........A Chicago area beauty blogger's foray into day-spas, med-spas, and countless beauty counters........

(Anything in BLUE or GRAY within the text is a LINK to more information)

i-LIPO...Another Laser Fat Reduction Treatment I Can't Find Anyone Who Has Tried

I was at a medspa yesterday talking to the owner. I brought up Zerona and Zeltiq, which I've mentioned here before, and he told me his spa does i-Lipo, which is another laser that heats fat and shrinks the cells.

I continue to get frustrated when I hear about these services---Zerona, Zeltiq, Exilis, and now i-Lipo which all claim to freeze or heat up fat cells to shrink or destroy them, depending on the technology. The reason for my frustration is that none of these medspas are ever able to offer up several before and after photos of THEIR OWN clients. I mean, if you're asking people to invest anywhere from $2000 for 4 Exilis treatments (not sure how many you actually need) up to $3800 for 8 Zeltiq/Zerona/iLipo treatments and you can't even show them anything except the laser company's photos or one of your employees who may have had 20 free treatments for all we know, how do you really expect people to purchase this service? How much results can people really expect? Also annoying is that every place tends to be vague in their answers as to whether or not it helps cellulite or how many inches and how many treatments it will REALLY take to see noticeable results (and don't think any place is throwing in extra treatments for free if it takes more than the package they sell!).

I also don't understand why, no matter how much competition keeps showing up or how many years pass, the price of these services never decreases. Having worked in the laser hair removal industry when it was hitting it's height of popularity, I know the laser companies made medspas, doctors, etc agree not to significantly reduce their prices---and no one did until 10-12 years later when the economy got bad and no one was buying. My guess is something similar is going on with laser fat reduction treatments. 

Making laser treatments the same price as some surgical procedures seems outrageous, in my opinion. Get these services down to packages UNDER $1000 and I guarantee there will be a larger interest and more purchases.

My understanding of painless, non-invasive i-Lipo is that laser paddles (up to 4 of them) are attached to the areas to be treated (ie: inner and outer thighs on both legs, or all 4 on abdomen and waist) for 20-30 minutes (some places I've checked say 45 minutes and others say 10 which I find hard to believe--seems like no place can even agree on the time this service takes), emitting low level laser energy that doesn't harm the skin but creates a temporary hole in fat cells allowing fat to empty out of the cell and be naturally excreted by the body.  Then you're asked to workout immediately following the treatment for 30-45 minutes so that your metabolism speeds up and your body gets rid of the fat faster. The immediate workout is something that Zeltiq, Zerona, and Exilis do not require, although I have to wonder if results would be better if they did.

8 treatments are recommended, 2 times per week, so 4 weeks total. Everything I read online says that about a 20%-30% (whatever that really means) reduction in fat of treated areas can be expected for around $3500. That seems like a small percentage for such a big price.

I'm not going to lie---I'd like to try all of these treatments, but since I don't have an extra $12,000+ to "try" all 4 and "see" if they "really" work or are worth the cost, it's not going to happen. Neither is spending $2000 or $3500 in this economy on something that places are so vague about. Thus far I have met no real person who has tried any of them---only some medspa owners and employess who swear by it, and let's face it, they're biased.

I feel like these treatments are still so new and so few people have them done to talk about it and spread the word, maybe these medspas need to start offering programs where people pay AFTER they see their results--and if before and after pictures and measurements don't show any results, well then, too bad medspa. I've tried too many medspa/spa services over the past 10 years that did absolutely nothing---a good $6000 wasted. Fool me once...

But hey, MedSpa people---feel free to prove me wrong. I'll happily play guinea pig for ya  at no cost and spread the word. ;)

Have you done i-LIPO? Come over to Facebook and tell me about it!

Red Carpet Manicure UV Gel Pro Kit (for home use!)

It's FINALLY happened!!!

A nail polish that STAYS ON MY NATURAL NAILS!

I know....you can't believe it. Trust me, I had my doubts too after all I've been through the past couple of months!

You may recall that I took off my acrylic nails 2 months ago after 13 years of artificial long nail BLISS. Then I tried a $40 CND Shellac UV gel manicure at the salon, but it slid off my nails in a day and all my natural nails broke with it. After that I tried Butter London Nail Lacquer which lasts 6-8 days without chipping, but I sometimes need even longer wear than that! 

The ride to getting pretty nails since I took off my artificial ones has not been easy!

$80 and worth every dime!
Now I've discovered HEAVEN in a nail polish!! Red Carpet Manicure UV Gel Pro Manicure kit available online and at Ulta stores is what I've been wanting both from a long-lasting manicure standpoint AND from an economical one!

