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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Mascara Chronicles Part III: Craaaaaaaaap

CRISIS! CRI! SIS! Months after I found the perfect mascara, there is trouble in paradise.

No other mascara makes my lashes look as fab as YSL Luxurious Mascara. So thick! So long! The evening look to end all other evening looks! This shizznit just screams glamour. (But thankfully not while I’m sleeping. Gotta love considerate mascara.)

HOWEVER. My beloved YSL Luxurious Mascara has one fatal flaw: it doesn’t last so well. After about four months, it gets kind of sticky and harder to apply. The lush blackness loses a bit of its luster. It becomes slightly…less than perfect.

I don’t know about you, but Real Girl expects her mascara to last six months. Especially if it’s expensive!

So. For my latest mascara purchase, I revisited the Ever Favorite Real Girl Beauty Mascara Chronicles of December, 2004 and decided to buy Clinique High Impact Mascara. Perhaps not surprisingly (hello, it’s not perfect), I have decided that this is not the mascara for me. My lashes look less thick than they do with the YSL. In fact, they look anemic by comparison. But what’s worse? By the end of the night, I had raccoon eyes! Bright black raccoon eyes. There exists a perfect zen state of mascara that’s not too waterproof to make removing it difficult, but that also does not make you look like a foraging forest critter. It’s that almost-waterproof-but-not-quite state that I call Nirvana. Yes, my YSL had it. For the allotted four months of perfection.

I may revisit another of my runners up--Prescriptives False Eyelashes. But the mascara I’m dying to try? The one I’ve heard raves about for ages? Blinc Kiss Me Mascara. Will it give me the thickness and the length? I want both! Because I think we know?

I will not settle for less.

But what about y'all? Got the perfect thickening, lengthening, non-clumpy, non-raccoon-eye, lasts-more-than-four-months mascara? Have you tried the Kiss Me? Or do I just have to suck it up and buy new mascara every four months?

With Love,
Real Girl

Oh!! P.S.!! Here’s one thing I love about Clinique (and there's another Clinique review to come soon, dearies): They have an awesome return policy. I will return my High Impact Mascara to Bloomingdales, where I bought it, and they will refund my money without a peep!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Peptides: The Next Expensive SKIN CARE CRAZE

Believe it or not, Real Girl is not a big sucker.
I mean, yes, I am the cosmetic industry’s WET DREAM—a loyal customer who eagerly shares her favorite products far and wide (duh). But what’s more, I will pile product after product onto my skin in the belief that at least one of them has got to work, right? RIGHT???

So indeed, I am prone to buy skin care products. And by “prone,” I mean "Oh My God, what is that? Does it have antioxidants? Is it SPF 15? Does it smell pretty? IS IT ON SALE?"

But trust me--there’s method to the madness. When a New Skin Care Craze arises, Real Girl is always skeptical. How dare a product make such wild claims! How dare they promise so much and then produce such miniscule results. How dare they! I then proceed to shake my head at all the suckers spending hundreds of dollars on said New Skin Care Craze. Flash forward a year.

Holy Crap I’ve Got to Have it. Nowwwwwwwwwww!

Today’s Skin Care Craze: Peptides.

Peptides are short chains of amino acids (long chains are proteins) that were initially used to treat stretch marks. The most famous (and yet not the best) peptide product is StriVectin, which contains palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 (aka Matrixyl). In addition to stretch mark relief, this ingredient has been shown to reduce skin roughness, reduce wrinkle volume, and decrease wrinkle depth by up to 27% after four months of twice-daily applications. Copper peptides have been shown to have benefits in increasing collagen production, tissue regeneration, and easing the daily wear and tear on skin (all important for preventing wrinkles!). Still others say that Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (aka Argireline) might be the most effective peptide.

Point being: key words to look for in addition to peptide: Copper. Matrixyl. Argireline. You’re treating existing wrinklies (within reason) while preventing new ones.

Great. Now you know what to look for. “But Real Girl,” you ask. “Which ones are the best? Have you compiled a list for us?” Ah, impatient ones. We’ll get there. Have faith.

So. Remember all those fabulicious Sephora samples I got a couple weeks ago? One of them happened to be a really expensive product I was dying to try. The kind of dying and the kind of really expensive that made me invent an imaginary friend so I could ask for an extra sample. To give Friend, of course. Not to hoard for my own crucial personal care. (As if.)

The product? Dr. Brandt R3P Cream . The cost? A hundred and twenty-five dollars. Holy Crap. The review? If it were less expensive, I’d probably invest. The ingredients have merit and include Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Argireline). It’s a three-types-of-peptide cocktail and what’s not to love about that? Well, here’s what. The cream’s a bit too thick. I used it sparingly around eyes, smile lines, and forehead creases (the problem areas), but I think it’s just to thick to slather on. Unless you have normal to dry skin, I’d say maybe this ain’t the cream for you.

