Friday, January 26, 2007

Product Review: CO Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint

As it turns out, I have found the lip gloss to stop all other searches for lip gloss (at least for this month): C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint.

The 1139 shade is the perfect reddish-pinkish-brownish color, and it's mint-infused (rather than just having a mint flavor or a mint scent) so it's fresh, light and just sharp enough without being sickly sweet or medicinal smelling.

I love that it's a gloss I can wear to work without looking like a teenager or like I have a disco ball on my lips.

It has kept my lips moisturized through a nasty cold and some equally nasty weather up here in Seattle--so it's not only fun and pretty, it's also functional.

Available at Bath and Body Works for $7.50 ($5 on sale) or at for other shades. Anyone else try this? What did you think?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winterize Your Crown

Sure, we all wear hats because there's a need to stay warm. Afterall, Mom always said that heat escapes the fastest out of the top of the head. Hats serve a form and function, but it doesn't hurt they are an chic accessory. After you review F. Seattle's "how to" on hat usage, take a look at some of the latest winter hat trends below.

The safest and most versatile hat choice this winter is the Newsboy. It looks good on practically every face shape, and it even works with short hair. Even better, this hat can be dressed up with heels and dressed down with flats. It's the perfect hat to broadcast, "I don't have to make an effort to be cool--I just am."

Even though a smattering of wannabe Hollywood poptarts are flouncing around town in this hat, the Fedora will make a bold statement if you've got the guts to wear it. Don't wear it to work--it's too trendy--instead, wear it for a night out on the town. Cock it slightly to the side on top of head and strut your way out onto the dance floor.

The shining star on this list is the Cloche. The basic form inspires an array of spin-off styles, including the flapper, equestrian, and crusher, but they all share one thing in common--femininity. This hat deserves a pair of classy leather boots and the latest "It" bag, and when wearing it, you are sure to command respect.

If you're an artsy gal who sings to a tune of her own, try a Beret. Updated versions of the french hat include sexy embellishments and fancy fabrics. With the Beret, channel your inner Parisian, and treat yourself to a crepe!

A casual and low-maintenance style is the Skull cap, typically knitted or crocheted. The hat speaks of a carefree lifestyle, and gives off a bohemian vibe. It works best with jeans, and is ideal for a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park.

The Bomber hat was seen on Winter runways everywhere, but let's sacrifice it to the gods of couture. True, it may provide superior warmth, but do you really wanna imitate Marge Gunderson?

Photos linked to online vendor.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Secondi: A D.C. Classic

I visited our nation's capitol for the first time a few weeks ago and was delighted to be taken by a friend to a classy consignment shop in Dupont Circle, Secondi.

The D.C. metro system is easy to use, and the Dupont Circle station is only a few minutes from most major stops (on the red line). Secondi is just a few short blocks away from the station. Dupont Circle is renowned for its great shopping and dining and well worth a stop during your sightseeing and business travel.

Secondi sells everything from gently-used handbags and dresses to blue jeans and coats--all from major designers (you can see which designers they include at their website). The store is lightly decorated in a feminine, shabby-chic fashion, which adds a cozy, friendly feeling to the shopping experience.

Every item has a price tag on it that explains when the item was received and its pricing system: after one month, the price goes down 20 percent; after two, the price goes down another 20 percent. If you are willing to risk waiting for something to go down in price, you may end up saving quite a bit of money, although when buying on consignment, you are already receiving a substantial discount. Some of the price tags had the original pricing on them, and you can see just how much you are saving by shopping second-hand.

The store's staff is fun and helpful, but not pushy. My friend and I had an interesting discussion about blogging with the owner.

The clothes are always in-season (no bikinis and shorts in the winter), and all sales are final so be sure you buy what you love! My friend bought a $60 pair of Prada flats, and I purchased a taupe Anne Klein three-quarter length jacket for $41--what a steal! I'm looking forward to wearing it with floral skirts and tees in the spring and over jeans and cute tops to late movies with the hubby this summer.

