About kirsten

I realized about 20 years ago that I should take better care of my skin and my appearance. Starting with the basics, I used sunscreen everyday, drank lots of water and got plenty of exercise. Over time, I became very interested in skincare and makeup products-mostly because they are fun to learn about and that many of my friends share the curiosity. At the same time, many people commented on how I've retained youthful skin and few wrinkles at rest. So, nowadays, I just love products and sharing what I discover about how effective they are for me, and make recommendations when people ask me.

PEP PEP PEP…errrr Clinique Pep Start Eye

Just like the jingle-I’m lovin it!

But I wasn’t loving the fact that the Estee Lauder Advanced Time Zone eye cream I was using suddenly changed their formula without warning.  Either that or the stock at Macy’s Windward was so old that the eye cream muushed into something thinner than the Crisco like thickness I love in my moisturizer and eye cream.

So, off I go in search of a new eye cream that has the magical stick to it ness of Crisco.


Well, if you’re a younger person you probably have no idea what the thick, white, magical crisp making chicken aka shortening of which I speak.

Just picture something THICK-maybe p butter is a better example.


I had seen Clinique’s new Pep Start eye cream somewhere in a magazine maybe Allure-and thought I’d check it out at the Clinique counter.

Cliinique counter no more!  clq_ZH4801_402x464

The new product is sold only at Sephora or clinique.com!

Ok-that’s cool cuz I have a sephora gift card anyway. So the next time I was at the mall I checked it out.

The packaging is a bright vitamin C orange tube, with a sphere shaped tip where the product comes out. I figure this is so, if you want, you can squeeze some up and apply the product right from the tube.

Ok in theory, but one could potentially contaminate the product in the tube with whatever cream, serum or whatever you previously applied to your skin.

So, I apply with fingertips-squirt a little of the thick product on the tips, rub to warm and pat all around the eyes.

I so totally ignore the make up counter directions to pat only on the orbital (eye socket) bones.

I have to tell you that this product delivers the claim that is directly addresses puffiness.

In the morning, I’ve dabbed on moisturizer first thing for years. But have noticed that my eyes are a little puffier.

So, first thing in the am I have added Pep Smart to my regimen.

By the time I am off, my puffs look pretty good.

Plus, I like the way the cream moisturizes for most of the day.

It wears well under concealer too.

Thing is, I spoke to the Clinique area rep and asked her why they don’t sell it at other retailers. Her explanation was that sometimes Clinique is testing a product and limits distribution, and later if the product proves popular, distributes everywhere.

Another explanation from a clinique counter was, Sephora sometimes negotiates for product exclusivity so…

Anyway-a high recommend. Only $27 bucks. Worth it.




What’s Up With That?Sephora Pricing Same Product, Same Size at a Premium

I pride myself on shopping around for the best deal-when all things are the same, same product, same size-I still look for the extra whatever to sweeten the deal.

The other day, I shopped online while my friend was driving and talking on speaker phone as we researched the best deal for a certain eye cream and moisturizer which was on her shopping list for the day.

After a few clicks, I helped her figure out how she could get the cream(s) she wanted, get the brand GWP, and the store GWP!

So this morning, the siren call of a Bobbi Brown GWP came in via Sephora’s daily sell email. I click on it-it looks good, so I check for the Estee Lauder Advanced Time Zone eye cream I like.

At Sephora a .5oz jar is $62.

At Macy’s a .5oz jar is $58.


I have become increasingly suspicious of Sephora’s practices.

I get that the 100 point aka $100 threshold for the VIB deluxe samples really cost me $100.

And that they now sell the same deluxe samples that the brands giveaway in GWPs in the stores and online.

But to add injury to insult by pricing at a premium?

I don’t think so.



Water By Another Name-Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

Lately I’ve had a real allergy to paying more than what I have to-like the dry shampoo products-why pay $30 or more for Living Proof, when I can get a product that works just as well, and does not smell, for a small fraction, really small fraction of the price?

So, I’ve been reading about micellar waters in Allure, Elle, Bazaar et al.  Micellar water is based on the concept that there are more molecules(?) packed into the same volume of liquid.

Having a higher density helps dissolve makeup and other impurities, without using soap.

