The Big Reveal

After talking about it so much for the past few weeks, I would be remiss if I didn't post some pics of myself on the big night. So my famous tattooed lady (and disaster du jour) is, of course, Amy Winehouse. It occurred to me that the timeliness might be off since she hasn't been in the news lately, but I couldn't resist once I stumbled across the "Rehab" wig at Party City and the helpful tutorial on Total Beauty.

My husband drew the tattoo with MAC Technakohl Eyeliner in Graphblack. Originally the plan was to pick up a $2 eyeliner for the tattoo, but I never got around to that, so I had to use my good one.

So what do you think? Fairly faithful reproduction? I really like this picture of her because she is actually a pretty girl. I hope she cleans up and cuts another album.


Walk Like A (Glamorous) Egyptian

Just one more (maybe two) Halloween ideas, I promise. Yes, the movie was one of the biggest all-time flops, but there is no reason that an elegant Cleopatra costume would be anything other than a smash hit.

With help with wardrobing and makeup courtesy of BellaSugar and FabSugar, you have everything you need to re-create the beauty of the sultry Pharaoh. (Or, at least, the glamour of the Elizabeth Taylor version).

Which reminds me that I saw a pretty awesome quote from a new play called August: Osage County. Per character Violet: "All women need makeup. Don't let anybody tell you different. The only woman who was pretty enough to go without makeup was Elizabeth Taylor, and she wore a ton."

So there you go.


Budget Friendly Beauty from Women's Health

The November issue of Women's Health magazine has a story where several beauty editors were sent to drugstores with only $40 and a mission to find the best, most affordable products in makeup, hair, skin care and accessories. The results are available on their website for your viewing pleasure.

Most of the results were ho-hum, in my opinion, but the Essence of Beauty Travel Makeup Brush Kit ($10) caught my eye. This handy travel-friendly kit contains six reasonable-quality makeup brushes all for a very reasonable price. But here's the problem: I can't find the damn kit online anywhere! Apparently, Essence of Beauty brushes are exclusively sold at CVS and so it may be possible to find one of these elusive kits in a real store, but they certainly aren't available on the CVS website.

What are available are a couple other kits which are also reasonably priced, but not as comprehensive as the Travel Kit. The At Home Face Kit ($14) contains four brushes (blush, powder, eyeshadow, and eyebrow).
And the Deluxe Duo Set ($15) gets you six brushes in a convenient double-ended form.
But, I admit, they seem like second-best to the Travel Kit. At any rate, a quick review of some of my favorite beauty blogs indicates that folks are generally pretty pleased with the Essence of Beauty brushes and agree that they are a good value. So if you find yourself in a CVS any time soon, it might be worth investigating the availability of the Travel Kit. Because it's kind of lame to recommend a product that no one can find, Women's Health, no?


Lush Bath Bombs

Since the temperature began to drop, I've been taking more and more baths. Not only are they relaxing but they also warm me up better than a shower. And why do I need warming up? Because my apartment is cold, because I'm too cheap to turn up the heat. Not because I don't want to, it's just that I can hear my mom yelling "Put on a sweater!" every time I go to touch the thermostat. But a sweater can only get you so far.

So, anyway, I've been taking a lot of baths. This might get boring, but I like to keep bath time kind of fun. And nothing says fun like a fizzy ball of deliciously scented salts slowly dissolving in the bath water. By which I'm referring to Lush's Bath Bombs. With dozens of varieties, there is a bath bomb for every taste and preference. Here are a few of my favorites:

Avobath Bath Bomb ($6) features the fresh scent of lemongrass to soothe your mind while the avocado oil soothes and moisturizes your skin.
Butterball Bath Bomb ($5) leaves the soft scent of vanilla on your skin long after you leave the tub.
And, of course, I'm partial to The Happy Pill Bath Bomb ($6). It may not solve all your problems, but it is difficult to be out of sorts after spending some time with this bright citrus bomb.
So those are a few that I've come to love but there are many more that to try. Something tells me that I'll have plenty of opportunities for warming up in the months to come.


Lemon Alert!

You know I loves me some lemon. Since Bath & Body Works has been a solid source for lemon scented bath products, you can imagine my excitement at stumbling across the Davies Gate LemonMade line of products. All contain a mix of certified organic botanicals like lemon peel, green tea and comfrey extracts as well as oils such as safflower seed, apricot kernel, sweet almond, and jojoba to moisten and condition dry skin.

