Stories by: Kathleen

Beauty, SkincareWater Straight From the Source

When it comes to balancing equations, you can’t subtract (take away something) on one side of an without adding something back on the other side. And I’ve found this math rule has been omnipresent in makeup removers. For all that they take away (every last dab of mascara, eyeliner, and artfully blended eyeshadow), they add back in terms of mild, oily residue or greasy remainder. The exception to this rule is KohGenDo’s Cleansing Water, which subtracts even the densest makeup paint, with the only remainder being glowingly soft skin, no washing or rinsing required. I suspect that this has something to do with the Cleansing Water’s formulation, which sounds like something out of an urban myth or the beginnings of an ancient fairy tale: From the Yumura Hot Springs in Izumo, Japan, comes pure water, rich with skin-absorbing nutrients, to replenish and rejuvenate as it cleanses.
White Birch Sap [is] harvested only three weeks in early spring.

I mean, replace the words “pure water” with hobbit or some other fantastical Middle Earth Creature, and it sounds like the beginnings of a Tolkien story, no? And like any good mystical product, it’s received the stamp of approval, by being a backstage favorite of makeup artists. Its magical oil-free and alcohol-free formulation is so mild and gentle that it’s even packaged like a a water bottle. And when a makeup oops like a wobbly hand destroys a slanted cat eyeliner, the Cleansing Water leaves behind a solid, smooth base so that you can instantly start over again. In addition to the normal liquid formulation, they also have Cleansing Water Makeup Wipes so you can remove your makeup in one swipe. It is a tad on the pricey side (harvesting that pure water and birch sap must be tough) at $39 for 10.15 fluid ounces, but a little bit goes a long way.

 

Beauty, HairGo Streeking

When it comes to hair style, I’ve always been closer to Kate Middleton than Katy Perry on the scandal scale. Apart from my mom’s ‘Dance Mom’ fixation with forcing me to endure summer perms, a tangle with side bangs and an inadvised, Spring Break-like fling with orange highlights, my hair’s been nothing shocking. But guys, I caught my hair streeking the other day. Let me explain. Upon my last visit to Cutler, I told David Stanko that I wanted to shake things up. “I want color! Something cool and fun…like purple streaks! I don’t work in Corporate America anymore so my hair doesn’t have to look like it belongs in a boardroom or a useless conference call!”

Stanko happily indulged me and we drafted a plan to bleach a few locks in the base layer, so that highlights would peep through whenever I ardently tossed my hair or put my hair up. I was excited. (And then slightly grossed out when I saw how my bleached hair initially resembled sickly, stringy, Ursuala-like wizened sea aliens.) Stanko applied some Manic Panic Purple to them and once blow dried, looked like grapeade pops of delight. But sadly, because my initial hair color is so dark, the purple faded after a few washes.

But then I went streeking. Streekers are a hair mascara with a doe tip applicator that you can use to paint eight shades of royal blue, ultra purple, bright pink, and yellow directly onto your hair. The color payoff is so good that it is an exact match to the bottle. I’ve been using these to touch up the remaining purple to my hair. It washes out easily, doesn’t flake, and dries to a non-sticky finish. The lighter the hair, the more vibrant the color. A bottle retails for $11.95. Commence the hair whipping.

Beauty, SkincareMy Version of The Top Shelf

Mom in the sun without her umbrella, and me. Oh, and my brother.

One of my favorite features of Emily Weiss’s really wonderful site, Into the Gloss, is her Top Shelf–a close look into the beauty routines and philosophies of fashion/beauty tastemakers, which often ends up being much more introspective and revealing than a regular ‘ol interview.  For anyone who doesn’t believe beauty is a great equalizer, I submit as evidence the degree to which she gets her sometimes-cagey subjects to open up over discussions about toner and moisturizer. I mean, how else would you know that Sally Singer has an obsession with Japanese manicures and Erin Wasson is really into craniosacral therapy (yes, as weird as it sounds.) Today, for you TDO readers, I’m borrowing a little from Emily’s format and opening my Top Shelf to you, to share a little bit about myself (we’ll keep this  write-up confined to just skincare.) I’m nowhere near as fabulous as Emily’s usual subjects, but here’s hoping to one day.

