Beauty News: The Future of Shopping Is Here!

Several news articles have come to my attention this week featuring the newest advances in selling you stuff: vending machines. You might think that vending machines have been around for quite some time, but let these posts assure you, you haven't seen anything yet!

First up, an upscale hotel in Miami, The Mondrian South Beach, opened in December sporting a giant vending machine selling luxury goods in the lobby. It is called The Semi-Automatic and it is supposedly a replacement for the now-passe hotel gift shop concept. Just swipe a credit card and you can be the new owner of 24-karat gold handcuffs! Just what I always wanted!

If you happen to live in Santa Monica, a similar technology, called U*tique, was recently unveiled at Fred Segal. However, this slick machine dispenses products more near and dear to my heart from brands like Bliss, Lancome, C.O. Bigelow and Lipstick Queen. Not only can the items be purchased from U*tique, but it also displays product information and recommendations. Supposedly it will also provide some ability to sample products, but it's not clear to me how that works.

Even more of these inventions are coming down the line from IBM, Intel and even Microsoft. Instead of a vending machine, how would you feel about accessing a helpful kiosk in the middle of your favorite store? Rather than a salesperson, the kiosk would make suggestions and answer questions, thereby allowing avoidance of all human contact when shopping. One intriguing idea is the Virtual Makeover which would simulate sampling beauty products on a computer screen rather than at the makeup counter.

"The kiosk has a camera to capture the shopper’s image and a scanner to record the product the shopper wants to try. Consumers can walk up to the kiosk, swipe a barcode for a foundation cream, and see how it looks on the onscreen image of their faces."

This kind of sounds cool and definitely more sanitary than the usual sampling options. One concern would be getting colors right. How do I know that what has been translated onto my face in this machine is going to look the same in real life?

One person interviewed for the article fantasizes about a sales associate-less shopping experience in the future. Stores could probably save money by replacing their sales staff with machines. But the point they are missing is that fact that it is definitely harder to resist pressure to buy from an actual person than it is from a machine. It takes exactly no effort at all for me to ignore recommendations on, for example. But resisting the hard sell from a commission-hungry employee is difficult even when I'm feeling particularly skillful. Also, what would be the advantage of even going shopping when you can sit on your couch and have the same experience with the internet? People go to stores because they want to have the shopping experience, complete with pushy sales folks. I am doubtful that any machine is going to replace that. But, I guess we shall see.


Would You Use Clip-In Hair Extensions?

For reasons I don't care to explain, I was watching QVC Saturday Night Beauty this weekend. It sort of leaves me dumbstruck that people can talk incessantly and inanely for hour after hour. It is overwhelming and yet I can't tear myself away.

Anyway, so one of the things they were shilling were these Ted Gibson Full Head Hair Extensions ($165). If you ever wanted to add 18 inches of synthetic hair to your head, look no further. The "hair" is secured near the crown of the head, just under the top layer of regular hair, with some clips. After that, it can be heat-styled just like real hair. Celebrity stylist Ted Gibson has designed them in five multidimensional shades ranging from blond to black complete with eye-roll-inducing names (Angelina, Jennifer, Reese, etc).

The whole thing stirs up so many complicated emotions in me. On one hand, good god, who would ever buy this? I mean, did you see the price? I just fail to believe that it could actually look natural and not like obviously clipped on fake hair. On the other hand, if I'm being completely honest here, I would kind of love to try it. Do I think it will look ridiculous? Yes. Do I think that if I spent $165 I would try to convince myself that it didn't look ridiculous? Definitely yes. Would all my friends think I look ridiculous but feel too embarrassed to tell me about it? Unquestionably yes.

Maybe it just speaks to the way in which the relentless tongue-wagging of the QVC hosts slowly takes over your brain to the point where something like this starts to seem not only appealing, but necessary. Watch the video to see for yourself. It clearly worked because they sold out of these babies in no time at all.

So what do you think? Would you consider clip in hair extensions? Would you consider these particular clip in hair extensions? And how does one answer questions when some innocent person asks how your hair grew a foot since the last time they saw you? Oh, that's just my fake hair.


Bright Ideas

Recently, I am completely obsessed with color. This is partly inspired by new blossoms returning color to the outside world and partly by some painting I'm thinking of doing in my house. So it is fitting that I watched Across the Universe over the weekend. Have you seen this movie? If not, you really need to. It has such incredible visual design and choreography. Really, really inspired.

Anyway, so back to color. Lucky for me, it turns out that lots of makeup designers have color on the brain these days. The Bobbi Brights Eye Palette ($70) was inspired by some of the more colorful looks Bobbi Brown designs for Fashion Week. Not known for shockingly outrageous colors, this collection of 35 soft matte eyeshadows is a fun departure for a woman who usually excels at flattering neutrals. Of course, Bobbi cautions that if using something this bright on the eyes, then to keep the rest of the face neutral to avoid looking overly painted. As a note, this palette is quite small. Each color is about the size of an m&m and the whole palette is the size of an index card.

