Friday, February 3, 2012

Birthdays, Lists, and Dolphins.

Last year at this time, I was closing in on forty. It felt like a big deal. It felt…kinda crappy, actually. Forty’s one of those “milestone” birthdays that you think about when you’re younger and imagine the kind of person you’ll be. (Spoiler alert for you younger folks: you’ll be EXACTLY THE SAME PERSON, but hopefully with better fashion sense and a lowered tolerance for bullshit.)

What wasn’t helping me feel better about reaching this so-called milestone were the “things to have done by the time you’re 21/25/30/40” checklists and the ever-popular “bucket lists.” (God, I hate that phrase. I don’t like the word bucket for starters, and it seems either weirdly arrogant; like you have any say in when you’re going to die, or profoundly sad; like you’re a kid in the Make-A-Wish Foundation program.)

Anyway! A year has gone by since then, and it turned out that forty wasn’t such a big deal after all. I’m still awesome, and I’m still stumbling around with no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time. Business as usual.

I'm really sorry you had to see this. Also, it's not true.

So I say we dispense with those other lifelong-to-do lists entirely. All they do is make you feel bad for whatever supposedly important/magical things you haven’t achieved yet:
  • “Have a substantial nest egg.” Oh shit, I must be a terrible person to not have a pile of money at my age.
  • “Swim with dolphins.” Um, okay, but I think I’d rather just leave them alone.
  • “Have a one-night stand?” ONE!? Is this even a thing?
  • “Ride a rollercoaster." Who gives a shit?
  • “Buy a Birkin/Rolex/diamond ring/pair of Manolos.” Oh, go piss up a rope.
"God, get off me, bitch!"

Rather than chart what other people should do by the time they’re any age, I suggest you look at your birthday this year as an opportunity to look back over all the great and interesting things you’ve accomplished in your life so far. It’s infinitely more random and rewarding. One size does not fit all (especially when it comes to swimming with dolphins), so write down your own unique and amazing story.

Here’s mine. It only took a few minutes. I’m sure there are loads of wonderful things I forgot to include, but maybe I’ll remember them next year.

Things I’ve done by 41
  • Forgot most of everything that seemed like a huge deal in high school
  • Got married
  • Had a kid who turned out just swell
  • Got divorced
  • Buried a parent
  • Got married again
  • Went on welfare
  • Got off welfare
  • Sowed my wild oats
  • Ran a small business
  • Ran that business into the ground
  • Went back to shcool
  • Figured out my “dream job”
  • Figured out that my “dream job” is actually the hardest job of all
  • Amassed an impressive collection of abdominal scars
  • Still wear a bikini
  • Learned how to cook some nice things
  • Set a kitchen on fire
  • Made some terrifically, jaw-droppingly ill-advised decisions
  • Gave my heart away to people who didn’t deserve it
  • Got it back again
  • Felt the depths of depression and despair
  • Went into therapy
  • Caught a fish and ate it
  • Wrote and published two books
  • Watched a beloved friend give birth
  • Discovered I know things that people want to learn
  • Started sharing those things
  • Lived half my life with a weird autoimmune disorder and never (okay, hardly ever) let it stop it from doing anything awesome
  • Learned to appreciate scotch
  • Learned to apply false eyelashes
  • Spent two weeks in relative solitude and didn’t go crazy
  • Got comfortable with the idea that I don’t know everything, won’t ever know everything, and that other people might not feel exactly the way I do about everything
  • Laughed loudly and often
  • Loved my friends and my family more than I could ever tell them
  • Realized how much they love me back
  • Began to realize I deserve it. 
So...what's on your list?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Shopping Enabler Strikes Again

The only thing better than picking out cosmetics is helping someone else do it (seriously, I'm that weird lady at the drugstore who tries to help you even though I don't work there). So imagine my delight when my pal Alyssa asked me to go makeup shopping with her! She was ready for a new look and needed some help. As a gal who hasn’t worn a lot of makeup in the past, she was facing the usual challenges:
  • A makeup bag with a few old and unsuitable products
  • Unsure what colours or formulas worked best for her skin
  • Option-paralysis caused by insane amount of makeup out there. 