For $80 (the cost of 2 salon visits) the Pro kit includes supplies that will last through many months of manicures: a UV light like those used at salons, plus all the ingredients you need to do your own gel manicure at home: sanitizer, base coat, 1 color, top coat, cleanser, and remover.

my sad short uneven nails :(
The steps for a RCM manicure are easy-- clean/prep nails with sanitizer, apply base coat and put under light for 30 seconds. Next apply 1 coat of color and hold under UV light for 45 seconds, repeat this step, then use top coat and cure under light for a final 45 seconds. Afterward, wipe down nails with the post application cleanser to remove any sticky residue. THAT'S IT!

I did my nails at 3pm on December 25th and 4 days later there isn't even the slightest chipping and they're as shiny as ever. I suspect this manicure will last at least 2 weeks without chipping---RCM even suggests it may last 3 weeks. Even if it were to chip tomorrow, which I doubt will happen, it's lasted longer than anything I've put on my natural nails ever.

I want them ALL!
Today I went to Ulta and picked up a couple more colors. The Pro kit comes with "Red Carpet Ready," but I also purchased "Best Dressed" and "Thank You Thank You." I would have picked up "Paparazzi" and "9 Inch Heels" for $9.99 each, but they were out of those colors (and about 5 others I wanted!). Next visit for sure!

The best part is, since my nails are still weak from growing out all the acrylic damage (probably 2 more months before it's all grown out--a total of 4 months), the RCM gel mani that I do at home gives them a bit of strength so they're protected from breaking.

I don't know if this is true, but a manger at Ulta told me that instead of RCM gel color, if I want to put my own non-formaldehyde regular polish in between the gel base coat and gel top coat, I can, I would just need to let the polish dry completely on it's own before I added top coat. She also told me that if I want clear nails, I can use the top and base coats together without any color in between. I haven't tried either of these things yet, but I will. Right now I'm just enamored with nails that haven't chipped when I'm used to my natural nails always having broken polish on them!


Thanks Red Carpet Manicure!!!

Butter London Manicures: My Continued Quest To Find Long-Lasting Polish

Thanks to the fabulous ROCKSTARS at Seattle-based Butter London, I recently learned why polish always chips on my natural nails....


Water is the culprit. Apparently nails saturated in water don't hold polish as well as dry nails, so guess what happens? That's right---chip, chip, chip!

So WHY do many salons still soak nails? (Butter London nail salons across the country do not soak, they do dry manicures.). The simple answer is that soaking softens cuticles....but at the time this method started, over 50 years ago, there weren't any cuticle softeners or products in existence like there are now. Water was all they had, so that's what they used.
The Black Knight

I guess old habits are just sometimes hard to break.

According to the staff at Butter London, if you do a manicure without soaking and use their NON-toxic products together (or at least the basecoat, lacquer & topcoat which are MADE TO WORK TOGETHER), the average regular manicure which should last 3 days without chipping, will be extended to 6-8 days without chips! 

REALLY?! Well, why not give it a try?!

I'm going to!


     3-Free: No Formaldehyde. No Toluene. No DBP.
   NON-Toxic. Safe for pregnant women and children.

 1)   Don’t soak nails in water during a manicure. Nails not saturated with water hold polish better so it lasts longer.

2)   Remove any old polish with Powder Room Acetone-Free Polish Remover ($5).
This remover hydrates nails and has a soft baby powder scent.

3)   Use Butter London Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator ($20). Leave on a few minutes as directed, then wipe off with a cloth or soft brush.

4)   Follow with Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat ($18). This basecoat/ridge filler dries to a matte finish so color will bond to it. When applying, wrap basecoat over the end of the nail tip to seal. (For problem nails that peel or break, use Horse Power Nail Fertilizer/strengthener ($20) as a base instead.)

5)   Use 2 coats of Butter London Nail Lacquer in cream, metallic, or glitter finish ($14). Start at the base of the nail near the cuticle and pull forward over the end of the tip to wrap the nail. Consider layering multiple colors to create a custom look, or use different colors on each nail! Experiment and have fun!

6)   Top with Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat ($18) for an ultra-shiny finish. Wrap product over the end of the nail tip to seal lacquer. This product is quick drying and long-lasting! (For a matte finish, use Matte Finish Topcoat ($18).

7)   Complete your manicure with Holiday Handbag Cuticle Oil ($18). Allow this pineapple-coconut scented oil to soak in for 10 minutes to re-hydrate cuticles.


Butter London Products are available at Nordstrom and Ulta stores, and online!

Butter London's Horse Power Nail Fertilizer For Damaged Nails

chipped, short.... Help!
I mentioned in my last post that I took my acrylic nails off a few weeks ago after more than 10 years of artificial nail bliss...and artificial nail torture. I then tried Shellac which was not a good fit for me since by the next day it was chipping and my nails were breaking. In truth, I have to wonder if anything that has to be soaked in a toxic chemical like acetone to remove it is really something I want to use. It's a personal decision, but one that I think about more all the time.

Now I've started getting basic manicures, applying nail growth treatments, and watching my once attractive fingernails break down to uneven stubs on a daily basis while the acrylic damage continues to grow out. It's not a good a time and it's hard to feel pretty with chipped up broken nails. 

