Thursday, December 31, 2009

Famous women who turned 40 in 2009

What better way to end this year of posts? Here they are, every fabulous one of them:

Christy Turlington
Jennifer Lopez
Kathryn Morris
Mary McCormack
Renee Zellweger
Anne Heche
Chandra Wilson
Gwen Stefani
Nancy Kerrigan
Kim Fields
Cate Blanchett
Tracey Gold
Angie Everhart
Rachel Hunter
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Paige Davis
Ellen Pompeo
Kristy Swanson
Jennifer Aniston

I hope everyone had a wonderful 2009. I am currently in Vienna, Austria for the holidays and will be having a relaxing, low key new year's eve celebration with family, champagne, and some delicious Chinese take-out. All the best to everyone for a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Botox Alternatives, Part 1

'Frownies On... Frown Lines Gone!'
'Hollywood's Beauty Secret For Over 100 Years!'
'Made In USA Since 1889'
'Guaranteed results in 30 days or less.'

These are just a few of the exciting claims written on my little box of Frownies,
and since I somehow lost the original copy of this post, I am wearing a Frownie right now to get rid of the pained look on my face...

Speaking of that 'pained look' you wouldn't believe how many facial expressions you make in your sleep until you peel a Frownie off your smooth, relaxed brow the following morning. I have been using this product on and off for 6 years now and they work like magic. 'On and off' because every once in a while I get tired of my husband teasing me for coming to bed looking like I 'joined some bizarre cult', they are not sexy, that's for sure. I also like to take a break to see if my retrained facial muscles actually revert back to their old selves. Inevitably they do.

These very simple and easy to use little patches have been manufactured, formula unchanged, by the same family since 1889, and have reportedly been a favourite of glamorous beauties like Gloria Swanson, Dayle Haddon, and Renee Russo. Though the box claims guaranteed results after 30 days, I find I see results after about 14 days of consistent use, and the price can't be beat. $19.99 will give you 144 mornings of unfurrowed brow with no headaches or downtime vs. $425 (in my neck of the woods, anyway) for botox.

I also like that you can slip Frownies in your Christmas cards before you send them, after all, don't your loved ones also deserve to wake up with a line-free forehead at some point during this holiday season?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lift Your Bosom With Botox...

I'm starting to wonder if there's anything Botox can't do:

I haven't 'Botoxed' anything yet, but I'm sure I will sometime in the future. For now I have two products that I'm using to prevent the number eleven from planting itself firmly between my brows, with success so far. More to come on those products very soon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

H1N1 and Vitamin D

I really didn't want to post about this because a) this is a beauty blog and b) I'm not a doctor, but recently my friend (a registered nutritional consultant and owner of alerted me to the importance of vitamin D intake to help boost our immune systems. Most of us don't get enough vitamin D, and whether or not you plan on taking the flu vaccine, it can't hurt to make sure you're getting your daily recommended intake of all vitamins this season. If you google 'vitamin D and H1N1' there is a lot of information. You'll also come across a lot of conspiracy theories, etc. about this flu, and since I'd rather stick with facts, here is a good link to check out:

Hope you and all your loved ones stay healthy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A quote...

Here's one we've all heard:

'There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.' (Helena Rubinstein)

I have to say, I agree with the first part, there are no ugly women. The right makeup and hairstyle can almost instantly make any woman beautiful, I truly believe that. Diet, exercise, and proper skincare can make huge improvements. Hollywood is full of examples of women with mediocre looks and talent who have been transformed into dazzling beauties with the help of top makeup artists, hair stylists, and fitness experts.

The reference to laziness, in my opinion, is a little harsh and mean-spirited. I recently came across this lesser-known but much gentler (and more optimistic) quote from actress Arlene Dahl:

'There is no such thing as an ugly woman. There are only those who have not realized their full potential.'

I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My American Pharmacy Haul

People are always talking about what a glamorous experience it is to visit European pharmacies, and I agree, with their obscure miracle products not found in North America and very formal and knowledgeable staff, it's not to be missed. Though part of their charm is that they are usually located in some gorgeous historic building, these places are usually tiny. Much of the magic is often kept behind the counter and you're better off going knowing either what you want, or willing to be instructed on what you need. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy the experience of getting lost in browsing around a big-ass store with tons of cosmetics, crazy hair products, and all those beauty gadgets I see in the infomercials. Ped Eggs and Bumpits and The Strapper, hell yeah! At the same time, it's also kind of amusing to be able to pick up anything from a pet bed to a fishing rod to go with my beauty purchases. That's what I love about American pharmacies, they really have it all, and you can really feel free to wander around at your leisure. I find it so relaxing and therapeutic.

Here are my treasures:

L'Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in 'Pink Lady'
After seeing this lipstick in the November issue of Allure, I was excited to get my hands on it as it's not available in Canada. Although it's not my favourite color, the thrill of the chase and finally tracking it down was worth it. It reminds me a lot of Laura Mercier's 'Baby Lips' lipstick.

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers in 'Raisin' and 'Peony'
I had seen both of these colors mentioned in magazines as makeup artists' favourites (of course couldn't find them in Canada) and they didn't disappoint. Both colors are lovely, sheer, lip stains with a fresh, minty taste that makes the lips tingle when applied. 'Raisin' is a deep, reddish-plum, and 'Peony' is a very wearable light, shimmery blush pink.

