Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

I wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing people who have helped me along in my business endeavor. Without your knowledge, encouragement, patronage, confidence, artistry, and all the other good qualities that I drink in from each of you, this would not be possible.

To Makeup Art Cosmetics (MAC), for the training, guidance, and support.

To each and every lovely face. . . bride, model, performer. . . for the patience, excitement, and feedback. Your kind words sustain me; being a part of a moment in your life thrills me.

To all the amazing photographers whom I've worked with, thank you for your generosity and sharing spirit. I will always give credit to you and your work.

To all the stylists and artists I've had the good fortune to come across. . . there's always something meaningful to learn from our conversations and work together.

Last, but certainly not least, to my family and friends for your unconditional love and support.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” (William Arthur Ward)

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Love A-Rod, but I Love My HAI Elite Rod More!

I'm no hair stylist, but I am "hair friendly."

I pay attention and can recognize something new and fabulous when I see it; this is a phenomenal hair styling tool. I consider myself in-the-know about lots of hair products, tools, styles, techniques. I have owned every kind of hair dryer, diffuser, hot roller, curling iron, hair straightener, brush, comb, pin. . . you name it. I still have my same set of Clairol hot rollers from my college days. So, I'm also something of a collector, too.

Several weeks ago I worked a photo shoot with the lovely ladies of Tresses Salon and the amazing photographers of King Street Studio (respective blogs to follow. . .). As the models were being styled, my curiosity was piqued by this new tool I'd never seen before.

It's called the HAI Elite Rod and it looks like a wand. . . the resulting curls are nothing short of magic. Although the barrel is conical in shape, and depending on how you hold it, your curl grades from loose to tight. The curl it creates is reminiscent of spiral or ringlet curls. It has no spring clip to hold hair in place which is very important because it gets super hot. That is why a heat-resistant glove must be used in conjunction so as not to burn the fingers / hands of those using it.

This rod is made of ceramic and tourmaline. It's the tourmaline that helps lock moisture into the hair cuticle. This is one styling tool that's actually good for your hair. I'm always game for "good for" my hair, especially since I put it through so much with heat, chemicals, and styling products.

The gurls at Tresses hooked me up when I went in for cut, color, and style. Jacqueline knew that I was interested in The Rod, so she styled my hair with it so I could see how to use it and extoll its virtues. One of the many virtues is that the curl lasted in my hair for a solid three days. No kidding. This tool takes the term "curls locked in" to a different level.

She also cautioned me, as I am about to for you, that you must be very careful and use the glove with this. This is no regular curling iron. . . it's a professional tool that gets extremely hot. This is a styling tool that was more than likely made for a stylist to use on someone else, but that is now being made available to the public. I do not consider it a novice/newbie tool. . . you have to be at least "hair friendly" to use it and not burn yourself.

So, I was hooked. . . after 3 days of curl. . .completely hooked. Last week I went back to get my own HAI Elite Rod. Before I did, I called around to several area salons and the professional beauty supply stores. No one has this; some have not even heard of it. Tresses Salon is the sole retailer on the East Coast of this amazing tool. Check it out at Tresses in the Oakland Market Shoppes, Hwy. 17 North, Mount Pleasant. Mallory, Jacqueline, Amy. . .or any of the stylists there can help you!

p.s. The photos that appear above are to illustrate the difference between my hair straightened versus Day Two of curls with the HAI Elite Rod.



I send heartfelt condolences to Barbara and Robert Kearns on the loss of their husband and father, respectively. P

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Luscious Lashes via MAC #4s, #7s, and #32s

I love lashes. Maybe it's because I don't have many of them, but mostly because it just puts a look "over the top."

In order to round out our discussion of lashes (see previous blog on Latisse), I must give equal time to false lashes. The pro's are many; the con's are few.

Pros: they provide POP immediately; they finish a look wonderfully; there are so many styles, sizes, and shapes available, that you can choose how much (or little) drama you want; they come off easily, and if treated gently, can be used 4 or 5 times. If you wear contacts, you're accustomed to having fingers near your eyes, so you, especially are able to wear them without much fuss.

