Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SUMMER 2015: A GREEK TRAGEDY

Athena, goddess of wisdom. Fierce and brave in battle.

It just happened that I came across a beautiful edition of Homer's Odyssey a few weeks ago and read it with much joy.  Last time I read it was in high school ...
At any rate with the last weeks of current events in Greece, I couldn't help but make some comparisons.  The entire country of Greece needs to see itself in epic terms.  This is pretty much an epic moment for them so why not decide to be the Hero!




According to this chart, Greece would seem to be somewhere in the Abyss ( death & rebirth) phase.  It is indeed a tricky phase.  They seem to have already failed quite a few of the "challenges and temptations" and my guess is that they failed to call upon the appropriate helper/mentor/helper.
This is where their ancient past is a serious bonus.  They have an extraordinary wealth of mentors and helpers in their gods, goddesses, philosophers, mythologies, etc...

Odysseus winning back his kingdom

They need look no further than Homer's Odyssey.  It's truly all there.  He, like modern Greece, spent a few too many years whiling away the days on a tropical island crying himself to sleep fearing he would never regain his former awesome life.  But the wise and concerned Athena, lit a proverbial fire up under his ass and got him started for home.  And as the chart clearly shows, part of the journey home involves going down into Hell and conversing with the dead to gain some insight.  Greeks, are you listening?  I think you know what this means.  The sh*t just got real.  But, Athena cares.  She cares a lot and she goes the distance to help.  Which in normal language means wisdom, clarity and a sound plan are crucial.





And learn from past mistakes!!!  Pissing off Poseidon costs way too much.  Come up with an alternate plan...





This bizarre escape plan just doesn't fly in the modern world.  Don't even try it.





And you have definitely already lost too many men to the siren song.  Take an alternate route.  It's obvious that it's going to suck.  Odysseus continually refers to himself as the most unlucky man alive.  But, he is brave as Hell and feverishly devoted to his home of Ithaca.  The gods love him for these qualities.  And so do the readers of Homer.  So, Greece, find your inner hero and win the day... which according to mythology (and the above chart) is possibly 20 years away, but worth every challenge and sacrifice when the home you are trying to preserve looks like this:
Odysseus' own sweet Ithaca
You can do it Greece!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

CELEBRITY PERFUMES


Yikes!

 I started out wanting to review celebrity frags with an optimistic outlook and a slight hope that I might find, to my surprise , that I actually bonded with and decided to purchase one.  I had an open mind... Sort of.  I have had a closed mind towards celebrity perfumes since around - forever.  Based mostly on the ad campaigns and the occasional whiff of a magazine fold over.
So... this smells like armpit?

So with my generous attitude I ventured out to sample some of these scents.  I went first to Bloomingdales.  I have a dread of department stores almost equal to my dread of celebrity fragrances so I was really giving it my all... Only to find that Bloomingdales can't be bothered with such things.  I had to respect that choice even though I was now faced with having to try another unpleasant venue - Macy's.  I smiled at my mistake. Of course Bloomingdales had try to keep some snob appeal alive even though they lost all snob appeal by 1980 something.  Anyway, off to the everyman store.
Wow, part pirate costume, part fruit salad

Alas, even the Everyman store was too busy trying to look fancy to be bothered with Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian.  Hmm.  Now I'm more than frazzled from having to walk through the ground level of not one but two department stores!  But, I am super curious. Where the Hell does one go to purchase some Katy Perry or Taylor Swift essence?  I had read that people were finding Gloria by Gloria Vanderbilt at Walgreens.  It was getting a lot of buzz because it's an older classic scent and people were finding it for $10 !  I was def into that kind of treasure hunt so I made a beeline for the nearest Walgreens.
"Catch the Fever" from what? The STD causing her to air out her crotch?

The perfumes at Walgreens are kept locked up in a glass case and obviously no sample bottles and scent cards available. Also no Gloria.  Now I was going from generous  and upbeat, to mystified, to just plain pissed off.
What the Hell is even going on here!?

On my way home I passed another Walgreens that looked newer and bigger and I thought I would just peak in and see if Gloria might be there.  No.  No Gloria, but there was a strange vending machine like apparatus for spritzing  a sample of most of the fragrances. And they had Britney Spears Fantasy which I had read quite a few positive reviews about.  So after much fiddling with this bizarre machine and even collaborating with some other customers who gave up and walked away, I finally got a huge blob of Fantasy dumped into the palm of my hand. And , yes, it was atrocious.
This bottle is already giving me nightmares...

 So I am going to let this entire experience validate my original contempt for the currently tanking arm of the perfume industry known as the Celebrity Fragrance.
Why is this an ad?

