Friday, September 28, 2007

lewis black analogy + makeup? awesome.

My good friend from undergrad just sent me the most hilarious analogy regarding my Full'n'Soft recommendation:

"Took your advice and have started using Full 'n' Soft mascara-may never go back to anything else. Why oh why did I spend my years effing up my eyes with Great Lash, again? Lewis Black might call it the candy-corn of mascara"

The thing is, I started thinking about it and that analogy works-

-Great Lash, like candy corn, is made of heavy waxes
-Great Lash, like candy corn, is unnaturally pigmented

And just in time for Halloween!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall Crush 2007

It's just a few days into official autumn here in central New York, and I find myself completely in love with everything that has a vintage Alpine winter aesthetic. I think it started when I developed a muscle spasm from my neck into my shoulder blade and wrapped myself up in chunky knits and using big smears of Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Headache Relief massage cream all over my back.

Some current favorites: nutella on croissants or crepes, ricola original formula (not at the same time as nutella), a warm mug of hot whiskey, and one of the best classic Bond Films- "In Her Majesty's Secret Service"

But as it applies to beauty goodies, it's all about a staunch regimen of exfoliation and moisturization. Some favorites:

Lush Bohemian Soap: Lush products were a favorite when I stayed in hostels during my study abroad in Ireland (which lacks Alps but its winter certainly holds its own). This soap smells like limoncello, a more European alternative to tropical salt and sugar scrubs when paired with a stiff scrub brush.

Neutrogena Swiss Formula Hand Cream: I love this silky formula, it sinks in beautifully, instantly replenishes, and leaves a gorgeous not-too-oily buffed sheen on nails and cuticles.

Bourjois Baume de Nuit Night Lip Balm: I'd be lying if I said I've never bought a book just for the cover, and I am simply in love with this packaging. I haven't bought this balm yet, but it's on my Sephora list for when I head back to Oregon in December (Syracuse is tragically without a Sephora). On question though- if it's a night treatment, why on earth is it tinted? Regardless, the glossy pink shown in the photo will either be nonexistent on lips, turn them into luscious Bond Girl goodness, or will be an ugly spackl-esque disaster as so many pale tinted balms inevitably are.

Monday, September 24, 2007

method to my madness

Unless you're seriously dedicated to green living (and if you are I'm not sure why you're reading my blog), should you ever intern at an environmental non-profit organization you will soon have your green self-esteem utterly shattered.

I walked into my design internship head held high, carrying my Mac laptop, nalgene full of filtered water, and a tupperware of buckwheat noodles and edamame only to immediately receive a shaming for my plasticwear, which leech chemicals that mess up the human endocrine system (hormones, I looked it up on Wikipedia when they weren't looking).

I was, however, thrilled to see that they use Method home products with wild abandon. I've been a fan since last year, when my BFF became addicted to the cucumber range of scents. Now I use as many Method products as I can, to the point of scruitinizing product labels to see if I really need a stainless steel cleaner or a daily use shower cleaning spray.

My roommate here in Apt. 5 doesn't quite get my fixation, but here's the thing. When you thoroughly clean your living environment (as I do every week), between dusting and scrubbing a whole lot of cleaner ends up on your skin and in your lungs. I've always had problems with shower cleaners making my lungs feel tight and causing hour-long coughing fits, and while Method's shower cleaner still makes me cough a little it's by far the mildest thing I've found and it leaves my shower soap-scum free. I've also found that their hand and dish soap are much less hard on my hands, cutting down on how often I need a manicure scrub. And all of the cleaners are biodegradable and non-toxic (no rinsing required- huge time saver), while managing to smell delicious. On top of all this the line is affordable and the packaging is well designed; what's not to love?

Some Apt. 5 favorites:

omop- compostable sweeping cloths, reusable microfibre mop pad, delicious lemon ginger floor cleaner, and ergonomic handle make this hugely superior to the Swiffer line

pink grapefruit cleaning wipes- these biodegradable wipes are a great compromise for those who love the simplicity of Chlorox Wipes and those who demand a greener alternative, and the pink grapefruit scent is refreshing.

aroma pill- adds just the right ammount of freshness to a mold-prone bathroom, and the design is really pretty

Sunday, September 23, 2007

a little TLC

My friend and I fell in love with MAC's Tinted Lip Conditioners two years ago, only to find after a few days use that they dried our lips out badly- exactly what you don't want from tinted balm. It was a shame though, the range comes in limited but stunningly wearable punchy shades, although the packaging was reminiscent of a body fluids collection jar.

Some time ago MAC greatly imrpoved the packaging but I steared clear until a few days ago when I was doing some preliminary shopping for a friend. The formula seems improved as well- much creamier than before, it's almost a downright goop but retains the same utterly nonsticky but glossy texture as before. I also love the smell, a creamy vanilla with a hint of sunscreen (which I personally find comforting, although I know it annoys some people).

I had the people at MAC give my friend a sample to make sure the formula is really improved, so just FYI if you ask them for one and explain the lip peeling concern they'll do the same for you. But at $14.50 for .5 oz these are really a steal, and cheaper than drugstore lipsticks.

For me the standout must-have shade is Gentle Coral- looks neon orange in the pot but it picks up the tone of your lips and transforms into something ranging from punchy pink to milky apricot depending on how rosy your lips are, kind of like the magic of those mood lipsticks of the 80s. It has flattered everyone I've seen it on, from the olive skinned with dark hair to porcelain skinned blondes. I'm also absolutely in love with Virtuous Violet- looks like it was made specifically for ladies with Natalie Portman's coloring, so if you have that going on then this is a must-have. Petting Pink (shown above) is gorgeous in the pot, but if your lips are rosy this doesn't have enough color payoff.

glow, baby, glow

I've become a bit obsessed with figuring out how to nail the glowy ethereal eyes of the spring runway- it's the perfect and foolproof look to rock when you've stayed up to all hours and have something/someone you need to look devastatingly fabulous for the next day.