Next time you're in D.C., check out Secondi!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dealing with a Hair Disaster

Imagine this scene: you go to the salon, photo of what you want in hand, optimistic about a new look. You discuss it with the stylist, take off your glasses and let her go to work. She finishes, and as you put your glasses back on you realize that it was not only not what you asked for, but hideous. How on earth are you going to live with this haircut? This happened to me recently, and I've been learning how to deal with it. If your haircut was a long one you could always go to another stylist elsewhere to fix it, but my hairstyle was very short, and there wasn't a whole lot of room left to fix anything.

Step one, don't panic. Go home and attempt to style the hair. Perhaps you can get a reasonable facsimile of what you were looking for with a little extra effort. Often the stylist gives you a blowout and you're not totally satisfied with what you received until you can get home and play with it yourself. See what you can do. If you can't replicate what you originally wanted, try styling your new coif in a different way that you can at least live with until it grows out. And your hair, eventually, will grow out. And Tom, if you're reading this, yes, I hated your hair in The DaVinci Code. But you work hard for your craft, and I understand the sacrifice you made. Carry on.

If it is so hideous that you are counting the days until you can get it re-styled, there are a few tricks of the trade that will make your hair grow longer. One method is to do what Marsha Brady would do - 100 brushstrokes a day. This will stimulate the scalp and follicles, promoting quicker growth. If you're concerned with having no hair left to style after such a rigorous brushing regimen, I'd say you'd have to do it for a very long time to see any baldness effects. A short stint of frequent brushing won't do permanent damage. However, if it's already a concern, invest in a scalp massager. You can buy this one online at Amazon, or a local spa shop. It looks like a torture device, but it does wonders for stimulating the scalp and follicles, and from what I understand, also promotes thinning hair to grow in thicker. Although I don't have the scientific evidence for the stimulation phenomenon, a local stylist told me to notice that most people's hair grows faster in the summer. In the winter we're more likely to throw a hat over our hair, or tie it up in a bun. In the summer we tend to spend more time on our hair, promoting the scalp stimulation we're looking for.

If that doesn't help, just keep in mind that your hair is just one aspect of your look, and with panache and some well-placed product, you might be able to turn that strange hair cut into a phenomenal fashion trend.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Massage 101

Last year, I lost my massage virginity. I always wondered why a massage was such a big deal, but didn't want to spend, what I perceived, a lot of money for thirty minutes of relaxation. It was on a spa-themed vacation with friends that finally changed my mind. My first thoughts upon emerging from the room post-massage, was "I can't believe I've been missing out on this!"

Most salons and independent practioners offer at least four standard massage techniques: the Swedish massage, the Deep Tissue massage, the Hot/Cold stone massage, and the Sports massage.

The Swedish massage is designed as an overall body massage to increase circulation and blood flow. It utilizes long, flowing strokes, to relax and energize the body. Swedish massage is a good beginner-level massage.

Deep Tissue massage focuses on deeper layers of muscle tissue, working a specific joint, muscle or muscle group. The massage practioner accesses deeper layers of tissue in order to release chronic patterns of tension in the body. Deep finger pressure is applied to areas of muscle tightness, and releases the contraction with slow strokes. Deep tissue is beneficial for muscle damage from an injury like back strain.

A Hot/Cold stone massage allows the massage practitioner to work deep into the muscle without the discomfort of a regular deep tissue massage. Smooth hot or cold stones, usually basalt or marble, are used to massage the body. Heated stones allow muscles to relax, while cold stones target specific areas like the sinuses.

Sports massage is therapy to help prevent athletic injury, keep the body flexible, and heal the body from injury. It's a system of long strokes, kneading and friction techniques on the more superficial layers of the muscles, combined with active and passive movement of the joints. Sports massage can be tailored to focus on muscle systems relevant to a particular sport.

When you decide which type of massage you'd like, your next step is to find a massage therapist. Spas and health clubs are a great place to start, as they're massage staff should be reputable and licensed. Ask your friends, and even your stylist, for recommendations. If you decide to go with an independent practitioner, thoroughly verify their credentials. I recommend choosing a massage therapist employed by a spa, for many reasons. While an independent practitioner that makes home visits may be convenient, a spa surrounding is safer, and you're more likely to be free of distraction. Visit this website to find a massage therapist in your area meeting American Massage Therapy Association's requirements.

