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, February 27, 2006

Hi, I'm Zoe. Also? Trying to be the Ultimate Blogger

UPDATE: Check out my entry for Challenge 1: Queer Eye for the Lost Guy. Whatever I write next, I promise it will be here, and it will be liptastic.

Ultimate Blogger 2.

Duh Duh DUHHH.

Do you see my photo there? Yeah, I'm a competitor. Under my "real" name, Zoe. If I'm not voted off early, this will be a four week competition, wherein I'll be responding to various blog challenges.

I will make every best effort to also stay devoted to the informed--yet oh so fun!--beauty and health (um, who are we kidding with that one) posts here at home. Expect a delightful lip product post soon, my dearies!

If you want to leave me nice Ultimate Blogger 2 comments? It might make me more popular. The captain of the Ultimate Blogger football team might even ask me to the pep rally! Oh, to be Blogcoming Queen. You can start by searching out "Zoe's" post here, at the "Den."

But on this page, I will remain as always,
Real Girl

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Take Me Out Tonight!

What was I thinking! Ladies short program! American Idol! On this night of Guilty Addiction Television, what the heck am I doing scribbling on my computer?

Talking about my new beauty products, people. Duh!

To Ahe’s dismay (why, Ahe!!?? please share!), tonight we’re talking about take out. But this is not your mother’s Lo Mein, no matter how cute the Chinese food packaging may be. (It looks like rice! But it’s really mayyy-kup!). No, this is much more fun than any brown noodle dish could ever be. Hear me, ladies? FUN. Hard Candy Take Out Makeup Kit is just pure FUN!

See, this is why it’s great to have friends (hi Madgirl!) who buy you things you didn’t even know you wanted. If I had seen this product at the store, I would have marveled over its pink-hearted packaging (pink! hearts!), maybe snuggled it for a moment (purr, purr), and then passed it by as a gimmick (over it!). But then I would have been at such a loss! To avoid the Take Out would be to avoid one of the best parts about makeup—the notion of dressing up as something you’re normally not. Of experimenting with looks that might nudge you just slightly past your comfort zone. How many times have you eyed an eyeshadow or lip gloss that you’re not quite entirely sure you can ROCK? It’s happened to me lots. But then I look at the price of this one gloss or eye shadow ($15!) and it’s just too much to pay for a single little plaything. So I go for my usual colors—my bronzes, my browns, my safe old favorites.

But the beauty of the Hard Candy Take Out is that you’re getting a whole palette of fun, daring, super sparkly party colors that—I fully admit—have just had me smiling since I got it. Somehow Hard Candy has got the perfect sparkle down—glittery but still subtle, a youthful effervescence, a glow.

But let’s be thorough here, my friends. Because we’re talking tiers of makeup. Tiers. To start, I think you might have heard me mention pink! and hearts! to which I only say: mmm-hmmm.

Pop open the top to…lip gloss!! Surprisingly flattering lip gloss. The bubble-gummy pink in the middle bottom row made my lips look gently bitten. The clear shimmer just makes my lips sparkle with cuteness. And the nudes come with shimmer or without. These are not powerful lip glosses—they’re subtle hints of color, not goopy or thick at all. They’re best worn over a basic lip balm (my personal preference) or under a shiny clear gloss for full effect and moisture. (Overall RGB disclaimer: Digital camera, why do you make everything so orange? Colors here are not exactly as they appear in *lower case* real life. Especially those two on the far left—so much cuter in person!)

Flip up another layer, and we get…wheee!...eye shadows! And fun ones, too, with party sparkle that brightens the eye. I like the black a lot, which is soft and pretty (I’m wearing it in my new Real Girl picture at the right.) Even the purple and green are light enough to be flattering. And the white serves as a perfect highlighter at the inner corner of the eye and top of the brow bone. But what I love most about these colors is that I would have never bought them singly or in their own palette, but I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with the new colors. It makes me feel young again. Like, oh I don’t know, a mere 28 or something.

Let’s sneak up to my favorite tier now. The bronzer! Love it! This is a great, tawny color for my pasty winter cheeks. I love the subtle shimmer that just lights up my face, negating a seasons’ worth of sharp, biting winds. Also? I’m kind of digging the small concealers here. Neither are quite right for my skin tone, but I can combine the two on one brush to get a closer match, OR I can use the lighter one as a sort of primer, which I’ve been doing. I brush the light concealer on my darkest areas before my normal concealer, and by golly, I see a difference there.

