Archive for the ‘Product Picks’ Category

From the Good Ideas File: Runaround Pedicure Flip Flops

Have you ever had to leave a nail salon with those flimsy flip flops from the salon attached to your feet? Yeah, me too. Once I went running out onto little Santa Monica Boulevard wearing a hot-pink pair, trying to beat the meter maid to my car. Funny sight it must have been; the flip flops almost dissolved on my feet while I did a queer two-step down the sidewalk.

Nowadays I mostly do my pedicures at home (a bit of practice-what-you-preach). And a very resourceful pedicure tool is Pedi Princess flip flops, (approximately $15-$19), great whether you engage in salon pedicures or the DIY kind. They are your standard cute pair of flip flops with stylish little toe separators built-in.

 

pedi-princess-review

 

Here are the Pros:

The design is cute and sturdy; and they come in a handy bag. You can bring Pedi Princess flip flops to the salon and put them on before the manicurist applies polish. Instead of waiting around forever for polish to become bone dry, you can leave the salon minutes after application and do your running around in them them.

Also, they’re a good footwear choice for visits to a day spa where a pedicure is involved.

For at-home pedicures, or if need to touch up polish: Put these flip flops on your feet, slide on a fresh coat of polish and keep doing whatever it is that you were doing. No more sitting around for an hour waiting for polish to dry, or doing the toe-separator hobble around the house.

Need to brighten up your polish before a night out? Apply polish, then go ahead and do your hair and makeup. Heck, you can even drive to the event wearing them, then slip into your real shoes before heading into the restaurant or event.

Unexpected nice touch. The design allows the toes to spread out. After a day spent mincing around in heels, wearing the Pedi Princess flip flops feels good.

 

pedi-princess flip flops review

 

Gift idea: If you’re planning a spa day, or a night of champagne and grooming, these make a nice gift for the group. Have fun selecting from the different flip flop designs, guessing which style will suit each of your friends the best.

Read some of my on-the-go nail tips here. And here are some guidelines you may not have thought of when it comes to selecting the best flip flops for you.

 

 

 

 

Fun Guy Book Buy: The MANual by Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan

The MANual book_riegert_kaplan

 

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a rise in the number of new titles out there dealing with masculinity, including how to be a guy type books. The reason for this makes sense to me, since there seems to be something along the lines of a crisis breaching in Guyville.

Since I’m in the tortured process of writing a book for women that brushes up against this subject, I’ll skip the topic here. But if you’re interested in the matter, might I point you in the direction of this easy, breezy TED video by notable psychologist Philip Zimbardo on the overriding causes and byproducts of this.

Okay, back to how to be a guy books. I had the pleasure of reviewing one that is funny, great fun to read and surprisingly information packed.

I say surprising because some dude books I’ve perused (usually pickup books) are downright cliche, with lots of women-bashing and promotion of the idea that proper manhood means staying in a state of smirking juvenility and making it apparent that you still hate your mother and have no idea who your dad is. (See the male crisis issue above.)

Books that make me wonder if the authors are secret man-haters out to sabotage fellow dudes.

Not this book. The MANual ($14.95, Ulysses Press) has wit throughout, is intelligent and laugh-inducing funny at points. And the authors, Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan, are wonderfully un-cheesy. There is a delightful lack of perverted guy talk…no 1970’s-era pickup lines…no jokes about women drivers. In fact, there is no mention of women anywhere in its pages, which may be a nice thing for many readers.

In short, this book will not neither disappoint nor insult the man in your life whom you buy it for.

The book offers a good-hearted, respectable brand of masculinity and a great mix of information that would behoove any dude to know — from the ins and outs of boats and the origins of beer, to knowing the difference between cuts of beef and even a fascinating chapter on boxing. There are also some well-told tales of male heroism in The MANual, spanning from Hannibal’s Roman campaign to a section on the Medal of Honor, America’s highest.

The topics of the book are far-reaching, and presented so well that I found myself moving through it at quick clip, always entertained. The wit is perfect, too, added in just the right dose and always of the smart, never smarmy, variety.

Did you know? The Irish Stand Down is a type of bare-knuckle fighting that was popular in Irish ghettos, and involved standing still and simply punching one another, since it didn’t allow the fighters to move. Did you know? Theodore Roosevelt is the only American president to have received it. He was awarded it in 2001 for his run on San Juan Ridge during the Spanish-American War.

Though the The MANual may cover some grim topics in spots, I’m thinking the stuff about flesh-eating parasites and the Black Plague, the authors do so with a certain style that does not render the book depressing or even gloomy. Here, the authors recount the actions of Master Sargeant Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient, during a horrific firefight in Vietnam:

Did he cry? No. Where any normal superhuman being would have given up, Sgt. Benavidez was just getting started. The sarge got up, tucked his organs back into his shirt, ran back to the downed chopper, gathered up whatever souls in the wreckage were still breathing, and positioned them in a defensive perimeter until another helicopter could arrive. He then cranked up the radio, called in some air strikes, and ran around handing out water and ammo to the wounded soldiers (what, no moist towelettes?). Oh, and then he got shot again.

 

Bottom Line:  Authors Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan give us an entertaining and very smart read in The MANual ($14.95, Ulysses Press). The variety of information is cleverly unexpected and useful, and the writing is concise, easygoing and completely companionable. I would not hesitate to buy this book for any guy in my life, from my teenage nephew all the way to my father, who is a pretty learned guy. Anyone who reads it is bound to learn something new and have some great laughs along the way.

 

Review: Nad’s Body Wax Strips

My verdict? Excellent, excellent and excellent. Okay, where to start. If you find random hair patches on your body as non-sexy as I do, then you know how compelling and satisfying it is to hunt them down and delete them from your sight. I am a hair vanquisher in the first degree, and use everything from laser hair removal, waxes and tweezers to capture and dispose of my prey.

