Dyke Beauty

Fuchsia and coral are NOT the colors for spring/summer ’09.  Who thinks that? More importantly, why? Hello–do you remember a summer without fuschsia and coral?! I’m getting all cartoon-punctuationy here, but srsly. Perhaps some summers those colors appear less, others more. But aren’t there always a couple of s/s trends where coral and fuchsia can legitimately feature,  like feather earrings, ubiquitous metallics, or gauzy-floaty sequin-spattered tops and dresses? The two gloriously summer-appropriate colors also receive receive fashion benediction in more androgynous-to-butch looks, e.g., skate shoes,  the reinterpreted loose-fitting short sleeve button-downs in bold colorful patterns for summer,  possibly even madras.  But I think I have figured out, perhaps, why these undying summer colors are being singled out this season…it is in celebration of Rachel Maddow.

Digression: And then there are pants! Do you suspect the reign of the low-to-extremely-low-rise waist ended ignominiously because of  economic anxiety? Personally I loved seeing those pants on women. Of course they looked best on healthy, athletic torsos , or slender, ascetic ones, but it’s all personal judgment. I even have two or three pairs just because they feel so nice (and I tend to love skirts/dresses). Is a return to less body-skimming, more rectilinear/structured shapes designed to soothe consumers into feeling frugal and responsible? A complementary impulse brings us skirts that just happen to have legs: e.g., the short, silky or ruche-y rompers, long gauzy pants, and, in a utilitarian way, the ultra wide leg pants, are skirts in pants’ clothing most gender-linked feature…)

Rachel Maddow–always bringing the right equipment, and never clanking against the sides!–prepared a fuchsia/hot pink cocktail, the cherry julep, with the reverent assistance of Martha Stewart a few weeks ago. This is more than enough time for imaginations to be fired, hearts to be captured, and memes to reach critical mass. Coral is the color of the cocktail she prepared on Grub Street, the jack rose. She even wore a winsome coral hoodie while insisting upon the squeezing of actual limes and that we go as hard as we can as long as we can with the cocktail shaker instead of being a wuss.  These informative clips, watched attentively, could melt anyone’s objections to coral and fuchsia taking pivotal roles in spring/summer.

(Thank you Dorothy Snarker for your um, thought-provoking columns, your weekend crushes (ever cited Jenny Hoyston in that category btw?), and most of all your Maddow videos. Dorothy Surrenders: just the most awesome blog ever without benefit of puppies!)

Comics genius Jennifer Camper (see link lower right) writes that early in April she’s “presenting two events at NYU for their Queer Comics Series,” the first a lecture/slides/discussion on this coming Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. entitled, “Bad Girl Comix: A Tasty Sample of Camper’s Work.” The second event sounds every bit as tasty; it’s a drawing workshop called “Comix Fusion: Telling Stories With Words and Pictures,” taking place on Thursday, April 9 from 12-2:00 p.m. Both events are free, but JC would like you to email her to put your name on the list if you’re interested.  I’d go out on a limb here and say every urban queer girl should read Camper’s comics, because their defiant joy, huge attitude, and frequently spit-coffee-out-funny angles on lesbian life just lift the heart like nothing else. (Besides, some of her characters have great answers for those dudes who yell at you on the street.) Both events are in the Kimmel Center at 60 Washington Square South, on the corner of Thompson Street and LaGuardia Place. “Tasty” in 905, “Fusion” in 802.

If you plan to attend either or both of these events, please—do not do so because merely because Ms. Camper is extremely easy on a femme’s eyes,  has a killer smile and a voice you could listen to for days…seriously, do it for ART, for CULTURE.

