Thursday, December 29, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Pinkalicious

I'm in the opening stages of a winter cold today and I do not feel pretty, despite my Los Angeles Kings t-shirt and Batman pajama pants.

Atomic Cosmetics : Pinkalicious Body Butter

Can you see the fine pink glitter?
Okay, now I feel pretty. I had to slap a little Pinkalicious on my arms.

I have body butter from another company that I purchased ten years ago that still sits in my bathroom closet. I have body butter I was gifted three years ago that remains untouched in same closet. I thought I would like body butter before I tried it, and I found these other brands dried me out more than before I used the body butter. Body butter is supposed to really help moisturize dry skin.

I gave Dr. Jen's body butters a shot because I know she wouldn't sell a tub of cream that does more dehydrating than moisturizing. I'm glad I did. It absorbs into the skin quickly, doesn't feel oily and doesn't make dry skin worse.

Pinkalicious is absolutely girly. It smells like cupcakes. (The scent is gentle and pleasant as opposed to drugstore cotton candy stripper body spray.) The pink glitter is incredibly fine, making it a wonderful accessory for outings when you want to have a subtle glow. Well, maybe not incredibly subtle. It's not as obvious as Glitter Bomb. It's a perfect beauty product for girls of all ages.

If you want something a little fabulous that isn't too expensive or want to have a fancy gift on hand for any gal in your life, toss some Pinkalicious in your Atomic shopping cart.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Atomic Thursday: No Baggage

I didn't blog last way since I was traveling to Texas for my fifth year in Nearly Naked Nutcracker. Oops!

Atomic Cosmetics: No Baggage

I missed this so much over the weekend.

The older I get, the more obvious it is when I don't get enough sleep. Traveling always does it to me. Time zone changes, show preparation, having to be "on" for longer than I am for local gigs, poor eating habits (too few veggies, eating too few actual meals a day) all take their toll on my face. There's a photo of me from last weekend's shows where you can count the eye bags.

I neglected to pack No Baggage.

One drop of this stuff packs the necessary punch to wake up the under eye area. (I used to have hemorrhoid cream in my early twenties for the same thing but who wants to use butt cream by the eyes?) It smells nice and improves the appearance of the under eye area when the world fights your attempts to rest.

If you work in an office after a late night gig, get some of this stuff. It won't make up for the lack of sleep but it will pep up your face.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Dude Lotion

Small gifts and stocking stuffers are perfect excuses to introduce someone to products you enjoy. They're also a great way to encourage behaviors you like. (I think this is part of the reason we got toothbrushes and socks in our stocking on more than one occasion as I was growing up.)

Atomic Cosmetics: Dude Lotion

In the medicine cabinet, of course.

Mr. Snapper hates lotion as a general rule. He doesn't like having "sauce" on his hands or body. It's taken me years to find a moisturizer he's willing to use on his face (a post-shave lotion that has a consistency he can handle).

I asked him to try out Dude Lotion and give me a dude's opinion. It smells fantastic to me but I use Skin Zen. He's the best and was willing to give it a shot for my blog. (I got a big sample from Dr. Jen a couple months ago.)

Here's his assessment:
Dude Lotion is fantastic. Good thickness, pleasant citrus-y smell. Not sticky-disgusting or quick to evaporate away. It's in the sweet spot. The dispenser is fantastic. Good coverage, too.
The dispenser is a big deal. Ease of use means it actually gets used.
Dude Lotion comes in four sizes and is very reasonably priced. If you know a dude who needs some moisturizer but doesn't like hassle or wearing "sauce," get him some of this stuff.

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.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Atomic Thursday: The New 20 Eye 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: The New 20 Eye Cream

Sample size on top, full size on bottom

I'm 40. This may not come as a surprise if you've done much exploring on my blog. It may come as a surprise if you haven't. Yep. I'm 40. I take care of my skin, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water and don't smoke.