Sometimes, however, a patch crops up unexpectantly, and when you don’t have the time or will to launch a full frontal assault on it. I’m thinking of last Saturday night, when I was running kind of short on time during the put-on-makeup-and-get -out-of-the-door-five-minutes-ago period before an event where, incidentally, I was scheduled to speak and even lead the audience in a rendition of America the Beautiful. Okay, I had not practiced the song at all and was fuzzy on the verses after the part about for spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

What Nad’s Body Wax Strips has to do with any of this is that I happened to catch sight of some hair along my jawline. And there was no way I had time to whip out the old beeswax, heat it up and slather it along my face before ripping it off with a muslin strip. No time. I was also dressed, and wearing a white dress that would not look so great with drops of wax dotted on it.

I did, however, happen to have a fresh box of Nad’s Body Wax Strips in ye olde cupboard, and this seemed like the perfect time to test them. And they passed with flying colors.

Nad's Body Wax Strips

Nad’s Body Wax Strips

 

Each strip is about 5.5 inches long by 2 inches wide, so it can tackle a pretty good-sized area of the body. However, you can also cut them if you’d like to use them on smaller areas. (Indeed!)

  • To use, you can use one of the pre-wax Kava wipes to remove oil from the skin.
  • Then, rub the strip between your palm to warm it up and separate, as there are two strips connected as one.
  • Place the strip firmly over the area to be waxed, smoothing your hand 3-4 times over the area in the direction that your hair grows.
  • Hold skin taut and pull the strip away quickly.

I was initially hesitant about how much hair would be removed since no heat was involved, but was pleased as punch to see that with the first pass, the Nad’s Body Wax Strip removed almost every single hair from the area.

A quick second pass picked up the strays. So fast, so effective and so easy! And no cleanup. Ooh, another plus: These are very ideal for packing in your luggage and using for on-the-road touchups, particularly if you’re in between waxing visits…I’m thinking bikini area and legs.

  • Follow your waxing with the calming oil wipes that are included, if you like. I found the wipe to be quite oily, so it was not ideal for the face, but it did have calming property that reduced redness and sting quite quickly, so I could blaze off to my event without looking like I was sporting a red beard.

Bottom line: This is just a fantastic product to have on-hand for quickie waxing sessions. It retails for about $6 and the box includes 24 strips.

I have also reviewed Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper; another great and portable hair removal product from this company that seems to have really nailed easy hair removal for women and men. Yes, they have men’s products, too.

 

Roadside Review: Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15

 


yes to carrots daily moisturizer review
 

Have you ever been on the road and realized that your toiletries decided not to come with you? Yeah, that has been happening a lot to me lately. But on the bright side I’ve been able to road-test some good products from random drugstores along the highway.

A bright spot in my curation is Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15, which I found at a Walmart somewhere in South Carolina. I realized that I could not go another day barefaced in the sun, so I detoured off the highway looking for a kindly CVS or Walgreen’s. After landing in a Walmart parking lot I figured I’d make it an expedition and roamed the massive store until I stumbled across the beauty and personal care section, and in it, a small section devoted to natural products.

The Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 costs around $15, comes in a nicely shaped small tubular bottle and has an impressive ingredient list, with carrot extract, aloe vera, pumpkin seed oil, vitamin E and melon extract in a base that includes sea water and shea butter. The sunscreen is suppled by a 5% concentration of zinc oxide, which is a mineral that provides broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection.

Okay, so the texture of Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 is that of a thick lotion. It feels clean and light, absorbs quickly and has an herbal scent that is slight. I have been using it as my daily moisturizer for about one week and have not experienced clogged pores or other irritation as a result.

Bottom Line: Thumbs up for quality, value and overall practical glamour. A great roadside beauty product that you can find in many mainstream drugstores.

 

 

Lost Luggage Glamour In the Midst of Hurricane Sandy

hurricane-sandy-fashion-philadelphia-center-city

A lost-luggage ensemble, purchased mostly at a drugstore

 

Arriving in Philadelphia airport a day or so ahead of the storm was a good idea. What was not a good idea on the part of the airline was not having my luggage arrive.

For the last three days I have been sans luggage, cobbling together ensembles fit for a storm and one of my favorite hotels in Center City. A landmark property with beautiful detailing everywhere—a rotunda ceiling with ornate carving, window panes with that delicate and rugged look to them, and dinner by a fireplace with big, soaring windows of a storming city.

I arrived wearing a standard airplane get-up: jeans, a pair of suede slip on flats, a fairly sassy shirt and leather jacket. One of the best things about arriving at a destination after a long flight is immediately changing your clothes, which of course I couldn’t do unless I wanted to wear a bed-sheet.

I managed to find an open drugstore where I bought a pair of black leggings and a stretchy shirt. A friend gave me a gift, a beautiful ivory scarf with fluttery trim.

And I purchased a heap of toiletries and makeup. Having no cosmetics on hand, by the way, helps you determine your face and hair essentials pretty quickly. I discovered mine have to do with lip stuff and eyebrows, and that drugstore brand Milani makes a pretty good eyebrow pencil. And the Milani Brow Fix brow kit is compact and smart. A mini tweezer, brow brush and applicator; a powder highlighter and two brow colors. Pretty nifty.

Other  new drugstore finds: L’Oreal EverCreme Nourishing Leave-in Spray for hair, about $8; and Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Gloss #952 in Sand Glow, a light neutral pinkish shade with a smidgeon o’ shimmer.

milani eye pencil - milani Brow Fix brow kit

Tomorrow’s another day, which means another ensemble. Which means I’ll be looking for an open gift shop or drugstore for some fine lost-luggage fashion.

Arrive with Whiter Teeth: Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen and Other Teeth Tips To-Go

I think white teeth are a glamorous thing to possess, but don’t think it’s a great idea to douse teeth too often with high-powered whiteners in order to maintain this state. Compounding the matter is the fact that I consider iced coffee to be a special brand of life force, I laugh a lot and have a smile that one might describe as broad.

