Confessions of a Beauty Junkie

Friday, July 1, 2011

...And the Horse I Rode in on

I know. Screw me, right? Here I am, another three months after my last post, which was like a million years after the post before that. Whatevs, y'all. I've switched day jobs (WOO-HOO!) and have been traveling around like friggin' George Clooney (mmm... Clooney) in "Up in the Air" as I go through the whole new-job-training rigamarole. It's going great, thanks for asking, it's just been way busy up in here.


So what has two thumbs, sucks at blogging, and is responsible for bringing a kick-ass skincare line to Franklin? THIS BITCH. I'm totally serious. I've been completely obsessed with Environ's anti-aging Ionzyme line, thanks to my super-sophisticated NYC friend Annie, who got hooked on it by her aesthetician. (FYI, this is the number-one why I need to be an aesthetician-- it's like being a crack dealer, but with products. Seriously, who wouldn't want that?) The issue was that I couldn't find it anywhere in Nashville, and the Environ website has all these warnings about buying their crap from an "unauthorized website." Well of course I was all "eff that, I have wrinkles," so I totally went over to and snapped up a whole mess of Ionzyme stuff. Then the next thing I know, there's this press release from the Environ people about suing for peddling their wares in an "unauthorized" fashion. Then I felt guilty. So fast-forward a few months, when I find myself sitting in the chair at Juel Salon, getting my hair did. My fabulous hair guy Eric was asking my opinion about brands that the new salon should carry that no one else in town currently had. I almost turned myself inside out convincing him and the salon owner Johnna to look into Ionzyme, and guess what. They totally did, and it's now flying off of Juel's shelves. You're welcome, Williamson County.

Ionzyme is pricy as all hell, but it's equally awesome. Go check out the back story on their website: a physician in South Africa got sick and tired of watching his patients die off of melanoma and roast themselves in the brutal African sun, so he took action. His efforts resulted in a skincare line with a cult-like following. I love the eye gel, I love the C-quence Masque (I have even slept in it before), I love the C-quence Creme. I love it all, for real. Save your pennies, barter with your friends, whatever it takes. Try this stuff.

I have so much more to share with y'all, and promise to do so in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday weekend! Please don't forget about the brave men and women who continue to fight everyday to protect our country's independence! Woo!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hell's Bells...

...y'all. Y'ALL. I wish I had an explanation as to why it's been so very long since my last post. I'm not delusional enough to believe that y'all just sit around wondering why oh WHY I haven't been Johnny on-the-spot over the past few months, yet I still feel like I did when I was a young girl and got caught "telling a story" (Daddy's favorite term for lying). Work was insane at the end of last year, and hasn't let up yet. In sad news, I'm no longer writing for the magazine: it and my editor parted ways last month. I'm so downtrodden for my friend, as she gave VIP her heart and soul once a month for many, many years. I guess the silver lining is that, had she not been at the helm as long as she was, I never would have had the opportunity to write my column every month. As I shared with her upon learning that she was leaving, I got so much joy out of churning out a PG version of this blog by the fifteenth of every month. I've been lucky enough to meet some beautiful Williamson County ladies who, upon learning that my sorry ass is the Beauty Junkie, have proclaimed, "I LOVE your column! I love [product I suggested]!" I can't begin to tell y'all how much that warms my [stony black] heart. For real.

So anyway, it is with extreme blogger guilt that I return to you in a feeble attempt at playing catch-up. I have so much to share with you that I don't even know where to start. I guess that I'd be remiss if I didn't post the magazine columns that I've written since my last post, so here you go. In the meantime, please forgive me. I can't quite elaborate like I want to as to what I'm enduring as to my career these days, but let me offer this: it's during the most stressful times that I realize how much I enjoy the things that don't pay a single dime (read: writing this blog and, until just recently, my column). I am so thankful for every single one of you who's ever clicked over to this page, even for just a minute. I promise to do better. Thanks, pretties.

First, the November and December magazine entries. Brace yourself for the December one: you're probably not a hopeless sap like I am, but upon writing of my Momo/ Alice, I cried like an absolute baby. Those of you loyal readers will understand. Mwah.

