Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

Been gone. No good excuses. (Well, a family trip to Hawaii followed by a bout with the nastiest of all intestinal viruses — complete with a visit to the ER — but I shan’t bore you with any messy details — other than the fact that, during the ensuing cleanup, my iPhone went through the wash cycle. Donations are currently being accepted, thank you.)

The end-of-the-year festivities always make me a bit sad, a little nostalgic. “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” So far, the fates have been kind, and I still have many of the people and the things I love around me. That’ll change, I know, but we won’t think about that right now, okay?

Somewhere in this bittersweet funk, I have been remembering things that used to be really important to me that are no more, and wondering why. Such as:

Desert Flower Lotion. My dad owned a Mom and Pop pharmacy, and I used to love the Desert Flower line of products we carried, the first real lotion that I found made a difference in my desert-dry skin. Probably the aloe. (The original Jergens lotion smelled really good, but that stuff was like water.) One Desert Flower bath set also came with a bottle of light cologne and bath powder in a little round, paper-covered box with a powder puff. So girly. So gone.

Tweed cologne. And Tigress.  I can’t remember who made them, but I clearly remember the scents. Tweed was almost a man’s fragrance, very woodsy, and came in the coolest beige and plaid carton, sort of pre-Burberry. Tigress was much more complex and dark, probably too sophisticated for my 17-year-old self at the time. And the packaging was equally rich and sensual, all dark fur. I can still catch a glimpse of myself and my friend Sherri, down in her basement bedroom, dousing ourselves with Tigress and talking about boys. (She actually dated in high school. I just talked a good game…) Google update: Well, slap me silly. Tweed and Tigress are still available. But their packaging is ALL WRONG. They probably smell different, too. It’s just not the same.

Maybelline cake mascara. Wow, this is an oldie. The mascara came in a little red box that slid open to reveal a small brush and a line of hard brown or black  powder. You’d spit on the mascara moisten the brush, rub it on the cake and brush the mascara on your lashes. Of course, early on, I’d get to junior high early enough to apply it in the school bathroom so Mother wouldn’t catch me wearing make-up. And it helped me realize very early on that black mascara was too harsh-looking for me. One fashion faux pas avoided. I’m sure tube mascara is a vast improvement, but I really liked those little red boxes with their secret, face-changing contents. Other brands of cake mascara are still available on the ‘net, touted as “old Hollywood.”

Yardley Lip Slickers. These actually may still be around, just not at any of the stores I frequent. They conjure up all sorts of images of the British fashion and music invasion that dominated my high school years: Mary Quant, Carnaby Street, Twiggy, the Beatles and the Stones, Marianne Faithfull in her leather and lace. (And to think that byjane was in London, actually living out my fantasies!)

Of course, there are plenty of products I don’t miss, like Secret Cream Deodorant (that did absolutely nothing for a junior high sweat monkey like me and had the ickiest texture), Clearasil skin tone cream (which just made my acne brown),  Noxema Cream Cleanser (What were we thinking? That stuff made my skin worse. It was like Crisco!), sanitary napkin belts (UGH!), and magnetic rollers that we’d sleep in (and my hairstyle would still be gone by mid-afternoon). And weren’t we ALL glad when panty hose showed up?

I largely stumbled my way through adolescence. Never one for fashion, Mother didn’t wear makeup beyond a red lipstick for Church on Sundays, and I had no older sister or nearby cousins to show me the ropes. So I’d scour my monthly issue of Seventeen and scrutinize the faces, bodies and routines of my friends. It was hit and miss, but I found a few things that worked, like a good haircut. The advent of benzoyl peroxide cream and retin-A finally took care of my acne, and I found the Clinique counter at the mall. Antiperspirants continued to improve. (Is anyone else out there as grateful for that as I am?) One word: Tampax. Enough said. And a significant weight loss in my forties finally introduced me to the notion that clothes could be something besides camouflage.

I’ve always felt like a latecomer to the big Cosmetic and Sartorial Party, but I’ve enjoyed myself since I arrived. I just wish sometimes that a few of those products I once loved had arrived with me. They boosted the confidence of an awkward girl and helped her to become, well, me.

Is there something you miss from your wanton youth?

HotHags: Emma Thompson

Posted: November 15, 2011 in beauty, hothags


I can’t decide if this is good news or bad news: Hormones linked to regain of weight lost by dieting

According to the Associated Press, “Dieters who have regained weight are not just slipping back into old habits, but are struggling against a persistent biological urge.”

