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, July 31, 2006

Let's Get Toned!

There's a good reason we've never discussed toner before. It's the "clean feeling." I love the clean feeling too. That oil-free, squeeky, total wiped away feeling that comes only with...irritating ingredients. In toner especially, alcohol above all else is responsible for that illusion of the perfect finish--every drop of dirt gone from your pores. But unfortunately, alcohol irritates. Pretty badly. And your skin never, ever wants to be irritated. Even if you don't feel it, your skin does.

Check your favorite toner for alcohol, and if it's there--(and alas, this is why I can't recommend Burt's Bees tomato toner, Christina, I'm sorry!)--in any form but cetyl or stearyl alcohol, which are gentle, then you may be doing your skin more harm than good.

Enter Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Toner. This is my favorite in her toner line, although you may find one better suited to your needs if you search around. The ingredients in this toner are just splendid. Instead of irritating (and potentially aging!) your skin, you'll be calming it with anti-irritants, and taming both the oils and the flakes of combination skin. In addition to anti-irritants, this product also contains antioxidants, niacinamide--one of the active ingredients in the Olay Regenerist line--and completely non-oily water binding agents that can provide minimal moisturization for the summer months.

But in addition to being stock-piled with impressive ingredients, this toner just feels cool and lovely, like water on the skin. I'm always looking for a light, non-goopy or sticky product that can provide the biggest boost while leaving the least residue. This toner provides exactly that.

Apply liberally on a cotton ball or pad and wipe or pat gently on the skin, being sure not to rub. You'll feel cool and clean, but not stripped like you would with alcohol. You should have no break outs to worry about, and the toner goes wonderfully under sunscreen!

A great way to give your skin what it needs.

And you know how I like to make your skin happy!
Real Girl

Thursday, July 20, 2006

You Had Me At "Lip"

Oh, it's a happy, happy day. I'm finding new lip glosses to fall in love with faster than Madonna can buy red Kabbalah bracelets. At last count, the number of lip balms and glosses in my purse has reached a total of 6. And they are all must-haves.

Like the latest! The very nice ModelCo lip gloss. If this is, indeed, the lip gloss that models wear? I need to gain 6 inches and lose 10 years and call Elite up quick!

Before we dish gloss, though, Real Girl must give "big ups" to her Australian crew. Almost from the beginning, Real Girl Beauty has developed an inexplicable following in Australia. And Real Girl *hearts* her Australians. So how sad she gets when they comment that they can't find a product she recommends, or that shipping is nonexistent or too expensive.

Ozzies? ModelCo is an AUSTRALIAN company! Here's the down under website.

Mmm, I've got "Guava" on now, and it tastes grapey. The "Passionfruit" color has a hint of watermelon in the flavor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We all know what makes a superb lip gloss, so I'll check off the lovelies as we go:

1. Color. Passionfruit is a hot pink color that comes out of the tube looking fresh and fun, with just the slightest hint of pink that looks quite pretty on this non-pink gloss wearer. Guava is a darker, deep berry hue that wears like your natural lip color--as you wish it could be. I've been using Guava almost every day now; it's the perfect hint of color (lighter than you'd think) and the most beautiful, glassy shine.

2. What's that you say, Real Girl? SHINE? Oh, the glassiness of these little tubes! It's the total coveted MAC effect--a pretty, summery lip shine without sparkle needed to make your lips look and feel completely juicy.

3. But if the gloss gives the MAC effect, does it have the goopiness? That sticky, don't-want-to-smack-my-lips texture? Oh, girls. This lip gloss feels soooooo good. What a beautiful moisturizing effect ModelCo has achieved with their glosses. They are a joy to wear with no stickiness to speak of--only a soft, supple, kissable pucker. If you use just a little, you can even treat the gloss as a shiny balm. Apply more, and there's that coveted glassery. (And yes, in Real Girl language, glassery is a word. Just check the glossery. Mmmm. Glosssssery.)

4. As to being literally kissable? ModelCo is probably not your best gloss for kissing. It'll come off on his (or her, we don't discriminate!) sexy pout rather than staying put on yours. The best you can do is to apply only a little if you'll be sucking face. The colors are subtle enough so that your partner will inherit some of your shine, but not likely much tint--and little sparkle.

