A New Blog?

Hello anyone who still checks in here.....

I think I want to start blogging again.  But not here.  I still love my beauty products, but I don't really want to talk about them anymore (yes, we figured since you haven't posted in over a year).  What I do want to write about is my new little crafting obsession.  I eagerly check my google reader constantly in the hopes that the blogs I read have a new little project posted that I can ogle and ponder how I can use it as inspiration.  And I wanna join all those McLinky parties!!

But I need help!!  I need a name and I don't know where to go, what site to use to get a decent blog layout.

So if you are reading this, and you are probably the only one, any thoughts?

p.s. i ordered a cricut expression on ebay, and I am way too excited about my new toy


My Stepmom by Zoya

My Stepmom, Laurie, has had a strong influence on my beauty development ever since she met my dad and I when I was 8. She had a much larger make-up stash than my mom and aunts, and I soon started to get all kinds of hand-me-down make-up, from department stores, natch. Hmm maybe that was when my need for high-quality/high-quantity began......
Now we talk about the new products we have found. I like to younger, funky brands (MAC), she likes the more classic, refined ones (Bobbi Brown), so we always discover new things. But we share a deep, mutual love for Chanel and we both loooove Glossimer in Satinette.

So when I saw that Zoya came out with a shade called Laurie, and it had the same pink quality as Satinette - it was kismet. I bought a bottle for each of us.

I was expecting this to have a sheer quality, so I was surprised that it is really more opaque. It is still pretty close to being a nail version of Satinette. I've only tried it on my toes and I think it would look even prettier on my hands. And of course, every time I wear it I will think of my stepmom.


Easy to Love

I finished trying out all of the Essie In The Mood Polishes I bought and I am really excited to share what I thought about the last two with you.

Hard to Get - I was expecting to really like this one and I wasn't disappointed at all. This is a great take on what I refer to as Barbie or Bubblegum Pink. It has all the pop you would expect, but it is toned down wonderfully with a smidge of gray (this season's power player). This subtle tweak makes the color look really grown-up and it also adds a bit of a matte quality, which I think works fantastically to make this girlie color come off as current and chic.

Looking for Love - In my snapshot review of the line, I said this color sucked, was streaky and I was trashing it. Well.. alls fair in love and beauty and I had to give it a chance before casting its fate. And I am so glad I did!!! Yes, there is still the streaky factor to deal with, but I'm in love with the color. It's a great lavender both opaque and translucent at the same time. Total oxymoron, I know, but it really is. I got the best application on my pinkies and ring fingers, and the worst on my thumbs, so I think it needs some TLC to prevent the streaks.

My final verdict on In The Mood for Spring 2008 is an A+. All of the colors I tried were great. The only one that I won't be keeping is Secret Affair. The color is beautiful, it just doesn't work for me. I'm also interested in trying Looking for Love layered over Great Expectations. As far as my favorite goes, it is hands down Hi Maintenance.

My Zoya order is on the way, so in the next few weeks I'll be reviewing Laurie (from the Blissful collection), Sabrina, Loretta, and Rose (from the Purity collection) as well as Heather, Remove+, Intense Hydrating Therapy, Half Time Polish Drying Accelerator, Anchor Base Coat, and the new packaging of Cuticle Repair Balm.


Secret Affair

For my manicure this weekend I used my new Essie Secret Affair and I'm a little sad :(
I really love the way this color looks, but it is a bit too warm for my skin tone. I'll have to console myself with how much I love Hi Maintenance and remember that I also have all of the other new colors from the other salon lines to try out.

Hopefully I can pass this polish on to a friend whose skin tone it will complement.
So Long Secret Affair, I'm sorry it didn't work out.

Sweet Escape

There are a few service businesses that I really want to find. One -a restaurant that is appropriate for anything from an easy dinner, to a romantic evening, to an important celebration. I also need to find a tailor that can I can count on to do all my basic alterations as well as more in-depth changes. And I've been dying to find a local day spa where I can take care of basic nail maintenance and indulge in massages, facials, and interesting treatments.