The study doesn’t sound like junk science, and it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which adds to its credibility. And it was pretty rigorous:

Weight regain is a common problem for dieters. To study what drives it, [researchers] enrolled 50 overweight or obese patients in a 10-week diet program in Australia. They wanted to see what would happen in people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. Ultimately, only 34 people lost that much and stuck with the study long enough for analysis.

The program was intense. On average, the participants lost almost 30 pounds during the 10 weeks, faster than the standard advice of losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. They took in 500 to 550 calories a day, using a meal replacement called Optifast plus vegetables for eight weeks. Then for two weeks they were gradually reintroduced to ordinary foods.

Not surprisingly, once off the program and despite counseling, most gained some weight back in less than a year.

The scientists checked the blood levels of nine hormones that influence appetite. The key finding came from comparing the hormone levels from before the weight-loss program to one year after it was over. Six hormones were still out of whack in a direction that would boost hunger.

The dieters also rated themselves as feeling hungrier after meals at the one-year mark, compared to what they reported before the diet program began.

As a chronic dieter — and weight gainer — this has been my entire experience. I’m convinced I would be a lot thinner — and would have saved myself a lot of mental anguish — if I’d never started dieting, especially some of the extreme dieting I forced myself through. (Oh, to be as “thin” as I was in high school, when I thought I was a whale…)

At least the timing for this tidbit was fortunate. I had another one of my epiphanies last night: I decided that I was not going to SPEND ONE MORE MINUTE hating or rejecting myself because of how I look. I have wasted too much time and energy (and too many tears) for nothing.

Someone shocked me recently with this question (and answer): Did you know you can make yourself instantly much happier by doing just one thing? Lower your expectations. I think it surprised me because because I’d always bought into the old hang-onto-your-ideals-no-matter-what mindset. But some ideals must be questioned, especially if they come from society and not from within ourselves. I can’t and won’t hold myself up to a societal standard of beauty that I cannot attain.

I have to redefine beauty for myself. And that definition is going to include style, and integrity, and good health, and joy, and mindfulness, and a lot of other good things.

Absolutely Essential Update:


My new pedicure. I call the color “Dried Blood.” (Bwah-ha-ha-ha!) Gotta keep those tootsies pretty before we have to cover them up for the Long Winter. (And, frankly, I like having a little help every couple of months getting the toenails cut and my heels polished.) Feet are a bit puffy, but 100 degrees in the shade will do that to a girl.

Love the sandals. I usually have one piece of clothing that defines that particular season, and I will look back fondly on these yellow Born sandals of 2011, with their embossed flowers on either side. Makes for pretty tracks in the sand.

Aging with Style

Posted: August 22, 2011 in aging, beauty, style

Someone has managed to put a dollar figure to the vanity of the Baby Boomers, says the NYTimes today:

The market research firm Global Industry Analysts projects that a boomer-fueled consumer base, “seeking to keep the dreaded signs of aging at bay,” will push the U.S. market for anti-aging products from about $80 billion now to more than $114 billion by 2015.

That’s a chunk of change, especially if it gets spent on of snake-oil — and there’s LOTS of snake oil out there, as anyone who watches cable television advertisements can attest. Fortunately, the experts quoted by the Times extol the old basics:

“Our culture places great value on staying young, but aging is normal,” the [National Institute on Aging] says. “Despite claims about pills or treatments that lead to endless youth, no treatments have been proven to slow or reverse the aging process.”

Its advice for aging well is basic: Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, don’t smoke.

“If someone is promising you today that you can slow, stop or reverse aging, they’re likely trying hard to separate you from your money,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health who has written extensively about aging.

“It’s always the same message: ‘Aging is your fault and we’ve got the cure,'” Olshansky said. “Invest in yourself, in the simple things we know work. Get a good pair of running or walking shoes and a health club membership, and eat more fruits and vegetables.”

I reject the notion that aging is a pathology that can somehow be cured. It’s okay to use hormone therapy or even a little botox if it really makes us feel better, but we have to get over the idea that growing older makes us less. Less useful, less admirable, less human. What about wisdom, experience, life skills, friendships? They all grow stronger and deeper with time. I feel richer every day.

Come on, Boomers! Let’s show ’em how it’s done! Let’s be nothing but fabulous, regardless of our condition!

HagSag, the Continuing Saga

Posted: August 11, 2011 in aging, beauty

Oh, good grief. Something else to worry/feel bad about: cleavage wrinkles. Just kill me now…

HotHags: Helen Mirren

Posted: August 5, 2011 in beauty

Apparently my earlier-expressed enthusiasm for the goddess Helen Mirren is shared by thousands of Brits:

From the LATimes: Helen Mirren, 66, tops Body of the Year poll in Britain

Her male counterpart? David Beckham!