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June 2005

L'Astuce Beauté*: Zit, Zap, Gone!


Everyone gets them, yes yes... even me. :) Over the years, I have tried many tricks to zap my zits, so now I'd like the share some of my best remedies.

Of course, we all know that one should not pop a zit. As difficult it is to avoid, it's only doing more harm then good.  As you may think that you are helping it along, you are more than likely prolonging the agony by pushing deeper the nastiness that is a zit.  So, my first advice is to leave it alone! Or see a professional about it.

If you sense that it's ready to go, here are a few sure fire ways to help it moving right along:

1) Green Tea Soak - green tea has natural antioxidants that do your body good on the inside, so why not the outside, too?  Soak a green tea bag in a large bowl of hot water (as if you are making a yourself a tea). Let water cool to lukewarm temperature. Like for a baby, dip your elbow to test the water's temperature.  Depending on your needs, splash your cleansed face with the green tea a few times and rinse with either your Evian atomizer or warm tap water.  Pat dry. Moisturize as needed.  Green tea has a natural oil absorbing effect.  Your skin will feel dry if you do this too often. So, remember that this is only a to be used a cure or from time to time.  And don't forget to moisturize, I suggest Clinique's Moisture Surge ( a staple Flare product).

Variation of the Green Tea soak: Seep a tea bag and let cool until comfortably warm. Pat around trouble areas on your face (avoid eye area). I do this around most my T-zone as I am combination skin and on problem pimples when they do arise.  I've noticed that my skin dries out if i do this for very long, so don't leave the tea bag on skin for too long. Literally pat the area you'd like to treat. Follow up with moisturizer.

2) Mask - I used to be a big fan of the facial mask but as I have entered my late 20's I have noticed that my skin has changed. It's less oily than it was in my teen years and more dry where I used to be comfortable after washing my face.  BUT I am still getting pimples in these areas, so go figure? So, instead of applying a mask all over my face I do mini masks where needed.  My problem areas? Nose: Black heads. Chin: Black heads + pimples. Scalp line: pimples. My mask du jour is Biotherm's BioPur.  It's clay texture helps to soak up excess oil and bring the nastiness of your zit to the surface for fast healing.

3) Treatment Gel - Any treatment gel that has Salicylic acid in is probably a step in the right direction. The Sal acid (Ahhhh, feel like a counter girl again) helps to dry out those nasty whiteheads and blackheads and speed up the healing process.  Your skin will feel dry so this treatment gel should only be used once or twice a day. And if you're like me, you'll carry a tube of your favorite acne treatment gel in your handbag. You never know when you're going to need it! And I can beat down on those pimples while I'm working and no one knows any better. My Coup de Coeur treatment gel: Kiehl's Blue Herbal Spot Treatment.  It has 1.5% of Sal acid that will wipe those pimples right out. Don't believe me, ask her! Anymore than that and you're in for some serious dryness.  Clinique's Acne Solution Night Treatment Gel has 2% sal acid in it and I have to be careful not too parch my face too much. But I save this for when I am having a serious issue with my skin.

Voila!  My favorite and most sucessful treatments.  Give 'em a try and let me know how it goes.

*Beauty Tips

Hotter than...

You fill in the blank.

It was impossible to fall asleep last night. No breeze in the air and the mosquitoes were out in full force.  I think I slept for about 4 hours last night.  Either we sleep with the windows open and the bugs come and snuggle or we turn on our fan and I wake up with a stiff neck because I have inherited by association the French-cold-neck-must-wear-scarf-at-all-times syndrome. 

It's going to be a long summer...

Beauty tips from Flare... mais en francais!

An Anglo blogging in French? Sure it's been done... just not by me.  Frenchies blogging in English, he does it and so many others...  So, the thought had never crossed my mind to blog in French, I mean speaking correctly in French is one thing; writing in French is something completely different! 

But now she's gone and done it...  (and brought me along for the ride!)

So, I present to you:  From Rooster to Donkey - Les anglophones tentent le francais, tetus comme des mules.

De Coq à l'ane or from rooster to donkey means one minute we're talking about Tori Amos, the next minute we're talking about how to wash your face. 

Come and enjoy the babble (en francais!) of five Anglo chicks living it up in the hexagon*!

*A term used by the French referring to  La France :)

In a previous life...

The recent photos of my beauty products was a recent fluck up by Flickr.  I had been testing out the blogging directly from my mobile, had just washed my face and was in my bathroom; so I decided to snap a few pics to see if it worked.  Well, at that moment it did not work. Two weeks later, there they were and influx of emails about my obsession from my blogosphere friends got my reminiscing about the past. 

In my previous life, I worked in cosmetics.  To be specific I worked for Clinique which is a owned by Estee Lauder.  I had various jobs during my nearly 5 year stint with Clinique. Jobs ranging from being a counter girl, to managing my own counter, being a business manager, becoming an educational leader and lastly working in event promotion.

