The Best Thing About Beauty Year

Besides all of these fun tricks and techniques I have learned about this year, the main reason why I feel good about how I look is because I got into shape.  You can wear clothes from Wal-Mart and sloppy makeup, and still feel good about yourself if you are fit.

And it isn’t that hard.  It really isn’t!  It just takes three things:

  1. A realization that this is just how it is–exercise is important, so is eating well.  It isn’t a fad that you pass through.  And there really is no destination.  It is just the way life is if you want to be fit.
  2. Eating fewer calories than your body expends in a day.  It’s economics, folks.  To find out roughly how many calories you need each day, check out this calculator.  Studies have shown that it doesn’t really matter if you eat all protein or all carbs, if you exercise ferociously or moderately–all that matters is that you consume less calories than you expend.  Easy.
  3. Exercising and liking it.  So if running isn’t your thing, don’t run.  Find a different way to exercise.  Find something that you will enjoy doing.
Exercise

In mid-January, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start running together.  The first night, we went a mile.  Around our block.  And I walked up the hill.  I was waaaay out of shape (its okay, guys.  I had just had a baby four months before).  The second night was the same, but it was a little easier.  The third night we went twice around the blog (2 miles) and I ran it all (except when I still walked up the hill both times).  The fourth time I could run up the hill one of the times.  We added miles and hills and just kept at it.  That is the key.  Just keep going.  It does get easier.  And it is perfectly fine to not perform well sometimes.  I still walk when I get overheated or even bored.  Its okay!  I’m not in a race, I’m just using up calories.

You can do it!  It will make a huge difference in your life: sleeping is more restful, you have more energy, it is easier to get up in the morning, you will like your body, your lungs and heart will be strong, you can eat that extra piece of cake without guilt because you know you expended lots of calories that day.  It just makes a person feel good.

So go for it!

August 25, 2009 at 2:31 am Leave a comment

Waxing – everything you (didn’t) want to know

Why do angsty teenagers cut themselves, when they can inflict perfectly legitimate pain on themselves by waxing?

I got into waxing this summer, just on a whim.  CVS was having a sale on Sally Hansen products and I could buy one and get one free.  So I got two big jars of Brazilian wax.  Here’s what I learned:

  • Don’t attempt to wax yourself.  This is definitely a two-person job.  If you are dating someone, make sure it is the type of person you wouldn’t mind asking to rip some armpit hair out for you.  That is a level of intimacy that most people don’t consider.  You seriously can’t get the right angle or the right amount of force doing it yourself.  Plus the element of surprise goes a long way in making it less painful.
  • There are many different types of wax.  Some are specific to certain body parts, (don’t use liquid wax on nosehairs, for example.  Use a hardening wax) but generally they all do the job.
  • If you are going with a liquid wax, you will need to get some cloth strips to lay down over the wax and then pull it off with.  These cloth strips are like $6-10 at a beauty store.  They are just muslin cut with pinking sheers.  Muslin is available at your local craft store for like $2/yard.  If you want to save some money, cut them out yourself.  There is nothing special about the beauty store muslin.
  • Some waxing kits come with a little bottle of wax remover.  This is about enough for one application, whereas you would ideally get 4-5 applications out of the jar of wax.  BABY OIL is the answer!  It dissolves the wax as you coat it with the oil.  This is critical to you getting clean afterwards.  Use it liberally.
  • hair-removal-for-legs2The nitty gritty:  Wash the areas you are going to wax with a soap and water.  A friend of mine got a staff infection when she had her legs waxed because they weren’t clean.  Warm the wax up to a nice, liquid consistency.  It spreads better when it is warmer.  Don’t burn yourself though (unless you are one of those angsty teens).  Spread it in the direction of your hair growth.  For legs, that means towards your feet.  For armpits, it means the arm-half of your pit toward your fingers and the body-half toward your body (if your armpit hair swirls, just choose a prevailing direction and do it that way).  For bikini area, it probably means diagonal, toward your inner thighs/knees.  Spread it on as large of an area as you can handle.  The less rips your assistant has to make, the better for you.  At waxing parlors, they often spread all the lower-leg wax (for example) at once, then cover it with several strips, then rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip.  This is actually a great thing for the victim–it is better to do it all at once.
  • Cover the wax with the strips and press it down in the direction of the hairgrowth (again).  Make several passes over the strip to get the wax nice and incorporated.  The wax will adhere to the strip and come off clean (along with your hairs, and loose skin cells).  Leave a little bit of a fingerhold (1/2 inch or so) at the bottom of where ever you are doing it (so, by your feet, if you are doing your legs, or in your inner thigh if you are doing your bikini area)
  • The RIP: grab the little fingerhold, press down at the base of your skin, right next to where the strip is going tohair-removal-for-legs rip off, and rip it fast opposite of your hair growth.  It is important to hold on to your skin right at the point of departure, because if you don’t, you will bruise.  Putting that much force against  your skin and the veins right at the surface of your skin causes them to tear and bleed under your skin=bruising.  Try to make it not traumatic for those veins.  After the strip is ripped, put your hands on the place where it was and apply pressure for a few seconds.  It feels great, and it helps avoid bruising.
  • Do the whole local area before you clean up with baby oil.  If it gets on your skin at a place where you haven’t waxed yet, the wax won’t stick to your skin or hair.  So do your entire lower leg, then clean it off, then move to the upper leg, etc.
  • Bruising is especially prevelant in the bikini area, where the veins are so close to the surface and there are so many of them.  I have yet to do it without bruising.  I’d love any hints anyone has.
  • Waxing is really a great way to do hair removal.  It lasts for a long time.  I loved being able to wear short-short sleeves and not worry about my armpit hair, even if I had waxed a month previous.  It lasts from 4-6 weeks.
  • Apparently, hair grows in three cycles.  So after the third time waxing, they should all be on the same schedule, and it will be even more sporadic.

