Friday, May 16, 2008

If you don't know you better ask somebody - Coconut Oil

Hi Ladies!

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer-like weather we've been having lately. I laid out on Sunday trying to even out my tan (the front of my legs are baked and the backs are still a sickly yellow) but it was too hot for me! I've been doubling-up on my sunless tanner applications on the back of my body but so far it's not working.

So I'm thinking of starting another series called "If you don't know you better ask somebody", which will be all about regular items that you can use on your quest for fabulousness on the cheap. You can do a lot with regular items like lemons, aspirin, avocados, yogurt, honey, and fruit and they tend to work even better than their drugstore counterparts.

That said, let's talk coconut oil. Obviously it is derived from coconuts and has many uses; cooking being the most common I believe; especially in the islands. It's also used in manufacturing to make margarine, soap, and cosmetics, was historically used in oil lamps, and has been tested for use as a feedstock for biodiesel to be used as a diesel engine fuel. In this manner it can be applied to power generators and transport using diesel engines. A Nigerian study also found that it has antimicrobial effects and is effective in killing some strains of candida, which causes the bane of female existence - the yeast infection. (The source for all these wonderful facts is Wikipedia). But also and most importantly coconut oil is a very common - and very inexpensive - beauty product that can be used in multiple ways.


Sidebar: Coconut oil is also an excellent lubricator for sexual intercourse; but it's not safe for use with condoms. Those of you with sex lives should take note. I don't have that problem, but that's another story for another blog lol.

First and foremost coconut oil makes a great skin moisturizer. I keep a big ole bottle in the shower (it solidifies when it's cold so I keep it there to warm up and turn liquid) and when I'm done I just gently pat myself dry and then slather myself with it - a little goes a long way. This is literally the only moisturizer that alleviates my winter itch. Cold Canadian winters + steaming hot showers = itchy flaky skin six months of the year. It also works as a pre-moisturizing treatment for the skin. If you apply it and then shower your skin is smoother and softer.

My second favourite use for coconut oil is on my hair. It makes an awesome pre-poo treatment. Just warm it up, apply to your hair and let it sit - anywhere from a half hour to overnight. Then wash/condition/style as usual. It makes your hair so much softer and shinier that I've pretty much stopped using anything else. It can drip a little if you over-apply though so beware. Those of you who are wary of using the straight oil should try Bumble and Bumble's Creme do Coco Masque - it's being raved about all over the beauty blogosphere.

You can also use coconut oil as a serum on dry hair - it helps to smooth out frizzy ends, but I can't stress enough that it must be used sparingly or you will be sorry. I also hear that it's extremely effective in eliminating dandruff, but I can't attest to that personally.

Ladies out there with digestive issues (myself included) can take comfort in the fact that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are digested and absorbed more easily than other oils. That means you should be looking to use it in your cooking.

My pet-loving ladies should try putting a teaspoon of coconut oil into your pet's food every day to help with issues like underactive thyroid, or use it as a swab or a drop for ear mites.

Coconut milk also has many beauty uses, but I don't like it as much as the oil so I'm not going to speak on it.

The moral of the story is, if you don't have coconut oil in your life, you should get hip to it. It's dirt cheap - I get a big bottle in Kensington Market for like $2.99 - and it works wonders.

Check out a quick YouTube Video about the various uses of coconut oil here. To learn more about the many uses for coconut oil, go to Coconut-Connections.com

Oil and Oily Part II: The OCM

Hello pretties!

First of all I have to give a shout out to Dominican Enigma over at BeautyLogic for being the first person that is not related to me to comment on my blog! Thank you for reading. I'm adding you to my link love.

Anyway, on to Part II of the Oil and Oily series with what I consider to be one of the greatest inventions of all time - The Oil Cleansing Method. I don't know who came up with this but this cleansing method is an oily, clogged-pore, blackhead-plagued girl's best friend.

When I first heard about it I was skeptical; how can slathering my grease-mania face with oil help me when oil is what I'm trying to avoid? But apparently oil attracts oil or something and this method is the best way to get deep down clean. I don't remember all the science behind it, but if you're curious you can read up on it here.

As I may have mentioned a time or two million, I have extremely oily skin. I also have tonnes of blackheads and clogged pores; which is not helped by the fact that the air here in Toronto is absolutely disgusting and I'm a stinky smoker. So I have about a million bumps and blackheads on my nose and cheeks. Prior to discovering this, the only thing I found that even remotely helped with this was a pore cleanser like this one:

Mine isn't as fancy as this one but you get the idea. Anyone know anything about these? I feel like they must be really bad for my skin somehow but I love them. I use mine now in conjunction with the OCM.

