Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cosmetics That Work, And Skin Care Tips

More good comments I didn't want you to miss!

Jinnis writes,

"Ok, so I've looked at the lip colors, enjoyed the range of shades for Cargo eyeshadow, and even worn my set of Mary Kay colors for events beyond my wedding. But I have little tolerance for the taste of lipstick, and eye makeup always seems to drift into my eyes and irritate - thus defeating the purpose of highlighting the eyes.

I'm happy with my Mary Kay Timewise cleanser and moisturizer - this is the first combination of products to leave me blemish-free. I enjoy switching between lip balms - standard Chapstick spf 30 with a faint taste of lemon Italian ice and a recent find of Merry Hempsters organic hemp balm in peppermint. But I'm thinking about something more for lips and for eyes.

Burt's Bees has lip shimmers that are pleasantly minty but have little staying power and can be too sparkly in the lighter shades. All this is to ask - what products have the best taste, staying power, and are least irritating? And what is the minimum of products for someone who has not so much patience for wearing makeup at all?"

I wrote to Jinnis that make-up is a such a personal thing that the best way to find reliable brands is really the good ole trial and error.

PeaceBang has found that she doesn't much cotton to Clinique, Estee Lauder, Lancome, Almay, Burts Bee's, Neutrogena make-ups. They're either too wimpily pigmented, leading her to scream at spending $9 for a product she can't see on her face, they last all of ten minutes, or they're over-priced and over-fragranced in a way that makes her skin itch.

PeaceBang is a cosmetic harlot: she is loyal to no one. She gets her deliciously gooey lip glosses from MAC (expensive) and from Rimmel (super cheap). She gets foundation from Revlon (cheap) and from Trish McEvoy (expensive, and never again even though it's nice). She loves CoverGirl mascaras and never, ever buys any other kind. She worships CoverGirl lip color (Outlast All Day) although she dabbles in other brands as well. She rouges her cheeks with a wide variety products but loves the Revlon Skinlights line that comes in pink containers.
Trish McEvoy provides her winter-pale skin with a wash of glow and color, and Lancome fills in her brows. Shu Uemura glimmers on her eyelids, as does Cargo, Urban Decay, CoverGirl, Top Secret, and god knows what else.

The point is, be ecumenical and eclectic in your acquisition of beautification aids. Purchase them at places with generous return policies. Talk to salespeople and tell them what you need. Ask a lot of questions. Don't be intimidated. Stop people on the street and ask what they're wearing, who did they're hair, what fragrance they've got on. They'll LOVE you for it!

(Speaking of which, PeaceBang had lunch the other day with a woman whose skin was so luminous that PeaceBang had to accost her over Italian wedding soup to ask what products she uses.

She uses Neutrogena in a cream form that comes in a tube. Apparently CVS makes a generic version that comes in a maroon box that is a tiny bit heavier and works like a charm for dryer skin. Quoth our lovely lady, "Remind people to moisturize after they shower, because water really can be quite harsh and they need to replenish their oils."

She recommends Lancome Regenerie for eyes, a product I don't know but apparently earns raves from her sister.)

Finally, respect the importance of application. If you don't exfoliate, make-up will go on blotchy. If you don't moisturize, you'll get the same problem, but don't apply make-up until the moisturizer has soaked in for a few minutes, and blot if you need to.
If eyeshadow doesn't stay on, you may need to invest in an eyeshadow primer. Lipsticks now come in a huge variety of lasting formulas: you're bound to find one that works for you. Take a moment to whisk translucent powder over your finished face before church in the morning for staying power. Layer products as needed (I find that blush disappears fast on me, so I bring a little pot of rouge with me in my cosmetics bag).

Make-up is just a tool. Don't let it boss you around: make it work for you!


Signature, Or Rut?

Happy Post-Thanksgiving Saturday, dearests!! How was your day? If you're not a resident of the United States, ignore the groanings coming from this part of the hemisphere, and watch for flying buttons popping off of waistbands. It's funny 'til someone loses an eye, as my dear departed father would have said.

Honestly, though, for those of us lucky enough to feast amid warmth and comfort and plenty, may the overflowing gratitude strengthen and sustain us for the work to be done, and I don't mean the work of battling our way through the mall for Christmas shopping. I mean the great work, ya'll.
If memory serves, there's a special passel of pastoral ministry that goes on during the holiday season, with its excesses and its fantasies, and its expectations and its family mishegas. Hang on, sweet potatoes! Here it comes!

