September Steals & Deals

It seems kind of incredible that we are already wrapping up the month of September. Complete craziness! Lucky for us, though, the swift passage of time craziness can be assuaged by the discovery of a true beauty bargain. And it just so happens that I have a few to share...

Every year, Allure puts out a beauty box full of excellent, well-tested products and this year's offering is no exception. The Allure Spa Beauty Box ($30) contains 8 products that are definitely covet-worthy. The Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil, Moroccan Oil hair treatment and the Jane Iredale cream blusher have a lot of positive buzz just between the three of them. Released last week, the box is available only in limited quantities so don't wait! This would also make an excellent holiday gift for any beauty-lovin' ladies in your life.

Next up is the newest discount beauty emporium on the net, The Have you signed up for The Fairest yet? Yes, yes, you do have to sign up and create a log in and all that nonsense but the emails from this website contain incredible deals (up to 75%!) on expert-tested body, skin, hair and makeup products from very exclusive brands -- definitely not spam. Launched only a few short weeks ago, The Fairest has had some amazing deals and I can't wait to see what will be up next. Joining is free so it never hurts to see what's what.

Lastly, I heard only today about a deal from Raw Minerals whereby you can get a free 30 day trial of their nourishing mineral makeup by paying for shipping & handling. While mineral makeup in general has legions of fans, I can't site any personal familiarity with RAWMinerals. But here is what they have to say about their product:

Who doesn't need a little "complexion-perfecting"? RAWMinerals is an eco-friendly, natural cosmetics line that promises to make you look instantly younger by flawlessly covering acne, sunspots, redness, and wrinkles without making you look dry and powdery. The makeup collection is rich in naturally occurring, high-performance botanical peptides and does not contain harmful nasties like parabens, petrochemicals, or synthetic dyes. Now you can discover for yourself why thousands of women are switching to RAWMinerals."
Just a few quick deals to perk up your morning (or afternoon). Not that anyone would be shopping for beauty deals while at work... Of course not.


Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner

Since we're on the topic of gel eye liners, let me share one that I've been using for a while: Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner ($15). I picked this up a while back in Black Honey; I was curious about the color because the much beloved Black Honey shade of the Almost Lipstick is a pretty, berry tint. As such, I expected the Brush-On Cream Liner would be an interesting purple-brown. Unsurprisingly, my assumption was wrong and the color is more appropriately described as a "shimmery reddish brown," which is fine since it is really quite lovely with just a hint of golden shimmer.

This gel liner is so easy to use, it's almost ridiculous. The creamy texture just glides on without any smudging or messiness. Since mine didn't come with the little Clinique brush pictured, I use theBalm shadyLady Liner Brush ($8) to apply it [as a side note, that is probably one of the best $8 I've spent on a makeup brush]. Whether doing a close to the lashes smudge or a more dramatic cat eye swoop, this liner is really great. The price is also quite reasonable (cheaper than UD Ink for Eyes) and it lasts forever. The one deficiency is that the staying-power could be better. The color doesn't immediately disintegrate, but it doesn't quite make it till the end of the day. Nevertheless, on balance, this is still a very good gel liner at a reasonable price and I definitely enjoy using it.

***FYI, I'm going to be absent from blogging for a few days while I take a little trip, but I'll be back soon enough! Thanks for your patience. ***


Product Lust: Urban Decay Ink for Eyes

Coming across these incredible new gel liners from Urban Decay was a total stop-the-presses moment for me. First of all, the case has a peacock on it. I'm not a peacock freak or anything, but that design just speaks to me. That was my initial attraction to Ink for Eyes ($22).

