Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watered Down Fashion

As a designer myself, I have found that the best ideas never make it onto the sales floor.  There are so many obstacles to overcome.  The stores buyers have a good amount of control of what makes it into the market, based on their choices from designs offered, as well as the fact that many buyers have custom requests, which are more than often repugnant.  The other complication being that the general public is, well... boring.  And perhaps cheap, safe, and uninspired.  Harsh?  Case point:

I was so excited for Christian Siriano's spring 2011 Payless line, after seeing a runway sneak peek on the fashion blogs.  Sky high architectural heeled platforms fit for a stroll on Mars had me salivating and checking the Payless site often for their debut.

Needless to say I was very disappointed when I logged onto the site today and saw this degraded offering of the original concepts.

I know that this is how a lot of fashion lovers feel about all affordable designer collaborations.  And while I'll argue that I have found many of the designer collabs to be covetable, the sentiment is more than understood.  If I'm craving couture I need to save my pennies, because the commonplace shopper just doesn't get it. 

xoxo Lux

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apparently I Missed the Memo

I'm dying to try the new Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips!  I came across a completely ransacked display in Target the other day, and have been popping in every drugstore within a fifty mile radius ever since, only to find the same.


The strips are embedded with real nail polish and are applied by peeling off the protective layer, then fitting and filing the nail.  Like stickers for your nails (application wise) but these are real polish and will last around ten days. 

The strips retail just under 10 dollars if you are lucky enough to find them (much cheaper than a professional minx process manicure, made popular by Lady Gaga), and are currently listed on ebay with an average inflated price of 19 dollars.

I did manage to find a few of the less desirable varieties, but I am holding out until I find the most coveted styles: cheetah print, fishnet, and lace.  Catch them if you can!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guide to Long Lashes

I'm obsessed with eyelashes.  In my opinion long lashes are definitely the best beauty asset, second only to beautiful skin.  Here's my guide to the many options available to maximize your lashes:


False eyelashes are by far, the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to enhance your lashes (aside from mascara, that is).  They range from dramatic to natural.  I'm a huge fan of false lashes because they can totally transform your look.  The individuals are great on the outside corners for an everyday look and are super easy to apply.  The full lashes take a little more practice.  There are a variety of affordable styles at any drug store and you can get more dramatic styles from MAC and beauty supply stores including ones made with feathers, metallic threads, and human hair.  These are generally more expensive, so better saved for a special event.  However I will let you in on a little secret, Walgreens, of all places has a fantastic selection of feather and costume lashes (that are just as good as some of the nicer varieties) during the Halloween season for super cheap, and I always stock up on them.


Photo Credit: Elinor Carucci for NYMag

A few years ago I had the opportunity to get free eyelash extensions with a friend who's company did PR for a lash salon.  I jumped at the opportunity since there was a lot of hype about them, and the service ran around $300 for the first application and $150 a month for upkeep.  You think for that price it'd be worth every penny.  Well it wasn't.  Save your hard earned money.  The application takes a good 30-60 minutes, and they will glue individual lashes to the base of your lashes promising you a "fuller, longer" look.  Maybe it was just me (the technician, a little old Japanese woman, kept telling me my real lashes were already so long naturally) but the difference was far from dramatic.  You did get a little extra length, but it only could be noticed from a profile, not the front.  There appeared to be no difference in fullness.  Also you cannot, and are told not to use an eyelash curler when you have them, because they are glued at the base and will break off.  Without curling them, I felt like my lashes were somewhat longer but going down into my eye, instead of an up and open look, so what was the point?  It gave me "tiny eye" which contradicts the point of long eyelashes.  Also you couldn't rub your eyes, which got really annoying in the shower, something you would never notice until you are required not to do it.  Every time I washed my face I lost lashes, no matter how careful I was. If I had actually paid the $300 dollars I would have been fishing those things out of the drain!  I was so annoyed with them that I pulled the rest out before the week was over.  Regardless, at the rate they fell out on their own, there was no way those were lasting a full month as promised.  Very disappointing.  Never again, and never will I recommend them to anyone.  


