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.


Streamline Your Makeup with Senna Lip Sync

If you are like me, your day bag usually contains an assortment of lip products: lipstick, gloss, balm, etc. There are one or two stand-bys, but most of these rotate on a daily or weekly basis. As one could imagine, this takes up a fair amount of room, particularly because I like to carry both lipstick and gloss of various colors.

The makeup creators at Senna apparently have the same problem because they have designed a 2-in-1 lipstick/gloss combination product, Senna's Lip Sync ($24) that I can only assume was to address this very issue.

A true lip-loving dream team. Long-lasting, delicious biscotti flavored and moisturizing lipstick and a complementary lipgloss in one elegant package. You’ll be plumping your pout too with collagen stimulating Maxi-Lip. It’s not only that you have three different looks to play with, you’re going to save so much grief not having to dig for that lipgloss! Paraben-free."
I've been wearing Lip Sync in A La Mode, a beautiful coordinated set of peachy-pink lipstick and gloss.  The lipstick veers toward sheer, but is easily buildable; a few swipes produces beautiful color with a satin finish. The gloss has a subtle golden shimmer, adding some light-reflecting highlight to the lips.  Either product can be used alone or together to really pack a punch! The almond biscotti scent is unimposing and inoffensive, and I actually prefer it to lipsticks with a floral scent.  Lip Sync's performance is on par with lipsticks in a similar price range. The texture was creamy and it was easy to apply directly from the tube. The wear was about standard in my hands -- on the order of 1-2 hours, depending on how much talking I was doing (which is typically a lot). I don't know if it contains any moisturizing ingredients, but it was not particularly drying in any way, which is always nice.

Although only available in four color combinations, all are highly flattering on a variety of skin tones and everyone is sure to be able to find a becoming shade. Shades include:
  • A La Mode -- glowing soft rose peach with shimmering peach gloss.
  • Kiss Kiss -- lively peach rose lipstick paired with soft pink gloss.
  • Paris Pink -- true rose cream with soft pink gloss.
  • Stunning -- glowing earthy coral with golden sparkling gloss. 

To summarize, Senna Lip Sync is a 2-in-1 lipstick/lipgloss combination product that smells great, performs well, can be worn a variety of ways and minimizes the number of tubes I need to carry around in my day bag. It's a winner in my book.

Senna Cosmetics are available at select salons and spas and via the Senna website.


Product Lust: Stila Jewel Eye Shadow Palette

Not since Stila changed ownership have I been so excited about a new collection. Check out  the Jewel Eye Shadow Palette ($32)!
This amazing brand new technology provides: 
  • ridiculous sparkle & metallic finish
  • the perfect amount of buildable color
  • a dazzling, glistening effect
There's nothing else like it out there -- it looks like a disco ball every time you blink!"
Shades include:
Rose Quartz -- light pink with silver sparkle
Amethyst -- gray eggplant with champagne sparkle
Black Diamond -- black with silver sparkle
Golden Topaz -- champagne shimmer with silver and gold sparkle

So gorgeous!


Get the Look: Vera Farmiga, 2010 Golden Globes

Celebrity makeup artist and Fashion Week regular Tina Turnbow has teamed up with tarte to create their Spring 2010 Flower Child collection. While the full collection won't be available in stores for a few more weeks, Turnbow previewed the products creating Vega Farmiga's Golden Globes makeup.

Of all of the makeup looks seen at the Globes, I loved Farmiga's even before I knew that it was tarte.  For the look, Turnbow was inspired by "Old Hollywood meets ethereal naturalist. Think feminine beauty with a healthy flush."  And although she does drag out the tired "Old Hollywood" theme, I think her interpretation looks incredibly fresh and modern. The rich coppery brown eye shadows really make Vera's beautiful pale blues pop and the pink blush and lipstick are a perfect compliment.

Here is the complete run-down of the products used and some special preview pics!