For awhile I’d been oblivious to why so many products were jettisoning parabens. But then I came across an article, not in Allure, not on Sephora’s webpage, but in a review of clinical research trials related to pharmaceuticals litigation. Learning that parabens were found in improbably disproportionate amounts in excised breast cancers reminded me that scientific and medical literature can no more be overlooked in choosing what goes on your face and body. My shelves have since undergone some purging! Three companies whose product lines are remarkably free of undesirable ingredients, Ren, Juice Beauty and Organic Apoteke, are currently under nonrigorous nonlaboratory testing…and so far, the Juice Nutrient Moisturizer, Antioxidant Serum, Hydrating Mist and Cleansing Milk are performing very impressively, as is the Ren Biomimetic Lip Honey. One unexpected and wonderful benefit of the first two products: minimizing the hyperpigmentation/”pregnancy mask” I’ve had since carrying my daughter to term back in 1990. And everything Juice makes feels and smells so silky, fresh and good, they also make points there.

The importance of quitting smoking for our health, beauty and life itself can’t be overestimated. Other than sun damage, smoking is the greatest cause of skin breakdown in most women’s lives. Your doctor’s probably already told you about the more serious medical concerns, as did mine. So, I’m extremely grateful to everyone who’s been supportive of ending tobacco’s stinky presence in my life, especially my partner who never let me smoke inside or in her car, even once, my children who’ve not only lectured me intelligently but give me two great reasons to stay alive, and my dog, who’s just awesome, gives me another great reason to stay alive, but really kind of liked it when I went outside to smoke because he went out with me. But don’t worry that I’m neglecting him, I still go out, only now I practice my tree pose, downward facing dog, or t’ai chi “hands like clouds.” Putting more time and energy into my yoga practice, adding more bhakti and japa yoga to the hatha and dhyana I’ve practiced since the 80s, somehow helped turn the key for me; I hope anyone who’s reading this who’s still smoking finds something that will help them turn that key for themselves this year. You queer girls are all just so amazing beautiful awesome cute delicious funny surprising splendid I want you to see all that in yourselves, and do everything possible to celebrate, support, affirm, nourish and delight in who you are!

Sticking with a carefully researched and tested (but not on animals!) high quality facial routine that addresses all my skin’s needs is what causes people to ask me whether someone they saw me talking to who’s maybe five to ten years my senior is my mom! So I wouldn’t trust just anything on my face and I presume neither would you. It was sheer seduction, a momentary flight of my senses in unaccustomed directions, then, that prompted me to try a product suddenly, without premeditation–I’d even say rashly, but we are talking about skin here, and that would just be gross.

The Giovanni Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub I picked up at Whole Foods the other day felt so good on my arms and legs as I used it, in the shower….the delicious fragrance floating on the steam smelled even prettier and yummier than the goop itself….and the scent, as much as the robust exfoliation, warmed me inside and out. And even intoxicated by smells-of-great-loveliness-and-sweetness, I knew its ingredients included Shea butter, vitamin E, cocoa bean, kukui nut and honey. And my face was pretty dirty. (I was fibbing to myself a just a tad there.) So I gave in to the moment! And it felt FABULOUS. My face was clean, but hydrated; exfoliated, but not abraded; soft. And there were no negative after-effects, which can be a big issue with my combination skin. It may respond to any new product with a typical princess-tantrum—-issuing me a truly spectacular zit if its oily side’s displeased or flaking in tender spots if its dry side’s taken umbrage. Perhaps the balance of meaningful exfoliation and a great blend of meaningful ingredients enabled this luscious confection to keep both aspects of my combination skin happy, but there’s no doubt that it was the euphoric aroma that brought a sparkle of euphoria to my mood. You might not want to go crazy on your lovely face as I did, but for winterizing arms and legs you cannot go wrong. Just, you know, remember to get out of the shower before all the hot water runs out if you’re somewhere in cold weather too!

