Get Balmed... Totally Balmed.

It takes a lot these days to get me to seriously consider cracking open the wallet for new cosmetic purchases. Recently, however, some new products on offer from mark made the cut.  I was initially inspired to try the new Lipclick Lipsticks (more on that later...), but along with my order, mark sent me a free tube of Totally Balmed Tinted Lip Balm in Totally Hot ($8).

The unassuming little tube of tinted balm does not make much of an initial first impression.  But, don't be fooled because it is seriously amazing!  The Totally Hot color is a dark burgundy red that is a little intimidating at first glance. It applies sheer, but it is definitely pigmented and will not work for a nude makeup look. What it will give you is a perfect just-bitten, pretty-but-not-trying, French girl lip tint.  You know the one.  Amazingly, it imparts an exquisite amount of pigment without being drying (it is balm, after all...) and leaves a long-lasting stain as it wears.  It does all of these things for less than $10. 

Totally Balmed reminds me a bit of the tarte 24/7 Lip Sheers and Totally Hot is a pretty good match for the Friday shade in that line. While I love me some tarte, the 24/7 Lip Sheers cost almost double what mark is charging for Totally Balmed.  So take that into your calculations!  Sometimes I have my doubts about the product reviews on the mark website because they are almost universally positive and I think a lot of the people commenting are mark reps, but these little babies are pulling down a 84% approval rating. I am not at all surprised.  This little, unassuming black tube could be the answer to your minimally made up, just pretty enough makeup aspirations.  I, myself, am already obsessed.


MAC Attack: Venomous Villains

Hard to think about Fall when it is 93 degrees outside, but it is fast upon us! I had to share this preview of the MAC Fall 2010 Venomous Villains collection. Sick of the Disney Princess nonsense? Then Venomous Villains will be right up your alley. 

Inspired by four Disney villains (including my favorite Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty), these four unique sets will be sure to inspire some gorgeous Fall looks.  Take a sneak peak!


Tarte Maureen's Favorites Exclusive Set

To make this post short and to the point: you must get this kit ASAP. It is amazing. Filled with five of tarte's best-selling items, the Maureen's Favorites Exclusive Set ($39) contains everything needed to create an absolutely gorgeous, glow-y, sun-kissed Summer look in no time at all. If you are struggling to find an easy, go-to makeup routine for hot, humid weather, look no further.  

The kit includes:

  • Deluxe Lock & Roll 12 Hour Eyeshadow in Deep Amethyst (new shade)
  • Deluxe Natural Cheek Stain in Exclusive (a warm, earthy nude, also a new shade)
  • Deluxe Mineral Powder Bronzer in cult fave Park Avenue Princess (bronzer beloved by pale and less pale gals alike)
  • Full-sized LipSurgence Natural Lip Stain in Peaceful (new shade of peachy-pink nude)
  • Full-sized Lights, Camera, Lashes! natural mascara

The new shades of the Cheek Stain and the Lip Stain are what make this kit particularly incredible. The warm peach of Exclusive complements the bronzer perfectly and adds the most gorgeous glow to the cheeks. Peaceful is the most flattering of the Natural Lip Stains that I have seen released to date. I dearly hope that tarte makes this shade a part of the permanent collection because it is beautiful and would be flattering on so many different women. Actually, I hope that they make Exclusive part of the permanent collection as well! These shades are 100% winners and right now this kit is the only way to get your hands on them.

All of the fantastic products are contained in a amethyst satin makeup bag with a removable flower pin. I had my doubts about the flower, but it is actually cute and I very well may end up wearing it in the near future. The bag is adorable and is definitely a step above the usual "gift with purchase" type bags.

I had been on a modest "no buy" period in the past few months, but I had to bust out my wallet for Maureen's Favorites Set. It is a fantastic collection of products from my hands-down favorite brand at a very reasonable price. All in all, it is definitely a kit worth turning some cartwheels over -- if you were the sort of person to do such a thing. 



