Beauty Guide


Michael Kors’ ultra-swank, super-gorgeous fall show heralded the return of fire-engine-red lipstick. On practically the same day, in the New York Times science section, there again floated a theory—that’s forever taken as fact and used, at all times, to support other dubious, war-between-the-sexes theories—that I loathe. It’s the one where they’re talking about mating behavior and evolution, and, out of the air, they claim that women wear “rouge” and red lipstick to emulate the flush of sexual arousal.

Variations on the theory have the red lipstick standing in for actual sexual organs—a strange sort of guerilla advertising at best.

So. Powder-blue eyeshadow represents . . . ? French manicures signify . . .? Concealer really means . . . ?

And memo to would-be theorists: Have you looked at the pages of Hustler lately? I don’t see a lot of red lipstick imitation going on. I think it’s more about a neutral-pink gloss, don’t you?

My uncle is a professor. Actually, so is practically everyone else in my family, but he’s particularly professorial. When he visits, he (like everyone else) goes through the admittedly appalling number of beauty products in the bathroom, reappearing from a shower (as they all do) both awed and horrified. My uncle’s coping mechanism is typically academic: He conducts a study.

“I did a little study while I was in the shower,” he reported one afternoon recently, bursting to give his findings. “I noticed that uh, most of the beauty products you have are made to look like food in some way … Food,” he repeated, in an accusatory tone. “Butter soap, milk lotion, truffle shampoo . . . food.” He paused dramatically: “I mean, honey tangerine body scrub??!! Come on!”

He’d hit on the wrong item to make fun of, because, truly, there are very, very few things in life more pleasurable than a shower involving the Honey Tangerine Body Scrub: It smells like a margarita; it exfoliates with chunks of sea salt soaked in a honey/tangerine/vitamin E/jojoba oil/avocado oil bath, and leaves the thinnest veil of the oil concoction on your skin. You emerge moisturized within an inch of your life (no need for body lotion whatsoever) and smelling faintly citrusy; best of all, rather miraculously, some chemical interaction happens with the salt and oil so none of it remains on the bottom of the tub.

In New York City, even very un-wealthy types do very wealthy-person things like having a maid, or getting regular manicures and pedicures. It’s disconcerting at firs—acting like you’re a rich person—but you get used to it. Except you never do, quite, get used to it. Most (un-rich) people I know are still a little insecure about receiving such services, so they prepare for them. My friend A. typically spends half a day, cleaning up his apartment before the maid comes. Another friend, L., spends at least that much time scraping and filing her feet in preparation for her pedicure appointments.

While there’s not yet a beauty product (or any other category of product, for that matter) that pre-cleans apartments, there is an analogous item for the pedicure: the AHA Exfoliating Foot Cream from Peter Thomas Roth blasts the living hell out of your feet-painlessly, hassle-less-ly, overnight.
Not only does it save you the embarrassment of having the pedicurist cluck disapprovingly at the state of your feet, it saves you the mortal pain of having said pedicurist poke, scrape and pierce at them. In other words, you can just enjoy the massage and concentrate on which color polish is the best (Delux Matador, but never mind… ). Of course, for those against pedicures (?), the foot cream does sort of obviate any official need for them, in the first place. image

I know very little about socialites. In general, socialite-ism involves a level of seriousness about things like fork placement and loafer embellishments and decorative trim that I just can’t get past, and it involves makeup, hair, thin-ness and fashion all correctly executed that every bit of humanity and sexiness is drained off like so much turkey fat.

So I am intrigued very little by the various socialites we all read about, beyond their admittedly fine contributions to numerous worthy causes. Except for one, whom I live for simply because of her name: Sugar Rautbord. How wildly sexy—yet also sweet, innocent, devilish, everything-else-desirable-rolled-into-one—is the name Sugar?

So at the opening of the new Fresh store in Soho, I fell upon their new perfume, Sugar, like the others leapt at the h’ors d’oevres. It’s sugar, with a bit of lemon; cleanliness with a touch of something dirty; sweet and yes, wildly sexy.


Since I can’t be Sugar myself, and I can’t even name a future child Sugar (Sugar June would be fated, inescapably I think, to be a pole-dancer), I will simply have to wear Sugar forever (and bathe in it—the Fresh shelves are packed with boxes and jars of rough-cut sugar cubes that disolve in the tub as if it were a tub full of lemonade, not to mention a brown-sugar scrub that gives new meaning to the word decadence).