Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Different Face of Poverty

On the front page of the New York Times this morning, there is an article regarding the poorest place in America: Kiryas Yoel. The front picture shows a line of little boys walking on a gorgeous marble floor of the kimpiturn center.

I read the report with my heart in my mouth, terrified the reporter was going to claim financial malfeasance for the low income numbers. But as I read on, my fears eased; what he describes is, well, ironically, something along the lines of a socialist community. Many of the men do sit and learn, and their wives are at home with the children, but wealthier members donate things like carriages and clothing, so they look presentable. The $10 million kimpiturn center was provided for by federal and state money has the women stay for two weeks (I find it irresponsible of hospitals to throw out women who just gave birth after a day) but the $120 rate per night is covered for those who cannot pay, not by Medicaid, but by other members. Their slaughterhouse is a non-profit. The last big fundraiser was for food for Pesach. The many children that each family has is the biggest strain on finances. The money lending organization is mentioned, and how it is interest-free. That concept would be surprising to many non-Jews.

Unlike other poverty stricken areas, there is practically no crime, there is no juvenile delinquency, no teen pregnancy, no AIDS programs needed, no drugs. The money from the government goes to education and food stamps (very few get cash assistance), which would seem a better investment than throwing funds at crime-clogged areas. 

An anomaly, as stated in the article. 

My heart dropped from my mouth, warming over pleasantly. The reporter Sam Roberts approached the village without the usual anti-Semitic bias (of the New York Times, they do have quite a track record), describing a town that makes it work, taking care of their own. 

It really gave a boost to my day. A gitten moed!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tint your Moisturizer

A few years back, Laura Mercier introduced her revolutionary tinted moisturizer (available as well at most department stores). It was a great concept for me, since I don't need much coverage, it moisturizes (which foundation doesn't necessarily do), plus it has SPF. Also, there is an oil-free version, which I need so I don't breakout.

Bless the little soldiers of industry, who promptly began knocking off Laura's creation, which is still one of the most highly rated tinted moisturizers, so check it out. But it turns out the shade that I purchased, Nude, does not match my current skin tone (skin can change hues over the years). The lighter shade, Porcelain, is too pale for me.

I prefer the companies that claim all sorts of "healthy" ingredients, so I marched off to Sephora to try the Tarte Smooth Operator SPF 20. Here's the rub.

I have yet to meet a "beauty consultant" that has actually helped me. Like a guileless babe, I allowed myself to be led to the display, where she confidently matched me with Agent 06.  "You have yellow undertones," she purred. The lighting in Sephora could be better, so I took her word for it and happily trotted off for home.

Where in the front hall mirror I looked as though I had developed jaundice. My face was a buttercup yellow. Horrified, I sneaked back into the beauty emporium where I refused any assistance, and exchanged it for the Agent 02, which, to be honest, is a little too light, but it is for beige undertones.

I had found on Vitacost a very good, while very liquidy, tinted moisturizer by a company called - seriously - Kiss My Face. The shade known as Beach blends into my skin perfectly. A couple of cons: the SPF is very low, only 8, and due to the thinness of the liquid, it doesn't provide a lot of moisture or coverage. But it is still indispensable with my current system, and it is non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores).

Since the Tarte Smooth Operator is a little too light and also a little thick, I mix it with the Kiss My Face  (tinted moisturizers should be applied with the fingers to warm it up, rather than with a sponge or  brush) to give the shade I am looking for as well as the consistency. In the summer months, when my skin doesn't need much moisture, I use the Kiss My Face only, then buff a mineral SPF on top (I'll get into mineral makeup in another post).

While I was typing this up, I went to look up my Kiss My Face  Tinted Moisturizer on It was labeled as "manufacturer out of stock." I frantically emailed the company and they soothingly said they'll be back in stock by mid-April.

This is the color swatch for the KMF tinted moisturizers. They are listed at $9.99 on the KMF website, but I have bought them for $5.99 on Vitacost. Hopefully those pesky "out of stock" messages will disappear soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Have You Any Wool?

This morning while flipping through the paper, I found an article that quite unsettled me. 

