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... :)) 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fall (mascara) has arrived!

I love this time of year!  Just when the dog days of summer are beginning, the beauty industry gives us a little bit of relief by anticipating fall.  Summer sales are ending and fall catalogs and shipments are arriving!  I love fall beauty for all of the richer textures and colors.

This week I had the good fortune of getting to try out two new mascaras that are being introduced this fall: Tarte's Lash Hugger and Fresh's Firebird.  

Firebird (in the blue tube shown above), is Fresh's answer to those clients for whom Supernova is too dramatic.  The press release for Firebird states that "Firebird mascara creates stunningly full, flirty, fluffy lashes for an alluring, feathery look.  Its uniquely shaped brush and ultra black formula delivers the gorgeous and lush feathered look of the 1970s.  In just one stroke of the wand, lashes are instantly curled and voluminous.  It's truly magical!  Plus, the ultra-nourishing formula includes restorative sea buckthorn oil and fortifying panthenol (vitamin B5) to help condition and strengthen each lash.  Supernova Mascara creates a dark, dramatic diva lash and Firebird Mascara delivers a full, flirty, fluffy lash."

You can see Firebird below on the right hand eye (my left eye; the one you see to the right).  It is a very lightweight mascara that is impossible to clump--I couldn't clump it if I tried! (and I did, with multiple coats).  The brush did an excellent job of separating my lashes into a feathery fan, which surprised me given that the brush's bristles are not that densely packed together.  I think that the finished effect is a nice combination of natural and dramatic; I'm not totally convinced that I like this better than my Tarte Lights Camera Lashes, which to date is my HG (holy grail) mascara, but it has potential.  The look is very demure, refined, and perfectly polished.  I would wear this to a job interview.  And I LOOOVE the tube!  It's so gorgeous!  Just the tube alone makes me want to pull this one out of my makeup bag.

You can check out Lash Hugger in the pictures below on the eye you see at left (my right eye).  The launch of this product reflects the Tarte brand's overall initiative to become increasingly more of a natural brand; in keeping with that effort, this mascara features no parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, propylene glycol, sulfates, synthetic dyes, and fragrances.  It's also eco-friendly; the tube is made of recycled aluminum, which prevents the clear cutting of trees which are used to produce bauxite ore, a component of aluminum.  It has a chubby, rounded brush not unlike the Smashbox Bionic Mascara brush, and the juice is a thick and rich black.  It was easier to create drama with this mascara; while the Fresh took multiple coats, just one coat of the Lash Hugger gave me drama.  The only drawback was that a little of this blinked off my lower lashes onto my under eye area immediately following application, a problem I didn't have with the Fresh.  Still, I would reach for this mascara again if I was going for a dramatic eye look or smokey eye because it has the potential to build upon itself and create more volume (for intentional clumping).  

I will update this post later today once I've seen how these mascaras wear over time!  Overall, based on the photos below, I'd say that the Fresh Firebird (seen at right) is the clear winner.  It's beautiful!  But if I was obsessed with natural products or going paraben-free, I think that the Tarte makes a great second choice.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Personal Shopper: Blue Mercury

This week, I'll be your personal shopper at Blue Mercury, a modern apothecary found in many major US cities.  I was introduced to Blue Mercury by my dear friend DJ--the ultimate product divo--who took me to the store in DC's Adams Morgan.  My first product was Bliss' no-fat moisturizer in the yellow bottle (they don't make it anymore! sad! It was lemony, fresh, and cooling!), and I was hooked for life.  When my husband and I lived in Philly, we used to walk by the Blue Mercury on Walnut Street and he would take my hand and hold it.  I always thought it was so romantic, until I finally figured out that he was steering me away from my favorite spot!  Here are some of my Blue Mercury must-haves:

- Tocca Agadir candle : this is the sexiest home fragrance I have ever found.  Use with caution; your next hookup will be utterly seduced (and hooked!). 

-  Dermalogica Ultra Rich Body Cream : a huge bottle with an easy pump that is unscented and totally jammed with every effective anti-aging ingredient known to man.  Hyaluronic, Evening Primrose, and Linoleic Acid are just the beginning!  I've heard of plastic surgeons who insist their patients use this lotion for a month prior to surgery to ensure optimal results.  For even better results, use alternately with Dermalogica's Body Hydrating Cream, which chemically exfoliates with hydroxy acids.

- Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel : I learned about this little gem from a friend who performed at clubs in full theatrical makeup and costume.  I pinned him down for product recommendations because I just had to know how he got all that makeup off night after night while maintaining such a smooth and flawless complexion.  It was this little $12 beauty that was doing the trick--it takes off eye makeup and all, while gently exfoliating with enzymes.

- Phyto Phytocitrus Mask : this conditioner, used immediately after coloring, will seal in your color and smooth out the hair shaft.  It's incredible--I've used it before, and would definitely purchase it again.

- L'Artisan Premier Figuier : in Italian hotels, unisex bath products are scented with fig.  This fragrance brings me straight back to my honeymoon, soaking in a marble tub at the Hotel Majestic Roma and luxuriating in my shower at the Capri Tiberio Palace .  It's amazingly fresh and dewy, but warm and sensual at the same time.  

- Comptoir Sud Pacifique Mora Bella, Matin Calin, and Aloha Tiare : my three go-to summer scents that I shouldn't even be talking about because I don't want everybody else to wind up wearing them!  Any one of these will ensure that you don't smell like anybody else you know--and everyone is going to be wondering what you are wearing.  

- T. LeClerc Pressed Powder in Cannelle and Soleil : always looks radiant, mattifies reliably, and photographs beautifully.  Flawless when applied with an enormous, oversized kabuki brush!

- Molton Brown Blu Maquis hand wash : this smells so good to me that I have totally broken down and used it as a body wash before! (I know!)  The funny thing is that it is of such high quality, and so moisturizing, that even as a body wash, this little guy by far surpassed all cheap drugstore or BBW body washes by a mile.

- Anthony Logistics Sea Salt Scrub : OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!! Get in the tub with your man and work it out!  Minty, citrusy, salty, beachy, natural, yummy, delicious.  I always bring this on vacation with me and my hubby for a spa-like experience in the hotel room.

- Terax Original Crema Conditioner : it's a classic for a reason!  Unscented and super-softening.  Like, so softening that if you don't need softening you shouldn't buy it.  Also works just great on my doggies when I give them a bath at home!  (Because it's verrry lightly scented, it doesn't bother their little noses).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Summer is here in NYC, and with temperatures breaking 100, all of us need ways to beat the heat while we're on the go.  Be kind to the people next to you on the subway, and try one of these effective methods of keeping (and smelling) cool!

- Philosophy Pure Grace and Amazing Grace fragrances: a little spritz of either (or both-they layer beautifully together) will truly have you smelling like you just took a nice, refreshing shower.  The former is a pure, clean, unisex scent (think ivory soap); the latter, a more feminine version (think clean laundry hung out to dry).  I love these products and find them totally unlike anything else on the market (they're head and shoulders above Clean's scents, which smell tacky and cloying to me). 

- Aveda Blue Oil: this little rollerball beauty is a real life saver.  A little dab on your pulse points will give you a strong, refreshing, minty chill (but chamomile will keep you from smelling like a candy cane).  I had some of this at a baseball game last summer where my husband and I were roasting in the heat; even he had to admit that it made him feel cooler.

- Crabtree & Evelyn LaSource body wash and lotion: I've known this unglamorous brand for as long as I can remember, but I didn't know they had anything besides old-lady scents until I came across this stuff at my college bookstore.  It smells fresh and clean like real water and oxygen--if you've ever gone swimming in a waterfall before, you'll recognize the smell.  It's far beyond most products that have watery notes but smell like cheap men's cologne; on a hot, landlocked day in the city, a cool shower with this light blue gel leaves me feeling like I've taken a swim.  

- Caudalie Beauty Elixir: this tingly mist refreshes like no other, loaded with essential oils in an exclusive formula originally formulated for the Queen of Hungary.  It's also available in a value set of 3 travel sized bottles, which is perfect for carrying in your handbag.  I love this product for travel and use it as toner in part of my everyday beauty routine!

- Borotalco: the classic Italian talcum powder that has graced the behinds of the inhabitants of the bel paese for over a century.  I discovered this while living in Rome and I haven't been without it sense!  This smells more adult than Johnson & Johnson's but not at all cloying.  This is great for preventing chafing and sweat stains (gross, I know, but come on, it's a fact of life!  I'm just being real with you. ;))  

Stay cool!  Be sure to post your comments and any additional tips you have to share.  

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lost Luggage : VERMONT

Everybody's heard the old question, "If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring along?"  But how many of us have taken a moment to ask the much more important question, "If the airline lost my luggage, where would I buy new products?"