My New Obsession: Givenchy Mister Light

A few months ago, there were some things in my life that I desperately needed to conceal: particularly bad dark circles, blemishes and tired-looking eyelids. Things were getting pretty out of control and I was almost literally buying every new concealer on the market. I amassed a collection of well over ten new-to-me concealers that I systematically plowed my way through in search of one that met my exacting standards. 
Many of them were quite good (and if I ever get my act together, I'll write them up) but one stood out from the crowd: Givenchy Mister Light Instant Light Corrector Pen ($32).  Having read about it on the Lucky website months prior, I put it off due to the expense. As a general rule (if you can call it that), there is a lot of variability in price:quality ratio between drugstore and premium brands. Some brands you pay a lot for of the packaging and a slightly better (or the same) quality product whereas other brands you pay a lot and actually get the beautiful packaging plus a superior product. Givenchy Mister Light Corrector Pen is one of the latter.

The click-pen apparatus has a very satisfying CLICK that it makes when the end is turned. This is silly, but I actually really love that experience. The product dispenses slowly -- thankfully avoiding wasting precious globs. On the face, it is just short of miraculous. It conceals, brightens, highlights and just fixes stuff in a nonspecific sort of way.  In that post-lunch slump when I look in the mirror and start wondering when I became so haggard, I'll pull out Mister Light and instantly brighten my under eye area. This does wonders both for my complexion and self esteem -- so it's a win-win either way. The texture is creamy and rich, but it is neither too thick nor too thin for true concealment; it contains an extra boost of SPF 10 and some vitamin-complex as well.  Importantly, the way in which is brightens doesn't call attention to the area that is being concealed, it just contributes to an overall improved look. I always look more awake after putting it on. So inspired, I'll touch up around my nose to conceal that irritating redness and maybe a blemish if needed. If I really get excited, I'll rub a little on my brow bone or the inside corner of the eye to further open, lift and brighten. Works every time.

Because it is pricey, I don't use it every day and instead save it for mid-day touch ups. Because the click-pen is a chic, glossy black, it fits easily in my day bag and hides, unassuming, amongst my pen collection. It is kind of like my little secret weapon. I'm still searching for an equally impressive product at a cheaper price point, but so far, Mister Light is in a class of his own.
Givenchy Mister Light Corrector Pen is available exclusively at Sephora and offers six different shades. 


Quick Anti-Frizz Tip

For whatever reason, my hair has been a complete frizzy mess the last few weeks: flyaways and general craziness all over. But, having hair that is thin in texture, I also constantly struggle with it looking flat and stuck to my head. Unfortunately, anti-frizz treatments only worsen the flat problem. 

So, what's a girl to do? Somewhere I picked up this trick and it is just so good that I have to pass it on. Here's what you do:  get yourself a kabuki makeup brush like the one shown here from elf (the cheaper the better in this case).  Spray the bristles with a little bit of hairspray and then use it to smooth over the top of your hair to calm the frizz without losing volume. I usually back-comb the top to add some oomph and then apply this handy maneuver. The end result is a top of my head that is not embarrassingly frizzy or flat. It's a win/win all the way around.


Zoya Summer 2010: Flash

After the glamour and glitz of Zoya Sparkle, you might think that the companion Summer 2010 collection, Flash, would be subdued and understated. And, you would be dead wrong! As an addition to the mind-blowing, stunningly glitter-ized Sparkle collection, Flash is every bit as bright and as vibrant and attention-grabbing ... only they are creams.  

Now, I love a good cream polish. I really do and a quick perusal of my polish collection easily confirms that.  As such, Flash is definitely talking my language. But, unlike the usual presentation of a classic, somewhat staid, collection of pink, red and burgundy creams, Zoya Flash is a knock-your-socks-off grouping of vibrant shades ready to hit the beach on tips and toes everywhere. Have I convinced you yet of their beauty? Well, let's get to it!

Robyn (perfect turquoise cream) easily makes the point that cream polishes can be anything but boring. I'm not sure that the color is represented exactly as blue as it is in real life -- it is actually a bit darker in shade, but every bit as vibrant. This color reminds me of a bright, clear sky on a cloudless Summer day. Rich and very pigmented, this Robyn was practically opaque in one coat!

