Slow Travel to Italia

Photo credit: Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday


My blog has had its share of accolades for saying it as it is.  

If I may, I can boast to be perhaps the only beauty blog that has male heterosexual followers (for realz).  I am also one to tell you not to spend your money but rather hold on to it.


But I also had criticisms for not knowing how to celebrate joy in the form of a new shade of lipstick.  And yes, I am guilty.    

After all, once you have found your own shade of red that makes your face light up and sparkle-  what else can the spectrum of colors entice you with?  Certainly not the overrated Viva Glam de Jour that donates to “charity” yet will never have the same effect as your own personal red.

So yes, this blog may teach you a lot of things but it does not have passion (for yet another ho-hum lipstick).

With this post, I would like to change that.  

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Every Viva Glam  I turned down, a lip balm I refused, a new miracle (aherm cough*BB, mineral) formula I resisted, a new trendy color I skipped-

allowed me a thousand steps more of travel. 


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And by travel, I do not mean the type where you stress to finish all work in the office, stay a week in a hotel,  have a day to day agenda of buildings, museums and monuments to see, then go home more tired than before the vacation. 

That’s being a tourist, where you have instagram pictures to show but not a real experience that you can say enriched you.


Try travelling slow.  





Stay longer without a real agenda but to live like and with the locals. 

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For how else can you do much if you have a week full planned of dead museums to see?


·      Challenge Ferraris to race in the Tuscan highways (in a shoe filled Volkswagen Beetle)
·      Get yourself invited then thrown out (on purpose, they were getting too wild for my taste and there are lines I do not cross) of an artist’s party in Pietra Santa
·      Ride in a midnight train full of sailors in Napoli,
·      Be cooked for and fed by a castle owning Italian boy in Modena,
·      Ride around Rome with a Milanese in a Vespa,
·      Be shown around to mingle with the 25,000 local Venetian population  by a real merchant of Venice
·      Be asked to do a bible reading in an Italian wedding in Bari

Not.   Unless you take it slow.

And the place in Italy which has a special place in my heart and where I recommend you start is Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance.  
Here are glimpses of it from an adopted native’s perspective.

Beauty Ad nauseam

There is a real medical condition called Florence syndrome, so called because a lot of incidents happened after seeing the Loggia dei Lenzi  in Piazza dela Signoria (the place where Bonfire of the Vanities happened) in Florence.
In this you get overwhelmed with so much beauty that you actually go frenzy dizzy. 
I would not waste my time describing or showing you pictures.  It is to be experienced.  Put this in your bucket list.


Medici is dead, long live the Medicis

This banking family has fostered the arts, science, literature, architecture that gave birth to Michelangelo, Galileo, Da Vinci and Dante (to but name a few).
The last of the Medicis was the gay Gaston and the childless Luisa.

Yet they are alive in the legacy of greatness that they helped flourish. 

But the real legacy is the wonder that are the Florentines.  I can wax poetry about them, but allow me to just be stupid and say - gawd, they are really nice people!


Why Does Michelangelo Have a Beard?

I once stayed in a student’s flat where one of the tenants is a sculpture student.
I learned that beards have two practical uses.   For sculptors, they sometimes need to see better and up  close without a mask.   A beard helps shield their faces from the marble being chipped.

The second practical use of beards is to conceal a small penis.


Why/why not Prosecco?

Sparkling wine, when grown in the Champagne region in France is called Champagne.  When grown in Italy is called Prosecco.  When grown in Spain is called Cava. 

I  had a week long tour of vineyards in the Champagne region and there would be better and lesser quaity Champagnes as I imagine that there would be better and lesser proseccos.  The difference is just the French would be complete asses about protecting their name (remember the fate of YSL’s Champagne fragrance?).

So, when I hear someone deploring prosecco in favour of Champagne, I scratch my head and ask what the hell this common beeatch think she is talking about?


How to Tell A Good Gelato


Bad gelato
This Italian ice cream is made from real fruits and hearty ingredients.  (To try is the sesame nero from Vivali, black sesame is imported from Japan and once the batch for the year is over, it is over)

When you see gelato piled yey high atop its container, it would require quite some unnatural shit to make it stand that way. 

Stay away from gelatos piled yey high.

American Students as Party Shepherds
Florence attracts a lot of students (and it is easy to enroll there as most schools offer courses with translators.)