CoverGirl TruShine Lipstick in 'Blushberry Shine'
Another one I'd seen on best in beauty lists for a few years now, of course nowhere to be found north of the border. A lot of drugstore lipsticks have a very strong blue-pink base, so I was surprised that this one stayed true to it's original color rather than leaving the 'fuchsia stain' as it wore off. This sheer berry-nude shade is fairly similar to Clinique's Almost Lipstick in 'Almost Blush', a favourite that was discontinued a few years ago.

Ardell False Lashes #301
It doesn't get more fool-proof than this as far as false lashes are concerned. These are for the outer half of the eye, and they are the perfect, unexaggerated length and thickness. No trimming necessary. Everyone needs a pair of these. I suspect I may actually be able to find these here because of the bilingual packaging, which is mandatory for products for sale in Canada. I will post an update if I do find them here.

So what's the difference between Canadian and American pharmacies? Smaller stores and much, much less selection. When I was unable to find L'Oreal's 'Pink Lady' lipstick in Canada, I called up their customer service to find out where I could purchase it, assuming it was for sale here under a different name or number. I was very surprised when I was told that Canadian pharmacies don't carry the entire L'Oreal line because our market is only 10% of what it is in the U.S.

I guess that explains it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

42 is the new 20?

Hello from sunny and gorgeous Anna Maria Island, Florida, where I am currently on vacation!

Funny thing happened today, my 42 year-old husband was asked for ID buying wine at a Publix grocery store. In Canada, the drinking age is 19 for most provinces, and for Quebec, it's 18, but nobody bothers to check really anyway. Hopefully, somebody somewhere will mistake me for less than 21 years of age and ask me for some proof, too. Please?

I'm having a blast down here, and I absolutely love American pharmacies. The selection is excellent. So far, I've picked up some great products that are currently unavailable in Canada. Long live CVS! Long live Walgreens!

More on my American pharmacy haul later, I'm off to the beach...

UPDATE: It happened, I got asked for ID at the T.G.I.Fridays at the Tampa Airport. Of course I was flattered and excited, until I saw the same waiter card a table full of men that were obviously in their fifties. When I asked the waiter about it, he said he now asks almost everyone for ID because recently someone who was not asked got offended and sued, AND WON! Unbelievable.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I don't like my 'boyfriends'

Some relationships are just not meant to be.

A few days ago, I set out on a mission to buy myself a pair of 'boyfriend' jeans. I know, I'm late to the party by many months, but I just thought these jeans would be perfect to wear to the park to hang out with other moms, and what better way to hide a pair of granny underwear and a giant maxi pad? Then of course there's the option of slipping on some high heels with those same jeans and becoming instantly sexy and ready for a night on the town, right? Is that too much to ask of one pair of pants?

Yes, it is.

I tried on several pairs, and wasn't quite sure of any of them, which should have been my first clue that this was not going to work out. Somehow, though, I convinced myself that if I just gave them a chance, brought them home and threw on a cashmere turtleneck and my favourite stilettos, I wouldn't look like an awkward teenager that raided her father's closet. This, in fact, is exactly what I did the first time this trend appeared in the 80s. Thankfully, I settled on a pair from the store with the best return policy. After giving them an honest try with practically everything in my wardrobe, I knew I had to get rid of them. It wasn't me, it was them.

Maybe it was the way they made my ass look flatter and saggier than it actually is. Maybe it was that extra space at the crotch meant for a penis, a penis that I don't have. I think the real reason though is that jeans have gotten so good with their fit in the past few years, I just can't settle for a pair that doesn't maximize my rear view, slenderize my thighs and make my legs super long. Why would I invest in an article of clothing that just isn't flattering? Why should you?

I realized that what I really liked about this style was the look of rolled up jeans. It's a cute, casual, and fun look. So I'll just save myself the ridiculous $200 and roll up the jeans I already own. Problem solved.

As for 'boyfriend' jackets, there's another trend I'm not falling for. While I still have a waist, I'll be wearing my jackets nice and fitted, thank you.

Speaking of jeans, here are some that are really special:

Though I think that they're missing their target clientele by featuring some casually dressed woman strolling through suburbia. How about a group of cougars in high heels, strutting through a singles' bar? Or better yet, a young hot guy dancing up a storm in the gay part of town?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Men and aging...

Here's an interesting example of two extremes:

Though fairly unrecognizable, I have to give Andrew Ridgeley credit for aging gracefully and still looking like a man. George Michael, on the other hand (scroll down) has had some kind of crazy eye lift that even his sunglasses can't hide.

And if you read the entire article, you'll notice the mention of a Bananarama reunion, which of course I am very excited about!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My two year-old and a tin of Nivea...

I was out grocery shopping, my husband was left in charge, and he had just put my daughter in bed for her afternoon nap. He thought she was fast asleep, but when he went to investigate noises coming from our bedroom, he found this:

(My husband speaks to our daughter in his native tongue, Russian, we are hoping she'll grow up bilingual. So far so good.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Eyebrow Threading

My friend Daphne, a gorgeous Audrey Hepburn lookalike with enviably thick and perfectly arched eyebrows, recently confessed to me that she 'threads' them herself. She swears by it to clean up under the brows and take care of any other unwanted hair on the face.

I had only ever seen threading done by the beautiful Persian girls I went to hairdressing school with. I would watch them on our lunch hour, their fingers moving the thread with surprising speed and precision. It looked complicated, like one of those skills I'd never quite pick up unless I'd been born to a Middle-Eastern family where sisters and mothers and aunts taught me from an early age. I had never seen anyone do it on themselves so it certainly never even occurred to me to attempt it, but after having it done professionally a few times, my friend Daphne was determined to do it herself. After spending much time browsing YouTube for the most informative tutorial, she sent me this link to the one she found most helpful:

Another reason I never learned more about threading is that I don't have much to thread. I'm nervous to try it on my sparse and skinny eyebrows as there isn't much to work with and zero margin for errors. In recent years though, I have sprouted some strange little hairs on my chin that I've been tweezing. Since threading is faster than tweezers and gentler to the skin than waxing, I think this could be a better solution for me.

