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.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Indulge Me. Or…Not.

First of all, I’m thrilled to say I’ve just ordered this book, which was recommended to me by La Madgirl as every beauty maven’s absolute must-have. I am entirely certain that this wondrous book will provide endless Real Girl entries about which products we should all be rushing towards, and which we should be avoiding like an unrefrigeratored dairy section on the hottest day of August. The exalted Book of Knowledge should arrive chez moi in the next week and a half. I promise you, its pages will be pored over with the care that Tammy Faye Baker gives her bible, or—because who are we kidding—her mascara wand.

But in the meantime. I am asking your indulgence. You may chastise me after this entry. But I promise it will not be a regular pattern. And—hey, it’s linked to fashion! So, kind of fair game!

When Real Girl started this blog, she promised herself and others that she would not be filling its pretty pink background with treatises on 1) What was my day like today? 2) What did Paris Hilton do today? or 3) Did you see what just happened on *Insert Reality Program Here*? Because other people have that covered. I love them and read them as constantly as I wash my face with gentle cleanser. You can find some of these bloggers on my sidebar. They make Real Girl giggle. (And sometimes guffaw.)

So, it is with trepidation, but also much love and admiration, that I break rule #3. I have held back as long as possible. I MUST write about Kara Saun, of Bravo’s Project Runway, who is without a single doubt the best, most sanest, kindest, talented, decent, non-drama-queen, fabulous “character” to ever hit reality television. She is my total nonsexual crush. I wuv her.

First, about Project Runway: Oh My God, the addiction. And it’s on Bravo, so if you haven’t been watching, I’m sure you can find a marathon of episodes at least once a week. Basic premise: Stick a bunch of aspiring fashion designers in a workroom at Parsons, give them a wacky challenge, and expect them to finish in the time it usually takes to create a single sleeve. Oh, and axe one of them at the end of the show, because—duh. Let the mayhem begin!

The “breakout star” of the show has been Austin Scarlett, who wears more makeup than any of us and who, when he dances, looks like a piece of wet spaghetti. To him, I say: Eh. If he wins over my Kara Saun, I will infiltrate his make up bag and cut off all his lipsticks at the base.

Not only has my Kara Saun produced some of the best fashions (my favorites being This--to which the photo so does not do justice. And also, why the hat, Kara?--This, and This), but she also HELPS THE OTHER DESIGNERS. I am not kidding. How decent is that, especially in the world of Reality TV? Once, she made-over the annoyingly hopeless, conniving, and scary-ass Wendy to help her win that week’s challenge. And once, during the wedding challenge, when Rob’s model didn’t love her lace, Kara Saun tossed out a casual “Rob, wasn’t that lace really expensive?” before whispering to the camera: “Trick of the trade. If you tell the client the fabric is expensive, they’ll instantly love it.” How cool is she? And how much do I want one of her dresses? With whatever fabric she chooses! But I'm not the only one who's all "Ooh, Kara Saun, I loooove you." Michael Kors has as much feeling for KS as he can have for a woman. Betsy Johnson, too, gives the girl her props. And who receives all that heaping praise with aplomb and humility? Kara! Saun! Love! Her!

Now, the big thing with this show is to last until the “Final Three,” who will each get to design a collection for NY’s Fashion Week. We know Austin’s going to make it, because he’s the camera hog. And he cries. Loudly. While holding his girly hand to his mouth. Just below his carefully shaded cheekbones. But the second and third slots better the hell be given to my Kara Saun and to Jay—who we also love because he’s unable to bullshit and so says whatever the heck pops into his head. Because if Rob or Wendy get it? I will be on a rampage. I will be stomping myself over to the Bravo offices. And then Project Runway had better turn into Project RunAway pretty darn quick.

Erm...Good Lord, what has this show done to me?
(And do you--sniffle--hate me now?)

Real Girl

Monday, January 24, 2005

Getting Nailed

Real Girl needs your help. This is a top secret mission--or, erm, at least a top coat mission--and so read fast, because this blog entry will self-destruct in five minutes.

Ok. Maybe not. But it's self-destruction within a certain time period that's at the crux of the very problem currently screaming for your help. The whole maddening, exruciating, frustrating, and possibly French-tipped, problem.