A Thoughtful and Scentually-Conscious Reader named Bill and I had this exchange today over in the comments section of another post:

He writes,"What do you think about patchouli? I confess to using it for over 25 years. I get it from Caswell-Massey. I always thought it was kind of cool, but recently I overheard some young ladies making fun of me at a social."

I replied,"Bill, bless your heart for asking a difficult question! It's SO HARD to evaluate something we've been doing for a long time, but scent is so important and evocative it's worth thinking about it seriously. Let me say this quite honestly: patchouli is such a dated fragrance and so evocative of the groovy 70's that it's just not a good choice anymore. Caswell-Massey makes nice products, though, so you obviously have good taste. Is it possible you were wearing a bit too much?You might go to a trusted pharmacy -- wait, let me post on this!xoxo PB"

So here I am posting about it.

What I was going to say to Bill was that he might go to a nice pharmacy where there's a cosmetics counter and ask for some advice on men's fragrances. Or he could just poke around a department store for awhile and sniff tester bottles. Lord knows women do this all the time.

Bill, remember that you must try a fragrance on your own self and let it sit for awhile to mesh with your own chemistry in order to really determine if it's right for you. I try up to four fragrances at a time, but no more. Spritz the left wrist, the right wrist, the left inside-elbow and the right inside-elbow. Wait at least ten minutes between each, and remove with alcohol if you hate it.

Sephora has scads of men's fragrance, but sometimes a big cosmetics emporium can be intimidating to men (and women, too, actually!).
That's why I recommended a pharmacy.
Bill, maybe take a friend with you to help you find a nice scented product? There are many out there that are reminiscent of the musky patchouli without BEING patchouli. PeaceBangers, any recommendations?

However, PeaceBang thinks that the really important thing about this question isn't about finding Bill a better fragrance choice. The important thing isn't even that some young "ladies" were heard making unkind remarks at a social, which is reprehensible and extremely hurtful, and I'm sorry that it happened.

The really important thing about Bill's question is that it reminds all of us how easy it is to get sot in our ways, to think we only look good in one color or one cut of fabric, or that we can only wear our hair a certain way or comfortably walk around in a certain kind of shoes.

Some of us are still spraying ourselves with Clinique Aromatics Elixir or Polo -- two fragrances that were so ubiquitous twenty years ago as to immediately date us when we walk through the door wafting these smells. Others haven't had a new hair style since the Reagan administration. Still others are wearing the same shade of lipstick they fell in love with when they were in their 20's and their face was a whole different landscape.

"But, PeaceBang, this is my signature look/smell/hairdo/pair of shoes!" you protest.

My lovely protesting people, signature items or looks can be terrific. Think Jack Nicholson's eternally sexy shades. Think Gloria Steinem's fabulous aviators. Think Julie Andrews' soft cap of shiny hair. Think Nancy Reagan's red suit. Think Mr. Rogers' sweaters.


A classic set of pearls can be a signature. A great, weathered leather jacket can be a signature item. Brilliant red lipstick. A beloved brooch or set of cufflinks. Paisley can be part of a signature, or warm, nubby shawls or a certain blue that brings out your eyes, or a Louise Brooks haircut that is totally out of date, but is absolutely YOU.

The thing about a signature look, though, is that it still needs to be evaluated and freshened up now and then, or we risk looking not like classic versions of ourselves but like people who are trapped in time, insecurely clinging to something that worked for us long ago when we were actually very different people.
Look how Gloria does this. The glasses are still hip, they suggest the classic aviators, but they're more contemporary and fresh and becoming to her more mature face:


How can we tell whether we're wearing a signature look or whether we're just in a rut? Think Liza Minelli's crazy-spiky eyelashes. Think the great hoofer Ann Miller's huge helmet head. Think George Hamilton's horrid leathery tan. When we become a caricature of ourselves, we're definitely in a rut.

Rut or Signature? Three Helpful Tips

1. When you get dressed and prepared to be seen in community, are you just reverting to the same choices again and again because you can't figure out anything else to do? That's probably a rut. If, on the other hand, you bring the same trusted oldies out of the closet every day with a sense of cherished appreciation, and you love the way you look and feel in them, and you Rock The Universe just being your fabulous self, that's a signature look.

Dressing and smelling and grooming the exact same way year unto year because you don't feel like thinking about it isn't classic. It's a rut.

