Archive | April, 2012

Chantecaille Detox Clay Mask

30 Apr

My skin has been feeling extra grody lately, and I have found that nothing perks it up like a good clay mask after my morning shower. I have had some good clay mask experiences lately, AND I have had some good Chantecaille cosmetics experiences lately, so I decided to splurge on Chantecaille’s Detox Clay Mask at Nordy’s.

Although I have switched almost exclusively to Caudalie skin care (and with awesome results – Shanda at Elaia Spa couldn’t say enough about how great and hydrated my skin looks last time I got a facial from her), I am a princess and like that Chantecaille is a “luxury” skin care brand, so I thought I’d treat myself to a mask from them. (Note: I’m also still addicted to the Kate Somerville exfoliant and it’s still incredible.)

Let me preface this by saying that although estheticians almost ALWAYS tell me my skin is on the dry side, it never feels dry to me. It always feels slightly greasy, especially around my nose and on my chin. So I really like a good drying clay mask that makes my face feel super cleansed and dried out before I apply lotion. (Another note: I think this most recent facial is the first one I have had where the esthetician said nothing about dry skin – again, thank you Caudalie.) So I am reviewing this mask based on the fact that I like a good, drying mud mask.

I never know what to make of these masks that are super dark, but it’s supposed to be made of clay, right? And sometimes clay is dark. I started smoothing this on and noticed immediately that it is pretty greasy. I covered my face, dutifully trying to avoid my eyes and hairline, which I am always terrible at, especially since I have short, completely spiral curly curls around my face that insist on being involved in everything. I finished and sought my husband out, making spoooooky souuuunds. He knew what I was up to and wasn’t impressed (although he soon forgot, left the room, and when returning, jumped upon seeing my face – HEE). I left the mask on for the recommended ten minutes, and when it wasn’t anywhere near “dry,” left it on another ten. That did nothing – it was still gooey and sticky to the touch. I got a towel and started wiping it off and let me say this stuff is MESSY. It took an entire large hand towel – not a wash cloth, a real hand towel – to even start cleaning it off, and any time the hand towel brushed the sink, it left behind dark gray smudges. I ended up getting most of it off but having to finish with wet paper towels and wiping off the sink with a separate wash cloth. (The towel goes in the wash later today – I’ll update if there are any issues with staining fabric.) In the end, I was seriously disappointed. My face felt no different. It was still greasy-feeling, it didn’t feel “detoxed” at all, my pores looked the same, I didn’t have any kind of glow. I gave it a day to be sure – I didn’t even apply any makeup yesterday – but it’s no better today.

Blah, total waste of money. I just can’t recommend this product at all. I see and feel no difference – not even in hydration. I stand by my previous recommendation of Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque for a nice, detoxifying, drying mud mask (super cheap, too). For a little more moolah, try Ummelina’s Sea Mud Mask at $11.00, which I also really like.

I’ll try to review some Caudalie products later this week – ce sont magnifiques.

Adam Hardy, Fine Art and Pet Portraits

30 Apr

For my wedding, my friend Marie and her husband gave me the portrait above.

It’s of my cat Piglet, who passed away two and a half years ago, the first of a series of losses in my life that also included my father and mother-in-law.

I wept when I opened her gift, but not (just) because I missed Piglet. Her husband, Adam, lovingly handcrafted this beautiful portrait for me. It’s a mixed media portrait of painting, pastel, and decorative papers (you can see it on his site here) and it’s so faithful to the original photograph it’s almost stunning (I’ll try to find the original and post it soon).

Adam is a freelance artist in NYC, originally from the UK, and this is a shameless plug for him and his work. After seeing the amazing job he did on Piglet’s portrait, I commissioned him to paint a portrait of my friend Jen’s cat, Phoenix, after he passed away, and you can see that artwork here. Again – a lovely job, perfect for framing and hanging.

I recommend Adam both for your own personal pet portraits as well as an artist to commission for a thoughtful gift for someone who has recently lost a beloved pet. Additionally, Adam also creates fine art worthy of hanging in your home – his full catalogue of work can be found on this website. I am trying to get him to start his own website, but you know artists – he prefers creating art to managing the “techie” side of things, so it’s an ongoing battle.

Adam’s also recently begun a Zazzle shop, where his graphic designs are printed on tee shirts, baby clothes, etc.

I really find his work both lovely and inspirational, and am recommending him not because he is the husband of a friend, but because I truly believe he is talented and deserves more appreciation than he’s currently getting!

