Notorious NYCK
Earth Shattering Beauty, Style and Health News from a Neurotic New Yorker

The Notorious NYCK Summer in the City Survival Kit

by Notorious NYCK August 8

hot-sun-thermometerEvery time I go back home to NYC, I am amazed at how crazy loud it is. I have to turn the volume on my headset way up just so I can be one of those annoying pedestrians obliviously chattering away on the phone. One noise that is noticeably absent, however, is the mellifluous tone of swishing corduroy pants, which appears to be the soundtrack of a summer in San Francisco.  Nearly all of the city’s inhabitants are forced to wear them, as well as Uggs and fleece, from June through the end of August. No, this is not some anti-fashion movement (even if it feels that way to me).  It’s because summer in San Fran is cold, grey and gloomy. But this info. appears to be top secret, as evidenced by the scads of tourists shivering in tank tops and shorts on trolley cars come July. Summer in Oakland (where I live), however, is pretty perfect. It’s in the mid-70s and sunny nearly ever day. Still, it is the sixth most dangerous city in the country. But we hella <3 Oaktown and are proud it’s no longer in the top 5.

But back to the Big Apple. Lucky for me, I am not all that bothered by the sweltering heat and humidity that is the norm there this time of year. It feels sultry and kind of sexy to me, which makes sense since I am of mostly Mediterranean descent. Plus it lets me wear strappy sandals and sundresses at night, which you definitely can’t do in the East Bay, since temps drop into the 50s or lower once the sun sets. (Did anyone start singing that Corey Hart song from the 80s just now,  or was that just me?) Still, when the humidity makes it feel like it's in the triple digits even I start to melt, and the effects aren’t pretty. So lucky for me and the people who sit next to me on the subway, I’ve amassed a pretty amazing beat-the-heat beauty kit.

Clarins UV Plus HP Day Screen High Protection Tint SPF 40, $40 (
This could be my favorite beauty product ever. And I’m apparently not alone in my ardor, because it sells out faster than a New York minute. Two Sephora stores in the Bay Area were out of stock a couple of weeks ago and so was Lightweight and non-greasy, this liquidy lotion warms up my sallow complexion and provides a nice, natural coverage that evens out my skin tone and somehow makes everything look smoother and fainter (pore-size, lines and wrinkles, blotchiness, dark circles, etc.). Because Clarins uses mineral sunscreens, this product doesn’t irritate my skin and offers immediate sun protection. (You have to wait at least 15-30 minutes for chemical sunscreens to kick in.)  And bonus!  The tint doesn’t drip down my face when I’m  standing on an un-air conditioned subway platform. The one caveat is that it is really, really hard to remove (unless it is rubbing off on the neck of your shirt). So repeated, thorough, cleansings and pre-treating any “tinted” clothes are the order of the day. But they are well worth it.

L‘Oreal Sublime Sun Liquid Silk Sunshield for Face SPF 50, $10.99 ( Silky, non-greasy, fast-absorbing and long-lasting, this is my nirvana of sunscreens. It even has antioxidants to safeguard skin against free radicals. Because it’s formulated with chemical sunscreens, I can’t use it on my face. But it’s awesome everywhere else.

Revlon Just-Bitten Kissable Balm Stain, $8.99 ( Lipsticks and gloss can feel so heavy in the heat, not to mention the fact that they can both migrate out of your lip contours and give you the dreaded ring-around-the-mouth—never an attractive look. This chubby pencil lays down just the perfect amount of moisturizing stay-put pigment. “Crush,” a grapey/plum shade, never fails to draw compliments. But there are 11 lovely and virtually universal shades. I intend to score all of them.

M.A.C. Blot Film, 30 sheets for $15 ( Now that I’m 46, I don’t seem to be particularly troubled by excess oil in my T-Zone. (Hooray for middle age!) But most people need some kind of shine-sopper in the the summer.  MAC makes the gold standard. Each sheet completely absorbs grease without messing up makeup, drying out my skin or leaving a powdery film in its wake. I still carry them around with me, “just in case.”

Herban Essentials Towelettes, $15 for 20, ( These ingenious individually-wrapped wipes are saturated in amazing-smelling, germ-killing essential oils. I use them to freshen up my hands, the back of my neck--and ok, truth time, my underarms--when I am feeling extra hot and grimy. I also swipe them over not-so-clean surfaces before I sit down. Each of the 5 fragrances--orange, lavender, peppermint, lemon and eucalyptus—have other more aromatherapeutic usages. You can check out the website for particulars.

