Thursday, September 27, 2007

Straighten It Out

Ms. New Beauty puts a lot of effort into the writing process of reviewing and raving about beauty products here. It typically starts with her trying the product thoroughly, deciding whether she loves it or not, and then figuring out the best way to present that information here. Naturally, the first two steps come rather easily to MNB, but sometimes it's the last one that requires the most effort. Sometimes, the words just flow right through her fingertips to the keyboard and then onto the screen. And, other times, when something is just so wonderful, it works so well, and the results are so fabulous that it completely knocks Ms. New Beauty flat on her ass and she just has to get to the review. Guess which time it is today? MNB was going to start this post with a reference to Steel Magnolias, then a quote from Dolly Parton about not trusting women who do their own hair, and then segue into the product review. But not today. No pop culture references. No anecdotes. No witty repartee. Ms. New Beauty is just diving right into this one because she's so high in love with this product she doesn't want to come down and think of an appropriate blog post intro. So, she won't.


I normally have my relaxer touched up by a professional stylist whom I completely trust. It normally takes me at least five visits getting a basic wash and curl and intently observing the stylist doing other clients' heads before I get to the point where I trust him or her to apply chemicals to my own. But since I spent most of this summer being too lazy to lazy to really look for a new stylist and chose to go to the local Dominican shop for a $20 wash and curl, I haven't found a new person I trust enough to do my touch up. I'd heard a lot about the PhytoSpecific relaxer before and since I love Phyto products, I figured I'd try this one out on myself. After all, I've been getting regular touch ups since I was 13 so I know how it's done pretty well. And, I figured, if I messed up and lost all my hair, I'd have nobody to blame but myself, so I went for it.

Ladies, trust me when I tell you, this relaxer is AMAZING!!!!! It truly is! The formula contains no harsh or irritating chemicals and is based in an egg and soya complex instead of lye. Now, I never went to "hair school" so I don't know all about the ingredients, and pH, and the rest of that. I do know that it straightened my hair gently and actually left it feeling healthier and better than before, which usually doesn't happen with chemical procedures. The best part of this relaxer is that it doesn't burn your natural curl pattern into limp and lifeless submission. It just gently eases it out a bit leaving you with soft, shiny, and bouncy hair that still has some texture. I love it because it still allows me to wear my hair wash n' go curly when I want and also roller set straight.

If you've done your own relaxer before or are familiar with the process, this kit is pretty easy to use and comes with everything you need. The basic process is the same - base your scalp, mix the relaxer, smooth it on, rinse it out. It's the after care that comes in this kit that truly stand out. Neutralizing is the most important part of relaxing because it stops the chemical from continuing to process. This Neutralizing and Cleansing shampoo has a color changing effect that makes this part so easy. When the lather is pink, there is still perm in the hair. Once it turns white, you know you've gotten everything out. The last step is to apply the Milky Restructurer conditioning cream. I don't know what's in this stuff but I am completely in love with it. I applied it and combed it through and there was barely any hair on the comb. Seriously. There were about 10 strands of hair in the comb. I lost less hair after a relaxer than I normally lose in just a regular shampooing. I already checked and Phyto doesn't sell the Milky Restructurer separate from the relaxing kit and I really wish they did. I would use this conditioner all the time because it left my hair so soft and strong.

PHYTORELAXER comes in two strengths. Index 1 is for delicate hair but works on all but the thickest, coarsest, most relaxer resistant hair. If a normal strength relaxer isn't strong enough for you, try Index 2. But, even then, I'd suggest starting with the lower strength and moving up only after you see the results.

$60, available where ever PhytoSpecific is sold.

Straighten your own hair, or bring it in and have your stylist apply it for you, but please don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

P.S. MNB understands that relaxers and straight hair can be a hot button issue for women of color, but Ms. New Beauty is a proud graduate of the "It's Just Hair" School of Thought. So, she's not going to entertain any personal attacks or cantankerous debate about the benefits and burdens of our hair. Wear your hair the way you love it and tell anyone who wants to questions you on it, "Thank you, but I've already been raised."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fake It Til You Make It

Ms. New Beauty can be quite the beauty guinea pig. When it comes to beauty, MNB will try almost anything at least once. Sometimes that means facials so aggressive she's left with bruises for a week. Other times, it means trying procedures with absolutely no scientific support just for the hell of it. Like tomorrow, Ms. New Beauty is getting a detox foot bath even though she's gotten absolute confirmation from The Beauty Brains that it's no more detoxifying than that snake oil people used to buy 100 years ago. But MNB figures a 30 minute foot soak can't hurt, even if it can't heal her either. The one thing Ms. New Beauty hadn't tried in a while was false lashes. She'd found it easier just to put on a few coats of mascara rather than try to affix falsies as close as possible to her lash line. But when she got this call last week, she knew she had to try fake lashes again and give the lowdown to the other New Beauties in the world who have yet to master the technique.
Dear Ms. New Beauty,

I don't really need them, but I want to try false lashes. My friend wears them every time we go out and she always looks fabulous!!!! Meanwhile, I feel like the less-lashed step sister. MNB, I wanna fake it til I make too!

