Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Bronzers and Highlighters Part 3

Unfortunately, both of these lovelies are discontinued.
Darphin Blush Sensation in Soleil Sublime is my all time favorite bronzer. To me it has cache not only because it is difficult to find, comes in a little velvet pouch and is one of the more expensive bronzers at $40, but it is simply perfect on the skin. The product is a gradation of color from a warm beigey tan to a deeper bronze with a sublt lilt and sheer formula. You can custom blend a shade by swiping your brush is different color areas, or simply do what I do which is blend all of the shades together. Either way it's utterly foolproof and incredibly natural looking. I've ried many bronzer and while there are others that I do use and like, this one ranks right up at the top.MAC Beauty Powder in Pearl Sunshine was, in my opinion, the hidden gem of MAC's Barbie collection. This is a light shimmery peachy pink with a slight hint of tan and noticeable but gentle shimmer. While everyone was out stocking up on Moth Brown, I picked this up and have been enjoying it ever since, in part due to it's versatility. It has enough pigment to be used as a light blush on more "natural" days, but is sheer enough to work as a highlighter. The little bit of tan undertone would also enhance sunkissed skin, making this a great product to take on vacation. I use a fan brush for just a light dusting or a blush brush if I want more color.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's On Your Eyes Today?

Rediscovering my Laura Mercier Nude Lips in my collection inspired me to wear some other long-forgotten products, and so my eyes today are a hodge-podge of oldies but goodies.

I started with my beloved Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Linen. I then used MAC Grain lash up to the crease, MAC Sunday Best to highlight under my brow and the tear duct and The Body Shop Conker in the crease. I lined with Lancome Artliner in Brown and applied Prescriptives False Eyelshes Mascara in black after having curled my lashes with the Kevyn Aucoin lash curler. I filled in my brown with MAC Browning from the Porcelain/Browning Duo. The colors had faded and my eye lashes had wilted after a long stressful work day but I was very pleased with the overall look! I'm resolving to rediscover old favorites (in the hope of buying less and using more up. So that I have room to buy more. Ah, it's a vicious cycle)!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lips of the Day

Today I unearthed my sadly neglected former love, Laura Mercier Nude Lips Sheer Lip Colour ($20) and I'm very glad I rediscovered it. This sheer moisturizing lipstick glides on smoothly and is sheer enough to look very natural but pigmented enough to show up and enhance your features. Nude Lips is a warm nude brown shade that goes perfectly with Laura's Praline Creme Cheek Colour. This lipstick gave me a polished and professional look today but would work equally well with smokey brown eyes in the evening.

Kevyn Aucoin is on SALE at Hautelook!

Kevyn Aucoin products are 60% off at Hautelook, an online sample sale site. The selection is a bit limited (no Sensual Skin Enhancer and few lipsticks), but if you're after brushes, eye shadow palettes, liners or powders, definitely check it out! Unfortunately between Sephora dropping the line and now this sale, I'm not optimistic about the brand's future. It's too bad since the line has some fabulous products (I use the Eyelash Curler everyday and my sister would be lost without the Sensual Skin Enhancer used as concealer) and was the brainchild of a gone-too-soon makeup legend. I ordered The Essential Eye Shadow Palette #1 and The Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Neutral. I can't wait until they arrive!

Favorite Bronzers and Highlighters Part 2

Clockwise from top: Becca Mermaid Loose Shimmer Powder, Bare Escentuals A Little Sun, Chantecaille Lumiere de Rose Highlighter, Bare Escentuals Bare Radiance. Click on the picture to enlarge and really see the detail.

Becca Mermaid Loose Shimmer Powder ($20)- This loose powder comes in a small eye shadow pigment sized container. I was attracted to it because it's such an unusual shade--a grayish green with heavy gold shimmer. It sounds like it would be hideous on the skin but surprisingly it's not! It looks neutral adding a silvery gold 'flash' on the cheek bones. It also looks great on the eyes, but it's light pigmentation requires it to be packed on.

