Not Rushing Around This Gift-Giving Season

Every year I think that if I wait long enough, inspiration will suddenly hit me and I’ll get perfect presents for everyone. It’s happened before! More often, however, waiting for inspiration turns into running out of time and then, at that point, any gift will do.

This year I decided to do it differently, even if I don’t find the elusive perfect gift (sorry to people receiving gifts from me). I started before Thanksgiving - so early that people keep asking why I’m rushing around. But I’m quite proud to say I’m almost finished. The new strategy does have its downsides though. I keep running off somewhere because something is “An Additional 30% OFF!” and I feel triumphant. Of course, a day or two later it’s “An Additional 50% OFF!” and of course I feel deflated. The trouble with being early is that you have time to think too much, to worry and also to keep buying. Now that it’s “An Additional 50% OFF!” I must buy something else.

So as I rush around this holiday season, I’d like to stop for a minute and see if I can be helpful to anyone else. I have always found it obnoxious how department stores have holiday trimmings up a minute after Thanksgiving. But now I’m right in there, soaking up the atmosphere ready for the season. (I don’t mean commercially, I mean the experience). And isn’t being helpful part of this experience? Here are some ideas I hope are helpful in case you’re stuck or haven’t started shopping yet.

SEPHORA VALUE SETS The holiday season is probably the biggest time of year to save on cosmetics. The extra value is not usually a discount but in getting more products for less (which can seem a little Costco-ish - probably you don't know need 10 lip glosses at the same time -but it’s about as good as it gets). Here are some favorites I recommend:

Lash Stash Sephora sells a set of 15 mascaras from all different brands in one box. For the last two years I’ve seen it and thought about buying it. The first year I went back to get it after the holidays and they told me it was gone and only there for the holidays. The next year I saw it, thought about buying it and then went back before the holidays but they sold out. This year I forgot about it…until I was writing this post and remembered it. And guess what? Because of my early holiday strategy, I finally got it! It’s called “Lash Stash,” and includes the following:

  • Tarte Multiple Eye
  • Clinique High Impact Mascara (LOVE)
  • Smashbox Full Exposure
  • Sephora Outrageous Volume
  • Benefit They’re Real
  • Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara
  • Bare Essentials Buxom Lash
  • Tarte Lights, Camera, Action
  • Korres
  • Fiberwig Paint on False Lashes
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama
  • Tarte Lash Primer
  • d.j.v beautenizer fiberwig LX
  • A pair of Sephora false eye lashes with eyelash glue

An example of the considerable price difference is that one D.J.V. Beautenizer Mascara is $22; this whole set is $45. You may or may not need 15 different mascaras, but since they should be replaced frequently anyway, why not try different ones? They are not all full-sized but are more than little samples and should take you into a lot of mascara seasons. Plus you’ll be the most educated mascara-wearer around.

Makeup Palettes If you’d like to have different shades of makeup but can’t/don’t want to spend the $, this is another opportunity to try a variety. Palettes also make a great gift because they’re something someone may not buy for herself but would love as a gift. There are a lot of options right now but I can personally recommend:

LORAC Pro Palette I use this palette for work. I’ve whittled down my bags of eye shadow to two MAC, two Prescriptives shades and this palette. The packaging is very light so you can have a collection of shades without feeling like you’re carrying the 16 shades included in this one palette. The shadow itself is blendable and wears beautifully. $42 ($110 value)

LORAC Eye Candy Full Face Collection This seasonal collection includes six palettes for eyes, lips and cheeks packaged like sparkly chocolate candy bars. I have used the eye shadows, cream eyeliners and cheek color and they are all good. I haven’t tried anything LORAC for lips but will definitely give them the benefit of the doubt. $59 (value $360)

Sephora also has nice, sturdy boxes as free gift-wrapping. Don’t do as I did and think about the mascara set you didn't get for two years. Keep your eyes open for limited edition sets and get them now if you can.

ORIGINS Origins is one of the best places to get a holiday gift because:

a) Everyone likes Origins products. If you’ve not tried them, you just don’t know that yet. Put them on your wish list because you will.

b) They have something for everyone. It’s possible to do a one-stop shop for almost everyone on your list and be done with it.

c) They have beautiful free gift-wrapping. It’s so nice that the gift-wrapping looks like it could be a present on its own!

Origins Salt Rub I can’t tell you how happy someone is to get an Origins Salt Rub. I'd be happy to get one and I used to get them all the time for free. It has these chunky granules of salt mixed with a minty body oil. Rub it on, rinse off and skin is so soft and smooth. You'll feel like you’re in your own personal spa.

Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream Oprah Winfrey named this one of her favorite products years ago. Of course that made it exceptionally popular and it’s still everyone else’s top favorite today. I don’t even like ginger but I like this product.

Clear Head Mint Shampoo with Knot-Free Finishing Rinse Yes, getting shampoo and conditioner doesn’t sound like an amazing gift. But this is not any old shampoo – it’s a minty clean sensation shampoo and peachy-lemony conditioner. Again, trust me, people will love it.

I recommend that you go to an Origins store because you’ll get to try the products for the full experience. And those who work there will be able to give you a wider range of products I don’t even know about.

PHILOSOPHY Philosophy is a gift-giving brand. They have great skin care, but also many products that are quirky, whimsical and fun. And who doesn’t want a quirky, whimsical and fun present?  This holiday season they have products such as “Gingerbread Man,” “Candy Cane,” “Eggnog,” “Snow Angel.” They have great pricing and, like Origins, the packaging itself looks like a gift.

Naturally, after writing all this I inspired myself right into going to Sephora. So a dear friend and I went to “have a look.” We both work in beauty and she said, “I have so much stuff I don’t need this (or that).” I laughed at her, asking if she’s ever not been excited about getting products. She agreed and we went on to buy ourselves a couple gifts. So if you’re shopping and think someone already has enough products and won’t want more, you’re probably wrong. They may not need more but I can tell you that they will want them.