Today I spoke to someone at Butter London about some events they'll be doing over the holiday season, but also discussed my post-acrylic nail dilemma. If you don't know, Butter London is the nail polish available at Sephora, Ulta, and department stores such as Nordstrom, that expresses it's allegiance to Rock & Roll, Great Britain, and fashion. (Eeek--me too! I'm in LOVE! Too bad their corporate office is in Seattle or I'd be applying for a Marketing position today! :). They are also dedicated to using products that are free of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, etc., which has made them a hit on runways and with Hollywood celebs. The person I talked to removed her acrylic nails after 16 years of wearing them and started using Butter London's Horse Power Nail Fertilizer to get her through the difficult growing out, weak-nails period following the removal. She swears by it and told me I won't be disappointed if I try it.

Horse Power uses an herbal ingredient called "horsetail" to repair abused nails. In holistic medicine, horsetail is taken to treat osteoporosis and heal wounds, and it's added to some shampoos to strengthen hair, so it makes sense that when applied topically to nails it should increase strength and speed up nail growth. The product is applied every day for 7 days, then removed and repeated for 4 weeks until nails are healthy again. It can also be used as a basecoat with nail polish.

At $20 a bottle, half the price I used to pay for 1 acrylic fill or Shellac treatment, it seems like a bargain, especially if the end result will be long, strong, healthy, NATURAL nails.

I'm going to purchase a bottle and try it. I'll let you know how it goes. No sleep til Brooklyn.....or in this case, LONDON? ;) ....I WILL get back to beautiful nails! I WILL! Eventually......

I Finally Tried CND Shellac

Damage from acrylic
A week ago I gave up acrylic overlays over my natural nails and switched to Creative Nail Designs Shellac No-Chip manicure. I've had acrylic for over 10 years, but I was tired of the maintenance--corners lifting, having to remove lifting acrylic which is painful, sitting through an hour long appointment every 2 weeks. But what I did love about acrylic is the ability to have long uniform nails, and the polish doesn't go anywhere until you take it off.

All acrylic off
Removing the acrylic was a long painful process of soaking, scraping, pushing and pulling. It took 3 hours and I did it at home by soaking them in pure acetone. By the time I got to my nail appointment later that day, my natural nails were already breaking because the nails under the acrylic were so soft and damaged. Unfortunately this means my nail tech had to file them down super short for the Shellac process. I'm hating that.

Shellac right after application
I was told that Shellac would be a good alternative for someone switching from acrylic nails back to natural nails because it would keep the nails strong so they could grow out in the damaged phase and still be long, and the polish wouldn't chip.

1 of 5 chipped Shellac nails
It's 1 week later, and I'm not liking Shellac at all. The day after Shellac was applied the polish on the corner of my right thumb nail chipped off and then the corner of the nail broke, later in the day the same happened to my pinky nail. The next day 2 more nails chipped and broke. The day after a 5th nail. Yesterday, 1 week later, most of the polish on the thumb nail lifted all the way off. The polish is chipped on half of my nails and they look terrible, but I was advised not to soak the product off myself, so I've got to walk around for another week looking like a nail biter/picker. If I had an event to go to there would be no way I could go like this.

It wasn't like I was cleaning and scrubbing floors. All I've done for the week are regular activities--typing on the computer, texting, but nothing that puts nails under a ton of stress.

I don't know if the product just doesn't work on nails that are damaged from acrylic (which is the opposite of what I was told at my salon), or what the deal is, but I don't like Shellac for me. I've decided to have it removed, and then just do my own regular manicures with nail hardeners until the acrylic damage grows out over the next couple months and then maybe try Nutra Nail Gel Perfect UV-free no-chip manicure that I can do at home because it really can't do worse than the Shellac has done for me.

CND is a great brand, and I'm sure this product works for a lot of people, but at $40 an application while it's falling off my nails every day, it's not worth it for me.

In the meantime, I have to find something to make my natural nails healthy again!


I never remember how much I'm supposed to tip the hair washer at the salon or the facialist. I always think I have a general idea, but I'm never certain when I'm handing over my tips.

This morning I was reading the FabFitFun website, and they had a guide to tipping. So I'm going to post their information here so I don't forget! 

