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!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dogs are Barking

“Dorothy, please. A lady never admits her feet hurt.”
--Marilyn Monroe (as Lorelei Lee) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I know there are folks who can’t understand why anyone would wear uncomfortable shoes. If you’re one of them, you might want to stop reading now in case your head explodes. I recently admitted to some lady friends that when my feet get bashed up from sandal straps or what have you, I’ll just slap some concealer on them and keep on truckin’. This was met with horrified amusement. Yes. I wear MAKEUP ON MY FEET SOMETIMES. That’s the kind of person I am. I’ll understand if you never speak to me again. It’s the same reason I can’t look at people who wear those weird monkey shoes with the separate toes. Ew.

So yeah, I love skinny little straps and shiny buckles and rope-ties and leather...and I also like cute shoes. Zing! I was going to title this post “how to keep fabulous summer shoes from hurting your feet”, but considering I constantly rotate my footwear in an ongoing attempt to just hurt different parts of my feet each day, that title would be terribly misleading. (My husband, who hears a constant colour commentary about my suffering, is pretty much convinced that all my shoes are made of piano wire and cheese graters.) So it might be better to think about “minimizing shoe-related foot agony”. Accurate AND catchy!

See, these look like they hurt (and they do)...

You might think heels would be the worst culprits, but honestly, I’ve had some harmless-looking flats in my time that inflicted Inquisition-like levels of pain after only an hour or two. So one has to be prepared for pain! Gird your insteps, bitches: it’s time for battle.

...but these innocent-looking flats hurt even more!

Your Tender Tootsies Toolkit

1. Shoe inserts (heel grips, ball-of-foot cushions, gel insoles, strap liners and so on)
Obviously, you should be buying shoes that fit. Take it from me, those suckers are not going to magically feel BETTER once you’ve paid for them. If they hurt in the store, they are not your friends. But sometimes we make mistakes—or a shoe does fit properly, but as you walk, you discover a little wiggle room at the heel that causes a blister, or your foot slides forward and your piggies get squeezed through the peeptoe like beef through a grinder. The right shoe insert can ease the pressure in tight areas, or snug up the slippy bits. There’s about a million of these things at the drugstore now. I even used a pair of velvety soft thin ones in a pair of flat sandals that were utterly pain-free EXCEPT for a seam that ran right under my big toe. After ten minutes, it was annoying. After two hours, it was like walking on a knife-edge. Dr. Scholl to the rescue!

2. Blister block and cushions
One used to have to procure one’s blister block at stores for runners. (Runners are those people in the weird shorts who hop up and down at stoplights and never look like they’re having any fun. Poor buggers.) Luckily, now Band-Aid and lots of other brands make these easy-to-use sticks. You just smear a little on the area that gets chafed, and theoretically at least, it will cut down on the friction and stop blisters from forming. But while it certainly can help, it can’t work miracles. (I’m looking at you, nude slingbacks!) The other thing to watch out for is that blister-block goo attracts dust and dirt, so a stroll in the city can give you a serious case of “castaway feet”. (I like to carry a mini-pack of baby wipes in my handbag during the summer months. You never know when you’ve going to need to have a sponge-bath in a public restroom.)

If you’ve already got the damn blister, then you know the pain of changing band-aids every five minutes as it twists up under your shoe and does three-fifths of fuck-all. Band-Aid makes a blister-healing bandage that actually stays on, provided your feet are clean and dry (none of that blister-blocking goo, in other words). Once, I had one stay on for DAYS, even with walking and swimming and showering. Warning: these things are stupidly expensive. Stupidly! But if you’re walking a lot and every shoe you own is tearing your foot to ribbons, you’ll thank me.

3. Surgical Tape
Okay, I haven’t road-tested this yet, but I can assure you that I will, since this kind of weirdo self torture is right up my alley. Try taping your third and fourth toes together, say the crazy ladies over at the Today show. Apparently, this aligns some muscle or some damn thing…look, who gives a shit, as long as it works. And I don’t have to tell you this trick is only for closed-toe shoes, right? Don’t be like the sad lady on the bus wearing Spice-tone knee-highs with white sandals.

4. Socks
One good way to get your shoes broken in a bit is to wear them for short stretches of time around the house. But sometimes you don’t have a week—you’ve got to wear those suckers to a party tonight, and you just know you’re going to be standing up, drinking sangria, then dancing…so time is of the essence. Get a thickish pair of sport socks (the thickest that you can wear and still get into the damn shoe). Wet them in cool water and wring them out as best you can. Then jam those soggy sock feet into your shoes and do something fun like whipping up a batch of raspberry jam or homemade meth. The moisture and the added thickness should help stretch out the naughty areas of your shoes. This only works on leather or cloth though. PVC ain’t gonna stretch, no matter what the unctuous shoe seller might have told you. I guess you could also take shoes to the shoe guy for stretching…but I stopped bringing my shoe guy too-small shoes, because he thinks I’m an idiot.

Under “socks” I must also make a brief mention of these “sock liner” contraptions that are everywhere these days. Here’s my tip: DON’T EVEN BOTHER. I’ve bought several different kinds at price points from H&M right on up to Hue, and they all do the exact same thing. They slide right off my heel and migrate towards my toes within three blocks of leaving the house. I feel like a little kid whose socks are all bunched up in the toe of her snow boots. Also, no matter what, they show and look matronly. Only wealthy Japanese teenagers can get away with looking like a grandma. Oh, and actual grandmas. Carry on!

5. Ice bags, ibuprofen, Polysporin, Epsom salts
Sometimes all that’s left to do is recover. Stay home. Soak your feet, watch a movie, wear slippers. I like to put in my pedicure separators to stretch my toes out, but lotsa hardcores swear by Yoga Toes. If you do have to go out, there’s always concealer...