Wedding Beauty Emergency Kit

Today is the big day: my little bro is getting married! It's so exciting, I can barely stand it. In honor of the bride, I was thinking about a good Wedding Beauty Emergency Kit. Ideally, it would contain a minimal number of supplies to handle a wide variety of potential mishaps. The idea isn't to carry the entire medicine cabinet and vanity, but to have a few essentials that lend themselves well to improvisation.

Here are the essentials as I see it:

blotting paper
*translucent powder
*mascara (waterproof, of course)
eye drops/contact solution (and maybe an extra pair of contacts)
cotton swabs
nail file
clear nail polish
hair brush/comb
pocket sized mirror
small packet of tissues
deodorant (clear)
stain pen/wipes
breath mints

Some of the items (marked with a *) can be thrown in from the bride's makeup case once she's finished and don't need to be re-purchased.

Here is the kit I assembled for Amy

A closer look (I know I said not to go buy new mascara, but this is her favorite...)

And the final product

Of course there are a bazillion other things that one could include (safety pins, bobby pins, tampons, straws, Valium, static guard, etc), but this list is geared toward keeping the bride looking fresh and beautiful from the neck up. If her dress falls apart on the way to the reception, hopefully someone else brought along the hem tape.

If a trip to the drugstore is just too much to handle, there are some websites (here and here) where a similar kit can be purchased, albeit at a rather hefty price.

I won't be the first or the last, but I want to officially wish Mike & Amy all the love and happiness they deserve (which is a lot)!


Wedding Makeup Tips

As I'm sure she would attest, I've been a little bit obsessed with my future sister-in-law's wedding makeup look. Partly, this is because it gives me an excuse to haul under the pretense that I'm helping her with "research." I barely even remember what makeup I wore to my wedding, so it also provides the opportunity to vicariously experience the wedding makeup routine again .

In the interest of saving time & money, I did my wedding makeup myself (with the invaluable assistance of BFF/maid of honor, Marisa). If it weren't for her I would never have gotten those false eyelashes on. But, I did ask various members of the wedding-industrial complex for advice on achieving an awesome wedding look. So here are the best tidbits that I picked up along the way, straight from me to you...

1. False Eyelashes. The best advice I got was from the photographer who recommended false eyelashes. She said that they are really important to open up the eyes in pictures. Having never used them before, I got cheap little
Sephora-brand partial lashes ($8) and placed the partial lashes on the outer eye. It really made a big difference. Thank you, Deborah!

Go For Drama. My hairdresser told me to "go dramatic" in doing the eye makeup. Her exact words were "if it looks like too much in the mirror at home, then it's perfect." For an evening wedding, the light is going to be much lower so more drama is needed to get even a natural look. I remember Marisa and I just applying and blending every brown eyeshadow we own saying "is that enough? is this enough?" It was probably quite humorous.

Avoid Lackluster Lips. My only regret is that I didn't wear a lip stain or a more intense lip color. A natural look seems like a good way to go generally, but with this there is a risk of looking washed out in the pics. Again, you want to strike that balance between enough drama to be noticeable and not so much as to look clownish. A mistake I made was using a pale lip color and in a lot of the pictures, my lips are kind of pale and could have used a little punching-up. Even if I had kept some gloss handy (which I didn't), it would have been better.

4. Waterproof Mascara. This is kind of a "duh" but I figured I'd mention it anyway. Seriously, I thought I'd be the last person to cry during the ceremony, can guess what happened.
Bare Escentuals Weather Everything Waterproof Mascara thankfully did not run.

5. Judicious Use Of Shimmer. Initially the plan was to use a little Benefit Kitten powder on my shoulders until the wedding planner intervened. She didn't have an objection to shimmer per se but she had experiences of having to "spray down brides" who had gone a little crazy with the shimmer powder. Ultimately, she let me get away with a little bit of Benefit High Beam on the cheek bones and on the clavicle which added a subtle, appropriate amount of highlight.

And, just to show that these tips worked well (and not at all because I'm vain and want to show off my wedding pictures), here is the evidence.


Friends & Family Friday

This week's submission comes from Sarah who is living large in the thriving metropolis that is Pittsburgh, PA. She is a big fan of Neutrogena Moisture Shine Lip Soother (SPF 20). Sarah says "I prefer 'Sheen' and 'Shine', totally the best $6 you will ever spend. I'm on my 10th tube of this stuff."