Cons: gosh, I can't think of any. Some people say it's difficult to put them on themselves. There is truth in this. . . the first time I tried wearing them, it took me two times applying them before I felt comfortable with the process.

I try to talk all my brides into wearing them. Even if they are just "baby" lashes, that usually provides much more volume to a lash line. And mothers-of-the-bride, whose lashes may have thinned considerably, need them as well. For me, lashes are a must for any kind of photography.

I've attached some photos of the kinds of MAC lashes I use most. #4s are wispy and usually need to be trimmed, but I save those trimmings and use those for corner lashes at a later date. #7s are the spiky going-out lashes. . .people with a substantial distance between their lash line and eye brow wear these beautifully. #32s I use on many ladies who are on the fence about lashes or don't think they can pull it off. . . they are so very delicate and simply provide a little more oomph on thinning lashes. You can see from the first two photos the difference they make in my photos: one picture, I have nothing on my lashes, not even mascara. The other one I'm wearing MAC #7s. . . a little more drama than I'm accustomed to, but fun nonetheless. These two pics are a stark contrast, but included to show the difference between some and none.

I love my lashes. . . fake ones, real ones, or Latisse'd ones.

Thanks to the Lady at P.F. Chang's in Charlotte, NC ("Sushi Love!") and my MAC mate, Terrell. (Eyes, Lashes)

Proud Mama, Part Two

WARNING: Extremely proud Mama comments are forthcoming. Read at your own risk. Jordan, don't ask me to delete this :) Also, digressions are made all over the place.

Rounding out the Proud Mama / musical weeks referred to a couple of days ago, I have one more experience to relay. This one involves Son #1.

While Culley was off in Indianapolis winning national finalist honors with his high school band, and Livi and Jim were having their own Daughter/Daddy weekend complete with pedicure and date night, Jordan was with me.

Jordan is a sophomore at USC in Columbia where he's a morning deejay for WUSC-FM (90.5), the campus radio station. He's a graduate of the Charleston County School of the Arts (symphony major), and an all-around music lover. Because of his classical training at SOA, Jordan has a deep appreciation for all things music. Currently, improvisation and jazz are his favorites. My appreciation of music, which runs just as deep, is based on nothing technical, but on pop-culture. I love the history of music, lyrics, bands. . . the stories behind how things and relationships came to be. What dynamics were playing out among a band when they wrote a certain song? And of course, how certain music represents different stages of my own life. Was it a good time, a rough patch, childhood?

Well, last week the stars, moons, and planets aligned. I had urged Jordan to make a trip with me to Georgia to visit my mom. It was her birthday and it had been over a year since he's seen her. To my utter pleasure when I asked him to go along with me, he didn't argue or give any excuse about why it was inconvenient, etc. He just said, "Okay, Mom. I'll go." I didn't even have to sweeten the deal, which is what I was prepared to do. So, what happened next was just icing on the cake.

My friendships run deep. . . I have close, dear friends from elementary school through college through various jobs over the years that I still keep in touch with. A couple from my college days are currently professional musicians. One recently landed the job as new bass player for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Well, as luck would have it, LS was playing in Augusta, GA, which was on our direct route to my mom's house in Monroe. Jordan and I got hooked up. . . tickets, passes, and some quality time with some old-school rockers. But my son impressed me more than anyone. And sometimes it cracks me up because I don't know where these qualities come from. There was nothing that intimidated him about any of this. None of the security, screaming die-hard fans, a full James Brown Arena, backstage access, dressing-room/catering; none of it daunted him. He was open and happy and at his most pleasant self. For any one who knows any of the LS history, there's currently only one original member with the band: Gary Rossington. He survived the plane crash that took the lives of six members of Skynyrd back in 1977. My friend tells me he's very low-key, a "man of few words," and due to his demeanor, revered among the band and fans alike. Well, to see this man walk out and shake my son's hand and tell him how nice it was to meet him, was a bit surreal. Then there was Johnny Van Zant, and Rickey Medlocke, and all of the other members. Each and every one commented on Jordan's height and red hair which he took good-naturedly. But the highlight of the evening came when the sound and lighting engineer stopped to chat and invited Jordan back to the boards for the show. So, my son didn't sit with me for any of the concert, but at the back with a birdseye view of how a Lynyrd Skynyrd show is put on. He was as happy as he could be, and once again, I was a proud Mama.