I realize the spirit of the holidays is not about buying gifts. But since we’re all buying gifts I hope I’ve given you a few ideas, because part of the spirit of the holidays is also not being stressed.

(If you're still stressed, you can always visit an Origins store and ask them for some Peace of Mind.)

Just Discovered! Laura Mercier Faux Lash Mascara

OK, maybe not “just.” I discovered it last summer but I'm only getting around to writing about it now. However, I can still help you just discover it! When it comes to eyes, lashes can make a big difference. Some like false strip eyelashes as they are so dramatic, but it's generally not my preference because they look so, well...false. If you want to wear falsies, try individual false lashes because they lengthen and thicken without looking fake. In case you’ve never tried (or even heard of) them, they are six or so wispy lashes you can glue on where you’d like. (Gluing anywhere near eyes might sound scary but it’s only a tiny bit of lash glue that secures the pieces.) They look amazing. And while I am perfectly happy putting them on others’, when it comes to my own makeup I get so BORED if anything takes more than a few minutes. False lashes are for more dedicated makeup wearers. Which, though I am a makeup artist, is ironically not me.

I can confidently tell you that Laura Mercier Faux Lash Mascara is the perfect alternative. While it is called “Faux Lash,” it makes lashes fuller and more dramatic without looking fake. It goes on smoothly and doesn’t clump like a lot of thickening mascaras. And it’s easier and faster to put on than individuals. 

When I first got it, I decided to test it against another popular “false-looking lash” mascara that had just launched. I roped someone in as my guinea pig and put Mascara 1 on one eye and Mascara 2 on the other. I asked her to look in the mirror and pick one. She immediately pointed to Faux Lash and said, “I want this one!  It was no scientific test, but soon after, she ran out and got one.

This is one of my best new(ish) discovery and a staple in my makeup kit because I use it on almost everyone. I often don't have a lot of time on shoots ("Are you ready yet?" my dear producer friend Chad often says), so I love that it doesn't take any time. If you're looking for a new mascara (or just new lashes!) try this is definitely one to try.

Long Lash Tip: To go even bigger you can  put individuals on and then Faux Lash on top!


Behind the Scenes: The Journey of Hope Fashion Show

Established in 1973,  Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center is recognized as one of the world leaders in clinical and laboratory research, education, community outreach, and the prevention and control of cancer. The Journey of Hope Fashion Show was part of the One Night One Show One Cause event hosted by PRS Guitars and headlined by Journey - all in support of the cancer center. The show was led by Pamela DePalma of DePalma Enterprises and her celebrity fashion team of stylist Chamisa Lamm, hairstylist Kristan Serafino and makeup artist Robyn Tamura (a.k.a. me). We created the event's runway looks to reflect the spirit and rock band style of Journey.

STYLING Years of working at MTV and music-driven fashion shows made Chamisa Lamm the perfect stylist for this event. Using clothing from Andy Hilfiger of Andrew Charles, and an assortment of designers from Boutique 1017, Chamisa wanted to create a show to “energize, inspire and entertain.”

Her philosophy is that “killer shoes, killer walks and stand-out accessories” are necessary for any fashion show - Sugar Scout jewelry vamped up her looks. Nicholas K footwear and Luichiny gave the models extra attitude. Journey loved Chamisa’s styling so much they requested the clothes!

CHAMISA'S TIP: Have lots of accessories! When an outfit's too plain or needs a little extra something, having a collection of accessories to choose from allows you to be able to finish off any look.


The look I created focused on eyes and lips. Because the clothing made such a statement, the makeup needed edge to match but still simple and not overdone. Having two talented students from the The Temple Paul Mitchell School, Robin McDonough and Ashley Creighton to assist were essential to make it all happen. A big thank you to Robin and Ashley!

Cat-Eye Drama 

  • LORAC Eye Shadow in Taupe blended in the crease contours eyelid.
  • LORAC Pro Liquid Eyeliner in Black on bottom and top lash lines extended past brow adds drama to eye shape.
  • White shimmer on inner corner and tops of cheekbones gives a glowy contrast.
  • Laura Mercier Faux Lash Mascara gives, as its name implies, a faux lash look. With 12 models to do in very little time, false lashes were out and Faux Lash Mascara was in!

Rich, Deep Lips A deep plum lip liner to line blended with a rich, wine-colored, creamy lipstick.

MY TIP: LORAC's liquid liner is cream-based so it's easier to apply than a traditional liquid liner. But if cream or liquid liners are too difficult for you you can still use a sharpened eye pencil for this look.


Kristan Serafino's elegant Twisted Top Knot completed the high fashion styling. Here's how to recreate it:

  • First smooth hair with Kiss Silicone Protection Flat Iron.
  • Then brush hair into a high ponytail with a hair band. Use the crown of the head as a reference for ponytail base.
  • Twist loose hair from ponytail until hair coils and secure it with bobbi pins.
  • Apply Elnet hair spray to control fly-aways to finish the look.

KRISTAN'S TIP: Criss-cross two bobbi pins into an "X" to secure Top Knot from moving. Once hair is secured use hair-pins to hide bobbi pins.

With the hard work done and the fashion show a success, we sat down to a concert with Journey. Before it began, the group asked who in the audience had been affected by or knew someone affected by cancer. Every person raised their hand. It made me tear up and feel even more honored that we were able to come together for an event dedicated to make a difference.

Robyn, Kristan & Paul Mitchell National Educator Dana Ratliff Howson in action.

Michaele Salahi of the Real Housewives of D.C. - Guitarist Neal Schon proposed to her on stage that night.  


