Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Little Box of Beauty

Chicago's Oak Street is a short stretch of ground that caps off the madness that is shopping on Michigan Avenue.

One way of thinking about it is as a beret on a giraffe. Say Michigan Avenue is the giraffe's neck. You're walking north on Michigan Avenue. After you encounter a branch of every department store you've ever heard of: Nordstrom, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Fields, and Bloomingdales, plus every specialty store: Gap, Victoria's Secret, Talbot's, Disney, American Girl, plus every flagship store: Apple, Nike, Ralph Lauren, plus every designer: Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Armani, Chanel, Max Mara ... you hit Oak Street, the little beret at the top of all that long, long neck. The stores are smaller (but still off -the-charts expensive): Tod's, Hermes, Prada, Yves St. Laurent, Barney's.

And then, as a shining oasis of affordability, there's Bravco.

Bravco is one of those stores that cosmetic fanatics know about. Even if they're not from Chicago, they'll have heard of it. It's that good. If it's a super-expensive French hair care line, or a weird brand of cake mascara, or a makeup artist line, you can find it at Bravco and the upstairs store, B-too.

I ran in there today between two church services (what better way to spend my off time than at a veritable temple of makeup?)

I bought my zillionth bottle of Simple Solutions Ultra Copper Firming Serum (which may or may not be doing my skin some good--but I'm not willing to find out by using it on half my face to see whether it works. I don't want to end up like Two-Face from the Dick Tracy comics.)

I also got a bottle of Kerastase ultra-gentle, ultra-expensive Bain Miroir color-protecting shampoo. I had vowed to go back to Pantene. But the Pantene color-protecting stuff leaves my hair very weighed down. And honey, my hair can take a LOT of product. I've got semi-permanent color all over my head, with highlights and lowlights and a glaze on top of that--my hair is so chemically treated, it's a cross between Whitney Houston and Courtney Love. On any given day I've got Kiehl's silk groom, and Bedhead styling gel and Frizz-Ease in it, just to keep it looking healthy. Three products? No problem. But the Pantene stuff drove me crazy. It made my hair feel yucky and dirty.

Oh, and I bought two tubes of the Single Greatest Mascara in the world. Thickens my all-but-non-existent lashes and really is waterproof. I figure I should stock up; it's too good, and that means it's going to get discontinued any second now.

That's all, folks!

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