But this love affair with skin care products started nearly 17 years ago when my Ga Ga raced me into Macy's to visit the clinique counter after the sight of my first blemish.    I grace my grandmother with all the honor that it was she who created this beauty product maniac I am today. 

So, in honor of my obsession (that many of you out there share!) I will start Les Astuces Beauté de Flare

Today, we start out with face washing.

Skin obsessed  I wash my face twice a day. Morning & night. I use the same products on average for 3 months and then switch to give my skin a break.  This is something I do. Not recommended for all, I will explain more about this later. The best tool I have found for washing your face is your hands. Clean hands, of course.  Your hands are not too abrasive and don't house bacteria like your sponges and washcloths often do.  Unless you're prepared to use a new washcloth/sponge  everyday, I suggest using your hands.

Find yourself a makeup remover, as most of you probably wear make up, taking off make up and washing your facial skin are two completely different things.  Most face washes are too gentle to take off your daily makeup. They are gentle because they are made to clean your skin only.

I use Clinique's Take the day off. I only wear eye makeup: Concealer, eyeshadow, mascara and occasionally eye liner. Minimalism at it's best!

Once the makeup is removed I use Shu Uemura's High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil as my skin cleanser. This is a dual makeup remover & cleanser but I have my old habits of taking make up off first and then cleaning skin that I just can't break.  I spritz my face with my Evian atomizer (inexpensive in France) and slather on a pump's worth of cleansing oil. I massage into my face for less than a minute and rinse with lukewarm water.  I am careful not to wet my face too much so that the oil doesn't become too milky.  After rinsing thoroughly, I spritz my face with Shu Uemura's Deep Seawater in Sage to calm my cheeks as they are fairly sensitive and become red easily (hence, no need for blush). Sage has natural calming elements. I tissue off the excess off my eye lids and let the rest soak in for about 2 minutes.

After wards, I apply my eye cream.  For the moment, I am using StriVectin-D. I like to experiment with products (after some research) and I thought I'd give this one a try. I have noticed a difference in lightness around my eyes but I have few lines around my eyes to see a big difference.  I like the texture of this eye cream because I am very dry around my eyes probably due to years of wearing contact lenses and the saline solution. And finally, I follow up with Sisley's Emulsion Ecologique. During the day, I use the emulsion ecologique alone and at night I add Clinique's Total Turnaround

For the moment, these are my staple products. In my previous pictures, I have other products shown and those are used on trouble days. I have products for the random blemishes that occur or products for recovery after a night of partying or hanging out at a friend's smokey apartment.  If I've been outside all day and my skin is parched, there are masques that I use to calm my skin and quench its thirst. And the list goes on... I hope to touch on other things in later installments of Les Astuces Beauté de Flare.

So....What's your face regiment?

I'm curious to know... probably one of my favorite subjects to discuss.... so who will start?  Men are welcome too... sometime, I'll tell you how J got interested in skin care. :)

Had a run in with a fonctionnaire today...

and I lost.

Fonctionnaire: A state servant or employee; government official, civil servant; local government officer or official.  (Collins French/English dictionary)

There is something to be said for the people who can manipulate a fonctionnaire into doing what you want them to do, erm... I mean make them do what they are supposed to be doing.   I being an American am not completely convinced that a fonctionnaire does anything at all except look grumpy all the time and talk to you like you're the complete idiot and not them.

Anyway, I had to make a visit to the Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) this morning.  This would be the equivalent of a Social Security office as far as I know. This is the first time I've had to make a visit like this before.  I arrive and there are about 40 people ahead of me. The office had been open for 22 minutes according to my watch. I was mystified as I looked down at my ticket with the number 38 on it and quickly bee-lined it to a seat that was open  in the back corner.   

I sat and waited. and waited. and waited. 1.5 hours of waiting as ONE PERSON worked the crowd.  I glanced around the room and started to see agitation grow on the faces of the people around me. I plugged my iPod in and relaxed to Mike Mills by Air. "I will not get let this situation get to me", I told myself.

Finally after nearly 2 hours of waiting they were serving number 37.

I put away my iPod and waited patiently for 38 to flash on their number screen. 


& Waited...

30 minutes later, my number rang through.

I calmly walked up to the desk I had been summoned to and began to explain my situation.  A bit of mis-communication on the part of their office and perhaps on my part but I was sure I followed their instructions to the T. But before I could go into the details of the mis-communication I was shooed away (hand flick and everything!) and told to wait for her colleague.  Told to wait AGAIN.

I slumped down into a chair facing the woman who would decide my fate. And she was on the phone talking in hushed voices. I suspect it was with her husband or child. 

I wait.

and wait.

and wait...

And finally she hangs up the phone and looks at me. And gives me a condescending hand wave to tell me to approach.

I quickly explain my situation and she looks at me like I'm speaking Korean to her.  I ask if everything was ok? And she looks at my dossier and then at me and then again at my dossier and finally says that she's can't process this without the missing forms.

Missing forms? 