Please browse Adam’s work and feel free to contact him at micepie(at)aol(dot)com if you’d like to commission him for a specific work. He’s very responsive and friendly, and all he needs is a photo to get started. Let him know I sent you, and please pass the word onto your art-loving (and animal-loving) friends!

ACE Cold Wrap

29 Apr

Okay, you know how when you hurt yourself, you’re supposed to ice the injured area? Yes, of course you know that, everyone knows that. Well, I hurt myself all the time, and I never, ever ice anything. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t like cold. Maybe it’s because I don’t like having to sit still holding an ice pack somewhere. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid “icing” something meant actually putting some ice in a towel and holding it against your skin while the ice slowly melted and made your skin not only cold but damp. Modern medicine has come a long way in 30 years, but I, apparently, have not.

Recently, I temporarily dislocated my kneecap. Basically I was moving stuff and all of a sudden got a shooting pain in my knee. It was really odd and seemed to come out of nowhere. I hobbled around the rest of the day and assumed it would be better in the morning. When it wasn’t, I called my doctor and went in.

After a brief exam that turned up nothing substantial, she said that she suspected what happened is that, because I have very loose joints, my kneecap temporarily slid off then popped immediately back into place. Although the patella itself is unharmed when this happens, the tendons and ligaments that hold it in place become inflamed and cause pain. She advised me to ice it and rest.

As I have mentioned before, I am a dog walker. An injury that prevents me from walking prevents me from working, and mine is not a job where I get paid sick leave. So in spite of my general aversion to icing, I iced the hell out of my knee that afternoon, using a virtually brand new ACE Cold Wrap I found in my freezer, probably bought when someone else needed to ice something and I was being helpful.

The ACE Cold Wrap is pretty great for a number of reasons. One, it is one size fits all, and secures with velcro, which means it stays in place without having to be held there. Two, it’s flexible, unlike ice or the old fashioned ice packs that freeze into an immovable brick, unable to conform to the various rounded parts of the human anatomy. Three, it’s basically a wrap with a TruFit Ice/Heat Gel Pack insert tucked into a netted pocket inside the wrap, meaning the wrap is washable AND the pack can be replaced if it ever starts to leak. This thing is about 10 light years ahead of ice in a towel.

The best part of the ACE Cold Wrap is that the next day, my knee was essentially 95% better. I could not believe the difference. I went from being in hobbling, 7 out of 10 pain to barely noticeable, 1 out of 10 pain overnight after icing. Result? I have iced various injured parts of my body over the past two weeks without thinking twice (yes, I get hurt a lot), and it’s really helped! Who could have EVER thought the old adage about icing injuries was actually TRUE?

Medical science: 1, Kate’s stubbornness: 0. This is one battle I was happy to lose.

A Week In My Purse – Wrap Up

29 Apr

I carry a lot of stuff in my purse – not just the usual cell phone, wallet, and lip gloss, but all the stuff I’ve mentioned over the last week(‘s worth of entries) and more. Hand lotion, hand sanitizer, a purse hook, a mirror, dental floss, ear plugs, argan oil (good for hair and skin touch ups), mascara, tweezers, a nail file, nail clippers, sunglasses, Shout wipes, my Kindle, elbow grease – anything I have been out and needed and not had, I have added to my purse arsenal. I’m always jealous of women who can carry just a little wallet or clutch everywhere and have that be everything they need, but I am not that woman – I am, for lack of a better term, high-maintenance. I am also, however, the woman those women turn to when they need a tampon or a tissue or a Tylenol. And I’m always happy to oblige.

What you carry in your purse is highly personal and totally personalized. I hope my week of tips was helpful in some way. What do YOU never leave home without?

A Week In My Purse – Day 7: Tampax Pearl Tampons

27 Apr

Let’s not talk about the silly name, or the fact that there is a string of pearls pictured on the box. Let’s just pretend they are simply called The Best And Most Comfortable Tampon Kate Has Ever Used, Period (Pun Intended).

I got my period for the first time when I was 12, at my grandparents house in New Hampshire, where the most fun thing to do was go swimming daily in the lake. Needless to say, I was indoctrinated into the world of tampons pretty much immediately.

