Skin Care Week: Win Perricone MD Prize!

Don't forget to enter The Beauty Couch's Perricone MD Advanced Face Firming Activator Giveaway (valued at $120!). The contest will close Tuesday August 4 at 10pm EST so enter now, before it's too late!


Skin Care Week: Get Your Fix at

My first reaction to was wow and I completely stick by that today. Allow me to share my complete infatuation with the beauty blitz that is the Beautyfix program.

Forget navigating the beauty department at your local department store, trying to guess which products will work best and which are worth the price. Beautyfix brings you the season’s must-have products selected by a panel of industry insiders—for a fraction of the price —plus free gifts and member-only discounts on additional products. Now you can spoil yourself without splurging!

The program is very simple. Sign up on their website and four times a year (for a cost of $50/shipment) you will receive 7-10 new, carefully vetted skin care and cosmetic products delivered straight to your doorstep. This program is so incredible because it offers full sized or deluxe-sized samples of all of the included products. No teeny, tiny 1-2 use samples here, no sir! Plus, the included products are not only from quality, high-end brands, but they have already been put through an intense screening process via Beautyfix's diverse panel of experts that includes plastic surgeons, dermatologists, estheticians, and, yes, even some beauty bloggers! Hundreds of products are submitted for consideration to be included in the Beautyfix box, but only the cream of the crop are ultimately chosen.

You might be wondering how this program fits into Skin Care Week on The Beauty Couch. Well, the reason is that I've been lucky enough to receive one of the Beautyfix boxes and it seems that while the Beautyfix package can include makeup, skin care, bath/body and hair products, they do tend to be a little heavy on the skin care. In fact, my rough estimate is that at least 50% of each box is made up of some luxurious skin care products. The package I received contained 3LAB "M" Cream, Exuviance Rejuvenating Treatment Masque, Glowelle 7-Day Starter Kit, Kerstin Florian Aromatherapy Neroli Water and Lisa Hoffman Beauty Vitamin A & C Serum. Although not strictly skin care related, my kit also contained Jonathan Finish Control hairspray which is awesome -- love love love it!

Beautyfix also has an online community where the products are reviewed by the users who can network with other Beautyfix members. The price of $50/quarter (or, $200 per year) is a little steep, particularly if you really fall in love with one of the products and simply must have more. But, Beautyfix membership also comes with perks. For one, each product included in the shipment comes with a special deal. For example, the Jonathan hairspray that I love comes with an offer to try the Jonathan One Minute Redo Kit (containing a Freshen-Up Mist, the awesome hairspray, and a Create Root Volumizing Spray) for $35. The retail price for all of those is $75. Not a bad discount! Plus, if you don't like the selection, you can cancel at any time.

Right now, Beautyfix 3 of 2009 is available, so check out the potential selections here and sign up. As you can imagine, space is limited. Overall, this is a unique way to try out some really fantastic products at a discounted price, including some products that you may not otherwise be aware. I have been completely blown away by the quality and selection they offer and I think you will be, too.


Skin Care Week: Gentle Facial Scrub

Woman applying lotion on faceIs everyone enjoying Skin Care Week on The Beauty Couch so far? Just to take a break from the spendy products, I wanted to share a quick and easy DIY facial scrub to whip up with some easy kitchen ingredients. I found this recipe a long time ago and have carried it around on a little piece of paper for literally years.

Cornmeal Honey Facial Scrub
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon water

Mix together and let thicken for one minute and before applying in a gentle scrubbing motion. Once it is distributed evenly, let it sit for 5 minutes or so before rinsing off.

This is a great scrub/mask for oily or combination (i.e. normal) skin. It's cheap and easy, so give it a try today!


Skin Care Week: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Deep Cleansing Oil ($25) from Japanese skincare company DHC has a cult following that is one of the most loyal groups of people ever to rave about products on the internet. Any time this product is so much as whispered, these ladies (and guys) pop out of the woodwork to proclaim their love of the Deep Cleansing Oil and what it has done for their oily, dry, combination, aging, sensitive or acne-prone skin. The fact that so many different skin textures are helped by this product is pretty impressive just in and of itself, let alone the breathless exuberance with which it is described.

I can't recall where it came from, but I first used this product as a sample packet (regular DHC customers will be familiar with their generous sample program). The idea of putting an oil -- and yes, it is actually oil -- on one's face is just a tad off-putting. Don't we spend time trying to get oil off our faces? However, a principle that I learned back in college chemistry seemed applicable: like dissolves like. It suddenly made perfect sense that if I'm trying to get oil and grease off my face, then why not use a substance that is more adept at breaking it down than water?

It turns out that I wasn't far off base with my chemistry as the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil does an amazing job at removing any trace of makeup (including eye makeup and mascara), excess oil and any other grime that collects over the course of the day. It is gentle enough to use on the eyes without any burning or stinging and the sensation of rubbing oil on the face I find to be strangely pleasant and relaxing. I've even stopped using a separate eye makeup remover since it generally isn't necessary after the Cleansing Oil except with some tougher waterproof products. Once the oily dirt is dissolved, the Cleansing Oil performs its final trick, which is rinsing clean with water alone. Don't ask me how the chemistry of this works, but this oil has a water-soluble formula to rinse completely off on contact with the H2O. No greasy residue and no traces of makeup. It's pretty incredible.

Not only does it clean effectively, its oily structure means that it also doesn't deplete the skin of needed hydration. It also contains some olive oil and vitamin E for good measure. The cleansing process can be stopped there or followed up by a gentle cleanser to be extra squeaky clean before applying nighttime moisturizer and/or eye cream.

