Yesterday afternoon, in a household accident too stupid to describe, I broke a ceramic serving bowl, gouging my wrist badly. Because I am something of an old hand at household injuries, I have learned a couple of handy tips: 1. Hold your arm above your head to stop the bleeding, and 2. As long as the bleeding stops, stitches are unnecessary. The bleeding stopped. So I took off for Bigelow to buy those butterfly bandages that help squish your skin back together, and while I was there, had a little browse. And found this gorgeous hand cream from Soap and Paper Factory, who have always had great packaging but really outdid themselves on this one. It’s called Marine, and the scent is fresh and citrusy and ever so redolent of Vitabath.
The whole idea of face oil as a cure-all has always seemed too counterintuitive to be true at best, and at worst, a hideous idea for anyone with sensitive, oily skin (like me, for instance). But lately I’ve grown increasingly tempted by argan oil, as it’s a main ingredient in my beloved and oft-raved about bronzer, and I’ve felt increasingly as though it’s had some nice, glowifying, effects on my skin that have nothing to do with its cosmetic properties. And so not long ago, after discovering I’d run out of my regular moisturizer, I took a wild chance* and patted on some Josie Maran Argan Oil from a vial I’d received in a gift set. And you guys, it is the best: first off, it just in general seems to calm things down, like redness, and also those brown spots that nobody tells you to look forward to. In addition to which: I don’t feel like any product ever really delivered on the promise of dewiness until I tried this one. It’s also super-lightweight and absorbs fast. So consider me sold. Although the idea of a cleansing oil for one’s face still terrifies me impossibly.
*Because rule #1 of good skincare is that if you’ve got a perfectly good regimen going, don’t push it. Skin rewards consistency.
It comes out of the tube thick as a cream, then goes on as smooth as silk. And smells so faintly—but distinctly—of youth and Coppertone that I just keep reapplying it and sniffing my hand, like some kind of freak.
Yes, there’s been a fair amount of J. Crew around here this week. But can I help it if they’re the only retailer on this side of the ocean that can be relied upon to routinely crank out quality Liberty print product? Further, would it be in the spirit of this blog to spy, as I did this evening—and then neglect to report on—the atomic-level adorability of this cosmetics pouch?
So far I’ve enjoyed two of those so-pretty-they’re-kitschy blue-into-orange sunsets like we just don’t get over the Atlantic; one deeply gratifying afternoon of inspecting Abbot-Kinney Boulevard in Venice’s many excellent shops (damage done; details later) and, best of all, the company of the most charming, brand spanking new baby to enter my family in quite some time. Oh, and my hotel—it’s perfectly great: nice service, skinny mirrors in the elevators—no complaints at all. Except for one.
Behold the beauty product minibar. I don’t know how much longer I can be expected to hold out. Evil, evil genius.
Not so long ago, my sister in law Shirim, who is quick with a compliment and loyal as the day is long—but also always, unfailingly, frank—doled out a bit of tough love. “Your eyeshadow is so dark it looks weird,” she said. “You’ve got to do something about it.” This was not something I wanted to hear. I have considered the (relatively recent) addition of eyeshadow to my beauty regimen to be thrilling and transformative and the best thing to happen to my face since bronzer. But when I got home and looked in the mirror, there was no denying she had a point: there is a smokey eye, and then there is little Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl after she went rogue, and at some point along the way, I seem to have crossed the line. I had no option but to scale back. And happily, a couple of nights later, my dear friend and former co-worker Meredith Rollins, who’s now an editor at Redbook, brought me a big old bag of booty from their beauty closet. Among the haul: this Amazonian Clay eyeliner from Tarte. It goes on smoothly and precisely, but with a thick, satisfying smudginess too. Just dark enough to make its presence known, but not so much that it scares the children.
I like the way my eyes look with mascara on the lower lashes, but only know this because of the few times makeup artists have applied it for me; any attempts to do so on my own have resulted in a look that is as smeary as it is tarantular. But I’m quite encouraged by the idea of this Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, and am seriously thinking about breaking my drugstore-only rule to try it. And while we’re on the topic: what do you guys think of lash tinting? I do my brows and that’s been (mildly) life altering, but the idea of dye that close to my eyes weirds me out a little.
Another place to put on your must-visit-in-New York list: CO Bigelow Apothecary, of which those of you who are even casual readers of fashion and beauty magazines have already likely heard. Even before if was the cool thing to do, Bigelow’s was stocking esoteric beauty products from around the world, and it’s one of the few places going where even the most seasoned beauty editors can still enjoy the occasional frisson of discovery.
Beauty gift sets are always big during the holidays—both for shoppers looking for a one-step present that packs a punch, and for the beauty industry itself, which relies heavily on them for a big old hunk of their annual revenue. Cute as they are, though, I’m always careful about which ones I choose to give. Those that center on pampering and skin care clear the bar. But anything that’s more makeup-oriented—and therefore requires the kind of insights into the giftee’s wants and needs that would would be tough to confirm were one not the giftee herself, are risky. Better to give those to somebody whose wants and needs you’re on more intimate terms with: you. And before you shake your heads at my uncanny ability to yet again rationalize any purchase, ever, consider this: holiday gift sets are reliably good values. You won’t find a better price for your favorite products all year. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the season, I’ve included a few choices from both categories. (And by the way, I’ve got my eye on the Josie Maran set.)
I’ve got nothing against a nice little beauty splurge. A tiny hit of luxury can put a real spring in your step and set you back a whole lot less than a new top or jacket or dress. However, it’s just as—if differently—pleasurable to know where to save, right? Experience and expert advice have taught me that these are categories you can always get away with inexpensive versions of.
Lip Balm I always prefer one that comes in a stick; those in tubes or pots can be so goopy I’ll inevitably end up just wiping them off within moments of application. I like Labello because it’s smoother and more emollient than other solids, and because—I can not lie—it’s got the insider appeal of formerly having only been available in Europe.
Makeup Remover: For years, I used a rather pricey one, having sampled a multitude of drugstore brands that either didn’t get the job done, or worked great but stung the hell out of my eyes. But on a recent trip, after it failed to make its way into my makeup bag, I tried the Neutrogena wipes that my hostess had on hand. Instant results, no ouch, and never going back.
Body Lotion Absolutely worth splurging on if you love the scent, but if it’s efficacy you’re after, I’d venture to say that—based on extensive but unscientific experience—drugstore brands are probably even superior to their department store counterparts. Curel’s Itch Defense, for instance, is nothing short of a miracle.
Eye Cream It’s criminal what some luxury brands get for this, especially given that the most effective active ingredients can be found in products up and down the price spectrum. Back when I got stuff for free, I tried half the fancy formulations on the market; nothing struck me as demonstrably better than Olay Total Effects.