Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Product Review; "Xotics Shave Therapy"

Shaving is a pain. Literally.

Never have I been in a group of guys and found myself saying, "ya know what's fun?! SHAVING! Whose got a razor?! Let's go to town!".

Sure, it seems cool when you're 11 years old watching dad whip up a foam to slice away his beard to the skin to reveal a cheek soft enough for mom to smooch "good morning" as she hands him a mug of piping hot coffee (this never happened to me, I just imagine it's the experience of someone with a happy childhood). But when you're about 17 with a face full of acne and scraggly thin hairs coming out the top of your chin, the last thing you want is the impending carnage of dragging a razor across your face.

There's the inherent razor burn, the nics, the ingrown hairs, the scraping, the after-shave sting, etc... None of which are a forethought for men, in general. When there's hair and you need there not to be hair, all you want to do is get rid of it. Not much goes into preparation or consideration as to what tools to use. It's better to have someone who knows what they're doing take care of this matter.

While on my 2nd or 3rd trip to TouchUps Barber Shop I realized that, although my face remained fuzzy, the back of my head had been getting shaved every trip. I felt no drag, so it never struck me that I was, indeed, being shaved. When it hit me, I finally asked owner and operator Luis Torres what the serum he had been rubbing on my scalp that made his razor glide so effortlessly.

Xotics Shave Therapy
is the brainchild of famed celebrity groomer Curtis Smith whose client list resembles the line up of the Source Awards complete with Mr. P. Diddy himself. Smith is a destination groomer working on national campaigns, music videos as well as featured appearances at the famed Bronner Bros. Show in Atlanta, GA. where the top stylists in urban hair congregate and compete in outlandish presentations showcasing the most creative (practical?) styles and products.

At this show not only will you find Smith sporting a diamond encrusted clipper around his neck, but his line of naturally based products that kept Luis from slicing up mine.

A mixture of Shea Butter, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Orange, Tea Tree oils and Lavendar create a soothing balm that has just enough emollient qualities to keep from causing any drag or irritation from a razor but retains a calming sensation in case any should occur. Blended lightly, the formula has the consistency of a mousse that melts into skin with no oily residue. Once rinsed, the texture of skin is greatly improved and hydrated with no need for an "after-shave". But, if you feel like you really need one, just do another small dollop of product and go right in.

The one thing I noticed with this product is that you can't really over-use it. Not only is the packaging pretty fool proof, but the formula is so light and packed full of good stuff, it's like a treat for the skin.

Once up and out of the chair, I used Shave Therapy on my fuzzy mug and found the same kind of ease I felt on the back of my neck. Complete with the aromatic qualities of the essential oils that invigorated the skin and even softened hair to make the shave all that more easy. I know I sang the praises of other formulas in the past, but, to be honest, they were cheap.

However, at $15, I'd call this formula anything but. Using top knotch ingredients is one thing, but to offer a product that multi-tasks for under $20?

I'd call that painless.

Xotics Shave Therapy; $15.00

Product Review; "No Frizz Straight Styling Treatment"

First and foremost I am a makeup artist. Not a hairstylist. There are some intricacies to doing hair that, quite frankly, boggle my mind. And though it's a craft I'm not really looking to develop, I do have hair. A lot of it, actually.

So much, in fact, I've found that when I do take the effort to have it maintained, I'm in need of someone who really knows what they're doing as it can become quite unruly very quickly. Otherwise, I just look like any other fuzzy wolf-man here to do your makeup!

A few years back, I was contacted to work with a new company called "Living Proof". Of whom I had just read about in my October issue of Allure Magazine when they were announced as winning 2008's Beauty Breakthrough Award... before it's release to the public. Impressive, right? Having this fore-knowledge proved useful when on set as I was able to chat with the company's founder.

Living Proof was started as a labor of scientific innovation. Using a molecular anti-frizzing agent called PolyflouroEster, as opposed to the common Silicone, Living Proof was able to establish itself as developing the first new anti-frizzing technology in over 30 years. While the traditional Silicone has a silk-like consistency when applied to hair, it has some definite girth to it, creating more density on the follicle as well as weight. Plus it coats the hair in a shield-like fashion that keeps moisture out(the main cause of frizzy hair).

PolyflouroEster is so small in comparison to Silicone, it adds almost NO additional weight to hair while still being able to keep frizz at bay. But, as an insurance policy, it's available in various formulas for different hair types. While some may reach to suit their slim, delicate blonde locks, I had to grab for the treatment marked "for thick to coarse hair". Unfortunately, they didn't have a recipe for "untamed werewolf hair".