2. Are you avoiding change because it scares you? That's one kind of rut we can very easily get into. If you think this might be you, enlist the support and aid of someone with more of a sense of dash and daring about them and go have fun trying new things on. You don't have to buy them. Just go see how it feels!

Who are you today? There's nothing to fear in pursuing an outward appearance that more accurately reflects the inner reality, even if that inner reality is older, more somber, and less cute or people-pleasing than it used to be.

A friend of mine walked through the door on Thanksgiving Day sporting her natural hair color, which is grey. She had been coloring it blonde all the years I've known her, and she was just breathtaking! The gray is shiny and multi-dimension where the blonde had not been. I could see her bone structure in a new way, and the steely glint of beautiful, strong gray eyes I had never really seen before. She had gone from pretty to formidable and handsome, and more truly herself.

The moral of the story is: Don't be afraid of change. You can always change back.

3. Are you clinging to one look because you think you're a certain "type" and something else Just Won't Look Good on you?
You wouldn't believe how often PeaceBang hears this, and how sad it makes her. So many times people have a very limited vision of who they are and What Looks Good on them. They will steadfastly ignore the dictates of fashion and even good taste in order to cling to some fashion rule that is either woefully outdated (like refusing to wear white after Labor Day) or that hasn't flattered them in decades, if ever.

Don't let stubbornness be your rut. When friends gently suggest that you'd look so great if you cut that miles-long hair, or surreptitiously try to take you shopping for new eyeglass frames, or your wife hides your bolo ties, moth-eaten turtlenecks or too-tight Wrangler corduroys in the garage, don't get mad. Get curious. Consider a change. Again, you can always change back.

So Bill, thanks again for your question. A big Bronx cheer to those meanies who tittered about your patchouli at the party, but they may have done you a favor after all. Best wishes and let us know if you find a new scent you like.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksful for YOU, PeaceBangers!

The stuffing is cooking away and smelling amazing, the travelers are upstairs asleep, the turkey is all buttered up and almost ready to go in the oven (sorry, vegans!), the pies and trifle are made, the green bean casserole and other sides are assembled, the friends are arriving all day with dinner at 3pm and dessert in the evening...

I'm putting together a little morning prayer service from Oremus and the Universalist Prayerbook and thought I'd stop by to tell you all that you're beautiful, you're a whole lot of fun, and I'm grateful for you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Kiss, kiss!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Body Shop Stay-On Lipcolor: Stay Away!

PeaceBang is sorry to have to give a big, huge thumbs way down to the Body Shop's Stay On Lipcolor:

This is the worst product I've tried in a long time, and I've tried a lot.

The lipcolor is incredibly dry, it takes vigorous pumping to even get a little bit of color onto the wand, and the gloss doesn't work at all!

I ask you, how hard is it to engineer a little sponge that goes into a little tube of lip goo? Apparently VERY hard, requiring truly great minds, because the Body Shop designers couldn't seem to figure it out.

PeaceBang spent five minutes stabbing the little sponge applicator into the glossy side of the product as her lip color dried, and all to no avail. Some of the gloss flang itself out of the container and got on her lap, causing her to scream in alarm, but very little gloss actually got on the sponge applicator. She kept dragging the sponge over her lips in a sad but hopeful way, as a trained chimp might do in an experiment. The applicator was dry and scratchy. Ouch! When was the last time you were INJURED BY A LIP GLOSS?

Avoid this inferior, overpriced product like the plague and stay with CoverGirl Outlast All Day lipcolors, PeaceBang's perennial fave. It smells yicky as it dries, but after it dries and you slick that topcoat on, you're good for thousands of hours -- even through two Christmas Eve services with a meal in between.


More On Skin

The Baptized Pagan wrote the following which was so terrific I didn't want it to get buried in old comments:

"Just back from the AAR, where Peacebang's recommendation of the Origins No Puffery mask saved me a couple of times after nights that continued a little too long...One other product for men with acne that has been a godsend, in addition to washing, toning, and moisturizing, has been applying a moisturizer with salicylic acid right in it. I use Kiehl's blue herbal moisturizer...expensive, but I haven't been able to find anything else. For those of you with dry or normal skin, it might be a little too much, but if you've been fighting off acne since the first days of puberty, it's a great product for daily use."

