Tag Archives: face

Beauty Peeves: Products That Disappoint

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about products I love, but even when you love a product you can have issues with it, and sometimes when you buy a new product, you kick yourself for wasting money on it. This post is devoted to my current beauty peeves, I’m sure I’ll accumulate many more along the way, but here are a few that have been bothering me recently.

First off is this OPI nail polish, Here Today…Aragon Tomorrow, it’s from last year’s Spain Collection. Since it’s a richer color I was waiting until the Fall weather blew in to try it out. I was hoping for a lovely deep emerald-green, maybe with a touch of shimmer. Well, let me tell you, I was pissed because this is about the 3rd color from OPI that is sold as being “a deep shade of ___” and is really just black with a slight tint of color. Maybe it’s my incredibly pale skin-tone, but I think not. Look at the color in this spread from Allure Magazine as compared with the color on my nails. Yes, it has a subtle green undertone, but nobody would look at it and think “green”, they would more likely look at it and think “black”. I’m still on the lookout for a shade that is more like the color in the picture. If you like black nails (or nearly black) then this color is perfect for you, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

A product I use pretty much every day is Urban Decay’s Potion Primer, it’s an awesome product and the best eyeshadow primer I’ve found, the major drawback of this product is the packaging. It’s a lovely bottle, reminiscent of genies and magic, but the problem is you can’t get half the primer out of the darn bottle. Due to the shape of the bottle and the long straight wand that comes with it, you loose all the primer on the sides and bottom of the package. Some might simply think they have used everything up and throw out the bottle, but that would be foolish, because as you can see by the tub next to it, there is a LOT more primer in there. The process of extracting the remainder of your potion primer involves a large knife, a cutting board, steady hands, and a make-up spatula. When there are YouTube videos with over 80,ooo views devoted to the stupidity of your packaging—perhaps it’s time for a change. There’s a chance Urban Decay has gotten wise to this problem, because they’re offering the product in a “professional size” which comes in a far more convenient vessel, unfortunately it only comes in the original nude shade at the moment.

(The cats don’t take kindly to me photographing in their window, they always have to be in the spotlight)

Next up is this Chanel eyeliner which I still regret spending $34 on. You see, I have a liquid liner obsession, I’ve been wearing it nearly everyday since high school so I always feel compelled to try new brands and formulas. This is the most expensive one I’ve ever purchased, and the most disappointing. It’s also a perfect example of why it’s so NOT worth it to spend extra cash on cosmetics from major fashion houses. While Chanel might make the most gorgeous, classic, beautiful garments on the planet, their make-up kinda sucks in my opinion, at least for the overblown price they charge for it. The problem is this; when you turn the bottom of the pen it releases liner onto the brush tip, seems simple enough, except that it distributes it in one big spurt of liquid which bubbles up on the brush, making equal distribution nearly impossible and application to your eyes very messy.

This is the best photo I could get of the liquid blob, it’s not pretty, and definitely not worth spending $34 of your hard-earned dollars on.

Last on my beauty peeves list are these bobby pins from Scunci. They look so cute in the package, you think “they’re just like regular bobby pins but with a little pizzazz” but what you really should be thinking is “dear god how could something so small be so painful?” I keep giving these pins another chance, but frankly—they suck. Each time I use them I have to very carefully extract them so as to avoid ripping all my hair out—and I still usually end up painfully losing a few strands. So, if you see these in the drugstore don’t be fooled by the fetching black and white palette, you will regret it.

Now that I’ve gotten myself all annoyed and regretful at having spent money on some of these products, I ask you to share your own beauty peeves. Have you ever bought something that looked great at the beauty counter or the drug store only to get it home and realize what a mistake it was? If so, do share it with us, warnings are just as valuable as recommendations!

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under cosmetics

Body Hair: To Wax or Not To Wax?

Alright, so I have this dilemma—that’s probably a bad way to start a post about body hair, but stick with me, the problem is I’m wearing a tea length dress at my wedding and my legs will be visible. So, for the first time in my life I’ve been thinking of getting my legs waxed, which I find terrifying. Being forced to think about this dilemma has really gotten me thinking about body hair in general, and all the painful, expensive, decisions that go with it.