That said, I'm an aging entertainer. I need to maintain my youthful appearance. A good eye cream is part of my anti-aging regimen. I tried a sample of The New 20 Eye Cream and was hooked. My eyelids and the skin below my eyes are plump and healthy. They don't feel thin to the touch. I'm a contact lens wearer and this stuff doesn't give me any problems.

It's impossible to notice results from one to two uses of a product. I suggest you pick up a sample container. I use it twice daily and my sample has lasted for months. Apply with your pinky or ring finger because your eye skin is delicate.

I didn't start thinking about eye cream until I was over 35. I didn't think I'd need to worry about it until I might start showing signs of aging because I wasn't showing them yet. Take care of your skin now, no matter what your age. All of the effort you put in today will show in a few years. This stuff is fantastic.

I have to acknowledge the beauty of the containers Dr. Jen uses for Atomic's full size products. The container for the eye cream is beautiful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Burning the Candle at Both Ends?

Photo by Modern Noir, MUAH by Vivienne Vermuth
It's pretty common for artists to have two jobs: the one that they love and work hardest on, and the other one that pays the bills. I did my turn as just a burlesque dancer (also teacher & costumer) and I felt like I wasn't financially contributing enough to the Snapper household and future. I got another job as soon as I could so someone else could pay me to push paper, a job I could do in my sleep.

Having a day job, doing late night shows and spending all the remaining time on projects so I could do more late night shows takes its toll. Sloppy work at the job that pays the bills, pain and frustration as an artist, mistakes that only happen from being exhausted become too frequent.

I've been an entertainer for my entire life. I started burning the candle any way I could when I was sixteen but I had plenty of young cells to help me recover. Sort of. I wasn't creating the healthiest adult engine by fueling myself with Tom's Hot Fries one summer.

How can you become resilient when you need that day job and the entertainer pursuits? Kick back and old lady Snapper will share some tips.

  • Deal with your funk. We all get the funk.
  • Get more sleep. Your body needs sleep for cellular growth, detoxification, hormonal function, digestion, weight loss, heart health and thought processing. Most people need eight hours or more per night. If you know you have a late gig coming up, sleep in the day of or the day after. Catch naps any time you can. You won't get into the deep sleep that really restores your body in those naps but you will have a little refresher for better mental function.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Juicing is all the rage but juicing eliminates the fiber your body needs to eliminate toxins and waste. Your body needs the nutrients in fresh fruits and veggies. Food is medicine. Take supplements for the things your body doesn't get from food.
  • Reduce your consumption of processed and comfort foods. I know I sound like a grandma. Comfort foods are usually rich in sugars and fats. They pick you up for a hot minute and then let you down hard. Retrain yourself to reach for an apple when you would gobble up a cinnamon roll to give you the energy to make it through the day. You eat more food than you actually need when you're tired from trying to do so much.
  • Sort out some Me Time that quietens your mind. Some people meditate so they can quiet their minds. Others do yoga. I love ballet because I can't think about anything but the moves while I'm in class. It may seem like a luxury to take that Me Time but it's not. It's imperative for your mental and physical health.
  • Prioritize your life and keep a reliable calendar. I won't go out on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday if I have a Thursday night gig and an important day job Friday. I'll spend the first three nights of the week getting my ducks in a row so Thursday and Friday are a success. If next week is really busy then I have to prepare anything I can this week. I miss a lot of social engagements. I recognize that I have to perform well at my day job so I can afford to be a performer.
  • Get strong. Find a workout regimen that challenges you and makes you stronger. Sure, losing weight is cool and all. When I was 95 lbs. I was a weakling. I'd rather weigh a bit more and have a strong body that's going to last me a lot longer. I've been doing HIIT for a few months and it's great for strength. You should work that body three to five times a week. If nothing else, take a 20 minute walk every day.
  • Get a damn flu shot. The flu shot contains the most likely strains to hit North America over the next year. Save yourself the hassle of weeks of interrupted work later by getting it now.
  • Keep a health journal. It doesn't have to be fancy. Jot down what you're eating, how much sleep you're getting, any physical changes or injuries, noticeable mood changes. Maybe make a note if you're dealing with work stress or late nights for gigs. Keeping this journal will help you know when something is actually wrong with you (like shortness of breath from medication) or if you just need to change something because you know the triggers (like reducing your stress and going to bed on time because your heart skips a beat when you don't).
  • Reduce contact with toxic people and unnecessary stressors. Cut those bitches loose from your life. You don't need it. You're already trying to be successful at two jobs. You don't need the distraction of jerks.
  • Learn your limits and stick to them. I could do seven nights of gigs per week when I was 35. I can't do that with a day job and my plan for resilience. I can do a week of seven nights of gigs in one month but I can't do that every week. I can do a late night show, teach the next day and hit the sack early before I travel again. I can nap on a plane but I can't get that deep sleep while sitting.
  • Keep finding the new normal. You may wind up with more responsibilities and promotions in your day job as you get older. Theoretically, you also become a more skilled performer with age. Find the right balance for you without sacrificing your money, your passion and your health.
I wish you well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Atomic Thursday: None More Black

