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.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What You Want: Part 3

I love a good transit strike ending, don’t get me wrong. But what a train tease to tell us: Look! Trains will run again! We promise! Only to have the news follow up an hour later with: “But not tonight, PSYCH!”

For the past few days, I’ve been amusing myself during my 2.5 mile walks to and from work by making up new and catchy songs. Great little ditties like, “Watch Where You’re Going, Roller Blader,” and my personal favorite, “Get Your Friggin’ Bike Off The Sidewalk, Dickwad.” Fun times.

I thought after hours in the cold, my hair would feel coarse and unruly, a regular mop to be beholden. But…ya know what? It’s actually not so bad. That wouldn’t be because of my new HEAT PROTECTANT now would it…?

Let’s talk about heat, bay-be. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the shine things and the gloss things that may be. Let’s talk about heat. Let’s talk about heat. (Ladies? ALL THE LADIES!)

Okay. So before I talk about why my new favorite heat protectant might not be the best one on the market (even though I love it so much that I nuzzle it daily), let me first introduce you to my new cuddle partner: Kiehl’s Heat-Protective Silk-Straightening Cream.

There I was at Kiehl’s, moaning over the loss of my beloved, discontinued Hair Thickening Lotion (damn you, Kiehl’s. Damnnnnnnn you), and asking the Nice Kiehl’s Lady what I might use in its stead. She looked me up and down and recommended the “Silk-Straightening Cream.” I made a face that loosely translates to “Are you blind, woman? Straight? Me? NOT. I mean, yes, I am straight. Not that there’s anything wrong with…But my hair! Totally not straight. It LOVES to kiss women. Erm, I mean curl up. It loves to curl up. With other hair. Not with…”

Thankfully, Nice Kiehl’s Lady (whom my hair, by the way, was strangely attracted to) interrupted my look with a quick, “Oh, it’s not really a straightener. Only when you blow dry. It just tames frizz and protects your hair from heat!”

Well I think I might just have to throw a party about that one.

After a couple weeks of sampling (Kiehl's is all about samples, so don't be shy), I am happy to say that my hair loves Kiehl’s new heat protectant straightener. I have, of course, not gone the blowing-straight route but rather the drying-while-scrunching-to-get-pretty-spirals route. I take a modest amount of the cream (go easy!) and scrunch it into my waves to tame their frizz. When I then scrunch and blow dry, I don’t feel the same coarseness afterwards that I used to, and I’m happy to say that I will be adding this new product to my regimen.

HOWEVER. This heat protectant may not be the one for you. If you have fine hair to medium/normal hair and you don’t blow dry all the time, then this may be your perfect de-frizzer. (For truly fine hair, use just a drop of product.) It’s less greasy than a serum or gloss drops, and yet it tames nicely.

But for girls who really go for blow-outs, with the brush and the drying or the ceramic hair irons—you need something more. What my new fave lacks, alas, is the best heat protectant ingredient out there: silicones.

Silicones come with pluses and minuses, so let’s take a moment to break it down. No other ingredient will give you as much shine, de-frizzing, and heat protection. Silicones (which come in any number of variations on ingredients lists) are must-haves for women with normal-to-thick/coarse hair who blow dry, iron, or straighten often. However (why is there always a however?), many products with silicones don’t have enough to truly protect your hair, and the products that do have enough? Can make it look greasy if you use too much. So there you are. The silicon scale. Reach the perfect middle and you get the best ingredient out there. Go too low and you get false confidence. Too high and you get ickiness. Ah, what a tricky path we tread.

The most silicone-packed hair products will be serums. These are the ones for the straighteners out there, but remember not to tip the scale and apply too much. Clearly, I wouldn’t be La Real Girl if I didn’t shove some options in your face. So, here. (Has transit strike made Real Girl grumpy? Nahhhh.)

philosophy curly head silicone hair serum
BioSilk Silk Therapy
Phyto Phytolisse Ultra Shine Smoothing Serum

But worry not if you don’t wish to go down the serum path. There be other options.

Sebastian Potion 9 (famous and world-beloved!)
Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream
Joico Straight Edge Heat-Activated Curl Straightener (which can also keep wavy hair wavy, by the way!)
Matrix Biolage Smoothing Shine Milk (An appropriately light option for fine hair.)
Neutrogena Triple Moisture Sheer Hydration Leave-in Foam (This one people either love or hate, go figure.)
Sebastian Laminates Crema Styler, Anti-Frizz Control (Best for thick, dry hair)
Tigi Bed Head, Superstar Thermal Blow-Dry Hair Lotion

A word here, my lovelies, about application. One thing that bugs me about hair reporting (besides the fact that CNN doesn't have a hair correspondent yet) is the over-used phrase “root to tip.” NOT EVERY HAIR PRODUCT should be applied root to tip. Silicone products? Like leave-in conditioners and most gels: Tip to root. Start low and work your way up because too much product at the top will weigh your roots down and make ‘em greasy, which is (as we beauty correspondents say) yucky.