Bare Escentuals A Little Sun ($18)- this looks orange in the pot but has a healthy dose of pink on the skin. It gives a true 'sunburnt' coppery rose color. I like to wear it not only on my cheeks, but applied with a fan brush across the bridge of my nose and along my hairline--the spots the sun would naturally hit and bronze.

Chantecaille Lumiere de Rose Highlighter ($36)- This is a pearly shell colored highlighter that I've been wearing frequently lately. The texture is very soft and the glow it gives is subtle but definitely apparent. I've been wearing it on top of matte blushes in addition to using as a highlighter. In the picture above, the pinky overspray has been rubbed away. This is how it looks brand new:
Bare Escentuals Bare Radiance ($18)- I generally wear this iridescent nude shimmer powder over blushes and love the soft-focus look it imparts. Your skin just looks softly luminous and the shade and shimmer level are appropriate for daytime wear.

From left to right: Becca Mermaid, Bare Escentuals Bare Radiance, Bare Escentuals A Little Sun, Chantecaille Lumiere de Rose

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do You Work Out?

As I'm sitting here typing this, I'm wondering 3 things:
  1. Should go to the gym today? Yes.
  2. Is it somewhat perverse that I go to the gym, workout hard and come home and have onion rings? Probably. And does this mean I should give up the gym or the onion rings? Too close to call.
  3. Does downloading good gym music constitute a workout? Unfortunately not.
I have a love-hate relationship with the gym. On the one hand I love what it does for my body and always feel better after a good workout, especially if I've been under stress. On the other, I really hate every second I'm on the machines and feel like working out makes me hungrier, which makes me eat more, which makes the need for the gym all the greater! It's a vicious cycle!

I keep going because I love anything fried and any baked good I've ever met, have a drawer full of adorable and expensive Lululemon workout gear and according to every magazine article on the topic I'm setting myself up for countless future illnesses, ailments and maladies should I forebear. Not to mention that my gym features Kiehls in the locker rooms.

So do you work out? How do you feel about it? The highlight of your day? A necessary evil? Or just evil? :)

Tons of Beauty Gift Sets On Sale at

For those of you who hesitated in picking up some of this year's holiday beauty offerings when they debuted, you're in luck! has marked down a slew of holiday products and gift sets from the likes of Bobbi Brown, Prescriptives, Philosophy, MAC, Jo Malone and more 20-50%! I'm not sure if this sale is going on in store as well (a Nordstrom is the one store we're missing here in NYC) but if you live near one it's probably worth the trek to find out. You can view the full list online but here are some of my picks:

Bobbi Brown Eyes and Cheeks to Go Set (was $60, now $47.90)- this set features 8 shadows and a Pot Rouge in one of Bobbi's new signature customizable palettes. There are also a few gloss sets on sale as well as the Goldstone palette and a brush kit.

Jo Malone Bath Oil Collection (was $85, now $67.90)- 6 mini bottles of Malone's top-selling bath oils in a beautiful gift box. You'll also find a soap set and another gift set on sale.

Smashbox Wish For The Stars Set (was $20, now $14.90)- an amazing price for a kit containing a Soft Lights Highlighter, Lash DNA mascara and Lip Enhancing Gloss in Illume. Best of all, $1 from each purchase is donated to Children's Miracle Network to help sick and injured children.

Smashbox Eye Wish Palette
(was $44, now $32.90)- 16 shadows and a mini Phot Finish Lid Primer along with a $1 donation to Children's Miracle Network. There are a few other Smashbox sets as well.

Prescriptives Holiday Warm Eye & Cheek Palette (was $45, now $30.90)- the last Prescriptives holiday collection ever. This palette contains a beautiful mix of shades but is refillable with the line's regular shadows and blushes. Look for several other Prescriptives sets marked down.

MAC Eye Shadow Palette (was $36, now $27.90)- this pretty palette, along with almost every other item from MAC's holiday collection, is 20% off!