Lip Soothers are a combo product that supposedly "hydrates, soothes and protects dry lips on contact with beautiful high-gloss shine." The company also claims that it has "conditioning botanicals and glycerin for intense moisturization."

The nice thing about this product is that it is readily available at any drugstore you might find and is usually fairly well stocked (unless you're at
Target *snarls*).

Lip Soothers come in six different shades. I tried Shine, which is a pinky color. Sheen is more red. I will say, the gloss on this stuff is high gloss all the way. The color is not intensely saturated so even the darker shades are likely to appear sheer. Shine was close to clear gloss in coloring once it was applied. It does feel kind of "thick" on the lips but is fairly slippery and I didn't find it sticky in the slightest. If you are violently opposed to scented lip products then this isn't for you as it has a girlish, candy sort of scent. But, that wears off. The "cooling hydragel" is a little weird but kind of refreshing in hot weather and ultimately not that remarkable either way. One complaint is that it is not very long-lasting so I can see why Sarah has gone through 10 tubes! In terms of moisturizing, I'm not sure that it provided "intense" moisturizing but it definitely was not drying. I am a big fan of the SPF 20. Love that! Even my beloved MAC Tendertone only has SPF 12 and Lip Soothers are less than half the price.

Overall, this is a good product (with SPF!) at a good price that is widely available at retail outlets. It would be good for taking on a beach trip or some other adventure where you might be likely to lose a gloss, thereby being out $6 rather than $15.


Anastasia All About Brows Kit

My God, is there a facial feature more abused than the eye brows? It's like people take out all their hidden anxiety on these poor helpless hairs. Hopefully, by now we all know that over-plucking is a big no-no. That is, unless you want to look tired, old and freaky.

The Anastasia "All About Brows" kit ($75) is a one stop kit for all your DIY brow grooming needs. This
set of six tools includes Tweezers, Brow Powder Duo, four Brow Stencils, Duo Angle/Spooley Brush, Brow Gel, and an Eye Lights highlighting pencil. The idea behind the stencil is to help you shape but not over-pluck your own brows. There are four shapes of stencils that supposedly match most brow shapes and sizes. The process then is to match the stencil that is a best fit to your own brows, then use it as a guide to determine which hairs need to go in order to further refine your brows. I found that the online video was really helpful to demonstrate this process.

Overall, these are very high quality products. The brow powders come as duos that can be blended as needed to achieve a matching shade. The powder contains antioxidants (vitamins C, E, and Chamomile Extract) that are supposedly protective and anti-aging. What I like most about the powder is that it has a creamy texture so that it clings to the brows. My favorite tool in the kit is the Duo Angle/Spooley Brush. The spooley end is great for combing the brows and for blending the powder. My second favorite is the Eye Lights Matte brow highlighter pencil. It is also creamy and non-shimmery which is nice for a change. The tweezers are great, get the job done easilynd the brow gel is also a winner. It is clear and actually dries clear. I also really liked that it didn't get "crusty" when it dried like some brow gels do. It held the brows in place without making them too stiff.

The stencils I feel kind of "eh" about. Everyone has a unique brow shape and while there are some common "types," I doubt that four stencils would account for all the variations out there. I was having this on-going problem with my arch hitting at two slightly different places between my right and left eye, so I gave the stencils a try (I used the "petite arch" shape). With the help of the stencil, I now feel more confident now that my brows match. This is a relief because it was driving me insane. So I'll give the stencils credit for that.

The big downside to the Anastasia All About Brows Kit is that it is wicked crazy expensive and hard to justify spending $75 just one one feature. However, as they point out, buying all these products individually would cost twice as much so if you're interested in one or two items, you might as well spring for the whole kit. The other argument is that it will last a long time. The stencils are reusable, the tools are high quality and unlikely to break, and the brow powder contains more than enough to last for at least a year or more. If you get handy at maintaining your brows yourself, then you may save money by skipping the salon touch-ups every few months. Either way, it's your call, but I think that if you go for the whole kit, you won't be disappointed.


Thank You For Your Patience

I'm busy getting ready to head out of town so the posts have been a little sparse this week. Sorry about that! But, keep checking back because I have some awesome wedding-inspired things that are coming up in honor of my little brother's wedding on 8/31/08.

In the meantime, how about some Natalie Dee?

I love the flamingo shirt.


Traveling Stripper

Preparing for a trip always involves the process of mentally organizing what is going with me in terms of makeup and beauty products. One thing that will definitely make the cut is a Stripper To Go packet from Lippmann Collection. These little guys are just so cool!