“The Mascara Chronicles”

Happy November, Williamson County! Here’s to the many things for which we can truly be thankful. I, for one, am thankful for my friends, my husband and cat, my job, my health, my home, and (most importantly) my family, which expanded by one last month. My fabulous sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and we just couldn’t be more excited. On a much lighter note, I’m also thankful for the fantastic folks behind VIP Willamson County who let me write this little column. And this month, I’m thankful for mascara. Read on.

Mascara rocks my beauty world, and I have dedicated my Beauty Junkie life to finding the perfect be-all-end-all. I don’t think I’ve done that just yet, but I’ve gotten close a couple of times. The sad part is, I can’t stop trying new ones just because I found one that I really like. I’ve been disappointed more times that I’ve been delighted, but that, in my mind, is just part of the fun. Thus I feel it is my duty to give you the Cliff’s Notes version of my experiences to date (at least the ones I can remember). Get out those highlighters!

Cover Girl Lash Blast: My current long-standing fave. Huge orange tube. Loads of volume and separation. I know you’re tired of hearing about it, so go get some and see for yourself.

Maybelline Volum’ Express the Falsies: Spoon-shaped nylon-bristle brush that does a good job of  beefing up my whisper-thin lashes. The weird brush takes some getting used to, but I’ve come to love it. A word to the wise: avoid the waterproof at all costs. I mistakenly picked it up (instead of the washable kind), and needed an act of Congress to get it off my lashes.

Smashbox Lash DNA: The huge spiral-shaped brush (like a DNA spiral-- get it?) is, while interesting, just too dang big to get into your lashes. I wasn’t impressed in the least.

Sephora Lash Stretcher: This one is fine if you just want length without volume. I, for one, need both, and was therefore disappointed.

Tarte 4 Day Lash Stain: Pay attention to the product name. When they say “stain,” they really REALLY mean it. I thought that the waterproof Maybelline was hard to remove. I’m pretty sure that I promised my shoe collection to the Tarte people in order to get this stain off of my lashes. If you’re camping, or scuba-diving, or stranded on a desert island, the Tarte mascara will be your best friend. Otherwise? Skip it.

Benefit Bad Gal: Another giant brush that disappoints. See, the size of the brush isn’t what actually matters-- it’s how the brush deposits the mascara onto your eyelashes that really counts. Bad Gal is just an on-steroids version of an old-school mascara brush, and I? Demand a little more. You should too. One exception: the dark-blue Bad Gal formula is great for lower lashes, adding definition and whitening your eyes without looking heavy. You’re welcome to use it as your primary mascara, but the fact that it’s not black makes a thorough application take longer.

Bobbi Brown Extreme Party: This one is pretty decent, but leaves me wanting for more volume. I love the Denim shade (new for Fall 2010) on lower lashes and on upper lash tips to brighten my eyes (similar to the navy Bad Gal version). Instead of an “Extreme Party,” this one’s more like a “Mild-Mannered Get-Together,” but it’s not bad.

Maybelline Volum’ Express Turbo Boost: Not to be confused with the Falsies formula, Turbo Boost promises seven times’ your exisiting lash volume, instantly. I ended up with stuck-together lashes that weren’t any thicker or more voluminous than when I started. (Sigh.) Maybelline, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just shun your entire product line altogether. Bad girl, Maybelline!

Laura Mercier Thickening and Building Mascara: Meh. Just, meh. Save your pennies.

L’Oreal Concentrated Lash Boosting Serum: I know, I know. This isn’t a mascara per se. But I mentioned to y’all that I tried it a few months ago, and wanted to let you know that it works. Granted, it takes a few weeks to notice any difference, but that’s the case with any of these newfangled growth serums. Get some, give it time, and expect results.

I won’t even mention the Lancome Oscillating Powerbooster because, well, y’all know how I feel about it. (It rules all.) Now go bat those lashes, ladies!

And now, on to December...

Confessions of a Beauty Junkie

“Dear Santa...”

Dear Santa,

I have been SUCH a good girl this year! Really, I have. I want so much for Christmas this year. For starters...

I want a microdermabrasion facial with Tammie at Dermess in downtown Nashville. Quite simply, she rocks. I was lucky enough to score a Groupon for a two-facial package deal, and have much brighter, more even skin to show for it.