I asked her a few key questions to help plan our trip. These are good starting points for anyone who’s ready to embark on a makeup overhaul.
  •      What’s your budget?
  •      How much time do you want to spend putting on your “face”?
  •     Are you aiming for a day-to-day look, or something fancier?
  •     What are your favourite things about your face? What are you slightly less in love with, or feel is an area you’d like to downplay?
  •      Any other concerns/issues? (e.g., allergies, animal testing, etc)

The answers to these questions will immediately help to narrow your focus and make shopping easier. Under the “other concerns” category, because Alyssa is an environmentally conscious gal (with a sweet baby who likes to nibble on his mama’s face), she wanted to choose products that were as natural and toxin-free as possible.

Armed with our plan, we met up after work to hit the Sephora and the Shoppers Drug Mart.
Let's DO this thing!

Here’s what we came away with:

Now that's how we fill a bag.

For those of you who are scared of Sephora, I want to tell you—don’t be! We rounded up the products we wanted to try, then sat down with a Sephora Colour Expert (aka, nice guy who works there and wears a toolbelt filled with brushes). He tried all the products on Alyssa, making sure the colours were the right ones for her, and showing her how to apply everything. This way, she got to try a couple things she wasn’t sure about and see the makeup “in action” before buying. The staff are there to help, so don’t be shy! (I think I’ll do a post soon about how to be brave at the makeup counter...)

These people have been sent from the future to help you.

Then we popped over to the drugstore (because there’s no reason to spend thirty bucks on mascara, truly!) and purchased:
  •  Maybelline Define-a-Lash Mascara in Brownish Black (A good basic mascara that gives definition and length while still keeping the look natural. Another good choice is L’Oreal’s original Voluminous mascara.)
  •  Maybelline Define-a-Brow brow pencil in Dark Blonde (My favourite brow pencil EVER at any price—soft enough to blend, but firm enough to stay where you put it.)

What it all adds up to is a ten-minute routine that brings out all of Alyssa’s natural beauty, but still lets her look like herself. And a couple of weeks later, she reports that everything is going well—she’s using and loving her new makeup, and is getting lots of compliments. She also says she might be ready to try adding another eyeshadow colour…so my evil plan to turn everyone into a makeup monster is working! Mwah-ha-ha!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, Same Old You!

I guess that’s kind of a crabby title, but I’ve got to tell you: I fucking HATE January. I hate that Christmas is over, and I don’t get to drink Bailey’s for breakfast. I hate the darkness and that there’s nothing to look forward to for the rest of the month but bills. I hate that every time I turn around, there’s a new diet/exercise/makeover program that’s going to “change our lives forever” even though we know that’s usually a load of old cobblers.
So, as you can imagine, I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions! But the one thing I do know is that if you’re going to make any, they damn well had better be easy and fun. So here’s one amazing thing you can do for yourself and your looks this year that takes almost no time at all and feels so good:


As a girl who’s had a nightly face-washing routine since the age of twelve, even telling you this seems silly. But I’ve talked with women of all ages and discovered that many of us have a less-than-diligent approach to taking off our makeup and giving our skins a good scrubbing before bed. And to that I say: EW! You don’t want to end up like this, do you?

(The Girl Who Didn't Wash her Face starts at 0:45, and I am an embedding idiot.)

 This year, resolve to wash your face every single night. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you’re tired/drunk. Even if you didn’t wear any makeup that day. Because there is NOTHING you can do for your face that will pay off more than cleaning it. If you retire with makeup and/or dirt on your skin, you’re just rubbing it in for all those hours on your pillow. Then you get your pillowslip all grimy to rub your face on the next night. Again, say it with me, now: EW!
Also, if you’re not cleansing before bedtime, changes are you’re not applying any moisturizers or serums or lovely little creams either, and that’s a crying shame. Nighttime is when these products can do their best work, ensuring that you wake up looking fresh and well-rested. This is best time for anti-agers, for exfoliants, for acne treatments….whatever special care your skin needs.
Make nightly face-washing a non-negotiable part of your routine, like brushing and flossing your teeth. Also, did I mention that it’s fun? You get to pick whatever kind of cleanser you want: creamy, or foamy, or watery, or even just one of those wipey things. Trust me, once you’re started, it will seem beyond gross NOT to do it.

