Archive | January, 2009

The Kitchen Facial….

28 Jan

If you’ve ever been in a Macy’s, Bloomingdales or Sephora, then I’m sure you can see how someone could easily spend hundreds of dollars trying to keep themselves looking young. Between cleansers, moisturizers, toners, masks, scrubs, firmers, softeners, lifters, tigheners, and everything in between, the world of skin care and glamour is enough to make any consumer crazy… and bankrupt! Are all of those funky ingredients necessary when it comes to keeping you looking your best? Depends. Some people swear by the “’what’s new & what’s hot” mainstream products. Others, like myself, find that the more involved a product is, the more likely my sensitive skin is to flip out from it.

After a nasty breakout from an anti-aging night cream last winter, I researched online what I could use to calm my skin down. I made a homemade mask of specific kitchen products, slathered it all over my blotchy face twice a day, and watched as my skin went from raging red to peaceful pale. This triggered me to look up other natural items and recipes that might help keep my appearance at an even keel. The information I found would change my skin care routine forever.

Since my troubles mainly occur in winter because the cold temperatures, dry indoor heat, biter winds and the nasty snow glare turn my face into a dry flaky mess, this is when I put away my department store cosmetics and start hitting the refrigerator and cabinets for the goodies that help me the most. The recipes?… Simple. The cost?… pennies. The results?… priceless.

Here is my skin care regime from now until further notice:

breakfast1Cleanser/Mask: “Breakfast In A Jar”

½ banana mashed, 1 tbs. heavy cream, ½ aloe leaf pulp, 1 tbs. finely ground oatmeal, 1 tsp. honey.

Not only does this cleanser work great for removing makeup but it also smells great and softens the skin. The bananas and heavy cream are rich in protein and fat which helps moisturize and smooth the skin. Aloe pulp has healing properties and is an anti-inflammatory. The oatmeal has soothing properties to calm any redness or irritation. And the honey? Honey naturally moisturizes, is packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and contains a natural acid which helps the skin’s cell renewal. Once you mix all of the ingredients together, you put the “goop” in a jar or small Tupperware cup and keep it in the refrigerator till ready to use. The bananas will cause the top layer of the cleanser to turn dark after a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean it is spoiled. Scrape it off, and keep using it. I suggest you make a new batch every 7-10 days to keep it fresh. To use: put mixture all over your face, let it sit for a minute or two, Rinse with cool water. Use morning and evening. (FYI—sometimes it is easier to buy a small jar of organic bananas baby food. It’s easier to work with and mixes smoother.)

brown-sugarExfoliate: Brown Sugar

Sugar is a natural and inexpensive way to include alpha-hydroxy acids in your skincare program. Usually to get the benefits of alpha-hydroxy acids, you have to schedule appointments with a dermatologist for various types of peels. By getting sugar into your routine at home, you will experience all of the benefits without the inflated price. Brown sugar is a gentler grain sugar and is not as rough as regular table sugar. To use: once a week in the evening, put a small amount (½ tsp.) of brown sugar in the palm of your hand then add your “Breakfast in a Jar” cleanser to it. Rub together then gently apply to your face in a circular motion. Rinse with cool water.

tea1Toner: Chamomile Tea

A toners main purpose is to remove any last traces of cleanser and makeup. Many cosmetic lines add alcohol to their toners which is a disaster to dry skin. A winter toner should be gentle, refreshing, soothing and still do its job. Chamomile is the perfect herb for that. Take an all-natural decaffeinated chamomile tea bag and let it steep in ½ cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove bag (do not squeeze it out) and discard. Keep cooled tea in the refrigerator and use on a cotton ball after cleansing or whenever a clean face needs a little soothing. Make a new toner once a week.

olive-oilMoisturizer: Olive Oil

Nothing fancy here. Olive oil is an excellent moisturizer because it attracts and holds moisture close to the skin and forms a breathable film to prevent loss of internal moisture. And its anti-oxidants help to prevent dryness and wrinkles. Go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil, put some in a little jar or bottle and leave it on your bathroom counter. Apply dots of it all over your face, paying special attention to your cheeks and neck. Avoid the eye area with excess oil, but any you have left on your fingers that isn’t absorbed can be dotted under the eyes. If you are thinking, Don’t worry about your pores clogging. Olive oil is non-comedogenic, and the extra virgin variety is actually very light on the face.