Now on to my experiences with the miracle that is oil cleansing. I discovered this somehow on makeupalley.com (click the link to read the reviews) and then did a lot of additional reading before I tried it. To make a long story short, it's all about using castor oil as your main oil and then adding another lighter oil. The mixture then basically sweeps all the yuck out of your pores.

So what I do is mix 75% castor oil with 25% sweet almond oil which I bought at the spice store in Kensington Market for like $2. I rub it together in my hands and then massage it all over my face. I spend a lot of time on the massaging part, partly because it's soothing and also because facial massage is good for you. I use the method I learned in beauty school many moons ago but any kind of gentle upward/circular strokes will probably do. I do that for about a minute or two, and while I'm doing that I put a clean facecloth in the sink and run hot water over it. I make the water as hot as I can possibly stand it. Then when you're done massaging, you squeeze the excess water out of the facecloth (this hurts because the water is so hot) and then you drape the cloth over your face. This is basically just a cheater way of steaming your skin. Hold the cloth over your face until it begins to cool. I do this about four times and when the cloth has cooled the fourth time I wipe the oil off my face. That's it! As soon as I've finished my skin looks brighter and clearer and extractions are waaay easier at this point. So of course I thought, this is the perfect time to use my pore cleanser!

Sidebar: Is everyone familiar with these pore cleansers? It's basically a little vacuum cleaner for your face. You wet your skin and then run the cleanser over it and it sucks allllll the yuck out of your pores. You think a Biore strip is fascinating? You should see this shit!

Anyway, using the pore cleanser right after the OCM really allows you to get all the yuck out. Those little bumps completely flatten and almost all my blackheads get sucked out. Even the small amount of milia I have on my chin is vastly improved by this. When I'm done with that,I usually tone with witch hazel and then sit around and let my skin breathe for a little while before I apply moisturizer/night cream. Some people don't even use moisturizer after doing this, but I like moisturizer so I do.

The best part about the OCM? You can do it with your makeup on and it will remove every last speck. No need to pre-wash. I'm telling you, this is the best thing since...well I don't know what. But it's great.

So the wiwfm verdict is....yes! yes! yes!

I keep my promises...sometimes

Since I made reference to Benefit's Realness of Concealness kit the other day (and gave it a verdict of no) and promised to expand, here is the full-blown review of this kit:

So the idea behind this kit is that you have everything you need to create your face on the go in one handy kit. And it is handy. I've seen ladies pulling it out on the subway and fixing their whole face in about 5 minutes. But needless to say, these were not DDD's as this is not for them.

Sidebar: I don't think the ladies of Benefit realize that there are many many many skin tones in this world. They seem to really enjoy making products that only come in 3 colours, (beige, light beige, and dark beige) or even worse just one colour and then claiming they suit all skin tones. This is exactly what I was referring to in my chat with Toya at Life of a Ladybug. It just drives me apesh*t and I actually think it's racist, but that's another story.


Anyway, back to Realness of Concealness. The cute little kit (One thing about Benefit is that they make kickass packaging) contains the following:

  • Lemon Aid primer (top right)
  • Boi-ing concealer (bottom right)
  • Lip Plump (left)
  • High Beam highlighter (middle)
  • Ooh La Lift (right)
  • Most of these products I guess are race-neutral but my real complaint with this is the concealer which is literally the colour of band aids. And I have always been of the belief that band aids come in that stupid colour so that no one would ever possibly think that they were supposed to match anyone's skin tone in order to avoid being accused of racism, but again that's another story. Also I don't think that anyone can make the argument that their product will give you a "flawless" or "polished" look if it doesn't contain a concealer, and this mess just doesn't cut it.

    The Lemon Aid primer is pretty good; it's what I used before I discovered the fabulousness that is UDPP (if you don't know you better ask someBODY!). It helps eyeshadow go on smoothly but isn't as great at controlling oil as other primers. It also leaves a definite white cast over the eye if you have dark skin.

    The Lip Plump isn't worth spending more than a sentence on. It doesn't plump and it turns your lips a weird beige-ish colour that shows through your lip colour. I have no idea what this mess is about.

    High beam is a great highlighter though, it's a pinky liquid with silvery shimmer and it gives you a great glow. I very much prefer it to Moon Beam which is more of a lavendar with gold shimmer. And Ooh La Lift we've already talked about. Great if you need some tightening under the eyes.

    All in all, you can skip this. The wiwfm verdict is....no

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Ooh Baby I can't wait!

    I just went to Sephora to return an eyelash curler and ended up buying two things instead of getting my money back.
    Oops.
    But I'm super excited to go home and try my stuff and then review it for you all.
    I got NARS blush in Deep Throat (said to be the Orgasm for black girls) and Cargo eyeshadow in Nepal.
    Stay tuned to see if they will work for me!

