Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Awesome site alert: Skincea.com

I was cruising the internet looking for product reviews of night creams when I stumbled upon this awesome skin care site called Skincea. It's from a woman who has a similar story to mine: she struggled with adult acne in her twenties and became obsessed with skin care.

My favorite part of the site is her four golden rules (I might borrows some of these to add to my Beauty Philosophy post!)

1)   LESS IS MORE this is so true about everything in life. If you read my post, My Beauty Philosophy, you'll see that I love the concept of less is more. Less product, less waste, less stuff, less drama. Simplify!
2)   IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT this is a great idea that not too many people follow. Most everyone (including me!) wants to make things better, optimize, turn things into something awesome. That reminds me of my strength finder strength, Maximizer. I like to get the most out of everything. But sometimes stuff just doesn't need to be maximized.
3)   INGREDIENTS ARE THE ONLY THING THAT MATTER this is sooooooo true! My beauty school teacher, Ms. Angela, told us that if you are going to be successful in this business you have to learn to become a label reader. This is what I'm going to educate my clients on. All you really need to know is what ingredients are going in your skin care, whether or not they are active (interacts with or effects cell tissue), and what ingredients work on your skin. A lot of trial and error and research goes into knowing your ingredients.
4)   ALWAYS LOOK FOR PRODUCT REVIEWS I live and die by product reviews. Usually Amazon is my go-to place to read what the masses think about something. But for beauty products, I use two sites. Makeupalley.com and Drugstore.com are great places to read up on beauty products and what people/fashionistas think about the latest and greatest miracle skin cure.

Does anyone have any favorite product review or skin car sites? Let me know!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Find your magic

I love this little story told by Jason Reitman, director of Juno, about how he decided to follow his dream and become a director.

Ivan, who grew up in Toronto, discovered a sub shop in Montreal. He asked his father for some money to open his own branch in Toronto; he was sure it would be very successful, as Jason recounted: And my grandfather said: ‘You know, Ivan, I’m sure these sandwiches are very good, and if I gave you the money to open up a sandwich shop, we’d do very well for ourselves, and your mother and I would be very proud of you. But there’s simply not enough magic in it for you. You need to find something with magic.’ And this was a huge thing, my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor who came to Canada basically as a refugee, and he worked at a dry cleaner and a car wash, and then he had it within him to tell my father, find something with magic in it, and that’s I think what drove him to become a filmmaker. And my father told me this story, he said: ‘Jason, there’s no more noble a profession in the world than becoming a doctor, if you became a doctor, your mother and I would be over the moon, we’d be so proud of you. But I don’t think there’s enough magic in it for you, I think you’re a storyteller, and I think you have to follow your heart.’ And in that moment he became the first Jewish father to tell his son, ‘Don’t be a doctor.’
So what are you doing to fill your life with magic? Me, I'm building my own business, writing a young adult novel literally filled with magic, and surrounding myself with encouragers. The point is, find your way in life to something (people, career, hobbies, etc.) that fills your life with magic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spread the word!

So I've been brainstorming with my friend James about ways to become a famous blogger. No not really. We just want more than one person reading our blog. He sent me a great list of 10 things that I have to do. Number one is register with Technorati. So here is my claim number: HHQWF8AGG427.

Number 2-10 are pretty intuitive, although I liked #3 which was say something controversial. That's right. I need to really bring it on my beauty blog posts if I want people to start noticing me. Like my last post about toner. I thought the title was kind of controversial (Toner - awesome or scam?) since everyone in the beauty business is about selling more more more.

#8 on the list was about getting your friends to spread the word. So if you like one of my posts, make sure you Digg it or Facebook it or Stumble.upon it. There are so many crazy ways to share stuff nowaways. But as always word of mouth marketing is usually the best. So now I'm going to call upon my friends to help spread the word!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Toner - awesome or scam?

Admit it. You've always been a little bit mystified by toner. Really what does it do? I guess when you go to wipe your face after cleansing and you still see residue on the cotton pad, you are convinced of it's magical powers. But that could easily be solved by washing your face twice and making sure you use a wash cloth to wipe your face down. Toner does have a nice property of returning your face to a natural pH balance after you've disturbed it with cleanser. Skin is close to 4.5 on the pH scale and cleanser typically around 9. So toner helps calm your skin's alkalinity down.

