Monday, September 17, 2012

You...Prettier Has Moved! Please Visit Us at!

Hello, Beauties!

We've moved over to Wordpress! We have an exciting new look, a much easier navigation system and lots of exciting new content for the fall! Please visit us at!

Yours truly,

Alexandra Mann

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For the Boys...But Should You Drink It or Shampoo with It?

It's not often that I write about products for guys, but then again it's not often that a product comes along that's so manly it demands not only attention but also immediate testing and then, well, not to give too much away up front, but ultimate adoration.

Let's start with the promotional materials for the new Clean Brew by Redken...could this guy be any manlier? This shampoo is obviously supposed to remind us all of beer. It comes in a brown beer-like bottle and contains malt, brewer's yeast and orange zest. It boasts a rich, foamy lather. The expanded materials show the promo guy at a bar actually drinking a beer, so, you know, we get the message.

But as a shampoo it promises to "get the grit out of extra dirty hair" and "eliminate dirt and oil while helping to purify the scalp."

Well, there was only one way to find out...send the husband/test subject into the shower with the product. Now I wouldn't say that my husband leads a particularly "gritty" life, but New York can be quite dirty just on a daily basis, so the cleaner one can feel in general, the better.

The results were unexpectedly spectacular. The test subject's hair actually looked and felt softer and fuller (he said he wants to ditch his other shampoo that promises fuller hair but doesn't deliver as well), and I can't say enough about the scent (his hair smelled wonderful). Last but not least, the test subject kept talking about how extra clean his hair felt, without knowing that this was one of the key aspects of the product (I didn't show him the press materials beforehand).

Seems you're onto something, Redken.

Clean Brew is $12 and available in September; for salons.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

City Girls, Get Thee to the Fridge

Well, no matter where you are this summer, it's hot...and unless you have central air, which many of us city girls do not, your bathroom may be a bit warm. That can wreak havoc on your beauty products, particularly your creams, causing them to go stale faster than usual.

So, if you're like me and the nearest window unit air conditioner is in the bedroom, get thee to the fridge and put in your day and night moisturizers as well as your eye creams and any toners you may use. This will not only extend their lives until the weather turns, but while it's hot will also feel wonderful and have many added benefits.

Warm toner will remove the last of your makeup, but chilled toner will do the same, while also constricting your pores making them look smaller and making your skin look smoother and more refreshed. 

Your eye cream will moisturize the delicate skin around the eye area just as well when it's warm, but cold it will also constrict the blood vessels, making your look more awake and perky. Wouldn't that be a plus?

Your day creams will moisturize and provide sunscreen at room temperature, but chilled cream will provide a lifting effect. Wouldn't it be nice to walk out the door that way? At night, after a long day at work and slogging it out in the world, coming home and taking a shower, wouldn't a chilled cream be more refreshing than a lukewarm one?

So, during the dog days of summer, while it might be a little bit of a hassle to add the kitchen to your beauty routine, do your products (and yourself) a favor, and get to the fridge. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Color Me, Pureology!

When you invest in your looks, it makes you kind of greedy. Probably the best example of this is your hair. You get your hair colored or otherwise chemically treated at a salon,  along with your usual cut, and suddenly you’ll do – or buy – just about anything to preserve the fabulous way it looks.

Enter Pureology, the industry standardbearer for color conservation. I’ve been coloring my hair for many years – long before I even needed to, just because I wanted to look goth – and my stylist recommended Pureology to me from the first time I ventured into even semi-permanent color. All of their products are sulfate-free and their finishing products contain an “Anti-Fade Complex,” which basically means they have a UVA/UVB sunscreen built right in to help protect from the evil, color-fading sun (a hat in the summer doesn’t hurt, either).

Pureology’s latest awesomeness is Healthy Hair Kits, three weekly purifying shampoo and conditioning treatments designed to rejuvenate and revitalize hair. I was given the “Purify + Essential Repair” for distressed hair (which mine definitely is) to try. The Purify Shampoo is a refreshing and tingly experience that really feels like it’s getting all the buildup out of your hair.  It smells amazing. The Restorative Hair Masque stays on for 2-5 minutes (I left it on a little longer because I get my hair chemically straightened so I figured I could use the extra conditioning). My only complaint about either product comes from the conditioner, which smells overly sweet, and the fragrance stays on the hair long after it’s dried.

But this was a small price to pay for the results, which were nothing short of extraordinary.  I got my hair colored about three weeks ago, but these products brought amazing depth to my brown color and a glossiness I didn’t have even when I left the salon. My hair was soft, silky and, in short, transformed. I will buy this again even when my sample runs out and use it religiously every week.

