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Friday, April 26, 2013

No Nippy-Tucky, Thank You

"I've had so much plastic surgery that when I die they'll donate my body to Tupperwear." ~Joan Rivers

Facial massage has been practiced for thousands of years, all over the world in many different cultures. I've been doing a little research on it, and have read some pretty wild claims- in particular, I keep coming across the claim that it's just as effective as a face lift. I don't know about that yet, but I'm certainly willing to give it a shot.

Facial massage is routinely done during a facial for lots of reasons. It helps to improve circulation, which is great for your skin, obviously. It also stimulates the lymph system, which is one of the reasons you look good after a facial- stimulating the lymph system helps to clear the impurities from your skin, and thus also helps reduce puffiness. Of course any gentle massage helps you to relax, and improve your mood.  I also read that  it can help relieve sinus congestion from allergies, but as I don't have allergies I can't attest to this.

Whaddaya do if you really want to have all these wonderful things on a regular basis but can't afford a facial as often as this would require? How about learning DIY facial massage?  Yup. Free. Free is good. I love free. And you can slip the routine into your schedule anywhere it's convenient. 

So, just to get you started on your own little path of discovery,  here are a few of the websites I came across: 

These first two are by a massage therapist named Heather; as a massage therapist her approach is more from a health perspective. Very good, quick, and simple. The first is simple lymphatic massage for the face, the second is designed to replace botox. Hey- don't ask me! I'm just passing on the info here. 


This next one is my favorite. It's a very thorough tutorial of Japanese Zogan face conturing massage done by a rather startlingly chic woman in glasses and black fedora named Hisako Tanaka. Unfortunately the English translation version I found isn't the greatest quality, but the info is there. Though the tutorial spans 4 short youtube videos, the actual massage is only 3 minutes long. Not a huge time investment for the return. 

Part 1 is an explanation and demonstration of the massage; in part 2 a model begins the 'DIY' version. It's worth it to watch from the beginning, at least the first time.

Tanaka 'Zogan' Facial Massage

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

These were just 2 examples I came across. There's soooooo much more out there, as you can imagine. Have fun, and…

Happy Dressing!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Art of Artifice

“Let us live for the beauty of our own reality.” ~Tom Robbins

This week I have 3 itsy, bitsy, very subtle makeup tips the likes of which can make a huge difference for a tiny amount of effort. 

First up is an eyelining trick that I adore. It's a version of what's called 'tightening.' This technique not only makes the whites and the color pop, it also makes your lashes look fuller, yet is very subtle. It can be difficult to master, but the results are well worth the effort.

You can use either a soft, fairly sharp pencil here, or a gel with a small brush. I like using gel with an angled eye liner brush. My all time favorite gel liner is made by Yve St Laureant, btw- A very lush gel that goes on the brush easily and covers with one stroke, which is very important with such a delicate and precise operation. 

Look into your mirror, tilt your head back slightly, and open your eyes a little wider than normal. With either black or brown liner- it's good to match your mascara here- line the upper inner rim as close to the lashes as possible- keep the line up to the front, tight to the lashes (hence the term 'tightlining,' I'd guess-?) If you get it toward the back, right on the waterline, it's likely to transfer to the lower waterline, creating a real mess over the course of the day. If you're also lining the lower inner rim with black then this doesn't matter so much.  My experience is that when you keep it to the front, right up next to the lashes then it pretty much lasts all day, too.  Any makeup technique that lasts all day is a winner in my book. When you first start you'll most likely make a mess of it- keep practicing, and in no time you'll be making that perfect, thin line in no time flat.  

Another trick that often gets overlooked is a tiny but very effective one with concealer. Most use concealer in the under eye area to cover dark circles; but it also makes a huge difference when used in the outer corner as well.  You don't need much here- this is a 'less is more' kind of thing. This trick makes such a big impact because there's often a little bit of red at the outer corner of the eyes that slants downward; the concealer here covers that, and then if you add color via a liner or shadow with more of an upward slant it makes the eyes look brighter and more rested.

The last one I want to share is a way to enhance the mouth.  Have you ever taken a close look at photos of Liz Taylor? Zoom in on her mouth. Specifically at her cupid's bow- that's the little dip in the center top of the upper lip. You can see in her photos that it's highlighted- almost always. This trick makes the upper lip look fuller. 

This one is easy to master, and there are lots of different products to do it with. As with any highlighting, you can use a foundation or concealer a few shades lighter than your skin, you can use a pencil, or an eyeshadow or highlighter powder with a small brush. A concealer or pencil will give you a more pronounced and heavier highlight, and generally speaking, an eyeshadow or highlighter powder will give a softer, more natural effect.  Look at photos of models and notice all the different ways this is done and try different effects. 

To me, these techniques exemplify the purest purpose of makeup- small, subtle changes that simply enhance what's already there. Everything else you apply beyond that is about self expression.  As my makeup teacher told us "it's makeup- have fun!"

Happy Dressing!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Look Ma, No 'Poo!