I’ve only ever had my eyebrows waxed and I can’t say that I loved it, with the lasting redness and localized breakouts it caused, I’ve mainly stuck to tweezing. I can only imagine that waxing large areas of skin is far more painful, and also pricey, but for my wedding it does seem somewhat appropriate. My main goal for my wedding day is to not have to think about too much, low-stress is the goal, so even something stupid like shaving my legs could become a disaster.

I know there are people out there who wax on a regular basis, some who wax everything all the time, and I have to say I find the subject both fascinating and unnerving. What it makes me wonder about specifically, is why our culture feels so strongly about ripping all hair out from the root in what can be a sometimes excruciating procedure.

I totally understand that we have hair in places we might not want it, and that eliminating it, or shaping it, can lend to the attractiveness of our appearance, but I think when all body hair (and other people’s body hair) becomes cause for ridicule, things have gone too far. I shave my armpits, maybe not as thoroughly in the winter, but I prefer it. I’m not sure if it’s due to a real personal preference, or a result of habit. From the time I’ve had hair under my arms I’ve been shaving it off. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to let it grow in all the way, but frankly, when it gets past an inch, I feel compelled to shave it down again. Women who don’t shave their pits usually get some absurdly generic label slapped on them, like “hippie”, or “feminist”, or “European”, but why should shaving your armpits (or your legs) be any different from filing your nails, it’s simply a personal choice.

For most women, the act of hair removal is as commonplace as shampooing, it’s expected to the point of annoyance. I completely understand women who have laser treatments and electrolysis to remove hair so that they don’t have to worry about it anymore. Because that’s my main issue with hair removal—having to worry about it at all. I have a beauty routine, I moisturize, I exfoliate, I deep condition my hair, and I don’t really mind any of those things, I actually enjoy them, but for me, excessive hair removal has always been where I draw the line. It’s not just the pain, I can handle the burning wax, the awful sneezing that results from eyebrow plucking, and the inflamed skin, it’s the upkeep that makes me crazy. It’s the fact that the hair grows back, sometimes so quickly it’s shocking that nature could be so cruel.

When a celebrity dares to neglect the removal of visible body hair, they’re not only ridiculed, but added to photo galleries to be remembered for their foolish transgression for all internet history. For this reason, it’s become quite clear that body hair is disgusting. To show body hair is to demonstrate a flagrant disregard for your own hygiene, despite the fact that it naturally, and persistently, sprouts from all of our bodies. While looking for images for this post I was shocked at how offended some were at a celebrity’s follicular “neglect”.

Not shaving your legs or pits isn’t like deciding not to brush your teeth or wash your hands, there isn’t anything un-hygienic about having body hair. In fact the removal of hair is far likelier to result in “un-hygienic” results—such as rashes and infections, so why all the hatred?  When I saw Mo’Nique at the golden globes instead of thinking it was disgusting I thought it was awesome that she could stand there looking gorgeous, happy, and confident, hairy legs and all. It wasn’t one of those “Celebrity Oops” moments where they catch a starlet in pimple cream, this is a woman who just doesn’t like to shave her legs, and says “so what?”, pretty admirable if you ask me.

Despite my admiration of Mo’Nique, I don’t think I’ll be going the hairy legged route on my wedding day, call me a conformist, but I’m not there yet, maybe one day though. For now, I need to decide whether a leg wax is in my future.

I’m curious to know how other women feel about hair removal. I’m not condemning or condoning either practice, but it seems important to understand why we do it, why we suffer the pain or choose to avoid it, and why either choice should be the business of anyone else but you. So share your opinions—oh, and if you have any advice or experience on the leg waxing dilemma, I’d love to hear that too!

