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With makeup, nobody ‘needs’ makeup, but who cares about ‘need.’ If it makes you happy, have fun with it!

—Betsey Johnson


Beauty & Style Resolutions - Autumn/Winter 2012

1. Wear foundation most days, because it was expensive and it makes my skin look awesome. Also because I need to get more skilled at applying it, and practice makes perfect!

2. Do fancy eyeshadow more often. I own too many Sugarpill shadows and pots of mineral makeup not to do this. There’s no need to look like a drag queen every single day, but it would be nice to have a little more variety in my eye makeup routine.

3. Wash my hair only once a week. I’ve been doing this for about a month now and my hair is much better for it – it’s retained its dye better, and it’s just generally more conditioned and manageable. Plus this is an easily achievable goal as long as I’ve got dry shampoo (which I only use when it’s reeeeally important for my hair to look clean) and an arsenal of cute hats.

4. Wear lip color more often. For someone who owns a zillion lipsticks, I rarely wear anything on my lips. Seriously, it’s like twice a month at most. This needs to change. Especially now that I own a really, really subtle pink tinted lip balm that looks good with everything.

5. Wear more of the colors I’ve traditionally underlooked, like yellow, orange, red, and green. (Um, pretty much anything that isn’t blue, purple, or black.) My favorite colors are still totally fair game, obviously, especially since more than half of my wardrobe is blue or black at this point… but I want to push my limits a little more.

6. Take more Wardrobe Remix photos. I’ve been totally slacking on this lately. Seriously, I’ve only taken 38 so far this year, compared to 182 in 2011. That is kind of pathetic. Time to step it up, girl.

I was going to add “wear a wider variety of shoes,” but then I realized I loved my Docs too much and said fuck it.

'I don’t understand how you can be a style blogger & talk about radical self love,' she said.

We started to chat, & it became quite apparent that we were approaching the issue from opposite sides. One of the first things she said was, ‘Well, we all wear make-up to try to attract men.’

'Uh, wait a second…', I interjected. 'I don’t! I’m wearing make-up right now, but my husband is in New York City. I’m not trying to get laid — I’m wearing this for myself.'

I didn’t even mention the fact that her assumption totally excluded those of us who, for example, are not heterosexual!

As we continued to discuss make-up & self love, I mentioned that I saw make-up as a way of accentuating my features. She replied, ‘That’s funny, I see it as a way of covering up my flaws.’

Now, make-up can do both of these things — & very well — so clearly this is all a matter of perception. It’s about HOW you see it & about your INTENTIONS when you make up your face in the morning. Are you trying to hide who you are, or make the best of your assets?

—Gala Darling


bite-sized reviews

1. Astrida Naturals African black soap - TOO DRYING! Bought to use on my face, dried it out; started using on my hands, dried them out too. Won’t buy again.

2. DressGreen rosemary peppermint shampoo bar - Gets hair CLEAN! I also don’t need to use conditioner afterwards, which is totally unprecedented for my traditionally knotty curls.

3. Sycamore Boutique “Winterblend” shea butter skin cream - Light enough for the face, moisturizing enough for the body. Sinks in quickly and provides long-lasting moisture. YES! Only problem: it smells kind of weird.

4. DressGreen Green Thumb hand salve - A little goes a long way. Cleared up the rough, dry spots on my hands that were caused by the aforementioned African black soap. Even my gnarly-handed mom loved it.

5. DressGreen cucumber ginseng eye cream - Very hydrating. Sometimes irritates my eyes a little bit, but probably wouldn’t if I avoided the lids altogether. Probably wouldn’t buy again (but then again, all the eye creams I’ve tried have irritated my eyes).

6. DressGreen shaving soap - Smoothest shave ever! I’m not a fan of the matcha scent, but Damian is. If I get my own, it’ll be the spearmint tangerine one.

what I’m using: bath & beauty

Facial cleansers:
-Lush Angels on Bare Skin - this is my basic everyday cleanser. Gentle but thorough. A little bit scrubby. A perfect medium.
-Lush Ocean Salt - I use this 2-3 times a week for exfoliation.
-Lush Ultrabland - I’ve been using this as a makeup remover and occasional nighttime cleanser. Using it is a bit of a rigamarole so I don’t choose it too often, though it is very moisturizing and nice.
-DressGreen unDressed facial bar - I use this when I’m feeling lazy, because it’s much less messy than any of my Lush cleansers. It’s just a simple, plain, unscented cleansing bar that works.

