I’m Too Sexy for My Skirt

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Sue Ellen Mishke wore her bra as a top and inadvertently started an underwear-as-outerwear trend? Apparently Sienna Miller does, too. You've gotta hand it to her, though. Not every woman is secure enough to appear in public half-dressed. Sienna, the English actress better known for her boho chic fashions and for breaking up Jude Law’s marriage than for any of her movies, appears to have overlooked something two days ago when she attended the afterparty in New York for the premiere of her upcoming film "Factory Girl." Dressed in black tights, black Spanx, a furry top, and leather jacket, the bottom half of her outfit was conspicuous in its absence. Was she running late and, in her haste to leave the house, forgot to get dressed from the waist down? Perhaps after the party she was going to audition for the Broadway revival of “Cats” (at least that would explain the furry top). Or maybe she spilled red wine on her skirt in the limo on the way over and in desperation, tried to pass this off as a “look.” And she's working this look for all it's worth. Her confident "emperor's new clothes" stride (below) attempts to convey the fact that this was a deliberate fashion statement. And just like the loyal subjects in "The Emperor's New Clothes," onlookers at the premiere seem to be pretending not to notice anything unusual either.

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Method to My Madness

Those of you who know me, or have read some of my previous posts, will know that if I go to a store to buy a particular product only to find that it is sold out, it makes me want that product even more. I have visions of "women in the know" (whoever they are), scouring the aisles looking to buy out the entire supply of that highly coveted item, so that there are none left by the time I get there. The Green Tea and Aloe Foaming Hand Wash by Method is one of those items.

I first discovered it at a friend's house. There was something immensely satisfying about pressing down the pump dispenser and watching that bright green liquid from the bottle emerge as a pale green foam in the palm of my hand. When I went to Target a few days later to buy it, it was sold out. But only in this fragrance, and only in the foaming version (Method makes two other fragrances: eucalyptus mint and sweet water, and each fragrance also comes in a liquid soap formula). When I went back to Target a week later, they had gotten some more in, but there were only two left. Of course I bought them both, feeling quite proud of myself for scooping those "women in the know." Hell, maybe I'm one of those women in the know!

At $2.99 each, you, too, can afford to buy out the store's entire stock of Method Foaming Hand Wash. Method products are available at Target, or online at www.methodhome.com.


The Cold and the Beautiful

New Englanders have been pretty lucky so far this winter. We just experienced the warmest winter on record – until January, that is. Now it's seasonably cold. Last month my heating bill was $50, this month it was $100! The cold weather, combined with the effects of indoor heating, can really dry out the skin. So I went to the C.O. Bigelow store in the Copley Square Mall to try out some of their own line of products for face and body. This venerable apothecary has been a New York City institution since it was founded in 1838, establishing a reputation for stocking hard-to-find and imported items as well as cult favorites. Two years ago they branched out nation-wide in partnership with Bath and Body Works, and began mass-producing their line of products, many of which were first created for their customers in the nineteenth century.

For my face, I purchased their Rose Wonder Cold Cream ($15). This was the first product the company created in 1838, as the number 001 on the jar's label attests to. Unlike most commercial cold creams, this one is mineral-oil-free, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. I use it at night to remove makeup and daily debris. Apply to a dry face and remove with a damp washcloth to cleanse and moisturize the skin.

I follow the Rose Wonder Cold Cream with the Triple Rose Water hydrating spray ($25). This is different from their Rose Water Skin Tonic, which contains witch hazel and is more like a proper toner. The Triple Rose Water is made with essence of rose damascena petals, obtained using the centuries-old method of steam distillation. It comes in a beautiful cobalt blue glass bottle with a spray applicator. The fact that it is the only one of Bigelow's own products that comes in an attractive box underscores how special it is. I feel very sophisticated for having such an elegant, luxurious item in my medicine cabinet. I can imagine it on a Victorian lady's vanity table, looking just the way it looks today. I'm not a fan of toners in particular, but because this product is mostly rose water, it doesn't dry out my skin. It gives the skin a refreshing boost of hydration to prep the skin for moisturizer. And the natural fragrance of rose is light, not cloying like many synthetic rose fragrances.

