Cramming in my good hair days

Weird shadow, but I still think I look nice here. :)
Look, we tried. Hard.
I don’t know why my hands look giant. I have normal hands.

I’m in Hair Crisis Mode! OK, not crisis, but possibly Professionalism Transition Urgency Status.

I’ve been growing my hair out basically ever since Halloween of 2008. Weirdly specific timing, but here’s why I know: Grant and I were planning on being Margot and Richie Tenenbaum for Halloween, and we really went overboard on selecting the perfect costume elements, but when I went to my hairdresser and told her to cut my hair just like a picture of Gwyneth as Margot so it was the right length when straightened, well, she kinda badgered me into getting a short stacked bob instead which kinda ruined the costume (as did the fact that we are each approximately double the body weight of the characters we were dressed as, but shut up, we know that).

I believe I was singing along with "Living on a Prayer" at the Rickshaw, the night before Grant's proposal. How's THAT for a freakish memory?Anyway, even though the stacked bob was NOT what I asked for or expected, I think I rocked it for a while. But then very shortly thereafter, Grant proposed to me (awww!), so THAT’s why I knew the time frame, and of course for the next year and a half I was diligently growing it out so that I could have Wedding Hair. You know, slightly curled, long, romantic, blah blah blah that is what wedding hair is, at least lately. (It sort of seems like these things are cyclical, which is a little ridiculous. I mean, of COURSE it would have looked awesome if I’d been married with shorter hair. But you just get up in your head about this stuff when the Bridezilla Bug bites you.)

Weird shadow, but I still think I look nice here. :)Well, that wedding was in 2010, and I think I pulled Wedding Hair off quite well, thanks to Carina the Traveling Stylist. But I’ve been growing it out ever since then, mostly for lack of a better idea. It’s getting kind of crazy and scraggly-feeling and unmanageable. It never looks like that wedding pic; it mostly looks wild and unruly and kind of like I should be in some sort of late 60s-early 70s cover band. But I really love the look and feel of it on “good” days, and I’ve always wanted to try having it as long as I can get it until I simply must hack it off. I figure now’s my window, before we yet have hair-yanking children. So I keep leaving it long, and therefore sometimes scraggly.

Yet I’m doing more and more video work for my business, and while I can handle a podcast recording Skype session looking slightly less than perfect, I really hate doing a proper interview like this one or a polished advice video without looking like I’m bringing my A game. A combination of sanity, time, tendinitis, and just way too much hair means that I almost never bother taking the time to blow-dry and or straighten it these days, because I just can’t pull that off on a regular basis. It’s too much!

So I’ve decided that I’m going to shell out for a Swink blow-dry, and then pack as many different videos (including outfit, eyewear, jewelry, and bangs-management changes) into the same day, so it looks like it was spread out, haha. I’m also borrowing some professional floodlights from an artist friend, so I’ll be well lit in addition to being well coiffed, dressed, and generally groomed. (And lashed. I’m getting falsies put on too, since they help make your eyes pop on video. Although let’s hope they don’t come off halfway through! One time that happened to poor Rachel Maddow during her show and we could NOT LOOK AWAY.)

What do you think? Will it be super obvious that all of my videos were actually shot on the same day? With wildly vavoomier hair and lashes than usual? I mean, I don’t really care that much, to be honest… most of my clientele would totally “get” that I had to pack all my glam into Media Day, and be kinda charmed by it, I like to think. After all, I’m all about helping REAL people, the kind who don’t necessarily look like they’ve always just stepped out of a shampoo commercial when there isn’t a special occasion. I think it’s fair game to channel a bit more polish than usual when it’s for one of my red carpet moments! (Oh speaking of polish, I should probably slap some of that on too. You never know what might get me gesturing at the camera.)

Side note: I remembered hearing Melissa Rivers talk about her book Red Carpet Moments AGES ago on a podcast. Well, I looked up this little video-interview about it, and I was horrified. Both by Melissa’s looks (just because she seems like she’s had a lot of work done, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given her mother, but I sort of thought the apple had fallen farther from the Restylene tree) and because the audio quality is AWFUL, especially when the interviewer is asking questions. 5by5 has really spoiled me on audio! And my Retina MacBook Pro has spoiled me on image quality. That book cover image (generated from Amazon) is atrocious. I blame them/the publisher, though. I hope you can get past it. <3

Anyway, I’ll post a video here too so you can see how I did!