The one thing that I didn’t mention is that no matter how natural you make your skin, you must-use a sunscreen. There are many on the market that are combined with other ingredients that can make your face red and irritated. Products containing PABA or padimate A and O can be a problem to people with dry and sensitive skin. Benzophenones, cinnamates, dibenzoylmethanes, and others are also irritating and can cause an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. Although sunscreens known as physical blocking agents can be good for people known to get allergic reactions, they can be very heavy and don’t absorb well into the skin. Products that are titanium dioxide- or micronized zinc oxide-based seem to be the best for people with sensitive skin. A good thing to know is most mineral foundations have these ingredients. If you already use a mineral foundation, you may not have to add an extra step for sun protection. Check your foundation’s ingredients to see the ingredients and how much sun-protection is in them. Another great natural sunscreen is by Burt’s Bees. It’s heavier than some, but don’t need a lot. I find it absorbs quicker than most. I have also found a foundation primer that contains an SPF which I use from time to time. (Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF15 w/Dermaxyl Complex, $36)

Even if you had to purchase everything you would need to pamper your face this season all at once, you probably would still come out spending less than if you were to buy one high-end department store age-fighting moisturizer. Plus you’d still have enough ingredients to whip up about 10+ more batches (at least!). You can see how the savings would quickly add up.

If you aren’t sure if what I’m using would be good for your skin type, or if you’d like to add a couple of ingredients for other specific problems, take a look at these great websites. They give you a list of various ingredients and their benefits as well as some great recipe ideas. Cook yourself up an inexpensive homemade facial and take those savings to splurge on something fun (like a killer purse!)

Homemade Facials—Ingredients and Recipes: http://umibrahim.tripod.com/id26.html

Natural Ingredients for Inexpensive Skin Care: http://www.emzblendzsoap.com/ingredients/ingredients.htm

My Top Five Drugstore Finds of 2008…

18 Jan

Hitting the high-end makeup counters as well as the ultra chic glamour stores can be the best type of retail therapy there is. No doubt, it can make you feel like a princess as you try on all the glitz and leave with little bags stuffed with tubes and tissue paper. But it is also a fact that they can drain you of your last dollar you had saved for your children’s lunch money. It’s no doubt there are things that you will pay a bit more for simply because you just love it or because your skin needs it. But are there any drug store steal-of-a-deal items out there that won’t break your bank? You betcha! Here are my can’t-live-without items I discovered last year that keeps me looking slammin’ without making my wallet cry:

· cleanserAveeno Active Naturals Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

There are times, especially in the colder months, when my skin is easily irritated. It can be dry one day, normal the next, shiny the day after that. This soap-free foaming cleanser is perfect for every one of those days. It cleanses and softens even dry skin and has calming ingredients to help reduce redness. Your skin is thoroughly cleansed of all makeup without stripping moisture and making your face feel tight. A little goes a long way too. Price: $7.50

· lumene1Lumene Absolute Away Eye Makeup Remover

My eye makeup is the one thing I am very particular about. I am precise about lining, shading and making sure my mascara gives me spider-lashes. I also make sure if I’m spending that much time to make my eyes look good, then it better stay put all day Come bedtime, it doesn’t usually come off willingly with my simple face cleanser. I need something strong with a few cotton balls. Lumene’s remover is a miracle worker for just that. It takes off all types of eye makeup including creams, glitters and waterproof mascara. It looks like salad dressing, so you just shake it up to blend. It’s safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers so you get no irritation from it. And it’s cheap! I must have on my bathroom counter. Price: $6.50

· L’Oreal Paris HiP high intensity pigments Shine Struck Liquid Lipcolor

lipssWhen it comes to all… and I mean ALL… of the lip products in my diva drawer, this is the one item I grab for when I want a no-brainer lip color. The majority of the time, I am a lip gloss girl. I love the flavors and moistness of glosses, but sometimes I wish I had a bit more pop to the color. Lipsticks tend to fade fast on me and dry my lips out like potato chips when I use them. This product gives you the coverage of a rich lip color but also the high shine and moisture of a lipgloss. And the scent/flavor? Sweet vanilla cake batter. Yum! The shades range from simple and neutral (Spledid) to bright and bold (Distinct and Tainted). Easy to carry tube and great curved applicator makes it easy to apply even without a mirror. Price: $7.50

