Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lip balm!

Chapped and/or dry lips are not seasonal. Thankfully there is no shortage of options to remedy this pesky problem!
In an endless sea of options, I've found one that works and is unique! Many celebs sing the praises of the Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream (shown here on, I can say from experience that it tastes AWFUL and its rather weird to pull out a giant tube, squeeze goop out onto a finger and dab your lips then scramble to find something to wipe your finger on. More than anything, it tastes AWFUL! It works well because it's a salve, but *shudders* YUCK!
So yes, I've been trying different lip balms for a long time. I used to be an avid Natural Ice Lip Balm user, then a discontinued product called Smoooch by BeneFit Cosmetics, then on to Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (oooold tube pictured on the right, below) next to my newest lip balm obsession, EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm.
The formula is pretty basic, hydrating, smoothing without peeling, and it tastes fresh and minty (not brushed your teeth minty, but a fresh and sweet minty) because no matter what you do, you're going to end up tasting it.
Plus, the shape makes it easy to fish out of an overloaded handbag! It's ROUND like a ball, so you won't accidentally grab one of the 25 liptsticks and glosses that somehow end up loose in your bag. Or at least that's what happens to me.
There are other flavors too, but the Sweet Mint is the one that I've tried and purchased multiple times. I've got one on my person at all times and one on my nightstand as an end of the day lip treatment.
That's my favorite lip balm to date, what's yours?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Look Ma, I did them myself!!

I've discovered the glory that is Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips and THEY ARE AWESOME! Don't be scared, these aren't like the press-ons we saw in the 80s!

After I do the cuticle remover from this post (Instant Cuticle Remover) I apply a quick coat of OPI Chip Skip which takes 0 time to dry, then begin the process of placing these adorable little strips of paint and design.

Like anything that's do-it-yourself, it's awkward at first. Peeling off the back AND front of the strip helped me loads (yes, I tried to put the nail strip on my nail with the clear part still on...I'd never done it before so I didn't know it wouldn't work!) and becoming fearless while placing the thin plastic-like strip down on the nail. Don't be too obsessed with getting the edges to line up. I discovered that you can use the orange stick (included in the package) to lightly press and edge out the excess, which easily peels away to reveal a perfectly formed edge!

Gently pulling the strip down and away from the tips of the nail insures that it will stretch out slightly and conform well to the nail. Be sure to press and hold the strip to the nail itself, the heat from your hands helps the product adhere better. Smoothing the paint from cuticle to nail tip also insures no bubbles or folds. Using the less abrasive third of the nail file (also included in the box) you can file rest of the paint/nail to the size and shape of nails that you prefer. I like something a little shorter and a square/round.

You can leave it at that; or do what I do which is once the strips have completely adhered, I add one coat of OPI Nail Envy and one coat of OPI Rapi Dry Top Coat just to finish it up and make my nails super shiny. I also follow up with the Nail Envy and Top Coat every two days after that. My nails keep in good condition for almost two weeks, or whenever I get bored or see another pattern that I love!

Here's some examples of the patterns I've tried:

I've yet to try any of the sets with just plain color, though there's no shortage of them. I just love the fun and funk of the designs. They are priced anywhere between $7-$10 US per set. The set includes 16 various sized strips, one wooden cuticle stick and one nail file/buffer and the instructions. Easy and fun!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Do-it-yourself cuticles that even I can do!

I have an admission. When I'm left on my own to take maintain the cuticles of my fingernails I pick. And then bleed. I'm a bit of a masochist apparently. I don't know when to stop. I have a loyalty to a nail salon near my home and they are wizards with my nailcare. But that kind of upkeep takes it's toll on the pocketbook.

Now, I can extend my time between salon appointments myself by using a quick and easy cuticle remover, an orange stick, and limiting my usage of a cuticle clipper.

Instant Cuticle Remover - packaged

This little beauty really does work! Following the directions, I do one hand at a time, putting the gel directly on my cuticles. Gently pushing back the gel/cuticle with the wooden stick (I used a metal cuticle tool and oops, scraped some of the top layers my nails off. That remover is POWERFUL stuff and I pushed too hard.). Immediately after I use the orange stick I immediately wash my hands, trust me, get that stuff off your hands as soon as you can. It works really fast and really well. The little bits that need to be clipped off are easy to see and super soft so they come right off when...well, clipped!

Since I purchased the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover, I've been able to give myself mini-manicures every two weeks since my last manicure which was easily two months ago. While a professional manicure is always the best, I'm very happy with the results. I don't recall precisely what I paid for it, but I believe the cost was under $5.00 US before taxes.

