January 2015 archive

Donkey’s Milk and Horse Oil

This week, two more Korean skin care trends, donkey’s milk and horse oil, made beauty news. The buzz began when Alicia Yoon, founder of Asian beauty e-tailer Peach and Lily, gave an interview to New York magazine’s blog The Cut. She said Korean b-bloggers have mentioned donkey’s milk occasionally on their blogs. A cursory Google search revealed that donkey’s milk is biochemically very similar to human milk.

Yoon told The Cut it is very soothing for people with skin conditions such as eczema. Donkey’s milk contains almost five times as much vitamin C as cow’s milk, and is rich in protein. Such benefits were apparently good enough for Cleopatra, who is said to have bathed in it.

Yoon also mentioned horse oil, a popular ingredient at Olive Young, a beauty supply store in Seoul. She said it has really caught on among the Chinese who visit South Korea. Yoon said horse oil is very absorbent and has sterilizing properties. “We have this product in our office, and it smells quite pleasant and feels like a soft, lightweight cream that does absorb quite well,” she said. If you say so, Alicia.

According to Kate Sullivan at Allure, horse oil is simply horse fat, and soaps and other beauty products made from animal products are not new. The idea of it coming from a horse can be a little creepy and disconcerting, however.

Would you try skin care products with donkey’s milk or horse oil in them? I tried to ask a company I found online if it could send me samples of its donkey milk facial cream, but the phone number was disconnected. I take that as an omen, and think I’ll pass. I also decline to drink my pee and steam my vag. I’m not that big of an ass.

They're skeptical...

You put what on your face?!

Photo credit: Day 38 Day of the Donkeys. Chris Barber on Creative Commons. License.

(Caption and sense of humor are my own.)



Dr. Frank Lipman: The New Health Rules

COVER.The New Health RulesDr. Frank Lipman is a renowned physician whose patients include such bold-face names as Donna Karan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bobbi Brown, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. So when I read in WWD that he wrote a book, of course I wanted a copy. I am a medical and health journalist by trade, and old habits die hard. The folks at Artisan Books were generous enough to hook me up. They even got Dr. Lipman to answer a few questions for me via e-mail.

What inspired you to write the book?

Danielle Claro, my co-author on The New Health Rules, came up with the idea that people would be more interested in health information—and enjoy it more—if it was presented through beautiful photographs paired with short, easy-to-understand tips. This way, people can get solid health information without having to read a big, fat, dense health book.

What are your 3 best tips for aging well?

Stop eating sugar and junk food, exercise the way children play (meaning move your body in short spurts of intense energy), and spend lots of time with people you love.

Do you have any skin care tips, particularly for over-40 skin?

Stop eating sugar and junk food, eat lots of greens, take fish oil, and make coconut oil your BFF.

Makes sense to me. Dr. Lipman’s book is beautifully illustrated, and his advice is easy to understand and incorporate into your lifestyle. My favorite tips:

Clutter is the junk food of the home. Clear out your clutter and buy less to begin with. You’ll feel better and function better.

What you put on your body goes in your body. We’ve talked about natural skincare on here before. Check your beauty and body care products for ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These can combine with other ingredients to form a carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance. Use an app like Think Dirty to learn more about what’s in your beauty products.

Adopt a pet. My favorite tip! According to Dr. Lipman, research shows that people with pets live longer than those without. And petting a dog releases serotonin, a mood-balancing neurotransmitter in your brain. Just ask these ladies. Pets make your house a home!

Soul sisters Mesa (l) and Pashmina (r)

We made your house our home. And trashed it!

Think you’ll buy Dr. Lipman’s book? Share your best healthy living tips in the comments!


Melissa Kite: The Art of Not Having it All

 Back in December, I got an e-mail with the subject line “Bridget Jones for the 21st Century.” It was a press release announcing the publication of a book by British author Melissa Kite. The Art of Not Having it All is a hilarious recap of Kite’s adventures, and misadventures, in dating and in life in general. As a 46-year old single woman, I can totally relate. Dating and life on your own are not for the faint of heart. But sometimes, if you’re happy, its more than enough. And it’s definitely NOT boring.

I asked Kite to answer some questions for me via e-mail, and she graciously agreed.

You have been called a Bridget Jones for the 21st Century. How do you think you are like Bridget Jones?

I think I’m just one of those people who can’t avoid trouble. If there is a crisis to get into, I’m there, front of the queue.

I’m pathologically honest, which is not always a good idea, especially when it comes to men. I’m horribly drawn to disastrous romantic situations, in the way people with vertigo can’t help staring over the edges of cliffs. People ask why I do it, but if you read the book you will see that I just can’t help myself. I’ve got Singletons Disease. There ought to be a support group for people like me.

How do you feel you are different from Bridget?

I’m ruder and more misanthropic than Bridget, who was a sweet thing really and forever hopeful, which is probably why she got her man in the end, at the age of 34 – something I lament as I approach 40 in my book. I think, in truth, I might be more like Larry David (of Curb Your Enthusiasm). The glass is always three quarters empty and I can be a real pain in the ass. I expect the worst, and am half pleased when it happens because I like to feel vindicated. I want them to write on my gravestone: ‘I told you it would end badly.’

What was your favorite story in the book?

I’m not sure I have favorite stories, as such, because I’m pretty much recounting all the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to me. But the time I accidentally on purpose groped my obsessive-compulsive boyfriend’s elderly uncle under the dinner table would probably rank as one of my most impressive shameful moments. The boyfriend wasn’t at all pleased when he found out.