Perrie (soft lavender cream) is an adorably Spring-y color even though it is in a "Summer" collection. Another blogger raised the question as to whether "Perrie" is even a real person's name, but I recently saw a re-run of Frasier and the actress that played Frasier's produce, Roz, is Peri Gilpin, which I think is close enough. At any rate, the name Perrie seems to fit because this color is a periwinkle-inspired lavender. I'm not sure it is the best fit with my skin tone, but it is a very unique and non-pink feminine shade.

Dana (american rose cream) is sure to become one of my favorite summertime shades. It is a brighter, more electric version of last year's favorite, OPI Miami Beet. It is a cream rose, which isn't the most revolutionary of shades, but the richness and the vibrancy of the color make it anything but boring.  Fun and playful, this one makes a fantastic mani or pedi. Loves it!

Jolene (summer pink cream) is probably my least favorite of the entire collection. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with it, it just isn't a fave color of mine.  My first reaction to this color was Wow, I'm wearing the Barbie dream house. Jolene is about the color that I think every single Barbie doll I ever had wore right out of the box. I had some problems with streakiness in the application of Jolene as well. So, all in all, not my favorite.

Maura (electric crimson cream) does, however, take the prize for my favorite. Similar to Zoya Nidhi, this one is a fun take on a traditional red. It has a bit of a tomato-y color and is anything but a standard red. This one is definitely electric. Bright, bright and brighter, it is a classic red that doesn't fade into the background. If you love that Dita-inspired classic red nails look but like to be a little more daring, then Maura is worth checking out. 

Jancyn (soft tangerine cream) brings up the rear of the collection and this one is also not for the shy. It is pretty unusual but I'm sure it will have its fans. Described as a tangerine, I think the color is closer to a marigold with a richer, more yellow tint. It is orange but doesn't give me a Halloween-pumpkin vibe at all. It is definitely Summer sun and bright Spring flowers. This would look amazing on some warmer skin tones.

So that's it for Zoya Summer 2010! As a caveat, for some reason Flash was difficult to photograph with exact fidelity to the colors, so I do have to make a disclaimer that the shades might be ever-so-slightly different in real life. I think that the basic idea and hopefully the vibrancy of these colors come through. All of them were opaque in two coats with the possible exception of Jolene. Zoya Flash is available now on will definitely jump-start your Summer readiness.


Zoya Summer 2010: Sparkle

Those creative folks at Zoya have released two sure-to-be loved collections for Summer 2010: Flash & Sparkle. I posted a quick preview last week because I was so excited that I couldn't wait to share. Today I'm happy to present the entire Sparkle collection.  

My overall thoughts about this are really, really positive. I try not to use the word "bling" because it is  a fairly stupid, over-used word. However, when I first sloppily slapped on these polishes, that was the first word that came to mind. These colors are full-on glitter and they are gorgeous! They make your finger tips look like little jewels (which, incidentally, reminded me of this ridiculous clip from this terrible movie). Anyway, the end result was me wandering around the house looking lovingly at my fingers declaring "Jewels! I've got jewels!" It was a weird scene.
At any rate, without further ado, let's get started with Zoya Sparkle!

Ivanka (mermaid green sparkling metallic) is a beautiful emerald green with golden glitter. The combined effect evokes a scaly mermaid tale. This one is an attention getter so don't wear it if you aren't ready for some comments!
Charla (tropical blue sparkling metallic) continues the aquatic theme, evoking the  sun glinting off the impossibly clear turquoise blue that you find in the Caribbean. Similar to Ivanka this one also has golden glitter and can look slightly greenish in different lights. Again, this is another attention-demanding color. 

Mimi (royal purple sparkling metallic) was destined to be a top favorite. Initially I thought that it would be similar to OPI Visions of Sugarplum, but it is not. This one is a brighter shade of purple with even more pronounced glitter. It is stunning!

Alegra (fuchsia pink sparkling metallic) is a beautiful cranberry color. Gorgeous!

Gilda (fashion pink sparkling metallic) is Alegra's younger, partying sister. A bright, raspberry  shade, Gilda is a pink that is neither subtle nor shy.

Nidhi (rich red sparkling metallic) is the last color of this collection and it is definitely my favorite. I love red nail polish as much as the next person, but this is a unique spin on red. Nidhi is a bold shade of orange-tomato red that would look beautiful on both warm or skin tones. I absolutely adored this one!