A Night With Journey - For Those We Love With Cancer

I have lost some of the dearest people in my life to cancer. I was with my cousin Linda as she struggled with the cancer we never thought would take her; spent days in the hospital with one of my best friends who had brain cancer. In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and four weeks later she was gone. And while my grief is deep and personal, I know I am not alone. There are also many who survive - but it is a hard and lonely struggle. That's why I appreciate and am grateful that there are people who care enough to do something about it – be it as personal as sharing their own story of struggle, supporting another who is suffering - as well as events that raise awareness and funds for a cause that supports all those with cancer. And I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of an upcoming event called “One Night One Show One Cause Benefit.” It will be held on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at the Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric in Baltimore, Maryland. There will be a live auction, a fashion show and a concert from Journey (Who isn't crazy about "Don't Stop Believin'?) – a band I listened to growing up and one whose songs are still heard around the world today.

Some press release details:

This is the flagship benefit concert of PRS Guitars. Since 2000, PRS Guitars has raised more than 2 million for the Living with Cancer Resource Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The Living with Cancer Resource Program offers supportive care programs and education to cancer patients and families at Johns Hopkins - free of charge.

The event features a concert by the iconic rock band Journey, as well as a “Journey Of Hope Fashion Show,” a show produced by fashion event producer Pamela DePalma of DePalma Enterprises, celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino, makeup artist Robyn Tamura and celebrity fashion expert Chamisa Lamm. New York–based DJ, Charles Browne, will be spinning throughout the pre-party and fashion show.

A live auction will feature signature PRS Guitars autographed and donated by music royalty such as Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, Mark Tremonti, Slash, Taylor Swift and more.

Seats begin at $75. VIP tickets at $250, $500, $1000 and includes premier seating and access to VIP Pre-party. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. All ages are welcome. For more information, visit the The Lyric's Web site. All proceeds to benefit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

JOURNEY is one of the most popular American rock bands of all time, creating some of the best-known songs in modern music. They continue to tour and record into the 21st century and have never stopped creating vital music. Since the group's formation in 1973, the band has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 Gold and Platinum albums; Greatest Hits is one of only a few Diamond-certified albums (15-times Platinum). In 2011, Journey received Billboard magazine’s “Legend of Live” Award and their seminal anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” is the most downloaded song of the 20th century. 

If need support or want to know how you can contribute to the program, please visit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center website.

Aloha: Here Comes the Sun

Aloha from Hawaii. (Before you get jealous, it’s not for fun. But I am trying to make the best of it.) Yesterday I decided to exercise. People unfamiliar with Hawaii imagine it's all pineapples and mangos, surfers and hula dancers. Since my family and friends are local, it's less fun in the sun and more like one long meal (which is also fun - I'm just clarifying the experience). Food is an important part of being gracious and welcoming, and Hawaii is extremely welcoming. It's tempura and chicken katsu (Japanese fried food), malasadas (fried Portuguese donuts) and things like cracked seed (one of the saltiest snacks ever).

The Aloha State is also one of the few places anywhere that you can comfortably admit you like SPAM. So since healthy eating isn't working out I decided to go on a jog around the neighborhood. But why am I running on concrete when surrounded by the ocean, the mountains, the beach? Hiking a mountain, that was the answer. (See hiking trail below).

Before I got very far, my legs were burning. There was a rope going up the first part so you can pull yourself up if necessary. When there's a rope to pull yourself up on anywhere up a hill, I probably shouldn't be there. But there were little kids behind me running and shouting and bouncing about. How hard could it be? I felt old with my knees cracking and a fear of twisting an ankle and falling on my face. My friend told me to hike up and then turn back down the mountain. But once I got to the top I thought it was too steep to go back so decided to keep moving forward. Surely it can’t be as bad on the other side, I thought. Not sure why I thought that.

Because when I made my way back down the other side, there was only a trail up another mountain. Of course I thought there must be a way out. No. Now I was plodding up another mountain, thinking that if I slipped and fell no one would find me for a long time. Apparently everyone else knew not to do the second mountain because I did not see another soul the entire time. Going down, I was running from branch to branch, skidding my way down loose pebbles. My 30 minute hike turned into a 2 hours. However, once I figured out where I was, I was soon happily cooling my feet through the white powdery sand of Lanikai beach. But I started to think more about how I could have better prepared (starting with knowing where I was going.) Next would be taking care of myself when the heat of the sun is beating down on me...which leads me to my favorite topic, sun protection! So in case you're thinking of taking an unknown hike in Hawaii (or anywhere else, for that matter), make sure that you are adequately prepared:

Protective Clothing. I wore a Lululemon long-sleeved top because I was determined to stay protected though I was roasting. Lululemon has fabrics with what they call UVF - Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+ that helps block UVA and UVB rays. This store is pricier than what I usually spend on workout clothes (i.e., Target) but the styles are so clever and flattering that sometimes I give in. Also, a new store just opened in my building.

A Hat. Me, who constantly preaches about the importance of sun protection - I forgot my hat. The sun was beating down on me and I felt like it was creating unfortunate future spots and lines on my face. Which it may  have been. So don't forget.

Sunscreen. For the first time I used Kiss My Face Sunscreen. People have been asking me about natural and green products - this sunscreen uses natural ingredients in a creamy but non-greasy texture. And I got absolutely no tan.

Water. At the last minute I thought to bring water.  And was I ever glad I did. Had I planned better I would have used a Lululemon Amphipod Hydration Belt so I could carry water hands-free. Yes, it looks a little like a fanny pack. But when you're rationing water and thirsty, who cares?

Your Phone. At some point I was expecting someone to call, concerned about my safety and worried about where I was. When I got home I asked, "What were you guys doing while I was gone?" "Talking story," they said (this is the Hawaiian way of describing sitting around having a good conversation). Well! At least I had my phone in case I had fallen on my face and rolled down the hill.