This weekend I found my spa! I noticed their sign soon after moving to the area last year, but it is in a shopping center that needs a face-lift and the signage just says "skin/nails" - so even though it would always come to mind, I never ventured to try them out. Then my stylist/colorist said that they send the salon's clients there all the time. So I started to think about it even more, and Saturday I decided I was going to finally check it out and have a manicure. Why hadn't I gone sooner?!?!?

The unappealing storefront makes for a very private environment. The spa is small, but well thought out. A short wall keeps clients hidden when someone walks in the door - the front desk right ahead of you. the main room has two manicure stations and a banquette. Two pedicure chairs are tucked behind another half wall. The private rooms are off of the main room, which works for this boutique spa. There was another hallway to the other side of the entrance (i didn't get to check that out).

While the larger, more well-known day spas have their benefits, the one time I went to Red Door, I was a bit disturbed by how impersonal it felt, and the shared locker room gets creepy when there are more than two women in there. The worst are the "serenity rooms". I know they are supposed to be relaxing, but I get stressed waiting for my person to come get me - and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

So, In addition to loving the atmosphere - the prices are great. My manicure, which included a paraffin treatment was $22. A full day (4 hours) of a premier facial, deep tissue massage, spa pedicure, hydrating manicure, and spa lunch and gift - for only $250!!

And the best part is how wonderful the staff is. My manicurist wrapped my neck with one of those warm pillow things, brought me a goblet of water, and actually paid attention when grooming my cuticles(rather than blindly cutting them all off). The manager was super sweet, we chatted a bit and she sent me home with a bag of samples.

I'm looking forward to going back soon and trying out their full menu.



Polish News and Reviews

I had to get my Essie polishes this weekend - the urge for fresh colors was killing me!!
I love the mini-packs that come out with each collection - such a great way to try multiple colors. The pack has 3 of the shades I wanted - Secret Affair, Hi Maintenance, and Hard to Get. The 4th shade included is Lots of Love - the completely crap-tastic lavender that is really streaky and a bit too cool, giving a bit of that "death" color. Into the trash it goes. I also bought Great Expectations in the full size bottle.

I swatched them all - Lots of Love - see above, Hard to Get is a more sophisticated and warmed up Barbie/Bubblegum pink and Secret Affair has a really pretty sheen.

I did all then later on with Great Expectations. The color is such a great new shade - very different from whats out there and extremely chic! I also used Hi Maintenance and I LOVE it! It is one of the prettiest pale pinks and it adds the perfect touch of elegance. I love the name being a hi maintenance gal, but the color is totally lo maintenance - so great!

Being that my nails are in the best state right now, and I also am not the greatest at getting a good application, my nails are bare right now. I want to paint my nails again tonight with Hi Maintenance, using only one coat and no base or top. I think it could be a very simple, easy, and easier to maintain way to achieve a polished look when I don't have time to get or give myself a mani.

While at Ulta, I also got to see the Orly collection - Meringue and Cupcake both stood out to me, they looked like a great creamy white and pink, respectively. I'll wait until I try out all the other polishes on my list before trying these.

An update on the Zoya collection: There are actually two spring collections. The second one is called Purity French Collection. I actually like this one better than Blissful and there are three colors I would like to try: Rose (soft metallic sheer nude), Loretta (pretty super sheer pink), and Sabrina (soft sheer pink). The other three are Purity (french tip white), Jane (natural sheer nude), and Sari (gorgeous semi-sheer pink).

OPI India is now available and the Little Jewels mini collection has my name all over it. It has two of the shades I am into - Black Cheery Chutney and Indi-a Mood for Love, plus Lunch at the Delhi - a coral shade, which I never would have picked for myself but I think will be cool to try, and RapiDry Top Coat.