I want a pedicure at Blue River Canyon Day Spa in Brentwood. If I have to settle for a run-of-the-mill job at any one of the million nail shops in town, I will happily do it (can you make it Venetian or Signature in Green Hills?), but the stressful holiday season demands a proper pedi. The ladies at Blue River Canyon will rub and knead my feet until they feel like they’re floating. The shiny polish is just the icing on the cake.

I want a makeover at the hands of the able-bodied ladies at Woo Cosmetics. From Stila to Bobbi Brown to the elusive Giorgio Armani line (the last time I checked, Woo was still the only purveyor of Armani cosmetics in town), Woo has the corner on exclusive, lovely pretty-face-makers. And while I’m there, I’ll want some delicious Tocca and Dayna Decker candles and that I-can’t-afford-it-unless-Santa-brings-it Chantecaille concealer. Pretty please.

I want a deep-tissue massage with Kelly at Massage Envy in Cool Springs. I may be brought to tears in the process, but Kelly knows that sometimes a deeper touch is needed to work out those knots and kinks that seem to set up residence in my neck and shoulders this time of year.

I want a Zumba class with the fabulous ladies of b. fab fitness in Franklin, Nashville, and  Murfreesboro. Their party-disguised-as-a-workout made me reexamine the idea of a class that didn’t involve a yoga studio. Instead of visions of sugar plums, I have loud, ridiculously fun dance beats in my head when I hit the sack following a b. fab class.

I want a vacation. I want new nail polish. I want the perfect bra. I want....


You know what, Santa? Scratch all of those wants. This year has been tough on just about everyone I know, in one way or another-- including me. So maybe I should want other things:

I want one evening (or even just a few hours) of peace and quiet for the brave men and women who risk their lives and miss their families every single day in lands I’ll only see on the news.

I want a toy and a hot meal for every child in Nashville who spends most of the year going without either.

I want a warm bed and a bowl of food for all the stray puppies and kitties roaming the Nashville streets.

I want relief and comfort for all of my beloved Nashvillians still struggling to put their lives together seven months after a weekend of rain that changed all of our lives.

I want someone to wander into a church or synagogue or temple sometime over the course of this month and to finally feel that he or she is home.

I want to remember how much I have, and not how much I don’t.

I want to always remember my beautiful grandmother and grandmother-in-law, both of whom passed away this year.

I want to forget the stress and frenzy that December usually brings in all areas of my life, and instead focus on family, friends, generosity, humility, worship, and community.

I still believe in you, Santa.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Happy Kwanzaa. God bless you, Williamson County.

The Beauty Junkie

I'll be back... I promise.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm Still Alive

So, contrary to popular belief (and maybe to the dismay of some of you), I'm not dead in a ditch somewhere in western Williamson County. No! I've just had a hard time managing my time and have had too much going on to really post anything worth a damn. The Cliffs' Notes: crazy end-of-quarter at work; the hubs started a new job (YAY!); and my sister brought the beautiful-and-perfect baby Alice into the world last Thursday (DOUBLE YAY WITH A SIDE OF AWESOME!). How that baby can fit her mommy, her daddy, her grandparents, and her uncles and ONLY auntie into her tiny little butt, I have no idea, but we've all set up camp in there (yeah, it's crowded). Anyway. I'm hoping that y'all will forgive me, as I promise to do better. While I check myself into Blogger Rehab, check out what I put together for the October issue of VIP Williamson County. I'm thinking about writing something tentatively titled "The Mascara Chronicles" for November. I got the idea from the ridiculous experience I had at my local Sephora last week. 