For now, I’m going to stick with my Kiehl’s Silk-Straightening Cream, but when I discover which of these silicone products most rocks the hair house, I will be sure to report my findings.

In the mean-time, let’s hear from you all! What do you use (serums, creams, gels, sprays) to tame your frizz and protect your hair from heat? Report away and let’s show CNN a thing or two, shall we?

(Q Train tomorrow morning? Pleeeeeeeeease? I’ll wear my best lip gloss!)


P.S. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! Have a super one, and if you get (or give!) delicious beauty goodies, please share and let us live vicariously.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Coming Soon!!

The transit strike stole my post again. Sort of.

Tonight, instead of going home, Real Boy walked an extra 20 blocks to my place to surprise me and take me out to dinner. You know, because of all the travel stress. Awwww. So instead of very important beauty reporting, I ate yummy taro wasabi dumplings and key lime pie.

I know, I know. If my post about heat protectant isn't spectacular, you're all going to throw concealer brushes at me. Or worse, foundation bottles. Them things are heavy. Please be nice.

So, Thursday night! After the walking. And the walking. And the falling. And the getting up and walking some more.

Tonight we dish about heat protectant.

Also? I'm hoping we get some subway service. Can we have some trains please? PLEASE?

Monday, December 12, 2005

What You Want: Part 2

Girls (and boys?), I am a tired one tonight. You know the time of year—so crisp and frigid outside but so toasty warm inside, bundled in sweatpants and a high-necked sweater, cuddling a mug of cocoa and a furry feline. No, December does not scream glamour, with its chapping winds and endless Christmas specials. (I was waiting for A Very Merry Prison Break, with Michael devising a plan for Baby Jesus to escape the manger, but alas twas not to be.)

So in honor of the season of giving (which is, hello, every season here at Real Girl Beauty), I’m going to try and tip my amateur hat at some hair questions—with a heap of help from expert Julie.

First up comes this excellent question from Melissa:

Hey there,

I am curious as to your thoughts about at-home hair dyes. As someone who just got married AND moved out of state AND has to do holiday shopping now, going to a good salon for my coloring just isn’t in the budget until at least after the holidays. But with the whole 28 and grey thing happening, I need to do something. Do you have any suggestions / recommendations? I don’t expect to get pretty pretty highlights out of a box, I don’t need miracles. However, I would like halfway decent color without killing my hair. Any ideas you have would be appreciated.

Your blog is great, thanks for it.

Hi Melissa!

Well, congrats on your recent changes—and what better way to celebrate than with a sexy new hair color. I confess I haven’t home hair-dyed since I was about 16. My first salon henna was at 17. (There’s a story about that—it involves getting sassy red highlights the day before the SATs. During the test I made sure to sit near a window so the sun could dapple my darling new ‘do, and I could ooh and ahhh over my dazzling color. No single SAT-taker has ever been in a better mood than I was that day. Honestly? I credit my highlights with getting me the highest scores in my class. So trust me, I feel you on the importance of a good color. Ohhhh, I feel you.)

But first! These incredibly sage words of warning from Chere Julie, who TOTALLY knows her stuff when it comes to La Color:

[This is] a tough one. Since I have never used any of the over-the-counter hair coloring kits, I have no idea what to tell someone to buy to use on their own hair. My only advice is to be careful, because if they use some random over the counter color they can really mess their color up if they make the wrong choice. Which means it will cost them 3 times as much to get it fixed by a professional. So in the long run, they will not be saving money at all.

The most cautious thing to do is for her to talk to her stylist/colorist and see what she thinks she should do, since her stylist/colorist knows her hair color history. Because we don't know what is on her hair right now or what is underneath the color she has now. People tend to leave out the fact that they once had their hair black at one time, and then bleached it up to blonde, and then colored it red, and then black again, and so on and so on. It is a very hard call, especially over the internet.

So Melissa! If you don’t have “virgin” hair, beware my dear, beware. Also? With the fancy and the highlights and the lowlights? Best leave that to the pros.

But let’s say your current hair hasn’t popped its cherry yet. I’ve been doing some internet research as well as some consumer research (involving very scientifically peering at women buying hair color in drugstores, getting as close as I could without them alerting security) and here are my empirical results:

It’s a case of oldie but goodie: Clairol Hydrience. Let’s go easy on the tone, however. Like, say, the in-your-face brassy red you might see on this very link? Not so cute. Beware of reds in general, I would say.

