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Friday, June 27, 2014

Get Naked!

"My wife was afraid of the dark... then she saw me naked and now she's afraid of the light."~ Rodney Dangerfield

Ah, the ever glamourous, iconic, nude lip.  

Some of us love them, some of us look absolutely awful in them (if we don't know how to do them, that is.) I love the concept of nude lipstick, but when I first tried a nude lipstick for myself, I looked hideous. Plain old dead. Call me fussy, but I don't put on makeup to look dead. 

But being a makeup artist, I need to be able to do a nude lip on everyone who sits in my chair as there are only so many options with makeup- light eye and light lips, light eye and dark lips, dark eye and light lips, and dark eye with dark lips. Sometimes that light lip just needs to be a nude. 

So it's good that there's a very effective method to finding a nude lip that works for everyone, and it's surprisingly simple. Just apply your regular foundation on your lips. If you look good, then you can wear a true, beige-y nude color. If you, like me, look like a cadaver when you put foundation on your lips, then you have to cheat your nude a bit, and instead wear a nearly nude pink, nearly nude peach or nearly nude caramel-ish color. There. That's the biggest secret to the nude lip. 

There's another essential for success with a nude lip- a lip pencil. That's because you really don't want it to blend in completely with your skin tone- you want a little differentiation between your lip and your skin. A mostly nude lip pencil will do this for you. You can refine the shape of your lips as well as defining them.  You may have to be quite fussy finding this pencil- it can't be too dark or you'll defeat the whole purpose of the nude lip. My lips are naturally pretty dark, and I've found that my best nude lip liner is a little lighter than the edges of my lips- with this pencil I still get the definition I need, and also a true nude lip. It's closer to the color of my nude lipstick than my lips.

If you find yourself  flummoxed by the whole idea but would like to ease your way into it, or if you just love makeup, here are some links:

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Planning for Chaos

"Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting."~ Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Demon in My View

I really hate those days when I'm feeling discombobulated and unable to make up my mind on anything, and those days when my schedule gets so messed up- usually starting right from the get go- that I can't get it back on track. Those are the days that it's all too easy to wind up just throwing something- anything clean- on and heading out the door. Then I feel 'off' all day long. 

Your 'image' on this sort of day can be saved with a little forethought. Important because if you feel good about your appearance it's easier to face all the rest of the chaos. It just is. If you know your colors, or just have a go-to neutral (for lots of us that would be black) then you just pick out a basic silhouette that you know looks good and you feel very comfortable in- in other words, garments with reliably flattering lines; what I like to call 'design lines.'  While you're discombobulated and/or rushed is not the time to try new things. This means you need to make sure you always have a few of these items clean and ready in your wardrobe for said unexpected chaotic days.

Next you'll need to work your best makeup effects. Stick with a neutral palette, or a tried-and-true palette that you know goes with pretty much everything. You may not have time to do as much makeup as you'd like, and if so, pare it down to what gives you the most return for your effort. No matter how much makeup you're doing, only do what you're very skilled at doing. There- that's 2/3 of it taken care of.

Lastly, have a few good hair tricks for when your hair is dirty or you don't have time to style it. The best way find these tricks is to experiment when you DO have time. If your hair is long enough, maybe a neat undo, or pulled back into a ponytail, if that's flattering; for shorter hair, maybe slicked back with some gel. A hat or scarf of some sort is a possibility. Whatever it is it needs to be uncomplicated, fast, and essentially foolproof. I also find that if I have a day when I absolutely have to wash my hair but don't have time to dry it, it helps to have styling options tailored for that.

A huge part of feeling confident when you step out the front door is knowing you're looking your best- and that means making choices that you already know look good on you. So again, no experiments right now, please. The point is to simply give a bit of thought to this before the chaos explodes, so that you'll have a plan, and feel at least that much is under control. Some days that's the only thing that's going to go right. 

On those days, I'll take whatever I can get.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Rocky Start

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”~ Henry David Thoreau

My son has been watching the Rocky movies for a couple of months now. I got him started- I like Rocky. He got all into the idea of working out the way Rocky does- really loved the running-up-the-Philly-Art-Museum-steps scene, of course.  I run 5 or 6 times a week, but my 'run' is more of a 'plod' -nothing like Rocky's. I am consistent about it, though. A few weeks before school ended he told me he wants to go running with me- Ok, I say, this summer we'll give it a try. 

