Friday, January 12, 2007

Super Bowl Fiesta!

The Super Bowl is coming up on February 4th, and although I frankly couldn't care less about football, it's a great time to get together with friends, eat great snacks and yell at the television. The great thing about a Super Bowl party is that it's necessarily relaxed - you wear your knockaround clothes, sit around all afternoon and pig out! If you keep all your snacks in disposable dishes, cleanup is a snap. Pick up a case of beer and your menu is complete.

Of course you'll have the necessities: pretzels, chips, dip, and maybe some veggies, just to keep it somewhat healthy. If you want to be really bad, there's a quick recipe that's so easy a trained monkey could do it. Take out a 9x9 glass dish, cover the bottom with a brick of cream cheese, cover the cream cheese with a can of chili (no beans) and cover the chili with a healthy dose of shredded cheddar. Stick it in the microwave for just a few seconds, so the cheese gets a little melty, and serve. There is something about this recipe - it's a very addictive substance. You could sit there and eat the entire thing, and it is incredibly popular among my guy friends, so it's a nice treat, if you can get any. Serve with the big tortilla chips, because you'll need the leverage of a heavy chip.

This could be an excellent time to bond with a sports fan in your life, even if you don't know the difference between a down and a touchdown. Just pick a team and start cheering! If you can't stand the sport, take heart. The Super Bowl is chock full of some of the best commercials of the year, and for the halftime entertainment you'll have none other than Prince himself to shake you out of your food coma. There's also a pre-game show, and a growing list of colorful commentators to give you something to laugh at during the game. Hey, even Dennis Miller was a commentator at one time. In any regard, keep your eyes peeled, because some of the most outrageous moments of the year can happen at the Super Bowl; just ask Janet Jackson! Even if football's not your thing, it can be a great night for you and your nearest and dearest.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Where to go cheap and where to spend

Whether you are a lady who never leaves the house without a fresh face of carefully-applied
make-up--or you're just a lip gloss only kind of gal--there are ways to save on make-up. Here are the things you can go cheap on and what you should definitely splurge for:

Be frugal with:

-Powder bronzer and blush. There are plenty of excellent shades in available at drugstore prices. Cheek stain that will stay on all day without reapplication could be a possible exception.

-Skin cleansers and moisturizers. If you don't have particularly troublesome skin, you don't need to spend hundreds on anything with extra seaweed or collagen in it.

-Lipsticks, lip liners and glosses. You can usually find something that suits your fancy, the season, and your pocketbook. However, there's something to be said for having a signature lip shade and taking the time with a make-up artist in a department store to find the right color.

-Some eye shadows and pencils. This will depend on your eye sensitivity and allergies though. (Word to the wise: Don't buy the stuff at the dollar store.)

-Mascara. You're supposed to replace it every three months anyway so unless you've found something you just can't live without...

-Anything trendy. Blue eye liner, black nail polish, yellow eye shadow--all fine to go cheap-o on.

-Shampoos. See this Everyday Cheapskate article on why it's okay to buy inexpensive shampoo, but better to splurge on conditioner.

Dole out the dough on:

-Foundation and powder that is right for your skin type and tone. If you need to wear foundation (and some of you may not need to!), more expensive brands have better pigment, making a little bit go a long way. It may even end up saving you money to go this route, especially if you go to a department store to get the right stuff instead of testing and tossing several of the wrong cheaper foundations

-Shadow primer. I am in love with Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. All day eye shadow with no creases! Brilliant!

-Hair conditioners (see above article).

Disagree, agree, or add to the lists in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Safety in Numbers, or, Why Layering is Actually a Great Idea After All

A reader asked...
"Could you please collaborate on the basics of layering, such as color, texture, length combinations, most office-friendly variations, casual looks, basic pieces one must have etc…"

When this trend started gaining popularity last year (2005 or thereabouts), I scoffed. We're all trying to appear as thin as possible, so why would we add thickness to our bodies by layering clothes? I live in California and therefore there are only a very few months in the year that layering makes any sense.

Then, around January 2006, I noticed the plethora of cute, lacy camisoles that were floating around stores everywhere. I couldn't resist the feminine touch they added to my outfits! Once I read How Not To Look Fat, I was a layering queen.