Sisters with dry skin, this promise to both cleanse and not dry our skin, is like a beacon in the sky of hope.  At the m-phase of life, more than a few friends have experienced the drying of once oily or normal complexions and have joined the search for products that give us back the moisture and dewiness of our youth. aclk

Well ya know that Garnier is definitely the drug store version of the pricey French and otherwise micellar waters, so when it went on sale at Longs I decided to buy it.

I read anything extra, like “water-proof mascara” formula as more chemicals, so I bought the regular version.

I never wear water-proof mascara-so my mascara came off pretty easy. With the Garnier Micellar product, I can use a little on a cotton pad, and the eye makeup including mascara seriously slides off.  I’ve been using a Revlon Colorstay liquid eyeliner lately, and it removes most of that, except for what gets caught in the lower eyelashes.  I use a q-tip to remove what remains.

I do use a squirt of Cerave’s (thank you Leslie) moisturizing cleanser to take off the filmy feel left from the micellar water, but otherwise the product does the job.

The boast of using micellar water(s) is that your skin is cleaner and ready for anti-aging/treatment products.

I’m not sure how it works on sensitive skins, but for the drugstore price, it’s worth a try.




Don’t Ya Hate It? MAC False Lashes Mascara

I recently received a sample of MAC’s False Lashes Extreme Black mascara and was super duper loving it for it’s lash separation and lengthening powers with no clumping.  Prior to that I was using some other MAC mascara, that over time started getting clumpy after an initial great start.

I don’t know if it’s me and I should be cleaning the mascara wand periodically or what, but almost all of my mascara ends up this way.  Although some like Estee Lauder’s Sumptous, starts out clumpy-prob from being overly ambitious in the thickening department.


I figure buying the new mascara at Windward Mall Macy’s would be a gamble-cuz, really, at the back of my mind I’m thinking that cosmetic products stay on the shelf longer at Windward Macys, 1) because of the size of the Kaneohe population and 2) that people probably would rather save and purchase Maybeline Great Lash or L’Oreal Voluminious, both great products at a lower price point.

I could get into Kaneohe Safeway’s expired products that live on the shelves long after the expiration date, but that’s another blog and everyone in Kaneohe who shops there already knows that fresh products are not to be found at Safeway. (Seriously, I was looking to buy one of their “bake-at-home” deli-pizzas and even they were expired.  I told the guy also shopping-“ya need to check the date.”)


It turns out after only a week of using the MAC product from WW Macys it is clumping already. Very sad. I figure this is because the product is old-since my sample tube, after weeks of using it, did not clump.

I know I have to take it back-no shame-if I pay $22 for a mascara, I want to use it.



Dr Glossy-Loma Organics

Readers of my blog know that I have had a love affair with Neuma organic shampoos and conditioners, smoothing creams + Kitoko oil.  Between the organic products and using glosses instead of ammonia-based hair color, I have given credit to using quality products for my hair’s awesome condition.

Many people do not realize that I have been coloring/glossing my hair for about 10 years now because I stuck with my natural color, once in awhile being talked into a small bit of highlights, which don’t suit me, so I abandon after one round (several times).

When I first started coloring I was using ammonia-based products (at the salon) and what I thought were good quality shampoos like S-Factor and Bedhead. Turns out only the Goldweil products, which are pricey, were the only ones that were not contributing to damaging my hair into a frizzy dry mess.

By the time I met Hillary J at Winam Studio, my hair was pretty crispy-which she coaxed back into condition by glossing. Add to that Lincoln Wang’s ever-changing selection at BOSS Beauty Supply on Nimitz.

Lincoln is always searching for the next great product to improve upon the last. On my last visit, I came in with freshly washed and dried hair-and since I’ve never been one to section my hair to dry, it was a bit “puffy”.

I was looking at the new “Loma” organic product line-and Lincoln suggested a squirt of their smoothing creme and tonic–adding from the back and bottom of my hair and working through the strands, ending up with the last bits of product for the front bangs.

Seriously, in seconds, my hair transformed from being puffy to being sleek and almost achieving the same look the stylist at the salon gives me.

I’m all about easy so I was in love at first sight with Loma.

