Tag Archives: beach

Ugh, Snow.

Snow can be so beautiful, so pure, fluffy, and magical. It casts a pristine blanket of white on top of an often ugly world. There are dozens of songs about it—Let It Snow, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, if you grew up with cold winters you associate snow with days off from school, snow men, snow angels, and fun. Snow is a delight when you’re a kid, and when the first snow falls each year, many of us hearken back to those shining days of our youth and forget what a complete and total pain in the butt snow can be.


Alright I’m just bitter, but seriously, snow can put a major damper on your plans, even if all you want is to go to the supermarket. I’ve had major beef with snow for most of my life. Sure, there have been times when I’ve adored it, playing and sledding and throwing snowballs, but there have also been times when I wished I lived in Florida. Having a winter birthday, childhood parties were often canceled as the snow piled up outside. I turned 17 and my Jr. license finally became a full-blown drivers license, just in time for the roads to be hidden in a foot of snow. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve slid on sidewalks and fallen down subway steps. It’s in these times that the magical wonder of glittering snow seems like a forgotten memory.

This morning I woke up early, made some coffee, started day two of a weeklong freelance job, and then suddenly—zip. With a pathetic “whoomp” the power was gone along with my work, my hopes of getting paid, and my temper. As I cursed the power company, the snow, and my own dependence on technology, my husband dialed the local Starbucks only to find they were also without power. Plan C involved calling my husband’s godmother who lives nearby, “yes” she told us she still has power—and internet. HALLELUJAH! My car at this point was barely visible under the snow, so it was on with the boots and out into the cold. Of course, since the fates think it’s funny to screw with our lives, after the mile walk through snow drifts and over ice, we received word that the power had come back on.

In retrospect it wasn’t all that bad, which is why I need to remind myself to stay calm and know that the world can be a jerk sometimes. I just remember that people are dealing with far worse snow-related situations, like being stuck in airports and train stations, or outside, or without heat.

There was a silver lining too, my husband, James, got some pretty pictures—maybe you’ve wondered what the beach looks like when it snows? Well in case you ever did, here’s your answer:

It pretty much looks the same as it does without snow, except the snow appears much higher because the sand and snow have sort of blown into each other and become indistinguishable in some places.

Behold—sand-snow!

I’m sure many of you have snow horror stories of your own, so feel free to share them, they probably put mine to shame. You may even be stuck somewhere right now due to that deceptively beautiful precipitation, if so, I’m sorry and I hope you get home soon. Maybe some of you are someplace warm where you never have to worry about digging your car out  of snow drifts or slipping on ice, if so—well good for you.

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Beat the Summer Gross

If you live in the New York City area, you’ve been either sweating your butt off for the past couple of weeks, or adding money to your electric bill by cranking the AC day and night. Earlier this month records were broken from Central Park to La Guardia Airport. Just this past weekend more heat records were set across the area, and we still have another 2 weeks of July. Even when records aren’t being broken, the temperature has been sitting at an average of 90 degrees each day, so it’s hard not to feel like this:

Maybe you’re one of those people who thrive in the heat, who soak up the suns rays with pleasure and feel invigorated by the sweat—if that’s you, I’m in total awe.

If you see a girl looking sweaty, angry, tired, sunglasses slipping down her nose, a halo of frizz around her head, blisters on her feet, and using her skirt as a means to fan herself, well that’s probably me. I was not made for the heat, I am of hearty eastern European and Irish stock, I flourish in winter and was born in December, heat and humidity have always felt foreign and unbearable to me.

What drives me nuts about the heat is that you can’t escape it, the air just bears down on you. When you’re cold you can add on more layers, drink hot tea, start a fire, snuggle up with a buddy, do some vigorous exercise—you have some (usually inexpensive) options besides turning up the thermostat. When it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and the air is wet with humidity, all you can do is turn on the AC, or bathe yourself in cold water.

What’s worse is dealing with the back and forth between superficially freezing places like office buildings or supermarkets and the baking heat of the outdoors, it makes you nauseous. Then you have the constant worry of bringing a sweater wherever you go, and having to carry it around since it won’t fit in your bag—and maybe you should just bring a bigger bag, ugh, frustrating.

I recently read in a magazine (I have no idea which one, I can’t keep them straight at this point) that around 75% of women feel more beautiful in the summer, I found that sort of shocking. I guess it makes sense when you think about it, people work out more because you end up showing off your body more, and if you tan then you feel better about yourself too. For me though, the summer means frizzy hair, shiny skin, visible sweat stains and eww—chafing.