I was inspired to begin this segment on my blog because of something Sharon Gault said at The Makeup Show.  She was telling us about one time when she was at a photo shoot and her luggage was delayed, so she didn't have her makeup kit--she had to go to Target at the last minute and buy everything she needed for the shoot.  She was telling us this as a makeup artist because she wanted to drive home the point that makeup artists can't get so attached to our favorite artistry and luxury brands that we are totally unfamiliar with the other mass market products that are out there.  

This week, we're off to Vermont, where we'll be picking up some loot for you at the decidedly un-chic Vermont Country Store--home of the Tired Old Ass Soak.  Relax--even in the most granola of states, a little bit of glamour can be found if you just know where to look (or you're shopping with me, naturally! ;)) 

- Tired Old Ass Soak -- this mineral bath is no joke!  Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Vetiver essential oils will make your room at the Holiday Inn Express smell like a spa.

- Because you know I'm obsessed with good-smelling hair, the original 70's clasic Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific would be a must-have for me!

- Fragrance: Caron's Nuit de Noel in fall or winter, Bellodgia in summer, and Jean Patou's Joy for any black tie event!

- Marutake Rice Powder to stand in for my can't live without it MUFE HD Powder!

- Original Indian Earth Powder -- a legendary multitasker, this concentrated bronzing pigment would be perfect for anywhere on the face.  (A great stand in for my NARS multiple!)

- Cake Mascara -- in a pinch, this could also double as a liquid liner

- Joey's Chiseled Cheeks Plumping Gel Blush -- a great complexion faker; the perfect replacement for my Benefit Benetint.

- Pssst Instant Spray Shampoo -- awesome for travel (I have it!), and a handy stand in for volumizing spray as well.  Makes a great preparatory step for updos!

- Smith's Rosebud Salve -- they also carry this at Sephora; makes lips look naturally full, and is super moisturizing (great for cuticles and other rough spots, too).  Mix it with some Indian Earth Powder and you've got your own custom moisturizing lipgloss!

- Sweet Almond Oil -- touted as being Jackie O's beauty secret, this one could stand in for a face and body moisturizer, as well as a deep hair conditioner; mix it with some Indian Earth powder and it will stand in for your Nars Body Glow!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great Smelling Hair

I have this vision in my mind of "the cool girl in school."  I must have watched too many 80's movies as a kid--16 Candles, the Breakfast Club, Lucas, Pretty in Pink come to mind--because I have an image of her in my mind as someone like Phoebe Cates (absolute perfection). This girl was on TV--Blair Warner from The Facts of Life--and in books--Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High (much sexier than her sister Elizabeth, who wouldn't fall into this category).  The girl I'm thinking of wore pink Tretorns, Love's Baby Soft, and had hair like the Breck girl (perhaps today she would wear Miss Marisa by Ebba).  She was the 80's fantasy girl, a little bit preppy, a little bit sexy, a little bit girl-next-door.  She was probably your babysitter growing up, if you're my age!  She was that girl we all looked up to, that girl we wanted to be; your older brother's girlfriend, the cheerleader dating the hottest Senior boy you admired from afar at football games as a Freshman in high school.

An image of her came to me as I was trying to describe the scent of the Sunsilk Straight to Perfection collection of products.  The fragrance is indescribable--you really have to smell it to understand--it just smells like great smelling hair.  It's what you imagine the captain of the football team smelled when Jessica Wakefield put her head of glossy, bouncy, feathered, natural blonde hair on his shoulder at the movie theater (no doubt during "Return of the Jedi" or "ET"), or when she was riding next to him in the front seat of his Camaro and listening to Jefferson Starship.   

I'm normally hooked on haircare from Kerastase, Carita, and Jonathan, and drugstore products usually disappoint.  The Sunsilk products are fine (not earth shatteringly good--they'll just leave your hair shiny, healthy, and clean, like Pantene or Garnier--though I don't get a buildup with Sunsilk like I do with Pantene) and each line of products smells differently (you want the ones in the purple bottle!).  You might want to try using just the conditioner or styling cream with higher quality, less harsh shampoos; it won't matter because the products are so highly fragranced that even just working one of them into your haircare routine will leave you smelling like our beautiful late 70's/early 80's teen queen.  I can't live without this stuff!

30 Days of Bronzing with Sephora

This is too good to miss!  Sephora has been road testing their bronzers with staff members over the past month, and posting their comments on a blog.  All of the products are there as well as photos of the results and links to where you can buy them. 

