Real boobs have rights too

What do you think of the group of derisive comments about young Miss Upton's boobs on the cover of SI this month? I don't usually pay attention to *news* on breasts (really, guys) but the jeering at her "flapjacks", as one particularly troll-y commentator coined her ample and natural-looking bosom, had me thinking about real boobs and why they get such a bad wrap for being flat or floppy or saggy or whatever. (I'll leave it to the others to comment about her relatablity, if her boobs are/are not fake or whatever and the other angles of this over-exposed story.)

katupton12.jpg

I mean, it's just a matter of physics that large pockets of fat that hang suspended from one's chest will eventually end up headed south just like the rest of our physique will without surgical intervention. 

Have you seen a set of MOOBS (and boy are they on the rise) with nipples pointing skywards? Me neither.

Interestingly, as the media drums up a tempest in a tea cup around Upton's breasts, I happened upon some images of Marilyn Monroe disrobed more than usual in a magazine (they're from a new book of her photos).

Lo and behold, she has refreshingly natural breasts that do that flatten-and-spread thing that sizeable boobs do.

marilyn monroe topless_thompson hotel magazine.jpg

Do you think she would have had implants had she been around today? Yes, a totally frivolous speculation, I know, but I do wonder if she would have bowed to the pressure to be even more perfect and have even more surgery than she already did.

You have to wonder if the only boobs the men commenting have seen are gravity defying fake ones if they are so repulsed at Upton's. Let's also take a minute to acknowledge the context of objectification in which the contemptuous proclamations about this young woman's boobs are happening too. It's like a cattle market where all the cows had bulbous, swingy utter implants until now and the buyers can't handle the fleshy, dangly nature of the natural ones. 

I fret for younger people and the plastic, pornographied lens through which so many of them exclusively view of the world and women. Their ideas of what boobs should look like is pretty unsettling and probably telling of what they think a woman's other parts should look like. I don't wonder that some young men might pass out from the sight of a real vulva with actual pubic hair on it. 

Anyway, the real question I have about Upton's cover is how they convinced her that the microscopic piece of fruit leather covering her mons pubis. 

They surely had to Photoshop out some of her anatomy for that... like, say, her labia. Entirely. 

So, the take away:

Boobs. Sometimes they're real. Sometimes they're not. Gravity affects them too, even those not featured on National Geographic. Boys, get over it. You might think boobs are there solely for your viewing pleasure, and magazines like SI do their best to affirm that sense of entitlement for you, but they're not. And I'm pretty sure Kate Upton isn't crying herself to sleep on her private jet over your opinion about how hers look.

1, 2

Readings and findings and doings and wantings

"Is that cake!?"

 

Read this and thought "holy bob, I'm not the only one!"

Frosted, floral, lovely, covetable Beauty.

Soak yer nuts and reap the benefit.

I could live. on. this. and die happy.

OCD stylephiles will scream in delight (and then arrange the things on their desks in neat, parallel piles).

She's back! [Make sure to mute!]

Where would you hang this!?

This might be a way to make tumeric more palatable.

Another blog talks about brights and neons too.

[image via tumblr.com]

BEAUTY OP-ED | Iris Apfel + MAC + Bill Cunningham New York + Things that are things

 If you're a writer, you're always looking for repetition, for snippets and tidbits to prove they're a thing. I need something to show itself to me a few times before I think it's a thing and believe it's worth writing about.

This thing I have now is definitely a thing. Mind you, I do live under a rock in Chicago in near-complete solitary confinement for most of my waking hours, so there's a (very good) chance this thing has been a thing for an age and only just arriving under my rock right now, very late. In fact I know it's been a thing but the people who are a part of this thing are having a bit of a thing renaissance after not being so thingy for a while.

In any event, it's a stylish, beautiful, fascinating thing to me all the same and I'm glad to share.

Read More

BEAUTY OP-ED | French women and skincare

I read so much stuff online that my eyes start to cross by the end of the day. Today I found a fun little bit of copy about the differences between French women and American women when it comes to their respective attitudes towards beauty and skincare.

Thought I'd share.