Each packet contains one finger mitt soaked with Lippmann's signature remover "
The Stripper." Simply slide your finger in the mitt and then wipe the polish away on the opposite hand. The mitts are slightly textured for easy removal and one mitt is more than enough for both hands. The Stripper formula contains aloe vera for moisturizing and lavender provides a surprisingly pleasant scent.

The big downside is the outrageous price. The cost is $8 for 6 packets -- that's over a dollar per packet! Ouch. At that price, I would never use these on a regular basis, but who wouldn't like to feel at least a little bit pampered when removing a mani in a nondescript hotel room? However, if the price is just too much to handle, Cutex offers a similar product for half as much ($3-4 for 6 packets). I'll warn you, though, I've tried the non-acetone Cutex pads and they are definitely inferior. Only The Stripper can satisfy my travel needs.


Beauty Upgrade for Target

Coming soon to a Target near you are three new (supposedly) budget-friendly makeup lines by established high-end makeup artists Napoleon Perdis, Jemma Kidd and Petra Strand. This seems like a smart move, in my opinion, because the beauty department at Target is more than a little lacking. I have several complaints about shopping for beauty Target: the department is never properly stocked (there are more empty shelves than full ones!), the lighting sucks, the isles are too narrow, and they never have the newest releases. Overall, a very disappointing experience.

JK by Jemma Kidd is one of the new lines. It includes lip, face, eye and cheek items, as well as makeup tools. Princes will range from $14 - $36.

PIXI by Petra Strand works a skin-friendly angle with an eye toward creating flawless photo-perfect complexions. Their items will range from $12 - $39.

NP Set by Napoleon Perdis will be a playful take on the makeup artist's signature line. Perdis previously had a partnership worked out with Sephora, but apparently the two are parting ways in favor of his agreement with Target. As a result, all of the Sephora stock is on massive sale.

I excitedly dragged J. to Target today (with digital camera in tow) to check out these new products. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. They haven't even started to re-arrange the department to make room for the new lines so I don't know what's up with that. The department was in its usual state of total disarray and disorganization. There was even an unattended shopping cart with 2 large empty boxes piled on top of it right in front of one of the displays. Lovely. At least one beauty blogger caught a glimpse and posted some pics that look very promising. What is exciting is that there will be testers!

The prices are a bit concerning as they are on the high side (ie. an $18 JK eyeshadow). I would expect Target to aim for a price point somewhere between drugstore brands and Sephora brands, but this doesn't appear to be what they did. Heck, you can get MAC eyeshadow for $14.50 so what's the appeal of spending $18 at Target?

Either way, I'll definitely be checking these goodies out if they ever appear. But I'm just saying they will have to be pretty damn amazing for me to plunk down that kind of cash at Target.


NOTW & OPI France Haul

OPI has released its Fall/Winter 2008 offering "La Collection de France." As noted previously, most of the shades are variations on deep reds and purples, which while beautiful, aren't exactly new. I'm a sucker for vampy shades, but a lot of these are not dissimilar to other colors in the OPI catalog (who loves double negatives?!). So I held back in making my selections and ultimately settled on three of the twelve colors: You Don't Know Jacques, Parlez-Vous OPI?, and Tickle my France-y.

When opening a package containing beauty goodies, sometimes one particular item just reaches out and grabs my attention immediately. Well hello there, I thought as soon as I laid my eyes on You Don't Know Jacques. It's weird, I know, who would want to wear gray nail polish? Turns out, I do! This creamy gray is just unexpected enough to be completely fascinating. It was hard to get a good photo because it changes colors in different lights. In low light (and the pictures above), it actually looks brown. But this photo captures the true color fairly well.

I'm not sure it works with my skin, but I kind of don't care because I'm seriously loving it. Keep your eyes peeled for other NOTW featuring the Collection de France. But, if you just can't wait, there are swatches of the full collection on several other sites.

P.S. Who else is loving all the cloche hats popping up in advertisements recently? (See above photo and the weird MAC video from yesterday). I bought a brown cloche in Paris last year and I am totally busting it out this Fall!


Product Lust: MAC Cult of Cherry

The new forbidden fruit. Deep, dark, dramatic. Lips ripened with juicy cerises and intoxicating kirsches while eyes smolder in luscious spiced chocolate. With its sense of way-to-go dark, this is how we separate the bitter from the sweet...Fall drama just got more delicious.