9 Comments

Filed under acceptance

The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

There are a lot of fun items involved in beautification, there’s lipstick, eyeliner, deep conditioners, toners, and hundreds of other “important” things for you to buy and use, but sometimes it’s the simpler items that are essential. You always keep them stocked, you use them more than pricey products, and they’re available at your local drug store. It’s not usually that exciting when you re-stock them, but if they ever stopped making any of these products (god forbid) you know you’d be really upset. If I run out of any of this stuff, or lose any of these tools, I have to make a rush visit to the drug store to replenish ASAP.

A lot of these items also have multiple uses, they’re tools, honest to goodness tools, just like hammers and nails. Who needs a pliers when I have a cuticle clipper? I’ll never forget working at MAC and listening to one of the very masculine stock guys going on and on about the wonders of nail polish remover and how it could erase sharpie marker. He was impressed by the untold usefulness of beauty products, and so am I, most women have an arsenal of tools disguised as beauty products sitting on their bathroom shelf—we’re savvy like that.

Hair elastics are about as essential as it gets if you have hair past your chin. I’m a Scünci girl, Goody is alright, but I don’t find them as well made. I like the no damage elastics without any metal on them, and they’re strong too. Hair elastics have many purposes, I never have rubber bands so they end up being used for a multitude of things, like bundling pencils or keeping shutters closed, oh yeah, and putting your hair in a ponytail too.

Scünci Elastics, Medium Black, $2.69 for 28

My hair is a battle ground for hair accessories, only the strong survive. My strands snap hair elastics like nobodies business and they laugh at silly little hair clips. I’ve tried dozens of hair claws and clips, so when I found these heavy-duty, no-slip gripped clips, my hair finally met its match. They still break sometimes, but they stand up to my hair like nothing else. They’re also essential for keeping curtains closed and you can clip them all over your bathroom so you always have one on hand.

Scunci No-Slip Grip Jaw Clips, $3.19 for 2

There is always one of these looped over my bathroom doorknob, if you have bangs or even long layers around your face, you need one of these to push your hair back when you put on a cleansing mask, or just wash your face everyday. I treat them like crap and they always end up looking ratty, but you can throw them in the wash, and whenever I lose them I realize how much I need them, especially if I’m in need of a bang trim.

Scunci Hairband, Assorted Colors, 5 for $5.69

One of my favorite things about beauty supply stores is the huge tub of bobby pins you can get for like, 2 bucks, so cheap and they last forever. Unfortunately when you can’t make it to a real beauty supply, you have to settle for the slightly more expensive (but still pretty cheap) Conair or store brand bobby pins. If you’re growing out your hair, or you like to wear up-dos, you need bobby pins. They’re also great for cleaning up nail polish in the corners of your nails, unlocking doors, and so many other little things.

Conair Brush Styling Essentials Matte Minis Bobby Pins, Black, 60 for $1.29

Ok, so this one is hard to use as anything but soap, although Wendy does try to re-attach Peter Pan’s shadow with a bar of soap, but mostly I just love this stuff because it’s extra gentle and I have very sensitive skin. I try to get someone with a BJ’s membership to buy it for me or let me tag along on a trip because they have it there in bulk. I’ve been using it forever and it never disappoints in making my skin soft and irritation-free.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Antibacterial, $4.49

A cardinal rule of skin care is “don’t touch your face”, and it’s really true, my skin has gotten so much better since I started following that rule, I should have listened to my mother when I was teenager. If you must pop a pimple or squeeze a blackhead, use this loop, it’s worth the $9.00 to keep your skin clear and satisfy the urge to pop. It looks like a torture device, and you can go a little squeeze-happy with it, but it’s a great thing to have on hand when you need it, always clean it off with some rubbing alcohol (another essential) between uses too.

Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $8.99

These are an ultimate essential product, I actually buy mine in bulk at Costco, but I’ve tried these Johnson’s wipes and they’re good too. I know that Terrence Howard thinks they’re essential for other reasons, but they’re great for cleaning out your makeup cases, and they can be critical for makeup application. If it’s hard to get a straight line on your eyeliner, or if you screw up and need to wipe it all off, you need some of these babies on hand.