If it isn't already clear, I have effectively joined the cult of the DHC Cleansing Oil. I've been using this for a few months now and I just love it. Like I mentioned, I really love the process of using it and now that the weather has been sufficiently hot that I sweat all day long, this stuff has been amazing to restore my face to a cleaner steady state. (Did I just make a chemistry reference? Oh my god).

DHC has hundreds (probably thousands) of skin care products and the Deep Cleansing Oil is included in many of their special sets. They aren't sold in stores here and so have to be ordered online; although if you are only interested in the Deep Cleansing Oil, that can be ordered on If nothing else, try to get your paws on a sample pack to try. So many legions of fans must be on to something...


Skin Care Week: L'Occitane Ultra Comforting Mask

Facial masks can do any number of things depending on their ingredients. Some of my favorite masks exfoliate, brighten, tone or deep clean. However, never before have I used a product that promised to comfort, which is the idea behind L'Occitane En Provence Ultra Comforting Mask ($8). The mask belongs to the Shea & Cotton Collection which also includes a cleanser, cream and serum. These products are designed especially for sensitive skin with minimal ingredients that are selected for purity and mildness. They are also free of perfumes, colorants, alcohols or preservatives. One thing that I appreciate about this product is that it comes in two sizes: a 0.5oz trial size ($8) and 2.6oz full size ($32). I love that you can try it out without a huge investment before deciding to purchase the full amount.

My experience with the mask has been very positive and I'm really without any significant complaints about it. It doesn't have a noticeable scent or coloring and the consistency is in the middle range for a mask (not overly thick or too thin). It is easy to use and only requires 5-10 minutes of exposure, although some people go so far as to leave it on overnight. I really like that it wipes off with a tissue and doesn't require exposure to harsh, drying water to rinse off.

It turns out that the claim to "comfort" the facial skin is a fairly accurate description of the affect that it has. After using the mask, my face did indeed feel intensely hydrated, baby-soft, and yes, comforted. I even tried using it after a slightly aggressive exfoliation and found the mask to be really useful to decrease any minor redness or irritation that the exfoliation caused. It is exceedingly gentle and soothing and did not cause any unsightly breakouts or irritations. It is a gentle product designed for sensitive skin care but I imagine that most skin types will find it beneficial. Using this product was an overall pleasing experience; maybe not quite as relaxing as a country walk in Provence, but then again, it is only a face mask.


Skin Care Week on The Beauty Couch

I'm so excited by the Perricone Giveaway (enter now! ends August 4th!) that I've decided to dedicate a week's worth of posts to some skin care products that have won me over in recent months.

While quality skin products can definitely help improve your complexion, it is best to minimize damage to your skin in the first place. Total Beauty has cataloged Seven Deadly Skin Sins to avoid inadvertently committing. Some are the usual suspects, but there are a few surprises in there as well. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Lucky Magazine


Product Lust: Nordstrom Beauty Exclusives

The time has arrived once again for Nordstrom's Annual Anniversary Sale! I'm a little late reporting on it this year as it is almost over (ends August 3rd). But I haven't had time to scope out the offerings until this week. There are lots and lots of Beauty Exclusives for the sale, but here are a few of my top picks.
L'Occitane Amande Cleansing & Soothing Shower Oil Set ($30) -- Two 8.4oz bottles of this unique cleansing oil from L'Occitane. Designed to be soothing, moisturizing as well as cleansing, the oil smells of sweet almond (love!) and lathers on contact with water. And with the two-for special price, use one yourself and give one away to a friend. This would make a fantastic hostess gift for any summertime visits!
Rock & Republic Drama Queen Collection ($70) -- Due to my cosmetic-purchasing problem, I end up with makeup bags to spare (through gift with purchase specials and what-not). Most of them are just so-so, but this patent leather makeup bag from Rock & Republic is killer cool. Not only that, but it contains with three choice items (eye shadow, blush and gloss) from their extremely luxe makeup line all coordinated to create a dramatically gorgeous look.

Bobbi Brown 'Must Have' Set ($75) -- Bobbi Brown always has an excellent special for the Nordstrom sale and this year is no exception. This 'must have' set pretty much lives up to its name with a whole bunch of universally-flattering shades for eyes and lips. A seven color lip palette and a two color eyeshadow kit conveniently come with a dual-ended lip/eye-shadow brush for application. The kit is rounded out with Bobbi's signature gel liner in a rich brown and a black mascara. Although it isn't cheap cheap, it is a good value since these items individually would cost over $120.

Juice Beauty Organics To Glow Kit ($30) -- This collection might be my favorite of the beauty exclusives, but I unfortunately wasn't able to find it the store. Three SPF 8 lip moisturizers in flatteringly natural shades are combined with sample sizes of two different moisturizers, a peel and a hydrating mist.

This is only a smattering of the beautiful offerings exclusive to this sale. All items are available online and, though a special program, skip shipping charges by having items delivered for pick up to your nearest store. Nice!


Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 7/24/09

Total Beauty Web Tour

It's complexion week at the Informed Makeup Maven. Don't forget to enter her cool giveaways this week!

Visit The Beauty Couch for a chance to win the amazing Perricone MD Advanced Face Firming Activator (a $120 value)!

Monique at Beauty Girl Musings reviews the new No Frizz Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner.

Beauty Anonymous looks at Shiseido fall 2009 makeup collection.

Dao at My Makeup Blog found a new love with M.A.C Rubenesque paint pot.

Sicka Than Average checks the best facial sunscreens so you can play in the sun — without paying for it later.

More Than a Pretty Face is excited about the launch of Illamasqua at Sephora. Within a year of its launch at Britain's tony Selfridge's, Illamasqua has developed a cult following comparable to that of MAC or NARS.