For a moisturizer, I decided not to continue with the Rose theme and bypassed the Rose Hydrating Gel Treatment ($20) because it left a matte feeling on my skin when I tried it on the back of my hand. It would be perfect for normal-to-oily skin, but my skin needs more moisture. Instead I chose the Incredibly Moisturizing Face Cream ($20). This cream gives my skin the moisture that it craves this time of the year, plus it has an SPF of 15. Just because it's winter doesn't mean the face is immune to the damaging effects of the sun, so remember to "block up" all year round. I also use this at night because it's so rich.

It's just as important to winterize your body skin as it is to hydrate your face, and for that, I've saved my favorite product for last. C.O. Bigelow's Lemon Body Cream ($19.50) is a generous tub of rich cream that smells divine – like lemon pastry cream – and is one of C.O. Bigelow's best sellers. It's so popular that it spawned a "lemon line" of companion products, including a lighter Lemon Body Lotion ($19.50), Lemon Cream Body Wash ($16.50), and Lemon Body Scrub ($20).

If you're new to C.O. Bigelow products, you can try the travel sizes of their most popular products, including the Rose Wonder Cold Cream and the Lemon Body Cream. In addition to the C.O. Bigelow stores, the line is also available at Bath and Body Works, or online at www.cobigelow.com.


Cheeky Tart(e)!

For the most natural flush of color for your cheeks, nothing beats the cheek stains from Tarte. These award-winning tubes of solid gel give the sheerest hint of color, like you just pinched your cheeks. They even smell good – like Jell-O, with the fragrance matching the color of the stain. Blushing Bride, a deep burgundy, smells like Black Raspberry, whereas True Love, a sheer bright pink, smells like Strawberry – unless I'm just imagining things, which is entirely possible.

To give your lips a just-bitten hue of sheer berry to go with your flushed cheeks, try Tarte's Rise and Shine Plumping Lip Stain. The double-ended applicator features a tube of liquid lip stain on one end, and a tube of plumping lip gloss in a sheer cherry red color on the other.

If you're interested in trying Tarte's cheek stain and plumping lip stain, you're in luck. Tarte offers a full-sized True Love cheek stain packaged with a mini Rise and Shine lip stain. Called "Loving the Fast Stain," the kit is a bargain at $30 (the cheek stain alone is $28, so for $2 more you get to try the lip stain). It would be the perfect makeup look for Valentine's Day. I know it's a couple of weeks away, but I'm telling you now so you'll have plenty of time to go out and buy the set before that big Valentine's Day date. But the "Loving the Fast Stain" kit is only available at Sephora (Prudential Center, Boston) or at sephora.com.

"True Love" for Valentine's Day. Isn't that what we all want? Needless to say, I've got my "Loving the Fast Stain" kit already. Now all I need is a date…


Cheeky Tart(e)!

For the most natural flush of color for your cheeks, nothing beats the cheek stains from Tarte. These award-winning tubes of solid gel give the sheerest hint of color, like you just pinched your cheeks. They even smell good – like Jell-O, with the fragrance matching the color of the stain. Blushing Bride, a deep burgundy, smells like Black Raspberry, whereas True Love, a sheer bright pink, smells like Strawberry – unless I'm just imagining things, which is entirely possible.

To give your lips a just-bitten hue of sheer berry to go with your flushed cheeks, try Tarte's Rise and Shine Plumping Lip Stain. The double-ended applicator features a tube of liquid lip stain on one end, and a tube of plumping lip gloss in a sheer cherry red color on the other.

If you're interested in trying Tarte's cheek stain and plumping lip stain, you're in luck. Tarte offers a full-sized True Love cheek stain packaged with a mini Rise and Shine lip stain. Called "Loving the Fast Stain," the kit is a bargain at $30 (the cheek stain alone is $28, so for $2 more you get to try the lip stain). It would be the perfect makeup look for Valentine's Day. I know it's a couple of weeks away, but I'm telling you now so you'll have plenty of time to go out and buy the set before that big Valentine's Day date. But the "Loving the Fast Stain" kit is only available at Sephora (Prudential Center, Boston) or at sephora.com.