Only one regret from this: I didn't take pictures. Except one. It was taken with my Blackberry after Jordan had explained how much each amplifier cost (and there were many of them). He got up and let me take his photo so I could text Jim and give him the play-by-play of what was going on.

One last note that brings this full circle: last March when my friend called with the news that he would be Skynyrd's new bass player, I got out my "Street Survivors" cd just to put it back on my radar. That same night, Jordan texted me before going on air at WUSC. It said, "Mom, what should I play?" I said the first thing that came to mind, "how about 'Street Survivors' by Skynyrd?" Evidently the show went well. He sent another message that said he'd received a record number of calls from listeners thanking him for playing some classic Southern Rock.

Thank you Universe; thank you Robert Kearns; thank you Lynyrd Skynyrd; thank you, Jordan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Luscious Lashes via LATISSE !!!

LATISSE. . . I've tried it, and I love what it's done for me. . . long, luscious lashes that I've grown myself.

Latisse is the brand name for a pharmaceutical by Allergan called bimatoprost ophthalmic solution. It contains the same ingredient found in a medication for glaucoma patients whose side effect is growth of darker, longer lashes. It touts the ability to grow your lashes longer in 12 weeks of consistent use. Well, I'm here to testify!

It definitely worked, growing longer, fuller lashes, but I did encounter a couple of the side effects. Mainly eye dryness and darkening of my upper lash line. However, I feel the trade-off has been worth it. I use eye drops to keep my eyes moisturized and I use a little more eyeliner to conceal the darkness at my lashline. Coincidentally, an ophthalmologist recommend I not use Visine, which is a vaso-constrictor, meaning in order to "get the red out" all it does is shrink capillaries in your eyes. The redness comes right back, and therefore I use eye re-wetting drops.

As a makeup artist and a person with "insufficient" lashes, much of my work goes toward enhancing that feature. . . not only on myself, but my clients, too. When I'm dealing with a client, model, or bride the quickest route to long, luscious, stand-out lashes is a strip of false ones. However, it's impractical for me to apply false lashes to myself every day. That's where, for me, the beauty of Latisse lies. Every night after removing my makeup and washing my face, I brush on one drop of this product along my upper lash line. If you are a bride and have several weeks or months to go before your wedding, I'd highly recommend this product. If you are a consumer like me who wants to have your own "natural" lashes, this is a great way to go. Don't get me wrong, I love my false lashes! There's a time and place for them, especially in photography or for a special occasion.

I've spoken to some other Latisse users who have had hyper-growth. . . they responded very quickly and with an abundance of eyelash growth. When I began my treatment, the doctor's office was running a special where I got two bottles of Latisse for the price of one. My first bottle lasted me about 16 weeks. I saw maximum results at about 10-12 weeks. That was over the summer, and I decided to give it a break for a few weeks, mainly because of the eye dryness. True to all the literture, my lashes went back to their normal volume and length, so I'm currently on round two. This product is available by prescription only, so do the research, talk to other users, and find out if this is something that you could benefit from.

A real moment of validation came when I saw one of my sisters over the summer, and she commented on my "false lashes." She honestly thought I had put on my "Vegas Lashes." It was a Lash Moment that Brooke Shields (an endorser of Latisse) would've approved of.

I've included some candid shots of myself and my sister, Jenny, without any makeup on. Compare our lashes. . . (she's the blonde). Hers are a little longer than my normal (non-Latisse) lashes. Mine in the photo are without mascara. Thank you, Jenny, for allowing me to use your au naturel face!

The fine folks at Lowcountry Plastic Surgery set me up with my Latisse. This is a wonderful group of people who are well-trained, extremely knowledgeable, and offer a plethora of products and services. Michele Hensel is the office manager and a proud Latisse user. Check out their website below, or call Michele or Kirsten at 843.971-2860. There will be future blogs about them. . . awesome people who do wonderful things for our community while making this world a more beautiful place!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Please Pardon a Proud Mama. . .Part One

Can a Mama brag for just a minute? We've had a very kid-centered week or two here in the Lesch household, all revolving around music. It's been a state of grace, actually.

