der Auszug

Category: vanity

full body contact window shopping

The other day, my man and I made a unanimous mid-errand decision to go window shopping. If you dress up and wear fancy shoes, they won’t even blink if you ask to try on the 5,000€ Moschino gowns (so so soooo not pictured. One does not take photos in that particular store. I think this one is Nicole Miller). So we dropped off the lemons, kitty litter and toilet paper, brushed our collective hair, and headed down Ku’Damm.

I fell absolutely in love with a few Max Mara gowns, particularly a strapless bandeau top with miles of folded chiffon in vivid red cascading to the floor. Gorgeous. And luckily not available in my size. If I thought you could significantly take in a gown like that without totally destroying the shape of it, I would have pawned off my left foot for it. But alas.

There are two basic kinds of stores that carry formal wear for ladies on Ku’Damm. Ok three. The first kind carries one super high end label only, like Chanel, Versace, or Prada. More often than not, they are outrageously pricey and try to drench you in the experience of their brand values. Their security teams have expensive haircuts.

Then there’s the super swank boutique that carries several fabulous labels along their velvet walls, staffed at any given time by 7 beautifully groomed Russian ladies of a certain age and a dog. These are great because they eventually have to move the merchandise out to make way for the latest and greatest, and that means: sales. But you have to kiss a lot of frogs since they tend to only carry only one or maybe two of each design. These salespeople will mostly leave you alone, but oh they are watching. And as soon as you’ve established that you can’t speak Russian, they are talking about you to each other the entire time. If you put something on that might possibly be a wee bit tight in a compromising location, you may not understand Russian but you will get the message, turn bright red and run screaming on the inside back to the dressing room. On the other hand, if something looks good, you’ll know that, too.

The third kind of shop is my least favorite, but most of my time usually is spent in them because once you walk in they will literally not let you leave until you’ve bought something. They carry some decent brands but also some crap, and they might have a few different sizes of each in the back. The saleswomen in these stores have permanent makeup, clearly survive on commission alone and think EVERYTHING looks just AMAZING on you. ESPECIALLY the pricey things because you CLEARLY have the correct figure for these things. They will ply you with coffee, espresso, cookies, sparkling wine. They will bring you armsful of things that don’t really look that good on you, and they will not stop talking about how great everything looks and the specific benefits of each dress you tried on. I think the basic tactic is keep talking so that there is no room in your brain to actually form your own opinion.

Eventually, before everyone dies in there of starvation or coffee poisoning, someone is going to have to make a grand suggestion to wrap things up, like, “Hey why don’t you take a few pictures of the ones you like the best so that we can think about it and come back later? How late are you open tomorrow?”

Genius.

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you’re already wearing all that oil, anyway

Did you know that your shampoo and conditioner are basically recipes of a variety of oil derivatives, packaged in a beautiful oil-derivative container? It’s true. And, gross! And, by the way, your scalp and skin are very efficient conduits of all manner of toxic whatevers into your body. Yuck. Oil-coating your spleen, bladder and Thyro-arytenoid muscle since the industrial revolution.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Actually I don’t know about the spleen-coating. But I’m not really a huge fan of petroleum (usually a/k/a mineral oil, but also lots of other ingredients) being in every single product we use, particularly since we still can’t figure out a way to dispose of everything safely once we’ve finished with all those convenient containers, nor, for that matter, find a way to ethically and safely harvest, handle, and sell it in the first place.

I’m pretty careful about what I ingest, and it seems logical to also take care of what I smear on my skin. If you want to read more about the crap in beauty products, try this depressing article, which I just randomly searched on google.

So anyway, back to me. The water in Baden-Baden is pretty amazing, which is probably why some very clever Roman decided to set up a few baths there; but Berlin’s water is very very harsh on my skin and hair. I’ve gotten pretty desperate about trying to tame this bundle of straw that used to be my hair, and it’s clear to me that the more silicone or dimethicone or really any kind of -cone I use will 1) yes, indeed make my hair look nice and shiny and bendy again, but then b) shortly thereafter make it even dryer than before. Gack.

So, all things considered, I decided about a half-bottle of fancy shampoo ago to stick to organic, non-petroleum based hair products. It’s not hard to do, it’s just that I’m a whore for expensive beauty products. Did you know there is actually a white truffle shampoo on the market? Well, now you know someone who actually bought that. (For the record, it was AMAZING). You don’t have to look too hard for non-petroleum haircare, and there are a few so-called “organic” lines here in Germany that are also available in the US:

The quite affordable Lavera is great, particularly their Basis line, and they get consistently high marks in Germany for safe ingredients, which is really saying something. Sante is also pretty good, and even more affordable than Lavera (I just spent less than 4 Euros on a bottle of their shampoo today). If you’re in the EU and are willing to go through the hassle of having things delivered, my hands-down favorite for hair is the über-organic line Sanoll from Austria. It’s affordable but not super-cheap, and it’s worth noting that because they don’t use any preservatives (at least they didn’t last time I used them), things do go bad if you don’t use them after a long while.

While I love a lot of their skin care stuff, I found Dr. Hauschka‘s shampoos and conditioners to be basically like smearing a very expensive, runny, plant-based mayonnaise around in my hair (and I guess I’m not the only one because I hear they’re discontinuing a lot or all of the hair care line). Aveda doesn’t even get a link because of my Aveda Salon Hair Color Disaster of ’06. Hard times, hard times. But I will note that, though they do use a lot of natural ingredients, they’ll also toss in a little formaldyhyde, neurotoxins or methylparabens to give it that extra kick. ::Sigh.::

Last but not least, if you want to get really REALLY seriously crunchy-organic, you can try making your very own shampoo and conditioner out of water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda. I’m, ummm, not quite there yet. So if you try it, be sure to let me know how it goes!

Skin Deep

As a kind of footnote to the last post, which was about shopping for professional make up like Kryolan, Make Up For Ever, Paris Berlin and MAC, I want to share a great site with you:

Skin Deep: The Cosmetic Safety Database is just that; you can enter a makeup, skin care, or hair care product you use or are curious about, and it will provide information about the product’s actual ingredients and let you know what the exact dangers of each of those ingredients are, with a handy rating system to give you a good idea of how dangerous each ingredient and each product overall is. It also lets you know whether a company does animal testing.

If you have sensitive skin or know that some products really do not work for you and want to avoid bad reactions before buying, or want to avoid known toxins and carcinogens (who wouldn’t?), this is a great resource. Its database is extensive, but not every single thing is listed. For example, Kryolan is not listed at all, so what I did was the super OCD method of cross-checking ingredients from the Kryolan site.

Skin Deep is managed by the Environmental Working Group, which is a great source of practical news on (duh) environmental research and headlines with a step slant towards American consumer protection and awareness. Cell phone radiation, pesticides, toxins, sustainable farming, you name it, you can learn about it there.

If you are the type who likes recommendations from other people before you shell out for things, you might like Make Up Alley. There, users sign up and write reviews of products. Every user enters a little basic data about their skin (type, color, problems, age group) so you can get a pretty good idea about what reviews are more useful to your skin type.