Here are some great reasons to try layering, if you haven't already:

Warmth A camisole or a thin undershirt can add an extra layer of warmth, which is a special benefit for our cold-climate fashionistas.

Smoother is thinner
Think layering will make you look bulky? Think again. If the problem spots on your bod are covered up, you'll look and feel better. Laying minimizes back fat as well as poochy tummies.

Fun with color Layering is a great way to doll up drab outfits. Are you wearing an all black ensemble--pants and a top? Simply add a cute cami underneath that V-neck top and you're good to go! Bring along a couple different colored camis on a trip, and you've got a new outfit for every day of the week!

Modesty factor A few months ago I bought a wonderful great black dress from Target. It was versatile and flattering...with one major problem. It showed off all my business in the front. You can be sure THAT won't fly when I'm directing choirs! Now, with my new-found super layering powers, I can wear that dress anywhere, without fear of elementary (or junior high, or high school!) kids giggling behind my back.

Next week, I'll talk about the principles of layering--what to pair with what undergarment.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Product Review: Clean & Clear Invisible Acne Patch

The Claim

Clean & Clear Advantage Invisible Acne Patch has a breakthrough formula that treats and helps you more easily conceal breakouts at the same time. When you apply the liquid to a pimple, it will appear smoother and your makeup will go on more evenly. At the same time, the formula deposits maximum strength acne fighting medication to treat your pimple.

The instant pimple smoothing technology forms an invisible layer that features the film forming polymer Chitosan PCA. This polymer essentially "pulls up" the low points and "pushes down" the high points on skin to create a smoother surface. This smooth surface makes it easier to apply makeup. The Invisible Acne Patch also contains Salicylic Acid, an acne fighting ingredient that helps to unclog pores and prevent clogging by helping the skin´s natural renewal process

The Observation

When I first heard of this product, I was overwhelmed with joyous optimism. Unfortunately, I am prone to cystic blemishes. Cystic blemishes are the kind that form a sore bump under the skin, and then a few days later, grow to double the size and open up. During the healing period, these blemishes remain open and wet, making it hard to conceal them with makeup. Not to mention that any makeup used to cover them up only exacerbates the blemish. Having said that, I was thrilled that Clean & Clear finally decided to make a product that would allow me to promote healing to the blemish, but aid in the concealing process.

The manufacturer instructs you to twist the base of the wand until the product dispenses through the tip, applying a thin layer evenly to pimple. My first efforts at this method of application failed, yielding too much product on the blemish. I finally decided to apply a small dot to my finger and dab directly onto the blemish.

The instructions say to allow the patch to dry and an invisible layer will smooth over the surface. Then apply makeup. I found that the product didn't take an unreasonable amount of time to dry, but on hurried mornings, it was like watching paint dry. And sometimes, I thought the product had dried, but when I went to apply my makeup, I smeared the patch. In addition, if I applied too much of the patch, the sides would begin to flake as soon as I tried to use concealer.

Finally mastering the first two steps, I applied my makeup. As long as I used a sparing amount of the product and allowed the patch to dry thoroughly, applying my concealer and makeup over the blemish was simple. It really did work like an invisible band-aid. And I was also pleased that the product contained medication to heal the blemish, while keeping out the oils from my makeup and face.

During the morning hours, I stole a quick glance at my face to make sure my blemish-fighting technology was living up to my expectations. Unfortunately, it was not. Surrounding the blemish was a ring of flaky product. A couple of times I tried to smooth the patch down and re-apply concealer or pressed powder, but it normally just made the patch look flakier. Most times, I would just end up pulling the patch off and applying concealer directly to the blemish.

The Bottom Line

The product is a tad more expensive than other acne products that feature the same concentration of medication, but no better value. This product might be useful for nighttime wear, as it will keep the product on your face and off your pillow, but it offers no new or more powerful ingredients than any other salicylic acid acne medication.

While the polymer in this product did a nice job of shrinking my blemish and making it less noticeable, and the medication was reliable, I was not pleased with its wearability. I gave this product more than its deserved allowance of second chances, and it has since been relocated from my makeup bag to the cosmetic and beauty product graveyard under my sink.