Son #2, Culley, has embarked on an adventure his freshman year of high school known as The Wando Warrior Marching Band. The WHS band is a magnificent organization headed up by the most amazing director, Scott Rush and his assistant directors, Sean McGrew and Lanie Radecke, drill master Tim Cole, and art director/visual coordinator Michael Gray. Jessica Crum and Bobby Bethea direct the WHS Color Guard.

Band rehearsals started in mid-July. These kids gave up a solid month of their summer break for 13-hour days in the hot South Carolina sun in order to begin preparing for the prize: a trip to Indianapolis for Grand Nationals. . . the "Holy Grail" of marching band competitions here in the United States. Wando has a proud tradition of being among the best, if not THE best high school marching band in SC. However, this would be its first showing at the national level. Excitement throughout the marching season was palpable with the running countdown to the regional competition in Atlanta, the state competition in Orangeburg, and then to November 14 for Grand Nationals.

Weeks were consumed with 3 days of after-school rehearsals, plus football games on Friday nights, and weekend exhibits or competitions. Of course, this is in addition to the kids' academic classes and it has been Culley's life since July. He's loved every minute of it. This band has provided so much more than music. It's been a refuge in a school with over 3,300 students; it's been a place to bond with other kids who love the same things he does; it's been food for his brain and nourishment for his body; it's been more physically taxing than any P.E. class would request of him. We have truly learned the meaning of the "Wando Band Family."

As a freshman band parent, I was on the periphery looking in; I was a bit overwhelmed by the scope and magnitude of this operation. It's daunting. But what I learned was, like a colony of ants, there's a job for everyone. . .there's room for everyone. These people get things done! As a novice band parent, I'd like to make a disclaimer here. . . if I've gotten any names wrong or left any one out, please accept my apologies and chalk it up to my newness :)

I'd like to publicly thank all those other parents who treated and fed and nursed my son as if he were their own. All the parents who gave him water in the sweltering heat; nurses and physician parents who answered the calls of help when needed, all the merchants who donated food, water, and Stuff; the uniform committee who saw to it that my son had a stunning uniform that fit his exponentially-growing legs; the moms and dads who helped check luggage for field trips and went on the trips so my son could feel safe and secure. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

To Mr. Rush and staff. . . my gratitude runs deep for the life lessons you've taught these students: Graciousness and humility go so far in life; it builds character. All band students from all high schools are out there doing their best, too . . . they deserve our utmost respect and courtesy. Discipline is a means to improvement but self-discipline is a means to true understanding. And the list goes on. The WHS marching band is a microcosm of the best of humanity.

Fast forward to Sunday, November 15, as I'm waiting for Culley's bus to pull into the Wando parking lot, along with 300 other parents and family members with signs, noise-makers, sparklers, bull-horns, and posters, I'm thinking about the goals that were met. The first place win in the 5A South Carolina band competition; the 4th place win at the Bands of America regional competition in Atlanta; and now, (drumroll please) the 11th place win at the Grand Nationals. The goal from the outset. . . and I understand it was a lofty one since this was Wando's first trip to "Grand Nats". . . was to place in the top 12. And by golly, they did it!

All this hard work and dedication paid off. It was a wonderfully proud moment, when those 5 motor coaches pulled in, with a Mount Pleasant police escort. That's when the tears poured out. . . seeing my son come off that bus with a large medal around his neck and the exhaustion over his body. That's when I knew this was more than worth all the work, trips, expense, time, and energy. Not only was it worth it, it was a moment of rededication to next year!

Go Wando!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Featured Photographer: Ashley Brokop

Photography by Ashley Brokop
Makeup by Pamela Lesch

As I think about Ashley Brokop and her photography, one word recurs: moments. She's about them, she catches them, she's in them.