These are two separate services, but I recommend them both together for the best results.  I highly recommend them, the services are totally awesome, although I don't do it regularly.  Eyelash perming and tinting is just what it sounds like, a licensed esthetician will roll your lashes onto tiny little rollers and apply a mild, eye safe perming solution that is left on for 15 minutes or so (your eyes are closed during this whole process.)  However if your lashes are on the shorter side, they may not be able to perm them if they are too short to get on the rollers.  When finished they will follow with a tint which will dye your lashes darker.  The benefit to tinting afterwards is it relaxes the perm just a little bit so they aren't over curled.  The end result is beautiful dark curled lashes.  Basically you look like you have mascara on without makeup, and it really brightens and opens your eyes.  I recommend this to anyone considering an eye lift surgery as a non evasive alternative, because it really gives you "doe eyes" which are pretty, opposed to "deer in headlights eyes" (which are scary, and also a common result of eye lift surgeries).  The only downside to this service is that after 4-6 weeks when you start to shed you eyelashes and new ones come in (part of a regular growth cycle that many people are unaware of) you end up with old permed lashes and new straight ones , which together can be kind of crazy and spidery.  However, I say go with it and rock the Twiggy look until they return to normal, then get them permed again if you wish.  Lastly I want to advice that you use caution when getting this service, don't see just anyone, make sure you have a personal recommendation (Yelp doesn't count.) I get mine done at Flirt Salon in Burbank by Sandi or Meredith who do an excellent job. They also give really facials and waxing services.


Revitalash is a great product developed by a doctor that helps you grow longer, fuller lashes.  Unlike Latisse, which I have not tried, you don't need a prescription to obtain it.  You also don't run the risk of having your eyes turn brown from blue, like Lastisse mentions as a side effect, although there is a small risk of eyelid pigmentation for some users.  Basically you put it on at night like you would eyeliner along the lashes.  Use it nightly and you will see results within sixty days.  I don't know the exact science of it, but I believe I was told by a beauty insider that it slows down the lash growth cycle, so you are able to grow longer lashes before they shed and fall out.  It really works, and is worth a try if you aren't overly concerned about the pigmentation risk.  I have had issues with melasma in the past (hyperpigmentation of the skin due to birth control hormones) so I would think I'd be more susceptible to the risk, but I haven't had any problem with the product.  It's available at various beauty retailers, including Flirt Salon


Last, but not to be overlooked, you can get a fabulous ingenue gamine look by drawing on lashes (especially the lower) a la Twiggy.  Double, triple, or quadruple coat your lashes with mascara to finish the look.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Three Bean Potato Salad

I just threw this together this evening because I had a big bag of tri-colored potatoes, and I thought I better use them.  (I have a really bad habit of buying to many vegetables at the store and then not using them all before they go bad.)  It actually turned out really delicious and it's a nice colorful vegetarian recipe, so I thought I'd share.  I am actually missing the 3rd bean ingredient, garbanzo beans, because I didn't have any, but I'm sure it would be better with them, and it sounds better to call it 3 bean potato salad vs. 2 bean.


2.5 lbs tri-colored potatoes
10 oz pre-washed, pre-cut fresh green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2 green onions (scallions)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Bragg organic Healthy Vinaigrette
fresh ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional: crumbled bleu cheese or feta


Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and add salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer potatoes until just tender, about 15-18 minutes.

Meanwhile cut green beans to 1/2 length and put in large bowl.  Chop green onions and add to bowl as well.  Open and rinse both kidney beans and garbanzo beans in colander.  Shake out excess water and add to bowl.

When potatoes are done, rinse in colander with cold water and let cool.  Cut potatoes into halves, then quarters and add to the bowl with the beans and onions.  Add the Dijon, vinaigrette, and toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes and serve cold.

Senegalese Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes that has found a place in my regular weekly rotation of go-to meals.  Believe it or not, I actually got it from Weight Watchers.  It is compliant with a clean eating lifestyle, and is also vegetarian.  It keeps well in the refrigerator and makes a great lunch all week long.  This African stew also is a great meal if you are battling a cold, because it contains both fresh garlic and ginger, which are immune boosters.  I could go on about the merits of this meal all day, but instead I will go ahead and share the recipe.


1 spray olive oil cooking spray
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 medium green bell pepper cored and roughly chopped
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium carrots peeled and thinly sliced
1 or 2 parsnips
2 cloves garlic, minced (I prefer 6 or 7)
2 Tbsp ginger root, fresh minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it, I prefer a whole teaspoon)
4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
6 Tbsp peanut butter (natural variety)
8 cups pre-washed baby spinach leaves

Optional: cooked brown or jasmine rice, crushed peanuts


Peel and chop all veggies and prep ingredients, set aside.

