Friday, February 4, 2011

The Friday Forum - February 4

We've been running a weekly series on our beauty blog roundup team members. This week, it was my turn. I toyed with the idea of not publishing the feature about me here at Best Things in Beauty, thinking that most of you would have read it on other blogs. Just in case you didn't see the feature, here it is - more about me than you ever wanted to know! The photo was taken in the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa blogger lounge during Fashion Week (organized by Lianne Farbes in February 2010). Billy Dee Williams had just done one of the most incredible blow-dries I've ever had. The guy is a genius.

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging about beauty in the summer of 2009 (I had written a local political blog years before, when blogs were new). I had been reading beauty blogs and saw an invitation for guest bloggers on BeautyLuxe. I responded, and I wrote a few posts for Kimberly. I realized quickly how much I enjoyed writing about my beauty passion - and that there weren't many beauty bloggers in my age group. Since I was a frequent flier at all the department stores, and I had closets full of beauty products, I knew my subject was a natural. I love writing. I had intended to major in journalism in college, but was snagged by psychology. I published the first Best Things in Beauty feature in July, 2009, and the rest is history.

Every blog seems to have a special voice - what's the message on your blog?
That's a good question. My readers might be able to provide a better answer than I can. I like to focus on beauty products that are the "best in beauty." I don't want to waste my time - or theirs - on products that don't make the grade. When a product has been hyped, and I don't think it's worthy of our money, I might cover it as a warning. Otherwise, I skip the bad and mediocre and feature the best (or newest). As a rule, I focus on higher-end products, but I try to cover the best from drugstores too. I don't cover teen beauty; I have no idea what the kids are buying. I always try to provide balance on the blog, featuring not only makeup (which seems to be the most popular subject), but also fragrance, skin care, hair care, tools, celebrity beauty now and then - everything beauty. I even write a rant now and then.

Following the beauty industry is fun. Beauty products are affordable luxury; buying them is so much easier on the wallet than collecting Giorgio Armani fashion! I am fascinated with every aspect of the industry, from the science behind skin care and cosmetics to public relations and marketing, so I enjoying reading, researching, and talking beauty. That's one reason you'll often find me hanging out at beauty department counters, picking the brains of product line reps for ingredients, why products work, and what's coming, along with techniques and tips. I love sharing that information.

Have you always been a beauty fanatic or did it come later in life for you? What made it blossom?
No, my interest in beauty products has waxed and waned. I went to a strict Catholic high school, and I'm sure visible makeup would have been a no-no. I was a cheerleader, and we had to keep our hair above our shoulders! Can you imagine? Somehow, we were supposed to keep our skirts from flying up in the air and exposing our "bloomers" when we jumped. I was always on the edge of trouble over my hair, skirt length, and bloomers. Once I went to college, my interest in fashion and beauty blossomed. Even as a college student, I had a subscription to Women's Wear Daily. There wasn't an online edition "way back then." Every day, WWD was delivered my college mailbox. It was a treat to pour over the latest news. Even today, I eagerly await my monthly fashion and beauty magazines. WWD Beauty Biz is my favorite.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm in my early 60's and single. I live in a fabulous home in Northern Virgina, and I love my garden, which I built from nothing, with love. I have two cats, Charleston and Savannah. Charlie is a gorgeous Snow Marble Bengal. Savannah, equally gorgeous, is a rescue cat. She is definitely schizophrenic, and, unfortunately, she has epilepsy. I love antiques, art, books, and great food!

I was frantically busy when younger, earning a Ph.D. in psychology and subsequently running my own management consulting business for many years. Now, I work for a large financial company in compliance and ethics. I have always been a volunteer, and much of my "spare time" and money have been spent on local and state issues, including land use and conservation and environmental/animal causes. I have also been active in many horticultural societies. That's one reason I write Best Things in Beauty under a pseudonym. If you Google my real name, many pages of results from local civic association activities will be returned, including some of my most-famous mouthy quotes from public hearings. I decided to keep my various lives separate.

What's your daily beauty routine?
It's relatively complicated. Every morning, I get up and wash, condition, and style my hair (using a mousse and hairspray to set the style). I try to use hydrating products. I am always testing products, but I return to my favorites unless a new product has knocked my socks off (that happens fairly often). Before work, my regular beauty routine starts with a cleanser for my face and neck in the shower. Then I apply one of my favorite serums and an eye cream (I've been using Cold Plasma Eye, but I'm always on the lookout for a new one). After they absorb, I add a moisturizer (or two) and makeup. There has to be sunscreen in one of them. My makeup always includes a concealer, eyelid primer, eye shadow, mascara (I love Maybelline Define-A-Lash), foundation (usually Giorgio Armani), blush, lipstick, and lip gloss. Sometimes a highlighter too. Before I'm out the door, I add fragrance. During the day, I re-apply lip color/gloss/lip conditioner repeatedly, and I often use a hand cream during the day. Before bed, I always cleanse my face thoroughly, using an eye makeup remover if I need it after the cleanser. Then I do skin care: serum, moisturizer, and now Chantecaille's new Biodynamic Lifting Neck Cream. Morning and evening, I use a body moisturizer. I also use a hand moisturizer after I give Charlie his evening treats. Right before I go to bed, I apply Lisa Hoffman's Spa Facial Lip Moisturizer. I supplement my regular products (some of which I rotate) with whatever my skin "tells me" it needs. For special occasions, I add products, such as eyeliner, which I don't wear every day. I know I should, but I prefer to beat the traffic rush into DC. Another product I use is scented hand soap. I love it and have a nice one at every faucet. Then there are the home fragrances (diffusers and candles), which delight me.

