What great new mystery is THIS?!

I am a Sephora regular.  And by that, I mean that when I present my Sephora “Beauty Insider” card to be swiped with every purchase, the sales clerk always laughs when he or she reads the amount of points that I have.  It’s ridiculous.  And my points have just amassed to such an absurd amount because I never redeem them.  You can always redeem them for travel-size products and the like, but if you know me you know that I hate samples and travel-size items.  There’s just something in my psyche that won’t let me enjoy a beauty product when it isn’t full-size.  I have a hard time explaining it.  So basically, I’ve accumulated a humongous amount of points at Sephora, and to say the least, I am a valued customer.

I don’t know what it is about a place that houses nothing but makeup and beauty products that makes women like myself go off their trolley.  I mean, yes, I am into makeup and beauty products in a way that you could call addictive, but what is it about that stuff, and in particular all that stuff under one roof, that feels so intoxicating?  The appeal of makeup itself is a funny thing.  Sometimes I think we’re attracted to it because it looks like treasure, because it’s shiny and bright and colorful and it fits into the palm of your hand.  I read an Allure article once claiming that some significant percentage of women would actually eat their makeup if they could, because of its “candy-like” appeal.  It’s true though, isn’t it?!  When you see a bright, hot pink lipstick just sitting there under the lights of a vanity mirror, don’t you just sort of want to bite it?  It’s like that scene in Aladdin when Abu decided to give in to temptation and snatch the forbidden treasure, and as he draws closer to that ruby the size of a basketball, what does he do?  He licks his lips!  Makeup is sensual, in that we want to touch it and play with it, see what it does to our face, know how it smells, and apparently we even want to eat it.

The aggregating of all things makeup into one giant spectacle of epicureanism, however, is another matter of genius entirely.  I mean, think about what you see when you go through the beauty department at Nordstrom.  The first thing I notice are the lights.  Everything is just glowing in the beauty department.  New perfume bottles displayed in glass cases with uplighting like they’re museum exhibits, everything laid out on trays with mirrors to look an old-Hollywood kind of expensive, and so much chrome.  It’s either lighting, mirrors, or chrome. And then they inundate you with so many choices that you feel both overwhelmed and excited, but like a kid in a candy store, you don’t want to leave.  You want to taste everything.  I’ve always wanted to just walk out into the middle of the Bloomingdale’s beauty floor, stretch out my arms, turn my gaze up towards that Great Beauty Department Up Yonder, and shout “PAINT ME UNTIL I’M BEYOND RECOGNITION!  TRANSFORM ME!  COVER ME!  I’M YOUUUURRRRSSS!!!”

So, what do you think my reaction was when I received an email announcing the opening of a *second* Sephora location at South Coast Plaza, the mega-luxury-mall that I most frequently frequent?!  You know when you get so excited about something that you almost throw up?  No?  Well, there you go.  And how lucky was I to discover that I’d actually be able to stop by the new store on it’s opening day?

Not that lucky.  There was a line.  Just to get in.


But don’t worry.  I was in line for maybe seven minutes.  No big deal.  It rightfully served the purpose of crowd control and enabling everyone to have an enjoyable experience.


It was, admittedly, a bit crowded.  But it certainly wasn’t anywhere near what I’ve seen on a Black Friday.  Totally doable.  And there was the appeal of everything being perfectly clean and complete stocked.  Speaking of completely stocked …


NARS blushes, relatively untouched by human hands, and almost fully stocked.  Do you ever get the urge to hit one with a little hammer and see it smash?  No?  Well I do.  I could’ve smashed all of ’em.


A perfectly spotless new Laura Mercier counter.  It’s enough to make me flip my beanie.


Unused, untouched, pristine NARS lipsticks, just waiting to be chewed on and smeared all over the faces of unattended four-year-olds.  Oh and hey, one of the sample lipsticks is already missing.  Ten bucks says someone lifted it.  I’m not kidding.  It would be a tempting thing to do, considering their mint condition.  I swear it wasn’t me … I swear.  No, really.  It wasn’t me.