To see what I'm talking about, click here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sugar is hot, and so are you!

I'm kind of over self-tanners.  I've been a slave to them since I gave up sun-baking about 8 years ago, and although I love the glow they give me, I can't stand the smell and the residue they leave on my clothes and bed sheets.  This year, I decided to try experimenting with body bronzers; the technology has gotten so good that many of them (like Lorac's and DuWop's) truly are transfer resistant.  I've been walking around work for days playing with these lotions--for the record, I've also tried Sephora's (too light for me and I don't like the scent) and Smashbox's (ditto for them).  

So today I decided to venture into the world of powder bronzers for the body.  Why not? I wasn't getting the amount of shimmer I wanted from the lotions (they're all designed to give more color than shimmer, and I was looking for some serious Jennifer Aniston glow).  The other thing I like about powders is practical: they're easier to clean off my clothes, and they don't get all over my hands when applying.

I was excited when I came across Sugar's new Platinum Body Shimmer; the package's description, "sheer, shimmering bronze pressed powder adorned with flecks of silver and gold" had me enthralled.  When I read that it also tasted like sugar, I was hooked--with all that skin I plan on showing this summer, you never know! ;).  When I finally got a chance to try it out, it did not disappoint.  Indeed, it does taste sugar, and leaves my skin with a veil of color and shimmer that's not dense enough to ever be streaky or blotchy.  I experimented tonight and, although it's great on dry skin, it looks positively gorgeous over body oil (I was feeling dry, so I used this amazing one from Huiles & Baumes I bought at Space NK).   With this kind of a glow, I'm not missing the tan at all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ingredient Spotlight: Olive

Whenever summertime comes, I always think back to the time I've spent in Italy.  Early mornings in NYC especially take me right back to Rome and my early morning commutes through Trastevere to school--stepping out of the way on narrow streets to let the cars, trucks, and scooters pass; ducking into a pasticceria for a brioche, dolce or salata (depending on my mood)

When I get to feeling this way, I love anything that brings back more of these wonderful memories.  And what better way to get a little bit of Italy in your life than to infuse your beauty routine with olive oil, the secret to a perfect mediterranean glow?

Some of my favorite olive-infused products for summer are:

- Tarte's Lights Camera Lashes mascara (contains olive esters for long lasting, soft volume and length!) 

- Korres Olive & Rye skincare regimen (to firm and restructure dry / mature skin)

Don't forget that regular extra virgin olive oil from your grocery store can work beauty wonders--mix with sugar to create your own body exfoliator; use it as a deep conditioning treatment for hair; makes a great cuticle moisturizer; a drop of warm olive oil in the ear (really!) is my foolproof earache cure.  

Buon divertimento!

Turn up the heat - Hollywood Style!

Hi, my loves!  Welcome back from your holiday weekend.  I have an hour before I have to go to work, so I thought I would take a minute to tell you about a product that I hope has finally arrived at my Sephora store!  It's the LORAC Hollywood Heat collection.  Everyone knows I love LORAC products.  They're the creation of make up artist Carol Shaw, who does celebrities' makeup for red carpet appearances.  I love LORAC products because the quality is through the roof--especially all of her powders, which are so velvety and silky!  This is because they all have a secret ingredient: Nylon-12.  This little beauty helps them go on smoothly, blend easily, and ride flawlessly over any little imperfections in the skin.  

So, given my undying devotion to all things LORAC, I was thrilled to see that this gift set was coming out for summer.  The Hollywood Heat Collection--which is valued at $100 but retails for only $35(!)--is exclusive only at Sephora, and I'm pretty sure that it won't be there for long.  It's amazing!  Here's what it includes:

- TANtalizer : this temporary body bronzer is the best product on the market of its kind.  While it's not a self tanner, it is truly long lasting.  You must apply it to totally dry skin and let it set--do your makeup naked--but once it's on, it's on.  I wore TANtalizer to a wedding at the beach in California last summer, and not a drop of it rubbed off on my Missoni dress.  That's pretty impressive given the heat, sweating, and dancing!  The color of TANtalizer works great on a variety of skin tones, is delightfully shimmery (but not sparkly), and is deliciously (but lightly) scented.  