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: None More Black Eyeshadow
I use a liner brush for a slim line.

I'm reviewing None More Black separately from the other eyeshadows because None More Black is something incredibly special. It is a purple cow in the world of eyeshadows and liners.

I have problems with kohl pencils. They're never soft enough to leave a beautiful line. When I heat the tip it gets too mushy. I also have trouble with liquid liners. Maybe I don't have the dexterity or maybe I get interrupted too many times while trying to apply. They tend to be wet just a little too long so I get smudges when I open my eyes.
I've tried several brands and I've always met with failure. I had the gloppiest wing on my cat eye.

Enter None More Black. I'm great with a brush. (I got my brush through Atomic Cosmetics. A good makeup brush can last a long time if you take care of it.) It's intense black pigment. I got some black eyeshadow from a drug store a couple years ago that has so much filler it looks light gray when applied. Yuck. None More Black is exactly like the Spinal Tap album-- there is none more black.

I scrape a little of my None More Black into the product lid with my brush. I add some makeup sealant and mix it into paint. I use that adorable brush to work from the middle of the lid to the outside, middle to inside, and touch ups on the wing. (It helps to really examine how your lid folds when your eye is open. My wing has to go a little lower because of the eyelid crease.) I scrape it into the lid before wetting so I can use the dry eyeshadow as I like. I don't have to worry about it being crusty from the sealant. It takes 30 seconds to a couple minutes for the liner to set. That's the perfect time to work on your bedroom eyes by barely opening your eyes. I typically spray my face with makeup sealant once my makeup is complete.

I usually let my product lid dry before I close it. Sometimes I spritz the lid with more sealant to reactivate on another day. Sometimes I wipe the lid with an alcohol pad to get a fresh mix. I wash my brush with liquid soap when I put away my makeup kit for the evening. If you work with black liner and black eyeshadow regularly, I recommend getting two.

None More Black has done me right. It hasn't smudged in the hours after application. It does stick to eyelash glue, so I wind up with a naked spot on my lids when I peel those lashes off. I've even used it as mascara in a pinch, mixing it with sealant and applying with a fan brush.
I'll review the eyeshadow in general in future. This product should be a staple in your kit.

I'm a huge fan of Dr. Jen, Atomic Cosmetics and Xerion Skin Science. I love supporting small businesses, especially those run by really cool women.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Glitter Bomb

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: Glitter Bomb

Small & large size: blue AB, gold & AB

I typically want to look sparkly when I'm dancing. I've tried a lot of glitter solutions to get that sparkle (applying lotion and dusting with glitter that gets all over the dressing room floor, applying glitter and using a spray sunscreen as a sealant, spray glitter that makes the dogs sneeze because they obviously want to help me prepare for showgirling). Glitter Bomb is the best solution for me to grab and go, using it anywhere with little impact on those around me.

