Low Maintenance Must Have: Mai Couture 2-in-1 Oil Blotting/Bronzing Paper

It isn't very often that a truly unique product rolls around. Most are just riffs on the familiar tried-and-true formulas. However, Mai Couture has managed to actually create a new product that I personally have never seen before: a combination blotting paper/bronzing powder. By pressing the tissue-thin pieces of paper gently to your face, the paper simultaneously makes you a little less shiny and a little more bronzy. The color from the paper transfers onto the face, neck or décolleté while the paper absorbs any excess oil. The papers are approximately index card sized and come in packs of 100 for $28. They arrive in a paper wallet which will protect them as they roll around in the bottom of your purse or gym bag.

Mai Couture was kind enough to send me a sample of the 2-in-1 Oil Blotting/Bronzing Papers. Currently, they are available in two shades, Light/Med and Med/Dark. I found that the Light/Med is very light and subtle in terms of pigmentation. It doesn't deposit a ton of the bronzer, but adds a bit more shimmer than I was anticipating. I think that this is quite smart because it means that, even if pink blush was used in the morning, the Mai Couture Papers can be used to touch up mid-afternoon. The bronze from either paper isn't so overwhelming as to un-coordinate the overall look. I found that they are easiest to use if I cut or tear them in half first as this provides better control over where the paper is placed. But, really, the whole thing is very straightforward and dummy-proof.

Overall, the Mai Couture 2-in-1 Oil Blotting/Bronzing Papers are a fun, new addition to the beauty world. These would be perfect for a low maintenance gal as they don't require any special brushes or applicators. Just press and go! Folks who tend to have more oily skin would also do well to check these out. Most makeup artists recommend using blotting paper for excess oil rather than just pressing on more powder. Although this product does a little of both, the amount of powder added is pretty scant and it has the added advantage of perking up that complexion as well.

Mai Couture 2-in-1 Oil Blotting/Bronzing Papers are available on maicouture.com.


 

Review: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Eye Makeup Remover Pads

One of my favorite beauty writers is the beauty director over at Lucky Magazine, Jean Godfrey-June. Her book, Free Gift With Purchase, is one of my favorite reads (eventually I'll get around to reviewing it here) and she writes a monthly column in the magazine that I always savor last. Reading her book confirmed what I always suspected -- I am totally jealous of her life.

But, since I can't have her life, I will just live vicariously through her product recommendations. That brings me to today's review: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Eye Makeup Remover Pads ($10). Jean Godfrey-June recommended it in Lucky a few months ago and I knew that I would have to try it out for myself.

The packaging of this stuff is all "100% of this and 0% of that" sort of language common to natural/organic products. I've ranted about my annoyance with this general custom previously so I'll skip repeating myself. But, just so you know what I'm talking about, here is some copy from their website:
Hypoallergenic. 100% Free of Harsh Chemicals. 100% Free of Synthetic Preservatives. 100% Free of Parabens. 100% Free of GMO's. 100% Free of Synthetic Colors. 100% Free of Synthetic Fragrances. 100% Cruelty Free."
Moving past my eye-roll response to most of that, I do really like this product. The pre-moistened pads are ready to use and eliminate the hassle of finding a semi-clean cotton ball to squirt with eye makeup remover (which gives you a small window into the state of my bathroom on any given day). One pad is enough to clean both eyes and I am fully impressed with how effectively the eye makeup is swept away. Even sticky stuff like liquid liner or waterproof mascara is easily lifted. It is gentle, doesn't irritate my eyes, and doesn't leave a film. The clear, liquid soaked pad has the consistency of toner. In fact, it kind of reminds me of toner except that it removes eye makeup. Thankfully, there is no "organic" scent. It does have some cucumber extract and lavender essential oil in the mix, but the end product is essentially scent-free as far as I can tell. One thing that I think is really cool is that the pads themselves are compostable.

There are plenty of eye makeup removers in the world, but this one is unique because it is both gentle and extremely effective. And, if you care about that sort of thing, they are natural/organic to boot. Once again, Jean Godfrey-June hasn't let me down by recommending an excellent product with a budget-friendly price. I may not have her life, but darn if it isn't cool that we both use the same eye makeup remover.


 

Book Review: Glamour Gurlz

Released in 2006, Joanna Schlip's teenage beauty book Glamour Gurlz, is a fun introduction to cosmetics for pre-teens and teens. Schlip, a celebrity-makeup artist and former judge on Blush, wrote this book to send the message that, while makeup is fun to play with, real beauty is found on the inside. Schlip shares her experience with a freak accident that left her with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her face and how that changed her own vision of herself and her approach to beauty. Out of that experience, Glamour Gurlz was born.

