Tuesday, May 30, 2006

the goods

I think I'm going to run with the theme this week of blogging about things of absolutely no consequence. We've all got a bit of spring fever and it seems like a good time to spend awhile just focusing on the flutternutter aspect of life.

In the past I've eluded to being a bit of a product queen. Let's delve further into this, shall we? I should put a disclaimer on the fact that what follows may be highly intolerable reading for some of you, so feel free to stop now, or leave a comment telling me I'm shallow. Because after writing this, I could never argue that I'm not.

Before we begin, a few things to know about Product Whoredom:
PW cannot be taught or acquired. You either care about this shit or you're happy with buying drugstore products. This isn't always a bad thing; we'll talk more about it later.
PW is genetic. My mom had it, and so did her mom (although my nana always saved everything "for best," and my mom and I have no such need to stockpile the goods for some far off day when we'll be deserving of it).
PW does not necessarily mean you're girly in every aspect of life. You'd be hard pressed to find someone less girly than myself, insomuch as I've actually been called a boy. However, you'd also be hard pressed to find a boy this well-moisturized.
PW also does not necessarily mean that you're an expert on or even interested in all beauty rituals. For example, I still bite my nails.
Significant others will kindly try to indulge your PW, but they will always get it wrong. (Most of the good stores have pretty fair return policies, though.) The only person who can truly feed your addiction is another person with PW.
PW can make you poor, but you'll enjoy getting there immensely. Also, your friends will be happy they know you, because they can periodically go product diving in the two boxes in your closet where you put all your cast-offs.

The products that I care about are of the body variety, in their many incarnations, including lotions, creams/cremes (the latter usually costs more), butters, souffles, scrubs, washes, and things of that nature. When it comes to this subject, I am sort of embarrassed to tell you that I know absolutely everything. No, I really do. Some people might know everything about foreign policy, but welcome to me.

Let's start with Sephora. It's a little bit tacky but it has a huge inventory, kind of like Stop & Shop. Their marketing is skewed more toward teenage girls with their Benefit and other chintzy vendors up front and their Bliss and L'Occitane and Fresh hidden in the back like they're ashamed of them; who on earth designed their store layout? As for the goods: Bliss is obviously high-end but their lotions are fake fruit smelling; their Naked Body Butter is the best. Fresh is also top shelf and charges accordingly; you basically can't go wrong with anything they put out, except that weird geisha line they have. Maybe they thought the movie would be bigger? Their Brown Sugar Body Polish is perfect, but too expensive to keep on hand. L'Occitane is straight-up quality, but no frills, like some bitch who knows everything and doesn't care what you think. Frederic Fekkai is mostly hair stuff; not much to say about that because I'm pretty much a wash and go girl (ask anyone who knows me; on any given day I'm rocking the slightly damp ponytail) so I don't tend to buy expensive shampoo, but I do have some FF products in my guest room bath so maybe you could ask some of my houseguests. Clinique has the Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator which I've liked for years, and no, it doesn't leave you sparkly. Philosophy has a good skincare line but their 3-in-1s are getting a little bit out of control; I suppose they must sell them before they can create them because they appear to be multiplying. The only one I use faithfully is cinnamon buns, in the winter. As for the actual Sephora line, their body butter is good and the rest of it is junk. Sorry, I take no prisoners. They have tons of perfume, organized alphabetically (perfect example of how you kinda lose something when you warehouse shop) but I don't wear perfume, although I did have a brief flirtation with Clean a few years ago. But best of all about Sephora is that they carry a line called Red (my real name, though).

Origins is a train that I've recently reboarded. For a long time I thought their products smelled weird, like Aveda (more about that later, too). I think it's that earthy crunchy straight from the soil phase they went through, where they may have had products that did the job but they smelled like mud. But lately they have that yummy Salts of the Earth line and lots of great scrubs, like Never a Dull Moment. Dr. Weil's line is good and Shedonism is sort of nice; I'm not a big fan personally but my mom likes it. Perfect World has been around forever and is still pretty consistently good. Their tropical lotion/scrub stuff, I think it's called Paradise Found, is too fake islandy smelling. Their cocoa stuff is not good; desserty smells are so hard to perfect. The chocolate/vanilla undertones have to be subtle or else it just smells like Nestle Quik. And they're still sticking with that godforsaken ginger line, probably because it was one of Oprah's Favorite Things years ago. Oprah might have a little bit of PW in her. I always pay attention to her bath/body choices on her favorite things show, and many times I agree with her. (An entire post about lotion AND loving on Oprah? Seriously, bring on the hate mail. But remember that Oprah-bashing is a trademark hipster move, so watch yourself, hater.)