It's really not that hard...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Krispy Kreme

I just had my birthday.   Thank you, yes I had a very nice day.
I had planned this a few months ago - birthday freebies.  Like Starbucks free birthday drink, Sephora VIB birthday gift etc.  I looked into a few new ones and signed up for the 'fan club' just for an experiment.  The first failure was Krispy Kreme.  It was really bizarre because they did send me an email for a donut and coffee on my birthday, specifying the location, about a week before the glorious day.  On my birthday that email was no where to be found... nowhere.  I ended up going to the Krispy Kreme site to sign in and find out they didn't recognize my email.  I had received approx one email per week for three months and now they didn't have me on record.  And I couldn't find a single one of the emails they had sent me.  I decided the universe was trying to save me from some catastrophe like a new donut based ebola outbreak or something equally bad so I just moved along.

This is probably the fourth year I have taken advantage of the Starbucks offer.  Simple and to the point.  No craziness here just a major caffeine/sugar rush.

This is my third Sprinkles birthday cupcake - I got in on the ground floor (they now have a location in Atlanta as well as New York and Los Angeles).  I got chai flavor!

Aveda


Second disappointment - Aveda.  A travel size hand lotion with a $30 order...?! Bogus.  They offer better deals than that all the time. They really need to step it up.  The other beauty insiders clubs are way more fun...

Sephora
 
Sephora sent a post card as well as email and packaged these two Nars lipsticks in a cute 'Happy Birthday' box.  And did not specify a minimum order.

Club Clio

Club Clio was the hands down winner.  They know how to celebrate!  A make up case with 3 sheet masks, a lipstick that I got to choose myself, a hand lotion (yeah Aveda...) and three Goodal skin care samples.  Party time at Club Clio!!!

So, my birthday is over, and it's back to the real world another year older, but armed with some awesome beauty supplies.  Maybe I will have an extra beautiful year!

Monday, March 30, 2015

K-Beauty Part III: My Korean Product Faves

From a recent trip to Club Clio

#1 Fave - Peripera cushion blusher.  I can't live without this and there is NO stand in or duplicate. It's this exact product or nothing.

(All other faves I will not number because I love them all and I don't want to have to pick 'teachers pet'.)
Club Clio "Kill Cover" - excellent coverage, several options, all good.

Fairly recent Tony Moly repurchase

Tony Moly tony tint Delight in deep red and cherry red are kind of tied for #1 fave.  I stock up to make sure I am never without one.

I also repurchase the Pandas Dream white sleeping pack.  It is so light and comfortable and you wake up well hydrated.

Not your typical sheet mask

These Sun Clamue collagen masks are a cut above the regular sheet masks.  Pricier, but really effective. (the other two sample products were also high quality)

From The Face Shop

The Face Shop has my favorite eyebrow pencil.  Mostly just because they have the color that most perfectly goes with my complexion.
I also love this Mini Pet Sweet perfumed hand cream.  It's very lightly scented and of couse the little jar makes me smile!






These three Mizon products are an essential part of my morning and evening ritual.  Snail Recovery, HA drops and S-Venom Wrinkle Tox.  I have  pretty long list of other products that revolve in and out but these three are always there.

Everyone has different skin care needs and issues etc. and you really can't know if something is for you until you try it.  One bonus with the Korean brands is that they make samples of everything and also have testers in store etc. and you can figure out pretty quickly what direction to go in. 
Same with the make up.  I didn't even mention BB or CC creams because there are so many and it's really hard to recommend because of the difference in skin type and the kind of coverage preference differs from person to person.  But I will say that I have four different ones that I love and have tested several others that I also loved...
The bottom line for me is that I have not been disappointed with any product I have tried.  Some have not given me exactly what I was looking for but the product itself was fine.  The standards are very high and they don't normally perfume things or add very much that isn't essential to the efficacy of the product.
I hope I have inspired a few of you to get started on a Korean Beauty routine. I can only hope the more we show interest here stateside the more products will be available!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

K-Beauty Part II; Where to Buy Korean Beauty Products

Now has shops in NY & NJ!

It's true that Korean beauty shops have begun popping up all over the US.  Sephora now has a dozen or so Tony Moly products online (I haven't noticed them in the store...) and they have Dr Jart plus  their own Sephora version of the sheet mask (which is pretty new). Urban Outfitters has a massive Korean beauty section ( as well as a ton of 'online only' products; *they ship within the US only). And Target carries some Laneige skin care.
Tony Moly is probably the most visible Korean brand newly emerging on the American market.  Aside from Sephora and UO, there are 3 locations in NY ( a brand new one in Chinatown), a huge location in Annandale, VA and locations in LA and SF. Most likely others I don't know about...
Tony Moly is way into adorable, and here in the states, we love it!!!

Nature Republic also has stores in NY, NJ, and CA.

The Face Shop also has stores in NY and CA.