Laura Mercier Baked Eye Color Palette
(was $48, now $35.90)- this palette has 5 exclusive baked eye shadows and a double ended brush. There are several other Laura Mercier sets on sale including 2 larger color palettes, a brush set, and her signature bath and body products.

Fekkai Golden Shimmer Gelee
(was $20, now $9.90)- more than 50% off, this spray provides shine, golden shimmer and hold.

Bare Escentuals Pretty Delicious Eye and Lip Collection
(was $36, now $25.90)- 3 shadows and 3 matching 100% Natural glosses.

Bare Escentuals Sweet Obesession Eye Color Collection
(was $48, now $35.90)- 9 eye shadows shades, almost all of them new. There are a few other Bare Escentuals kits including skin care on sale.

Philosophy Classic Cookbook Set (was $35, now $25.90)- 6 mouthwatering mini shampoo, bath and shower gels. Mmmm...Spicy Pear Cobbler! There are numerous other Philosophy goodies 25% off as well.

L'Occitane Almond Indulgence Set (was $33, now $25.90)- 8 oz size of the fabulous Almond Shower Oil and mini sizes of the shampoo, conditioner and Repairing Concentrate.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Favorite Bronzers and Highlighters Part 1

Admittedly, I have a real thing for bronzers and highlighters. Most of the time I embrace my natural paleness, but often times I crave the effortless starlet look--sunkissed cheeks with a dewy glow. The problem is that I'm fish-belly white with rather flat cheekbones and so this face takes a lot of finesse and great products to achieve. I need bronzers that won't turn me too dark or orange and highlighters that actually show up (a pale product on pale skin is generally invisible) and make me look like I'm glowing, not greasy. I like to have a variety of formulations depending on the look I want and the other products I'm using that day.

Becca Shimmering Skin Protector in Opal ($41)- known for their skin-perfecting products, it's not surprising that Becca Cosmetics would produce a lovely highlighter. This is a delicately opalescent liquid with SPF 20 and antioxidants in a large pump bottle. It is a spendy product but the bottle is so large I can see it lasting basically forever if it's used as I choose to use it--as a spot highlighter. I pat it onto the high planes of my cheekbones and it really does create a lovely glow, notably when the light catches it. Being a liquid it's easy to apply and blend and looks natural. I have read of people using this product all over their face for both the SPF benefits and highlighting, but in my opinion it would be way too over the top all over, especially if worn without foundation.
Laura Mercier Gilded Garden Mosaic Shimmer Bloc ($38)-this product has the same level of shimmer and frost as Laura's regular Shimmer Blocs, but with a pretty embossed flower pattern. Lke the others, it features 4 shades that can be used alone or blended to achieve a custom color. Swirling the colors in this palette together creates a frosty light pink that's youthful and not at all 80s. I usually apply this with a fan brush over a cream blush for a touch of added color and radiance. This was limited edition but is still available on Laura Mercier's website.
Lancome Color Design Blush in Freeze Frame ($27)- this creamy product is a golden candlelight beige shade with a touch of peach. It's a slightly drier cream that lasts all day and I love the case with the adorable sliding lid. Lancome doesn't get a lot of love but I find their products to be high quality and this one is no exception.

Face Stockholm Highlighter in Radiance ($25)- Face Stockholm isn't widely available with only 4 boutiques in the US, all of which are located in New York. The line is based out of Sweden and is made up of high quality basics and their highlighter in Dignity is often listed by renowned makeup artists as a favorite product. Luckily, there is a website if you can't make it to New York. This highlighter is a pale shimmery pink cream, though the product is available in a whopping 11 shades, a very broad range for a highlighter. Dignity, mentioned above, is a white-gold shade that's pretty dramatic and definitely red carpet worthy. Radiance is more subtle and adds a slight pink flush in addition to the shimmer. This product is very dewy and does not set, unlike the Lancome.
More to come, but in the meantime you can click on the pictures to enlarge the images.