So what is? Well, as long as we’re talking $125 and Argireline, I think the better (and perhaps the best) investment would be AlphaDerma CE. The key to this product is that it offers a 10% concentration of Argireline, the highest you’ll find anywhere. You are most likely to see the benefits of peptides with the highest concentrations, hands down, no question. Also? It has high concentrations of collagen-building Vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic Acid, another powerful antioxidant. Take a look at this more professional review here. Right now, this product is #1 on my Sample Desire List. I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly until I’ve tried it, but I think it’s worth adding to any list.


Here’s another very good option with Vitamin C, this one on the Matrixyl bandwagon: DDF C3 Plus Serum at $60.

Philosophy’s Save Me offers a wondrous combination of peptides, retinols, and Vitamin C for $60, but after checking out the ingredients, I’m a bit worried that the concentrations may be too small.

Another swell option in this price range would be Estee Lauder Perfectionist [CP+] with Poly-Collagen Peptides Correcting Serum for Lines/Wrinkles/Age Spots for $55. But only if you can say it three times fast.

For $80, you can get a perfectly decent source of Argireline and Vitamin C in DDF Wrinkle Relax, but it also includes shea butter, and so may be best on normal to dry skin.

At $65, here’s a copper peptide option for day with SPF 20: Neova Day Therapy SPF 20 with GHK Copper Peptide Complex.

And finally, here are two of the best ACTUALLY AFFORDABLE peptide options:
Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum, Concentrated Amino-Peptide Complex with great antioxidants and so-so peptides.

Zia Natural Skincare Ultimate Day Renewal which has a really decent amount of Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Argireline). Only worry: It has some oils in it, so beware if you tend to break out. Also, it doesn’t come with the antioxidant bells and whistles (except for a tad of Vitamin E).

Whew! After getting this all down in beautyblogland, I have to this to say.
Dream Product: AlphaDerma CE
Product I Will Probably Get: Zia Natural Skincare Ultimate Day Renewal.

But PLEASE my lovelies. If you know of other drugstore products with peptides—I will kiss you if you share them! Any other department store brands I’ve missed? Do you think it’s all a load of hooey? Do share!!

And I remain your,
Real Girl

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Taking It All Off...

Real Girl has found a new staple. This one’s staying in my makeup bag, living there like a happy pup nestled in a blanketed box. And like a puppy, I will pet it and love it and not get too angry when it pees in the kitchen. Wait…eh, you get the drift.

We’re used to glamour products here. Products that give you tawny color, shiny lips, flowy hair, perfect brows. I mean, when you read about real estate, you’re looking for the number of bedrooms, the asking price, the luxury amenities. You’re not aching to know what cleaning product the realtor uses. When you see a girl on the subway in the best fitted blazer ever, you’ve got to know who makes it and where she got it. Not where she goes for dry cleaning.

So forgive me if this entry doesn’t reek of glamour. What it does have—in spades—is necessity. I will never again wear mascara without using my new can’t-live-without Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover. Ohhhh, I need it. I love it. I have to have it. Hey, Clinique Makeup Remover! Stop peeing in my kitchen.

Ok. Teeny confession here. One I do not recommend you follow in the future. I sort of used this product before I read the directions. Here’s how Clinique says you should use the remover: “Use day or night, cleansing one eye area at a time. Apply a drop to 100% cotton ball. With eye closed, massage gently over lid and lashes. Wipe up then down, then open the eye and wipe underneath. Tissue off, or rinse off any residue with water.”

Here’s how Real Girl used the remover: "Use day or night, squeezing out a healthy glob into your hands and using like a cleanser over eyes. Massage until your eye area resembles a racoon’s. Rinse off the ton of residue with water. Follow with actual cleanser."

Right. If you have really sensitive skin, I don’t recommend using my method. Otherwise, I think that’s the only way to go. Because here’s one of the reasons I love the product: Normally, I hate makeup remover precisely because you’ve got to use a cotton ball, or because you’re using an already prepared makeup pad. That means rubbing the eye area. And as we all know, RUBBING THE EYE AREA IS BAD. However, this lightweight-lotion-like product has enough slipperiness that when you rub it over eyes directly (lightly, people!!), you’re rubbing only the product and not your delicate eye area. Honestly, it feels like cleanser. (Another perk? None of that oily makeup remover feel.) And I get an extra kick out of the way my eyes look surrounded by dissolving mascara. I made Real Boy look at my raccoon face too. We laughed. What’s more, followed by cleanser, I had not a speck of mascara to be found.