It was in the New York Times Science section, stating how the rates of eating disorders are now higher in the observant Jewish community then in the non-Jewish world at large. Two factors were suggested - the insane shadchanim that, supposedly on their male clientele's behalf, demand size 0-4, and the pressure of being a primary breadwinner and mother in sitting and learning households. 

I am angry because if these two factors are the reasons for such a trend, which can easily become matters of life and death, then these are pretty weak excuses, in my view. I am angry that so many girls have such little self-esteem that they would succumb to such drastic measures. Who are the adults in their lives? 

 I have been dating for six years and counting; never has a shadchan inquired as to my size (and I am certainly not a 0-4). If a shadchan ever would call up inquiring such a thing, the phone would be politely slammed down. Additionally, I know that I would not be capable of being a primary breadwinner as well as a mother, so I insist on dating only men who work or are in the process of eventual employment (I am well aware that there are women who are capable of doing everything, possessing boundless energy and able to have a job and take care of the home; but not all women are like that, nor is it fair to expect it of everyone).

After the Holocaust, it became the slogan: "Never again will we be led like lambs to the slaughter!" I  find that comparison to be offensive, as well as inaccurate; those who speak it possess the smug confidence of hindsight. For what are many of us today if not sheep? Sheep go where they are led, not necessarily always to the slaughterhouse. Sometimes just for a good shearing.

"Sheepiness" ranges from the harmless - girls buying clothing that don't suit them simply because it's the current trend, to the dangerous - girls starving themselves. A few of eating disorder cases can be chalked up to be to due to inexplicable mental issues; but for the rate to be higher than the non-Jewish world, where anorexic models shimmy with open abandon? It can't be the fault of the media that there are frum teenagers living on a diet of chewing gum.

I know from a social worker working with the frum community that there are many yingvarblach whose babies are hungry. The mothers starve themselves, and the infants starve too.

I am sure the Eibishter can also use the argument, "If everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you too?" It shouldn't go so far. Peer pressure should remain in the confines of innocent shoe purchases.

I hope it is not because of the reasons in the article that such a travesty is occurring. But if it is, it should be remembered that everyone has a bashert, and that bashert would not demand ill health or mental breakdowns. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Prevent the Inevitable

Even middle-aged women have laughed at my skincare regimen. 

"Is it so terrible to look ahead?," I inquire, flummoxed. "Haroya es hanoled.

I have enough great-aunts with road-map visages due to a life of sun worship that I diligently apply SPF every morning, be it sunny, cloudy, or monsoon weather. At night I slather on creams that scream "anti-aging" on the jar. And tugging my lids for eyeliner?


Enough skincare experts will back me up on this: it is easier to prevent than to repair. Sort of like it being easier for a tailor to take in rather than let out.

Yes, I may be merely 25, but I don't want to look back and say, "I should have taken better care of my skin," then hopping on a plane to Brazil to get my face redone.

So get a jar of face cream (I'll tell you which one). In 30 years, you won't regret it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Greasy Locks

What strikes fear into most female hearts regarding yontif is the battle of the hair grease. 

Two days shower-free does not leave me coated in oil, but the three day holidays can become tricky. 

Enter dry shampoo. When waiting online by Sephora, I actually picked up one of those products they leave by checkout to reel unsuspecting customers in. It was Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo to Go (it is also highly rated on the website), but to be honest, I have only used it once or twice. 

Because cornstarch will work just as well, if not better. I scrabbled around the pantry at home and unearthed a decade-old box of the stuff, poured some over into an empty spice jar (although a sugar shaker makes more sense), and have had bouncy haired moadim. I recommend applying the powder at night; that way it will have time to absorb the oil and so avoids the "Marie Antoinette" look. Also, sprinkle sparingly - don't dump handfuls of it on; then the powder won't be able to be easily brushed out.

I'm really curious if potato starch will work just as well - that I have yet to try. But I think the chemical principle is the same, so it should be as successful as the cornstarch.

I would use the Oscar Blandi instead on Pesach, but revisiting Sephora, as well as CVS and, there appears to be now many options. Such as: 

Batiste Dry Shampoo Blush  (It's made in England, and seems to be available in drugstores. I'll buy anything made in England).