Well Traveled Beauty

I’m on a plane. I got up too early to get myself properly ready for the trip so I look a little haggard. (I always hear older people talk about the days when everyone dressed up for travel. I’m sure it made the occasion special but I’d never make it to the airport in time.) And I don’t travel as much as I used to so I don’t have the system down anymore.

But! I just discovered a store called Muju On the Go in JFK airport and am so excited about it. If you read my post on hoarding/reorganization you’ll remember I’m semi-obsessed with The Container Store. I haven’t spent enough time in Muji to see if it can match the love I have for The Container Store but definitely it has potential.

Their website says “MUJI is not a brand whose value rests in the frills and “extras” it adds to its products. 
MUJI is simplicity – but a simplicity achieved through a complexity of thought and design.” This is very Japanese concept and it's a Japanese store. Since I'm Japanese maybe there is a genetic component to my obsession simple, compact and clever things. I am kidding. Kind of.

Since I am currently traveling, now's the time to supply travel tips!


Check-in Bags

Beauty Products. For products you use everyday, get some of those little plastic bottles you can put your creams and lotions in so you don’t have to carry full sized products, especially if you want to carry them on the plane. Muji has some stacking containers that I like because you can keep all the products containers together.

Make sure you get a little spatula and/or a cone to help you get stuff in or you’ll find yourself pouring product on the sink or getting goo all over yourself (not to mention wasting the product).

Pack products in a plastic baggie, unless you want it to possibly explode all over your things. The cabin pressure expands air in the product, which can cause it to burst in your suitcase or later when you open it after landing. Have many times have I had lotion come out of a tube all over because of this? Many. So no matter what, be careful when you open it anything comes in packaging that has air in it (i.e., a lotion tube).

Carry Ons

Hand Sanitizer. I know some don’t believe in hand sanitizer, but I’m still going to say bring hand sanitizer to the airport. I forgot mine and am washing my hands like someone with OCD. There’s something about a plane or a bathroom airport that seems especially germy too me. It’s probably isn't germy-ier but that’s how it seems. "Please clean the wash basin after using it…" I actually do clean the basin to be considerate but doing that after washing hands is kind of gross.

Your Makeup Essential. For me personally, if I put nothing else on it’s lipstick. So it’s a lipstick and a powder compact to use the mirror for application.

Don’t forget about those TSA people yelling at you about the size of any bringing any liquid, cream or lotion on the plane. Always check what the standard is because I always thought it was 4 oz. or less but today I heard someone yelling t was 3.5 oz. (I think at most airports the the TSA people aren’t yelling…but at JFK, they definitely are).

They also prefer that your things be stored in a clear pouch. I also like clear pouches because it’s much easier to location things in general.

Hand lotion. Skin gets so dry on the plane. I just got a little tube of Burt’s Bees Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion but I’ve been using it on my hands and my skin feels immediately comfortable. Burt’s Bees probably has a hand lotion but since I can’t vouch for it I am recommending this one because I know it works.

Mints. I always carry mints in case my mouth feels parched too. Also isn’t that just considerate in case you wake up with not especially minty fresh breath? I’ve been carrying around a mini Altoids tin for years.

Water. You may or may not know that I always recommend water and staying hydrated as a beauty tip. I used to bring giant bottles of water with me on the plane. Now because they don’t allow water through security, I just bring an empty water bottle and find a water fountain. Because unless you want to spend $5.00 a bottle on water, bring the empty bottle.

I think that’s it for now.

Safe Travels!


My Favorite Multiple-Use, Fussy-Free Products

I love things that are compact and clever in a practical way. For example, I love those mini-umbrellas you can throw in your purse and carry as an every day staple so you never get caught in the rain. And I love products that are multi-purpose and fussy-free but don't compromise quality. In my purse, as well as my giant makeup kit, less is more. Here is a collection of the recently discovered as well as some beloved favorites that are cleverly compact.

Lorac Pro-Cream Eye Liner If you like a gel eyeliner, this one has brush that screws right in the handle. You don’t have to buy a separate brush and you never have to worry you'll lose it. If you carry it anywhere, you also don’t have to worry that the brush will get product in your purse or cosmetic bag. Just throw it in worry-free!

NARS The Multiple This is a cream stick that can be used on eyes, cheeks and lips. I just use my fingertip to apply and blend—application takes less than a minute. I know it probably benefits a company to have you buy a separate lipstick, eye shadow & blush, but I'm always still surprised that more brands don't have products like this one.

LaPrairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation This product(s) is cleverly designed with a foundation in the bottle, two shades of concealer in the cap and a mirror inside the lid. It also comes with a concealer brush that sits in a stand. And it’s a good foundation that lasts a long time. It is definitely not inexpensive (it is very expensive), although I guess any product with “caviar” in its name would not imply it's a deal.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment I have always liked this product but not thought about it in a long time. Recently a most gorgeous celebrity told me it was one of her favorites and brought it out as I did her makeup, showing me the ways she likes to use it. It’s great as nighttime lip moisturizer, under a lip pencil, on your cuticles and as a body moisturizer if your skin is especially dry. It can also be used on most anything that's chapped - and even minor cuts, burns and skin irritation (although I'd say go to the doctor if you have anything less than very minor.)

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 A tinted moisturizer saves time by combining moisturizer, foundation, and SPF in one application. It’s also sheerer so you don’t have to worry about perfect application. Laura Mercier provides several options, including an oil-free one (for those with oily or acne-prone skin), as well as one with shimmer (for those who want to glow...I mean, everyone wants to glow but shimmery can look shiny on some people so find the one that's right for you). (There is a new cream compact but I have yet to try it). For shoots, if someone needs more even skin tone but I don't want to slather on foundation, I use this product first and then foundation or concealer where it's most needed.