Of course I have to get all over-the-top and use that most revered of beauty appliances, the Clarisonic. It’s like a sonic toothbrush for your FACE. I’ve had mine for nearly a year now, and I love it. My skin has never looked better. I used to get little bumps and things, but those have almost entirely vanished since I converted to the Clarisonic Cult.

But you don’t have to use a crazy-lady $200 machine to wash your face—lower-maintenance options abound. And I’d advise you not to spend the earth on your face wash. It’s all going down the drain anyway, so fancy ingredients aren’t that important. You want something that cleans gently—some folks treat their faces like they’re refinishing an old dresser. Less is more here!

This is my current favourite cleanser. It’s very gentle, removes makeup well (although I still use a separate eye makeup remover for the heavy duty stuff), and leaves me feeling moisturized, but not goopy. (And it plays very nicely with the Clarisonic…)

If you’ve got oiler skin and/or wear lots of makeup, this is a good option
 And if you’re really lazy, or frequently stagger home at dawn and collapse into bed, then the ultimate cheater-method are these cleansing wipes. You can splash with water afterwards, or just keep a packet of them on your nightstand. They’re handy for the gym or travel too.

And there you have it. You’re a better, cleaner person already! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

One of my goals this year is to be more regular with the blogging. I’ve grouped all my resolutions under the umbrella of “do more things that make you happy”, and since this is one of them, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
A lot of folks post “best of the year” lists, and I guess that’s sort of what this is, but I didn’t think on it too deeply, or rummage around in my makeup drawers to pick out favourites. Let’s just call it:

Stuff I Loved in 2011

Favourite celebrity makeup: Rachel McAdams at Cannes
I like edgy glamour as much as the next gal, but when it comes to unabashed pretty-in-pink gorgeousness, no one did it better than Ms. McAdams. This is a delightful, girlish look that I just adore.

Favourite makeup artist blog: Lisa Eldridge
Her video tutorials cover everything from the absolute basics to the fanciest high-fashion looks, in a grown-up and professional presentation. She’s just so approachable and warm—not to mention blessed with a beautiful face and a voice to match!

Favourite inspiring fashion blog for “normal” people: Wendy’s Lookbook
There are a shitload of websites by and for “fashion people.” But most of us aren’t that magic combination of rich/tall/skinny/connected/willing to dress like a rodeo clown. I love the coolness that’s on display, but there are many women who just want to look more stylish and pulled-together in an elegant way.
Wendy is the gal who provides that inspiration. Yes, she is most definitely investing some serious cash on her look, but she buys timeless, quality pieces. And there’s nothing you couldn’t copy for less. And she’s always finding great new ways to present information on the basics of fashion: her super-cute and useful 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes video made the facebook rounds a while back, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

Favourite fashion blog when one fears growing older: Advanced Style
Women of a “certain age” looking chic and fabulous. Proof positive that great personal style knows no age—in fact, these senior citizens pull off some wildly adventurous fashion risks that younger folks can only envy.

Favourite fashion film: Bill Cunningham New York
Speaking of older folks, this wonderful film (which I posted about earlier this year) is the story of that most elusive and reclusive of street style photographers, Bill Cunningham. It’s a fashion feast, for sure, but it’s also a film that explores aging, work, and integrity. I get misty just thinking about it—it’s a must-see!

Favourite fashion book of the year: Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas
This isn’t a glossy coffee-table fashion book, but it is one of the best-researched and well-written books on the fashion industry I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It moves along at a thriller’s pace, and is packed with information on the luxury-goods world with an eye to history, culture, globalization, and consumerism. Whether you think a Louis Vuitton handbag is an object of desire or a symbol of corporate evil, you’re in for a compulsively good read.