5. I've been trying to figure out what ModelCo lip gloss's tastes remind me of, and it just came to me! It's totally Skittles. Considering that both my colors have slightly different flavors, I can't wait to try more! The clear gloss is called "lychee," and I so need to get that on my next Sephora jaunt. So think fruity--not overpowering, but not for fruity candy haters.

So girls, have you tried ModelCo products? Got great lip stuff to dish about? Anything at all?

With love from your,
Real Girl

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It Conceals. No, Wait! It Highlights. No Wait!

It does...both! Stay with me here. We'll start with the conceal (then the reveal!) (Do my rhymes make you squeal?)

Little did you know that Real Girl and Oprah have something in common. Unfortunately, it's not the billions of dollars (why not Oprah? Whyyyy?). No. What we share? Under-eye craters. Like Oprah (though thankfully less drastic), my cheekbones are situated in a way that causes constant undereye shadows. The bane of my facial existence. To fight my ever-present undereye circles, I use a two step process: I cover the entire undereye area with a concealer that matches my skin tone, and then I gently brush in a tad of slightly lighter concealer at the deepest depth of shadow. A good brush will help the blending process, and voila, darkness minimized.

But when I found Sephora's Light Touch Highlighter pen? I realized I should be using not only a concealer, but also a light refractor. Light refracting (or light reflecting) cosmetics have become hot, hot, hot in anti-aging products over the past couple years. These fancy pants pigments supposedly BLIND viewers to whatever your flaws are because hot damn, who can see anything with all that LIGHT being reflected back?

Um, yeah. I call it "sparkle." I've got quite a few light refracting eye products, and most often the effect is a slight shimmer. Some dewiness, some shine, some "sparkle." These products are fine for winter, but in the summer, please don't give me any more shine. Me and shine? We're best buddies in summer. Joined at the hip. And cheek. And forehead.

So the joy of Sephora's highlighting pen? There's no sparkle. This is a perfect summer highlighter for the deepest areas of your undereye circles. If you're lucky enough to have only slight darkness, you may be able to get away with using only the highlighter without concealer underneath. But most people who are looking to diminish undereye circles will want to continue using their concealer but then brush on a small amount of a slightly lighter highlighter at the darkest points. But a shade too much lighter? And the makeup is too noticeable.

BUT WAIT! Where else can you highlight? Where else can this product give your face an energetic look and lift without excess shine and sparkle? Here are the key places where I've been using my concealer pen as a highlighter only:

1. Inner corners of the eye. Man, it works wonders there. If you're feeling tired? A light brush of this product at the inner eye corner will perk your look right up. Unlike similar products, too, the lack of sparkle makes this item perfect for day.

2. The upper cheekbone. This one is a bit trickier to explain without a picture. Feel where your cheekbone begins right under your eye. Now start with your concealer brush below the outer corner of your eye (wherever the top of the bone is) and follow the angle of the cheekbone down toward the nose, until about the center of your eye. Oprah_copy_2Hmmm. Maybe Oprah can help me demonstrate.

Great highlighter placement, Oprah, but you chose a color way too light for you! And someone didn't blend with her concealer brush. Silly Oprah.

3. The cupid's bow on the upper lip. A dab in your divot will brighten up that pucker. (See Oprah.)

Okay, so we've covered the conceal and the reveal, and now it's time for the drawbacks and application tips.

First of all, I have yet to try YSL's acclaimed Touche Eclat. Truthfully, I've been worried that it'll fall in the shine and shimmer category of cosmetics. Also? It's $36 as opposed to Sephora's lovely $10 item. But in a past Real Girl post, our own commenter Ashley noted that she prefers the YSL product greatly to this cheaper version. So Touche Eclat users be forewarned.

Secondly, here is my least favorite thing about the Sephora Light Touch Highlighter: the pen part. Ohhhh, how I hate clicking products. You know the ones--twist the bottom, hear the click, wait for the product. Argh, there's too little! Crap, now too much! With a concealer/highlighter, the amount of product you use is crucial to the effect. You should be starting with very little and using great control to blend, blend, blend. For this, the Sephora pen mechanism is worthless. Please, Real Girlettes--if you invest in this lovely product, always use a concealer brush or your third finger (the most gentle) for greater control.

