Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Face Mask Fancies

It's funny when you think about how early beauty culture starts. My nieces, ages 8 and 10, slept over a few weeks ago. They know I have buckets of beauty products and always want to play. I can't indulge their bubble bath dreams due to their sensitive skin. And their mother won't be too thrilled if I paint their faces Jean Benet Ramsey style. So what's a cool aunt to do?

This time, the girls had an idea: they wanted to do face masks. And they were very specific. The mask should be green, and they wanted to have cucumber slices on their eyes. Where do they get these ideas? I know the image, like the one above, is fairly iconic of a day at the spa, but I didn't realize that kids who are otherwise preoccupied with gymnastics and softball would already have picked up on such an icon of beauty culture.

So of course I had to indulge. We bought a cucumber at the store. But I kind of forgot about the mask part (and frankly thought they'd be more into watching the Lion King Part 2 to remember the request). Well, they remembered. And I scrambled to deliver.

First - no green mask in any of my beauty buckets. Oil-absorbing, anti-aging, and painful peel-off vareities, yes. But all ran the risk abusing their already perfectly smooth and even complexions. So I had a brainstorm. Let's make a mask! Kitchen ingredients must be innocuous, and I dug into my memory for my own childhood mask recipes.

As I rifled through fridge and pantry, I scouted possible ingredients. I combined yogurt, coconut milk (left over from an exotic cooking experiment), honey, and oatmeal (the instant kind was all I had). The girls were skeptical, especially because it wasn't the requisite mint green shade. Would that I'd had avocado or at least green food coloring! They consented to try the masks on their faces, which I had to apply as they laid down, lest the chunks of oatmeal fall off. They giggled at how cold it was (fridge fresh!). It was fun, but not quite as restful and luxurious as they'd hoped!

What I later discovered was that the ingredients I sourced ARE actually good for skin!

  • YOGURT: The lactic acid in yogurt softens and soothes the skin. Think about how Cleopatra famously bathed in milk to keep her skin smooth! Nobody knows more about yogurt than the Greeks, and Greek brand Korres has a yogurt mask that uses the power of active yogurt and watercress extract to instantly hydrate and comfort oily skin that feels dehydrated.
  • HONEY: Honey cleanses and moisturizes skin. Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains water. So honey is a natural fit for a variety of moisturizing products including cleansers, creams, shampoos and conditioners. Because honey is also an anti-irritant, it is suitable for sensitive skin and baby care products. (Thanks to Pioneer Thinking for the info!)
  • COCONUT MILK: Coconut milk is both nourishing and smoothening for the skin. Woman Junction recommends the following hydration mask: Mix half a cup of canned coconut milk, warmed in the microwave until runny - about 30 seconds on high - mixed with 2 tbsp of honey. Massage into the skin, rinse off after about 10 mins.
  • OATMEAL: Oatmeal is already known to calm skin, ease itching and exfoliate. According to Aveeno, who offers many oatmeal-based beauty products, oats have a rich history going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who used oat baths to heal skin ailments.

Based on this info, I'm thrilled to discover that not only did I help the girls play "spa day", but I also whipped up something that is good for them, inside and out!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Makeover

Today, I celebrated Mother's Day with my wonderful Mom. She's funny, caring and creative. We have tons in common. But although she may share my passion for beauty products, she doesn't treat herself enough. So this year, my sister and I decided to give her a beauty upgrade.

First, we selected a variety of luxurious department-store beauty products. Every part of the face was covered: For face, we had foundation, concealer & powder. For eyes, there was eyeliner, mascara & eye shadow. And for a dash of color, we offered blush, lipstick and a lip brush. Even the skin was pampered with exfoliant, makeup remover and hand cream. Each item was wrapped separately for maximum present-opening effect.

But the ultimate gift was yet to come. She's a fan of home decorating makeover shows, like Trading Spaces and While You Were Out. My Dad calls them "Scream Shows" because everyone screams at their newly designed room at the big reveal. We wanted to give my mom a mini-scream of her own by organizing her bathroom.

First, we had a look at the baskets and drawers that house her various makeup items. Then, we tossed anything old, including glazed eye shadows, dried out mascaras and lipsticks so old you can't read the shade name. (You know you have these, too - so start spring cleaning!) Then, we tossed almost-new products with shades that are not flattering. For this category, you either have to give them away to friends (or swap them on Makeup Alley). Lastly, I cleaned out the dust and debris and packed away all the new products sorted by category. And the screaming? A little for each tossed-out old friend, but definitely a positive one for the end result.

Mom did her face this morning and looked as beautiful as always. But she had an extra bright smile thanks to the pampering experience that a beauty upgrade can provide.

Need some help getting your own bathroom organized? Follow these basic rules:
  1. If you bought it more than a year ago, toss it.
  2. If you last used it more than a year ago, toss it.
  3. Keep a second set of your most-used items in your purse, so you can avoid rushed mornings unpacking and repacking your cosmetic bag.
  4. If you don't know what shades work best on you, invest in a makeover at the makeup counter at your local department store. Have them write down everything they used on you, and go buy whatever you couldn't purchase the first day whenever you want to give yourself a little treat.
  5. Buy cosmetic organizers to sort and store your items. Separate items into skincare, hair, face makeup, eyes, lips and nails. Try The Container Store for some easy and affordable organizers, like those pictured above.