maybe my feet suddenly cured themselves, I was discouraged and grabbed a pair of Sketchers sneakers that were at least a fun color. I was at checkout bemoaning my shoe issue when the lady behind me pipped up and suggested I got to a shoe store that carried every imaginable size on the planet.

A few hours later, I was wearing my new sneaker purchase and experiencing the unbearable pain again. I looked at Manly Man Hubs and begged him to go to this shoe store with me.

Globe Shoes is in a strip mall in Paramus, NJ, the shopping capital of the US. It has very few bells and whistles; the sign looks like it has been on top of the building for 50 years. But they really DO have every size imaginable for men and women. Since it caters to the demographic of problem feet (ok, the elderly), it was me and the old ladies scanning the displays of shoes.

But this throw-back store had another old-fashioned novelty. Knowledgeable shoe salesmen. And mine took a look at my tired dogs and we began to evaluate why my feet were killing me..

Turns out, I am a size 9 (one foot is a true 8 1/2, the other falls between 8 1/2 and 9) but my feet are wide. Very wide. My pregnancy did not make my feet longer, they made them wider. I assumed that if shoes did not fit, I needed a larger size, when in reality I needed a larger width. And most shoe stores only carry regular widths, which is why a wide was never an option when shopping at the usual places. I needed a specialty store.

So began a somewhat painstaking process of finding a shoe style that I liked. At this point, however, I was so thrilled about finding a plain, low heeled black bootie that did not cause my feet searing pain that I was in tears. It is not the trendiest shoe I have ever owned, but damn it, it’s not Cons or flops. I actually have a fall bootie! And it was the first time in 6 years that a shoe did not cripple me.

Since most stores do not stock double wides,  I can’t buy on a whim or wait until the last minute. But Zappos.com, one of my favorite online stores, carries an endless amount stylish double wides (499 choices as of my last search). And while I will probably never again stumble upon a killer shoe sale, I am happy to pay full retail price for a shoe that won’t leave me in agony.

I have been so busy these days, what with working the day job, trying to lay down my spa concept (someday I will share, but not yet) and toxic kindergarten, I have not kept up on the comings and goings of my muse Hadley Freeman. And she’s been in NY for fashion week! And I missed her!

Here’s a rundown:

Hadley reports that Madonna and Gwenie’s beloved personal trainer (and alleged deadbeat) Tracy Anderson has absconded with the head of Madonna’s Malawi charity. The man has abandoned his post at the charity to come to NY to be with Tracy, who must be wherever Madonna’s biceps are located. According to Hadley, Madonna is disappointed but apparently needs Tracy to keep her a size 0 more than this dude to take of her charitable escapades.

She thinks that Fashion Week doesn’t make sense anymore. Her point is that since everything happens at the speed of the internet these days, showing clothes six months prior to their arrival in stores doesn’t do much but cost money. The designers a drop a huge chunk of change to do the show, the publishers of glossy mags to drop a wad to send their editors to cover the different fashion weeks around the globe, and the knock-off industry has six months to do what they do best. She found the clothes this year uninspired, but she likes Tory Burch’s collection (scroll to the bottom).

I can’t tell if she loves or hates Mark Jacobs.

She definitely hates Glenn Beck.

She answers a reader query about what she calls “the decade that taste forgot.” Best takeaway: “how totally awesome that dressing like one’s batty aunt was apparently no impediment to being the hottie of one’s high school.”

Finally, she once again proves why she rocks, writing about fashion’s dirty secret: the sexual abuse of models (many of whom are just children).

Hadley, I love you and promise to come back more often.

JojobaMaybe it’s the change of seasons, but I have been seeing a bunch of “deep cleanse” your skin stories floating around the blogosphere and in the lady mags. What the hell does “deep cleanse” mean?

One of my facial pet peeves is the “deep pore cleansing facial” offered on just about any spa menu I have read.  These are the facials that promise to banish blackheads with scrubbing, loads of steaming and (most likely) really painful extractions. Most “deep pore cleansing” facials on a spa menu are the basic facial–clients like the sound of “deep pore cleansing” mainly because they bombarded with stories about those evil blackheads. It sounds good, right? A deep pore cleanse is exactly what I need…

The DIY deep cleansing I’ve been reading about include an exfoliating scrub as well as tips to add in a salacylic or glycolic toner to help pull out the blackheads. For some skin, this is too much exfoliation. With skin already rubbed and scrubbed, the addition of acids may create irritation. In skin care, there can be too much of a good thing.

Blackheads are inevitable. Anything we put on the skin has a potential to clog the pores–regardless of the product claims. Add into the dirt and pollution our skin encounters minute to minute… You get the point. You’re gonna get blackheads.

But this idea of deep pore cleansing is a bit of a myth. You can do things to soften the skin to help release the blackheads, but a facial should not be like car detailing. In my opinion, gentle is always better.