One last tip, Daphne recommends 100% cotton thread, as it grips the hairs better. Let me know how you make out if you try it.

Happy threading!

(Note: Towards the end of the YouTube video there is a part where the eyebrows are trimmed with manicure scissors, ignore this, eyebrow trimming is 95% of the time a terrible idea.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The last pedicure of summer...

No matter how busy I am, I always make time for nice toes. Since salon pedicures are expensive and I'd rather put that money towards a massage or a beauty product, I prefer to do my own. Besides, I think I do a better job myself. Quick, easy, affordable, DIY pedicures are one of my most enjoyable beauty rituals. After taking care of my two year-old all day, that half hour alone spent painting my toenails in the bathroom sometimes feels like a whole day at the spa. I also enjoy planning in advance what colors to wear. Obviously, it's not one of the day's more important details, which is why I find it so much fun to think about. It's a nice little escape for a couple of seconds or so.

To celebrate the last few (and hopefully great!) days of summer I am wearing my perfect red (after trying many), OPI Red. It's rich, classic, and just a touch on the blue-red side with a very, very slight pink iridescence. It goes on like a dream and wears like iron. I wanted to pick a shade I really love because with the cold weather just around the corner, it's the last chance for my feet to be on public display until spring 2010.

Next up will be the very exciting first pedicure of fall and of course I have already chosen the color because I refuse to slack off and neglect my feet just because it's no longer sandal season. And the winner is:

'Angora Cardi' from the new Essie Fall Collection, a deep, dusty rose/plum cream. Check it out, it's lovely.

Drop me a line and let me know your fall favourites!

And now back to the more pressing things on the list of things to do today...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vbeam Laser, the scoop!

Due to what I believe is a combination of mild rosacea and overzealous use of a Buf Puf as a teenager, I had quite a few broken capillaries on my cheeks, chin, and nose. For a good part of my twenties, I accepted my facial redness as something I'd just have to live with. I tried all kinds of different skincare products, from anti-redness creams with supposed 'capillary-strengthening' ingredients such as horse chestnut, licorice root, vitamin K, etc. to a variety of prescription creams, gels, and lotions. The thing is, once the capillaries are visible, no cream is going to get rid of them. So then I set out to cover them with all kinds of green-tinted day creams, concealers, bases, and finishing powders. Yes, green does indeed cancel red, but then you have to cover the green with more makeup, which only added to my skin problems. I spent a lot of money and wasted a lot of time, so I was thrilled when Vbeam laser became an option for me.

'It's like little rubber bands, snapping on your face'

How many times have you heard this phrase used to describe laser procedures? Well, I'm here to tell you Vbeam is a hell of a lot more painful than that. It's really more like thick rubber bands (that are on fire) being pulled back really far, and then snapped hard on your face. At first you think, this isn't so bad, but after 5 minutes or so of being zapped all over at a rate of about one snap per second, you literally feel like you've stuck your face in a hornet's nest. The laser machine itself makes a lot of strange sounds, and you hear a 'splat-crunch' noise with every shot. I do get some comic relief when the technician, whose first language is French, tells me to 'watch out!' as she does more sensitive areas (such as the tip of the nose) as if I should jump off the table and run away or something. I usually end up laughing and I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm crazy. Anyway, afterwards, you feel the burn for at least a half hour and you may have bruising or swelling. I only have bruising sometimes, but I always have the swelling, which goes away after a few days. The difference is visible almost immediately, but it takes about a month to see the full result.

So why do I do this? It sounds terrible and unfortunately (as with most beauty treatments) it does hurt, but the results are still well worth it if you suffer from facial redness and rosacea. Along with vaporizing all those tiny broken blood vessels that make skin look uneven, it also diminishes fine lines and shrinks the pores. I love the way it gives me a clear, snow-white porcelain complexion. My skin is less oily and I rarely have breakouts. So far, this is my tenth Vbeam laser treatment. The first time, I did a series of 6 treatments, once a month. Now I just do touch-ups once or twice a year.

So if you're tired of wasting money on ineffective or temporary solutions like 'redness relieving' creams, 'calming' lotions, and green concealers, I highly recommend Vbeam laser. It is a proven, effective, and safe treatment. At $225 CAD per session, the results are worth every penny.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil: Fabulous

I always consider myself extremely lucky when I find a skincare product that a) doesn't irritate my sensitive skin or cause my rosacea to flare up, b) doesn't clog my pores and c) actually delivers what it promises. I had been using the same facial cleanser (a product recommended by my dermatologist) for the last 8 years, thinking that this was as good it was going to get for me. Though it didn't irritate my skin, unfortunately this cleanser never really did a great job of removing my makeup or making my face feel really clean. So, I have always been on the look out for a cleanser that would thoroughly, yet gently, do the job.

I think I have found my holy grail of facial cleansers in DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

I had been hearing about this product for a while, but it wasn't until I saw a full-page ad for it in Elle France that I was reminded that I really should give it a try. I ordered the smaller-sized bottle (2.3 fl. oz. for $12.50 CAD) and with it received 6 samples, and a $5-off coupon for my next order. Nice.