Beyond the gorgeous packaging, I am intrigued to try out the actual product: a creamy gel liner. Although previously a strictly pencil liner gal, these days I'm gravitating more toward gel and liquid. Typically, time is too short to attempt liquid, so gel is a happy medium. Ink for Eyes has a long, sleek package containing one of six shades of the gel liner along with a duo-ended brush (angled liner and "smudger"). It also has a mirror which is an excellent idea, in my opinion, for touch ups.
Create razor-sharp lines or smoky bedroom eyes… the creamy formula and double-ended applicator make it easy. Try the angled liner brush for precise details, or use the smudger for blending and drama. With such a wide variety of intriguing shades and ways to apply, you’re only limited by your imagination. (Cheesy, but true.) What’s our secret ingredient? Nylon 12! This high-tech polymer decreases drag for flawless application (no skips or smears), while softening and absorbing excess oil. Color glides easily and stays true all day long. And, the formula is paraben-free!"
Choose from one of six colors including a unique iridescent white glitter, Pyrotechnics. For the less adventurous, there are the standard black and brown offerings. For the slightly-more adventurous, there are oh-so-trendy eggplant, navy and hunter green shades. Definitely something for everyone and, seriously, who doesn't love that peacock?


Barely-There & Beautiful

Zac Posen - Font Row & Backstage - Spring 2010 MBFWIn agreement with what the NYT was saying yesterday, Fashion Week Spring 2010 evidenced makeup looks that definitely took a less-is-more perspective. For example, check out the barely-there makeup on this model from the Zac Posen Spring 2010 fashion show. Follow this link to see pics from other designers who chose similar minimalist looks for their shows.

In the current Fall season, while we are knee-deep in dramatic looks for eyes and lips, expect this natural look to become trendy once the weather warms up again. However, although trends come and go, many women go for a simple look all year round. If you are in that camp, or you just want to be ahead of the trend curve for Spring, then mark has an excellent product for you.

I am completely in love with the Flip For It palettes that mark puts out each season. My London Palette is never far from the regular rotation in my makeup bag (wearing it today, in fact!). The palettes are perfectly edited and coordinated to create a no-fail look without any stress or thought. Plus, since they contain everything you need for eyes, cheeks and lips, they are perfect for travel. Toss some foundation, mascara and the Flip For It in your bag and you are ready for take off! My fan-ship of these economical little babies extends to their newest release: mark Flip For It Urban Neutrals ($20). How gorgeous is the chocolate-y brown eye shadow/liner?

If this palette is similar to mine, the eye and cheek colors are well pigmented and easy to use. Flip it over and there are four gorgeous lip shades ranging from a matte brick-red to shimmery barely-there pink. This palette will take you from morning coffee to happy hour without missing a beat. And for $20, that is a seriously hard act to follow.

So stop messing around with lots and lots of products to get that simply done look. Grab the Urban Neutrals Flip For It and be the most beautiful, natural gal around.


Thank You for Your Patience...

Smiling Young Woman Half Made Up Sorry for being M.I.A. in terms of posting. For whatever reason, I've been in a bit of a slump with regard to topics to blog about. The Fall collections haven't really caught my attention (or imagination) this year and, this is really tragic, I won't be able to make it to any trend shows due to work. Such a bummer.

But, then again, it looks like many of you also have had decreasing interest in beauty products during the recession. According to a NYT article today, department store beauty spending is down 7% compared to last year. They don't mention this in the article, but I wonder if drugstore beauty spending has changed as a result (either up or down).

In the interim, even if you aren't re-stocking any time soon, it is always good to clean out the stash every now and again. For help with this, check out Beauty Duty: Fall Fling from last September.

Also, if there are any topics that you would like to see covered on The Beauty Couch, please leave a comment. Thanks!


Embrace Your Inner Goth: Dramatic Lips for Fall

Rachel Roy - Presentation - Fall 09 MBFWThe currently running NY Fashion Week is showing fashions for Spring 2010. To figure out what the trends and styles are for Fall 2009, we have to rewind back to 2009 Fall NY Fashion Week that occurred last February. One of the most dramatic looks of that season came from designer Rachel Roy. To complement her streamlined and minimalist clothes, she chose a look that was soft around the eyes with hair-raising, dramatic lips (created by none other than Queen of Neutrals Bobbi Brown).