Glitter Bomb is a glitter-filled, coconut-based lotion. Squeeze a dollop out of the bottle and slather yourself down. It doesn't feel icky or sticky. It has a pleasant, natural fragrance that isn't horrifying to encounter in the dressing room. (You can order unscented.) You'll find other people are willing to help you get the hard-to-reach places, like your back. The small size is great for travel and the larger size is great for sharing. It does rub off into your clothing a bit so you'll want to wash that glitter-covered tee shirt before wearing it again. I haven't had any issues with staining from the lotion. It's also easy to wash off in the shower so you don't get glitter between the sheets.

Atomic currently has four colors listed: gold, silver, AB (aura borealis, meaning holographic clear) and pink. She also does custom blends, which you can see a fancy blue AB blend on the far left in the photo. Just let her know what you need in the notes for your order if you want something custom.

I couldn't get a great photo of the product on my skin with my phone. The lighting in my house just doesn't do it justice. If you've seen me wearing body glitter at all in the past year, I was wearing Glitter Bomb. It makes skin look ethereal, just not so much in a selfie. If you have a special event and want to have a glow, I recommend using some Glitter Bomb.

Available currently as samples, 2-ounce and 4-ounce bottles. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pack it Up: Showgirl Necessities

A great way to bond in the dressing room is to have something you can share. Ol' broads, new performers, traveling showgirls all want to make friends in the dressing room. Someone always forgets something. You want to be remembered by your colleagues and producers as being great backstage.

Here's my list for the most requested/forgotten items that someone needs in the dressing room.

  1. Pastie adhesive: tape, spirit gum, medical adhesive
  2. Eyelash glue
  3. Safety pins
  4. Body glitter
  5. Hair spray
  6. Lady supplies: usually tampons but pantyliners and pads are not uncommon
  7. Scissors
  8. Pain reliever: aspirin, acetaminophen
  9. Bobby pins
  10. Food: energy bar, tiny bag of nuts, Snickers, fruit leather
  11. Bandaid
I suggest you label containers of stuff that you want back so they don't get permanently rehomed.

If you're a producer or troupe leader, you may consider adding these to your list of necessities:
  • Extra fishnets or pantyhose
  • Spare single-use pasties
  • Break & use ice pack
  • Needles & thread
  • Black duct tape
  • Spare eyelashes
Lili vonSchtupp at the Monday Night Tease typically has a kit backstage that contains some of these items. She asks performers to throw in a couple bucks if they take the eyelashes or pasties so she can replace them.

If you wind up asking for someone to share supplies, be sure to thank the person for helping you out. We all forget something at some point. Don't let the rush of the moment make you come off as ungrateful.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Atomic Thursday: Spackle

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.

A couple of these have been kicking around my vanity.
Atomic Cosmetics: Spackle

The reason I'm reviewing this first is because this product is leaving the Atomic Cosmetics line. Spackle is gone as of November 1st. White Girl Wasted is the exception; it will still be available. It's a fantastic product so I encourage you to get it while it's available.

Spackle is a pigment-rich, oil-based, full coverage foundation. It comes in small pots or cream stick. I can use it straight out of the container to cover blemishes and under-eye freckles. I typically mix it with a primer to prepare for the stage, applying it with a brush. (You can use a sponge. I'm a brush person with facial foundation and a sponge person for body makeup.) You can get lighter and darker colors for highlight and shadow.
L to R: White Girl Wasted, Porcelain Doll, Nude Beach, Hunty

I use Nude Beach for my face and the sun-kissed parts of my body. (I love that this nudist requires the color Nude Beach.) I use Porcelain Doll under my eyes to brighten up the area a bit. Porcelain Doll is also great on skin imperfections on the paler parts of my body. Hunty is a bit darker. It would work as a gentle shadow for me. It would probably work better on the face of the mister than on me.  White Girl Wasted is white, great for the brow bone, highlights on the inner corner of the eye beside the nose, and below the eye. (Use is on the under-eye area before applying skin tone foundation.)

You can look at the product on different skin tones on the website so you can see what it looks like on someone close to your shade. Nude Beach might be a better highlight for someone else than it is for me.