I am pleased to report (after 3 weeks of use) that not only does it dissolve all traces of makeup, dirt, and excess oil, it seems to really deep clean my pores, making them less congested and less visible. My skin never feels dry or tight after using this, and I haven't had any breakouts or other reactions. My face is soft and glowing, so much though, that I seriously thought I might be pregnant again. I'm not though, it's just the DHC.

So I will have another glass of wine after all...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An observation...

I have a new appreciation for that bit of fat on my upper stomach area. Upon further inspection, I realized that it seems to be doing a pretty good job of holding up my boobs. I think I'll keep it.

How's that for optimism?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Hot List

Let me start by saying that Allure magazine is my favourite magazine ever. I've faithfully read almost every single issue since it came out. It never disappoints, and over the years I've gotten some fantastic ideas from it. 'The Hot List', their best new addition to the magazine, has been appearing in almost every issue for about a year now. Allure chooses celebrities, and brings us a list of their favourite things-beauty products, fashion, wines, places, books-you name it, based on a different theme for each list. Often I find really great products to try that otherwise I may not have heard of, and since celebrities have access to the best of everything, often for free, their tastes tend to be quite discerning.

Since I've been busy trying a lot of new products this summer, I'd like to bring you my first 'hot list'.


1. Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick for Body
So luxurious and beautifully packaged, I couldn't resist treating myself. This pressed powder leaves a gorgeous gleam on the skin, smells nice, and the enormous compact will last for years. This is one of the few shimmer products that doesn't break me out in the décolleté area. The brush that goes with it is wonderful quality, and also worth investing in. Pure glamour.

2. Benefit 'CORALista'
This beautiful pinky-peach blush is pigmented, but easy to apply because the formula is so smooth and sheer. The shimmer particles are very small, giving a very glowy finish. It looks great on all light to medium-dark skintones, as either a blush on it's own, or as an accent color on top of bronzer.

3. Child Perfume Oil
In a city where everyone seems to break out the Dolce & Gabbana 'Light Blue' as soon as the warm weather hits, I prefer something a little more obscure. Child Perfume Oil is a luscious blend of pikake and musk, it melts into the skin and lasts forever. On me, it smells very clean and tropical, but there's a very sexy edge to it. It's been getting me lots of compliments, and so far I have yet to smell it on anyone else.

4. Nars Lip Gloss in 'Turkish Delight'
This lip gloss is the perfect shade for softening any lip colors that are too bright. It imparts a pale pink milky glow that makes the lips look fresh and full. The formula is non-sticky and lasting, everyone should own this versatile shade.

5. J. Crew Leather Capri Sandals
Such a bargain at $49.50, I just had to rave about them. They are the perfect 'barely there' sandal, as slinky and sexy as you can get in a flat shoe, and comfortable, too. I purchased mine in the 'metallic ice' shade, to match my silver jewelry I like to wear in summer. These are really well-made too.

Honorable mentions go to:
OPI 'Miami Beet' Nail Polish
'Andante' Cave de Ribeauvillé Alsace wine
Gillette Venus Razors

Hope you're all enjoying the heat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The French Manicure, my latest rediscovery

As a teenager, my pursuit of sophistication and glamour one day led me to purchase one of those drugstore French manicure sets, complete with the guide-strips, white polish, and nude topcoat. After much trial and error, I finally perfected what I thought was a darn good-looking French manicure. I was so excited to show off my handiwork to my beautiful and chic Swiss exchange student friend.

'That's not a French manicure', she informed me. 'For a real French manicure you need the white pencil'. And so it's been Revlon's Nail Whitener pencil ever since.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was cleaning out my manicure box and came across a white pencil. It had been a few years, but now this simple, quick manicure technique suddenly made all the more sense to me now that I'm a mom with limited self-care time.

Here's my French manicure how-to:

1. Apply a rich scrub to your hands and nails, focusing on the cuticles. Massage and rinse off. One Minute Manicure is a nice product, but Sally Hansen and some other less expensive drugstore brands make good scrubs too.

2. While rinsing hands, use the tip of a nail file to clean under the tips of your nails.

3. After drying hands, but while they're still damp, apply the pencil under the tips of the nails. I find a little moisture helps the pencil go on more smoothly. I usually do a touch up with the pencil every couple of days or so.

4. Finish by buffing your nails to a high shine, or remove any scrub residue from the nail bed with polish remover, and paint on your favourite clear polish. These days I am loving Duri Rejuvacote (super-shiny and long lasting) or if you want a product that is free of formaldehyde and toluene, Ecrinal Durcisseur Vernis Brillant is excellent.

Quick, easy, pretty, youthful, clean, classic.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to...Me!

Today I started my day the same way I always do on my birthday, with a good look in the mirror. I had to see if anything had changed since yesterday, when I was still only 35 years old. Now that I'm 36 and past the midpoint of my thirties, I guess I was expecting to somehow look and feel different today. Well, actually, I do. I feel like I'm succeeding in my mission to look healthy and feel great.

In the past year, I've discovered some fantastic products (Prevage, I love you!), developed some good habits (exercise and more exercise) and read some great books. I feel more in touch with myself and more sure of what fits into my life and what doesn't. I am more confident in saying no and burning bridges. I love that about getting older. I love watching my daughter grow and learn so many new things. More and more motherhood is feeling like my greatest and most rewarding accomplishment.

Of course I'm still planning to do all I can to look and feel 25 by the time I'm 40, though. Taking good care of your body is a great accomplishment and the perfect birthday gift to yourself.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My latest diet trick: B.Y.O.D.