Although this look may be too extreme for daily wear, some variant of a dramatic lip will definitely be popping up on fashionable kissers this Fall. Last year, the YSL Pur Black Gloss was the forerunner of this trend, but now it seems that other cosmetics companies are on the wagon as well. There are some gorgeous Urban Decay lipstick shades that are quite dark and dramatic and would fit the bill perfectly. For example, check out Apocalypse ($22), a deep, creamy blackberry shade that ends up being quite wearable thanks to its sheer nature. Even more drama can be achieved by Confession, a more pigmented and semi-sheer deep burgundy.

The other brand that comes to mind when thinking of re-creating Rachel Roy's stunning look is the soon-to-be released MAC Style Black Collection (set to release 9/24). Peeps are already going crazy for this collection. Seriously, check this out:

Of particular interest to the dark lip trend is this variety of lip shades in several formulations (Lipstick, sheer Mattene and high-gloss Glimmerglass):

  • Black Knight Lipstick ($14) -- creamy true black
  • Midnight Media Mattene ($15) -- dense matte black
  • Night Violet Mattene ($15) -- deep purple grape
  • Bling Black Glimmerglass ($18) -- sheer black with gold pearl
  • Blackfire Glimmerglass ($18) -- sheer black with pink purple pearl
  • Blackware Glimmerglass ($18) -- creamy true black

  • This dark lip trend reminds me of my later high school days, when my go-to lip color was a dusky, near-black purple (WetnWild, I believe). It really wasn't the world's most flattering choice (Mom hated it quite a bit), but I loved it all the same. These days, I know better than to put a near-black on my thin, already-puny lips, but I think a sheer burgundy or deep magenta might just satisfy this Fall trend.


    Review: L'Oreal EverPure UV Spray

    Chances are you have seen ubiquitous ads for the L'Oreal EverPure product line. Released last Winter, the EverPure line was designed to be completely free of harsh and drying ingredients that can dull color and damage hair. In particular, they are free from sulfates, surfactants and harsh salts. In place of these ingredients, L'Oreal designed a blend of five naturally-derived surfactants for gentle cleansing combined with silicones for additional color protection. Previously only found in expensive, high-end natural products, this was the first mass market sulfate-free line to come out.

    While I haven't used the entire EverPure line (which contains moisturizing, frizz-fighting and volumizing shampoos and conditioners), I have been using the EverPure UV Spray ($9) for the past few weeks. It turns out that UVA and UVB rays are damaging both to skin and to color-treated hair, causing rapid fading of expensive color treatments. The EverPure UV Spray can be used on any hair type and aims to provide additional sun protection.

    For what it's worth, preserving my already quite-faded hair color isn't really much of an ambitious goal at this point. So, while I have been faithfully using EverPure, I can't really speak to whether it has had much of an impact on my color or not. But, I can say a few things about it. First, it does have a really interesting scent with infusion of rosemary and mint. It is a spicy smell that is not saccharine-sweet in any way. It does come off as a little strong initially, but quickly fades. With regard to its ability to function as a hair spray, I would give it a solid B. It's not amazing, but it is passable. I think the main advantage to using it would be the UV protection. So if you want to protect your color-treated hair, spending the money on this spray might be a reasonable idea. If you are just looking for a good hair spray for daily use, I think that there are cheaper alternatives.

    L'Oreal EverPure is available nationwide in chain drug, food and mass market retailers.


    Look For Less: Christina Hendricks

    Continuing on my Mad Men obsession, here is the always-lovely Christina Hendricks at the Season 3 premier early last month. For the premier, Christina left behind the vintage costume and went for a fresh faced and modern look. Keeping her hairstyle very simple with a classic chignon, this makeup look is perfect for showing off her beautiful features without being overly done or stiff looking. One thing that I love about this look is that it would work on a wide age range of women and is pretty easy to achieve. Here is how I would piece together Christina's beautiful peachy glow without blowing the budget.

    Start by evening the complexion and preparing the face. For this look, her foundation is very minimal and allows the natural glow of her skin to come through. Go with a sheer, tinted moisturizer such as mark Get A Tint Tinted Moisturizer ($8). If your skin can pass with even less, use a quick cream to powder stick like mark Speedway Do Everything Makeup ($8) just to touch more more uneven areas. When in doubt, it is better to use less foundation overall and then just hit problem spots with a sturdy concealer.

