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My best friend has often (incorrectly) labeled me as high-maintenance. Quite the contrary! I've often felt that high-maintenance people are those who do absolutely nothing and then expect miracle results; they are always deeply disappointed. Exfoliating, moisturizing, waxing, trimming, filing, polishing, de-tox, etc. etc. It can't all be done in one day, it would take too long. Unless you're idle rich and have nothing better to do than spend hours in the bathroom; it's much easier (and less time consuming) to take care of yourself all the time. Making dinner? Rub a little olive oil into your nails. Chatting with a friend on the phone? There's probably time for a quickie manicure and/or a little eyebrow clearance. Give yourself 15 Beauty Minutes a day, even if it's only to close your eyes and catch your breath. I guarantee it will make a huge difference. Still, I know sometimes 15 minutes seems like too long. For those of you who allow an extra half hour in the morning to straighten your hair, you might want to know: the Japanese Hair Straightening perm will change your life...

This is the $800 perm I had mentioned a while ago. No, it won't change your life, but it will save time. Recently I spoke with Connie Lima, a specialist at Hisako here in NYC. While they've been doing the service here at this lovely salon off Fifth Avenue. for about five years; it's only been the past year or so the process has received so much attention. How much? How long? Etc. Etc. Well, it all depends on the type of hair. The process can take anywhere from 4-7 hours and can be done on just about any kind of hair. Severely damaged and certain types of African hair should not be processed, but have a consultation first. Not all African hair has the same coarseness or curl pattern; and one person's idea of severe damage might just be a bad case of split ends. How long does it last? If the hair is long, the weight of the hair will help pull it straight as it grows out making a touch-up necessary only once or twice a year. Hair that is on the short side and/or with a tight curl might need to be retouched every 3-4 months. What if you live somewhere like San Fran-Frizz-co instead of L.A. or Las Vegas where it's nice and dry? Sure, you might get a little volume, but certainly not the Full 'Fro Snap. If you really want super flat, run a brush through while blow drying. But hair I've seen and touched this winter looks and more importantly feels wonderful and silky simply air-dried. Has anyone had problems? Ms. Lima said, of the countless number of heads she's done over the years, only one lady said her scalp felt a little dry. Easily remedied and a great average considering many women regularly get burns or other allergic reactions to other chemical services and accept this as part-of-the-process. What if someone changes her/his (oh yes, men get it done too) mind? For formerly virgin hair, if you want curl back; after a month or so, it's safe to give it a body wave. Hair that was previously processed (colored, etc.) most likely would have to be cut, though I can't imagine anyone wanting to go back. So, how much does it cost to have soft, shiny straight hair? Depends of course on which salon you go to. If you're going to a salon with a celebrity stylist or clientele, you'll easily put out $600 and up. And that doesn't include lunch or tip! Still, we're concerned with results; not rubbing shoulders with starlets at the shampoo sinks. Most large cities with top quality Japanese salons and trained stylists will perform this service in the $300-$400 range. Any lower I'd be suspicious - - this is definitely not something a friend does to you in the kitchen. Talk to your friends though if you're looking for a salon. If you go into a salon cold, get a consultation first and take note of everything. Is it clean? How does it smell? (If you smell too many chemicals there's probably something wrong with the ventilation) How is the staff? Do they answer all of your questions and concerns? Does the salon/staff look professional? Of course I don't mean a suit and tie; but stations and stylists that look like a disaster are probably going to create one on your head. While this isn't as serious as surgery; if someone messes up your hair, you have to live with it. I say, the proof is in the pudding. If you see someone with great hair, ask where she gets it done. Sure several hundred dollars might seem like a lot of money for a hair service, but when you think of the time and aggravation saved, it's worth it. Find out if it's right for you.

