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.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


If you’ve seen the commercials for Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer, you’ve seen a smiling model appearing decidedly unnatural. She looks more like Princess Or Ange of Planet Faketania. This? Is a shame. Though I’m not sure Jergens is hurting much, because I looked for this product for ages, and all the local drug stores were sold out. Why? Quite frankly, because this is one of the most exciting, results-providing products I’ve come across in a very long time. Real Girl is in lurve.

Generally, I sample a product for at least two weeks before I rant or rave about it to you lovely people. But after only a week of Jergening my heart out, I can’t hold it in any longer. Witness, in fact, this real life conversation with Real Boy, which took place after just three applications:

Real Boy to Real Girl: “Hey, you’re tan.”
Real Girl to Real Boy (to paraphrase): “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”

No one knows better than Real Boy how little I’ve been outdoors this summer. New York’s just been so awfully humid, and I haven’t even had one beach day. And yet the other day at the gym? For the first time in months, I was not the palest girl in step class. My friends, I look tan. Not Long-Island, Stay-in-the-Sun-All-Day tan, but with—and here I praise heartily a product that lives up to its promise—a definite natural glow. There’s no orange tint in sight and definitely no frightening self-tanner streaks. My precious little tan grew over about 3-5 applications, and I love it! I just stare at my arms all day! My legs no longer reflect light off passing puddles! I am glowy and fabulous! I am natural looking! I am tan woman, hear me squeeeee!

OK. Now to the parsing of the product. Pay attention! This is crucial! I’ve learned through experience!

1) Exfoliate your knees and elbows before using. I definitely noticed a build up of color around my rough elbow skin. Both exfoliating and lightly pre-moisturizing that area helped.
2) If you’ve achieved the color you want, don’t worry about skipping a day. I’m applying about every other day now, and I still love my color.
3) Don’t forget tops of feet (but avoid rough heels!) and backs of hands.
4) IMPORTANT: Don’t just wash your palms after use. Also exfoliate them with a rough product, like my ever-lovin’ St. Ives apricot scrub. One of my biggest self-tanner fears was walking around with red hands. I’m happy to say my palms look completely normal.
5) Try to wait at least fifteen minutes before putting on clothes or sitting on a sofa.

If I think of any more do’s and don’ts, I’ll add to the list. But for now, just know that this is a must-have product for the pale. (As for the not-so-pale? If you’ve used this product, I’d love to know your results. Does it work for you too?) Let’s spend a minute, here, on which option you should choose: Fair or Medium.

I chose Medium, and I’m endlessly happy I did. If you’re not the palest of the pale, I’d recommend this option. I’m usually the second palest in foundation, and I have yellow undertones. The only people who I’d recommend use the fair skin option are those with very pale skin and blue undertones. Think Claire from the recently departed Six Feet Under. Not that she’s told me she’s looking for a new self-tanner, but—you know—if she did, I’d say choose Jergen’s for Fair Skin.

I love it! I recommend it highly! I can overlook the annoying extra lotiony smell! I don’t tan easily, folks. Jergen’s Natural Glow? I’m sleeping with you under my pillow. You’re my precious. My preccccciousssssss.

Have you tried this product too? And if you did, at what degree of paleness did you start and what results did you see? Do you have another self-tanner to recommend? Anything at all, my dearies? Can’t wait to hear you!

With love,
From one Real Girl to another.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Eye, Eye Captain!

My lovelies, do it with me. The Free Stuff dance. Performed to the Free Stuff Song. “Free Stuff! Baby Free Stuff! Gimme your stuff, gimme gimme your stuff, gimme gimme. Free Stuff! Baby Free Stuff! Gimme your stuff, gimme gimme your stuff, gimme gimme all your stufffff, all your stuff-uff-uff.”

Bloomingdales! Around the country! Starting August 31! Free gift at Clinique! But what’s in the free gift, Real Girl, you may ask. Well, guess what? My posse at the Bloomie’s Clinique counter gave me a wee little peek. And, okay, not all of it is thrilling. There’s the requisite, though nice sized, sample of toner. The four neutral tones of eye shadow. The bubble gum pink lip gloss (shiny!), and the baggie of cotton balls and Q-tips. But what’s really exciting? So exciting that Real Girl may have to follow up this entry with one on Clinique Eye Product #2? A divine little sample of Clinique’s latest eye treatment, Repairwear Intensive Eye Cream. This beaut purports to fight fine lines with a nice peptide base. But does it work? If you get the free gift, be sure to share!!

But now on to Clinique Eye Product #1, All About Eyes: And here—as has become habit lately—Real Girl confesses. I’m stymied. I’ve perused the ingredients of this lovely little eye cream, and I’m not sure what makes it so splendiferous. Antioxidants? It’s got a bit of green tea and grape extract, but nothing that’s got me jumping off the walls. De-puffing? It’s got caffeine, the eternal ingredient of the depuff, which aids in reducing swelling. Dark circles? Ahem. Here Clinique cheats a little, using ingredients that inhibit melanin production—great if your darkness is due to melanin, not so much if (as with mine) it’s due to bone structure, shadows, etc. So…what is it, Clinique? WHAT AM I MISSING? It’s driving me crazy. There’s no reason I can see that this product should be as damn awesome as it is.

