Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Which I Review An At-Home Jessner Solution Peel



While purposefully striding through the sorely missed, now defunct, Bullocks Wilshire to pay for the only pair of Charles Jourdan raspberry heels maybe in the world, I was intercepted by a silver haired lady. Planting herself directly in front of me in an aisle between counters of perfume and Estee Lauder products, I stopped. She peered at my skin and said "let me show you something." I didn't forget about the urgency of my errand but she was lovely and her skin was almost translucent, just lovely laugh lines (really, who came up with "crows feet") at the corners of her eyes and maybe because I was just twenty, I really wanted her to guide me though all these products. She handed me an Estee Lauder blue jar and leaned forward again to almost whisper that I wasn't to worry when it rinsed blackheads down the drain. I was horrified (I might have blackheads? Where?) and so used to playing sophisticated grownup, having added five years to my age to get a job when I was seventeen, that I nodded as if I understood. I paid for it and she told me to come back after using it for two weeks. My skin would wake up, she said. Really, this was my entry into the world of Grown Up Beauty. My own mother had used Ponds Cold Cream to take her makeup off and that was it. Skin care beyond Clearasil was unheard of.


A few weeks ago I agreed to review the Jessner's Solution from SkinPeel.com. Maybe because of that lovely lady at Bullocks with such translucent skin, I'd always been rigorous about good skin care and products; even when I'd baked in the sun with a bit of baby oil to really get dark. My dermatologist had begun doing pretty things, astounded by the stampede for Retin A when it was released. I hated it: my face turned red, peeled, failure.  He was still doing deep chemical peels that really were scary: ladies hiding away under veils and big hats, like the damaged ladies in B-Movies where there's a crazy scientist who throws acid at beauties and then collects them (all because his true love had killed herself or a similar dark scenario) and emerging a long time later with skin like white velvet. Really matte and different than real skin: almost alien. Nothing was gentle then. Scary. Not for me, no.


Eventually papaya peels and almond/honey scrubs, avocado mashed with egg yolk, egg whites, etc were not enough... and so I graduated to dermatologist-given light glycolic peels, something new. Delicious but the cost was at least double a very good facial: but it also killed cystic acne and all traces of my rosacea disappeared. My doctor stayed with me along with his nurse who gave me a purple plastic fan to cool my face. Even the beginner version of 30% felt very hot within a few seconds and "frosted." After two minutes I was rushed to the sink to splash icy cold water leaving my skin looking very healthy and feeling tight although a bit red (that wore off in an hour or so). A series of six with increasing strength and application time was recommended: every six weeks or so. It was nice: more radiant, little discolorations fading away and that delicious tightness. The mild irritation was thought to stimulate collagen: all good. 


I was very pleased, albeit a couple of tummy butterflies, to review the Jessner Peel. And if you decide to try this before December 31, the company is offering a 20% discount with the code "SHEBLOGS".


Their product arrived in a clear plastic cosmetic case containing one bottle of the Jessner Peel, a neutralizer spray, a box of gauze squares for the application and instructions. Skin-Peel.com reminded me of the FTC requirement that bloggers acknowledge gifts: acknowledged.


I washed my face and patted it dry. Having read the instructions about twelve times, I was ready to  gently dab the Jessner solution on my face NOT my neck or around my eyes. Gently dab, not douse. The alcohol smell faded immediately and it was not unpleasant for the sixty seconds (30 - 60 depending on your comfort) I paced before rushing to spray the neutralizer (refreshing) and then splashing cold water. You can do two to six passes; you will become increasingly sensitive to the point (five passes for me) that you cannot bear the thought of one more. Oh and increasingly red, not burnt. If one is burnt you stop. Period. No more.  Red like a fresh light sunburn and that old tight feeling, I layered gobs of moisturizer on. The red diminished as expected and by the next morning my face just felt tight. Three days later a gentle peeling began. Very gentle ... lasting five or six days. Nothing that anyone would comment on. Your skin feels so soft and fresh, more radiant (well, yes: you've just taken a layer of dull old skin off). The truth is that I loved it and will do it again in a couple of months.


But.


If you've had this done by your dermatologist several times, you'll know what to expect and when to stop. Skin-Peel.com carries other products such as lactic acid, glycolic acid that are safer and yet dermatologist strength. 


"The Jessner's Solution should be applied by experienced professionals only ... t


Chemical peels have been used for hundreds of years and have a proven safety record (when applied by experienced users). Chemical peels, however, are not for everyone. Active infections and certain medications (ie Accutane) may preclude the use of certain types of chemical peels (especially medium and deep.)"


The very best thing would be to ask your doctor about this, perhaps even apply it for you. Things like the thickness of your skin, its color, what medications you're taking, your sensitivity and discomfort level matter. Antibiotics, cortisone, other medications make your skin more sensitive. 


Honestly, I love it. More than mashed avocadoes and egg yolks.