Nail Varnish 360

When I started this blog 1 1/2 years ago, I was on the tale end of my quest to find the perfect polish. I was working my way through all of Essie's pale colors to find The One. I couldn't settle on just one - but Limo-Scene and It's in The Bag were at the top of my list, along with the classics - Ballet Slippers and Mademoiselle. Shortly after that Black Satin hit the scene and started a frenzy. But I declared that I would not follow the trends, and I was sticking with my white-pinks.

Sometime around Feb/March 2007 I lost a bit of my bravado and became very intrigued by the vampy nail. And then Essie made me cave. The Fall 2007 Glamour Girl Collection came out and i fell in LOVE with Material Girl. And I loved the look! So I went and got both OPI Lincoln Parks and a few other darks so I could experiment.

Of course now that I have fully embraced the dark colors - Spring is all about my first love - the super-pales - AHHH!

After my initial WTF!?!?! I am getting really excited for all the new colors I want to try. And now I'm up for trying brands other than Essie.

The List:
Essie In The Mood...

I want Hi Maintenance, Hard to Get, Great Expectations, and Secret Affair.
Not so into Body Language and Looking for Love.
I'll be buying and trying as soon as I can get my hands on them. Until then, enjoy the fabulous review by All Lacquered Up.

Zoya Sheer Bliss
My fav is Laurie - Sheer Pink
I love how all of their polishes are girl names (I'll have to get Heather at some point) My stepmom is Laurie, and this is the perfect color for her. I'll have to buy two bottles.
**Just a thought - at $6 each, getting someone a gift of their name's color would make a great inexpensive and thoughtful gift**
The other colors are Miley, LuLu, Felicity, Zanna, and Penelope.

Orly Sugar Coated
Rock Candy
Petit Four
Bon Bon
I need to see the colors in person before picking my favs

Finally, OPI India has a full range of colors, so I'll be getting some deeper hues from this one
Of the 12 colors, I want to try Elephantastic Pink (Bubblegum), Get Me to the Taj On Time (Sheer Pink), I'm Indi-a Mood For Love (hot pink), Black Cherry Chutney (the vamps will be back after the summer and I want this one for then)


And Then There Was One

Yes, my search is complete. I bought my full-size product today.

The Korres Shampoo/Ojon Conditioner miracle day was a total fluke. All three days I gave it failed to live up to the first time. And while got the Ojon to work well, my hair needs a lot and it is too expensive to be running through so fast.

And when I paired the Korres Shampoo with it's counterpart, it still left me wanting a bit more.

So it was the Ojon Shine and Protect Shampoo that consistently left my hair feeling good and looking shiny. This product didn't stand up and scream "I'm awesome", and since I like me some loud products, I wasn't giving it enough credit. But through my whole search it remained consistent. Always shiny, always soft, manageable and poof-free. I had bought a full-size bottle of the Korres Silk Milk (which was the winning conditioner and my early favorite) since a sample didn't seem to exist. So now I am set.

Both of my rejects: Korres S & Ojon C, have half of the product remaining, and I am curious to test them again after I use my selected products for a good while.

Friday I am off to my family for the holidays until New Year's Eve. I'll be enjoying my new products, but being away from home doesn't allow for proper testing....

So, when I return, I'll begin testing leave-in conditioners. I have my little tube of phyto 7 and I got a sephora made sample of phyto 9. Next time I am in sephora I'll get some phytosesame and anything else my "research" finds so that I can do a thorough testing. I'm leaning heavily on Phyto b.c leave-ins seem to be their thing, but I would like to have some other brands tested as well.

Enjoy your Holidays.

See you next year with my Fab Hair!!!


Save The Best For Last

Korres Sunflower and Vitamin F Shampoo finally arrived on Thursday night and Friday morning I had the WOW day I was looking for.

Even more surprising was how well the Ojon Shine and Protect Conditioner worked with it. My hair felt great after rinsing and it was so soft and smooth after blow-drying. I had totally written off this conditioner, but now it is staying in the race as a contender.
I had an equally great experience when I used the Korres Silk Milk conditioner.

So, is the Korres shampoo totally amazing, or did it reap the benefits of going last? I'm not sure if a weeks worth of using the other products left my hair in a better conditioner so that the Korres got an advantage in performance.