The serum is lightweight and slick and kind of feels silky, not sticky. There's almost no weight to it in the bottle and I thought maybe I had gotten one that wasn't filled completely. A dollop in my hand run through damp hair was easily spread through to the roots and, once dry, felt like nothing at all.

Almost immediately I noticed the texture of my hair soften up and my wavy coarse strands were simmered down as if lulled into rest. Running my fingers through my hair I noticed no texture or slippery feeling but rather a smooth finish and more malleability. I didn't even feel the need to use styling product as my dome now had the cool "messy, out of bed" look. Which makes sense, cuz I had just rolled out of bed. Only now, it stayed looking like that all day.

Best of all, the product actually holds even after 1 or 2 shampoos. I finally feel like I've got that frizz problem under control. Looking forward to the next full moon!

Living Proof No Frizz Straight Styling Treatment; $24.00

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Product Review; "got2b Magnetik Styling Wax"

I have been single now going on... uhm... a while. Don't worry about it. I didn't say anything.

But, if I did decide to say something, it'd probably have to do with attraction. There are a lot of factors that go into attraction, most commonly referred to as "chemistry". And, ironically enough, "chemistry" actually has a lot to do with chemistry or, more specifically, pheromones; a fragrant property designed to stimulate sexual attraction.

Pheromones are the newest selling point to got2b's recent launch of products in the Magnetik line, with the tag line; "causing a chemical reaction". Of course, I'm not terribly interested in having a herd of women bust through a wall to stroke my hair, but still, I found myself intrigued to learn more.

got2b offers, in it's line of products, Spiking Glue that I have as a permanent fixture in my hair-care arsenal. It's staying power is admirable and price point is eviable to higher end brands who can't offer the same kind of resilience. Strong enough to stand up to heavy winds and even mild rain. Working off of that impression alone was enough to pick up the Magnetik Styling Wax with Pheromones. If the product kept me just as stiff maybe the pheromones could give me reason to put it to use.

That was a dirty joke, btw. Did you get it?

Anyway, the texture of the styling wax was a bit creamier than most texturizing pastes and felt a little bit wetter. Usually, a paste is composed of various emollients like waxes or oils that coagulate to create a "gummy" texture. But this one felt a little like hair gel when it starts to dry out. There were also small granules mixed in which I'm assuming were some kind of stablized pheromone property that gets activated when rubbed between the palms. Once combed through hair that was slightly dampened, it began to let off a smell that I noticed immediately. Kind of like the original formula of Speed Stick. That familiar just-out of the shower mix of hot water+sweat+soap. I convinced myself that I didn't like it.

Then I smelled my hands to be sure.

Then I smelled the jar.

Then I smelled my hands.

Then I rubbed my hands over my head and smelled them again.

Then I rubbed my finger over the product in the jar and smelled it once more while my other hand began grazing my chest and...

Oh, sorry.

Anyway, uhhh... it doesn't smell so bad. As a matter of fact, when I started walking around in the sun with it, the scent was noticeable but incredibly faint. Enough for me to realized I had it on, but not nearly enough for anyone to take obvious notice.

I'm not much of a cologne guy and I generally like to not smell like anything at all but, as is becoming more obvious, I think I would reach for Magnetik Styling Wax if for the vague scent alone. Although the product does hold a style pretty well, I'm not sure I love the finished look alone but it did perform well in combination with my Spiking Glue. So maybe I'll use it as a kind of base just so I can get the aroma that is slowly starting to grow on me in the most peculiar way.

Is it me or does the packaging look vaguely erotic?

I think I've been single too long.

got2b Magnetik Styling Wax; $6.99

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beauty Breakdown; "Jeremy Scott SS11"

I have finally found the absolute most appropriate time when a man is destined to wear eyeliner.

While the ladies walking for Jeremy Scott this season were rocking a look "inspired by Marilyn Monroe meets Debbie Harry", makeup artist Val Garland concentrated on smudging a bit of eyeliner over the rims of the men's eyes and smudged them on the outer edges. Without going completely through the waterline, most of the product was concentrated on the outside to give the male models' eyes a bit of an almond shape. Probably to coincide with the sharp winged liner their female counterparts wore.

With skin being prepped and groomed using all MAC products, Val also swiped a bit of mascara on the top and bottom lashes to further exaggerate the darkness of the stare.

While I'm not a fan of men wearing visible makeup, the eccentric style of Jeremy's work is obviously the kind of garment that works with that kind of guilding. So, if you're brave enough to wear his crotch-showcasing chaps, go ahead and grab for the guyliner as well.

