Get festive with dark nail polishes

•November 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Dark nail polishes, once reserved for goths and rockstars, are now viewed by fashionistas as a chicer alternative to clasic, but blah, pastels. Colors like crimson, burgundy, black, and even navy give the plainest of outfits an edgier feel. Pinks are so last summer, and simply won’t get you noticed at holiday parties.

Because dark nail polishes bring attention to the hands, it’s important to keep them in good condition. First, exfoliate with a fine-grain sugar scrub. This will get rid of any callouses that have accumulated. After exfoliating, moisturize with a thick hand cream. I love Neutrogena’s Norweigan Forumla. Now that your cuticles are softened, gently push them back with an orange stick. Never cut your cuticles, it’s a tricky process that, if not performed correctly, can leave you with a nasty and painful infection. For ongoing maintenance, wear gloves when washing dishes. Harsh dish soaps and abrasive sponges will wreck your nails. You can also sleep wearing a pair of moisturizing gloves. As with any other area, slather your hands with SPF on a daily basis–the skin there is thin, making the hands one of the first places to show age.

Now you’re ready to polish. Bolder colors tend to look better on shorter nails. After all, you want to look sexy, not vamp-y. Apply a base coat, two coats of whatever shade you desire, then end with a glossy top coat. Wait ten minutes between each coat to avoid smudging. In Jamie Allison’s blog, The Beauty of Life, she suggests a few of her favorite polishes. If you’re feeling extra festive, put a shimmery top coat over your polish. The results will be trendy and glamorous.


Skin cancer vaccine is in the works

•November 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I thought Hugh Jackman was my favorite Australian import, but after hearing that Australian scientist Ian Frazer is developing a skin cancer vaccine, Hugh might come in second. It turns out Frazer is the same person who developed the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is administered under the name Gardasil in the United States. Interestingly, Gardasil and the potential skin cancer vaccine have many points in common.

For one thing, the same virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts — papillomavirus — leads to squamous cell skin cancer. Squamous cells, if left untreated, lead to deadly meloanoma. Another similarity is this: Like Gardasil, which doesn’t protect against all strains of HPV, the skin cancer vaccine won’t guard against all types of skin cancers. Melanoma, unfortunately, will not be averted by the vaccine.

The vaccine might not be perfect, but it’s still an enormous step in the right direction for the health industry. Those who are susceptible to skin cancer, such as people with Skin Type I or who have a family history of skin cancer, will have added protection. Skin cancer runs in both sides of my family. My dad is constantly getting skin cancers burned off or cut out, and my grandmother is a melanoma survivor. I would be first in line for such a vaccine.

Everyone, however, would still need to take proper precautions when it comes to the sun. Just because a vaccine exists doesn’t mean we should all bake in tanning beds without fear of skin damage. Sorry, guys, but suncreen and protective clothing are still musts. On the bright side (or not so bright, depending on how you look at it), the vaccine could be out in as few as five years! Until then, I’ll keep you updated.

Have fun with homemade beauty treatments

•November 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

By fourth grade, I was a scientist and the kitchen was my laboratory. Hours were spent perfecting homemeade sugar scrubs and face masks. By the end of my so-called testing period, every surface in the kitchen would be coated with oatmeal, maple syrup, eggs, olive oil, orange juice, and any other ingredient I deemed worthy of one of my concoctions. I would try to clean up my experiments before my dad (who, I might mention, is obsessive-compulsive) came home, but he never failed to spot some gooey glob on a cabinet door almost instantly. “If you waste food and make a mess like this again,” he would begin ominously, “I will end you.” But I couldn’t be stopped. In the middle of the night I would sneak to the kitchen, grab as many tools and ingredients as I could, and rush off to the bathroom to continue my experiments.

New York Times reporter Natasha Singer is apparently a woman after my own heart. She has collected and posted some at-home beauty recipes for everyone to try after testing them on various subjects. Funnily enough, she created some of my own fourth-grade classics. Coffee grounds mixed with sugar (she used turbinado sugar, while I opted for the simple stuff) make an awesome body scrub. But be warned: Your skin will become temporarily stained, and the grounds are impossible to clean from the shower without a bit of resolve. Like Kim Tisdale, I was displeased with the aspirin face mask. I had used crushed aspirin mixed with water as a spot treatment for blemishes, reasoning that the aspirin would at least reduce infalmmation. It did not.