Perhaps you’d like a less ultra-permanent color to start, however, as I would recommend. Clairol Hydrience is a “level 3,” but a good “level 2” option would be the easier to take Clairol Natural Instincts. Desert Sunrise doesn’t look so bad, does it? Even if the name screams "Lifetime Television"?

Another popular option would be L'Oreal Preference, which--according to the box in the link--aims to be the home hair color for the Carol Bradys of the world. But it's not like they're home-cutting your hair, right?

I wish I had a meatier, better-informed answer for you, but I’m hoping the brilliant Real Girlettes (not to be confused with “Gillette,” although—yes—both are “the best a man can get”) commenters will help a beauty sister out here.

Which brings us swiftly to…Question 2! From long-time reader Erin:

Dearest Real Girl,

I know you haven't done an "ask real girl" in awhile, but I have a
question about flat irons. I just got a cut that requires a bit more
maintenance than I am used to and necessitates the purchase of a flat
iron. I know ceramic is best, but how do I choose from there? target
has prices ranging from 16 to 60 dollars, but my friend's flat iron
cost like a hundred.

also, heat protectant? what?

feel free to ignore this one - you have beautiful curly hair that you
probably don't have to torture in this manner :)

Poor Erin. She asked me this question, like, a month ago and probably has already bought her flat iron and heat protectant, and I suck. But you know who totally doesn’t? JULIE! So let’s hear first from the expert.

Hmmmm, flatirons!!!

I am still using the same flatiron that I purchased 10 years ago for $150. However I have heard lots of good things about the ceramic irons, but have never used one. But I would reccomend spending the extra cash on a good one, since it will last a hella lot longer than the cheaper ones. The cheper ones might not get hot enough or worse....they can get too hot and damage the hair.

I have heard lots of good things about the GHD (Good Hair Day) flat irons from other stylists. They can cost about $200, I think.

I prefer an iron that has a beveled edge. A beveled edge gives you the choice of kicking the ends out, turning them under, or just zipping it straight down the hair shaft to make it pin straight.

Your girls sure hit you with some tough questions. I could just imagine what they ask about skincare, jeesh.

I know! But who doesn’t love a challenge?

Umm….yeah. So it turns out? Ceramic flat irons are totally expensive. But here are some possibilities I found by researching on the all-encompassing Internet:

1. I would be remiss if I didn’t include the GHD Flat Iron mentioned by Awesome Julie.
2. One of the best-rated cheapies was: Ceramic Tools Professional Flat Iron.
3. This puppy was popular hair e-retailer’s best rated option, at $125.
4. And here’s a nicely priced $85 Solia that’s also one of’s 10 best.

SOME KEY TIPS: It's healthiest for your hair if you flat iron when it's completely dry--heated water can rupture your hair shaft. Also, keep the iron moving. If you let it rest on one section of hair, that section will fry like Victoria Gotti on a tanning bed.

Not so cute.

Oh, Real Girlettes. I’ve been writing for so long now, and the eyelids, they are so very heavy.

SO I may have to save heat protectant for next week. But please! Help our intrepid gal pals with home color and ceramic (or other!) flat irons.

And next week we’ll gab about heat protectant, which can help us ALL, and which I actually have something to say about. I’ve just found a new one that I heart! I’m such a friggin’ tease.

But I’m also your,
warm and sleepy,
Real Girl

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What You Want: Part I

(Recent and frustrating problems with my home internet connection are now hopefully resolved. I'd tell you about it except for its boringness and the extreme amounts of potty-mouth language I would have to use...)

The next two RGB entries will be about you and your questions. Because I love you and your questions. You are nice people. And if you look your best, then I get to see prettier people. See how selfish I am?

The bulk of questions Real Girl receives fall into three categories.
1. OH MY GOD wrinkles! What can I do to diminish/prevent/abolish them with the fiery power of Satan?
2. My hair needs your help. Pleeeeeeeeeease.
3. You look so trim—what are your diet secrets?

The first two questions I’ve devoted much time and energy to—as you’ve seen and as you will see more of very soon. The last question, however? I’ve been avoiding for months. Why? Because…well…shouldn’t diet tips be left to experts? Who the heck am I to advise people how to lose weight. But the questions…they keep coming. And long-time readers will remember that I used to post a health-related entry now and again (before being taken over heart and mind by ohhhhhh the beauty products and only the beauty products)…So let’s see what I can do.

First of all, I don’t know how you can tell what my figure looks like from a head shot. I did post a slightly more revealing photo a while back, but I promise you I am not skeletal skinny. And ew, that’s not attractive. So let’s not go overboard on our weight loss here, okay? Keep it real, folks.

