Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Random Product Review: Perfumes Perfumes Perfumes!!

It's been a while! Lots of stuff happened over my hiatus... parents, friends, and roomates were met, New York city was invaded, conferences were attended, massive truckloads of cosmetics and duty-free liquor (2 litres of vodka! Party at my house!!!) were purchased... and all by lil' ol me!

Yup, I went to a conference in NYC! How great is that?!?! Even cooler was the rare-ish opportunity to stock up on products that we can't get in Canada. I bought 2 of those Neutrogena Honey Lipbalms I was raving about, and managd to pick up some uncoated aspirin too. FYI, the uncoated aspirins work a bajillion times better for making a mask, because you don't have to do any crushing. You pop a few aspirin into your palm, trickle a bit of water in, and watch as it magically dissolves! Entertainment AND skincare! What a deal.

But enough about stuff I've already talked about. On with the show!

The most impressive thing I got in New York was no doubt my 50mL bottle of the new GUESS perfume. I'd been lusting after this EDT ever since before Christmas. I know, I know, it's all frou-frou fruit and flowers, all "pink" this, and "green apple" that. And I know it's just yet another variation on a boring and predictable trend.

But I don't care! I LOVE it. It smells so yummily awesome that I contort myself into ridiculous positions trying to catch some siliage. It starts out with the sweet but sharpish fruit burst, and then the florals peek out a bit. On me, the fragrance remains largely fruit-driven, even through the dry down. I know there are musks and freesia in there, but I can't tell my peonies from my muguets, so I couldn't really comment intelligently on that. I can say though, that there remains a slightly... I don't know, bitter (?) note that keeps it all from getting all Aquolina sweet on me. Bitter is most definitely the wrong word, actually, but it's the closest thing I can find. It reminds me of the slight kick of citrus peels, and gives all that fruitiness a bit of hard edge. It feels like a hard floral soap, if that makes any sense.

By now, it should be clear that I am the least qualified person on the face of the planet to review a fragrance. Not only do I love mundane pedestrian scents, I can't even talk about them properly! Anyway, I do really like this scent. It's the closest thing I've found that even comes close to approximating my beloved Lancome O Oui. If Oui was a perfect 10 (which it is), then this GUESS one is a 9 or a 9.5. The staying power of it is fairly good too... I can still catch a lingering whiff at the end of the day. Interestingly, I can never find that whiff, it just comes up and waves every once in a while. Fortunately, if I start to really miss it, I can just spray more, since the whole bottle only cost me $20 USD!*

Oh, but exciting news! I won was runner up [whoops, got too excited there. I *felt* like winner! :D] in a comment contest about a month ago on Scenteur 7, the perfume blog of the ever gracious Marlen Harrison. The prize (along with a bunch of other samples I purchased) got here today! Hurray!!! I'll have to wait until later to talk about them, but out of the bottle, I am predicting that Zestes de Rose, Venezia, and Scicily are going to be my favourites.

Ooooh, and I must not forget to review Demeter's Laundromat when I get a chance. I got that recently too, along with a couple other Demeter scents, courtesy of Ebay.

AND, after that, I'll have to try out the various cosmeticky things I brought back from the States. And THEN, I'll have to sell some internal organs to help placate the Visa people. But for now, I am totally lovin' the GUESS edt!

* Yes, I did buy this in some sketchy perfume shop in Chinatown. Yes, it is 100% authentic. Yes, I realize it probably fell off the back of a truck, I'm an acessory to crime and the general deterioration of society, and that I'm going to hell for this. And yes, I'd do it all over again if I could. I would do it 9 times.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Random Product Review: ASPIRIN!!!

I'm meeting S's parents in 2 days. That is so nuts I can't even think about it right now. But I do want to make a good impression, obviously. And this involves good skin. What with the craziness of the past month, skincare has been severly neglected.

So off I go in search of a good mask. And the top rated mask on MUA?* "Aspirin Mask". What the hell is that?

Well. Apparently it is ground up aspirin (or ASA, for you chem-y folks), mixed with a wee tiny bit of water. Just like that. Smear the resulting paste all over your face, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then scrub it around some while rinsing off. Touted the Internet over as simple, cheap, and brilliant.