"True Love" for Valentine's Day. Isn't that what we all want? Needless to say, I've got my "Loving the Fast Stain" kit already. Now all I need is a date…


Hard Candy Christmas

Right before Christmas, I decided to give myself a haircut. Not a full haircut, mind you–I wouldn't be that bold. But I thought I'd change my look a little by cutting my usually eyebrow-skimming bangs very short, a la Bettie Page. As soon as I made that first snip, however, I knew I made a dreadful mistake. Half my bangs were now extremely short and the other half were long, So I had no choice but to continue cutting them. Now anyone who has ever had really short, retro bangs knows that it's a struggle to get them to lie flat. You either have to use a lot of hair product, or else hold them down overnight while you sleep with those little roller clips or that pink tape that my mom used to use in the Sixties when she set her hair. Having just butchered my bangs, I should have stopped there. But I didn't. I decided that since my bangs were now so short, exposing my eyebrows to the world, I thought I'd give my brows a dramatic reshaping. When will I learn?

Usually I have no problem waxing my brows. I use Aussie Nads hair removal (no jokes about the name, please), which is useless on my legs, but makes an awesome eyebrow wax. But I tried to overarch my brows this time, to match the retro look of my bangs. The end result was that my right eyebrow would have been two separate halves save for one thin hair connecting them together. CRISIS! In two fell swoops I'd managed to make myself look worse, not better. In the words of Seinfeld's Kramer, "I'm hideous!" And I was going home to my mom's house in Connecticut in two days for Christmas! Major damage control was needed.

The next day, I went to the Sephora at the Prudential Center to look for an eyebrow product. I opted for the Hard Candy Training Brow eyebrow pencil. This product is brilliant. One end is an eyebrow pencil, the other a clear gel to groom the brows. It comes in two shades: Dark-Haired Girl, and Light-Haired Girl. The Dark-Haired Girl works well for very dark brown hair, but would be too light for black hair. I chose the Light-Haired Girl, which, although intended for lighter brunettes, actually matches my brows very closely, and I'm a redhead. All for the low, low price of $10.

You can find Training Brow and other fine Hard Candy products at www.hardcandy.com. Aussie Nads is available at Drugstore.com. And in case you were wondering, I opted to flatten my bangs with those little roller clips, borrowed from, who else but Mom, when I went home for Christmas.


The British Are Coming! The British are Coming!

In 1776 when this cry was first heard in Boston, it was a warning. I herald it as a celebration. I am devoting my first post on Beauty Hub to British cosmetics and skincare products that can be found in Boston. Being an anglophile, I love anything British. Lately I've been on a kick to try British products, in an effort to live vicariously through the English models, movie and television stars, and the average girls on the street who can pop into shops in Chelsea, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and other areas of London and come away with funky, fabulous beauty products (because watching hours on end of BBC America just isn't enough). As London in the Sixties was at the forefront of young, irreverant fashion, today it boasts a number of independent, funky beauty lines that give established American lines a run for the money; lines like Estee Lauder and, well, all of the other major US lines seem to be owned by Estee Lauder. These British lines definitely aren't your mother's makeup.

Pixi Beauty – Pixi Beauty was started in London in 1999 by the Sisters Strand – Petra, Sofia, and Sara – who are, in fact, Swedish. But their line is definitely British in feel. Bright colors, dual-purpose products, and practical solutions for common beauty problems underscore this cheery line. One of their most popular items is the Hydrotint Duo, which Pixi calls "a tinted moisturizer, lip & cheek tint, sunscreen and antioxidant day cream all in one." It's a tube of tinted moisturizer with a rollerball of lip and cheek tint at the other end. Perfect for those who don't like to wear a lot of makeup, or for when you don't want to pack a lot of makeup for traveling. My favorite product is their Sheer Cheek Color powder blush. The colors, even the bright ones, are clear and subtle. Pixi Beauty can be found at the Sephora in the Prudential Center, or at sephora.com. Their website, www.pixibeauty.com, is based in Britain. The prices are in pounds sterling, but you can place an international order. In particular, their skincare line is available from their website, and I haven't seen their skincare products for sale where I've seen their makeup.