For DIY blackhead attack, I prefer a gentle exfoliation in a steamy bathroom followed by a clay-based mask on affected areas to help pull the dirt out of the pores. I usually do not recommend a full face of clay. This is all skin type dependent, but generally I hit the nose, chin and forehead (sometimes not a full forehead either) with the clay and use a moisturizing mask in the other areas.

Look for exfoliating products that use jojoba beads or oatmeal as an exfoliant. Stay away from crushed nuts, like almonds, as well as apricot pits (yes,that means that god awful St. Ives that is inexplicably adored by so many). The edges of scrubs with crushed hard bits are razor sharp causing tiny cuts in the skin.

If you are splurging for a pro-facial, please remember that blackhead removal should not be unbearably painful. You should not have lancets poked directly into your pores (oh the stories I have heard about one celebrity facilist). If the blackheads don’t slide out easily, they are best left for another day.

photoThere was another beauty event today at CVS, and this time I was THERE when it was actually going on! And apparently I was the only one. The cosmetics aisle was deserted.

A person who I think was one of their famous beauty advisers walked past me while I was poking around, pleasantly said hello, answered the phone and then promptly disappeared. Perhaps she was a beauty mirage?

Once again, CVS, a big old marketing fail.

teacherIt has been a whirlwind week at my house. My daughter started kindergarten on Tuesday and what should have been a tear filled, exciting day turned into a big old battle with The Man. For her very first teacher, my kid ended up with Mrs. McNasty.

It’s a long story, but needless to say Mrs. McNasty messed with the wrong Mom. Manly Man Husband and I marched our asses straight to the Principal’s office and had a showdown. What followed was hours of phone calls that lead straight to the top of educational food chain to pull my kid away from that craptastic teacher.

Here’s why I went mental. My kid is bright, curious and full of spunk and one lousy teacher can take all of that away quickly. I had horrendous teachers in my early school years, and until I hit college, there was absolutely no joy in learning. School was a loathsome task and one that I feared every morning. So to have Mrs. McNasty at the age of 5, her introduction to real school, was just not going to fly.

When my daughter came home that afternoon and said she was afraid to ask to use the bathroom, I knew for certain that we had done the right thing by intervening immediately.

Here’s my admittedly tenuous beauty connection. Imagine my shock when I ended up in esthy school, learning chemistry, biology and anatomy (subjects I ran from throughout my school years) and found that not only did I enjoy learning them, I was pretty damn good at them. If I did not have a fear of school, who knows what I could have achieved.

That, and I expect a case of stress-induced acne to explode any day now.

photo-1Remember my post about my local CVS’s brilliant marketing strategy? Well, they had their Vichy Beauty Event–they were giving FREE 5 minute skin consultations. FREE! And I missed it by 15 minutes.

The marketing strategy for this event was my favorite homemade sign now placed outside of the CVS doors (blue marker smeared) and two deflated balloons, one blue and one white (Vichy’s colors, get it?!)

I raced in hoping that maybe, just maybe, they were backed up with customers and I would get my FREE 5 minute skin consultation! But the beauty aisle looked empty. I decided to ask the cashier because maybe, just maybe, the “beauty adviser” hadn’t left yet and would be willing to squeeze out an additional 5 minutes in the name of a sale.

NYCEsthy: Hi! Did I miss the beauty event?

Cashier: The what? (she looked at me suspiciously, like I may rob the place)

NYCEsthy: The beauty event. The one with Vichy?

Cashier: A Vichy event? That was supposed to be today? Where did you see that? (Clearly, there was a stampede for 5 minute FREE skin consultations.)

NYCEsthy: The sign, outside. Right out front.

Cashier: Oh, let me call one of the beauty advisers for you.

So I wait by a table they have crammed in the corner by the door, adorned in a blue and white paper table cloth, with handwritten index cards (Best for Acne! Best Moisturizer! Best weekly Exfoliator!) stuck to various Vichy bottles with scotch tape.

The cashier, now with someone else with her, runs outside and looks at the sign and then comes over.

Cashier: This is the manager. All of our beauty advisers are gone.

Manager: The event ended at 4. No one can help you. We aren’t trained on the product.

No FREE 5 minute skin consultation for me.

So I came back here and hit the google to see what the requirements are for a CVS Beauty Adviser. And I couldn’t find anything. What I could dig up is that the Beauty Dept manager needs 2 years in a retail environment and a cosmetology license is preferred (but not required). Similarly, a beauty adviser position for their Beauty 360 store in CA mentioned that a cosmetology or esthetics license is preferred (again, not required).

I can’t say anything about Vichy products themselves, since I have never tried them. There were a few samples scattered on the table, but nothing appropriate for my skin type. What I do know is that Vichy is owned by L’Oreal and apparently the number 1 selling drugstore brand in Europe.

I feel like Vichy is priced a bit high for a drugstore brand, and since money’s a little tight right now, I am not up for dropping a chunk of cash on a product I have not had a chance to sample.

Fearless readers, if you have tried Vichy, please share in the comments! I am genuinely curious!