So there they are. I'm a little obsessed clever and practical products, so if you have a favorite, please share it with me because I'm always looking for them!



Skin Care Tips via 2-Year-Old Lucy

You know how a kid can make you see something in a different way? Or make you realize what you say and do and whether it matters or not?

When Lucy first learned to walk, she’d toddle into the bathroom and curiously watch me apply makeup each morning. When she learned to talk, she started saying, “My turn!” As her vocabulary expanded, “My turn!” became more specific:



“I Want That!” (“I Want That!” is a big one.)

So every morning when I apply moisturizer, Lucy gets some too. Not because a 2-year old needs a Clinique moisturizer. It’s partly to manage the situation and partly because she always resists my attempts to put sunscreen on her face. By applying a moisturizer with an SPF I can ensure she always has some protection to start the day. And now when we’re out, I say “Lotion!” so she will sit still long enough for me to properly apply sunscreen.

The Skin Care Tips

1. Avoid applying a face moisturizer to the eye area (or in her case, in the eyes). Use an eye cream because it’s made for the fragile skin around eyes and addresses other needs you may have, such as puffiness or dark circles.

2. Since hands need to be washed often, use a moisturizing hand soap. I love Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap. The writing on the bottle sounds a little crazy, but the product is really good. When a child uses it to wash, make sure hands are well rinsed because the peppermint can sting eyes that get rubbed with peppermint!  And keep a moisturizing hand sanitizer, such as Eve Echo’s, in your purse for when soap and water is not available and you’re out and about.

3. Don’t use a body or hand cream on your face. Lucy once saw me putting lotion on my legs. She asked for some and then proceeded to rub it on her face. How would she know? It all looks the same to her. But if you have any kind of skin concern – especially things such as breakout – moisturizer not made for the face can clog pores. Don't put it on your face, but I love The Body Shop's Mango Butter for the body.

4. Use a sunscreen every day. "It only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double your child's chances of getting melanoma later in life," says Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist.” Please read this detailed Wed MD article on the importance of sunscreen for children.

A big thank you to Lucy, for making me think more about the importance of proper skin care!

Going to the Beach Essentials

I recently visited Carmel By-the-Sea, so as you might expect, I went to the sea. The beach is soft white sand surrounded by cypress trees and a sky so blue it’s like a painting. But, in case you didn’t know – as I didn’t – a Carmel summer is colder than a Carmel winter.

As I always say, it’s much easier to remember sun protection when you’re hot and the sun’s beating down on you. So not only did I keep intending to put on sunscreen (but not doing it), I also didn’t think about how water reflects the sun, increasing your chances of being getting sun damage. (As a city girl, I forgot even the obvious, such as how sand sticks in your hair, between your toes, in your shoes, everywhere.) Eventually I did come to my senses and began using my oft-mentioned Neutrogena sunscreen. Then it occurred to me that they must make a gentler baby formula I should get for Lucy. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Faces is so ultra-gentle that not only did I use it on Lucy but on my own face every day at the beach.

So if you’re like me and don’t go to the beach often, here’s a checklist to get you started:

Beach Essentials

  • Sunscreen, of course – Remember to reapply if you go in the water.
  • A Sun Hat and UV Protective clothing - In the picture above, Lucy is in her cousin's UV clothes...and although everyone walking by told me what a "cute little boy" I have, she was protected!
  • UV protection sunglasses
  • Lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Several towels, even if you don’t go in the water. For example, I had a wet dog come by and shake all his sandy wet fur on me (twice).
  • Rubber flip-flops, so sand is easy to rinse off. If you must remain chic at the beach, DVF and Tory Burch both make rubber flip-flops. Or just get those inexpensive ones from the drugstores they have anywhere there is a beach. One day I wore my leather slip-ons because I thought I’d just slip them off when I got to the beach. Now I’m wondering if I will ever get sand out of them.

If you’re a beach-goer you might be laughing at my naiveté, but this city dweller would have liked to have this list so maybe there’s another one like me who will too.

The Present & Future You

I’ve been talking to friends about self-perception. If you’ve read earlier things I've written, you know I had a baby. And it wasn’t yesterday. It was 2 years ago, and, at this point, I'm feeling like the "you just had a baby" excuse is no longer such a good one. My body has changed - but I’ve just been waiting to get back to “normal". In my neighborhood, there's a lot of women pushing strollers looking as if they never had a baby and I always thought that would also be me. But now I'm starting to wonder if I need to accept a new normal and make peace with it. Maybe. I am actually going to try a little more before giving up my old clothes. And that's positive. The less positive part is that self-acceptance is just not that easy.

When I told a friend this, she said, “You know, when I was skinny I didn’t even think about it. I thought it was normal and I just found other things wrong with me.” I know so many women – smart, beautiful, interesting women – who talk about what they wish they had or didn’t have and what they’d like to change about themselves. I even hear it from models and actresses and women everyone would describe as nothing less than beautiful.

In the best of worlds we just wouldn't care – but we all know there is a certain standard of what's considered beautiful (and not). Still, it doesn’t mean we should let it define who we are or make us unable to love what we have. I think that sometimes when we're so busy looking at what we don't like we don't even realize what we do.

I mentioned this to another friend and she made me laugh because she said, “You know what? Sometimes I look at pictures and think about how bad I look. And then I realize that in 10 years I’ll look back and think I looked awesome!” This, I think, is amazing - because as we go through life it all becomes relative. And if the future you is going to look back and see how great you look and are, why not let the present you see it too?


Not Dreaming of Olympic Gold

I've been watching the Olympic gymnastics competitions all week. A gymnast would waver slightly off-balance after doing a full-twisting backflip on beam and you'd hear the commentators say something like, “Ah! Oh, that is going to cost her." If it was worse you might hear something like "this is catastrophic."

