Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 2/24/09

Total Beauty Web Tour

Girl-Woman-Beauty-Brains-Blog reviews and gives away a big bag of e.l.f. beauty booty.

Beauty Junkies Unite shows us how to eliminate muffin-top and be comfortable at the same time. Slimpressions makes a favorable impression!

Beauty411 shares her finds for the Best Winter Hand Creams. If your hands need relief, don't miss it!

Advice Sister's Alison Blackman Dunham is sharing Fashion Week's "must-haves" because it's always the little things that make life easier, more successful, and more fun!

Head on over to The Makeup Divas and enter to win 2 tubes of Covergirl's Lashblast Luxe Mascara. While you are there, check out the other giveaways I have.

Boutique Flair experiences oneness with chocolate thanks to Coco-Zen.

Kyl at The Beauty Couch shares some tips on how to stretch your beauty budget.


DIY Tinted Moisturizer

Continuing along the frugal theme, today's post is about making lemonade out of lemons. Or, alternatively, making a better product out of a mediocre ones. Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 20 ($8) is part of Jergens popular Natural Glow line of moisturizers with built-in self tanner. These products are well regarded as providing a subtle, slowly-developing tan ("glow") that adds just the right amount of skin-enhancing color without screaming "Hey Guys! Look who used a self tanner last night!" They are quite economical and are regularly featured in many "best of" lists.

I decided to give the Face formulation a try. Unfortunately, this product was very disappointing. First, it doesn't provide any kind of immediate tint as far as I can tell. So if you are looking for a little bit of color to even your complexion, look elsewhere. Second, even after weeks of use, I have yet to see any discernible color develop. It doesn't have the problems of the Physicians Formula tinted moisturizer, that being mostly the horrid scent, but at least that one lived up to its tinting duties. This one is just lame in the color category. But since I'm trying to be budget conscious, I continue to use it.

This brings us to the second problematic product of the day: Murad Firming Bronzer for Face and Body ($50). A small sample bottle of this product has been kicking around for a while now and has not managed to elevate itself to regular usage. This is because it has the opposite problem of the Jergens: it has a ton of tint that is apparent immediately at application. This can be a nice thing if, for example, you late getting ready for a big evening and just realized how ghastly white your legs look. But, using it undiluted on the face is too intense for me. I tried this once, only to have someone exclaim "Wow! You got a lot of sun this weekend!" Yeah, not so subtle.

So while neither of these products hit the mark, all is not lost. The Jergens doesn't provide any color, but it is a fairly decent daily moisturizer. Once I happened upon the inspired idea to add a touch of the Murad Bronzer to a daily dollop of the Jergens, a beautiful temporary tint was achieved. I simply mix the two in my hand before smoothing evenly over face and neck. Because I mix it myself, I have the satisfaction of titrating the color level to whatever I desire. If I'm wanting to up the bronze look for a day, I add a bit more Murad. If I'm in a pale-ish mood, I add only the smallest amount. It also satisfies my need to be in complete control.

It's not rocket science and the idea of mixing two things together isn't that astounding. But it serves as a reminder not to throw out unloved products before giving them a chance to win your regard with a little tweaking here and there.


Book Review: Confessions of a Beauty Addict

Confessions of a Beauty Addict ($14) is the newly-released fictional novel by the famed former-beauty-editor-turned-power-blogger Nadine Haobsh. Being a fan of her blog, Jolie Nadine, I was excited to pick up her first foray into fiction. Ms. Haobsh has previously written a nonfiction book, Beauty Confidential, filled with her top beauty recommendations--something she should know about, having worked as a beauty editor for several top magazines before becoming a full-time beauty blogger.

The story behind her leaving the magazine business is as dramatic as one could imagine and clearly inspired the plot of Confessions. Our main gal, Bella Hunter, is a 28 year old beauty editor at the top of her game when she unwittingly discloses the dark, dirty secret of the beauty publishing industry: they get tons and disgusting tons of free stuff. Not only do they get free products to sample, but designer purses, scarves, sunglasses, unlimited salon and spa trips and all-expense-paid vacations to exotic locations several times a year all in the name of "research."

This innocent disclosure does not make Bella a favorite in her industry and she promptly loses two cushy jobs within the day. The rest of the book is devoted to Bella's struggle to continue doing the work she loves in an industry in which she is universally regarded as a pariah. Along the way she works to reconcile her true self and her less-than-glamorous origins (in Ohio, natch) while enduring shunning from former "friends" and negotiating a tricky work relationship with her oh-so-hot boss.