Do you have any handy finds for maintaining your nails?

Monday, December 5, 2011

For those of us in Winter mode

Dry skin is vexing many of us this time of year. Scales appearing on your hands or legs can send a girl into an apoplectic search for MOISTURE!

I've found a terrific source, Alba Botanica Very Emollient body lotion (unscented original) Above you can see the giant bottle I managed to score on clearance one day (woo hoo!!) and beside it is the "old" regular sized bottle (they've since changed the appearance into more of a squared off shape, reminiscent of the Hemp lotions I've seen on the market).

I was first recommended Alba by a professional waxer. She stated that for a less painful Brazilian (yeeeeeeeow does it hurt!) to exfoliate with Dermotologica body exfoliant and then hydrate with Alba. Because Alba contains no parabens (waxes) it's a better hydration for the sensitive waxed areas. At the time, she insisted that it could only be found at specialty stores like Sprouts or Henry's and was retailing for the smaller bottle (on the right) around $15 US give or take.  That's a lot for me to pay for a lotion that was solely for, feminine wiles. However I've been able to find both the new bottles and the large bottles at Target and Wal-Mart well under the $15 price tag from the specialty store. Alba does have a website ( which has in it's Contact Us section a link to retailers in several countries.

Once I started using Alba, I couldn't stop! I tried it as a basic lotion all over and was pleased at the quick absorption rate, pleasant non-smell smell (it has a scent because everything has a scent, but it's not overbearing I've found), and most of all the result; smooth hydrated skin that didn't feel sticky!
Added bonuses: 100% Vegetarian Ingredients with No Animal Testing and No Artificial Colors.

Alba can be used whenever needed without greasy after feel all over the body, I've even used it in a pinch as a face moisturizer. It always leaves my skin feeling soft, hydrated and most of all feeling like skin!

What's your favorite winter find for your skin?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why didn't I think of that before?

A friend of mine got a terrific tip from her mother and posted it on her FB and I'm passing it along here *to clarify, the tip was for their dry eyes problem*:

Have you ever looked at the warnings on whatever face wash you use? The majority out there say "Avoid eye area"...well dang, how am I supposed to get my eye makeup off?? Here's a little bit of genius that had me saying "Why didn't I think of that before?"; Baby Shampoo.

That's right! Baby Shampoo! It doesn't sting your eyes, it gets the majority of eye makeup products off your precious little face! If you use waterproof eyeliner or mascara and use an oil based remover first, that's fine! Just wash your eyes with a little baby shampoo too and get rid of that greasy, swirly residual mess on your peepers and you are done!

If you don't have a kid and have a bottle of the stuff already, just purchase the travel sized bottle, I picked two up for $0.99 a piece. I use only about the size of a small shirt button of baby shampoo to clean my eyes at night and in the morning. It gets rid of the morning eye crusties without making it impossible to put my contacts in.

I use the standard golden yellow Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo, the smell is soft and the results are undeniable. My eyes feel great, there's no trace of whatever version of eye art I've painted on and it leaves the skin around my eyes feeling normal instead of tight and dry. I still use my prefered face wash after I've washed my eye area with the baby shampoo.

Give it a try yourself, you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

From the Infomercials

I'll tell you straight. I've become a bit infatuated with infomercials about beauty products and have come to giddily love watching QVC beauty nights. It's a guilty pleasure. It's also resulted in some terrific finds! Allow me to introduce the TOPSTYLER!!

*Picture courtesy of some dude probably on ebay, I just google-imaged the picture of what all came in the box I purchased as opposed to what the infomercials sell. (They sell less C-Shells and have an extra comb and some weird little prong thingys that are a styling aid. I don't have those and actually don't really want them anyway)

I have a lot of color treated (boy howdy is it color treated), wave-tending , fine hair. When I blow it out, I like to blow it out with a round brush and get what my stylist (HI RENE!!) calls Porn-Star hair. Straight but with BIG volume and body. However, I love love LOVE a head full of curly, bouncy hair. 

From the people that brought you the Instyler (google it, it's a brush with a barrel rolling curling iron attached. It looks like a good idea from a stylists point of view {styling someone else's hair is a WHOLE 'nother ball game} but terrifies me because all I can see is my hair getting trapped in it and having to tearfully cut off sections of my hair.) this looks like a strange and mysterious set of....very strange and mysterious things!