Lashless at the Lounge

Andrea Perma-Lash

There are certain beauty products you invest in, and others where you save. For me, lashes are where you save. Unless you are J-Lo and you're going to get noticed for wearing those mink Shu Uemura, save your money and try your first foray into Falsie-Land with these individual lash clusters. This set comes with 56 lash clusters and is available in two different lengths. The short length is best for filling in sparse lashes while the medium will put a little umph! in lashes. (I totally hate to quote that horrible Ashanti song, but if the shoe fits, eh). The Medium Black shade will work for most New Beauties, but a lighter shade is probably best for the blondies.

I know some people swear by the full strip of lashes. But, I think individual lash clusters are far more versatile. They can either be dramatic or more subtle and natural, depending on how many you use and where you place them.

$3.29, available at drugstores.

Now, picking out the lashes is the easy part. Getting them adhered to your eyes is the challenge, so onto the technique. It's Ms. New Beauty approved!
  1. First, wash your face and clean your eyes. You want to remove any dirt or oil that might keep the glue from sticking.
  2. Apply your eyeliner, this will be your guide so you know where to place your lashes and it will help disguise the plugs at the tip. And, if you don't put it on now, you won't be able to later without disturbing the falsies. If lashes are a little flat, curl them now with an eyelash curler.
  3. Dispense a dollop of lash glue on a clean surface. You can use a piece of tine foil, but I just put it on the back of my hand. A dark glue like this also helps the lashes blend into your lashline.
  4. Dip the lash cluster into the glue getting it on the plug and the base of the actual lash. Wait 30 seconds for the glue to get tacky.
  5. Close your eye or look down and then starting at the outer corner, lay the base of the lash right on top of your actual lashes with the plug just barely touching your eyelid. This makes sure that the individual cluster blends with your lashes. Repeat with about 4 - 6 clusters.
  6. Finish with a coat of mascara to blend the real and the fake and you're ready to go.
A few final tips - focusing the individual clusters at the outer corners of your eyes will give you a sexier, cat-eyed look while focusing on the center will make your eyes look alert and bright. To remove, just press a cotton ball soaked in eye makeup remover on lashes until lashes fall off. Don't pull or you'll pull your own lashes out with them.

Don't be jealous of your friends, lash out with them, and just don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blue is The New Black

Every season, fashion writers and critics announce that some other color is the "new black." And every season, Ms. New Beauty reads such proclamations in magazines and select fashion blogs and rolls her eyes and shakes her head. MNB has always considered the "new black" to be nothing but rubbish. No other color, shade, or hue will ever take its place. Black is neutral yet bold, classic but refreshing, sleek and sensual all at the same time. Nothing can be the new black because black never gets old. It's not trendy, it just is. Except when it comes to nail polish. Last fall, with CHANEL's one-two punch combination of Black Satin and Noir Ceramic polishes, black nails were the epitome of fall's trends. Every fashionista with money to spare raced to CHANEL counters to snap up the few remaining bottles. Ms. New Beauty herself even got into quite the eBay bidding war over a bottle of Noir Ceramic when her local Neiman's was sold out. But with all the fanfare, black nails soon ended up on everyone and just as quickly went the way of the rooster bangs and goopy lipgloss. With this fall, dark nails still fit the feel of the season just with a different, but no less edgy and fashionable, hue - Blue!

M.A.C. Nail Lacquer in Whirlwind

I'll readily admit that I fell hard for the black nail polish last year. It was such a new and thoughtful look, I had to have it. And, I did. For every night out, special event, or burrito run, Noir Ceramic was on my nails and it definitely made even my schlubbiest sweats feel chic. And, then it was over. By around February, I was just so tired of it and couldn't stand to see it anymore. Even now, I occasionally spy black nail polish on women and just think, "that's sooooo 2006!" But it was a wonderful look, which is why I am so glad to see black nail polish in its latest reincarnation, as a deep, inky, midnight on the ocean blue.
Photo Courtesy of All Lacquered Up

This polish is part of the limited edition Blue Storm collection and it is the perfect answer to this season's dark feel without feeling like you got in on it just a tad too late to still be stylish. At first glance, it does almost look like black polish because it is so dark. But then the light catches it and you can see the blue, the subtle hints of green, and just enough shimmer to keep it from looking flat. The color has so much depth. See. My only gripe about this polish is the handle on the bottle. It's the same size as the bottle which makes it a little unwieldy for someone who barely paints their own nails like me. I got the hang of it by just giving up on any attempts at precision and slapping the polish all over my nails knowing that I'd come back with a q-tip dipped in polish remover to clean up my mistakes.

Blue Storm is a limited edition collection and this polish is one of the standout pieces of the collection, so it's going fast. It's already sold out online but you can still get it at many M.A.C. counters.

$10, available where M.A.C. is sold.