So, to keep a satisfying bright tooth landscape I have adopted a bare-minimum bleaching routine, pulling out the overnight trays and 20% formulas only when needed. And the rest of the time, relying on tricks and milder formulas:

For touch ups, I use on-the-go formulas; the easier to apply and not think about, the better. My current favorite is Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen, which I recently tested and liked on many Practical Glamour levels. About the size of a slender Sharpie or a fat lip pencil, the whitening pen is a sassy looking silver item loaded with an effective teeth whitener.

 

smile sciences teeth whitening pen discount code

 

Very likable is the fact that it’s very easy to apply, convenient and is a sensitive tooth formulation, so it doesn’t hurt, burn or even tingle teeth or gums. It’s also very totable, and can be stored in a purse or bag and applied on the down-low while en route to an event or even on a plane.

smile sciences teeth whitening pen

Hey, I just whitened my teeth!

Before applying, make sure the surface of teeth are clean and reasonable dry. Turn the dial at the base of the Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen until you see a bit of the whitening gel on the brush.

The application brush has the look and size of a lip brush. It also gives a lot of control, so the gel doesn’t end up lodged in the sensitive gum area. Brush the product on your teeth vertically, then let it air dry on the surface of the teeth. Inhaling and exhaling a few times through the mouth, slightly parted, will makes this happen quickly. Or if you’re in a car, smile and lean your head out the window to air dry!

The brightening of the teeth is noticeable, without the feeling of increasing sensitivity or porousness of the teeth and gum area. Developed by dentists and seen on CBS’ “The Doctors,” the pen can be used twice daily to whiten teeth by several shades in a week.

The fine Smile Sciences people have given me a 50% off coupon code for the Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen, which is: pglamour. The product is $78 ($39 with discount) and can be ordered here. Input the code on the checkout page, and calculate shipping price to see discount.

While we’re at it, here are some other tips for a brighter smile:

  • After brushing your teeth pass an extra soft toothbrush along your gums, gently. Brushing the gums promotes blood circulation to the area, often making the area appear more red and, by contrast, making teeth appear more bright. Being a devout tooth flosser will also keep teeth looking clean and healthy.
  • Blue-based lipsticks. This is a well-known trick whereby blue enhances the white tint of one’s teeth, whereas yellow-based lipsticks (think warm corals, rusts or straight-up orange-looking lip colors) will highlight any yellow tones in teeth.
  • Experiment with your smile. Smile while looking in the mirror. Do you like the look of your mouth and teeth? If yes, good for you. Keep in mind that a smile is projected primarily by the eyes. I used to smile mostly by scrunching up around the eye area, which really wasn’t effective since it reduced my eyes to slits. If you don’t love the look of your smile, experiment with different lip and mouth poses; arrange your lips to cover more of your teeth, for instance, if you wish to have a less ‘toothy’ smile, and vice versa. Drop your chin higher and lower to see the effect. The goal is to have a smile that pleases and represents you beautifully.

TV Liberation

A week or so ago I made the bold move that I had been contemplating for a while: I got rid of TV for good.

I had just told someone how I was “going to get rid of my TV.” I looked at the TV. It was still there.

I realized I had said this before—but had not yet done it. I seized the moment. I quickly stood up, strode to the TV, unplugged it and carted it to recycling. I moved some furniture around to make the place more open, more of a space where you would be inclined to grab a book or a magazine, pull out the Monopoly board, stare out the window at the trees and ocean, or do some impromptu yoga. Anything but slump on a couch and engage in passive hours of something that adds nothing, really, to your life.

I have had one foot out the TV door for a while. I have not had cable in many moons, and kept a TV around because of a love for watching classic Hollywood movies (1930’s-40’s) and European police shows. If you haven’t seen them, Italian shows Detective Montalbano and La Piovra (featuring the quiet and oh-so alluring angst of Mob-slayer Corrado Cattani) are pretty compelling reasons to keep a TV on the premises.

In the last week, I’ve moved from TV agnostic (a little TV doesn’t hurt) to straight-up TV atheist (no TV is better than a little TV). If you are considering such a move, here are some values and virtues to look forward to in a TV-free home:

Less TV, More Life!

More Space. A TV and all its accompaniments (DVDs, cords, stands, etc) take up room. Not just physical space. It becomes the focus of the room. What direction does the furniture face? A hundred years ago it all would have faced the fireplace. So, a room that has a TV often becomes a “TV room.” A place to watch TV. Delete the TV, and the place reverts back to a room.

More Time, Better Time. My off-time is better spent with no more defaulting to TV. I put a magazine or book on a table, and when I sit down I automatically reach for one. Do you have a stack of publications that you have been meaning to read? Watch it dwindle fast when there’s no TV around.

Energy Purge. The place just feels better, cleaner without a TV. Even though I was pretty selective with what I watched, having this conduit of violence and sleaze piped into the living room was not a positive thing. Now it’s gone.

Two more notes:

Know when you’re ready. Going TV-free is tough before its time. That moment of strength, when you truly feel that your life would be better spent without a TV in the house, is the time to act. Grab the TV and run out of the house as fast as you can. (If I was an artist I would draw an image of this…)

Less TV means more glamour. What the heck does living without TV have to do with glamour or looking/feeling your best? A sparkling, knowledgeable and alive spirit is the soul of glamour, whether you’re a girl or guy. Anything that detracts from your life reduces this glamour. And anything that promotes a greater, more active immersion in your own life will do the opposite.

¡Viva la liberación!

 

Errant Hair Alert & Nad’s Facial Wand Hair Removal Review

Constance_Dunn_

I get a little bit of anxiety when I go away for vacation due to a little grooming issue having to do with hair. I’m an avid multi-method body hair slayer. I do laser, I pluck and wax. Despite my multi-pronged approach to dealing with hair removal, there is still the issue of those stray hairs that come back in full form overnight.

