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Soft. Pillowy. Kissable.Real Girl’s lips have never felt more kissable, which means I must share–only with an elite few, of course. That few being you, who get to know the secret to all this pillowy softness: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. As for the elite few who get to experience these pouty, succulent lips first-hand? Consider that list too exclusive to share. 🙂

Fresh has lofty ambitions for its Lip Treatment, a bestseller in the cult “Sugar” line. In addition to moisturizing and repair, the Treatment purports to plump and protect. Black currant oil is indeed a plumping agent, but the effects are minimal, and the balm’s natural glisten will do more to enhance your lips’ appearance, leaving them healthy, dewy, and subtly luminous. But the real reason to invest here is the texture. Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment feels just lovely–lightweight, slippery, and silky. Unlike with a waxier Chapstick-type balm, the Lip Treatment won’t simply seal in the lip’s natural moisture–it bestows its own saturating dose of oil extracts that leaves lips utterly supple and cared for. And the signature Fresh Sugar scent–lemon tinged, sweet meringue meets verbena–remains pleasant without being overpowering.

Unfortunately I’m not over the moon for the sunscreen ingredients. Octinoxate and oxybenzone are chemical sunscreens that absorb mostly UVB rays. I would recommend layering a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide mineral-based sunscreen underneath the silky balm for wider-sprectrum protection. But Fresh’s elegant formulation hits spot on with its anitoxidants. Vitamins C, E, and A and grapeseed polyphenols are well-established, reliable ingredients to repair and prevent free radical damage.

For a hint of color, Fresh also offers tinted Lip Treatments, in Rose Tinted and the new, headier Plum Tinted, which Real Girl covets. I prefer to apply my Lip Treatment over my favorite stain to leave my tinted lips softer and more delicate, with a hint of ladylike shine.

I have been pampering my lips overnight with Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment several evenings in a row now, and I have never woken up with softer lips. But the true test will come this winter. Can the Lip Treatment prevent wind-blown chapping? Will Real Girl’s lips remain kissably supple even during the most biting winter months? We must reconvene then and see if this delightful find keeps my pucker tender and touchable.

Real Girl believes it will.


A lightweight, nourishing lip balm

Leaves lips delicately supple and soft

Antioxidants Vitamin A, C, E and grapeseed oil combat free radicals

Some amount of SPF sun protection


Real Girl will not be nearly the first to talk about what many have christened the “best burger in NYC.” The Minetta Tavern has become known for its two burgers, although really the regular Minetta burger is overshadowed by its beauty queen sister, the decadent Black Label. A shame for the delightful regular. She’s pretty and charming, and she only wears designer cheese. But her sister’s a stone cold knock-out. The Black Label doesn’t just turn heads–it captivates them.

I owe my trip to Minetta Tavern to the Blogfather, who had been preaching the merits of its burgers for weeks before we got there. He did not oversell their tender virtues. I let him order, both the regular and the Black Label for us to share, and he advised “it has to be medium rare.” I did not argue. I bit into the regular burger first, and I literally exhaled “oh my God” at first bite. How could the Black Label be better than this? Steak-quality meat, exquisite cheese, spongy, shiny Balthazar bun, that perfect fried tang of recently sizzling, premium meat.

But after my first bite of the Black Label, I knew there was no going back. This burger drips onto your tongue, like falling silk. She will seduce you, and oh, it’ll be good.

The Black Label burger is remarkably juicy, but “juicy” is too mundane an adjective for her. Plenty of burgers are juicy–The Black Label is, as A Hamburger Today called it in their excellent “Secrets of Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger” profile, “simply ethereal” and “succulent.” Picture meat as velvet–smooth and soft to the palette, luxe and sensually decadent. The Blogfather’s insistence that we order medium rare was spot on. The airy, velvety burger flushed a beautiful pink, more sexy than coy. This flavor does not wink coquettishly–it melts on the tongue, expanding on the palette like the notes of a fine wine. First there’s the buttery richness, robust yet not overwhelming, somehow both sweet and gently sharp at once. You experience the tang of caramelized onion, the mingled flavors and textures of the aged meat blend, the firm but giving, noble countenance of the bun. No flavor overpowers another; somehow the vast number of ingredients and textures that make up the Black Label Burger have combined to form ecclesiastical harmony.

