Real Girl Beauty

For every girl who's imagined herself as Lucky Magazine's "Lucky Girl." Or who's conquered her addiction to the bitchier-than-thou forums. Or who reacts every day to her Daily Candy email with the same: "Who can afford that?" Here are some heartfelt health and beauty tips from one Real Girl to another.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Crappity Crap Crap

Hello nice people!

1. Real Girl is on vacation this week, so no posties.

2. Real Girl's computer died. Hell hell hell. New computer expected in 2 weeks....So, hold on a while longer...(And for everyone who's asked, the novel is fine, thanks for your concern!!)

When I get back online, I've got some exciting skin care success to report!

Love much,
Real Girl

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Real Girl Says A Prayer

Dear God,

Real Girl has a favor to ask. Please. Please, if there is any justice in the world.

Please let Real Girl age infinitely better than Mickey Rourke:

Because he went from looking all rough and tumble bad boy...

To looking like notorious leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il.

And that's not cute.

Sure, he's had some truly awful plastic surgery. But still. God. Help a girl out. And her mirror too.

Much obliged.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why Real Girl Needs A New Eye Cream...Or Does She?

Let’s talk about trust. Because think about it, what’s your beauty regimen like without trust? You trust that your stylist will get your hair just right, that the nail polish color in the bottle will look JUST LIKE THAT when you paint your nails, that your concealer will magically know not to bunch up in your eye creases. But most of all, you grow to trust a brand. You’ve used and liked their products before, so you figure—this is a line for me. This brand gets me. So here’s why Real Girl’s looking for a new eye cream. My current one? I trust that sucker about as much as I’d trust a shoe salesman without feet.

Promises, promises, promises. Nothing frustrates Real Girl more than a product that promises to offer way more than it delivers. But before I get to that, let’s start with the good stuff. You already know how obsessed Real Girl has become with antioxidants. Because those wrinkle-causing free radicals must be stopped. (Here, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention how much more effective SPF protection--the most potent weapon of all--is in the fight against the Evil of the Free Radicals…Just sayin') So right. Antioxidants. Fighting the cellular-level damage of free radicals (it has to do with oxygen molecules stealing electrons. But you want to keep your electrons. They will sing and dance for you). Which brings us to the supreme powers of White Tea.

White tea is the least processed of all teas, and so is said to have three times the antioxidant power of its already antioxidant-rich cousin, green tea. In fact, as soon as I finish the gazillion packets of green tea in my kitchen, I’ll be buying La White Tea to consume as often as possible in liquid form. (IV, please?) But this is no health entry! We’re here to talk about product!! As in eye cream!! As in…Origins A Perfect World for Eyes. The big lure of this product—and one not to be poo-pooed—is that it contains white tea extract: the antioxidant motherload. Ahhhhhhh! Real Girl is suppressing the tear in her eye, lest it dilute her Origins Perfect World. Sneak back up there, tear bitch.

But here’s the catch. Of the 55 ingredients listed, White tea is #25. (Yes, I counted.) It’s all the way down there, in the middle. After all the weird flowery sounding ingredients like Magnolia Grandiflora. (And why is peppermint the second ingredient? Are we brushing our teeth here, Origins?) Naturally, Real Girl was skeptical. Is there enough of my beloved white tea in this concoction to do any good? Would it be effective? This, in fact, was what I asked the pinched-face, blonde Origins lady at the 5th Ave and 23rd Street store. She spat back at me, harshly, “It’s very effective,” before returning her gaze to the cash register, where a whopping zero people were waiting to buy stuff. Pinchy Blonde Girl? I don’t trust you.

But there’s more. Ohhh, there’s more. For a while, lured by the promise of La White Tea, I used A Perfect World White Tea Skin Guardian, a serum to be worn under moisturizer. Like the eye product we’re discussing here, the Skin Guardian has a pump. Which means 1) you can’t control the amount of product that comes out (grrr), and 2) you know there’s always a ton of product left even when it won’t pump the fuck out of the canister. Hate that. Products are not to be wasted! I should mention here that the Skin Guardian is $31, which is relatively reasonable compared to other white tea products, which tend to be super pricey. BUT HERE’S THE THING. The price? It’s an illusion. The size of the bottle? It’s an illusion. Because when I took the wee bottle apart to get at those last drops of serum, I realized that inside the already small case of A Perfect World was another, smaller case. Maybe half the size. And that’s where the product was. When you buy this product, you're buying half of what you think you're buying. Which makes the price a whole lot less of a value.

And which makes me think Origins is SHADY ASS. Real Girl doesn’t trust folks with SHADY ASSES.