Favourite rallying cry to take pride in one’s appearance in 2012: The “No Excuses” post over at The Bitches of Fashion
Just read it! You don’t have to wear a ball gown to the laundromat, but taking the time to dress well reaps benefits you can’t even imagine. It’s got nothing to do with your dress size/income/job/personal values and beliefs—every single one of us can take pride in who we are, and take pleasure in expressing that identity through our clothing and grooming.

So here’s to you looking fantastic in 2012!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

I’m packing to leave town for nearly six weeks, and I am feeling the stress of whittling down my makeup and skin care to a manageable, portable level. I tried to write a post about it, but it was incredibly boring and harshing my mellow.

So, let’s talk about lip stains instead! These marker-type lip products are everywhere lately, and they can be great for a lot of reasons. If you’re not into reapplying lipstick (or not a big fan of lipstick in general), stains can give you a nice boost of colour without feeling like you’re wearing anything. And they last quite a while too, so they’re great for an afternoon or evening when you don’t feel like checking to see how your lippie’s holding up. My absolute fave use is to apply one as a base colour—whatever lipstick/liner/gloss you put over top will have that much more intensity and staying power.

I’ve tried lots of lip stains over the past few months, many of them from the drugstore brands. I’ve tried a few higher-end ones in the past, and was unimpressed to the point that I stopped wasting my money. At least if I’m going to be disappointed, I want to be disappointed to the tune of six to ten bucks, not eighteen to thirty, y’know?

A word of warning about lip stains: putting these on cracked, dry, and flaking lips is like trying to repaint a wall that’s peeling. You need to start with a relatively smooth surface, or risk looking like a dehydrated street urchin. Exfoliate your lips with a product for that purpose, or just use a washcloth or old soft toothbrush, then apply a non-greasy lip balm and let it sink in for a few minutes.

The original (and tastiest!) lipstain...

Cover Girl Outlast Lipstain
Colours purchased: Everbloom Kiss and Wildberry Wink

I think these were the first drugstore lipstains I purchased in my frenzy, and they’re…okay. I don’t find the wear-time on these to be that great, but in their favour, they haven’t dried out, they apply relatively smoothly, and the colour selection is nice. I’m placing these in the middle of the pack (which is where I place most Cover Girl products … except for those new NatureLuxe gloss balms—those things are awesome.)

Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm
Colour purchased: Passion

This seemed like a good idea: lipstains can be on the dry side, so why not include a nice balm to apply over top? So we’ve got the stain-pen-thing on one end and the balm on the other. Some reviewers complained that the balm doesn’t twist up—it’s fully exposed under its plastic cap and can break off easily. At the time, I thought, god, learn how to operate a lip balm, why dontcha? And then mine broke off, and I wasn’t so smug anymore. Seriously, this is a great idea rendered COMPLETELY USELESS by what comedian Ben Elton called “The Ministry of Crap Design.” I can’t even remember what the stain was like. I think it was a little pale and dry for my liking, but I can’t confirm, since I chucked it away in anger.

Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstain
Colour purchased: In The Buff

This lipstain has the lowest colour payoff of all the ones I own, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did buy the lightest shade on offer, since I was looking for a nice base for nude lip looks. I use it pretty often, but it’s definitely dried out after a couple of months. These products aren’t like lipsticks in the sense that you can observe how much of the product remains. They just run out of juice, like an actual marker. (Another reason not to spend too much—you’re getting nowhere near the amount of product that you would with a traditional lipstick or gloss.)
On a fun note, this lip marker smells kinda like fruit punch. On a less-fun note, it has a tendency to shed some fibres from the marker tip when applying. I’d chalk it up to getting old (the marker, not me), but I remember it doing this even when it was new.