Giovanni Cool Mint Lemon Salt Scrub with Crushed Mint Leaves, $14.99 (  This heavenly-scented body-slougher not not only seriously softens and smooths, but is also infused with cooling mint that actually seems to sink into the skin, serving almost as a portable air conditioner throughout the day.

Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo, $24, Conditioner, $24 and Nourishing Styling Cream, $26 ( Traditional frizz fighters contain silicone, which leaves my fine, wavy hair flat and greasy looking. But Living Proof incorporates a molecule called OFPMA, which was designed to coat hair evenly, keep hair cleaner, longer and control frizz--without added weight. This trio of products transforms my frizzy flyaways  into bouncy, shiny, well-defined curls. Word on the street is this a great product line for straight-haired girls, too.

Secret Fresh Effects Invisible Solid in Cucumber/Aloe, $5.95 ( Let me preface this entry by saying, “I don’t really think this antiperspirant/deodorant is any better than any of the others out there.” First off, it has “invisible” in the title, which means it is destined to leave white marks on your clothes (and it does). And secondly, it doesn’t appear to have any magical powers that keep me dry and sweet-smelling above and beyond the competition. That being said, this product does a decent job, has a really nice, subtle scent (no over-powering sickly sweet floral fragrance, like its counterparts) and blends into skin well. So to me, it’s one of the least offensive solids out there. But the best sweat-proof trick I’ve ever learned (and this really does work) is to apply deodorant/antiperspirant mornings and nights. Trust me. You and your neighbors will thank me for this intel.

Ciao for now my friends. Stay happy and healthy.

Beauty Tips: The Dirty (Baker's) Dozen

by Notorious NYCK May 28 Beauty

Over the years I have received a fair amount of beauty advice and information. And let me tell you, not all of it has been beneficial. In fact, sometimes well-intentioned counsel uttered with the utmost authority has left me with beauty dilemmas way more disastrous than the original problems I was hoping to solve. Granted, some of these dramas may have occurred due to my own ineptitude—I am not terribly handy or coordinated. But sometimes, free advice is worth exactly what it costs. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the doozies past and present in the hopes of sparing you the same agony.

