Sol de Janeiro adds to its sweet-smelling success

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know I have a serious crush on Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Hands down, it’s the best moisturizer I’ve ever used and the best smelling too. The company describes the scent as pistachio-based and that may be true, but it’s also tropical and sexy and simply to die for. Even better, it makes your skin soft, silky, supple and touchable.

Awhile back, the company added its Samba Foot Fetish Cream to the product lineup. I was disappointed that it didn’t feature my beloved Bum Bum Cream’s to-die-for scent, but it’s still a great product and the adorable surfboard-style buffer it’s packaged with is a winner.

Fast forward to Sol de Janeiro’s latest launch: Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream Gel. I’m a “smells good” kind of gal, as my son James described me when he was younger. I’m not interested in generic, run-of-the-mill soap or shower gels. Give me something that leaves my skin clean and moisturized, but leaves both me and my bathroom smelling like a garden of earthly delights.

I’m happy to report that 4-Play is a winner all the way around: Rich lather? Check. Moisturized skin? Check. Great scent? Check, check, check. It smells just like Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Call me a  velvety-skinned, deliciously scented happy camper.

Note to the team at Sol de Janeiro: I just placed an order for your Rainforest Relief lotion, but I need more, more, more! How about adding other products with your signature scent to the lineup? Bath oil beads? Moisturizing bath bombs? A facial moisturizer? Hair care products? Seriously, it’s the best. 

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Show your lips some love

Sometimes I think there are three distinct camps when it comes to lipstick:

  1. Those who never wear it.
  2. Those who stick to nudes and neutrals.
  3. Those who love it and will try just about any shade.

It pretty much goes without saying that I’m in the last category. I’ll wear anything from nude to red, but I draw the line at vampy, very dark wines and browns, as well as trendy blues, greens, grays and purples.

I haven’t always been a lipstick wearer. In fact, I rarely wore it until I reached my mid-30s, and for a couple of reasons. First, my own lips were deeply pigmented. And second, the waxy feel of lipsticks in the 70s and 80s made me uncomfortable — almost as if my lips were suffocating.  New formulations make today’s versions much more wearable.

As women age, the right lipstick can make their complexions come to life. But women who’ve never worn lipstick often initially feel foolish — almost as if a spotlight is shining on their lips and everyone’s staring. (Take my word for it, they’re not.)

For that reason, it’s best to start neutral and work your way up. Choose a shade that’s an amplified version of your natural lip color and progress from there. That way, catching a glimpse of yourself in a mirror won’t be such a shock.

Remember, too, to create a smooth canvas for your lipstick. Use an exfoliating scrub several times per week. I like Tarte’s Marajuca Lip Exfoliant. I also use a lip mask each day. Because lipstick is the final step in my makeup routine, I apply a softening, moisturizing mask first and let it do its job while I’m applying other products. My favorite is the Best Damn Lip Mask. 

Remember: There’s a lipstick (or two, or 20, or two dozen) for everyone. You just have to get comfortable with a “your lips but better” shade and move forward from there.

Weight loss: Dirty little secrets

Current status: 15 or 20 pounds to go

Losing weight — and by losing weight, I mean changing your lifestyle — isn’t easy. But when you finally get into the groove, start eating right and make exercise a habit, the rewards are worth the effort. Trust me, I know.

After years of losing a little and gaining more back, I got tired of being embarrassed about my body, of being the fat friend, of being the non-MILF, of being the one with “the pretty face but …”

I decided early this year that I was going to do it: I was going to lose weight, once and for all. I told a friend in February that I was going to drop 50 pounds by November. The response? “There’s no way you can do that.” Well, I did that friend one (or 10) better. I’ve lost 60 pounds and intend to reach my goal of losing another 15 or 20 by the end of November.

My journey isn’t over. In fact, it will never be over. But here are five kind of good, kind of bad, kind of odd things I’ve learned:

  1. A new wardrobe is not as fun as you think it will be because it’s so expensive, even if you shop for bargains. Just ask my thrifty husband. (Confession: He is kind of right. I overspend.)
  2. Even rings need to be resized. A very nice one fell off my finger the other day. Fortunately, it slid into my purse and I later found it. On the good side, I have a lot of necklaces on short chains that no longer look like chokers.
  3. Shapewear no longer shapes. I like shapewear because it smooths me out under my clothing. And even though there’s less of me to suck in, I still like to suck it in a little more. I have already purchased all-new panties, but I need new camisoles, bras, waist shapers … Sigh. Those things are expensive and no one even sees them under my clothing.
  4. My balance is improved and I feel much more comfortable in my body, except for one spot: my tailbone. I still have plenty of junk in the trunk — it’s just the way I’m built — but for some reason, my tailbone hurts like heck in airplane and movie-theater seats.
  5. Some people will cheer you on, but some surprising others will not. Gore Vidal once said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” When it comes to weight loss and improvements to your physical appearance, people get weird. It manifests itself in small and sometimes passive-aggressive ways: They won’t “like” your new, thinner Facebook photo. They’ll say, “Have you lost weight? I hadn’t noticed.” They’ll invite you to their homes for dinner and serve absolutely nothing you can eat, even though they know you’re being cautious. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to put the most calorie-laden foods possible on the table.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, the irritation and the effort, losing weight and becoming more healthy is something you do for yourself and yourself alone. I’d rather have five “thinner me” outfits than 50 of my old size. Ring sizing can wait. Damn my tailbone, I’ll sit on a pillow. And as for friends who aren’t completely supportive of the smaller me? They’ll get used to it. Or not.