Currently I'm lusting over the LemonMade Lemon Wedge Travel Set ($25). It contains deluxe samples of the bath/shower gel, body scrub, body lotion, hand salve and a lip balm. They remind you that it makes a great gift, just in case you were thinking of gifting someone in the near future. Especially if someone you knew had an anniversary coming up and she happens to love lemon. Just saying...


A "Truly Outrageous" Halloween Idea

So we're kind of down to the wire in terms of Halloween, but in an attempt to be as helpful as possible, I wanted to pass along an amazing idea I came across on Bella Sugar. That's right, none other than the cartoon crooner herself, Jem.

Did you love
this show? I sure did. I had a pink sweatshirt with sequins that was totally Jem inspired and I loved the heck out of that thing. In fact, I even tried to wear it in a family portrait until Mom objected. If I remember correctly, that sweatshirt was also featured in my own Jem costume one Halloween.

Anyway, you too can re-create Jem's signature makeup look as described in this
helpful video. Then, all you need is a pink wig and some glittery pink star earrings (which I saw at h&m today, no joke) and you are on your way to Saturday morning super-stardom.


Product Lust: Tarte FRXtion

I am completely lovin' on tarte these days. Don't know why exactly, maybe because they strike a balance somewhere between girlie-cute but not so cute that you are embarrassed to own any (see: sugar). Here is my current obsession: tarte FRXtion lip treatment ($11). We are entering the season of perpetually chapped lips, unfortunately, so I'm always on the lookout for the one thing that will save my kisser. FRXtion is a duo-action attack on rough, dry lips. One side is a sugar based exfoliator and the other is a Vitamin E enriched lip balm. It all comes packaged in a sleek purple case with a fold out mirror, so that's pretty cute. This will probably find its way onto my developing Christmas list -- if I can wait that long.


Lucky Scoop

Another scoop from Lucky magazine. Just in time for the holidays, they are giving away a $1,000 gift card to Sephora to one lucky winner. No purchase or subscription necessary. They also have a free shipping code for Sephora, but you have to visit the site to retrieve that (I'm not allowed to tell you directly). But, it is relatively painless, all you have to do is click here to retrieve the code and win. Also, for the month of October, there are makeup and beauty tips from celebrity makeup artists and (my fav) Kat Von D.

Halloween is one week away! Do you have your costume all picked out? I'm pretty excited about mine, but it's a secret. I will give a hint, though, it's another famous tattooed lady. Hhhhhmmmmm....


mark For Goodness Face

I kind of can't believe that I'm loving so hard on mark For Goodness Face ($15). Purchased a while back with the disappointing true color palette, it's been my go-to moisturizer for a few weeks. This oil-free, fragrance-free, all-purpose moisturizer also boasts the "powerful antioxidant combo of dark chocolate and blueberries." Honestly, there is probably very little to be gained from smearing antioxidants on your face (as opposed to eating them), but there is definitely benefit in the SPF 30 that this stuff also contains. I believe that it is fragrance-free in that it probably doesn't have any added fragrance. But, it definitely has a very mild scent that I personally find pleasing. The texture is a perfect creamy consistency and since using it I have noticed that my skin is looking less dry and irritated at the end of the day. Plus, it has SPF 30. Have I mentioned the SPF 30? Because it has SPF 30. Just checking.

Other interesting features include a very unique pump dispenser where pushing down on the the top produces a coin-sized blob of moisturizer. This is nice in that it doesn't involve dirty fingers contaminating an open jar of moisturizer. It's also kind of fun. What I
don't like about the packaging, however, is that it is really excessive. The cream is in an inner container that is within another clear outer container. This begs the question: why are there two flippin' plastic containers?! It just seems so wasteful and unnecessary. It also makes it impossible to see how much of the cream is left at any given time. I guess I'll know when the pump action fails to produce the regular blob. But that's kind of annoying, isn't it? Maybe the duo-container is required for cool pump action dispenser. But, if that's the case, I'd rather just have a regular jar (dirty fingers and all) than a double plastic nightmare. Even worse, the plastic containers do not appear to be recyclable! Argh!