When I first saw the infomercial I was curious. Having grown up in the 80's with a mother who LOOOVES my hair curly (HI MOM!!); I've always considered myself to be a bit of a curling implement expert. I've had Hot Sticks, traditional hot rollers, sponge curlers, Caruso Molecular Hairsetter (sponge rollers with a steam unit), teeny tiny curling irons, plastic heated curlers that looked like little buns in my hair, sleeping on wet braids, sleeping on numerous wet braids rolled up in sponge curlers; all to get that wave, that pouf, that volume, that CURL I so desperately HAD TO HAVE! In my adventures in curling, I was always disappointed in the very ends of my hair. From my roots and middle of each section I would have this lovely bouncy wavy curl and then *GAH* my ends would pouf out like dry straw. Completely ruining the look. Especially when the look inevitably falls (which they ALL DO) the ends would look so strange and crispy and  let's face it...UGLY!

What first intrigued me to the TopStyler was, HOW IN THE FRAK DO THEY GET IT TO WORK??
Answer: It's old school "pin curl" type thinking. Pinning a hot/warm curl up always ALWAYS results in better curl. Why?? Because the heat goes AWAY and the hair will cool in the same position, CURLED! It works on any kind of hair type (so says the manufacturer).

When I first tried the TopStyler, it took me about 30 minutes to put all the C-Shells where I figured they should go. Now, when I use it, it takes me 15 and I'm always trying new section combinations of the 10 large and 5 small C-Shells all over my head. Sometimes I use a little light hairspray (American Elnett hairspray is the finest mist I've found) before wrapping the hair around my FINGERS, tucking and pinching the curl at the base of the section and then putting the C-Shell around the curl and letting go. There are many MANY youtube videos out there to show you how to do this. I'm not going to post my own video. Mostly because I don't know how...I'm just starting out this place!

The important thing to remember is to begin with dry hair. If the hair is even the slightest bit damp, the curl won't hold. But that's try with any heating curling element really. Frankly the ones that are damp to dry tools freak me out. The steam looks like smoke and smoke coming from my hair is terrifying.

Like any new fancy toy, this one takes some getting used to. However I've completely fallen in love with the consistent results and the fact that it's shaved off nearly an HOUR of my morning routine. AN HOUR people!

*I've been using a "two finger" curl (wrap the hair sections around two fingers instead of one for a looser curl) in regular, large and small sections and THIS has been the result almost every single time! The other times I used too much hair or twisted it before wrapping it and it gave an interesting result, but not exactly what I wanted at the time.

The TopStyler is terrific! It also comes at a terrific price. I had seen it on an infomercial, but then saw a more in depth QVC beauty night demonstration. The infomercial had less product (the C-Shells) than the QVC version. I was all set to order the QVC version when the price tag popped up. $99.99 plus shipping and handling and taxes. Yikers. I thought "Ok, I want it, but I'll wait" so I did. But I would watch wide-eyed every time it came back on the screen. Confessing my newest obsession to my bestie and roomie, Amanda (HI AMANDA!) she too confessed that she'd been drooling over it too!!

How lucky to find it AT A TARGET!!! The same unit, 10 big C-Shells, 5 small C-Shells, comb, instructional DVD and booklet! Hang on, again with the $99.99 US. Ok. So the thing is expensive....I bought it anyway and I'm so glad I did! It takes the place of every curling set I've ever purchased (which reminds me I need to toss or donate those bad boys, anybody need some Hot Sticks??) and have make my hair shiny, curly, big and bouncy.

Ok, enough of my prattling on. If you have any questions feel free to leave it on the comments or if you want to comments, please do the same!

Bottom Line: I love the TopStyler and highly recommend it to anyone who wants an easy way to get great results in hair curling!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Well this is very exciting!

What you're about to read is the first post for Clever Girl (hoooooray!!). It's taken me quite a while to figure out just what the hell to write about here. And with some prodding from Cubicle Farm gals (Rene, Veronica I'm looking at you!) I decided to turn Clever Girl into a product recommendation place!

I'll pick products for hair, face, body, tools and anything else that I feel inspired about!
I can promise to be frank and as detailed as possible accounts of each, and include as much information (including pictures) as possible.
Ultimately the choice to buy and try a product is your own. Even if I say "GO BUY THIS NOW" it's meant as a excited utterance, not a command (naturally). If you don't like something that I like, that's cool, feel free to tell me that you don't like it and why; I'm always open to mind-changing and I only ask that you be as close to that as you feel comfortable. Feel confident! The best person to judge what's best for you IS YOU!