Friday, June 7, 2013

AmLactin Ultra Hydrating Body Cream...for your hands!

Despite being a total nail polish whore, I have to admit that I've had terrible cuticles and hangnails since childhood. Actually, one of the reasons I wear nail polish is to make my cuticles less starkly janky. However, hangnails are genuinely painful, distracting, and an infection risk; thus, I've long been looking for something that makes a real difference. Someone on MakeupAlley's Nail Board mentioned AmLactin, a lotion containing lactic acid to not only moisturize skin, but exfoliate the rough bits. Cleopatra was known for taking milk baths - this smoothing, softening action is probably why. I haven't been impressed with chemical (vs. mechanical, such as sugar crystals) exfoliants on my face, but after reading that many eczema patients have had success with AmLactin, I decided it was worth a try.

It works. Dramatically. It's not an instant fix for really rough, dry hands and cuticles, but there's a very noticeable improvement after just one use. After about a week of use, not only are my hands amazingly soft, but my cuticles are much softer and smoother, and I barely have any hangnails. I have a little KP (keratosis pilaris, AKA chicken skin) on my upper arms, just above the elbows, and it even makes that go away! I've settled in at using it twice a day: once just before leaving the house and once right before bed. It's important not to use it if you have any open or healing cuts, hangnails, or torn cuticles, as this would remove the scab and/or healing skin.

There are cons, of course, which you have to expect from any product that does one thing really well. It leaves a slightly sticky residue. It doesn't smell so good (I'm reminded of stale coffee), though I don't notice it unless I put my hands right up to my nose. Finally, it's expensive: this 4.9-oz tube was about US$10 at Walmart. The lotion, which comes in a bigger bottle (but presumably isn't as hydrating) is about US$20. There's supposedly a generic version of the lotion at CVS, so that might be worth looking into if you want to save some bucks. Regardless of the option you choose, I highly recommend this for anyone with problem cuticles.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chanel Shanghai Red: The unfulfillable lemming fulfilled!

I started wanting Shanghai Red right as it was discontinued in summer of 2009 (I believe), but didn't know at the time how costly DC'd Chanels tend to get. I went through a lot of expense, trouble, and foot-tapping to acquire as this year's (30th) birthday present to myself. Worth it!

The good news is that I'll probably never actually use this, or any other bottle of polish, up, so I shouldn't have to go through this particular polish acquisition dance again. I'm not a big fan of red (or most other "normal" polish colors) - I only own one other, the very glittery and classic China Glaze Ruby Pumps. As much as I love glitter, Shanghai Red will likely become my go-to classic red polish - every girl needs one, even the world's biggest blue polish nut.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

RIP Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young

Yeah, this is a beauty blog, but I have other interests. One of them is science, and among the sciences, meteorology is one of my favorites.

Engineer, scientist, and veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and chase partner Carl Young were among those killed in Friday's F3 Oklahoma tornado. As an armchair enthusiast, I never knew Mr. Samaras personally, but he had a reputation as a very careful storm chaser who put the lives of his crew before chasing. He wasn't a chaser for glory or money: his chase team, called Twistex, sought to deploy instruments in the path of tornadoes to gather data. We currently understand very little about what makes some thunderstorms produce tornadoes and not others; their work may eventually make it possible to warn people much further ahead of time and save lives.

 (Tim Samaras - image via NatGeo)

Simply put, Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young died in the hope that you and I might survive some black and stormy day in the future. They died doing what they love and for what they believe in: science, and the pursuit of nature's beauty. I am so grateful.

(Now I'm going to go wibble for a long time. This is the first time a storm chaser has been killed by a tornado out in the field, and if someone as careful as Tim Samaras can find himself on the fatally wrong end of a tornado, no storm chaser is safe. Well, no one is safe, really. I knew that viscerally all along, but this really cements it. It won't stop me from chasing my dream of seeing a tornado in person, though.)

Sontaya the Orchid

This is a beauty blog, so allow me to show you something beautiful:

I turned 30 yesterday, and this was my grandmother's gift. I love orchids, but I have something of a black thumb, so I'd probably never buy one for myself. Her name is Sontaya (a Thai name meaning 'twilight', no relation to the vampires), and she's some species of Dendrobium Phalaenopsis. See the new buds and vine escaping the pot? I'd say she's pretty healthy. Here's to hoping I can be a decent gardener for once.

Yes, I'm the kind of person who names plants. I talk to them, too.

I did make a big birthday polish haul; the pièce de résistance being Chanel Shanghai Red, a polish I've wanted since 2009. Expect actual content soon!