Check out these quads ($36): (from left to right) Shadowy Lady, Spiced Chocolate, Tempting. I can't pick a favorite, can you?
The lip products include lipsticks ($14), mattenes ($14.50), and lipglasses ($14) and they also feature dark, sultry colors in shades of red, burgundy, and royal purple.

Red lipstick isn't for the faint of heart but nothing is sexier or more classic. All skin tones can wear red lips, the trick is just finding the right one. Here are some hints:
  • Fair Skin: true reds that balance warm and cool undertones, such as "cherry" reds, aren't overpowering.
  • Medium Skin: berry-based reds or "classic" reds can go from day to night.
  • Dark Skin: earthy brick reds or rich burgundy look polished and gorgeous.
If you are nervous about a full-on red, a less-intense, red-stained lip can be just as sexy (or even more!). Any lipstick can act as a stain. Instead of rubbing, simply tap the tube onto your lips and then smooth out with your fingers, working the pigment into your lips. To make it last, blot and then apply again in the same technique. This way is more forgiving as you can avoid the hassle of a retro fully-lined and deeply filled-in look.

Cult of Cherry contains both traditional lipsticks and also
mattenes which are sort of "lipstick light." The mattenes are calling my name as I am in the mood for matte this Fall: (from left to right) Chock-Ful, Kirsch, Bing, and Rapturous.
Cult of Cherry is available online and now through 8/23 there is free shipping on all purchases. Check out the Cult of Cherry website if for no other reason than to watch the totally wacky video.


Self-Soothing With Lipgloss

This will be quick because I am shortly headed off to work my least favorite shift in my least favorite hospital. As you can tell, I am not thrilled about this. In fact, I'm totally dreading it.

But it doesn't really help to whine and no one is interested in my whining anyway. So I'm going to focus on something that will cheer me up and make the next 12 hours almost bearable. Here it is:
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Lip Gloss in Black Pearl. I was lusting after this a while back and actually followed through with picking up a tube.

Let me tell ya, this stuff rocks. Black Pearl is a unique shimmery purple-gray shade that is perfect for fall. It is unlike any other color of gloss that I own, which is really an accomplishment. You might think that it would look strange on the lips, but it succeeds in being interesting, flattering, and not too goth. What else could you ask for, really?

My plan is to re-apply this all night long in order to distract myself from the ongoing misery around me. Let's hope it works.


Random Drugstore Musings

1. WTF is up with "sales" that save you $1 on a $20 product?! A five percent discount. Wow. I really want to try some of the Olay Regenerist products because I've read that they are amazing, but I refuse to take part in this insulting "sale."

2. These masks are strange with really bizarre and somewhat disturbing graphics. And yet, I find them weirdly intriguing.

I mean, really, is that chocolate on her face? With garnish?

3. It's kind of fun to walk around the drugstore and take sneaky pictures with a digital camera. It is also fun to go to a bookstore to take pictures of articles that interest me in magazines that I don't want to buy.

Digital camera + drugstore + me = all kinds of fun on the cheap.


Smashbox Wicked/Lovely: Swatches!

I've been absent for a few days, but I've returned with gifts in the form of swatches! After gushing about the Wicked/Lovely collection last week, I felt it only fair to provide some swatches. To do this, I shamelessly swatched up my arm in the store and then ran out to my car to take pictures. Yes, this is how I spend my Saturday evenings.

As you can see, the Sexy/Demure is as amazing as I had described. But, my swatch mission was two-fold. Taking a stroll through my stash recently, I noticed that the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty by Carmindy Eyeshadow Palette in Metallic (gosh that's a lot of words) was strikingly similar to Sexy/Demure. But I wanted to be sure, so I brought it with me to the store so that I could compare in real-time. Here's the result: As you can see, there are (unfortunately) real differences in the two palettes. The Smashbox brown is much deeper and richer and the lighter shade is more iridescent and less muted. Bummer. I was hoping that they were good duplicates because there is a significant cost difference between the two: $18 vs. $8.

With duplicates on the brain, I also found the duo Foxy by L'Oreal HiP. Unfortunately, no store allows swatching of drugstore brands so I can't show you the swatch of that, only a picture.

Again, I doubt that it's a very good match, but the cost is $7 and you could achieve a similar (if not exactly the same) look. The other thing that occurs to me as I type this is that most drugstores allow returns of cosmetics if you don't like them. If you were looking to try Foxy, Rite Aid has Buy One Get One Free on L'Oreal HiP products this week.