Pop Beauty – a younger sister line of Pixi, literally. This is Sara Strand's line, started when she was only 22 years old. And Pop is definitely younger in feel. Unlike Pixi, Pop's emphasis is mostly on color for eyes, cheeks, lips, and nails, with lots of glitter. Their Lip Jams ($10) are small tubes of jelly-like lip gloss, perfect for carrying in a purse or pocket for instant touch-ups. Their Pop Up blushes ($19) are tubes of solid gel that give a subtle, just-came-in-from-the-outdoors flush to the skin. Their eye and cheek colors come in tins of striated multi-colored cakes of powder that can be used individually or blended together. And their prices are reasonable, perfect for teenaged budgets. Also available at Sephora, you can check out the complete line at sephora.com, or Pop's UK website, www.popbeauty.co.uk

Ren – Since 1999, Ren skincare has been providing clean, all-natural skincare products to those seeking products free from petrochemicals, artificial colors, and genetically modified ingredients and synthetic ingredients. Already boasting a devoted cult following among the glamourous and beautiful of Britain (Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, and Sadie Frost among them), Ren is now available in the United States. I first discovered the line at the C.O. Bigelow store in the Copley Square Mall. I received a sample of the Rose Centifolia face wash. It was silky and non-drying, and my face felt so comfortable after I used it. When I went back to purchase the full-sized bottle, it was sold out and there was a waiting list. That made me want it even more. When I went back a second time, it was still sold out. I finally managed to get a bottle, and purchased the companion Rose Complex moisturizer. I've been on an all-natural skincare kick lately, and Ren combines clean ingredients with cutting edge technology, definitely more sophisticated than some of the seemingly home made natural products on the market. Ren also makes a line of body products. Ren can be found at the C.O. Bigelow stores in the Copley Square Mall and the Northshore Mall in Peabody, as well as Barney's New York at the Copley Square Mall. Online, you can purchase their products from www.amazon.com, , or from their website at Ren Skincare, as an international order.

Cowshed Spa – Another all-natural skincare line, Cowshed Spa products are made and sold at the Babington House spa in Somerset, England, where they grow all of the botanical ingredients they use in their products. They can also be found at select spas and hotels in the U.K. as well as at the Soho House spa in New York City. Their formulations for face and body are creamy and nourishing. But this noble pedigree and limited availability belies a typical British sense of humor. All of the product names reference cows, such as Cheeky Cow moisturizer, Grubby Cow cleansing milk, and Cow Pat hand cream. They even make a line of products for babies, and a line of skincare for men. I purchased the Grubby Cow cleansing milk at Louis Boston (234 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116), but you can order online from their US website, Cowshed Spa the products being shipped from the Soho House spa in New York.

And last, but not least, there's Lush, the handmade cosmetics chain that came to the United States three years ago after practically taking over the rest of the world. Since 1995, originally from Poole, in England, Lush invented the bath fizzies that have spawned countless imitations. They opened their first shop in America in San Francisco in 2003, followed quickly by their second shop, in Boston (woo hoo!). Their products often contain fresh fruit or flowers, and their handmade soaps, bath melts, and bath bombs can turn an ordinary bath into a blissful bathing experience. Continually experimenting with ways to minimize the need for preservatives in liquid products, they've pioneered the solid shampoo bar, solid bubble bath bars, and solid facial cleansers. If you order from the U.S. website www.lush.com, you will receive your products from their Canadian factory in Vancouver (and with the exchange rate being favorable to the U.S., you save some money on the prices of the products, but end up paying more for shipping). Or, you could just visit their Boston-area shops, at 133 Newbury Street, or just off of Harvard Square on JFK Boulevard. I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I visit their shops.