This stuff lasts a while if you mix it with a primer. I've been working on the same small container for months, using it every time I perform or do a photo shoot. I encourage you to get a full stick now so you can work with something incredible. I feel like it's an ideal, the Golden Mean.

I suggest you pick some up as soon as you can.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Body Makeup: Look Flawless

You want to look put-together when you perform for people. The more of you that's being seen, the more care you have to give your presentation. Make your appearance intentional and unified. Even if you are portraying a character you are presenting something for the audience to view as an ideal of that thing. As an example, a hobo number should fully communicate 'hobo' to the audience with everything that's being presented.

How much of your body canvas is being incorporated into your act? Makeup isn't just for faces.

You can work out like a champ, avoid most processed foods, drink plenty of water and still have skin imperfections that show up under stage lights. Dress for your final reveal and note which areas of your skin don't contribute to the last image you give your audience as they applaud. Sunburns, skin irritations, eruptions and discoloration may need some spackle.

Ingredients for success with body makeup
You have to learn how to camouflage your body's flaws. (Flaws in this case are things that do not contribute to the ideal you're presenting to the audience.) Don't expect the venue's lighting to do the work for you.

I have a varicose vein. It's not from a sedentary lifestyle. It's hereditary. It doesn't contribute to the look I'm going for when I peel stockings and get as naked as possible on stage. Removing it would be painful and expensive. I just cover it with makeup.

You may know the rule to cover bruises with yellow and redness with green. That works best in small areas and when you can see and reach those spots to precisely dab and blend. Drug store concealer doesn't have enough pigment to cover much.

Dermablend is made to cover body flaws. It's $25-$30 per tube. It's worth the expense but it's important to know how to get the most out of each bottle.

Here's my process:
  1. Shower, shave and exfoliate. Let your skin dry completely.
  2. Mix a dollop of Dermablend with two dollops of Skin Zen Body Butter from Xerion Skin Science. (This stuff smells good and shouldn't further irritate your skin.) I highly recommend working in small quantities and using a skewer or plastic knife.
  3. Using a fresh cosmetics sponge, apply swipes of the blend to your legs. Make sure the coverage appears even. Give them a couple minutes to dry before you move to your arms; this stuff gives great coverage but can get pigment streaks when you rub treated areas against each other while still wet. Give your arms a couple minutes to cure as well. It should feel dry to the touch before moving to your torso.
  4. Apply the blend to your body using the sponge. Wait ten minutes as it cures. Walk around naked for a little while.
  5. Check your coverage. Swipe a fresh cotton swab around the opening of the Dermablend tube. Use that pigment to cover any intense discoloration like pimples, ingrown hairs or spider veins. Let it dry.
  6. Did I mention to let it dry? This stuff looks great when it's dry but it will make your clothing nasty when it's wet.
  7. Use alcohol wipes to remove excess makeup from any area that requires adhesive for your garment.
  8. Wash your hands with soap and water. You may need to use dish soap if it got all over your hands.
You can layer glitter on top of this mixture but lotion will reactivate the color and you'll have to wait 10-15 minutes for it to cure.

After the show and before bed, you need to shower so your body pores don't get clogged. I prefer Bathhouse Soapery body scrubs from my hometown. The natural oils reactivate the color so it washes away. These also exfoliate, getting the nonsense out of your pores. I prefer Ciocolotto, Bathhouse Couture, or a blend of Lavender and Mud & Minerals.

Dermablend is also great for photo shoots, especially if you're trying to cover tattoos.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Behind the Pastie Pop

With my good friend Jason Kamimura. We did a few like this.
If you've been in the burlesque game long enough, chances are you've popped at least one pastie. I've popped a single onstage at least twice, a double onstage once, and a double backstage last night. I'm sure you all know I have nipples by now. You've probably even seen them. I think the restrictions on the right to bare lady nipples are stupid. Whatever. I work in an industry that requires pasties.

I like getting booked and I recognize producers don't want to lose their venues. It's my responsibility to do my best to keep my pasties from popping. Some of you don't want the world to know about your secret nipples, so you can follow this ol' dancer's discoveries to find tips to hide your nips.

