Saturday, April 5, 2008

love/hate for my girls

There's a lot to dislike about NARS Lip Lacquer. It smells like plastic, the texture is incredibly tacky, and it's difficult to get the product out of the pot. But somehow all these sizable flaws make lacquer in the shade Chelsea Girls one of my few indispensable products.
Unlike most lip products, the tacky formula never looks like anything more than a little sheeny balm is on the lips. And while it may smell like plastic, you'll never find yourself absentmindedly eating it off your lips and the color lingers on lips after eating and drinking.
Above all, I love how this product lets me live a little Bond Girl fantasy. This shade turns my normally rosy lips into the perfect, effortless Bardot beach babe soft nude. Although the pot is kind of a pain, it's so much fun to whip out and swipe on lips in public in a very blase kind of way.

Lip Lacquer is a little steep at $24, but the pot contains more product than a tube of lipstick and I've found that it lasts for a year with regular use.

Is there any product you find to have major issues but still can't live without?

spring is in the hair

Last night I had a blast lurking around backstage at the fashion program's annual spring show here at Syracuse University, where freshmen, sophomores, and juniors have the opportunity to send their designs down the runway. While this year's theme was freedom of expression, as a part of the Newhouse School's yearlong celebration of the First Amendment, the hair concept created by Professor Jeff Mayer was pure spring.
Jeff and a crew of fashion students slicked hair back into a bun, clipped on a bed of moss, and arranged sprays of flowers and butterflies on top. The effect was gorgeous from the audience, it looked like the models were a sort of ethereal flower garden.
The look isn't at all practical for every day, but clipping a flower onto the side of a loose bun is a fast and easy way to dress up hair. Flower clips are widely available, or you can make your own from silk flowers, hot glue, and a clip as Mayer did for the show.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

road test: Fresh face palette

There's nothing more frustrating than getting stuck in transit. After work yesterday I raced off to a master's program social, only to get stuck with the slowest bus driver of all time. Fortunately I had Fresh's A Kiss is Just a Kiss palette in my bag, so I took the opportunity to see just how easy the cream blush, lip gloss, and pearly highlighter are to use on the go.
Even through potholes and abrupt stops, the petite 4.5x2.5 case was easy to hold with one hand without compromising mirror size. The blush went on beautifully, using two fingers to dab it onto the apples of my cheeks. I skipped highlighter on my cheekbones, but a swipe on my brow bones and the inner corners of the eyes made me look like I just got up from a nap. I even used a little on my upper lip just below the cupid's bow, a maneuver favored by makeup artist Dick Page. After a swipe of gloss I looked fresh and glowy, even if my mood was barely improved.

Overall, this is a good investment- all the color cosmetics you need are housed in one slim package. The textures are not only totally effortless to work with, but the lasting power was good too- I had to retouch the gloss after eating and drinking, but the rest lasted until bedtime. Plus, the colors are perfect for a cloudy spring day (i.e. almost every day in Central New York). Definitely check this out if you find yourself regularly doing your makeup on the go.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

fug 'fume

Sorry for the perfume obsession lately, but heck out this fantastic slideshow from bellasugar if you haven't seen it already, "Eau No: the 33 Worst Perfume Bottles." The lovely bloggers over at Now Smell This already posted about this homage to disastrous packaging but it's just too good!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

spring cleaning!

Even if you don't give your living space the thorough once-over with a dust rag and vacuum the way our grandparents used to, take a minute to give your makeup brushes a good wash. Brushes pick up heinous amounts of bacteria from the face, which can exacerbate acne, rosacea, and cause irritation. There's loads of brush cleaning products out there, but I've used gentle antibacterial hand soap for years without damaging my brushes.
Alternatively, if your brushes are in poor condition or if you don't own anything besides the freebies companies hand out, check out this set of antibacterial brushes from Sephora. The $60 price tag is reasonable for a set of seven brushes and your skin will thank you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

reader's guide: Allure April 2008

It's a rare thing to read a magazine article ad think to oneself about the author, "Who are you?  I love you..." But "Invisible Attraction" in April's Allure is beyond fabulous.