Field Trip; "Touch-ups Barber Shop"

Mid Fashion Week I started to realize that the haircut I received, before the madness, really did serve an excellent purpose for making me look composed and professional for all the meetings that come along with the fashion crowd... for about 5 days. Once I started moving in and out of shows and running back to events for clients, I would take notice of the shape of my cut and, while it was done very well, it didn't seem to last very long.

Although my hair tends to grow pretty fast, I was starting to think we had been through a few full moons. Anyone missing a cat?

Down the block from my apartment in Yonkers ( yes, I live in Yonkers) is a barber shop that's about half a room big and has two chairs with some angry old men constantly shaving heads. Not very well, I might add. And although the proximity is agreeable and the price is really low, I'd still prefer to get my head clipped by someone with a little more class. Usually, you only find these kind of places in the city. Which can be worth the commute, I guess, but maybe that's just the fashion industry snob in me.

Fortunately, another block down the street a new barber has made his home in a pretty swanky storefront painted in earth tones and clean lines complete with modern furniture and excellent lighting. Touch-ups Barber Shop is operated by Luis Torres, the only man I've ever let pull a straight razor upside my skull.

There's a distinct "old-fashioned" quality about the shop and service that reminds me of the days when men really cared about making an appearance before they began resorting to the metrosexual way of life. Times when you would go in with your buddies for a shave and a haircut, talk about current events and just decompress before a big date or event. That's how this place feels. Just chill.

And fast.

Unlike my previous cut that ran just over 90 minutes, Luis asked me what I wanted and dived right in. Including fading out the previous shape with the precision of a surgeon in under 25 minutes. Even when he grabbed for the single handled straight razor, he just glided it upside my head with such ease, I'm starting to wish shaving my face were as comfortable.

Generally, I'm pretty prone to razor bumps and irritation, but nothing has come up even 2 days after my visit. Although, after my first shower, I did make it a point to run a little bit of vitamin c serum over my head just as an insurance policy. But still, no nicks, no burns, no slight cuts even around the senstive ear and sideburn area.

After my first show with my new fade, many have complimented me on the look including backstage hairstylists. "Where did you go?" they'd ask.

"Head up to Yonkers" I replied.

Touch Ups Barber Shop
551 South Broadway
Yonkers, NY. 10705
Men's Haircut; $15

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Product Review; "FACE Stockholm Essential C Energizing Serum"

Moisturizers are one of the things that are necessary to maintain a healthy looking complexion... You don't moisturize?


That's not very wise. So, I guess now you're thinking, "gee, if only I had added some moisture to my skin, I wouldn't be dealing with all these spots, dry patches, flaking, redness, itching, etc, etc...". Yea, well. I told you so.

But all is not lost. FACE Stockholm has more than once helped ME out, and now they've got a solution for you as well. The Essential C Serum has a whopping 12% Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) stablized in a concoction including Aloe Vera, Algae Extract and Orange Oil. All great emollients to keep skin soothed and hydrated.

The product comes in a pump-top bottle easily slipped into your gym bag or purse for a quick moisture pick-me-up and a single pump is more than enough for your entire face. Rubbed between clean palms and massaged into skin, the serum immediately dissolves in and feels fresh but not tingly. Even hands soak it right up so there's no greasy feeling afterwards.

Comes in a light-weight tube. No unecessary prep time. Leaves hands and skin hydrated and clean.

No more excuses. Start moisturizing.

FACE Stockholm Essential "C" Energizing Serum; $75

Beauty Breakdown; "Prabal Gurung SS11"

When last we spoke regarding Makeup Artist Tom Pecheux he was doing a new interpretation on 60's glamour. Once more, he's turning a traditional style on it's side and re-inventing the classic "smokey eye".

Continually arming himself with products from MAC Cosmetics, Pecheux created the illuminated eye look for Prabal Gurung's graphic Spring Summer collection for 2011. Gurung's architectural take on minimalism resounded with a futuristic, simplistic makeup that was able to keep some dimension on the face even through the play with multiple shades of whites.

The desire to dress "beautiful, smart, intelligent girls" was truly accomplished as you'd have to be pretty savvy to make white eyeshadow work well. With a base of Paintstick in Pure White blended over the eye area just through the crease, Pecheux then layered Gesso Eyeshadow on top and up through the brow bone without going into the brow line. To finish off, the rims of the eyes were filled in with Fascinating Eye Kohl.

To compliment, the brows were groomed and filled in where necessary with subtle tones to continue the structural yet dim look.

Lips were kept looking just as dim using Lip Erase and topped with Wondershine Lipstick in Supremely Confident, not yet available in stores.