Now that my husband and I have finally, finally found a great babysitter and are enjoying weekly 'date nights' again, there is brand new threat to my figure:


It's funny, we've been so busy with our daughter, and with no family around to help us out, this hadn't been an issue for a long time, we hadn't been out in ages. I had forgotten how delicious food could be when someone else prepared it (and washed the dishes afterward), and what it was like to have time alone with my husband. I had even almost forgotten how to walk in high heels. Life sure changes when a baby comes into the picture...

Unfortunately though, I hadn't forgotten how to stuff my face with a three-course meal and wash it down with half a bottle of wine. With bathing suit season and our annual trip to Croatia fast approaching, I want to watch it a little. I needed to learn how to eat in restaurants again without overdoing it. I knew I had to substitute something somewhere in order to be able to keep enjoying drinks and dinners out on the town without wrecking all the progress I've made with my workouts. I knew I had to give something up without sacrificing pleasure.

My trick? I call it B.Y.O.D., 'bring your own dessert'. Oh, and yes I am well aware that it's a touch obsessive-compulsive, but it's working so far. Dessert is a major weakness for me, and after a great meal in a restaurant who doesn't want to finish with something sweet and decadent? The problem is, most desserts are humongous and can have almost a day's worth of calories in one serving. Not to mention, the more expensive the dessert, the more I feel compelled to get my money's worth and finish every last fat and sugar-laden bite on the plate.

So I decided bring my own, smaller dessert to eat in the car on the way home.

Usually, it's a couple of squares of dark chocolate in a Ziploc bag that I keep in my purse, I try to keep it to under 100 calories. I don't always eat them, but I know they're there, and that's enough to save me from the evil creme brulee or the chocolate souffle.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Vintage perfume commercials

Remember these?

Le Jardin with Jane Seymour

I'm gonna have an Aviance night!

Jontue ('Sensual, but not too far from innocence...')

And my favourite, Chanel No. 5 with Carole Bouquet and Marilyn Monroe

I loved this commercial so much that I actually bought myself a bottle of Chanel No. 5 with money I earned delivering newspapers. I was convinced that I was the most glamorous 12-year old on the block.

So what fragrances are you wearing this spring/summer? I'm currently testing out a few, but have yet to decide what's bottle-worthy.

UPDATE (August 19, 2009): So far this summer, my favourite has been Child Perfume Oil, a musky pikake blend that has been getting lots of compliments.

Friday, May 15, 2009

MAC Prep + Prime Lip, it's LOVE!

Well who knew I needed a lip primer???

When I stopped by the MAC counter the other day to replace my beloved 'Brave' lipstick, I had never before even considered that maybe my lips could use a good priming. Now that I'm a believer in primers (see Monistat post in archives) I'm open to trying them all. MAC's lip primer is excellent.

As per the MAC artist's instructions, I apply the product (directly from the tube) onto my lips and wait a couple of minutes until it starts to feel a little tacky. I then apply my lip color (lipstick or gloss, it seems to work well with both). My lips feel moisturized, color goes on very smooth and even, and my lips even look a little plumper and, dare I say, younger! My lipstick lasts dramatically longer, and my darker colors don't travel above the lip line or look noticeably worn off in the middle after a few hours of wear. Lovely!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Well, it's finally getting warm enough here in Montreal for open-toed shoes, so a few days ago I had the chance to road-test (literally!) my new FitFlop Walkstars. So far, I had only been wearing them in the house. The other day I took a good, long power walk in my FitFlops so I could bring you this exciting review.

First of all, they are very, very comfortable to walk in. Lightweight, bouncy, and zero 'breaking in' time. The positioning and thickness of the straps across the top of the feet make them feel very secure, so you're not using the muscles on the top of your foot to keep them on. Unlike most thong-style flip flops, you can really pick up some speed wearing these. Even though the manufacturer claims they have a 'built-in micro-wobbleboard workout-enhancing effect' I certainly didn't notice a difference in my walking.

What I did notice though, was that my hamstrings were sore for the next couple of days after. So they definitely do something! I haven't changed anything with my workouts, so I know for sure it was the FitFlops working their magic. Hooray!

The only downside, they are not pretty. They are even clunkier looking in real life. I would never wear these with shorts or a skirt, they are not flattering. I consider them to be kind of like control top panties, something you keep hidden while it works for you, like a frumpy little secret. I like to wear mine with extra-long yoga pants while I chase my toddler around. Sometimes that's a workout in itself, with or without the FitFlops.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Retro hair product commercials

Remember these?

Uncover your highlights! Discover your glow!

Lotsa hair from Prell

Sometimes you need a little Finesse, sometimes you need a lot!


More Alberto, I couldn't resist.

And finally, who knew a home perm could turn you into such a bitch?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

One of my time-saving favourites

If you're busy, whether you're a mom like me or just a busy gal in general, you may find there are days when you just don't have time to wash your hair. Men are so lucky they can just wash and go, but for us women sometimes we need the 'shower hour' just to feel like a human being again. I know I do. So, for those times when you'd like to leave the house, and you want your unwashed hair to look decent, I have the solution.

Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Extract is a fabulous product. I've always liked the idea of a dry shampoo (sounds convenient and it is!) and I've been on the hunt for a good one for ages, and I've pretty much tried them all. In my opinion, this one is the best and it's one of the less expensive brands, you can find it for under $15 and a little goes a long way. It smells pretty good too.