Lo and Behold! The Internet is right yet again. You're supposed to use uncoated aspirin, but I couldn't find any and bought the "lightly coated" no-name kind. When I ground up the pills, I had to pick out little papery-looking bits, which I assume was the coating. I also added a dollop of sour cream into the mix, as per an MUA-er's suggestion. Made it smell a bit weird on my face, but whatever. 10 mins later: glowy, more even-toned skin. Smooth as the backs of my knees. Which are pretty damn smooth, if I do say so myself.

This all happened 2 hours ago... I might develop some bizarre allergic reaction to it yet. I will post an update if that is the case, but my face is feeling rather wicked-awesome right now.

Bottom Line: Aspirin Mask! Do it!

* The top-rated mask was actually the famous Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask, which of course we can't get in Canada. Aspirin, we can get. Aspirin is awesome.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Random Product Review: John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze

Oh internets, I've been ever so busy. What with all the strenuous procrastination and mental strain of slacking off, combined with the back-breaking effort involved in sleeping in until past noon... No, really, it's been hectic. And it's only going to get better: I've got loads of marking to do, plus meetings and training sessions, plus dinners with visiting lecturers, and I have to read 3 papers, prepare a talk, and get an oil change, all before next week! But right now, I have moments to spare. And so here I sit, sipping my wine, sniffing my wrists (long story) and making another Random Product Review!

So, we've all been swimming in shine serums, shine sprays, pomades, and a whole wack load of other shine-enhancing products since the late 90's. The quest for a glassy, mirror-like sheen on our locks is nothing new. Lately though, there's been a lot of buzz about "glossers". From what I gather, these products are typically used in salons to enrichen colour and add glossy shine. Sort of like a toner, maybe? I don't know, but as a girl who's currently sporting about 6 shades of highlights (accumulated from past highlighting trips, I mean -- I was never aiming for a crazily highlit look), I was thrilled to hear about products that might: a) liven-up the dull-ish colour a bit, and b) give me that ever-elusive Shampoo Commercial Shine.

I bought the "Cognac to Maple" shade to match my aforementioned highlights. The John Frieda Luminous Colour Glaze promises to "reawaken lackluster brunette hair with a shot of dazzling brown color, satiny texture and multi-dimensional shine". My lightest strands are probably closer to a dark blonde, but the streaks were getting a bit freaky and brassy, and I wanted to tone them down. So I figured that this lightest of the brunette shades would be just right.

The instructions say to shampoo and condition as usual, and then massage the glaze into wet hair. After 3 minutes, you're supposed to rinse it out and discover newly glossy locks. The colour "re-awakening" part is supposed to come on gradually -- after about 3 uses or so. The instructions say to use the product every other day until the desired result is achieved, and so this review will span my 3 uses of this product over 6 days. (How very scientific!)

Day 1
Okay, so I'd read some other reviews, and a lot of people found this stuff drying, so I conditioned as usual before using the glaze, and then dabbed on a bit of conditioner after I rinsed it out as well. The consistency of the stuff is sort of like a slippery pudding... in fact, I found it a bit difficult to get it to stay in my hair. I dropped significant amounts of it while trying to get it to coat my strands. The product smelled kind of chemically, with hints of coconut (which I hate, incidentally). Oh well.

So I get this goop into my hair, and then had to immediately start scrubbing my hands with soap and a loofah, because I could tell it would stain. Go ahead and give those paws a good cleaning... as much as if you had just used a self-tanner. It never actually stained my skin or shower walls, but I'm fairly certain that it would have had I been less careful with it.

After the requisite 3 minutes, I rinsed it out. My hair did indeed feel a bit drier than usual (lacking the slip of freshly-conditioned hair), so I slapped on a bit of conditioner. Now came the true test: how would it look after it had dried?

I did my usual routine of letting the hair air-dry, then straight-ironing it. And the highlights? They were.... there. Nope, no exciting results yet. What about the shine? Was that there? Nope, not that I could see. And the condition of the hair? It was weird... it felt smooth, but slightly dry at the same time. Not alarmingly so, and it was still as manageable as usual. It just felt a bit parched is all. Not sure if that was due to the glaze or to my new shampoo/conditioner combo. But whatever, not a huge deal.

So Day 1's results were a bit disappointing. But they did say that it would take a few uses before I'd see results, so on to Day 2 we go!

Day 2
Same deal as Day 1: Shampoo, condition, glaze, condition briefly again, then dry & style. I still didn't see this supposed gloss action, but the colour... was it my imagination, or did the highlights seem more toned down? (This is a good thing remember; my highlights were getting brassy and faded and too light) It did seem that the lightest streaks looked less tired. And when I mentioned to Roommate that I was trying this new hair stuff, she said my highlights did look kickier. I don't know if she was just being polite and if I was just seeing things that I wanted to see, but this was at least encouraging.