After completing Phase I, I have three combos that require further testing:
Ojon Shine & Protect Shampoo with Korres Silk Milk Conditioner
Korres Sunflower and Vitamin F Shampoo with Ojon Shine & Protect Conditioner
Korres Sunflower and Vitamin F Shampoo with Korres Silk Milk Conditioner

Before I start testing those, I want to finish up what I have left of the Phytojoba (This one fell out of the race because of the design of the bottle and the lack of any wow-factor). I think I have 2 or 3 uses left.

Then I'll use each of my combos for 3 days, starting with Korres Sham and Ojon Cond, then Ojon Sham and Korres Cond, and finishing with both Korres.
Hopefully when I finish this, I will have made my decision. Stay-tuned.


Save Your Skin

All of the articles on combating winter skin issues were never of any real use to me. Bring on the cold!! My skin stays fine.

That was the case, until this year. All of a sudden - I'm dry and itchy and I don't like it. Plus I do not have an arsenal of products to protect me. Only the bits I have gleaned over the past years and my general obsession with all products, has prepared me to find products to correct and protect. And I would like to share two fab products:

Caudalie (are you surprised?) Gentle Cleanser is a light creamy cleanser that removes all makeup and impurities. Obviously it smells and feels awesome, but the best part is that after you rinse it off your skin doesn't feel dry - it actually feels like you just moisturized - all because of the amazing ingredients:
grape-seed polyphenols (OPC)
cornflower water
oat milk
sweet almond and jojoba oils, shea butter
coriander, sweet lime, lemon, guaiac wood, sweet orange, vetiver, sandalwood and hybrid lavender...

The bottle is huge so it will last you all winter and well into spring.

The other product is Ahava Dermut Intensive Hand Cream. My hands, especially my nails and cuticles, have been painfully dry and cracked. I try to heal them, but it's really hard for me to resist picking at them. I was looking in my draw-o-goodies for something this morning and I came across a sample packet of this cream. After one use I am hooked. It felt so good going on, deeply moisturizing, and I also felt it was protecting my hands from further damage. There is also a foot and a body cream in the same line.

Phyto & Korres x2

I still haven't received my korres shampoo, so I used the phytojoba with the korres silk milk for the second day in a row.

On tuesday, I washed, rinsed, and conditioned. The hair was ok, but not as soft as I'd like.

Today, I followed Phyto's instructions, and left the Joba on for 2 minutes (i washed my face) then, rinsed and conditioned. This definitely made a difference. My hair felt much softer today. The one thing I really do not like about the the Joba is the bottle. It has a crew top, and when it comes to dealing with shampoo, the flip top is really the only way to go.

Since I can't continue testing tomorrow, I will repeat the Ojon Shine & Protect Shampoo. I'm pretty sure that between this and the Joba, I'd go with the Ojon - tomorrow will finalize this.



More like PhytOh-No!

The combination of Phytojoba Shampoo and Ojon Shine and Protect Conditioner was dismal.

In the shower, everything was going good, I even thought the Ojon was doing a better job. The comb-through went fine. But that's were it ends.

Once my hair was dry, all hope faded. My hair was poufy, kinky, and frizzy. I was so bothered by my hair that I had to put it up in a ponytail all day. I think this is going to be the worst combo I test. I can't imagine my hair being worse than it was today. Let's hope the Korres pairs better with Phyto tomorrow.


The Competition is Getting Stiffer

I just finished drying my hair from my post-ballet shower and I now give you round two:

In the Shower: My thoughts on the Ojon shampoo haven't changed. The scent of the natural oils that are in the shampoo are strong and the deep smell isn't "feminine". The Korres conditioner also had an odd un-girly smell. I also found it a bit hard to squeeze the bottle. After rinsing it out, my hair felt soft, clean and smooth.

The comb-through: it took a little extra work because I had two medium sized tangles.