 I have shopped in each one of these stores in New York City.  They are pretty tiny in their K Town and Chinatown locations but I am told are more spacious in the Queens locations.  The Face Shop is said to have a location inside the H Mart in Chicago. (H Mart is a chain of grocery stores that I believe is nationwide.)
Last weekend I went to the H Mart in Kennesaw, GA (a sizable Korean community just north of Atlanta) and there was this Amore shop.  Amore is the parent company to many brands including Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Etude, Innisfree and Iope.
Every one of these shops offers a membership card which will give a discount after spending a certain amount and I think they all also give you 10% off during your birthday month.
So, there is Urban Outfitters, which is everywhere, and you may have an H Mart in your town that will have a skin care shop inside.  If you don't have that (too bad because the grocery shopping at H Mart is amazing!).... then you always have the internet.
MEME BOX is a wonderful site.  You don't have to sign up for the monthly box, you can buy any product and any box, anytime.  The prices are good, they ship from SF and they even have some of their own 'xo meme' items made for them in Korea. Check it out memebox.com.
Charlotte of Soko Glam


sokoglam.com is another awesome site.  It's NY based and also ships from US so again 3 - 4 days as opposed to 4 - 6 weeks from Korea.  Soko Glam is thoughtfully curated by the lovely Charlotte (pictured) who travels to Korea regularly to stay on top of the newest/latest.
There is also peachandlily.com.  It's a really nice site run by two extremely professional gals with tons of info and helpful tips.
And then of course, there is EBay.  I have purchased from f2plus1 and been happy with the whole experience.  They have a 99% positive feedback after 68000 sales so not a lot of risk here.  It does of course take around 6 weeks for shipping. The inventory is gynormous and it's easy to spend lots of time wandering around in this ebay store.  
I forgot to mention that all of these stores and f2plus1 on ebay give fairly generous samples.  I got no samples from MEME and have not purchased from Soko Glam or Peach & Lily although I would guess samples would be involved.  The samples are great for introducing you to all these wonderful products and helping put together your own skin care routine.
To sum it all up, there is nothing standing in the way of any American beauty junkie buying all the Korean products your bathroom can handle.  I am in love with some of these products and will give you my personal feedback and faves in the next post.  Meanwhile, go buy a memebox starter kit and have fun!







Sunday, February 15, 2015

KOREAN MAKE UP AND SKIN CARE PRODUCTS - PART ONE






I love, love, love Korean beauty products!  I have been using them for quite a while and I have to say I don't think I have purchased a single dud.  From skincare to make up to hair care, every product I have tried has been worth repurchasing.  That is saying an awful lot because I am picky and I have all kinds of skin, make up and hair issues that I have never been able to deal with until taking a chance on some of these rather foreign sounding products.  They really give you your money's worth!
So, I am going to walk you through...
First off, there are so many new sources popping up that buying these things is not a problem.  Understanding the different ingredients and attitude towards beauty and make up might be the bigger issue.  Not all products have a lot of English on the label. But,  South Korea has very high standards; these products use more natural and plant-based ingredients than most western products and they are usually very helpful in store or online with all questions.   I will direct you to very legit sources, so truly,... no worries.
  I'm breaking this subject into a 3 part post because there is soooo much to cover.  This first part is to show the packaging, marketing, and just plain unusual visuals for most people unaccustomed to Asian products.



These three are somewhat unsettling in their childlike imagery.  I'm not sure but I think the idea is that you are using a product to achieve a more youthful skin... "Goodbye Oil Tank"?  Obviously something got lost in the translation but I'm sure if you have an oily skin issue this product is for you.
The  'pig nose' black head strip, sounds gross but I would wager that this 3 step kit does a better job than the Biore one strip.  I'm not sure how a vibrating action is going to make your foundation more 'jewelry' like, but they do put a lot of research into these products and I won't poo-poo it until I've tried it.  The 'whitening' products are mostly 'brightening' in that they are not going to bleach your skin, they are going to usually have a high SPF and a a light tone coverage. 'Milky Dress' and 'White Virgin' may sound contradictory but it's just one of those uortunate word choices.



These three make up products are from Etude House, a very popular make up brand.  They seem to love fairy tale packaging.  The fragrance of Versailles looks a lot like Disneyland castle but 'Etoinette' is happy there.  And who can possibly resist buying Princess Happy Ending blush. ( I bought a bunch of these and gave them to friends!)  The thing is, these are not cute novelty items. They are amazingly high quality products that in my opinion kick ass. Their  American counterparts don't really give the same value for money spent.

Moving on from the slightly creepy packaging, there is also some crazy cute packaging like this!
The Tony Moly brand has lots of cute animal packaging, even for their serious skin care products  (I use the Panda night cream that comes in a cute Panda jar. It looks more like a gift from a children's birthday party but honestly it's a serious night cream.)




The issue here is just a matter of translation.  The fact is that they are putting amazing ingredients into these lip tints and they are not only color rich but full of natural skin conditioning plant extracts.


I wanted to cover these odd marketing and mostly just bad English translations so that you would understand that this is part of the process when starting out on your K Beauty journey.  Do not be put off by this and don't think this is just for teens.  These are grown up products and many are amazing multi-taskers.  In Part Two I am going to give you help on how and where to buy these products and in Part Three I will give a review of some of my faves... spoil alert - the adorbs picture at the top, Peri's Tint,  is one of them : ) !