He's only 9, so you can imagine how this went. On the first part it was 'Ha ha mommy- I'm faster than you!' then later 'mommy- slow down.' By then end of the run he wasn't speaking to me anymore because I wouldn't stop when he wanted. I'd guess that if he kept at it for a while he'd be passing me up in a matter of weeks. No rush- he works out doing his karate and nunchucks every weekday. That's good enough.  I'm glad I've got him on the right track, though. I'm hoping this will influence him for the rest of his life. If he stays active he'll have better health all his life, a better mood, and he'll be more attractive. He'll have better quality of life, and will probably live longer, too.

Speaking of being attractive, this being a blog about self image and all… as I'm always saying, attractiveness isn't about size, or certain facial features, coloring, or anything like that. At all. Attractiveness is the 'it' factor that's a mysterious combination of self confidence and a sort of vitality. I think that vitality is all about good health. I always say if you want to look your best, you have to be healthy. And that means, in part, regular exercise. 

Summer is here- the perfect time to start working out if you aren't already. Doesn't have to be fancy- just has to happen on a regular basis. Doesn't matter if you start out just shuffling around the block- so long as you do it as many times in a week as you can (or as often as your Dr tells you to.) They say it takes 3 weeks to establish a routine; if you can manage to keep it up for that long, it should be smooth sailing from there on out. If your energy level is a problem, take a look at what you're eating- sometimes that has to be addressed before a person has the energy to work out regularly. I found that my energy level went up quite a bit when I started running- and I also had to start eating more, and eating more regularly. 

There are a number of recent reputable studies out (google it) about how working out boosts the immune system. Though it's not fully understood exactly how this works, it's clear there's a connection. 

So get out there while the days are long and warm, and get moving! Everything about life gets better when you do.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Amber Waves of.....Brain Fog?!

"I'm Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired." ~Fannie Lou Hamer

At the beginning of last year I drastically cut down on gluten. Even though I never felt I had any sort of intolerance to wheat since I didn't seem to have any obvious digestive issues after eating it, I knew that gluten is not particularly good for you. 

Then during the last holiday season I expanded my usual dietary fare to include a bit of gluten and sugar here and there. I wanted to enjoy the holidays, not feel deprived. I didn't go overboard, either- not every meal, just a few times a week. This went on for a good 5 weeks or so. Then I paid.

For the next 6 weeks or so I had fairly severe fatigue, and very heavy brain fog. In other words, I couldn't think, and I was constantly tired.  I was able to get through my day, but each day I had to drop things off my 'to do' list as the day wore on because I just couldn't accomplish what I normally would. I was barely able to do the minimum of things I need to do to just to keep up with my life, and was lucky if I managed to stay awake for even a few minutes past putting my son to bed.

So, as of mid January, I quit gluten entirely. No more 'every once in a while,' no more processed foods, etc. I started learning about everything has gluten in it, just as if I had celiac's disease.

Over the following weeks and months a few things happened; my energy level slowly increased, my fatigue started to dissipate, and I had more and more moments of clarity where my brain fog lifted. 6 months after quitting the gluten I no longer feel like I'm going to collapse from exhaustion right after dinner. I don't know how many years it's been since I hadn't felt that way.

One other interesting thing; my skin got nicer. (And here's how this all relates to my image consulting blog.) My skin color got more even, my pores look smaller. Encouraged by this, I tried a little experiment- I replaced most of the chemically based skincare products I have with more natural, less toxic (and less expensive) alternatives. For the past few years I'd been following Paula Begoun's recommendations from her book, 'The Beauty Bible.'  I'd been using alpha hydroxy, and then Retin-A  after washing my face in the evenings, and in the mornings, an inexpensive moisturizer from Trader Joe's after washing. So as of now, in the evenings I wash my face with apricot oil, then using a 1-1 mixture of organic apple cider vinegar and alcohol free witch hazel as a toner, no moisturizer. Then in the morning I wash with a tiny bit of raw, organic honey, use a little freshly squeezed lemon juice as a toner, then my Trader Joe's moisturizer. It's been like magic.

I've noticed that my skin doesn't get oily anymore- either overnight, or during the day. I still need to exfoliate pretty often, but in general, my skin seems happier. It's great when you make improvements in your lifestyle due to necessity, and then have other, unexpected improvements as  a bonus. Not only does my skin look better, I'm also not spending as much on skincare.

I'm always saying in order to look your best, you have to be healthy. I've had a tough little lesson on taking my own advice over the past year- 

Lesson learned.

Happy Dressing!