So, despite the obvious differences between the SH (which I already own) and the Smashbox (which I don't), I still resisted bringing Sexy/Demure home. Why? I'm not even sure because, as I look at the pictures now, I want it even more. Dammit.


Ye Olde Makeup Tips

Sometimes I get the feeling that every makeup hint has been recycled over and over again since fashion and beauty rags began. This month's issue of Allure has (somewhat strangely) more than one article on tips and tricks. A lot of them are "the usuals," but here are a few that are worth repeating.

  • Connect the dots. To create a smooth line along the upper lashes, start at the outer corner and draw a series of dashes with an eye pencil, as close to the lashes as possible. Then connect the marks.
  • Warm up. Before dabbing concealer on your skin, warm it up in the palm of your hand, the heat will thin the texture so the coverage is smooth. [I've noticed that this really works with TimeBalm.]
  • Take it off. No matter what eye makeup you use, always choose a remover designed to take off waterproof formulas. The best ones look separated, like salad dressing.
lash rites
  • Fatten up. When coating lashes with mascara, wedge the wand right against the roots and wiggle it before drawing it out. This makes the base of the lashes appear fuller and thicker.
  • Wing out. To elongate lashes, work from the outer to the inner corners of the eye. That way, more is deposited on the outer corners and by the time you get to the inner corners, you'll have just the right amount left. To increase the effect, apply another coat on the outer corners only.
blush well
  • Have a ball. If your blush looks too bright or too dark, lighten it up by swiping your cheeks with a clean cotton ball -- it won't leave lint the way a tissue can, or streak the way remover can.
  • Help highlighter. For a subtle glow, smile and dab liquid highlighter just above the apples of the cheeks. Then blend it up and out toward the temples in the shape of a Nike swoosh.
  • Pick up strays. Tweeze brows in natural sunlight -- it illuminates all the teeny strands a bathroom bulb will miss. And never tweeze in a magnifying mirror -- it's too easy to overdo it.
  • Stay the course. Don't over-pluck the area between your brows. To get it right, align the brow's starting point with the inner corner of the eye.
mighty mouth
  • Make it last. Prevent lipstick from seeping into cracks by coating the mouth with lip balm, letting it sit for a full five minutes, then blotting the excess with a tissue before applying color. For really chapped lips, gently slough off dead skin with a soft toothbrush or a damp washcloth before wiping off the balm.
  • Master stain. Turn a traditional lipstick into a lip stain by applying three coats of a deep shade, leaving it on for a few minutes, and blotting it with a tissue so only the pigment remains.
  • Shine on. To make lipgloss last longer than 30 seconds, blot the mouth with a tissue or a dry cotton swab first. The wetter the mouth, the less likely the gloss is to stick.
And don't forget to check out the daily giveaway on for the entire month of August. Today's drawings include offerings by Sonya Dakar, Mally Beauty, and Olay Regenerist. Good luck!


NOTW: Zoya Casey Swatch

Love, love, LOVE this color. A cool, creamy deep plum color, it is totally vamp-tastic. Initially I was sporting it on my toes, but decided that was too far away. So it got promoted up to my fingers.

The application is a bit tricky simply because mistakes show up easily with the deep color. Also,
I use Seche Vite as a topcoat and have noticed that it causes some pretty significant shrinkage with the Zoya polishes. Meaning, the polish retracts a bit from the edge of the nail as it dries. Not a crisis, surely, but maybe other topcoats would be better. But, oh well, Zoya Casey is sure to be an all-time star.
Top pic is indoor lighting, no flash. Bottom is
natural light, no flash.



I'm completely speechless. Just had to share.


Product Lust: Stila's Backstage Beauty Palettes

While most of us will never even attend a fashion show let alone experience the backstage chaos, these palettes provide a piece of that runway glamour. Perennial favorite stila and fashion house Marchesa dreamed up these incredible palettes for Marchesa's Fall 2008 fashion show. And now they can be all yours (limited edition!) exclusively at sephora. There are three to choose from:
The eyeshadows are a mix of matte and shimmers for a range of possible looks. All palettes include stila's cult-fav kajal eye liner in coordinating shades for that final definition. With so many makeup companies currently obsessed with "pop color" in bright blues, yellows, and greens, it's nice to see some more wearable options for Fall.

Stila's backstage beauty are available now only at sephora.