If $70 isn't in your budget, the Sephora Color Play Palette ($22) is a convenient alternative. It has 36 eyeshadows, 12 lip glosses, 3 blushes, 1 bronzer and 3 applicators all for an affordable $22. It is also quite compact, measuring only 6.5 x 7 inches (a slightly bigger index card). But even with their small sizes, both palettes will inspire creativitiy and give your regular look a shot of beautiful color.

I'm seriously obsessed with this movie. Don't miss the sexy Salma Hayek nurses.


Book Review: Get Positively Beautiful

Published late last year, Get Positively Beautiful is the second book from TLC's What Not To Wear resident makeup artist, Carmindy. While The 5-Minute Face had the easily understandable mission of providing a how-to manual for today's busy woman, I found Get Positively Beautiful to be a bit unfocused and thin on new ideas.
At the onset, Carmindy describes her intent in this second book as wanting to dispel the "flaw focus" of most beauty writing and advertising. She feels that the endless articles about making small eyes look bigger or thin lips look fuller helps no one and only reinforces all-too-plentiful insecurities. She argues that all this negativity takes attention away from where it should be -- on the beautiful, unique features that each woman naturally possesses. Instead, she proposes using a "feature focus" by choosing which features of your face are most beautiful to you and using makeup to accentuate them. All of which I completely agree with. But then she goes a bit crazy with this PMA (positive mental attitude) and recommends that you stand in front of your mirror and say slightly wacky things ("mirror mantras") every day. Examples include: My skin is creamy and dreamy. What beautiful cheekbones I have! My eyes look so sparkling and cheerful. I can't imagine myself ever doing this, but I see her point that it is better than lamenting my thin lips every time I look in a mirror.

The rest of the book is devoted to detailing how to accentuate each feature focus: eyes, skin, cheeks, lips, etc. There is also a chapter on various beauty tools and their uses followed by a chapter on streamlining your makeup bag which I thought was quite good. The book finishes out with before and after photos of women of various ages, ethnicities and focus features. Peppered throughout are Q&A's with questions from Carmindy's fans and her answers to them.

Overall, this was a fun book to flip through, but it failed to really grab my attention at any point. The makeovers were probably the best part, but only because it is always fun to see people "made over," and not because she added anything to the standard format. I love Carmindy, but at times her rah-rah cheerleading was a bit overwhelming. It's not that I think she is being insincere, it just isn't a style that I respond to. The photography in this book is lovely but fairly uninspired and there were a strangely large number of typos and grammatical errors. Of her two books, I think that The 5-Minute Face is the stronger and would recommend that one if anyone asked me. The two books don't really differ that much in content, so if you have read or own one of them, there is no pressing need for the other. Carmindy is a beautiful woman and an excellent makeup artist, but I think that if she is considering any additional books, it would be good to offer something new.


The Beauty Couch Lash Stiletto Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered The Beauty Couch Lash Stiletto Giveaway. I had a really fun time figuring out this giveaway thing and you all provided me with some excellent suggestions.

And congratulations to winners Alicia and kayab29!


How To... Use Luminizer, Part Two

A while back I extolled the virtues of luminizer and described several ways in which it can (and should) be used to highlight various parts of your beautiful face. Click here for a quick review.

But, did you know that luminizer can be used below the chin as well? Here's how...

- Show off those killer collar bones by dabbing some highlighter just on the contour of the bone and gently blending it in. Even if your clavicles aren't terribly prominent, luminizer grabs light, resulting in a more defined appearance. A touch of shimmer on the shoulders at night can also be a nice touch. Add some golden glimmer with the help of Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer ($22).

- If wearing a more revealing dress, use luminizer to really step up your neckline. Dot a small amount of liquid or powder shimmer near the top and and then gently blend right down into the cleavage area. The trick here is subtlety; you aren't lighting a path to land airplanes. Try a light dusting of these budget-friendly products: POP Beauty Face Cake, Glow and Highlight ($10) or L'Oreal Paris Illuminiating Highlighter ($7).

- Anyone who has ever seen the Victoria Secret Fashion Show has seen this trick in full force. Strategic placement of a strip of luminizer down the front of the leg (or middle of the arm) can give the illusion of your limbs being slimmer, longer and leaner. You thought those VS models were just genetic freaks, little did you know that it's really the shimmer powder that makes them look so unbelievable. Kidding, kidding. But, if you want to try to recreate that signature VS look, try Give Me The Shimmers Shimmering Body Powder ($28) or Clinique Up-Lighting Liquid Illuminator ($22).

Hopefully this has provided some inspiration on how to use this incredibly versatile and useful product. It's amazing what just a touch of shimmer will do to light up your look.