But first, a confession: Real Girl is an avowed self-manicurer. There. I've said it--thrown it out there for anyone to see! It's not that I have anything against manicurists. It's just that I'm not very good at leaving the house for my fingernail beautification needs. (Pedicures, darlings, are another story. With the heated massage chair? And the whirlpool foot bath? Ohhhhhh.) See, the thing is, I can do my own nails in just a few minutes. While watching bad television. And drinking a cocktail if I feel the heck like it. So there's the time saving thing. But also? Maybe it's just me. Maybe Real Girl's just a mega-super-clutz (and therefore so much more Real, dontcha think? Love me more now?). But I have not yet discovered the secret of NOT FUCKING UP the manicure before getting from Point A (salon) to Point B (my couch). I mean, unless you've got a valet (although boyfriend might work too, must remember to try that), what on Earth is the secret to getting the house keys out of the purse and unlocking the front door (or, in my NYC apartment building, three doors!) without becoming Miss Smudgy McSmudgyNail? The situation confounds me utterly. But that's not where the problem lies. We’re getting there, Little Antsy Pants.

About two weeks ago, our friend Liz is Working posed to Real Girl quite a conundrum: What clear nail polish might there exist in the world that doesn't chip or peel after two or three days? Hmmm. How fascinating, Real Girl thought. Sorting through her box of nail enamels, she grabbed two clear polishes, applied one on each hand, and waited. The results were not encouraging. One hand chipped, one hand peeled. Both within forty-eight hours. Alas, Real Girl had no definite answer for the loyal Liz--although I did see a promising clear polish at Ricky's the other day that was named something like "No More Chips," and how can you not love Ricky's? So I feel in my bones that an experiment might be done with said polish, and more on that another time.

But all this concern over chipping (just writing the word sends a flutter through me. Out damn chips!), brings me to one of Real Girl's first follow-ups to the Ultimate Product List of 2005, from the make-up category, procured at the Brooklyn Target (my second time ever at a Target, and boy the love affair is deepening). The shiny new product is Revlon ColorStay Always On Nail Enamel, in True Camisole Sheer, and here, for you, comes The Real Report.

Okey dokey. So exactly--almost to the minute--one week after applying the Revlon ColorStay Always On nail polish, my manicure is a wreck. Total, utter wreck. You could spread out a blanket and have a picnic on my chipped surfaces. But there I go ruining the ending. Still, all is not hopeless.

First of all, the color's lovely. It's the lightest pink, almost off-white, which I think would be flattering against many different skin tones. I applied two coats of color, and then the included top coat, which promises all sorts of "exceptional wear and chip resistance."

Two days after application, however, Dictator Chips defeated the paltry resistance forces. Not terribly--there were only three discreet little chippies, on the sides of two nails, and not that noticeable. In fact, until Day Five, the manicure remained pretty nice-looking. Not flawless, oh no, but still, with the light color, the damage looked pretty minimal. I'd say this nail polish lasted better than others I've tried, and I'll be using it again. Not the usual glowing recommendation I like to give--but hey--the product's not perfect. I only rave about the perfect ones. Unfortunately, they should have named this polish "Revlon ColorStay Mostly On For Up To Five Days If You Wear Rubber Gloves While Washing The Dishes Nail Enamel."

Which brings us to the problem I mentioned at the start of this little journey of ours. Help me. Please. Help Liz too. Because we're both nice people. Despite the self-manicuring.

Where is the magic nail color? The magic base coat? The magic top coat? The magic clear polish? I've used a heck of a lot of brands, and none has held its weight for more than three days (not even when professionally applied) with nary a chip. What is the best, longest lasting nail enamel? What are your beloved favorites? Or--and this will get you many brownie points--Do you know a swami-slash-wiccan-slash-witch doctor who can chant a nonsensical-sounding spell over my ten little loved ones so that they'll always and forever REPEL THOSE DAMN CHIPS?

Hewp me? Pwease?

Real Girl

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Not Fine By Me

Let's see how Real Girl does when she's got a couple drinks in 'er. Just met up with my friend A, with whom I gorged on turkey burgers and Bloody Marys. Toweringly tall, spicy, liquorquacious Bloody Marys. Garnished with cucumber sticks. Soaked in alcohol.