The only part of the Hard Candy Take Out Kit that really disappointed me, alas, was the mascara—which is gloppy and heavy. But I’ve been playing every day with the lip glosses over chapstick (okay, actually my superhydrating Body Shop Hemp Lip Balm—but that’s a whole other post!) and the fun, sparkly eye shadows. I’m taken! You got me hearts and pinkness. You gottttttttt me.

Which makes me your,
Real Girl

P.S. (American Idol kind of sucked, didn’t it? But the ladies short program isn’t over yet…)

(And let's hear what you think of palettes! Hard Candy products! Great products for experimentation! (Not that kind, you dirty Nellie!) Anything at allll! Shout 'em out.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Mascara Chronicles: Part IV

Hey girls!! And nongirls!! I’ve misssssed you.

Exactly one week ago, I reached a milestone. But we will get to that later. Oh, we’ll get there. Because first? Business people. We’ve got La Business to attend to. It is called: Mascara. Or, as I like to say when I’m home by myself vamping in front of the mirror: Mascahhhra. Experience tells me that y’all love to dish the dirt on the lovely lash luxurizer as well.

Ready for a trip down memory lane? Take a peek at my own Lord of the Rings-like trilogy. Let us call it Lady of the Lashes. As in, the Mascara Chronicles I, II, and III. Caught up now? Mmmmkay, good.

Because memory lane ain’t over yet! See, Real Girl owes much of this post to some of her gorgeous Real Girlettes, Jules from Oz (aka otterkat), Lori, and Magpie, and to their comments back yonder. These gals alerted me to a must-have I was as yet unaware of. That’s right: it’s drugstore mascara time. And more specifically, we start with Maybelline Full ‘N Soft.

Can I just say? LOVE! Now, many of you have emailed me or commented on your love of Benefit’s BADgal, and I totally get it! In many ways, I absolutely concur! I used to love me some BADgal, most of all because of the stunning brush. What a great, great mascara wand. Separates! Elongates! Love! EXCEPT for the running. BADgal just didn’t make it through the night for my runny, teary, moist little eyes. So if you’re scared of raccoon eyes? Maybe not your #1 best option. But the Maybelline Full ‘N Soft has the 2nd best wand I’ve ever seen. It’s like a smaller version of the BADgal wand, a full brush that coats evenly and makes the lashes pop. My only slight complaint with the Full ‘N Soft is that it isn’t as absolutely dramatic as my old YSL favorite (see Chronicles II). The length falls just short of the YSL, as does the thickness. It’s a case of close—very close!—but not quite the cigar.

However! I found a way to bring the “close” even closer. We go now to another Maybelline product—one beloved by magazines all over the world and also by Real Girl commenter, Paige. My curiosity has long been piqued by Maybelline Lash Discovery. The result for Real Girl, though? Hmmm, not quite right for me. The wand is good for separating—most appropriate for the ladies with thick lashes who need length over volume. However, if you curl your lashes? I’d stay away from Lash Discovery. I have long, but very straight, eyelashes. They need curling or they just hang down droopily, and that? Ain’t the look I’m going for. So one of my main criteria for mascara is that it isn’t so heavy that it uncurls the lash. But alas, the Lash Discovery made my lashes droop all sad-like. Still...looking at that sleek silvery tube, how could I just let her go, unloved, into the Makeup Drawer of Forgetland?

You know what I found out? These two Maybelline mascaras become AMAZING when combined together. Like, almost as damn fine as my beloved (yet short-lasting) YSL. First, I apply my Full ‘N Soft. But then? I take the separating wand of the Lash Discovery and sweep it through my thickened lashes. I then hold my lashes up with the wand, trying to give them a moment to dry all curled and lengthened. IT TOTALLY WORKS. Up and hold at the tips. Up and hold at the tips. Am I describing this well enough? Yell at me if I’m not. (You know, gently.)

Ready for the segue? I wore this divine mascara combination for my big birthday party, which was this past Friday night at a small but swank bar on the Lower East Side. And by the way? It SO ROCKED! Real Boy bumped up the DJ booth to the delight of the revelers and so many people showed up that we overshot the fire code! Yay to all the superb people who helped Real Girl rein in another year.

And by the way? It’s a BIG YEAR. So, to end, we’ll take a final trip down memory lane, back to when Real Girl was 1 and a half years old:

This picture from my birthday party? Is 28 and a half years later. I’ll let you do the math, my sweets. (The beauty with me is my best friend—since we were 12!—Madgirl.)

UPDATE: So...Madgirl doesn't think she looks good in the photo I posted--which is, appropriately, MADNESS! But in deference to her wishes, I've posted a slightly different version of the photo. This one with my "man on the side," Wentworth Miller. We're very close in Photoshopland. Enjoy.