These polishes are fantastically beautiful. I had no problems with application or removal. Since I swatched them all in one sitting, there is a bit of glitter on my cuticles in some of the pictures. But, I think that is a result of the swatching procedure rather than a problem with the polish themselves. If you have had wear problems with Zoya polishes, you might want to check out the All Lacquered Up post with an Ivanka wear test and some really useful information about a potentially problematic ingredient in base/top coats.

Zoya Sparkle is available now on The polishes are $7 each or $36 for the whole set. If you are a glitter girl, these were made for you.


Preview: Zoya Sparkle & Flash!

More to come...


Link Love (with Some Commentary)

Woman applying makeup
Do you read Jezebel? I am fairly obsessed with the mix of semi-serious and pop-culture content with a healthy dose of feminism mixed in. The comment threads regularly leave me busting up with laughter, especially when ladies get on a tear about hunky, male celebrities.

At any rate, this week the kind Jezebels have been running a series on Beauty 101 after soliciting feedback from readers on what beauty basics they can't seem to master. Unsurprisingly, eyeliner was the #1 complaint. They accumulated literally hundreds of nuggets of advice in the service of simplifying these elusive skills.  For what it's worth, in my humble beauty-blogger opinion, the key to mastering eyeliner is the same as the key to mastering a jump shot (should you be so inclined): you just have to practice. And by practice, I don't mean trying to throw some on quickly before you run out the door for work. I promise you, that is a recipe for disaster. Some lonely Saturday night (like tonight!), sit yourself down with some eyeliner (a soft pencil is easiest to start with), a well-lit mirror and some gentle eye makeup remover. Then, go to town. It really won't take long and you will be able to graduate to more advanced techniques like gel or liquid.

Today, I was happy to see that the Jezebels are tackling the challenging issue of foundation, concealer and powder. I read about half the comments and what is striking is the variety of responses and tips that people have devised. Mostly, I think that this speaks to the fact that everyone's face is different in terms of tone, texture and place on the oily-dry and young-mature spectra. I could probably reiterate a lot of the content on that thread, so I won't and will limit myself to only 2-3 of my own contributions.  Here are my high-yield tips: 
#1. Always test foundation on your jaw. You will know it is a match because it will disappear into your skin. 
#2. Never buy foundation without looking at it in natural light. I don't care what the sales associate says about the liberal return policy, just don't bother shelling out your cash until you look at it outside. Every time I have skipped this step, I have majorly regretted it.
#3. There are good drugstore foundations available (my personal fave is L'Oreal True Match), but if you have had trouble finding the right shade then just skip it and hit the department store counters for some professional help.  MAC and Bobbi Brown have good shade selections across a range of skin tones (including darker shades for ladies of color). But, review #2 before you buy anything.

I can't wait to see what other topics are coming up on the Beauty101 thread!

Also, did you see this NYT article on environmentally-friendly cosmetics packaging? Over-packaging has been one of my major complaints about personal care products and I hope that cosmetics companies figure it out soon!


My New Obsession: tarte Natural Lip Stain

It's not really a secret that I am a complete and total freak for all things tarte. I just love so much about them: the colors, the packaging, the attitude -- it's just so great. So they can almost do no wrong in my book, but this time, they have outdone themselves and created a product that is oh so very right.  The tarte Natural Lip Stains ($24) are a take-off on the classic tarte Cheek Stains ($30). It's no secret that many gals (including myself) would often use the Cheek Stain for double-duty and rub it on the lips as well as the cheeks.  This worked for a short period of time, but wouldn't provide the long-lasting wear that it does on the face.  

However, tarte has now heard our cries for a long-wearing lip stain that has beautiful colors, a moisturizing finish and an unbelievable wear. The result is the tarte Natural Lip Stains with LipSurgence Technology. Let me tell you, these are fantastic.  I've been wearing Joy (peach) for several weeks now and lives up to all the hype.  Here's what you get with these Lip Stains: a beautiful, natural-looking wash of color that is sheer and flattering but actually shows up and then lasts and lasts and lasts.  The texture is quite pleasing -- silky without a hint of stickiness. They claim that the stains increase the lip's moisture content for a plumped and hydrated pout. I don't know about all that, but I do know that they are absolutely, in no way, drying. The small miracle that this is will come as a surprise to anyone who has ever worn a long-wearing lip product and felt the familiar chalky dryness they usually cause. There is none of that chalkiness with the tarte Lip Stains. 