Server: Gone are the days when 15% was standard. 18%-20% is now the norm, even more for exceptional service. Yes, you can leave less for terrible service, but remember that people have bad days and that a tip is actually a part of the server’s salary.
Bartender: $1-$2 per drink or 15%-20% of the tab. If you order a beer, it’s OK to stay on the lower end. If your bartender is mashing mint for your mojito, tip more.
Food Delivery Service: Whether it’s pizza or a fancy night in, the delivery service guy deserves a good tip for braving the streets…not to mention the rain and snow that makes takeout so perfect. Think 10% to 15% of the bill and no lower than $2.
Food Pickup: 10% is a fair amount for those who pack up your dinner.
Hairdresser: 15%-20% of the total is the standard. Yes, this can get expensive if you’re getting a cut, highlights and a keratin treatment, but that’s the price we pay for beauty. If you have a separate hair washer, make sure to slip them $2-$3 as well.
Manicurist: Again think 15%-20%. If you have separate mani and pedi people, you should split the tip and give half to each person. And remember, cash is key. Many nail salons won’t let you tip on your card.
Massage/Facial/Waxing: No surprise here — 15%-20% is the norm.
Taxi Driver: 15% of the fare with a $1 minimum. Plus, if he loads your bags, add $2 for the first and $1 for each additional piece of luggage.
Bellhop: Like the driver, think $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional piece.
Doorman: $1-$2 is right when he grabs you a cab. More if he loads your luggage.
Hotel Housekeeping: $2-$3 per day, left before turndown each day throughout your trip.
Pet Groomer: 10% — more if your pet is challenging or super dirty.
Valet: $2-$5 given to the guy who opens the door for the driver. If there is more than one person taking care of your car, don’t worry, the tips should even out in the end.
Car Wash: To me this really depends on how dirty your car is and I have been known to have a very dirty car. Anywhere between $3-$10 can make sense.
Final Tip: Although it may not always be practical for our own wallets, overtipping is never frowned upon. Be generous to those who deserve it.

Dermelect Timeless Anti-Aging Daily Hand Treatment and StriVectin HC Ultra-Concentration For The Hands

I can't seem to find an answer as to why there aren't many anti-aging hand lotions or serums out there. I mean sure, you could use the tiny bottle you buy for your face on your hands, but that's just too expensive.

Hands age no matter how much sunscreen you apply. They lose collagen and the skin gets thin, some get wrinkly or veiny, or get sunspots, and they all get dry! Why are there so few products out there with peptides or antioxidants that have a strong concentration of active ingredient to put on hands at night? There are a ton of moisturizers out there--shea butter and humectants, cocoa butter, and so on, but why so few hand anti-aging products?

Through all my research looking for a product to put on my hands at night, I've really only found two that have anti-aging properties, and I've used both: Dermelect Timeless Anti-Aging Daily Hand Treatment ($22) with peptides to plump and promote collagen production, collagen to reduces crepey skin, hyaluronic acid to moisturize, and some ingredients to fade dark spots and exfoliate. This line also makes a peptide-infused nail treatment line to strengthen nails, that I'm interested in checking out.

The second is StriVectin HC Ultra-Concentration For The Hands ($29) which, for some reason, never seems to be available on the company's website, but is at various online stores. The latter is the child of the Klein-Becker company that started out with an, at the time, revolutionary treatment for red/pink stretchmarks, and moved in to the anti-aging/wrinkle reduction arena shortly after. The StriVectin family of products also use peptides to plump and promote collagen production, collagen to reduce the look of crepey skin, antioxidants, and moisturizers.

I've used both, separately, at bedtime only, because I wash my hands too many times during the day and it would just be a waste of product. Besides, skin rejuvenates primarily when we sleep, so this is the best time for any product that has work to do! Although both creams say they  include moisturizers, I always add a hand lotion after I apply the treatment because I don't feel like they moisturize enough. The anti-aging benefits are really what I'm looking for, so I don't mind adding some additional lotion.

I do see that both hand treatments work, but they require consistent use to see results, and the truth is, the earlier you start using any treatment, the less damage you'll see happen to your skin in the first place. Prevention is a whole lot easier than correction or maintenance, so get an early start!

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MAC Prep & Prime Transparent Finishing Powder: Airbrushing In A Compact!

It's rare that someone at a makeup counter will put something on my face and try to convince me that I see a difference in the mirror, and I ACTUALLY see a difference. It usually ends with me saying "Oh...yeah...." when all I'm thinking is "I look the same as 2 minutes ago."

MAC $23
So when I was in the MAC Cosmetics Store on the 19th in Indianapolis (where I waited an ungodly long time while other customers came in and I was overlooked and ignored, and they were helped despite me asking for help, and I nearly left to go to a department store counter instead--I'm calling you out Indy!!!) and picked up Prep & Prime Transparent Finishing Powder in a compact and asked the sales associate what it was all about, imagine my surprise when she took out her powder brush and applied it to one side of my face and I actually SAW a difference. I actually saw what looked like airbrushing of my skin! I was already wearing makeup when I went in and thought I looked pretty good. Then we added the finishing powder and I saw pores and flaws disappear even more.

So of course I threw that in with my 5 other MAC products. I'm a sucker for MAC and all it's pretty colors and applicators laid out to play with. Not to mention the sales associates wear a tool belt of makeup brushes--it's heavenly! :)

Don't let the white color scare you. Sure, I'm a pasty-white porcelain skin girl, but this powder doesn't have any color. It won't make your complexion any lighter or darker, it's just...invisible, except for the affects. It's meant for use as a finishing powder on top of all your completed makeup applications, not for color.