The cooler ones sometimes get jobs as party shepherds, that is leading the throng of party goers to the next bar.

They can be great fun to live with but they often forget that I am old enough to be their mamma and would bother me a lot to party.  I love them! (Dylan and Tracey!)

How is All This Possible?

Easier said than done, you will say. 

True.

But possible.  Especially now more than ever when jobs can be done via the internet and an iphone full of app enablers.



But you start with small steps.

So find and stick to the one true shade of red lipstick that celebrates you.  
Keep your load light.  

And go out  and learn how the rest of the world wags and what wags it.



Let me recommend that you start with Florence, Italy.  
It is the where the Renaissance started.   
It could also be the start of your own personal renaissance. 



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Some practical tips:

Easy for you to say, you do not have a job and kids…

If you have a regular job or a family, the book 4Hr workweek by Tim Ferris shows you how to hack it. Though I am not in lurv with the author who is a doppelganger of Woody Harrelson, the guy gives a good system and is selfless about sharing his tools to do it. You got to give him that.

How to Find a Legit Housing

If looking for long term housing, do Craig’s list.

If someone says they do not currently live there and will just send you key, go away.

At no instance should you ever pay via Western Union.  If you must, pay perhaps a small reservation amount via a proper bank account (volunteer your ID and ask for the recipients ID as well).

If it can be arranged, secure your first two nights stay first in a hotel and spend those first days checking out your long term lodging options before you commit.

Note that for 1-2 days stay, hotels are aplenty and cheaper near train stations.

Eurail Tickets? Yes Or No?

Almost every tourist guide site I see tells you to buy those Eurail tickets where you get to travel so many countries for a period of time for a flat fee.
I say no.

First, those tickets limit your travel to ungodly hours or slow trains.  So you either spend your  time waiting and being inconvenienced or paying more for a better train schedule.

Second, to cram so many countries in a definite period; move on from one place you are just starting to love to another country just so you can make the most out of your Eurail pass? 

Might as well wear a Hawaiian shirt and some leis while you are at it.

The option, travel by cheap airlines or by bus.  Or carpool.

What to Pack

For this I found this video of Ms. St. Claire to be the one of the best tips out there (except for the spare glasses, you do not need them with a Portocchiali) The other is by Mr. Doug Dyment of Onebag.com

Me personally, I would take these:
  • Little black sleeveless jersey dresses that I layer up with vests, coats, sweaters, shirts. (the best I find are from Max Mara, some of mine are more than 25 years old and still look great)

  • A good quality black leather motorcycle coat.
  • A pair of capri black jeans (got mine from H&M)
  • A fringy black mini skirt
  • A pair of ballet flats that I would wear then I would shop for appropriate shoes as I need them in Italy.
  • I load up on the accessories
  • And I think that capes are especially wonderful for travel and can do so many seasons.

Finally a disclaimer:

I do not earn from any of these recommendations.  They do not even know I recommended them.

Not all these images are mine.  I found them floating around the internet.  If you would know the owners of the images, kindly let me know so I may give them proper credit.



No BS Make Up Guide For Engineers




Author's note:

Could be interesting read for men who just couldn't  understand how "that" could have taken two hours and 14 products.

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The only rule in make-up is that there are no rules- yadda yadda yadda. 
- said all those who wrote a whole book on make up.

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I know a lot of smart women who just couldn't understand how to put on make up.  
Throw them any problem - and they can solve shit fast.  But when it comes to make up, no amount of youtube how-to-videos or explanation from the friendly avon lady can make them get it. 
I used to be one of them.  And  it is really "unfortunate" that I should land a coveted position in cosmetics.
I studied mechanical engineering - or rather, i crammed my way to an engineering degree. The way i did it then was, i would attend the first class, get the syllabus and see if the teacher will give me anything on top of what I can read in the textbook.

If yes, i attend his classes.  If not, i just show up for exams.

This is not to say I am smarter than the average engineer, mind you - it only says I am lazy.
However,  to actually pass the exams with the least effort, one has to develop a fast and efficient way of learning.  And in this respect, the "Dummies' Guide" Book Series is not my best guide. 