They are packaged in a pen shaped container with a push-up tip so there is no lame and annoying sharpening required to get more product. I've been wearing mine almost non-stop for weeks and the tip is barely worn down, so I fully expect these to last a good long time.  I will say, if you are looking for a really bold lip look, then these stains probably aren't the best choice.  The color selection is limited to six shades right now, but even the most intense colors, Lust (red) and Moody (deep berry), are still sheer. They would be a good base product for a bold lip look, but they won't produce that dramatic, retro red lip you might be wanting. The only other downside is that they are exclusive to Sephora and can't be purchased at other outlets or even on the tarte website. I'm sure there are complicated reasons as to why, but it is still pretty frustrating especially when the Sephoras are constantly sold out of them. I would love to have one of these in every color cannot say enough good things about them. Go get one today, you won't be sorry.


Product Review: Olay In Shower Lotion

The dark days of Winter may soon be a thing of the past, but for those of us who struggle with chronically dry skin, the battle to stay moisturized lasts all year long.  I haven't mentioned this product previously, but  Olay In-Shower Body Lotion ($7) has become one of my go-to products for fighting body dryness.

When I first discovered it (via a suggestion from Jolie Nadine), it was seriously the best product debut in my shower in a long, long time. Basically, Olay In-Shower Lotion is used after cleansing, but before getting out of the shower. You simply apply a good-sized dollop to each area needing moisture, rub it in, rinse it off, get out of the shower and on your way. It completely eliminates the standing-in-the-bathroom-shivering-in-a-towel-while-slapping-on-moisturizer-as-fast-as-possible step. You know what I'm talking about and that is miserable.

I have been using the version shown here on the left with "Age-Defying VitaNiacin" and I can't verify that there has been any age defying going on, but I haven't really been expecting that. What I will say is that my skin has been as hydrated as it is with traditional post-shower lotions and maybe even a little more. There is another variety available, Ultra Moisture with Shea Butter, but I haven't tried it.  I probably should, though, because my one complaint is that I don't particularly care for the ever so slightly chemical smell of the Age-Defying formulation. My suspicion is that the scent is coming from the VitaNiacin, which may or may not be doing anything. So, the shea butter might be more to my liking in that regard.

Either way, this product has all but eliminated the post-shower moisturizing frenzy which is A-OK in my book. Anything that helps me get out of the shower and safely into my warm jammies faster is a definite winner.


Get the Look: Anna Kendrick, Oscar's 2010

I didn't actually watch the Oscars last weekend, but I was interested to see which lucky celebrity wore tarte on the red carpet. It was later revealed that tarte's celebrity makeup artist, Sara Glick, worked her makeup magic on best supporting actress nominee Anna Kendrick. To compliment Anna's flowing, blush colored dress, she was inspired by "youthful, ethereal beauty--think soft, natural glowing skin." Using a combination of Arcona skincare and tarte makeup products, Glick created a softly beautiful look that would work on or off the red carpet.

Continue reading for Glick's play-by-play on mastering this look for yourself.


MAC Give Me Liberty of London Threatens to Liberate Me from My Hard-Earned Cash

Ok ladies. We (meaning "me") are in trouble here. After braving the Nordstrom Spring Trend Show with just one lipstick purchase, I am clearly in a weakened state and very susceptible to the overwhelming charms of this amazing, adorable and infinitely beautiful collection.  Gah!
The very latest in a series of famous M·A·Collaborations, it was only a matter of time before the demure-to-daring kaleidoscopic prints of Liberty of London coloured our world with Brit wit and bohemian chic...Spring 2010 insists on the ultimate flower fusion, with M·A·C joining forces with Liberty, creating cool Britannia compacts and Lipsticks, Eye Shadows, Powder, Blush, Nail Lacquers and, of course – blushing, bountiful, quite British accessories.
My BFF and I visited Liberty of London during our London semester abroad a long time ago. As extremely poor college students trying to survive on something like $50 per week in London, the prices were quite a bit beyond our range. I haven't been back since, but I'm pretty sure that hasn't changed.