Lastly, it's unfortunate that this product will be immensely difficult to buy online. You just need to test it in person, as I did. I'm fair-to-medium, and I use "No. 3." Which color is that, you may ask? No friggin' idea. At the Sephora store, the colors are numbered only, not given stunningly original names like "light beige." However, should you not be 100% satisfied with this--like any--product from Sephora, they'll take it back and give you a refund no questions asked.

So, my lovelies! Concealers!! Hightlighters!! Sephora products! Lay them on me!

And thrill your,
Real Girl

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Come Meet Real Girl!

The highlighting concealer post is just around the corner, but in the meantime I wanted to tell all you lovely people that my next reading for Pick Me Up has been scheduled! joke? I'm reading in the SAME BUILDING AS A SEPHORA.

Please come join me for what's sure to be a fun time: Tuesday, August 15th at 7:00PM at the Borders in the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle. By the way? "Time Warner Center" is just another name for "Fancy Mall." Swoon.

Did you read the hilarious report of my last (and first) reading? If you haven't, it's worth a look-see. And make sure you read to the very end for the best part.

Finally, I'll take this opportunity to thank every single reader who's taken the time to let me know--either in comments here or in a personal email--how much they love the novel. I truly appreciate every single person who buys the book, let alone the ones who take the trouble to say nice things about it! So thank you, thank you, thank you!

So far there are no plans for readings in other cities, but I'll certainly let you know if something comes up. And I hope I get to meet you in person! I'll be able to sign books and chat after the reading.

Of course I remain your,
Real Girl

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

SUNSCREEN wins! And this sunscreen is a winner!

Wow, results don't get any closer than this!

As you well know, in the spirit of the Real Girl Beauty community, I asked y'all to vote whether you wanted to hear next about a highlighting concealer or a supertastic sunscreen. At first, I was so sure that Concealer would win that I started upping my testing and mind-writing my post. BUT in the final stretch, Sunscreen started gaining, like the tortoise tailing the hare. Or like Real Girl tailing a Lindt chocolate truffle.

The final tally? Concealer: 10 votes. Sunscreen: 11 votes. (Also? "........" and ".,.,.,.,.," each got 1 vote. Erm...are those the independents?)

I promise next up will be the concealer. But for now, we'll focus on the wrinkles. I've told you before which sunscreen ingredients I prefer most. Always keep in mind that you need to fight both UVA (wrinkles! aging!) and UVB (burning! vicious, vicious burning!) rays, and the three top sunscreen ingredients to do this job are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone. Some studies show that avobenzone, a chemical sunscreen, may not be as good as the other two options, which are mineral sunscreens. My thoughts on said studies? Better safe than sorry.

So my quest for the Perfect Sunscreen had to have as its active ingredient either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Problem being? These sunscreens are white and chalky. Which tends to make the user look like a summer mime. I don't know about you, but my July schedule does not include street performing in white-face.

But finally, after literally months of searching both department store and drugstore brands, I've found a sunscreen that contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but. BUT! Leaves almost no chalky residue. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

The worthy winner? Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion, SPF 30.

Now, inexplicably, some reviewers on this product have noted a chalky residue. Perhaps it's in their application? I squeeze out my dollop, rub my hands together, and then coat my face. Compared to other mineral sunscreen lotions, the Eucerin has been the best by far. I have tested at least 10 others, all more expensive, and all with worse results. I'd go so far as to say I saw no white residue with my sweet Eucerin, because it's pretty darn close. I'm in love with the lack of chalky, I tell you. In love.

But there's more!! After years of searching (years!), I can honestly say this is a good sunscreen for oily and breakout-prone skin. Also? Sensitive skin. The lotion moisturizes slightly, but not heavily. So for you dry skinners? Perhaps not the best option. (Although I do have another option for you drier folks. Alas, that's for another day.) But for women who spend their summers shinier than grandma's gold lame jumpsuit? The Eucerin doesn't leave a matte finish, but it's not slick either. A very good combination-skin, not too greasy or too shiny option for the sticky summer weather. I've tried more matte sunscreens, but I felt those others left my ever-shiny mug feeling--gasp!--dry and unsatisfied.

But not my Eurcerin. Dear, sweet Eucy.

So far, this is the most perfect sunscreen I've ever found. I heart it. I carry a sample size around for reapplications.

Wrinkles? Find another face to torment. Oh, and you too skin cancer. Eucy's got my back. Except it's my face. Eucy's got my face.

And I've got my real girls.

So dish, girls! Sunscreen! Tell all!