Sure, we're all individuals and generalizations are, on such a level (French vs. American, etc.), often wildly off base. But... but... macro-trends exist or we wouldn't hire consultants and marketing strategists to figure out how to position products and brands in a market, would we? And those (macro) markets are AMERICA and FRANCE, for example, as a whole, not, say, individual zip codes. So, via a meandering explanation, I bring you a few seconds of very-general-but-probably-somewhat-true French beauty voyeurism:

"According to WWD, Estee Lauder found European women to be "active and pragmatic":

'She considers aging as a natural process and doesn't identify a specific problem linked to her skin," said Raffaella Cornaggia, [Estee Lauder's regional marketing director]. "She is not obsessed by beauty or by wrinkles. However, when she begins to notice certain changes in her skin, she wishes to delay them. She favors simplicity in her skin care, as well. In short, she seeks a complete solution.'

The comment about a complete solution in one product reminded me of an interview with a New York dermatologist that I read. (Probably in The New York Times.) The doctor said she requested the new patient to bring in the skin care products she was currently using. The new patient arrived at the doctor's office toting 43 different products. Chic French women are known for having a variety of skin care products. But they would be unlikely to have 43. With their small living quarters and often antiquated bathrooms with little storage, a complete solution product in one jar is very compelling. And French women like keeping chic simple."

[via Anne Barone]

Another writer who does a very sweet job of comparing the way New York vs. Parisian women, in particular, compare is Garance Dore. Her blog post on New York Skinny vs. Paris Skinny is a must-read for those who exist or circulate within those particular microcosms or have a fascination with either/both of them (*cough* raises her hand).

How many products do you use a day? Do you fall into the French or American camp when it comes to views on beauty and contents of your bathroom cabinet?

[photo cred]

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

When I'm out shopping for jeans, I look into you, mirror, after I've wriggled into a skinny pair and buttoned them up, to sometimes, gleefully, see this:

 

Then.

I get home.

I tear my new magical jeans out of their bag like a kid on Christmas morning, ripping the tags off with my teeth while doing some serious lower body yoga to put my legs into the leg holes almost simultaneously so I can check 'em out with my favorite shoes. Oh the joy! The elation!

Only... I find that, somehow, someway, in the mirror at home I no longer look like a miniature screen siren or 16 year-old Russian with a butt that defies gravity. I look a little closer, in disbelief. Surely... no. That can't be me. I turn around to make sure there's no one behind me and that somehow, perhaps, I've lost my reflection so I'm actually looking at her, the insane lady in those jeans who has snuck into my bathroom, in all of her middle-aged, Fuptastic glory.

 

The horror sets in and...

 

I realize that... dear god

 

In fact...

 

I look more like this:

 

How.

Is.

That.

Possible?

How!?

How.

How, mirrors of the world, can you be so flattering one moment and so cruel the next, like a bad grade school boyfriend?

How is it possible to look so wildly different in two bits of mirror wearing the SAME pants?

Maybe it's the thumping, bumping music that makes you feel like you're living out your very own Chic Flick in the store. So distracting yet, like, totally super fun! Yay! Cue Reese Witherspoon bouncing around...

Or the low lighting.

Or that all of your clothing comes home with you in banana-yellow bags.

Whatever it is, the scores stands at:

Mirror:1, Me: 0

Not for long, though. Not. For. Long.

Watch your back, mirror.

[pic cred here and here]

Everything that's wrong with America's attitude towards food

THE detestable Hungry Girl Show on the Cooking Channel is the epitomy of everything that's wrong with America's attitude towards food. More on this later but I'm so regularly filled with indignation every time I hear the drone of her Rachel Ray-esque voice begetting me to watch her show so I can finally eat 'guilt-free' (there's nothing GUILTY about food... I want to bitch-slap this descriptor when placed anywhere in a sentence relating to food or eating. What's it guilty of? Petty theft? Insider trading? And, for that matter, what are YOU guilty of by partaking in the simple, LIFE-SUSTAINING act of eating!?). Can you just about hear the binge-eating session being planned post-show? I mean look at that insane grin and those heaps of food... that would be enough to serve a party of 12 in food-loving France.

To my mind, the worst cooking show on television and utilizes so little real food it would be more at home in a PBS special on Chemistry than on The Cooking Channel.

 

BEAUTY OP-ED | Seeing red

“Is that your real colour?” is a question I’ve come to terms with answering.