Facial moisturizers:
-Lush Celestial - great everyday moisturizer for my combination skin.
-DressGreen cucumber and ginseng eye cream - I don’t really know how to tell if eye cream is working or not, but so far, no complaints. Seems to be pretty hydrating.
-Extra virgin olive oil and/or coconut oil - ain’t no better moisturizer when my skin feels super dried out.

Bath/shower soap:
-DressGreen unDressed soap - no artificial fragrances or drying ingredients, just a nice natural bar. I’ll go for some of the scented ones when I run out.

Hair products:
-DressGreen shampoo bars - I just finished up my sample of the chamomile calendula one, which smelled divine; next I’ll be moving on to the rosemary mint one I ordered, which is glorious. They’re very cleansing, make a great lather, and leave my hair soft and conditioned.
-Suave Naturals conditioner - I’ve been using these for years and years because they’re silicone-free, detangle well, and smell awesome. I typically go for the strawberry, tangerine, or coconut kind. These are also light enough that I can use a small amount as a leave-in conditioner if my hair needs extra moisture.

I have to amend what I wrote earlier in my review of Lush Ultrabland cleanser.

I initially wasn’t that into it because, when applied and removed as Lush recommends, it leaves a gross greasy film on my face.

However, having had a bit of experience with the Oil Cleansing Method, I decided to use a similar methodology with Ultrabland to see if that would make it work better for me.

Instead of just removing it with a damp cotton pad, I now massage it into my face for about a minute, then steam my face with a hot washcloth a couple times, and then wipe it off.


Also, tonight, I massaged Ultrabland into my face and then left it on for 10-15 minutes while I sat in the bath, before steaming and removing. My face was so soft that I didn’t even need to use moisturizer. It’s now hours later and my face still feels perfect.

So, yeah, just wanted to say that I’m an Ultrabland convert. I’ll be using it as my nighttime cleanser, at least until the summer comes and my skin switches back to being oily.

review: Lush Ocean Salt facial scrub

I recently found some fresh Lush products at a discounted price on eBay, so I bought a couple, and Ocean Salt was one of them. It’s a scrubby cleanser featuring sea salt, vodka, and lime juice.

1. It smells like a margarita! Delish.
2. Really excellent scrubbing action. Not too harsh, just right! (Though, a word of warning: you don’t need to scrub super hard with this product; just rub it in gentle circles and it does most of the work. That’s what she said.)
3. After scrubbing with Ocean Salt and moisturizing with Celestial, my skin felt very smooth and soft.
4. It didn’t dry me out the way I was expecting it to. (It is probably important that most people moisturize right afterward, though.)

1. Some of the batches have swirls of blue dye in them. I’m listing this as a “con” for two reasons, whichever works for you: either you might not want to apply blue dye to your face, or you might be bummed out if you get one of the pots that doesn’t contain blue dye.
2. This would definitely be drying/irritating if I was to use it more than twice a week or so. Apparently some people use this as a daily cleanser, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this product. As I said, I’ll limit my use to twice a week, and I’ll be sure to always moisturize afterward - I think that’s the best way to use Ocean Salt on dry-ish combination skin like mine.

review: DressGreen unDressed Mild and Moisturizing Soap

I bought this bar sort of by accident. I was looking for a mild facial cleansing bar, containing skin-soothing ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. DressGreen makes many kinds of soaps, including ones for your face, but I accidentally bought the one made for body skin. Oh well, no big loss - I’m a bit of a handmade soap junkie so I was excited to try it out nonetheless.

1. Beautiful packaging. DressGreen’s owner, Lauren, has a background in product design, which really shows.
2. More moisturizing than any handmade soap I’ve tried (and, as you know, I’m a Lush customer, so that’s saying something). My skin feels really happy.
3. A really lovely, subtle smell. There are no extra fragrances added to this soap (hence “undressed”), so I think the scent must come from the cocoa butter or almond oil.
4. Lathers pretty damn well for a handmade soap. My last body soap was Lush Candy Cane, which hardly lathers at all.
5. Does what soap is supposed to do, of course. I’m clean!
6. The bar is a great big size, bigger than the drugstore bars my family buys. This will last me months, I’d guess.

1. When I first rinsed it off, my skin felt a bit tight and “squeaky clean,” which is what happens with every other soap. At first I was pretty disappointed, because I thought this meant UnDressed was just as drying as other soaps. Luckily, this effect wore off in a few minutes’ time. (I don’t use a body moisturizer - maybe I should?)
2. Like all handmade soaps, UnDressed needs to be kept out of water - it can’t be left in standing water, nor can it be left in a place where the stream of shower/bath water will hit it, as moisture significantly diminishes the shelf life of handmade soaps. Not a big deal if you’re used to this procedure (especially if you have a draining soap dish!) but maybe kind of annoying for some people.

