Five face creams as a base, then a couple layers of make-up…

A couple weeks ago I dragged my sister-in-law to the Lancome counter at Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. I had scheduled it about a month before when I had let myself be dragged from the main aisle to the Lancome counter, where an exuberant woman put make-up on my face and invited me to pay $15 to sign up for when their world-class make-up artist was going to be doing faces in a special event at the store. I was spending $60 of Nordstrom notes (ie. free money), so I didn’t think anything of the sign-up price and loved the little baggie of freebies.

It turns out the artists that did our faces only had the vaguest of supervision by the well-known artist (whose name escapes me, so he’s well-known somewhere, right?) It started with me telling them my skin-problems and ended with being coated with five different face creams and ointments, a “light” coverage of make-up (which was heavier than my daily make-up), and in the end, being asked if I wanted to put on more. There was some hard-selling involved, and my $15 credit towards the purchase of some of the products didn’t go very far when a lip gloss costs $25 by itself. I walked out with paying more than I wanted to spend for product that I only kinda wanted.

I realized a couple weeks ago that I’ve done this before, and actually left with a little more satisfaction than I walked out with at Lancome. My previous experience was at a chic little boutique in Wicker Park, Chicago that had Sue Devitt cosmetics. Unlike the zoo that was Nordstrom, this was a bit more sedate and felt a little less frantic. The artist didn’t quite give me exactly what I wanted as far as the make-up job, and my $30 sitting fee that was credited to purchase didn’t go far either, but I did end up walking out with a few products that I still feel are the best eyeliners I’ve ever had. I just wish I could find them so easily in Seattle!

I can’t say I’m so impressed with Lancome, though I do love their mascaras. (Though seriously, vibrating mascara? That’s just silly.)

So remember, when they ask you if you want to sign up for a low price for 30-60 min of make-over fun – say no, unless you want to spend at least $50 on stuff you probably don’t need. I found myself overwhelmed just with the face wash and cream regimen. It may promise eternally youthful skin, but at a cost of 15 extra minutes per morning that I could spend, I don’t know, blogging about face creams. 🙂 It’s also a good time to remember – youthful looking skin won’t help you cheat death. It won’t stop a car from crashing into you or prevent cancer (not even with a high SPF). I’m going to work on learning to love this long line stretching across my forehead. Now to work on loving my grey hairs.

Lifestyle Fashion

In the past year or so, I’ve gotten into some activities that require “active wear.” First off, I started scuba diving – so I ended up getting the full scuba outfitting gear, thanks to GirlDiver being a Mares representative. Granted, this is mainly only fashionable on my way in or out of the water – but the SheDives line of gear is nicely fitted and smartly fashionable in a world where there’s not enough girl-friendly gear.

Then there was running. This had a whole separate gear requirement. The basics are simple, sports bra, shorts, shirt. If you want to get fancy, you want to get stuff that reduces chafing, like moisture wicking, form-fitting socks and tops. Nice breezy shorts help too. Thanks to a few clearance sales (REI and Title Nine) I was outfitted in no time.

Finally, there was yoga. I’m happy to do yoga at home in my pajamas, however, that doesn’t work so well when going to a studio. So, I bought a couple of outfits (one on clearance) at Lucy, which has cute, yet overpriced yoga wear.

The thing is about running and yoga – or at least, when I was doing them more often – is that the clothing I used for those activities were used solely for those activities. I just don’t get people wearing the fashion of active lifestyles (or things that look like they’re great for such activities, but really aren’t) when they don’t do those activities, or aren’t on their way to do so.

The New York Times has an article here that looks at Lululemon, the yoga lifestyle apparel company, and how they’re selling a feeling. It’s not unlike what I experienced at the vendor tables when I went to see Pema Chodron a few weeks ago. People will buy the books, the CDs, the inspirational cards and purses hand made by whoever … but owning those things won’t do the meditation for you. Your yoga clothes won’t make you more limber any more than your Nike running shorts will make you fit to run a marathon all by themselves.

I admit, the pretty active fashions are captivating, but do I really need a t-shirt to prove that I’m more enlightened than you?

Electric Shaver RIP – April 09 – July 09

When I was discharged from the ER in March, I left with a packet of information on how to manage my new world of anticoagulation. First and foremost – do not climb ladders, second – say goodbye to leafy greens (that is, until you work out something practical with the people overseeeing your care). In the reduction of injury department came the encouragement to purchase an electric shaver for your smooth skin needs. I’ve been a fan of the old Gillette Venus, with it’s three measly blades (!) for about – uh – 8 years now? So fond that I haven’t upgraded to the five blade silliness.

Given that I risked hemorrhaging, what with the warfarin and all, I fnally broke down and bought a Conair Satiny Smooth Ladies’ Wet / Dry Rechargeable Shaver at my local Walgreens. For the price (around $30), I wasn’t expecting much. The reviews I found on various sites were rather dismal, and the pamphlet that came with the shaver recommended a number of uses before passing judgment.