I loathe stray hairs for the usual reasons. I also loathe stray hairs for their notorious element of surprise. One day you look in the mirror and there’s not a follicle in sight. The next hour it could be a completely different scene, with one–or two or a whole army–fully developed black hairs resting against the pale of your upper lip or browbone. Or chin. Or jawline. Nice.

There is a question that is sometimes asked in beauty newsstand magazines, something about being stranded on a desert island and what beauty item you would not be able to live without. My answer is always tweezers. Two little pieces of metal fashioned into a point at one end. Beyond the combustable engine or the microprocessor or air, if a more genius piece of machinery has been created I’d like to know about it.

Playing Whac-A-Mole, hairwise, with tweezers can be annoying though, and painful in a way that guarantees a wave of mild annoyance. Plus, re-growth tends to be quick.

Shaving is also out of the question, though it’s quick. I’m not interested in having a five o’clock shadow to deal with each day.

I have in the past succumbed to a few of the late-night scams: a straight-edge blade tucked into a plastic pink handle. (It’s called a razor.) A little mechanism that ran on batteries, which featured a rotating head that would grab hairs and pull them out. (Essentially a pair of motorized tweezers that were even more annoying than the regular kind.) And, since cream depilatories basically dissolve hair at the skin level, not the root, you are basically coating chemicals on your face, waiting for a few minutes and rinsing for a day or two of hair removal.

If you have not self-waxed before, might I recommend it for a few reasons. I cover it step by step in Practical Glamour, but the idea is that it’s in your interest to be able to whip out a relatively lasting method of removing hair at home. It’s a nice option to have if you’re not up for going to a salon for waxing. A particularly nice option if the bikini area is involved and you are not feeling up for the equivalent of a gynecologist visit.

This do-it-yourself hair slaying is pretty empowering, as well. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better the results. I’ve been doing it so long that the only reason I’ll go in for a salon wax is if I’m doing the entire leg and I am short on time. Then it’s no sacrifice to waltz in with Wildebeest limbs, chat about something inane with the practitioner while sucking down an iced coffee—then walk about 20 minutes later with gleaming smooth legs.

 

Nad's Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper

As for vanquishing stray hairs, or small patches of them, and doing so in a highly portable way, I highly recommend a little item from Nad’s which is the best way that I’ve ever come across to quickly and cleanly remove hair from the face: the Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper. It costs approximately $8-10. The wand is about 4.5 inches long, so a bit smaller than a Sharpie marker. It comes with a few packaged wipes to clean the skin prior to waxing, and some small strips.

Pros

  • Tiny and portable
  • Zero mess
  • No heating
  • Fast
  • Totally works

The beauty of the Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper is that it does not require heating up anything. The shaper is incredibly easy to manage. You essentially dial up a small amount of the product, apply slowly in the direction of hair growth, then cover the area with one of the strips. Apply some pressure to the area then rip off the strip.

    lips_Nad's Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper

In each area the hair came off in one swoop. See the oh-so sexy before and after photos. Less painful than tweezing or even traditional heat waxing. There were no remaining clumps of product on my face and the pen application was incredibly neat, with no stray drops falling anywhere. When finished, I re-capped and dropped it in a drawer. The look of the skin afterwards was kosher, with only a bit of redness and no feel of sting whatsoever.

The Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper package says the item can be used for up to 24 treatments and is for the eyebrows. I used it elsewhere and it worked just as well. Also, you are not bound to use the strips that come with the product, as I experimented with muslin and fabric strips which worked just as well. In the end, this is a stellar product that will be accompanying me everywhere I go away for more than a couple days, and I am more than stoked to try other Nad’s products based on the sheer Practical Glamour of this item.

 

Drive-By Drugstore Buy: Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion

If you have read Practical Glamour or you read this tip log with any regularity, you know that I’m a booster for DIY, at-home and mostly natural grooming concoctions. However, there are some solid grooming and beauty products to be had at your local drugstore. Here is one: Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion (approximately $4 for a 10-ounce bottle).

First, a disclosure: I evaluated this product for the company and was paid to do so. However, I have not been paid or asked to promote the product. I tested it and happened to find it surprisingly good. A good pick for when you might be on the road or on vacation, away from your favorite hand or body moisturizer, and scouting for one in the aisles of a local supermarket or drugstore.

Vaseline Total Moisture Review When I first tried the product, which was shipped to me in an unmarked bottle, its identity unknown, I thought that it was a health-food store brand because the scent had an essential-oil aroma about it. Light and pure. Also, the lotion absorbs quickly into the skin, which is another hallmark of a quality, natural-sourced, moisturizer. (Chemical-based lubricants tend to sit on the surface of the skin and feel greasy.)

Also, the consistency is nice; it’s a lotion but feels rich, almost like a cream without the attendant heaviness. Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion is a blend of glycerin along with HEU (Hydroxyethyl Urea) and oat extract.

Bottom line: This is an effective, drugstore body moisturizer that can be kept in the house as a go-to hand or body cream for anyone in the house. The aroma is light and gender-neutral so the lady and men-folk will find it pleasant. It’s an easy to find product and price-wise, a fair value.

Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion.

When It Comes To Applying Makeup, The Brush Is The Thing

An image I happen to like from brushmaker's Royal & Langnickel. Talk about blending!

Soon after I started wearing makeup on a regular basis I realized that the brushes from art supply stores beat the heck out of the synthetic wispy things that were sold in drugstores or, worse, the little plastic apparatuses that came with the makeup itself.

Art supply stores tend to carry tons of beautiful natural bristle brushes in almost any dimension you can imaginable. They last forever and typically cost not much more than the ones made for makeup. Alas, the art supply type are made expressly for an artist painting a canvas, so they don’t always work exactly as planned when applying makeup to the face.

However, the key here is that you must have high-quality brushes if you’re going to wear makeup. Buy less makeup if it means you are going to buy better brushes.