· Mary Kate & Ashley Liquid Color Shadow Cosmetics in Top Coat Silver

sparklesSometimes you need just a little bling to make your eyes stand out, keep you feeling young at heart. And right now, eye shadows with glitter in them are a dime (or a c-note) a dozen. The problem with most of them is that they have terrible “fallout” which means more of the sparkles end up on your cheeks and face than on your eyes. Mary Kate & Ashley’s top coat has the consistency of nail polish. You put it right over your favorite eye color to glitter it up. Then what’s nice is it keeps the eye shadow waterproof and keeps the sparkles from moving. You can even put more eye shadow over it to tone it down while still keeping the dazzle in place. With the easy to use soft, slanted applicator, the fun is endless with this! Price: $4.50

· Garnier Fructis Style Brilliantine Shine Glistening Drops

hair-dropsBelieve it or not, I fell in love with this product after trying a sample in a magazine. Yes, I said that right. They put a hair styling product sample on a page in a magazine. I didn’t think it would be enough to see what it did, but it was! Just a drop or two really makes your hair soft and shiny. If you apply it to your hair while it is wet, it is fabulous for smoothing and detangling. Another drop or two after your hair dries keeps the frizzies away too. It’s not heavy at all and the scent, like most Fructis items, is yummy. This hair product definitely runs with the big (expensive) boys and gives you the same, if not better, results for a lot less money. Price: $3.50

You don’t have to go broke to be beautiful. Don’t always be lured in by the ads on TV or in the magazines. Check online drug stores and beauty websites for consumer reviews to see if it is something you might like. And if you want? Feel free to email and ask me! If I have any ideas or input, I’d be happy to share!

Then and Now: Fashions For “Old Farts”

10 Jan

Ever since I was a teen, there have been a few things that have been a staple in my wardrobe, closet and makeup drawer. They are probably things that you cannot live without either. But as I move up in age, I notice fundamentals of these items evolving. For example, every woman needs a purse. As a young woman, my purse needed to be able to hold my money, a lip gloss and a license. That was it. When I got married and had children, my purse then had to be able to hold those items plus a travel-sized pack of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and a Ziploc bag of Cheerios. You see where I am going with this.

Even now that my kids are teens and my daily routine is totally different, I am finding that my must-have items are becoming less and less basic. At least the designers are aware of this because no matter what I need, someone seems to make it. Let’s break down my simple fashion necessities and what requirements they must have to fit my more “mature” life now:

  • PURSE

Then: Small shoulder bags in jazzy colors with one compartment were fine. Sometimes it wasn’t even necessary to carry one at all. Carrying a purse meant you could only carry one drink at the bar during 2-for-1 nights.

Now: Shoulder bags are frowned upon due to arthritis bothering the shoulders. Black or brown is fine. It must be able to hold a wallet, checkbook, ATM card, cell phone, pill box, lip balm, bottle of water and the janitor ring of keys. Extra room should be available in case there is a need to carry a small pack of tissues, datebook, two granola bars and a hair clip. Designer name not required but it helps to justify the purchase.

  • SHOES

Then: High, high, high. The more hooker-looking, the better. Brown didn’t exist, red and black patent leather were a necessity. Comfort was not even considered. Kinney’s was your go-to shoe heaven.

Now: Leather shoes work best because they stretch out and allow room for bunions. Square-toed and rounded-toed shoes work best. Pointed-toed shoes make your eyes water just looking at them. Peep toes are the new sexy. Black and brown are a must, grey or silver is now considered daring. Any shoe over 2” must have a comfort, no slip sole and a built-in cushioned arch support. Designer name not required but helps to justify the purchase.

  • JEANSjeans

Then: If your jeans weren’t tight, you returned them. Stretch jeans were best because they enhanced your figure. You lay down on the bed to put them on and you were fine with that. If you wanted them to feel snugger, you wore stockings underneath them. Acid-washed was your favorite color but anything tight would do.