It's kind of a love/hate thing with Bath & Body Works. Right off the bat I have to say that their staff is deeply annoying. They jump on you when you first walk in and then follow you around squirting stuff on you and wanting you to wash your hands with one of their scrubs in their sink; what's the deal with that? Get your half-bath away from me. I know B&BW management probably forces them to get in your face, and wear those damn aprons like they're about to go milk a cow in the food court, but still, it's annoying. Anyway, when I was in college all they had was their sun-ripened raspberry, country apple, plumeria... remember those? They're all still there, but now they've obviously got lots of other stuff, none of which appeals to me a whole bunch, aside from their True Blue spa line; a lot of those products are very good. Back in the day when they first came out with Moonlight Path, I loved it; it smelled like shampoo. But then I swear they changed the formula or something because now it smells really flowery, so we've long since broken up. B&BW also has Biotherm and CO Bigelow now, which I like. Biotherm has a body wash called Aquathermale that's very summery and sporty, and both men and women have used it in my home and sung its praises; I keep that in the guest bath now, too. B&BW has tons of candles, some of which smell good, but I haven't really gone there; they have all the candles in the same scents as their lotions, but then they also have ones that are like chocolate mandarian apricot herb essence, which is a little much for me. They've got a few awful teenage girly lines now too, I can't think of what they're called, but it's stuff with names like sugar puff and pound cake and it all smells cheap and terrible, like Jessica Simpson's Dessert line. Oh, but I will say that B&BW still corners the market for me when it comes to seasonal stuff. One of my favorite things to do in September is buy their new fall candles in scents like pumpkin and caramel. Yum. But that may be because I just love fall so much, especially after a hot summer.

Aveda... I just got a pedicure from them this weekend, or rather, from a Cape salon that contracts with them. I don't like much of their stuff because of the aforementioned funny smell of most of their products, but they seem to be coming out with lots of new things, so I'll keep an open mind. I do really like their new Carribean Therapy body cream. It's a great lotion and they did the islandy scent just right, unlike Origins. They have a good scrub in the same scent.

Can't do The Body Shop. I've never been happy with anything I've purchased there. I haven't been inside a Body Shop in like two years, though, so who knows.

MAC is pretty much all make-up, which I don't wear consistently enough to be an expert on... not because I shouldn't, but because I'm lazy. Also, MAC's employees scare me a little.

Drugstores! OK, it's not ghetto just because it's from CVS, but you have to know what you're getting. Johnson & Johnson came out with softlotions, and those are pretty good. In my experience Dove products are good, and I like that they smell clean. (Sidebar: I have a splotch of brown on my left big toe because Dove's "energy glow" gradual tan lotion stuff DOES NOT WORK. Be warned. Learn from my mistakes and don't end up with a sad toe.) I used to keep a Fresh hand lotion in my bag and I didn't like it as much as the Purell with lotion that I have in there now. Palmer's cocoa butter is great stuff. Nivea, I can live with, in a pinch. Other than that, I don't want to hear about you buying your products at the same place where you buy your floss and greeting cards. Time to trade up, buttercup.

What's in my shower/on my bathroom counter as of this moment (read: what comes highly recommended from someone who has tried everything): Aveda Carribean Therapy body cream, Origins smoothing souffle, Fresh sugar lemon lotion, Palmer's cocoa butter, B&BW I'm in the Mood for Scrub, Dove exfoliating body wash, Biotherm Aquathermale body wash, and Origins salt suds body wash. I also have the Bliss lemon and sage sinkside set in my guest bath, just because it looks so cute.

By the way, all the references to my guest bathroom are making my apartment sound bigger/fancier than it is, and I'm laughing at myself right now for inadvertently making it sound like a hotel. Or Brett's inn.

So that's it, kids. That's my heroin. First Laguna Beach and now this. I can't decide if I should feel better having shared every horrific detail, or if I should be curled up in a ball of shame on the floor. Are there any others out there afflicted with PW, or does the cheese stand alone? And if it's not products, what are you all irrationally obsessed with?

And if your answer is something like "world peace" then you're not allowed to play on my blog anymore.

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