Johnson’s Baby Hand & Face Wipes 25 for $2.99

I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t wash my hair that often. It takes literally six+ hours to dry and it doesn’t get greasy very quickly. So when I shower I need to protect my hair from the water, otherwise the steam has a field day creating frizz. I like these Goody shower caps because they’re super cheap, brightly colored and they last a long time. My fiance things that shower caps are hysterical, which is why I’m considering ordering one of these immensely silly caps from Urban Outfitters, because he’ll get a kick out of it, it’s fun—and who cares? You’re in the shower anyway!

Goody Shower Cap Large, $1.49 or

Urban Outfitter Shower Caps, $8.00

This tool is probably the most essential of my essential products. It’s meant for clipping cuticles and it does an amazing job with its super sharp edges, but it’s also great for clipping the tags off clothes. To me, it’s a standard do-everything tool. I use it to open stubborn products and I pretty much use it as a pliers most of the time, I have a toolbox with a legit pliers, but this guy works better for everything. I’ve had mine for about six years and it’s still pretty sharp, I think I might send it back to Tweezerman for a sharpening and re-aligning though, because they let you do that, so it’s worth the investment too.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper, $24.99

We all need a nail file sometimes, especially in a nail emergency—this is a no-brainer. I’ve also used them to sand wood, but I’m weird, I use a lot of these products for art projects. These Trim boards are the way to go. I’ve bought cute nail files with hearts and patterns on them, and they’ve given me cuts under my nail, seriously—those things can be dangerous. Stick to these, they’re effective, last a long time, and the price is right.

Trim Salon Boards, Grit Heavy Duty/Medium 2 for $2.29

Ok, so now I want to hear about your essential items, I’m sure I’ve left some great products out, but I think it’s different for everyone. These are items that are either very cheap, or last forever and are used often, you can get them at the drug or beauty supply store, and you always need them, extra points for products with multiple uses! Let’s hear what you got!


11 Comments

Filed under shopping

Say Ahhh…

Nobody likes going to the doctor, spending your day in a vacuum-sealed, poorly lit waiting room filled with magazines from three years ago. Once you’re finally called in, you wait again in a cold examination room, sometimes stripped down to nothing but a paper dress while you freeze and stare at plump Anne Geddes baby portraits on the wall, finally you’re poked, prodded, and asked to pay before you dash out of there fast as you can. It’s terrible, but for me, even with all that awfulness, it still cannot compare to a trip to the dentist.

I happen to have an exceptionally small mouth, so the dentist is particularly painful for me, the x-rays alone leave my mouth bruised and sore. I went to a new dentist last week and unfortunately found out I have a cavity. Boo. Now I have to go back to the dentist tomorrow, and I’m not happy about it. The whole thing got me thinking about teeth though, and how they can make you self-conscious. It’s no secret that Americans have a thing for straight, whiter than white teeth, and one of the first thing that happens when someone gets famous, is the sudden appearance of a blindingly white, perfect smile.

Zac Efron, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 50 cent, that girl with the dreads on American Idol—have all had their smiles fixed up after hitting it big. We seem to hate seeing people with crooked teeth, probably because we’re supposed to try as hard as possible to be perfect, and that includes a smile that looks as generic and uniform as it can. When celebrities fight the pressure and choose to keep the smile they were born with—Anna Paquin, Lauren Hutton, even Madonna, it’s constantly pointed out as if they’ve done something exceptionally brave for keeping their own teeth, or we just make fun of them for it. I was trying to figure out if Kirsten Dunst has caved to the pressure, and the reports seem to be that she has, I hope it’s because Kirsten wanted to do it personally, not because her career has stalled.

Thinking about it, I feel like I rarely notice people’s teeth, maybe if they’re very distinctive in some way, but even trying to recall the teeth of those I know well seems difficult, because it doesn’t seem all that important. There are so many other interesting parts of the way someone interacts with others. It’ hard not to notice someone’s eyes because they often convey so much, and while a person’s smile can mean the world, I’ve witnessed some amazing smiles from people with less than perfect teeth, maybe their smiles were even more compelling because of it. I’ve always found something endearing about crooked or imperfect teeth, maybe it’s because I can relate.