So when the reigning world champion didn't make it into the final all-around competition because her “tiniest mistakes added up” and she came in behind two of her teammates, the look on her face broke my heart.

Mistakes in gymnastics are so devastating at this level - you can work your entire life to that moment and if you’re not perfect, your Olympic dream can be gone in one misstep.

I was a gymnast for many years. Every year before a big competition, I'd be in tears because I’d think about how I worked so hard all these years and tomorrow I could fall and have to wait another year to have the opportunity to try again. By then you could have gotten injured, grown too much or any of the many things that can happen in between.I was in acro-gymnastics, which is much more forgiving than artistic gymnastics. You can make mistakes and it doesn’t guarantee a loss. And you can do the sport much longer than peaking at 16. But even then (although maybe I just wasn’t cut out for it because I don’t think everyone is crying before every big meet) there is just so much on the line in such a small space of time that equals years and years of dedication and very hard work. That, of course, is not unique to gymnastics and I don't think it's a bad thing. But I don’t think anyone should feel all is lost if they step out of bounds with the edge of their heel. Or that success is defined so narrowly (and subjectively) that anything less than perfect makes you a loser. Sometimes accepting our imperfections is a thing of beauty – life is, as they say, much of the time about the journey and not the destination.

Dreams are meant to be chased, whether we achieve them or not. I love gymnastics and there is a lot to be said for the discipline, toughness and dedication it instills. But to me, the negative outweighs the positive here when it shapes how a girl comes to define herself. I'm sure that's not true for everyone – I am sure some may only take away the good with them. But I think many do not.

That’s why I hope my daughter doesn't dream of one day making the Olympic gymnastics team. I realize it's not the worst thing that could happen. I want her to grow up chasing her dreams too, but I don't want it to ever be "catastrophic" if she steps on the line.

What's Your Favorite Mascara?

I recently did a "what's your favorite mascara?" poll, and the responses were all over the place! There were brands I expected, brands I didn’t expect and brands I never heard of. This was no scientific focus group but I still thought there'd be a little more consensus. So while I can't report a landslide victory, here are the top contenders and what their fans had to say about them.

1. Benefit Badgal Lash Mascara. Benefit is not a brand I have ever paid attention to. It seems cute and kitschy and fun but I’ve never felt compelled to try it. That, however, is no longer true because apparently their mascara is IT! This is by far the mascara most often mentioned as a favorite.

“Love the fat brush and how it lengthens and thickens without clumps. I'm addicted!”

“I really like the brush. Plus I have dry, sensitive eyes and it doesn’t irritate.”

“I love it! And they have travel sizes so I can replace tubes often.”

2. L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Carbon Black. Coming in at second place, L’Oreal still proves you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of $ to get great lashes.

“It has a big, soft thick brush that reaches close to roots and never clumps. My lashes are blondish – this mascara gives it color and makes them thicker without having to use liner between. It’s also gentle - lashes stay soft and flexible. Also, I prefer the original version because I have never found the new, “improved” versions better!”

“I use it on top of Maybelline Full ‘N Soft – it’s cheap and works great!”

3. DiorShow. This is the quintessential mascara for drama. We are talking serious mascara lovers who are not afraid of diva lashes. And they are also not afraid to show their love!

“When I’m not wearing falsies, I wear DiorShow with Maybelline Falsies (the purple one).”

“I use DiorShow mixed with Urban Decay’s Fatty Lash Mascara!”

“DiorShow is my all-time favorite! I add Makeup Forever Smoky Lash for even more drama.”

4. Trish McEvoy Lash Curling Mascara. I haven’t used it myself but this mascara has both “civilian” and professional makeup artist fans.

“It’s easy to apply, no clumping, no smudging, and removes with warm water."

“Its formula washes off as a gel so you never get black under your eyes. Both the volumizing & curling formulas work this way - they just have different brushes.”

5. Lancôme. Lancôme got several mentions, but all for different formulas. I’ve known for years that Lancôme mascara users are rabid fans!

Lancôme Hypnôse. “It makes lashes look thick with out clumping but also separates them nicely. It is also easy to remove.”

Lancôme Definicils. “This mascara seems to last longer and makes my lashes look GREAT!”

Lancôme Extencils. “Still rocks.”


However, no one was more enthusiastic in recommending Lancôme CILS Booster XL

“I wanted to let you know the makeup tip of the century. I went to replace my mascara and got a free lash primer with it. It’s white and coats lashes, making the mascara go on easier and lashes look even fuller and longer. How could I have lived this long without knowing of this magic?”


THE HONORABLE MENTIONS These mascaras were mentioned more than once and/or highly recommended by those I know who know.

Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes

Clinique Lash Long Wearing Formula “I've used it for years because it stays on all day and I don't look like a raccoon by the time I get off work.”

YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils “The Best! But $$.”

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill “Goes on thick, brush separates lashes well for a defined long lash look. Also love the packaging - think it’s metal and has Giorgio A. name engraved on it, it’s very heavy and premium-looking.”

Origins Fringe Benefits “My eyes are so sensitive that a lot of other mascaras irritate them. This one is super mellow and doesn't hurt my eyes!”

Finally, I just discovered a KILLER new mascara which I will be writing about next! Stay tuned.  

Eve Echo Hand Sanitizer - Changing the World, One Clean Hand at a Time

This is another new favorite product. To clarify, “new” may not mean it’s a brand-new product but since it’s new to me, it might also be new to you. When my baby was born my brother said I’d become a germa-phobe. He’s been a father for a while now so doesn’t have new parent anxiety. But what did I know? All I knew was that there was this new tiny person in the world who could catch things on my account if I wasn’t careful. So I was constantly washing my hands. Constantly washing your hands, of course, makes them extremely dry. I’d put lotion on afterward but then I’d be washing the lotion off when I washed my hands again. So I started using moisturizing hand sanitizer to keep my hands clean and moisturized at the same time.