A gorgeous new Yves Saint Laurent display, complete with it’s glorious, chromatic gold packaging.  We often wonder why we’re prone to desiring products like these over, say, Dr. Pepper LipSmackers at the drugstore, and the fact that it feels like you’re dropping a little piece of the Crown Jewels into your purse might have something to do with it.


An entire section of the store has been carved out just for fragrances.  I appreciated this considering every other location just has perfume and cologne set along the perimeter of the store.


But you know, it’s not like I haven’t been here before and it’s not like I won’t be back again.  So I’m happy to say that I walked out of the store without a thing (and there’s also the fact that the line to the check-out was maybe twenty minutes long).  It’s funny because I somehow thought that this new location would offer a few different brands than the one across the way at the opposite end of South Coast Plaza, but nope.  It really was just more of the same (not that that’s really a deterrent in the end, anyhow).  And honestly, sometimes it just feels good to say ‘no’ to something that you normally have such a hard time resisting.

As I left, the attendants monitoring the line outside brought in the velvet rope and let all remaining guests in.  The chaos of the opening hours was over.  I guess when it comes down to it, it’s just another Sephora.  But somehow, it still carries the kind of intrigue and enchantment as if it’s something that I’ve never seen before in my entire life.  xo, MR

Some things and some stuff.

This post is going to be about exactly what the title says:  some things and some stuff.

I couldn’t think of some fancy, well-scripted intro where I blather on about the latest this and that without it simply sounding too contrived.  And so, to quote some nonexistent animated persons that I respect and admire deeply, I’m going to write about some things … and some stuff.

1.  I had Justin put some highlights back into my hair.  They’re subtle, ombre’d bits of caramel that provide just enough color to make me feel like summer is just around the corner.  I plan on going progressively lighter, but this was enough for now.  With my single-process hair color, I felt very one-dimensional (duh.) and I just didn’t have as much fun with my hair as I did when it had some lightness to it.  And so, it is with a heavy heart that I admit the possibility that a leeeeeeeeeeetle bit of blonde may help you have a leeeeeeeeetle bit more fun.  But hold your hosses thar!  I didn’t straight-up say that blondes unilaterally have more fun than brunettes.  Why, that would be plumb silly!  But I do believe that I am more satisfied with my hair when it’s provided with some colorful dimension, if only to use my hair as a metaphor for my life and provide the illustration that sometimes we need a little warmth and sunshine to shake us up out of the drab monotony of everyday existence.  This all sounds much better when you say it in the voice of Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.

Here is my hair as it was this spring, as colored and cut by Justin Kamm and as styled and photographed by Laura Licata:


I have to say, it was raining that afternoon.  How Laura managed to keep my hair from turning into this, I’ll never know.

And this is the best picture I have of my new highlights, as well as, ahem, my awesome nephew:


2.  I graduated with my Master’s degree last Saturday, and received some gifts for doing so (and some may have been for my birthday as well, which was celebrated here).  Some of those gifts included Sephora giftcards, which burn bigger holes in my pockets than lit matches.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is but I will save gifts of cash and any other such cards for weeks or even months, but you designate a mere twenty bucks for me to spend at that magical house of facepaint and I just go cuhhhh-raaayyy-ZAY!  There may not be a thing I need, but I will haul my butt down to the nearest Sephora and just stand in front of the NARS counter for a solid fifteen minutes, looking like a freak, without a single expression on my face, doing absolutely nothing.  I just stare.  And touch EVERYTHING.  I’ll bring my own brushes and by the time I leave that place, it looks like Jackson Pollock came back from the dead and decided he just wanted to do a quick masterpiece on someone’s wrist.  I’m convinced that dead artists would have a thing for me.

