Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Perfection Question

When it comes to beauty, what is perfection? Is it the attainment of an ideal? That’s a dangerous idea, since Dove has so powerfully pointed out that society’s “ideals” are often manipulated images and not based in reality.

It’s understandable that the word perfection can evoke very charged reactions. Yet the notion of reaching the ultimate level of beauty (be it perfect skin, a perfect body, a perfect smile, etc) is undeniably alluring. So it’s no wonder that the “P” word keeps popping up in product names. Here’s a look at some of the products promising perfection.

Origins’ A Perfect World Line

We all know that the world is full of free radicals that can damage your skin, and antioxidants can protect you from that damage. This line of face and body products features Silver Tip White Tea, a super-charged antioxidant. They say that “A Perfect World™ creates a protective bubble around skin so that no static, stress or toxic grime can age your skin before its time. And by helping repel negative forces, skin is free to renew, repair and protect itself in the way nature intended.” There are 9 products in the line and I’m itching to try the Firming moisture treatment with White Tea for Eyes.

Creative Scentualization’s Perfect Perfumes
Creative Scentualization's Perfect Perfumes line features nine signature fragrances that were created to meet the demand for both nature-identical florals and new interpretations of classic favorites such as vanilla and "clean." I’ve had the chance to try four of them, thanks to the nice folks at Fragrances & More.

* Perfect Veil: The ultimate skin scent, it’s slightly musky and can be worn alone like a soft blanket over the skin, or to enhance your other perfumes.
* Perfect Vanilla: My perfect vanilla would capture the spice’s mystery and warmth, without being too cloying or sweet. With hints of blood orange and tobacco in it, this one does it.
* Perfect Gardenia: You wear it and you’re looking around to find the flowers, it’s that faithful.
* Perfect Bliss: The perfumer designed this one to smell like her wedding bouquet, with an initial dash of fruits balanced on a sexy, warm base.

Per-fect Beauty Skin Perfection Gel
Two “perfects” in the product name – let’s see what they have to say! “Per-fekt Skin Perfection Gel is a silky smooth, sheer color gel that 'per-fekts' and enhances the skin. This advanced formulation glides on effortlessly to instantly improve skin tone plus smooth enlarged pores and fine lines. Alpha lipoic acid improves skin clarity and vitamins A and E help repair, protect and prevent future skin damage. This oil- and fragrance-free formulation helps maintain hydration, leaving skin with a healthy glow.” It sounds like a supercharged primer and comes in Translucent plus four tints. Please post a comment if you’re tried it!

Nick Chavez Perfect Plus Hair Products
“Perfect” is a tall order as it is, but here, Hollywood hairdresser Nick Chavez is promising us Perfect PLUS! Woo-wee! Sorry to burst the bubble, ladies, but my great-aunt bought this stuff on QVC and it’s pretty cheap and nasty – it left my hair rather straw-like, not all poufy and full of body as promised.

Perfectil Triple Active Beauty Nutrition Tablets
Hmmm… perfection in a pill? I certainly agree with them that “certain nutrients are vital to help maintain healthy looking skin, hair and nails in both women and men." They go on to claim, "Their effect is of greater importance than even the most expensive creams and conditioners because they are delivered via the bloodstream, at the very deepest level. Perfectil is designed to complement your daily skin and hair care routine with a range of over 20 micronutrients specially formulated for utilization by nails, hair follicles and the skin's lower dermal layer.” I wonder if this could help me grow out that bad haircut any faster?

So, we’ve just scratched the surface of the great beauty perfectors! Let us know if you’ve tried any of these products and whether or not you were perfectly pleased.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Letter Pressed

Pardon the slow start to the blogging year, but the writing I should be doing is my holiday thank-you notes. I am grateful for the wonderful gifts I received, but somehow putting pen to paper to express that to the kindly gift givers feels like a chore. Sigh.

What can turn a chore into a joy but (of course) some nice products!? A nice box of artful stationery, finely weighted pens and artistic stamps can turn an obligation into an art of self-expression. With such pretty things at hand, I love to sit down and hand-write letters and cards.

In today's email age, your sentiments are a Delete keystoke away. But when you send your thoughts or thanks through the mail, it takes on more meaning. Special paper can even make your note feel like a little gift in and of itself. This is why I love stores like Kate's Paperie! I go gaga over their pretty papers, ribbons, journals and fountain pens. (I designed my own wedding invitations and got all my supplies there.) Today, I got lucky and found some gorgeous letterpress cards at Anthropologie from Hello! Lucky and Elum.

What is letterpress? One of the oldest forms of printing! I took a class on this in college and it was so much fun selecting the individual metal type letters, locking them into their arrangment, putting them in the press, inking the type and literally pressing fine paper onto the inked-type bed. The results are always quirkily individual and there is a satisfying indent in the paper where the type pressed into it that says "authenticity." Letterpress cards are a great way to send a small piece of art to those you love.

For any other procrastinators out there, my internal Emily Post says that holiday thank-you notes absolutely must be sent by the end of January. If you don't have a Kate's Paperie or Anthropologie near you, here are a few places to find cards that will make writing more pleasurable for you and the recipient of your note even more charmed (conveniently distracting them from the fact that you're late!)