Now: If your jeans are tight, you return them. Jeans must be purchased at the store because they have to be tried on—no two pairs of the same size fit the same. Stretch jeans are best because they stretch for your figure! If you have to lie down on the bed to put them on, you can expect to be there all day. Usually the classic name jeans fit best but if a designer pair fits better, then that will help to justify the purchase.

  • JEWELRY

Then: The gaudier the better. You watched Madonna and Janet Jackson videos for ideas. Your earrings were so heavy that you were told your piercing holes were about to rip through. Getting you ears double pierced was a luxury that made you the envy of your friends. Your bracelets were made of rubber. Your necklaces looked like Mardi Gras beads. If your jewelry turned body parts green, it was no big deal (that’s what clear nail polish was for.) If you didn’t get your jewelry at a “Buy One Get Two Free” sale at your local teen store, you paid too much.

Now: The shinier the better. Golds, silvers and platinums are the jewelry box trend. Styles are simpler and reflect the person wearing the pieces. Studs, hoops and chandelier earrings are most common. Necklaces are all lengths with varied pendants. Bracelets are usually flashy. If you only have your ears double pierced, you are considered white bread. Minimum of three holes in one ear (with diamond studs) is more the norm. A pierced belly button is now a common accessory at PTA meetings and soccer games. Any watch with two hands will work, but ones with diamonds have been said to keep better time so that helps to justify the purchase.

  • MAKEUP & SKINCARE80sgloss

Then: There was no such thing as the “natural look.” Foundation had to be slightly on the orange side and end right before the neck began. Lipsticks came in pink, hot pink and fuschia. Lip gloss rolled on and came in strawberry or cherry flavors. Mascara was in a pink tube made by Maybelline. Eyeliner was a foot-long pencil, was always black and always cheap. Skin care consisted of Sea Breeze pads and Noxzema in the blue jar. Moisturizer was only something you used on your hands in winter. If you went to bed with your makeup on, you knew it could save you time in the morning. Perfume was Love’s Baby Soft or Charlie.

Now: You have two looks—au natural and glam gorgeous. The natural look is earth tones from mineral powders. Chapstick with a shimmer is enough for the lips. Eyeliner is soft and smudged and mascara is minimal. The glam look is more out there. There is glitter on everything from the eyes and lips down into the cleavage. Eyeliner is blackest of blacks and mascara is thick and bold. Focus on skin care is a must. We will try anything…and everything… to avoid crow’s feet, laugh lines, wrinkles, flakes and sun damage. Paying $40 for a good moisturizer is not unusual. We look for words like Retin-A, peptides, SPF, omegas and vitamins. Our bathroom counter looks more like a spice cabinet. We go to retail stores that sell nothing but makeup and skin care, and won’t think twice about dropping a car-payment size amount of money to stay looking young. Washing your face at night takes 10+ minutes. There are perfumes everywhere that suit a person’s personal taste, but if it comes with a body lotion and shower gel sampler, a free tote bag and a pair of sunglasses, it certainly will help to justify the purchase.

  • HAIR

Then: No matter how big your hair was, it wasn’t big enough. Two cans of Aqua Net and a can of mousse per week was normal usage. Finesse shampoos and conditioners were the designer brand for routine care. Home perms were what you had done if you and your mom were bored on the weekend. If you mother refused to give you a home perm, you bought a hair crimper. You were happy with your natural hair color. That is, until June, when your locks drank Sun-In as much as you drank Iced Tea. When you realized that the Sun-In had turned your hair into dried grass, you tried to make it look stylish with either Farrah Fawcett side curl flips or a jazzy banana clip.

Now: Your monthly hair maintenance is as routine as your mortgage payment. And about as expensive. You’ve lost track of what your natural color really is because you can’t tell where the highlights begin, the lowlights end with the blending of the roots in between. Your stylist knows all about you and refers to you by name & hair color shade. (“Oh, hello Tina Redken OC8 Cayanne/Saffron!”) You can’t stand the thought of even a wave in your hair and you don’t hesitate to pay an exorbitant amount of money on a ceramic hair straightener and blow dryer to prevent any type of curl. You have bottles, tubes, cans, sprays, foams, gels, waxes and pomades in every nook and cranny of your bathroom and shower. Because your hair looks so slammin’, you save money by not buying hair clips, and that in turn helps to justify the purchases.