The closest product I can compare this to that I've used is Makeup Forever HD Microfinish Powder, which I do like (I like so many products in that brand!), but someone at Sephora once told me that product can't be formulated into a compact which is important to me for portability and storage, and frankly, although it doesn't sink into lines, I don't think it gives me the same airbrushed/photoshopped look that the MAC powder provides. (Sorry Makeup Forever--I DO love you!)

I recommend you go to your nearest MAC store, or the MAC counter at a department store and do the same test I did. Have them powder one side of your face while you watch in the mirror and SEE the difference. I guarantee you'll be sold. And let's face it, $23 for a compact is a whole lot less than buying Photoshop. ;)

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DDF Mesojection Antioxidant Serum

I went on a Sephora binge last weekend. I hadn't beauty shopped in awhile and I went a little crazy indulging in some new products I hadn't tried. Sure, there may have also been some shoe, dress, and Victoria's Secret purchases too....maybe....can't quite say. ;)

I was looking for a new antioxidant product to try, and found both Philosophy Miracle Worker AM pads and DDF Mesojection Antioxidant Serum. I told you about Philosophy in a previous post, but DDF is a brand I haven't used before. DDF claims the Mesojection Antioxidant Serum penetrates "14 layers deep in to the skin's surface." Since last time I checked there are only 3 layers of skin: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue, I'm assuming they mean all the "sub-layers" within each layer, up until it reaches the glands and vessels. (Whoa...too much anatomy!). It's also supposed to reduce free-radical damage by 24%, so it has a nice level of protection.

The antioxidants in Mesojection serum consist of acai berry (this is a good one!), scavenol from green tea, emblica glycol complex (to sough off skin cells and make it more luminous), and matrixyl humectant complex to plump skin and increase collagen production. It also uses "Virtual Path Technology" which, from what I can gather, is just a fancy term for soaking into the skin quickly! It's also, like most antioxidants, supposed to be good for all skin types.

All of these are good things, so for $84 I threw it in my Sephora basket!

The product says to use it day and night, but I've always learned to use antioxidants during the day to protect from all the yuck we encounter, and use retinols at night, so that's what I'm doing with it. Upon first use, there is no odd scent, it absorbs into the skin quickly, and lotion, eye cream, and sunscreen go over it easily. Makeup also applies smoothly.

Of course, because it takes several weeks for cells to turnover, I won't know how well it works for awhile, but I'll keep you posted on all my new skincare purchases!

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Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Rehydrating Cream: AKA My New Favorite PM Moisturizer

I was wandering around a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Indianapolis on a concert weekend with a friend (where a very smelly male sales associate in need of some shower time hosed my friend down at the Bond No. 9 fragrance counter without her permission!) and made my way over to the Kiehl's counter to see what's new.

I've mentioned in the past that I love Kiehl's Double Strength Deep Wrinkle Filler despite it's terribly depressing name, but they now have a new moisturizer: Rosa Arctica Rehydrating Reactivating Cream with Rare Regeneration Flower (the samples I have say "regeneration flower," the website says "resurrection flower...") Kiehl's really has a thing for descriptive names, I'm noticing.

I have no idea what regeneration/resurrection flower is, but a Google search is telling me it's the "Rose of Jericho" and that when completely dried out, if submerged in water for 3 days, it  regenerates and comes back to life! What?! More like ZOMBIE flower! ;)

Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Cream $60
Needless to say, this is supposed to be an excellent moisturizer. The woman at the Kiehl's counter at this particular Saks told me that any time plant extracts are added to a cream, they help moisture adhere to the cells and plump the skin temporarily. No idea if that's true since she made it clear she wasn't a Kiehl's representative.

I wasn't ready to drop $60 on a 1.7oz jar, so the sales woman gave me a couple samples to try at home. After using Rosa Arctica for 5 nights, I'm ready to commit! This product is a fantastic night time moisturizer! I know Kiehl's says to use it twice a day, but that doesn't work for me. After it's applied, the skin is a bit tacky or slightly sticky, and it stays that way so I don't think makeup will go on smoothly. But for evening, it's wonderfully moisturizing and doesn't leave skin even the slightest bit oily. It's great during the humid Chicago Summer, and I'm guessing it will be even better in the extremely dry winters.

The only other thing I could wish for with this product is that Keihl's would make it into a night HAND TREATMENT and even a lip treatment...!

Go try a sample and see for yourself. I think you'll like it!

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Philosophy Miracle Worker AM Antioxidant Pads

I've told readers before that they should use an antioxidant product during the day to protect against pollution, smoke, and free radicals. The thing about antioxidant serums and lotions is that often you can't see them working, so some people write them off as something that "doesn't work." Antioxidants are like sunscreen when you wear it in the winter or when it's not sunny outside---based on published studies, you just have to trust that it's doing something for you. It's protecting you against wrinkles and pigmentation changes.