Visit Lipgloss Break and Enter to win The Cure 24/7 hair treatment and Sunkissed Glow fragrance by JLo!


The Beauty Couch Perricone MD Advanced Firming Face Activator Giveaway!

UPDATE! The contestmachine site appears to be working again. Sorry for any inconvenience
Welcome to The Beauty Couch's biggest giveaway yet! One lucky reader will be randomly selected for a free bottle of the Perricone MD's revolutionary Advanced Face Firming Activator (valued at $120)! Click here to read my review of this amazing product.

To enter, simply complete the form below with your name, email (which won't be published or sold to spammers) and an answer to the question Why do you want to try the Advanced Face Firming Activator? Visible pores? Fine lines? Dullness? Let us know!

It's that simple! The contest is open to U.S.A residents only. One entry per person, please. The contest will close Tuesday August 4 at 10pm EST.


Perricone MD Advanced Face Firming Activator

Chances are you've encountered Dr. Perricone on some late-night channel surfing. If he isn't showcasing his brand on QVC, there he is on a PBS special talking about "the wrinkle cure." This results in the good doctor being one of the most recognizable people in the skincare industry.

Probably similar to many of you, I was familiar with the visage and reputation of Dr. Perricone long before I had the opportunity to try one of his most popular anti-aging cosmeceuticals, the Advanced Face Firming Activator ($120). Formulated with a whole slew of patented, anti-aging ingredients, this product aims to "visibly resurface skin's texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores, and reveal a radiant and healthy complexion." Sounds good to me!

Here is a list of some active ingredients:
Alpha Lipoic Acid (patented)
- The ultimate antioxidant protects the cell
- Diminishes fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration
- Refines skin texture
- Reduces pore size, puffiness, imperfections and uneven skin tone

DMAE (patented)
- Provides ultimate contouring benefits to skin beginning to lose elasticity
- Delivers lifted, tightened and toned appearance to the skin
- Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Sodium Hyaluronate
- Locks in moisture to help diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles
- Hydrates to renew suppleness in the skin
After having used the Advanced Face Firming Activator for over a month, I can say with confidence that it is truly an amazing product! In general, I don't have major skin problems (some unevenness, some fine lines); this is a blessing, yes, but it makes it hard to tell if skin products are actually helping or not because any changes are going to necessarily be pretty subtle. As a result, I didn't have high expectations for any noticeable improvements with this stuff. But, boy, did I ever underestimate it!

After using it for a month, I have definitely noticed an overall enhanced appearance of my skin. The texture and tone are much improved compared to prior. Any trace of red blotchiness that I had has literally disappeared and has been replaced with a brightness that is pretty appealing. Some visible pores have become invisible and there is an overall polished look to my skin that I can only attribute to the product. All of these improvements are in spite of the fact that I've been getting more sun exposure in the past month than I have all year to date. Of course, I always wear SPF, but nothing is 100% effective, and so I'm sure there has been some sun damage that the AFFA has had to contend with. But even with this additional challenge, my skin is smooth, glow-y and I could not be happier with it.

The product is simple to use and is only required once per day. Prior to moisturizing in the morning, apply a few pumps of the Advanced Firming Face Activator all over the face and neck in gentle, circular motions. That's it! At first, I was kind of bummed at the idea of adding yet another product to my morning routine. It takes long enough as it is! But, seriously here, if I'm going to spend the time on another product, it better be one that provides some results. And with the Perricone Advanced Firming Face Activator, there is no doubt that this is an excellent time and money investment. If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, you are in luck because The Beauty Couch is hosting a giveaway for a bottle of Advanced Firming Face Activator to one lucky reader! Click here to enter!

Interested in other Dr. Perricone's products but not sure which ones would be right for you? Take the Perricone Skin Quiz to get personalized recommendations based on your skin type and problems. Given my experience, it comes as no surprise that the AFFA is one of Perricone's best-sellers; but now I'm pretty psyched to try out some of the others. High Potency Eye Lift maybe?


Max Factor Vivid Impact Lip Color -- Get 'Em Before They're Gone!

Talk about a good news/bad news scenario: just when I found the perfect drugstore lipstick, I find out that it will soon be unavailable!

Although I mentioned Max Factor Vivid Impact Lipsticks a while back, I finally had a chance to try them out for myself these past few weeks. It turns out, they are F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C. Rich, creamy, highly-pigmented with reasonable staying-power, they have everything you might want in a lipstick. In addition, with 20 shades from which to choose, there is something for everyone, from the very adventurous to the more work-appropriate. I've been wearing Pin Up Pink, which is definitely pink and very fun (and apparently very on trend). I've also been using the coordinating lip liner, which again, is of excellent quality. In need of a color suggestion? Visit this Total Beauty quiz to determine your winning shade!

Seriously, folks, these lipsticks, which ring up around $8-9, are as good or better than MAC lipsticks that cost at least $5 more plus a special trip to the MAC or department store. The Max Factors, I can pick up in just about any old drugstore around the corner. That is... until 2010.

Last month, Max Factor announced that they were pulling out of U.S. markets in search of greener (i.e. foreign) pastures. Their products will still be sold overseas (and by scalpers on ebay, no doubt), but will no longer grace the shelves of local drugstores in the U.S.A. Sadly, this is the end of an era for this legendary brand. While Max Factor will live on in other markets, for the rest of us left behind, it's time to stock up on holy grail Max Factor products before it is too late.


