Thursday, December 1, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Winter Skin Survival Kit

It's time to do your holiday shopping if you're a gift giver. It's also time to treat yourself for making it through 2016. I have a recommendation for you.

Atomic Cosmetics: Winter Skin Survival Kit
Skin Zen body butter, Body Balm & Lipvana lip balm

I have dry, sensitive skin. I take hotter showers when the weather gets cooler. I get pretty itchy during the winter months.

I wash my hands constantly. I'm also busy rubbing off my natural body oils when I sew. Even non-toxic rhinestone glue takes its toll on my skin. My hands are damn dry. Sometimes they snag fabric because they're so damn dry.

I'm a lip balm addict. My lips hurt if I'm without my lip balm for more than a few hours. I wake in the night and apply at least once. I have a terrible reaction to many lip balm products that are available. There are only two or three brands I can use.

The Winter Skin Survival Kit helps with all of these issues. Skin Zen body butter moisturizes my itchy skin. I don't have to apply multiple layers to experience benefit. Body Balm helps my weary hands. I'll apply some right before bed so my hands are softer in the morning. Lipvana doesn't make my lips peel, unlike so many other products. (One tube of Lipvana lasts me about two and a half weeks.) The kit also includes Dr. Jen's Dirty Baker's Dozen list of toxic ingredients to avoid in cosmetics and skin care products. It all comes in an adorable chiffon bag.

I'm not a huge fan of fragranced products from over-the-counter products. It seems like makeup and lotions from major manufacturers have determined that women want to smell like the fragrance contained in feminine hygiene products. It's terrible. I love that these products don't stink. The fragrance is natural and gentle. It isn't designed to mask the horrible chemicals in the product. The light scents work well together.

There are two more fantastic things about this kit. First, it's really affordable. Each kit is a whopping $10. You can get one for yourself without feeling guilty about the price. Second, you can donate kits to homeless folks via the website. You can donate a few kits and get a gift with your donation.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Drag Eraser

Many of my friends are huge fans of this product.

Atomic Cosmetics: Drag Eraser

Drag Eraser in travel size

Performers wear some pretty intense makeup. I've bragged about the wonders of the now-discontinued Spackle. It's not unusual for us to wear oil-based makeup for stage.

Any housekeeping tips guru worth her salt will tell you that it takes oil to remove oil from your pots and pans. You need something that will absorb and break down the oil, and products with oil in them can do just that. Drag Eraser is oil-based and perfect for cleaning off stage makeup.

I have a process for removing my stage makeup. I've demonstrated it in the photo where I'm wearing just lipstick. (Atomic Cosmetics in Bourbon. Ooh la la!)



Top left you can see me in the lipstick. First, I wipe off any excess makeup with a tissue. (I typically take some makeup wipes on the road.) If you're going to clean butter off a table cloth, it's best to scrape up the butter first. You'll find you have more success removing the makeup efficiently and effectively by wiping off what you can before cleansing. Top right is after I wiped off the lipstick.

Drag Eraser works best when you use it like cold cream. It does have a gentle exfoliant. You can see my lips slathered with it in the bottom left photo. I use my fingertips and use a gentle, circular motion to scrub the makeup.

Then, I use a cotton ball or tissue to wipe off the Drag Eraser. You can see one side of my cotton ball in the bottom center photo. Expect to use a few cotton balls if you're removing an evening of showgirl makeup. I gently wipe until no more color comes off.

The next step is very important. You still have to wash your face and continue with your regular skin care routine. You've wiped away the showgirl but you still have oil on your face. I washed my face with The New 20 before the photo on the bottom right. I finished my regimen with toner and moisturizer.

I typically use a different product to remove my makeup at home. I'm a contact lens wearer and I can use the other product on my eyes without worry. (I get interrupted by dogs when I come home and take off my makeup. Sometimes I have to take them into the yard while I'm cleaning off the war paint.) If you use Drag Eraser on eye makeup, keep in mind that it has a gentle exfoliant. You want to clean it off your eyes carefully and swiftly so you don't rub any of it into your eyes. I do use Drag Eraser on the road when I don't have to worry about dogs jumping on me at the end of the night.