$58 for a 60-day supply
On a visit to Sephora, I asked the sales consultant, who was well over 50 and looked great, if there were any new antioxidant products out. The answer is YES! Philosophy has come out with Miracle Worker AM Antioxidant Pads containing HPA. I've tried to find out exactly what HPA is, but I can't find anything solid. What I have learned is that it has 6 times the antioxidant activity as vitamin C products, it doesn't have any dyes or synthetic fragrances, it's supposed to adhere to other molecules and help other antioxidants and products work better (that was from the associate at Sephora), it contains skin-rejuvenating/plumping peptides, and this antioxidant actually IS formulated to help reduce wrinkles and clear up mild pigmentation problems.

So of course I bought it. ;)

On first use, the product has a strange smell. Not bad, just noticeable, but it goes away when the product dries, so it's no big deal. You pour the bottle of liquid, which is similar to a dry oil, onto the jar of included pads to make sure you have a fresh product, and then wipe one on the face, neck and back of hands. It doesn't feel wet, although there is some shine when you first apply it. It dries and then the skin is ready to apply other products and makeup.

I've only been using Philosophy Miracle Worker AM Antioxidant Pads for a few days, so the only thing I can report is that my skin doesn't feel irritated,  although I do see some of my troubled areas becoming quite a bit pinker. It also goes on well under makeup, and doesn't cause any increased shine or oiliness.

Since it takes 4 weeks for skin cells to turnover and renew, I'll have to keep you posted if I see any difference, which hopefully I WILL!

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Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover Lotion

It's been gone for a few years now, but I really do miss Almay Moisturizing Gentle Gel Eye Makeup Remover. Mainly because with a nice thick gel, I could squeeze a little onto my index finger and thumb and gently rub JUST my eyelashes with the product without rubbing the skin on my eyes. That skin is sensitive and prone to wrinkles and damage, so I don't want to pull on it anymore than necessary! All other brands require a pad, cotton, or tissue, meaning you're tugging and pulling on that delicate eye area. Maybe if the marketing people at Almay (or Allure magazine who have always sung the praises of the brand's eye makeup remover pads) had explained this to consumers, the product would have lasted... 

I've tried many brands since Almay took away it's gel formula. Bliss and some other brands have eye makeup removers that they call "gel" and are promoted as oil free (personally I don't care about oil-free for eye makeup remover--most "oil-free" formulas irritate my skin), but the formulas hurt my sensitive skin, and the consistency is so thin that you can't put it on fingers and lightly grasp just the lashes. This means more tugging on the skin! Noooooooo!

A few weeks ago I discovered Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover Lotion. It's the closest replacement I've been able to find to the discontinued Almay gel product. It's still a bit thinner than the Almay gel, but it is thicker than other brand's "gel" formulas, plus it's hydrating and doesn't upset my sensitive skin. It has a nice scent, a mild "cooling" sensation, and requires less tugging on the delicate eye area than any other removers I've tried. Plus, it's only around $6-$7 in stores like Walgreens. Bargain! I do wish it was a tiny bit thicker to allow more control in order to put it just on the lashes, but overall I'm happy with it and will continue to use it....

Well.... unless a good gel remover appears again.... ;)

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Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara: Picture Proof!

Yesterday I told you I'd try to take a picture of one eye with 3 coats of my regular favorite mascara, and the other eye with 1 coat of my new favorite mascara: Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara ($15).

Trying to take a picture of your own eye with a mobile phone macro lens is not an easy task! BUT, here's the (somewhat blurry) results that I think still gives you an idea of the difference:

THREE coats of my usual favorite mascara:

        ONE coat of Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara:
1 coat of Atomic Volume mascara

Big difference in darkness, thickness, and length on the Sephora eye!

The one thing I've noticed about the Sephora Atomic Volume mascara is that if you do want additional coats of the same mascara, you need to add them before the product dries because it makes lashes stiff and you won't be able to get a brush or comb through them very easily.

I pay $14.50 for my "usual" favorite mascara, and the Sephora product is $15. As I mentioned in a previous post, it washes off easily but stays on all day. Go check out a tube for yourself!

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I'm In Love: Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara

In a recent post I told you about my love of long eyelashes and mascara. Well, now I'm in love with a new mascara. Oh trust me, I try them all eventually-- looking for the next formula that will make my pale lashes become dark, thick and super long. Most disappoint or do an adequate job with several coats, but this one excited me from the first use!

Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara $15
On a visit to Sephora, I was given a sample of their Atomic Volume Ultra Black mascara. It's a nice formula that doesn't run down my face in humidity or leave little crumbs on my cheeks in the rain (Chicago has had enough rain lately that this really is important!) but comes off easily with eye makeup remover or facewash, plus it has nice firm plastic bristles on the applicator that really separate every lash. Most important, not only does this formula make lashes look thicker, but for me, it made them MUCH longer AND even gave them a bit of a curl--all with only 1 coat! One! I usually apply 3-4 and still don't get as much volume or length as this product!