But! Never fear because the beauty of the MAC Give Me Liberty of London collection is that you, me or anyone can have a little piece of the iconic store. Even better, that piece is likely to be a gorgeous MAC makeup product that you will love and enjoy for a very long time.  
In pretty, feminine shades of soft pinks and peaches, the collection boasts some really beautiful lipsticks, glosses, blushes and powders. Plus, there are two new nail colors, Vestral White and Blue India. I am dying over Blue India, which is already sold out online. Ridiculous. Maybe I can track one down in a store somewhere.

My favorite piece from the collection, though, is the Liberty of London Scarf ($95). Coral, orange, yellow and blue flowers will add the perfect pop of color to your Spring and Summer outfits. So pretty!

No kidding, if you love the look of this stuff as much as I do, you need to get your piece of Liberty of London ASAP. With colors and packaging this beautiful, these won't be around for long. According to Temptalia, you can use code LIBERTY for free shipping on all orders on

OH!  I almost forgot! If cosmetics aren't for you, Target is releasing their own collaboration with Liberty of London that includes a line of home accessories and clothing. *faints*


    Crazy for Cabana Corals

    Coral turned out to be a hot color on the kisser last year. Proving itself to be incredibly infectious, the color is now making an appearance on lips and cheeks.  Ahead of the curve and ready to go for Spring 2010, Bobbi Brown's Cabana Corals collection seriously takes my breath away. Unexpectedly pretty and almost universally flattering, this collection should stop any anti-coral sentiment once and for all.  

    I had the chance to check it out in person and even take home a little piece of my own (Calypso Glaze Metallic Lip Color, if you must know) and I can assure you that this collection definitely warrants taking a trip to your local BB counter or to Bobbi Brown online. We may still be a few months away from sunny, Summer weather, but try on a few of these shades and you will be only be one margarita away from a Summer-y mood. No kidding, check these colors out.  


    Product Lust: Tarina Tarantino @ Sephora

    The new makeup collection from Tarina Tarantino occupied four whole pages in the Spring 2010 Sephora catalog. Clearly, the company is excited about this launch!  And while the beautifully packaged pink sequined designs have been available online for several weeks now, they are set to debut in stores any minute. I recently caught a few early glimpses  of the developing display and, from the few products I investigated, the line looks to be pretty darn fabulous! 

    In my brief perusal, I immediately noticed the two products that easily embody Tarantino's sparkle overload aesthetic.  For starters, the Tarina Tarantino Pearl Glow Primer ($32) is infused with pearl powder that gives the skin a luminous glow while priming it for additional makeup. On the skin, the Pearl Glow absorbs quickly, leaving a silvery opalescent finish without any trace of greasiness. This could easily be mixed in with a moisturizer for a very pretty, youthful glow. And while Tarantino is known for her extravagantly bejeweled designs, this product will add just a hint of shimmer that even the most restrained and tasteful among us would love.

    If a more pronounced glittery look is what you are in the market for, then the Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Shimmer Dust ($39) is near-perfect. It comes in a very classy bottle with an old fashioned balloon pump spray that would look exquisite sitting on anyone's dresser. The product itself is a fine, microglitter that can be gently spritzed on to illuminate and accent the face, shoulders or even hair. Described by the sales associate as "glitter for grown ups," this product is the perfect way add some sexy sparkle without looking like you are on your way to a rave. It is more immediately noticeable than the Pearl Glow, but still remains very flattering and not distracting in the least. 

    Those were my two initial finds, but stay tuned as the rest of the collection looks to be similarly gorgeous!


    High vs. Low: Benefit vs. Soap & Glory

    When I saw Soap & Glory Marvelips! Lip Crayon ($10) at Target, I stopped in my tracks.  My interest sprung from the fact that it looked very much like a more expensive product,  Benefit Cupid's Bow Lip Shaper ($28). Released a few years back, Benefit's product is a duo-ended pencil, one side being a pearly pink highlighter, the other being a darker mocha mauve lip pencil. By using the highlighter end to accent the cupid's bow and the darker end to contour the lower lip, the Cupid's Bow promises to perfect your pucker. Marvelips! double-ended lip pencil promises much the same thing, but at a third of the price. That is a significant price difference, in my book. I should note, however, that the Benefit product also comes with a fancy lip brush to help with application, so that probably factors into the almost $30 price tag as well.