To use, simply lift up sections of your hair and spray the roots, concentrating more on the top of your head and along the natural parting. You don't need much, usually eight quick sprays does it for me (2 on each side and 4 on top). Allow the product to sit on your hair for about 5 minutes to absorb the oil, and then brush it out with a bristle brush. You definitely need a bristle brush (natural is better) to whisk the powder off your scalp and distribute it evenly through the roots and down the hair shaft. Voila, your hair is silky, voluminous and fresh-smelling, and no one but you knows you didn't wash it today.

UPDATE: In the June 2009 issue of InStyle, busy mom (of twins!) Rebecca Romijn also mentions this product as one of her favourites.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Delicious tomatoes!

After a long winter of pigging out on breads and sweets and other comfort foods, I am so much more in the mood for vegetables now that spring is here. Thank goodness! As you may have read in one of my previous posts, I am a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow's site, mainly for the healthy and tasty recipes. Here is a very simple recipe for roasted tomatoes (scroll down past the artichokes):

I love them in a salad, on pasta, or even to top a grilled chicken breast, they are so versatile. They are also very flavourful and satisfying, especially if you're craving something more substantial than a raw, watery, out-of-season tomato. Enjoy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Idebenone: Restoring my faith in 'hope in a jar'

Last week I started using Elizabeth Arden's Prevage Night Cream. I had been reading so much news lately (in almost every magazine out there) about how idebenone (the magic ingredient in Prevage) is the best new antioxidant out there, and one of the strongest, so naturally I just had to try. Besides, my skin had been looking really tired and withered lately, I needed something to perk me up. I'm happy to report that so far, I LOVE IT!!! In only one week, my skin seems firmer, pores smaller, and my fine lines (and not-so-fine creases in my forehead) are looking less noticeable. Hallelujah, right? Not so fast, I have also been reading user reviews of Prevage claiming allergic reactions weeks and even months after using it on a regular basis. So far though, no reviewers are saying that it's ineffective, and some even go as far as to say that people who had reactions may be using Prevage incorrectly. In any case, you definitely want to do the recommended patch test before you apply it all over your face. I'm being cautious, not using too much, and crossing my fingers and toes that my skin loves it forever, or at least until the next best, must-have thing comes along.

UPDATE (August, 2009): I am crazy about Prevage and have since started using the Anti-aging Treatment instead of the night cream, which I found a touch heavy for the warmer weather. No reactions whatsoever, and my skin looks great!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Stressroller: Rolling away my stress and loving it!

I love reading about how celebrities stay fit and feeling great. A while I back I happened upon a fitness magazine article in which 38 year-old mother of two Denise Richards mentions some of her favourite products. One of the items listed was the Stressroller, and I was immediately interested because a)I have stress! and b)stress is aging! and c)Denise Richards looks great, I knew this was worth investigating.

The Stressroller was invented by chiropractor-to-the-stars Dr. Stephen V. Jochen, and it's basically two balls (tennis ball size) enclosed in a cushiony, sturdy fabric that you place between your body and a hard surface (like a wall or floor) and roll yourself against to massage your muscles. I received mine about a month ago, and have been using it religiously ever since. There are several different body parts you can use it on, but I am finding it's doing absolute wonders for my back. According to the website (, tension and pain in the mid-back and neck can result in poor posture. We all know poor posture is very aging.

Here's a direct quote from the site on how it works:

"The pressure applied by StressRoller™ moves energy within the muscles, re-aligning the spine, increasing circulation and restoring the body to its natural state of balance and well-being."

It certainly feels really, really good and I will continue to use it as part of my fitness/wellness/anti-aging routine. I also find it excellent at alleviating headache pain, and I'm even getting a better sleep at night. This concept isn't new, however. For years I have heard about putting a couple of tennis balls in a sock and using in the same fashion, which I have not tried. What I do like about the Stressroller is that it's well made and the balls don't move. It's also much nicer looking than a do-it-yourselfer and has a little carrying bag with all instructions for use printed on little plastic discs that are attached with a keyring. Very convenient and very reasonably priced at $19.95.

UPDATE: On April 29, 2009, The Stressroller was featured on Rachel Ray's 'Human Lab' series, you can check out the story here:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monistat, the makeup primer

Let me start by saying that I have never been a huge fan of makeup primers. I consider most of them to be pretty much a useless, expensive, extra layer of product on your face that cosmetics companies trick you into thinking you need. I've always dismissed most them as hype, even when I was working for a particular company who considered their primer to be one of their 'star' products. I didn't bother to use it even when they furnished it to me for free. So yes, I went into the Monistat experiment with a very dismissive attitude. Especially since I'm not fond of the idea of slathering my face with something from a brand I usually associate with yeast infections and other ailments of the hoo-ha.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, the product is Monistat's Soothing Care Chafing Powder-Gel Skin Protectant. It's made to prevent the chafing of sensitive skin in areas such as inner thighs, underarms, and breasts, so it's not specifically for your vagina and it's not a 'treatment' type product. It's fragrance-free, non-irritating and the key ingredient, dimethicone, makes it silky and easy to apply, giving it that powdery feel as it dries. Dimethicone is a type of silicone, very commonly used in many skincare products these days. It creates a very silky-smooth, slightly matte, finish on the skin, a perfect canvas for applying foundation. It temporarily smooths out imperfections in skin texture (like pores and fine lines!)and is also said to create a barrier between the skin and the makeup, helping the makeup to last longer.

