The Beauty Couch's Most Popular Posts of 2009

Woman retouching her make-up

Since I'm in a "Best Of" kind of mood this week, I thought we'd cap it off by reviewing the Top 10 most popular posts of 2009.  It is still a complete mystery to me why some posts attract more attention than others, but all I can say is that I'm very grateful for each and every visit. So, here they are in descending order of popularity.


1.  Wave Goodbye to Straight Hair: Garnier Fructis Wonder Waves Enhancing Spray
8.  How To... Use Luminizer Part 1 and Part 2

My goal is to keep bringing fun, interesting and relevant reviews, tips and techniques in 2010. So stay tuned and Happy New Year!

 

MAC Attack: Warm & Cozy

M∙A∙C had some truly lovely holiday sets on offer, but thankfully I've saved my pennies because the just-released Warm & Cozy Collection is amazing. Warm & Cozy aims to celebrate the post-holiday return of the everyday neutral makeup. M∙A∙C is brilliant for releasing this collection just as many people are facing down the coldest days of Winter. Who wouldn't love to cuddle up next to a fire with your favorite person, basking in the ever-flattering glow?
"A fireside fantasy far from the maddening crowd is undeniably appealing. Seek refuge in the warmth, the glow of skin rosy with Refined Golden Mineralize Skinfinish, Shadesticks in Cuddle, Nurture and Snuggle shades, cozy as a mug of cocoa on a bearskin rug. Curl up with the cashmere kiss of Warm Me Up Lipstick or Light That Fire! Lipglass...Like being in a majestic lodge surrounded by all of life’s real comforts. Natural beauty, the way M∙A∙C makes it modern…Like going on retreat and communing with nature, it’s an earthly way to bring back what the city takes away, and a sensual solution to make life simple, but luxurious. Winter beauty begins here."
The only thing that could improve that contented picture would be a Snuggie/Slanket or some such backwards bathrobe, over-sized fleece thing. I'm only half-kidding here. While the model in the top picture looks awfully pretty with perfect au naturale makeup, she also looks naked and cold.  A Slanket would do her a world of good.  At least this one is wearing a sweater... kind of. 

Anyway, should we discuss the actual makeup? 

 

Beauty Bloggers' Best of 2009

 As promised, here are some links to other bloggers' "best of" lists.  Enjoy!

 

The Beauty Couch's Best Of 2009

Holidays & Occasions
Ok, well, this person looks absolutely nothing like me but we share an excitement over the rapidly approaching New Year 2010.

Thinking about the New Year inspired me to reflect on what products would constitute my "Best Of" for 2009. After taking many, many factors into consideration, I put together this little collection of my favorite products of 2009.  Maybe you missed a few of them along the way, so I hope you enjoy! (Click on each product name to go to the full review.)

Cosmetics
Foundation

Eye Shadow
Lip Stick

Best Palette

Hair Care

Nail Care
Remover

Polish

Bath & Body
Exfoliating Scrub

Product Most Fun to Use

Fragrance

Tools

Stay tuned tomorrow for "Best of 2009" lists from some of my favorite fellow beauty bloggers. 

 

Holiday Haul


It is always disappointing to go back to work after a long holiday weekend.  No matter how much you love your job, nothing really beats loafing around the house, eating too much candy and baked goods for days on end.  It might not be the world's healthiest thing to do, but I sure love it. It occurs to me, however, that loafing around the house on a long weekend is only fun because it is a departure from the usual routine. If loafing around was the usual routine, then maybe it wouldn't be fun at all.

Putting all of that aside, I do have some fun beauty related holiday gifts to enjoy as I re-enter the working world. I just have to share some of my amazing beauty-related gifts because I am just so psyched about all of them.

I was seriously lusting after the Philosophy The Winter Escape collection and was so happy to find it under the tree. The Melting Marshmallow body souffle is just as moisturizing and softening as I expected. Honestly, my hands are ridiculously smooth after using it. The accompanying Lip Shine is also delicious and super-duper shiny. It is way fun.  Lastly, the Peppermint Hot Cocoa shower gel smells exactly like one would expect and has the luxurious, foamy formula that I've come to expect from Philosophy. I will be undoubtedly be using these until they are completely empty!

