mysticonnie's blog

Megalomania continues...
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a Conspiracy of 2
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Time to cancel all the credit cards.

The moment I've been waiting for is about to arrive. Guess what department store's coming to Union Square? No, not just Bloomingdales, but the one I've adored since I first set foot in Manhattan when I was 16. Barneys New York. I think we're going to have to relocate.

Friday, June 16, 2006

ahead of the pack

I'm a day ahead of the Associated Press!

One (okay, a few) more caveats:

Sunscreen (or sunblock) degrades. The FDA requires that it maintain a shelf life of 3 years, but most doctors say to replace it every year.

"Two tablespoons" is the same size as a shot glass. You need about 2/5 of a teaspoon for your face.

Chemical sunscreens (sunscreens where the main active ingredients are chemical absorbers like octinoxate or Parsol 1789) need to be applied 15-30 minutes before exposure in order for the chemicals to react with the skin. Physical blocker sunblocks (main active ingredients are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) can be applied just before going in the sun.

Chemical sunscreens tend to be more irritating. Also, the chemicals are often oils. Since physical "blockers" are inert molecules that just sit on the skin, they are more suitable for oily or senstive skins. Keep in mind that products with a high percentage of "blockers" like zinc or titanium dioxide do not photograph well. Since they work by "reflecting" rays of light, they often reflect the light from flashbulbs, giving the wearer a whitish cast.

Most UVA absorbers (meradimate, Parsol 1789) are not photostable. That is, they degrade under light. Octocrylene (UVA and UVB absorber) has a stabilizing effect on Parsol 1789). Mexoryl and Tinosorb are photostable, and in addition, they can also stabilize other ingredients. Titanium and zinc oxide, which block both UVA and UVB light, are photostable. However, many formulas nowadays are getting more micronized in order to avoid that whitish cast. The downside is that they provide less UVA protection. If you're picking a sunscreen from the US market, make sure it has Parsol 1789 with octocrylene, or non-micronized titanium or zinc oxide.

Moisturizer goes on before sunscreen, then makeup. It's a good idea to wait for a few minutes (ideally ten) between application of products in order to let them absorb.

Finally, skin damage due to sun exposure is cumulative. That is, it's not just because you used to sunbathe unprotected in Maui for eight hours at a time and would get a killer sunburn. Walking outside for a few minutes here or there to go to class, work, the supermarket, etc. - all of THAT unprotected sun exposure is cumulative, too. Yeah, I know. After I learned that, I started getting extra vigilant about sunscreen. Quadrupuling my paranoia is the fact that I spent my childhood and teenage years surfing, swimming and sunbathing unprotected through all the seasons of the year.

Product reviews will follow shortly.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

Silver nitrate is great for burns, but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to use it as an allover moisturizer. Since the wounds healed, I've been rubbing La Mer Concentrate into the scars and topping them with La Mer creme in the morning (under the bandages). The La Mer skincare line is touted as a "miracle cream" created by some astronaut that was involved in some kind of accident that left him with chemical facial burns. Supposedly, use of the cream made his scars dissipate. I'm not entirely sure about the validity of that scenario, but all I know is that in the past, this stuff has made my dry skin stop flaking. The concentrate is supposed to "[improve] the appearance of scarring resulting from surgery and burns". It's too early to tell whether or not it really works, but it does help relieve the itching. On the rest of my face during the day, I use Peter Thomas Roth's SPF 30 moisturizer (that's going to change soon). At night, I also use the Concentrate over the scars, but per my usual routine, I also stroke the serum allover, dab the eye cream under my eyes and pat the creme allover. Since I have a multitude of samples, I've been using the cream cleanser as well.

Now for the fun... My plastic surgeon (I don't think I'll get tired of saying that!) says to avoid sun. I've reversed my workout schedule and started going to 5:30 a.m. swim practice again and I've been wearing the bandages to protect the new skin from the sun (per the plastic surgeon's orders). Today was the last day. I stopped wearing the bandages over my temple and eyelid earlier this week. Although those scars are worse than the other two, they are more easily protected with a hat and sunglasses. I've gotten used to the stares, but I think that the combination of the of an office outfit (McQueen jacket, Malandrino blouse, pencil skirt and Manolos), with an baseball cap and sunglasses definitely attracted the most. I'm probably going to get a new haircut - I've been pondering bangs anyways. Because I do not have Isabella Blow's budget to retain Phillip Treacy as my personal milliner, I'm going to be using mega doses of sunscreen, at least SPF 30, again, per my plastic surgeon's orders. The moisturizer I was using before the accident already has an SPF 30 (Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Defense Lotion), and my foundation (Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer) is only SPF 18. Saddest of all, my La Mer sunscreen is only SPF 18. As you might know, in order for sunscreen to be effective, it must be reapplied throughout the day. So I've looking into different products and researching sunscreen for the last two weeks. Besides, I'm almost out of all three. I even made an excel chart! Here's what I've learned:

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It's a multiplier of how long you can stay in the sun before burning. Let's say an individual can stay in the sun for 10 minutes before burning. If she generously uses a product with an SPF 8, it'll take 80 minutes for her to burn. Stingy application will reduce the SPF.