Written in the manner of Into the Gloss’s Top Shelf, condensed and self-edited

“Like many a beauty-obsessed editor before me, everything I know about beauty, I’ve learned from my mom. I wouldn’t term my mom a beauty fanatic, but I would define her as a ‘natural beauty’ fanatic, meaning she is all about preserving your natural beauty–whatever gifts you were endowed with. She could care less about makeup (so much so that I gave her an eyeliner 101 lesson just a few months ago), but skincare is her jam. For as long as I can remember, my mom has had an intensive nighttime skincare regime consisting of multiple steps and potions (at least 6.)  READ MORE

Fashion, ShoesConverse x Batman

Comic book lovers and fans of Christopher Nolan’s angsty take on Batman–take note. We have found the shoe for you. For Holiday 2012, you will be able to customize your own Converse sneakers with iconic images of Batman, Catwoman, and the Joker. For those who like their comic book movies dark and gritty, this collaboration is a no brainer. Converse’s cool, downtown image perfectly juxtaposes with the dark knight’s moody black and white drawings. I like how you can coolly pick different color shoelaces (I’m partial to the graphic yellow) as a bright pop of color amongst the monotones and even choose different icons for the right and left shoe. Converse lets you customize every step, right down the color the shoe tongue and the shoe’s interior, but if you have decision fatigue, we’ve included pictures of our favorites above. The sneakers retail for $75 and you can build your own shoe here, on the Nike site.

Bath & Body, Beauty, HairGet Blousey

I love my lady scents, meaning florals and musk appeal to my olfactory senses too. But sometimes in the shower, I’m in the mood for spice, as opposed to sugar and everything nice. In times like this, I reach for Lush’s Blousey Shampoo.

Yes, the shampoo does contain some of the more traditional “sweet” elements like bananas, cocoa and capuacu butter. But what really distinguishes it, is the spiciness added by cloves and star anise, which gives the scent kick and dimension. It smells like a banana bread, baked and amped up by your cool aunt who travels the world and brought back spices from her last trip to Turkey. Because of the addition of solid elements like banana, the texture of the shampoo feels slightly more like a hair mask or frankly, like cake batter. But this just makes it easier to wash and completely coat your hair from root to tip. The bananas are so emollient that it makes your hair look glossy, bouncy, and alive. Because the shampoo is so moisturizing, it is recommended specifically for color-treated hair, but I suggest it even to my friends with non-dyed hair because it’s just that good.

Beauty, Skincare4 Masks For a Hurricane Night In

 

Since Hurricane Sandy has derailed everyone’s wild Monday night plans (I mean, cut into my “recover from Halloween” and How I Met Your Mother couch potato schedule), my roommates and I are indefinitely sequestered in our apartment. With an entire bathroom full of beauty products and nothing but time, you can imagine the kind of trouble we might be getting into…the beauty sleepover kind. And what’s a beauty sleepover with face masks? Here’s a roundup of my favorite four face masks, to get you through this a forced night in (or your own imposed night in, no judgment).

For Clear, Post-Sandy Skin

Are you guys sick of me talking about my love for Eve Lom? I hate to sound like a beauty broken record, but their Rescue Mask is a mainstay for me whenever I think my skin need a clarifier or a pick-me-up. This thick, herbal rich mud mask has the effect of a juice cleanse, on my skin, re-setting balance anytime it gets overly oily, dry, or anything. Feel an impending breakout or bump? This is mask is your toolkit, by drying out blemishes, tightening up pores, and clearing out impurities. Its gloppy texture dries quickly to a matte finish that you easily wash off with water. Under the skin bumps that formerly register an 8 on the Angry scale, are instantly reduced to half that, after a few nights of using this treatment mask. READ MORE

Beauty, MakeupL’Oreal Colour Riche Colour Caresse

Maybe I’ve been watching a little too much Vampire Diairies, but hybrid is my new favorite, and most frequently used word. And of course, I’m not alone in the beauty realm, with a multitude of products that do double duty (see: BB creams, CC creams, lip and cheek stains, multiples, I mean–really, everything.) And my newest favorite hybrid is the line of Colour Riche Colour Caresse lipsticks from L’Oreal. Part balm, part lipstick, part face-brightener, the emollience and color payoff in this line of lipsticks are the shining stars. At Lucky magazine, Jean Godfrey June  famously said they instituted a lifetime ban on the phase “your lips, but better.”

I’ve been racking my brain now for several minutes to find a more creative way to describe these products, but if the phrase fits….why fight it? Its weightless  texture is what makes it feel like your lips, but the “better” part is all from the bright color deposit. The range of colors is focused on illuminating shades of coral, berry, pinks, and reds that are on the “alive” side of the color spectrum, with just a subtle hint of shine. For several seasons,  both on the runway and in street style, there has been a focus on bright, matte lips. The airy formulation and low-maintenance application of this cheap and chic line are a great way to ease yourself into the look. The lipsticks retail for $9.99.