- Hot & Spicy Blush/Bronzer Duo: I love everything peach for summer because it plays up a tan in an unexpected way.  It looks gorgeous on everyone--from the fairest blond to Alek Wek.  How?   The secret is in the pigment; it's so highly concentrated that its color shows up on any skin tone.  Also, peach is an especially youthful color, and any woman who is concerned about aging will be especially pleased.

- Mocktail gloss in Tropical Dream : this sweetly flavored shimmery peach gloss will leave everyone's lips looking plump and fresh.

- Bronze Bombshell eye shadow trio : these new colors are exclusive to the kit; you've got LORAC's signature formula in three new bronzey nudes that coordinate perfectly with the rest of your look.  With shimmery shades ranging from pale highlight to deep, you've got looks for day to night.

All of this comes packaged in a gorgeous bronze makeup case which will look hot in your beach bag.  These haven't arrived at my Sephora store yet, but they're already available online.  Check out the model below for the finished look you'll get from the kit:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Makeup for Guys

I am always so excited when guys come into Sephora looking for products.  Why not?  I promise you that every great male star in history has worn makeup, from Cary Grant to 50 Cent.  There are plenty of reasons why guys might need a little boost--from headshots to a TV appearance, but also just the average guy who wants to look his best.

Here are some of the products that I've found are a big hit with my male clientele, who want to look polished but will only use makeup products that are absolutely undetectable:

- The Balm concealer : the finish is neither too dewy nor too matte, so it looks just like actual skin.  This means that it blends perfectly on a face that has no other makeup.  This should be in every guy's bathroom just to cover up the occasional blemish or dark circles.  It offers great coverage and comes in six shades covering a wide range of skin tones--from the fairest porcelain to the warmest tan (works for all but the deepest complexions).  Deeper complexions should try Becca or MUFE, who also make fantastic concealers in every shade (the added benefit for everyone of MUFE is that it's waterproof--great for the guy who wants to wear concealer to the gym).

- A clear bronzing gel like these from Stila, Clinique, and Benefit : add a bit of mistake-proof color (without the commitment of a sunless tanner, and without looking powdery like a powder bronzer)

- Silicone-based mattifying primer: from Make Up Forever, Smashbox bronzing primer (or any of their other color correcting shades), Cargo (this one has a cool, techy name that appeals to guys: "Blu Ray High Definition Mattifier"), or Philosophy.  One makeup artist told me that nothing worked for one newscaster's shiny bald head except for the one from MUFE.  I sold the Cargo one to a male client who was going to appear on TV.  

- MUFE HD Powder : my one true love that can do no wrong.  Will take down shine in an instant and render pores and fine lines invisible to the camera; also, its cool, airy texture is interesting to guys.  Even my utterly product-phobic husband was interested enough when I showed it to him to stick his fingers into the jar!  This would be amazing for a groom who is going to be photographed on his wedding day.  Just tell him that you guarantee it has already graced the faces of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or whomever... I bet they've even put some on Eli Manning before appearing on ESPN or something.  Hey, whatever works!  It's for his own good.

- Fresh Sugar lip balm : its hefty metal packaging and citrus flavor are appealing to guys; its not too shiny finish will give them moist lips.

- An instant lifting anti-wrinkle product : anything that smoothes fine lines for a temporary boost can be a great product for any guy--I realized this when my friend Guille asked me for something that would make his face look lifted "like Patsy's on Ab-Fab."  The ones from Fusion beauty are in a techy-looking silver package that won't look out of place in a guy's bathroom; anyone with sensitive skin or looking for a natural product will appreciate this one from Skyn Iceland.  My personal favorite is the Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Serum because it contains loads of peptides and a muscle numbing synthetic snake venom.  Now that's manly!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Hey darlings! I'm away from NYC this weekend and back in Columbus, Ohio this weekend helping out with a family event. I'll try to post as much as I can while I'm here, but I might not have a chance to do much until Monday night. Until then, practice your Olsen Twin Eyes, work on your runway walk, and then make a date with your friends to head out and celebrate the holiday weekend looking hot! Love you all!



Olsen Twin Eyes

I can't be the only person who was wondering how Ashley & Mary-Kate achieve that perfect smokey undereye effect. I love how it enhances their eyes, makes them look huge, and still manages to look intentional--not like their makeup ran, or like they have crazy dark circles. Though this is an MK & Ashley signature, I've also seen this look on Cameron Diaz, Katie Holmes, and in the Becca ads for summer. So when I had the opportunity to catch up with Becca National Artist Lynn Furge, I jumped at the chance to ask her how to make this look happen.