I know I've been a bit perfume obsessed lately (okay, more than normal), but writer Tania Sanchez really captured the poetry of those rare, incredible perfumes that when sniffed, leave you craving more.  But perfume aside, girl's got talent.  This is a writer to watch.  Highlights from the article:

Of Badgley Mischka: "It's like a novel in which the hero discovers that his friend is the most beautiful girl in the room, and only familiarity prevented him from seeing it was time to face the facts: It's love."

Of Lolita Lempicka by Thierry Mugler: "The fragrance is snappy and smart, the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses." (Hi, have you met me?)

Of Missoni: "Most other perfumes are rapidly fading photographs; this one is a movie."

"Women who flounce into the cinema wearing Poison have inspired people to believe they hate perfume."

On selecting a fragrance (and seriously good advice): "If you are intellectual and wear only intellectual perfumes, or if you are flirty and wear only flirty perfumes- it is like obsessively matching your bag and shoes every day- it is timid and rule-bound... If you are a luxury-goods type wit ha Kelly bag on your arm and Manolos on your feet, try something you believe to be beneath you... Live a little. Try it on. It's only perfume."

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Although design houses have had their own perfumes for ages, it seems like every one of them is suddenly making a slick commercial to go with it. From the Baz Luhrmann creation which seemed to start the trend to the recent Coco Mademoiselle promotion starring Keira Knightley, Chanel particularly set the bar high.

That' why this Max Mara Le Parfum advertisement is a bit of a surprise. It does a reasonable job highlighting the house's runway collections, trading cinematography for a series of still photos and runway video. It lacks the dynamic energy that comes with an actual narrative, but dos it matter? Is this a refreshing change, or does it fail to meet the mark?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

perfume debunked

I get a lot of questions from my friends regarding perfume, but I'm in no way an expert.  I just spend a LOT of time at the mall and on wikipedia.  Maybe I'll come back in the next life as a professional ballerina/perfumer, but until that time, the blog Now Smell This is kind of my bible on matters of scent.

This article, in particular, is kind of a must-read if you're baffled by the long lists of notes that internet retailers tend to post and wonder why the perfume never smells like said notes anyway.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

better than natural

After Sally Hansen Natural Shine didn't quite give me the shiny nails I was looking for, I couldn't help but browse the makeup aisle at the grocery store for a replacement.  When my roommate called me out on looking at makeup instead of picking out juice I quickly grabbed the nearest pale pink Rimmel shade and moved on without giving it much thought.  This little bottle turned out to be everything I hoped Natural Shine would be.

Stronger, a strengthening and hardening base coat with lycra, gives the most gorgeous lacquered shine with one coat- hard to believe this is meant to be a base coat.  Where Natural Shine was kind of too clear, Stronger has a touch of ultra-fine shimmer and looks a little milky with two coats.  If your nails are in good shape, this is a great product to get a subtle, French mani effect.  Plus, it dries completely in two minutes, masks any flaky skin along the nail bed, and lasts for four full days before starting to chip.  My nails are even a little less brittle after two weeks of use.  At around $2, this is definitely a steal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the primer directive

We've been hearing the benefits of face primer for years- the make foundation go on smoother, and some formulas are even meant to protect skin from environmental damage- from sun rays to pollutants.  But between makeup and sunscreen, who really needs yet another layer of gunk on the face?
Enter Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunblock Gel SPF 30 and 45.  I don't particularly care for the stinging, cooling sensation created by the alcohol content in this.  However, the silicone texture is just like the renowned Smashbox Photo Finish primer at a fraction of the cost and works as two products in one.  When used with foundation, both of these products do wonders work kind of like wall putty to smooth over large pores and gives a soft airbrushed finish.  And with all the studies about the damage sun exposure causes, how can you argue with high SPF?  Smashbox only offers a version with SPF 15 at $42 for .98 oz.  I got my 4 oz tube at Target last summer for about $9, and with daily use on my face I've still got tons of product left.  For best results, don't rub this stuff in- gently smooth it over skin to create a smooth canvas for the rest of your makeup.