Plus, the fragrance is pretty wonderful. I grew up in Japan when the erasers had a indescribable fruity-like scent, and the Loma products have the same lean.

Lincoln had/has a 3 pack of shampoo, conditioner and smoothing creme. I also purchased the tonic which is like a hair oil-not as thick as Neuma’s argan oil, but not as thin as Kitoko oil. (BOSS members receive a discount).

The Nourishing line is for “dry, thirsty and thrashed hair including chemically treated”, and the fragrance is actually cranberry and pear.

It also has “Creatine –35% more effective than any protein or keratin on the market at rebuilding the internal tensile strength of the hair especially color, foiled and bleached hair types. You can never overproteinize the hair when using Loma”275_loma_pic.

I tested the product’s moisturizing power too. The next time I had my hair colored, I skipped the moisturizing treatment so I could see just how well the products worked.

The results are impressive. My hair almost achieves its pre-color virginity.

In case you go shopping in Hawaii-Lincoln has moved to the opposite side of Nimitz business center–he has relocated next door to Eagle cafe and Sensually Yours.



Hair Like A Wet Horse-L’Oreal

I have my Mom’s hair.

Thick strands and dense follicles.

Many people describe this type of Japanese hair as “horse” hair.

That is how I described it too until I actually felt a horse’s mane and tail for the first time.

I’ve always liked horses from afar-you know, little girl grows up dreaming of Black Beauty and reading The Black Stallion-drawing pictures or horses with long flow-y gossamer manes and tails.

The reality is very different on the silkiness of those manes and tails.

Which makes me wonder why would that shampoo company name their product “Manes and Tails”?


In reality, a horse’s mane and tail hair is almost rope-ish-like cords instead of strands.

It’s not stuff you can run your fingers through.

But never the less, when I struggle with drying my hair at h-club…

Yes, my hair is thick, long and shiny, but boy is it a pain in the rear to dry.

So, when I was searching for a dry shampoo, I also remembered reading about a L’Oreal product that protected your hair from heat drying AND also made the blow dry faster.

Sty6_15_pack-shot.jpgI found Advanced BLOW IT DRY Quick Primer Spray among the many many many L’Oreal products hogging up the shelves at Longs Kahala.

I was skeptical, but for $4.99 why not?

The product is easy to use- towel dry hair and spray some in and tousle through your hair.

I take a few more minutes to put on my make up, and by the time I blow dry, this product already has made my hair feel a little drier.  Any other time, my hair would still be sopping wet.

I don’t know yet about its heat protecting qualities, but this product definitely speeds up dry time. My hair is done in a jiffy.

I worry a little about putting another product on top of everything else, but at the end of the day, it’s just hair.

Horse or otherwise.



Hair Deodorizer-SG Invisible Dry Shampoo

I, like many women, have a very sensitive sense of smell–leave it to me to be the person in the room who makes a comment about smelling something funky-or otherwise shy away from the person or thing being funky.

All my life, men have told me this, and lamented the loss of the use of their cologne around me. Course that’s only if they want to be near me.

So,when it comes to my own fragrance, I am paranoid about how I smell.

In ballet class, most of us wear canvas ballet slippers because we can throw them in the wash and be fresh like a daisy-or at least the option is better than wearing leather slippers that, well, you know- bare feet and leather aren’t a good combo.

Or Sunday mornings at Longs.

Seriously, I don’t expect people to fall out of bed on the weekend and jump into the shower and suds up-and I don’t think other people think everyone else expects them to.

However, with my super smelling nose…

So, I wash my hair everyday because I can’t stand the smell of my scalp.

I always thought I was one of the few people who actually noticed until I walked into BOSS Beauty Supply on Nimitz to pick up my Neuma Smoothing Cream (smells like an orange dreamsicle) when the salesperson volunteered that she also was had the same self-awareness of her scalp.

I’ve tried dry shampoos before-like Paul Mitchell’s-and though it did the job of freshening, I didn’t like the fragrance.

I was thinking of trying Living Proof’s version-but I already anticipated I wouldn’t like the fragrance so I’ve been putting off trying it.

My client mentioned that hair loss can be attributed to bacteria on the scalp, so he highly recommends thoroughly drying the scalp every time I shampooed.

