Friday, July 4, 2008

Greek Godtressess

In the Fourth Grade, after reading D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, I became obsessed with Greek Mythology. I mean, when else can you dress up as Demeter wearing a bed sheet toga and a headband adorned with plastic leaves without the suggestion of psychiatric help? Sigh, the memories. Now that I am an adult, my idea of Grecian inspired fashion has manifested itself into drape-y gowns, long dresses, and braids. Oh how I love braids!

I have alluded to my affinity for plaits in my post on headbands, and I stand behind the belief that there is nothing greater than a braid/band combination. As you know, I have written about humidity acting like Medusa towards my hair, and have since then discovered a Greek inspired hairdo that combats against its damage as would the warrior Perseus. And while I was somewhat influenced by the recent visibility of celebrities donning Heidi braids, my take is a twist on the typical country 'do, and instead, is a little more ethereal.

My interpretation of this braided hairstyle is the perfect option for shorter, finer hair. While the Heidi--over the crown--braids are great for long, thick hair, mine just does not have enough length or volume to make the proper impact. So, rather than pulling the braids over my head, I pull them under. Below you will hopefully find a helpful, step-by-step picture guide, to give you a clear idea of the process in creating this sweet and practical look.

1) Whether you part your hair in the middle or side, create two even sections of hair

2) Braid each side

3) Pull one braid under your head and pin

3) Pull the other over, and also secure with bobby pin

4) Add a headband to cover the hairties and ends, pin, and voila!

I love this hairdo because it is incredibly easy to create (takes no more than 10 minutes, even for a perfectionist like me), is much more polished than just pigtail braids or a ponytail, and looks completely put together despite how simple it is to do. It's a little taste of Mount Olympia, no supernatural powers required.

About Face

Contrary to popular belief, I hate buying makeup at department stores. It is like walking into a war zone, attacked from all angles by sales professionals armed with weapons of perfumed tear gas and sharpened makeup brushes. Each counter is a land mine, with the possibility of a surprise attack lurking around every corner. For this reason, I prefer not to purchase products from large retailers. Unfortunately, my love of luxury products (and my employee discount), compel me to buy certain basics such as mascara, foundation, and many a lipstick at a department store. However, when it comes to the staples of my beauty routine, I am just as much a patron of Duane Reade as Bloomingdale's.

A sufferer of acne throughout my teens, I have used a multitude of prescription and over-the-counter products, with my only success resulting from Accutane. It was not until I reached my mid-20s, that I determined my most effective skincare regimen came quite cheaply.

Let me first state a disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist. I do not know your skin type. I just know what works for me and that it works well - so I'm sharing my experience, hopefully for your benefit. That being said, here are my favorite (and inexpensive!) beauty products:

1) Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash: It is orange. It is just under $8. You can get it at any drugstore. And it works. My skin has never looked better.
2) Neutrogena Healthy Skin Lotion w/ SPF: Sunscreen is key. It's not too greasy either, especially for my combination skin. It's around $14, but, even with everyday use, usually lasts a long time.
3) Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment: The commercials don't lie when they say 100% (yes, that's right!) of people in clinical testing showed improvement within a day. It's about $8 and it effectively eliminates surprise breakouts.

My last drugstore obsession coincides with my infatuation with lip products: balms, glosses, sticks. You name it, I've tried it. As a younger girl, I had quite the Lip Smacker collection. But that doesn't surprise you, I'm sure. If a new lip product was marketed, I had to have it. (Does anyone remember the chocolate flavored glosses from The Body Shop?) If it was innovative, made lips glossy, or hell even just made them smell, I bought it.

As I got a little older, I was swayed less by the novelty of a product, and more by claims of being a great lip balm. I moved from Chapstick to Lip Medex to Kiehl's to Rosebud Salve. And while all of these are pretty good (Rosebud would be my top choice), none of these products come close to how great my favorite lip balm is, and you can get it at the drugstore for $3.50! Behold Palmer's Cocoa Butter Stick. It smells great, feels amazing, and, like many lip balms are, it is not addictive. Sure, it looks more like a glue stick than anything, but I'll take the stupid observations over dry lips any day.

The bottom line is this: I love luxury products. Unfortunately, expensive skincare is not in my budget, and most of the time I find that the effort (and body armor) it takes to find a product worthy of its insane price tag is much more than I'm willing to commit. Instead, I have proven that you don't have to spend lots of cash to get great skin and soft lips. Sometimes a simple regimen is all you need. Now, don't you feel just a little more...

At Ease?