My New Makeup Bag

I wanted to treat myself to a little something special after a tough few weeks.  This usually means a lipstick but I'm trying to cut back on the lip-product purchases before they completely take over my apartment!  I stumbled upon this little gem at Blue Mercury and was drawn to the iridescent lilac silk and pretty little sparkly sequins. 

The brand is Touch of Ivy, a line new to me, and while these bags aren't cheap ($24-$30 depending on size), they seem to be very well made and are lined in vinyl for easy clean up.   Unlike a new pair of shoes or a dress, this is the type of new purchase that everyone will notice, but every time I open my purse I'll spot this gem and smile!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Manicure of the Week

I wanted to go with a deep rosy shade this week so I cut my nails, as I prefer dark shades on shorter nails. This manicure is Sephora Brand Multi-Action Nail Polish in Rosy Glow ($6), a deep rose with silver shimmer. The formula is supposed to fortify and strengthen weak nails while filling in ridges and providing a long-lasting finish.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Many New Items and Markdowns in the Sephora Sale Section!

Some items I saw coming to the sale section (Nuts Cream Perfumes, ColorOn and On10) while others surprised me (Jurlique Biodynamic products, DuWop Peacock holiday palette, some Philosophy items). Check out the selection here and remember that Sephora is currently offering a free shipping upgrade to ensure that all orders are received by the 24th!

Some Non-Makeup Items I'm Loving Right Now

Even though I generally focus on makeup, I'm also into skin care, body products, clothes and accessories. Here are some products I feel are worthy of accolades:
  • Rapid Lash- I have short, thin lashes but have shied away from Latisse due to the high cost of risk of "Brown iris pigmentation which is likely to be permanent." Rapid Lash ($29-$49.99 depending on where you purchase it) uses peptides, protein and vitamins to lengthen and nourish lashes. While I'm sure Latisse would provide a more dramatic results, I've definitely noticed increase length on Rapid Lash and like the affordable price, lack of permanent side effects and paraben-free formula.
  • Archipelago Botanicals Pineapple Ginger Candle- The ginger in here isn't spicy, it just prevents the pineapple from being too sweet. This candle ($20-$23) turns my apartment into the lush tropics! The scent is strong and does carry and the candle is made of soy wax not parrafin.
  • Pangea Organics Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Lip Balm- that has done what many balms before it have been unable to do--keep my winter-weary lips from cracking and bleeding (ick, I know). It's super light on the lips but the healing formula really works. Worth the $12.
  • Enviracaire Germ Free Humidifier- the forced air heat in my apartment has usually turned my skin into the Sahara by now, even when using a cool mist humidifier. This one ($99-$129 depending on where it's purchased) uses a warm mist but also has filters to prevent the mold, spores and bacteria that warm mist can generate. I'm not smearing Aquafor all over like I usually to do in the winter!
  • Rachel Weissman Double Braided Headband- this silk headband ($58) is super-comfortable thanks to the soft silk and generous elastic portion but is stunning and versatile. You can separate the two braids slightly or push them together for the appearance of one thick headband. A super chic fix for bad hair days.
  • Lululemon Gratitude Wrap- I rely on Lululemon for my workout clothes, but I've fallen for this adorable outerwear/lounge piece ($128). The line is expensive but everything fits and functions perfectly. The site only has the wrap in pink but check your local store for the gray or ivory!
  • Kate Somerville Exfolikate Gentle- this does a fabulous job at removing the dry winter flaky skin that can interfere with moisturizers and makeup but it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin the way the regular Exfolikate did. This is a hybrid manual/chemical scrub so you get the best of both worlds in three minutes, twice a week.

Some 'New to Me' Eye Basics

I have more eye shadows than any other beauty product and am constantly promising myself I won't buy any more. Oops.

I recently picked up Urban Decay Matte Eye Shadow in Shakedown ($16) and Origins Underwear for Lids in Golddust ($14.50).