After a week of using Monistat's product, I am happy to say that it works pretty well. I like that it's scent-free (most makeup primers aren't) and about half a pea-sized amount was all it took to do my whole face. You apply it after your moisturizer and before your makeup, avoiding the eye area. My favourite foundation of the moment (Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover) went on like a dream and lasted longer than usual. I found it especially good at keeping my t-zone from looking less oily. All this for less than $10 for a 42 gram tube! Now for the bad part. My skin doesn't love the daily use of silicones, though I didn't have any terrible reactions, just a couple of pimples. Your skin might not love it either for regular use, but it's worth the price to find out, and it could still be used for its original purpose. I won't be using it everyday, but for those (rare) occasions that I do have time to do a full face of makeup on myself, I would definitely use this stuff. I'll admit also that it is a little difficult to live without the glamorous packaging and it will take some convincing for my clients to try it, but they'll come around. It really is that good.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shaping up for Spring

I have been really determined lately to get in fantastic shape for this summer. I have been working hard at it through winter, and it's paying off. I want my body looking twenty-five, dammit! I am a huge fan of working out at home, here are my favourite dvds so far:

Tracy Effinger 'Squeeze' (Killer! I am sore in the craziest places, it works)
Ellen Barrett 'Yogini' Workout (Great for flexibility, LOVE the instructor)
Leslie Sansone '5-Mile Fat Burning Walk' (Fun, easy, and effective cardio)
Kathy Smith 'Great Buns and Thighs Step Workout' (More intense cardio + sculpting)
Jari Love 'Slim and Lean' (Awesome workout with weights)

All these dvds can be previewed at I have been purchasing from Collage because of their great customer service and 30-day return policy, even on opened dvds or videos. Also, they have a team of fitness instructors that actually do the workouts and rate them (from beginner to advanced) and you get a full description of what the workout is, including a breakdown of the minutes. Also check out:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Barbie turns 50!

Check it out, it's absolutely hilarious, though may not be suitable to view at work:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Fever (well, eventually, I hope!)

So here I am sitting in Montreal, this morning's temperature was -2 degrees Celsius and we still have some snow on the ground. It's hard to believe spring is just around the corner the way those last weeks of winter seem to really drag on. I used to do a lot of work for fashion magazines, shoots were sometimes done at their offices, and one of the things I loved best about being there was losing myself in the racks of clothing, getting a great preview of the upcoming season's fashions. It was particularly uplifting to go there in the dead of winter, all the spring and summer clothing would be on display, their lively colours and flouncy fabrics as a reminder (and as proof) that the warm weather was on it's way. Since taking a break from working in the fashion industry, I have no access to rooms full of pretty clothes to lift my spirits, and the spring merchandise has yet to really arrive here in Montreal.

So how have I coped this year with the seemingly never-ending Canadian winter? Well, aside from lots of exercise, I invested in one of those light therapy boxes and upped my intake of vitamins, particularly b-complex and omega 3. Most of all though, my favourite winter pick-me-up is devouring the spring issue of every FASHION MAGAZINE I can get my hands on. Usually with a nice cup of tea and some dark chocolate, while the baby sleeps.

I always enjoy seeing the spring/summer collections, even if I don't like the clothes the colours and textures are always so gorgeous and cheery. The makeup collections also provide some inspiration, and I find myself going through all my magazines and making lists of things to try out. Rather than wishing away the icy patches on my front steps, I'm am almost grateful to have a little more time to prepare for and anticipate the warm days. Nah, not really.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

I've never really thought Gwyneth Paltrow was a spectacular actress, but lately I have been seeing her in interviews, and she seems quite interesting. She seems to have found her place in life and feels good about it. She certainly looks healthy and happy, so I was very interested to see what this 36-year old mom of two has to say.

Check it out at

The recipes look great (especially that detox one!) and I enjoyed reading about her travels and the way she stays fit and fashionable. Critics are saying she's condescending and rubbing her fabulous life in our faces, but I don't find that to be true. Plus, I don't mind reading about someone else's fabulous life. What I do mind is the name 'goop' though, this almost kills it for me with it's bizarre and slightly disgusting connotations.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A huge can of Crisco in my bathroom!

Apparently Crisco comes in smaller quantities, though my stupid grocery store only had the gigantic 3 lb can. This is the same stupid grocery store that has been out of frozen spinach for more than a month, so I should have known there wouldn't be much selection. In fact, this grocery store makes me so angry I'd like to kick it in the crotch, (if it had a crotch) and not only for it's lack of spinach and big-ass cans of Crisco..

So what was my attraction to try Crisco as a moisturizer? Well, most moisturizing products meant for the skin can contain stuff like parabens, propylene glycol, and a bunch of other ingredients I'm a little wary of slathering on my body after every shower I'll take for the rest of my life. I was very excited to try Crisco's scent-free simple formula of soybean and cottonseed oils, and of course the price is nice. I had also heard the rumour that Crisco is used as skincare in hospitals. A friend of mine confirmed that this is actually true, and if they use it at the hospital, it must be great (just like the food, ha ha) right?

So, the first time I tried Crisco was straight out of the shower, applying while my skin was still a little damp to 'seal in the moisture' just like we've all been instructed to do by every magazine ever. My first impression: this is pretty greasy stuff. I didn't dare try it on my face. It took some time to massage into my skin, all the while I avoided the temptation to glance at myself in the bathroom mirror, strike a pose, and say 'hey there, Crisco tits'... At first, I thought my skin felt fairly hydrated, but a couple of hours later it felt tight and needed more moisturizing. You know the feeling you get after you've used a dry oil type of product? Subsequent applications left my skin feeling the same, oily but not very moisturized, unfortunately. Most hydrating creams, lotions, etc., are oil and water emulsions. The oil traps the water on the skin. Crisco contains no water. Also, the hydrogenation process makes the oils solid, so at first I had the impression I was putting something thicker on my body. It was time-consuming to have to re-apply it several times throughout the day just so I wouldn't feel so itchy.