Should we chalk it up to miracle?

Let’s break it down. First of all: texture. This eye cream, in my book, has achieved the Holy Grail of eye cream texture. It’s light and cool, a silicone based moisturizer, which means it’s slippery and thin. You know how I’m always nagging you not to rub your eyes (and cause hateful, damning wrinkles)? Well, with this texture, it’s impossible to rub the eye area because your finger slides gently over your delicate skin as you tap, tap, tap away. I went through two samples of this baby, and with every use I continued to marvel at the lovely feel of this gentle, love-to-slather-it-on, gel/lotion hybrid.

But you know what? Here’s where I’m stumped. Those tiny fine lines around my eyes? The ones I’m always complaining about, even though I’m the only one who sees them? I don’t know how, but somehow when I use this eye cream, they seem less…less liney. My skin looks glowier, softer, plumper (in a good way). It’s like my eye skin has written me a love letter saying Real Girl? We likey. We really, really likey. I mean, don’t expect your lines to disappear…but if you’re early in the line-forming stage, as I am in my (very) late twenties, then this sweet gem may just make you smile. (And since you’re already using your antioxidant serum under All About Eyes and your sunscreen over it, you can smile all you want because you’re protecting against those laugh lines. I, for one? Refuse to stop laughing. Especially at myself.)

Basically? My sample ran out two weeks ago. I am DYING. I’m seeing those thready lines again, I swear. I wish I could tell you what Clinique's secret ingredient is here…but I’m thinking it might just be magic.

Abra Cadabra Presto Clinique-o!

Real Girl

(But what about you? Have you tried All About Eyes? Or the new Repairwear for Eyes? Want to gush over your favorite eye products? Depuffers? Anything at all? Chat away, my dears!)

Monday, August 15, 2005

This Body Flaw? Totally Fixable!

Ok, so today’s entry may not be the most scrumptious, glossy product-related post ever, but for some, it’s totally, totally necessary. This problem? It’s a bad one. Not quite hair-falling-out, beet-red-sunburn, gained-100-pounds bad, but darn ewwy enough to provoke a grimace. And at least one desperate, heartfelt cry for help.

Dear Real Girl,

Hi! First off, thanks so much for your awesome advice. I hope you forgive me for writing you anonymously. You’ll understand why when you hear my problem. Real Girl, please help me. Please!! I’ve got…Backne. I’ve got red bumps all on my back from the summer heat, and it’s so, so gross. What can I do to make it go away? It needs to go away!

Girl Who Wants Her Back Back

And…here we go into the confessional. Once again, I confess my secrets to you, completely shattering the myth that I wake up all coifed, clear-skinned, and undereye-concealed. As if.

So what happens when you have a sheet of hair that’s basically your security blanket? And it’s so humid outside that you can drink the air? Yeah, there’s gonna be some pore blockage there. My back pores, in fact, sent me a letter early this summer. “Dear Real Girl,” they said—much like you did, Girl Who Wants Her Back Back—“CLEAN US THE FUCK OUT.” And instead of signing it “Your divinely clear back pores,” they signed it “Red zits on your back. Hello, we said on Your Back!

But my back now? Silky smooth. Clear as a daisy. A clean-pored, exfoliated, benzoyl-peroxided daisy. I pet her and call her Fluffy.

Ok, GWWHBB. Listen here. If you’ve got a light-to-moderate case of the backne, you want to start by exfoliating every day. I usually try to promote gentle products that don’t irritate sensitive facial skin. But we’re talking about your back here. Rough it up. St. Ives Medicated Scrub for Oily or Acne Prone Skin absolutely saved my back. I do not recommend this product for sensitive facial skin, but start using it on your back (and chest, if needed) in every shower as your step 1.

Step 2: Benzoyl peroxide. Start with 5% and see how that works. If you’re not happy after a week or so, try 10% (but expect that to be more drying.) My faves? Oxy Balance Vanishing for Sensitive Skin (5%) and Oxy Balance Vanishing Maximum Acne Treatment (10%). Use this every night before bed. It can cause sun sensitivity so beware of daytime use!

Step 3: Wait. God, I wish this were an instant cure. But give it two weeks. If your back ain’t clear by then? You might want to consult a dermatologist for a prescription acne medication.

Real Girl Notes:
  • If your backne is large and sore, start with the benzoyl peroxide to clear it up a bit before moving to the exfoliation.
  • If you’ve just got tiny, clustered red bumps (these most often on the upper arms), just do the heavy exfoliating and forgo the acne treatment. Acne’s caused by bacteria; tiny red bumps are only pore blockage.
  • Try to avoid moisturizing the affected areas.

If you’re smart, unlike La Real Girl, once your back's crystal clear, you won’t go blabbing about your sordid backne past all over the internet, and no one will ever be the wiser!