Tips for a Totally Irresistible You from Actress Emmanuelle Chriqui

Emmanuelle Chriqui seriously could not be more beautiful. Although I might be the only person I know who liked "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," most people can agree that as the film's female lead, Chriqui was definitely striking. She can now be found returning for the sixth season of Entourage to wrap those guys around her little finger.

This month, Chriqui opens up to Women's Health about challenges she has face in her career thus far and how she has learned to accept being different than the Hollywood status quo -- although, honestly, where else but Hollywood would such a beautiful woman have a hard time accepting herself?

She shares some hard-earned tips for being totally irresistible in your own skin.

Don’t freak over so-called imperfections. “Never reveal your insecurities to a man, because nine times out of 10 they have no idea they even exist. Most guys are not as observant as women are.”

Let the real you shine through. "For the record: I wear makeup. All. The. Time. But I do it in a way that looks natural. My skin is blotchy, and I'm Mediterranean—I've got dark circles. So I need foundation and concealer. One thing I swear by is Armani Silk foundation. It offers coverage, but it breathes, so people never think I'm wearing makeup. For under my eyes, I use Touche Eclat by Yves Saint Laurent, which I love because it's moisturizing and creamy and blends into my skin without getting cakey. I also wear a bronzerCargo and Nars have great sun-kissed colors—just to give a little depth to my cheeks."

Play up your best feature. "I would say that my favorite part of my face is my eyes. I have very long lashes, but they're not thick, so when I apply mascara—I love L'Oreal Voluminous—suddenly my eyes are transformed. It's cool. I've also learned a few eye makeup tricks. For example, highlight your brow bone to give your eyes a more wide-open look. Also, as you're applying mascara, twirl the brush—from the root [to the ends]—so the color covers the whole lash for a fuller look."

Develop your own sense of style. "You have to be comfortable in what you're wearing, because it shows. I know what fits my body and I'm crazy particular about that. Something I've been living in: my AG jeans. They're tight, boot-leg, low-waisted and holey. You can wear them dressed up or dressed down, with running shoes or sandals, whatever. Sometimes I follow trends, like when the skinny-jeans craze was going on, but usually I just do what feels good to me. I'm not afraid when it comes to fashion. If I love the way something looks—whether it's ethnic, Goth, or ultra sexy—I'm like, let's do this!"

For full interview and to see the rest of Emmanuelle's tips, pick up the July issue or visit Women's Health online. Personally, I'm dying to know what nail color she's wearing in that top photo. Any guesses?


Summer Steals at Stila!

Stila's Indian Summer collection totally knocked my socks off with its gorgeousness. But things have gotten even better with the beauty brand as they are offering some killer discounts on sets from the collection. Check out these specials:

I love the "Indian Summer" and the "Gorgeous Gold" sets -- both at a significant 50% discount from their normal price. Don't miss out on snapping these babies up, something tells me they won't last long...


Hot Deals & Allure's Top Picks at Ulta

This month's issue of Allure contained an interesting story, entitled Beauty's Big Secret, that examined the striking similarity between expensive high-end products and their generic knock offs. Thankfully, in these penny-pinching times, some of those less glamorous products are just as good as their designer counterparts at a fraction of the cost. The article also featured lists of the best store-brand products from some popular beauty retailers like Ulta, Walgreens, CVS, Target and others.

I bring it up because Ulta-brand cosmetics are on massive sale right now. I got a super fun, shimmery nude nail polish (Gentle Ginger) for $2! Behold!

The Allure article on generic cosmetics was really cool and it's too bad that it isn't available on the sucky Allure website. They should really do articles like that more often. But to help you make the most of the Ulta sale, here is a re-created list of Allure's top picks from the beauty outlet's house brand (all prices are pre-sale).

Ulta Cheek Color ($7): "Every shade in this range works, " says makeup artist Troy Surratt. "None of them are too bold -- it's a goof-proof assortment."

Ulta Eye Shadow in Sandstone ($7): Makeup artist Surratt reports "All of the shadows have a silky texture and blend beautifully, but Sandstone just looks great on everybody."

Ulta Illuminating Foundation ($13): "This oil-free formulation gives just enough coverage to even out the skin while still hydrating," says Surratt.

Ulta Daily Moisturizer Face Glow ($7): "This lotion feels lightweight, has a pleasant fragrance and gives a subtle bronzing effect that can be intensified over several days of use," says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer.

Ulta Color Restoring Glaze ($10): "This deposits just enough dye to intensify your hair color, then coats the strands with silicone to add shine and seal the cuticle," says Hammer. The colored versions will make hair brighter while the clear one adds shine.

So, what do you think? Do you have any favorite off-label products you would recommend? Do tell!


My New Obsession: Earth Therapeutics Cracked Heel Repair

Earth Therapeutics is one of those ubiquitous brands that just seem to pop up everywhere I turn: drug stores, beauty stores, department stores, home stores. It's fairly impressive in terms of market penetration, but I truly doubt that they would be so easy to find if they didn't make such awesome products. At any given moment, I probably have at least three Earth Therapeutics products in my bath/beauty routine -- currently the Anti-Bacterial Bath Sponge ($7), the Dream Zone Sleep Mask ($8) and the Anti-Stress Body Wrap ($30).

But my newest discovery, the Earth Therapeutics Cracked Heel Repair($10), is on the fast-track to being one of my favorites. I picked up this little gem as an impulse buy when I discovered an entire 40% off Earth Therapeutics display. Having never encountered the Cracked Heel Repair before, I figured what the heck, and happily tossed it in the basket.