The Battle of the Lip Duos

Lip duos (part exfoliator/part balm) seem like the best of both worlds. For those of us with chronically dehydrated lips, a little extra on-the-go exfoliator is never a bad thing. Add that together with some moisturizing balm action and you've got a winning product. Or so one would think, but let's examine two lip duos on the market and see how they match up.

tarte fRxtion ($11) has both the natural sugar exfoliator and the moisturizing vitamin E balm mashed together into one stick. This makes it easy to quickly scrub with the sugar and then flip it over to moisturize, leaving you with a smooth, perfect pucker. FRxtion is easy and fun to use and the clever packaging only adds to the charm. The cap has a little pop-up mirror to ensure there aren't any stray sugar crystals on your mouth. This makes the container fairly bulky, however, and it seems like there should be more product in such a big container. I really liked both sides of the duo and thought that they each did their job effectively. One observation is that I wore down the vitamin E much quicker than the sugar, so maybe they should shift the proportion to have 2/3 vitamin E and 1/3 sugar stick. Just an idea.

Jane Iredale Sugar&Butter Lip Exfoliator/Plumper ($25) has a similar mission but goes about it in a slightly different way. It features a tingly lip plumper opposite the brown-sugar based exfoliator. It also segregates the two on either sides of the stick. The packaging for this one is the opposite of fRxtion: very minimal and sleek. The gold casing adds an extra bit of glamour. The sugar exfoliator works about the same , although the brown sugar is a bit harder in texture, which I didn't like. However, it did not wear down as fast as fRxtion, so maybe that is a good thing. The opposite-ended lip plumper is a mixed bag. It has that familiar lip plumper sensation, in this case, caused by a mixture of ginger and mint. As expected, the plumping is minimal. It also adds a not-too-glossy, barely tinted sheen for a nice, minimal makeup look. The problem is that it is definitely not as moisturizing as the vitamin E treatment, despite the fact that it contains shea butter. I would argue that it is hardly moisturizing at all, and maybe, even a little drying.

I love using all-natural sugar crystals for exfoliation (see: The Lip Scrub), so it is awesome to have a portable version. Of the two featured here, I have to say that I prefer fRxtion because my lips need moisture more than they need plumping (and plumpers don't really work anyway). Plus, it is less than half the price of Sugar&Butter and more readily available. Despite fRxtion's cute mirror, the bulky container is annoying and it really should contain more product. It took me just over a month to power through an entire tube, which is pretty incredible.

While both products are quite good, there is room for improvement on the whole concept. What product will be brave enough to step up to my chapped lips and enter The Battle of the Lip Duos? We shall see...


The Beauty Couch Lash Stiletto Giveaway

Welcome to The Beauty Couch's first ever giveaway! The kind folks at Maybelline have donated two extra tubes of their super lengthening mascara, Lash Stiletto, for prizes. See my review of Lash Stiletto here.

Two lucky winners will be randomly chosen from all entries. Simply complete the form below with your name, email (which won't be published or sold to spammers) and suggesting a topic you'd like to see discussed on the couch. The contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. One entry per email address is allowed. The contest opens March 24 at 7am EST and will close Friday, March 27 at 10pm EST.

Good luck!


Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 3/24/09

Beauty Secrets Revealed
tells you about Morning Banana Diet- Japanese Way Of Losing Weight.

The Informed Makeup Maven talks green washing and cosmetics and wants you to peek inside her spring makeup bag. Don't forget to check out her giveaway this fortnight, Rimmel recover foundation and Suki UV blotting papers!

Beauty Anonymous brings you YSL Summer 2009 Limited-edition Collection.

LA Pretty's fave new skin cream is making their skin brighter, clearer, and protecting their Pretty faces from the warm LA sun. And did we mention it's affordable? Find out what it is here

Frappelattes has pictures of Nicole Richie with baby bump #2! Plus, discover where you can find all-natural pregnancy products to make this pregnancy a beautiful one.

This week Average Metro Joe covers an exclusive laser treatment for hair loss that is completely safe for men and women with troublesome hair loss.

The Anti Hair Slave shows you how the Instyler really works. Watch the video review to check it out on a REAL person and also learn a couple tips and tricks for super sleek hair.

Check out one of the coolest nail polish innovations Beauty Junkies Unite has seen in a long time! Incoco Dry Nail Applique kits are a hit!

Daily Dose of Coffee tries out the new Jonathan Product Dirt offering: Spray Dirt. Is it worth the hefty price tag?

Are you a Bare Escentuals or mineral makeup fan? Beauty411 tries out the new Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara!

See what Fabulous Over Forty uses for her daily and weekly skincare regimen.

Girl-Woman-Beauty-Brains-Blog is holding a Manic Monday/April Fool's giveaway. Enter to win a Spa Sensuals set. BUT since the giveaway ends on April Fool's Day, Jamie and Beckie are throwing in the kitchen sink of beauty products as well. Don't be fooled. Enter now!

Boutique Flair is one of the first to test some mineral makeup and natural skin care products from the newly launched PRIIA Cosmetics!

eye4style loves the off-kilter luxury of Strange Invisible Perfumes. Check out her review of the three newest scents in the line!

More Than a Pretty Face reminds everyone that the 40% off introductory offer on Daniel Chinchilla Cosmetics line ends March 31. Take advantage of the offer now!