Mountain Rose Herbs giveaway

Mountain Rose Herbs, my favorite hippie skincare and herb supplier is doing a very cool giveaway for the best herbal recipes of 2011. Check ’em out — not only do they have great ideas there and a killer prize, but these guys sell extremely high-quality, well-priced DIY skincare items. I use them to purchase all my butters and almost all of my oils, and they have some terrific tea blends too. Plus hardish to find items like Fuller’s Earth clay. Kicking myself for forgetting about an argan oil refill on my last order — ah well, at least I have an excuse to load up on some more fun stuff soon!

Trouble in paradise

All the fancy accoutrements pictured here are from the real estate staging! Our stuff looks simultaneously nicer and less nice than that.OK, so we bought ourselves a brand new house. Like, a really nice one. Nice enough that I can’t afford to shop at Sephora ever again.  We’ve had a really fun and monumental beginning of the year, with the new home and a big move all right after a trip to Rio for a friend’s wedding (which my husband officiated). BUSY. And since we haven’t had time to fully unpack, I still can’t get to all of my toiletries or clothes! SO sad.

The funniest part of this house with its seemingly extravagant updates, is how  certain parts of it were built for fashion over function. Check out this magnificent master bathroom, for example — big glass-walled shower, big Jacuzzi tub w/ gas fireplace, two sinks. Deeee-luxe, right? But what you DON’T see here is that the enormous, heavy glass wall of the shower is held up with a tiny, nay, DAINTY dime-sized blob of mere silicone. Or that the Jacuzzi jets occasionally malfunction and scream on in the middle of the night like a banshee. Or that the shower contains a lovely assortment of multiple showerheads arranged at perplexing intervals and heights (…What did they have in mind here, exactly? Pint-sized/waif orgies?) but that the plumbing is such that one can’t actually make two (let alone all) of them work well at the same time, for, say, the purposes of dual showering with one’s sweetie or basking in the warm spray from multiple sources. And the *worst* part to this beauty diva is that there isn’t enough hardware for a bathroom that size — the only measley bath towel rack is way across the room from the shower, hung right over the heater so the towel blocks the warm air. And there’s only one hand towel ring, for two sinks that are a few feet apart.

Gatco Latitude II collection - Satin NickelThe fantastic part about these defects is that they gave us an excuse to buy some new bathroom hardware (at much expense and hand-wringing, but hey — gotta hang up your towel somewhere, and when we saw the terrifyingly-installed glass shower wall shake under the gentle pressure of a hanging towel being removed, we quickly chalked it up to a worthwhile expense, as opposed to the medical bills resulting from having been CRUSHED). So we selected this gorgeous Gatco Latitude II collection which seemed to be sturdy and of clean modern design, and which featured handy inclusions like a double towel bar (pictured left) or even a double toilet paper roll or a hotel-style towel rack and shelf combo. Once these babies arrive and we put them up, I’ll be SO happy to finally have somewhere to put my washcloth, hair towel, and hand towel. Plus a bunch of toiletries since Grant kindly condescended to get me some matching shelves for all my lotions and potions.

But what other troubles plague these spoiled brats, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you (since you asked). The lighting fixtures in our new master bath are kind of ridiculously designed — they contain these bizarre glass cover things that are SCREWED down over the hard-to-find tiny Halogen bulbs. And this is INSIDE the glass fixture casement part. So I need a tool that apparently doesn’t exist (a precision ratcheting offset screwdriver, say that five times fast) to get the dang casements off to change out the bulbs, five out of eight of which were dead. I managed to do ONE by hand, another one appears to have been seared by a power surge and fails to work, and the other three I just can’t get the screws off of. Oh, and I almost electrocuted myself trying, so we now have learned that this can only be done with the circuit shut off, i.e. during daylight, i.e. weekends only. And I think I broke one trying last time.