Filled with beautiful full color photography of seventy different makeup looks for day and night, the book is an excellent resource for teen beauty. While I'm far from a teen myself, I actually found the book to contain some good tips and tricks and also some adult appropriate looks. The real strengths of the book include Schlip's very reasonable perspective on teen beaut -- no heavy foundation or age inappropriate looks here! She is a big fan of tinted moisturizer for sheer coverage for teens and there is no lipstick in sight as she favors only gloss for this group. A variety of looks featuring eyes, lips and cheeks are included, but none are overly complicated or intimidating. Even on the most elaborate eye looks, no more than two eye shadows and a liner pencil are ever used.

Another thing I really like is that she demonstrates several looks on each girl in the book so that you can see how subtly changing the makeup works on different faces. The "models" are, by and large, regular girls although there are a few guest appearances from celebrities like Hilary Duff. She also uses a wide variety of models with different face shapes, skin tones and ethnicities.

One area for improvement is her step-by-step instructions. There is a lot of repetition in how to apply tinted moisturizer and concealer (essentially on every page), but not a lot of close-up detail on how to get some of the eye looks. She shows you every finished face, but I think an inexperienced makeup user might appreciate some more detailed instruction with photos.

The book is peppered with bits of Schlip's wisdom and advice, things like "find your voice" and "dream big." Although these are clearly well-intentioned and genuine, I find them to be a bit patronizing and trite. However, maybe if I were a teenager then I would feel differently about it. I think that her motivation is pure and certainly I don't disagree with the sentiment, but these pages just seem like a distraction. Admittedly, it's tough to celebrate inner beauty and self confidence in a book about makeup because, on the surface, the two things are contradictory. More so than from the "be yourself" sorts of platitudes, I think that the message about inner beauty comes across in her attitude and advice about the makeup: use it to enhance gorgeous features without overt contouring or heavy-handed application. In other words, Schlip shows girls how to use makeup to look their best, but to remember that it is you that the makeup shows off, after all.

All in all, this book was fun to read and beautifully produced. I would have loved something like this when I was a teen. Glamour Gurlz would be an excellent gift for a teen in your life (especially one who is wearing a bit too much makeup).

 

Trend Report: Golden Peach Blush

Extract Premiere
Even though a peachy cheek perfectly complements a Summer-y sun-kissed tone, apricot-inspired looks keep popping up on runways and celebrities even well into the cooler months of Fall 2009, making it one of the season's biggest trends.

The trendiest peach colors mix in a bit of golden shimmer to keep pale skin from looking washed out and wan. The peach and gold combination both adds color and warms the face resulting in a very beautiful glow. See Mila Kunis at the left for a perfect example of the use of the shimmery peach on olive colored skin. Darker skin tones can definitely work the cantaloupe hues as well -- the always-gorgeous Kerry Washington is a perfect example.

For best results on us mere mortals, brush color on the apples of the cheeks, extending it to just above the cheekbones. For a cohesive look, stick with similar shades on your eyes and lips. Since this is a popular look for this season, there are lots of products available to help you get there without spending too much money.
One of my current favorites is the tarte Green Siren Cheek Stain ($30) which is just the perfect combination of peachy and shimmery. And since it is a cheek stain, it will last and last and last...


Another excellent choice is one of MAC's Holiday Collections: MAC Fun in the Sun Mineralize Kit ($65). In addition to having the gold-flecked peach Nuance Mineralize Blush, the kit contains coordinating shades of Shimpagne Mineralize Skinfinish, Play on Plums Mineralize Eye Shadow (Duo), and the 181SE Mini Buffer. A few quick swirls with the Mini Buffer on those cheeks followed by the Skinfinish powder and you will be a glowing goddess in the middle of November!

Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Bricks are always in vogue, so it is no surprise that she has the perfect one for this season's luminous apricot trend: Apricot Shimmer Brick ($38). Described as "peach to ivory pure pearl pigments in this mirrored compact creates a soft, peachy glow. Works well with neutral and peach blush shades." Seriously, who doesn't need another excuse for buying another always-awesome Shimmer Brick?

For the mineral makeup mavens, Bare Escentuals has a beautiful color that has been hanging out in my makeup bag for literally years: bareMinerals All Over Face Color in Pure Radiance ($18). Similar to other mineral-based blushes, this one imparts a perfectly subtle sheen but is build-able for a more intense effect.