Sidebar: any beauty junkie with a pulse knows that our Sephora, while certainly nice to have, can't hold a candle to the big Sephoras in major markets (see: Michigan Ave. location in Chicago). Those citified folks know their shit. Alas, this Sephora seems to have the clueless-chicks-who-look-like-drag-queens market covered. I wandered around in there for almost an hour and spent over a hundred bucks. When I was asked by the checkout chick if anyone helped me, I put on my best bitch face and replied, "actually, no, no one did." (These hos didn't even so much as give me the trademark overeager "HEYHOWAREYOUDOINGTODAY?") My typical how-dare-you tendencies took over before I left when I spotted a fetus trying to push some random crappy thirty-dollar mascara on a sweet lady who looked like she would be friends with my mommy. Oh hell to the no, Sephora Fetus. I swooped in, unasked and uninvited, and sweetly informed said Would-Be-Mama's-Friend that her money would be better spent on the Lancome Oscillating Powerbooster (or, alternately, the Cils Boost). I went into my spiel about my near-rabid love for the Powerbooster, informing her that she could easily get fabulous results from a drugstore mascara once she got the PB on board. With an "eat-it-and-die" smile to the fetus, I went on my merry way to Macy's to buy said Powerbooster. When I got there, the very nice Lancome lady and I chatted a bit, at which point I let her know what a ridonkulous experience I had at Sephora and my resulting mascara sabotage. Her response? "Oh, thank you! [Sweet lady] just came in and bought the Powerbooster with her Macy's card." 

Um, they sell Lancome at Sephora. She instead bought it at Macy's.

Game over, Sephora. I win. 

All right. I'm over myself. Here's my column:

“The All-Stars”

Yay, fall! Finally the heat has abated and given way to a beautiful season, full of new clothing and makeup ideas! Of course, I’d be remiss if I were to not acknowledge the official Fall passtime of the south: FOOTBALL! In keeping with the idea of the first-stringers, the MVPs, and what-have-you, I thought I’d offer a comprehensive list of my current beauty MVPs, also known as the Beauty Junkie All-Stars. Huddle up!

Rodial Glam Balm: I’ve sung its praises until my lungs were ready to explode. There is simply no better all-around elixir for dry skin, chapped lips, raggedy cuticles, and razor burn. It’s a fabulous makeup base in bitter weather. It soothes irriation. It conditions lashes. It imparts a lovely shine to collarbones, knees, browbones, and shins. It has a lovely, non-irriating smell. Plain and simple, it rules all.

Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne: a seasonless, never-heavy, always-delicious fragrance that is one of my all-time favorites. Not too sweet, not too spicy, not too girly, just... perfect. Get the big bottle and, while you’re at it, snag the heavenly body cream for long-lasting layering.

Clarins Radiance Plus Self-Tanning Cream-Gel: great daytime moisturizer. Fabulous, never-too-obvious, hint-of-tint facial self-tanner. Non-irritating, great for all skin types. Works great in a pinch to add color to shoulders, decollete’, and legs. One bottle lasts forever. What else could you possibly need?

Lancome Artliner: simply the easiest, fastest way to apply eyeliner ever. Ever! This felt-tip pen application imparts a sharp, precise line that’s never harsh. Alas, my favorite shade is no longer being made, but no worries: there are plenty others that I love dearly.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow: the ultimate no-budge, no-slip eyeshadow that comes in a range of shades and finishes, from demure to dramatic, matte to disco-ball sparkle. My favorite shade, Navajo, is an unassuming shade of pale beige, but works wonders as a lid-smoothing eyeshadow base. I won’t make up my eyes without it!

Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara: this huge orange tube contains possibly the best mascara formula I’ve ever used (and I’m ashamed to admit the number of mascaras I’ve tried). Jet-black, brown, waterproof; you name it, Lash Blast has it. Running a close second is Volum’ Express the Falsies mascara by Maybelline. I’ve historically despised Maybelline mascaras, but this one does an awesome job of beefing up wispy lashes with deep, rich color.

OPI Lincoln Park After Dark polish: the ultimate shade for fall and winter. A so-plum-it’s-nearly-black swath on nails and toes is over-the-top sophisticated glamour. Keep nails short when rocking a dramatic shade-- dragon-lady nails in loud colors are just not right on any level!

Bobbi Brown makeup brushes: I splurged on a collection of these during Christmas a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did. From a teeny-tiny eyeliner brush to Bobbi’s big, fluffy signature “Face Blender” brush, these lovelies will help you to put your best face forward.

Lancome Oscillation Powerbooster: I can barely bring up this ridiculously-awesome mascara primer without getting all shouty. With a few swipes of the vibrating brush, a snow-white slip is deposited onto your lashes that makes any mascara in the world work ten times better, end of story. It’s almost forty bucks, but I promise you that you won’t even care once you witness the results first-hand. Like I said, ridiculous. And awesome.