Post-Blow Dry: Now we are talking. Day two of the Ojon shampoo and this is working it. My good hair half is looking shiny, the fly-aways were better, and my highlights seemed brighter. The Korres conditioner seems to have better results with my bad hair half. While still looking dull compared to my good hair, it was hanging much straighter than usual and seems to be less kinky.

After testing both conditioners, Korres is in the lead. I'll be using each two more times so it's still anyones game.


Ojon Lady is a Hairetic

This morning I used the Ojon Shine and Protect S&C.

The shampoo had a good lather and there was nothing that struck me as bad about it. I tried to use a half-dollar size of the conditioner, but it didn't seem to be enough for my hair. After I rinsed it out, I felt that my was a bit rubbery.

Out of the shower, it was fairly easy to comb through my wet hair and get out any tangles. I blow-dried it using my usual products and I was pleased with how it turned out.
The top half of my hair will show the results of all these products, but the bottom half, having been permed 2 years ago, is in quite a state, and it always requires a little bit extra.
With that, all of my hair felt really soft, and the top was looking pretty good. The bottom was it's usual self, so I added the Leave-in glossing cream that came with the set. My hair wasn't transformed, but it was ready for a day at the mall.

And so, while walking through Sephora to get to the Caudalie section (i bought new face wash) I stopped to look at the phyto products to see if there were any mini sizes. Well, who happened to be next to be but a rep from Ojon. She starts her pitch and I pipe in that I already have stuff. She then showed me the Leave-in cream and I told her that it was actually in my hair right now. Well she was offering some for my fly-aways. It's really bad when a sales person offers you a product to fix what that same product didn't do the first time around. So she asks me what else I use, and then follows up by telling me she uses both Shine & Protect and another S&C set they have. >Now every magazine, stylists, etc. advises everyone to shampoo as little as possible. Shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils and of any color added to it. < Well she tells me that like her, I should wash with the shine and protect, wash a second time with the other one, and then condition. WTF, wash my hair twice in a day? This lady was old and I am sure she grew up in the time of lather, rinse, repeat, and thought that smoking was good for you. She obviously never got the memo on hair, what else is she doing like it's 1955?

Unfortunately, the fact that Ojon is letting this woman represent them has put a sour taste in my mouth. I've already decided that this combo won't be the winner, it just didn't do anything to wow me. And when a rep (no matter how stupid) offers the same product you're already using, that speaks volumes.

Next Up: Ojon Shine and Protect Shampoo with Korres Silk Milk Conditioner.


The Hair Diaries

My research on shampoo and conditioner begins tomorrow. I already had the phytosesame shampoo from Sephora, I bought the winter essentials kit which has 2oz bottles of the shine & protect s&c and a 2oz leave-in glossing cream (more of a blow-dry cream than a true leave-in conditioner). The Korres shampoo is on it's way from an eBay seller and I just bought the Silk Milk at Ulta. I haven't finished buying the leave-ins, but those will get tested a little later on.

Keep your eye out for more posts in the next two weeks as I report on how all of these products work.


The Game Plan

Behold, my formal plan for the Sham&Con quest:

I have created three categories:
1 - Shampoo
2 - Conditioner
3 - Leave-in Conditioner *Optional

The Shampoos:
Korres Sunflower and Vitamin F Shampoo
PHYTO Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Shampoo
Ojon Shine and Protect Shampoo

The Conditioners:
Korres Silk Milk Conditioner

Ojon Shine and Protect Conditioner

The Leave-Ins:
Added because Phyto is all about the leave-in.
I still need an in shower conditioner, but I think my hair could really benefit from this step.
PHYTO Phtyosesame Express Hydrating Conditioner