Secondly, my biggest and best secret isn’t some crazy fad or diet-of-the-moment. It’s this book: Superfoods: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. Although not a diet book in the traditional weight-loss sense, I can’t tell you how good this book is for promoting health and energy. But more? It’s geared toward giving your body the best nutrients to age as gracefully as possible. By including these foods in your diet, you can fight wrinkles—and the other annoyances of getting’ older—from the inside out.

I’m going to cheat a little and tell you the fourteen superfoods, but I urge you to get the book to find out what the alternative foods are (for instance, I hate beans, but green beans count, and mmmm love those), how much you should be eating of each food, and what nutrients they offer. I will fully confess that I am totally not stringent on making my diet all about only healthy food. But when I choose to eat a pint of ice cream for dinner every once in a while? Superfoods make me feel way less guilty.

1. Beans
2. Blueberries
3. Broccoli
4. Oats
5. Oranges
6. Pumpkin
7. Salmon
8. Soy
9. Spinach
10. Tea—green or black
11. Tomatoes
12. Turkey
13. Walnuts
14. Yogurt

How you incorporate superfoods into your diet must be up to you, but I’ll let you know what I do. For breakfast, I have my energy-licious Spiru-tein soy protein shake (I'm into banana right now), always with frozen blueberries added in. I can only say it is friggin’ yummy.

I guess my other biggest weight-loss strategy is to have a large lunch and a small dinner. For lunch, I like to have a big salad, preferably from Café Metro. I love Café Metro because of their awesome all you can eat salad for less than $7. And let me tell you, I so take advantage of it. “Big salad” does little to evoke the bigness—and the fillingness—of this lunch. In this salad I include: baby spinach, grilled chicken, avocado, artichoke hearts, mozzarella cheese, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, grape tomatoes (so good), almonds, sunflower seeds, croutons, sweet corn, and scallions. Sometimes? (And lately more than sometimes?) I also have a giant Rice Krispie treat too. This is one reason why I currently have about 6 lbs to lose. Sigh. The Whole Foods salad bar rocks, too. Oh, and I so don‘t go easy on the dressing, so I try to keep it low-fat.

I then usually have a small dinner of fruit, soup, or—and this is a fave!—blueberry yogurt that I make by combining yummy Stonyfield Farm Nonfat French Vanilla Yogurt with dozens of frozen blueberries and leaving the mixture in the fridge over night. When you’re ready to eat, just stir and enjoy fresher and sweeter blueberry taste than you’d find in any pre-packaged yogurt. (If you use plain yogurt rather than French Vanilla, you might want to keep some Splenda nearby.)

To sum up: lots of vegetables, big lunch, small dinner. But also key? The whole thing goes down the drain on the weekends. From Friday night to Sunday night, I eat anything I damn well please, including raspberry cheese croissants from Au Bon Pain each morning. MMMM. Because who can stick to a diet without cheating? I love cheating.

All this seems easy to write and read, but I’m lucky that I truly love and crave my healthy salads, shakes, fruit, yogurt, etc. I refuse to sacrifice taste. But if nothing else, I fall back on my small dinner strategy to lose those extra pounds. Once I’m into the routine, it sails by swimmingly. I don’t crave more food after dinner and I’m not dying of hunger the next morning. The hard part—and it is, indeed, hard—is getting my body used to the small dinner routine. For instance, with Thanksgiving and the holidays here, I’ve been having rather large dinners for the past few weeks. Hence my need to lose the 6 lbs. But getting myself back to my small dinner routine has been excruciating. Because at night, I’ve been used to more food—and so I’ve been getting hungrier. The only thing to do is to force myself to have a small dinner and ignore the hunger, and then by the next night and the night after that, etc., my body’s used to it, and all is hunky dory. But if I start up with big dinners again? The pants become snug. Also? I’m going to have to start ignoring those huge, fluffy-looking Rice Krispie treats right by the salad bar at Café Metro. Damn you, tasty treats.

I hope you’ll get the Superfoods book. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has raved about their increased health and energy. And in a couple of decades, your younger-than-their-years heart, skin, and health will thank you.

But come on, please share your diet—both health and weight loss—secrets! I’m dying to hear them!

With love from your,
Real Girl

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY REAL MOM!! On December 5, Real Mom has a birthday that’s very close to a major milestone. (Celebrating? Included a night of karaoke until 2AM involving two random 23-year-old guys dedicating their every song to my inebriated mother. Also? They gave her roses.) To show you all how younger-than-her-years she’s looking these days, I present a Thanksgiving pic of three generations of real girls.