So, there you have it: the ultimate must-haves for fall and every season beyond. Score a beauty touchdown with luminous skin, gorgeous eyes, ultra-glam tips and toes, and a bewitching scent. Game over, you win! 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To the Beautiful Alice(s)...

Momo, you've been gone almost three months, and yet I'm still at a loss as to how to describe you to those who weren't privileged enough to know you. Well, I guess there's no time like the present. (For what it's worth, I wouldn't take a break from bitching about mascara for just anybody). Deep breath...

First and foremost, you were one of the most interesting people on the planet. You loved life and no doubt arrived at its end having thoroughly worn it clean out. Not even the Depression or a world war could dampen your spirit. You were tough as nails and gentle as a feather, depending on the circumstances. You made no bones about leaving my ass behind in the grocery when I dilly-dallied in the candy aisle, and I kind of liked that. (It only had to happen once. When I ran, frantically, to the front of the Indian Hills IGA to find the nice man to page you overhead, I caught sight of you in the checkout line. You sized me up with a quick "Well, I figured you'd find me eventually," and that was it. I was glued to your side from then on during our Saturday outings.) Up until your very last days, you could debate politics, pop culture, music, what-have-you, with uncanny accuracy and aplomb. I envy that.

Good Lord, you were funny. You'd stand around in the narthex after church with Dad's friends and would tell jokes that could make a coal miner blush. Once my siblings and I got older, you'd break them out at the dinner table (to rave reviews). I visited my best friend after the birth of her second baby and, while visiting with her momma, was privvy to maybe the most inappropriate joke ever. While I gagged and tried to figure out if I could take a birdbath in the sink, she casually shared with me that she'd heard it from you. You could easily recall jokes you heard in high school. I can't even do that now. We really had to censor ourselves during the meeting with the minister to plan your service details when he had the audacity to ask, "What was your grandmother like?"

You loved lipstick and perfume, a quality that I suspect I inherited from you. I wish I'd saved one of the lip-stamped Kleenexes that you often kept in your purse, just so I could remember the exact shade you wore. I think it was by Revlon. There were several you kept in rotation, but I'm no fool-- they were all bright, bright pink. I remember one Easter, at church, when my brother commented, "Momo's got her blush kickin' today! It's a special occasion!" You always looked beautiful. Mom used to tell me that you used Dermablend on your FACE (the horror!) to hide your freckles and age spots, but I didn't care. I loved watching you put it on when I was young. I don't think you ever wore eye makeup in your life (or at least over the course of mine), but I don't think it would have looked right on you anyway. The perfume obsession was ongoing and never-ending. Once I was introduced to Liz Claiborne in the sixth grade, it was all over. We gave each other perfume for Christmas for years and years. As soon as you opened the box, you'd hose yourself down with the scent du jour and would dutifully offer some to me and my sister. We felt like such grown-ups. To this day, I seek out perfumes that I think you'd like.

Your laugh rang out like the sound of a cork from an agitated bottle of Champagne: instant, bubbly, and resounding. I think that sometimes it even surprised you. The accompanying gestures were the best: head back, eyes closed, hand clapping down on right knee. As I got older, I turned into a veritable stand-up comedienne when we were together, just so I could hear that exuberant, engrossing, all-encompassing laugh. When we were in a local fashion show together years ago, one of Mom's friends commented that we look(ed) alike. She said we had the same smile. I'd settle for having the same laugh anyday.

My beautiful sister is having a little girl next month, who will be named after you. I'm so glad that you were able to find this out before you left this world. Ellen did such a wonderful job of describing you on her blog that I'm not sure what else to say, other than that if she is half as funny/ smart/ witty/ determined/ sweet/ amazing as you, well, I'll be the proudest and happiest aunt on this planet. I know you'll be there when she enters this world, and I know that you can't wait. Rest assured that I'll buy her her first pink lipstick and bottle of fancy perfume. I love and miss your beautiful face.