Complexion: "I love Vera's porcelain complexion, so I wanted to keep it simple with a sheer foundation and lightweight mineral powder."
  • tarte's smooth operator tinted moisturizer SPF 20 in fa├žade
  • tarte's provocateur mineral pressed powder SPF 8 in fair

Cheeks: "Just a pop of pink made for a healthy blush."
  • Tina Turnbow for tarte's flower child natural cheek stain (new for spring 2010)
  • Tina Turnbow for tarte's flower child eyeshadow palette: pink peony shadow used as a highlighter on top of cheekbones

Eyes: "I used warm coppery-bronze tones to enhance Vera's beautiful blue eyes."
  • Tina Turnbow for tarte's flower child eyeshadow palette (new for spring 2010)
  • Shadows: for her crease and lid blend shimmering firewheel, matte buttercup, shimmering ecru hibiscus; using the double-ended brush apply pink peony on browbone

Eyeliner: rim eyes with matte brown natural liner
  • tarte's multiplEYE natural lash enhancing mascara (new for spring 2010)

Lips: "I felt a sweet pink pout really complimented her look."
I am completely loving the new cheek stain and that eye palette!  Can't wait to see those in person!


Look For Less: Kate Hudson

67th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals
I can't even remember what I did last night, but it sure wasn't watching the 2010 Golden Globes. For all of my love of the fashion-y and frivolous, I can't tolerate watching award shows. Thankfully, the internet catches me up on what I missed in terms of the clothes and beauty trends.

The clothes, as far as I can tell, were an absolute disaster on many fronts. All modern starlets uniformly play it safe with "classic" and "Old Hollywood" looks. Where are the crazy Cher, Bjork and Sharon Stone gowns of the 90's?  Those looks may have been over the top, but those women weren't afraid to go for it and I respect that. These days, everyone looks the same and, this year, particularly bad. The only winners in my book were Rose Byrne in the absolutely gorgeous plum Lanvin and Zoe Saldana in the mess of a Louis Vuitton which somehow works for her.

Anyway, I'm usually pretty "whatever" when it comes to Kate Hudson, but she had something interesting going on with her makeup last night. The look was pretty basic and a fair representation of her usual California-girl vibe, but with a twist in the eyeliner department.  To re-create Kate's look, follow these steps:


Review: Lifted Natural Eye Primer from Tarte

Released as part of the Fall 2009 collection, Lifted Natural Eye Primer with Firmitol™ ($20) is a prep and prime product for the eye area.  Similar to Urban Decay's Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Lifted smooths the eyelid, intensifies eye shadow pigments and locks the shadow in place for a long-lasting wear. Lifted additionally contains tarte's proprietary complex Firmitol which reportedly acts to tighten eyelids and the skin on the surrounding area. However, unlike other products, Lifted does not contain things like parabens, petro-chemicals, talc and pthalates. It also boasts some innovative, environmentally friendly packaging infused with EcoPure -- a non toxic resin-additive that allows plastics to completely biodegrade once placed in a landfill.

Although not really in the market for a new eye primer, I have been completely swept away by the awesomeness of Lifted. On initial use, it has the same, silky silicone feel as other eyelid primers, gliding on and blending easily. It is colorless but effectively cancels out any redness, yellowness or blueness that may be showing through the thin eyelid skin.  As I've gotten older, I've noticed that my eyelids look pinkish in the morning no matter how much rest I get; however, after a quick swipe with Lifted, that is corrected and I look a whole bunch more awake. In fact, on lazy days, I will wear Lifted alone without layering any shadow over top. But, if I do choose to layer shadow over top the Lifted, it performs very well as an eye shadow primer, showcasing the color, eliminating creasing and lasting all day. 


FOTD: An Easy, Everyday Eye Look

Not uncommonly, I sleep in a little too late and have to rush to get out the door on time. Paradoxically, it is also on these days when I tend to look my most tired and run-down (proving that "sleeping in" doesn't really help in the looking or feeling rested departments). As a result, having an easy, no-brainer makeup look is key.  Today I thought I'd share my favorite workaday eye look. It takes about two minutes, involves minimal products and looks great every time.