Lise Watier Hydra Shine Lip Stain
Colour purchased: Cerise

Hydra Shines go for about 20 bucks each, making them the highest-priced of my current lip-marker arsenal. I’m seldom disappointed with Lise Watier products—I think it’s one of the most overlooked and underrated brands out there. But I understand why—they kind of disappear at the drugstore, lost between the really high-end stuff and the cheap and cheerful. Anyway, when I saw Cerise, I had to have it—it was one of the brightest lipstains I’d seen.
Overall, I like it a lot. The colour is bold and applies evenly. It feels quite wet going on, but it doesn’t migrate much into any fines lines around my lips—and given the brightness of the shade, that’s impressive. The wear time is good. There’s no sign of it drying out so far, and it feels almost nice enough to wear alone. (The name “Hydra Shine” is a bit misleading, since it imparts neither hydration nor shine, but it is probably the least drying of all of them). If you’re looking for a solid buy at this price point, Lise is your gal.

NYC NewYorkColor Smooch Proof 16HR Lip Stain
Colour Purchased: Rock On Ruby

You know I always save my favourite for last, don’t you? I’d read some favourable reviews of these stains, and when I found them (they’re available at some London Drugs stores, Zellers, and Rexall), I grabbed one. I think I spent just over five dollars, making NYC the cheapest of the bunch. But you wouldn’t know that to use it. This is a bright and delectable “summer red” with good staying power and smooth application. The best part for me though is how evenly the product wears off. I don’t get anywhere near the 16-hour mark with this, but after several hours, I simply end up with a lighter version of what I originally applied. No patchiness, no “ring around the lips.” I will most definitely be picking up another one of these, and reviewing more products from this line in the weeks ahead. (Spoiler alert—I’ll be sharing some AMAZING blushes and eyeshadows from this line that cost less than a decent cappuccino.)

If there’s a great (or terrible!) lip stain out there that I’ve missed, tell me about it! Happy smooching…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eye Creams and Magical Thinking

“The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh Ralphy, you know: there are mornings when I wake up and it’s clear that I not only had one hell of a good time the night before, but over the last few lifetimes. If my eyes are any indication, my soul is most definitely antiquated.

I’ve had a couple requests to recommend products for the eye area, and there are few beauty products on which ladies hang more hope than eye creams. We know that lipstick isn’t going to change our lives, and we maintain a kind of cautious optimism about most skincare preparations, but when it comes to eyes, we’re willing to believe just about anything in our quest to firm, tighten, de-puff, brighten, or otherwise improve that tiny bit of real estate around our peepers. Cosmetic companies know this and exploit it. They use marketing words that aren’t words at all (usually some play on “botox”), make scientific promises that are about as far away from actual science as a thing can get, tell us a product is made with something wonderful and then give us the merest “fairy dusting” in the actual ingredients list—and charge us all top dollar for believing their gross misrepresentations.

My number one recommendation then, is simple: manage your expectations. No matter what the packaging or advertising suggests, a topically applied product isn’t going to completely counteract your genetics and undo the effects of time and gravity. If such a product existed, forget my eyes—I’d be rubbing it on my tits. Realistically, with a good formula, you can hope for a slightly more even skintone, a small reduction in lines and wrinkles along with a smoother and softer feeling, perhaps a temporary tightening of the skin around the eyes, and a delay in the accumulation of further damage.

Paula Begoun, with whom I don’t always agree (but I love her website and respect her research), posits that we don’t need an eye cream at all. If a product is well-formulated, she reasons, why wouldn’t you be able to use it around the eyes? She maintains the area is not more sensitive or in “need of special care”. However, my eyeballs are about as delicate as can be, so products that work great on my face (such as SPFs, retinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) would turn me into a weepy Tammy-Faye Baker mess. But if you like your regular face creams, give it a try—you might save some money, which you can then use to buy me a beer!

While we’re talking about Paula, I suggest you read some of her information about useful cosmetic ingredients. Knowing what to look for—and what to avoid—has been really helpful for me. Many of us read our food ingredients obsessively but have no idea what we’re putting on our skin, so taking a few minutes to find out what some of that stuff actually is, and what it does, can save you lots of money and trial and error in the long run.