In truth, the Minetta Black Label is an utterly sensory experience. You don’t go to Minetta to “grab a burger.” It grabs you. Leave the ketchup and mustard on the side, abandon the cheese however good it may be, and close your eyes. Now this is purity.

Make sure you have it at least once in your life. You’ll always remember your first time.

I want this.

Designed and hand-drawn by Chanel’s Director of Makeup, these fifty individual, limited-edition Chanel trompe l’oeil temporary tattoos were created for the 2010 spring-summer collection, and they might just be the ultimate accessory. Now this is party wear. Picture the New York girl with legs up to forever accessorizing a simple black minidress with Chanel’s iconic chains cascading down her leg. Or perhaps a less daring goddess would wrap her wrist with an ethereal bracelet tattoo. An innovative accessory, both delicate and edgy–I think it’s genius.

With imagination, these tattoos can become as demure as a single-strand necklace or as intricate as artisan jewelry. Whether bedecked across the clavicle, the upper arm, the upper leg, the wrist, the ankle, the foot–the possibilities are endless, and I’d love the opportunity to unleash my Chanel-driven creativity.

Chanel body art, I welcome the chance to be your canvas.

Gently rid yourself of the day

Real Girl demands a lot from her makeup remover, much of it contradictory. Must be tough! My waterproof mascara is impossible to wash away, and only a potent makeup remover has the chops to make it budge. Must be gentle! This is facial skin we’re talking about–to be treated with kid gloves–and the delicate eye area, no less! We need potency without irritation, wiping without tugging, strength without forfeiting delicacy.

Thank you, Clinique’s Take the Day Off! You are just schizofrenic enough to be my true remover love. I have only used the liquid version, not the Cleansing Balm (which I think I’d love) or the Cleansing Milk (which I’m not sure about). But I use the liquid like you’re supposed to use the balm–with my fingertips, not with a cotton ball.

Before use, make sure to shake this water-soluble product until the consistency becomes a bit cloudy. Unshaken, you’ll see two layers of product one on top of the other. All this duality must be combined for full power!

Perhaps you remove your makeup all the time with cotton balls, and if you love that then I will not dissuade you–only warn you not to rub. Ladies, treat your eye area like delicate paper-thin tissue. Because in essence, that’s what it is. The thought of rubbing a cotton ball on my poor eye area makes me cringe, and if you go that route make sure you’ve soaked it in enough product. My approach is to put the product directly on my fingers, preserving the slippery texture that then glides over my lids. The frictionless strokes dissolve the makeup, and then I’m free to wash it clean.

After a long made up day, your face wants to breathe again. Don’t be afraid to strip–it’s good for you. Just don’t be too rough 🙂


Remover strong enough for waterproof makeup but non-irritating

Apply gently, with fingertips or saturated cotton ball

I use liquid, but the product also comes in balm and milk

For the pet owner with bite

When you think of doggie fashion, it’s too easy to conjure up visions of Paris Hilton dressing up her chihuahua in head-to-toe pink, sparkles, and bows. That poor dog, you might think. Who’d want to be dressed up like that?

None of The Punky Pup dogs, that’s for sure.

From collars to clothes to toys and beyond, The Punky Pup outfits your dog like a rock star: A lovable badass little puppy Ramone or Debbie Harry–both of whom you can honor via this one-of-a-kind dog carrier made from a vintage Ramones t-shirt or this Blondie dog t-shirt that turns any pooch into an icon.

Go hard core punk with this spikes and skulls collar or just give your pup a bit of an edge with this cherry skull knit sweater. The Punky Pup offers quite a range for your dog to show off his or her coolest side.

And don’t forget about Bad CATtitude! Not to be left out, punk rock cats will find inventively badass collars like this plaid spiked option to show off their blatant kitty rebellion.

I don’t mean to stomp on your cool, all you renegade Punky Pups! But how can you resist a pooch in a rock band t-shirt? It can’t be done. Check out this photo gallery and see for yourself.

With a rebel yell I cry Cute! Cute! Cute!