Chafing is gross, and while it’s stigmatized as something that only happens if you’re overweight, it can happen to anyone at anytime. It occurs from sweating and rubbing and it can happen anywhere on your body. It can even happen on your feet when you’re wearing cute new sandals and decide that even though you haven’t broken them in, it will probably be OK to walk around the city in them all day—big mistake.

The summer makes me long for socks, and boots, and comfy sweaters, but come February it will be a different story. Anyway, it’s hard enough to bear the dumbing heat, but trying to look attractive on top of it—who even cares? Unfortunately there are also a lot of events in the summer; parties, BBQs, weddings, and when you attend these events you want to feel you’re looking your best. So, I’ve put together a list of a some products that help keep me feeling human when I can’t sit around the house in my underwear with the fan blowing on me.

If you’re going to wear make-up in the summer, you have to be prepared for it to slide off your face, so what I suggest is a tinted moisturizer with SPF because it’s very light and gives you sun protection too. Now the problem for me is that I’m incredibly pale, so even the “fair” shade in most tinted moisturizers is too orange for me. I don’t think I’m alone here, a lot of these products only come in 1-3 shades and people come in a lot more shades than that. Laura Mercier makes this one in a variety of shades, it has a nice light coverage, but is a bit pricey, there is also an oil free version available.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, $42 for 1.5 oz.

I like to make my own tinted moisturizer by using my normal moisturizer and mixing it with concealer. This way you have control over how light you want your coverage to be, and it’s much cheaper. You can just mix it together on your hand and then apply it, or you can get fancy and actually mix it up in a container, just make sure it’s well sealed.

M.A.C Studio finish SPF 35 concealer, $16.50

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, Fragrance Free, $11.49 for 4 fl oz

I’ve spoken before about my love of powder, specifically Lush dusting powders, but they’re $11.95 for 3.5 oz and in the summer I go through powder fast. I always keep this Johnson & Johnson powder on hand because it’s inexpensive and with the lavender and chamomile scent you won’t have to smell like a baby either.  If you dust yourself with this stuff after a shower you will stay smelling sweet and you’ll minimize sweat too!

Johnson’s Baby Baby Powder, Lavender & Chamomile, $5.49 for 22 oz.

Frizz is the enemy. During the summer months it can be completely unavoidable, but I’ve found that if I use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and then while my hair is wet I work in an anti-frizz finishing creme, I manage to keep the poof under control. I also give my hair a blast of ice-cold water right before I jump out of the shower, it’s supposed to seal the cuticles and increase shine or something, also the cold water feels invigorating when it’s this hot out. I’ve also decided that the Fekkai glossing conditioner is worth the hefty price tag, because it really works. I’m still on a quest to find a conditioner that works as well for less money. That all sounds complicated, but avoiding frizz is a battle people!

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme, $5.99 for 4 oz.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo, $35 for 16 oz

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner, $35 for 16 oz

Nexxus Humectress Luxe Ultimate Moisturizing Leave-In Spray, $11.49 for 5.1 fl. oz.

Remember when I mentioned chafing? Yeah, it happens whether you want to admit it or not, and Aquaphor ointment is a great way to sooth yourself after you’ve fallen victim to the rub. I love this stuff, it is great for chapped skin in the winter, chafed skin in the summer, burns, small cuts, even bug bites.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment $5.99 for 1.75 oz.

This one is more for after you’ve been in the heat and you’ve forgotten your sunscreen and are now suffering from a painful and unattractive sunburn. When you get home from the beach or a walk in the park and notice that your skin is turning a brighter and brighter shade of pink each moment, you’ll be very glad you bought some aloe gel and put it in your fridge. My mom always kept a bottle in our fridge year round, and it remains to be one of the most comforting things for a bad sunburn, you can also just put it on if you’re really hot, anything helps right?

Up & Up Green Aloe Gel, $3.49 for 16 oz.

Lastly, but most importantly—put your hair up! Seriously, this seems like a no brainer, but when I see girls with their long hair sticking to the back of their necks, it instantly makes me feel hotter. I think sometimes we’re willing to sweat our butts off and be miserable to avoid ponytail bumps in our hair. But for real, this instantly cools you down, unless you’re lucky and can sport a cute short hair cut, then you have us all beat!