Lazy Day ≠ Bad Hair Day

This is one of my absolute favorite things: Bumble & Bumble Hair Powder ($19 - 34). You know those mornings when getting out of bed is just too damn hard. So maybe you hit the snooze button a few times only to realize that you have made yourself crazy late. Doh! Even worse, you don't have time to shower and have a head of greasy hair to contend with. Yuck.

B&b hair powder to the rescue. Spray it on the greasy roots and the powder magically absorbs the grease and "dry cleanses." Not only does it improve the appearance, but it adds volume so that the hair can be un-stuck from your head. It is tinted and comes in
five different shades for various hair colors. The color easily rinses out when you next have time to encounter a shower. Just be careful not to scratch your head or you will end up with tinted fingertips.

Anyway, it won't add time to the clock, but it can help you avoid the tell-tale ponytail-from-hell on rushed mornings. Don't think we didn't notice, we totally did.


Beauty News: America The Beautiful

America The Beautiful is a new documentary that dares to ask the (somewhat obvious) question "Does America have an unhealthy obsession with beauty?" And, for that matter, what is beauty? And, who decides?
The documentary centers around an adolescent model who, at the age of 14, got labeled "obese" via fashion-industry standards. If you can even fathom this, her 6-foot tall, size 4 frame was just too much to meet international modeling standards. Ouch. The movie uses her story to launch a frank examination of such pleasant topics as "plastic surgery, a female casino employee who was fired for not wearing makeup and thought-provoking parallels between women's gains in society and society's offsetting emphasis on current ideals of beauty and other notions of femininity."

The film is opening nationwide in large cities and will be coming to others. It has already opened in New York to somewhat mixed reviews.

The question of beauty standards in America and most of the industrialized world is something that many of us feel conflicted about. For as much time as I spend working on this blog, I probably spend twice as much time ruminating about whether or not I am re-inforcing unobtainable and largely damaging beauty ideals. And, on some level, I'm sure that I am. On the other hand, I've never felt that my personal "beauty philosophy" is centered on one look or attainment of perfection. Instead, I look at this blog as a way of sharing my experiences experimenting with different products, looks, and ideas to create something that is uniquely mine. Perhaps this is frank rationalization. It probably is, but like I said, I'm working through it in therapy.


NOTW: Essie Antique Rose

This color was sent to me as part of a swap on Makeup Alley so I didn't even choose it for myself! But, hey, that's kind of cool. Usually I'm not a huge Essie fan because the colors tend to be a little tame for my taste -- how many variations on pale pink does one really need? Antique Rose is a dusty pink that isn't too flashy. It also isn't the typical Essie pale which means that I dig it.

outdoor lighting

Ok, I've gotta get back to watching LA Ink.


Zoya Special Offer

I've been loving my Zoya Haul and, despite the fact that I haven't tried all the colors yet, I'm already lusting for more! Especially because Zoya's Fall collections are now available and they are hot. For a better look at the colors, there are swatches here. Vibe is definitely a good round up of some sexy colors, but Pulse is truly drool-inducing.

If you were wanting to try them out, now is a good time because through Friday 8/8/2008, get 3 matching Zoya Vibe or Pulse Hot Lips Glosses FREE with purchase of a Vibe or Pulse Sampler (or both!). Simply add a Vibe and/or Pulse Sampler to your shopping cart and enter GLOSSME in the enter code# box (you will have to press the update button) in your shopping cart. The Zoya Hot Lips will automatically appear in your shopping cart at no charge.

*Sigh* Gloss and polish, my two favorite things.


Smashbox Wicked/Lovely: A Dialectic

Even though there were no makeup purchases over the weekend, I did spend some time checking out a few new Fall collections. I like to call this "research." Smashbox's Fall 2008 Wicked/Lovely collection is inspired by the inescapable good girl/bad girl dialectic (that's right, I said dialectic). But while some people may believe that we girls are one or the other (Sandy D or Rizzo, as it were), I prefer to think that we all have a little good and a little bad working all the time. So no matter if you're feeling naughty or nice, Wicked/Lovely has got you covered.
There are 2 eyeshadow duos and they are both pretty killer: sexy/demure and sinful/demure ($24). I'm partial to the sexy/demure because I'm a sucker for brown eyeshadow. After swatching them, I can affirm that they are even more beautiful in person. Here's a blow up of sexy/demure from this month's Allure. They are quite shimmery, so if that turns you off they probably aren't for you.