There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are long-wave rays that cause wrinkles and directly cause some skin cancers, including melanomas. They are 20 times more abundant than UVB rays. They are present every day, all day, no matter the weather or time of year. They can even penetrate glass windows.

UVB rays are short-wave rays that are the cause of sunburn and of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, cataracts as well as another significant cause of melanoma. They vary with the seasons, weather, latitute, altitude and times of day.

Sunscreen vs. sunblock: Sunscreens chemically absorb (Parsol 1789, Mexoryl Rx) UV rays. Sunblocks physically block (Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide) them.

Water resistant vs. Waterproof/Very water resistant: Water resistant means you can stay in the water for 40 minutes before you need to reapply. Waterpoof/Very water resistant means you can stay for 80 minutes before reapplying. Bullfrong Sunblock claims it stays waterproof for eight hours. I'm not entirely sure how that works.

UVA absorbers: Parsol 1789 (avobenzone or butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), meradimate, Mexoryl RX (terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid), Tinosorb (bis ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine)

UVB absorbers: octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate), octisalate (octyl salicylate or OCM), homosalate, Padimate O (Octyl dimethyl PABA)

UVA and UVB blockers: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide

UVA and UVB absorbers: octylcrylene, oxybenzone (benzophenone-3)

When you select a product with an SPF, make sure it has both UVA AND UVB "broad spectrum" protection.

The best sunscreen on the market is made by La Roche Posay and contains an active ingredient called Mexoryl RX. It absorbs nearly all UVA rays and it has been used in Europe and Canada since 1993. However, the FDA has yet to approve it. Other non-FDA approved active ingredients in European sunscreens are Tinonsorb (another highly effective UVA absorber) and Eusolex 6300 (a UVB absorber) Very few (and believe me, I've tried) places in the States carry La Roche Posay sunscreens. Zitomer Pharmacy in New York has it and locally, I happened upon it at Herringbone apothecary in Berkeley. Of course, they both charged an arm and a leg for it. You're better off asking friends who are outside the country to pick it up for you. Generally, in France, lesser known French beauty products are a fraction of the price they are here. Case in point: I scored some Caudalie lip balms for about $2.50 US in Paris. They're $12 at Sephora here. Well known brands like Kerastase and L'Occitane are a little cheaper, but not by much.

Here are some of the products I've been researching (I require the products to be SPF 30 or higher but I'll make an exception for makeup that's SPF 25 if the product seems extraordinary):

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Lait SPF 50, Kiehl's moisturizing eye stick SPF 30, Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care SPF 30, Stila Skin Visor SPF 50; Bullfrog Superblock SPF 45; Kiehl's Vital Sun Protection SPF 40

Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizing Balm SPF 25, Remede Translucent UV Coat SPF 30, Chantecaille Real Skin SPF 30, Becca Stick Foundation SPF 30, Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid Foundation SPF 42

Paul and Joe Protective Dual Powder foundation SPF 25, Shiseido Sun Protection Powder Foundation SPF 34

MAC Studio Finish concealer SPF 35

I will report back soon!

New Threads

Since the burn, I've needed a brow wax badly. I don't think hot wax next to my eyeballs and over newly healed skin would be a great idea, so I got them threaded for the first time last weekend. Threading is a form of hair removal common in India and the Middle East. A practictioner takes a loop of twisted thread and draws it over the area where hair removal is desired, catching the hair and pulling it out at the root. I don't think it hurts more or less than waxing, but I've been waxing for 12 years now, so waxing doesn't bother me. I think I might prefer waxing though - it's more precise, but threading is a nice alternative. Also, the place I went to offers free brow threading with a manicure and pedicure! I'll have to take them up on that next time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

After the burn

After the Burn...

The wounds have healed for the most part, with new pink skin revealing itself underneath. I've stopped using the antibiotic silver nitrate cream that was prescribed, but I have another days or two with the bandages during the day . My plastic surgeon (hee!) tells me that in all likelihood, I won't need any procedures done, but I must protect the new skin from the sun (hence, the bandages). The scar over my temple and eyelid is probably the worst, but it the most easily protected with a hat and sunglasses when I go outdoors. Otherwise, no bandage for that one (I'm still wearing bandages over the one next to my nose and the long one on my other cheek.

Last night, I started using Neosporin's adhesive Silicon Scar sheets which is supposed to help prevent the formation of scars. These things are not cheap - I wound up ordering them from They don't charge tax, and for now, there's free shipping, so I wound up saving something like 10 bucks total per box (compared with Walgreens). The online reviews were not great, but they're what the doctor ordered so that's what I got.

The sheets are about 1.5 by 2.5 inches. They can be trimmed to fit and they are to be reused 3-4 times. Half a sheet takes care of the scars on my face. (I haven't been as fastidious about the scars on my arms and wrists). The silicon adhesive is clear and a little gummy, and are backed by a nylon tricot-like beige fabric. I'm supposed to wear them for at least 12 hours a day for the next six months. Logistics only allowed me to wear them for 6 hours last night while I slept. I'll probably start putting them on earlier, and wearing them during the day when I'm at home on the weekends or days off. They don't exactly stay in place - the long thin one did, but I wound up resticking the one over my temple. I woke up with the one that was on my lid on my finger, and the one next to my nose on my chest (!). The directions suggest using medical tape, but I don't know if I can handle any more adhesives. We shall see.