Goody Ouchless Hair Elastics, $2.99 for 14 pieces

I’d love to hear what other tips people have for managing to feel human when you really just want to seek out the nearest air conditioner. Please give me more tips, I need them!!

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The Tricky Sun

It’s summer, which means sun, which also means sunburns, and they are never a good thing. For some of us they will fade to a lovely tan, but for a lot of us (like me) they don’t.

Yesterday I was the victim of an accidental sunburn. My friend Emily came over for a visit and we went to the beach. I then forgot the cardinal rule of sun protection—even when it’s cloudy you will get burned. I also had a beach chair with a canopy, so I was lured into a false sense of security, alas all the canopy did was give me a patchy, lopsided, sunburn across my arms and chest.

Gorgeous isn’t it? I think it’s a great new look for summer. I especially like the way my sloth necklace has now left a permanent impression on my chest, it’s just so flattering. What a great idea, you don’t have to worry about accessories when they’re permanently emblazoned around your neck!

But seriously, what’s wrong with me? Why the heck didn’t I put on sunscreen? I rubbed some on my legs because they were out in the sun (update: even the legs got burned), I really thought I was safe under a flimsy beach chair awning, but no, the sun’s power stretches far beyond the protection of cheap nylon. And besides, it was cloudy, right? I guess there are no excuses, I now have the punishment of a humorously unattractive, painful, burn that will soon peel, and later turn into a blotchy and uneven skin-tone, all while I panic about whether it will even-out before my wedding.

Why do we continue not to wear sunscreen? It shouldn’t be so hard right? Is it the texture of it? The way it gets in your eyes and mouth, or how it makes magazines melt leaving you with unwanted, accidental tattoos of models faces on your legs (that happens to other people right?).

Sunscreen can be unpleasant, the spray bottles always leave you with patchy spots, and the creamy ones stick in every crevice. It is goopy, and sloppy, and it makes sand stick to your body, and if you wear contacts, when it gets in your eyes it can be potentially blinding. But, of course, we need to wear it. I know I certainly do, and usually I’m really good about it, sometimes though, you make a stupid mistake. At least it happened early in the summer and reminded me that I need to be more careful, and now I can also remind all of you!

Seriously, skin cancer is awful, and all that sunburns do in the long run (even if they might fade to a nice healthy tan for a little while) is leave your skin blotchy and uneven. I now pay way too much money to buy creams that even-out the skin on my face due to damage I suffered as a teenager. It’s so often the case that something we do to make us feel beautiful backfires and makes us feel ugly, and then we spend more money to bring us back to our original state.

I don’t know why we are all so resistant to something that seems so logical, maybe there is some collective need to worship the sun and let it transform our bodies in some way. I really don’t know, but if that is the case then the sun really is a tricksy devil, and I’m not very happy with him. More likely we just forget, or we’re lazy, or maybe it feels good, or we think it makes us look better. We usually also know that it could cause us great pain, both immediately and in the future from melanoma.

Now in case you’re thinking to yourself, “I’ll just stay inside” well, that could give you cancer too. Recently there has been new evidence that tells us how badly we need Vitamin D to prevent all sorts of other diseases that could kill us, and the sun is really the only way to get enough of it—but don’t burn, stay out just long enough to get what you need, then cover up.

According to most dermatologists you are supposed to get 15-30 minutes of unprotected time in the sun, and no more. I think we’re all learning the key to good health overall is “everything in moderation” fat, alcohol, salt, sun, coffee, chocolate. All these things that are constantly volleyed back and forth over the line from healthy to hazardous, are in part good for us, but only in small doses. So that’s the hard part then, knowing when to stop.

Coincidentally, there was a great article about Vitamin D and sun exposure in The Huffington Post yesterday by Dr. Frank Lipman. He clears up a lot of things, including that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin, but functions more like a hormone, and that it is nearly impossible to get enough of it through food. We need the sun. Unfortunately he also points out that sunburns are always really bad for you, but we all knew that already. So, maybe someone will invent a sunscreen that doesn’t kick in for half an hour and then lasts all day, that would be perfect wouldn’t it? Until that happens, I’ll be setting the alarm on my cell phone the next time I go to the beach, and then I’ll slather on one of these sunscreens:

I’ve been trying this one on every time I go to CVS, they have a special relationship with this company and are always promoting it, they’ve almost got me too. It seems to work pretty well, not cheap though.

La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 40, $32.00

This is my standard sunscreen for body, I always have some, It works very well, it is goopy yes, but it isn’t runny. They also sell it in bulk at Costco, so of course that is a big bonus for me.