Okay, that is all I know about waxing.  Good luck to all you angst-ridden teens.  This is much more productive, and it leaves no scarring.

August 25, 2009 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

Facial Skin Care (and Vasoline)

My aunt recently visited me and gave me some great instruction on skin care.  Here’s the skinny:

Your face regenerates itself every 30 days (approximately).  The new skin is constantly being produced beneath your surface layer of skin, and it, too, needs nourishment.  This little fact is key to understanding how to take care of your facial skin.

  • Wash twice a day.  I like to use a scrub every time I wash.  This flakes off the dead cells and allows your new skin to come through more quickly.  When I was 18, Avon’s Clearskin deep pore cleanser changed my skin.  It went from being zit-ridden to clear.  Honestly.  That is one of the only times in my life when I was sincerely going to write a letter to a company, praising their products.  That cleanser scrubs well and leaves a fresh, menthol feeling afterwards.  Now I just use Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash ScrubOFAW-Daily-Scrb_185x225It is easier for me to find than Avon stuff.
  • After washing, use an astringent.  This helps restore the pH of your skin after using a cleanser on it.  I don’t understand that entirely, but that is what my aunt said, and it feels refreshing, and its like $1.28, so what have you got to lose?
  • Once the astringent is dry, put on a deep moisturizing serum type product.  This penetrates down to the new skin that is on its way to the surface, so it can come up clean and healthy.
  • Following the deep moisturizing, use a surface moisturizer to seal in that serum.  It should also contain an SPF of at least 15.  This moisturizes your surface skin and makes your make up go on smoothly.

oil of olayMy aunt sung the praises of Oil of Olay Definity collection for skin care.  They have a deep-moisture serum, a sealing moisturizer with SPF and even some night creams, eye creams, etc.  This is just a drug store brand, but it out-ranked the higher-end stuff in a Consumer Report.  My kind aunt was overly generous and bought me several of these products (which, though they are in the drug store, are still pretty pricey).

The next day my mom called and told me that another aunt of mine had been singing the praises of plain old Vaseline as a moisturizer, morning and night.  I thought, what a perfect opportunity to do a scientific experiment.   For two weeks, the left side of my face was “vaseline side” and the right side was “Oil of Olay side”.  The results were evident only to me.  Vaseline won, hands down.  My husband didn’t really notice a difference, but I could feel the different levels of tightness on each side.  The Oil of Olay side still felt dry and parched compared to the Vaseline side.  I had the majority of my blemishes on the Oil of Olay side–at one point there was even a line that they did not cross right down the middle of my face.  It felt like the Vaseline sealed my skin in and protected it so well that I didn’t prod-jellyhave any environmental stress on it.  My pores shrank, too.  Occasionally I would brush away a little ball of sebum or something out of my pores on the Vaseline side–it was like the Vaseline was emptying them out of all their goop and filling them up with sweet petroleum jelly.

I told a friend of mine about my little experiment and she looked at me like I was crazy.  Apparently, when she was younger, she used vaseline on some super dry patches of skin and it made her break out.  Her dermatologist looked at her like she was crazy when she told him what she had been putting on her skin.  Vaseline is “comedogenic” (whereas usually, we are looking for products that are “non-comedogenic”-or non-clogging).  However, contrary to all logic, it seems to be working well for me.  But it might not for you, so be wary.

My facial skin regiment is as follows:

  • Wash with my scrub
  • Astringent
  • Vaseline (and I apply it very thinly.  A dap will do ya, as my kindergarten teacher used to say.  Just a few fingertips lightly touching the surface of the jelly and then rubbed gently towards my nose–to keep from stretching my skin out further)
  • the top-it-off moisturizer with the SPF.  Mostly I do this for the SPF and it takes a little of the initial stickiness off of the vasoline so my makeup goes on smoothly.

What is your experience with Vaseline as a moisturizer?  Let me know!