All in all, I'm pretty disappointed about the crappy packaging because I totally love the product. Finally, I thought, a good quality but budget-friendly daily moisturizer with SPF! But now I'm feeling really torn because I want to recommend this product, but I really, really disapprove of the wasteful container. I guess you'll just have to make up your own mind.


When High ≠ Low

Usually I feel pretty strongly that quality makeup can be found at drugstore prices, but sadly there are times when it just isn't true. This is one of those times...

A while back, I tried out Benefit's BAD Gal mascara in Plum ($19). While not immediately obvious, the slight purple tinge that it added to my lashes was unlike anything I'd ever tried before and I was in love. Unfortunately, when it comes to mascara I have some kind of a mental (or wallet) block. In my humble opinion, spending more than $10 for a mascara is outrageous. I just can't do it.

So anyway, after sampling BAD Gal in plum, I wanted it really badly. Almost $19 worth of badly, but not quite. Thus, I began a quest for a drugstore equivalent at a more reasonable cost. I searched high and low, in stores and online, until I found one (and only one): L'Oreal Panoramic Curl in Plum ($9). I grabbed the last one on the shelf and excitedly took it home.

And then the disappointment began. I wish I could tell you that L'Oreal Panoramic is as good or better than Benefit BAD Gal, but I just can't. The plum color was alright enough for a substitute, but it didn't quite have the pop that the Benefit did. OK, maybe it wouldn't be an exact duplicate, but for half the price it would do.

That was until the real problems began. It turns out that the Panoramic formula is an f'ing flaky mess! Only a few hours of wear and there were flakes all over my eye area -- unattractive at the very least. Even worse, some landed in my eye causing pain and distress, not to mention opening the door to annoying, self-righteous comments from my husband about how I wouldn't have problems if I didn't wear chemicals on my eyes. Hmmmmph! Thank you, L'Oreal.

Determined to make it work, I continued to use it every day for almost a week before deciding I'd had enough and it was headed for the trash can. Unfortunately, I threw away the receipt or that baby would be on its way back to Bartell's toute de suite.

So until I get over my $10 mascara limit, no purple mascara for me. Somehow I think I'll survive, but if any cosmetics execs are reading my lowly blog (particularly if you make Cover Girl Lash Blast), please please please make a formulation in plum. I'd definitely buy it.


Lush for Halloween: Spellbound Gift Set

It is obvious yet that I'm completely obsessed with Halloween? Thankfully, I'm not the only one. In fact, Lush, everyone's favorite store for natural, 100% vegetarian, certified hippie-dippy bath and body products brings you three amazing products ripe for Halloween harvest: Witches Ball bubble bar, Ghost shower gel and (The Great) Pumpkin soap. All three are available in a convenient gift set or sold individually in shops or online.

Spellbound Gift Set ($28) contains full-sized versions of Witches Ball bubble bar, Magic bath bomb, Jingle Spells bath bomb and the limited edition creamy Pumpkin soap.

Ghost Shower Gel ($17) is made with rose and dove orchid infusions and leaves only the faint smell of lilies to prove it exists.
(The Great) Pumpkin Soap ($5) is available only during Halloween season, so don't wait to get yours. This creamy pumpkin-colored soap features a scent with elements of sweet orange, mandarin, lime and cinnamon leaf. Witches Ball Bubble Bar ($6)* contains a complex mixture of rosemary, sage, peppermint, frankincense, myrrh and benzoin. Its interesting texture and intriguing appearance is due to the star anise seedpods, cloves, blackcurrants and cranberries that decorate its surface. Very bewitching indeed!
*For the unfamiliar, bubble bars are a signature Lush product: the first-ever solid bath foam. "Unlike liquid bubble bath, bubble bars contain no preservatives to damage the environment, or harsh surfactants to irritate the skin. Crumble one under running bath water for a tubful of luxuriously soft, scented bubbles."


Product Lust: Fekkai Spray-On Hair Crystals

Continuing in the Halloween theme, Fekkai has re-released their Spray-On Hair Crystals ($19), a limited-edition "reflective, crystalline mist" that makes your hair sparkle! Available in three shades of champagne, copper or bronze, the tiniest diamond and pearl particles turn your hair into a dramatic accessory ready for an ephemeral costume or a posh holiday-party frock. This would add some definite polish and dimension to the basic Twinkling Fairy look.