Day 3
Lather, rinse, repeat. This time around, I really think I did see a bit of a change. Nothing drastic, mind you. But the colour did seem a touch richer. I casually mentioned to S that I was using this, and he said "Hey, that's funny! I did notice that your highlights seemed... I dunno, blonder? Lighter?" While this was not exactly the effect I was after, the fact that a very UN-metro boy noticed a difference without my mentioning it beforehand tells me this stuff must be working! Hurray!

Final Impression
So okay, this stuff does not suck. While it didn't make me look like I'd just gone out and bought a head full of expensive new highlights, it did make my highlights less brassy and the colour did seem refreshed. And maybe... maybe it was a bit shinier. But really, it was the colour effects I was after, so in the end, I really didn't care if I got super glossy hair. Although it would have been nice, I guess.

At about $13 CAD a bottle, I'd say it's worth the purchase once in a while. A bottle will probably last me 2 rounds of 'treatment'. (I have straight thick hair that goes down to my shoulder blades. It tends to eat up product, so a bottle lasting 6 uses for me is quite reasonable.)

I also think this product would be great if you're trying to darken your colour a bit. If you went a bit overboard with the highlights, just choose one shade darker than the highlights, and keep using it until you get the colour you want. As an aside, a stylist once told me that the best way to grow out highlights is to use a semi-permanent colour that matches your base colour to cover the highlights. As the colour wears off, repeat the process. After 3 or so times, you should be pretty close to your base colour. And since you're only depositing colour, you're not damaging the hair. If you're just looking to bring your colour down a notch, I think the John Frieda Colour Glaze would work well as a substitute for the semi-permanent colour.

Now if John Frieda would only stop making all his stuff smell like freakin' coconut!! Seriously! I love his Frizz Ease line because it smells divine, but all his Brilliant Brunette crappe and now this Colour Glaze stuff smells like awful coconut cream or something. The Colour Glaze is not so bad, because it washes out. But I can't use his Brilliant Brunette shine serum or finishing cream, which is a shame because they really do work quite well. Market to me, John baby! STOP WITH THE COCONUT!


Monday, March 06, 2006

Boy Valentine's Day

I had a nice, lazy hazy kind of weekend. I made oven-baked BBQ ribs. They are awesome.

That reminds me... I heard about this thing... "Boy Valentine's Day". The day varies (Feb 15th, March 14th, or some variant of that), but the theme is always the same: Meat and Sex. Apparently, girls get roses and candy, and boys get steaks and BJs.

Ha! This proves once again that men are ridiculously simple creatures whose affections can be won through their stomachs and their ... er... tender bits. Besides, who says girls don't equally like eating a messy rib dinner and receiving sexual favours?! We just want flowers and chocolates in addition is all. Is that really so much to ask for?

Oh, and FYI, here is the ridiculously easy recipe for the ribs, courtesy of the kind folks over at Allrecipes. These ribs take almost zero effort, and result in falling-off-the-bone goodness. Restaurant-quality, for serious. Go try them now!
1) Cut ribs into individual portions (about 4 ribs per portion)

2) Slather each portion (top & bottom!) in your favourite BBQ sauce. (I like Tony Roma's, but I used Cattle Boyz last night, and that was also yum)

3) Wrap the sauce-covered ribs tighly in a double layer of foil.

4) Let the rib packets sit in the fridge for 4 hours. Or more. Or less. Whatever, they'll still taste good.

5) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with foil.

6) Place rib packets on foil-lined sheet and bake for 2 hours.

7) Open the packets and take out the ribs, draining any liquid (can be used for gravy or stew or soups). Put ribs directly on baking sheet and brush with more BBQ sauce.

8) Broil for another 10-15 mins to get the sauce all sticky and glazed.

9) Serve with some kind of salad or coleslaw or whatever strikes your fancy. Have lots of napkins around, and be prepared for the lavish praise that your dinner guests will heap upon you. Depending on how much wine you serve with this dinner, some of them may even propose to you!*

Erm, I should probably get to working. I've bought shitloads of products in the last week, and am working on a review of the new Colour Luminator thingie by John Frieda. Hopefully that will go up in the next few days... stay tuned!

* I mean, that's never happened to me, I'm just saying that it might happen, to y'know, other people.