More Than a Pretty Face has a new giveaway: win one of two scented candles from Delirium & Co!

Indian Girl has just the lipstick for lip gloss lovers ! Also, get all your concealer questions answered by pros at Three Custom Color Specialists ! Send in your questions today !

The girls over at Beauty in Real Life are having another giveaway. Click here to enter to win a Galvanic Spa II kit, valued over $350!!!

Glossypink tells you how to get Nicole Richie's Blackbook Magazine makeup look!

The Makeup Divas reviews a few products from the new Avon Celestial 2009 Spring Collection.

The Advice Sisters Alison Blackman loves Josie Maran's Tinted Moisturizer. Read the review to find out why!

Get The Look: Katie Holmes New Long Hair by Talking Makeup!

Read Lipgloss Break's Review of Ice Elements!

Hot Beauty Health loves Korres new Eco-Friendly Face Primer. Read to find out why!

Have you been looking for Cheap Strivectin? RN Guide to Skin Care found an almost identical item for a fraction of the cost.

Suzanne at Mineral Makeup Reviews reviews Mineral Hygiencis a bismuth free mineral makeup with incredible staying power.

The Beauty Blog is offering a free special report 12 ways to save money on your favorite beauty products when you sign up for The Beauty Insider, a free monthly beauty newsletter from four top rated beauty sites.

This week, Spoiled Pretty is giving away the new June Jacobs Vanda Orchid Collection: four products (shower gel, body balm, mist, and dry oil body spray) to keep the skin hydrated, glowing and beautiful.


Review: Maybelline Lash Stiletto

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you have undoubtedly seen an ad, commercial or online review of Maybelline's newest mascara, Lash Stiletto ($8). The makers of the legendary Great Lash have produced the "ultimate length mascara." Lash Stiletto promises to do for your lashes what stilettos do for your legs -- lengthen, lengthen, lengthen.

Lash Stiletto boasts a special "Grip and Extend" brush that coats every hair and extends them to their fullest potential. I've been wearing Lash Stiletto for the past few weeks and I think it is a very good drugstore mascara. It definitely lengthens my lashes beyond what I thought was even possible. The directions advise to avoid letting the layers dry between coats and this is key to get the longest length possible. There have been times when I got so carried away with the results that I just applied more and more until things got ridiculous. Here are some pictures of a more restrained application.

Pre Lash Stiletto
Post Lash Stiletto -- two coats

You can see the difference, no? It's pretty impressive in person. Lash Stiletto also has very respectable wearing power and does not smudge or flake as the day wears on. The downside is that ladies who are looking to thicken and lengthen their lashes might be disappointed as this mascara is not a multi-tasker. While Lash Stiletto meets its claim to lengthen, it doesn't do much to increase lash fullness. Additionally, at times it can veer towards being a little clumpy at application. This can generally be avoided by taking care not to overload the brush, however.

Maybelline Lash Stiletto may be the best lengthening drugstore mascara on the market. I have thoroughly enjoyed trying it out and can honestly say that I've incorporated it into my daily routine. Pick one up at your local drugstore or enter The Beauty Couch Lash Stiletto Giveaway starting Tuesday, March 24 for a chance to win one for free!


Nordstrom Spring Trend Show 2009

Well, I am just back from the Nordstrom Spring Cosmetics Trend Show and the verdict is that it was a good show, but a little light on the trends. In fact, other than glowing skin (which is not a trend, but a fact) and the reappearance of bronzer, not much else was discussed. That's OK, really, I still had a good time, but the show in general seemed to be missing a unifying theme.

There were a few highlights, though. Facialist to the stars, Kate Somerville, was live and on hand at the show to promote her product line. For those unfamiliar, Somerville runs a medispa in Hollywood where she gives some of the world's most famous women beautiful, glowing skin. Her signature product, ExfoliKate ($85), is an intensive treatment that removes dead skin and bacteria to create that picture-perfect complexion.

She has developed a philosophy of skin wellness, branded the Skin Health Pyramid, which she discussed at the show. You can read about it on her webpage because I tuned out when she was trying to make the point that there is a difference between hydrating and moisturizing. I'm sure it's very important, but just wasn't grabbing my attention at 8 in the morning.

Probably the most exciting makeup product that I saw was the new Clinique Quick Blush ($22). This is a really clever little all-in-one brush and blush that is prefect for carrying in your bag for touch ups. The actual color is in the cap and the brush picks is up from there. It is a fully-contained blush system that is really fabulous. It currently is offered in six neutral shades that are fairly matte and universally flattering.

Lastly, the perfume contingent was really pushing the new Chloe fragrance ($110). Reviewers have generally been underwhelmed by this fragrance, stating that it is too floral and obvious or worse. Some have suggested that it is reminiscent of a smelly old lady on the bus wearing perfume. Yikes. Admittedly, I'm not a perfume connoisseur, but I kind of liked this fragrance. It is old fashioned in the sense that it is decidedly floral with a prominent rose base and notes of peony, lychee, freesia, magnolia, and lily of the valley. Some small additions of amber and cedar wood are thrown in to try to temper the flower garden, but they aren't very prominent in the final result. So many fragrances these days are of the fresh and clean variety, that maybe Chloe stirs up some nostalgic need for a traditional scent. Although less important, I also love the bottle design.