ANYWAY. None of that is REALLY “trouble” as the title implies. Just all the funny puzzling quirks of new home ownership. Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to get my home set up with all the hardware needed to really unpack those boxes marked “bathroom” and go back to primping in the style to which I’ve grown accustomed! (Way, way better, actually. Trading Sephora runs for Home Depot runs is totally worth it! Also worth it is ditching the manicured nails, not that I really had those very often anyway. But home improvement and nice nails do NOT go hand in hand!)

How can we look “polished” on the go?

A friend’s recent Facebook comment cracked me up — she said on the first day of her attempt to dress a bit sleeker looking, she forgot to wear deodorant; this was proof to her that it was impossible for her to be “polished” no matter what she tried. I used to be much the same — i.e. a frizzy mass of imperfect skin, hair, makeup, and fashion. But I’ve found a lot of little “polished” tricks over the years.

The strongest example is with deodorant! During my Frazzled Summer Heat Wedding Gear-up Insanity I forgot deodorant approximately once per week, and keeping a stick in my car always made it melt, so I got a packet of DermaDoctor MedETate wipes. Even after that hectic season, I now always carry one with me and keep a couple in my desk at work.

And, now that I walk to work most days, and my hair sometimes loses its oomph or straight look while I work, I now have a crappy half-inch straightener (a relic from when I had bangs) in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m also never found without my purse hook, which keeps my bag from drooping on the floor getting dirty or just looking sloppy.

In addition, I now carry a small cosmetics bag with every essential imaginable, so I can touch up anything that needs touching up on the go. (I don’t always use it, but the fact is that I COULD if I wanted to.) But I have this grandiose idea of the perfect interchangeable on-the-go kit, with little spots for mascara, tweezers, brow wax, you name it!

I’m a sucker for all kinds of products designed for gals on the go, like Trish McEvoy’s refillable pages, Too Faced’s Glamour 2 Go, and the above-pictured Dior Deluxe Travel Palette. I carry a little makeup-and-more bag that I keep stocked with pre-moistened glasses cleaning wipes, Similasan individually-packaged eye dropsHello Kitty Band-Aids, miniature Anastasia tweezers, a tiny Burt’s Bees comb, a combo nail file and emory board, my awesome O Hui compact, at least a couple retractable makeup brushes (including my über-fave Baby Buki),  a tiny sample mascara tube, hair ties, a sample perfume tube, tampons… all in my petite Coach makeup case which fits in my purse. Oh, and in the winter I’ll hit up a Whole Foods for a free sample of Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, and carry that teensy tube around all season.

I’m curious to know if any other ladies out there have tricks to look more polished/together themselves — I doubt this post will get enough hits to really say, but I’d love to hear from you if you have any input! What’s your tip for staying smooth-looking even when life on the go leaves you frazzled?

PAX Beauty (and beasts)

Every year since like 2006, Seattle’s own Mike and Jerry of Penny Arcade have put on an increasingly massive video game fan convention. This thing started for fans by fans (as opposed to for developers by developers), and the turnout in fantastic. Both literally and figuratively. PLUS, my work is throwing a big party for our game’s expansion launch, so things are OFF THE HOOK for me this weekend.

I always see a lot of cosplay, creative hair and makeup, and crazy clothing at PAX (in addition to more handheld consoles than I ever saw in my two years working at Nintendo). The doors aren’t even open yet, and the geeks have already flooded the site — which is smack between my home and my workplace. Geeks get mad creative with their looks — I mean, how do they get those prosthetic Link ears to stay on? I have enough trouble with false lashes!

I’ll post pics later once I’ve caught a couple amazing fashion or makeup moments! But fow now, allow me to wax geeky on my own PAXed up beauty tricks. Geeky conventions are kind of an excuse to oomph up the goth/punk/nerd/rebel chic, which isn’t my usual look. But I leaned hard on Smashbox’s Heartbreaker liquid liner pen to ensure a nice firm goth-y eye well into tonight’s Wonder Girls concert.

And today seemed like the perfect day to rock my cement gray (“DWS”) Illamasqua nail polish. Slightly edgy and different, plus it matches my gray Aion shirt that I’ll be wearing to help promote the game and show my support!