The crystal spray is widely available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, and several online retailers including and


Total Beauty's Halloween Makeup Spectacular

Imagine my excitement today when I came upon the veritable gold mine of Halloween ideas on Total Beauty. By following the informative demos and detailed videos, transformation into a Sexy Vampire, Adorable Kitten, or Twinkling Fairy is only a trip to the makeup aisle away!


Eye Makeup Removers

One important aspect of wearing eye makeup, especially heavy eye makeup, is its eventual removal. Most eye makeup does not wash away with soap and water and failure to remove it can have some very unpleasant results (dry eyes, dirty pillows, lashes that fall out, etc). None of these are in any way desirable. Fortunately, there are many affordable eye makeup removers on the market. Here are a few that I've tried with varying results:

Avon Moisture Effective Eye Makeup Remover Lotion
($4 for 2 fl oz., currently on sale for $3)

The most striking thing about this product is how much it looks like Elmer's glue. This makes it somewhat disconcerting to put on your eye at first. But, rest assured, it is not glue. I like this product because it is incredibly gentle and does not leave a filmy residue. It also provides some moisture as it cleans the eye area, which is always nice. This one is probably my favorite.

Sephora FACE Eye Makeup Remover ($5 for 1.69 fl oz.)
Reminiscent of Windex, Sephora brand remover is also a solid product. The reviews on the Sephora website are fairly neutral, but I found this to be perfectly adequate for day to day usage. I agree that the blue dye is unnecessary and could be dispensed with. They also make a version for waterproof makeup.

The cheapest of the three products featured here, the Neutrogena Oil-Free Remover is my least favorite (and not because it's the cheapest!). It requires some vigorous shaking prior to usage which isn't a big deal unless you are in a hurry to get to bed (which I usually am). Even more problematic, it is not particularly effective and requires real scrubbing to get the job done. Usually Neutrogena products are fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of cost to quality ratio, but this one is a definite loser.


OPI Halloween 2008

It's not too late to order your Halloween by OPI In-Spider-Ed kit ($10)! This spooky set includes 4 mini lacquers in ghoulish colors (including a glow-in-the-dark!), Halloween nail decals AND a spider ring!

The colors (from L --> R): Red-y to Strike!, The Ghostess with the Mostess (glow), Heeer's Jack! and Spiderella. From what I can tell, the decals actually look kind of cute (there's a black cat!) and I'm not usually into decals. And have I mentioned that spider rings are one of my favorite Halloween trinkets? Don't know why, just love them.

Anyway, even if you weren't planning on dressing up for Halloween, you can at least get into the spirit with these fun nail colors. Amazon has the kit available but I couldn't find it anywhere else.

I feel compelled to point out that the main OPI site does not make it easy to find details about this on their website. Ten minutes of searching resulted in finding this pathetic page with the very (non-) helpful tag: "content coming soon." It's only 15 days before Halloween, when were they planning on putting up some content? FAIL!


Manicure Maintenance: Extending the Life of Your Mani

Has the economic crisis affected your spending habits? Or are you too busy stuffing your mattress?

Either way, many of us are looking for ways to cut back and streeeeeetch the paycheck. However, there are things that a girl just can't give up, nail care being one of them. It does not cost much money to have nice looking hands and nails, so no excuses ladies!

Whether splurging on a salon manicure or DIY, one way to save money is to keep that mani looking fantastic for as long as possible. Here are some tips and tricks I've collected for maintaining top notch nails:
  • Make sure your nails are super clean and dry prior to applying polish. If the manicure included moisturizing with lotion, cream, or oil, swipe the nail bed with nail polish remover, acetone, vinegar or lemon juice prior to applying polish to remove any lingering emollients. This makes a certain amount of sense in that if there are oils on the nail bed, the polish won't adhere as well. This may be the most important tip to extend your manicure life.
  • When applying polish, don't forget to "wrap" the tip. This neat little trick involves painting just a tad on the underside of the nail as well as on the top, thereby wrapping the entire tip in color. You will want to use this technique for all layers: base coat, color, and top coat. This is a great tutorial with pictures. Wrapping takes some getting used to, but it's definitely worth it.
  • Use a base coat. With a salon manicure, they will most definitely do this, but if you are DIYing, it helps to invest the cash in a quality base coat. I've had good luck with CND Stickey.
  • Apply the nail color in several (2-3) thin coats rather than one fat blob. This will decrease drying time, prevent smudges and extend the life of the mani.
  • Use a top coat. This is kind of obvious, but important. Don't forget to use the wrapping technique with top coat to protect the tip as well.
  • Consider a shimmer. If you can tolerate them, polishes with a shimmer or, better yet, glitter tend to stick like crazy and chip less.
  • Re-apply top coat every 2-3 days. Keep it handy to remind yourself. I can make a salon pedicure last up to 3 weeks with this little trick. There are many top coats to choose from but, in my experience, you get what you pay for. The pricier topcoats such as Seche Vite or Poshe are fast-drying, high-shine and worth the price.
  • This might be obvious, but protect your hands! Use gloves if washing the dishes or cleaning the bathtub and stay away from abrasives or heavy chemicals. This is also a good excuse not to change the cat box (just in case you were looking for one...).
  • Don't neglect the cuticle. Just because your hands are now pretty does not mean you can slack off! Be sure to moisturize your hands and nails every time you wash them with soap (yes, that often) and apply a rich cuticle oil at least once a day. Some of my favorite cuticle products are described here.
Lastly, if you are unsure of how to do a quality at-home manicure, here are some good resources:

Basic Manicure Technique
Very Involved and Detailed Manicure Technique with Product Suggestions
Video Demonstration (generally good although I take issue with her filing technique and failure to clean the nail bed prior to applying polish)


Montagne Jeunesse Mud Pac Masque

Although I have mentioned these masques in passing previously, it wasn't until this past weekend that I finally gave one a test drive. Montagne Jeunesse has an entire line of facial masques for exfoliation, nourishing, hydrating, and lots of other stuff. At my local Ulta, there is a large selection which made selecting a masque challenging. Ultimately, I settled on the Dead Sea Anti-Stress Mud Pac ($2) which is for normal, oily, and T-zone skin and promises to "ultra deep pore cleanse." They claim to have "harvested Deep Sea Mud to draw out impurities and open blocked pores to give clean, soft skin." Sounds good to me.

The entire Montagne Jeunesse line is hippie-approved and this mask in particular is not tested on animals and is Vegetarian Society approved. It is also paraben-free. Strangely, I admit to being charmed by the quirky weirdness that is Montagne Jeunesse. A quiz to determine if you are chocolate or sex (I know, it doesn't make any sense to me either, but for the record, I'm chocolate) is just one of the many strange things that one will come across on their website.

Anyway, on to the product review. On tearing open the package, one is supposedly transported by the lovely smells of Lavender, Sweet Seaweed and Dead Sea Minerals. I'm not sure which of these smell like a man's shaving cream, but whichever one does is winning out the scent war in a big way. Seriously, my husband used to use a shaving gel that smelled exactly like this and I seriously doubt that it was because it contained Dead Sea Minerals. Despite the fairly offensive smell, I decided to press on. Thankfully, after 2-3 minutes it faded. The masque itself is light green in color and paste-like in consistency. The package contains more than enough for one generous application. After waiting the required time (and then some), I hopped in the shower to rinse thoroughly.

And the results? Nothing miraculous, but definitely as good as many other more expensive masks I've tried. My skin was soft and had a renewed "fresh" appearance. One nice surprise was that some of the blotchy, red areas on my face that I've been covering with concealer faded a bit after the treatment. And so far, there have been no bad after-effects (breakouts, rashes, etc).

In summary, if you can get past the smell the Mud Pac was a pleasant experience and I would recommend giving it a try. The nice thing about these masques is that they are all in the $2-3 range so it's not a big investment. In time with the change of seasons, I'm currently intrigued by the pumpkin based eye treatments and I'll definitely be checking them out in the future.


Avon True Color Eyeshadow Palette & Smokey Eye FOTD

Today was a sunny but slightly chilly Fall day. I prefer the Summer heat, but the first few crisp days of Autumn can be beautiful and refreshing. Anyway, inspired by the weather, I went with a smokey eye look using my new Avon True Color Eyeshadow Palette in Smokey Eye ($7).

For some reason, I love boxes that are gratuitously printed on the inside.

The four colors of the quad (from left to right): sparkly white, baby doll pink, slightly shimmery grey, and darker graphite grey.
It's kind of messy because I didn't photo it before I used it. The colors are more accurate in the top pic.