So that's the greatest hits from the Trend Show. Although it was slightly underwhelming overall, I didn't manage to leave empty-handed. More reporting on those purchase to come.


Sniffer Report: Spring Scents at Sephora

Although I've been talking about Spring for weeks now, it only officially started today. Just in time for Spring cleaning, Sephora has several brand new lines of scented products for bath, body and home that all look pretty exciting.

I could not be more pleased that Pacifica has come to Sephora! I absolutely love their scented candles and frequently give them away as gifts. They are so much better than Jo Malone candles and about 1/3 of the price. The Tuscan Blood Orange Soy Candle ($16) is one of my favorites. The Sephora line also includes body wash, body lotion, body butter and solid perfume in their same amazing scents. Besides Tuscan Blood Orange, they also offer intriguing combinations such as Malibu Lemon Blossom, Brazilian Mango Grapefruit, Bali Lime Papaya and Hawaiian Ruby Guava. The entire line is vegan, eco-friendly and is free of sulfates, mineral oil and parabens. The solid perfumes ($9) are made from organic soy and coconut waxes and look perfect for travel. I think I'll have to start with Malibu Lemon Blossom, but it's going to be hard to choose.
Crazylibellule And The Poppies is another popular perfumer recently added to the Sephora family. They are best known for their adorable Crazy Sticks ($18) -- solid perfume sticks packaged in pretty lipstick-like tubes. The delicious scents can be enjoyed on their own or mixed and matched to create your own unique blend. Choose from such delicious options as Poule de Luxe Vanilla Sucre Glace, Poule de Luxe Vanilla Lemon Pie, Shanghaijava Musc & Patchouli and Poule de Luxe Vanilla Fruit Sorbet. Who couldn't love their charming motto: It's you smelling so good!

Lastly, Nuts Cream Perfume ($20) offers everything an all-natural girl would love in their collection of solid fragrances. Packaged in ingenious wood containers that actually resemble nuts, these fragrances contain only natural ingredients like beeswax and sweet almond oil without artificial fillers. The selection is limited only a few scents right now (Melon d'Eau, Ylang Ylang d'Amour, Mimosa Bouquet and Mango Poudre), but given how adorable these look, I'm guessing it won't be long before a few more fall from the trees.


Product Lust: Josie Maran's Green-On-The-Go Kit

This is the most interesting thing I've seen at Sephora in a while and it has activated unabashed product lust! The Josie Maran Earth Day Essentials Green-On-The-Go Kit ($48) contains five of the most popular and best-selling items from this unique organic beauty line. The kit comes with a plumping gloss in a rosy color, black eye liner, black mascara, soft pink cream blush and the specially-formulated, multi-tasking Argan Oil. The Argan Oil is sample-sized, but the rest of the items are full sized, which makes this an especially good value. A similar tube of the gloss alone usually costs $24! The products are all nicely edited to provide everything you need for a quick and easy makeup look. This would be a great gift for someone special or as a special gift for oneself. Either way, I just might have to pick one up.


Wave Goodbye to Straight Hair

At some point in the past few months, I have inexplicably been bitten by the curl-bug. Suddenly I cannot stand the idea of another day with the sleek, straightened hair I've loved for years. I need something new, something different, something fun! I need curls.

The problem is that my hair isn't really curly. A perm is out of the question. But waves just might work. Yeah... waves... that sounds good: carefree, sexy, just-back-from-the-beach waves. This is going to be alright. Now, how do I get that?

Thankfully, right at the exact moment I began to long for waves, Garnier Fructis launched its newest line of wave-enhancing products: Wonder Waves*. I've never been much of a Garnier fan (those irritating commercials with all the woo-hooing in the background), but I decided to give it a try. The Wonder Waves collection contains a fortifying shampoo and conditioner, a volumizing mousse and a wave-enhancing spray. The best part is that they are all priced a wallet-friendly $4 and readily available in drugstores.

I've been using the Wonder Waves Wave-Enhancing Spray pretty regularly for a few weeks and it is a solid styling aid. It can be used on wet, damp or dry hair. The bottle has some instructions on styling wet hair which essentially amount to spraying your head with the stuff and then twisting all your hair into pin curls. After it dries, either via the air or a dryer, unwrap the pin curls for a cascade of beautiful waves. This all sounds very well and good, but take it from me, do not try this. I can't even describe how bizarro my hair looked after this little experiment. It was big, wild, frizzy and just plain weird. My husband's comment was a tactful "What kind of a look were you going for?"