Good brushes will overcome most of the easy to make blunders that happen during rushed or not-so-pro makeup jobs, such as the harsh breaks between blush and the real you, or the visible streaks of shadow on the lids. The key to “no-makeup” makeup has everything to do with blending and blending and more of it. Great brushes will blend colors better and faster; they will feel better, more gentle, on your skin, and; if taken care of, they will last forever, making the initial investment worth it.

May I suggest an assessment of your current brush situation and a tossing of those you have outgrown? I think it’s crazy to invest in high-end or professional makeup and not have the right tools to apply it.  Until recently I too have sometimes been guilty of this. I didn’t think much of brushes, and in my makeup box alongside great brushes I had some cheesy or broken-down brushes, and would be trying to apply some fantastic Chanel shadow with a clumsy synthetic brush I’ve had since high school, for instance, its plastic pink swirl handle chipped and faded.

I have since mended my ways and can recommend the following:

  • When it comes to brushes go as pro as possible, and get them in a kit version, since buying them separately is not as good a value.
  • Brush sets typically come in a roll case, which is where you should keep them so they stay clean and are in one place when you need them.
  • I have noticed that there are many brush kits out there, and many of them have a professional or sleek “look,” but are really subpar when it comes to quality. Beware the more-than-you’ll-ever-need huge collection of brushes with pretty shiny handles offered at some low price. When buying new brushes, look for quality in the brush hair (natural hair is best), density of the brush hair, shape of the brush and overall construction and durability. Include in your inspection the handle, and note how different types of brushes feel in your hand.

*I really like Royal & Langnickel, mostly because they started in business forever ago by making art brushes–and they also make beauty brushes. (Before I learned that they also made beauty brushes, I had been using some of their art brushes for makeup duty; two indestructible fan brushes for contouring and a couple of thin detail brushes that made excellent eyeliner brushes.) Their consumer-oriented beauty brush line, here, has some excellent values, like the 12 piece set that, at $35, comes out to about $3 a brush. And you’ll use every one of them.

royal and langnickel brush set

Tip: Wash your brushes regularly with super-mild soap and handle them with care. Keep the brush hair in the same direction while cleansing it, and keep water out of the ferrule (the black part of the upper handle seen in the brushes above that separates the brush hair from the handle). Water can get trapped in here and cause mold to grow, which is not something you want happening near your eyes and face.

On a clean towel, dry your brushes flat to keep the brush hair intact and to avoid moisture seeping into the ferrule. Rotate them on the dry part of the towel until they are completely dry.

Practical Romance: The Case For Falling In Love By Mari Ruti

And what a case she makes. Mari Ruti, author of the new book The Case For Falling In Love reminds us of a central virtue of the thing: falling in love (and even having your heart broken) can prompt you, no, force you, to grow in profound ways. In other words, you are better for having loved and lost than for having never loved in the first place.

And when you do: Take the lesson and exploit it positively to the hilt for the betterment of knowing who you are and what makes you tick. In other words, your experiences in romantic love can be a potent master class all about you.

Store book shelves are packed with relationship books, an uneven supply quality to meet a human demand that never seems to waver. A need to understand what the hell is going on…with you, the other person, why they don’t like you, love you, want you, lust you, call you, and on. And on.

The central value of this one, though, is how well Ruti brings the most challenging landscapes of romantic love back to their basics. Bitter with the sweet basics. Rolled-back and untangled, potent basics that bring relief because they are so certain. These are, after all, the logical conclusions that once upon a time, a step or two into your romantic history, you computed quickly and surely. Since then, paved over by justifications and twists and guesses, they’ve become harder to come by.

If you keep the book around the house, I suspect it will become dog-eared from random and impromptu readings. And its confident message to be particularly valuable to those about to enter the dating and relationship world either for the first time, or for the first time in a long time.

The Case for Falling in Love (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $21.99) by Mari Ruti, Phd is available on Amazon and probably at many a fine bookstore in your area.

From the author’s list of “potent anti-rules,” a few of my favorites:

  • A love failure is not a life failure.
  • Stop running after guys who don’t want you. I’ll add a vice versa for the men in the audience: stop running after girls who aren’t over the moon to be standing by your side.
  • Stop being afraid to have needs and vulnerabilities.
  • Stop manipulating the guy you love. For this, Ruti advises the following: If you need a project, treat your life like a work of art. Here, here.

Travel Tip: A Sugar Scrub To Go

There is a fine and natural skin scrub that happens to be very travel-friendly, simple, and found everywhere–and it happens to be sugar. After shaving or washing your face, apply a bit of granulated sugar to your still-wet skin with your fingertips. Lightly circle your finger tips over your face, adjusting pressure for more or less sensitive parts. Don’t tug or scrub.

 

sugar exfoliator skin travel tip

The sugar granules do the work, and they will soften and dissolve as they interact with the water. This treatment is great because it sloughs off the top layers of skin and leaves a lovely glow to the face. Bonus: you can leave your bulky tube of exfoliator or skin scrub at home on your next trip, and stow a few sugar packets instead. If you run out o’ sugar, be assured that you will run into a sugar packet or two that you can lift while traveling. I felt like I hit the jackpot when a friend recently brought me a handful of small sugar straws in my hotel after hearing me rave about on-the-road sugar scrubbing.

Men, a nice sugar scrub is particularly helpful if you have an ingrown hair problem on your face. Scrub skin softly with it after shaving, concentrating on problem areas, in order to keep skin from forming over incoming hair.

Women, add a sugar scrub to your shower experience. A few times a week, use sugar granules to exfoliate and brighten your face, decolletage and bosom. Less pressure and frequency if your skin is sensitive.

Tip: Stay away from the raw, unrefined sort of sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw. The granules are large, don’t seem to dissolve quickly and can scratch or, worse, pit your skin.