But maybe you’ve got a makeup remover you love more? Or you know of a cleanser that’s both gentle enough not to irritate but effective enough to remove mascara? Or you just want to talk about your puppy? You know we love to hear you.

With love,
From one Real Girl to another.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lipstick, I Love You Once More

Hello lovelies!

Can you believe we've never talked about lipstick before?
I've found one that feels just like silk....So stay tuned!!!!

Update: Here it is! If you want to go straight to the lipstick, scroll down some. (I may be asking for hate mail of the not-the-right-venue-for-this variety, but...)

WARNING: The following paragraphs are not about beauty. Please feel free to skip them, as they are dark, and that’s not usually what we’re about here. But I feel compelled to write them, so if you choose to skip this part, just pick up where you see the words “So now back to our regular programming.”

To all of Real Girl Beauty’s London readers, or to all who know people in London, as I do, I very much wish that all your loved ones are unharmed. I’m entirely relieved that my two dear, wonderful friends in London are okay, albeit stunned. Much like the rest of their city. My empathy, sympathy, and gut-wrenching thoughts of “Oh God, not again” are all with you.

It’s impossible while watching the chaos in London now on CNN not to remember—and I don’t just mean mentally. I’m feeling it again in my stomach—what New York was like in the days after September 11. I lived downtown, east of the World Trade Center, and I can almost smell the smoke again. You had to keep your windows closed for days afterwards because it was so pungent. I remember right after the attack trying frantically to call my best friend on her cell phone. My best friend who worked across the street from the Twin Towers. Phone service was overloaded, and so I wouldn’t be able to contact her for hours. I remember crying with relief when I found out she wasn’t harmed. She had been looking up at the towers when the second plane hit, and I will always be in awe of the fact that she knew the exact right thing to do—to run, out of the city, across the Brooklyn Bridge, dragging a woman with her who had been literally too shocked to move. But that’s her story, not mine. I can only say for sure that I remember how it felt to be in the midst of a tragedy. The only thing I wanted was to see on TV was something else. Anything but the images of fire and grief every time I looked online or at the television or at a newspaper. It got so bad, I finally rented the silliest, most inane movie I could find at Blockbuster. That’s right--September 11th made me waste four bucks on Josie and the Pussycats. Damn terrorists.

Point being: it feels frivolous when the news is plastered with more terrorist attacks to talk about lipstick. To talk about it the way I like to—which is, with fun involved. But then I remember how I felt four years ago—how all I wanted was something to take my mind off what was happening. So let’s not stop our fun. Our lips need prettifying. And if I can help just one suffering person avoid the horrors of Josie and the Pussycats, well, then I’ve done my job.


Yay! I’ve found a lovely winner from my stash of Sephora loot that has actually changed the way I think about lipstick forever. From the age of 17 to 24, the only make up I had to have was my lipstick. Literally, I was never without it. My favorites were Lancome and Chanel, dark creamy mattes in rich brick shades to complement my (then—before the beauties of highlights) almost black hair. However, for the past few years, I’ve been a gloss and tinted balm girl. Lipstick just left my lips so dry and unsexy feeling. When I’ve worn lipstick lately, it’s been of the almost-a-gloss variety, or has been worn under gloss, or over balm, etc. etc. But now, to lipsticks everywhere, Real Girl apologizes. I didn’t realize you could feel so damn good.

My free tube of Pout Lipstick has shocked and amazed me. It feels like a balm, and yet it provides the long-lasting, color-rich appearance of a lipstick. No joke, I want to wear it just around the house because my lips feel so poutily moisturized when it’s on. I haven’t tried more than one color, so I don’t know if Pout’s entire line manages to remain long-lasting and yet still moisturizing (the gold standard of all lipsticks), but my color, “Head Rush,” is definitely a textural winner.

Let’s talk about this color for a minute. Because it’s one I would have never chosen for myself in a million years. It’s pink. With metallic sparkle. Metallic sparkle pink? Who am I, Jessica Simpson? You've got to be kidding me. And yet somehow, it looks great. The pink is an inoffensive blush, and the sparkle just serves to add sexiness, the way a gloss does. I never thought I’d wear pink lipstick in public, but Pout, you’ve convinced me it can look hot as hell. I want to try “Bare All,” which looks closer to my usual shade, but now I’m also feeling emboldened to experiment with new colors. For the first time, I feel like I’ve found a lipstick I can wear without balm underneath. God, with my lip venom on top, it just might be too hot to handle.

So now you know my new favorite lipstick. Please tell me yours! Please let me know what other lipsticks are out there that can change my life for the better! Anything you want to chat about at all…you know where to comment, babes.

And I remain your,
Real Girl