So don't do that. But! Try this instead: after showering, spray a good amount onto wet hair, gather it in the back and then twist it up into a sort of lazy-girl's French twist. Let it dry, release the twist and marvel at your handiwork. Alternatively, after spraying the product on, wrap the head in a towel turban for a while to get it nice and scrunch-y and then finish it off with a gentle dry using a diffuser. Or, if you are going to go the towel route, try The Plop Method. This is new to me and pretty darn cool. After sleeping with my hair in The Plop configuration, in the morning I had more than waves, I had actual curls. It was crazy! Lastly, if looking for a bit more of a structured curl look, it also works well with a curling iron, but doesn't provide much lasting hold and a bit of hair spray will likely be required.

One other nice thing about Wonder Waves Enhancing Spray is that it can be used on dry hair. The results won't be as dramatic, but it does help. The fact that it doesn't cause build up or make my hair crusty is key. I have used this stuff several days in a row and the results only get better with time. Plus, I think it's a easier to get a wavy look if your hair is a little dirty.

Overall, this is seriously the best $2 I've spent in a while (coupon!). I'm interested in trying out the Wonder Waves mousse so maybe I'll pick that up on the next drugstore or Ulta run. Garnier Fructis has impressed me with this very useful styling aid, but nothing is going to make me like those damn commercials.

*This product is so new, they don't even have it on the Garnier website yet!


Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 3/17/09

Total Beauty Web Tour

Beauty Anonymous looks forward to Dolce & Gabbana The Makeup line.

Meilily brings you a new Product Pick: Harajuku Lovers Fragrance in Love with exclusive Product Photos!

A Little More Beautiful is Giving Away BOTH amazing books by Nina Garcia, The Little Black Book of Style and The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own! You can enter until March 30th!

Enter now to get straight with a $195 H2PRO Flat Iron Giveaway from Girl-Woman-Beauty-Brains-Blog.

The Informed Makeup Maven is loving Bumble and Bumble, Stila and contemplates mass market prestige beauty. Guess her MAC shade to win a Stila tinted illuminating moisturiser, a Makeup Maven staple.

More than a Pretty Face presents a very special introductory offer for its readers: 40% off Daniel Chinchilla Cosmetics, which launched this month. Daniel Chinchilla Cosmetics features 3 types of foundation in 16 different shades, cover-up trios in 5 different shades, and bronzers in two different shades. There's something for every skin tone and type!

Beauty Junkies Unite gives in to the eyelash growth serum craze and tries NeuLash Active Eyelash Technology. Come check out the before & after pics and decide if the price is worth it for yourself! How much is too much to spend on lashes?

Win a free Maybelline Lash Stiletto mascara from Makeup Files' first ever makeup giveaway!

Hot Beauty Health shares some great tips and recipes on eating your way to beautiful skin. Watch it now!

The Makeup Divas review the new Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal and is giving away two boxes to two lucky winners. Contest is ending on Saturday so hurry on over and enter today!

Blaq Vixen Beauty
reviews the Bee Royal Liquid Lustre Metallic Lip Gloss in Bare! It's perfect for Spring 2009!

Fabulous Over Forty shares the latest in new foundations. Will one work for you?

The Beauty Couch says goodbye to straight hair with the help of Garnier Fructis Wonder Waves Enhancing Spray.


MAC Attack: Sugarsweet Collection

The geniuses at MAC have done it again -- created a delicious collection that I am literally drooling over. Simply delicious is the perfect way to describe the Sugarsweet Collection, due to hit stores March 19th.
From the MAC promotional materials:
"Who cares if the candy man can… it’s the cupcake ingenue who’s caught the sweet spot this season. Temptation is everywhere - luscious, whipped-cream decadent, deliciously decorative frosting colours and sugared almond combinations. Like peering through the window of a Parisian patisserie, you’ll want to become one of each!...We could eat you up."
Let's get a closer look at those layered glosses. Yum! I'm not sure on the details, but I heard that they do actually contain three different colors of gloss that are supposed to stay segregated and not mix into a single color. Very intriguing, indeed.

After sitting out the past few MAC releases (Hello Kitty, Cream Team), I think it's time to get back to the MAC counter. Check out Makeup & Beauty Blog for some sneak peak swatches.


Model-Morphosis on The Moment

The Moment is the blog of the New York Times Magazine and right now it has a really cool feature that I had to share: Model-Morphosis. Photographer Greg Kessler snapped pictures of different models at Paris Fashion Week and compiled them into a slick, interactive Flash animation that shows each model transform as she goes from show to show. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's pretty cool.

My favorite ones focus on the makeup looks for the different shows. These have a fun, interactive slide bar that you can drag between before and after shots. Not all of the shows are represented, but it does include beauty before and after shots from designers:
Check it out!


NOTW: SpaRitual Mood

This week's manicure comes to us from eco-friendly SpaRitual. The color is (appropriately enough) called Mood and it is a gunmetal gray with a slight shimmer. This is absolutely one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of a polish I wore in college from the now-defunct Revlon Street Wear collection. That color may have even been called "Gunmetal" but I can't remember. It was the only polish I owned back then and I wore it all the time.