What it says about my hairdresser, Becky, of American Mortals, and about me, I guess, is that we look as we choose for any given moment, because we passed each other on Walnut Street Thursday a few minutes before my appointment, neither of us recognizing the other! I know, I’ve written before about how thrilled I was to find this lady in Philadelphia during a bout of missing my Mudhoney (former salon on Manhattan’s Prince Street). But it’s so true: American Mortals is a calm, beautifully simple space, Becky’s workstation has terrific music and the terrific Becky, and she’s just so great, I have to say it again. I went even shorter this time, a la Annie Lennox, and even though I later realized that I hadn’t been the best communicator about being embarrassed about my flat head—-it’s not flat on top, but on the back, like “neglected-in-her-crib” vs. “dropped-upside-down—-” I got a splendid haircut, at an extremely reasonable price. And pretty soon, I should also be able to tell you when/where Becky’s new band, Hotwired Hearts, will be playing this July!

The second great find for this Philly newbie was a source for some not-so-easy-to-track-down products in Center City. A shop window had a Bobbi Brown display, so I went in, even though I’d just read about a great product from MAC that sounded so ultra-yummy-wonderful I took a brisk lunch hour walk over to Walnut Street to go to the MAC store. Instead, I found that this beguiling store (oh yeah, there’s a reason my beloved got me that t-shirt that says “Easily Distracted”—-and it has nothing to do with fidelity!), which was actually the front room of a spa chain called Blue Mercury, offered Laura Mercier, Murad, Fekkai, Nars, Lorac, Stila, Fresh and other favorite product lines. I replenished my Laboratoire Remede Translucent UV Coat sunscreen, about which I’ve written before, and learned that its “dark” is actually pretty light, so I got a light and a dark to custom-mix, and was also delighted to find one of the prettiest and softest summer lipcolors ever, Nars’ Frisky Summer, which I’d thought had gone to live with Katharine Hepburn. Finally, one item every girl with the least bit of drama in her needs is Bobbi Brown’s long lasting gel eyeliner, which the veryvery helpful salesperson also found for me in seconds! Erin, the owner, is also super sweet and helpful, so if you’re in Philly and need anything in the realm of skincare or makeup, 1707 Walnut Street’s the place to go, and, near Rittenhouse Square, is also easy to find if you’re just getting to know the city.

In the March, 2007 issue of the British Journal of Dermatology (Volume 156, Issue 3, pages 433-439), a study is reported which, based on experiments with cultured cells, concludes that the actual working mechanism of DMAE, or 2-dimethylaminoethanol, the popular anti-wrinkle ingredient in such skin-care lines as N.V. Perricone’s, “involves a vacuolar cytopathology.” Researchers Morisette, Germain and Marceau found that to visibly reduce lines and wrinkles, DMAE swells cells by creating a large number of vacuoles inside them. The swelling of each cell to accommodate the new vacuoles results in the “plumping” which smoothes the wrinkles. However, the cells are then seen to die off and slough from the skin. I’ve seen blogs and chats where the posters were quite alarmed by this, wondering if the use of this dangerous product should be stopped at once!  

Well, my beautiful readers, let’s step back a moment and not let this alarmism infect us! Because that is what any product which “promotes cell turnover” promotes: that surface cells slough off and, yes, die. Now, until they completely gut the Constitution, we’re perfectly free to believe they are reincarnated to better lives; go to Heaven; enjoy Paradise; or, for those damn zits, rot in Hell itself…but it’s highly unlikely they continue their same little epidermal lives on your scrubbie-cloth or after being washed down the drain. It’s only natural; it’s exfoliation. And, as I learned tonight in the same strangely ideological nature show I parody in my other blog tonight, even those wise and innocent creatures of the sea, Beluga whales, exfoliate: yup, those cute, creamy-skinned, blobular whales of popular lullabye fame go to Cetacean Spa Days, returning cyclically to certain special shallow streams with the gravel they find most effective and exquisite. There, they luxuriate in the exfoliation process, rolling and scrubbing around and against their preferred gravel beds until the dead skin and unsightly plankton-pigmented areas are gone. Fresh and rejuvenated, they return to deeper waters. Some tingling sensations, as it says on the bottle of any respectable exfoliating cleanser, are normal and temporary. I bet it’s much more fun to go to the spa with one’s whole pod.