What follows was a complete surprise to me as I did not expect to love this stuff as much as I do. Essentially, it's a balm for the feet. As a caveat, I don't have cracked heels so I can't really attest to its ability to repair them. But, like many of us in the Summer months, I do have calloused and frequently dry heels and it has worked magic on them. To use it, just push the stick up and then rub on problematic areas, using as little or as much as you like. Applying the balm before bed and then putting on some clean white socks really helps maximize the effect. It worked to soften my dry heels so much that I started putting it all over my feet. Turns out it works amazingly well as a cuticle treatment as well!

Other good things about it include that it does come in the applicator stick, so you don't have to get the balm all over your hands while applying it to your feet. The formula is rich with shea butter and has a pleasant fragrance that I can't exactly place, but it is kind of almond-y. Thankfully, it isn't peppermint scented. I cannot stand peppermint scented things, which unfortunately tend to be popular in foot products, so the nice scent of the Cracked Heel Repair balm made me quite happy. This is kind of gross, but I'll tell you anyway; (*whispering*) I've even used it as a night time lip balm and it's awesome.

A few bummers include that it is kind of expensive for the amount of product that you get and I've been plowing through mine at a pretty rapid pace. Granted, I tend to be a little lavish in my body product application (mostly because I'm always trying to use up stuff), so someone with more restraint would probably make it last quite a long time. Also, it can be awkward to apply because you have to keep pressure on the push-up part of the stick or it retreats back into the case. A screw-up applicator may have been a better choice.

But other than those concerns, I have been thoroughly pleased with the Earth Therapeutics Cracked Heel Repair Balm. It is easy and fun to use and, most importantly, quite effective at hydrating parched Summer heels. Add in the thick, rich emollient and the pleasant scent and it's no wonder it has taken up a place of honor on my nightstand.


Total Beauty's Deep Cleaning Tricks

We are about mid-way through July (already!) and chances are that there are some small and not-so-small beauty challenges popping up here and there. Not to fear, though, as Total Beauty has an informative little slide show on dealing with various inconveniences and getting a satisfyingly deep clean.

Despite being sponsored by Noxzema, it is actually refreshingly free from obvious product-plugging. Check it out!


Anastasia Lash Lifting Mascara

Anastasia Soare is well known as brow consultant to the stars (most recently Kim Kardashian) as well as the originator of such incredible brow grooming products as the All About Brows Kit and the Brow Definer. Now she has taken her talent for producing beautiful brows and applied it their Southerly neighbors, the eyes. It makes a certain amount a sense, being that probably 85% of brow grooming is done to enhance the eyes anyway. So why not add a kick-butt mascara to the package as well?

I'm not sure if that was Anastasia's thinking or not, but it seems to have worked. The Anastasia Lash Lifting Mascara ($22) is designed to thicken and curl lashes with just one stroke. The product is formulated with hard waxes and synthetic polymers that act to both dramatically beef up wimpy lashes without any pesky clumping action. Additionally, the mascara reportedly enhances curl and, if you go so far as to use it with an eye lash curler, helps to maintain the eye-opening effect. The mascara only comes in one color at the moment, which is of course, the blackest black.

I've been using the Anastasia Lash Lifting Mascara for several weeks and it is definitely what I reach for when some major volume is in order. The brush is on the bigger side and it effectively catches every small lash to darken and build it up for maximal volume. I'm not sure that the curl-enhancing properties have been as overt as the volumizing, but I do believe that it acts like hairspray for my lashes. If I take the extra step of curling them, then the Anastasia mascara does a good job of keeping the curl throughout the day, something that other mascaras do not.

Pictures are better than words, so here is a before and after shot of me wearing the Anastasia Lash Lifting Mascara. Hopefully it should be obvious which is the "before" and which is the "after." But just to be clear, the eye seen on the left is before and the eye on the right is the after. I'm sure that there is some scientific way or measuring this, but in my amateur estimation, I think my lashes look at least 3x darker and fuller compared with the other eye.

There are a few downsides to point out. As I have an established aversion to paying more than $10 for a mascara, I feel obligated to point out that it is on the expensive side. Secondly, I think that the wear is pretty good overall, but I have had a consistent problem with under eye smudging as the day goes on when wearing this. That small dark shadow just creeps in riiiiight under the lower lash line. I wouldn't even mention it except that it really has been a consistent problem.

But despite those minor bummers, I do really like this mascara. It is easy to use, provides big results and lasts all day without flaking. For a brow expert making her first foray into mascara, I think Anastasia was right on target. Anastasia Lash Lifting Mascara is available online at, Sephora or Nordstrom.


Dove Visibly Smooth -- Amazingly Smoother!

Dove Visibly Smooth ($8) is a new antiperspirant/deodorant that aims to not only protect from unsightly wetness, but also to make underarm hair softer and less noticeable over time.
Dove Visibly Smooth’s formula helps underarms feel stubble free for longer. Using Dove Visibly Smooth minimizes the visual appearance of underarm hair over time. This leaves underarms feeling smoother, longer, and basically puts an end to that prickly feeling. It doesn’t affect hair growth, but does soften and condition underarms and underarm hair to improve the overall look and feel of underarms. Dove Visibly Smooth also contains Dove’s ¼ translucent moisturizers with natural extracts, which conditions and cares for underarm skin.
When I initially read about Dove Visibly Smooth, I found it perplexing. In all honesty, keeping me dry all day long is about the only requirement that I have for antiperspirant -- and most of them fail at that. So to think about adding additional purposes just seemed unnecessary. However, I then had the opportunity to challenge my skepticism of the whole concept and I'm glad that I did.