But that's not the real reason you use toner. My reason? At least when I first tried using toner, it was because of Clinique. It was drilled into me from a very young age by the beauty magazines that in order to keep my skin looking perfect, I would need to do the three step approach: 1. Cleanse 2. Tone 3. Moisturize. Luckily Clinique had all the products that I needed! It didn't hurt that they had very simple, yet effective advertising. I was convinced so I asked my mom to take me to the Clinique counter and buy me their three step system. I was able to cleanse and moisturize on a regular basis. My beautiful Clinique toner sat there, day after day, mocking me for not using it. I didn't need to use it since my skin looked great just by cleansing and moisturizing. But I still felt bad.

My second failed attempt at using toner came when I broke out in my mid-twenties. This time it wasn't the beauty magazines but the late night infomercials that convinced me to give Proactiv's three-step system a try. 1. Cleanse 2. Tone 3. Medicate. After about three months my skin cleared up and has stayed clear to this day. Due only to the fact that I used 2.5% Benzoil Peroxide Cleanser and Treatment lotion and having nothing to do with their toner. Face 2, Toner 0.

Sometimes all it takes is a new way of looking at things. While I was in beauty school, I began spritzing toner on my clients at the end of the service, right before the moisturizer. I asked my teacher one day why, since I had such a negative experience with toner in the past. She told me that it's a great add on to your moisturizer, helping prep the skin to properly absorb any humectants. So I started trying it myself in my daily routine, giving my face a few spritzes before putting on my sunscreen. My face does feel more moisturized. Also, I like the smell (a very light, fruity, lavender) and the experience (it just makes me feel good whenever I spray it on, like a fancy face perfume!).

So toner has finally made it onto my face products shelf after almost twenty years of resisting. The one that I'm using is what I started using in school, Dermalogica's Multi-Active Toner (3.9 out of 5 stars on MUA).

It's got lavender, mint and arnica flower which makes it so yummy smelling. And it's got Aloe and Sodium PCA (a not so great sounding word for a humectant) for all your moisturizing needs. Plus it has a spray pump, which is something unique to most toner products that I've seen in the drugstore or tried over the years. You can buy it from me and get a discount (just give me a heads up before you come in for a service). Or you can always get Dermalogica products at Ulta.

Just one last thing: Multi-Active Toner is great for all skin types. Normal, Dry and even acneic. I know I just spent an entire paragraph talking about it's magical moisturizing properties. You would be surprised at the number of people with acneic skin that spend their life scrubbing, exfoliating and stripping their skin in the hopes that will cure their acne. What it really does is strip a much needed layer of oil from your skin. Then your skin gets angry and starts producing more oil and you get stuck in a downward spiral of breakouts that you can't control. So you scrub harder, strip more and make it worse. So for acenic skin, I would recommend a moisturizing toner and a great moisturizer so that you can put an end to the cycle. If you truly do have oily skin (without the acne), I mean really really oily skin, the kind that gets shiny an hour after you've powdered your nose, then I would recommend using an astringent to help get rid of the oil. Something like Kiehl's Herbal Blue Astringent (3.8 out of 5 stars on MUA).

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I'm totally overwhelmed by all the ways to connect to people nowadays. And I'm especially overwhelmed by which are the right ways. Which mean, of course, the cool ways. Because apparently, Four Square is totally over. I kid, I kid! My guess is most of you, except my early adopter cousin-in-law Greg, have no idea about Four Square. Maybe you read the article about it being the new Twitter. But are you even tweeting? I'm not. I know I should be on one level (it's great for businesses!) and I shouldn't be on another level (everyone's leaving Twitter!).