    Once the skin is ready, it is time to add back some color. Eye makeup is one of those things that can be incredibly complicated or incredibly easy. While I'm sure her makeup artist used several shades of eyeshadow, I think a passable, similar effect can be obtained with only two products.

    Try a sheer, grey eye shadow like the Almay Pure Blends Eye Shadow in Steel ($8). Apply on the eyelid up to the crease and just ever-so-slightly beyond, concentrating a bit more color on the outer third of the eye. After finishing the top, dust whatever is remaining on the makeup brush near the lower lash line. Try not to re-dip the brush in the pan or there will be too much color on the brush. Similar to the top lid, concentrate a bit more color on the outer third. Finish the look by lining with a black eyeliner, keeping the line close to the lashes and even tight-lining a bit to make it extra-special. For this, try a dark black or very dark grey eye liner like the Sephora Pure Eyeliner in Panther Black ($12). Gently smudge the eyeliner with a cotton swab to diffuse the harshness. Finish with your favorite black mascara or try the mark Scanda-Lash Hook Up Mascara in Blacklash ($6).

    This look is really all about the cheeks and showing off Christina's incredible cheekbones. To keep the look glow-y and fresh, go with a cream blush or stain in a peach shade. Rimmel London Mousse Blush in Peach Iced Tea ($6) would be an excellent choice. Finish the look with a pretty lip shade that coordinates with the blush. To make the color last all night (for your next movie premier), start with a lip stain like stila Mango Crush Cheek and Lip Stain ($24). Don't use a lip liner to keep the overall effect fresh and natural. Top the stain with a pretty, but not overly shiny, gloss. Treat yourself to one with fun scent like Philosophy Melon Dacquiri Flavored Lip Shine ($12) and get ready to smile all night long -- just like Christina!

    Mad Men Season Three Los Angeles Premiere


    Product Lust: Seven September Must-Haves

    Hearing about/reading/seeing/touching/smelling new products are all favorite activities of mine. In fact, there are so many cool things out there, it's really unfortunate that the limits of time and budget keep me from trying them all. But, that won't keep me from yapping about them and passing the product lust on to other unsuspecting souls. With the weather change and the impending dearth of daylight, my desires wander to cozy and comfy. Here are seven my wants and loves for the month of September.

    First up is this cute little ball that is actually lip balm! The Eos Lip Balm Sphere ($4) is 95% USDA organic and free of petrolatum and parabens. It is also packed with soothing ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil and Vitamin E to keep lips smooth and kissable. It comes in three delicious-sounding flavors: Sweet Mint, Honeysuckle Honeydew and Summer Fruit. Yum!

    The LORAC Front Of The Line Pro ($22) is a new long-wearing, smudge-resistant waterproof liquid liner. The appealing thing, however, is the thin, flexible tip that claims to provide the "ultimate control" in application. It reminds me of a very fine point Sharpie marker and I can only hope that it is as easy to use. A perfect cat eye swoop without a messy liquid liner wand -- that would be a relief!

    In the fragrance category, people are super excited about the latest scent from Marc Jacobs, Lola ($85). The second fragrances from MJ named after his dogs (Daisy being the first), Lola the perfume is likened to be Daisy's older, sexier sister. With notes of pink peppercorn, pear, ruby red grapefruit, geranium, vanilla and musk, just to name a few, this scent promises a sexy playfulness that is hopefully not reminiscent of a dog in any way. The bottle design is also beautiful and would look incredible on anyone's dresser.

    Beauty mavens everywhere are seriously freaking out about this next product, YSL Gloss Volupté ($30). I have seen this product raved about in no fewer than three September magazines. At that rate, I half expected to see something about it in the Cook's Country that arrived today. The excitement is related to the gorgeous transparency of color that leaves only the ultimate in sheer, sensuous shine without any gloopiness or stickiness. It's like the holy grail of lip gloss. Plus, how chic are the tubes? Wouldn't you just love to casually pull one of these out of your bag in the ladies room? If you are intrigued, I would act fast since these are sure to sell out -- one of the four shades is already gone!