Neutrogena Ultra sheer Dry-touch SPF 30 sunscreen, $9.99

This is one is a splurge, I have a sample of it and it’s pretty good, smells nice, dries matte, and isn’t greasy, not sure if I can afford it yet though.

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55, $35.oo

My go-to sunblock for face, it is slightly tinted, which for me is good since it’s pretty close to my skin-tone. The one down side is that it isn’t so great under makeup.

Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40, $17.50

Luckily the M.A.C. concealer I’ve been wearing for years now has an SPF of 35, so I can cover up my brown spots while also protecting my face from future damage.

Studio Finish Concealer SPF 35, $16.50

So don’t forget to go out and play in the sun, it’s for your own good!—just don’t forget to set that alarm so you don’t get burned.

Anyone else have sunscreen suggestions, what products do you use to keep yourself protected?

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Beauty Bullseye: Summer cosmetics picks

So far I haven’t really posted about cosmetic products specifically, only about my love for them. So I thought my summer product picks would be a good place to start. I change-up my beauty routine in the warmer months, just like I have movies, music, and books that I only read, listen to, or watch, depending on the season, I also have certain products that I use during the summer exclusively (unless I choose to break my own rules which I do all the time).

Let’s start with a summer staple, the blotting paper. I have only recently re-discovered these guys after forgetting about them after high-school. Summer means sweat, which means shine. Sometimes shine looks amazing and dewy, and other times it  makes you look hot, and not in a good way, so these are a nice little solution, and also very affordable.

(Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets $6.00 for 50)

Sticking to the realm of fighting off sweat (accidental pun), here is one of my summer splurges, Lush dusting powder. Lush makes a variety of wonderful dusting powders, as well as other all-natural products, but this one might smell the best.  Dust it on after the shower and the clean, natural, scent of cocoa butter and vanilla will last all day, very much worth the price.

(Lush Silky Underwear Dusting Powder $11.95)

So, after you’ve gotten out of the shower and dusted yourself off with powder, you might want to moisturize that skin. I’m sure there are lots of very expensive, fancy, body moisturizers out there, but I have no money, so I like this one that i get at the drug store which smells great and lasts forever. It also does a very good job of keeping legs and body soft, while smelling lovely. Also, despite being a Johnson’s product it doesn’t smell like baby oil, more like strawberries.

(Johnson’s 24 Hour Lotion $5.99)

I have sensitive skin, so I can only use certain moisturizers on my face, my go-to brand is Clinique, because it’s gentle and hypoallergenic. My new favorite product is their Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer, which focuses on lightening brown spots from prior sun damage. I never listened to my mother when she told me to wear sunscreen when I was younger, so I was so happy to find this product which moisturizes, corrects skin discoloration, and has the added bonus of SPF 20 for sun protection.

(Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 20 $42.50)

Moving on to the issue of bronzer/self tanner, I have long given up pretending I am anything but pale, but in the process I have tried many bronzing products. I must say as far as self-tanner goes, I haven’t found any oh-my-gosh amazing product. Everything streaks, blotches, or both. Even the lightest of formulas leave me looking zebra-like and consequently more embarrassed to show my skin. I do keep one tanning product around and that is Clarins Self Tanning Gel, I don’t use much of it, but I’m sure those of you with darker skin than mine (i.e. everyone) could put this product to even better use. However, I do like to dab it on my face in the summer, it gives a nice, natural, glow without looking too orange.

(Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel, 4.4 oz. $32.50)

For Fall and winter I like a rosy cheek, but in the summer I like things a little bit peachy. My sister gave me this Coralista blush from Benefit because her skin is even more sensitive than mine, and the scent is also very strong. It didn’t bother my skin at all, and I actually love the golden peach color it leaves on my cheeks, it’s very summery, I also happen to like the smell, although it’s perfumy. It comes with a little brush, but it’s cheaply made and the hairs fall out, so I would recommend using this with a normal blush brush.

(Benefit CORALista Blush $28)

I am so sick of hearing how Chanel always comes up with the hottest nail colors of the season when everyone knows it’s OPI and Essie who come out with the same color months in advance at one-third of the price. This season Chanel has delivered Nouvelle Vague, which looks very similar to one of my favorite colors, Greenport, from Essie’s summer line last year, only with a bit more shimmer. I’m happy that greens and blues on nails have gained popularity, it’s just fun and beachy for summer.