Lastly, for the more economical side of the spectrum, there are plenty of options at the drugstore. Revlon Beyond Natural Blush & Bronzer in Peach ($12) combines both a blush and a bronzing color for a truly sun-kissed look. If you prefer cream blushes, then definite check out Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Sheerest Cream Blush in Sunrise ($11).

Ultimately, however you get there, definitely make this easy to wear trend a part of your Fall routine.

 

Halloween Inspiration: Can-Can Dancer

This is one of my absolute favorite movies, so I about flipped my lid when I ran across this tutorial on a Moulin Rouge inspired Halloween costume. The makeup and styling is unbelievably beautiful!

If you don't happen to have a corset on hand, there are many can-can costumes available to complete the look. Although, I have to say, her use of the necklace as a hair accessory is truly inspired.

Also, check out MissChevious' other Halloween tutorials: Fallen Angel/Gothic Lolita, Forrest Sprite, and Mermaid just to name a few! They are all absolute makeup perfection and such amazing artistry that I had to share. Enjoy!

 

More Halloween Ideas!

Absolut 100 Presents Heidi Klum's 9th Annual Halloween Party
Obsessed with Halloween? Maybe. You gotta problem with that? Here are some more fun and interesting costume ideas that I've turned up on the web this week.

Some pop culture suggestions from StyleBakery.

Over 30 ideas featuring really cool hair and makeup from BellaSugar.

Expected and unexpected (Rachel Zoe?) ideas from Total Beauty.

Has anyone seen the glue gun? Martha Stewart offers up some surprisingly creepy costumes. Some don't even require sewing.

I'm truly partial to the Glampire and Goddess makeup tutorials.

A non-obvious "sexy" costume? How about a sexy ear of corn? So very Ohio.

 

Halloween Kits from Sephora!

Only 11 days until Halloween! Do you have your costume? I'm still working on mine and it is unfortunately going to require yet another trip to the fabric store. Curses!

I should have just stopped by Sephora.com and picked out one of these truly cool Sephora Brand Halloween Kits ($19). For under $20, each kit comes with all essential items for creating a variety of costume makeups. The kit at left contains items that can be used to create Vampire, Rock Star and Witch appropriate looks. All of the items are full-sized and the kit comes with instructions to guide your application. But why stop with Vampire, Rock Star or Witch? This kit could be used to create Bride of Frankenstein, Sparkly Spooky Ghost, Marilyn Manson or many other costumes as well.

If your costume tastes run on the more sweet rather than spooky end of the spectrum, then definitely check out the Doll, Fairy and Angel kit. Along with false eyelashes, this kit contains a pot gloss, silver glitter spray, eye liner pencils in black and white and luminous glow highlighting powder. But don't let its innocent looks fool you, this kit could also create some vicious looks like video game favorite Bad Girl, post-psychiatric hospitalization Britney (shaved head optional), Jem, Demonic Kitten or Evil RN just to name a few.


Lastly, for those looking for a more sultry, mysterious Halloween look, the Greek Goddess, Peacock and Cleopatra kit won't let you down. It features more Sephora brand items in the gold/teal/purple color spectrum for turning yourself into a right vixen. None of those sound like your style? How about Bollywood Star? Mermaid? Haunting Siren? Scheherazade?

For more intensive how-tos on some of these looks, Sephora's Blog has videos to guide the way. And, for even more incentive Sephora’s Friends and Family sale started yesterday. Use code FF2009 for 20% off purchases from now through November 2! Using the discount, these kits are around $15 -- so your pocketbook is the one thing that won't be scared!

 

Kinda Cool Contest

The tarte channel on Youtube has been around for a few months, creating nifty tutorials for using tarte products. Well, get ready for this, because their offerings have exploded with spooky, fun Halloween looks -- all achieved using the incredible range of tarte products. This is especially cool because it shows how you can use your existing stash for this Halloween without blowing extra money on expensive theatrical makeup.

But, even more exciting is the Trick or Treat with tarte contest where one lucky winner will take home a $500 tarte gift basket! Entering is pretty simple: submit photographs of your Halloween face before & after, give the look a name, and list which tarte products you used to create it. A winner will be selected at random and the deadline for submissions is November 10th. For inspiration, check out the tarte Youtube channel and get busy with those costumes!

 

Total Beauty's 16 Sneaky Beauty Myths

Think you've got the beauty brains? Time for a pop quiz! Follow the link to these "Sneaky Beauty Myths" and see how well you score...