In preparation for your massage, drink lots of water and eat a light meal. Massage therapy aims to rid your body of internal toxins, and during the process, you may become dehydrated. Trust me on this one---you need to go into your massage hydrated. In addition, it's best to have a little food on your stomach, but don't overload on the portion or rich foods that may cause gastrointestinal issues. If you find your body making an embarrassing noise during your massage, rest assured that massage therapists hear it all the time.

Arrive to your massage appointment ten-to-15 minutes ahead of time, allowing time to fill out any paperwork and to prepare yourself mentally. Many massage therapists or spas schedule their massage clients back-to-back, and do not accommodate tardiness. In addition, if you arrive in a frenzy, you may cheat yourself of the time to wind down for the massage. If you have to cancel your appointment, let the massage therapist or spa know as soon as possible. Most require a 24 hour notice, and you may be subject to a fee if you cancel later.

Before your session begins, the therapist will ask you some questions about your medical history, stress level, any problem areas, and your expectations for the massage. The therapist will also ask you if you'd like extra attention or avoidance of any areas, as well as the amount of pressure they should apply. This is the time to speak-up. Good communication is essential to a postive massage experience, and it is important for you to be as comfortable as possible.

Preceding the massage, the therapist will ask you to remove your clothing to your level of comfort. If you are concerned about your body and its lumps and bumps, remember that massage therapists see an array of different body types. Your cellulite will fail to shock them. Sheets and/or towels, referred to as "drapes," are provided and will be used by the therapist to preserve your modesty. You may keep clothing on during the massage, but be aware that it may hinder the therapist's ability to maximize the relaxation.

The therapist will leave the room for you to undress, and during this time, you need to position yourself facedown on the massage table or bed. Many tables have extra attachments or cushions, like a face rest, but in the case that they don't, position yourself comfortably with your head to the side. The therapist will re-enter the room, and begin the massage, uncovering only the part of the body being massaged at a time. Know that the therapist will ask you to turn over for the second half of the session, and will arrange the drapes to accommodate your modesty.

Once the massage begins, the therapist will ask you if the pressure is too hard or too soft. The therapist also may offer some advice to improve the quality of the massage, such as breathing techniques. The therapist will use an oil or lotion, reducing the drag on the skin while performing the massage strokes.

The ambience in the massage room shold be peaceful and comfortable. Many times, the room will be dimly lit and fragranced by scented candles. The therapist also may play music during the massage. If you prefer the room to be quiet, then ask to turn the music off. Your massage therapist will default to silence during your session, but if he or she strikes up a conversation and you'd like peace, respectfully ask for silence.

A relaxed state is key to making the most of your massage. If your mind is racing and you are unable to focus, try closing your eyes and follow the hands of the massage therapist and how the touch feels. It also may be beneficial to "nap" during your massage.

Don't hesitate to report any discomfort during the massage. If there is anything that doesn't feel comfortable or if you don't like something, you have the right to ask the therapist to stop. If you deem that the therapist's behavior is inappropriate, you reserve the right to end the session at any time. Inform the spa owner if you were made uncomfortable by a massage experience.

A massage session will last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. After the massage is finished, the therapist will leave the room to allow you time to dress. At this point, you can proceed directly to the lobby area to pay for the massage. You should tip your massage therapist 15 to 20 percent, or more if you are satisfied. Most spas allow their patrons to arrange for the therapist's tip during checkout.

Be sure to drink extra water after a massage, allowing your body to replenish liquids. Do NOT consume alcoholic beverages for several hours after your massage, or you'll be drunk as a skunk in no time flat. Allow yourself some quiet time after your session ends to re-engage your busy schedule. Some therapists even recommend a light nap after a massage session.

Massage has its greatest benefits over time, and repeated sessions will allow patterns of stress to release. I warn you though--once you start, you'll be back for more!