According to Lynn, it's all in the brush. You've got to have a good, clean brush to smudge--and the smudging is how you're going to get that clean, graduated effect with color concentrated at the lashline and evenly blended down to an imperceptible finish. The brush Lynn used on me was the Becca Eye Definer #30; at home, I've been using the Sephora Professionel All Over Shadow Brush Large #21 on myself, and I'm thrilled with the effect.

So I've been practicing, and here's the look I've come up with. I'm in love with it!

-Apply Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Linen to lid and lower lashline (to create a long wearing, creaseless base for shadows)

-Brush ID Bare Escentuals shadow in Faux Fox thickly onto upper and lower lashlines. Don't be too precise! This look should be quick and easy.

-Dab a tiny bit of MAC shadow in Embark just into the roots of the lashes.

-Smudge some powdery black liner just into the roots of the lashes--I use the black end of Becca's Ibiza pencil.

-Now take your clean smudger brush and, starting at the inner corner of the eye, press it down until the bristles smush out and down. This pushes the shadow down your undereye area in an even, graduated smudge. Now drag the brush out towards your ear. Repeat on the top lashline. This is the key step!

-Line the inner rims of your eyes with Kevyn Aucoin Eye Pencil Primatif in Basic Black. This is the creamiest, blackest pencil in the world, and I literally would die without it. It lasts all day and looks fierce.

-I like to throw a little more Faux Fox over my lid to smoke up the rest of the eye. This morning, I also dusted a little bit of Becca Jewel Dust in Nixie onto the middle of my lids.

-Finish with some Smashbox Bionic Mascara. I got a sample of this recently and I'm liking it a lot for its deep black color and thickening skills. I'm not getting a ton of length out of it, but the thick lashes are best with this look. My trick for making this work is to hold the brush in front of my eyeball and close both top and bottom lashes onto the brush at once. Then I wiggle the brush from left to right and messily smudge mascara onto my lashes. It's ok with this eye look if you get some mascara onto your skin--it's a little bit messy, a little bit morning after, and a little bit rock'n'roll!

Happy smudging!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I'm Loving This!

I'm a sucker for seasonal limited edition items from my favorite beauty brands.  Actually, I've never been a huge fan of Lancome--it's not that I have anything against them; it's just that I've never fallen hopelessly in love with any of their products--but I've changed my tune lately thanks to the Daria Werbowy Brazilian Earth Colors collection.  Daria is a much buzzed about model who you might have seen in ads for Hermes, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Missoni, H&M, and others; this spring, Lancome decided to team up with her and come out with a collection of colors inspired by her.  Although she's actually Canadian (of Ukranian descent), she decided to do a collection inspired by the beauty of Brazil.  (Brazil is big right now in the land of beauty--it must be because of Gisele and her tribe of Brazilian Victoria's Secret Model hotness--hence the ingredient Acai popping up everywhere, and the presence of Brazilian inspired products from the department store to the drugstore).  

I had the chance to play with some of the lip colors from Daria's Lancome collection the other day at Sephora (where it's exclusively sold), and I was pleasantly surprised!  The colors: Color Fever Lipstick in Beige Caracai, and Color Fever Gloss in Nude Prainha.   First of all, the packaging is fabulous--very modern, urban, and refined, using dark, reflective gunmetal and clear deep browns (these products look great in my makeup bag next to my Becca stuff).  I was drawn to the lipstick and gloss initially because both are very creamy, nude beiges, but unlike other pale beiges I've used before (Kevyn Aucoin's Caramellina is my old standby; I like NARS Belle de Jour as well), these are cool toned instead of warm.  I mean very cool--they almost look greyish in the tube.  But on me: wow!  I layer the lipstick and the gloss, and both are great.  The lipstick formula is very smooth and sheer, not unlike Kevyn Aucoin's or YSL's amazing Rouge Pur Shine, but just like those it still offers pigment density and coverage.  The gloss is also fantastic--I love its smoothness and the hollowed out applicator is ingenious, allowing you to apply more gloss in one swipe without disturbing your lipstick (better than the old doefoot; perhaps not as good as a brush, though).  The only downside is that both formulas are so smooth and moisturizing that they're not particularly long wearing.  Still, I don't care: I'm almost out of Caramellina, and there's none available anymore on Kevyn's website.  Get these two winners while you can!  They're only available at Sephora and they're limited edition, so when supplies run out, it's over and on to something else.