 

Wet N Wild Natural Wear Lip Shimmer


Everyone and their sister is jumping on the natural cosmetics bandwagon these days. That's probably a good thing, but it often translates into higher prices for products of uncertain (or questionable) quality. It seems that even the ultra-cheapo drugstore brand, Wet n Wild has joined in the fray.  The Wet n Wild Natural Wear Lip Shimmers ($2) aim to nourish while adding some shimmery color to the lips.
This amazing lip balm keeps lips chapped-free with a brilliant shimmer and a beautiful hint of luminescent color. Certified by the Natural Products Association with the Natural Seal, its natural, healthy-for-you formula is infused with calming ingredients of vitamins and natural oils to keep lips moisturized and nourished. This conditioning and enhancing lip shimmer not only makes you look great, but is certified great for you!"

I picked up one of these a few months ago and haven't gotten around to writing about it until now.  However, I have been using it like crazy!  Of the nine available shades, I chose 106 (Spice) which is a deep magenta. While I was expecting a sheer color similar to the Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers, Spice ended up being a little more lipstick-like, imparting a deeper, not terribly sheer, color.  This may be a function of the shade on my pale skin (click here for a swatch of it on a deeper skin tone), but that was my experience.  My main gripe about this product is that, although it contains the word "shimmer" in the title, there is absolutely no discernible shimmer that I could see. But, other than that, I have really enjoyed using it. I think that it does function quite well as a lip balm -- definitely has that creamy, softening feel on the lips. But, while the product was nourishing and conditioning, it is neither luminescent nor creates a "hint" of color as described.  The level of pigmentation is such that I would almost consider it a moisturizing lipstick rather than a tinted balm.

Either way, if you are looking for a cheap, natural product that is gentle enough for daily wear, then WnW Natural Wear Lip shimmers might just be for you! And, at a $2 price point, it's not much to lose.



 

Glamorous Gifts: Last Minute Minis


Little mini kits are some of my absolute favorite things. They are sweet, compact, often quite affordable and make it easy to try a variety amazing products without over-spending. They also are perfect for those last-minute gifts still on your list or for a fun hostess or co-worker gift.

The Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Kit ($18) contains a 1oz sample of the spray perfume, a 3oz soy candle in a glass container and a coordinating set of matches all boxed in a beautifully printed and read-to-gift box.  The featured scent, Hawaiian Ruby Guava, is a delicious blend of tropical fruit notes and coconut surf wax. The lucky recipient will certainly enjoy a momentary escape to a more tropical setting -- without ever leaving home.


Mini nail polish kits are a particular fave because, let's be honest here, how often does one really finish a complete bottle of nail polish?  I'd be willing to be that the answer is hardly ever. So, save some money on full bottles and splurge for a mini kit with a few colors. The Essie On The Go Travel Set ($20) holds two of their most popular shades (Wicked and Ballet Slippers) along with a ridge filler and a top coat. The shades in the kit are the modern-day neutrals of a pale nude and an inky dark shade -- perfect for any occasion.  Plus, the small bottles are particularly amenable to take along on trips for touch-ups.

 

How To... Hot Holiday Hair

Celebrity stylist Charles Baker Strahan helped us out with some styling tips using Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly collection a while back.  Now, he is letting us in on a few styling tips to create hot holiday hair looks. Being the resident star stylist for Herbal Essences, he recommends creates these looks using HE products, but I'd be willing to bet that your favorite volumizing or texture creating products will work just as well.

Voluminous Half-Up Style --  As seen here on actress Kate Mara, a half-up look is a style any girl can achieve and a beautiful way to open up the face. It's also a perfect complement to a strapless dress.
Spring 2007 - Around Smashbox - Day 2


1.  After washing, apply Body Envy Mousse to sopping wet hair for more even distribution.
2.  Separate hair into large sections, twisting each section. Flip hair over and use a diffuse to boost the natural volume at the roots, embracing the natural texture of the hair.
3.  Create even more volume than you think is necessary, as this will help to hold the hair throughout the night. To keep the volume from falling throughout the night, use a volumizing hair spray like Body Envy Hairspray to set the style.
4.  Backcomb the top layer, concentrating fromt he ears to the rise of the head to create more volume for additional hold.
5.  Control the height of the hair by pulling sections back from the ears to the back of the head, securing by criss-crossing bobby pins. Pull the section back from the other side of the head, covering the first side's pins.
6.  Pull the top section of the hair back, keeping the volume at the back of the head, and secure with a hairpin to conceal the bobby-pins.