Think we’re done? Think again. I bought the Perfect World For Eyes before I found out about the shady assiness. But I bet that this bottle, too, may contain less than it appears to. After I'm done and I take it apart, you better believe I’ll report back. Because one of the HUGE reasons I bought A Perfect World for Eyes was its price ($28.50) in comparison to my old eye cream, the similarly-sized, also antioxidant-rich (vitamins A and C, grapeseed extract, green tea) Dr. Brandt Lineless Eye Cream, which costs about twice as much ($60). But do you see where I’m going here? If the Origins product is in a secret inner container that’s half as large, well…there goes the value.

What’s more? I actually trust the Dr. Brandt. His “origins” I know about. He’s a respected dermatologist. If you’re willing to pay $60 bucks for an eye cream, I would recommend his. Although it’s also a pump, and so sometimes gets that pump build-up clump of product, there’s no secret compartment there. What you see is what you get. And what you don’t see is out there fighting your free radicals.

So we’re done, right? Real Girl has gotten her rant on. You’re sick of me now. Except for No. We’re. Not. Done. Because remember what I said about promises? Origins A Perfect World for Eyes promises to tighten puffy eyes and diminish dark circles. Both of which Real Girl suffers from—and let me tell you, I mean suffers. With the hate and the die you puffy, dark circles, and the die, I said. So did the product live up to its promises? Hell, no. The puffs live on. The circles darken. The hate deepens.

(Big aside here. The only product Real Girl has ever found that actually reduces under eye puffiness is La Prairie Cellular Lipo-Sculpting Eye Gel. Truly, the results were shocking. HOWEVER I do not recommend this product for two reasons. 1) Oh my God the tightness. I felt as if all the water had been drained from my eyeballs. No part of your face should feel like this. Ever. 2) A hundred and twenty-five dollars? Are you for real?)

So, my patient ones, to recap. Real Girl loves white tea. Origins A Perfect World For Eyes has white tea. Maybe enough to work, maybe not. Real Girl does not trust Origins. If you can afford it, Dr. Brandt is a great alternative.

Will we revisit the topic of eye cream sometime in the future?
Does Jessica Simpson need to lay off the fake tanner?

Want to share your own A Perfect World experiences? Any Origins products that might be better? Any eye cream products we need to try? Share whatever the heck is on your mind!

With love,
From one Real Girl to another.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Staying in Line

Have you guessed by now that Real Girl’s beauty philosophy has more to do with looking natural than overly done up? Don’t get me wrong! I love a great smoky eye, or a really powerful mouth…I just usually prefer that they’re not done together. But even so, sometimes a bold eye and bold lips look great together. It’s all about context, about what works for you. There needn’t be rules. Just looking fabulous.

What I mean by “looking natural” is more…not giving up your secrets. Which I used to be really good at! Until I started a beauty blog in order to give them all away. It’s hilarious now when Real Girl sees her readers in “real” life. They stare at her cheeks. They squint at her eyebrows. The game is up, folks. Y’all know it takes some good product to look like I’m not wearing product.

So, here goes another secret, open for all the world to see. Get ready to stare at Real Girl’s lips, people. Sure, it makes me feel like I constantly have dirt on my face, a sudden new mole the size of Africa, or some kind of monster break-out. Because otherwise, why would you be staring at me like that? But then I remember. Oh yeah. I wrote about lip liner, didn’t I? And now you’re just sneaking a peek at the awesome technique. Okay! But still. Just keep in mind. You know, if you happen to remember. You’re freaking me out.

Lips! How have we not discussed lips in so long! You already know about my favorite night-time lip balm, and my favorite shimmery colored lip balm (although I’m still jonesing for that Burt’s Bees in nutmeg…). But we’ve mentioned nothing about shape. About defining the line of the lip. About giving your lipstick some boundaries. About finding the perfect lip liner to make it look like you’re not wearing lip liner.

I should tell you, I am not a fan of the sharpener. First, it’s an extra step to take—and who wants to waste valuable beautifying time spinning a lip liner in a sharpener, throwing out the shavings, cleaning the sharpener…I mean, how bored are you right now? Second—and more importantly—it’s a waste of product. Have you ever sharpened a liner and not seen that precious color getting thrown in the trash? Hate it! Third—most importantly—I don’t like the look of a sharpened lip liner. The point is too thin, and too hard to blend in with the lip color. You might need to use your finger, or a sponge. And Real Girl says—why bother?