The other kits are Purify + HydraWhip for fine hair and Purify + SuperSmooth for frizzy and dry, unruly hair. The kits, like all Pureology products, are available only in salons and are $50 each. They’re also vegan!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My New Color of the Year: Summer Red

The official Color of the Year this year is Tangerine Tango, a vibrant and rich orange perfect for summer. This is according to Pantone, “the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer.” The news of this has affected fashion, home design and cosmetics and is such a big deal that Sephora has created displays of orange products so vast that you literally have to walk around them whenever you enter one of their larger stores. There’s even a free brochure about the new orange cosmetics and how to use them. Of course, with my yellow-based skintone, pure orange makes me look, well, kind of dead. So I have found myself gravitating back to all my deep, rich blue-based reds which are much more appropriate for fall and winter, all the while yearning for a new color to feel fresh for spring and summer.

Then one recent day I saw this gorgeous profile photo of my friend Sophia Lucas on Facebook, where her beautiful red lips were bright and just a little bit sheer. With her dark hair and eyes her lipstick looked so chic…perfect for summer! What red is this, I immediately asked her, expecting the answer to be from some fancy highbrow brand I had somehow missed. The answer was shocking: Are You Red-dy by Maybelline, she told me. Upon purchase, I discovered a creamy texture, lovely coverage in one coat (and the option of practically a whole different matte color if you blot just once), and all this for a grand total of $5.50-$7.50, depending upon which drugstore you choose. It looked great on me, as I had hoped, and when I lined it up on the back of my hand against a few of my other reds, I saw that though it is a pink-based red, the difference is in fact its little shot of orange.

Now I was inspired. I had the cornerstone of a summer red trifecta that could only be completed with nails and cheeks.  For nails I turned to Anita Rivas, a.k.a., City Girl in Red Lipstick, one of my favorite blogs, who had recommended Nars Dovima as the ideal red manicure/pedicure. This was a red I had many times passed over in the bottle as too orange, but now was willing to a try. Once on it's stunning. And not that I want to be all match-matchy, but it does match the lipstick as if they are made for each other.

For cheeks, I already owned the most perfect red cream blush, Nars Cactus Flower, but had never noticed its orange shimmery undertones. It has to be used judiciously, but when it is, it can lend a perfect natural glow to cheeks that enhances – and doesn’t compete with – red lipstick the way that pink or peach blush does.

Now with my own Color of the Year, Summer Red, I’m ready for the weather to change.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"The Routine"

I’ve been very flattered lately to have been asked by a few people what my “routine” is. I hesitate to share this because it should be different for everyone – depending upon your skin’s needs – but I decided there are enough things we all should be doing (and I do have some favorite products) that it was worth a post.

The most important thing about your routine is to find out your skin type. Whatever you think your skin type is now, I'm sorry to say you are probably wrong. I know I was. I thought that since I was prone to breakouts that my skin was oily ( a common misconception), so I kept doing things to dry it out, which just made me break out more. Then, thanks to the fact that I write this blog, I was invited to a Skin Type Solutions event about a year ago and was given a set of products by Dr. Leslie Baumann tailored to my skin type. It is not an exaggeration to say that within about a week my skin transformed itself and that I can count on one hand the number of blemishes I’ve had since then. My skin has literally never looked better. So get thee to the skin type solutions website. There you will find out what type you really are.

  • Once you know your skin type, CLEANSE. I used to be a department store snob, but once Dr. Baumann’s kit introduced me to CeraVe (from the Kinerase family), available at Walgreen's, I no longer turned my nose up at buying my products at drug stores.  

Creamy and moisturizing, it’s a great morning cleanser. I used to use it at night, too, but I found that it doesn’t do well at removing makeup so I had to use a washcloth, which was unnecessarily abrasive and defeated the purpose of using a gentle cleanser, so I set about finding a good moisturizing cleanser that removes makeup well. My search landed me very happily with Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser. It foams just a little bit, smells like heaven, and - in an unexpected bonus - takes off most of my eye makeup without any burning. When I dry my face on my white towels, there is virtually no makeup left behind!