Now that I've been using the Dove Visibly Smooth Wild Rose (it also comes in Nature Fresh) for the past month, I have to say, it is impressive on many levels. Usually I go with unscented things, but the Wild Rose scent is pretty unobtrusive and I don't mind it. To address the #1 requirement, this stuff is very effective at keeping me fresh and dry throughout the day. Prior to using the Dove Visibly Smooth, I was using a clinical strength formulation of another brand. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Dove Visibly Smooth actually kept me drier than that one. Just as a side note, I do use deodorant both in the morning and prior to bed and I find that this really helps to keep the underarm dampness away. The Dove Visibly Smooth also has a clinical strength option, but I haven't tried that one.

So now that objective #1 was accomplished adeptly by Dove Visibly Smooth, what of this hair minimizing business? It was kind of surprising to me, but after using it consistently for about 2 weeks, I did start to notice that my underarm hair was growing back more slowly than usual. I'll spare you the graphic details about this, but after a month of use, I really did notice a difference in the amount and coarseness of the hair. I can't say that "that prickly feeling" was ever really that bothersome to me personally, but the hair was softer and sparser overall. Pretty cool, actually! Overall, I'm quite happy with this product and I can honestly say that I'm unlikely to go back to my former brand after using Dove Visibly Smooth -- I really like it that much better!

If you are interested in trying out Dove Visibly Smooth for yourself, I have some $2 off coupons that I'd love to give away to some lucky readers. Just send an email to beauty couch (one word) at gmail dot com with your name and address (U.S.A. only, please). The first ten people to email will get a coupon for themselves and one to give away to a friend. For those who require instant gratification, check out Dove's website or their Facebook page for printable coupons. Dove Visibly Smooth is widely available at drugstores near you.


Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 7/10/09

Total Beauty Web Tour

Read about The Informed Makeup Maven's Patent Pink Heel workout. Sculpt those sexy pins and improve your stamina in heels.

My Makeup Blog is holding its third giveaway with fabulous products that are perfect for traveling.

The Beauty Couch reviews Les Garçonnes, the just-released, roaring 20s-inspired fragrance collection by Crazylibellule and the Poppies.

Alison of the Advice Sisters has an easy suggestions for fun nails this SummerKiss EverLasting French Manicure Limited Edition in Neon Brights. Easy, inexpensive, and cute!

Beauty Anonymous brings you Jill Stuart fall 2009 makeup collection.

More Than a Pretty Face concludes her interview with makeup artist extraordinaire Sam Fine. Tips from the master included! Also, keep visiting our blog for the latest in promotions!

Roni at Neon Bible hates Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Foundation! Shock!

Monique at Beauty Girl Musings reviews the new MAC Naked Honey Skin Salve and features the limited-edition Naked Honey collection.

MissWhoever You Are is celebrating her TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY and wants you in on the fun! Check out the AMAZING giveaway happening right now worth over $100!!!

Visit Lipgloss Break and Enter to Win Two Great Giveaways for this Week: Huge Lips Skinny Lips Gloss and SripTeas!

Head on over to The Makeup Divas and enter to win a 2fl oz bottle of Perricone MD Advanced Face Firming Activator, valued at $120!

Beauty Banter uncovers the must-have coral products for summer!

Combination skin?Glossypink has found an awesome, all-natural, botanical cleanser to brighten things up!

The girls over at Beauty in Real Life have another fab giveaway this week! Click here to enter to win a month's supply of NutriSystem!

Hot Beauty Health discusses Beyonce Sasha Fierce line as well as more summer beauty tips.


Don't Forget to Enter The Beauty Couch Chapstick True Shimmer Giveaway!

The Beauty Couch
is giving away two brand new, not-yet-released flavors of the newest Chapstick variation: True Shimmer. Contest ends tomorrow, Friday June 10 at 12pm EST. Don't miss out!

***UPDATE: Congratulations to Jessica in Daly City, CA and Amy in NY, NY and enjoy your new ChapStick True Shimmers!


Brush Extraordinaire: EcoTools Blush Brush

A while back I bought a friend of mine a collection of EcoTools brushes for her birthday. This collection, in fact, because I knew she is an environmentally-conscious person who needed some brushes. All of the EcoTools are made with natural and recycled materials and the brush heads are 100% cruelty-free. The handles are low-impact bamboo and the ferrule is made from recycled materials.

So that was all well and good except that I never got around to trying them out for myself until recently. Boy, was I missing out! The EcoTools Blush Brush ($8) is the softest, most luxurious, pampering brush I have ever used. It is, in short, amazing. The bristles are so so so soft, they do not even compare with others. Before the EcoTools Blush Brush, the Everyday Minerals brushes were the softest in my collection, but this brush surpasses even them. Don't even talk to me about the Bare Minerals brushes, which now just feel like rubbing sandpaper on my face.

Beyond the softness, EcoTools Blush Brush is incredible at applying a beautiful flush of blush to the cheeks. It is shaped perfectly to just hit the apple of the cheek and it easily blends for a gorgeous finish. Because there are so many bristles, you do have to watch to not pick up too much color, but after one or two uses, it is no problem. I seriously love the feel of this thing on my face. I wish that I could carry it around all day like a security blanket, stroking my cheek. That is probably not possible; at least, not without attracting some rather peculiar stares.

The EcoTools are widely available at drugstores and Ulta. I can't wait to pick up a few more. I think the Powder Brush or the Retractable Kabuki might be next on the list. If you are a blush fanatic like I am, you are seriously missing out by not trying this brush. It's just that good.


Beautify Your Bathroom with... Q-tips???

There are many ways to dress up a bathroom/vanity area: bright white towels, fresh cut flowers, a scented candle or two, but a Q tip box? Come again? Sure, we all love those handy cotton-topped swabs, but the standard box does not jump to mind when I think of products with beautiful packaging. The new Q tips Vanity Packs ($3) are going to change that. In four fabulous, vibrant colors (blue, purple/pink, red and yellow) these 285 count boxes are adorable enough to leave out on the counter not only for convenience, but because you won't want to put them away!