I'll admit that I struggled initially to get into this book. The first chapter is a bit rough because Bella is mid-crisis and it's hard to really join with someone who is in a crisis. Other objections may be because I'm not really familiar with the cannon of Chick Lit and perhaps some of the things I disliked are standard conventions. There is the cast of friend characters who provide distraction and occasional comic relief but are generally one-dimensional, unsympathetic and kind of boring. The dialogue is somewhat immature and the phrase "We dissolve into fits of giggles" is used about ten too many times.

But beyond some stylistic concerns, the book has many redeeming qualities and generally hits the mark for light entertainment. I especially liked the description of magazine culture that it provided. Trying to guess which real-life magazines corresponded to the fictional pseudonyms was fun as well. As befitting a true beauty addict, she peppers the book with details on which products she is using at any given moment, which is a nice touch. If nothing else, we know Nadine (ahem, Bella) loves her some NARS Orgasm. Bella is, at her core, a likable main character and you do really feel for her as she grapples with love and work. The pacing is good and it moves along without much interruption and manages, despite all the drama and glamour, to be fairly believable.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a fan of Nadine's blog and her real strength is in beauty writing and blogging. She is working on a second fictional book and we can only expect her talent to grow in that area as well. Confessions of a Beauty Addict is available at Amazon and Harper Collins.


How To... Maximize the Beauty Budget

Technology Concepts 1
Blah blah blah economic crisis blah blah blah. We all know the story: times are tough and folks are looking to pinch a few pennies, meaning that little luxuries might be on the chopping block. Given that you are reading my blog, I'm going to guess that beauty products might be an area where you are looking to do some thoughtful trimming.

Certainly I'm no financial expert, but here are some suggestions on how to stretch the beauty bucks.

1. Take stock of what you already have. Take a long, hard look at your stash. Do you have every conceivable shade of gloss? In multiples?! If so, consider thinking longer and even harder before purchasing more. Do you really need another beige-y pink?

2. Rotate the stock. Get out some things not often worn and put them in regular rotation. Stow others that can be re-visited again in a month or so. They will seem new and fresh without spending a penny. (Seriously, this really works!)

3. Multi-task. Ditch your pricey eye cream for a regular facial moisturizer. It might not be the miracle serum you love, but any moisturizer is better eye cream than no eye cream at all. Try using some of the congealed liquid foundation on the cap as concealer. Buy 3-in-1 products (Philosophy has an amazing selection of shampoo/body wash/bubble bath combos). Get out that tub of Vaseline for a cheap alternative to gloss. Use it at night under gloves or socks for intense hand and feet hydration.

4. Use up what you've got before you buy more. It sounds simple, but can be hard to do. If you are absolutely desperate for something new and different, hit up cosmetic counters for samples and freebies. Just remember to leave without buying.

5. Shop smart. Shop where you can sample products to prevent at-home disappointments. Investigate return policies (Total Beauty has a fantastic roster of stores' policies). Keep the receipts. Watch for sales.

6. Set a budget. Stick to it. Or, more severely, institute a "no buy" period. Enlist a friend for support. Track progress on paper. Consider rewarding yourself if successful.

7. Make a list of things you really want to minimize impulse buys. Prioritize and go for items that you know you will love. Similarly, prioritize which items are worth the splurge and then cut back in other areas.

8. Treat yourself... within reason. If you are dying for one (or more...) of the Spring collections, choose one item to purchase, not the whole thing.

9. Don't underestimate Beauty Schools. Most areas have a local cosmetology, hair styling or nail technician academies that offer significantly reduced rates for pretty much any service offered at a standard salon. It's been my experience that it takes twice as long as it would by a pro, but the results are just as good. Aveda Institutes are located in many states and are reliable and reputable schools.

10. Do some swapping. Did you know that makeupalley has a swap feature where you can set up trades with beauty fanatics all over the world for just the cost of postage? If you don't want to deal with shipping, consider swapping with friends or relatives. Have a party where everyone brings things they aren't using for swap. Obviously, trading something like used mascara or gloss may be ill-advised due to risk of infection and contamination. But blush, some moisturizers, and nail polish are all things that can easily be traded.

11. Pull a Martha. Desperate times call for DIY. Scrubs are an easy place to start, but check out this extensive list of bath and beauty products to whip up in the kitchen. Not only will you shave some cents off your beauty budget, but may discover a cheap way to entertain yourself on a Friday night.

12. Look for duplicates. Take a swatch of an expensive product to the drugstore to find a match. Drugstore cosmetics often follow the higher end brands in terms of trends, you might be surprised by the selection.

