Saturday, November 22, 2008

Phenomenal Blowout Tips!

I love how the beauty mags seem to be reacting to the crummy economic situation. Finally, they're not all pitching products to us that we can't afford; instead they're giving us advice on some things we can actually use. I knew at least one good thing could come out of this recession!

My OMG moment came tonight when I was reading The 12/1/09 issue of Life & Style (with Robert Patton on the him!...and I came across the feature "Master a $200 Salon Blowout." Perfect timing--I was fresh from the shower with wet hair up in a scrunchie (I know! I intend to single-handedly bring them back...SATC be damned...they are my favorite thing ever for so many reasons...but I digress). I decided to try these blowout tips because I wanted to know if everybody else in Manhattan really does see a stylist weekly/have better hair than I do, or if I'm just lazy. Turns out it was the latter. I'm in love with my hair right now; like Homer Simpson in the Minoxidil episode, who fell in love with his own reflection in the mirror...I adore the way my hair looks right now. It was a little bit of work, but the article says that by using minimal product it should hold out for a week....we'll see!! Tips are from Kimberly Clo, creator of DVD "Now you know how to blow-dry your hair"

Step 1. Lightly apply a heat-protectant spray onto strands. Less product helps a blowout stay fresh-looking for at least a week. (I tried TIGI leave in conditioner; worked great)

Step 2. Start with an oval brush--the flat sides are great for creating straight looks, while the curve makes a soft curl. Then, to get strands super smooth, dry hair in pieces no larger than the width of the brush. (I don't know about this whole oval business--I used a regular old round brush and it worked just fine for me!)

Step 3. Follow these steps exactly!!! To section and dry hair like a professional: *Divide tresses horizontally from ear to ear. Move aside hair above ear line and pin it. Then divide bottom section of hair in half and blow-dry from roots to ends. *Unpin top section. Draw another horizontal line from temple to temple. Pin aside the hair above that line. Repeat previous technique with hair below. [key: make sure hair is TOTALLY dry before moving on to next section. don't rush it.] *Divide remaining hair into front and back sections. Blow-dry the back frist, brushing strands straight up to create volume. [this is important--wrap hair around brush, hold it straight up, and just unroll brush slowly inch by inch as exposed hair dries, thus exposing new wet hair] *Dry the front layers while brushing forward, then out and back--as if feathering hair--to create body around the face. [this was the part that amazed me most. I can't believe how much volume I got from my hair using zero mousse or any product with hold, for that matter!!!]

Step 4. Finish by rubbing a drop of lightweight styling lotion in hands and running it through hair from ear level down to the ends. Then glide palms lightly over hair from roots to ends. [I skipped this step b/c that stuff tends to weigh me down--again, my hair is fine. It's good for people who are using these tips to smooth out curls, though, or for those whose hair is dry and tends to frizz.]

If you try it, let me know how it works for you!!! I am so excited.... If I can motivate myself I will post pics over the next few days, to see if the blowout really looks cute for a week. It's hat weather in NYC, so I don't know how well it will hold up! We'll see!

You know you love me,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holiday Obsessions 2008

Woo-hoo!! It is my favorite time of year again for buying makeup. Holiday is the perfect time to stock up for yourself--amazing values on great gift sets promise you loads of new limited edition colors to play with year round. I've had a great time checking them all out, and here are some of the best items up for grabs this season. Whatever strikes your fancy, buy it NOW--don't wait until after Thanksgiving because Sephora always sells out of this stuff early on. Product descriptions are for the items pictured above (sorry, I haven't yet figured out how to insert text in between images! So bear with me.) You can shop for them directly from this site by clicking on their names below!

Sephora, The Lash Stash, $35 ($85 value)

People are constantly coming in to Sephora and asking me what my favorite mascara is. I have to tell them the truth: what works for me isn't necessarily going to work for you. We're all looking for something different. That's why I love this kit of 10 mini mascaras--it's got some of my personal favorites (Tarte Lights Camera Lashes, Smashbox Bionic, DuWop Lash Venom, and MUFE Smoky Lash). One thing a lot of people don't realize is that the mascara's brush is just as important as the product itself in terms of creating the final effect on your lashes, so it's imperative to try the mascaras with the correct brushes. Most companies don't supply tester brushes, though (only Lancome), so usually you never know how a mascara is really going to work for you until you get it home. Another major reason to buy this kit is because mascaras have a much shorter life than people realize--once you open the tube, you've got about a month or two (tops) before most mascaras will start to flake on you. You'll finish up these little tubes before that has a chance to happen.