The typesetting image above is from Crafty Cards, and I am just in love with their special Valentine's card. It features"LOVE" in storybook letters, framed in red velvet and mounted on a gold and white yuzen paper. What a way to say you care! $4 for a 5x5" card

Whether you still need to send thank-you notes from the holidays or are getting a head start on Valentine's Day cards, try Egg Press, makers of the adorable cards at right. This collection is full of love, adorned with sweet patterns and one adorable love bug. The set includes valentines as well as everyday love and friendship sentiments. The Love, Valentine Collection includes: 3 letterpress cards and 2 letterpress die-cut cards with specialty vellum envelope and seal. $22 at

If you want to get your shopping done in one fell swoop, there's a great set of "Every Card You Need This Year"! It has 40 cute and original cards, 42 envelopes and 13 great designs, all printed on 100% post-consumer paper. Box includes: 6 birthday, 2 congratulations, 2 valentines, 6 thank you, 2 mothers day, 2 fathers day, 2 sympathy, 2 anniversary, 4 blank, 2 get well, 6 holiday and 4 new year. So you'll never be without a card again. $60 at

Greener Grass Design offers many beautiful cards, including this one, which of course is 100% Beauty Chick approved! A set of 8 cards of animals and botanicals is $40 at

Once I've completed my thank-you notes, I'll be back with some reviews of the great new beauty products I've been trying. My new Test Tube arrived choc full of goodies, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Black & White & Red All Over

On a recent business trip, I found myself in a hotel that provides lit magnifying mirrors in the bathroom. Nice touch, right? Well, it was a mixed blessing. Sure I could apply my makeup with amazing precision. But I could also see all my clogged pores and imperfections.

So, I decided a peel-off mask would be just the thing to pull all the nastiness out of my face. I went to a C.O. Bigelow store and asked for a recommendation. The sales girl pointed me to Kose Seikisho Mask White, a Japanese whitening mask. I said, "I don't need any whitening! Any whiter and I might as well be Casper the Ghost!" She assured me that it wouldn't really whiten my face, that rather it's supposed to clear out imperfections and leave you with a clear, radiant complexion. Given the jet-black color of the mask, I was intrigued and gave it a try.

Back at the hotel, I applied a thick layer of the black, honey-consistency mask to my face, avoiding the eyes and the hairline. It really stuck to my face and was even a little hard to rinse off my hands, so make sure not to get it under your nails. It took about 20 minutes to dry and got quite tight. I could barely smile, so thankfully nobody was there to make fun of me. Because, you know, I did look like a Victorian-age chimney sweep!

Image of the first female chimney sweep in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland!

Once it was completely dry, I was ready to peel the mask off. Ouch! This product really binds to the skin, so it was pretty hard to remove, and hurt a bit as I had to tug it off. (Make sure the layer you apply is pretty thick or you'll have trouble peeling it off later.) My skin was red for a short while from the peeling, but afterwards I could see that I had fewer blackheads and a smoother, more even complexion due to the intense exfoliation.

On the chance that it does provide a whitening benefit, I am careful not to use this too often! However, whenever I feel that my pores need a strong deep-clean, this product is definitely the one I reach for.

$28, available at C.O. Bigelow stores (but not at C.O. Bigelow online, no idea why) or at

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tweeze Freeze

You know how hard it is not to touch your brows between waxing! These insolent little stragglers show up and as you reach for your Tweezerman, you remember your brow sylist's warning to let them grow out and recover from your LAST over-zealous tweeze-fest (note to self: Chardonnay and plucking don't mix). So I was a good girl and waited until the growth was too much to bear and made an appointment at the Anastasia brow studio at Sephora on 5th Avenue.

First, my tech Sonia praised both my self-restraint and my brows in general. Then she showed me the three points in a well-shaped brow. 1. Find the start of the brow by tracing up vertically from the side of the nose. 2 The end point is found when you make a line from the nose to the outer corner of the eye. 3 The high point of the arch is just outside your iris. As Sonia traced these lines on me, she marked the three points with a bit of dark powder on a smudger brush.

Points thus established, she then selected the right stencil for me. I am the 'high arch'. The stencil is applied over the brows and aligned with the three points. Next she colored in the stencil with dark powder. The idea is to see what your brow will look like before waxing. Once you're happy, she removes all hair that's outside the lines. Her ultra-precision was amazing, and she even left a few hairs untouched so they can grow in and replace what I'd mistakenly removed. the finishing touch was trimming my brows with scissors so they were neat and trim.

My brows looked great, perfectly shaped for my face and beautifully symmetrical (something I can rarely achieve). But that was not the end! No, she applied concealer to cover the redness, filled in the brows with powder with a stiff angled brush, and drew ribbons of highlighter underneath to show off my perfect arches. The makeup created a stronger brow look than I'm used to, but I think I dig it. I do plan to purchase the under-brow "Eye Lights Shimmer" stick - it added so much light to my face!

She suggested that I come back in 6-8 weeks, but said I could pop in for free touch-ups in between... anything to stop me from being a do-it-myself brow gal (and, of course, to keep me as a client)!

Price: $32 plus tip. Verdict: no spa-like experience,this: she was a little rough at times. But I loved the attention to detail with measuring and stencilling. The results are great. I'll be back.

If you ARE a DIY yourself gal, you can get a great system for home use! Get Anastasia's All About Brows Kit ($141 value for $75) and you can replicate the steps above at home. Just put the wine glass down first!

Images from , except the 3-point guide is from Laurie Anne Lamothe, inspirational coach.