Speaking of saving your money: I’d like to caution you against the latest trend in eye creams, which are those pen-like products with the roller-balls or the fancy metal applicators. I haven’t had much success with these, although I’ve only tried a few. Some of them contain film-forming agents that can temporarily tighten skin, or in my case, make my eyes water and burn, thereby defeating its purpose and making me look puffier, or they contain ingredients that “cool” the skin. Problem is, these things are usually irritants, like peppermint and menthol, or they contain a lot of alcohol, which does feel cool and delicious—too bad that sensation is the alcohol evaporating and pulling your skin’s moisture out with it. Dryness and irritation are the opposite of what most of us are going for. So, if you really want that cool feeling, buy quality products and store them in the refrigerator.

Other things you can do to improve your eyes:

Protect your eyes from the sun. Put yer sunglasses on, and try an eye cream with a sunscreen if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s crazy how few eye creams contain sun protection, but Elizabeth Arden makes a great one.

Clean your face properly. Sleeping in your makeup is not doing you any favours. If you’re looking for a good eye cream, and you’re not even washing your face at night, GIRL, what is your problem?

Stop rubbing your eyes. Yanking on your skin to apply or remove makeup might not seem like a big deal, but if you do it every day, it’s gonna add up—especially if you also rub your eyes when you’re tired or itchy. Quit it.

Eat fat. My optometrist told me this, so consider it legit. I have very dry and irritated eyes, and my eye doc says it’s because there’s not enough FAT in my TEARS. That seems like such a supermodel problem that I kind of love it. But for real: make sure you’re getting enough healthy fat in your diet: the good stuff like fish oil, nuts, avocado…

Be virtuous. I know, I hate this one too, but getting adequate sleep, drinking lots of water, and watching your intake of booze and salt can really help cut down on the under-eye bags and general bedraggled appearance. My mother, rest her soul, used to describe my morning-after eyes as “two piss-holes in the snow.” Yeah, she was a real treat.

The old “spoon trick”. Everyone knows about the DIY eye “masks”: cucumber slices, or tea bags, or those gel masques from the drugstore, but who has the time or inclination to actually do any of that shit? Here’s my thirty-second solution: keep two teaspoons in your freezer all the time. When you’re getting ready to go out or you need a little pick-me-up, pull those spoons out, wave ‘em around for a second or two so you don’t stick to them, and then just gently press the spoons around your eye sockets. So cool! So refreshing! Seriously, it works. Cuts down on puffiness and redness and feels almost as good as a nap. I can’t use most eye drops, so this trick really makes a difference.

So, you’re thinking, what eye cream does this bitch use? Well, I try different ones, but right now I’m loving my ROC Complete Lift eye cream (but the Canadian version is in a jar, not a tube as the site shows). Yes, it promises all the things I told you not to believe: firming, tightening, depuffing, and so on. What it actually does is feels nice, doesn’t pill or glom up when I put makeup over it, and has yet to give me any sensitivity. Lowered expectations for the win!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Beauty Must-Haves!

This post is more about wishful thinking than anything, since it’s now the end of June and we’ve had maybe two decent days in Vancouver so far. Worst Summer Ever! Anyway, sometime later in August, I’ll get to go to a proper part of Canada where the temperature climbs to a deliciously sticky 32 degrees and then I’ll need all of these awesome summer beauty treats!

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil
I bought myself a little bottle of this last year and am almost due for a new one. This is truly one of those all-in-one products, and a few drops goes a long way. It’s an after-shower moisturizer, a bath oil, a cuticle oil, a hair treatment...I’ve used it to remove eye makeup and applied it to freshly shaved underarms without incident—-and that’s really saying something. Also, it’s French and comes in a totally impractical but super-chic-looking glass bottle. This also comes in a version with gold shimmer, which is fabulous, but does limit its versatility somewhat. You know it fucking kills me to say that, because Mama loves her sparkles.

Lotion with sunscreen
I’m not one of those paranoiacs who carries an umbrella in July, but I also don’t want to get a sunburn. I always carry a lip balm with sunscreen in my arsenal, but sometimes it’s not enough. Having a tube of Lubriderm SPF 15 lotion in your bag can save you on those days when the sun comes out unexpectedly, or you end up sitting on a patio drinking all afternoon. It’s light enough that you can put a bit on your face in a pinch, but rich enough that you can use it as your summer hand lotion. You also get to play the hero and help out the men in your life, who never bother to think about sunscreen until AFTER they get a burn and then ask you for some like it’s a magical time machine that undoes sun damage. Sigh.