2. Tarte, Très Cheek Limited Edition Mini Cheek Stain Set, $25 ($50 value)

These colors are gorgeous--a plummy one, reddish one, and corally one--something to go with any lip color you already have in your makeup kit. They're more pigmented, more creamy, and more shimmery than the original gel cheek stain; closer to the newer all-natural stains. The shimmery gold packaging and mini clutch are fabulous (they look even better in real life than in the photo, with a textured cap), and make this look like a much more expensive gift than it actually is.

3. Lorac, Croc Case--Full Face Collection, $56 ($250 value)

Many brands (who shall remain nameless) cheat you on these so-called "blockbuster" palettes by filling them up with shadows that are lower quality and less pigmented than their regular products. I have not found this to be true for Lorac, Tarte, and Urban Decay, however--all three of these brands provide some of the highest quality, most velvety, shimmery, and highly pigmented shadows out there, and as a consumer it makes me think highly of their brands that they don't cheapen their products and hope we won't notice. Any-whoo-off-my-soapbox-now, this kit is another major winner for Lorac. While I won't say that the colors are particularly holiday friendly (none of those usual ethereal glittery snowy shades--think MAC Silver Dusk--I love for midwinter), the shades are a perfect match for the earthier tones we're seeing in the fashion world this fall, and are definitely office friendly. In addition, precisely because it's not so holiday-ey, this kit is a perfect fit for you if you're looking to take advantage of the values now but have something you can wear through the coming year, spring and summer included.

4. Lorac, Croc Mocktail Collection, $25 ($55 value)

Once again, in the pigment category, Lorac does not disappoint. This time, Carol Shaw has made some major improvements in her already popular mocktails (lipglosses flavored like--you guessed it--your favorite drinks) by eliminating the old squeezy, gooey, brush attached to the tube in lieu of a neat, separate brush and a mirrored tube. The mirror is key because these are rich colors, and you'll want precise application (which you can achieve because of the separate brush...see where I'm going with this?) The shades in this kit are my favorite out of all the holiday gloss kits out there (also being offered by Smashbox and Tarte, though I will say that Tarte's kit offers a killer red gloss)

5. Sephora Brand, Glitter Eyeliner, $12

These are new offerings from Sephora this season, with colors more nuanced than those offered by Urban Decay. The glitters are expertly blended, so you find a little blue in the purple, a little iridesence in the silver, and a nice black backdrop to the black/silver combo. You can use these as liners or paint them over the whole lid, as I did last weekend (covering my lid with Bare Escentuals purple Extreme Glimmer--see below--and then painting purple glitter liner on top of it; lined my eyes with black liner and drew the silver glitter on the lashlines. I got tons of complements on the look!) Sephora Brand is offering a bunch of other glittery items at very reasonable prices that are all worth checking out with Halloween right around the corner.

6. Fekkai, Spray on Hair Crystals, $18.50

This is the grown-up way to wear glitter. The particles are so tiny that you only notice them glinting in the light as you move. This comes in 3 colors depending on your hair, although I think copper is the prettiest one for all but the lightest blondes or grey hair. I love that this has the same violet scent as the whole Coif styling line (and that it offers no hold, so that I can put on as much glitter as I want wherever I want without getting hairspray all over myself).

7. Bare Escentuals, Extreme Glimmers, $32 ($44 value)

I have never before seen a loose pigment like this--the pieces are almost in tiny little flakes, like crumbled up gold leaf. Although the kit comes with a brush, I definitely prefer to appply this with my fingertip in order to achieve a truly foiled effect. Extreme Glimmers are a serious party item--only good if you really like to go over the top for a night out!--but because you won't be using them every day, these little babies are going to last you forever. Also includes a mini eye primer, which is key for helping the shimmer to stick to the lids (whenever you're using a loose pigment, it needs something creamy to stick to).