I have used a lot of tampons in the 22 years since. I know some people like the environmentally friendly applicator-free kind, or the slightly less environmentally friendly cardboard applicator kind, but for me, when it comes to that area, comfort – not eco-consciousness – reigns supreme. I have been using Tampax Pearls I estimate for about the last ten years (with a brief, and let’s be honest, messy foray into the Instead Cup) and I doubt I’ll be switching away from them anytime soon. Tampon brand is a super personal choice – some women prefer them to be longer and more slender, other’s prefer shorter and stouter – but in all my experience, Tampax Pearls fit my body better than any other tampon I have tried.

The best thing, however, about always having a tampon on hand is not that I am always prepared (although that has come in handy more than once) – it’s that I can always help a sister out. There’s a good feeling when a girlfriend or even a stranger turns to you with that hauntingly familiar look of shock and distress and says, “Oh God, do you have a tampon?” and you can pull one out of your purse and save the day. Makes you feel a little like a superhero.

And that’s why you’ll never catch me out and about without a tampon on hand.

A Week In My Purse – Day 6: Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

26 Apr

So I totally fell asleep at the wheel on this series – sorry about that! I went out of town for the weekend and then this week has just WHOOSH flown by! Anyhow, onto day 6!

I recently read an article/blog post by a woman discussing the first time she used Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. Of course now I can’t find it, but if I do, I will link to it.

If you have not heard of or used this seminal lipgloss, you are surely in the minority. I really wish I could find the posting I just mentioned, because it would save me a lot of time here – the author articulates pretty much exactly my thoughts and experiences with Black Honey so well that I can only assume that all teenage girls must have had similar experiences with it. But since I can’t find it, I’ll tell you my own, and hope I’m not impinging on her writing too much.

I think the first time I ever used Black Honey was in ninth grade algebra class. My friend Alison Spitz, who has since vanished from the face of the planet, was a devotee and introduced me. It was pretty intimidating – I was used to Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and the occasional Revlon dabbed carefully on my pout. This metallic-cased, department store brand tube of dark brown grown up lipstick was new and alluring. Alison assured me that the color in the tube was actually quite different than the color on the lips, and so, very carefully, I smoothed it on.

This stuff is called “Almost Lipstick” for a reason. It is SO dark on the stick, and SO perfectly lovely and not dark at all on your lips. A sheer berry, it’s the perfect balance of brown and pink, and I have never seen it on anyone it didn’t suit perfectly. My mother insists on wearing frosting pink lipstick (it’s her thing, don’t ask me), but I bought her a tube of this one year and insisted she try it on and damn if it didn’t look just right. There’s something about this color that just brings out the perfect tint in everyone’s pucker, be that person a blonde, a brunette, or a redhead. I read once that to look natural, your lipstick should be the same color as your tongue, and maybe that’s where this gloss gets it right – it’s a sheer reddish pinkish tongue color. But you know – Clinique Almost Lipstick in Tongue didn’t sound quite as nice.

Okay, so it’s a great lipstick/gloss, yeah? And I already have one of those in my purse. So what else makes this one a don’t-leave-home-without necessity?

It doubles as a blush.

This is not something Clinique promotes or something I have ever heard anyone else say – I figured this out all on my own. Doing a frantic makeup job in the car one day (after going out without any on and realizing I had to meet someone), I looked in anguish at my pallid complexion and wondered what to do. Yes, the old standard of pinching my cheeks occurred to me, but of course that only lasts a few minutes. I tentatively dabbed a little Black Honey up each cheekbone, smooth smooth smoothed it in, and voila – a perfectly tinted cream cheek stain. A little more on my lips and I looked totally normal instead of like the walking dead.

Double duty lipgloss AND blush? I love you, Black Honey, and I have since the moment we met.

A Week In My Purse – Day 5: Orbit Sweetmint Sugarfree Gum

19 Apr

Let me let loose here with one of the least feminist things you will ever hear me say: I think all women should smell good and feel soft. I’m not saying it’s our responsibility, per se, but I am saying that I value those two qualities over a lot of other so-called “female” characteristics, and I’m going to shut up now before I piss anyone off more than I already have.

Anyhow, that said, one of the areas I like to keep smelling nice and pleasant is my cakehole. I eat out quite a bit, and since onions can sometimes sneak into a dish and surprise you, and it’s not always convenient to brush brush brush, sometimes what I really need is a stick of gum to freshen things up, and Orbit Sweet Mint does the trick nicely. I’m pretty particular about gum flavor, consistency, and flavor duration, and Orbit nails all – 10s across the board. A nice, pepperminty flavor, a springy but not too chewy consistency, and a flavor that fades pleasantly away all make Orbit one more item in my purse that I don’t leave home without.