Beauty, MakeupHave you ever faked it?

I’m talking about with your lashes, of course.  But you’d be hard pressed to tell faux from vrai, with Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara.  Google image them and you will be amazed by the number of before/after pics showing their effect. I counted at least three pages of results before I trodded off to the bathroom to make a before/after of my own. My before: Stick-straight, thin, spidery lashes. And after: A glossy, lengthy, jet-black fringe of soft lashes that had several girlfriends demanding, “What new thing are you using for your lashes?” Benefit’s formula is nothing new, but I didn’t get a chance to try it until I stopped by Birchbox’s Sample Stop, back during Fashion Week, and grabbed one of the mini sizes for a travel vacation rainy day.

A favorite of Bachelorette Emily Maynard (R.I.P Jef, one f, and Emily), They’re Real’s wand is a spiky, fine bristled appendage, more like an inflexible toothbrush than a bendy straw, that allows you to literally brush through lift from root to lash tip. The bristles on the wand are so sharp that you do want to be careful, as a too-close wave near the eye, can result in a poke (ow.) But the long-wear results (so extreme that you wake up with perfect lashes from the night before) and wonderbra formula of this mascara, are so great you won’t care if anyone thinks you’re faking it. They’re Real is $23.

 

Beauty, TechGlossybox

These days, beauty subscription boxes are about as ubiquitous as self tanner stories in June. Admittedly, as a beauty editor, I wasn’t sure if I saw the value proposition of getting a personal beauty box subscription. I’m fortunate that one of the perks of my job is an already free flowing supply of samples. But I completely get the appeal of Glossybox – an overseas start-up, focusing on luxury, travel-size products that recently launched in the U.S.

Beauty subscription boxes are billed as a beauty discovery platform and this occasionally jaded beauty editor, was pleasantly surprised by the to discover the representation of niche and international brands. A Korean BB cream brand that isn’t even available for purchase in the U.S.? A Japanese makeup remover that is a favorite of Eva Chen (and now mine)? Sign me up. Ever since doing a story about WAG beauty products, I’ve been dying to try Kryolan and there it was in my August box, a  Glossybox x Kryolan lipstick collaboration. And this lipstick is SO GOOD – it’s my favorite hybrid of lipstick, one that feels like a moisturizing gloss but has the color payoff you would get from a matte lipstick. I like that all of the Glossybox samples are travel size, rather than sample size, meaning that they are much easier to throw in my carry-on. Compared to other services, Glossybox does run a slightly higher price point at $21 a month. But with larger size products and curated access to luxury brands that I can’t even find in the U.S (and a beautifully crafted box that is helping me to curate the chaos in my overstuffed bathroom), it’s worth it. You can sign up for a Glossybox subscription here.

 

Fashion, HairHair Scrunchie 2.0

Like any good New Yorker, I’m aware that scrunchies, like fanny packs or athletic sneakers in midtown, are supposed to be an unspoken sartorial dividing line between tourist and chic, local resident. But following Olympic fever, I almost (note the almost) wanted to dust off my vintage scrunchie. Look at Gabby Douglas and the Golden Girls. Doesn’t their enthusiasm and joy extend H2T as Tyra Banks would say, from their be-scrunchied heads to their fantastically pointed toes? Seeing them in their gold medal joy reminded me of a more innocent time when my most important daily decision was matching  an item from my scrunchie tree to my Limited Too leggings.

Looking past twenty years from now, will I see my simple, black hair elastics as a nostalgic relic of my 20s? Probably not. But I might see TwistBands that way. TwistBands are like hair scrunchies 2.0, an upgraded version of the no-dent, non-hair-damaging hair accessory that everyone loved. Made of a simple, half-inch wide elastic that comfortable cinches your ponytail (and your wrist, equally important) and doesn’t stretch out. And yes, you can match them to your outfits, as they’re currently available in tie-dye, metallic, primary colors, and some design-your-own (they do custom sayings, a fun idea for bachelorette party favors.) But I predict, it won’t be long before like their 1.0 predecessors, they become widely available in beautiful varieties and prints (calling Marimekko and Missoni) and an equal reflector of your personality and style. You can buy them here, where they retail for $2.50 for one, or as a set of 6 for $10.

The Daily Obsession draws from the expertise of a coast-to-coast editorial team offering dedicated readers reports of the most luxurious products and trends. We provide sophisticated and relevant angles on the latest fashion trends, must-have beauty products, insider interviews, travel destinations and of course, our current obsessions.

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