I don’t mind though, as my red hair was a choice and not the prison sentence so many red heads see it as being. To be fair, I’m over the moon I found red hair later in life. I didn’t suffer the torment of being a red-headed child, an orange beacon to neigbourhood bullies, different from the rest of the flock at a time in life when being different was a punishable offense. As a self-selected adult red head people still look shocked when they learn that my ‘condition’ is self inflicted.

Why did I do it? Many reasons… it’s fun, colourful, makes the eyes pop and, after all, IT’S ONLY HAIR, people (I will never understand those married to one hair colour for life).

Mostly, I blame it on my inner Contrarian; in a world where everyone covets blonde hair I did what came naturally to me – the opposite.

Also – full disclosure – my dad has auburn hair. So does my mother’s sister. So do a couple of my dad’s brothers. So do my cousins. It’s safe to say I had a pretty good idea that the colour would suit me. I didn’t walk blindly into the world of being a red head.

If you’re thinking about joining Team Red, I’ve stockpiled a few handy observations on life as red head. Having entered the realm of the red head after 25 years of life as a blonde, it's been real seeing life on either side of the hair-color fence. So, with my cultural anthropologist hat on, I've put together an abridged field report for you...

Read why being a redhead is like Marmite >

BEAUTY OP-ED | Sick of sick care? Join the army...

THOSE OF you who don't live in the US and aren't privvy to the wonder that is most expensive yet least efficient sick health care system IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD will have a hard time understanding this post.

Friends in Spain never were able to grasp the plot -- and this is the country of Almodovar, people -- of Denzel movie John Q about a health insurance company denying payment for an organ transplant (because that is what insurance companies do best in the US, deny claims until the patient pays up (or as it's call on the inside, "retire an account", for which employees are awarded).

My eye doctor cannot get health insurance (and he's a doctor serving the health care system... see the irony here?) because he once had a small tumor, since removed. No matter and no matter that he'd been clear for over a decade. Nope. He's blacklisted because something beyond his control had happened. Once.

Living in England, I never feared bankruptcy because of a medical emergency.

In the US, medical expenses are the NUMBER ONE reason for personal bankruptcy.

I read a lot about health, the healthcare industry and preventative medicine. Sadly, US *healthcare* (I am loathe to use that term) focuses almost zero energy on preventative care (where would the profits be in that?).

Do you want to know the surprising group that's starting to invest time and energy into preventative care?

The US Military.

On Monday Dr. Mercola (yes, a regular and unapologetic read) linked to this 132-page document from Military Medicine -- the journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States -- Total Force Fitness for the 21st Century: A New Paradigm.

Maybe the military couldn't afford their health insurance premiums anymore... nah, we kid, they actually get healthcare via the government, like many of the uneducated masses on Medicaid who oppose so-called socialist (read: goverment-led) Obamacare.

This Total Force Fitness seems pretty special because it DOESN'T recommend sundry treatments, surgeries and pills to take care of a health issue after you already have it. It recommends a lifestyle that will prevent those problems in the first place. I know, hardly believable, right? Although, when you think about it, the military needs healthy soldiers in the field (might we suggest getting rid of the fast food joints in places like Baghdad's green zone, then? The army's no place for a KFC-Taco Bell).

AMSUS (the American Medical Surgeons of the US) have even recommended things like Spiritual Fitness, a phrase that probably makes the C-suite at Big Pharma and United Healthcare alike dry heave into its trash bins.

Granted the document opens with an ominous statement about our state of sustained conflict and the mission to preserve the health of those in harm's way. BUT aren't most Americans in harm's way every time they visit the grocery store, eat at Olive Garden or sit through a daily 2-hour commute? There are plenty of people out there, including experts like Kelly Brownell, who believe so. If, of course, harm is considered to be bad health/obesity/diabetes et all caused by our jackass national lifestyle.

There really can be a takeaway if you can tuck away any misgivings you have about the military, much like a drag queen does her junk before a show.

And this isn't in any way meant to belittle the military forces' and their daily hardships. BUT we the laypeople at home have our own daily battle to wage (so maybe we are in a state of sustained conflict) against our ever-expanding waistlines and medical bills. Maybe it's time we got military about it?

[Official end of diatribe]

Image credit

Coz I've not been posting...

My Owl Barn is a.... wait for it... real hoot!

FEAST YOUR eyes on these treats from other blogs I like and read. And if you haven't yet, you need to check out the beauty fictionary. Need. To.

This bag is reaaaaaally big. So big, I bet she's hiding both the Olsen Twins in it.