    Because Even Brown Girls Need the Bronze

    So there have been many times in my life when I have been accused of being "too white". I used to get really offended and try to defend myself against it but now that I'm older it just doesn't bother me too much; possibly because it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard and partly because it's partly true. I mean I grew up in London, Ontario listening to Kiss and The Cure and Depeche Mode, it's bred into me and I can't escape it.

    One way in which I am definitely a white girl is that I loooove tanning. Loves it! I think everyone looks better with a tan and though I would never advise anyone to sit out in the sun to get one, I do occasionally (read: every weekend in the summer) sit outside and bake myself to a reddish-bronze crisp.


    But in the winter I rely on products to bring me that glow. I'm going to review two different products today that are clearly designed for white girls and give you the scoop.


    Bronze is a difficult thing for the DDD's because there are a lot of products out there that just aren't dark enough to make a difference. And if you're a cheapo like me you'll try every damn one in the drugstore until you give up and accept the fact that you're going to have to pay a premium if you want a good one. (hey is that racism?).

    Which brings us to product #1, Lorac's
    Hot Flash. It's actually a blush/bronzer duo and according to their site, whether you wear it as a duo or individually "this is the one product that will give you that fresh, healthy, beachy look…instantly". It comes in two colour combinations, “Hot Flash” (pink shimmer/ bronze shimmer) and “Hot & Spicy” (peach shimmer/ bronze shimmer). We're talking about "Hot Flash" today.


    I lusted after this thing for years before I finally broke down and bought it. At $28.50 it's a bit pricey for my blood. (I am such a cheapass!). It's turned out to be pretty good.I really like the bronzer side; although it's very very pigmented and a bit too dusty for my taste, it gives a nice natural glow that truly makes me look sunkissed.

    The problem, however, is the blush. In the pan it looks awesome, a perfect bright pink with silvery shimmer that seems like it will mix well with the very warm bronzer. But on my face, yeah not so much. It comes out looking more silvery (and therefore chalky) than pinky on me. In fairness, I've only used this with crapass Quo brushes so it may have been just that; but I've stopped even attempting to use the blush side because it totally ruins the effect of the bronzer. Now I just layer another blush over it instead. But that makes it kind of a waste of money as this product is not cheap. I'm going to try it tomorrow now that I own a decent blush brush (Sonia Kashuk) and see if that helps, but to be honest I don't hold out much hope.

    Also in fairness I also have to say that I was advised by the SA at Sephora to mix the two together in the pan and then apply them, but I don't like the idea of that. It's so...untidy. And I prefer to layer. But maybe doing that would have made a difference. I don't know and I can't promise to try it and update you because I don't want to mix them.

    Anyway, rambling on way too long about this and we still have another product to cover so the wiwfm verdict on this is...yes, but... (as in, yes as a bronzer but no as a blush). Still worth the money in my opinion because good glowy bronzers are hard to find.

    Ok on to product #2. Benefit's
    Jiffy Tan:
    According to Benefit's site, Jiffy Tan is not a sunless tanner, it's "Your instant tanner in a tube. Create a slenderizing illusion... a tanner you is a sleeker you! This lightweight, tinted body lotion goes on evenly, won't streak, and stays put for instant tanification. The red currant scent and subtle shimmer will make you want to jiffy tan daily! Washes off easily with soap and water."

    Get it? It's a tinted lotion so the colour appears instantly and only lasts until you wash it off.

    I personally love this product, though a lot of people hate it. I use it all over when I'm going out and want to look extra bronzed. It has little shimmer particles in it (gold shimmer I might add, that's a big plus when you're a DDD because silver shimmer can look chalky) so it gives you a nice glow. I also like to use it to emphasize my ab muscles if I'm wearing a shorter shirt; You just draw a line with it in the creases between your muscles and it makes them look even more defined. Even if you don't have muscles you can just draw a line where they should be and you'll look more toned. That must be what they mean when they call this slenderizing because it damn sure doesn't tone or tighten you in any other way.

    The good thing about this product is that it's a nice deep brown so it will show up on any fair to medium toned ladies.
    The wiwfm verdict on this one is yes!

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Product Review: BeneFit Ooh La Lift

    From my travels around the beauty cyber-world, I know a lot of people are concerned about dark circles and puffiness in the eye area. I personally don't have this problem, so I don't pay much attention but I do know that there are about a jillion products out there to fix it.

    What I do have is a slight loss of firmness under my eyes; the area there isn't puffy or dark but it is a little loose I guess. I have no idea what causes this and I believe I've always add it so I don't think it's an aging thing. I used to just pile concealer in this area to cover it up but then I discovered
    Ooh La Lift by Benefit.


