Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Personal Sanctuary

Years ago, I was travelling alone and befriended a great English gal. She let me use her shower after I used the pool after check-out time, and I fell in love with her Sanctuary products, which come from the esteemed ladies-only spa in London. I adored the Body Moisture Spray. It has a warm, spicy scent and absorbs quickly, leaving skin dewy but not greasy. This product is responsible for my long-standing obsession with spray-on body oils - because who really has time to slather on moisturizer after a shower? It's much easy to spritz on some oil while the skin is damp.

Anyway, I thought about these products long after we parted ways, and picked some up at an airport Boots (the fabulous British pharmacy) while on the way home. But, alas, my stash soon ran out. Imagine, then, my excitement when Target started carrying some Boots products in their stores, including those from The Sanctuary! I've stocked up on quite a few items from the Spa Essentials line, including the Bath Relaxer (a heavier oil, more like a baby oil, great for soaking in a bath or smoothing over extra-dry skin) and the Foaming Shower Mousse (a very rich and moisturizing self-foaming wash). I can't find the beloved Body Moisture Spray on Target's website so I'm not sure if they carry it - my current bottle came from a pal abroad.

Next time you're at Target, be sure to try this line. It's affordable, smells amazing and pampers your skin. For me, it will always bring me back to that sunny afternoon in Thailand, as I set forth for the next leg of my journey.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and is a perfect time to take a look at the brands that celebrate the beauty of African American women. Not so long ago, women of deeper skin tones and coarser hair types had limited beauty product options. Just think about that section of the drugstore where products have unappealing names involving the words cholesterol or placenta.

Now there are more luxurious options, and their products are bound to find a following outside of their target market. And being beyond pale with thin, limp hair, I'm the perfect person to test that theory!

The first brand that comes to mind is Fashion Fair. Fashion Fair Cosmetics was introduced in September 1973 at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, and can now be found in over 1,000 fine stores in the U.S. and around the world. I have visited the counter in Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue several times. They have a huge range of makeup for all skin tones. I found the Finishings Lipstick to be richly pigmented, smooth and hydrating. When I feel like a bold, brown lip I pick up "Uptown Brown" which has reddish undertones.

Mizani is a salon brand designed for hair that is "naturally curly and highly textured to color-treated, relaxed and everything in between". Mizani is a Swahili word meaning "balance", and the founding principle of the brand is "Beauty and Chemistry in Balance." A favorite product of mine (and my husband's!) is Mizani's Spradiance High Gloss Serum. It is lightweight, imparts a ridiculous amount of shine and smells wonderful (a little bit like Mugler's Angel).

Next up is Dr. Miracle's. Now this is a funny story. I often receive emails from brands announcing new products and so on, so I can share the info with you. I got a very nice email from the people at Dr. Miracle's showing how People Magazine had highlighted their hair product that helps repair broken hair around the nape and forehead. Well! Since having my baby, I have dealt with thinning hair around the forehead and thought this might help me out. So I received the Temple & Nape Gro Balm and press kit, and ONLY THEN realized it was for African American hair. Oops! I sheepishly emailed the rep, asking if this would work on my blonde, thin hair, and she suggested I give it a try. The packaging is very retro and has a vague snake-oil-salesman a.k.a. infomercial look and tone to it. (Just check out their website and you'll see what I mean). I did try the formula and unfortunately it made my hair very greasy since I don't have any texture to absorb it. The "Feel It" Formula" (no, I'm not making this up) does tingle with a combination of menthol and clove oil, so I can imagine that it does stimulate blood flow to the area's hair follicles. Thanks to the kind folks at the brand, I do have a few bottles of the product - leave a comment with your email address if you're interested in trying the Gentle or Super strength formula.

Lastly, who hasn't drooled over the yummy-smelling formulations by Carol's Daughter during a trip to Sephora? While many of the hair products seem specifically designed to address the needs of ethnic hair, the body products and fragrance will certainly appeal to all. Personally, I'm dying to try Pearls, their latest fragrance release. First of all, I'm obsessed with pearls, and the bottle is adorned with a pearl topper. Secondly, it has wonderful notes of lemon verbena, a floral heart and a warm base of vanilla and sweet caramel. mmmmmm!

I'm sure I've missed ome of the exciting new brands for women of color, so please add a comment and let us know which ones to try next!