August 25, 2009 at 1:49 am Leave a comment

Clothing

One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to “dress neatly with flattering clothes” and I began noticing that all of my clothes were worn out or didn’t fit well.  Around the same time, my friend Ann-Marie brought over a couple of clothing items that she didn’t wear anymore and wondered if I would like them.  I was immediately struck by the newness and crispness of her hand-me-downs.  My clothes only looked that good the day I bought them.  So I asked her what tips she had for taking care of clothes, this is what she told me.42-15833248

  • It does matter where you buy the clothes–name brands are often made of better fabrics, constructed more carefully, and intended to last.  I have noticed that with the few things I recently bought from Banana Republic and (to some degree) the Gap, the fabrics themselves feel better, drape better, and look better.  So, investing a little more into clothes that will last is a good idea.
  • Sort your laundry into whites, brights and darks.  I was only doing colors and whites; in one week, I turned most of our whites pink and most of our colors a nice denim blue.
  • Wash clothes in the coldest temperature that you can.  Some detergents need warm water in order to dissolve fully.  We’ve found that Charlie’s Soap is a fabulous detergent.  It dissolves fully in cold water, washes completely out and leaves no residue.  In fact, because there is no residue, we don’t even use fabric softener or dryer sheets because there is no static.  Just completely clean clothes.  We started using it because it is hypoallergenic, and because if you have residue build up on cloth diapers, you have more than just detergent residue.  Gross.  But now we use it with everything.  Hot water just tends to shrink things.
  • Line dry knits.  Ann-Marie lays them exactly perfectly flat on her bed or counters.  They don’t even need to be ironed if you do it that way.  I hang mine out on my balcony line.   This eliminates the fuzzy-ball look that knit shirts get.
  • Buy clothes that fit.  I recently found that petite jeans fit better than regular.  I thought petite was just for tiny people, but it turns out, it is also for people with shorter legs.  Now my jean cuffs don’t drag on the ground, which keeps them looking newer and nicer for longer.

These are probably not groundbreaking for anyone else but me, but I am noticing a difference.

April 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment

Eyebrows

Not me

One of the best things I’ve done this month is tame my eyebrows.  My eyebrows are loooooooooong.  Honestly, they reach like 1/2 inch, easily.  Think Walter Matthau.

So this video really helped me get things in control.  (It is 6 minutes long).  To summarize, you trim them using a small comb and cuticle scissors.  Its kind of scary to start because it looks so stark, but by the time you finish, you look tidy and uniform.

This is another good how-to.

Just make sure you finish, or else you’ll look like me in my 8th grade school photo (the last time I tried to trim my eyebrows with child’s safety scissors).

January 28, 2009 at 3:47 pm Leave a comment

Mineral Makeup

Checking in.

I’ve been getting ready every day for the past month and it hasn’t even been a big deal.  I take an extra 10 minutes while the little ones are watching Playhouse Disney and I feel better about myself all day.  Why has it taken so long?

Today’s post is about Mineral Makeup.  I have been interested in trying this ever since Leeza Gibbons started talking about it on the home shopping network.  However, I am cheap.  I am not prepared to sign up for a monthly delivery plan, nor am I prepared to pay more than $20 for dust.  Luckily, I found this site, LA Minerals, that sells great mineral makeup for cheap!  They will even sell you samples of all of their products for very cheap ($1-2) with free shipping.  I would recommend doing this–get a few different colors of the foundation to see which one really matches you.  The samples contain a couple of days’ worth of powder.

To apply mineral makeup, you get a large brush (kibuki brushes are the most popular) and you dip it in the makeup and then swirl it around in the inside of the lid.  That’s your application amount for the day.  Just keep swooping the brush over your face and redipping–the more times you go over it, the more it covers you (duh).

Here is the before and after for me with LA Minerals (it is the Hollywood Face Base – Fair Neutral)

What I like about mineral makeup is that it is fun to apply, it lasts pretty well (as well as my Covergirl did, at least), and it doesn’t feel heavy at all.  It also doesn’t come off on clothes or when you rub against something.

Also, if you are going to buy something from them, check out their Mineral Makeup Kits.  You get three full-sized items for the price of two.  It’s a better deal, if you have an extra $10 to spend.

January 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

my new haircut

my new haircut

A little less talk and a little more action, you are saying.  Rightly so.  I dove in to a new hairstyle this week–after having long hair pretty much my entire life.  I like it.  I’m not used to having ends of hair tickling my face all day, and it is just a little too short for an attractive pony tail, so I’ll just have to learn to live with it.  Maybe create some face callouses for fluttering hair.

While I’m on the subject of hair, I wanted to advertise for free for SlickLine beauty products.  I buy mine at Sally’s for not too much–like $8 for a liter of shampoo and conditioner.  It lasts a long long time, because it is professional quality and you only need a little bit each time you wash your hair.  Also, you can wash it less frequently because it stays clean for longer

the shampoo

the shampoo

(as in, a liter lasts me 6-8 months).  If you are looking to save money on shampoo and conditioner, getting professional stuff really is the best way to go.  Just remember to use less and use it less often.

January 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

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Why This Blog?

"Realizing and following the truth about the body brings freedom—freedom from the tyranny of vanity, fashion, envy, superficiality, self-criticism, backbiting, the ill effects of overeating or undereating, lust, pornography, substance addiction, tattooing, and a host of other forms of worldly weight and oppression. Developing an understanding of the true purpose of the body enhances our ability to use our agency, to progress, and to find joy." --Diane L. Spangler