Mood is a great color and consistent with the gray trend in Spring makeup mentioned yesterday. And, it even matches my new favorite pair of shoes. So how cool is that?

But, my review would be remiss if I didn't mention the persistent problem that I have with the SpaRitual formula. SpaRitual, for the uninitiated, is a non-toxic line of nail care products

"committed to creating eco-friendly products and packaging perfectly crafted for the enlightened consumer. We use Vegan ingredients from around the world, including many specially sourced and selected plant essences that are wildcrafted OR organic. The formulations are naturally colored and free of synthetic dyes."

Which is all very well and good except that the formula completely sucks and has terrible wear on my nails. If I can get through one day without a chip or the entire nail flaking off, it is a minor miracle. I have tried using every basecoat-topcoat combination that I own and it performs the same with all of them. Sometimes, more naturally-derived polishes don't go well with more traditional, "old-school" topcoats or basecoats. But even trying Mood with other non-toxic polishes resulted in the same irritating chip-prone experience. Grrrrr.

It's enough to make a girl crazy, since I absolutely love the color, the recycled Italian glass bottle and the patented Plum Cap. Even the upcoming Spring 2009 Cherish Collection looks amazing (two oranges!) but I hesitate to indulge because of the experience I've had with Mood. Anyway, it's a mixed bag with SpaRitual, not made any easier by the fact that they can be hard to find. But for the tried-and-true, natural-product devotee, SpaRitual is def worth checking out.


Spring Trend: Icy Gray Eyes

With the Daylight Savings switch safely behind us, it is definitely time to look toward Spring. Which means, of course, exciting new Spring makeup trends! Woo-hoo!

One trend showing up on runways, magazines and blogs recently is a slight turn away from the heavy, smoky eye of last Fall toward a lighter, icy gray. This trend has been spotted on celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker at the Oscars and Jennifer Hudson at the Grammys. Initially, I thought that grey shadow would only look good on light-colored eyes, but after seeing how beautiful Jennifer looked, there is no reason darker eyes can't pull this off as well.

This is a very accessible trend because it can be played up or down depending on your level of comfort. Go for a more exaggerated look (as shown on the model) at night or keep it simple with just a bit of gray eyeliner for day. Add a bit of sparkle to glam it up even more. Another key thing about this trend is that it doesn't require a huge investment in new products. One small gray eyeshadow or gray pencil is all you need! Here are a few products with which to experiment...


The Beauty Couch's Must See TV -- It's Thursday, Isn't It?

When not writing posts or swearing at my camera, I spend a bit of time surfing other blogs. Some of my favorites are put together by publications; in particular, Lucky's The Beauty Department Blog and Glamour's The Girls In The Beauty Department can post really good stuff sometimes. Today seems to have been a particularly good day since I stumbled across two pretty awesome videos that are good enough to share.

The first is a how-to achieve Isla Fisher's gorgeous waves in Confessions of a Shopaholic, as seen on the left. Seriously, aren't they amazing? Originally posted on Glamour's beauty blog, the video is a lengthy twelve minutes but has the immense advantage of featuring Oscar-winner Beatrice De Alba -- the actual stylist who did Isla's hair for the film. I've been trying to achieve some waves recently (more on that later) and found the video to have some quality take-home points, even without the expensive equipment she uses.

The second video features Lucky Beauty Editor Cat Marnell demonstrating in less than three minutes how to master the elusive smoky eye. I like her messy, anything-goes technique.


Zoya Polish Exchange Extended!

One of my favorite brands, Zoya, has an incredible offer that is available through 4/28/09. The Zoya Great Nail Polish Exchange is offering to replace old bottles of nail polish (used or unused, empty or full) from any other brand with fresh, new Zoya Nail Polish for free.

It's not a contest, lottery or gift-with-purchase, but a 1:1 exchange with Zoya colors that you get to choose. Visit to sign up. There is a small catch: a fee for shipping and processing and a 6 bottle minimum for exchange. But there's no rule against combining unwanted polishes from friends or family for a group submission. As a group or on your own, either way, don't miss out!


How To... Use Luminizer

Luminizer...Highlighter...Illuminator...Shimmer -- What are these things and why on earth would I want to use them? Luminizer/Highlighter/Illuminator/Shimmer (turns out they are all essentially the same thing) is a powerful addition to your beauty arsenal and one you definitely want to learn to use.

Whatever name they go by, the secret ingredients in these products are minerals that, when ground up, add an opalescent, light-reflecting pop. Minerals like mica, iron oxides or carmine catch light and draw the eye in, thereby adding a slight shine and radiant quality wherever they are placed. The genius is that they give that warm, glowing, lit-from-within appearance without being overly greasy or glittery. These products can typically be applied over other products like foundation, powder or blush, but because of their luminescence, they don't look caked or heavy.

Luminizers come in a wide variety of formulations: powder, cream, liquid and solid. Some might have some advantages (liquids might last a bit longer), but they all pretty much work the same way. Confused about where to begin? The face is a natural place to start experimenting with the wonders of luminizing.