Since I only expected to be on blood thinners for 4-6 months, I figured this was worth a try, and a small investment for summertime and vacation bare legs. It definitely took some getting used to, and made my shaving time 3x as long, but in the end, it seemed to work out rather well. I was pleased with my purchase, and was happy that I had this rather thrifty solution.

That is, until last week when what should have been a fully charged shaver, didn’t turn on. I figured maybe it hadn’t been seated in the charger well, but after another few days, well seated, it still held no charge (though the green light was on while charging.) After weekly use for three months (almost 4!) I pronounce my shaver dead. I think it was worth every penny I paid for it, and for a short-term solution, it did exactly what I wanted to do.

However – if electric shavers are your main leg grooming agent – I’d go elsewhere.

Update on a Consumer Post from Last Year

Back in December I posted about three products that I had issues with, and had contacted those responsible. I thought I would update on those items.

First, and most disappointing – Evan Healy. I had purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit from Whole Foods Market in White Plains, NY. The stuff is NOT easy to find on the shelves in Seattle! I had loved it before, and I loved it shortly after I bought it. That was, until, I discovered mold growing in the bottle of Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk. I promptly contacted the company, using the info available on the website. I never heard anything back. Such a shame, too. I was willing to spend the $24.95 for a 4oz bottle of a mostly, if not all, natural face cleanser. Not any more. Customer service means a lot, and I didn’t get any from Evan Healy.

What have I done to replace this? I’ve been using the old stand-by of Clinique Face Soap for Oily Skin . It seems to last forever, and though some will warn about using soap on your face, I find it works quite well for me. For moisture, I’ve been using Aveda All Sensitive Moisturizer.

Second – Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. They’re a regional, vegan, frozen dessert company, and make some delicious stuff. However, on three occasions of buying the Cherry Amaretto, the pint was sometimes as much as a quarter cup empty! It was like the machine that filled it crapped out at the last bit. I let them know what happened, and received a perfectly pleasant email in return, apologizing and offering a gift certificate for my next pint. The certificate never arrived, and I haven’t heard anything since. Thankfully, I’ve found some coconutty alternatives, though not local. So sad!

What have I done to replace this? Purely Decadent Mint Chip is pretty awesome.

Third – the big biz, Marie Claire. I love my trashy women’s fashion mags. I really do. Marie Claire is one of the better ones, in my opinion. However, they failed to deliver my last two issues on time, and only gave me my second to last issue after the next issue was due. No word on what happened with my final issue, and I was so ticked off I didn’t bother renewing. Well, the economy must be hitting them (or something) because I got a mailing from them last week promising two years for less than the discounted cost of one year. Seriously, it’s stupidly cheap and worth my while since it’s the cost of three magazines in an airport for two years worth. I’m still debating signing up, though. It’s a lot of dead trees.

What have I done about this? Well, I attempted to re-up my subscription online, but that didn’t go so well. I have to wait a week to deal with the problems with them due to the time it takes to get it in the system, so – we’ll see. Allegedly, I’ve got issues waiting for me, they just need a good address (I guess my current one was “undeliverable” for some reason. Oh well… we’ll find out soon enough, right?

See previously: Today in Spending.

Personal Economy: Buy what you want/need, don’t buy it if you don’t like it.

Throughout my life I’ve gone through being a minimalist as far as the standard beauty products, and paying the mid-range, aspirational prices of department store counters. I’ve never been able to successfully toss aside my chains of oppression by the fashion and beauty industries, and my feelings between guilt and celebration have waxed and waned.

Oh boy, but now I’m looking at 31, and I’ve got a deep line across my forehead. I started a little mini-panic when I realized it wasn’t going away. I instantly thought, maybe I can get a cream that will arrest it, or make it go away – and maybe I wouldn’t have to spend $50 to do it! I saw a lot of reviews and a lot of promises, and I came to the conclusion that none of the claims could be trusted, and I couldn’t stomach $50+ for a face cream that wouldn’t ultimately do what I want it to do, which is permanently stop my face from creasing.

So what do I do? When I was in a Whole Foods in White Plains, NY, I found that they had my, to this point, most favorite face cleanser and cream ever. Why have I not been using it? Because I first bought it at a small store in Chicago, and couldn’t find it locally in Seattle. I thought to myself – it IS pricey, and couldn’t I find an alternative that was just as good? The answer, after about 3 years, was no. I purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit, and have been happy ever since. Even Dr. Hauschka, which makes holistic skin care in the same vein as Evan Healy, doesn’t have all that I love about Evan Healy’s products.

The lesson learned is that, in the time I’ve played with all these other products (and used up most of them), the product I’ve been most enthusiastic about is one I could have bought online, and likely saved more time and money just by doing so than trying to find less expensive alternatives.

Evan Healy’s products don’t promise to do anything special, other than clean the skin, not strip it too much of the oils you need, and that it be allowed to breathe. It doesn’t promise to make these deep creases go away, but maybe they don’t need to. And maybe I go back to purchasing my favorite make up, Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals, which I keep going back to after trying cheaper or more flashy options.

None of these things are what I need – but it is just something I want and makes me feel good. The less I spend on other crap I truly don’t need, the better – esp. if that means I’m not trying out the new best thing and deciding I’m hating it.