Then along comes a friend with Eve Echo Hand Sanitizer. I’ve always disliked the gooeyness of a sanitizer gel and I don’t like the waste of a towelette, so this was a perfect solution. It comes in a cute little perfume spray bottle that lightly spritzes on with a nice soft scent. And there’s no extra waste because it’s refillable! You can just throw in your purse without worrying it’s going to leak and get goo all over inside. And you can get it in either Sweet Mango or Lavendar Vanilla.

What’s more, Eve Echo “is on a mission to end gender inequalities and free women from oppression all over the world.” It lends 100% of its net profits to the Foundation for International Community Assistance - an organization that helps support female businesses in economically challenged communities. I always say, since you're going to spend money anyway, why not spend money on something that’s going to make a difference too?

Not only is it good for hands and good for the world, but it’s also a hip hand sanitizer, as far as hand sanitizers go. Eve Echo has been featured in magazines such as InStyle, People and Cosmo even named it the best hand sanitizer! How I missed all that I do not know. What I do know is that this product can be recommended on so many levels that I hope everyone goes out and gets one so we're all staying clean while helping the world too.

My daughter is almost 2 and since I’ve seen her licking the floor and eating sand and yet still seems OK, I’m no longer a germa-phobe. But of course I still like to make sure my hands are clean and fresh - especially when water is not available - and that’s what Eve Echo is perfect for.

Lucy, possibly eating chalk and thriving.

Photo of Young Lucy by Katie Ambrose.

Just Discovered! Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

I recently did a shoot with Clinique and discovered they have a bottom lash mascara. To be honest, it sounded to me like an unnecessary product that someone would like you to buy. But as it is Clinique and they are a great company, I had to try it out.

First, I learned it is a longwearing formula, the kind that is only removed with warm water and comes off in pieces. This is a good thing – it means that the mascara will last until you intend on taking it off. So if you often find that mascara leaves residue and dark rings around your eyes, it won't with this one.

Second, it has a mini-wand with a tiny little lash brush. Like mini-mini. Don't be confused by the image above...the lash you see at the tip of the wand is not part of the product (it's only part of the picture).

Then I decided to try it. I have almost no bottom lashes - a few, I can probably count them. But the product did work pretty well on those lashes so I tried it on my top lashes too. Of course, something called "Bottom Lash Mascara" is obviously not designed for top lashes - but because my eyes are small it actually worked better. I was able to maneuver around using that little brush to get mascara exactly where I needed it. So because of this and because this kind of mascara formula doesn't irritate my eyes (most do) this could very well become my personal top and bottom lash mascara.

For most people, it actually is a great mascara for bottom lashes because it gives you controlled, precise application in a formula that will not smudge. If you find that your mascara is easy to use on bottom lashes and you're happy with it, you can certainly do that. But if you need something more precise or even would just like to try something new, this is a good one.

Makeup Spring Cleaning for Hoarders

I have a bit of hoarder in me. Not like in the show Hoarders but enough that it’s noticeably difficult for me to throw things out. Usually I have a decent excuse – for example, with clothes it’s always - maybe I’ll need that someday, maybe I’ll fit into that again, maybe I’ll give it to someone someday. But there's always that blurry line between keeping something because you want to and keeping it because you just can’t let it go.

Here’s a story. I gave a friend an eye shadow quad in the early 90s. And because I’ve been in the industry for so long I’ve given her makeup of all kinds over the years. Maybe about 5 years ago I was in her bathroom and saw this almost empty eye shadow tray with tiny bits of cracked eye shadow in it. The tray itself was old and scratched and then I recognized it – it was the one from the 90s! I am not even kidding you. And when I told her she needed to throw it away, she looked alarmed, telling me that she can still get shadow out with a brush and it works just fine! So if you’re like me, or my friend, take it slow. There are still things you can do to spring clean, such as reorganizing so everything looks clean and new. 

I love The Container Store. Sometimes I go in just to find something to buy. Everyone there is really nice, the stores are neat and bright and they have clean customer-available bathrooms (this is big in NYC). In addition to all that, the merchandise is fantastic. Who can’t use another airtight container? What about a plastic scraper to scrape scraps off plates and save water too? Or even a clothes hamper with wheels so you never have to pick it up? It’s like watching an infomercial at 2 a.m. and seeing something that looks amazing – only it doesn’t come in the mail and it never disappoints.

Not long ago I was walking around with a friend when we saw The Container Store. I told her I'm obsessed with it and it turns out she is obsessed too. So we ran in, looking for something to buy (this is when I bought the clothes hamper…and I got it because some guy saw me looking at it and said that he had two – one for recycling and one for clothes - and that I really should buy one, so I did).

Meanwhile, my friend was walking the aisles and found a cosmetics/makeup organizer. She was so excited because she had already been thinking about organizing her bathroom counter. As soon as she got home she put everything in it and immediately sent me a picture. That’s the beauty of The Container Store. You are excited when you buy something because you anticipate going home and using it; then when you get home you’re excited again because you get the satisfaction of knowing you made a good purchase and seeing the reason you bought it. The only drawback is that because I’ve got everything stacked in storage bins I often forget I have it or I can’t find it. But you don’t have to go overboard like me.