Following are a few of my own recipes: To create a hydrating face mask, mix a handful of uncooked oatmeal with two egg whites and a pinch of sugar. Add a dollop of plain yogurt or avocado for extra hydration. For dry heels or elbows, rub a lemon over the skin. The fruit acids will slough off the dead skin cells without abrasive scrubbing. For a homemeade sugar scrub, combine table sugar, olive oil and a splash of juice from any citrus until the mixture feels about the same as wet sand. Depending on your mood, you can add cinnamon or peppermint extract for a nice scent. Rub the mixture onto skin when it is still dry, and when you rinse off you’ll have silky smooth skin.

Not all at-home beauty treatments are good. I find that homemade hair treatments are the most difficult to pull off. Putting olive oil in my hair left it greasy, despite washing it out several times. Ditto for mayonnaise. One time I attempted to slather my hair in mayo because a magazine, I believe it was Cosmopolitan, insisted that full-fat mayo leaves your hair glossy. Not only would a cheap deep conditioner like Aussie’s Three-Minute Miracle have worked better, I wouldn’t have gagged while applying it.

If you decide to make your own at-home beauty recipes, always make sure to test your creation on a small area of skin to see how your body will react. Invite a few friends over for a fun night of beauty and exchange recipes. Who needs upperware parties when you can slather yourself in goo that smells akin to cake batter? And if you especially love any of your recipes, make sure to post them here for everyone to enjoy.

Is the new “beauty machine” your type or all hype?

•November 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Is beauty standardized? Unfortunately, I think it is. Should it be? That’s another question entirely. In the past, researchers claim to have found the “ideal” waist-to-hip ratio. Now, it seems, scientists have found a computer program that employs mathematics to make faces more attractive.

The device re-proportions the face using the average distance between features that the majority of people– and the key word here is ‘majority’– find the most aesthetically appealing. But it sounds more like something out of George Orwell’s 1984 to me. Magnifying mirrors already make women more insecure than they need to be, who really needs a computer telling them whether or not they’re attractive?

The technology could be used to enhance magazine cover models, because they apparently are digitally enhanced enough. It could also be used in plastic surgeons’ offices to better give patients an idea of the results he or she would like to attain. Yet another possibility is installing the program into digital cameras. No longer would we have to delete pictures that showcase our undereye circles or accentuate an unsightly nose bum. Heck, we should just do away with ugly people altogether. Let them burn in their ugliness, I say.

I’m kidding, of course. Honestly, do we need a computer program to make us feel more attractive? I’d rather look at pictures of myself with a double chin than look at a picture of an attractive person who looks good, but…isn’t me. In the long run, looking at an improved version of myself would really begin to wear on my confidence. I say we leave the “beauty machine” to a creepy episode of The Twilight Zone. In the meantime, embrace your flaws. Your flaws make you perfect.

The nose knows

•November 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

If you live in Florida, or anywhere else that stays 90 degrees year-round, you know all about the pointlessness of putting on perfume. One of two things usually happens. Either your elevated body temperature makes the fragrance seem cloyingly intense, or you sweat the perfume right off.

I’ve tried every trick, literally, in the book. Beauty magazines tout advice such as “As the temperature rises, wear lighter perfumes,” or “Layer your fragrance to make it stick.” Well, the temperature in Florida is always high enough to cause heart attack-inducing electricity bills, so suffice it to say I’m sick of citrusy fragrances. As for layering, the last thing I want to do before braving the humidity is to spritz on perfume then slather myself with a thick matching lotion.

That’s why I love the fall. Finally, I can make use my plethora of perfumes rather than admire what a nice display the bottles make atop my dresser. Some of my best memories revolve around a scent. I remember the smell of my first boyfriend’s cologne, a sporty Adidas fragrance from Walgreens. When I think of my Nana’s hugs, I think of Givenchy Amarige. Avon’s Skin So Soft is the smell summer, all fireworks and riding bikes in the cul-de-sac. Every person has a scent, and you should use your personality to sniff out the one that suits you best.

I switch up my fragrance depending on my mood. My go-to scent is Burberry Brit, a quirky and warm fragrance. I like to think of myself as caring and a bit offbeat, so I reflect that in my fragrance. Sometimes I tire of it and prefer to wear Gucci by Gucci, which has notes of pear (my favorite fruit) and exotic tiare flower. For special nights, job interviews, or anytime I want to feel sophisticated, I wear Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. As you pursue your signature fragrance, try using Sephora’s fragrance guide. It has a large selection of brands, as well as a detailed description of top notes for each perfume.

Cold weather skin is not hot.