PHYTO Phyto 7 Daily Hydrating Botanical Cream

Possible Third Ojon Product

Part A - Obtain samples of all products:
  • I have the phyto shampoo.
  • I was watching an ebay auction that had the shampoo with a few other products. The auction was for $1 but they wanted $10 for shipping!! No one bid on it, so I offered the seller $7 for the shampoo sample and the shower gel sample (korres mint tea) including shipping. They agreed and said they would relist the item so I could buy it. I'm waiting for the relisting, hopefully it works out.
  • I found a site that had the Ojon 4-piece Shine and Protect kit listed for $0. I added it to my cart and it looked like I could get it for the cost of shipping. Checkout went through and $5 pended to my account. Then I saw the back order on the bottom of the page. The charge is still pending and I haven't heard anything from the site, so we'll see what happens. Otherwise I'll be on ebay or I'll buy the $25 winter essentials kit.
  • It seems that a sample size of the silk milk doesn't exist, so this might be the one full-size I have to buy - ebay for a good deal!!
  • I'll get the ojon conditioner same as the shampoo
  • Since the Phyto 7 came with the shampoo, I'm adding it to the mix. Ebay is my best bet for the Phytosesame.
  • As for the Ojon, the 4-piece kit comes with the revitalizing mist and the glossing mist; the 3-piece kit comes with the glossing cream. So the products added to the mix depend on which kit I get.
Part B - Testing products and combos...


The search for Good Hair

A quick follow-up to previous posts:
While my Lauren Hutton purchase was the ultimate disappointment, I have found two superb alternates. Avon Planet Spa Napa Valley Body Polisher - This scrub is great, it smells like white grape juice and it feels great. I also love Bliss The Love Handler - this firming serum feels so good going on and drys very quickly so getting dressed is no problem.
The Hair Tonic I won: The scent reminds me of my Grandmother, I'm not sure why, but it smells like her bathroom. It volumizes well, I just like a little so my hair isn't flat to my head. I like mousse better, but some days I don't feel like having the stickiness on my hands and this is a great alternative.

My hair has been very dry lately and the problem is with my shampoo and conditioner. My research (a.k.a. online shopping) for products based on natural ingredients for colored and dry hair has got me debating on three different S&C sets: Korres Sunflower & Vitamin E Shampoo and Silk Milk Conditioner, Phtyojoba and Phtyosesame, and Ojon Shine & Protect. After picking these three, I did the hair consultation quiz on Beauty.com and these were the three recommended for me. Now I just need to try them out and see which ones are the best.

I bought the Phyto Dry Hair Set To Go from Sephora and used it last night. The Phtyojoba poured out of the bottle really fast so I ended up with some crazy lather. Good to know that a little goes a long way. I love the subtle coconut scent. I finished with the phytojoba mask and then Phyto 7 leave-in conditioner. After air drying for a bit and blow drying, I couldn't believe how soft my hair felt. There are still plenty of individual nasty coarse hairs, but when I pull it together in a pony tail it feels so lush. The one thing I don't like about Phyto is that they only use leave-in conditioners.

Any thoughts on the Korres and Ojon? I am trying to hunt down some trial sizes so I can test all the products before buying full size bottles - know where to find some cheap?


Blast from the Past

There is only one thing worse than having to work on a Federal Holiday: Not having any mail to come home too :(.

So, another day without my Lucky, but the hubbs told me I got a package. Hmm, I tracked all of the packages I have coming this morning and nothing is out for delivery today. Well I check the return address on the box and it says "Garren New York". Hair care I never ordered? Wait, no!! It can't be the Allure product that I won - Last DECEMBER.

Oh yes, that's right. Check out this post from March were I mention that I am waiting for my surprise gift.

They need to change 12 weeks to 12 MONTHS. Seriously, a year? WTF?!?!

So anyway, the product is Designing Spray Tonic. Another lie Allure told, my product was worth $50+. This goes for $26.

It is supposed to add volume: if it's really good or bad, I'll let you know


Who Doesn't Love a Big Sale?

The wonderful Kip from CUSP wanted to give all of us the scoop on the biggest sale of the season. Shop either the Georgetown or Tyson's Corner store from November 2nd-10th (I'll be in Georgetown Sunday) and get major savings on the most covetable clothes...plus, they even sell make-up(!!) Have fun shopping - and post what you get.

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