Yodel le he hoo. Heidi rules.

Non-bullshit skincare from an MD.

Easiest cupcake recipe ever. 

Pantone really is ev-er-y-where.

Top 20 things this lady learned while living in Paris.

Le So Laque is my favourite of these steely gray varnishes.

Because it still feels like bloody winter where I live.

DIY you're own rock 'n' roll display plates.

BEAUTY OP-ED | The new beauty fictionary

 

WE HAVE the pithy British press to thank for many of these terms. Never short of a neologism to describe some new, hideous beauty habit or trend, they’ve introduced such gems at Trout Pout and 1661 over the years. In fact, Sunday Times Style used to publish a column named the latter some years ago (remember Christa D'Souza?!), so ahead of their time they are with all things aesthetic. Some of our entries in the beauty fictionary below are real (often hoisted from said inky pages of a Brit rag). Others, however, we just really wish would fall into common usage. Don't you? See if you can figure out which is which:

 

The New Beauty Fictionary

 

Fauxtox

A term used for products that are supposed to mimic the wrinkle-banishing effect of Botox, as in fake Botox. No such thing exists (the Botox molecule is too big to penetrate the skin's surface.)

Trout Pout

Lip injections or inserts that make you look like a trout -- and patently ridiculous (Katie Price, Sarah Harding, Brittany Murphy, Meg Ryan, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Simpson, nearly all WAGs, Jodie Marsh, Lindsay Blo-han, Brit Brit, Leslie Ash, Megan Fox... more people (you too Pete Burns) than I could ever think to list in a single blog post. 

Hangry

So hungry you end up getting angry (Geddit? Hungry + angry = hangry). Not a desirable state but one in which many modern women perpetually live.

Pillow Face

Also know as The New New Face. It’s the modern era’s answer to the face lift. Actresses, models, women with too much money plump cheeks, under eyes, lips, etc. to mimic the fuller face more common in one’s youth. Madonna et al.

1661

When a woman looks like she’s 16 from behind and 61 from the front. Highly confusing for randy teenage boys and creepy, old model chasers alike.

Pulling a Wildenstein

Having your face butchered so badly by plastic surgery/cosmetic injections you no longer resemble yourself... or any human being, for that matter. Hard to look at, like a solar eclipse.

Bingo Wings

The fleshy backside of the arm that waves, like a wing, when old ladies raise an arms and yell ‘BINGO’ in the bingo hall on a Friday night. Not the preserve of nans, bingo wing can be seen on any number of women/girls and increasingly men with un-toned arms.

A Monet

Someone who looks good at a distance and a mess up close.

The act of pursing one’s lips into a wannabe pout (duck bill) for photos because one believes it looks sexy. A visual blight on social networking sites. Definitively un-sexy.

Tango-ed

Being so fake tan that one looks orange, the color of Tango. Seemingly the default complexion colour of choice for far too many. Often paired with Duckface (see above) and a multitude of other beauty sins.

Bolt-ons

Bad breast implants that look as if they’ve been bolted onto one’s chest, like a flesh-toned coconut bra. A staple among all the Real Houswives and other reality TV stars. Common among WAGs and emaciated models too. 

Taxi Shoes

Heels so vertiginous they cause near paralysis when worn. The goal is to take as few steps as possible, usually from taxi door to table and back. Like Chinese foot bondage for the WAG set.

Glam-by-osmosis

A wo/man who thinks (falsely) that by hanging out with more fashionable, attractive, well-connected people s/he is, by osmosis, the same. Often named in paparazzi shots as 'friend' if at all. Markedly frumpier than those to which s/he clings.

Bunny Lines

When someone (like one famous flame-haired Aussie who swears she's never *cough, cough* had anything done) has so much Botox that the only expression lines their faces can form are on the sides of the nose, resembling bunny whiskers. Often paired with strained neck muscles when attempting a smile. It often looks like they're making a cutesy nose-scrunchy face. That is just them trying to smile in earnest without the muscles to do it. 

Frozen Face

The side effect of too much Botox, often seen with the above-mentioned Bunny Lines and results in a large, flat, shiny plane between frozen brows (see Kim Cattrall).

Bait-and-switch

In Hollywood, doing something radically different -- usually with hair colour or cut -- to distract from some sort of nip-and-tuck, injection, etc. that’s been done. See Sandra Bullock + bangs, Natalie Portman + shaved head, etc.