That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful. ~Ninon de L'Enclos 

Remember my blog from March 8, 'Cheap and…Fruity?' I was looking for a way to make my own hair oil rather than spend $50 on a tiny brand-name bottle, and I came across a wealth of info about not only making your own hair oils, but also face masks, hair masks, skin oils. I also came across a most interesting concept- 'no 'poo.'  I feel like I discovered a whole little world unto itself…

"No 'poo" means no shampoo. That's right- you don't use shampoo to wash your hair. Or conditioner, for that matter. Instead you use a tiny amount of baking soda dissolved in water to 'wash' your hair, and a little either apple cider or white vinegar mixed with water to 'condition.' The shampoo I was using, a sulphate free, combination shampoo and conditioner, was very expensive, and I had to wash my hair either every day, or if I skipped a day, which was a way of saving some $, I knew that my hair would be flat and lifeless that second day.  I read that with the no-poo method you only needed to wash every 3 days to once a week. And think how cheap baking soda and vinegar are- almost free, especially if you consider the tiny amounts you use and that you wash so infrequently. Part of the reasoning behind this method was that commercial shampoos and conditioners contain chemicals that are potentially harmful- things like endocrine disruptor's. Scary.  Not only that, but they say that washing your hair every day sets up an unhealthy, vicious cycle- you wash your hair, stripping it of it's natural oils, so your scalp then over produces oils to compensate, so you have to wash every day… 

So, let's see. It's cheap almost to the point of being free, and I don't have to wash my hair every day or even every other day. I have to admit, it sounded…well,…insane. But being me, with those pluses I couldn't resist trying it. I'm now a good month into it, and have no intention of going back to shampoo. 

Here are two links to sites about it- of course if you google it you'll find endless sites with more info. I find the comment sections to be a wealth of info based on others' experiences.

Here are a few points worth noting; everyone who talks about this method says there's a 'period of adjustment' that lasts from approximately 2 to 6 weeks, (depending on lots of variables) during which you may find you're scalp and hair are quite oily. There's also the fact that you'll need to play around with it to find the perfect recipe for you. If your hair gets too dried out, use less baking soda to water in the wash, and maybe more vinegar in the rinse. You may want to wash your hair once a week, or once every 3 days. You might try washing once a week, and doing just a vinegar rinse in the middle of the week. Or if you work out daily and you sweat a lot, you might want to just rinse with plain water after your workout. 

My experience has been quite the eye opener. Like I said before, I don't have to wash my hair every day because it doesn't go 'flat' like it did with the cleansing conditioner. Not just that, but I can curl my hair and for the first time in years, the curl not only takes, but stays- all day long. With the cleansing conditioner the curl just wouldn't take very well, and would fall out almost right away. I guess there was just too much 'stuff' on my hair. Also, my scalp feels 'clean' after I wash it- with regular shampoo my scalp would feel tight and dry; with the cleansing conditioner it was no longer tight or dry, but it had a sort of 'film' on it.  I also have way, way more body. And my hair is shiny. Very shiny. I'm still working on the perfect recipe for me, though. I need to wash more than once a week, or maybe rinse with either vinegar or just water once more during the week- not sure yet. I also made a hair balm, and need to perfect exactly how much and where in the process to use it.

Also- other options you might want to check out- 'wo' means 'water only' and 'co' means 'conditioner only.' Again, there are endless sites about these methods…

Happy Dressing!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fashion Faker

"Fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months." ~Oscar Wilde 

Every season there are 'new' trends in the fashion world. I put the parenthesis there because they aren't really new, of course- just re-introduced every few years to generate fashion news (and sales of course.) Sometimes, even if you love the look of a trend, it may appear not to have anything that you can use- the colors are wrong, the shapes are all wrong, everything about it is just all wrong for you. But if you really love it, you can try to find a way to reinterpret it in a way that works for you.

First, decide what it is you like about the trend.

If it's all about the color, then see if there's a different shade you can wear. If, for example, its too bright, then think about wearing a muted version next to your face and save the bright version for shoes, purses, even slacks or a skirt. Or work with the color wheel- find the complimentary color, and if that one is good for you, wear that next to your face and the 'on trend' color elsewhere. 

Maybe you like the concept- this season I've seen few magazines showing mixed prints; if you're intrigued but hesitant to explore this you can always start small- pick a print top and put a print scarf on with it. If you find you hate it as the day wears on, you can just take off the scarf. Maybe the concept is 'vamp,' and you're not comfortable showing as much skin as you see in the examples. So, show shape, not skin. You can do the makeup, the hair, and a pretty neckline and keep everything else totally covered up and still be a total vamp.

What about a specific design line- let's say mini, A-line dresses are all the rage- and that's exactly the design that makes you look like a pear shape even though you're not a pear shape. It may work for you to do this with a bias cut mini-dress- still technically the A-line, but bias cut garments drape more, hugging curves. The drape will show your waist, which may make the pear shape issue go away. To further minimize the pear shape problem you can wear tights or leggings in the exact color as the top, which will help elongate the whole look, making you look slimmer.

If you really like what you see in a magazine or website, but at first glance think there's no way it would work on you, just keep the idea in mind, and let your creativity go to work. 

Who knows- you may wind up with a look that you like even better than the original.  

Happy Dressing!