While I won't be using this as a moisturizer, I still think it could be useful. Crisco would be great for shining up your legs in the summer, and because it has no fragrance it won't compete with your perfume. You could even mix a little shimmer powder in with it. Mix in a few drops of essential oil, and Crisco's texture makes it perfect for massage. Now there's an idea for their next ad campaign.

My verdict: Crisco is better for pies, not thighs.

UPDATE: My daughter has since broken my pretty soap dispenser in the picture :(

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A very Happy Birthday to...


She turned FORTY this past week. I have always admired her natural, carefree style, sexy hair and beautiful smile. She looks really fantastic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Non-beauty products as beauty products?

About 7 years ago, on a beauty messageboard, I read about a fantastic facial treatment. It was cheap and easy to find in any grocery store, many already had some in their own fridge. Supposedly it made your skin baby-soft and glowy, cleaned out and shrunk pores, and was the best exfoliant ever. The miracle product was Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. So of course I ran out and bought myself a jar of the stuff, and as per directions (not on the jar, of course) slathered it all over my face, and allowed it to sit for 10 minutes. It started to burn pretty quickly, but I stuck it out until the kitchen timer went off, the smell stinging my eyes. Then, following the directions, I massaged my face until the 'miracle mask' began to roll off in little balls, taking dead skin with it. My face was smooth alright, on fire, but smooth until later on that evening when it grew a little crust to protect itself. The next morning I woke up to a tight, scaly, irritated face. Must have been that high vinegar content, I'm guessing. To make a long story short, my skin was really screwed up for weeks afterward, and others had very similar results. I even think it may have been a hoax. My husband still teases me about it. PLEASE don't try it at home, unless you are making a salad...

I am constantly reading about non-beauty products being used as beauty products. Why have we always been so fascinated by this? I am definitely interested in saving a few bucks, we all are these days. In these tough financial times, maybe we all have a little 'hope in a jar' of something inexpensive and readily available in our own households being an alternative to those expensive products we love so much. So here are three I will be testing out and reviewing just for you:

Crisco Vegetable Shortening (as a moisturizer)

Monistat (as a makeup primer)

Preparation H (since we've all been hearing about it for years as an eye treatment)

Wish me luck! More to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A quote...

'Beauty is a gift in youth and an art as we age'

(Susan Kurtz, president of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care and author of Awakening Beauty, the Dr. Hauschka Way)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Favourite Mascara

Recently, against my better judgment, I 'cheated' on my favourite mascara, with most disappointing results. I shouldn't be surprised, really, I have cheated before and I always come crawling back, ashamed, unfulfilled, my lashes looking like crap. This time though, the other mascara was a real loser. I don't know what I was thinking. It was one of those mascaras (shudder) with a plastic brush. Plastic brushes suck and this trend has got to, and I suspect it will very, very soon. Bring back the brush, I say!

L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof, I love you forever.

Why do I love this mascara so much? First of all, it makes my wimpy lashes full, and more importantly, long. Second, the formula doesn't flake. Whether I am touching up my own eye makeup or changing looks on a model, I find I can really work around the lashes without worrying about making a mess. Third, not only does the waterproof formula make it long-lasting and keep it from flaking, it also holds a better curl in your eyelashes. Fourth, it is easy to remove in comparison with other waterproof formulas I've tried, and also doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes. Lastly, you can't beat the drugstore price, I have tried so many higher end mascaras (often for free, the perks of being a makeup artist) and so far, nothing compares.

(Just a little side note. In general, I find all mascaras benefit from a little 'drying out' time, meaning, the formula gets easier to work with as the air thickens it a bit. This is definitely true of L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof, so don't be afraid to pump the wand and get some air into that tube within the first week of use.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A reason to bring back bush...

I'm thinking of going bright red and trimming a little heart-shape for Valentine's Day ;)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Book Review: The Secrets Of Skinny Chicks

Happy New Year to all!

If you're concerned about your weight, reading The Secrets of Skinny Chicks by Karen Bridson will give you the best reality check ever. In this book you'll meet twenty-one 'skinny chicks' (models, actresses, athletes, etc.) and get all the details on how they maintain their figures. Everything from how much and what kind of exercise they do, their typical daily menus (even down to what they snack on), their weight and all measurements, daily water intake, and weight maintenance philosophies. Then a doctor, a personal trainer, and registered dietitian gives their own professional opinions on each 'chick' and how healthy their regimes are. Let me tell you, these women work really, really hard to keep themselves slim, and they are all doing it in a healthy way. I have a hard time envying a skinny chick who works out six days a week and avoids chocolate, because this seems to be what it takes. I'm glad I finally understand the dedication (and sometimes self-deprivation) it takes to stay really slim. It has helped me decide that I'm not going to sweat it if I'm 5-10 lbs heavier than I'd like to be. I love eating what I want, and I'm not going to exercise for hours a day. That's my choice for now, anyway.

In part two, Karen Bridson (a certified personal trainer, avid runner and former non-skinny chick) breaks it all down into fifty secrets that will help you stop emotional eating, stop overeating, learn how to motivate yourself and make an exercise plan you'll stick to. I love this book for being no-nonsense, thought-provoking, optimistic and encouraging.