Remember that nothing can ever take the place of black, but this season's dark blue will get the job done, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Excuse Me While I Spray My Nose

What a weekend Ms. New Beauty had! Fashion Week is in full swing and for the first time ever(!), MNB made it into the hallowed tents at Bryant Park. She and the girls had a ball! They hit up the M.A.C. reception and met a bunch of other beauty bloggers. They got their photos snapped by a photographer for a Japanese magazine, which at first they thought might be Black Tail Japan but turned out to be a reputable publication. And, they saw the so-fine-it-ought-to-be-criminal Nigel Barker in person. That man is nothing less than 6+ feet of walking deliciousness. Best of all, Ms. New Beauty and the girls got inside the tents and witnessed their first real fashion show. The energy was amazing, the music was perfect, and the clothes were fabulous. There were celebrity sightings aplenty, but MNB is such a fashion whore that the people she was most excited to see were Robert Verdi and Lauren Ezersky. She can officially die a happy woman now. But with all the excitement, and fashionistas, and it-bags, and swag, the humidity almost knocked Ms. New Beauty and her girls over. Obviously, New York didn't get the memo that it's September and summer is over. Always prepared for a makeup meltdown, Ms. New Beauty kept her face fashionable in tact with just a few pumps of a spray bottle.

Cosmedicine Medi-Matte Oil Control Spray

The first time I pulled this out of my bag for a quick spray touch up, I know the girls were thinking "here we go again" and probably rolling their eyes while mine were closed. I will readily admit it, I am a product junkie. Actually, I think I surpassed junkie at 19 and would now be considered a true fiend. I love products and am willing to try as many as my bank account will allow, so I know that about 90% of the things that I tote around with me on a daily basis are probably unnecessary. But this one is totally essential.

This spray is just perfect for those hot, swelteringly humid days when you feel like your skin is ready to revolt at any given second. For years and years, hot and bothered women cooled off with a quick mist of Evian. It's perfect for cooling off skin and refreshing your makeup. But really, what does Evian do but make you all wet? There's nothing in it but water, so why not get all of the cooling and refreshing benefits from a product that's still willing to do more? Enter Medi-Matte. This little bottle delivers the perfect superfine mist with just one pump. It offers the same purified water as Evian, but also adds in shine absorption and pore minimizing to its resume. Even in the thick and oppressive New York humidity, this spray gave me a shine-free yet natural and refreshed complexion. And, by the end of the weekend, my friend who I lovingly call Nikki Hilton was going through my bag and searching for it on her own.

$35, available only at Sephora

Live a fashionable and beautiful life, but keep that skin shine free, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fun With Foam

Ms. New Beauty is obsessed with quite a few things in life. Finding really good salads in every city she visits, keeping up on the latest happenings with LC and Heidi on The Hills, and the newest innovations in kitchen and bathroom design are among her chief obsessions lately. Clearly, beauty products and regimes will always have a spot near the top of her list. MNB's been scrubbing her feet to remove all traces of dry skin since she was about 12 years old. She's had a standing weekly hair appointment just as long. And, she started exfoliating her lips at 19 and has been taking a toothbrush to them daily since then. But, Ms. New Beauty had resisted adopting a routine to deal with her pores. Truthfully, MNB was never quite sure what her pores did and why they looked the way they looked. She avoided looking up the information and looking at them because she knew that as soon as she did, she'd be adopting another routine to coerce those tiny holes into perfect submission. Unfortunately, Ms. New Beauty could only ignore her pores for so long before they started screaming out for attention. Luckily, she happened upon a new product to take away all of the guesswork and whip her pores into shape with hardly any effort.

Olay Pore Refining Mousse

I had no idea that I'd been neglecting my pores so badly. Last week, I was in my mother's bathroom, which is really a room where you can settle in and enjoy any pampering experience, and I was checking the results of a severely botched eyebrow waxing in her super magnifying mirror. I could barely concentrate on my brows once I caught a glimpse of my pores blown up 1000% in that mirror. I was so ashamed and totally had an "it's a wonder people still talk to me with pores like these" moment a la Winona from Daddy Likey's mom. After I got over my shock, and the temptation to call and curse out my best girls for letting me walk around looking like a golfball with all of these craters on my face, I went and washed with this fabulous foamy cleanser.

This is almost like shaving cream for women. You just shake the can and push the button to dispense a fistful of foam. Then just smooth it on and rinse it off. There's no scrubbing, no buffing, no circular motions required. Simply smoothing it on is enough to deep clean your pores and snap them back to normal size. It leaves your skin squeaky clean but isn't drying at all. Follow with your normal moisturizer and a soft, smooth poreless complexion will be in your five day forecast. Oh, and just for fun, if you apply only to the bottom half of your face, you can completely freak out the man in your life and have him watching your neck just a little closer for telltale signs of Adam's Apples past. From now on, I'm staying away from magnifying mirrors and keeping a can of this in my medicine cabinet.

Now, I have no idea what's going on with the people at Olay because they've already begun advertising this cleanser in print ads and on tv (check out Yaya from ANTM in the commercial), but they haven't listed it on their website yet or sent it to any of their online retailers. I bought this with no problem from my local suburban drugstore, so maybe it's just an issue of getting the online presence together.

Around $7, in drugstores (hopefully!)

Stay away from magnifying mirrors, keep your pores clean and tight, and remember that Ms. New Beauty told you!

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