Spanx

The universal term (and brand name) for all girdle-style undergarments that suck in everything from legs to bum, tummy and even bingo wings. Hard to pee while wearing them and have the dual purpose of making overeating impossible and sucking in your already-empty stomach (or other wobbly bit) for maximum smoothness. [editor's note: I will live in these post-childbirth if I ever have kids, at least for the first six months.]

Plastic Fantastic

Someone who’s now more plastic than real. They often look okay, until you compare their Plastic Fantastic person to an image of the original. Think Kardashians (all), Kate Beckinsale, Liz Hurley, Megan Fox, Pamela Anderson et al.

Turkey Neck

When your neck skin starts to sag and wrinkle, like the waddle on a turkey.

Pulling a Brittany

Going crazy.

Extension Fatigue

When you chop off your hair because your perma-extensions are causing it to fall out. Often done under the ruse of becoming fashion forward/edgy. See Carey Mulligan, Brit Brit et al.

Detox Ditz

Girls who are so out-of-it because they’re detoxing or juice fasting so much that their brains don't function.

Cankles

Thick ankles that look as if your calves meet your feet without any ankle first. Very noticable when wearing flats.

Lollipop Head

When one's body is so emaciated their head that it actually looks like a big, round lollipop atop a stick.

Tweener

A term popularized by recent flop Hall Pass. It's when a girl/guy of average or below average appearance surrounds herself/himself by even less attractive people to appear hot thanks the company between (that's the key word) which s/he has sandwiched herself/himself.

Mips

Man hips, as in womanly, child-bearing hips on a man. Much more frequently seen nowadays. Not always seen with Moobs (man boobs), but when the latter happens, the former is usually present as well. These dudes should see the above entry for Spanx and look into a Bro (man bra).

Add your own terms in the comments section if you fancy it!

Originally published by Jessica Teas at the brilliant LOOKING GOOD, NO MATTER WHAT. It's a cracking read by a bevvy of international beauty writers (moi included), so check it out!

GIVE | The only Japan relief fashion item I'd ever buy

THE DAILY MAIL, in a bit of accidentally lucid writing, published a piece on all the new products being brough to market at break-neck speed to support Japan post-tsunami and earthquake. The accidentally lucid part? Revealing just how much PROFIT is being made in the effort. Shame on you Rebecca Minkoff. You and Rodarte are clearly drinking the same kool-aid.

Some are donating all proceeds from the bumpf they're selling, like Stephanie Giamatti. Good on her. Some of the commentators complain that places like Haiti are still in dire straights and why aren't there more things being brought to market for them. Um... earth to the hermits. 24-hour news cycle, sadly, means that if it's not absolutely novel it's not worth talking about because it doesn't make money. Tis the way it is. Japan is new although it's shocking how quickly it's fading from the headlines. However, Haiti, with regards to this post, is neither here nor there.

You can donate money directly to the relief effort as well: "Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation and support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific." It shows up on your next phone bill.

Here are my requirements to buy any of the bumpf in support the relief effort. It HAS to give 100% of the PROCEEDS (and we really mean it... no creative interpretation of the word 'proceeds' and skimming a bunch off for 'overhead' costs before sending a miniscule amount as your 'proceeds') to help Japan. It has to be something useful or that I'll wear (why buy junk that'll just clutter and pollute the earth). And it has to go to a charity I don't think wastes too much money on admin (a shocking 80%, on average, of the money donated to a charity goes to running it rather than being used for the purpose you think you're donating to).

So I love and will order Opening Ceremony's Red Cross Japan Tee. They say "100% of the profits made from the sale of this t-shirt go to the American Red Cross". Did you read that, Minkoff? They even link right to the Red Cross site in case you'd rather make a direct donation. 

Opening Ceremony Red Cross Japan Tee

BEAUTY OP-ED | Manscaping... the hairy elephant in the room

MEN OF the world, women appreciate a bit of grooming but….

Please, no manicured beards. I don’t want to wake up next to George Michael. No guyliner or hair shellacked into place. No back, sac and crack. No faux tan. No pec implants. I don’t want to be blinded by the white sheen of your teeth. Any man who cares that much is a full-on narcissist. As bad as any of the cast members of Jersey Shore. Or The Bachelor. Or Simon Cowell.