Inspect your pasties. Are they slick inside? Plastic or starchy buckram isn't very tacky. I think most pasties I've popped were untreated buckram inside. The pasties were new and didn't have a bunch of residue built up around the edges. The tape doesn't stick to slick very well. Glue a layer of fabric or felt inside the pastie. You can treat the inside edges with Mod Podge or glue so your spirit gum doesn't bleed through the outside surface of a fabric-covered pastie. Try your adhesive on the lining and see if it helps.

Check your nipples. If you lotion yourself up when you're getting ready for a show, don't lotion your nipples. Are you sweaty or oily? Pasties don't stick to sweat, oil or lotion. Get some alcohol wipes and use them before you put on pasties. Clean off the entire nipple and the area around your areola. Let it dry before applying your pasties. Make sure your hands aren't covered in lotion before applying the pasties because that will get all over your adhesive and keep it from sticking. Use an alcohol wipe on your fingers.

Examine your adhesive. What works for your burlesque best friend may not work for you. I used spirit gum in my early days. I found out I had a pine allergy and stopped using spirit gum. I can't use liquid latex or eyelash glue for my pasties because I sweat and laugh/cry my lashes off all the time. I use toupee tape or garment tape. Some folks use medical adhesive. Give yourself enough curing time for any adhesive you use. I have the best success with tape when I press it into the pastie lining before applying it to my nipples. Is your adhesive working for you? Try something else. I advise against spray adhesive (used for crafting and school displays) and carpet tape.

Feel the inside of your bra and the outside of your pasties. Anything catchy inside that bra that wants to hold onto your pasties more than your adhesive does? Any embellishment on the pasties that acts like a hook on the inside of your garment? The first time I lost two pasties, they were embellished with glitter and had direct contact with a ribbed undershirt. I was screwed. I didn't wear fancy pasties because the act had fake blood. The glitter and shirt stuck together better than the pasties stuck to my nipples. You may have to line your bra with something that isn't catchy or invest in embellishments that won't catch on your bra.

After you've popped or almost popped a pastie, examine how it happened so you can take preventative measures for your next performance. Check it against the above and remedy so you feel confident when you perform and keep your producers happy.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Golden Legends Championship Challenge

I'm like a song by the Go-Go's for most of the goings on of the Golden Legends Championship Challenge-- my lips are sealed. I can't share the content of the mentoring between me and Matt Finish. I can't share strategies or smack talk the other contestants. (Why would I want to smack talk them? I know many of them and look forward to meeting the others.)

But, I want you to get excited about the event and you're used to me sharing my journeys with you.

Here's what I can share:

  • I've been working on this new costume for months. I have four more pieces to build and one to complete. I'm far better at managing big projects now than I was in college. I knew this would take work and I'm proud of my progress. This costume is gorgeous. You only get glimpses of it on my Facebook and Instagram for now.
  • I'm working on addressing my shortcomings as a performer while leaning into my strengths. My first ever burlesque performance was nine years ago, and I'm months away from wrapping my eighth complete year as a burlesque professional. It takes time, successes and failures to really sort out who you are and what you want.
  • I'm really excited about the ways I've challenged myself in this new number.
  • It helps to have other people on your team. Even an old broad like me benefits from having a sounding board. Mr. Snapper is an awesome sounding board but sometimes I need a different viewpoint.
  • Competitions should serve as motivation to be something greater than you are. The chance at a prize is exciting but I'm in this industry for the long haul. I'm pushing to create a damn fine act that will delight audiences in ways they never expected. The next challenge will be to make a different act that is this rich.
  • I'm really looking forward to returning to New Orleans. I haven't been there since 2010. If I lived closer, I'd visit with more frequency. It's a delightful place.
Two other things I can share about it.
  1. Travel costs money. I'm not asking for donations but I am selling stuff to make money. Visit my website and see what I have to offer right now. I'm also teaching corsetry in Los Angeles before I leave for the event. If you know someone who wants to learn to make a corset, send them my way to sign up for class. Every sale helps. :)
  2. Events cost money. GLCC is raising funds through sponsorship and vending. They have sponsorship packages for as little as $45. You can check out details here. There are several package levels.
That's about all I can share for now. If you're in New Orleans on October 21st, I'd love to entertain you.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Repair, Rebuild or Retire