- The easiest trick is to apply some luminizing powder or liquid to the very tops of the cheekbones (above and slightly to the side of the area where blush is typically placed). This gives the skin a fresh, dewy appearance and calls attention to killer cheekbones. Try Benefit's HighBeam ($24) or MoonBeam ($24) or, on the cheaper side, Wet n Wild's MegaGlo Face Illuminator.

- Another classic idea is to highlight the corners of the eyes. Conventional wisdom dictates that this opens up the eyes, making you appear more awake and alert. This can be helpful on days when beauty sleep is lacking. The hands-down, cult fav is YSL's Touche Eclat ($40) which is also commonly used over concealer to brighten up the under-eye area as well.

- Now that you have the hang of it, try placing a small amount on the Cupid's bow of your lips. This will slightly accent the contour, making them look ever-so-slightly fuller. Try fresh Satin Luster Face Palette ($45 and shown above).

- For an advanced maneuver, try placing a thin, very thin stripe of highlight down the bridge of the nose. This acts to draw the light to that area and can give the illusion of a narrower nose. Take care, however, because if done in a heavy-handed way, the result is a big, shiny nose.

- With finely ground shimmer, dust over the entire face for an especially ethereal look. Try Sole Beauty's The Illuminator ($36), helpfully sold with its own kabuki brush, or Almay PureBlends Loose Finishing Powder ($14).

- Similarly, mix some liquid highlighter with your regular foundation or tinted moisturizer for the same effect. Generally a mix of three parts foundation to one part highlighter works well. MAC Strobe Cream ($30) is a favorite of professionals for this purpose.

As in all things makeup, less is more. So keep the highlight shimmer to a few strategic places, not all of them. Stay tuned for even more uses for highlighter coming up!


NOTW: OPI Catherine the Grape

Catherine the Grape ($6) by OPI is not a new shade, but it only recently joined my collection. So despite being around since the Russia Collection in Fall 2007, it's new to me.

Purple nails are a personal favorite, so I'm pretty pleased Catherine the Grape is finally all mine! It is a beautiful grape-juice shade of purple with the ever so tiny amount of shimmer. The shimmer is hardly even visible, honestly. This is a fantastic shade because it is a true purple--not one of the near-blacks that have been so popular these days. Don't get me wrong, I love the near-black trend, but sometimes a girl just needs a plum.

Speaking of which, there has been a lot of buzzing on beauty blogs this week about Ginnifer Goodwin's nails in He's Just Not That Into You. I haven't seen it (read the book, though), but apparently she sports a very striking purple mani for pretty much the entire film.

There was a bit of speculation about what color was used on Ginnifer, but the official word from the movie's makeup artist is that it is Nubar Pasadena Purple. I don't have a bottle to do a comparison, but I think that Catherine the Grape would be a good approximation of this look. If you are looking for more potential duplicates, check out The Non-Blonde's post on her favorite purple polishes.


Friends & Family Friday

Been a while since Friends & Family Friday has made an appearance, hasn't it? Well, today's feature, Benefit's Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow/Liner ($19), is worth the wait. This handy must-have is so beloved, it is definitely on its way to cult status. The beauty of this product is its adaptability: it can easily be used as an eye shadow, liner or contour shade. Additionally, it is long-lasting and, as the name implies, creaseless. Creaseless Cream Shadow comes in over ten flattering shades, but Birthday Suit (a "brushed chrome") was specifically nominated for this feature.

BFF Marisa writes "For some reason, I have bad luck with dry/powder eyeshadows. The loose ones spill all over me, and both loose and solid powders do not seem to blend in well on my lids. Hence, my addiction to cream shadows. The Benefit [Creaseless Cream Shadow] blends in really well, doesn't cake up on my eye lids, and can be layered nicely with other products. Since I am very into neutrals, Benefit's Birthday suit is a nice shimmery taupe."

I couldn't say it better myself. Birthday Suit is a perfect daytime shade as it adds just the right amount of polish without looking too overtly "made up." Carry it to work for a day-to-night touch up. It provides buildable color and layers beautifully, a feature that truly endears it to me. Use it alone or with a liner shade. Apply it with a brush or with fingertips, it works either way. The possibilities are endless for this protean wonder.

Birthday Suit is a definite winner, but if you are looking for even more killer colors, check out Skinny Jeans (a "pretty pewter") or Get Figgy ("frosted heather"). Oh, and if any of my friends or family are reading, please feel free to send me new suggestions any time.


Even More Nudes!

Since falling in love with Dior Nude Chic, I've been seeing nude nail polishes everywhere I turn. Warm, opaque, creamy nudes were found all over the runways at Fall Fashion Week 2009. These milky neutrals are a hip twist on more typical bubble-gum pink shades while still being work-appropriate. If shelling out $20 for Dior isn't in the budget, here are some alternatives to keep you on-trend and on-budget.


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