•November 3, 2008 • 1 Comment

When it’s cold outside, as it has been for the past week here in Gainesville, I don’t feel like worrying about my skin. I feel like skipping class to avoid the cold, and staying in with a bowl of soup while watching reruns of my favorite shows. Granted, I’m a Floridian through and through. To me, 65 degrees is absolutely frigid. Be that as it may, the “cold” really takes a toll on my skin, even if it is only 60 degrees outside.

When the thermostat dips below 70, I snap into my cold weather beauty regimen like a soldier at roll call. There are various ways to battle the bitter cold, and some seem downright strange. But, trust me, they work. Follow these tips, and your skin will stay smooth and supple until Spring Break. 

When it’s cold outside, a person’s first impulse is probably to turn on the indoor heater. But that’s the worst thing you can do to your skin. Surprisingly, your skin doesn’t dry out solely because of the cold air outside. It dries out the most from contantly jumping into hot, dry indoor air from cold outdoor air. Think of indoor heaters as evil Cyborg machines sent to suck the moisture from your skin, and try to keep your home as temperate as possible without turning on the heater.

Similarly, you should avoid bathing in steaming hot water for more than 10 minutes at a time. I know it feels amazing to melt into a hot bath after a long day in the cold wind, but the heat from the water dries up your skin — just like that pesky heater. You can take hot baths, just keep the time spent lounging in the tub to 10 minutes or less.

Slather your body in thick lotion — or, better yet, unscented body oil — right after you get out of the tub. Your pores are still open from the steam, so your skin is better equipped to absorb the lotion. Try to keep the lotion or oil unscented, though, because artificial fragrance can irritate already sensitive skin.

Last, but not least, remember to pay attention to delicate skin. That includes the skin around your eyes, as well as your hands and lips. Skin here is thinner, so it not only dries out more quickly than out areas, but is also more prone to wrinkling later in life. Wear a moisturizing eye cream or gel (cream for dry skin types, gel for oily) when you go outside. Buy a good lip balm, but nothing medicated. The tingly sensation might feel good on your lips temporarily, but the ingredients in the medication actually make lips drier in the log run. So defeatist. I’m a big fan of Burt’s Bees lip balms, which are cheap and all-natural. The honey-flavored balm is decadent, trust me.

Now for the hands. Hands are one of the first places on the body that show age, because people generally forget to put sunscreen on them. Also, when the rest of your body is bundled up, hands tend to be exposed to the harsh elements. Fight signs of aging by slatering your hands in Neutrogena’s Norweigan Formula -Hand Cream with SPF. It’s rich, fragrance-free and a dab lasts forever. In a pinch, you can even use it on your lips.

Try going nude, even if it’s chilly outside

•October 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Come fall, I usually dread the same tired headlines plastered across beauty magazine covers: “Red lips, matte skin, red lips, matte skin, red lips…” you get it. But this fall, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is adding a little autumn spice to your standard beauty routine, saying that nude makeup is in. Unfortunately, nude makeup can be a little tricky.

Done incorrectly, nude makeup can make you look like a corpse. Women have traditionally relied on pink blushes or red lipsticks to liven up their complexion. The undertones of these colors make the skin appear flushed, fresh and awake. Switching to neutral beige tones, though, leaves some women looking tired and sallow. Usually this is because they either need help finding a nude shade that flatters their skin tone, or because their overused an outdated monochromatic makeup kit circa 1994.

Applied the correct way, however, nude makeup is a refreshing and sophisticated switch from the boring red lip. The neutral palette also just happens to complement the dark colors in fall clothing. Cosmopolitan says:

“‘Pick a color that works with your skin tone so you won’t look washed out, advises makeup artist Mylah Morales. ‘Stay within two shades of your natural skin tone,’ says Morales. ‘Girls with fair complexions should look for pinker nudes, while those with darker skin should go for a beige undertone. A pop of pink or peach blush plus bronzer keeps the face vibrant.’”


To pull off the nude look, I also suggest taming your eyebrows with a clear brow gel. It adds structure to the face, which makes your features, not your makeup, the center of attention. After that, apply a universally flattering champagne highlighter along the brow bone to brighten the eye area, on your cheekbones to sculpt the face, or on your cupid’s bow (where your upper lip dips into a heart shape) to make your lips look fuller.

Of course, if you don’t take care of your skin you won’t look good no matter how much makeup you apply. So be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep, drink lots of water and don’t forget to exfoliate. That way, even if the weather outside makes you sleepy, your makeup routine won’t.