The Notorious NYCK 13 Worst Beauty Tips Ever

  1. Brush your lips with a damp, old toothbrush to rid them of flakes. I really can’t tell you the origin of this tip. It’s certainly cost-effective, but can I just say, “Ouch”? A soft washcloth works just as well and is way less irritating. Or you can use my favorite lip slougher, Body Shop Lip Scuff, $12 (
  2. Apply moisturizer to damp skin. The theory is that the the lotion will seal the water into your skin for extra hydration. But in reality, the moisturizer just slides off my still-slick face, as does any makeup I apply on top of it. But there is also some solid science behind waiting a few minutes for skin to completely dry, post-cleansing, before applying moisturizer: lingering water droplets can prevent some active ingredients, like prescription Retinol and anti-acne medications, from being absorbed into skin.
  3. Wear matte and muted tones once you’re out of your 20s, since bright and dark colors can wash you out, and shimmer can emphasize lines and wrinkles. The second half of this statement is true for me. But the first half is a joke. Nothing, and I mean nothing, sucks the life out of my 46-year old face like drying matte textures and washed out neutrals. True, some shimmer can settle into lines and wrinkles causing them to stand out in bas relief, and super bright or intensely dark hues can look ghastly.  But removing all texture and color from my makeup kit yielded even more disturbing results. So I am all about velvet and satin textures, which are creamier than matte but without any sparkle,  in shades that can best described as “soft” and “fresh.” And note to us girls of a certain age: a subtle shimmer on cheek and brow-bones can still look really lovely.
  4. Lipstick and lipgloss can double as eyeshadow or blush: It’s very alluring to think that a few quick swipes of one product can make up your whole face. Think of the time and money you can save! But lipgloss and lipstick are specifically formulated for your lips (amazing, I know). They contain emollients that aren’t in blush and eyeshadow, since your lips are  prone to dryness due to their lack of oil glands. These added moisturizers make lip items way too greasy for cheeks and even more so for eyelids, which are replete with natural oils.
  5. You can mend split ends: No matter how luxe the product or extravagant the claims, it just ain’t true.   But this beauty rumor persists. In fact, I just read an ad that says its products, “Bind up to 92% of split ends back together in one use.” Save your money; the only surefire way to get rid of splits is to snip them off. I know, I know. It often means going shorter than we want to. And I’m not telling you, you have to. But I am telling you the truth.
  6. Use a big fluffy powder brush to apply blush and bronzer for the sheerest, most natural-looking effect: This idea has merit because big and fluffy brushes deposit a diffuse wash of color rather than a concentrated splotch like smaller tightly-packed ones. But the color can be so diffuse that you can barely see it. Or worse still is ending up with an overall too-pink or muddy-looking complexion, since the product gets spread out all over your face. I like to use a blush brush with densely-packed bristles that are just long enough to be flexible without being floppy. This way, I can control where I put the powder so I can define my cheekbones, highlight around my eyes and add an extra pop of color to the apples of my cheeks
  7. Preparation H is a miracle under eye de-puffer: I haven’t seen this tip around lately, thank God. But it was huge in the 90s through the early 2000s. But just in case you see it again, repeat after me, “There’s just one place Preparation H is meant to go and that’s not underneath the eyes.”  Yes,  this hemorrhoid remedy does contain ingredients that soothe inflammation, a key cause of puffy eyes. But bags are also caused by fluid retention, allergies and genetics, which this cream doesn’t address. Plus, other ingredients in Prep H are drying to the skin and could really sting if they migrate into your eyes. My favorite eye de-puffer du jour is MAC Fast Response Eye Cream, $30 ( It works almost immediately and makes the whole eye area look lighter, brighter and less swollen.
  8. Nails need to breathe, so go polish-free whenever possible: Since the nail is only alive at the part that is below the skin,  there is actually no living and breathing going on where you can see it. In fact, removing polish in the hopes of giving your tips oxygen to lengthen their lifespan will only hasten their demise, since they will be left unprotected from bangs and bumps.
  9. Apply Rogaine to Help Grow Back Over-Plucked Brows:  While its exact mechanism isn’t fully known, Rogaine is believed to work by enlarging the hair follicles on the scalp that can shrink with age, hormonal shifts and heredity, to help prolong the hair’s life cycle.  But Rogaine has neither been tested on nor is intended for usage on the eyebrows.  And it burns like hell if it gets into your eyes.  Besides, Rogaine doesn’t grow hair back uniformly, so you can end up with random bits of fuzz. That growth pattern isn’t tragic when it’s in your scalp, but it looks pretty strange when it’s in your eyebrows. A better bet?  Brow powders and pencils to fill in sparse areas. Some pros like to use both for added staying power. Use the pencil first and then retrace your steps with the powder. Try Dior Powder Eyebrow Pencil with Brush, $29 ( and Clinique Brow Shaper, $15 (
  10. Pop an Ibuprofen or two prior to waxing or laser hair removal: It may help deaden some of the pain, but since Advil thins the blood, it can increase your chances of bruising and redness. But I’m not suggesting you simply tough it out…I certainly don’t. Before I get my bikini line done,  I always spray on Gigi Anesthetic Numbing Spray, $10.99 ( Trust me, this spritz is life-changing.
  11. Flip your head over when you are blow drying for non-stop volume: This technique actually gives your hair width (think: Bride of Frankenstein) not height. For maximum oomph, start with a really good volumizing shampoo and conditioner.  I am simply mad for  Living Proof Full Shampoo, $24 and Full Conditioner, $24 ( They make hair beautifully shiny and bouncy without drying it out or stripping the color like most volumizing products do. To style, lift sections of hair toward the sky as you blow-dry, directing hot air toward your scalp. This dries the roots in an upright and lifted position.
  12. A drop of hand cream or facial moisturizer tames flyaway tresses in a pinch: Anytime I try this tip, I end up with greasy, matted down locks. These products are just too emollient for anything but desert-dry hair.  Hairspray seems better suited to emergency smoothing than either lotion. Spray a tiny bit into the palms of your hands and lightly pat the outer surface of your hair to calm any rebellious strands.  Nexxus Comb Thru, $9.96 ( is a good one.
  13. For incredible shine and softness, brush your hair 100 strokes a day: This suggestion is ancient. Vigorous brushing was probably used as a way to remove the dulling residue that the overly alkaline cleansers of the distant past left in the hair and scalp. But today’s shampoos, for the most part, are designed to rinse out cleanly and completely. So this step is unnecessary.  Brushing the hair can be a  good way to help distribute the scalp’s natural oils throughout the length of the shaft, which can impart shine. But over-brushing (and anything more than 10 or so daily strokes falls into that category) actually stresses and weakens hair follicles, which leads to breakage, split ends and frizz.

Ciao for now my friends. Stay happy and healthy.

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