--"Miss Jules"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hot in Herrre

Today is my birthday! That means I'm working as little as humanly possible! That means that I'm able to update my blog! At 3pm on a Thursday! And I don't feel guilty! Woo-hoo! Here's what I put together for the July issue of VIP Williamson, which will hit the stands this weekend. Happy Independence Day weekend, all!

“Hot! Hot! Hot!”

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? (I don’t think it’s just me.) Summer started off with a bang, and has left us to wilt and wither in its wake. What to do (besides languish by the pool or beach all day, in which case I may just have to hate you)? Peruse these beauty products and beat the heat beautifully!

So I told y’all last month about Hope Springs Eternal hydrating mist from our friends at Philosophy, and about how you should stash it in the fridge for chilly, misty relief. Do you know what should be parked right next to in in the old icebox? Herban Essentials Towelettes. On the surface, they’re antibacterial wipes. (Yawn.) But once you open one of the individual packettes, you’ll experience a beautifully-fragranced, essential oil-based, totally new way to cleanse, disinfect, and feel completely fabulous! These towelettes come in a variety of scents-- lavender is my favorite. Use one after working in the yard or while lounging poolside for refreshing relief. For all you moms out there, you’ll love how they can clean up grubby little hands (ice cream, anyone?) without trashing the skin of your little punkins. 

If you’re lucky enough to hit the beach this summer (including the Gulf Coast-- seriously, y’all, please go-- at press time, Destin was still beautiful and in desperate need of your visit), promise me that you won’t skimp on sunscreen. Yes, I’ve gotten on my soap box about this before; and yes, I’ll do it again. USE SUNSCREEN (and not the piddly SPF 4 stuff, either). During our trip down to the Emerald Coast last month, I rocked my beloved Coola organic sunscreen from the neck down, and my latest discovery from the neck up: Neutrogena Age Shield Face Sunblock. Its broad-spectrum SPF of 70 blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and fights premature aging (caused by sun exposure) during the process. Additionally, it’s free of oil, fragrance, and PABA. It’s simply a must for cutting sun damage off at the knees. Interestingly, it won’t keep us fair-skinned ladies from racking up those cute freckles. Protect that precious hair color from fading with Frederic Fekkai Beachcomber Leave-In Conditioner. This lovely bi-phase spray detangles, boosts shine, and provides a UV shield. Also? It makes your hair look beachy-sexy, and who doesn’t want that?

While you’re being responsible about sun care, be sure to rock a sunless tan so that you can don those short-shorts and cute jumpers without blinding passers-by. My newest favorite is Xen-Tan. This line of self-tanning products actually produces a brown-based, neutrally-fragranced tan that lasts ten days. I swear. When it does start to fade (which any sunless tanner does without a maintenance lotion and/ or with shaving, exfoliating, and swimming in chlorinated water), it does so naturally, without the tell-tale “specks” that can sometime resemble a skin affliction. Definitely not pretty. This stuff isn’t yet available in any retail outlets in Nashville, but they’re so awesome that I don’t mind ordering them online. You won’t either. Trust the Beauty Junkie. 

For those sultry nights out on the town, make those legs and shoulders gleam with Fresh Sugar body oil. This lovely slip of a moisturizer imparts a beautiful, not-too-heavy sheen and a smell so delicious, you might need security detail! Pair it with Lancome’s Color Fever gloss in the aptly-named shade Heatstroke. It’s the perfect neutral pink that’s loaded with shimmer and shine. It’s, in a word, hot. 

Do you actually LIKE the heat? Do you enjoy sweating? Then you have to take a power yoga class! Lighthouse Yoga in Cool Springs and Yoga Country in Brentwood are awesome places to sweat out toxins and stress without the stifling humidity associated with outdoor exercise. If you make it to the Saturday morning class (my favorite, in both places), head down to the Franklin Farmers’ Market afterward and pick up some cool, delicious veggies while you jam to some bluegrass music. And if you get sweaty again? Who cares! 

If all else fails, kick back in your air-conditioned living room with my favorite cocktail: the skinny mojito. Muddle a handful of fresh mint leaves with four lime wedges and a healthy drizzle of agave nectar (instead of sugar). Add crushed ice, a shot (or two!) of light rum, lime juice, and club soda. Pour into a second cup and back into the original one to mix. Add a mint sprig and a straw. Take a big ol’ sip, and repeat after me: “Aaaahhhhhhh...”