How many lipsticks/glosses can be found in your handbag at any given time?
Too many! More than I'll ever use in a day or week. I'm bad at subtracting - really good at adding, though. Recently, a Clarisonic rep held my handbag for me. It was heavy because it had my camera in it. I roared at his response, "Girl, no wonder your back and knees are bad! This purse is ridiculously heavy!" Well, of course! It had a full face of makeup in it, with every shade you could imagine. I pared it down after my knee surgery, but I doubt it will remain spare.

What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
From my dermatologist who told me to stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen. He should know. He's had to use liquid nitrogen to remove a lot of actinic keratoses that have resulted from my unbridled attempts to become a bronze goddess when I was younger.

What's the most surprising thing you have learned since staring your blog?
My readers have become a second family - definitely my friends! People warn that cyberspace is "dangerous," and I've seen some pretty nasty comments on blogs. At first, I was reluctant to "expose myself" to that. I feel so privileged, though. I have never experienced anything but warmth and love from my readers. I'm sure I have the best readers (and friends) in the world. I've formed lasting friendships with so many wonderful women (a few men too!). We e-mail, we call, we comment back and forth on the blog. Blogging has been an enriching experience. I'm also thrilled with the many beauty bloggers I call friends now. Our roundup team is amazingly talented. I check in on each of their blogs every day. I hope all my readers do too.

Now for the usual Friday Forum...

Physical therapy continues to be torture - but with slow and steady progress. This week, I started hobbling around without my cane and working from home a few hours a day! That has put a barrier in the way of Charlie's total dedication. He doesn't understand the exercise "thing," and he is clearly more annoyed than ever at the time I am spending in my home office. His feelings are hurt when I won't let him sit on me while I'm doing knee bends. I don't think he understands. It's heartbreaking - kind of funny too - when he storms off in a huff after being rejected for a lap sit. He goes into the guest room and curls up under Savannah's covers.

It's time for The Friday Forum. We use the forum to share information and chat. Did you find any deals you couldn't resist this week? Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Do you have a question others might be able to answer? Want to talk about skin care? Just use the comments. Don't be shy. Just make sure to ask any question you might have over the weekend. By Monday, most readers have moved on. I have a lot of new makeup and skin care, and I'm so eager to show it to you. If I could get the photos - and the time - I'd be writing five features a day!

We have busy weekends and slow ones on the forum. I'm always happy if even one reader stops by. Leave a comment, and say hello - even if you don't want to comment on beauty products. If I am notified of any great beauty offers (great, not just good) over the weekend, I will leave word in the comments of this post.

Don't forget that the Sephora Stila Make Me Blush Set giveaway contest ends tomorrow at midnight. Make sure to enter. You know what Lady Luck says, "If you don't play, you can't win!"

Thanks for reading Best Things in Beauty! Got anything you want to talk about?

Photo by Andrea Betts


Victoria said...

I love you blog and I may have missed you mentioning it...but Lancome has a GWP right now at Macys. I love their eyemake-up I'll be stopping by there this weekend.

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Victoria, and thanks also for the GWP tip! With the new collection in stores, it's perfect timing.

Unknown said...

Your hair looks very pretty in that photo!
No new make-up for me- I have been stuck at home since Monday night and we have more heavy snow. I was tempted to order some make-up items and shoes, but talked myself out of it since I missed several days of work.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Anna! I tried to talk him into moving to DC! I have never seen a stylist so talented. He just did that, with no direction. He let my hair's own preferences be his guide. It was amazing.

Wasn't it 70 degrees there about a week ago? I guess you're paying for that now. :)

The Beauty Bug said...

I have read this on other blogs, but enjoyed reading it again. You are such a lovely southern gal - As I say GO GRITS (girls raised in the south). I am a southern girl also. I enjoy your passion for makeup and reading your blog. It is so uplifting!

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Beauty Bug! That's so sweet. Yes, go GRITS!

Resham said...

Whenevr I feel lost or low, I just read few interviews. One of them is yours and I find it very very inspiring!

I enjoy reading the blog. I may not comment always... but I just enjoy. :)