  • EXFOLIATE. Do this at least a couple of times a week, particularly if you use any type of retinoid product on your skin like I do for acne, as these products speed up cell turnover and exfoliation helps this along. My favorite exfoliator is Biore Even Smoother Microderm Exfoliator (another drugstore superstar) because it’s so gentle and leaves you so glowing without over-stripping or shredding your skin. 
  • And don’t forget to exfoliate your lips, too, particularly in the winter. This will help de-flake and make your lipsticks go on more smoothly.
    You don’t need to waste money on a product for this. Just wet your lips with some water, rub some granulated sugar over them and rinse! Do this at night and go to bed with some Smith’s Minted Rose Lip Balm on your lips and your lips will be transformed in the morning.
  • TONE. I use toner to remove the last bits of makeup from my skin, to hydrate and refresh. This is an optional step, but don’t ever, ever use products like Sea Breeze or Bonne Bell’s Ten-O-Six Lotions. You might as well just stick your head in a vat of alcohol. If you’re a dry skin type, there’s clearly no need for this and if you’re oily, you may think you’re doing your skin good, but all you’re doing is making your skin produce more oil to compensate. Gentle is the operative word here. Since my favorite toner, Kinerase Antioxidant Hydrating Mist, was taken off the market, I had to find a new toner, and, again, Fresh to the rescue with its
    Rose Marigold Floral Water.
  • MOISTURIZE. First of all, don’t skip eye cream. I don’t care how old you are or if you have the first signs of wrinkles yet. Your undereye area is incapable of making its own moisture so you have to help it. If you don’t have visible signs of aging yet, simply use a moisturisizing product like Clarins Eye Contour Balm or Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Cream.  If you are older and have various issues under the eyes, there are about a zillion products out there that target each area – puffiness, dark circles, lines and wrinKles, dryness. I’ve done the legwork, though, and still my favorite (and such a bargain!) is Dr. LeWinn’s Lift and Resculpt (see my post), which targets all these issues.
  • Secondly, moisturize your whole face. Even if your skin is oily, you need some kind of moisture, but follow the recommendation of your Dr. Baumann regimen.  During the day I typically use a moisturizing sunscreen (again CeraVe because it has everything I want and need: ceramides and hyaulronic acid, both crucial for water and moisture retention, is non-comedogenic and controlled-release so my skin feels moisturized all day. At night,if I’m particularly dry, I use a moisturizing oil straight out of the shower (a tip from my favorite beauty maven Jean Godfrey June).
    My pick for this is the slightly-pricey Clarins Santal Oil for Dry Skin. I follow that with the heavier CeraVe Cream (as opposed to the lighter lotion.

If all this has been too much information, feel free to ignore everything I’ve said except this: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOME WITHOUT SUNSCREEN ON YOUR FACE AND HANDS. The brand is not important (although I like CeraVe for the quality, ingredients and the price), but the SPF (at least 30, preferably higher) and the stability of the ingredients is. This step alone will save you from premature aging, skin cancer and age spots. It will, unfortunately, also prevent you from getting enough Vitamin D, so make sure you are not deficient in this (see my previous post
about this for details).

Here's to better skin for all in the new year!

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Perkiest Nail Polishes for the Depths of Winter

    I love winter…everything about it…the cold, the heavy clothes, even the dark makeup colors. But I was flipping through a magazine from summer the other day while my black manicure was drying and a photo of a woman with her 10 fingers decked out in Dior’s Nirvana from the Rock Your Nails collection from last spring practically jumped off the page at me. Why, I thought, can’t we wear some of spring and summer’s colors to give our nails – if not our spirits – a little boost in the middle of January?

    I set about making a short list of those colors that are spring and summer-like  but will just give you that little shot of color, not make you look like you’re having a misplaced resort fantasy.

    My favorite, and not just because of the name, may be Nirvana. A groovy, dense, more green-than-blue teal, it could BE the cornerstone of your black-cigarette pants and black turtleneck ensemble. It will lift your spirits everytime you do something with your hands.

    A few summers ago, Essie came out with one of my all time favorite colors, Lapis of Luxury. I couldn’t stop looking at my toes every time I wore it. Last summer they went one better and darkened the shade, creating Coat Azure. A blue to remind you of the Caribbean you’re not seeing during your urban winter, but a pick-me-up nonetheless.

    The orange craze isn’t over, and it’s not just for summer, as evidenced by my young, hip colleague Krista who showed up with her orange manicure this week. My favorite orange for winter is without a doubt Deborah Lippman’s Lara’s Theme (named for model Lara Stone), in part for its opacity but also for lack of blinding brightness.

    Summer and pink just go together, meaning your pink nails might look a little strange in February. But not if they’re Graphic Berry. This deep berry is such an odd color in certain light it can almost be mistaken for red. Only it really is a glorious, deep fuchsia.

    So there you have it, perk up your nails – and your spirits – for the price of a manicure and/or pedicure.