Here is why-
  1. First, the baby talk.  Hate that shit. 
  2. Second, they become apologetic if they had to introduce techno jargons or "difficult concepts"- and the time it took reading their apologies and assuring us that everything will be alright could have been used to actually explaining them.
  3. Then they hit the ground running on the "how" without an explanation of the "why".
Anyway, i found that the best way to learn it is to understand the basic underlying principles - the why before the how. The Engineering Way.

If you understand it enough to derive the formula, then given any variation of the problem - you can figure anything out.  This is how i learned most of what i know anyway, french language included.

And so, without further ado - 

Make Up Guide For Engineers



First, I assume you know what a mascara, lipstick, blush, powder, foundation are.

If not, I think you have a much bigger problem here.  Turn off your computer screen, get out,  lose your virginity  then come back here when you are ready for this lesson.

Anyhoo, so many products- which to use when?
 
First : Rule of Textures.  Apply from the lighter to heavier texture.
Definition:   A texture is considered lighter if it gets absorbed more easily by the skin.
So, a serum gets to be applied first before a foundation.
A foundation before cream.
And a cream before powder. 
I made you a complete cheatsheet, by order of application- because i lurvs you.
Pretty simple, innit?
Betray this order, say, put powder before your foundation and you will be mixing the two textures up- in a baaad way-like making paste.

Make up is about proper layering, not mixing all the shit up together.

Example application.
Now,  i often hear this phrase-
"put on powder to 'set' the make up".  
What the fuck does that mean?

The word"set" is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the word that has the most meanings- 25 in all, for Webster's sake!  Engineers cannot work with that.


Second:  Rule of Colors. Apply color from light to dark.

Have you ever observed how a water colorist paints?  You haven't? Watch this.
    Same rule goes for make up. Do the light colors first before the darker.
    So you apply foundation before you blush before you contour.

    So that is-
    1. From light to heavy texture.  
    2. From light to dark color. 
    IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER-
    Rule 1 trumps rule 2.   Texture trumps color.
    That means, if you have a light texture darker color, and heavy texture lighter color - the lighter texture gets applied first.
      Third Rule on Applicators.  Use the right material, right size for the right stroke for best results.

      Right Material
      • If you use a liquid formula, you do not want your brush to absorb the liquid.
        So you would like to use a synthetic brush for your emulsions.
      • If you use powder based textures, you have a wide array of choices, from cheaper synthetics to expensive sables.  (For more info look at my special post on brushes).

      Size
      Rule is simple, the bigger area you are applying to, the bigger brush you will use.
      This will help you apply more evenly.
      If you want to do precise lines, use a smaller brush.


      And then...

      Then, i finish with the age old adage-

      Once you have learned the rules, then you may fuck with them.


      In doubt?






      NB
      You can now follow my mindfarts at tweeter@beautyandtheBS.















      The BB on BB Creams

      -->





      Beauty Balm has the same initials as Beauty and the Bullshit. 

      Coincidence?  I think not.

      I have been ignoring all this BB cream hooha for the longest time - i figure that at some point,  all this -

      developed by  ( insert adjective) German doctor,
      does (insert logic-defying miracle wonders) heals scars
      and (call existing feature by a new name)  a skin care and make up all in one
      and used by (insert adjective)Korean actresses

      story is anything but new and I thought, nah, nobody falls for that anymore!

      Or you will find it intriguing, try it, then find that this new cream is the same as the old one and you will move on and be all the wiser after having made cosmetic companies richer just by a few billion dollars. 

      However, the day that some marketing joker who is late in the BB game and had to make it up to his disgruntled executive board else he will lose his job has combined AA(Anti-Ageing) + BB  to come up with the “genius” CC cream or as some version would have it, have color correction aaaaand even go to the length of giving you comparative charts that "guarantee" like this for example-


      and women are now scrambling all over again to rid themselves of the BB  to get the CC – the time has come for a serious bullshit intervention.  Enough of this madness!

      BB creams are bullshit. 

      Think about it.   Just what do all BB creams have in common?
      ·      BB creams can come in all kinds of textures, they could be light to heavy
      ·      They can come in all range of coverage from sheer to full coverage
      ·      They revel in their multifunctionality- some have SPF, some have light diffusing age concealing ingredients, some have healing properties, skin care and makeup in one, concealer too...yadda yadda yadda.

      Well, hello ordinary foundation.  Nothing unifies all BB creams except for that BB story. 