Additional resources for penny-pinching tips:
Bella Sugar's Guide to Keeping Beauty Spending Under Control
Beauty Bits & Tips
Beauty & The Budget


Beauty Couch Confessions

During our very busy schedule of shopping, eating and even more shopping, BFF Marisa and I managed to catch Confessions of a Shopaholic this weekend. As you can tell, we probably have some things in common with spunky protagonist Rebecca Bloomwood. Played by the comically talented (and this month's Allure cover model) Isla Fisher, Rebecca is a young journalist struggling to balance her love of beautiful things with her ever-expanding credit card debt. And, as is usually the case in these matters, the debt is all-out winning. Although clearly not destined to be a critical favorite, Confessions was light entertainment at its very best and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As expected, there is merchandising tie-in in the form of a knock out "Beauty Addict" palette from Too Faced ($30). With 15 individual products in a convenient, carry-everywhere billfold, this collection has everything needed to create a perfectly polished face faster than you can say declined. Having used other Too Faced palettes in the past, I can attest to their convenience, quality, and ease of use. This one appears to be particularly well edited down to the most basic beauty essentials for the shopaholic in a hurry.

To investigate for yourself, the Too Faced Beauty Addict palette is available online at Too Faced or exclusively at Ulta. The movie is in theaters.


Prescription Lashes

Have you heard about Latisse -- the miracle serum recently approved by the FDA? No? What does it do, you ask?

It supposedly lengthens, thickens and darkens eyelashes. This is after you spend the $120/month, apply it daily, and wait 2-4 months for it to start working. Oh, and perhaps tolerate the potential side effects of itchy eyes, eye redness, a change in skin color, and a potentially permanent darkening of the iris. Did you hear that?! A potentially permanent darkening of the iris. Yikes.

The active ingredient is bimatoprost, which has been used in glaucoma eye drops since 2001. Its lash-lengthening potential was discovered when users of the eye drops reported having increasingly lush lashes. Can you imagine the drug company's excitement?

I'm not sure that I would jump aboard the Latisse train yet, but I'm sure plenty of people will be heading to doctors to request a prescription. It reminds me of a professor I had once who, when talking about research on free radical damage to cells, would say, "We may understand this someday, but the Oil of Olay people will figure it out before medicine ever does."

Thanks Meghan!


NOTW: Dior Nude Chic

I haven't featured any Nail Of The Week (NOTW) in a really long time. The explanation for this is that I can't quite find a good place in my house to polish my nails. In my old apartment, I could sit on the toilet and use the edge of the sink, which was perfect. But now, there is no similarly convenient spot. Lame, I know, but that's the truth.

But I was once again inspired to bust out of my rut when I spied this gorgeous color from Dior: Dior Vernis Nude Chic ($20). Yes, it is ridiculously expensive. I mean, aren't we in an economic crisis?! After walking around the store a good 20 minutes trying to talk myself out of it, I justified it as my birthday gift to myself (today's my birthday).

But all rationalization aside, the fact remains that I am in love with this color. It is an opaque slightly pinkish nude that is perfect, perfect for my bluish pale skin. It is just so amazingly subtle and polished, I can hardly stand it. Supposedly there is an ever-so-slight shimmer, but my eyes don't see it.

The quality is quite good and it is completely opaque in two easy to apply coats (seriously, for that much money, it better be a dream to apply). I haven't tried it yet, but I'm guessing it will make a pretty cute pedi as well.

As an aside, when I asked my husband to describe the color, he stated that it is "white person color," which I suppose is more accurate and less offensive than "nude." Maybe "White Person Nude" would be a better name, but I suppose that would be hard to fit on the bottle.

Anyway, if you are going to splurge on a $20 nail polish this season, I highly recommend Nude Chic. I'm seriously considering buying a spare.


BE a Buxom Betty for Valentine's Day!

I spotted this adorable kit just in time for creating a sexy Valentine's Day look. Bare Escentuals Buxom Betty Collection ($42) is the product of a collaboration between some Sephora staffers and Bare Escentuals and is, obviously, exclusive to Sephora.

All of the products are mini-sized which is kind of a bummer. Personally, it doesn't really bother me as a little goes a long way with mineral makeup, so even these small sizes will last a good long time.

This kit contains:

Clear Radiance All-Over Face Color
-- a translucent highlighter for that dewy look.

Silk Stockings Eyecolor
-- a neutral peachy nude eyeshadow.

Stilettos Liner Shadow
-- a liner that is dark black with flecks of red ("ruby onyx").
Mini Big Tease Mascara
-- to create dark, smoldering lashes in the blackest black.

Mini Betty Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish
-- a glossy crimson red.