 

Sniffer Report: YSL Parisienne

“Tu n’es pas née à Paris mais Paris t’a adoptée”
“You were not born in Paris but Paris adopts you”

The latest perfume from fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, YSL Parisienne, is a complicated woodsy floral that is sure to become beloved by many. I recently had the opportunity to sample YSL Parisienne and am happy to report that, while it wasn't immediately a favorite, the scent grew on me over time. Now, I genuinely enjoy wearing it.

The fragrance was inspired by their idea of the modern Parisian woman: confident, free of inhibitions, living for the moment and unashamed of her wants and desires. Interestingly, YSL did not choose an actual Parisian (or even French) woman for the ad campaign, but a very English Kate Moss. Although, maybe they were trying to invoke the seemingly incongruent glamour of Kate with her hard-livin' lifestyle. Incidentally, the accompanying TV ad is borderline pornographic.

The perfume itself is a complicated mix of floral and earthy scents. The top notes are both nice with cranberry and blackberry and kind of naughty with hints of vinyl gloss and lacquer. The middle notes are decidedly floral with the feminine Damas rose, violet and peony. The bottom notes a strong sandalwood, musk, vetiver and patchouli.

In wearing it, I found Parisienne to be a bit sharp on initial application -- likely from the vinyl accord (meant to invoke the metal of a spike heel). As a result, my first impression was not favorable. However, the top notes fade quickly and the middle floral comes out add back the romance. At this point, I can see why some reviewers have likened it to a "grandma" fragrance -- the floral is pretty intense. However, after the floral settles and the masculine bottom notes are apparent, the fragrance is suddenly one that I absolutely find appealing. The beautiful dry down lasts an incredibly long time and I continue to steal sniffs throughout the day when wearing it.

Once I read some of the press materials describing the concept for the fragrance, it actually did make sense. While I'm not sure that the idea of a morning-after scent is very glamorous, this fragrance presents a perfect balance between playfulness and mystery -- which is exactly my impression of the City of Lights itself.
A woman in black after a sleepless night. A devilish woman with the face of an angel.
A woman in an evening gown at the break of day. Scandalous, you say? Free, she says.
An Yves Saint Laurent woman. A PARISIENNE, and that is a compliment!"

 

Look For Less: Ginnifer Goodwin

Special Screening Of "The September Issue" At LACMA - Arrivals
Yesterday's post on my infatuation with MAC Penultimate Eye Liner inspired me to go poking for some more examples of sexy, modern cat eyes. Success was found with this pic of Ginnifer Goodwin at a premier of "The September Issue" in Los Angeles. She is such a beautiful girl and this makeup look shows off her fantastic features perfectly.

The drama of this look is (obviously) due to the elongated tail of the liner. Other than a few false lashes and a couple coats of black mascara, this eye looks is simple but very, very chic.

Since the MAC Penultimate Eye Liner is a bit on the pricey side, I thought it would be fun to try to re-create the remainder of this look using some more budget-friendly drugstore products.

1) Use the MAC Penultimate Eye Liner to create the elongated cat eye as described above. Apply two coats of very black mascara.
2) To frame the eyes, this look features a well-defined brow. Use quick, light strokes of a brow pencil to fill in sparse areas and then set with a brow gel. Try Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil & Gel ($7) for a handy 2-in-1 product.

3) Next, over your favorite tinted moisturizer (here's mine), apply a tawny peach blush like Cover Girl Instant Cheekbones Contouring Blush in Sophisticated Sable ($5). Along with the three coordinated shades, the shimmery quality of the blush adds a subtle contouring to an otherwise round face (like Ginnifer's). Be sure to blend well and extend the color back toward the hairline.



4) Finish off the look by adding a coordinating lip gloss. Try Cover Girl Lipslicks Lip Gloss in Bronze Goddess ($4). Forgo lip liner in the interest of keeping the mouth soft--no competing with the eye.

And that's how to get Ginnifer Goodwin gorgeous in a few easy steps, without spending a fortune. Not bad for a Saturday night outing -- I think I might go try this myself!

 

My New Obsession: MAC Penultimate Eye Liner

This is a serious case of the You-Should-Really-Get-This-Now-I'm-Not-Kidding. While MAC's 80's throwback collection, Style Black, is likely too intense for a lot of folks out there, the Penultimate Eye Liner ($17) is a product that anyone who loves eye liner can get behind.

One of the biggest trends for Fall 2009 is winged eye liner or the "cat eye" look. The retro-inspired swoop is dramatic without being unwearable and, subsequently, it is often seen on runways and the red carpet. See Lauren Conrad and Zoe Saldana rock this look at recent appearances.