After trying the sample for a couple of days, I went back to Sephora and bought a tube for $15. Well worth the money spent for bigger, accented eyes! This mascara ACTUALLY makes it look like I've added some individual artificial lashes!

Tomorrow I'm going to try to remember to take a picture of one eye with my usual favorite mascara, and the other with one coat of Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara and post the difference. In the meantime, take my word for it--you want to run out to Sephora and get a tube today!

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Your Body On A Sugar Binge

I read this in the July 2011 issue of "Self" magazine.... I'm trying to remember to reference it whenever I hear a bag of tasty Swedish Fish or delicious Mike & Ike call out to me....!

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Eye Shadow Colors: How To Choose

Someone asked me the other day how to know what color eye shadow they should wear. Personally, I believe you should wear whatever color makes you feel good; whatever color you think it pretty. I saw a girl wearing bumble-bee yellow eye shadow that some may think was ridiculous, but it looked great because she wore it with confidence, and what's sexier than confidence? Nothing!

Still, some people prefer a "rule" when it comes to color, so as my artist friends will tell you, colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel  make eye color really stand out. So, blue eyes pop with orange and peachy shades, and green eyes stand out with purples and pinks. Brown eyes are rarely just "brown" but have little bits of yellow, amber or orange so, since blue is across from them on the color wheel, blues really make brown eyes stand out.

There is no "rule" about eye shadow, but this is a nice place to start if you're uncomfortable playing with color right now. Personally, my baby-blues are happiest with peach alone or peach and violet together, silver metallic with a hint of charcoal gray accent, pink and purple combinations, bronze, and usually a hint of black-purple eyeliner, black liner on top lids, and as we discussed in my last post, thick coats of dark black mascara! Only the peach color sticks to the "rule," but as interior and graphic designers quickly learn, colors next to each other on the wheel ALSO complement each other!

See, no hard and fast rule with color. ;)

Life is short--- experiment and play! If you don't like what you choose today, try something else tomorrow!

Lash Dip

I'm not a low maintenance girl. I used to try and pretend I was, but let's get real---I own over 120 pairs of shoes, have stock in Tiffany's, and live at the MAC counter. Not low-maintenance.

SO, I'm not sure this product is for me since I loooooove thick coats of mascara and long strip lashes when I have time to put them on. I don't know that Lash Dip would give me the lash length or thickness I'm looking for. It's worth checking in to though since it lasts up to 6 weeks!

Lash Dip is an application that's done in salons. It darkens both top and bottom lashes, separates them, increases length and volume, and adds curl. It's waterproof, and as long as you use an oil-free makeup remover, it will stay on through washing, showers, swimming, and sleep for 4-6 weeks. There is a little bit of home maintenance though--- a coat of "lash seal" has to be added 2-3 times a week to extend the product's life. The application takes about an hour to complete, and involves tape, a warm lash curler, and 2 coats of Lash Dip.

The before and after photos on the website are impressive, but I have to admit, not as impressive as wearing mascara....and my favorite tubes of the black stuff only cost around $15, instead of $200-$300 per application like Lash Dip.

Andrea Modlash #53
With a price like that, I think I'll stick to Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara for just $14.50 plus FREE Clinique gifts, and on nights out, Andrea ModLash human hair strip lashes for a mere $3.50! Let's face it, I'd end up adding lashes over Lash Dip anyway to get the eye-popping look I like!

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OPI Nailpolish In The Fight Against Leukemia

OPI nailpolish colors are my favorites, but now there's even more of a reason to buy them. Up to $20,000 from sales of their two "I Love DKMS," colors will go to the DKMS foundation which helps patients with leukemia get matched with bone marrow doners.

OPI polishes are available at Ulta stores for around $9, so go get some pretty colors, and help a good cause!

Drink Neuro?

There's a new feel-good beverage on the market called Neuro. The brand has 8 different flavors to promote, well....pretty much everything! Their website claims, "You've got a 24/7 lifestyle-- you need a 24/7 drink. Luckily, there's a Neuro for every mood and occasion." (Really Neuro? You got a drink for road rage? How about one for "These people are driving me nuts?" Maybe an "I'm on hold with customer service and they're stupid" beverage?).

All "24/7 occasion" flavors include: 

Trim: to slim down
Sport: with electorlytes
Bliss: eliminates stress
Aqua: from the world's cleanest water source
Sun: with vitamin D
Sleep: to help you catch some Zzzz's
Sonic: for better memory & alertness
Gasm: for well....ya know. ;)

All for 35 calories and 9 grams of sugar (a little high in sugar for my taste, but let's carry on....).

I decided to try a couple and see what Neuro is all about. First thing's first---some of the flavors contain something called "phosphatidylserine." A search showed that phosphadylserine is the inside of cell membranes, usually from bovine cortex (that's right, peeps, cow brain!!!). AWW HELL NO! BUT, further investigation showed that SOY is often used as an alternative. A tweet to the peeps over at Neuro confirm that their products use the SOY version. Phew, ok then, let's carry on with the taste test.