(Essie nail Polish in Greenport, $8)

I spend half the summer battling with my hair, which like the Grinch’s heart, grows three sizes each day. While in the winter I might try to tame my waves occasionally, in the summer I just give up and embrace the wildness. I have found that Fekkai’s Tousled Wave Spray helps encourage the crazy waviness that summer humidity can bring, while still keeping frizz to a minimum and smelling great.

(Frederic Fekkai Coiff Oceanique Tousled Wave Spray $23)

I’ve saved the best for last. These new lip stains from Tarte are my winner for summer. I have looked for something like these for a while, and was very happy to find them. I love lipstick, but I’m not a lipstick person, mostly because I’m lazy and forget to reapply it. These new stains go on like a lipstick, look glossy, and then stay on like a stain. They’re also minty and cute. The stains go on bright, which I like, and can be layered for an even brighter look. They’re on the pricey side, and I feel guilty for having two of them, but for a really great product, I have no regrets. I’ve been trying to get my hands on the Enchanted color for a while, but it’s always sold out everywhere. I have the Amused (bright pink) and the Lust (bright red) and I love them both!

(Tarte Natural Lip Stain with LipSurgence™ Technology $23 each)

So there you have it, that’s what I’ll be slathering on myself this summer. What are you guys splurging (or not splurging) on this year? I would love to hear what products help you fight the frizz and humidity, and keep you happy during the summer months, so let me know!

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Beach beauty

Now that summer has been officially kicked off, I think it’s an appropriate time for a post about that symbol of the season, the beach. As soon as April rolls around we are slammed with images of women in bathing suits flaunting their perfect bodies. Images of gorgeous, glowing, copper skin, and the accompanying headlines such as “Get Your Best Beach Body” or “Slim Down for Summer” stare out at us from the magazine racks at the grocery store, segments on the news, ads on Facebook, and about everywhere else. The message is that before stepping foot on the sand, you must mold yourself into a beach goddess, you must be worthy of summer. If you choose not to follow the advice being shouted at you, well you just shouldn’t even bother to pull that bathing suit back out of the drawer come Memorial day. Nobody wants to see you, the beach doesn’t want you, and you aren’t allowed to participate in all the summer fun, at least that’s what the media tells us.

I happen to live near the beach and I love it. I am however not tan, or blonde, or comfortable walking around town in a bikini or even in shorts. I spent most of my teen years trying to be thinner, bronzer, blonder (if you have black hair do not use Sun-in, take it from me!) all because I wanted to be allowed into the fantasy. I wanted to feel like I could lay in the sand and be accepted, be one of those girls who is carefree in a bikini, who spends the summer playing in the sun, her skin turning brown, her hair tousled and wavy with sea salt. But, no matter how hard I tried, it could never be me. We’re sold these standards of beauty, and when we don’t meet them, we feel like we don’t deserve the pleasure that comes with those iconic images. There are other examples of this, of course, but the beach beauty seems to be the most prevalent in our culture.

I’ve spent way too many years hiding in t-shirts or men’s board shorts on the beach, but at a certain point I just stopped caring. The thing is that I love the beach, I love the sun, the smell of the ocean, and the waves, so what if my legs are whiter than the sand, or if I look out-of-place with my dimpled legs and un-highlighted hair. When I’m on the beach, it’s about staring at the sky, and listening to the sea and enjoying myself, it’s my time, and why should I let anyone else ruin that for me? The funny thing is that the more I’ve sat on the beach and looked around, I’ve noticed that nobody else really cares either. No one is looking at me, if you’re the jerk who goes to the beach to make-fun of other people’s bodies, well then you’re really missing out on what summer is all about. For the most part, whether you’re a hot girl in a string bikini or a middle-aged man in a Speedo, you’re just doing your thing, loving life and happy to be in a beautiful place, I don’t think anyone should be denied that pleasure, beach body or not.

I still wear shorts to the beach sometimes, but it’s more about not wanting to deal with the stress of worrying than it is about caring what other people think. Usually I end up taking them off, because when I look around, I see every kind of body, and they’re all so beautiful. I’m always saddened to see a teenager on the beach in an over-sized t-shirt, because I know that those headlines have gotten to them, and that a little of the joy of the season has been taken away. I hope that one day, they’ll lose the t-shirt, and look around to see that no one was even watching, and the summer has welcomed them with open arms, no matter what they look like in a bathing suit.

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