    Of course I can't leave out a Fall nail color. This reason, Rescue Beauty Lounge payed tribute at the Altar of the Blog World by letting three prominent polish lovers design their own shades. The result is the "Blog Writer's Colors." My fave and September must-have is from hometown gal, Michelle Mismas of All Lacquered Up fame. Aptly named, Mismas ($18), this deep purple cream is trendy but not over the top and the color saturation is truly stunning.

    Lastly, what would September be without a cozy Fall sweater? I just picked up this one from Old Navy ($44); anyone who knows me should expect to see me wearing this probably every day until next June. It is so warm and fuzzy that I am half tempted to sleep in it!

    So, that's it, that list of my Seven September Must-Haves. I have to share this because I'm just so damn proud of it; I tried to make this really cool collage but the stupid software put obnoxious watermarks over the whole thing! The thing is, I'm using an authorized free trial, so why make it look like I'm stealing or something? Even a little watermark would be fine, but those are just ridiculous and ruin the whole thing. Anyway, I might buy the software, but I'm not sure I would love this software more than a YSL Gloss Volupté anyway. So there, jerks.


    Party Face Of The Day (FOTD) featuring NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil

    One of the most fun preparations for my party was creating a hostess-worthy makeup look. For this look, I was inspired by the vibrant red in my dress (a J Crew dress I got at Buff Exchange for $20 -- score!) and the fantasy ideal of a perfectly put together mid-century hostess à la Betty Draper (i.e. this version, not this one).

    As a side note, have you seen MadMenYourself? This is the one I created with a hairstyle that I love but would have no chance of ever being able to do. I think it would involve a hair piece and I'm sure I would have no idea what to do with it even if I even had one. Anyway, you should try it because it is mad fun and an excellent way to waste time.

    At any rate, back to the FOTD. In the pre-party pics, my skin was a sweaty, shiny mess from all the frantic running around. So, this morning I got up and re-created the look for The Beauty Couch readers.

    Here is the final result:

    The star of this look is definitely the red lippie, a relatively new acquisition. It is a Jumbo Lipstick Pencil in Hot Red ($4) from NYX Cosmetics. I decided to try a NYX red after reading this blog post on the preferred reds of a gorgeous vintage gal. With a price so cheap, who could resist? Although I'm not the connoisseur of red lipstick, I think that this one is quite good in terms of color saturation and pigment. The name "Hot Red" was a bit intimidating at first and I worried that it would be too dark, but it turns out to be a lovely shade and just perfect for this vintage-inspired look. The fatness of the Jumbo Lip Pencil creates a smudgy line, so I would definitely recommend using a nude lip liner to get this one right. The finish isn't complete matte, but a semi-gloss which I think is preferable on thin lips.

    Here is the complete run down of the look...

    Anyway, the blush doesn't show up very well in the photo, but it is there. It is important to remember at least a little blush when wearing a dramatic red lip because otherwise you will look completely washed out. I also chose to keep the look kind of soft by leaving my eye brows fairly natural and not severely penciling them in, although you could certainly do that for a more dramatic, Dita-like effect. All in all, I was quite happy with the result and I think that the look reflects my inspirations the way I imagined. It certainly helped me get into the party mood although I had to wait until after the liquid eye liner before having my first glass of Prosecco. Sacrifices, sacrifices...


    Review: L'Oreal Extra-Volume Collagen Mascara

    Since my previous adventure with L'Oreal mascara was... shall we say... disappointing, it was with low expectations that I began using L'Oreal Paris Extra Volume Collagen Mascara ($8) a few weeks ago. This mascara is the latest to join the L'Oreal family and boasts heretofore unheard of volume, claiming 12x more voluminous impact than other mascaras. This is achieved by a new brush design that "provides lash-by-lash definition with incredible wear and no clumping, flaking or smudging." The formula has also been adjusted and supplemented with a mix of collagen and hyaluronic spheres that are meant to cling to the lashes for maximal volume. It comes in both washable and waterproof varieties.

    Unlike the L'Oreal Panoramic, the Extra Volume mascara is an excellent performer and I think lives up to its claim of producing some serious volume in the lash department. The formula is quite nice and I didn't have any flaking or smudging through days of wear. Here are some before and after pics to demonstrate the difference.