So, it makes it kind of like a catch-22- you have to wash your scalp to get rid of the bacteria, but washing your hair everyday is not recommended for color treated hair.


Kahala Longs (on a non-Sunday) has a pretty good selection of hair products so it was just me and a 60-ish looking guy in the hair care aisle.

The array of product is pretty overwhelming–L’Oreal must have a 5-foot wide berth, and 3 shelves high, all by themselves.

Even so, L’Oreal did not have a dry shampoo.

But because, each store manager has discretion on what they buy for their branch, Kahala carries “Salon Grafix” “Professional” line. Only had shampoo, conditioner and “Invisible Dry Spray Shampoo” in the “line”- I decided the price was right at $2.99.

When i t comes to trying new stuff, don’t you just hate it when you buy something expensive and it’s a product fail-or otherwise?


Turns out, my “professional” invisible dry spray shampoo works like a dream.

Oh yeah, the reason I mention the guy in the aisle…

Any other time I would take the cap off and spritz some product into the air to check if it would pass the fragrance test, but somehow this old guy made me stop myself.

So, when I tried the product at home, I sprayed it into the air and took a whiff. Didn’t smell bad. Not sweet, not chemically-just smelled like not much.

But it works great.

I few sprays along the hair line and a swish into the hair and I’m done and smell free.

And the plus is, the product gives a good amount of oomph into my hair giving it a just out of bed look.

Well, at least it looks like I was just in bed.

Is that good or bad?





Life on the Ranch-Canyon Ranch, Tucson

I live in Hawaii so it’s realllllyyy hard to leave to go on vacation,  As a former military brat, I travelled for the first 26 years of my life, so I don’t feel a strong urge to pack up my stuff and go anywhere that’s not on my wish list of St Petersburg to see the Kirov Ballet. Or take a short jaunt to see Alonso King or Complexions, or maybe travel to a city where a favorite band is performing.

So, kicking and screaming I went to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ.

For weeks preceding my departure I made snarky remarks about going to the fat farm or rehab, because when you look at their online brochure, the ranch is all about metaphysical blah blahs, 12 steps, and health.

Ick. So not my cup of tea. Been there done that 20 years ago when it was in style to spout off, “me in relation to the universe” speak.

From my point of view, I have room to cut down on my glass of wine, chips, chocolate or candy-if I really wanted to, but I wouldn’t feel any desire to take myself to a locale where I would never have a desire to visit anyway.

Add to that the bf’s preference to take the 630AM flight.

I hate that because unless I’m going to a neighbor island, with the time difference, flying the AM flight takes up an entire day of my life just going to LA or SFO.

The 3 hour layover was actually a bright spot. Had a nice beet salad and last man’s meal at Wolfgang Puck’s airport location.

The glasses of wine helped me sleep the entire flight from LA to downtown Tucson. It was a night flight so we saw nothing.(The flight back my seatmate was a larger person and he leaned into the window while we flew over the scenics).

Tucson is a land of cactus and dryness as far as the eye can see. Imagine those cowboy westerns with Clint Eastwood in his poncho and flinty eyed gaze, as he squints into the horizon and takes a sip from a dried up leather water pouch.

That’s how I felt.

No humidity whatsoever. I had to carry around a water bottle and take a sip every 50 feet or so.

Checking in was pleasant enough. I’m sure reception is used to dealing with people who have a chip on their shoulder from facing the impending desert of less food and less drink, and more exercise. In the desert.

I admit, I was one of those people. The first morning we walked down to have our health assessment (aka opportunity to sell more spa services and special paid classes) I was grouchy.  At the same time I checked in and got my locker.

One thing I will say about CR is the staff is ginormous. Attendants in the locker room constantly put out fresh towels and neaten up the place after people shower, picking up bath mats and replenishing the towels at each station. There are icy towels by the steam/sauna room, and fruit waters by the jacuzzi in about 4 flavors. The goody drawer is stocked full of toothpaste, tooth brushes, razors, aspirin, bandaids, dental floss, ear plugs, reading glasses–all meant to be taken freely.

Heck even the shaving cream was a brand name.