      So ask yourself before you junk your ordinary liquid foundation for some BB or CC or whatever the FF cream they might be peddling next- aside from that tired story, what difference does your BB and CC cream have from your “ordinary” liquid foundation?

      Nothing. 

      There are 4 morals to this story-
      1. Don’t junk your old trusted cream to try the BB just because it is BB
      2. And don’t pay for more just because it’s BB.
      3. Insert (new name)CC to BB in the first 2 statements whenever something new comes along.


      Author’s note.

      I don't earn shit from blogging so i hope you allow me to promote my day job here.  It is a solution to misplaced eyeglasses.  It works and it is beautiful.  Here is my marketing spiel-

      ·      Are you often bypassed for a promotion because your boss thinks you waste so much time looking for your misplaced eyeglasses?
      ·      Do you not get your share of sexy-time because your paramour finds those granny eyeglass string holders you use to be boner benders?
      ·      Did you just blow your half month salary for another pair of designer specs because you dropped the spanking new one in a toilet full of cr*p (no judgement here)?

       Well thank your lucky stars because this is the day your life will change!
      Say goodbye to Ugly Betty and hello to Sexy Sadie with this new life altering, mind blowing, whoah-why-didn’t-i-think-of-that, the best invention* ever (*after the wheel, car, airplane, computer, coffee maker, hair dryer, computer, printing press, light bulb, boats, hairpins, stapler and all of apple products except maybe for the Newton) is here!
      What is this product and how good is it you ask?

      It is called the PORTOCCHIALI and it is the TITS! 

      Buy it i dare you and watch your life magically transform before your bi-spectacled eyes- 

      ·      You will exude that air of authority so authoritatively, that the boss will resign to pave the way to your competent highness. 
      ·      You will however not be able to read that 69 shade sequel, because guess what?  You are too busy coming up with your own “materials” worthy of your own book. 
      ·      And go ahead!  Buy the most expensive designer specs there is! Why?  Because you know this is the last time you will be a sucker as you are keeping those expensive babies forevar- suckers!

      So you think you can handle a life turnaround?  Look deep inside yourself.  Do you really enjoy the sympathetic looks you get from being a (insert the right derogatory adjective that stings your heart here). Well, i hope not! 

      Well, without further ado-  i present you the Portocchiali (pronounced portokyali).   You are welcome!



       The Portocchiali will launch its Indie Gogo campaign on May 14.  (Click here on May 14)

      To the best of my knowledge- aside from a teeny bit of exaggeration on the marketing spiel (creative license is what we marketeers call it), the product itself is bullshit-free. (well, we photo shopped a zit or two on the model)

      (Full disclosure: I am the proud inventor of the portocchiali and  i earn from every piece sold.  But, i swear on Kim Kardashian’s arse  that the portocchiali did not influence the fact that BB and CC creams are bullshit.)

      Oh and yes,  Moral lesson N° 4
      4.   There is no free lunch, even moral lessons cost you.  Click share and we will call it even.  Haha, just kidding.  But no, serious, i hope you share it.  Meow- I lurv you.

      To my personal bullshit whistle blower



      Today marks the 25th death anniversary of my father. He was a brilliant inventor, a so-so entrepreneur and a progressive communist. 

      He shunned all things pretentious and can speak heart to heart with anyone - from the president of the country to the street prostitute (but he does have a flaw of discriminating against idiots). 

      We had intense arguments but we always have love and respect for each other. I might not be able to visit his grave (long story) and i know this blog entry might be a cheeky way to write a commemoration to him, but i go along with the times and use this modern medium to remember a person who had such a strong positive influence to my existence and the values i hold. 

      As energy is neither created nor destroyed but transforms from one form to another, my thoughts and love to the 21grams of positive, passionate, pained energy unleashed unto the universe at 5 am on the 22nd of December 1988, the day he took his own life.

      Positive vibes unto you Papa.

      Careers in the beauty business






      Author's note:  This post is only advisable to those contemplating on a  career in the beauty biz.  Can apply to bloggers who want to dig deeper, students or new graduates who want to enter the corporate side of the biz, etcetera.  Not worth shit for all others.

      And forewarning, uncensored language- not for the squirmish.
       --------------

      I regularly receive "Dear Auntie Rowena" emails from those aspiring for a career in the beauty business.  Through these, I have met many a passionate individual willing to share me their story- and for that i feel so privileged, thank you.  I get fielded with questions like what course to take, how do i make myself interesting enough to land a job,  what should i be training myself to do and all that shit.