8. Urban Decay, 24/7 Travel Size Set of 5--Velvet Rope, $29

You have two of my top eyeliner picks at all of Sephora in this kit: Stash (metallic khaki green with tiny gold glitter) and 1999 (metallic "artist formerly known as Prince" purple with tiny pink glitter). Stash flatters and actually enhances literally every single eye color I have ever come across, while 1999 is especially hot on brown or green eyes. 24/7 pencils offer an addictively super creamy, long wearing (=water resistant) formula, and most of my friends/co-workers at Sephora are pretty much obsessed with Zero, the black shade you get in this kit. Velvet Rope also comes with Bourbon, a great basic shimmery brown shade, and Yeyo, a creamy white that is ideal for hilighting inner corners and browbones. These pencils aren't full sized, but if you do the math it's still a great deal; you're basically paying for 3 of these pencils and getting two free.

9. Urban Decay, Book of Shadows Palette, $45

Urban's "blockbuster" holiday offering this year contains many of the same neutral-type shades found also in the Lorac and Tarte kits; the main difference between them all is that if you're an urban-addict, you should pick this one up because it contains a handful of new and limited edition colors that are gorgeous. You have more options with this kit for different kinds of smokey eyes; if you're medium to deep in complexion, the Book of Shadows is going to be ideal for you because on your skin the deeper colors will really pop. Another major plus with this one is that it comes with a mini eye shadow Primer Potion, which is the most kickass eyeshadow primer at all of Sephora (it makes colors look more intense, shinier, stay truer, and last longer). The only odd thing about this kit is the way the colors pull out in a drawer--great for makeup artists to use at work (if you pull the drawer out and put the outer shell away), but weird for average women; the box is full of strange little pop-up butterflies and things that seem like they will fall apart long before the shadows are finished. That's the only drawback! Although if you're into the whole Alice in Wonderland psychedelic aesthetic, you might totally be turned on by the pop ups. :)

10. Tarte, The Vanity Limited Edition Palette, $52 ($494 value)

I'm torn over this palette. On one hand, it hosts one of my very favorite mascaras (Lights Camera Lashes), my favorite bronzer (Park Avenue Princess), 16 velvety shadows, 16 lip glosses, four cheek options, brushes, and a highliter powder. That's a hell of a lot of stuff. On the other hand, some of the glosses taste funny (not all of them! strange), some of the shadows seem not as velvety as usual (but again, not all of them), and the blushes don't offer enough variety (there's no good one for creating that rosy-red-just-in-from-the-cold cheek, a holiday must). I'm also not totally in love with the way in which the palette is constructed--it's a little too floppy for people like me with a small NYC sink and no bathroom counter to prop it up on (you need a large flat surface to open this one up). Finally, glosses in a palette like this bum me out because gloss needs regular touch ups, and there's no way to bring the gloss with you to touch up during the day (Carol Shaw was smart to add separate glosses to her LORAC kit). Still, this palette is an amazing value from a very high quality makeup line, and it's the perfect thing for you if you just feel like your whole makeup look is a little dated and you really need an all-around boost. This would be the perfect way to kick start your (or your mom's, or best friend's, or sister-in-law's) beauty routine for 2009, and a great way to introduce a teen to fun makeup (it's hard to make a mistake with these colors, and they're mostly youth-appropriate). But I'm on the fence about this one for serious makeup artists/junkies because I think you might be a little disappointed. I've been thisclose to purchasing for weeks, but I haven't taken the leap. Still, I know artists who purchased last year's Tarte kit and adore it!


Happy shopping! Sorry I've been gone for so long. School has been crazy lately but I'll try to post more about holiday goodness in the coming weeks! xoxo, Alice

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bought Unsniffed!

With my 30th birthday coming up in under a week, I've been going a little crazy with the shopping.  I've been good for the past month, but it seems like my birthday is just giving me all kinds of excuses to go crazy and scoop up everything I've ever wanted!  Living in NYC with all of the new fall stuff in the stores is NOT helping.  

Jivago is my latest acquisition--just purchased online a few minutes ago from here. I'm usually pretty good about trying fragrances on my skin before buying, and I've only bought one fragrance online that I didn't like (well, two: Molinard Nirmala and Lady Primrose Tryst Noir)--that's pretty good considering my precious Chanel BDI and Molinard Habanita were online acquisitions.  Anyhow, back to the Jivago.  I met some friends for drinks at the Hudson hotel bar a few weekends ago and they had invited a girl from Russia.  When we did the two cheek kiss kiss, I was utterly captivated by her scent!  This never happens to me.  I am a fragrance junkie and work at Sephora; I'm just a few subway stops from Aedes de Venustas in the West Village and I regularly take sniffing safaris to Bergdorf's fragrance counter.  It's rare that I meet somebody wearing something that smells totally, utterly unlike anything I have ever smelled before (it did happen on my first date with my husband...his Chanel Antaeus stumped me)...but that's exactly what happened with Jivago.  (The name rang a bell...I've had European clients come in to Sephora and ask me for this one--for shame, I had no idea what they were talking about!)  I actually asked if I could smell her again, and then I made my husband smell her (he did!).  I kept commenting on her fragrance all night!  (luckily, she was a good sport about it; she said she went through a lot of trouble to find a bottle in the U.S.)    