For skin, after being prepped with moisturizer (of course), concealer and powder were sparse to even tone but then layered with Silver Dusk Powder and Pigments in Pink Opal and White just over the temples and around the cheek bones to create a glow on the skin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beauty Breakdown; "Z Spoke by Zac Posen SS11"

Getting the title of "Official Makeup of Fashion Week" for the second year in a row goes to Maybelline New York, a drugstore makeup brand best known for the cult mascara GreatLash. But this season, the familiar pink tube with the lime green wand was nowhere to be found as chief makeup artist for Maybelline, Charlotte Willer was grabbing for the newest tube in the brands line; Volume Express The Falsies Mascara. A new item designed to give lashes a bold, extreme density and length.

The mascara was utilized to finish a look that was just as extreme featuring bold colors and textures from another product in the Maybelline line; Eyestudio Color Plush Silk Eyeshadow. Coming in a variety of color combinations, Charlotte used the boldest tones in a winged shape across the eyelid and stretching out to the temples. Sometimes, even beyond.

Zac Posen created the ready-to-wear line Z Spoke as an alternative to his namesake brand which is sold as a major coutre line. But his sense of fashion is certainly not lost on this collection. Colors in bold tones and patterns were obviously the inspiration for the makeup and Charlotte did an excellent job of interpreting these frivolous frocks into an eccentric beat.

The makeup looks backstage had a consistent inconsistency, where no two were alike, but yet all seemed to go very well together. Some artists used bold neutrals, some used bold primaries, and other reached for bold metallics. You can see where I'm going here.

As a base, to give skin an even tone and luminous finish, each artist prepped with Dream Liquid Mousse Foundation. Set with minimal powder, the base glowed along with the colors beaming off the eyes.

Lips were drenched in moisture and color with Colour Sensational Lipcolor in shades specifically created for the runways this season. No definite word if they'll make the transition from catwalk to sidewalk.

As a side note, I was impressed to see Schwartkopf backstage doing hair as I have become quite enamoured with products from the company's got2be line. Including 2 Sexy Hairspray, Smooth Operator Hair Spray and Fat-tastic Root-Boosting Spray. All found here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beauty Breakdown; "Peter Som SS11"

MAC Cosmetics used to be the official sponsor of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held in New York City for quite a few years, but with the change of the season comes a change of sponsors and the title of "Official Makeup of Fashion Week" now goes to Maybelline. But they certainly weren't born with it.

Even after changing hands, there is still a very strong presence felt by MAC and it becomes even more obvious when more creative makeup looks appear on runways like the one above. Doing a take on 60's glamour, makeup artist Tom Pecheaux used all MAC products to create a winged liner in primary yellow instead of the traditional black. Further elaborating on his inspiration for the look was the collection for Peter Som which was a;

"...very sexy, '60s-inspired collection, complete with mini lengths and shift dresses in bright hues of yellow, reddish-orange, turquoise, and khaki..."

Peter Som has been creating " bold, eclectic elegance" since 2001 from his workshop in New York City and, judging from the makeup, that style is here to stay.

Pecheaux prepped the skin with moisturizer and used Face and Body Foundation to even out the skin and dusted with Mineralized Skinfinish Natural to create a smooth satin sheen.

For eyes, he took the new MAC Acrylic Paints and mixed them with Chromaline in Super Yellow then swept the concoction over the lash line and winged out the edge, using a larger stroke to add an exclamation point to the look.

Lips were left almost bare with a bit of lip balm and a touch of So Vain Kissable Lip Colour set to release in 2011.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beauty Breakdown; "Jill Stuart SS11"

Legacy fashion innovator Jill Stuart has been a trend setter in the industry since launching her first line of chokers in department stores at the age of 15. Eventually, she gained widespread international attention when pieces from her sportswear line appeared in the cult teen flick "Clueless". I'm totally buggin'.

The collection for Spring/Summer 2011 featured youthful takes on a primped aesthetic. Taking inspiration from the collection, lead makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury described the makeup look as inspired by;

"a prim, naughty school girl."

This translated to flawless skin, impeccable brows, mascara and, the star of the look, orange lipstick.

When people ask me, "what kind of lip color should I wear?" I almost never say ORANGE. Right now, I can't really figure out why. It's a bold tone that's perfect on almost any skin color with a yellow undertone. But, sheered down, it's pretty good on even beige or pink skin tones for something to perk up the complexion. Especially as an alternative to reds.

Worn a little glossy or with a bit of balm, orange lips look more strong than aggressive and inspire a girl who is confident enough to experiment with color.

"Morange"... as in "MORE-Orange", is a bold orange lipstick from MAC Cosmetics with a creme finish that shines more like the sun than it's namesake.