Products Used:

The steps involved are quite simple:
1. Apply a thin layer tarte Lifted to the entire eye lid area up to the brow -- this is useful both as a primer and to correct any eyelid redness that contributes to a tired appearance.
2. Apply Benefit Birthday Suit over the entire lid to slightly above the crease -- I usually use my ring finger to do this and forgo messing around with brushes. Build the color with another layer, as needed, until the area looks brightened.
3. Sharpen the Urban Decay Zero pencil and smudge the tip directly into the lash line. Then, take a Qtip and gently smudge what small amount is on the eyelid itself.
4. Curl lashes (optional). Apply mascara -- although I'm not wearing any in the photo, I normally would.

For extra credit, run a flesh toned eye liner pencil along the lower waterline or add a bit of brow highlighter to lift the brow. Both of these maneuvers will further open up the eye area and make you appear more awake.  The golden shimmer goes well with blue eyes, but greens or browns would look just as pretty.  Anyway you do it, I would bet that most people have the necessary products in their makeup bag right now to re-create this look.  In fact, this look is so solid that I often bust this out on days when time is not an issue. Try it out and let me know what you think!


NOTW: China Glaze Black Diamond

Although originally released back in 2007 as part of the Winter SKI Collection from China Glaze, I only recently picked up a bottle of Black Diamond for myself. I was attracted to the fact that it is vampy, but with a twist. It doesn't come through particularly well in the picture, but this polish has a pearly luster that moves it from pitch black into pearly gray. It is definitely deeper in color than my other favorite gray, SpaRitual Mood.  Black Diamond is a nice change from the typical purple and deep blue-based vamp shades that we've been seeing and I have really been enjoying wearing it. Plus, I've gotten a ton of compliments, which is always nice. 


Check Me Out on ALU!

One of my absolute favorite blogs is All Lacquered Up: A Nail Polish Fanatic's Resource. Not only has Michelle swatched any collection you might be curious about, but her pictures are always crisp, representative of the shades and her nails always look amazing. So devoted is she that she has an entire room dedicated to her polish obsession! Isn't that fabulous?!

For the past few weeks, ALU has been running a feature on readers' favorite nude nail polishes and today, Michelle has graciously posted three of my all-time favorite nude polishes. If you haven't visited ALU, definitely check it out and if you are visiting The Beauty Couch from ALU, then welcome and I hope you stay awhile!


Fun, Easy Hair Find

Stumbling around Ulta recently, I wandered into the fake, clip-in hair aisle. This is not unusual because, as I've disclosed previously, I have somewhat of a sick fascination with clip-in hair. However, on this particular trip, I took the plunge and purchased some clip-in hair of my very own!  But, before you start to get worried about me, be reassured that it is only a small 1 inch wide strip of bright pink hair.  From POP (Put On Pieces) Hairuwear Color Strips, the 16 inch long strip claims to be 100% human hair. I can't verify this for certain, but it does feel like fine, normal human hair that happens to be bright freakin' pink. There wasn't a huge color selection available, but I was inspired a vague memory of Julia Roberts walking around with a pink lock of hair.

All I can tell you is that I've had about as much fun with this pink strip as one can have with $8. After trimming  it to be a similar length as my real hair, it was ready to go (it started out at 16 inches).  To use, I just tuck it under the top layer of hair next to my part, clip it in and then then push the top layer back over. This camouflages the clip and blends it in with the rest. There is no obvious bump or anything.  Additionally, because it is human hair, it can be styled with a blow dryer, curling or straightening iron. The directions do caution to use only low heats so as not to cause damage. I put a bit of curl in and it is a pretty good match to my actual hair texture and wave. Pretty cool!

The only complaint that I have is after wearing it all day, my scalp does get a little sore from the clip. That being said, the clip is quite secure and I have had no problems with the hair moving around or falling out. So far, I've only been sporting the one strip whereas the model in the picture is clearly wearing quite a few. I think that I'm pretty happy with the one and it is definitely going to be my new weekend staple. Anyway, if you are looking to add some excitement to your 'do without much long-term or cash investment, pick up a piece! It really is pretty fun.