Overall, the palette was fairly disappointing. The colors weren't particularly saturated and the white was too sparkly for my taste. Also, I would have preferred if they had provided another shade of grey rather than the pink, the pink being fairly useless in creating the look I wanted. The pink is also the least saturated of the four colors so it barely shows up on my skin. The Avon palette alone did not provide a satisfying level of smoke, so I ultimately resorted to using a bit of Howzat from the MAC Fafi palette just on the outer edge of the eye. That plus some black liner and mascara and I was ready to go. Just add a black turtleneck for extra drama.

Here's the finished look, apparently I'm on a FOTD roll these days.

Avon Smokey Eyes Palette ($7)
Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara ($8)
MAC Technakohl Liner in GraphBlack ($14.50)
MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer ($15.50)
MAC Warm Soul Blush ($21)
MAC Lipstick in Hue ($14)


Fat Talk Free Week

Never having been a member of a sorority, I can't with any authority talk about their virtues or vices. However, I admit to having a fairly low opinion of the force they play in young women's lives. But, it appears that they have done at least one thing I can get behind. The Tri Delta sorority and the Academy of Eating Disorders a few years back began to develop an innovative program for eating disorder prevention. Their program (called Reflections) is based on supplanting the "thin ideal" with a "healthy ideal" and recognizing that this is unique to each woman by focusing on health rather than weight. Now having published positive results in several peer-reviewed journals they are taking the program nationwide in the first Fat Talk Free Week.

Not sure what they mean by Fat Talk? I'm sure you'll recognize it in the video below.

Even if you are safely past college or sorority years, we all know that these issues extend far beyond campus life and into adulthood: wedding, pre-baby, post-baby, and even into menopause. It's pretty depressing to think about carrying around all that self-hatred for so many years. If you agree, consider challenging yourself to no Fat Talk for one week and see how it makes you feel. Here are some other ideas from Reflections:

  1. Choose one friend or family member and discuss one thing you like about yourselves.
  2. Keep a journal of all the good things your body allows you to do (e.g., sleep well and wake up rested, play tennis, etc.).
  3. Pick one friend to make a pact with to avoid negative body talk. When you catch your friend talking negatively about their body, remind them of the pact.
  4. Make a pledge to end complaints about your body, such as “I’m so flat-chested” or “I hate my legs.” When you catch yourself doing this, make a correction by saying something positive about that body part, such as, “I’m so glad my legs got me through soccer practice today”.
  5. The next time someone gives you a compliment, rather than objecting (“No, I’m so fat”), practice taking a deep breath and saying “thank you.”


John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze

Every year, Allure puts out the Best of Beauty list: a roundup of the favorite products for hair, skin, beauty, and body from Allure editors and readers. It makes for fairly boring reading in a magazine format as it is essentially just a very long list. But, for the beauty-addicted, this is like a grown-up version of a long letter-to-Santa Christmas list.

The anointed product this year for hair glaze was John Freida's Luminous Color Glaze ($10). For the unfamiliar (which included myself until recently), glazing is a process whereby the natural or color-treated shade of your hair is given something of a shine infusion through the use of "mild dyes and shine boosters." This can be done in a salon or at home. I opted to try the at home version since I think I already spent too much money at the salon.

I chose to try it out in Clear Shine since that is what Allure recommended. While Clear Shine can work with any hair color, there are also formulations for two shades of blonde, two shades of brunette, and red. The directions were easy to read and follow and I had no trouble saturating my dry hair with the glaze as directed. There is a mild smell, but it isn't overly chemical or noxious. and the bottle contains enough product for at least two applications to medium-length hair. After waiting the required 20 minutes (while luxuriously soaking in the bath, I might add), I rinsed, shampooed, conditioned and was ready to be impressed.

At least, I had hoped to be impressed. To be fair, I did notice some positive results: my hair definitely has more silkiness and just-came-from-the-salon soft texture than it did before. That has continued despite subsequent washes, which is nice. But regarding the big question of shine, I am sadly underwhelmed. I think my hair is shinier, but not noticeably or dramatically so. I would estimate that it is about 20% shinier. An unfortunate result is that my scalp has been a bit more itchy since glazing.

The bottom line is that I wasn't terribly impressed with the at-home glazing process by Mr. Frieda. For $10, I'm not sure what I expected and I imagine that in the hands of a salon pro the results would be much better. I'd be willing to try it again in the brunette variety to see if that makes a difference, but I probably won't be buying another bottle of Clear Shine. Sorry, Allure, I think you missed the mark on this one.