I tried SLEEP, and the next day BLISS.

Sleep tasted like watered down orange...like Tang when you were a kid. It was the equivalent to popping a Tylenol PM. The woman who never sleeps, got groggy and went to bed. I recommend it.

Bliss I tried the next day. It tasted like a watered down virgin pina colada with carbonation. I didn't feel anymore blissful, but I'm pretty damn happy already, so maybe that's why. ;)

I haven't tried the other flavors, but I plan to. Maybe TRIM will be the next one I try---it's supposed to have a special fiber in it that makes you feel full so you don't want to eat. I do think I just might make SLEEP my new friend on those insomnia nights when I have a lot to do the next day!

All and all, pretty good! I recommend giving them a try...but try to find them on sale, cuz $2.69 per bottle is kinda high, IMHO.

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Keeping It Clean With Kiesque's Liquid Palisade!

wow--that's messy!
Ok, I admit it. I'm a sloppy nail painter. I get salon manicures, but I often do pedicures myself. My college roommate/longtime bestie used to laugh at me because I'd paint my toenails pretty much by painting all the skin around the nails. Hey, feet are far away, they're hard to reach!

It seems like messy manis and pedis will no longer be a problem thanks to Kiesque, a company that has created Liquid Palisade to protect the skin around nails while they're being painted with polish!

So, what is Liquid Palisade? Glad you asked! (otherwise, what would be the point of this blog entry? ;) It's a liquid that you apply around your cuticle and the skin around your nails, that dries to become a stretchy substance to protect against renegade nail painters like myself!

Basically, the liquid comes in a tube that looks like a mascara container with a little brush for an applicator. You paint the liquid on to the areas where you don't want polish, let it dry for a few minutes until it becomes a stretchy substance, paint your nails, let your polish dry, and then just peel off the Liquid Palisade. Voila! A manicure that looks as perfect as if a nail tech did it for you!

Best of all, you can even paint it ON your real or artificial nails if you're doing nail art and want some areas left without polish, or want to create the perfect French manicure! 

Liquid Palisade is $22 for a tube, and available on the Kiesque website. If you're allergic to latex, you shouldn't use Liquid Palisade, otherwise, go grab a tube and get to creating your own salon manicure/pedicure looks now!

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It Didn't Make You Love Me: Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 Perfume

Back in May I told you about a fragrance that's supposed to make people irresistible to the opposite sex: Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, featuring the ISO E Super molecule. (Doesn't sound any sexier than it did back in May, does it?)

The description on Lucky Scent's website, where the spray can be purchased, proclaimed, "The velvety woody note is highly sensitive to body chemistry and twists and turns as it evolves, enticing the wearer with an almost pheromone-like fascination."

The product sounded so oooh la la sexy, I ordered a sample to try it out! 

My order arrived a few days later.... 

You know those little spray samples of perfume that you get for FREE at department store perfume counters? The vials that are a little thinner than your pinky finger, but are filled all the way to the top of the container? That's what Lucky Scent mailed to me for $9 ($5 for the spray, $4 for shipping.).

BUT, the "bottle" wasn't even half full---it was maybe an 8th of the way filled; 3 tiny sprays-filled. For $9!! 

I've read that Iso E Super smells different to everyone, and some people can't detect it at all. 

To me, Molecule 01 smelled, yes, maybe a tiny bit woodsy, but more like the manufactured version of being out in the woods while rolling in damp dirt with some sort of floor cleaner that contains a hint of ammonia and a dirty cleaning rag that smells of mildew.  

Yeah...outdoors in the wilderness with dirt and mildew....

Not very attractive to me at all! 

Still, I decided to give Molecule 01 a chance, spray it on, and take it out in to the world to see if I got any proposals, or at least chatted up a little.

What I can say is that no one was any nicer to me than usual. No man chatted me up, no phone number requests, no nothing, but one of my guy friends did ask me if I was using a new air freshener plug-in at home and could I please unplug it because it was bothering him.... I didn't have any air freshener, so I'm thinking it just might be un-sexy ISO E Super.

On the other hand, I recently purchased a bottle of Coach "Poppy" perfume spray with hints of jasmine, gardenia, candied rose petal, fresh cucumber, and marshmallow, and constantly get asked by both men and women what I'm wearing!

...and this time, my guy friend didn't ask me to unplug an air freshener in my home, he asked me what smelled so good! 

So unless you like blowing money, or are looking to attract a grizzly bear in the wilderness, I'd recommend not ordering ripoff $9 3-tiny-spray samples from Lucky Scent (note to self, unsubscribe from their email mailing list...), skipping Molecule 01, and instead investing in a pretty scent of flowers and foods!   

I bet you'll have men falling at your feet in no time!

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