The bummer about achieving the cat eye, however, is that it can be really hard to get right. Pencil eye liners don't quite put that fine point on a swoop. Gel liners are better, but require a brush and some practice. Liquid is beautiful if you can work it, but one misstep and out comes the eye makeup remover.

All of these inconveniences end with this incredible product. Essentially, the Penultimate Eye Liner is a Sharpie marker for your eye lids -- a very sophisticated Sharpie. Notice the fine point on this baby. The tapered tip is key to executing the perfect, perfect cat eye swoop. And, even better, it makes it easy. I swiped on an impeccable swoop right out of the gate and was totally blown away by how easy it was.

Not only is the pen easy to use, but the formula is bullet-proof. Once applied, it does not budge. It doesn't flake, fade or crease all day long. Even more impressive, it dries instantly on application, so there is no drying time like with liquid liners. This is a major improvement, because inevitably, if I even get the liquid liner on correctly, I smudge it all to hell because I'm too impatient to stand there with my eyes half open for ten minutes while it dries. This leads to endless frustration.

But that is all frustration of the past. I have my MAC Penultimate Eye Liner and my cat eye and I'm never looking back.

 

Lush Emotibombs

I guess I have Lush on the brain these days . After perusing their website last week, I somehow mysteriously found myself in the downtown store. Imagine that!* After the phenomenal hand treatment that they always foist on me when I enter the store (Lemony Flutter + Ocean Salt + Dream Cream = Softest Hands Ever), I was picking up a few new items to try out at home when this unsightly little guy caught my eye.

He belongs to a new family of Lush products, Emotibombs ($4). Similar to the awesome Bath Bombs, Emotibombs are made specially for use in the shower to fill the steamy air with gorgeous, aromatic scents.
Emotibombs are a new creation fresh from the LUSH lab and a fascinating way to have fun in the shower. Essentially, they’re like bath bombs for the shower with the same fragrant fizz. Put one on your shower floor, or higher up on a soap shelf, under the water flow. As the warm water hits it, natural perfumes are released, filling your bathroom with fragrant steam to influence your mood."
Thus far, there are four varieties of Emotibombs. The one I took home has the unfortunate name "Too Drunk..." It was recommended to me by the sales associate when I mentioned that my nose was a bit stuffy. Infused with the essential oils of peppermint, marigold, fennel and sweet orange, Too Drunk aims to perk you up and/or comfort an aching head (or stuffy sinuses, apparently).

At any rate, I excitedly took Mr. Too Drunk home and tossed a piece of him into the shower with me. The perfume effect was stronger than for the bath bombs, but it was totally fun. The entire shower smelled like a spicy sauna in less than a minute and the scent lingered for most of the shower. Since I only used a small piece, it dissolved quickly, but using a larger piece or the whole bomb would probably cover the entire shower. The suggestion to put it on a shelf so that it isn't directly dissolving under the faucet is probably a good idea to extend the life of the Emotibomb. I can't say that Too Drunk cleared up my sinuses, but it was piquant enough to easily cut through the congestion and enhance my showering experience.

I am super excited to try out more of the Emotibombs as I have high hopes that they will spice up the always-boring experience of taking a shower. Am I the only one who finds showering to be the world's most boring activity? Thankfully, for me at least, the nice folks at Lush are actively trying to solve this problem.

Lush Emotibombs are available in Lush stores, online at Lush.com or amazon.com.

*Actually, J. and I were killing time before seeing Zombieland -- I figured that a side trip to Lush was the least he could do for my being such a good sport about seeing a zombie movie.

 

Zoya Fall 2009: Dare

This has been a long time coming, but I'm happy to finally present the other half of Zoya's Fall Collections: Dare. Fall is just starting outside, but the beauty world is already a-buzzin' about the holiday collections. But, Zoya Dare is not to be overlooked!

Zoya Nail Polish lets you decide what fashion look is right for you this fall. Will it be Truth or Dare? Would you? Why not...?"
While the other half of the collection, Truth, explodes with shimmery pizzazz, Dare takes a quieter, but no less bold, approach with a group of six dramatic, attention-getting creams. I'm so pleased to be able to share some swatches of these appealing colors! To start, here is the entire Dare collection ($36) lined up to show the beautiful, sultry rainbow that they compose. Below that is a pic of the bottle color names.


And, without further ado, on to the swatches! All pics were taken in bright indoor light without flash. All swatches are two coats with no top coat.