Drag Eraser comes in three sizes. I recommend it for any performer. It's a very thick product and doesn't flow through the pump of the 2oz. size very easily. It comes out of the larger containers easier.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day Jobs: Finding What Works for You

Current day job assistant
No job is all sunshine and pancakes. Being an artist full-time may make you feel artistically free until your rent is due. Time to sell some of your tools or take a gig you didn't really want so you can make rent.

But, that's not the glamorous life that you envision when you say you just want to pursue your art.

He who pays the piper calls the tune. Remember that Michelangelo had patrons who paid to support his artistic pursuits but instructed him on the art they wanted to see.

Nothing in life is all sunshine and pancakes.

You have to work out your priorities. What works for you?

I have three personal day job stories.
  1. I worked at job A for eight years. It was supposed to be a great company. I generally liked what we did for people but I don't deal well with angry people in the workplace. I grew up with angry people and didn't want to voluntarily subject myself to an environment like that. I also started doing burlesque near the end of my time there. There were lots of other factors behind my decision to leave but the largest one at that time was the environment. Leaving was worth it.
  2. I worked at job B for almost six years. I had to learn specialized programming as part of the job. I liked my boss. There was no yelling in the workplace. I was worth more than I was being paid. I got one raise in all the years and wasn't on company health insurance. I also had the opportunity to work on costumes and choreography during down time at the office. We had cupcake day and went out to expensive lunches on birthdays. I had to deal with customer complaints when I had no helpful resolutions. I liked my co-workers. Everyone knew I did burlesque and didn't care. I knew the job wouldn't last. The company was sold. I spent some of my down time trying to make my job more efficient. I took classes outside of work so I'd be a better employee.
  3. I've worked at job C for most of this year. I had to learn a few things. I worked longer hours than anticipated in the beginning so I could get into the groove. I've had to work nights and weekends when things came up. I work when I'm sick. I've handled emergencies from my bed while I still had sleep in my eyes. I don't get health benefits. I also get to work from home. I spend my days with my dogs. I can get ready for gigs throughout the day instead of rushing when I get home at 7pm. I like my co-workers. I believe in our product. I'm always learning new applicable skills. The boss doesn't provide free cupcakes but also doesn't insist I stay in the office when I don't have work to do.
Every job has its positives and negatives. You have to examine what you're willing to endure and what you can't handle.
  • Do you want to be engaged or do you want to save challenging tasks just for your art?
  • Do you want to move up the corporate ladder or do you just want to be a cog in the machine?
  • Do you want a set schedule or do you want flexibility?
  • What are you willing to do for health insurance?
  • Do you care about your privacy as an artist?
  • Do you want to be paid hourly or salary? Salaried workers can't always leave when the office hours end because they're getting paid more.
Your day job can go bye bye at a moment's notice. That's what we learned with the last economic downturn. You have to be able to apply your creativity to the day job market.

Sort out your priorities. Keep your eye on the end game, whatever that end game is for you. You'll find it much easier to endure the day job lifestyle that way.


Atomic Thursday: Nautical Nonsense

It's Thursday which means it's time for me to share another Atomic Cosmetics review with you. I've tried many things and replaced most of my makeup and skin care products with Atomic. If you have a question about anything that I've used, I'm more than happy to answer it.

Atomic Cosmetics: Nautical Nonsense
Very fine and very shiny

Nautical Nonsense is a bronze highlight powder. I don't wear it in daily life because my BB Cream gives me plenty of glow. I save it for stage and for photo shoots. It gives a nice sun-kissed glow and elevates a look.

A little goes a long way with this stuff. I apply it at the end of my stage makeup session. I swirl a little on a smaller contour brush inside the lid and tap off any excess powder. That part's pretty important because it can leave some pigment (not just shine) if I apply it too thick. A swipe down the nose, chin, center of the forehead, top of the cheekbones and brow bone. Remember to be gentle with the application.