For something on the more sophisticated side, reach for Ullas Roda from FACE Stockholm. It has a tinge of red in it but also has a creme finish. I said sophisticated... not stuffy.

If you want to ease into orange territory, Party Animal lipgloss from Kat Von D has a diffused orange tone cut with plenty of shimmer at no extra cost. Tattoos sold seperately.

Beauty Breakdown; "Buckler by Andrew Buckler SS11"

The evening of September 10 hosted the shopping extravaganza known as Fashion's Night Out in New York City, but let's not forget that the morning and afternoon were jammed packed full of designers making their presence felt at Fashion Week.

Among them was men's wear designer Andrew Buckler who combines "the roguish American icon with Brit edge". The brand was launched in 2001 and has managed to survive a fledgling economy to establish itself among the trendsetters in urban wear. This season's style is vintage meets quality tailoring with a visible comfort level. Everything looks as though you would throw it on without thinking, but as you walk out the door, you realize you look pretty cool.

The grooming backstage coordinated perfectly. Minimal makeup to hide visible scars or marks on the skin were utilized. Think basic, everyday grooming. But when it came time for hair... man, makes me wish I hadn't gotten that cut last week. When asked about the inspiration for the look, Andrew commented;

"We tried to get them a bit messed up as if they'd been running around a bit."

With shows running back to back, I'd imagined that wasn't a terribly difficult task to undertake. But backstage, stylists were armed with molding pastes and hairspray creating volume and texture and shaping the side parts into a wavy coiffe that held in place. More than just running your fingers through and heading out the door. Although, prep time was still pretty short, most models were able to hit the fitting line without worrying about ruining their look.

Woody's Wood Glue will create moldable texture for a short amount of time before freezing in place and keeping that wave from making any sharp turns. Use alone or with wet palms for a slight sheen.

If that's not enough hold for ya, grab a can of Aquage Finishing Spray to teach any strays who's the real bloke is!

Beauty Breakdown; "3.1 Phillip Lim SS11"

3.1 Phillip Lim is one of the more avante garde design collections for men, that are actually kind of wearable! Lim's lines are always very clean but have a fresh look about them that are always of the current fashion sense. Layers of fabrics and textures that inspire "a sense of madness" but are never intimidating and maintain a polished, classic style.

To coincide with the eccentricity of the collection this season, the makeup design for 3.1 was created by artist Francelle Daly for Nars Cosmetics.

"They are like school boys – preppy and athletic but post-game they’re heading to dinner. The key point is the beautiful skin and the rosy glow of the cheeks."

Standard male grooming is essential for the runway and includes many products that are easily translatable to the everyday gentlemen. To keep this look undercover, Francelle utilized key items and a light hand when applying to models faces.

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer will see it's release to stores worldwide in February 2011, but offers skin a hydrated glow and the slightest bit of coverage for the polished sportsman.

NARS Concealer comes in stick form and offers medium-full coverage that is easily sheered down for reducing darkness under the eyes or masking the errant blemish.

NARS Cream Blush in Lokoum has a slight coral tone to it's rosy facade and a hint of shimmer to mimic the dewiness of a quick sprint down the field.

Beauty Breakdown; "Fashion's Night Out"

In New York City 2009, Ana Wintour, the editor-in-chief of the fashion "bible", Vogue Magazine, came up with an idea to bring fashion to the masses in an unprecedented event known as "Fashion's Night Out". In collaboration with participating retailers, her vision was to get every possible customer base to become "excited" about fashion again and go shopping. The hope, would be to stimulate an economy in decline and boost sales through heavy promotions, free gifts with purchase and, of course, celebrity appearances.

On September 10, 2010, Fashion's Night Out celebrated it's 2nd year with even more participating retailers including high-end boutiques, established fashion houses, cosmetic retailers and, especially, department stores like the famous Macy's in Herald Square. The event was complete with giveaways, product demos and (to my IMMENSE fortune) an appearance by the tremendously talented and award winning songstress: Joss Stone.

Joss is bad-ass. I gotta be blunt, that's the first thing that comes to my mind when trying to describe her. Not only is she supremely talented, but her heart is really in the right place. She's incredibly courteous and generous and you can see it in her already beautiful face.

For the event, the talented Nick Barose was the artist who got to work with Joss on creating a fun and young smoky eye utilizing deep blues and off-grays. Her skin was prepped with moisturizers and then a thin layer of foundation was applied and set with mineralized powder to give a satin-like glow. Lips were left almost completely bare with a tinge of pink-gloss to add shine and complement the rosy blush swept along her fantastic cheekbones.