Vanessa (blue-red cream) is a phenomenal cranberry red. This one didn't excite me too much in the bottle, but once it was on the nails, I totally fell in love with it. It may not be the world's most unique color, but it is rich and beautiful. The formula is easy to use with pigmentation so rich as to be almost bottle intensity in one coat.

Ciara (burgundy plum cream) is more of a purple-tinged berry shade. It is a take-off from Vanessa moving toward the purple end of the spectrum. This one is a close duplicate of my favorite Summer '09 shade, OPI Miami Beet.

Demi (purple mauve cream) is perfect for those gals desiring a purple nail but who are tired of the reign of near-black purples. It is a deep lavender that definitely reads as purple on the nail. It wasn't my favorite of the collection, but it is a good color.

Envy (gleaming jade green with subtle shimmer) is for ladies who love a vampy nail but are tired of the usual black/purple/blue hues that have been so standard for the last few years. A spectacular mossy green, Envy is sure to draw attention. This unusual and unique shade turns out, somewhat surprisingly, to be quite flattering as well. Definitely not a near-black, Envy's gorgeous green reminds me of the forest floor at dusk. Apparently it has some amount of shimmer, but this really doesn't jump out in person or on camera and it reads as mostly cream.

Ibiza (gleaming sapphire blue with subtle shimmer) is just dazzling. This one also has a small amount of shimmer that ends up being more noticeable. The shimmer gives the intense blue some depth and keeps it from being just another near-black. I have never been to Ibiza, but I can only assume that this blue is inspired by the ocean waters in that region. It is so, so pretty.

Pinta (inky violet cream) is the color that is impossible to capture on film! Numerous other bloggers have lamented their inability to properly display the stunning shade that is Pinta. I think that this photo comes pretty close (at least on my monitor) to this inventive aubergine. As hard as it is to show properly, it is ten times as opulent in person. I don't know of another color like this one and it is truly a winner.

Zoya Dare is the perfect alternative to Truth for those desiring less over-the-top dazzle. I am personally more partial to creams and so Dare is right up my alley. While the red and purple berry half of the collection may not be completely new and exciting, they are done with care and using the signature amazing Zoya formula. It was in the second half of the set that I got really excited by the unrivaled intensity and depth of the darker shades. Overall, this is a very solid collection and it is sure to compliment an array of Fall fashions.

Top image courtesy of Zoya and Art of Beauty.

 

Fun Hair Finds

These days, the internet is a-crawlin' with adorable hair accessories for almost any length of hair. At the same time, creative hair goodies like outrageous headbands and artistically arranged hair pins are super on-trend this season. So check out these cool finds for some inspiration!

Ricky's NYC is an amazing beauty emporium with many locations in the greater NYC area. It looks so cool that I would seriously consider a trip back East just to visit. But, since no trip is imminently planned, I just scan their website obsessively. Growing out a short hairstyle and looking for ways to tame those unruly cow-licks? Desiring a change from the usual bobby pins that keep those stray hairs in place? Then Rickycare Rubber Flat Bobby Pins ($5) should definitely be in the cart. I think that these are so much more chic than the standard bobby pins. Placing 2 or 3 of them next to each other would be a fun way to add some polish to your 'do.

Another cool item from Ricky's NYC is this Pin-Up Girl UpDo Kit ($22). It comes in three hair colors (blonde, brown and black) with all the styling essentials needed to create sexy, retro-inspired updo's such as the "Perfect Ponytail," "Super Chic Bun," and "Classic Beehive." Each kit contains a slew of pins, elastics, clips and bungees to help perfect the desired 'do. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

For the less ambitious who are happy to toss on a headband and call it a day, there is also a new product that has legions of fans : Twistband. Meant to replace the much-maligned (but really quite handy) scrunchie, Twistbands ($10-12 for a set of three) are elastic trim headbands and pony-tail bungees that stretch to support any hairstyle without being overly-tight and causing headaches or hair dents. They come in a ridiculous number of colors and patterns and, because they are so simple and chic, won't look sad when they eventually end up around your wrist (you know it will happen).



Then we get to some really super-cute barrettes and hair pins that are available these days all over the place. Ulta has some that are amazingly affordable and very pretty. Check out the Karina Barrette ($11) that has the look of a delicate filigree covered with colored rhinestones. So pretty!

If you are not already familiar with the online flea market of home-made, nifty little things that is etsy.com, then you should be. Thousands of adorable, vintage-inspired hair thing-ies are pumped out by creative sorts every day! This cute Vintage Bobby Pin ($8) would work for all ages of ladies to add a little something special to the usual routine.

Whether your hair is short, long or somewhere in-between, try something new with the 'do this Fall. A little change can amount to a big impact, without spending a lot of money -- and that's always nice.