The Glamour Of The List

list making

There are many, many reasons to love the list. Lists made by hand, by your hand ideally, are oh-so effective, much more so than the computer or mental type because creating a list on paper:

  • requires a mental review of the task at hand (you need to break down and think about the steps that need to happen in order to realize the larger goal)
  • helps you focus and feel more in control of individual tasks and the larger goal at hand
  • forces you to break down each task into manageable or reality-based bites (it would be hard to, with a straight face, put down on paper a task like “buy a new house” without breaking it down into starter tasks like “determine mortgage amount I will need,””decide which neighborhoods to look for houses,” and so on
  • keeps the goal in your face (or on your desk), forcing a higher level of accountability and check-in than with other list-making methods, such as your eternal mind list
  • crossing off tasks from your paper list creates a tangible, physical act that creates a strong reward system

In short, creating a list on paper brings on your best thinking about ways you can make your life better.

To this point, NYC glamour girl, senior health producer at FoxNewsHealth.com and listmeister extraordinaire Paula Rizzo has done much of the legwork for us in by providing us with a slew of list making tips at her site The List Producer, from the hows and whys of a travel list, moving list, a grocery list (no more rotting food in your kitchen!), and more.

If you’re not a list maker, but are curious about the fantastic claims of list makers, like lists can save you time and money, minimize basic life annoyance and task redundancy, then I dare thee to pick up a pad of paper of a suitable size and weight, think of a singular task and go ahead–break it down into small and easy and completely do-able steps to take you to the glorious finish line.

Did you know? Ms. Rizzo writes that President Reagan was a list maker who  jotted down his favorite quotes, jokes and proverbs on 4-by-6 index cards, one of which was: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Here, here. And Happy Friday.

Another Beautiful Shoe Saved By A Suede Eraser

The scenario: A pair of rich suede Charles David platforms in a shade of light butternut squash. A neutral cork heel. An angry charcoal smudge across the top of the vamp.

Prior to said smudge there was clearly much to love about these shoes. Their versatility made them work with almost any color or silhouette. Their height, which gave me the ability to lord over others, or at least look them in the eye (I stand somewhere around 5’2″).

On their first outing, while strolling down Ocean Boulevard with a friend after a gay evening at the Ivy, they were nudged against a raised sidewalk curb. The smudge did not budge even when faced with my full shoe-correction arsenal. I took them to the trusted neighborhood cobbler. He whipped out what looked like a rubber eraser and within a minute had wiped the smudge from the shoe. He followed the eraser with a soft shoe brush to remove the eraser crumbs and restore the nap. Poof! He also tossed the remaining nub at me across the counter to take home. I clutched it like the nugget of gold it was.

It is a suede eraser. One made by Woodlore that I like quite a bit can be had for about $8 and purchased here at Amazon.

Warning: With the power to make beige suede look bright again comes great responsibility. Use the eraser gently and tentatively the first few times. Brush the eraser across a white piece of paper first to clean it before using it on your shoes. And don’t fear the crumbling of the eraser, as those crumbs get into the nap of the suede to help buff out the stain. Also, if you value a particular pair of shoes heavily don’t take any risks you’ll regret. In this case, entrust your shoes to a professional.

Purity And Potency – Ah, Weleda’s Wild Rose

Weleda is a natural beauty and grooming brand that is rock-ribbed in terms of its quality and purity. I’ve used their products randomly over the years when I spot something interesting at the health food store and I’m always pleased. Their Wild Rose Skin Care line, though is a bell ringer for me. The products smell like a divine flower field and are addictive. I first came across it at a Walgreen’s and ever since I snap it up whenever my stock runs low.

The genius of the Smoothing Night Cream is that it is instantly absorbent and potent–without a shadow of feeling greasy or overly creamed. The base is made up of peach kernel, sweet almond and olive fruit oils along with evening primerose oil and myrrh. All of these are of-the-earth luxurious lubricants, and they feel it.

The Smoothing Eye Cream has organic rosehip seed oil, eyebright extract and jojoba oil. I’m not a big user of eye cream in general, but this one has a potent and clean feel–and does a nice job on puffiness, which is nice after a night of writing. Or whatever else you may be up to nocturnally.

There is also a Smoothing Day Cream and Smoothing Day Lotion. Use the lotion for normal to oily skin and the richer cream for normal to dry skin. Ah, the scent of these. They are elating. If you’re someone who is lax with the moisturizer the aroma alone will change your ways. Use on your neck, chest and decolletage as well.

Each of these products cost anywhere from $20-$30 for a 1.0 ounce tube and are worth it. They seem to last forever.

Enable Your A.M. With Water

In my quest to move my start-life-now timeline to an earlier hour of the a.m., I have been drinking a glass of water moments after my eyes flutter open in the morning. And the results are noticeable: I become clear headed and energetic more quickly waking up this way versus the no-water way.

The Mayo Clinic confirms that water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells, moistens tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes and nose, plus helps minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body, among many other fine functions. Okay, you know that water is big plus in life–but by carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells, including those in the brain, and lifting the fog of morning it has become something even more spectacular than previously thought.

Tip: Keep a glass of water by your bed and command yourself to drink the whole thing before letting your feet touch the floor.

Weather Glamour Rescue: A Big Sexy Tan!

For most of us, the poetry has gone out of this weather. No more “Ah, it’s so nice to sleep to the sound of rain beating on the roof” or “Let’s go frolick in the snow!”

If you’re used to seeing a lot of our pal the sun–or leaving the house for that matter–you may need a lift in the form of that beautiful illusion called a tan. This week I have been traipsing around with more bounce because of my warm cocoa shade of skin, brought on by repeated applications of Tan Towels (“Look Good Naked”).

After

These were recommended to me after my favorite health-food store bottle tan disappeared from Earth. Tan towels in general have some benefits over the bottle version: the application is super fast and unmessy, and the results are quick (a couple of hours) and natural-looking.