So, I got home and googled it.  When I finally figured out how to spell the name, it rang a bell...I distinctly remember reading an interview once with Jamie Lynn Sigler where she named this as her signature scent.  Finding it online for a reasonable price ($39), and not being patient enough to wait for anything other than overnight shipping ($18), my Jivago should be arriving tomorrow.  I wholeheartedly acknowledge that the bottle is utterly tack-AY, and if I saw it lying on the fragrance counter I would without a doubt pass it by unsniffed.  It has 24k gold flakes floating in the juice like Goldschlager, for heaven's sake!  But hopefully somebody somewhere is packing my Jivago into a shipping box right this very minute, and speeding it to my Upper West Side doorstep.  I'll update tomorrow on how it goes!  (of course, tomorrow is Friday...ugh...might not get here till Monday)...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hello, Old Friend!

Working at Sephora, I have the chance to try different  undereye concealers all of the time.  I've tried them all: MUFE, the Balm, Laura Mercier, LORAC, Amazing Cosmetics and Clinique are some favorites.  Still, out of all of these top selling brands, nothing was making me happy.  Either something didn't wear long enough, didn't cover enough, was too creamy, or not creamy enough.  Then I was looking at some old college pictures the other day, and thinking I looked kind of cute in some of them (I know, such vanity! ;)) and that's when I remembered that I used to use Physician's Formula Gentle Cover Concealer Stick.  I used that concealer around my eyes alternately for years; I would say beginning sometime in eighth grade.  Being a severe product whore, it is highly unusual for me to even finish a product; let alone buy more than one of the same thing!  Two days ago I popped in to a CVS and picked up another one of these little beauties.  $5.99 later (and that's at Manhattan prices!), I was the proud owner of a new tube.  Still the tapered bullet shape I love and remember (so easy to tuck up under the lower lashline); so easy, smooth, and creamy to apply, with full yet natural coverage that's long wearing and not too dry / not too creamy = just right.  So much for the $40 tube of Amazing Concealer that's sitting in my makeup bag right now (good thing I got it for free); it won't be seeing the light of day again for a while!

If you decide to try this concealer, here are a couple of tips:

-You don't need an eye cream underneath.  I haven't experimented but I suspect that eye cream could throw off the "perfect consistency" balance I'm talking about.  If you use a heavy eye cream, try a drier concealer like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, LORAC Undercover Lover, or MUFE Full Cover.

-For some strange reason, it's great for the eye area but it doesn't stay worth a darn on pimples.  For the face, you'll need something else (again, the ones from MUFE and Laura Mercier linked above are both great choices).

-It's also available in brightening Yellow and red neutralizing Green.  Same great formula, different features.  I also carried both of these in my makeup bag for years.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ugliest Perfume Bottles Ever!

I was just sitting here checking out while my husband is watching the Mets game, and I came across the funniest thing.  It's a slideshow of the ugliest perfume bottles ever, and it's hilarious!  You can find it here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I was just wondering...

I'm trying to work on my dissertation today and I keep getting distracted by whiffs of the Chanel No.5 EDT I'm wearing.  Heaven!  I was thisclose to falling asleep at my desk when I gave myself a little spritz.  Fragrance does a world of good to stimulate me and my creativity; in the winter, I'll often burn a yummy Tocca candle at my desk while working.  It made me wonder: do any of you use fragrances to perk yourselves up or energize yourselves?  If so, which ones?  Post your responses in the comments below!  Back to work...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Firebird Part Deux

Just following up on yesterday's post... Today I decided to try the Firebird mascara on both eyes.  I love how it manages to make lashes lush, but not clumpy!  Here's how it looks with full eye makeup.  (That's my dog Shea perched on my shoulder; he climbed up there himself! aww... :))