 

Brilliant! Lush for Weddings

I was poking around the Lush website looking at the Halloween 2009 specials. Sadly, the products on offer aren't as appealing as last year (where is the gift set?!).

So that's a bummer. But! I did stumble across a new feature: Lush for Weddings! Even though Fall/Winter isn't usually associated with wedding fever, I happen to have gotten married in the Fall, so it always seems like wedding time to me. So, whether you are somehow imminently involved in a wedding or not, store away this little tid-bit for the future: Lush makes specially-designed bath bombs would be incredible wedding favors.
If you're getting married this year, we have fresh ideas for wedding favors that will have the guests gabbing about it for days after you say “I do”. We've created two limited edition bath bombs, White Wedding and Butterfly especially for your big day. We'll even wrap it in biodegradable cello bag with a beautiful raffia ribbon and custom tag."
From a philosophical/environmental perspective, I'm a big fan of consumable gifts: give people stuff that they will eat, use up or smear on themselves rather than something that will just sit around the house and collect dust. In her amazing book, I Like You, Amy Sedaris recommends gifting people butter, for example. Everyone likes butter, everyone uses butter, so why not, really? But back to weddings, think of how much fun guests would have if, after the wedding, once they make it back home, they unwind with their Lush Bath Bomb and think about all the fun they had at your wedding. How cool would that be? Pretty darn cool, sez me.

Lush has developed two wedding-favor ready bombs:
  • White Wedding ($3) -- a decadent blend of jasmine, rose, ylang ylang and bergamot essential oils
  • Butterfly ($3) -- a sensual mix of jasmine, larkspur, ylang ylang and everlasting flower

Honestly, though, I don't see why you couldn't use any of the amazing bath bombs and just wrap them up yourself. If memory serves me correctly, wedding favors don't typically come cheap, so $3/person sounds like a deal -- especially for an awesome gift like this one.

 

Beauty Bummer: Poshe AHA Cuticle Care

I think that I am now on my third or fourth tube of CND Cuticle Eraser and I continue to love it to little, tiny pieces. But, the beauty junkie that I am, one holy grail product is not enough. Oh no, perhaps an even better holy grail product exists -- just waiting for me to find.

All of this is to say that, despite my love of Cuticle Eraser, I decided to try an alternative cuticle treatment. I found Poshe AHA Cuticle Care ($10) on a 2-for-1 deal and so optimistically and enthusiastically took two tubes home. Other bloggers have liked it a lot so I had high hopes.

To cut to the chase, this stuff is disappointing and I'm stuck with the second tube. In short, the thing I love about Cuticle Eraser is that it is effective at both hydrating and exfoliating the cuticles. With regular use, my cuticles look clean, groomed and amazing without having to do a whole manicure. Although it aims to do the same thing, the Poshe Cuticle Care just doesn't provide the same, satisfying results. It is creamier than the Cuticle Eraser, but it does not do anything to exfoliate as far as I can tell. I used it for weeks, expecting good results, but only found my cuticles getting as ragged as they did before I met Cuticle Eraser.

On the positive side, Poshe Cuticle Care has a different scent than Cuticle Eraser. However, I personally find the Poshe scent to be even more offensive. It smells like flowery soap to me. But, it is different and some people might find it to be a pleasant alternative.

At any rate, occasionally I've tried it again to see if my previous impressions were overly harsh, but the end result is always the same. I really just don't like it and it kind of bums me out that I'm stuck with the second tube.

 

How Cute Is This?

This is the cutest thing I've seen all day. China Glaze Spellbound Collection for Halloween 2009 ($9). I'm not sure if I'm truly responding to the polish colors (which are strangely appealing) or the cute witch graphic. Either way, she needs to Vespa on over to my house.

Colors from L --> R: Liquid Leather, Spellbound Glitter Topcoat, White Out, and Ghoulish Glow Topcoat.

 

L'Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara

L'Oreal Paris is set to release yet another exciting mascara in November. L'Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara (suggested retail price of $10) is the first mass-market mascara to use a new spherical, Flexi-Globe brush (Givenchy Phenomen' Eyes was released last year at a significantly higher price point of $28) allowing you to maneuver it this way and that, thereby reaching every last little lash. The goal is big, long, perfectly separated and fanned-out lashes.

I had the opportunity to try out this fascinating product prior to its release next month and my initial impressions are fairly mixed on the whole affair. Pulling the wand out of the tube for the first time, it is a bit shocking to be confronted with what appears to be a miniature medieval weapon. The first thought is, I wonder how this is going to work?