Feel like confessing your deepest beauty flaw secrets? Got backne advice of your own? Questions, love, despair, joy? Share, my dearies, share!

And I remain your,
Real Girl

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Real Girl Confession (Oh Crap. Gonna Get The Dirty Googlers Now.)

Ohhhh, honeys. So much to talk about! And—disclaimer alert!—it’s not all about today’s exciting product. We’ll get there, though. Don’t worry. But First…

Well, okay. Before “But First…” comes “Ooh! Beauty Opportunity!” (Um, clearly.) While supplies last at (what is that? Two days? Two weeks? Dunno) you can get a free mascara sample with every purchase. Simply type in “LUSHLASHES” in the promotion box during checkout, and you’ll get your free .14 oz. sample of Lorac Mascara (online only). And if you get it? Do share your thoughts!!

Now, secondly, “But First…”

You know your secret husband? The celebrity you’re secretly married to but no one knows it, including said celebrity? Even though he clearly loves you and only you forever and ever amen? Yeah, well my secret husband is Michael Vartan, of Alias. At least of Alias FOR NOW. Rumor has it that my secret husband is LEAVING ALIAS! (it’s all over E! online Gossip and various message boards that I found by googling “Michael Vartan leaving Alias.”) They’re killing off my secret husband! Someone’s going to need some comforting… (And I’m talking about me here, people. Not poor dying off Michael Vartan. Me).

Ok. Sephora offer, check. Secret husband leaving me on his unsecret show, check. Oh, right! Time for B-list celebrity I saw at dinner last weekend.

So, Amy Sacco, of Lot 61 and Bungalow 8 fame (aka “Nightlife Queen,” as gossipy newspapers call her. Tres original, gossipy folks) has this new restaurant called Bette. It so happens that my beloved friend and former manager of… (oh, lordy. Boring. Let’s just call him Nightlife King) is the manager of this new restaurant. He’s so fab that he tells me, “Oh just stop by without a reservation. Any time you want!” And so…I did. I was wearing Adidas and a miniskirt made from vintage sweatshirts (by someone more talented than I!). Cute, yes, but not quite NYC glam. Nightlife King seats Real Boy and me in this raised area in the back, overlooking the entire restaurant. And there, just a few feet below me, is Tori Spelling. And I have got to say, Tori is just all around better in person. First of all, she’s cute! Even pretty! Her face somehow looks less long and horsey in person, her makeup’s great, and if she’s got a Fake Bake, it looks positively natural! She’s thin, but not Skeletor Skinny (a la Mary Kate). And even more, she seems really sweet and unassuming. How do I know this just by watching her eat dinner? I don’t. But that was my impression. Genuine smiles, good to her friends, not needing to be the center of attention. You get a Check Plus, Tori!

Ah! Right. This site is about beauty products. Y’all will hate me for straying to trivial matters (except for Michael Vartan leaving Alias. That is just too crushing), and I will get lots of emails slamming me for talking about whatever the heck I want on my own blog.

So let’s get to the good stuff.

Real Girl has a confession to make. This may shock you. It shocks me if I think about it. Here goes. Gathering up my strength. Don’t judge! Don’t judge! Don’t…

Real Girl uses hairspray. And not just a little. Huge, swirling spritzes of the spray of the hair. Do you have the same mental picture I do? Because mine’s of that girl in eighth grade who had to duck when walking through doors lest her Enormously High Hair scrape the paint off the doorframe.

But do you really think Real Girl would allow herself to have Jersey Hair? No no no no no. Lordy, no! Because I use the BEST HAIRSPRAY EVAH. The same one I’ve been using for so long, I’ve passed through at least four repackagings. If they ever discontinue this product, people? My grief will be so powerful, you’ll hear my mourning wails no matter where the heck you are. Y’all shaking your heads in Australia? Believe me. Ohhh, believe me. Because without L’Oreal Studioline Fast Forward Strong Hold, I am nothing. I am just a head with a limp, flyaway, sagging mess of unspiraling curls. But with this awe-inspiring product? I’ve got body, hold, and power. WITHOUT that crispy firmness that scrapes the paint off doorframes. That’s right. This hairspray holds without being too crispy. It’s my secret weapon.

Have I tried pricier hairsprays? Hell, yeah! Do I love them? No!! Crispiness! Crazy strong smells! Jersey Hair!!! But not with my L’Oreal Studioline aerosol beauty. Do I flip my hair over and spray the heck out of it, waiting for it to dry so when I flip it back over, it’s all movie star full? Yes!! Does it then sag back to normal proportions throughout the day? Yes!! But have I also sprayed the top layers so they don’t sag too, too badly? Yes!! Have I held the can far enough away so the spray diffuses all over and isn’t too concentrated? Yes!! Does that mean my hair looks totally fabu and yours can too? Well, hell. What do you think???

But I’ve talked my ass off by now. So, darlings, let’s hear all your secrets!! Hairspray? Celebrity sighting? Secret husband? It's alllll up for grabs.

With love from your,
Real Girl