I was issued a spa robe and slippers- I think I might have gotten some athlete’s foot, as after CR my foot is a little itchy. The lockers are digital. I’m not sure if the locker I received was on the bottom level cuz the attendant thought I was an old fart and it would be better if I sat to access my locker or not. CR was about 70% capacity, yet many of us were squished into the same area-so if someone was changing or getting into their locker there was a traffic jam.

The next day I had a portioned breakfast of 1/2 cup of granola, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt (the real unsweetened version) and a scrambled egg. Everything on the menu has calorie and fat counts. At CR you can eat as much as you want, all day every day. But everything is portioned out in what is the real suggested serving. For example, the pumpkin cheesecake, and peanut butter chocolate cake were about the size of a 2.5 stacked oreo cookie serving.

The point is, you can sit there and eat the entire menu ten times over if you want to.

While I was there I tried to take classes I would normally not do at HonClub. My first class was a core conditioning class which because I have no cardio stamina any more was challenging because it was fast. I also got a little nauseous from the smell of some sunscreen I tried. We used a “Vyper” apparatus while standing on a Bosu. Kind of fun. I like balance challenges anyway.

I also took a world beat dance class which turned out to be fun. A tall woman who I will always describe as a biker chick from a biker bar walked in with a scarf tied on her head at first. Seriously I was surprised she did not have any visible tats.

But the class was quite wonderful.  Looking at her she was not the picture of health but she could shake all her parts. The class turned out to be afro cuban with a live percussion trio.

I also tried the drum class where one of the trio taught us how to pound out beats using an African drum-very good instruction.

Boxing was fun-but I don’t think I want to try taking the class here where a guy teaches a small group at HC. I also tried aerial yoga-I liked it but the laundry detergent they used made me nauseous.

I only took one class with the bf (who fully utilized the facility. He meditated, breathed, sat out at the pool, stretched, rolled and steamed). The class was Tai Chi Sword-which I thought might be a style of tai chi. In fact, it was interesting in that the instructor taught us how a wood pole could be used to fend off attackers and how the tai chi “choreography” related to those defense moves. He brought out a large axe on a long pole for all of us to try. Everyone tried except me-there’s something about martial arts classes that stirs my aggression juices-so I thought it would be better to not take the axe out for a spin.

A couple of days in, I realized that people first arrive at CR kind of in a grouchy state of mind like myself. At first I just thought they were unfriendly, grouchy. But I realized that after a few days of the CR culture, you either gave in or didn’t. Some people that I would pass by on the walkways day after day, like myself loosened up. Others did not.

I did do some spa services. The most beneficial was the Connective Tissue “massage”. It was really a treatment where the attendant used a device to gently palpate my muscles and fascia. He theorized that all of my left side issues with my knee, foot, shoulder were related to a car accident where I was hit from the right side(driver on the right in Japan). That the 30 years since, my left over compensated. The gentle treatment eased the stiffness in my neck, as well as untwisted my torso which usually pulls to the left.

I also had an oxygen facial which highly moisturized my skin. CR uses top flight products from Switzerland and other skincare meccas (interesting not from Japan or Korea).

Our room was really nice-though housekeeping came while I was there so, the stories are true about whether the glasses are washed or not. Frankly I prefer to use a paper cup.

So, would I go again? I guess so.


Expectations-Motels v Resorts

I’m the kind of person that although I like a nice bed with super soft sheets and fluffy comforters, I still go kicking and screaming when I go on “vacation”.

No, I don’t like to work all the time, and

No, I’m not a workaholic, but

Yes, I’m picky and have some germ-phobe tendencies, where

I think of a hotel room as a germ-plagued breeding ground for infection.

I believe the 20/20 investigative reports-

So I do what I can so I can feel a little better, no

matter what I bring flip flops to wear around the room, because although

I live in Hawaii and take off my shoes in the “house”, other

people do not, and wear their shoes in hotel rooms and shared spaces.

I once stayed in SFO at the Hotel Monaco- the web photos had cute cupid, all-set for romance rooms- even the hotel entrance had flying cherubs on the ceiling. But

getting into the room was another story.

I could not stop thinking about how many people did you know what on that divan, or that chair

You get the picture.