I made a point to list only products that consumers have given good reviews for; I'm not suggesting anything lower than 4/5 stars.

There is also Got 2B Fat-tastic Fresh & Full Dry Shampoo, but it seems to be a new product because I cannot find any reviews whatsoever. Try at your own peril . . .

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lashes for Pesach

Now, I know makeup for Shabbos is nerve racking enough, never mind makeup for a two-day yontif. But I have developed a system for keeping on, at least, mascara for three-day yomim tovim, never mind two.  I'll share all these in the fullness of time. Here's one step.

Tarte is a brand I really like, in their pursuit of "healthier" cosmetics. They are the only company that I know of so far that carries a long-wear mascara. The 4 Day Lash Stain does not have the consistency of mascara; it is more like a lacquer. I do not use it for Shabbos, since other mascara means that are easier to get off are preferable;  but for the yomim tovim, it is a better option. 

I pretty much just layer it on, alternating with other mascaras. Getting it off is a little more problematic; soap and water won't cut it. Saturating a cotton ball with baby oil, let it sit on your eye for a minute or so, and then slowly, gently, lovingly, rub it off. It may take a few attempts, but do not rush things. One does not want to lose lashes in the process. 

Sephora has very good online policies, if getting to the store itself is not possible in this busy season. Shipping is free for a $50 purchase, a flat rate of $5.95 otherwise, and mailed returns are free. Plus, the few times that I ordered online, standard shipping, the box was on my doorstep the next day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where to buy

When it comes to skin care, I recently found an alternate location to stock up rather than Ye Olde Drugstore. 

A few years ago, I morphed into one of those annoying, preaching nutcases who terrorize innocents about the evils of processed foods and the availability of healthier options. As I was searching for an online store that carries ground flaxseed, I stumbled across the website to which I would give way too much of my money. carries, along with vitamins, supplements, and spelt cereal, skin products produced by companies who have all sorts of mantras - ingredients that are more natural, sometimes organic, and the non-use of some components that have been, let's say, banned in Europe. 

Is there really a need for red lake #40 to be in my cleanser, just so it will have an appealingly pink shade? 

This is my own mishagas, so I will try to work in drugstore-available options for those who don't have such qualms. But be aware that the products that I buy online are usually priced the same (or cheaper; they have great discounts) as the drugstore, plus Vitacost is currently having free shipping (usually it's a reasonable $5 flat rate). 

At this point in time, they are not paying me to say all these complimentary blurbs. Hopefully that will change in the future.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Epidermis Diagnosis

Let's begin with the basics.

Before starting any sort of product regimen, knowledge of skin type is key. There are four common categories of skin status:

    1) Dry
    2) Oily
    3) Combination (usually oily T-zone and dry cheeks)
   4) Normal (I have no idea why it is called that. Skin that gives the owner no problems whatsoever should be called "magnificent.") 

While dry skin obviously requires moisturizing agents, oily skin does as well. Oily skin that is not moisturized overreacts with even more oil. But using a cream meant for dry skin on oily skin, or vice versa, is not the way to go - breakouts and irritation can result. 

It is my intention to eventually share the products that I (or a trusted source) have enjoyed and seen results from. Products are usually are a love/hate roller coaster; some are highly recommended by experts and inexplicably fall flat, while others exceed expectations. Luckily, many stores (such as Sephora and department stores) have return policies for cosmetics, so experimentation is possible. It may take time, effort, and a minimum of cursing, but the right product is worth it, in my view. Much like one's spouse (no, I'm not serious). 

And so it begins . . .

In a little town in Eastern Europe 60 years ago, my grandmother would regularly rinse out an unused jar and had it filled with homemade face creams cooked up (literally) by her sister-in-law. 

The one daughter of her brood that maintained that obsession with all things anti-aging took the fascination a step further; she branched out into cosmetic adoration.

Her daughter (yours truly) brandishes that same torch. A frum female product junkie interested in all things makeup-like, I have pinpointed the products needed to create the 25 hour "Shabbos Face." 

Perhaps I'll throw in an occasional mind-blowing dvar Torah. 

To Sephora!