Between drinks, A and I talked about Very Important Things. Like Foundation. And Foundation Brushes. And Boys. Clearly a good time was had by all.

But now on to Plump up the volume! Plump up the volume! Plump up the volume! Jam! Jam!

Real Girl has devoted her life's work to one crucial purpose. No, alas, not saving the children. I leave that to the Sally Strutherses of the world. But judge me not! Because instead, Real Girl has devoted herself to saving the children's hair. And the hair of the Sally Strutherses too, for that matter. Indeed, on Real Girl's tombstone, she expects to see (or rather, not see, because hello? Tombstone) the epitaph: Here lies Real Girl. She fought flyaways.

It was this purpose--this calling if you will--that led Real Girl to the Kiehl's hair care section. Everyone and their mother had been recommending Kiehl's Creme with Silk Groom. Rarely have I even heard the word "Kiehl's" in a sentence without "Silk Groom." It's perhaps their most popular product, along with their lip balm, which Real Girl has never been crazy about because in her world, it's called Vaseline.

But anyhoo. Here's the thing. Creme with Silk Groom is not meant for ladies with fine hair. It's weighty. It has heft. It droops. All you straight haired, silky-tressed gals may rejoice over it. Real Girl needs something lighter.

Upon seeing Real Girl's oft-spoken-of highlighted mane, you might not immediately say, Boy that hair is limp. Under your scrutinizing gaze, it might not seem as thinly textured as it is. But that is because of two reasons: 1) Natural wave. 2) Unnatural Kiehl's Hair Thickening Lotion, my most potent weapon against the melancholy droopiness of fine hair.

Don't think I don't know exactly what you're thinking. LOTION?! On my fine, flimsy tresses!? People have been commited for less crazy suggestions. Why not just tell me to go jump in hot tar because feathers will be all the rage come spring!?

I don't know how it works. And I'm not telling you to bathe in it (we'll get to application in a moment). But somehow, Kiehl's Hair Thickening Lotion adds body while taming flyaways. Without it, I look like I've got a sagging mop on my head that's just spent the night with Mr. Static. All you have to do is mentally get over the fact that it's a lotion. Because it's not at all greasy--not even a wee bit. And what do I think about Kiehl's claim that it won't weigh your hair down? The X-Files said it best: The truth is out there.

So. What to do? Wash and condition hair as usual, then squeeze out the extra water. Apply desired amount of product (you can always start small and add more if you feel comfortable with it) to hand and rub palms together. Run hands through hair starting from the bottom and moving to the top, so you've got the most product on the ends. Real Girl applies her Hair Thickening Lotion with her head bent down and hair flung in front of her. Because clearly, flipping the hair over creates even more body.

And though Real Girl certainly appreciates a cultured mind, when it comes to hair, it is all about the body.

Got your own favorite volumizing product? Or the ultimate cure-all for flyaways (for which Real Girl will exalt you to instant Sainthood)? Any of you thick-haired girls out there feel like giving a shout-out?

I leave the matter in your hands. Better yours than Sally Struthers'.

Real Girl

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Ok. So you know that adorable Lulu Guinness bag Real Girl has that looks like a dollhouse? With gingham curtains and a kitty in the backyard? Or the soft brown suede bag, with the white lace, the velvet ribbon, and the cameo? Or all those tops, the ones you squeal over, like that silk jersey with the art deco broach at the nadir of the low-cut neckline? Well, honey, that's just a chip off the fashion iceberg.

It's all from Real Girl's splurgiest land of splurgerific splurginess, Since 1999--since the last millennium, people--I have been worshipfully buying from this site. Bags, earrings, tops, boy briefs, even legwarmers-slash-spats, and more. And guess what? Guess whatywhatywhatywhaty what? It's.....SALE TIME! Jump around! Fling up your hands! Dance like you feel it in your bones! Now, say it with me, because it's curative. TWENTY PERCENT OFF!!! Hallelujah, AMEN!

Just make sure to include the code "mespree05" at checkout. It's good from now until at least January 17th, when the sale "opens to the public" and word gets out...

Don't worry. I'm not about to set you free amongst all that merchandise without some necessary direction. So here's Real Girl's list of absolute faves (because Real Girl loves lists like Carrie Bradshaw loves shoes. Or, um, like Real Girl loves shoes). You might call it your guide to Utopia.