Low Maintenance Must Have: Avon In A Wink Instant Eyeshadow

My last mention of stick-on eyeshadow was admittedly less than enthusiastic. But if we use a content vs. process model, my specific complaint was with the content of the product (i.e. animal and camouflage) not the process (i.e. stick-on eyeshadow). The idea of stick-on eyeshadow is strangely intriguing, no? Especially for anyone who would appreciate a little help now and again, the Avon In A Wink Instant Eyeshadow Sheets ($9) would be a nice addition to your makeup kit. Appropriately captioned "Cheat sheets for your eyes" the process of application is simple:

Peel & Position - Separate eyeshadow sheet from protective plastic cover and place over closed eye.
Press - Gently press & rub entire sheet to transfer eyeshadow
Blend - Blend with fingertips for professional results!

No brushes or other tools required. Just a bit of gloss and you are out the door. Each order contains 14 sheets for $9, so that would be 2 weeks worth of daily makeup application. Personally, I'm partial to the Neutral Eyes and Timeless Taupes shades. But with eight possible color combinations to choose from, you should have no trouble finding something that sticks. (Get it? Sticks? As in, they are stickers...Oh never mind.)


Total Beauty's DIY Beauty Remedies

I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who resists any kind of well...anything that isn't hippie-dippy natural. And, you know, it's works for her. Me? I'll happily take my lab-created, non-irritating, SPF-providing chemicals. To each her own, after all.

Anyway, I thought of my hippie-dippy friend (and I say that with all affection) when I came across this article from Total Beauty on do-it-yourself home beauty care recipes. During these uncertain economic times, it's good to know you can always resort to combing through your refrigerator to get gorgeous.

Just as a side note to Total Beauty: when next featuring an article on natural products, how about using a model who doesn't have horrifically scary fake acrylic nails with a terrible, tacky French manicure? Mmmm, kay? Thanks.


Low Maintenance Must Have: CARGO Essential Eyeshadow Palette

New from CARGO cosmetics: the Essential Eyeshadow Palette ($32). Why essential? Available in warm, cool, and dark shades of neutral, it contains all you need to create pleasing and easy-to-wear neutral eyes. If you are a minimal-makeup kind of gal, this is a painless way to add some polish without much fuss. Plus, each shade is embossed with its corresponding region of the eye for extra help with placement. All you have to do is follow the directions and you are on your way to some very pretty peepers.


Winter Berry Lips FOTD

Publishing a FOTD always makes me nervous, hence I don't do it very often. But I was inspired by the looks at the Trend Show enough to overcome that anxiety and share what I created. So here is my take on the Winter Berry Lips trend. Just as a refresher, to keep the focus on the lips the other features should be fairly neutral and subdued.

The lip here features MAC Lightly Ripe Lipstick and MAC Rich & Ripe Lipglass (both $14 and from Cult of Cherry collection). The color is a raspberry, pinkish red. While not as dramatic as a full-on red, it is still in line with the trend and also manages to be work-appropriate. The rest of the look is rounded with some foundation, concealer, black eyeliner and black mascara. No blush.

This was a fun look to put together and actually incredibly easy to achieve. I've said it before, but boy do I love Cult of Cherry.


Surprising Deals for Sephora's Birthday

It's Sephora's 10 year anniversary and to celebrate, they are offering a whole slew of limited edition products at some very attractive prices. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil On The Go ($28) is a sleek, space-agey container fill with BE's fabulous translucent powder. Despite its many benefits, one down-side to mineral makeup is that it isn't easily portable. But this retractable brush/unique compact solves that problem. I hope that it's refillable.
Despite sounding more than a little like a porn movie title, the Stila Loves Sephora 10th Anniversary Can ($40) includes full-sized versions of five of Stila's best products. I especially love the Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer which alone usually costs $32. The Kajal eye liner is legendary as well.
Saving the best for last, I am completely head-over-heels for Too Faced The Quickie Chronicles Mini Collecction ($59). It's kind of hard to tell from the photo, but this collection contains eight mini compacts, each with coordinating shades for lips, cheeks, and eyes. That's just over $5 per mini-book! This would be a perfect for small gift-giving to the important (and glamorous) ladies in your life. Plus each book features Too Faced's signature graphic of a Hollywood siren, just for fun.