And, girls, a man like this is certainly going to fancy himself more than he ever fancies you.

And here’s the kicker.

Like Jersey Shore's The Situation (and that horrible ’situation’ he’s got going on from the neck up), they might not even be good looking.

Manscaping is inversely proportionate to, I think, a guy's redeeming qualities. The more he manscapes, the less he cares about anything but Numero Uno. A manscaping-obsessed bloke is an opportunistic feeder and you're his host until he can find a younger, slimmer version.

At least that's my theory.

Although, like I said, a bit of grooming's good. There's an ideal point in that inverse relationship where manscaping and a man's character cross, giving you men who care enough about both.

In fact, it's not just a point.

It's an entire shaded area on the graph between self-obsessed twat and furry teeth and toe jam.

But the drop-off into douchebag-dom after this shaded area is steep and fast once you start edging into the more manscaped end of that spectrum.

Not that this discounts un-manscaped men from being d*cks, which can happen too. And lest our male friends get angry that we're unfairly targeting them, this is a post about BOYS not girls. The subject of over-groomed girls and the correlation with navel-gazing could fill a set of encyclopedias. That, however, is neither here nor there right now... so let's move on.

If you’re worried that your man is too manscaped, check his habits against our handy list of danger signs (if their fug of cologne isn’t enough signal enough):

How To Tell If You’re Dating A Modern-Day Narcissus

  1. He gets highlights
  2. He has more products in the bathroom than you
  3. He compliments his reflection more than he compliments you
  4. He has a lifetime membership to the tanning (spray or non-) salon
  5. He has custom teeth whitening trays
  6. He spends more time working out than working
  7. He’s on a first name-basis with a waxer
  8. He stares at himself in every reflective surface he passes
  9. He gets angry when you use his products
  10. He wears white year round to highlight his tan

Read my full post on the merits and minuses of manscaping on LOOKING GOOD, NO MATTER WHAT.

FAVOURITE | New forever beauty products in 2010

 

PLENTY OF people in the beauty world don't have forever beauty products. Why would we when a huge chunk of the job is trying everything out that comes to market?

Rarely have I bought something over and over again. If ever. Honestly, whether they'll tell you or not, the beauty folk often call in what they use or if they're so backlogged with reviewing stuff (ahem, my default state), then they beg off new products, already so mired in countless products they have to use.

Usually, I use whatever's on hand, whatever I am trialing that day/week/month. Maybe it's not like that in real life. I guess there's some sense of brand loyalty but it's hard to develop a taste for one thing when you've got 20 on the docket to try.

Here are a few from 2010 for which I'll be happy to plunk down cash when they run low or wear out.

 

Alpha-H

I'm all over this brand like white on rice. In 2010, Glyolic Acid has changed my 30-something skin for the better. The range is described as Glycolic based Anti-Ageing. They should add acne-fighting and Rosacea-styming to that description too. Gorgeous stuff. The Essential Hydrating Cream, Liquid Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum and the Daily Essential Moisturiser all get my humble blogger stamp of approval. Particularly the first two... packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin E,  Glycolic 14%, Niacinamide, Licorice Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5...  

 

Hourglass Femme Rouge

I rocked this shiz on the Vail ski slopes over the Christmas holiday in the brilliant berry Nocturnal. Why not? It was moisturising, stayed on, has rich pigment, the tube's refillable, it's got none of the nasties that are found in many lipsticks and, well, I was in the mood for a bit of glamour wherever I could find it as I didn't have the full ski bunny outfit. Instead, I wore my mother-in-law's 1970s ski pants that were almost a foot too short, a second-hand pastel camo coat from my sister and a helmet. If it can withstand the weather and wear of skiing and make anyone dressed as mad as I was feel glamorous, it's a keeper.

 

L'Occitane Peony Lip and Cheek Water

Has cut down my every day routine by a huge chunk of time. Swipe a bit onto my cheeks after I put on my RMS un-Cover Up in 22, once across the lips before blotting it with a finger, wiggle some mascara into my eyelashes or pile a bit of bright lipstick on the stain that's created a nice base and I'm good to go. It's super light, easy to blend before it sets (unlike many lip and cheek stains), has a natural, lovely peachy-pink colour and -- the real kicker -- makes me actually look like a refreshed, younger version of myself.