Using the wand took some practice and adjustment of the usual mascara application technique. About half the size of a traditional wand, Telescopic Explosion is much more limited in the span of lashes covered with any one swipe. This requires attention to be paid to every part of the lash line -- outside, middle and inside corner -- individually. This is tricky because it is easy to re-coat lashes already covered, leading to a thick application and clumping. It also takes more time to apply than other mascaras as a result of trying to get every lash individually coated and separated.

At the end of all that, what kind of results did I get? I will say, I was impressed with the length that was able to be achieved with Telescopic Explosion. And, with good application, the separation and definition of the individual lashes was pretty good. Here are some pics.

Pre Telescopic Explosion

Post Telescopic Explosion

Hopefully you can see that the length extension is pretty dramatic, creating some very long, spidery lashes. Unfortunately, overall I found that the problems with over-application leading to major clumping to be a real turn-off. It took more time to apply, which is never a good property for a daily use product like mascara. I think that I would save this one for a special night out where I had a bit more time to mess around with the wand. I don't think that the wand concept in and of itself is a bad idea, it's just that when it's not what you are used to, it can lead to a rocky start. Also, I should add that I don't think the formula is at fault for the clumping problems I experienced, but rather it was due to getting too much product on the lashes as a result of the wand. The formula itself was rather nice and I didn't experience any flaking or smudging at all.

L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Explosion Mascara is available November 2009 at www.lorealparis.com and chaind rug, food and mask market retailers nationwide.

 

More Love for Pond's Clean Sweep

Having recently been packing for an out of town trip, I remembered again how much I love Pond's Clean Sweep ($6 for 30ct package). They are my go-to facial wipes for travel and definitely the best as far as I can tell. Since the TSA restrictions on liquids make editing one's skin and beauty arsenal for a trip something of an art form, Pond's Clean Sweep takes the place of a facial cleanser without using up any of that precious allowable 1 quart baggie.

Tempted by their budget prices, I've tried a few generic brands of facial wipes (Target and Trader Joe's house brands). Switching back to Pond's for this trip, I was struck by how much better the Pond's really are. The most noticeable thing is that the Pond's wipes remove eye makeup better than any of the generic brands -- no comparison. They are so good (removing even waterproof mascara) that I've used them in place of eye makeup remover even when at home with success. Also, one Pond's wipe is enough to get the face and neck area squeaky clean. With some less expensive brands, this can require 2 or 3 towels. Lastly, the Pond's formula is gentler on the face and doesn't leave that uncomfortable, overly-stripped tightness.

Anyway, I doubt that I will be going back to the generic brands again after experiencing renewed enthusiasm for Pond's. These wipes have earned a permanent home in my travel bag.

 

L'Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation

Having never been a fan of liquid foundation, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from L'Oreal True Match Liquid Foundation ($11). On initial investigation, the most impressive fact is that the line caries 24 different shades with warm, cool and neutral undertones. To help with finding the perfect color selection, each drugstore display is accompanied by a transparent card meant to be held up to the skin to find a shade that best matches.

As word of advice, don't use this card against the wrist like it instructs. Instead, compare it to your jawline. For most people, the shade on your wrist is not necessarily a good approximation of the face due to sun exposure. Using the shade finding card on my wrist, I thought that I was C5 classic beige. However, C5 was far too dark, orange and definitely not a "true match" for me. On my second try, I took a friend to the store and then we held up different bottles up to my chin to find the one that looked the closest -- a much better system. Using this method, we determined that N2 classic ivory was a winner. So, that's my big advice about L'Oreal True Match: make sure you get the right shade for you and, after that, the stuff works like a dream.

Of course, the whole idea is that True Match is formulated with this "Precise Match" technology that somehow magically makes it able to accommodate slight differences between the shade and your skin for absolutely perfect matching. I can't pretend to explain how this works, but that's the big idea. It also contains some good-for-skin ingredients like moisturizing glycerin and nourishing vitamins B and E. Most importantly, it has a dose of SPF 17.

Overall, this is an excellent product especially at the very affordable drugstore price. It blends easily and naturally for light-medium coverage. The finish is not completely matte but not totally dewy -- essentially it leaves a nice, fresh look to the skin that isn't heavy or mask-like in any way and easily lasts all day. I can't really say enough good things about it, but if you don't believe me, listen to Dita Von Teese who recently tweeted "My favorite foundation is L'Oreal True Match. I use N1. It's Cher's favorite too!" A Dita endorsement says it all.

 

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