Thanks for all your lovely birthday wishes! And let’s dish the dirt on mascara!!

I remain your,
Not quite nursing home ready,
Real Girl

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Always Use Protection!

By far the most asked question that Real Girl gets is: What’s the one product I need to take care of my skin? Now, for La Real Girl, this is kind of like asking: What’s the one pair of shoes I need in my closet? Or what’s the one food group I need to eat? I could survive on one skin care product like Pamela Anderson could survive without silicone.

But you have already gotten the picture and are bored of me. So let’s think back, all the way to early January, when we all chipped into one glorious list that was the profound opposite of just-one-product. See the DDF Daily Organic Sunblock SPF 30? Yeah, well Sephora’s not stocking the SPF 30 in winter, so I nabbed myself a neat little sample of the SPF 15. Actually, two samples. Because there are two Sephoras near my house. And since when are two samples not better than one?

But there I went and jumped the gun. Sunscreen. The “one product I need” answer? Totally sunscreen. In this day and age, you are now scrunching up your nose at me and thinking, Um, duh. But trust me, you don’t realize how often you need la ‘screen, or—and this is stunning—how much you should be using. Spending your day near a sunny window? Stepping out on a cloudy day? Breathing? Yeah, then you need the screen. Every season, every day. It’s the only thing that will literally save your skin. Yes antioxidants fight damage, and yes antioxidants improve sunscreen’s performance, but they can’t act as a substitute.

Ummmkay. Ready for my confession now? Or are you so over Real Girl’s confessions? I cover my entire face with sunscreen every day. But never, not once have I used the amount I’m supposed to (except around the eyes). The truth is, I’m probably not getting my full SPF protection because I apply a thin-ish layer. You’re supposed to be liberal. Very liberal. So if you want to use foundation or powder (or both!) with SPF in addition to your base sunscreen lotion, you’re probably getting closer.

But enough with this all, because I’m sure it’ll come back another day. Why? Because Real Girl is searching for the PERFECT SUNSCREEN! Wheeee! Ok. So according to Very Important Skin Care Experts, the three most effective sunscreen ingredients are avobenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. The lore goes that avobenzone, a chemical sunscreen, can be absorbed by the skin and so works better for oily skin, doesn’t clog pores, blah blah wonder of the world. The other two, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are physical sunscreens that work as a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays so they can’t even hit your skin. Aveobenzone doesn’t fight UVB radiation, however, and so is often paired with another chemical sunscreen that does. So you need 2 chemical sunscreens, then, to block all the nasty UV rays. HOWEVER (always! however! bah!). There has been some research that shows that avobenzone may not only be a less effective sunscreen than the other two, but that it ALSO might cause free radicals. I’m not sure if I believe that avobenzone does, indeed, cause the FREENESS and the RADICALNESS that we HATE, but you can read more info on all the hooplah here. Do I endorse or believe it? You know, I’m just not sure. But my motto has always been better safe than wrinkly.

Short story long, it’s been my mission to find a perfect titanium dioxide based or zinc oxide based sunscreen that can replace my beloved Clinique avobenzone ones and make my face all safe and snug in its healthiness. By the way? This is FRIGGIN’ HARD. Because physical sunscreens? Are tricky little devils. For one, since they cover your skin, they have the potential to clog pores. This can be fought with a good salicylic acid treatment at night, which I do. The other annoying factorama? These sunscreen ingredients may leave a chalky or white tinge to the skin. So the perfect product here will not cause blemishes and will not appear too white. Let the search begin.

Until I find La Perfect, I’ve been using basic old Olay Complete, which has a low whiteness factor, but alas causes a shine that I wouldn’t call my favorite look.

Which brings us to…(FINALLY because shut up already you Real Windbag, right?) the DDF Organic SPF 15. I have to say, this is one of the least greasy sunscreens I’ve ever come across. There’s not much moisturizing going on with this product—all it wants to do is protect your skin. So if you’re on the shiny side, like me? That’s a huge plus, especially in summer. If you’re dry, however? Move along to another option. And…the whiteness. Well, the DDF Organic suffers from the whiteness. I combat this by applying evenly and then covering with bronzer (I should be using SPF bronzer, but, well...). As a winter sunscreen? This probably isn’t the best one, unless your skin is very oily and not too olive-toned. As a summer sunscreen? I will be revisiting the DDF Organic if I don’t find something else more absolutely extraordinary.

So let the search continue! Wanna help La Real Girl find the perfect sunscreen? Please share your wondrous product recommendations! Got any questions about the ‘screen? Or just come along to chat, because I remain, as always…

Your Real Girl