Accurate results seen here after 2-3 applications. I use the half body size for fair to medium skin tones, though they have a version for medium to dark tones. Approximately $20 for 10 towels.

There. A tan, white teeth and big hair. We’ll get through this just fine.

How To Stay Warm Without Looking Like A Dancing Bear


I imagine she’s trying not to burst into laughter

My aversion to wearing a thick winter coat started around the time I realized I was a girl. Many a New England winter morning you could find my mother shouting “Put Your Coat On” from the front door. Being a bit of a shrimp, it was always the mass of the deep-weather winter coat that I was opposed to. Bulky coats can manage to swallow you and make you look like a sad little Weeblo tottering in the snow.

I kept the ban going on the burly winter coat until a few years ago. I was walking through the bitterly cold streets of Chicago shivering in a ridiculously thin but favored black wool Anna Sui matador jacket. My host happened to be a commanding, bigger-than-me gal who said she was going to tackle me if I didn’t put on a proper winter coat. Which I did.

She had selected a particularly fluffy one from her collection and so I ended up wobbling through the streets of Chicago for the rest of the trip quite warm but looking–and therefore, feeling–very much like a dancing bear.

When I got home, and after a gnarly bout of the flu, I decided to grow the hell up and dress properly for the weather.

Bottom line: I have found supreme warmth and the look of a female in the form of an L.L. Bean Lambswool Peacoat like the one pictured. (Approximately $200 and worth it.)

If you want to stay warm but keep a close-to-the-body silhouette during the winter then select a coat with modern condensed insulation in it, like this one.

“Thinsulate” is a common type of insulation found in many cold-weather coats. It provides deep warmth without bulk. The idea is that its fibers are finer and trap more air in less space. This coat, for instance, will keep you comfortable to temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the males in the audience: Thinsulate-like insulation is found in many fine men’s winter coats as well. And there are few things more nice to behold on a brisk day than a tall cup of handsomeness in a beautifully cut winter coat, strolling confidently along the street. Make sure the fit is right lest you end up looking like the chap above.

Skin Rx: Ice Your Acne

ice_for_pimples_acne

Applying ice to your face is one of the most effective and easy things you can do to kill acne. I heard about this from an aesthetician and a friend who was a patient of Dr. James Fulton (the co-creator of Retin-A and developer of Benzoyl Peroxide) who is considered something of the grand master of acne slaying.

To Do:

  • After cleansing your face in the morning and night, spread an ice cube lightly on your skin (or just the pimple-prone area) for approximately one minute.
  • Make sure you move the ice quickly around your skin lest you risk ‘burning’ your skin.
  • The ice takes down swelling, redness and inflammation and, for some, will shrink pores.
  • Do this consistently–morning and evening–day after day.
  • Let your face return to its natural temperature before resuming your normal beauty routine.

An Elegant Alternative To The Scrunchie

A scrunchie is a hideous thing indeed; yet, like many other hideous things, the scrunchie is both easy to acquire and highly useful (sometimes vital, such as during face-washing or jogging). Let it be known, however, that there are emerging hair fasteners that rival the ease of the scrunchie, surpass it’s ability to manage your hair, and look civilized.

This new class of hair fasteners appear to be made of highly bendable metal and can utterly lock in a massive updo or just a section of hair, barrette-style, with a few moves of the hand. These fasteners are sized based on the mass of hair to be dealt with. (Jumbo-haired women looking to secure buns should get the largest size available.)

I purchased a few of these (this particular brand was called Flexi-8) at a mobbed booth at a street fair in South Florida. Verdict: Incredibly useful for holding in hair (particularly if you have a lot of it), very durable, and can be found in several fairly elegant, low-key designs. Under $20.

Luka Mineral Cosmetics: Pucker Up

Whenever I see my friend Katharine I find myself staring at her lips. Granted she’s a lovely looking girl, but her lips always seem to have this ethereal looking and lovely glow to them. Moisturized but not gloppy; tinted but not painted.

Luka Mineral's Healthy Flush

I have finally figured out that it’s her lipgloss. Really, hers. She is founder of the fast-growing Luka Mineral Cosmetics company and her Pucker Up Lipgloss ($20) is a treat. As an ardent enthusiast of lip color–my purse contains as many as 5 tubes at a time–Pucker Up is notable for two things: fantastic ingredients (including shea butter and jojoba oil) and some very subtle, come-hither shades. Methinks Healthy Flush, pictured here, is a winner.

Touchups on the Go: Highly Portable Physicians Formula Loose Mineral Sharpie

At loath to become another blog that lathers on and on about makeup and beauty products, I can’t resist the urge to write a little beauty review about a standout makeup product that meets my standards of quality, usefulness and value: Physicians Formula Perfecting Mineral Concentrate.

It is mineral makeup that retails for about $10, can be found in drugstores and has a unique design: a highly portable, Sharpie-sized device holds powder with a perfect level of coverage (so it covers even a mean zit but does not look or feel cake-ish in the least). You pump the top of the stick, which forces a small amount of the powder (talc-free, which is nice) onto the applicator brush. Swirl over areas that need evening, such as under eyes, around the nose, chin or forehead. Keep pumping for more coverage. The application is completely quick and non-messy, which is nice if you don’t like mineral flakes snowing on your hands, clothes or the interior of your car.

The Glamourpuss In The Sparkling Shoes

There is no doubt that pulling off a glamour act in scruffy, beat-down shoes, or those hazed by a film of dirt and dust is near-impossible.

Make it a point to always sport neat shoes. Before wearing, eyeball the uppers and the heels to make sure they are free of marks, discoloring, stains or other issues, such as mud or grass. Wipe or brush any offending particles or, if the shoe is too sub par to be seen in public, take it to the cobbler for resuscitation or the trash can if you feel it’s beyond human help.