The two necklaces above are what I'm currently most dying for, found here and here.

But I also looooove
This mini knitted bag, with its crafty, vintage feel.
This blazer, with its whimsical decals.
This strapless top, because Bohemian sex goddess much?
The longest, sweepingest earrings with all their fluid dangliness.
These yummy looking bath products I want to use with a spoon.
This funkified pencil skirt that's so Marilyn Monroe meets Gwen Stefani (but not Gwen Stefani as she's mentioned below...which you'll so understand when you get there).
These pants? With high boots?
That top. You know, the one you wear out with jeans.
It's like Burberry! For your feet! Too fab to take.
It's a capelet! No, it's a shrug! It's a capelug! (A shrapelet?)
Double stranded! Green! Pretty!
When quilting goes right. Keep your bee. Gimme my clutch.
Wouldn't this coat look adorable with the Burberry-esque boots?, it's my duty, as your Real Girl, to also point out the few...shall we say...missteps you might find along the way, but only because nobody's perf:

Gwen Stefani? With your L.A.M.B. (Love, Angel, Music, Baby) clothing line? What were you thinking, darlin'?
And who, who needs to wear the plague on their legs?
And, finally, just when you thought Tom Cruise was the Last Samurai...

Remember! "Mespree05" at checkout! 20% off! Share your favorites! And make me verrrrry jealous.

From one Real Girl to another

Monday, January 10, 2005

Dare to hope

As you lovely people know, Real Girl is in the midst of crisis. Suddenly, out of the blue, her long time sensitive-skin-winter-daytime-facial-moisturizer has started to give her spots. I say "spots," like the British, because the alternatives (rhyming with "fits" and "wimples") sound too profoundly ewwy for this gorgeous pink page of goodies.

Is this the most horrible skin care problem Real Girl has ever had? Erm, no. Said product has ceased to be used, and my skin is back to normal. Real Girl also plans to find a new humectant toute de suite, most likely one of the Clinique products, since the majority of your comments extol their virtues mightily--and Real Girl trusts your judgments. Why? Because you're all Real Superstahs. Strike a pose now, dahlings.

Anyway. From the oyster of my conflict comes this silky pearl to share with you. The whole Spot Fiasco has brought about a reunion with one of Real Girl's favorite summer prodcuts. There it was, so lonely in my medicine cabinet, dreaming of the August days when Real Girl would lovingly caress her face with its precious, dewy drops. Surely Real Girl's prized summer moisturizer wouldn't have a chance against the chill winds of winter!...Right?

Wrong!! God, I love this product. It's Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough serum. It is chock full of antioxidants including Vitamins C and E, as well as peptides, and soy. But here's the best part. For realsies, it's a miracle and a wonder. The serum dries like water. No joke. You put the liquid on your face, it dries, and you've got all its healthy, age-fighting, sun-damage-expelling goodness blanketing your skin with NOT A SINGLE AFTER AFFECT. No oilies, no creamy feeling. And yet, it's got moisturizing powers. This has got to be hands-down one of the best moisturizing, antioxidant products for people with oily or combination skin ever created. Scared of moisturizer? Convinced that even oil-free products secretly conspire to make you break out? OR--do you just love your moisturizer to bits, but need some extra antioxidant protection to fuel you through the day? Then this be the product for you.

Ok. So $35 is pretty steep for something that dries like water. But think about what's left behind on your skin--all those free radical fighting vitamins and relief from the tight, stretchy, dry feeling your skin gets after washing. I just sighed so loudly with pleasure, I'm surprised you didn't hear it. Or...did you?

Got your own oily skin moisturizer to crow about? (Thanks to Amalah for suggesting Ahava!) Or suggestions for those with stunningly dry skin? Had any experience with When Hope is Not Enough or other Philosophy products? Just feel like giving a shout out? Do share!'re a Real SUPERSTAH.

And I remain your,

Real Girl

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Over the holidays, Real Girl had a conversation that went something like this:
Other Party: You have a health and beauty blog?
Real Girl: Yes! Yes I do! It's special. I talk about lip balm and brow shaping and conditioned hair and--
Other Party (cutting Real Girl off before she even gets to the good part): What kind of health?
Real Girl: Oh. Right. Health. Healthy, healthy Real Girl. Yay nutrients!... You gonna eat that chocolate?