To recreate this look try;

FACE Stockholm Orange Cream moisturizer to soothe skin with light emollients and a burst of Vitamin C.

MAC Cosmetics Studio Sculpt Foundation for a satin finish that won't dry out and gives flawless coverage from even the tiniest drop.

Benefit Cosmetics CORALista cheek color has a tinge of red in it to create a sun-kissed facade without looking ruddy. And just a bit of shimmer to add glow to the apples of the cheeks.

the Balm "Ruby my Grapefruit" has a plumping effect to give the lips more fullness and a smidge of fruit flavor to give your lips tasty appeal.

Jordana Eyeshadow in "Gunmetal" and "Alter-Ego" layered and buffed will give that dreamy "smokey-eye" effect but keeps them young and playful with shimmery tones of blue and grey.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Field Trip; "Gabriel's Touch Barbershop"

We've discussed how neurotic I am, so anything I say now will just reiterate that point. Prepare yourself.

I don't like being touched.

I know it can seem kind of weird too, particularly in the fashion industry where the majority of services being offered require some type of physical contact; fittings, manicures,... makeup. Weird, I know. Plus there's all the hugging and air-smooches that go along with introductions to other fashion professionals. Particularly with all the French clients. I understand they even have a kiss named after them!

But, when I was contemplating changing my beard I also started feeling like it was time to change the hair on my head as well. Usually, I cut it myself and do a pretty decent job. But there really is nothing like having a professional take care of a job that requires a certain kind of perspective. After all, that's why I even have a job in the first place.

My brother is a barber. Really good one, too. As a matter of fact, in the odd times that I did have my hair cut by someone else, he'd be my guy. But since he lives on the other side of the country, this means that that was usually only when I made it back home. Once or twice a year. Sometimes not even that frequent.

Seeing as how a trip to California wouldn't get me back in time for Fashion Week, I opted to head over to Gabriel's Touch Barbershop as per the recommendation of multiple friends of mine. With first-hand experience of my "no-touch" policy, I had the utmost trust of their recommendation.

The shop was clean and unobtrusive. There were no excessive declarations of opulence or even a fancy reception area. It was a medium size room with multiple barber chairs and a flat screen tv set to the Discovery Channel. A stout Russian man greeted me at the door and shouted down to another who motioned me to have a seat in his chair and asked me what I wanted to have done. I told him;

"Really short on the sides and back, faded up with the top pretty much untouched. Something easily combed over to the side."

He started in by shaving the sides of my head with a clipper and asked me if that was short enough. I told him "shorter". He changed attachments and asked again. I responded, "shorter. Almost bald. Like my chin (stubble)" Once we decided on the length, he began to shape my head with careful precision. Very careful...

Too careful.

For someone to be handling any part of me, I have to prepare myself. Just ask my dentist. I want to be sure of what we're going to be doing and just how long it's going to take so I don't start becoming too uncomfortable during the process. I know, weird. I came in thinking it would be like when my brother hooks me up and take about 20-30 minutes at the most.

20-30 minutes later and this barber was barely starting to clipper the back of my head. Meanwhile, customers were flying in and out of the other barber's chairs. Some coming in with heads of hair fuller than my own and leaving with clean, precise cuts mine still didn't come close to resembling.

After another 15 minutes, he began working on the sides, tapering with a comb and scissors. Another 15 minutes later, he began cleaning up the sides with a clipper and comb. Another 15 minutes later, he went back to using the scissors.

Finally, an hour and a half since I came into the joint, he sprayed a cloth with a solution of water and rubbing alchohol and began wiping down my head including behind my ears and along where my sideburns used to be. Then a dusting with a bit of baby powder to pick up any stray hairs that had fallen down my neck.

Although an arduous process, I suspect that the barber I had was probably new and a little inexperienced. Especially considering there were times when other barbers would come over to give their advice on the direction the cut was going. But, as I look over my cut from every angle in the bathroom mirror, he did do a pretty good job. My lines are all diffused, the tapering along the sides is inperceptible and there are no nics or stray hairs along the hairline. Even when examined with the aide of a hand-held mirror, the view from the back shows no signs of inconsistencies.

I'm a little surprised I managed to extend my comfort level to accomodate an over 90 minute haircut. Maybe I will head back to Gabriel's Touch Barbershop the next time I need a cut. I may even be willing to use the same barber. I'll just make sure I don't have any place important I have to be afterwards.

Gabriel's Touch Barbershop
400 W.50th Street
@ 9th Avenue
New York, NY. 10019
Men's haircut; $20

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Product Review; "The Burlesque Handbook"

Jo Weldon is founder and Head-Mistress of New York City's School of Burlesque providing all levels of instruction on the lost art of the strip-tease. From insightful tips on developing inspiration for an act to the details on costuming and showmanship, Jo is indeed an authority on creating the performance of your life.