In closing, check out the vid we made to promote our launch party tonight. Seriously, isn’t this adorable? Even if you’re not a gamer, you have to appreciate the creativity of the in-game dance moves! I cannot WAIT for this show. ^_^

The post-marital fuglies

Well, the big day has finally come and gone! The day was lovely, but now it’s time to get ugly. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t view marriage as an excuse to completely let myself go or anything. But this wedding has involved an INSANE amount of primping and stress and spending on our parts, and my new husband and I will both be pleased to relax a bit now that the show is over. (Though we DID both get spa treatments on our honeymoon!)

Non-beauty inevitabilities that I officially welcome back into my life:

Yellow teeth
— those Crest 3D WhiteStrips HURT! And my teeth look just fine all normal-colored, thank you very much.
Dry cuticles and unkempt nails — Sometimes you gotta be lazy!
Acne AND bacne — thanks for holding out for so long, epidermis! You can even throw some KP my way if you must.
Tan lines — gone are the days of swaddling myself in a goddamn cashmere wool wrap in 96 degree weather just to keep my back and shoulders line-free! OK, I still wear it sometimes as it’s great sunscreen and looks lovely — but I no longer feel OBLIGATED to wear it rain or shine.
Mosquito bites — I’m amazed you guys didn’t cover me in pink welts before the big day. Thanks, buddies! Have at it. I will tackle you with prescription-strength steroid cream and continue to catch you easily mid-flight.

Things I now bid adieu to for the foreseeable future:

Bustiers/corsets with boning — GOD PLEASE THE HORROR. I still have a scar from where it poked at me all night, from BEFORE the wedding! Boning is bullshit.
Spanx — I can finally both digest and breathe, to say nothing of going to the bathroom in a reasonable time frame.
Heels — OW.  At 5’11” I’m done with that discomfort for a WHILE. (Though I’ll probably dye and keep my 2.5″ Jimmy Choo and/or Angela Nuran wedding heels, and re-wear them eventually!) But as of right now, I can’t feel the outer edge of my damn big toes because of my wedding-day footwear worn for a mere 2 hours. *&^@$@#! heels!
Manis/pedis — I gotta start saving my money again, and plus, I kind of miss my OWN neglected polish shades! And no more dremel for a while. Nails on a chalkboard. And no more soaking my fingers in acetone for ages to get the tough gel polish off.
Makeup artists — I love being pampered and all, and Carina and Swink both did an amazing job — I just kind of miss looking like ME. I normally never do foundation or blush, my eye makeup never looks as perfect as theirs, and I’m just *used to* my own shades and formulations. Plus it took like a year to get my false lashes off, and a few real ones came with each cluster. QQ Owie!

OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel Nail Lacquer

God, even the title is a mouthful! I just got a manicure with this special new-ish nail system, because I wanted to test-drive a wedding manicure that would be longer-lasting than typical polish, since I’m quite adept at ruining manicures in record time. When browsing the website at Frenchy’s, I saw this ‘soak-off gel nail’ thing that was touted as a great option for special occasions, busy professionals who didn’t want to schedule regular manicures, or people going on extended vacations. And I thought that sounded like just the right kind of manicure!

The system worked like most gel nails, I guess, except that after the base coat, two gel polish coats were applied and UV-hardened. Problem is, the color (I went with “Aphrodite’s Pink Night”) is quite sheer and went on paler than I’d pictured, so it’s much subtler than I’d hoped and doesn’t conceal if I have gunk in my nails. (Gross, I know, but part of the beauty of a manicure is making your hands look great even when they’re not, right?) OPI’s description seems to indicate this is by design.

I’m also told I can’t put polish on top of the gel lacquer like I could with acrylics or regular gel nails (as I understand them). But then this Elle link seems to indicate you CAN put polish on! And when I asked about fills/maintenance, they said it was pretty much the full $60 no matter what, but maybe they could do a same-color fill for $45. Hrm.

All in all, I think this service convinced me to give regular gel nails a try for the wedding. I’ve only had acrylics once before and hated them, but so far I’m loving my gel hybrid thingies. My nails are still short enough to be able to type and do everything else I do (I hate the look and feel of long nails). We’ll see how they hold up after a week or so, but if I still like them come July then I’m getting gels for the big day!