Coat a large saucepan (I prefer a large wok) with cooking spray and set over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the sweet potato, carrots, and garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring often.  Add the ginger, salt, and cayenne; stir and cook for 30 seconds.

Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer slowly, add in peanut butter, stirring once in a while, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the spinach; cook stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Serve hot as is, or over a bed of rice, garnished with crushed peanuts. (I added the second option, my husband really likes it served this way.)  Enjoy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Before & After: Project Area/Art Supply Storage

I work from home as a freelance graphic artist, and for the first few years I worked out of a closet office my husband built out for me in our guest room.  Though I soon out grew it, and it was decided our little used guest room must go, and make room for a full size office for myself.

Initially I toyed with the idea of doing an office/guest room switcharoo, and installing a murphy bed for guests in my former closet office.  But I then chose to keep the workspace in there, as it would be better utilized as a storage and project area for all my creative endeavors.  I needed a second desktop where I could paint and glue without fear of spilling jars of water or paper mache paste on my computer.  I could finally make a mess-in-progress and leave it there for days, or weeks, shutting the doors on the mess when not working on it. I could also have all my supplies organized and within reach.

After completing the office, I only got as far as painting out the closet, and then kind of lost my motivation.  The contained space also made it easy to shut the door on this incomplete area of my office.  And it made a good landing pad for anything I didn't want to deal with, or couldn't find a home for, as well.  Needless to say it was a sad little neglected mess.

Note the calendar which hadn't been touched since October.

I finally decided that I needed the workspace, not a junkyard.  So after a trip to The Container Store (one of my favorite places in the world) and a three days of fervent filing, cleaning, and organizing...


I should be a professional organizer.

Categorized color coded files keep paperwork at bay.

Vintage Caboodles makeup cases make cute and practical storage for art supplies.

Magnetic spice holders are good for the little stuff such as paperclips or beads.

Store all your manuals and warranties in one place with a document box.
(If your on a budget a shoebox will suffice.)

These lucite magazine holders are a must for magazine archives and clip art books.

Having various cards organized and on hand means you are always prepared.
A birthday book ensures you never forget a birthday.

My piece de resistance: a little gift wrapping station!!

Full office tour to come...

Sunscreen for the Makeup Wearer

     One of the things that annoys me about sunscreen advice in beauty magazines is the fact that they seem to totally ignore the fact that a lot of women wear makeup.  They advise if you are outdoors for several hours, to reapply sunscreen regularly, which is fine and dandy if you are working out makeup-free, or at the beach with a bare face.  However if you are looking cute on a picnic date, or scouring the Rose Bowl for treasures, you can't exactly slather on a fresh layer of sunscreen over a made up face.  That's why I was thrilled when I discovered Colorescience sunforgettable SPF 30 sun protection, which you apply like a mineral powder.  It covers and protects without working like a makeup remover, and combats shine on a hot day.

Here is my makeup friendly sunscreen routine:

1. Apply Colorescience primer sunreliable SPF 20.  This primer brightens your skin, and smooths out any fine lines and wrinkles before makeup application, in addition to providing SPF sun protection.  In fact, it actually makes your skin look so good you could go totally makeup free.  On "no makeup" days I actually use just 1 and 4 together.

2. Moisturize lips and protect with Nivea a kiss of moisture SPF 4 lip care.  This is THE best "chapstick" formula ever.  My husband came back from Germany with a chapstick called Labello which was to die for and impossible to find outside of Germany.  I then read that Nivea was the same company, and upon trying the Nivea stick found that it was the exact same product.  It's smooth and non waxy, and really sinks in and moisturizes.

3. Apply id Bare Minerals.  It's my foundation of choice because it contains SPF 15, doesn't clog pores or contain talc, it's quick to apply, and I've found it's ability to even out my skin tone unbeatable.  Continue with whatever else your makeup routine entails, shadow, liner, mascara, etc.

4. Dust a layer of Colorescience sunforgettable SPF 30 sun protection all over your face, especially focusing on nose, cheeks, and forehead.  Stash in your purse along with the Nivea chapstick and reapply later as needed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Sayin'

Call me a snob, but I really dislike faux leather.  Occasionally I come across a faux handbag that is too cute to pass up, polyurethane or not.  What's a girl to do?  Call it vegan and it becomes cool.