I use this on myself for every stage show. Sometimes I put some on my cleavage. I also used this on Mr. Snapper when he hosted Treklesque as Captain Kirk. Kirk is a little bronze in the reference photo we used. He applied Spackle first. I contoured his face lightly, hit him with some Setting Powder and dusted him off with some Nautical Nonsense. While the photo was under terrible backstage lighting, you can see how he glows.

A container of Nautical Nonsense will last you a nice, long time.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Road Eats: Making Smart Choices

Eating on the road is a challenge. Mealtimes are unreliable and one travel delay can thwart an entire meal. Having a smart plan for the road will truly save your bacon.

I always pack a snack in my carryon bag. I tend to carry cashews for protein and cheese-filled cracker sandwiches for carbs. (Last time I was in New Orleans I lived off my box of cheese-filled crackers because I didn't feel like leaving my hotel room.) Fruit leather and unsweetened dried fruit also make great snacks. As delicious as candy bars and protein bars may be, they're packed with sugar and will exacerbate any inflammation you may have (injuries, blemishes, illnesses). Try to consume foods without added sugars. Look for things that you like that don't have many preservatives.

Restaurant eating is a challenge. Visiting places that are new to you presents overwhelming temptation to eat like you're never going to eat there again. So many options, so many appealing things. I love eating but I have to make choices that will support my adventures, not choices that indulge my inner foodie. It's been a struggle to not eat all the things. Locals always suggest getting their favorite thing. That favorite thing may not be quite what you need. My eyes are typically bigger than my stomach, and I don't always have a way to store and reheat my leftovers.

Here are my tips for restaurant eating on the road.

  • Read the menu. Look at the things the locals recommend and look at other tables so you can at least get the aesthetic of the temptations without actually consuming them. See if you can get a bite of the temptation from a friend without ordering it for yourself.
  • Stick with simple meat and protein. Get the broccoli instead of the french fries. Get the sauce on the side. Skip the breading and the pasta. Eat the croutons on the salad or a slice of bread with your meal if you really want the bread taste. Chicken and shrimp are my go-tos.
  • Order a la carte. Do you really have room in your dancer tummy for a protein and two sides? Most places have an a la carte menu so you can get the protein and one side. It may cost the same as an entree with two sides but you won't feel compelled to eat everything on your plate so nothing goes to waste. Can you dance well with a tummy full of rice, fries and chicken? Just get the rice and chicken. You won't waste as much.
  • Take out half. If you're going back to your room right after your meal and you have a refrigerator, you can get a regular meal and ask your server to bring you a takeout container while the food is hot. Put half in the container and close it up. You can tell your server you don't want to be tempted to eat too much if you feel like you need to justify it.
  • Split meals where you can. If you're traveling with a fellow performer who has similar tastes, you can split an entree and get side salads.
  • Avoid bonus carbs. Carbs are great for you but meals in sit-down restaurants frequently have bonus carbs. I know I can eat the hell out of a basket of tortilla chips without thinking twice about it. Skip the complimentary chips, mini loaf of warm bread, basket of breadsticks. If you can't avoid them, ask your server to package them up for you because you want to enjoy them after you dance. Most servers don't mind, especially if you leave them an extra buck or two for the effort.
  • Be smart about dessert. If you don't have room after your meal then don't order it. Go family style on a dessert so you only get one or two spoons of it. Skip stuff you can get back home.

Late-night post-show restaurant trips with the cast present their own challenges. You're going to bed soon and you don't want to overload your system but you still need to "eat" with the group.

  • Skip caffeine so you can get your rest. Get some juice, ginger ale or hot chocolate. An Italian soda is a fancy late-night drink. Avoid the alcohol as well. Pass on the refills and drink water instead.
  • Stick to appetizers and a la carte offerings. Have some hash browns or a single egg. A veggie side or some toast are great for late-night eating. Fresh fruit pie or simple cheesecake are nice options if you want to treat yourself after a great gig.
  • These late-night outings are more about social intercourse than actual nourishment. You can get away with just ordering one beverage and slowly sipping it as you visit with people around the table. Be sure to tip well.