Featured in our June issue of the Snapperama Newsletter. Subscribe at

Every act has a shelf life. Costumes get worn down. Bodies get injured. Concepts are no longer part of contemporary pop culture. The time comes when you must ask what to do with each act: repair, rebuild or retire?
Repairing an act means just fixing the things that are wrong with it. You can repair a new act if it's not working out by replacing a costume piece or tweaking the choreography. I frequently repair pieces by replacing rhinestones or closures, making small modifications to the fit of the garments, creating custom pasties for that act, and trying to find more nuances in the number. Can it be fixed in a few hours without tearing everything apart? Will those repairs make it more pleasing for the audience, making it more viable and valuable?
Rebuilding an act means overhauling more than half of the components. A few repairs will not do the trick. My first truly glamorous costume ("mega costume") is showing wear and tear. Beads are coming off, the shoes are uncomfortable, and the bra has always wanted to be a belt. I built this costume with assistance in 2010 and I've taken it so many places. I love the colors and I love the silhouette. I made this costume before I gained a ton of sewing knowledge. I didn't fully recognize what would work best for me. It was a very transitional act in my early burlesque years. I won't sell this costume because I love it, but I can't just repair it. I now have the knowledge and experience to do it better from the beginning. I'm going to rebuild it over the course of the next year. Audience and producer response to the act tells me it's worth the investment.
Retiring an act means putting the baby to bed. Not every act works out. Conceptually it's really interesting but it just doesn't earn its keep when it hits the stage. Technical things go wrong, and they can't be remedied well enough to salvage the number. Reworking the act, revamping the costume, revising the concept don't cut the mustard. It could also be an act that's past its prime. The Hannah Montana act I performed in 2008 and 2009 was a fun act, but it's severely outdated as a cultural reference. You can resell the costume and props or keep them in storage as treasures. Don't consider it a failure if you have to retire an act. Treasure your experiences with that act and take the lessons it gave.
You do have two more options available for an act that needs something: repurposing and recycling.
Repurposing the act gives the components new life. This is where you take large parts of the whole and use them for other things. You add a red nose and now you have a clown act. You wear the gown to a friend's wedding. You turn the prop into a tomato planter.
Recycling the act cuts it into smaller parts to use. Think of repurposing as eating last night's dinner leftovers as today's lunch or throwing them in an omelet for breakfast. Recycling would be taking those leftovers and putting them in soup or grinding them into a paste for pâté. When you recycle the act, you pull the best jokes and use them elsewhere. You cut off the appliqués you can use and pitch what you don't want. It's like the scene in Pretty in Pink where she takes apart two pretty dresses to make one homely prom dress, only your goal is not to make a homely prom dress.
Go through your performer props and wardrobes (and the rest of your life) and use these guidelines to handle your well-loved stuff. Repair, rebuild or retire acts. If you want to keep some of the parts, repurpose or recycle. The decisions may be challenging at first, but the space in your closet is freeing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

As Promised to my Facebook Followers

Dear Facebook friend,

I promised you that I would share a naked photo if I reached the next milestone of followers. Here you go.

WARNING: I like cupcakes.

Photo (C) Modern Noir

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dear Light Operator

Dear Light Operator,

Thank you for making sure I'm well lit during my performance. A nice wash that makes my skin look good would be fantastic. I work hard to select my costume colors and I want the audience to see the hues I selected. I make many of my items from scratch because these colors don't exist in off-the-rack stripper wear. There's no need to show off your lighting skills by cycling through all the colors you have. My peach gown doesn't need to look black. I would've selected a black gown from Amazon if I wanted a black gown. My skin doesn't need to look green. My blue dress doesn't need to be lit with blue light because it's already blue. But you already know that, right?