So here's my second healthy post (the first, of course, being the superest Superfood ever).

But before we go there...Guess what? Yee! Real Girl got a hair cut!!! Which she really, really needed! (You hear that everybody? You may now greet me in some way other than "Your hair is so loooong.") So now, three inches lighter, my hair bounces jauntily on my back rather than clinging to it like a blanket. For this, we can thank Julie at Ruby 6 who we love because 1) She has candy apple red hair and is the coolest East Village hair dresser in the history of East Village hair dressers. 2) She does not judge or sneer at you in any way if...say...instead of candy apple red, you would actually prefer the perfect caramel colored highlights for your own fab coif. Mixed from 2 colors specially by La Julie. AND re-mixed if the color doesn't look EXACTLY how you want it. 3) She knows that you are Lady Samson and your power lies in your hair and length is important to you. So somehow, three inches lighter, your hair still looks long and lush and now healthy. Yippeeeee! Oh, and Ruby 6 is the cutest spot ever, with plush red couches and the sweetest, girly bathroom with all new tiles and fixtures, all shiny and bright. And Julie's phone number is 212-979-0899. In case you need a hot new stylist. And you're in or near New York. Tell her Real Girl sent you!

Except...this isn't a beauty post. Sniffle. It's about health. And...bear with me, because I promise it's worth it...flossing.

Travel with Real Girl now, if you will, in the Real Girl Time Machine, alllllll the way back to early 2002. There's RG in the dentist's chair (not leaning back all the way, because--hello, crushed hair?). There's the hygienist scraping my teeth. My well cared for, never a cavity teeth. So damn, why does it hurt so much!? "You're getting gingivitis," Hygienist says. "You should really floss."

Erm. Yes. I know. Of course I know I should floss. But Real Girl has a tiny mouth. Look at the picture. I'm telling you--it's itty bitty. "Rosebud lips," Real Mom calls them. Shoving my fists in there with a string of dental floss IS NOT FUN.

Enter Flossies. Actually called "Floss sticks" or "Floss picks" or whatever else is less cute than "Flossies!" They are so good for your gums it's ridiculous. Just slide the little threaded head between the teeth, on either side of the gums, ten seconds, and you're through. And the other end doubles as a tooth pick! You know, for those times when you've got something in your teeth and you're trying to get it out with your fingernail while both saving your manicure and not looking like a jackass...

The flossies in the link above are the cheapest I've found per flossie by far. The Duane Reade brand pack of 90 sells for about $5, and they also sell a brand called Daiwa that's 100 for $3.50. This one's $8.99, but for a whopping 300 flossies! And each little one fits in your purse!

So fast forward in the Real Girl Time Machine (not too far! there might be wrinkles there!) to late summer 2004. Utter despair. Real Girl has never gone so long without a trip to the dentist. She must have cavities! And horrible gum disease! And OH GOD it's going to hurt when they do the awful SCRAPING THING! Except...nuh-uh. It's a breeze. No pain at all. The pinkest, healthiest gums ever. "You've got great oral hygiene," the Hygienist says, winking. Real Girl thinks: Why can't he be Orlando Bloom?

So what are you waiting for? Go floss!

Real Girl

P.S. Scared of highlights? Don't want to have to worry about growing them out? Julie does this coolest thing ever where she can give you highlight hair extensions! In any color! Blending in with your own hair. She rocks my world.

And this is her cat.

Monday, January 03, 2005

List a-here!

Scroll below for Real Girl's List of Products to Try in 2005! And please, please let her know if you've already tried 'em!

That's it. Real Girl cannot give out gold stars. There's just no way. Why?

BECAUSE YOU ALL DESERVE PLATINUM! I'm so much more excited for the Ultimate 2005 Product Search now that we have more fantabulous reviews and suggestions. Weeeeeeee! Dance around and clap hands!

Oh, and what about those platinum stars you ask? Yeah, um...well...if I did physically give them out, the Girl would still be Real, but the platinum, alas, maybe not so much. But I send you glorious dreams of moisturizer and lip gloss, and I promise to continue a lifetime search of quality and value.