Thanks for letting us know, BP! I couldn't agree more on Kiehl's products, and your tip about moisturizing with salicylic acid is a good one (although the very thought of putting ACID on one's face always scares me; couldn't they have called it something cuter?). Sometimes boys and girls with oily skins and acne avoid moisturizing because they think it will make them more oily, but that's just not true. I swear it on a stack of Bibles.

Speaking of what's just not true, don't you love it when you browse in a skin care-oriented store or cosmetics counter and the gal or guy shilling the stuff says, "That's the one I use" about whatever product you're holding? It's practically a MIRACLE how often this has happened to me! Why, if I was a less trusting person, I might begin to think that perhaps that salesperson is just outright lying their head off in order to persuade me to buy that product! The thing is, what makes them think that just because they use it, I'm a-gonna buy it? Do we have the SAME FACE or something?

Yesterday I was replenishing my skin care products at Origins and as per usual, squinting at the tiny print on every product in the store looking for ideas for my cher readers. A little girl, couldn't have been more than 22, zoomed over to extol the virtues of the new Youthtopia moisturizer that she uses herself, made with Siberian fir trees called Rhodiola or something (I'm not making this up, you have to read about it here because it's hilarious:

I couldn't help it; I started cracking up. She was jabbering on and on so I put my hand on her arm. I said, "Sweetie, you're half my age. You can't possibly be using this old lady cream."

Without missing a beat, she said, "But I do! I use it for here," and with that, she touched herself under her youthfully firm chin as if to indicate some kind of sagging problem.

I said, "Well you know what. I'm just depressed now. You just totally depressed me. I have three chins and I wouldn't buy this stuff. Please just tell me you're being a really good salesgirl and that you don't actually believe you need an anti-aging regimen at your age."

Ever the pro, she said, "It's all about being pro-active!"

Bless her little young heart. I bought my two things, stocked up on thousands of samples, and went to drown my sorrows by walking slowly through the Body Shop inhaling deeply of profoundly over-scented products.


Socially Conscious Bling

Hey, hey, hey! How serendipitilicious is this?

Remember a few days ago when someone wrote in asking about a socially conscious way to acquire a diamond? And I said, "Well, I don't know, but I do know that robbing a jewelry store would probably be considered a socially unconscious way to acquire one, but you could always go on a cruise and steal one from a really loaded old dowager or something. Would that work for you?"
Just kidding! I did write some stuff that was basically meaningless, but lots of people had other actually good ideas. Remember that?

Well check it out: in the latest issue of Body + Soul (plus about five bucks) they have a Q & A column called "Spirit of Money" by Tracy Fernandez Rysavy who gets a question about that same thing!

She basically says everything you all already said (like the fact that a diamond is a beautiful symbol of love and fidelity, but can also "be a product of exploited workers, environmental degradation, armed conflicts, and human-rights abuses").

Rysavy says that you can buy responsibly mined diamonds by seeking out companies like GreenKarat (, Leber Jeweler (, and Sumiche Jewelry Co., all of which trace their diamonds to point of sale, and have a commitment to ethical responsibility in the biz.

Jewelers of America ( have apparently adopted some principles around diamond dealing, so another option is to ask your own jeweler whether or not he or she has signed onto them.

And if you have any doubts, buy a used ring at an estate sale or auction!

Rock out on your bling, socially conscious people!


Monday, November 20, 2006

Cargo Eyeshadow: An Epiphany For Under $20!

Good morning, my bright-eyed peace doves!

PeaceBang has finally, finally located the perfect eyeshadow that can be worn alone to wake up the entire eye, and looks smashingly beautiful with eyeliner.

This was the eyeshadow version of the Quest For the Holy Grail. PeaceBang has purchased promising looking shadows that turned out to be too disco-sparkly, too glimmery-Tinkerbellish, too pinky, too deadeningly white, too goldy, too silvery, too sloppy to apply, to whimpy to last for more than an hour, too greasy, too dry -- why, PeaceBang has been like Goldilocks, looking for that shadow that's (teeny weeny voice) just right.

PeaceBang believes this new shade would look lovely on a variety of skin colors, from very light to very dark, but as in all things, it may not be for you.

This is PeaceBang's daily basic "wake up the eye without looking like you're wearing eyeshadow" eyeshadow. It should be applied with a fluffy finger-shaped brush, as it will probably come out too glimmery if applied with a sponge applicator. It's delicious stuff.

PeaceBang Recommends:

Cargo eyeshadow in "Bermuda"
Available at Sephora

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