The Urban Decay caught my eye because the shade looked like a slightly warmer version of MAC French Grey, one of my all time favorites. When I tested it, I was surprised at how velvety smooth and pigmented the shadow is! I certainly don't need another shadow, let alone another taupe, but I purchased it anyway and am finding it a lovely workhorse basic. For those unable to find French Grey, this is a good substitute (minus the shimmer). Shakedown combines brown and gray to create a universal taupe that's not too warm or too cool.

Without Flash (French Grey left, Shakedown right):

With Flash (French Grey left, Shakedown right):

Origins Underwear for Lids is an eyeshadow base that comes in two formats, a matte flesh toned one and a collection of shimmery light shades. The product is housed in a small swivel-up tube and glides on creamy but sets for all day wear. Golddust is a light champagne with tiny gold and silver shimmers that my camera refuses to capture. The product is extremely versatile--I've worn it alone, as a base for other shades to make them adhere and add glimmer, to highlight the tear ducts, brow bones and the center of my lids, and just to perk up my face after a long day. This shade can make any 'work' shadow festive enough for a party! Underwear for Lids is inexpensive, tiny enough to fit into any makeup bag, and both the product and shade deliver.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taking Advantage?

There have been several mini uproars recently on a popular beauty message board that shall remain nameless surrounding purchases and returns made using the Sephora gift cards. When I received my gift cards, they clearly stated that a $35 purchase was required for the discount to apply. I thought that this was fair--I was receiving "free money" and whatever conditions the company distributing it chose to attach, so be it. I made my hauls, happy to have saved some cash! Then a clever posted discovered that while the gift certificates clearly stated the minimum purchase, when using them online the system didn't require a minimum. Suddenly the board was afire with posts on how to utilize the offer to get as much as possible while spending next to nothing. Combination of free shipping codes, product codes, calling to stack gift cards, setting up new accounts to receive multiple offers. This wasn't exactly kosher, and definitely didn't sit right with me, but Sephora didn't take precautions to prevent it and I felt when they noticed the onslaught of sub-dollar orders they'd catch on quickly. Clearly an honor code is not alive and well among a large group of Sephora shoppers.

Eventually Sephora realized that they were being taken advantage of, so to speak, and pulled the no-minimum free shipping code that could be used in conjunction with the gift cards. The "how dare they" posts began! Apparently getting $20 in free product is not sufficient, one must have the free product shipped without charge, of course, along with free samples.

And just when I thought the greed had ended, the returns began. Posters were unhappy with the NARS shadow for which they paid all of 33 cents and wanted not only to return it, but to have their free gift certificate credited back to them! They'd now prefer makeup bag or a moisturizer. And while the gift certificates clearly state that refunds would only be given for amount of money actually spent out of pocket, this was not to be a deterrent. Return the product without a receipt, of course! Sephora will take anything back! How would they know how you'd paid? Turn the gift cards into a mini profit center!

I'm sure there are many naysayers out there who will read this and tell themselves that Sephora is part of a multinational conglomerate fueled by their purchases and so why not use a little ingenuity and work the system? What's wrong with feeling entitled to free merchandise and samples and shipping? I shop there regularly and who am I really hurting? Isn't it the company's own fault for not preventing this?

While I'm at it, why shouldn't I be able to return this lipstick I bought at Saks to Sephora since they don't require a receipt? No one will ever know and the company will never feel the hit. And wait a minute--why would I buy this eye cream or loose powder when I can just bring my own little sample jar and fill it up? Not only are things like this done regularly, but posted and bragged about on a public forum with bravado!