    To be clear, I do not own a Cupid's Bow, but have played around with it a few times at the store, so I'm not completely unfamiliar. I do, now, own a Marvelips! and it is pretty great. 


    Product Lust: Tarte Natural Gel Lip Stains

    These little gems hold the #1 spot on my "most wanted" list. As a follow up and extension of their best-selling cheek stains, tarte has revised their long-wearing formula for the lips and come up with the Tarte Natural Gel Lip Stains ($24). The result is a gorgeous collection of six wearable shades that are sure to knock your socks off!
    paraben free · petro-chemical free · pthalate free · sulfate free ·gluten free ·tricolsan free ·talc free · fragrance free · MEA/DEA/TEA free · glycol free ·formaldehyde donor free ·cruelty free· GMO free

    Shades include:
    •  moody (deep berry)
    •  amused (bright pink)
    •  lust (red)
    •  enchanted (rose)
    •  charmed (light pink)
    •  joy (peach)

    These have only been available for a few weeks, but my local Sephora is completely sold out of them already. Can you believe that?!  I'm pretty bummed about it because I seriously cannot wait to try them. And if the cheek stains before them are any indication, I expect that we'll be seeing many more gorgeous lip shades to follow in the future. 

    tarte Natural Gel Lip Stains are available exclusively at Sephora stores and


    NOTW: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Uptempo Plum

    Today's NOTW comes from the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color collection. The color that I'm wearing, Uptempo Plum ($5), is super cute. It has a dark purple base with red and gold shimmer -- which is more obvious in the bottle in this picture.  The camera doesn't pick up the shimmer as well on the nails, but it comes across in real life. While I love OPI Visions of Sugarplum in all of its flashy gorgeousness, this polish is a toned-down variation that is just as pretty.  Uptempo Plum is a great basic vampy polish at a bargain price.

    But because I haven't reviewed anything from this series before, I'll make a few comments on the formula, etc. The Insta-Dri line has the Sally Hansen features a flat brush with a rounded tip. I actually like this brush even though my nails are too wide to be able to accomplish the "one stroke" application. The polish claims "insta-dri," results that "dry to a shiny finish in 60 seconds." I'll just go ahead and say that didn't exactly happen in my hands. The formula does dry pretty fast (less than five minutes) but was still vulnerable to smudging for a while after that. The shiny finish is debatable. While the polish isn't completely matte, I wouldn't call it shiny. It's kind of half-matte finish, if that makes any sense. With regard to the claim of "one coat coverage," in my opinion the polish definitely looks better with two coats. I suppose that you might be able to get away with one really thick coat, but I think that it looks better with two.

    Overall, I think that the polish looks and performs similar to a more expensive salon brand. The lack of a high gloss finish is basically the biggest criticism that I have and it is easily remedied by a glossy topcoat. Available in 32 bright and trendy shades, the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color is an affordable drugstore choice for pretty nails.


    Workaday Touch-Up Makeup Kit

    If you are anything like me, beauty-emergencies are a common part of every day life. Ok, maybe emergencies is a bit of an overstatement, so maybe something like beauty inconveniences, mistakes or accidents works better.  Whatever you want to call it, you know what I'm talking about: the smudge of eyeliner that has mysteriously migrated up to your eyebrows, the unfortunate creasing on a crappy new eye shadow, the major nail polish chip or snaggy hangnail...  These things happen to all of us and it is always good to be prepared.  

    Years ago, someone gave me a small 4x6 inch zip bag (similar to that cute green bag that is on sale for $9).  It went unused for a long time until I decided that I had had enough of these beauty irritations and needed to pack an "emergency kit" that I could carry with me wherever I went. Although similar to the Wedding Emergency Kit, my Workaday Touch-Up Kit has considerably fewer items. Since I don't want to be carrying around three pounds of crap every day, this kit needs to be streamlined down to the absolute essentials.  Here is what you'll find inside:  

    All of this fits neatly in the little pouch which then migrates down to the bottom of my work bag. On weekends, I pull it out and toss it in my purse, ensuring that I am never without these essential items. Certainly, they don't cover every possible situation, but I think that they are enough to keep me looking more on the "pulled together" than "hot mess" end of the spectrum. 

