Fashion & Beauty

While I don’t feel comfortable (for now…) with the idea of Botox, fillers or a face lift, I do use creams and lotions to make my skin look as good as it can – considering my advanced age. 😀

But the cosmetics industry is basically full of crap and in most cases its promises have just as much merit as promises made by your average snake oil salesman.

“Our new miracle cream will lift, firm, and tone your skin, while also dramatically reducing fine lines and wrinkles. You’ll see marked improvement within three days!”


I’ve learned almost everything I know about skin care from Paula Begoun. I’ve never met her, but I’ve read every word on her website. She’s a hardworking, smart woman who tells it like it is when it comes to what cosmetics can – and cannot – do for your skin:

1. The only true “anti wrinkle” cream is a sunscreen, since using it can actually prevent sun damage and prevent new wrinkles from forming. Apply it to your face every single day.

2. The only cream that can reduce the appearance of existing wrinkles is a cream containing Tretinoin (such as Retin-A). Tretinoin, available by prescription only, has been shown to improve skin’s collagen production, making skin smoother and offering a modest decrease in the depth and appearance of wrinkles. Not anyone can tolerate Tretinoin, though.

3. Exfoliating every day using an AHA or a BHA product will even out skin tone and improve skin texture. Exfoliating the layers of dead skin cells will also help other products, such as moisturizers, penetrate skin.

4. A good moisturizer, loaded with anti oxidants, can make a real difference in the appearance of your skin, but make sure the packaging keeps the ingredients stable once the product is opened. Go with opaque tubes or bottles with small openings, and avoid clear packaging and jars.

Most of my skin care routine is based on Paula’s Choice products, and when I buy products from other companies, I make sure to follow the above rules.

Sibu Beauty

Sibu Beauty offers skin care products that contain the antioxidant Sea Buckthorn. When they contacted me, asking if I would be willing to write a review of their facial cream (sample was provided), I quickly checked the list of ingredients. I liked what I saw.

The first five ingredients are water, sea buckthorn seed oil (which means the antioxidant is present in a meaningful concentration), glycerin (increases the amount of water in the surface layers of skin), sodium levulinate (a natural preservative and skin conditioning agent) and Sodium Anistate (a natural preservative ingredient used to prevent microbial growth and product spoilage).

The cream also contains olive oil, meadowfoam seed oil (an emollient and conditioning agent), shea butter (a rich source of antioxidants), and aloe vera (an anti-irritant).

On the flip side, it also contains lemon essential oil, a potential skin irritant, and its packaging is not completely opaque.

I’ve used the Sibu Beaty Facial Cream for about a week now. It’s nice and emollient and feels pleasant on my skin. The orangey scent is nice too. Despite containing a possible skin irritant, it hasn’t irritated my skin. I’m not the person to ever tell you idiocies such as “my skin is noticeably smoother now,” but it’s definitely a pleasant facial cream and I like that it contains so many beneficial ingredients.

The Giveaway

Sibu Beauty is generously offering to send one of my US-based, 18+ readers a free bottle of their Sea Buckthorn Facial Cream, valued at about $21. If you’re interested, please email me to vered at I’ll pick a random winner later today. — Congrats to Andrea H. for winning!

Too Much Makeup 1. Tanned skin is healthy and beautiful.

2. I can fake great skin with makeup.

3. Anyone can pull off bright red lipstick. It’s a classic.

4. OMG I will never look as bad/wrinkled as she does when I am her age!

5. I will be young forever. Aging happens to other people.

6. It’s OK to forget to remove your makeup before going to bed.

7. 40 is the new 30.

8. I blended the foundation so well, no one can even tell I’m wearing it.

9. No one notices my gray roots. I can wait another week before I color.

10. Plastic surgery/ Botox/ Liposuction will make me feel better about myself and solve my social problems and self esteem issues.

11. If a little perfume smells good, a lot of perfume will smell great.

12. I can go one more day before washing my hair.

13. I can go one more week before getting a trim.

14. I can trust women’s magazines to give me the best, most up-to-date beauty advice.

15. A little mascara looks good, a lot of mascara will look great!

16. You can’t look good if you’re over 40. Beauty is all about youth.

17. You can’t have long hair if you’re over 40.

18. You should always dress according to your age.

19. If you allow your hair to go gray, it means you’re letting yourself go.

20. I don’t have to use sunscreen every day. Only in the summer and when I plan to spend time in the sun.

21. Beauty sleep? That’s ridiculous. I don’t need more than 5 hours of sleep per night.

22. Only skinny women are attractive to men.

23. Only women with an hourglass figure are attractive to men.

24. Only women with large breasts are attractive to men.

25. Everyone around here is blond, skinny, tanned and has large boobs. I have to look like them or I’ll never be able to fit in.

no pooIt’s a growing trend: women who won’t use traditional shampoo to clean their hair, opting instead for various “no-poo” or “low-poo” options (yes, the names of these alternative products are unfortunate indeed).