Just about every percievable option to create a memorable spectacle are detailed in "The Burlesque Handbook" including rarely known factoids on the origin of the art and references to leading innovators in the industry like Dita Von Teese.

Amidst the pages of valuable information is a chapter dedicated to one of the most obvious intrigues to catch my attention; makeup.

Burlesque makeup borders somewhere between the theatricality of ballet and the cartoonish quality of drag. The most common elements include cosmetic glitter and false eyelashes. But Jo not only recommends these items, she gives tips and tricks to applying them as well as bits of history behind their inception and how, when used properly, not only serve as visual stimulation, but can transport the viewer to another state of emotion. What starts as a basic lesson in applying makeup can become the jumping off point for creating art.

Among her favorite items to use are the full coverage yet comfortable body makeup "Dermablend Leg and Body Cover" and "Ben Nye Iced Gold Sparkle Lumiere Luxe Powder" to create a flawless finish once the costume has come off. Face makeup is not the only necessity when baring all. No detail goes un-examined according to the lovingly monikered Jo "Boobs" Weldon, since even after you've removed your clothes "you're never nude up there".

"Although I was fully naked, I never felt overexposed at all; I felt clothed in my illusion of nude beach-blanket perfection."

Another useful tip comes from my own personal inspiration, the late Kevyn Aucoin who loved to utilize eyebrow plastic to create a brand new shape to the face. Among other influential innovators include snippets on the creation of glitter by Henry Ruschmann.

I could go on and on about all the awesome intrigues available within "The Burlesque Handbook". But at the risk of divulging any further secrets, I'll take a cue from some burlesque techniques and leave a bit to the imagination.

Unless you pick up a copy for yourself, that is.

"The Burlesque Handbook"; $16.99

Monday, September 6, 2010

Product Review; "Alba Coconut Lime Cream Shave"

I rock the chops like nobody's business!!!

Fo sheez!

...however, all things must come to an end (sad-face icon with a teardrop). Fashion Week quickly approaches and I always like to put my best face forward when it comes to interviews and meetings with designers and all the fancy fashion big-wigs. So, while examining my hairy mug in the mirror, I contemplated the professional look I'll be unveiling when it comes time to shear off my manly cheek pads.

So I grabbed my clippers and started shaping my face with multiple designs using my copy of The Bearded Gentleman as a guide.

After experimenting with multiple shapes I realized that I hadn't had a completely shorn face since before I was old enough to shave and used my dad's razor to scrape at the adolescent acne bombarding my chin. So, maybe now that I'm a big boy, I should probably shave like one. But, being in the industry of skin, I know how harsh most creams and foams can be on the face so I began looking for a suitable replacement.

I had once used a cream from a high end brand that I quite liked, but with it's $25 price tag, I opted to find a suitable replacement that wouldn't break the bank. One that would maintain the moisture in my skin as well as provide my razor with enough slip to guard against razor burn. Alba to the rescue.

Alba's Coconut Lime Cream Shave has a severe amount of moisturizing ingredients like Coconut Oil, Jojoba and Aloe to give skin the soothed and hydrated texture that prohibits drag from any standard razor. Not to mention, Vitamin E to aide in nourishing any mishaps that may occur. Mostly, the texture feels like a light-weight oil that rinses clean away.

Since it comes in a nice large container, you should feel free to use it anywhere you feel the need to remove unwanted hair. Although, I will caution you, this formula contains the invigorating properties of lime as well that can be a little too stimulating for more sensitive areas... yea, I'm thorough.

So if you feel like joining the league of cleanly shaved gentlemen, ditch the foam and reach for this moisturizing formula. You can't exactly call a face full of shaving nicks a "clean shave".

Alba Coconut Lime Cream Shave; $6.45

Product Review; "Latina Bella Concealer"

If you're taking count, this would be around 3 or 4 products I have picked up on my odd walk through the aisles at Duane Reade. Some people have more productive habits. But at least mine are tax-deductable!

Latina Bella Cosmetics is a brand of makeup that I've never come across before. Being latin, I was intrigued. Reading through the product ingredients, I didn't see anything that was too unusual so, being the investigative jounalist I am, I hunted down the website and looked at what this company had to say about itself;

"Look no further! Latina Bella Cosmetics is a BRAND NEW way to express YOU! With Foundations that match actual gold and olive skin undertones instead of rose and pink colors, our make-up line is tailored to fit your look, not everyone else's."