And because they contain the multi-functional Q tips we all know and love, you will be reaching for the box over and over again for any number of beauty-related tasks. In fact, there are so many beautiful uses for a Q tip that they are a definite must-have for amateur and professional makeup artists, including well-known names like Mally Roncal and Troy Jensen. In fact, has a whole slew of beauty tips for Q tips including the most-loved secrets of Mally and Troy. Find even more on this list by The Beauty Bunny for 29 unexpected ways to use a Q tip. If, like me, you tend to find makeup migrating to unfortunate ares of your face throughout the day, check out my favorite Q tip tip:
Keep Q-tips cotton swabs in a plastic bag with a small amount of makeup remover. They're convenient and great to use for touch-ups throughout the day (runny mascara, smeared eye shadow, smudged lipstick, etc.)."
I've had some of the Vanity Packs (the purple one shown on the left, in fact) sitting out on my counter for a few weeks now and they really do a good job of brightening up the area. The boxes are relatively compact and so vividly colored that you would probably not even suspect that they contained something like Qtips. In the mess of brushes that need to be washed, contact lens containers and various products I'm sampling at any given time, the Q tips Vanity Packs are the one thing I can point to that actually leave my bathroom counter looking better once they arrived. Small, handy and good-looking, what's not to love?


Sniffer Report: Les Garçonnes by Crazylibellule and the Poppies

Crazylibellule and the Poppies, that cult Parisian perfumer famous for their intensely portable CrazySticks, has launched a new collection: Les Garçonnes. Inspired by and dedicated to the early pioneers of the women's movement in the 1920s, each complex fragrance is named after a different important woman (famous or not) from that time period.
Une histoire de liberté...About flaunting, dancing. Accept our preferences. Creation, play, discovery. Taking control of our lives... Extravagant decade, unbelievably rich."
Because they are formulated in the solid perfume CrazyStick, they are free of parabens, alcohol and artificial coloring and are just compact and cute enough to cart around in your day bag. Each scent is as intensely intriguing as it is unique; each is described by the trademark Crazylibellule and the Poppies Les Étoiles Olfactives or Olfactory Stars.

I've been trying out three of the scents for the past few weeks and, I have to say, they are unlike any other perfumes I have ever experienced! In a good way, of course.

Hommage à Gabrielle ($18) was the first scent I tried and, despite being a little skeptical, I actually truly enjoy it. The prominent note of Russian leather, combined with Wooded Incense and Cedar, is definitely not to be missed and lends this perfume a masculinity not usually found in women's fragrances. But the strong masculinity at the beginning is balanced out by more feminine notes of Peony and Indian Jasmine once it makes contact with the skin. It is almost as if it is waiting to actually touch a woman's skin before presenting the more delicate elements. Of all of them, this one I can clearly see fitting the Les Garçonnes persona of a strong woman not afraid to wear pants ahead of her time. It is also a perfume that would work quite well as a unisex product and one I wouldn't hesitate to let my husband or brother borrow.

Tamara Charleston was probably the scent that caused me the most confusion at the beginning because, to be honest, I have no idea what the main components of Green Mandarin, Lisylang and Absinthe, smell like independently. But together along with Freshly Cut Hay, Peach and Gardenia, they create a fragrance that tickles the nose with interest and leaves you coming back again and again, just trying to understand what it is that makes it so provocative. However, once I read the background "story" for the scent, it started to make more sense...
Breathe in the air on the steps of the villa and feel your body quiver once more. Dizzy, a glass of gin on the rocks, drawing on a cigarette before her portrait. Listening to the garden, naked... and the Charleston electrifying the night”
Tamara Charleston definitely captures the spirit of a drunken interlude in the country at dusk. It is full of contradictions: subtle and overt, approachable and aloof, glamorous and earthy. It is shy but impactful and definitely worth a try.

Rose à Saïgon is the final fragrance that I sampled and it is sure to be loved by ladies who prefer a more classically flower-rich scent with a bit of a twist. The story for this one is also amazingly evocative:
Her name was Rose, and she dreamed of other worlds, of the effervescence of the roaring twenties... The moist air of Indochina, a crackly melody on the gramophone, and the spellbinding odor of dreams on her skin.”
The sweetness of the Passion Fruit and Mango, combined with the flowery Rose and Jasmine, is prominent at the beginning, but the smokiness of the Guaiacum Wood and Vetiver provide a slightly tougher and deliciously unusual finish. It evokes the smell of a young woman from a traditional upbringing longing to discover new ways to relate to the world. It suggests beauty and promise just around the next corner.

Although I sampled just three, Les Garçonnes contains seven fragrances in total all with similar mixtures of masculine/feminine on their Olfactory Stars. The wear on these is about average for perfume on my skin, meaning that they were mostly evaporated by mid-day. But, the CrazySticks have the distinct advantage of being small enough to take along for touch ups. In fact, they even make a very chic little "fashion accessory" -- essentially a carrying sling to keep it close by, whether that is around your neck or tied to your bag.

Crazylibellule and the Poppies Les Garçonnes is a beautiful collection with a modern twist on classic scents. The spirit of those early Les Garçonnes lives on in the independent sensibilities of the modern woman and is appropriately celebrated by these carefully crafted perfumes.