My parents spent thousands of dollars on six years of orthodonture for me, so you’d think I would have a mouth full of lovely, straight teeth. Instead my orthodontist was going through an awful divorce when I was getting my braces off and lost the mold for my bottom retainer twice. Eventually he gave me a retainer which I’m positive wasn’t mine. It would pop out of my mouth when I opened it, had to be forced down over my teeth, and made me bleed whenever I wore it, it was nasty, painful, and didn’t do a damn thing since I couldn’t bring myself to wear it. As a result my bottom teeth are, as a dentist once sweetly put it, crooked “like a skull and cross bones”. My top teeth have remained fairly straight, because that retainer caused only moderate pain. I was pleasantly surprised that my new dentist didn’t mention that despite having braces for years I have a crooked smile. It’s sort of crazy that we are self-conscious of even our teeth, but when we are bombarded with images of straight, shiny, white, teeth everywhere we look, of course we see our own imperfect choppers as less than.

I’ve talked to dentists about having my teeth straightened again, and honestly it just doesn’t seem worth it. My major concern was my dental health, but I’ve been told over and over that my desire for straight teeth can only be justified as cosmetic, that having crooked teeth like mine, didn’t make them any less healthy. I know there are situations in which orthodonture is done due to a problem which needs fixing, or is causing pain, but for the most part, we don’t need teeth that appear perfect in order for them to be healthy.

Some might change their teeth because it’s a constant source of frustration, or because it is effecting their health, or just because it makes them more confident, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those reasons, but when I feel like I need to spend thousands of dollars to correct a row of teeth that is usually hidden, isn’t causing me any pain, and according to my dentist won’t cause any problems in the future, it strikes me that Americans might be a little too obsessed with perfect teeth. I think most people would even admit to being terrified of celebrities who go over board on whitening, the result being “chicklet teeth” (that means you Ryan Seacrest). It’s enough to make you wonder what we’re really trying to achieve with all this focus on conformity. What about a flawed smile is so offensive? Many beauty standards hide behind the idea of being “healthy” being thin for example, when really the truth is that certain people just don’t find extra chub or a yellow grin aesthetically appealing. If that is the case, then why give a damn?

So, if my dentist tells me I have very healthy teeth, and I’m only having my second ever (very small) cavity filled tomorrow, is there any reason to have my teeth fixed aside from feeling self-conscious about them? No, I don’t think so, and neither should anyone else. I don’t think we all need to look the same, and I think if asked, a lot of people would tell you they like their imperfections, including a gap in their teeth, because it sets you a part, and as long as you like it, why should it matter what anyone else thinks?

8 Comments

Filed under health

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!!

24 Comments

Filed under cosmetics, hair, shopping

Finding the Beautiful

I’ve touched on this before and it’s part of the whole idea for this blog, so I wanted to do a post specifically about feeling beautiful. It seems that feeling beautiful and being beautiful are completely different things. You can see a woman in a fashion spread in perfect make-up with glossy hair and thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes, but if you ask her, there is a pretty good chance she will tell you she doesn’t feel beautiful. She might be dying to get home to her cooking, or her husband, or her dogs, or somewhere else that turns the world into a place where she feels like she fits into it, even if she is wearing sweats.

That’s the funny thing about beauty, it happens in the most unexpected of places. I’ve had days when I spent hours trying to make myself look beautiful so I would feel confident (see yesterday’s post), sometimes it works, but it’s an external form of “beautiful”. Then there are days I’ll be working for hours on a project, I haven’t showered or even noticed my hair, and I’m probably still in my pajamas, maybe with a dirty painting apron thrown on top, and I stop to look in the mirror, before my brain even lets me think something else, I feel beautiful. Of course that is a rare occasion, usually I take a whiff of myself and march right into the shower, but it happens. When I have that rare moment of beauty, I know it has nothing to do with the actual face staring back at me, it’s that I’m at a point where it doesn’t matter, because I’m more concerned with something else I love doing.