Tousled Messy Braid -- This is as fun holiday look that is styled without being overdone. It is perfect for girls with curly to even mildly wavy hair or anyone who wants to embrace their natural texture. Rachel McAdams was sporting this style at the London premiere of Sherlock Holmes (as well as some killer red lips). Kristen Bell wore an elaborate version of the messy braid to a recent premiere as well.
Sherlock Holmes - World Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals


1.  After washing, build body by flipping hair upside down, using either the Tousle Me Softly Spray Gel for finer hair or Tousle Me Softly Mousse for thick hair, scrunching product throughout the hair. Use a diffuse to dry hair, creating texture.
2.  Once dry, leave the front strands loose, especially face framing layers/bangs.
3.  Either pull hair straight back or create a side part. gather hair to one side of the head and begin a loose, low French braid.
4.  Allow the braid to remain loose, embracing any pieces that fall out, giving the hair more texture.
5.  Leaving the last few inches of hair unbraided, secure the braid with a hair elastic and pink the hair under at the nape of the neck, hiding the end of the braid under your hair.
6.  Backcomb the loose, face framing pieces, and loosely pin them back into the hair, creating more volume and texture.
7.  For a more polished twist for a work party or holiday wedding, wrap the braid into a chignon rather than tucking the ends in, embracing the loose texture for a perfectly imperfect, ethereal holiday style. Feel free to accessorize!

 

Glamorous Gifts: For the Guys

They may deny it, but there is a certain amount of grooming that any respectable man engages in on a daily basis. It may only be teeth-brushing in the most extreme minimalist, but I'm guessing that shaving products, deodorant and body wash are involved for most of them at a minimum. Additionally, most are fairly disinterested in finding the best product available for their particular hair/skin/shaving needs.


This is something that we can help with, especially as the holidays provide an easy excuse.  Last year, I got my husband the Anthony Logistics Perfect Shave Kit ($50). He has pretty sensitive skin that is easily irritated by shaving, but since using this kit, I've noticed much less razor burn and general inflammation.  I tried to drag some a more detailed review out of him, but all he'd say was that he liked it.  In particular, the Shave Cream is his favorite and he even requested more when he ran out a few months ago!  So I highly recommend this kit if you are interested in helping a man in your life treat his face to some kinder, gentler products. There is also the Anthony Logistics Essentials Starter Kit ($40) which is a little bit cheaper and doesn't include the travel bag and towel.

 

Get a Perfect Nude Lip with tarte 24/7 Lip Sheers


Everyone loves smokey eyes for this time of year and they are such a perpetual trend that I kind of get tired of hearing myself mention it so often. But, there you go.  One of the problems with the smokey eye is how to compliment the bold look with the rest of your makeup.  Seen in magazines and on runways everywhere, conventional wisdom hold that you always pair a smokey eye with a nude lip.  Sounds simple, right?  How hard could it be to find the perfect nude lip?

Turns out, the answer is plenty and I have an arsenal of failed potential nudes in my stash to prove it.  Either the "nude" lip color ends up being essentially no color at all or it is too pale and makes you look completely washed out and weird. I think the ideal nude lip is one that is sheer, coordinates with your natural lip color and has just enough of a glossy-shimmery finish not to look completely flat.

 

Glamorous Gifts: Too Faced

If anyone knows how to put together a mean palette, it is the people at Too Faced.  They pack a ton of extremely wearable eye shadows, blushes and lip glosses into some incredibly petite palettes that are easy and fun to use. I got a very cute palette a few years ago as a gift and loved the heck out of it. It was great for travel and slim enough to carry around for touch-ups.

Unsurprisingly, Too Faced has some really adorable and appealing special palettes and gift sets out right now -- one of which is sure to please.  Starting out small, the Glamour To Go III ($20) palette is a great value. Now in its third edition, this popular palette has everything a gal needs to get holiday gorgeous on the fly. This pocket-friendly set features eight shimmery shadows, four lip colors and one universally-flattering, peachy-pink blush.  After your look is finished, it all folds up neatly to the size of an index card. Functional and fun -- what's not to love?


Next up is the French & Fabulous Palette ($29). Being a complete Francophile, I am a sucker for this thing based on the name and packaging alone (I did say "sucker" after all).  Once my eyes fells upon the "Pink Leopard" Highlighting Bronzer, there was no question of my lust for this palette.  Containing six eye shadows in charming neutrals (plus one bad-ass pink) and two  gorgeous bronzers, this palette isn't completely all-inclusive, but is sure to please ladies looking for a sophisticated, but sexy, look.

 

Review: Cover Girl Lash Blast Length


Back in August, Cover Girl launched the newest addition to their line of mascaras, Last Blast Length ($7).  A sister product to their popular, original Lash Blast Volumizing mascaras,  Lash Blast Length promises to give wearers their "longest lashes yet." 