Overall: UnDressed might be my favorite handmade soap I’ve tried. Definitely recommended to anyone who’s looking for a more natural, less irritating substitute for Ivory or Dove or what have you.

You can buy UnDressed at DressGreen’s Etsy shop or on their website.

my top 10 beauty essentials, currently

1. Lush Angels on Bare Skin facial cleanser
I needed a cleanser that was scrubby, but not drying. After spending much time poring over the Lush website, I chose this one. It has a soft clay-like texture and comes in a little plastic tub. The ground almonds exfoliate, while the clay soaks up excess oil. It has a lovely herbal smell and cleanses my combination-to-dry skin very well.

2. Lush Celestial moisturizer
Celestial is a whipped moisturizer full of skin-nourishing ingredients, like almond oil and cocoa butter. All you need is a little pea-sized amount, spread over a damp face, to do the trick. It has saved my dried-out winter skin!

3. L’Oreal Lineur Intense liquid eyeliner w/ brush tip
Best liquid eyeliner ever. I’ve been using this stuff almost every day since I was in the eighth grade - I think I’ve gone through about 5 bottles at this point. It’s smooth, creamy, and goes on really black. The only downside is that it’s not waterproof, so I’ve cried it off a few times. If I think I’m going to be crying, I use a different liner.

4. Unrefined coconut oil
That picture isn’t the brand I use, as I think the kind I use is just the “house brand” of my local health food shop. Most virgin coconut oils are pretty similar though. I use this oil as an eye cream and a lip balm now, but I’ve used it as a facial moisturizer off-and-on for years and it works very well for that. It certainly takes some adjusting to get used to the feeling of oil on your skin, but once you accept that it’s not clogging your pores and it’s actually doing a lot of good, it just feels nice. I used to put some on after washing at night and then just wipe off the excess in the morning.

5. Lush Mask of Magnaminty face mask
I stopped buying this mask because it was a little out of my price range, but I haven’t been able to find one I like as much. I use Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Masque these days, and I’ve tried various other clay masks in the past, but they just don’t have the scrubbiness/exfoliation factor that MoM does.

6. MAC Russian Red matte lipstick
Will there ever be a better matte red lipstick? I severely doubt it.

7. Colgate Total toothpaste
This is the toothpaste I use on my teeth, yes, but I also use a little bit on acne spots when they come up. It works surprisingly well for this purpose.

8. Vanilla mint Chapstick
I bought this on a whim and it has such a nice scent, and is very moisturizing. My other favorite lip balms are berry-flavored Blistex and anything by Burt’s Bees.

9. MAC Liquidlast liquid liner in Herizon Blue
My mom bought this for me at the MAC counter when she saw me staring at it like a hungry wolf. I am so glad she did. About half my clothes are royal blue, so it’s obviously necessary for me to own an eyeliner to match. This stuff is ridiculously waterproof and very brightly colored - the perfect complement to any of my crazy blue-from-head-to-toe outfits, or just as a little accent on a simple outfit.

10. Garnier Fresh eye makeup remover
I’m on my second bottle of this. It’s formulated for sensitive eyes, meaning it has the same pH balance as tears and never stings or reddens. I put some on a cotton ball, hold it against my eyelid for a few moments, and then wipe away all my makeup.

minor skin ramblings

I’m sad to report that my attempts at trying out different face soaps have not been successful thus far, so I’ve returned to my mainstay, good old DivaWash - it doesn’t strip my skin of moisture, so I get soft skin without even needing to moisturize.

I tried going back to Lush Coalface, which I used for years and swore by when I was about 13-16. I guess my skin was pretty different back then, because now Coalface makes me break out, and I absolutely have to apply a moisturizer afterward (FYI, the only moisturizer I use, which cures all my skin problems, is virgin coconut oil, bought by the jar at a health food store). I still have quite a large bar of Coalface left; not sure what I’m gonna do with it now.

I also tried out African black soap, which makes a lovely shampoo and body wash but just doesn’t agree with my face. It’s too drying, despite containing shea butter.

I still have some more options I’d like to try. I seem to remember Lush Fresh Farmacy being a nice cleanser (I had a sample once). I found another Etsy seller who claims that her African black soap is heavier on the shea butter than most. And since I know coconut oil agrees with my skin, I might spring for a soap where coconut oil features heavily.

Yeah, I know, that was a super boring blog post. Oh well.