$1.99 Beauty Find

As part of my Wedding Skincare Vows, I really wanted to start taking better care of my nails. (It doesn’t feel right showing off my fiancé’s late grandmother’s heirloom ring with raggedy fingernails and cuticles.) So I went out and invested in several of these bad boys, so I’d always have one on hand:

I first bought one of these four-way buffers at Pharmaca a couple years ago, and that $1.99 was one of the best beauty investments I’ve ever made. The thing is supposed to just be a buffer, but it works as both a file and a buffer. It’s small enough to carry anywhere and durable enough to hold up after being knocked around in my purse for ages. The four different portions do a great job of sloughing off length more gently than a pair of clippers, and with less risk of accidentally trimming too much.

But I’ve found the real kicker is the buffers — not for buffing, per se, but for post-filing. Previously, when I filed my nails, they’d still be kind of rough and imperfectly finished, so I’d catch them on something and inevitably tear them. But I find that using the buffing edge right after filing makes them perfectly smooth and snag-free — which ensures that my nails will all stay a happy uniform length for longer. Thus fulfilling my freakish need for symmetry — if one nail snags I have to cut them all off to match.

I’m going to start strategically placing these in all of my purses, at my desk, in my nightstand drawer, etc. — that way I’ll always have one on hand for a nail mishap. A cheap and easy solution!

Wedding Skincare Vows

Grant and I got engaged last month, and since then everything has been a whirl!  We’ve kicked into planning mode, largely because we’re both really enjoying the planning process thus far.  But of course, one part of the plan is to lose some weight before the big day, so we both look and feel our best.

Along with the weight-loss goal comes a set of skincare goals for me.  And much like losing weight, for me these goals are things I’ve been meaning to do in or out of wedlock, just to keep my skin feeling and looking its happiest and healthiest.  And now I have a really good excuse to make it official! So I’m writing myself a set of skincare vows to follow while leading up to the big day and beyond.

1) I vow to use my Clarisonic at least once per day, with no more than one lapse per week.
(I mean, I paid enough for the thing, and I love the results… when I actually take the time to use it!)

2) I vow to at least remove my makeup before going to bed, no matter how tired I am. (A very bad beauty habit of mine — I always tell people that I’m full of great skincare advice that I have lots of trouble following!)

3) I vow not to skip lotion/body oil after more than one shower per week. (Taking care of dry skin needs consistency!)

4) I vow to file my nails BEFORE they break and tear from getting too long. (I’ve been carrying a top-notch nail file in my purse since January 1st, but I have yet to use it once this year!  And I notice my ragged nails much more now, every time I show off my ring… it feels wrong to have crappy cuticles and crooked nails next to such a beautiful heirloom.  I should give the rock the respect it deserves and take care of my manicure!)

5) I vow to be consistent in the application of my topical actives. (No more starting things like Retin-A but skipping it six nights a week — no good will come of it, and I hate getting perpetually stuck in the dry flaky phase!)

Hopefully the fact that I made these vows public will mean that I actually follow them, to some degree.  I’m also going to post them on EDS so that my pals online can help egg me on.

Melted butter

Turns out that toxic ingredients like toluene, formaldehyde and phthalates actually serve a purpose in nail polish — they help it cure.

I went in to butter LONDON today to trade in three old polishes for three shiny new 3-Free ones, and the clerk painted each of my nails up with a different shade. He applied approximately two thin coats to each digit, and I let them take it easy for a good 10–15 minutes before I went back to running my errands.

When I got home and inspected them, they were all significantly smudged. You may not be able to tell from that fuzzy iPhone pic, but trust me, they’re pretty ugly in person. (But to be fair, I’m a very hands-on person, and polish jobs don’t usually last long on my fingernails.)

I had hoped these new semi-natural polishes would hold up like regular icky ones, because I hate waiting for things to dry. (The long curing time is the main reason I was turned off of the Honeybee Gardens polish collection.) I’ll update as to whether a full and properly cured manicure still smudges…