While it is true that there is a common market for caucasion skin-tones (mostly bieges and pinks) I find that this is specifically true of most drugstore makeup brands and not of department store brands like MAC or Bobbi Brown. However, you're likely to pay quite a bit more for those kinds of brands.

Foundation and color products are all individually priced under $20 and, where most other drug store-brands will skimp on packaging, Latina Bella certainly does not. Now, I don't mean blister cards and paper boxes. I'm talking about the actual tubes and compacts the products come in; very sturdy.

Kind of luxurious when you think about it. In fact, reminiscent of another luxury brand: NARS.

Francois Nars originally modeled the off black tone and gummy texture of his product packaging on the blackboards from his elementary school. Actually, the grip on the tubes and compacts of both NARS and Latina Bella keeps the product from slipping from your hand and still come clean fairly easily while maintaining the sophisticated look.

But, it's what inside that counts, right?

Latina Bella Concealer comes in 3 shades; light, medium and dark. I gave the "dark" shade a run through as under-eye coverage, since, frankly, it wasn't really that "dark". I'd say it was close to Select Moisturecover in NC30. Which is a color that's very ideal for most latin skin tones. So at least that's spot on!

The coverage is medium-full and blends very easily. The base ingredients are among the usual suspects like mineral oil and talc providing easy blending and not much texture. The brand recommends you try it as an eye base as well. Although, I'd recommend you sheer them out as much as possible before layering on eyeshadow to prevent too much creasing.

The wear time is about 4 or 5 hours when used without foundation or setting powder. With other coverage items, the wear is extended considerably. Not much creasing or weight othewise but for spot treatment, I'd definitely set it with powder at least. Definitely a great alternative for latina's who don't frequent department stores.

Latina Bella Concealer; $7.99

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Product Review; "Orbits Mint Mojito Sugar-free Gum"

I originally thought I'd start this post off with some kind of joke that passively attacks the performance of this chewing gum. But then, I realized that it'd just be easier to be honest and to the point;

They suck!

And why should you care, you ask? Thought this was a blog about makeup and skincare, did you? Well, listen here: it is. But it's MY blog and I'll talk about what I like so you just sit there nicely and I'll make my point soon enough. Then we can go back to playing with the new glitters I just got from MAC.

Even when on a set, I always reach for foods made with, topped with or just chock full of garlic. Being from Gilroy, Ca. (the Garlic Capital of the World) I was raised on the stuff and developed an immunity to it's intoxicating odor. No one ever tells me that I smell though. So either, they're just being nice, or I just don't stink at all.

As a makeup artist (this is where I make my point...listen closely) I am always right in the face of anyone I'm working with, so it's always a good idea to be sure I don't offend anyone. And, yes, that means having decent breath (told you!). I used to keep Big Red Chewing Gum with me all the time but after the 15th visit, my dentist finally told me that this is the reason I have so many cavities. And sugar-free was the best choice from now on.

Orbit gum was originally developed in 1944 as a means to support the troops in WWII when all stock of Wrigley's tops sellers were sent overseas to the Armed Forces. Speculation still surrounds the reasons it was made in sugar-free form but in 2007, it was officially accepted by the American Dental Association as aiding in fighting cavities and diminishing harmful plaque inducing acids. The original flavors of Spearmint and Wintermint are strong and long-lasting that gave permanence to the brands main tagline, providing a "Just Brushed Clean Feeling".

This flavor does not.

I don't know much about the chemistry of chewing gum, but it's got to be in the flavor part of the recipe. Wintermint and Spearmint are the kind of gum that will last all day neutralizing any copius amount of garlic I can shove in my mouth, but Mint Mojito is barely sub-par. The flavor is something like a lime that's been cut with an orange and then doused in water. Immediately it tastes refreshing and then it dissapears just as fast. Not only that, but the texture begins to fade even faster. What was once chewy and succulent becomes the consistency of wet paper. With the same taste.

After the flavor is completely gone (about 5 minutes), the gum base starts seperating from itself catching in the ridges of my molars and bits floating on my tongue. Sounds gross, right? That's how it feels. I first thought I got a weird pack so I picked up another from the corner store and, sure enough, same thing. But, then I thought, "okay, maybe it's just those two packs". But a trip to the bodega in SoHo proved that theory wrong. And so did the candy counter at the Duane Reade in Columbus Circle.

I had started packing Orbit gum in my kit for quite some time now. Not only for myself but my clients, producers, assistants, and pretty much anyone else who shouts out, "does anyone have some gum?". Being the first to pull out a pack can make you very popular!

But only if it's actually satisfying.

My advice to Wrigley; Stick to the classics!
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