What was the toughest thing to write about?

Oh, the stuff about the abusive boyfriend who made me line up my shoes was easily the most difficult episode to write, and people reacted to it very differently. Some said they felt sorry for me but a lot of people, including my mother, got quite cross and said what an idiot I had been to put up with him. So basically I got harassed by a psychopath, and then told off for it, which is typical of my luck. I was also genuinely sad when I recounted how I once tried to adopt a child. I did feel wretched about being rejected in such a dismissive way. I still think, despite all my shortcomings, I would have made a terrific mom. Ask Cydney, my cocker spaniel, and she will vouch for me. I’m great fun, tremendously caring, and very good at spotting ticks and fleas.

What is your best advice to single women over, let’s say, 35?

This is tricky, because if you are still single at 35, there is nothing to panic about. You’ve still got a good year, maybe 18 months, before you need to register with a leading fertility doctor and start looking for a sperm donor. I’m kidding. But seriously, don’t leave it beyond 37. That’s just asking for trouble.

I personally try to avoid romantic disasters. I tend to avoid romance, period. My disasters usually take place behind the wheel of my car. I’m a nervous driver to put it politely, and have the accident reports to prove it.

But I think support and good friends are definitely important as you play the dating game. It’s an urban jungle out there. Maybe if I could find a support group in my area…

Think you’ll give Kite’s book a try? You can check out some of her Spectator columns here.




Beautycounter Countertime

Beautycounter Countertime collection

Beautycounter Countertime collection

Back in December, a nice lady named Melissa e-mailed me. She is a rep for a natural skin care and makeup brand called Beautycounter. She offered to let me try some products from the brand’s Countertime collection.  Of course I took her up on it. You know me and products.

She sent me the Soothing Face Wash, Radiance Firming Complex, Uplifting Day Cream, Restorative Night Cream, and the Vibrant Eye Protector. My skin looked great! It was skin soft and smooth, and the appearance of my pores was minimal.

I’m a little on the fence about the scent, though. Since the products are formulated using all natural ingredients, they have a heady floral scent. Kind of old-ladyish, like your Aunt Truvy.

Melissa also threw in a Lustro Face Oil 2, which contains jasmine oil. This oil is supposed to boost the appearance of elasticity, so it is good for dry and mature skin. It moisturized my skin without feeling too heavy, which can be the problem with face oils. My skin is not particularly dry, so an oil can leave it feeling too greasy. This one was just moisturizing enough.

However, it also has a distinctive floral scent. But maybe that’s just me. I’m very sensitive to smells, and tend to go for earthier, nutty fragrances. Or maybe you just like the way your Aunt Truvy smells. The Beautycounter packaging is gorgeous, though. It reminds me of the packaging used by prestige brands.

For the uninitiated, Beautycounter was founded by Gregg Renfrew in 2013. The company is dedicated to developing and making available to everyone safe, natural skin care and cosmetics. “Our timing is right. The message has resonated with people. People understand how committed we are to safety and education,” Renfrew told WWD last year. “We are an information-first, product-second company.”

The brand launched Countertime last March. Just don’t call it “anti-aging.” The company’s mission is to empower and support women, so the term has been banned from Beautycounter’s Santa Monica, CA offices. Makeup artist Christy Coleman, head of creative design at Beautycounter, told WWD, “We are focused on aging graciously and in a positive way. Women can look amazing for a long period of time, and we are about preserving what’s there for a long time. We are all going to grow old, but we should feel good about it.” Amen, sister.

Instead of the usual anti-aging ingredients such as hydroquinone and retinyl palmitate, Countertime relies on extracts from the Spilanthes acmella flower, marine algae, lentil seed, Arctium lappa root, and Boerhavia diffusa root to fend off Father Time.

Countertime products will set you back between $40 and $75 a pop, and are available exclusively through the company’s web site and local sales representatives. Beautycounter has also consciously coupled with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and occasionally does pop-up shops.

Are you concerned about the ingredients in your skin care routine? Think you’ll check out Beautycounter?



NARS Eye-Opening Act Collection

Happy New Year! Let’s get down to business. The latest collection from NARS, called Eye-Opening Act, debuts at Nordstrom today. Judging from the press pics the NARSissist sent me, its gorgeous! The new St. Lucia Illuminating Multiple will catch the light and give cheeks a pop of color.

NARS St. Lucia Illuminating Multiple

NARS St. Lucia Illuminating Multiple

I have blue eyes, so I love the Yeux Irresistible Eye Shadow Palette.

NARS Yeux Irresistible Eye Shadow Palette

NARS Yeux Irresistible Eye Shadow Palette

But girls with hazel or green eyes may like the Inoubliable Coup d’Oeil Eye Shadow Palette.

NARS Inoubliable Coup d'Oeil Eye Shadow Palette

NARS Inoubliable Coup d’Oeil Eye Shadow Palette

The collection features NARS’ new Matte Velvet Shadow Sticks in black, brown, blue, purple, and gray.

And this marks the first of three spring 2015 campaigns that feature the over-50 and fabulous Tilda Swinton!

NARS Eye-Opening Act with Tilda Swinton

NARS Eye-Opening Act with Tilda Swinton

The NARS Eye-Opening Act Collection is available exclusively at Nordstrom for now, but will launch at NARS boutiques and narscosmetics.com on March 15.