Beauty Bummer: Cover Girl Smoky ShadowBlast

Sigh. I hate being disappointed by beauty products. It makes me angry for having spent the money and also a little sad that I now have to give up the dream of the perfect whatever this product promised. I opened the first page of the January 2010 Allure to find a two page ad Cover Girl Smoky ShadowBlast.  There was Drew Barrymore staring seductively out at me with the world's most perfect perfect smoky eyes. The copy served to further flame my desire: 
It's a smokey eye tool + makeup artist all in one brilliant shadow stick!  Available in six expertly coordinated duos with specially shaded ends, Smoky ShadowBlast lets you create the colorful smoky eye in just two easy steps. Talk about a smoke of genius!"

Sold. Shortly thereafter, I picked up a tube in Bronze Fire for around $10 at the drugstore. So convinced was I that this was going to be amazing, that I stupidly (so stupidly!) threw away the receipt. The idea of a creamy eyeshadow that can be applied from a stick is similar to the MAC Shadesticks that have been becoming really popular. Beautiful eye makeup without the hassle of brushes or sponges is a truly appealing idea.


Beauty News: Roundup

Young Woman on Bed Using a Laptop
I haven't forgotten about you, I've just been busy combing the web for the best beauty-related stories. It turns out that there were quite a few that you might have missed this week!

Apparently, everyone has hair on the brain. I can't even believe that I'm mentioning this, but maybe the completely incomprehensible excitement over a certain reality TV "star's" hair extensions has gotten everyone worked up into some kind of ridiculous hair frenzy.  Maybe she has some hairography planned for her show?  Who knows? More importantly, who cares???

But you might be interested to know that the men of Washington D.C. are looking for a little respect -- in a bottle. Salons in the D.C. area have noted an increase requests for grey highlighting in the past year or so. I would have expected this during the ER-era of George Clooney's career, but why now? Curious.

In case we might have forgotten that the overwhelming majority of hair coloring customers out there are women, a Salon writer has written a veritable ode to her hair dye. She may be cutting back in other areas, but the dye is definitely staying.  In terms of trendy cuts and hair lengths, Lucky writers are swooning over the "lob," or, long bob.

And just in case anyone wants to criticize beauty obsession as a modern invention, then they better check out this BBC article about some recently unearthed remains of what are presumed to be early cosmetics from the Neanderthal area -- that's 50,000 years ago for those of us who are prehistorically challenged. From the article:  "The scientists found lumps of a yellow pigment, that they say was possibly used as a foundation. They also found red powder mixed up with flecks of a reflective brilliant black mineral."  Primitive shimmer! Loves it!

Also, Chanel wants you to buy their temporary tattoos. I can't even begin to imagine how much those are going to cost.

British authorities have pulled a Clean & Clear ad where the "after" pictures clearly enhanced  the models' skin with makeup.  It was determined that the ad misrepresented what the product can do for customers. A new standard for truth in advertising, perhaps?  Other news from the U.K. reports that the heavy kohl eyeliner worn by Cleopatra-era women may have had some unexpected health benefits.  Modern food companies are getting on the beautifying bandwagon and promoting products (like coffee, yogurt or water) with anti-aging benefits. Dubious?  I think so.

Celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes is the most recent to release his very own makeover book. The coffee table book features 20 dramatic makeovers of celebrities and non-celebrities alike. I find the picture of Jennifer Lopez on the cover to be somewhat disconcerting and alien-like, but I'll probably thumb through it the next time I'm in a bookstore.

Whew! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and be sure to get some rest!


Review: Portico The Escapist Bath Grains

My absolute favorite olde-timey remedy is Epsom salt, a.k.a. magnesium sulfate.While it has all kinds of uses in medical contexts, home use is typically in the form of a bath soak. It is postulated to have some anti-inflammatory properties, but is likely just soothing for tired and aching muscles.

While plain Epsom salt is cheap and nice to have around the house, it doesn't exactly satisfy my craving for glamour. However, Portico has solved that problem with their new line, The Escapist Bath Grains ($26). Combined with certified organic grape seed oil and olive leaf extract for skin conditioning, the Escapist Bath Grains also contains our old friend Epsom salt along with sea salt and Vitamin E.