It's a slippery slope and I read posts of this nature all the time yet never cease to feel outraged. Am I the only one shocked and a bit disgusted by this? Call it being rule abiding, moral, a believer in karma, whatever. I find this behavior deplorable and it makes me angry, not just because the few bad apples will long-term contribute to increased costs and a lack of promotions offered, but because it shocks my conscience.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this topic so please post in the comments and share your feelings.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Chanukkah to me, from Sephora

Sephora has been sending gift certificates to its VIB customers by mail and online and I must must spend WAY to much there since I received three of them, one by mail and two via email, despite having only one account with them. I picked up a few basic skin care refills along with these lovely products:

  • Philosophy Unconditional Love Spray Fragrance To Go-lovely scent but barely lasts five minutes ($15)
  • Pangea Organics Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Lip Care lip balm- fabulous ingredients and the lavender scent isn't overwhelming which was a pleasant surprise. Totally not greasy or goopy but with soothing and healing( $12)
  • Sephora Nano Lip Liner in Queen Quartz-the perfect shimmery pale pink nude ($5)
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Gloss in Sugar mini- a sheer sparkling pinky brown with a minty tingle (free with code BUXOMKISS)
Queen Quartz and Sugar with flash:

For those still trying to spend your cards, here are some current specials:

Urban Decay Get Baked Eye Shadow Kit is now only $18! It features four eye shadows, mini 24/7 liner in Bourbon and a mini Primer Potion in Sin.

Korres Sugar and Spice Set
, which is down to $8! Included are 3 min shower gels in Hot Spiced Chocolate, Honey Spice and Sugar Glazed Clementine.

Travel size (.34 oz) Bliss The Youth As We Know It moisturizer for only $10

Manicure of the Week

This week is Sally Hansen Salon Nail Lacquer in Stormy Blue. I did my nails last night and already have a bit of chipping on the tips today! Grrr...It is a fun color but the lasting power is not impressive. Or perhaps I'm just getting spoiled by Rococo Dollar which lasted nearly two weeks!

Some Trish McEvoy

Ahhh Trish. Such love, such frustration. Trish McEvoy products were my first high end makeup obsession and the line remains one of my favorites. The quality is superb and the colors are infinitely wearable. This is the one line where every shade I try looks soft, natural and flattering on. The frustration stems from the many revamps the line has undergone in the last few years. When I began collecting, all of the shades had numbers instead of names, the shadows were large rounds pans, the face products large rectangles. The planners were large and had pages with cut outs sized appropriately for the different products. I bought a large planner and a number of pages and began to fill them, amassing a sizeable collection when all of a sudden, Trish switched to small squares pans for shadows and small rectangle ones for blushes! She came out with smaller planners, changed lipstick tubes, gloss tubes, brush handles, everything. The new shadows didn't fit in the old pans or pages and vice versa. But I persevered. Soldiered on. Said to heck with the old and bought a smattering of the newly sized products. And then she did it again. Again! The planner pages are different, the lipstick and gloss tubes were again revamped. Nothing matches which defeats the purpose of the planners and doesn't look so pretty!

While Trish McEvoy products are not cheap ($16 for shadows and liners, $20 for blush, $22 for lipstick, $22 to $25 for gloss, up to $68 for brushes), becoming a loyal devotee is actually economical given how seldom new products and shades are released. I also find that products are quickly discontinued with no warning.

Here are some of my favorite Trish McEvoy shadows and blushes.
The Eye Base Essentials at the bottom is in Vanilla. I alternate between this and Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Linen.
Blushes top to bottom: Weekend All Over Face Color, Sunkissed All Over Face Color, Perfect 1, Jolie
Shadows, clockwise from top left: Golden Apricot Glaze, Blackberry Granite Eye Definer, Sable Bronze Glaze, Kiwi Glaze, Shell Deluxe Matte, Raisin Glaze, Lilac Glaze.

A closer look at my two newest acquisitions, Golden Apricot Glaze and Blackberry Granite Definer, which is new to the line:
This is one of my most treasured makeup items, Trish's long-discontinued Face Kit in 23A. These were premade palettes of blush, shadow and liner all in one pan. Great for travel and took the guesswork out of putting together a cohesive look.
I've also gone through a number of tubes of Sheer Iced Mocha Glaze Lipstick and have many of her other lipsticks (and am still in mourning for the discontinued Sheer East Hampton). I have a few other shadows, blushes and face products, but these palettes, along with the Beauty Booster Gloss in Rosette remain my favorite and most used Trish items.


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