3.  If I could look like this as a redhead, that would be an okay thing.

4.  This is what I came back with from my most recent Sephora trip.


Well, the one on the left I’ve actually had for a couple months, but the one on the right is brand spankin’ new.  I haven’t so much as smudged it with a finger.  It’s called Stylish Move, and I look forward to using the bottom right and top left shades for bridal makeup.  But really, this one was kind of more for me.  Dior 5-Couleur palettes are the holy grail of eyeshadows, and while they are quite expensive (I’ll never purchase one without some kind of gift card), they blend so well, coordinate so perfectly, are almost always universally flattering, and I make long-lasting use of them.  I’m breaking this sucker in tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it goes (though hopefully not via an obnoxious Instagram selfie, but I have a bad feeling …). Honestly, if you’re not too sure about what eyeshadows are right for you but hate wasting time on a bunch of individual shades (that add up in cost anyhow and can be difficult to store and keep track of), I’d recommend looking into just one of these palettes and letting it be your one-step solution to your whole problem problem.  Might I suggest Rosy Tan or Earth Reflection?

5.  I smell bad and get sweaty.  Sometimes.  Maybe.  If so, it’s because I don’t wear antiperspirant.  And I haven’t done so in years.  Why?  Because what makes antiperspirant do its thing is something called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, a substance linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s as well as breast cancer.  Weird.  And we shave our armpits and layer on the stuff every day.  Weirder.  And our armpits are suspiciously situated quite near our breasts.  Weirdest.   So here’s the thing:  I use deodorant, but I don’t use antiperspirant (and no, there are no “natural” or “safe” kinds of antipersp; the aluminum ingredient is always the active one in antipersp).

For a couple years I used Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Unscented Deodorant Stick and my body adjusted well.  However, a couple months ago, my armpits started experiencing a burning and itching sensation that left my armpits peeling in a big ring and looking as if they’d been out in the sun with no protection.  At first I thought it was razor burn or something, but then I realized that the sensation was returning just minutes after applying the Tom’s.  And to my surprise, I found that many users had experienced the exact same symptoms after years of using Tom’s (Bless you, Internet only sometimes because mostly I hate you!).  Why all this burning and itching only started occurring after years of use, I’ll never know.

Anyhow, I discovered that Tom’s, while being free of aluminum and not an antiperspirant, still contains a chemical called propylene glycol.  PG, as we’ll call it, is meant to keep many body products from either melting or freezing, but it unfortunately also “alters the structure of the skin by allowing chemicals to penetrate deep beneath it while increasing their ability to reach the blood stream”.  Additionally, PG has also been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, allergy developments, and other bodily issues (as is the case with many substances in our body products).

So what do I use?


Desert Essence strikes again!  This brand is seriously so awesome.  My face and now my pits owe so much to it.  You can find Desert Essence’s deodorant at Sprout’s, Whole Foods, or any of your local hippie-dippie hotbeds, and it has no aluminum (and just realize if the product does not say it is an antiperspirant, it doesn’t have aluminum anyhow) nor any propylene glycol.  Excellent.

And now the inevitable question:  But don’t you have B.O.?

Yes.  Not all the time, and not every day, but sometimes, yes.  And do I care?  No.  Let me throw this out there:  Your body, as it naturally functions, is supposed to sweat.  It’s one of the processes that your body uses to eliminate toxins from your body.  Your skin operates like a third kidney, sweating out urea, metals, and minerals.  You get rid of about 30% of bodily wastes through sweating, with the other methods being pooping, peeing, and other glamorous things we talk about on beauty blogs where Kate Beckinsale and perfume are also talked about regularly.  I just said “poop” and “Kate Beckinsale” in the same sentence.

So anyhow, I’m honestly okay with sweating a bit through the day.  It’s literally meant to be.  And I’ll be straight with you- If I’m planning on wearing a delicate fabric or know that I’m going to have an anxious morning (interviews, standing up to rebelling freshmen in their math class, etc.), I do wear the clinical strength antiperspirant.  And I mean, like, the 25% aluminum kind (because if I’m going to wear the stuff, I’m going whole-sweaty-hog).  But I try to severely limit these occurrences.  And I’m trying to bulk up around the freshmen.

Anyhow, that’s my blabbering about some things and some stuff for now.  Until next time, stay sweaty, shop Dior, get your highlights on, and stay poopy Kate Beckinsale!


xo, MR

And thanks to thegoodhuman.com for the smarts on PG.