I've worked with Ashley twice, but with someone like her who wears her heart on her sleeve, it feels like I've known her much, much longer. Maybe it's the mommy-factor we have in common; maybe it's the yearning to be here in Chucktown (I live here, and I yearn for it!). But she falls into that inexplicable category of Kindred Spirit.

Ashley's photography has a distinct, photojournalist feel to it. Her military photography background has a unique ambience; when you look at her work and see someone with a wide smile or head tilted back with eyes closed or some other small movement, you just know she immortalized a moment.

One of the first things I noticed about her is that she kneels a lot and gets shots from angles that would never occur to me. I also love that she likes to shoot my makeup and the process of getting a bride ready. There's something of a mess that I make when I'm in the zone and doing my thing . . . brushes, eyeshadows, pencils, all askew. She considers that a moment and clicks away.

The hour or so before a bride puts on her dress are some of the most intimate, closely-knit moments in a woman's life. Usually, only those in her innermost circle are around her, readying her for this occasion. It's one of the things that draws me to the bridal aspect of my line of work. That's a special time, and I get to be a part of it. Ashley's work actually captures those fleeting moments. They are precious, she knows it, and she gets it.

Ashley is based out of Sumter, SC, but she travels extensively. Please check out her website at

Thanks also to lovely bride, Kimberly Mrachek :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Eyes Have It!

"Makeup may not change the world or even your life, but it can be a first step in learning things about yourself you may have never discovered otherwise."

This Kevyn Aucoin quote sums up why he is my favorite makeup artist; it emphasizes that what makes someone truly beautiful is internal. Makeup is a means to enhance the external. Aucoin's bestseller, "Making Faces," is a must-have reference for any makeup fan. The celebrity models are amazing. . .some have been transformed into beauty icons of days-gone-by such as Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe.

The photo above, of another Georgia native Julia Roberts, is my all-time favorite makeup photo. The directions for this shot are all about the eyes, but I like the lips just as much. The nudeness of her lips draws further attention to her eyes. Because there is so much drama around them, the rest of her face is very much downplayed. Her skin is smooth and flawless, blush is light and apricot. There is a side note that her eyebrows were bleached in order to soften the overall affect of the face.

What's most endearing about this book to me, is there's enough how-to guidance to help us achieve any of the looks he's crafted. The photos are full-page so you have a great reference to try to copy. Kevyn has endorsed no particular line of cosmetics, but gives great descriptives of colors and tones to help us recreate these looks. Therefore, the reader could go into any Wal-Mart, Target, or CVS and purchase the products based on his descriptions and the wearer's tastes.

There are a few tools he uses that I'm not particularly fond of, such as sponge-tip applicators. But this is my bias which goes back to my early makeup days when I didn't throw anything away and the true colors of eyeshadows were lost because of the cakey build-up on the sponge-tips. Where he recommends sponge-tip applicators, I'd simply use my trusty MAC #219 ("pencil") brush.

The subtle trick behind pulling off this look is BLENDING; no harsh lines and a concentration of color on the outer corners of the eyes. . . and then going back and blending more. Although this is not an everyday look (at least not for me), it's one I reference often for going-out or date nights or a special evening occasion.

Julia Roberts, photographed by Peter Lindbergh.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rollin' in my Robin's. . .

The more I think about jeans, the more I have to share. The next in my Denim Lineup are my Robin's Jeans.

I find these Robin's Jeans fly a bit under the radar. As a matter of fact, the company website is still in development. They don't quite get the press as the Joe's or Sevens or Diesels. And to my knowledge, they haven't crept up in any TJ Maxx or Marshall's yet. They truly still have their "boutique appeal." Robin Cretchien, the creator/designer of this line, has been in the fashion biz for quite a while, with an affinity for denim. That's great news for us denim consumers.

I have only one pair. . . this was a splurge. But again, worth it to me because I wear them so often. These jeans are plenty long, fit snugly against the hip, and did not need any alteration. The pair I own have the wings logo in black on a dark denim wash. But it's the black studs that line the pockets and back side that make them unique. Mine were purchased at a great shop here in Mount Pleasant called Style Exchange.