 

Alexa Rudolfo Bois Nu Candle

Just take the lid off and your entire house smells amazing. Light the sucker and it'll last for hours. Clean burning, long burn time, beautiful (and re-usable) glass containers with gorgeously heavy lids. I have two in a small one bedroom place and that's all I need. The scent is slightly musky but not overbearing. It smells expensive.

Oral-B Professional Care SmartSeries 5000 Electric Toothbrush

This one has taken some getting used to. As in, I can't mindlessly run it across my teeth for a few seconds before going to bed. You have to individually brush each tooth with the round, rotating brush head, like the dental hygenist does. The rubbery nubs and bristles are seriously whitening too and there's a timer so you know when you've done two minutes. My smiles loads brighter than it was before and my dentist is so much happier to see me than he was at the end of 2009. 

[Can't find a pick of the brush online. Boo.]

Babyliss Hair Brush

I still have to cut knots out of my hair. True story. It gets so tangled and matted during the winter when I have a scarf or collar rubbing against it all day. Often times I would just tuck it under on itself and leave it, like a giant dreadlock, until warm days. Conditioner was no match for it and even my favourite brush -- the one I've had for EIGHT years, my Marilyn -- couldn't make any but a superficial difference. Enter the Babyliss brush... a combo of boar bristles and spikey plastic ones that massage my scalp and instantly fix my mop. I dragged it through  my hair and had tamed the previously un-tamable mess in less than 30 seconds. My hard has been looking sleek since (also thanks in part to at Vidal Sassoon). I'm still trying to find a voltage converter to use my Root Boost, but I bet it would have made the 2010 list if I could've used it.

2010 REVIEW | Products deleted from my beauty bag in 2010

 

BENEFIT MASCARAS

All of them. They just dry up and flake way too quickly nowadays and they are a bastard to get off the lashes at night. How can something that feels so dry (and flake so much) when on my eyelashes, feel as sticky and sludgy as the inside of an old oil drum when I try to remove it? Did you re-formulate, Benefit, or have I just fallen victim to the lower standards of production endemic to cosmetic products made for the US market?

Fail.

 

NON-ORGANIC SHAMPOO

They'll give you mad suds but if you dye your hair ginger like me, those suds rinse away your expensive hair color in just a few washes, having a double whammy negative impact on both your wallet's girth and the water table. In fact, I'm just washing it less full stop, because it prolongs my hair colour, washes fewer chemicals down the drain and makes my limp mop easier to style.

 

PEDICURES AT ANY OLD SALON

In America, nail salons are everywhere, like banks in Paris and Tesco metro in the UK. And thusly manicures and pedicures come cheap, quick and regularly. They're almost a national right, like elastic-waist pants and an SUV.

There's a reason everyone gets them in the US.

But you know what? You get what you pay for.

In this instance? A mean case of toenail funk due to the unhygienic foot baths at one such run-of-the-mill nail farm. Not visible to the naked eye, rest assured that even the spiffiest of foot baths can harbour nasties.

It doesn't help matters that the same sodding salon that gifted me my fungal buddy also employed reusable and clearly already once reused tools on the sore-covered, scaly, purple-red-blue-green-yellow, puffy, oozing, cracked, bruised and more-words-than-I-have-in-my-vocabulary legs, feet and nails (thick, curdled yellow and far longer than the ends of her calloused toes) of a woman with a suspicious odor who came in and sat directly next to me. I actually got the dry heaves and started to feel faint when I accidentally looked down at her feet and calves.

Know what else?

I didn't see the technician sanitize the tools before or AFTER working on this woman. I pity the technician who took on the job without even donning a paper face mask, BUT I pity the next woman to occupy that seat and unwittingly befall the fung-tastic fate that awaits her while she quietly reads US Weekly and hands over a cool $25 for the pleasure.

You think it could never happen to you... until it does.

Since it's cheaper than a drink at Starbucks, it becomes a volume game. They take all comers and keep butts in the seats.

From now on, I just say no to casual pedicures and will be practicing safe pedicures from herein out. 

 

BLUSH

If you have cheeks like mine, it's hard not to look clownish without an expert hand applying this stuff. And by cheeks like mine, I mean puffy. My husband once -- glowing as he thought he was paying me a compliment -- told me I looked like... I can barely say it... Rene. Zellweger.

Thems fightin' words.

At least he didn't say Bridget Jones.