That nice wash that makes my skin look good would be great. If you're lighting me with gels, I recommend a soft peach or a bastard amber. As a matter of fact, I DID study lighting design in college. We had to light all sorts of shows, and I collaborated with designers to make the entire production look as good as possible. The lighting designers lit my costumes with presentational lighting when we did presentational plays. They didn't decide to hit the strobes during a musical number because they thought people should have seizures during that song. The song was exciting enough.

Did I mention a nice wash? It's okay if it's a little pink. I'm not dancing to "Roxanne" so there's no need to put on the red light. For most of my numbers I don't really need a change in the lighting. You can tell me the options for a disco ball and rotating lights before the number and I can easily give you a decision then. You don't have to wait until I'm in the middle of my performance to remember you have those options available. If you don't remember to discuss the lighting choices with me before the show, you can just stick with that nice wash and forget about those lighting options for the three to six minutes I'm on that stage.

I know you typically work with lighting bands. That's cool. My brother was in a band. He wore jeans and t-shirts for his performances. My husband was in a band back in the '90s. He wore flannel shirts and whatever jeans he could find. I'm pretty sure I just want a nice wash of lighting on my mint costume. No, it's mint on purpose. The green flannel my husband wore was less intentional since his shows were all about the music. It was okay if he was bathed in green and red light. Nice wash for me, thanks. Just want that skin to look good and my costume to look like the color that it actually is.

Oh, you have a spotlight? Do you have someone who operates it regularly? If so, I'll take some wash and a spotlight. Oh, your cousin's going to do it to help you out because the spotlight is new. Let's just do the wash. It'll be easier. Yes, I'm sure.

Thanks so much for chatting with me before the show. That peachy wash really will look great on my skin and my costume.

Thank you so much. I studied some lighting design in college, so I appreciate all the work that goes into what you do.

Peach Wash,

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Next Frontier

It's been spring cleaning time in our lives, and we're shuffling off the old garments and acts that we don't need. We're also going through our fabric stock as I work on the next big thing.

I tend to buy at least one yard more fabric than I need when I build a new costume for myself. I like to have enough in case I screw up.

My next new act is going to be built from leftover fabric of acts past. The rigging will probably be complicated with this act, but I have lessons of many years to help me on my quest.

Pez Photograpy 2011
One of the layers will be built from the apricot fabric I used on the gown for my mega costume. The gown is on the floor in this photo.

The lining will be made from the peach fabric that covers my bra and comprises my panties and garter belt.

I learned so many lessons making this costume. I would rebuild it completely, but the current version is fine for doing the act still.

SH Photo 2015
The outer layer of the outer piece is made of the fabric on this corset. I learned many lessons while making this costume. My plan was to have different pieces light up with LEDs when I triggered them as I stripped. I did a great job rigging the LEDs myself, and I have a tiny, programmable device in the panties to make them flash.

The biggest issue I faced when I debuted the number was the stage lights. I lit the costume with pink lights because they look better with the color palette. Throw some nice stage lights on the costume and the pink LEDs are washed out. You could only see the LEDs when I stepped into darkness. White lights against this color palette might have also been a problem because there wouldn't be enough contrast between the light and fabric. I might add lights to this new costume, but I'm definitely using this fabric.
This act isn't being performed any more. This was my project that incorporated magnets. I may sell the gown, or I may hoard it. More lessons learned here.

I believe I'll use the fabric you see on the skirt yoke (and also in the gown near my feet) for the undergarments. I haven't decided if there will be a bustier, corset or bra made from the fabric yet.

I'm also using leftover embellishments and adding new ones. I've danced to the song I'm using for the new act a couple times, but it's getting its own official costume instead of being performed with pieces from a few other costumes.

I feel like I'm really creating a signature number, something people will remember. I can do classic burlesque, but people want to see me as the fun gal. This project will be the sum of me and my former parts. I'm really excited.