The Escapist Bath Grains offers soothing minerals and sea salts drenched in healing mineral water and blended with Vitamin E, Organic Grape Seed Oil and Organic Olive Leaf Extract to nourish, condition and fight free radicals. Three signature scents of soothing Cucumber + Grapefruit, invigorating Blood Orange + Jasmine and a seductive Amber + Olivewood allow you to create the perfect ambiance for your bathing ritual for your body, mind and spirit."

This careful combination of ingredients makes for one soothing bath experience. Using the Cucumber + Grapefruit, I immediately fell in love with the refreshing and delicious scent. For whatever reason, cucumber scents recall my junior high gym class where all the popular girls had cucumber scented body lotion. I was insanely jealous of this and, to this day, associate cucumber fragrance with something luxurious, desirable and just slightly out of reach.  All of that is to say that Portico's Cucumber + Grapefruit scent is a home run in my book -- not only due to the cucumber, but because of subtler notes of grapefruit, apple leaves, lily of the valley and musk. The end result is something that is beautiful, refreshing and not too overly-girly.

Using the bath soak is incredibly relaxing. The grains dissolve easily in the bathwater and leave no residue on the tub at the end. The Epsom salt component raises the water's specific gravity and makes the body more buoyant. This results in more of a floating bath sensation as compared to a sitting and marinating experience -- subtle, but an interesting change. It also keeps the prune-finger effect at bay, although I ended up sitting in the tub so long that I outlasted it, leaving with decidedly pruned fingers and a very happy disposition.  After the bath, my skin felt both refreshed, invigorated and notably softened.

Bath salts have a tendency to be over-powering in their scent, but Cucumber + Grapefruit strikes the perfect balance. Combined with the comforting properties of the salts, Portico has succeeded in creating a perfectly relaxing bath experience.

Available at and


Welcome 2010 with Life's Greatest Little Pleasures

Sleeping woman in bed

Happy New Year and New Decade 2010!  Hopefully you have had some time for fun and relaxation during the holiday weekend, wherever you are.  Just in case you were looking for ideas, here is a survey out of the U.K. where three thousand people were asked about their favorite of life's little pleasures. I think it is a pretty good list!

Top 50 Greatest Little Pleasures in Life
1.A good night's sleep
2.Finding a forgotten tenner in your pocket
3.Cuddling up with a partner in bed
4.Crying with laughter
5.Having a lie-in
6.Sleeping in newly laundered bedding
7.Getting a bargain
8.Making someone smile
9.Catching up with an old friend
10.Laughing at things that have happened in the past
11.Eating a Sunday roast with your family
12.Someone saying you look nice
13.Curling up on the sofa with a good book and a hot drink or soup
14.Discovering you've lost a few pounds
15.Breakfast in bed
16.Waking up thinking it's a work day and then realising it's the weekend
17.A random person smiling at you in the street
18.Looking through old photo albums
19.Eating a takeaway
20.First snow fall of the year
21.Singing your heart out to your favourite song in car
22.Having lunch with friends
23.Listening to a baby laughing
24.Having a massage
25.Reading a book or listening to your iPod on holiday by the pool
26.Playing in snow
27.Finding a pair of jeans that fit perfectly
28.Being chatted up
29.A girly-night in
30.A pampering session at home
31.The smell of freshly cut grass
32.Sitting in the pub with your friends
33.Looking at a baby asleep in a cot
34.Waking up in a room with an amazing view
35.Clothes shopping
36.Receiving a letter from a friend
37.Fitting into an old pair of jeans again after losing some weight
38.Staying up all night getting to know someone special
39.Your mum's cooking
40.Getting dressed up for a night out
41.Watching a live band
42.Drinking a cold beer after work
43.Browsing in a secondhand book shop
44.Going to the cinema
45.Getting a new hairstyle
46.Your queue being the quickest in the supermarket
47.The cold side of the pillow
48.Watching a DVD
49.Getting tipsy
50.Popping bubble wrap


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