    Anyway, I highly recommend this strategy for work week survival. What do you think? Do you have a Workaday Touch-Up Kit? What's in yours?


    Body Oils: Cure for Dry Winter Skin

    As we turn the corner on Winter, many of us are engaged in a full-on war on dry skin. My chronic dry skin problem is only exacerbated by my love of taking really hot showers and baths when I feel like I can't get warm. When intensive hydration is needed, I've had the best success using body oil. 

     Body oil is exactly what it sounds like and used like a lotion or cream. It absorbs best if the skin is still a little bit warm and moist.  For best results, use it immediately after getting out of the bath after some minimal toweling off. It is a good idea to do this either in the tub/shower or on a rug or towel that can collect any stray drops. One drawback of body oil is that it can be a bit messy. One of my favorite products was a rice oil based product by Bath & Body Works. It was discontinued, unfortunately. The oil itself was great, but I really loved that it came in a spray bottle. This was brilliant because it can be spritzed on wherever.  I suppose you could buy a 99 cent spray bottle and try this yourself.

    In selecting a body oil to try, there are dozens and dozens of offerings in lots of price ranges. On the more economical side, Neutrogena Body Oil ($13 for 16oz bottle) is both effective and affordable. It has a "light sesame formula" but I promise that you won't smell like cooking oil in the slightest. I might be crazy, but I feel like the Neutrogena product is more thin and liquid-y than other ones that I've tried and it tends to slop all around if I'm not careful. Once I figured that out, though, it's been smooth sailing and the product hydrates my thirsty skin effectively.

    Another drugstore favorite is Burt's Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Bath and Body Oil ($8 for 4oz bottle). Containing moisturizing ingredients like sweet almond oil, lemon oil, and vitamin E, this oil leaves a fresh lemon scent that most people find pleasant and not overpowering. Although I am pretty skeptical of the "100% Natural" descriptor, I do want to mention it because many people are interested in that. 

    The Body Shop"s Spa Wisdom Monoi Miracle Oil ($20 for 5 oz bottle) contains fairly-traded babassu oil as one of its special blend of hydrating oils. According to their website, Monoi is an ancient Tahitian word that means "scented oil." This product has some glamorous origins, coming from Pacific islands and created by "soaking Gardenia blossoms (Tiare flowers) in rich, purified coconut oil." If only I could sign myself up for that kind of treatment... 

    If cost is less of a concern, there are (unsurprisingly), many options from some more exclusive brands.


    Last Minute Deal!

    If you loved Vera Farmiga's Golden Globes look, you will be excited to hear that the tarte Flower Child Spring 2010 Collection is now available online!

    And even better, from now through 2/1/10 @ 12pm (EST), get 40% off your tarte order thanks to this discount from Lucky Magazine. How to get it: Log on to and enter "luckyweek3" at checkout to save 40 percent on everything! 


    More Senna-Sational Lip Products

    While I love the streamlined simplicity of Senna's Lip Sync lipstick/gloss duo, many people are loyal to one type of product and would prefer a stand-lone lipstick or lip gloss for their lip color needs. Not to worry because Senna has lipstick and gloss products that are every bit as beautiful and high quality as Lip Sync and I'm fortunate to be able to discuss several of them here on The Couch!

    The individual lipstick and gloss products are discussed below, but the one thing that really impresses me with the entire Senna lip line is that the colors seem to be carefully selected to complement a wide variety of skin tones.  Senna very obviously works to showcase each individual's beauty, not overpower it with dramatic or shocking colors.  This is consistent with founder Eugenia Weston's vision to "make females look more really flatter all skin types, colors and makeup attitudes." If you are looking for a neutral, flattering and versatile selection of shades in a variety of formulations, then the Senna line is something to check out.


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    If you represent a cosmetic or skincare product(s) that I might be interested in, please contact me and I'll tell you where to send samples. Please note I will only write about products that I can honestly say something nice about.