I think if you asked most women “when do you feel most beautiful?” they would give you responses that didn’t have much to do with physical beauty. After hours of plucking, curling, dyeing, brushing, and smearing on makeup we often feel like we’re in a costume, but we don’t truly feel beautiful, it’s more like playing a part. I’m sure actresses must feel like this all the time, and when they actually might be feeling beautiful, like when they’re walking around with their kids or something, then they get slapped on the cover of Us weekly for the regular “Gross: Celebs Without Makeup” article.

We are conditioned to think that we can’t be beautiful if we don’t meet certain criteria, or at least try our hardest to look like we’re making an effort, but what sucks is that it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel beautiful. That’s not to say that it doesn’t help sometimes. I’ve watched What Not to Wear and been so moved when you can see someone finally getting to feel beautiful, and it’s all because of external stuff. I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling beautiful because you’re all dolled-up, there are situations where that is exactly what we need, but I think we tend to forget that there are other things that make you feel beautiful too.

I posed the question to myself, and it can be a hard one to answer. If I have a new outfit that I think looks awesome, or I just got my haircut, or found a great lipstick, it can give me a huge confidence boost and it’s easy to feel beautiful. I feel the most beautiful though when I’m in my element, when I’m doing something I love, creating something, or just singing to myself in my own world. When you notice moments like that, it’s like you catch yourself, and it’s perfect. You don’t need a mirror, or a good picture, or validation from someone else, because you know how you feel, and that’s all that matters.

I know this seems like a small thing, but feeling beautiful is something that everyone deserves, I hate that we narrow down the definition so much that I can’t even remember what it’s supposed to feel like if it isn’t attached to a product.

It’s weird because all these studies show that what really makes people attractive is confidence, and I bet it’s probably true, but that isn’t what anyone is actually selling, it’s just a gimmick. Magazines, TV shows, what they’re really selling are tools that will help you think you’re confident, or give you confidence that is tied to something external. Real confidence is the feeling that what you have to offer is valuable, and that you’re crucial to this world in some way, even if it is small. I think that is the real “beauty” everyone is always talking about, it’s self-worth, and I think so many of us are really lacking in it.

I don’t now what makes confident people confident, I truly believe a lot of it is genetics and personality, but I do think confidence is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight, it shows up in fits and starts, always being punched back down by our nasty inner voice. When I’m doing what I love, or with the people I love, that voice just drops away.

When you paint or draw, you have to be confident. If I think about that line before I draw it, it’s going to be sloppy. When I just give in and turn off my mind, that confidence kicks in. I think at times we even take that confidence for granted because it comes so easily. I imagine that’s what it takes to be a tight-rope walker, you just have to release all that fear and know that you can do it. There is so much beauty in being able to let go, to give in, and let yourself have the freedom to feel that gorgeousness that can come rushing in. Beauty isn’t something you need to get, or make, it’s something you already have, you just need to find it.

Ok, so that last bit is a little cornball, but I don’t mind. My point is that we need to shift our idea of “beautiful”, because it keeps us from noticing when we actually do feel great about ourselves. I know there is that old adage that if everyone is beautiful than no one is beautiful, but sorry, beauty doesn’t work like that. The whole idea of beauty is something that is pleasing in any way, it has no absolute definition, and it exists in each one of us—old, young, man, woman, tall, short, chubby, or slim, it doesn’t matter.

So I ask, what really makes you feel beautiful? There is nothing to be ashamed of if it is a product, but I want to know for real, what makes you feel like there is beauty everywhere and that you’re a part of it, inside, outside and all around?

4 Comments

Filed under acceptance

Say “Cheese”!

James (the fiancé) and I just got back from having our engagement photos taken. Yes, I know we’re getting married in less than four months so we should have done this a long time ago, but apparently we’re not organized. Anyway, I’ve been panicking about this day for the last week, and now that it is over I can breathe a sigh of relief, until we actually get the photos back, at which time I’ll probably freak out all over again.

Here’s the thing, I HATE having my picture taken. Sometimes I can’t believe that there are people out there who actually enjoy it. Let’s start with a little back story.