Contained in a narrow tube with spunky yellow coloring,  Lash Blast Length features a thin, skinny wand and a new "Elasta-Nylon™ formula" that supposedly provides flexible, but flake-free hold.  Compared with no mascara at all, it claims that the brush + formula combo will give users an "80% longer lash look." 

Although my initial reaction to this product's claims was Well, we'll see about that, I have to admit that I am completely impressed with its performance. I really love the re-design of the Lash Blast packaging and I even like the wand. I have issues with the fat orange tube of the original Lash Blast because it takes up a ridiculous amount of space in my makeup drawer. Space is limited in my world, so anything that is more streamlined is good by me! Seriously, for that reason only, I would buy Lash Blast Length again.

 

Glamorous Gifts: Sally Hansen Natural Beauty by Carmindy


Are you getting sick of holiday gift ideas yet? Hopefully not because I keep turning up more cool stuff that I just have to share.  Today's idea is from the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty by Carmindy line and it has the added bonus of being very economical. 

Famous for her "5 Minute Face," makeup artist Carmindy has put together some kits that will help you achieve fast perfection without having to think too hard about it.  Each "5 Minute Face Kit" ($13) contains everything needed for a perfectly put-together look. The kits come in three different collections based on skin tones (light, medium and deep).  Each kit contains Luminizing Face Primer (can be worn under foundation or alone),  Fast Fix Concealer, Sheerest Cream Blush in a flattering shade, a coordinating three color Instant Definition Eye Palette, and a Natural Shine Lip Gloss.  The kits include easy-to-follow tips to help make the most out of the kit. The only thing needed would be a foundation (if you wear it) and a mascara.  All of that for less than $15 is amazing!

 

Glamorous Gifts: Little Lip Kits

As a stocking stuffer, a small token of thanks, or even "just because," nothing beats a cute little collection of lip balms. Companies seem to know this because there is no end to the number of absolutely adorable little lip kits available right now. Even the natural/organic brands are getting on board for the season and putting together some very appealing sets. Here are a few that have caught my eye...


Burt's Bees lovers are in luck as they have assembled some very sweet sets.  The Burt's Bees Lip Balm Purse Pack ($10) contains four beeswax lip balms and a reusable, canvas, mini purse. It comes in two varieties:
  • Classic Collection: four of the original Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balms
  • Mixed Collection: a Replenishing, a Honey, and two Beeswax Lip Balms
 
If something a little more sturdy and a little less cutesy is more appealing, then try the Bee Keeper Tin Gift Set ($10). It comes in the same two combinations (Classic and Mixed) only the canvas mini purse is replaced by a fun little tin. Either set is an easy way to keep someone special's pucker in good shape using soothing, natural beeswax. This is especially a good gift for the beauty-averse since the Classic kits contain no tinting or color of any sort -- just helpful, protective lip balm. 


 

Glamorous Gifts: Tarte

UPDATE!  Running through 12/13/09, tarte is having a Friends & Family Sale. Get 40% off on all tarte products when you use the code: FFDEC. Plus, spend over $25 and get a complimentary card case. Get free shipping with $40 and up!  So, peruse the beauties below and choose wisely!

It simply would not be a fitting Beauty Couch holiday run-down if I didn't gush over the dazzling deals from tarte. Love them!  Their holiday specials were awesome last year, but this year they have clearly taken our current economic climate (hate that phase!) into account by putting together some very clever deals. Seriously, if you want to stock up on some tarte products, now is the time to do it.

Let's start with a few of my under $25 faves...


Who wouldn't love to get either of these mini cheek stain kits?  These award-winning, long-wearing, good-for-your-skin cheek stains blend easily to create a natural glow.  These are miniature sized, but since a little bit goes a loooong way and they last forever, you will hardly even notice the small size. Plus, the mini size makes them much easier to tuck into a purse or gym bag.  Crown Jewels ($25) features three brand new, limited edition shades:

 

How To... Wear Red Lipstick

Ring in the holidays with some red, red wine lips. Not only are crimson lips super in vogue right now, but they are really fun and perfectly festive. As seen here on celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Rose Byrne, a red lippie can be worn with a vibrant outfit (like a purple satin gown) or with a more subdued look (white shift dress).

Drew Barrymore at the AFI FEST 2009 Screening of Everybody's Fine
Giorgio Armani Celebrates Cate Blanchett & The Sydney Theatre Company



All it takes is finding the right color and having the confidence to pull it off. Which is easier said than done, right? Here are some tips and tricks to ease up on the anxiety when going for this bold look.

 

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