The idea behind the “no poo” movement is that traditional shampoos may strip your hair from natural oils and leave it dry and brittle. Instead of using what is essentially soap to clean your hair (even if the soap is specifically formulated for hair), you should use gentler, more natural ingredients.

As a friend recently told me, “When I shampoo, I strip my hair from its natural oils. Instead of being soft and shiny, it becomes dry. I then have to use hair products, including a conditioner, masks and oils to bring it back into life. But these products weigh on my hair and force me to shampoo daily, stripping my hair even more. It’s a vicious cycle.”

This particular friend has ditched regular shampoo almost a year ago, and has never looked back. She reports that her hair is softer and smoother than ever, and she relies less on heat styling and on hair products.

My own hair is thick and frizzy. I can’t stand the way it looks in its natural state and rely on a flat iron to make it smooth and eliminate frizz. So I decided to give the no-poo (can’t say this with a straight face) trend a try. I recently went 10 days without shampooing. I washed my hair in lukewarm water every other day, gently massaging my scalp with a baking soda solution (recommended by my friend), and waited for the magic to happen.

Alas, it didn’t happen for me. After the first week, my hair felt greasy and my scalp started itching. I hated the way it felt, but kept going for a few more days, because my friend had insisted that I just needed to wean my hair off shampoo. She said that if I stuck with the new routine long enough, my hair would achieve its “happy place” and I would never ever need shampoo again!

I couldn’t do it. On the tenth day, feeling intense guilt and remorse, I quietly hopped into the shower, shampooed TWICE, conditioned my hair, and heat styled it. At the end of the familiar ritual, I smiled. My hair felt clean, smooth and fragrant, and the stubborn itch on my scalp had disappeared.

No poo? No thanks.

My friend says I’m addicted to shampoo. I think I can live with that.

Loved this Comment: “You reminded me of a scene from The Lonely Guy, with Steve Martin. I think they were talking about hair loss. They wondered how come so many bums on the street have so much hair. They figured it was because they didn’t wash it all the time, so the hair just stayed in.” J.D. Meier, Sources of Insight.

hair rollers

1. This garment is “One Size Fits All,” it will absolutely fit you.

2. Don’t worry if it’s too big, it will shrink after you wash it.

3. Don’t worry if it’s too small, it will stretch with wearing.

4. It’s OK to take a different size than the one you need if you really like the item and the store doesn’t carry your size

5. These high heel shoes will feel REALLY comfortable if you wear them with inserts.

6. Cool colors, warm colors? Doesn’t matter. If you like a piece of clothing, forget about the color and whether it flatters your skin tone and just get it.

7. It washes beautifully, no shrinkage, no loss of color. You’ll wear it for YEARS.

8. No, it’s not see-through at all.

9. Go for it! Why not? There’s no such thing as age-appropriate anymore. You and your teenage daughter can totally share clothes.

10. It’s 2 sizes too small but I KNOW I’ll lose the weight someday. I’m keeping this dress in my closet!

11. It’s OK to wear these 5-inch heels. I won’t do much walking tonight anyway.

12. It’s OK to wear 5-inch heels if the heel is chunky.

13. Black looks great on everyone, always.

14. If it’s on sale, I should get it.

15. If it’s a hot trend, I should get it.

16. If my friends are wearing it, I should wear it too.

17. I’m overweight, I’d better stick with loose clothes.

18. If it looks good on the celebrity in the photo, it will look good on me.

19. You can never be too thin. The thinner you are, the better clothes will look on you.

20. If it’s by a designer, it will look fabulous.

21. One must suffer in order to look good.

22. Designer clothes are always worth the high price tag.

23. You can’t look good unless you spend a lot on fashion.

24. Fifties-inspired, “Mad Men” style, ultra-tight clothing are comfortable, thanks to modern fabrics.

25. I absolutely have to have this, I don’t care how much it costs.

26. Skinny jeans look amazing on everyone.

27. Low-rise jeans that show off you butt crack when you sit down are not tacky. They’re HOT.

28. These high-waist jeans don’t make your butt look huge.

29. Super-distressed, torn jeans are SO COOL.

30. No, honey, these pants don’t make you look fat.

Bad haircut

I’m sitting at the hair salon, getting my hair trimmed. It took me many years to realize that the most I can trust a hair stylist with is a 1-inch trim and a blow dry. No layering, no experimenting. I’m too much of a control freak and hair stylists seem to have the universal tendency to want to experiment and show clients that they know better. Well, they don’t.

So I’m sitting there, and a woman walks into the hair salon. She’s about 50, has short blond hair, and looks terrified. She asks one of the hairstylists if he’s experienced. He tells her he is, and then she goes on to tell him, “I wanted a haircut a few months ago. So I went to a hair salon, and I told the stylist that I wanted to cut 1 inch off. He then proceeded to cut all my hair off, leaving me with a very cropped style, around 1 inch long!”

We all gasped and looked at her in disbelief – I mean, wouldn’t you notice that your hairstylist was chopping off way too much and stop him? But then I thought, no one could possibly make up such a story, and it’s quite possible that when she had noticed what was happening, it was too late to back off.