Back to the subject

Last month we went to a wedding in California in a small college town, as we drove up, I said oh, it’s a motel, kind of like Holiday Inn.

Staying in a wedding spirit, I found that the room tho plain, was presentable. The sheets were a little “crisp” but it did have a Keurig.

According to the wedding coordinator, tho there was a major chain hotel nearby, this place was “the” place to stay.

And it was pretty cool–when we checked in we got a coupon for a free drink in the motel cocktail lounge, which served a pretty good glass of their own house wine, from an area vineyard.

They also gave us coupons for a free breakfast with an up to $8 value for each night we stayed.

The cafe is a bustling place and altho the wedding party and a few sports teams were in the house and overflowed to the cocktail lounge, the scrambled eggs and kale were out of this world.

Maybe I’ve just gotten used to getting one flat scrambled egg, a skinny piece of toast and an oily piece of sausage for double the price, but I ate the same breakfast all 3 mornings.

So, my expectations were over the moon exceeded for what I thought would be a passable experience, into one where fluffy scrambled eggs subbed in for the fluffy bed and soft sheets.

Interestingly enough, soon, I will be heading out to a 5-star resort, where, so far my expectations were high, but the customer experience has been pretty well, “motel-like”.

More later upon my return,


I Had A Good Title Yesterday-Japanese Hair Salon

I was wandering around the Ilikai Hotel last week and saw a Grand Opening sign for a new hair salon. The salon, like the rest of the vendor spaces had glass walls so I could see that the staff were definitely from Japan also known as JN’s for Japanese nationals.

I went in anyway because I was curious to know if they could buy advertising from my other job at KIKU tv, or  I could try them out as stylists.

The staff were extraordinarily friendly, and in the very Japanese way, very gracious and welcoming. I took to one nice looking young man stylist and walked out without making an appointment but with their brochure.

The rates are very reasonable especially when I compare them to what I have been paying for $100 for retouch to color grey.

I must be tired because I have been feeling pretty put out about the entire experience of paying $120 for a retouch where only the assistant touched my head for 90% of the time I was at the salon.


Ok I feel the snark coming on.

It just riles me up to pay that much of my hard earned cash to not have the stylist do my hair, walk out with a black band of color on my forehead, drops of color on my face, plastered bangs sprayed into place and a burn mark from a too hot blowdryer.

I am one of those easy going customers when I am at the mercy of the hairstylist, but once I have to start scrubbing the black dye off, my patience wears as well.


Everything about my experience made me feel very happy about my choice.

My hair was dry as toast (after nurturing it for years with organic high grade hair products and non amonia color) after the  assistant from the other salon spaced out and left the color on  for 1.5 hours!

So, I opted in for the moisture treatment, haircut, retouch roots and got a complimentary ozone treatment for half the price of the last salon without any treatments. So half the price and twice the treatment.

The stylist was upfront with what they were going to charge me–something that seems to never happen. My experience with so many stylists is they add on and add on and never say how much more something is going to be until they present you with a $200+ bill! Or, they raise rates and never say anything!

They started with a shampoo and moisture treatment which had a warm steam directed at my head while I sipped herbal tea.

Then after the moisture was rinsed out, the stylist applied an ozone treatment-which felt reminiscent of a bubble rinse from Ryan Jacoby.

Off to the chair, and the stylist put on little shower caps to cover my ears. He also applied a thin type of tape around my forehead-none of that disgusting vaseline goo.

Then he applied the color very thouroughly. Yes he used a paintbrush, but he went through and did one coat, then using the comb side, went through the entire head again until he was satisfied.

Rinsing the color out was followed by the stylist blow drying my hair by hand and with a brush.

Then a precision cut style I had never seen before–I got long layers and some bangs.  (I really look like my avatar).

Man-I think it was way back in the 60s when that much graciousness was part of the trip to the hair salon! Complete with Japanese style “doomo arigator gozaimashita, please come again!”

My last snark-why are stylists so possesive about their clients and treat them like sh$t? If they gave a hoot about clients then they’d treat clients alot better, not be so sloppy, and be upfront about costs for services.

What’s up with that bad behavior?

It’s alot easier to keep a client than to try to get new ones-