The website will be up and running soon. Check back often.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Georgia Peach who is Forever in True Religions!

What makes you feel good? I mean REALLY goooood?

Makeup makes me feel good every time I put it on. . . on myself, on someone else, every time I look at it in its packaging. You know I love my MAC. I love the simple lines of its sleek, uncluttered, minimalist plastic. But as far as packaging goes, I'd have to say that Benefit Cosmetics offers some pretty amazing stuff. Simple in it's cardboard containers, but it's the artwork that makes it so beautiful. I love my Georgia Peach blush. And I must admit, that I bought it purely, sheerly, only for the packaging. That peach looks so. . . edible.

Alas, I digress because what's really on my mind is what I package myself in. . . my favorite package of all time. . . my jeans. I love denim. I could tell you how I love my Levi's. . . they're a classic. They fit me beautifully and you can't beat the price.

But I'm in love with my True Religions. They fit me BEST. They sit and snug in all the right places. Just as important, they give in all the right places. They bend, and they conform to ME. I know my size and indeed, it's True every time. I can actually justify the price tag because I wear them constantly. They are a winner. . . a knock-out. And I can spot a pair (real or knock-off) a mile away: the thick stitching. . . those pockets! That little Buddha on the label. The hardware. I love it all. There's nothing I don't like about them. They are LONG enough for me to wear with my highest heels. On the flares, I crave the way that seam twists from my inner knee to the outside of my ankle. If you wear them or have ever tried on a pair, you know what I mean. There are Bobbys and Joeys and Billys. My new fave is a dark wash, white-stitch, knee-length skirt.

And you know the drill: dress them up or dress them down. Either way, I feel good in my True Religions.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Senseless Acts of Beauty. . .

Have you ever been the beneficiary of a Random Act of Kindness? I certainly have and I aspire to be that person who not only doles them out, but accepts them graciously. Sometimes accepting them is the harder thing to do.

When I really stop and think about it, my list of kindnesses that have been bestowed on me, is immense. I've been so fortunate. But what I love about this wonderful cycle is that kindness begets kindness. I believe that in order to truly and fully realize a RAK, you have to have an open heart in both the giving and receiving.

With regards to cosmetics, it was my mother-in-law, Sandy, who had a belief in me and my pursuing a career in beauty. It was she who purchased my first makeup kit in 1991. . .Mary Kay! "You never know until you try," she said. That was the beginning of my formal career in this field.

The attorney who hired me for my job during our years in Maryland was a great believer in doling out kindnesses. It's easy to do things for family, but she is my inspiration for doing things for complete strangers. This lady let me play hooky from work one day so I could attend the presidential inauguration. . . she knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. This was just a drop in the bucket of the myriad things she did for me. I haven't seen her in many years, but we still keep in touch and she remains a role model beyond compare.

Everyone should be so lucky as to have an Uncle Steve. He's one of the "Pay it Forward" dudes. I remember a time when we had just relocated to Charleston; a family of four trying to make ends meet on my husband's residency salary was tough. There were no extras, no luxuries, but there was always so much laughter and love. One day, out of the blue, a letter and check arrived in the mail. The letter said "keep on doing what you're doing, and you'll have the chance to pay this forward."

Random acts of kindness most definitely do not have to be about or involve money. Sometimes just being a good listener is quite a gift. Holding a door for someone with a heavy load, being a courteous driver, or smiling back at someone. . . these are all RAK. They cost so little, but may mean so much.

So, I challenge myself and you to do more. Offer more of yourself. Practice a random act of kindness. It just feels good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Memphis and Maggie's Pharm

Once upon a time in a city not that far from Charleston, two lowcountry gurls set out on an adventure. This city is the home of BBQ, Beale Street, Elvis' Graceland, and the Blues. . . Memphis, Tennessee. The drive from the airport to the downtown Marriott featured a stunning view of a great pyramid that is currently unoccupied and looking for a new owner. One of the gurls somehow remembered that this was appropriate. . .that the original Memphis was once the capital of ancient Egypt. (This factoid was soon confirmed with a quick Wikipedia reference on her Crackberry. . . oh, technology!).