"Quelle fichiers?" I ask politely. And then she drops a verbal bomb on me as she goes on and on about  how she doesn't have time to deal with this and that if I would have listen to her colleague explain this to me on the phone that I would have known what I was supposed to bring and that what they do in their office is REAL WORK and that having to explain to me face to face like this is a complete waste of her time. 

I had to sit on my hands so that I wouldn't smack that fucking smug look on her face.

I was frozen in my seat. The blood rushing to my cheeks.  I pulled my dossier together and placed it back in my bag, stood up and clicked my heels Dorthy-style and walked right out completely mortified.

They should have taught you in French class how to deal with these putain fonctionnaires but alas, they do not.

I wonder if I would have said Je vous en prie a few more times or if I would have smiled a bit less; would that have changed the outcome of todays visit?  I don' t know.  It is seriously that touch-n-go with these fonctionnaires.  I have yet to have had a good experience with a bureau de fonction publique.  But I know that it does happen

So, still after living in France for 2 years, I feel myself going throughculture shock today.  The initial sting of this today's encounter at the CPAM has pretty much worn off now.  I guess I  just have to remember that this is part of what it's like living with the French and all their idiosyncrasies.

Fonctionnaire: 1

Flare: 0 (for now....)

Am I destin to go barefoot?

The second pair of shoes to fail me in one month! And these babies are brand new...
If you peek closely at the picture you can see right where the thong portion of my shoe that attaches to the sole is ripping. I have a feeling I'm going to have a shoe episode on the way home tonight and will end up barefoot in Paris. Oh god, the horror.  I'm heading straight to Gallery Lafayette after to work to remedy this problem!

I never realized that my big toe looks kind of like a thumb.  Does anyone really have pretty feet?

  Am I destin to go barefoot? 
  Originally uploaded by Putyourflareon.

Turquoise Bangle Loveliness

Turquoise bangle loveliness
Originally uploaded by

Brought back to me by a lovely colleague of mine after her recent travels to India.  And yes, she's Korean. Koreans can be lovely. :) (Sorry, having a culture clash day at the office but that's another blog entry in itself today it's all about the bracelets...)

I rarely, ok... up until today have never posted about fashion. It's not my job, it's hers! But I had to post about these. They are turquoise. Shiny. Ethnic. Are they in? You be the judge.

Did I tell you that they B A N G L E?

Btw, tourquoise is my fetish color for the summer.

Could it get any better than that?


In between two worlds...

Working with Koreans and French has been an learning experience for me and a a test of my patience.  Both cultures have very particular work ethics, for example, the French like to have meetings, lots and lots of meetings, (which they are always attending late) to "discuss"  matters or in other words, everyone battles to express their opinion on mostly things that don't have anything to do with the meeting's agenda.  If you are me, you walk away with a feeling that nothing had been accomplished and your French colleagues visible are happy with themselves. 

Koreans, on the other hand, have hardly any meetings unless there is someone important visiting (and they need to impress)  and when they do actually have meetings, they are either there on time (or blow them off completely) and they discuss very minimally what has been slated to be discussed or completely ignore what needs to be talked about.  And if you were me, you walk away nervous because you didn't get a chance to discuss what needed to be discussed and now you have to figure out how to tell your Korean colleagues (by telepathy, of course) what they needed to have learned them the meeting.

What to do? 

Being in the minority (the only American in my company), I pretty much have to go with the flow.

But it does have it's advantages... Koreans are notorious for ignoring you. Ignoring your emails. Ignoring you in the hallways. Ignoring you in meetings. Ignoring you. period.  So, I just do it back to them and ça passe!  My favorite has been the ignoring of annoying emails. I just don't open them and a week passes and another one and another one and then it's forgotten! It's so evil but genius. evil genius. I love it. 

But alas, my American work ethic (because we work so efficiently) keeps me from doing this to the point that it's forgotten so I just "forget" it until I have time to get to it.  And I always get to it.  :)

So, how to get the Koreans who ignore you to do something for you when you need it.  Copy their boss. And then their boss's boss. And give them a guilt trip on the phone. And it helps to be "the American girl" and then they cave and help you.  :)  The latter frustrates my male, French colleagues but oh well... they can get over it, right? :)

As for meetings with French people, I haven't quite figured that one out yet...  soon, very soon...

Perks of working in a multi-cultural company? It is very fun and enlightening to work with such culturally interesting people everyday.  I look forward to going to work because my colleagues are so animated.  It's really a pleasure to be with them.   We have interesting conversations and exchange our differences in opinion on many things.  This is something I rarely experienced when I worked in the States.   

Today, at the end of the day we had a team meeting, two Frenchies, two Koreans and me.  At one point, the Koreans were speaking amongst themselves as were the Frenchies and there I was listening to both conversations (and being included in both), understanding EVERYTHING.  I totally loved this moment and as for the  end of the day meeting that I would have normally hated if I were in the States; I didn't even think twice about it.

As for being in between two worlds.... I think I've found my home.