Here are the ways that I like to connect right now: I've finally embraced text. I'm only up to 500 messages sent/received a month still, damn you Verizon and your $20 unlimited plan. I still remember when I used it so little that I was on the pay as you go plan. Facebook is fun for sending out random links and not so deep thoughts and actually getting a response from people you may or may not talk to that often in real life. Voicemail is dead to me. Until I get a smartphone with Google Talk and visual voicemail. Then I might re-embrace it. But right now it's more of an annoyance. Except for business purposes. Email? Mostly stuff I've signed up to read and don't get a chance to read since I'm busy Facebooking. I do use it for longer thoughts that I've decided my sad little thumbs can't type out on my 2006 Flip phone.

Then we come to the last way: Blogging. Which is so 2001. I remember when a total dork at my work showed me his blog, which he used to share photos with his family. That's really lame, I thought. Damn I'm not good at all with the trend-watching. I tried my first blog in 2006, I heart TJs, an ode to my love of Trader Joe's. That faded after I stopped cooking TJs meals as much. My friend Jodi just let me know that a "I Heart Trader Joes" cookbook is being published, so maybe I am a little bit good at trendwatching. I tried my second blog in 2008, Deep Thoughts From Milt & Edie, an ode to my love of the inspirational quotes that my local dry cleaner put up. My fans (okay my mom and my friend Tia) encouraged me to write my thoughts about the signs. After a couple of attempts, I just gave up and started to post the pictures only. The best Milt & Edie compliment came from my friend Maren, who is an agent to photographers. She called the blog a cool art project. Which was cool because she is really cool. And she knows cool art projects (living in the photography world).

My current attempt you know about if you are reading this post. That's the interesting thing about blogging to me. Who reads this stuff? My mom, that's for sure. When she remembers to log onto "The Internet" and amble over to Facebook. I tried this thing called twitterfeed.com which is supposed to post my blog postings to my facebook account. That's the only way that I could imagine someone in Internetland finding this blog. Unless I start doing some serious blog promotion, like the way Ramit at I will teach you to be rich says I should.

So why am I writing a blog? Partly to share when I have more than 160 characters on my mind. Also to have a sample of my writing up so that if anyone ever contacts me about writing a book about my life, I'll be ready. I read an article by Diablo Cody about how she hasn't updated her blog in a year since she's too busy twittering. Like most trends, I think blogging has come and gone, and now only the people who are seriously interested in writing will continue it (sorry Diablo!). For example, my mom gave up on her blog because it was too hard. Honestly I get that. I might give up on this blog. But I like having a forum to write longer musings. I should be working on revising my book right now. Instead I'm blogging, which feels a little bit good because I'm at least writing. Yeah that's right, the real reason I'm using blogging is to procrastinate. That's the reason the internet exists, for me at least. That and to try to catch card fraud through my online banking website.

Oh and in case you are wondering there is one last way I like to connect: in-person. This is my favorite way. Coffee at Porto's. Hanging at a salon or spa. Taking a walk around Los Angeles. Chillin' on the L-shaped couch.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


For a graduation gift, I got this awesome little book from my friend Sara called Rules Of The Red Rubber Ball. It's one of those inspirational, find your way through life books that you are supposed to get people who've just graduated. I love those type of things, anything to inspire people to follow their dream. Another friend, Annie, recommended that I read a similar type of book, The Alchemist, when I was thinking about making the job shift to skin therapist. The Alchemist is a much more alegorical, fictional tale about a boy struggling to find his way in the world, while the Red Rubber Ball book is a simple non-fiction book about a man who found his way in life. Both books have the same message about finding your true place in the world, commiting to it, believing in in.

My favorite part of the Red Rubber Ball book is the second rule, "Seek Out Encouragers".  The author states, "Sustaining your life's work cannot be done alone and you must build relationships with people who have a geniune interest in you and appreciate your commitment to your red rubber ball... most importantly, they give you the courage to act." I've had several moments in the past couple of months filled with encouragers, people who loved the direction I was going in, but more importantly, helped me keep on going on the path that I was thinking about taking.

If you are struggling with anything in your life, job, friends, passion, anything at all, it's crucial to surround yourself with these encouragers. List them out and maybe take the time to thank them for their unending support. You could even write them a letter as a special way to show how much their encouragement has meant to you. I know, letters are so 18th century. But that's what makes them so special! Can you imagine the look on your encouragers face when they get something in the mail, instead of something through email, text, status update, tweet or blog?