My dad is a professional photographer and growing up there were always lots of cameras around, so you would think I would be used to it. I want to say that it has to do with having poor self-esteem, but I think that’s only part of it. Even as a kid, when I wasn’t very self-conscious, I dreaded when we would go to my dad’s studio and take our holiday pictures every year. I didn’t give a darn what I looked like in them, but I hated sitting there with my sister having to stay still, and sit up straight, and not make weird faces, and wear uncomfortable matching dresses, so I think that’s really where the camera and I started our dislike of each other.


At least my parents were creative enough to work with my impatience, that’s me on the left—this photo was not posed.

Sometimes I wonder if I hated the camera so much as a kid, always sneering at it and throwing fits about it, that it took revenge on me as an adult. As a teenager, those yearly photo shoots only got worse, because once I learned to be self-conscious, having to sit there and have my picture taken (with my very photogenic sister) just became unbearable, and I was a total bitch about it. I should take this moment to apologize to my parents and sister for that—sorry guys, thanks for putting up with me!!

I’ve seen people who tuck their leg in, stand up straight, angle their head a certain way and look amazing in photos. I don’t know how they figured it out, or if their just photogenic to begin with, but when I attempt the same thing, I look like I have a disorder. When you aim a camera at me, I immediately get awkward, position my body in a weird way, make a pained face, or all the emotion drains out and I just look stunned. Tyra would be screaming  “smile with your eyes!” because I literally just raise the corners of my mouth without showing any other sort of expression on the rest of my face, I’m being brave here and will show you an example:

I chose a picture that isn’t completely mortifying because I have some dignity, but it is an example of my sad attempt at “picture face”. It’s especially bad because James is exactly the same way! It’s amazing that we found each other, we are both brilliant at unflattering photographs.

In our defense it was really sunny and humid that day.

If it weren’t bad enough that I make strange faces, freeze up, and squint in photos, I’m also as my father says, a “blinker”. To illustrate, I found this old contact sheet he took of me in high school.

Yup, definitely a blinker, not a good look.

When I think about my reaction to having photos taken, and even worse, my feelings once I see the results of those photos, I find myself thinking about the world before cameras. Do you think people had better self-esteem when they didn’t have to worry about being caught on film? If the mirror was my only way to see myself, I know I’d be happier with they way I looked. The camera can be so cruel, and even worse, it captures what must be an absolute truth. Even if you know that it’s just a freeze frame, and that you can’t possibly always look that way, deep down it gets to you, because any way you cut it, it is you.

I always think about Anne Of Cleves. If you’re not familiar, she was the fourth wife of Henry VIII. When Henry was looking for a new wife after he had divorced one, beheaded one, and watched one die in child-birth, he sent his court painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, to paint her in Germany before he consented to marry her.

Upon meeting Anne, Henry felt betrayed and was quoted as saying “She is nothing so fair as she hath been reported”, it was also said that Holbein painted her full on from the front to hide that she had a hook nose in profile. He was forced to marry her anyway, but managed to have the marriage annulled, and moved on his next wife Catherine Howard, who he later had beheaded for committing adultery. Lucky for Anne, being unattractive may just have saved her her head. I guess it never occurred to Henry that if he had less attractive wives, he wouldn’t be so suspicious of them cheating on him.

I mention Anne because I always wonder if she knew why Henry refused her. Did she think the portrait did her justice? Did she have low self-esteem? In the days before cameras we depended on paintings to leave the legacy of our looks, and that duty was in the hands of an artist who could change that image at his will. Now we have Photoshop which does the same thing, only that the original photo, that truth, will always be out there too—which is especially unfortunate for celebrities.

Anyway, I don’t know how my engagement photos will turn out, but we had fun taking them and I have every bit of faith in our fantastic photographer Shira, if I don’t like how I look in them it will be my own issues, not the fault of anyone else. When both of us are happy and comfortable we can look pretty decent.

I’d love to know if other  people feel this way about pictures of themselves, I think most of us do. I’m really curious if there are people who love having their picture taken! Oh, and Kate, who is over at Eat the Damn Cake, has a great post about this same issue, you should check out her take on it here.

10 Comments

Filed under acceptance