Real Girl reader M asks:

Can Real Girl recommend a mascara that provides natural-looking, clump-free lashes?  Nothing too dramatic…natural is the key word.

Fret not, M, I’ve got just the product for you! For what you’re looking for–your own lashes, but longer and darker–you’ll want to avoid a volumizing mascara and look for key words like “separate” and “define.” Real Girl’s pick for enhanced but not overly dramatic lashes would be Cover Girl’s Lash Exact Mascara. I use the waterproof version myself and love it–no smudges ever!–but you do need a good makeup remover for that option before washing your face at night.

The beauty of Lash Exact is that you can easily control how much product you use. One swipe and your lashes look longer and darker, but not thicker. Indeed this mascara delivers on its claims to define lashes without clumping. But add another coat and you amp up the drama for night-time or those occasions when you might want a stronger look. Real Girl uses two coats on a regular basis, and my lashes look divinely longer, without the clumping you can get from lengthening mascaras that deposit filaments at the tips of your lashes. That second coat enhances thickness, too, without the heavy stickiness of a volumizing mascara.

I use Very Black, and I would recommend that color, but for the natural look perhaps regular Black would be the way to go. From the sound of it, one coat will do it for you, M, but feel free to experiment. The lightweight formula is hard to mess up!


Lightweight, natural mascara

Lengthening without clumping

Two coats add extra drama

Waterproof formula is smudge-free but requires makeup remover

The sun’s harsh rays affect your body, not just your face.

When The Blogfather gave Real Girl Ren’s Wild Yam Omega 7 Firming Body Repair Cream to test, I confess I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The product targets “mature” skin, and although RG isn’t (often) childish, in skin care terms thankfully my body is still supple, soft, and smooth. Or, at least it was. Before I went and did something stupid.

Antioxidants, collagen boosters, cell repairing ingredients, all that good stuff we’ve discussed–Real Girl always thought only her face deserved the investment in these targeted, often expensive ingredients. And then summer came. One bright, sunny day, Real Girl put on her chemical facial sunscreen (SPF 45) under her mineral facial sunscreen (SPF 30), and then she trotted off for a couple hours to bask on the vast, open green lawn of Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow. To be extra safe, her face was shaded by a ball cap. Those destructive UV rays would not be wrinkling my not-quite-yet mature Real face! My body, however…

That’s the whole deal–I’m “real.” Not perfect, not mistake free. I know I should wear sunscreen on my body, of course I do! But it was only going to be a couple hours, and my skin is naturally pretty color-resistant, rarely tanning or burning. This time, I got somewhat pink and somewhat brown. Not much, mind you, but enough to see the sun had done some damage. My Real skin was still soft, just…a bit drier now. I could see where maybe some elasticity had been lost. Despite the new sexy, tawny hue, my skin was thirsty for moisture and repair.

Enter Ren’s Wild Yam Omega 7 Firming Body Repair Cream. So that’s why Real Girl’s not yet mature skin needed this rich, repairative, nourishing body lotion. And boy did my skin drink it in. The West African wild yam extract will indeed be most beneficial to women who are post-menopausal, for whom Ren made this moisturizer. Phytosteroids, or plant hormones, have shown some similar properties to estrogen in keeping skin more youthful. Soybean extract is a lovely skin care ingredient for anyone, acting as a potent antioxidant to fight free radical damage. Genistein (in soy) stimulates collagen production and increases firmness, elasticity, and suppleness. The Omega 7, derived from Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil, contains palmitoleic acid, “a highly effective antioxidant providing strong anti-aging support due to its ability control free radicals.” The Ren brand has a superb reputation for using fine, organic, only safe ingredients. With all these collagen-promoting, free radical-fighting, elasticity-restoring ingredients, I knew my sun-dappled skin was in excellent hands.

Texture-wise, this lotion bathes skin in moisture, leaving it smooth and more elastic to the touch. Real Girl would recommend this level of moisture and repair for 1) any post-menopausal woman, 2) sun-kissed or sun-damaged skin, 3) dry, chapped winter skin. Ren has tapped into the phyto trend, using regenerating plant ingredients to combat aging, and given consumers a luxurious, hydrating, and synthetic free solution for when your body’s skin needs some extra love and attention.

October 2019
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