  • TATTOOStat

Then: You hoped the box of Cracker Jack you bought contained a tattoo that because that would have made you sooooooo cool with your friends.

Now: You are wondering where on your body you are going to put your third tattoo because your friends think you are a Cracker Jack for having less than them. You finally tell your husband you are going to get a tramp-stamp of the design on your wedding invitation tattooed on your back because it will make you feel that much closer to him. That surely will justify the purchase with him… Right?

A New Year of Resolutions….

2 Jan

champagneAbout 15 years ago, I was no different than most other people on New Year’s day. I made a resolution to change something in my life. What was the resolution I made, you ask? It was a resolution to not to make any more resolutions. Ever. Each year I would set out with one or two intentions in mind. Since I was 15 years old, one of those was ALWAYS to quit biting my nails. You can see how well I did with that since I made it every year for 25 years straight. The other ones usually varied between things like change my hair style, make a better choice in boyfriends, walk daily, a more consistent laundry routine, learning new recipes, keep in closer contact with my friends, etc. Things like that. Like always, I would start the year out good then somewhere around March I forgot what my resolutions even were. That’s when I made the decision to just stop making any altogether.

Then, something happened. The year I stopped making my ritual resolution of trying to stop biting my nails, I went cold turkey one summer and stopped on my own. It’s been almost 10 years now and they are long and strong. Sometimes I look at them, all filed and painted and can’t believe they are mine. Some people have PhD’s on their wall. I have ten gorgeous nails on my hands that I probably feel just as proud of. Other than me burping the alphabet at a college drinking party, it truly is one of my greatest accomplishments.

But the question still remains: Did I stop biting my nails because I was just ready and the time was right? Or did I succeed in doing it because the pressure of the resolution was off my mind? Hmmm.

Earlier today, Mr. Sassy asked me what my New Year resolutions were. I informed him that I don’t make them any more. When he asked why, I explained. Plus at this stage of my life, the majority of resolutions that are set by people at the beginning of the year don’t really apply to me. I don’t need to lose weight, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t need to get out of debt and I don’t need to drink less coffee. But my explanation wasn’t good enough for Mr. Sassy. He told me to make at least one resolution for 2009. Oh great, now I have to put real thought into this. What do I really want to change in my life this year? “Under promise–over achieve,” they say. I’m rolling my eyes as I type that. So this year, with my stunning hooker-red manicured success tapping away at my keyboard, this is my list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2009:


  • Try to wake up early each day. .Of course, before10:30am counts as early to me. It’s a start.
  • Read more. . It doesn’t have to be a huge novel by Stephen King or Tom Brokaw. Even a Nancy Drew from my daughter’s bookshelf or a magazine with good stories works. My husband always tells me Playboy has great stories too.
  • Let a professional take care of my hair. . This includes regular coloring, cutting, and waxing. Even though I think I’m really good at it, I have to realize someone else could do better. A lot better. Especially the waxing part.
  • Spend less money on skin care and glamour products for myself.. Just because it has a fancy name or bottle, costs a mint, and smells like the tropics doesn’t mean it’s better than all the rest. I will be open to comparing drug store brands to the higher end and be honest when less (money) is more (productive!)
  • Eat a serving of berries or dark-skinned fruit every day. . They are healthy, taste good and they keep the germies away.
  • Drink more water, . I’m way better than I used to be, but I’m still off. If I treat myself like I treat my plants, I’m going to be dried out and wilted very soon. Oh, so I guess my next resolution should be….
  • Get a pretty new plant and don’t kill it,.
  • Gain 4-7 lbs. . Listen, don’t hate. I need a little more meat on my bones, okay?
  • Spend 30 minutes every afternoon cleaning up my house. . Cleaning up my home is like having a root canal–long, painful and headache inflicting. If I do a little each day, it won’t be so bad. I was told to set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes. That way it won’t seem overwhelming.
  • Learn something new. . I’m leaving this one really wide open so at least I have a shot at making this one happen. It could be anything from learning a new makeup style to designing a new outfit to learning a song on the guitar. Doesn’t matter. Just as long as it is fun and doesn’t get me arrested.
  • Hug my kids whenever possible. . That one will be easy!


Have a great 2009 everyone! I’ll keep you posted on my resolutions… keep me posted on yours!