For their time and information, special thanks to Connie Lima and the rest of the staff at Hisako Salon here in NYC. For more info: hisakosalon@webatonce.com

From straightening hair on top of the head to curling hair in the middle? Eyelashes! Everyone wants curly eyelashes. I thank my mother for bestowing a bit of her curl on me. In my kit I've carried around those medieval looking contraptions called Eyelash Curlers. It looks so uncomfortable to use and honestly, I'm not too thrilled with the Betty Boop bend they often give; but I suppose I can't be picky. I did however, find a heated wand eyelash curler at Sephora. It heats up in about 20 seconds and you simply brush your lashes as though you were slowly applying mascara. Yes, it was a little freaky at first to feel warmth near my eyeball; but there is a plastic screen over the little heat coil--it won't ever touch your skin. I've seen other heated plastic eyelash curlers which push together like the standard metal design, but I like this one best. Don't have to worry about pinched eyelids or pulling out lashes. Hooray! Heated Eyelash Curler about $12.00 at Sephora stores.

Boscia, is a new line of botanically-based skincare from Japan, what makes it special is that there are no preservatives. Methylparaben, propylparaben, and other common preservatives can be found almost everywhere and in almost everything, enabling manufacturers to keep products on shelves for over a year. These same ingredients can cause allergic reactions for many people. Could I be one of them? Quite possible. I do have sensitive, unpredictable skin and it is sometimes with dread that I guinea pig myself to new beauty products. I won't try a product on a shoot much less recommend it to anyone else before I know how it will perform. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, and sometimes I'm trying to figure out if that rash on my chin was caused by a new moisturizer or a new Thai dish eaten the night before...

The Boscia line I'm pleased to report has been a happy experience for the last few weeks. The entire line consists of 18 skincare products ranging from cleansers to vegetable supplements. Some of the Treatment Products such as the Restorative Amino-3P Firming Treatment or the Antioxidant Recovery Treatment C, well, we'll only know 10 years from now if they work, but they felt nice and didn't sting like other anti-aging/rejuvenating products I've tried.

There are 3 formulas of Beauty Supplements, and while I agree with the concept of a beauty treatment for the inside as well as the outside, I must strongly advise checking all the ingredients to see if you're allergic to anything. One person's peanut is another person's ER visit. (*No Boscia products contain any peanuts) I know you don't need a prescription to take vitamins, and these aren't claiming to be, but if you have any concerns or questions, talk to a doctor.
My personal favorites from the Boscia collection: Purifying Cleansing Gel, my face feels clean and balanced; takes off all make-up without over-drying. Vital Daily Moisture and Oil-free Daily Hydration, both SPF 15; are great basic daytime moisturizers. Still, with this crazy sub-zero weather we've been having, I need a stronger moisturizer. Imagine! Me, the grease ball. I never thought I'd say that., but lately; even walking a block sometimes my face has felt as though it would crack off. Recharging Night Moisture came to the rescue. It doesn't feel heavy or greasy. My skin feels so soft in the morning. I even use a little in the daytime when I know the weather is going to be especially bad, I don't worry anymore about peeling dryness. The Willow Bark Breakout Treatment is a clear gel which calms down threatening eruptions without over-drying. The Smoothing Facial Polish exfoliates gently and rinses off easily.
Often when you buy skincare products the expiration date is usually a year, maybe two away. Boscia products are clearly stamped on the side of each box with an expiration date of about six months. The sizes of the bottles and tubes (great for travel) are meant to last only 2-3 months, so you know it will be fresh. I noticed immediately how quickly my skin absorbed these products. Since plant extracts and oils are the main components of all the formulas (not just a trace amount thrown in as an afterthought), most of the products did not have any smell; or if there was one, it was the fresh, natural fragrance of the botanicals used. Boscia products are also alcohol free and do not use any animal products or testing.
People sometimes forget how important their skin is; it's a vital organ. A window to what's going on inside our bodies as well as the first line of defense against toxins from the outside. I'm always amazed at what people (myself included) have put on their skin on the name of beauty. We've come a long way from lead and belladonna, but we still have far to go. Boscia is definitely a huge step in the right direction.

Boscia is available at Henri Bendel in NYC and select Nordstrom stores. For more information: www.boscia.net