Crazylibellule and the Poppies is available for purchase at Sephora, and


Slightly Ridiculous Product I Nevertheless Love: Evian Facial Spray

As someone who generally opposes frivolous beauty products with dubious claims, I did not expect to love Evian Facial Spray Mist ($10). To be clear, this product is essentially Evian water packaged in a pressurized can so that it can be gently misted on the face with the press of a button. It occasionally shows up in celebrity magazines as a beauty secret for keeping skin dewy and hydrated or as a travel must-have for combating dry airliner cabins.

This weekend we are experiencing a small heat wave in my area of the country and the Evian Spray Mist is my new best friend. A quick spritz over my over-heated face and I am cool and comfortable -- at least for a while. Because the water is pressurized, it is cool when sprayed from the container; but for the truly heat-tortured, I would definitely try keeping it in the fridge for an extra-chilly effect. The directions indicate that it is supposed to be sprayed on, left for a brief while, and then gently dabbed off. Personally, I just leave it on to evaporate on its own, which because of the ultra-fine mist, it does rather quickly.

But even when the heat isn't public enemy #1, this spray is perfect for creating lovely, dewy skin. A few of my favorite foundations, like tarte Peaches & Cream, are matte. While I do like the matte look and love the coverage that foundation provides, I often want a dewy look for Summer. So what to do? Now, when applying a matte foundation, I spray a light dusting of the Evian over top and just let it sit. Besides adding a little glow to the skin, this also effectively "sets" the makeup and extends the wear without dusting on translucent powder.

Evian Facial Mist comes in a variety of sizes and multi-packs. One particularly interesting size is the small 1.7oz can ($18) that would be perfect for travelling. And because it is sold in a 3 pack, you can easily keep one in your purse, at the office or in the travel bag. Never have an excuse to be unrefreshed on arrival again!


Weekly Total Beauty Web Tour 7/2/09

Total Beauty Web Tour

It's Mario Badescu week at The Informed Makeup Maven where a new MB product is reviewed everyday. Don't forget to enter IMM's giveaways!

Dao from My Makeup Blog discovered a way to have Gisele Bunchen's hair without using heat.

Beauty Anonymous takes you to the ocean-inspired makeup collections.

Alison Blackman of the Advice Sisters has just published the Advice Sisters bi-monthly, Summer 2009 What Works Beauty, Cosmetics & Fashion review column featuring 25 pages chock full of Summer-safe products for every budget and every activity!

Fabulous Over Forty has a favorite brand of aromatherapy for body and mind.

More Than a Pretty Face presents Part 1 of her interview with makeup artist extraordinaire Sam Fine. Stay tuned for Part 2!

The Beauty Couch is giving away two ChapStick True Shimmers to fulfill all your shimmery dreams.

Don't forget to enter Beauty in Real Life's giveaway with Perricone MD! Click here to enter to win an Advanced Face Firming Activator!!

Visit Lipgloss Break to Enter to Win Vera Wang Rock Princess and Barielle Summer Sugar Rush Nail Collection!


Review: Chapstick True Shimmer

Everyone knows ChapStick, so much so that is has kind of become synonymous with lip balm, no? Much like "cotton swabs" are called "Qtips" even when they are generic, people talk about "ChapStick" even if they aren't using a product from the brand itself. Certainly, the brand does not hurt for recognition.

But, not content to rest on their laurels, ChapStick has a new addition to their family. When I first saw ads for the ChapStick True Shimmers ($3) a few months ago, I could not wait to try them, so I was super psyched when I got the opportunity. If you haven't heard of them yet, much as the name would suggest, the True Shimmer balms offer the same moisturizing benefits of a lip balm but with the added bonus of subtle shimmer. So far there are two available flavors,Tropical and Botanical Berry, but two additional flavors, Peppermint Rush and Blended Fruit Sherbet, will be released later this Summer.

After using the True Shimmers for a few weeks now, I can say that they definitely lived up to my expectations and beyond. The moisturizing and lip protection that the balm provides is unquestionable and definitely what one would expect from a ChapStick product. However, the new, sexy shimmer is amazing! It is subtle, but not too subtle. I was a little apprehensive that the shimmer would be so light that it would hardly matter at all, but I was incorrect. It is definitely noticeable, visible and very flattering without being overtly obvious. In short, this is the perfect Summer makeup product to give you that fast, easy, on-the-go, no-fuss-but-still-a-little-glam look.

This product would be absolutely perfect for a low maintenance gal to spiff up the routine without a major time and money investment. Or, it works for those high maintenance gals who want to keep their lips soft but not let them go completely unadorned. It is all around a great product for everyone and I can't recommend it highly enough. One use that I have enjoyed is applying it over a lip stain to provide a little dimension since stains tend to dry matte. Especially for when you want to use a lip stain but don't want to be overly-glossed, this is an excellent middle ground.

That being said, I feel obligated to point out a few minor issues. My main problem is the lack of SPF. For any product intended or expected to be used outside (which seems likely for the ChapStick True Shimmers), it seems reasonable to anticipate it would have at least some SPF. So that's one thing. Secondly, ChapStick does contain ingredients that some people may find objectionable, namely, petrolatum, methylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens don't bother me much, especially these two because you are likely eating them in food anyway (they are widely used food preservatives); but I feel that I should mention it for readers who are opposed.

But in sum, the ChapStick True Shimmers are real winners! And because I'm feeling excited and want to share, how about we have a little giveaway? Fill in the form below with your name, email (not published) and your favorite Summer makeup product for a chance to win one of two not-yet-released flavors of ChapStick: Blended Fruit Sherbet or Peppermint Rush. The contest ends Friday, June 10 at noon EST and is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. But even if you don't win, pick up a True Shimmer of your choice at most drugstores and mass retailers everywhere. With a price of less than $3, it might be worthwhile pick up a few!


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