The 3 coordinating lip glosses are equally intriguing: coy, sweet, and sultry ($18). Coy is a pinky nude that is very shiny on the lips. Someone wicked had stolen Sweet so I couldn't sample it. Unlike the other two variations on nude, Sultry is very, very dark. It is a unique dark raisin-brown colored gloss that is actually very pretty. Because it is so dark, I can see it being tricky to work with and would definitely recommend using the matching lip pencil ($16) to ensure flawless application. Lastly, all 3 glosses have these goofy little tassles on them. I don't know what's up with that, but it's not doing it for me.

Wicked/Lovely also contains a cream liner, shimmer powder, and a blush to round it out. Although I didn't take any of these goodies home, I was severely tempted by sexy/demure and coy. Usually Smashbox doesn't really inspire me that much, but this collection just might change my mind about that. Wicked/Lovely is available now at Sephora, ULTA or at


Beauty Duty: Washing Brushes

After the $1 brush mention last week, I realized that I don't post a whole heck of a lot about brushes. And yet, they are an essential part of any makeup maven's arsenal. It only make sense, right? You wouldn't expect a painter to produce a masterpiece using only little felt tipped plastic applicators. So how can you expect to produce a daily work of art on your own face using those things? You just can't.

But once you start acquiring yourself some quality tools, you have to care for them. For brushes, this means washing. How often you wash your brushes is a personal matter, but weekly is a good place to start. Brushes pick up oils, bacteria and dirt from your skin as you use them. If left unwashed, these nasties accumulate and cause unattractive breakouts.

There are many products available specially formulated for washing makeup brushes. I use Well Cared For ($14) from Bare Escentuals because the first brushes that I ever got were from BE and it made sense to buy their brand cleaner. A little bit goes a long way so I expect this bottle to last for years. MAC fanatics will gravitate toward Brush Cleaner ($11). Sephora also sells these quick-cleaning wipes ($9) which look kind of nifty.

Most of these specialized formulas are expensive when you consider that they are essentially liquid soap. For that reason, I've heard of other folks using baby shampoo or even making their own unique concoction. Here are some DIY mixtures I found on makeupalley (thanks to george3b & mzxtine):

DIY Brush Cleaner #1
1 cup distilled water
1/4 cup 70% or 91% alcohol
1/2 tsp dishwasher soap
1/2 tsp baby shampoo (or any shampoo for oily hair is fine)
1 tsp liquid conditioner spray
Mix gently together and then pour into bottle to store for later use.

DIY Brush Cleaner #2
200ml water
50ml 70% rubbing alcohol
1tbsp washing up liquid
1tbsp gentle shampoo
1tbsp facial wash (optional)
Mix all the above and pour into a bottle with a cap. Before using, give the bottle a good shake then pour a small amount into a tiny dish/bowl/lid and dip brushes in (wiggle them in) then rinse off with water. Repeat if necessary.

Washing brushes is usually a Sunday night activity for me; a way of coming to grips with the fact that in 12 short hours I'll be back at work. But I can't complain, I had a good weekend. I went shopping today and did not buy any makeup. None. But I did get some of these goofy shoes and they are pretty comfy!


MAC Attack: Electroflash!

After gushing over the gorgeousness of the
MAC Electroflash Mineralize Eye Shadows both online and in person, I allowed myself to choose one (just one!) that I had to have.

Here it is: Pink Split. Initially it looks like a shockingly bright pink, but on the eye it is a subtle pink rose. The darker shade is a bluish charcoal. Both are very sparkly. I attempted to take a picture with my camera, but the color is so subtle that it doesn't show up well for whatever reason. So you'll have to take my word for it.

The sparkly turns out to be a bit of a problem in my hands because it ends up all over my face. More than other eyeshadows, this one seems to have a big splatter-factor. I've solved this by holding a piece of toilet paper under my eye when applying it so that any excess shadow falls on it and not my face. This helps but is kind of a pain. Definitely it is not a product for days when I am in a major hurry.

While at the MAC store, I also picked up one of the Electroflash lipglasses: Major Minor. It is described as a "frost mid-tone beige" although I think in real life it looks a little peachy. I've been wearing it with Nuance blush and that seems to be a good combo.

All in all, despite my initial excitement, I'm a little disappointed with the Electroflash eyeshadow (at least the one that I sampled). I think that it is really pretty and I'll continue to wear it, but it does take a little finessing to make it work.


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