 

LIQUID EYELINER

Until the morning I wake up without a hooded eyelid sagging over my right lash line, this stuff just has to go. It smears with every blink, making me look like I'm an extra from Leaving Las Vegas, or at least my right eye is.

 

ELNETT HAIRSPRAY

I've been faithful to Elnett for years because it holds everything in place so well but lets the hair move, helping women the world over avoiding helmet hair. But I just. can't. take. it. anymore.

The smell is nauseating.

I get queasy every time I spray it. And, like Charlie Brown's Pig Pen, a cloud of the granny-scented stuff follows you wherever you go, once applied, no matter how many hours have lapsed. Elevators are an asphyxiated disaster. Ever time I've gotten into a car with Elnett on my hair, I have to roll down the window and pop my head out, like a dog sniffing the air.

That's no way to live.

It's odorific and horribly so. Elnett, I love you but I'm leaving.

 

GUILT

Us ladies are always so sorry for everything or feeling bad about everything, particularly in America. If I see one more advertisement, food network show -- WHATEVER -- that says 'eat BLANK guilt free' I will bitch slap them with my cast iron frying pan.

Why, women?? WHY?

Why would you EVER feel guilty about eating a piece of bloody chocolate?

Eat it and enjoy it. Or you'll just keep eating more because you don't enjoy it, feel guilty and then comfort eat to stop that gnawing feeling. Detect a pattern here, Watson?

Stop feeling guilty about not going to the gym enough, holding onto those last ten pounds, wearing makeup that's a bit out of the ordinary, spending money on a facial. Seriously. Enough with the puritancial guilt-ridden existence.

It's. So. Bloody. Boring.

I've done away with said guilt over the past few years (not easy), really hitting my stride in 2010, and am happy to leave that burden in my dust.

If you really must live life always feeling so guilty about everything, at least do something to deserve the guilt for chrissake.

FAVOURITE | places of 2010

WE'LL BYPASS the intro on this one. You know the drill by now:

Vail, Colorado - Who knew skiing and all the hoopla around it was so much fun? Erm,  millions. I found out in December 2010 what a friggin' blast the whole ski thing and corresponding culture is. Plus, Vail and the surrounding area are breathtaking. Why winter in a frozen, hideous tundra (Chicago, Minneapolis) when you could do it on two planks of speedy goodness down the side of a snow-covered enchanted mountain? Followed by a hot tub soak, walk, apres ski drinks or any other number of fun things?

Hamburg, Germany - Sweet city with a central park that's packed with former Yugoslavs playing petanque even in a snow storm. Wander around and you'll stumble upon design studios that peer right out to the street on even the most residential thoroughways, wonderful beer halls, tiny cafes, coffee houses, hilly green spaces. I like it. A lot.

Blackheath, London - Live in London your whole life and you'll probably never see 80% of it. True story. I stayed with the wonderful BritishBeautyBlogger on Black Heath in October and the sweet village center was like Highgate Village, my former home... only better. Would move there with a young family in a heartbeat.

Savannah, Georgia, USA - Do everything from swill pina coladas poolside in a local's backyard while perusing the wares on offer at their Saturday morning garage sale to kayak with Dolphins in the Moon River. The old houses, Spanish moss and lazy pace of life are really attractive to anyone who lives a 24/7 life.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA - Actually, it's just outside of Santa Fe that's best, specifically Ten Thousand Waves Spa and the Santa Fe State Park area. Japanese-style spa with accomodations in the same manner. Get up early for a soak before hiking up a peak just a mile down the road. Peaceful and removed from the super-touristy center of the town.

Vermont, USA - The US's best-kept secret, in my mind. Although the state can call everyone from the late Rudyard Kipling to Tata Harper residents. Still pretty wild and country, the towns are adorable, there's loads to do. Nature's almost totally unadulterated, even in the capital. Wonderful year round and most glorious during Leaf Peeping season in the fall. The majority of the state residents are transplants from elsewhere because it's just that alluring. 

Reykjavik (Keflavik) Airport - Probably the grooviest airport in the world. The cafe in the terminal is cooler and more stylish than any coffee shop I've come across in America and, well, probably the UK. And everything's more design-led too. There's even a shop dedicated to just design. Plus, the Icelandic woven wares on sale are hard to pass up. I would happily pass a multi-hour layover here over virtually all other airports.