Lightweight Foot Refreshment
Everyone makes a peppermint foot lotion, but if it smells and feels as goopy as toothpaste, I’m not interested. I want something that sinks in quickly and won’t leave me sliding around in my shoes like I just buttered my feet. I have two go-to products for this, both from brands I don’t ordinarily purchase.

Mary Kay Mint Bliss Energizing Lotion for Feet and Legs
I love that this product even says you can apply it through hosiery. I always envision tired ladies at the bank rubbing this into their stocking-clad legs during their lunch breaks. It’s that light and fresh.

Arbonne SeaSource Detox Spa Renewing Body Gelee
This product has a smell more “green” than minty, and it’s actually meant to be used as a muscle rub or spa treatment that you wash off. I’ve had great success using as a lightweight foot and leg cream though, or as a super-silky body lotion on those days that you feel hot again thirty seconds after you get out of the shower. A word of caution: wash your hands after applying. You do not want to get this stuff in your eyes or on a mucus membrane. Ahem.

Caudalie Grape Water To Go
If you’ve ever wondered: who are those weirdoes who buy a spray can of water, then look no further. I’ve used Evian and Vichy in the past, but this one is my new favourite. Not only does it provide the finest mist of all of them, but it’s also made from GRAPE WATER. It’s like French wine—for your face! It’s a wonderful pick me up on sweltering days. A spritz on the back of your neck seems to lower your core temperature immediately. Keep a travel size in your bag, and a full-sized one in your fridge. Ahhh.

Shimmer lotion
I’ve used a lot of shimmer products over the years, and loved nearly all of them. The problem is that most of them are quite heavily fragranced and VERY sparkly, so you can wind up feel like the town tramp, what with all your glitter and fancy smells. You harlot.
My newest favourite is Hawaiian Tropic’s Shimmer Effect Coconut Papaya After Sun Lotion. Why do I love it?
1. The shimmer here is very low-key, so you won’t feel like a disco ball if you go out in the sunshine. It’s just a very light golden glow.
2. It’s a nice moisturizing lotion with a very summery scent, but again, nothing so offensive that you feel like a giant pina colada.
3. It’s cheap and readily available, so you can stock up when the drugstore has a sale!
I should mention that this shimmer product also comes in sunscreen form. If that isn’t civilized, I don’t know what is.

Baby Wipes
Buy ‘em by the gross in those travel sizes and take an impromptu bath anywhere. Ice-cream hands, dirty sandal feet, stinky pits…you get the idea. Once I gave a baby wipe and some mint gum to a sweaty drunk girl who was barfing and she was so happy she cried a bit. If I ran the Girl Guides, there’d be a badge for that.

Blotting papers
Again, available from the drugstore to the health food store to Holt Renfrew. Pick a favourite, although I like ‘em cheap and cheerful. Dabbing yourself with these is a much better idea than trying to cake powder atop a shiny face. In a pinch, I’ve been known to use a single ply of a Kleenex or even toilet tissue to blot away shine. Bonus points for first misting with the Caudalie Grape Water, then blotting. Oooh, look at you, Frenchie!

Red lipstick
Nothing says, “I’m just this fabulous and I don’t give a shit” like red lipstick for evening—with hardly any other makeup. You’re a bit tan, your hair’s a mess, and it’s the cocktail hour. So: just spray and blot yer face, drag a couple of drops of the Huile Prodigieuse through your hair and pin it half up, and then slick on a red lippie (I like an orange-based one in the summer) right from the tube. There’s nothing sexier. I always think of the Michael Kors SS 2009 runway look for this (see above), which I think was the height of unstudied makeup perfection.

Edited to add:
Hey Western Canadians, I was in London Drugs yesterday and wanted to tell you that two of these products are on sale right now! The entire Nuxe line, including both sizes of the Huile Prodigieuse, is 25% off, and Hawaiian Tropic products are $7.99 each—plus if you buy any two, you get six bucks off. Hot damn!