    After L'Oreal Paris Extra Volume Collagen Mascara

    It is quite a difference and I think my lashes definitely look fuller. The brush does a good job of grabbing every little lash to achieve this, but I found that it was a little tricky to use. Due to the large size of the brush, it would often place mascara beyond the lashes on my eyelid which then needed to be cleaned up with a cotton swab. Eventually I got the hang of it and needed less clean up, but it was a persistent problem with the new mega-brush. My other complaint is with the size of the container. Why does mascara need to be in these humongous containers? One of the best selling mascaras of all time, Maybelline Great Lash, has a small, very compact container and people love it. Is there some idea that the larger the container, the larger the space it will take up in my heart? Because, if that's the case, it's not working and I only resent the space that it takes up in my already-crowded makeup bag. Small and chic is preferable every time.

    If your lashes need volume, look no further than your local drugstore to pick up a tube of L'Oreal Paris Extra Volume Collagen Mascara. That is, if it will fit in your purse.


    Eyes On The Prize -- That Is, Having Beautiful Eyes

    Eye creams are a tricks-y business: they promise so much and deliver so little. Despite what marketers try to tell us, the bottom line is that eventually we will all show our age around our eyes; insisting otherwise is unrealistic and delusional. Knowing that, it's best just to focus on caring for the delicate eye area by not squinting, wearing sunglasses and using products that may slow the inevitable aging process rather than putting all our hopes and dreams into a new "miracle" serum.

    Which brings me to the subject of today's review, L’Oreal Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream ($20). Despite being billed for deep-set wrinkles, this dual ended cream has benefits for eyes at all stages of the aging process. It cleverly combines two separate eye cream formulations (AM and PM) in one affordable product. The AM hydrating cream is thick and creamy and instantly absorbs, smoothing and ever-so slightly plumping the cells around the eye. The rapid absorption is a key feature, in my mind, because I can't stand around waiting to apply makeup until the eye cream disappears. But, no worries here. In terms of protection from sun damage, the AM cream offers broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 15 coverage.

    The PM treatment contains a healthy dose of Pro-Retinol A to help increase cell turnover. It also contains something called a "Fiber Restoring Complex" with anti-aging ingredients that reportedly stimulate skin to build collagen for increased firmness. The PM cream is thinner in consistency than the AM cream, but both are lightweight, non-greasy and moisturizing.

    On the balance, this product has some real advantages. To start, it is incredibly affordable for an eye cream. Especially considering that it contains two treatments in one. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a single eye cream for $20 even at the drugstore. In terms of quantity, each tube contains 0.2 oz of product; this has easily lasted more than a month with some to spare. I like the addition of the SPF in the AM cream and, of the two, it seems to be my favorite. Maybe the PM cream has some awesome, revolutionary ingredients, but it seemed pretty standard to me. After a month of use, I can't say that I've seen dramatic results using the L’Oreal Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream. Nevertheless, I think this product is a success in providing access to protective, anti-aging ingredients at an affordable, drugstore price.


    Dress for Success Cause Party

    Johnson & Johnson contacted me a while back about sponsoring a party with the dual purpose of featuring their 2009 collection and raising money for the charity Dress for Success. After a month of planning and general fussing (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed), last night's party was a complete success and SO. MUCH. FUN.

    Around a dozen of my friends were able to make it and, with a $100 kick-off donation from J&J, the party raised over $500 to support the work of Dress for Success!
    The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life... Each Dress for Success client receives one suit when she has a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when she finds work. Since 1997, Dress for Success has served almost 450,000 women around the world."
    Plus, J&J generously donated reusable, canvas gift bags for all the party attendees complete with full sized samples of their Forever Fresh and Melt Away Stress Body Washes and Lotions. Here is a picture of the adorable gift bags all laid out.

    Here's me with the table set up.

    I was especially proud of the drink display.

    And here are some friends enjoying the party.