Truth or dare: Answering your questions

L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose

As I get older, I’m both more and less forthcoming. I’ve learned that some things are better left unsaid, while some that were formerly too humiliating to talk about I now share freely. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who follow me on Instagram and I thought I’d answer them here. Some are about makeup, others are about my weight loss, and still more touch on personal topics. Here we go:

Q. If you could look like any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be?

A. At one time, I would have said Grace Kelly because she was true perfection. Now I’d choose someone else — someone sultrier and sexier. That’s because I’ve never considered my appearance sexy. Everything about me screams “girl next door” and always has. And although I love makeup, I have one of those faces that looks silly in a large wing or dramatically smoked-out eyes. For these reasons, I’d choose to see what it would be like to ooze sex appeal, like Ava Gardner or Elizabeth Taylor.

Q. If you were going out for the evening and could take only one makeup item, what would it be?

A. I used to say mascara, but I finally found a mascara that doesn’t disappear on me in Benefit’s They’re Real. I’d go with concealer because I detest dark under eyes and they always eventually peep out, no matter what I do.

Q. What was your most disappointing makeup purchase?

A. Recently it was two mascaras — the new Charlotte Tilbury and Marc Jacobs ones. They smeared and had no staying power on me, although I’m a big fan of both brands. My most expensive mistake was the Temptu Airbrush System.  You have to wear the foundation that comes in their pods and it wasn’t for me.

Q. Do you have a favorite foundation?

A. I always seem to go back to Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation. It gives me a nice, natural, realistic glow. I’m currently trying out the new Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation and the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick. So far, I prefer the better staying power of the Urban Decay. I’m always looking for the latest, greatest foundation. I can make my foundation look almost perfect, but it only lasts for a few hours. Two recent foundations that didn’t work for me? Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation and Too Faced Born This Way.

Q. What’s your favorite lipstick?

A. I have several: L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose, Marc Jacobs’ Le Marc Lip Cream in Clara and Melted Strawberry by Too Faced. They’re all fairly bright and I prefer brights with my skin tone. (My favorite non-bright is Tom Ford’s Spanish Pink.)

Q. Have you had a nose job and, if so, who was your doctor?

A. This is a surprising one that I’ve received several times. No, no nose job. It’s my original nose.

Q. How much weight have you lost? How did you do it?

A. I’ve lost 54 pounds and think I’ll switch to maintenance after another 30. I did not have weight-loss surgery, but would have if my insurance company covered it. I eat healthfully and never go over 1,200 calories per day. I walk 3-4 miles daily on a treadmill and take adult dance classes twice weekly. I also use two products by Hum Nutrition: Flatter Me, which reduces bloating, and Skinny Bird, which purports to reduce stress eating, boost metabolism, curb appetite and control blood sugar. Since losing weight, I no longer have high blood pressure or diabetes.

Q. What does your husband say about your weight loss?

A. Honestly? He doesn’t mention it often, other than to say I look nice. He’s not particularly effusive and never has been. He has mentioned several times that he’d love me at any weight, which is incredibly sweet.

Q. How is your son?

A. My son, James, was involved in a serious head-on collision a month ago. He was in a coma for awhile and there was concern about brain trauma, but we were fortunate. He does have numerous contusions and cuts, as well as broken ribs on both sides. He is healing well, but is in lots of pain. He has been a difficult patient because he suffers from severe anxiety and depression. We will get through it all together.

Q. What makeup trend do you dislike?

A. Instabrows — the large, overdone brows that have been in for awhile. This is partially because I’m a little sensitive about my own brows. I don’t have any, because they didn’t grow back after I had chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I have tattoos and it looks ridiculous if I try to draw in bigger brows on top of them. I’m also not huge on a lot of highlighter. I just don’t think it’s particularly flattering on older skin. I try to use it judiciously.

Q. Are there any new products you’d like to try?

A. The new Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation. And some of the new Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks. Her mascara and foundation didn’t work for me, but her lipsticks are spectacular, as are her eye products and blushes.

Q. You’ve added quotes and poems to your Instagram page. Do you have a favorite?

A. I’ve gotten incredibly good feedback — and a lot of new subscribers — since adding quotes and outfit of the day photos. I try to choose quotes and poems a lot of people identify with, and most of us have either been in love or been hurt in love. I also like inspirational quotes, as well as sharing the poems of talented Instagrammers. Here are a couple items that got great response, followed by my favorite. I hope they inspire you. 

Where’d she get that outfit? New website reveals all 

Like to Know It provides users with personalized shopping information

If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking out other women. Not in a sexual way (not that there’s anything wrong with it, as George and Jerry reassured themselves on “Seinfeld”). It’s other women’s outfits I’m ogling, along with their shoes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories.

Trust me, I’ve chased women down for buying information if they were wearing something my heart pinged for, but public grillings are not always appropriate or welcome. While some fashion plates are eager to share not only where they bought an item but what they paid for it, others act like they’ve been asked to divulge a state secret.

Enter a new way to play the “who, what, where and wear” game — a nifty website called Like to Know It (the address is simply LIKEtoKNOW.it). I wish I’d thought of this concept: Gather the best fashion and accessories photos on Instagram, then post them on a nicely designed internet page along with links that take viewers directly to purchase sites. As an added bonus, those who link the Like to Know It site to their Instagram accounts receive outfit details via email if they “like” an ensemble that shows up on their Instagram feeds. Their favorite outfits are also stored under a personalized tab on the Like to Know It site.

One of the best things about the service is discovering lots of little-known internet shops, many of them surprisingly affordable. I’ve placed small orders at two new-to-me online stores, ChicWish and SheIn, and I’ll give you an update on fit and quality when the items arrive.

In the meantime, check out the featured fashionistas on Like to Know It. At the very least, you’ll get a clear idea of what’s “in” this season. Hint: cold- and off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, ankle-wrap shoes, bohemian tassels and pom-poms, white lace and eyelet, stripes, and pastels.