      I have also been told that a school in L.A. offers a major in beauty industry marketing and merchandising.  The school apparently says that "one should definitely study on their major in order to get into a beauty company because their programs are so much specialized than any other 4 year University" and for only $29,300 per year.

      Well, er, fuck that.  No one is required to take a specialized course and this is definitely not a requirement to get in the biz.  Though we get people who are clever, personable, ambitious and passionate (and yes, have a college degree)- most things are learned as you go along.

      But heck, some of you are more driven than others and would do anything to get ahead- and i have a lot of respect for that.  But I do not wish you to fall into financial abyss by following your passion.

      So I have been promising each and everyone that i will hold online courses on the corporate side of beauty and this post is a start towards that.

      First of all, i will be straight with you what this course is and is not .

      Personally, I will not shove it to your face.  I do not think anyone 'needs' this course.
      Will it give you practical knowledge on how the business works? Yes.
      Will it give you a headway and make you do your job well? Yes.
      Do you need it to get a job? No.
      Do I guarantee it will land you an interview? No.
      Will you be better prepared for an interview? Yes.
      As well, though I have successfully managed a whole global brand,  I have my limitations.
      • I am not a chemist. I do not talk ingredients or formulations.
      • I am not a makeup artist. I do not do how-to's and do not get all ga-ga over textures
      • I have 'attitude problems'.  I will not scrub anyone's balls to get ahead. And I give my people credit for what I myself have done well and own up to their blunders. If you want to go corporate, this attitude will not do.
      • I am very good at what i do but I am not passionate about cosmetics.  And life is too short to spend your life doing things just because you are good at them.
      So anyway, my plan is to have short courses where you can enroll in one or more as you want and i can release them in phases.  But to get into the succeeding ones, the first basic course i would suggest.  I have not finalized the courses but i give you more details what they are about.

      As this is a start, I do not want to offer it to a lot of people, just 20 per course.  Being the course's willing guinea pigs*, the first 20 will have access to the course's future improvements and updates  - provided you give me your no bullshit feedback which i will work on.
      *marketeers will call you pioneers to make you feel good buying but i am not to mince my words here just to sell.

      No, i will not offer a money back guarantee, so if you are not sure, ask me more questions- i will tell you no lies.   And if in doubt, don't do it.  I have seen enough self proclaimed wunder yogi rock star guru samurai "experts" out there who will promise you invincibility to sell more.  Fuck that.  I will only do it if there is truly an unforced "need" for it. 

      So, after all that and you still think you need special beauty business courses, read on what courses there are that i can comfortably offer as an "authority" -
      1.  Beauty quickie 
        A general overview of the cosmetics market from a corporate vantage point, how to evaluate a brand, how to prepare for an interview, sample actual interview questions, links to useful references.  This course is very basic but i suggest it anyway so you can have better understanding of the context of the future courses.  Though it will give you concepts and buzzwords, this does not give practical knowledge to do a good job once inside.
        Waiting list of 50 but will preselect the first 20.   Approx price 300€.
      2. Beauty business strategy.  From business expectation to industry, country, competitor analysis, to product line strategy, forecast.  This course is number heavy.  Brush up on your excel skills prior to start of course.
      3. Brand pyramid and product story.  Understand and dissect the context under which a brand operates and build the story about it.
        This course has both theory, case studies and your own brand assignment.
      4. Emotional branding.  How to train your eye on imagery and design your own brand image.
        This course is image heavy with lots of exercises.  It will help you dissect an advertisement and understand the "story" behind it.  I suggest you take this after a brand pyramid background to have more "context".
      5. Product Development.  Primer on product development: basics of product development, prepare a brief that will be taken seriously by your suppliers,  finding and evaluating suppliers, how to conduct plant visits.  Will cover all textures and packaging types.
      6. Image Development.  Construct imagery for a brand - how to plan and supervise an image shoot (with models), how to plan and supervise a product and texture shoot.  I would advise this course only after courses 3 and 4 so you can have better context in planning and which is a good foundation for execution.
      So if seriously interested, push this button and send me your email.  I will perhaps ask you some standard question for preselection purposes and give you more details on when to start.

      Cheers!

      Rowena