    I just have to say thanks to all of my friends who came, participated and made the night such an amazing success and to J&J for providing the opportunity to have fun and help out a worthy charity at the same time. If you feel inspired, please consider donating to Dress for Success either nationally or in your area.


    Found It! Universally Flattering Blush

    Bobbi Brown released the Illuminating Bronze Collection earlier in the Summer and it was seriously love at first sight in my world. In particular, the six shades of pressed powder with micro pearl particles looked to be perfect for creating a picture-perfect flush.

    After using one of those shades, Maui ($33), for most of the Summer, I can say for certain that it is fabulous and probably the world's most perfect blush.* The pink coral shade is perfectly incredible and will be flattering on practically all skin tones from the very pale to the richest brown. This color is sure to be a winner. With regard to the illuminating descriptor, the micro pearl is visible in the pan, but once applied, the result is a very luminous blush without obvious shimmer or glitter. Color saturation is just amazing and I literally only tap my EcoTools Blush Brush on the compact 1 or 2 times to pick up the right amount of color. Anything more is just too much due to the intensity of the pigment -- definitely the mark of a high quality product. I have been using this almost every day for months and there is barely any noticeable erosion in the pan.

    As far as downsides, besides the price, I can't point to any. I cannot say enough nice things about this product, it's just that good and worth every penny. It was my intention to try to snap a pic wearing it to post, but due to time constraints, this hasn't happened. In lieu of that, it turns out that Bobbi Brown's model is actually wearing Maui, so I'll just show you her beautiful face again as a reminder. She looks stunning in this shade and her skin tone is completely different from mine, further making the point that this shade will be great on everyone!

    I'm a big believer in blush as being an essential beauty product and, I would say, if you were going to buy one and only one blush for your makeup bag, this would be it.

    *I'm referring to Maui as blush even though it is included in a bronzer collection. It just doesn't seem to be anything like a bronzer to me and the Bobbi Brown sales associate agreed with me, so I feel justified in my little rebellion.

    Image Bobbi Brown.


    Review: L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer

    Sorry for being a little MIA recently, I'm going to try to get back on the horse for the month of September. To that end, there is nothing to kick-start writers block like a bad product experience!

    Since we are nearing the end of Summer, the need for self tanner might be dwindling. But, some people self tan all year round and are always looking for a good product to try. L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer ($10) promises to illuminate your skin for a long-lasting bronze glow while providing the nourishing qualities of vitamin E -- all without an orange-y color or a streaks.

    From my experience using this product, I can point out some positive and not-so-positive things. The positives include that it provides instant color with some very obvious shimmer. The color develops more fully over time, but if you are looking for a quick fix tan, then this product would be great; the sparkles provide a bit of glamour as well. I would say the shimmer factor is probably turned up to a 7/10 (10 being full-on glitter), so it is fairly prominent. The tint of the product helps with placement and it dries in an acceptable amount of time (around 10 minutes) and didn't stain any clothes or bedsheets.

    Now, with regard to the negatives, there are a few. The first is that this is a very deep color tan and probably too intense for the fair skinned. The difference between the areas where I used the tanner (my legs) and areas where I didn't (my arms) was pretty striking, so this is not a subtle glow in any way. But that isn't even such a big deal compared to the formula. This product resulted in a streaky mess in my hands. I don't know why this would be as I followed all the usual self tanning guidelines (exfoliate, use on dry skin, etc.). I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and still could not get it to look uniform. Finally, I gave up in frustration, knowing that I would be looking at streaky legs for the next week. Also, the scent was the usual toxic self tanner scent that always strangely haunts me; I end up thinking to myself What is that smell that is following me around? many times a day. Then, I remind myself over and over that it is the tanner. It's a little silly, but always happens to me with yucky smelling tanner. I didn't have nice things to say about Sevin Nyne tanning spray either, but it did have a nice scent going for it. L'Oreal Sublime Bronze does not.

    Lest you think that I'm completely biased and inept with self-tanners, I will politely point out that there are a few that I have had good luck with. Unfortunately, they tend to be at a higher price point, so this product is doubly disappointing in that it was a potentially less expensive option for self-tanning. Sadly, I will keep looking.


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