Because there’s this beauteous thing—the automatic sharpener. You twist your lip liner, and more comes out! But what’s best? It doesn’t come out super sharp. There’s a wee bit of bluntness going on there, which softens the lip line, and allows the color to overlap enough to avoid the dreaded Obvious Lip Line. I’m hoping I don’t need to tell you that your liner color should match lipstick color. I don’t, right? Because you’ve made it out of the 80s? Right? I’m just going to assume here…so don’t let Real Girl down.

Clinique makes a good automatic Quickliner But I love my drugstore one just as much—or even more! L’Oreal Crayon Petite Automatic Lip Liner rocks my world. I’ve been using it for so many years, I’ve seen at least three repackagings, and one or two color changes. For the past few years, my addiction has been to the Nudes, which looks absolutely nothing like the color in the link. (And makes me think Walgreens supports the colorblind by giving them jobs.) The actual color is a browner version of the “Barely pinks” on the Walgreens page, a pinky-plummy-browny color that goes with every single one of my lipsticks. Partially because the color is just too fabulous for words. And partially because of the way I apply it. Because even if your liner isn’t a perfect match for your lipstick, you can fake it without winding up with the evil Obvious Lip Line.

Here’s what you do. You can either line lips first, and then apply your lipstick—making sure to allow for some overlap. Or. And this is what Real Girl does. You can put your lipstick on first, remaining as true to your natural line as possible, and then you can use your lip pencil to better define the boundaries of your lip. Don’t press down too firmly, and make sure the liner picks up some of the lipstick. I’ve given this tip to lots of ladies already, and it always works. Lipstick first, liner second. Real Girl’s secret to the ultimate natural lip.

But I’m not the only one with secrets! Does anyone out there have her own favorite liner? Or an argument in favor of the sharpener? Application methods? Vital lip-related information? Please share!! We can all pout and pucker together, like the divine starlets we already are.

I remain your,
Real Girl

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fixer Upper!!

As you know, Real Girl has some beauty pet peeves. You can scroll down and see one of them now—in the form of Pat Benatar’s 80’s Blush Disaster. Her blush brush hit her with its best shot, and then kept slapping her upside the face. Not so cute. Another pet peeve of mine? Lipstick that dries out your lips so badly, they look permanently puckered. What’s the use of having long-lasting color if you constantly want to shove your lips in a vat of Vaseline? Not so cute. But the pet peeve we’ll be talking about here—the one fixed by one glorious, pocket-sized product—is that scraggly, cakey line of eyeshadow that, no matter how fabulous it looked when you put it on, always settles right into the crease of your eyelid. Why, cakey eye shadow line? Why do you just slide in there, hunkering down like you’re paying rent? ‘Cause I’m sorry. There are no extra beds in my eyelid crease.

But, as Real Girl so often says when talking about La Products, there is hope! Over a year ago, while lingering amorously around the Benefit counter at Henri Bendel’s, my gaze came to rest on a tiny cosmetic pot. My interest was piqued. What could be in that wee jar that’s worth $20? Sniffing a possible sale in the air, the lady at the counter scurried over. “Do you see that shine on your eyelids?” she asked me. Then—just to be helpful, thanks a lot—she held a mirror right up to my face. It was summer! It was the end of the day! But yes, there was an unattractive oil slick spilling over my eyelids. Lovely.

“This product has silicone,” Benefit Lady told me, patting a dab of product over my eyelids. Immediately, my head was filled with visions of Pamela Anderson’s breasts heaving over my eyes. Was this what I really wanted from a beauty product?

But never fear! Fake boobies did not sprout from my eyelids! No, what happened was much more miraculous. With just a touch of F.Y…Eye!, my eye shadow now stays miraculously in place! The eyelid oilies mitigate, my make up looks fresher longer, and that damn cakey crease line disappears. Solving an eye makeup pet peeve for twenty bucks? Totally worth it. Don’t be deceived by the wee bottle—a little goes a long way, and the jar will last for eons.

You need to put on your F.Y…Eye! three minutes before your eye shadow, so plan accordingly. Though I don’t wear much eye shadow during the day, I do always smear a tad of dark brown in my outer crease to open up the eye and make my lids look less heavy. What relief I feel knowing that my touch of brown won’t go sliding out of place. One less thing to worry about! And the product feels silky, not at all cakey, and leaves a flawless finish. Now that’s a word Real Girl has no pet peeves about. Flawless.

Because what else are products for?

Have you got eye makeup secrets of your own to share? Other priming products we NEED to know about? Just feel like ranting ‘bout your own pet peeves? Let ‘er rip, baby.

Real Girl

Thursday, March 03, 2005

You So Fine, Baby. Work It. Own It.