Monday Morning Beauty News: Beauty Still Strong

Despite the crumbling economic infrastructure, it is somewhat reassuring (confusing? bewildering? nauseating?) that sales of high end cosmetics, skincare and "vanity prescription pharmaceuticals" (i.e. Botox, Restylane, etc) are going strong. According to Brandweek, the trend of women consoling themselves with beauty products in times of crisis is in full swing. Men, incidentally, console themselves with alcohol. My favorite quote from the article: "Most husbands don't pay attention to what their wives look like." Awesome.


Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum

Previously I reviewed the Anastasia All About Brows Kit and was overall impressed but wary of the high price point. My experience with the Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum has been remarkably similar.

Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum ($35) is a clear gel that, when applied twice daily, is supposed to create fuller, more natural looking brows. The company reports that it contains a unique ingredient, Capigen, that "slows down excess hair loss and stimulates hair regeneration and renewal."

Anastasia reports that results are seen after 2 months of continuous use. This seemed like a long time to me. In two months, wouldn't your brows grow back naturally anyway?

Such things are difficult to determine in an N=1 experiment, but I started diligently using the serum hoping for the best. The serum itself is clear and a very thin gel. The wand applicator has a small brush to swipe the stuff over your brows. I would usually then do a quick smoothing with my finger just to evenly distribute. The gel absorbs surprisingly quickly and doesn't leave the hairs sticky. In fact, in a few minutes I could use the brow powder and other products in the kit without any problem. This is a real advantage, to my mind, because it allows you to continue covering up whatever over-plucking you've done while waiting for the serum to work. Twice a day is a bit hard to remember, but not onerous. Thankfully, the amount of serum in the tube managed to last for the two months.

And the results? It's hard to say and any discernible differences might be my imagination or placebo. However, one objective thing that I noted was that I was using the All About Brows kit less and less as time went on. In other words, the sparse areas of my brows seemed to be filling in. Whether this was natural re-growth or enhanced by the serum, I can't say for sure. But, my brows are looking fuller and thicker than they were two months ago.

Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum is pretty expensive for one very specific beauty product. In my mind, it would be hard to justify spending $35 just for fuller brows. However, in the event of a real brow tragedy, then I would definitely recommend the serum. At that point, any and all help would be welcome.


My New Obsession: MAC Moisturecover

A new obsession that I brought home from the Trend Show: MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer ($15.50). Granted, I had gone to the Trend Show to seek out new, colorful, exciting makeup. Not... concealer. Just not very glamorous, is it?

Staring into the very bright lights at the MAC counter, the blueness of my under eye area was impressive. Apparently the makeup artist noticed because she fetched some concealer right away. Having had such bad luck with under eye concealers, I was ready to be fairly skeptical. Every time I try one, they seem to sink into the fine lines and make me look even more tired and old. Not cool!

But, I stand corrected because MAC Moisturecover has nailed it. It comes in the same packaging as their gloss, complete with doe-foot applicator, making it petite enough to slip into a clutch or a small makeup bag. Two small dots of the concealer under the eye and a little bit of blending is all it takes to cover up literally
years of poor nutrition and not enough sleep. Even more incredible, it does not sink into fine lines, and instead, leaves a smooth and perfectly concealed surface. I admit, I was totally blown away. There are 15 different shades from which to choose. If you are interested in checking it out, I highly recommend a field trip to the MAC counter so a sales person can help choose the best shade.

Somewhat related, I overheard and interesting tip from a
Bobbi Brown makeup artist, "Bobbi says that women wear too much foundation and not enough concealer." The idea being (I assume) that a more natural look is to focus on spot-treatments rather than overall coverage. Depending on your situation, this may or may not hold true, I think. But it's an interesting tip to consider in light of my new love affair with Moisturecover.


NOTW: China Glaze Midnight Ride

Realizing that I kind of left you hanging on the topic of China Glaze's Fall '08 Collections (Rodeo Diva and Operation Color) I figured I better at least post one nail of the week from CG. So, courtesy of Rodeo Diva, here is Midnight Ride, an absolutely stunning, stunning Fall color. Its deep, saturated eggplant shade appears as almost-black inside. But, once in the sun, it lights up and reveals the absolutely exquisite purple that it is.

*Sigh* I just love it.

Inside lighting, no flash

Outdoor lighting, no flash


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