Buying Guide

Herban Essentials: Woo Cosmetics, Green Hills
Neutrogena: local drugstores
Frederic Fekkai and Fresh: Cosmetic Market, Cool Springs
Lancome: Belk, Cool Springs Galleria 
Agave nectar (multiple brands): Whole Foods

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Getting Xen

Happy Father's Day to all the daddies and granddaddies out there! (I don't really expect any of you to read this blog.) If you're anywhere in the southeast, you know that this week has been hotter than a June bride in a feather bed, and the only activity worth thinking about involves lounging poolside and being brought cold beverages on demand (preferrably by a pretty, mute cabana boy). That said, I'm immediately hit with a mini-panic at the thought of baring my legs/ arms/ gut/ etc., because (as I've said before) I'm beyond pale. This time of year is a never-ending cycle of applying self-tanner, riding it out for a few days, noticing that said tanner is starting to fade and disintegrate, scrubbing away the remnants, and starting all over again. I don't always have time to scrub and reload in the same sitting, which results in blinding people until I can re-spray or -lotion myself. Today is one of those days, as was evidenced by my lily-assed-white arms and legs flailing about in Zumba class this afternoon. (The fact that I was next to my beautiful bronzed sister in-law didn't help.) (Also? She's way better at Zumba than I am. You want to hate her, but dammit, she's too cute and funny.) (And tan.) When I do get back to a semi-normal color, it will be thanks to Xen-Tan.

Xen-Tan is one of the newest self-tanning lines out there, and I scarfed some up before we went to Destin earlier this month. Going on vacay usually adds to the tan-panic (tanic?), because chlorine and salt water are notorious for eating away a beautiful sunless tan, and drain all moisture from my skin the process. To add insult to injury, most self-tanning products do nothing for moisturizing dry skin. See? A dilemma that begats a "tanic." So. Back to Xen-Tan. I researched the line and saw that everyone had given it rave reviews, particularly about the fact that a very natural-looking, "brown" tan is produced. Sadly, it's only available online these days, but that didn't stop me from ordering the spray, the lotion, the extender, and the handy-dandy sponge used to apply the spray from Nordstrom (good Gawd, I love Nordstrom-- they're finally coming to Nashville, which means that I will never be able to retire). And? I love it! The spray is beyond instant, and can be tricky to get right around feet, toes, and hands. The sponge helps. I used the spray a couple of times on vacation before going out at night and then put the lotion on top before bed. I didn't really bother with the extender, because we were in either the ocean or the pool everyday and I looked positively ghost-like by the end of the day. (Note to self: must develop a sunless tanner that laughs in the face of chlorine and salt. Bonus points if it has a snarky name.) The best thing about Xen-Tan products is the smell... or, more accurately, the lack thereof. You know that weird, starchy smell that usually emanates from your pores when you're self-tanning? Not the case with Xen-Tan. Now, to be fair, the tank top I slept in smelled that way the morning after I applied the spray, but I could really give a damn about a ratty old tank top (it's just as romantic as it sounds, my husband loves it). The fact that that smell wasn't on my skin was good enough for me.

So, go get some immediately. I plan to try the fancy new "Luxe" group of products next. Of course I will let y'all know what I think about it. In the meantime, I'm off to find my enemies and blind them with my legs. Maybe that's what Thomas Dolby was talking about when he said "science." He was pretty pale...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nashville Rises

Hey everyone. It's with a heavy heart that I write this feeble little blog entry. Hopefully by now you've seen the news coverage of the devastating flood that overtook my city of Nashville last weekend. It's now being called a "thousand-year flood." My family and I escaped all damage and consider ourselves very, very fortunate. The hubs has diligently worked all week to help our neighbor-friends pull up their waterlogged carpet, hardwood floors, etc. Our neighborhood took a significant hit, as did many other parts of Nashville. Please consider donating to the Red Cross to support relief efforts. Also, there's a new FB group titled "We Are Nashville" that's selling t-shirts to raise relief funds. I'd tell you that being generous makes you beautiful (which I think it does), but I'd rather just admit that so many people here still need so much help. Thanks for considering.