The gurls learned there would be no Graceland, no blues, no BBQ, no Beale Street. The original plan placed upon the gurls was to go to meetings and discussion panels, luncheons and pre-planned entertainment. The life-blood was being drained from these vibrant two, and this would not do. When the gurls felt they were being boxed in and not allowed to shine their brightest, they broke free from the corporate restraints, left the too-structured environment, sneaked out of their pre-arranged hotel, checked into a new one, and sighed a big sigh of relief.

Some quick research of the area revealed two artsy parts of town called the Cooper Young District and Overton Park. So the gurls hired a trusty cabdriver, Mr. Earl, to take them around Memphis. The C-Y District was reminiscent of midtown Atlanta. . . small shops and sidewalk cafes. . . home of Goner Records, Young Avenue Glassworks, and the Java Cabana. But it was in Overton Park that the gurls realized their mecca: Maggie's Pharm.

Maggie's Pharm is an apothecary of sorts. It boasts "Herbs, Oils & Other Things." Mr. Earl had never heard of this place, so the gurls simply gave him the street address and he delivered them safely. It was a small place, tucked behind lush trees and vines. The magnificent Valerie-with-the-dreds was something of an alchemist, mixing essential oils and elixirs, advising on scents, herbs, and potions. This was the place that the gurls felt most at home. The "Other Things" included books, cards, candles, incense, artisan jewelry, music, and t-shirts. It was difficult for the gurls to leave this oasis of bliss. But, alas, cocktail hour and the ducks at the Peabody Hotel called.

The story doesn't end there. The gurls arrived safely back in Charleston, welcomed by the smell of pluff mud and 10 degrees more Fahrenheit. A few days later, one of the gurls began reading "The Alchemist." She couldn't help but think of all the similarities between her adventure and the one written about in Paulo Coehlo's book. Both characters went to a city with a pyramid; both characters sought out an alchemist; and both characters realized that their true treasures were already close at hand: Home.

If your travels ever take you to Memphis, Tennessee, please check out Maggie's Pharm at 13 Florence Street. It's worth the trip. In the meantime, you can visit their website at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Covering Undereye Circles

Got dark circles? What about dark eyelids? They often come hand-in-hand. Most of the time, dark undereye areas are a matter of your DNA; they are hereditary. They can also be environmental meaning there are factors you can control to lessen them. Do you get enough sleep? Drink enough water? Have too much caffeine? Suffer allergies? If you can rule out some of the environmental factors, then we're down to covering them cosmetically. Yay for makeup!

Here's my arsenal of 3 products for battling undereye circles (all by MAC): 1. Fast Response Eye Cream; 2. Studio Sculpt Concealer; and 3. A #217 brush.

I begin each undereye coverage with a tiny dab of Fast Response Eye Cream. Using the fluffy white #217 brush, I lightly touch the bristles into the FREC and gently dot it around the eye socket, from outer corner to inner corner of eye. Fast Response Eye Cream has soothing ingredients such as cucumber and sunflower oil. It also contains caffeine (!!!) which acts as a calming agent on the skin's surface (as opposed to a stimulant, inside the body). This little miracle-in-a-tube contains optical diffusers which help MINIMIZE THE APPEARANCE OF FINE LINES. Woo-hoo!

My favorite concealer for nearly every skin type is Studio Sculpt Concealer. This product contains enough moisture for even dry skin, but is more matte so it caters equally as beautifully to oily skin. And the opaque quality of this product is what really covers/conceals. Using the same #217 brush, I apply the concealer in small, circular motions in the same areas I've applied the FREC. I even take it onto the eyelid and into the eye crease. If you have deep set eyes, this sweep of lightness will help lessen the look of dark, "prominent creases."

The #217 brush is one of MAC's most versatile. It's intended for eyeshadow, but I find it to be useful for application of any product around the eye. It's fluffy natural bristles are wonderful for blending out products, leaving no heavy lines of demarcation in eyeshadow. But the same is true for concealer. Blend and buff using the small, circular motion and you'll conceal without the product reveal.

Try these tricks. . . let me know how they work for you. Happy concealing!