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh For A Kind And Good Tailor and A Few Do's

Tweets roll by until there is The One that makes you gasp. Well, I did just gasp, roll my eyes, smack my table, get up and pace for a minute. 

First you need to know that I've always cheered for the Don't Do This group, a by-product of my middle school years where I had almost daily visits to the Vice Principal of Skirts. Slouching didn't always work to get my skirt to touch the floor while kneeling awkwardly and her almost gleeful glints of something I couldn't name made me cross. In my thoughts, of course; in real time I apologized and promised to do better. I'd really thought my years of kneeling in Catholic school classrooms (catechism, not punishment; rulers were the scarier thing then) were over. My first lessons is fashion prejudice. 

Years later in Paris near Claude Montana's Rue St. Denis quirky neighborhood (a mix of sex shops and pizza stores) I tried to remember to carry a YSL shawl I liked to boldly throw on with the name showing. For some reason, labels and recognizable designer logos embarrassed me (I liked Bottega best back then because they didn't do initial bags). It was necessary to not look too fashionable (Issey Miyake coats were rather grand) because the drivers preferred neat to edge and it always rained when we needed a taxi. Most simply disappeared and the rest had drivers wagging a finger at us for trying to hail a cab in the rain. Sigh. Season after season. The magazine editors had cars, by the way.

Maybe because fashion requires so many judgements as a buyer, I hate being judgmental about fashion and beauty.  My favorite, sometimes very humbling, exercise is at airports with the requirement that I find at least one thing that I like about each person I see. Yelling people excused. Shudder.

The tweet is very friendly and actually comes from a fashion professional. Well, that makes it worse, I think. The tweet is this:

Don't bother saving anything that just doesn't fit you anymore. Ill-fitting clothes are absolutely DEADLY for the self-esteem #fashion

Oh dear. That is so not what I believe. I recently took two Gary Graham chiffon sort of Stevie Nicks wonderful dresses (ok, they were identical but I did get them on sale) to my alteration lady. There were three layers of dreamy chiffon and sort of a handkerchief hem that made the dresses so special. Actually too special for me. I love to wear beautiful dresses like this with tights and boots, sometimes with (I never got over grunge) skin tight jeans and someone's ballet flats. Nancy shopped the hems to make them all straight and it's "normal" with most of the Stevie thing removed, just the memory left. Two lovely skirts seemed just too long and the waist needed to be taken in (several of my skirts were meant to be worn below the waist and I'm very tired of that look). Maybe because we once had two seamstresses in our Beverly Hills store (it was normal back then to absolutely adjust everything to perfection) I picked up the habit of changing things to my way. OK, maybe I shouldn't have to some early John Galliano jackets from his earliest collections when fit was more unusual (nicely said, thank you) - they were his pieces but they did have to fit to be sold.

DO make friends with two tailors (seamstresses, alterations people: not sure how to phrase this). One for serious work involving taking things in all over, adjusting narrowness of sleeves and pants, removing waistbands to change the fit - this one will charge a lot and it's worth it. One step closer to custom. I think that most dry cleaners offer amazingly inexpensive hems for skirts (plain skirts, not those doubled ballooned picquet hem things) and simple hems for pants. Do it. Smile and say thank you; you'll have someone who cares.

DO remove the plastic bags by the way. Many (most?) dry cleaners use things that linger a bit on your freshly cleaned clothes. Air them out, change hangers (Mommy Dearest in mind here) and do not stuff them into your closet.

DO look at your shoes, boots, bags and at the first scuff, smudge, seam ... get them to the best shoe repair shop you can find. For some reason, my black Balenciaga motorcycle bag became my security blanket during the darkest days of my divorce (years, sigh). Twice a year I gave it up to be moisturized, cleaned, attended to (spa day?) and then when Lehman's collapsed and we all had financial insecurity, I stuck with it. The divorce ended and I do have an obscenely extravagant fuchsia Lanvin bag with those floppy flowers (my kids bought it for me).

DO get rid of anything that is frayed, that you hated every time you wore it guiltily, that is no longer your style, that reminds you of someone and you do not want to go there. Donate, trade off with friends, eBay ... choices.

DO have a system that you like for your clothes. I like dark things together and then whites (well that's about it for me) and then the handful of prints or (gasp) color.

DO stuff your boots, shoes, bags with the tissue paper that nice shops wrap your things in. It's just nice.

DO NOT get rid of things you love that you haven't worn in a year. Silly rule - ignore it.

DO take your suede shoes, boots and bags to the shoe repair shop to waterproof carefully. It's a nasty spray that can glop. It costs hardly anything and it works.

DO NOT listen to other people's rules because they are in fashion ... Take what you like and leave the rest behind works here too.

DO NOT ever ever ever wear a white anything that should have been washed. That's not grunge; that's a serious mistake.

DO what you love. Life is short and once you're out of school, there is no Vice Principal of Skirts.

DO find that nice thing about someone else because you'll be happier.
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