It takes a while for something to become a habit. You have to start somewhere. You may notice you feel better, have more energy and poop regularly when you make smart food choices.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Setting Powder

I've been upgrading my cosmetics and skin care collection over the past several months. I've long admired the Atomic Cosmetics line from afar. When Dr. Jen came to visit Los Angeles earlier this year, I spent as much as I could on product. I really believe in her products. Since I've been able to try many things I figured I'd share my product reviews with you on Thursdays

Atomic Cosmetics: Setting Powder
I apply with a fluffy brush. Tap the brush out before dusting.


I got my first stage makeup kit when I was sixteen and doing theatre. I bought a Mehron pancake kit that had a white setting powder. I loved that setting powder because it wasn't pressed Cover Girl. It was so fine that it was great for setting my face. I got some Ben Nye setting powder in college and used the hell out of it. The fine powder worked wonderfully when we did fantasy and animal makeup in makeup design class. I lived in Arkansas and the internet wasn't really a thing so mail order made replenishing my stock difficult. Last year I bought some E.L.F. high definition powder that was really fine.

Mehron, Ben Nye and E.L.F. all list talc as the first ingredient. Talc was part of an ovarian cancer lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson earlier this year. Talc is linked to cancer. You might think that you just use a little so it can't be that big of a deal. How frequently do you powder your face? Some of that is going to get into your lungs, no matter how well you hold your breath. Stage performers wear a lot of powder over a career. How many containers  of setting powder/translucent powder have you purchased over your lifetime?

Atomic Cosmetics Setting Powder contains no talc. It has two ingredients: mica and aloe vera powder. No aluminum, no garbage, no filler. It's so fine that it's wonderful for setting makeup. A container lasts for a long time because you don't need to load your brush with much. It's very lightweight.

I love Atomic's Setting Powder I've been using the white 3-ounce for several months and barely made a dent in it. I feel that using better products has contributed to my overall health.

I understand sunk cost bias where you invest money into something and resist change because you invested so much money into that thing. If you have a large container of drugstore powder and you can't think of throwing it out, use that crappy powder to set body makeup on your arms, back and legs. (Don't use it around any mucous membranes.) Get some of this stuff for your face. Seriously.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Atomic Thursday: BB Cream

I've been upgrading my cosmetics and skin care collection over the past several months. I've long admired the Atomic Cosmetics line from afar. When Dr. Jen came to visit Los Angeles earlier this year, I spent as much as I could on product. I really believe in her products. Since I've been able to try many things I figured I'd share my product reviews with you on Thursdays

Atomic Cosmetics: BB Cream
One pump should give full face coverage
I rarely wear makeup when I'm not appearing on stage. I still need to look healthy when I leave my yard. My stage makeup is a little too heavy for daytime wear. I want to be kind to my skin. I wanted something light and easy to apply.

"Wow! You look fantastic! Your skin is glowing!"

This is what a friend said when I ran into her at a dance studio on a Sunday. I had gotten four and a half hours sleep the night before because Mr. Snapper had a late show and I've been having trouble sleeping. Unprovoked smoke alarms and barking dogs prevented successful napping. I'm sure I sounded irritable when I taught that afternoon.

But my skin was glowing?

I was wearing BB Cream, concealer and a little bit of blush. 

"BB" stands for blemish balm or beauty balm. It's a sheer tinted moisturizer that diffuses light for that glow. It has very light coverage so you can see all of my freckles. It also has ingredients to help treat blemishes. I use neutral tinted. I apply one pump with my fingertips and touch up my undereyes with concealer so I don't look as snoozy. It dries pretty quickly and it feels like having a naked face.

This is great for daytime wear. I wore it for Mr. Snapper's show since I was just audience. (The show started at midnight and I wore jeans.) I only wish I got a good photo of myself in the daylight to show you how nicely it works.