    I got this in the Realness of Concealness kit from Benefit (I haven't reviewed this but in a word the wiwfm verdict is no for my DDD's. More on that later) and I really didn't pay much attention to it for the first few months. I tried it a couple of times and didn't really feel like there was a difference. But a few months later I decided to give it a try again...


    According to Benefit's website, Ooh La Lift "helps firm under the eye area so you look years younger. With a special blend of botanicals and light reflecting pigments, this is for all of us gals who want eyes that look young and fresh. The cooling sensations feel so good you'll want to use it all day long... we say go for it... the perk-me-up results are instant, and the feel good sensation is right now!"

    Sounds good to me. And like I said, it's one of the few products I've ever encountered that specifically addresses loose skin rather than dark circles or puffiness so I gave it a go. What I do is apply my foundation, then dot a thin layer of this under my eyes. Then I use a brush to dot concealer right over it. I pat it in with my fingers which blends the mixture together and into my skin. It adds just the amount of brightness - I don't subscribe to the theory of using a lighter concealer under the eyes - and covers up the loose skin perfectly. No cooling sensation to speak of, but I don't miss it.

    This works, but Benefit's prices are beyond ridiculous in my opinion, so I'm not sure if I'll repurchase it when it runs out. A little goes a long way though, I have just a tiny tube and it's lasted me about a year and I still have some left.

    So the wiwfm verdict is...yes!

    we've got three!

    So far I know at least 3 people have looked at my blog since my little interview on Life of a Ladybug the other day. That's enough incentive to get me to update it daily, even though all three of them are people that I know who don't really need to read my blog to hear my opinions. If anyone else is out there, drop me a comment so I'll feel loved.

    We all need to feel loved sometimes, don't we?



    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Check me out!


    I was interviewed as a Beauty Lover of Colour by Toya of Life of a Ladybug.
    If you don't know this blog, check it out.

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Product Review: MAC Matte

    Hello pretties!
    I'm sorry I've been away from you so long, it was a bit of a hectic week at work and my B12 shot is starting to wear off so I'm a bit more tired than usual.

    Sidebar: B12 shots are the greatest invention ever for those ladies that are a little less than energetic. Get your bloodwork done if you find yourself dragging ass a little too often.

    So today we're talking skincare and no beauty blog would be complete without a MAC post so...


    W
    ithout further ado, today's topic is: MAC Matte
    MAC's website describes Matte as "A matte-ifying cream that acts like a powder Matte adds a sheer, no-shine matte texture in one smooth layer" Well as some people say, they ain't never lied. I have extremely oily skin and this is a great product for helping to control shine. Let me just reiterate it: it helps to control shine. It does not completely eliminate it.

    I apply a thin layer of matte over my moisturizer (This week I used LaRoche-Posay's Effaclar) and under my foundation (MAC StudioFix Liquid). I've heard talk on
    MUA that some people noticed their pores were a lot less visible after applying Matte. That didn't happen for me, but then again I don't pay a whole lot of attention to whether I can see my pores on a daily basis.

    Update: Yeah clearly I don't pay attention when I do things, because the other day I actually looked at my face while I was applying this, and my suitcase-sized pores were disappearing before my eyes. So yes it does make pores less visible.

    Anyway, after applying it my skin felt silky and was noticeably less shiny. It also makes my foundation go one more easily and I find I even use less now. (One pump and a foundation brush is more than enough for my whole face). I set it with Blot Powder applied with a brush and my skin looks great until lunchtime. That's about 5 hours.

    I can't lie: I do need to apply powder to my nose a couple of times throughout my workday, but overall this product really helps to keep me look fresh through the end of my day. Prior to this, I would get home and look at myself and all my foundation and concealer would be worn off and my face would just be a big ole shiny greaseball mess. Now. I may be glowing a little bit when I get home but I still look like a presentable human being.

    Another thing I love about this product is that it just feels natural on my face. I've used other oil control products that have helped to control shine, but by the end of the day my skin literally felt like it was choking on all the oil it was not allowed to produce. It was a very creepy feeling that I just did not enjoy at all.

    So the wiwfm verdict is yes...depending on your objectives. If you want something to stop your face from producing oil whatsoever, this is not going to work for you. Is there even a product out there that does that? I don't know. Anyway, if your objective is to find something to help you fight the battle against shine, this will do it.

    Sidebar #2 - the website also says "apply M·A·C Matte to eyelids before applying Eye Shadow or Paints to help increase the longevity of the makeup and reduce creasing". I can't comment on this claim because even though this does get on my eyelids when I apply it to my whole face, I use Urban Decay Primer Potion as my main primer. But give it a try ladies and let me know how it works for you.