Also, store in your car, purse or briefcase, a few on-the-go type shoe polish wipes. These are fast and clean to apply: the material slips over your fingers; one side has shoe polish, which you apply to both shoes and let stand for a minute. The other side is a shoe polisher which you use to buff the surface of your shoes.You can buy these handy items in clear as well as black and brown, and they act as little confidence-lifters, as walking in a meeting with a super-spiffy pair of shoes is always more inspiring than drudging in with murky looking ones.

I like Shine To Go (www.shinetogo.com). These tiny packets can be found in supermarkets and drugstores, like Target, Rite-Aid, Walmart and others.

Note these polishing cloths are suitable for smooth leather and not suede or Nubuck, which benefits from a soft brushing and periodic stain lifting and protection.

Praise For The Non-Iron Shirt

As close as you can get to a universal closet staple is the Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Shirt. In basic white or black, patterned or printed or pin-striped–this is the most durable and sleek basic button-up I have come across.

 

non iron shirt review brooks brothers Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Shirt (Fitted Cut). Will it rock your world? No. Does it always look good right out of the dryer and never needs to be ironed? Yes.

 

It is impervious to the chafing that infects most fine cotton after a few tumbles in a high-heat dryer, and always emerges smooth and unruffled and ready to coast out the door. The fabric contains something called “DOW XLA” which lends a bit of stretch.

It comes in three cuts: classic, fitted and tailored. The difference in cuts has principally to do with the presence of darts in the front and back, with the tailored cut being the most slim-fitting or Va-Va-Voom Office Version of the bunch. Also, the non-iron can be found in sleeveless, which is completely convenient for when you feel like playing the suit and it happens to be summer.

 

brooks brothers non iron shirt review best A completely reliable and good looking work basic to have in your wardrobe

 

I heartily recommend this shirt as a foundation piece in a work wardrobe, as it’s the most perfect marriage of low-maintenance and polished, alluring professionalism that I have come across. The price ranges from about $55-75.

Champagne Tips: Keep a Bottle of Brut Bubbly (Or Sparking Wine) Around

King Louis XV’s official companion, the beauty Madame de Pompadour, is thought to have said: “Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.”

A practical and glamorous household habit then, is to always keep a chilled bottle of sparkling wine or champagne in the refrigerator. One never knows when one might need it on the spot to celebrate or commiserate. Or look a bit more beautiful.

 

Difference Between Brut Versus Dry and Extra Dry Champagne

 

champagne, bubbly, icebox, chandon blanc de noirs Make sure the bottle is of decent quality, and is kept well-chilled.

Among champagne tips, here’s a biggie: I would opt for a Brut style of wine, which is quite dry as far as champagnes go. Many people beg off champagne because they experience an instant headache upon drinking it. This is due to the high sugar content of Dry and Extra Dry styles of wine. So check labels before purchasing, and assure guests that you’re serving them a dry wine, not a sugar bomb.

Two special occasion favorites are Krug Grand Cuvee Brut (approximately $130) and Dom Perignon (approximately $150 and up, depending on the vintage).

For an everyday wine that is festive, dry and goes well when enjoyed solo or with food — pizza and seafood work nicely; chocolate also — my all-time favorite is Chandon’s Blanc de Noirs (approximately $20).

Chandon’s Blanc de Noirs is a Rose style, which does not at all mean it is pink and sweet, but contains a higher amount of red wine than is usual. In this case, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Crisp, lovely and a tad fruitish, this sparkling wine is served at all White House receptions, yet easily acquired at a neighborhood grocery store.

Hair Straightening Treatment: Opti Smooth Cold Wave Review

I felt that my thick and wavy hair had veered too much into Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet territory for my liking, and I was looking for a sleeker hair profile. Less frizz. More shine. I spoke to a buddy about this, who said she’d arrange for me to get a Brazilian blow out.

 

It’s Permanent, Not Temporary

 

A few days later a stylist from the Taka Salon contacted me and asked when I’d like to schedule my blowout. Sure, I thought, I’ve had blowouts before – takes about an hour, not too hard on the hair and is always a fun change for a few days. This was a blowout of the more permanent kind, she explained. While they can do the ubiquitous Brazilian Blowout (which lasts for 3-4 months), I learned Taka Salon are super-experts in permanent straightening.

I paused at the idea of ‘permanent’ anything, particularly since I knew it would involve oodles of chemicals and possibly result in a hair change that I might not like, and maybe would even loathe. Sitting in a lounge the night before, I had looked around and noticed that almost every gal – redhead, blond, brunette or raven – was sporting the same glossy head of iron-straight hair.

 

You Control How Straight It Is

 

Averse to lemming-ness when it comes to looks, I learned at the Taka Salon that there are degrees of hair straightness to be had. The stylist who did my hair is something like a master chef of hair straightening and told me she could formulate a process that would do the following: relax the frizzies; keep some of the wave at the ends, maintain the volume and increase the shine.

Four salon hours later she achieved just that with the Opti Smooth Cold Wave Treatment, which is a great option if you are looking for a smooth, straight – but not too straight – look.

opti smooth cold wave review

 

opti smooth cold wave

After Opti Smooth Cold Wave – straight but with a bit of wave

 

There’s No Heat So It’s Kinder on Your Hair

 

Opti Smooth Cold Wave is different than the Opti Smooth Thermal Treatment or the Yuko System, which both use heat during the process and result in iron-straight hair. This absence of heat makes the Opti Smooth Cold Wave process less stressful on the condition of the hair.

Lots of chemicals are still involved though. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, the Cold Wave will cost approximately $150 and up, and takes approximately 2-4 hours in the salon. Like other permanent hair straightening treatments, you cannot shampoo for the first 48 hours, as the chemicals are still at work.

 

Bottom Line: It’s Awesome

 

For me, the Opti Smooth Cold Wave lasted about 1 year – until my hair grew out. It cost around $400 for my very long and thick hair and was worth every penny. I did not need to do anything to my hair after each washing to achieve a straight and sleek look – no hair dryer or flat iron needed, ever.