Mini Double-Ended Contour & Detail Brush

Mini Feather Light Brush

This kit is great because you can use it to go heavy on the eyes to create a sexy, smoky look or you can keep the eyes simple and play up your kissable lips with the juicy gloss. I recently read somewhere that men prefer a smokey eye to a highly glossy lip. The idea is that they want to
kiss your lips and a heavy sticky gloss kind of gets in the way. So, anyway, take that as you will and check out Buxom Betty if you are looking to impress with that classic pin-up look.


Beautify Your Nails with Barielle

For decades, Barielle has been in the business of strengthening nails and recently I had a chance to try out some of their star products. After using them for a few weeks, it is clear why they continue to be leaders in the field.
First off, I am completely smitten with Barielle Natural Nail Camouflage ($16). This multi-tasking winner works as a ridge filler, natural color enhancer and can be used alone or as a base coat. It is also formulated to hide imperfections or discoloration from polish use. This might be a little graphic, but given my penchant for dark, vampy pedicures, my toe nails often have an unfortunate yellow tinge (even with regular use of a base coat!). But with only one coat of the Barielle Camo, they were essentially a normal color again. Color me impressed!

Thus encouraged, I tried using it alone after a quick manicure where it elevated my nails from neatly groomed to shiny chic. If you have ever seen a magazine ad and envied the model's polished but natural looking nails? This is the answer. I honestly couldn't believe how nice my nails looked.

Barielle Extra Gentle Cuticle Minimizer ($10) is another home run. It also quite versatile as it can be used in a manicure or as a daily cuticle treatment, similar to my fav CND Cuticle Eraser. It claims to be specially formulated to treat thick, dry cuticles. Now I'm not confirming that I have thick, dry cuticles, but I'm not denying it either.

At any rate, I would say that this product
succeeds more as a cuticle treatment as part of a manicure than as a daily treatment. I found it to be just a tad too slimy for daily use and prefer Cuticle Eraser. However, I am completely obsessed with it as an intensive cuticle remover. Other cuticle removers have impressed me in the past, but they are nothing compared with this.

After waiting the recommended 2-3 minutes, the messy cuticle bits come up easily with gentle pressure of the orange stick. It's hardly any work at all. It even passes the ultimate test and easily succeeds removing the very
tenacious cuticles of the toes. I have used it on quite a few home mani/pedi at this point and it is really a very good product at a comparable price to other brands.

Overall I'm very pleased with my foray into the land of Barielle. Some of the nail treatments, like the Nail Camouflage, are on the pricey side similar to Lippmann or other high end brands. So that is one consideration. But if you are trying to treat a specific problem (like yellowed nails or stubborn cuticles), you really can't go wrong with these two.

Barielle products can be found online and at stores all
over the U.S including at many Bath & Body Works.


Zoe Mini Flat Iron

It must be known, I'm completely addicted to my flat iron for day-to-day hair styling. It is a bit large, however, so it often doesn't make the cut for travel when there is only so much room in the suitcase. Thankfully, I picked up a Zoe Mini Flat Iron ($20, currently on sale for $13) at Ulta for my recent beach vacation. It is definitely small, compact and takes up about as much room in the luggage as a thick pair of socks.

It helpfully comes with an insulated little zip pouch to keep the cord from getting all tangled up in your other stuff. So obviously it isn't battery operated, but it heats up fast. The ceramic heating surface area is a small 1/2 inch, so it is limited in how much hair it can handle. But, I must say, in small batches it performed amazingly well!

Admittedly, a travel sized flat iron is a fairly frivolous thing. But let's get our priorities straight, less room in the suitcase for flat irons means more room for gloss!


New Products from Physicians Formula

If you find yourself in a drugstore in the near future, you might want to check out some of these new offerings from Physicians Formula. They look like they would be perfect for perking up the drab mid-winter complexion that is rolling in about this time of year.

Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Face Sculpting Trio ($14) -- This versatile product has 3 different shades that can be used individually or blended together for a custom look. The Sculpting Trio promises to even skin tone, create a healthy glow and add a luminous touch. All for less than $15, not bad!

Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin 2-in-1 Bronzer & Blush ($14) -- Similar to more expensive products, this compact combines a matte bronzing powder to add warmth with a blush to further enhance the cheeks for the perfect just-back-from-the-beach look. Now is a good time to try it as it is being sold with a $2 off coupon that can be used immediately at check out.

Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Mascara ($10) -- Beauty junkies are pretty excited about this 100% natural lash-plumping formula that promises a 5x boost in length, volume and definition. As an added bonus, it comes in completely recyclable packaging for all the beauty with less added guilt. PF is offering a 100% rebate as an incentive to try it risk-free.


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