Time to talk about Hair!! Wheeeee!!! If you could see Real Girl's now, it would be bouncing merrily to and fro. And can I just say? Is anyone else stupefied that they made a WHOLE musical about Hair without mentioning ONE SINGLE PRODUCT? Hello, that's what I call the Age of Needing Deep Conditioning.

But there's no time to waste! We've got an Ask Real Girl question screaming for your advice. Melissa writes:

I was recently at a ritzy hair stylist with a friend. Sadly, she was getting her hair cut and not me. Anyhow, I made some random comment
about my thick hair and the stylish said "honey, you don't have thick hair. You have baby fine hair...just a lot of it." And then she proceeded to demonstrate the real texture of my hair. My whole life I've been told that I have thick hair and have been using products for that when really what people should have been telling me is that I just have a lot of hair. I was reeling in shock and didn't manage to ask the important questions. What does having fine hair mean in terms of buying hair products? My whole hair world just got turned upside down.

Melissa, you've just described Real Girl's hair to a T: fine texture, but lots of it. (Try gathering all your hair in a ponytail with one fist. If you're getting a good, tight grip, you've got fine hair, baby.) Here's what I've learned: When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, your ultimate goal should be to seek out the products that will leave the least residue and build up. That's more important than any promise to plump your follicles, or whatever. Now, if your hair already gives such a powerful illusion of thickness that it's fooled even you, then you might already have found the ultimate zen path to build-up-free product. But just in case you haven't, here's the beefy beef.

When it comes to shampoo, I'm in love with Phytovolume Volumizer Shampoo, which is so lightweight, it's pretty much a liquid. A divinely smelling, citrusy liquid that won't suffocate your many delicate strands. Biggest problem with this shampoo? It's twenty bucks a bottle. I rationalize it by thinking that a little goes a long way. But still. The bottle ain't that big. Truthfully, though, I have yet to find a more lightweight shampoo.

As to conditioner, well...Guess how this whole Real Girl Beauty thing began? I found a new conditioner that made my fine hair so much softer and bouncier than my old one, that I just had to write about it. (Much in the same way that I tend to sing or dance when in the presence of good food.) So, there's my dear Garnier Fructis conditioner for fine hair. Love it. But lately, with the dryness of winter, I've been looking for something with more moisturizing properties. One solution has been to use Garnier Fructis Deep Conditioner 3 Minute Masque once a week. It's not the deepest conditioner I've found, but it's a good detangler, adds a bit more conditioning, and totally does not weigh down my hair, which as we know, is key.

HOWEVER. (You knew there had to be a however, didn't you?) I have been looking for a new moisturizing conditioner for dry, fine hair. I'm not sure if yours is dry or not, but these are still great options for not weighing down hair. Have you guessed yet that there's a list coming? I mean, clearly.

Neutrogena Triple Moisture Sheer Hydration Leave-in Foam. This leave-in conditioner is at the top of my list. There's no alcohol, which is so key in avoiding dry hair.
Dove Extra Volume Conditioner. This product is just so reasonably priced, and supposed to be quite good.
Biosilk Silk Filter. A great option if silkiness is your top priority. My hunch is that this product would be best for straight hair, because sometimes too much of the silkiness makes my wavy tresses fall flat.
Back to Basics Wild Berry Volumizing Conditioner. Has a great reputation, and I've heard spiffy things 'bout it.
Charles Worthington Big Hair. Another well-recommended product, which I like because it also comes in this size, more appropriate for sampling.
KMS Amp 2 in 1 Thickening Crème. Another leave-in conditioner, this one better to protect against heat styling.

And finally, once you're all washed and conditioned, you know how much I love this Thickening Lotion. If you pay attention to the comments on that link, you'll find brilliant recommendations from other readers. Not that we don't need more. We're always needing with the more. Because recommendations are Real Girl's Oxygen.

Let me leave you now with one last thought, Melissa. Something Real Girl has struggled with for years. I love, love, love long hair. But if it gets too long, I'm left with a stringy, straggly mess. That's not Real. That's what we call Gross. So truthfully, your hair will reach its fullest fullness potential if you keep it at your upper back or higher. But then, if your hair is tremendously long I can't imagine you've gone all these years thinking you're a thick-header (erm...nothing dirty meant there, people).

I think I'm done now. I also think I'm buying the Neutrogena Triple Moisture Foam tomorrow. Because darling product, I've put you off for too long...

Got any beauty, health, style, or fashion questions of your own? E-mail Real Girl at

With love
From one Real Girl to another.