Which got me thinking. What was your worst haircut experience ever? I’m sure you have one – we all do.

Looking forward to reading your story. I will share mine later, in the comments section.

Photo by Kevin McGrew

woman shoppingI know several people who take great pride in never ever paying full price for anything. They shop discount stores such as Walmart and off-price retailers such as T.J. Maxx or Marshalls. Even when they visit full-price retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, they are always armed with coupons and gift cards and they only shop items on sale.

I’m not one of those people. I usually shop at Bloomingdale’s, and while I realize that I’m paying hefty markups when I shop there, the shopping experience there is so pleasant that I keep coming back. I do try to shop items on sale when possible, and I occasionally get gift certificates becuase I’m a card holder, but I still buy many full-price items and boy do these get expensive.

When I got the email that asked me if I would be interested in joining an event hosted by T.J.Maxx at the San Francisco store, I was intrigued. They had me fill this little questionnaire where I basically told them that I am going to come becuase they are driving me there and back and giving me breakfast and a $100 gift card to spend at the store (how’s that for an FTC disclosure), but that they shouldn’t expect to be able to convert me from a full-price to an off-price shopper.

A New Image for the T.J. Maxx Brand

Anyone who watches TV has probably seen the recent TV ads for T.J. Maxx and knows that the company is working hard to change its image. This blogger outreach is obviously a part of this campaign. According to the new messaging, women who shop at T.J. Maxx are not frumpy housewives looking for deals but rather “Maxxinistas” – fashion conscious, trendy women who insist on buying designer clothes for less. So the “Maxxinista” wants the same quality but refuses to pay the high markups she would pay at a department store.

How Do They Do It?


Assuming this is true, and you can find the same designer clothing at T.J. Maxx that you would find in a department store but at T.J. Maxx you pay half the price, how is that possible? How can they sell at such low prices? The T.J. Maxx people explained during their presentation (hey, I had to work for that gift card) that their secret is “opportunistic buying.” Their buyers buy merchandise continually and not seasonally, which enables them to negotiate a better price and to scoop leftover merchandise at low prices. In addition, they keep their store layout simple and basic, so you don’t have to pay for that either.


My Conclusion

After spending my gift card at T.J.Maxx on several fabulous items, my conclusion is that you can definitely find great stuff there for half the department store price. I don’t completely agree with their claim that “over 95% of the merchandise is the same first quality items that you would find at a department store at the same time.” My impression was that it was less than that. The quality merchandise is there, but you need to look for it, or as our hostess said, “it’s all about the thrill of hunting.”

If you enjoy scouring merchandise for that one fabulous designer item at a great price, then T.J. Maxx is worth a try. If you prefer a shopping experience of “get in, get out, get on with your life,” you may want to keep paying full price – and in this case, even the sales rack at a department store is likely not for you. As our hostess said, you don’t go into T.J. Maxx saying “I need a black dress today,” but rather you’re saying “what fabulous dress can I find here today?”

After writing last week about stupid fashion trends, it occurred to me that during recent years, we’ve seen several beauty trends that were/ are just as stupid. Here are five of them:

Trout Pout

Trout Pout

This beauty trend is about filling one’s upper lips to the brim with collagen, or whatever it is they use to augment lips these days. Meg Ryan is one of the celebrities who are most often criticized for her “fish lips.” The photo above provides a perfect example of what seems to be an overzealous “lip work.”

Huge, Round, Hard Breast Implants on a Tiny Frame

Victoria BeckhamPhoto by Tawny Rockerazzi

Victoria Beckham used to look like she had a set but has apparently removed them since.

Injecting One’s Face with a Potent Toxin in Order to Look Younger

The photos above are from a clinic in Vancouver. The younger-looking twin on the left has been receiving the toxin for 13 years, which results in an unnatural, frozen, but admittedly younger look.

Applying a Potent Medicine to One’s Eyelashes in Order to Make them Longer

eyelashesPhoto by pasukaru76

Drugs authorities in Britain have expressed concerns about the increasing use of Lumigan as a cosmetic treatment after it was found to stimulate eyelash growth. Women are using the drug for cosmetic purposes despite possible side effects, including gradual darkening of the iris and of the skin surrounding the eyes, redness of the eyes and itchiness.

Hand Deveining

Old HandsPhoto by hweiling

So you made your face look artificially younger, but your hands tell the tale of your real age? Worry not. Neil Sadick, a clinical professor of dermatology in a private practice in Manhattan, developed a laser procedure to get rid of hand veins that, according to him, aren’t all that important. You can also inject cosmetic fillers into your hands to make them look more plump.

To quote Mel Gibson in the movie “What Women Want”: Women are insane.

Loved this Comment: “I plan on aging with a woman’s body, a face that moves and a sexiness that only comes with having confidence and knowing who you are. Helen Mirren is the role model I’ll be working off, not Melanie Griffith. Anyone care to join me?” Kelly of SHE-POWER.