Okay, I feel better. Now, onto my May VIP Williamson County column. I've started dabbling in a few new skincare products, and have been pretty pleased so far. Read and learn, read and learn. Much love, bitches.

‘Hope’...and change?

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and stop it right now. The Beauty Junkie has no desire to wax political (at least not in this column). It’s just not my place. What I DO want to talk about is my newest discoveries in the realm of skincare. Can these products make us look younger and more beautiful than everyday? This Spring, can hope spring eternal? Here’s hoping.

The ever-popular brand Philosophy is a favorite among my group of friends and fellow beauty junkies for their pure skincare and delightfully fragranced bath and body products (if you haven’t tried any of the Amazing Grace products, put this magazine down this very instant and either go to the Cosmetic Market or click over to do not pass “go,” do not collect $200). Besides the gentle formulas, I get a kick out of the clever product names and the uplifting vignettes on the packaging (and even recipes, like the Cinnamon Buns bath and shower gel). I hadn’t ventured very far into the skincare line, until one of my besties asked if I’d tried the Hope Springs Eternal deep sea ultra-fine hydrating mist.  She also suffers from dry, sensitive, easily-angered skin, and is always going on and on about the Hope in a Jar moisturizer and Purity Made Simple one-step cleanser. I hadn’t tried Hope Springs Eternal, and apparently that had to change ASAP, and my gracious-- this stuff rules the school. This affordable pump bottle of delicate mist is the perfect answer for everything from allergy attacks to dehydrated skin to keeping loose powder and mineral foundation from looking too matte. Stash it in the fridge during the summer for a quick, refreshing cool-down. Hope Springs Eternal has a lovely, non-irritating scent, thanks to sea minerals, and can be used all day, everyday, without aggravating sensitive skin. Rest assured that, once a travel size is available, I will keep one in every room of my house... and my car... and my purse...

Hope Springs Eternal was just one of a three-product trilogy from Philosophy I’d decided to try over the past several weeks, and I’m so very glad I did. Upon my first use of When Hope is Not Enough extra moisturizing cleanser, I noticed its consistency: not a gel, not a liquid, more of a squishy balm. The language on the tube says that a little goes a long way, and I found that to be spot-on. I was left with a squeaky-clean, makeup-free face that was neither tight nor dry. (Apparently, omega fatty acids prevent the skin from being dried out during the cleansing process.) I love it. You will too. When Hope is Not Enough spans an entire line of anti-aging skincare for dry, dehydrated skin, ranging from body scrub to daily serum capsules. After cleansing and misting, I slap on some of the Hope in a Jar daily moisturizer with SPF 20. I usually look for a daytime lotion with a higher SPF, but layering mineral foundation over Hope in a Jar doubles up on sun protection. Furthermore, it’s very hard to find a moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF that doesn’t irritate or roll up under foundation and isn’t greasy (it’s also available oil-free). Hope in a Jar has it nailed, y’all. All three products together add up to less than a hundred bucks, which is hard to beat for quality anti-aging skincare.

Once I had ‘hope’-ful skin, I could return to my obsession: eyelashes. Y’all know how hell-bent I am on getting full, long, glossy lashes, and I’m still too cheap to try Latisse (and too chicken to order the generic knockoff online). So, naturally, that led me to the over-the-counter versions of lash-boosting serums. I snagged L’Oreal’s Lash Boosting Serum a couple weeks ago, after I’d already tried its corresponding Double Extend Lash Boosting Mascara and been a bit underwhelmed. I was excited about the idea of a primer with a lash-fortifying serum built right in, but alas-- like most other drugstore mascara-and-primer duos, I ended up with lashes with plenty of length and not nearly enough volume. The primer claims to, over time, produce fuller, longer lashes, as does the serum. (For the record, so does my beloved Lancome Oscillation Power Booster mascara primer.) I’m still using the serum at night and under mascara in the morning, and haven’t seen much improvement yet. I guess I’ll keep using... and hoping.

Buying Guide

Philosophy: Cosmetic Market- Green Hills, Cool Springs, Hillsboro Village
L’Oreal: local drugstores