If you do find that spring cleaning is just a matter of doing it, try these “throw it out” makeup tips:

  1. Get a new trash binto throw stuff out in. And why not a cute one? If you have hoarder tendencies, get one with a lid so you don't look back.
  2. Go through your bathroom cabinet or wherever you store your cosmetics and look for:
  • Mascaras older than 3 months because bacteria grows more quickly in mascara than in other products. I go a little longer but this is what is recommended. I also go longer on the expiration date for yogurt and cottage cheese so you may not want to do as I do, especially with this one (they call me iron stomach, by the way).
  • Cracked, old eye shadows and blushes. You kind of know when you need to throw these out. So just do it. It also gives you an excuse to go shopping and find new ones.
  • Old wood pencil and/or swivel eye pencils that start sliding out of their tube.
  • Anything that smells funny.

I recently spoke to someone in product development for one of the top cosmetics companies and he told me that even if a foundation separates it’s OK as long as it doesn’t smell rancid. Just shake it back up.

Most companies recommend replacing makeup (that is not mascara) after 2 years. Again, I tend to go longer - my thought is that companies have to be overly careful because they are responsible and liable for their products. So you should be very safe within 2 years (unless it is indicated to throw out sooner). Always check. And, like chicken in your fridge, if you think it’s questionable, throw it out. It is your face, after all.

Once you do all this, sit back and enjoy the organized fruits of your labor. And, have a happy spring!





4 Tips for Hot, Melt-y Makeup Days

Since it is roasting hot in NYC and I feel like I’m frying on the sidewalk, I started thinking more about what to do when it’s so hot.

1. Use Sun Protection. ALWAYS. Unlike a hazy day that makes it easy to forget, the sun beating down on you should help you remember. Sun protection goes way beyond beauty – but if it’s beauty that motivates you, remind yourself once more that 90% of aging comes from environmental/sun damage. I’ll keep writing about this until you are sick of it. My favorite, favorite is still Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock. It’s waterproof, lightweight and really keeps you protected. Lucy's wearing it in the picture above.

2. Fake Your Tan. If you want to tan, do a sunless tanner. If you’ve never used one, I know the fear is turning orange; but these days, brands have considered this and you’ll not turn orange. Just don’t forget to wash your hands after applying to avoid fake tan palms.

3. Waterproof Your Makeup. You don’t have to be swimming to wear waterproof makeup because if it’s too hot out you’ll probably be sweating so you are kind of swimming. Try waterproof mascara, waterproof eyeliner and an oil-free, long wearing foundation. I love Chanel-StyloYeux Waterproof Eyeliner.

4. Drink More water. This is another thing I always go on about. If you find yourself thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Eight 8 oz. glasses a day is recommended, more if you’re in hot weather. And don’t forget that caffeine dehydrates (and makes you forget you haven’t had any water). So don’t count one of those diet cokes or iced coffees as one of those glasses. Cheers.

Looking Like an Idol

So it’s down to the finale. Maybe by the time you read this it will be over but it’s not about the winner, is it? It’s about who’s in it. I watched American Idol last night (of course) and because there were only two women featured, I think I can do this (as opposed to my last American Idol post when there were too many people to keep track of). Jennifer Lopez

I am pretty sure Jennifer Lopez’s makeup artist was off for the night. This was not the same makeup artist. I don’t like to be hypercritical of other artists’ work because I know how hard it can be, how much lightning can affect makeup, how the person wearing it affects the makeup, how brutal HD can be, and so on. And when you’re famous, everyone is too often looking at you and criticizing you, which is awful. Plus I love Jennifer Lopez. But since her makeup is usually flawless I have to say that it just didn't meet its usual high standard.

JLo almost always wears concealer under and around her eye area that brightens and draws attention to her eyes. This time it was too much - either too light or too thick and you could see the line between where her concealer started and stopped. It looked like she had a two-toned mask on, her nose looked uneven and she was shiny. Of course she is still gorgeous, but I’m talking about the makeup and what we can learn from it.


Unless you’re going for a specific look that requires it, don’t let makeup lines show on your face. That always says that you’re wearing makeup, not just looking glow-y and smooth. Make sure that everything is blended, blended, blended.


If you are on camera – particularly if you have a tan or darker skin tone - wear powder. Even if your skin is not oily, the flash or bright lighting can make your skin look shiny.

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez looked good, especially during the first song. Everything was just right – the dress was glamorous without looking too sexy for her age, the hair and makeup was soft and matched the dress. Throughout the season, Jessica’s makeup sometimes looked a little drag queeny. Part of it is that she already has naturally strong brows so when you add makeup it can quickly look like too much. But last night her eye shadow was soft with a touch of shimmer, she had lots of lashes, soft cheeks and lips with a little glossy light color. And the lips weren’t too defined so it looked good without being distracting.

However, by the 3rd song Jessica had too much blush on. This is what I’m talking about – let me be clear that she does not/did not look like a drag queen - but you venture into drag queen territory when you wear too much makeup all over.


Wear too much too much on all features. If you want to wear more makeup, concentrate on one feature, i.e., smoky eyes with lighter lips, dark lips with more nude eyes. This ensures you look sexy and glam without it being too much.


Try out a pinky nude lip! For the first song she wore a pinky brown lipstick with a beige/nude gloss on top. Not everyone can wear a completely matte-nude shade like you see on models in a magazine – but most people look good with the shade Jessica wore.

Here’s how:

  1. Find a pink-brown or pink lip pencil to line and fill in lips for a matte base (the color will stay on longer with a matte base).
  2. Follow with a pinkish brown or brownish pink lipstick.
  3. Apply a nude lip gloss on the inner part of lips (as opposed all on lips to the lip line) because the gloss will move out to the edges as you wear it.

And on a final note - of course, I do love my Phillip Philips, who always looks the same, which is boyishly gorgeous. He is kind of good-looking but if you really look at him it’s more of his expression, his eyes and that smile that make him good-looking. Which, after all, is the essence of beauty. After his first song I really thought he would lose. But when he pulled out that last song, I think he won. Only time will tell. And let’s see if JLo’s makeup artist is on the job tonight.