It seemed to me that some sort of white pearly highlighter would be just the thing to reflect light without looking sparkly, so I combed through the July, August, and September Allure for answers. July's "Makeup Artists' Secret Weapons: Their 5 Favorite Products" confirmed to me that a white highlighter is definitely missing from my stash.

I browsed the counters for options, but I almost immediately knew that I would be going home with MAC Cream Color Base (shown at left in Virgin Isle) in Luna. These are all-over highlighter creams that give skin a brilliantly subtle light-reflecting sheen, they're lovely used anywhere on the body including the center of the lips. The Cream Color Bases are often marketed by MAC sales associates/makeup artists as an eyeshadow base, which is just bizarre- this stuff will crease in a matter of seconds if you don't prep your eye first. Luna in particular is a sheer pure white with icy shimmer, and with skin underneath it looks a little golden. The point of this look is achieving a subtle pale light reflection, so if Luna shows up too white on your skin try Pearl or Fawntastic or one of the bronze shades on dark skin (although Luna or a comparable icy shade is worth owning for highlighting the inner corner of the eye and the center of the lips).

To get the look- If you're going to wear mascara (and you don't have to, this look is gorgeous with bare lashes unless you have extremely fair hair) put it on first or you risk muddying the eyelid. I recommend saving your blackest black mascara for other days, and use brownblack, brown, or even clear if at all possible. Prep the eyelid, undereye, and inner corner around the tear duct with Urban Decay Primer Potion. Let it set for a minute, then go over it with foundation or concealer if you need to cover any darkness or veins. Either way finish with a dusting of finishing powder like MAC Blot. Use your finger to lightly dab on the cream color base until your eye is covered just up past the crease. Don't frost the brow bone, but blend the cream upwards so it fades subtly. Dab some on your inner corner (best achieved by closing your eye and gently pull the outer corner to get your lashes out of the way of your tear duct and using the tip of your finger to apply the cream). If you have a little time, or aren't completely out of it, you can use a clean small eyeliner brush to trace some cream along the top roots of your bottom lashes. Dust over the whole thing with more setting powder.

You can also use cream color base on cheeks in the absence of blush, blended on the upper part of the apple of your cheek. It's also lovely traced along the top of the bow of the upper lip, topped with a little clear shiny balm or sheer nude lipcolor.

What rocks about this look is that afterwards you look utterly fresh and awake, even if you feel like garbage. And it really only takes one trial to nail the application technique, which means you can do this in complete zombie mode first thing in the morning- especially if you skip tinted mascara and lining the lower lashes- and it only takes about 3 minutes, so you can be done within 5 if you spend time with foundation and concealer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The World of Zoe

Click on the post headline to check out a great New York Times article on stylist Rachel Zoe, who dresses celebutantes Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie. It's a really illuminating look at how tabloids and PR have permanently changed the face of the fashion industry.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spring Runway Report 08

It's quite early to be thinking about spring, especially when the air is just turning cold, but Spring Fashion Week is under full swing in New York- check out for a great peek at the clothes. My favorite so far is Betsey Johson's ready to wear inspired by prom. Clicking on the backstage/front row photo gallery gives great close-ups of the models' makeup, makeup artists like Dick Page at work, and sometimes a surprising celeb snapshot from the front row.

Makeup-wise, the biggest look for spring is quite bare- flawless glowy skin, noblush, bare eyes often without mascara, and soft shell pink lips. Zac Posen's interpretation (left) was the cleanest, a very angelic interpretation, and Marc by Marc Jacobs (right) did a brilliant metallic nude take on the smoky cat eye- brilliant for going out at night.

Product recommendations-

Skin- Don't pile on the foundation, whatever you do. The skin is really more about applying products correctly and letting your skin show through as much as possible. Definitely wash your face and apply moisturizer a couple minutes before applying makeup to get the smoothest application. I recomend gently exfoliating with a warm wash cloth. Using a foundation primer like Smashbox Photo Finish is key to making your skin a smooth canvas to work on. Use a good, thick concealer like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage only on any blemishes, then use a damp sponge (keeps foundation from being absorbed and sheers it out a little) to apply a medium coverage foundation only if you need it, giving careful attention to smooth the jaw and hairline. Touch up blemishes again if needed, blending concealer into the foundation. The look isn't totally matte, so don't use a powder like MAC Blot unless you're very oily like I am. Buff a subtle light reflecting powder over your face using a big fluffly brush (I like Sephora's Bronzer Brush). Two good powders: Laura mercier Loose Setting Powder and LORAC Perfectly Lit.

Eyes- Mix a very small drop of liquid luminizer with foundation and smooth on eyes, or buff a very subtly pearly eyeshadow that matches your skin tone on top after smoothing on foundation (check out Bobbi Brown). The idea is to make your eyelid look perfect and subtly reflect light without looking obviously sparkly. Curl lashes and slick on a clear mascara to define lashes and give some hold. For night: use a brush or your fingers to slick on a metallic nude shadow in a traditional smoky shape or in a cat eye for extra drama. New colors will certainly be released by spring, but check out MAC Paints and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadow- the best for oily lids.

Lips- The must-have shade for anyone with rosy lips is NARS Chelsea Girls Lip Lacquer. Smudge on a very very small ammount (seriously, a little goes a long way- you will barely need to press your finger into the product). Wait about two minutes and the product will beautifully smooth out, giving you perfect shell pink lips.

For tips on some other fall looks, including the gloriously updated Bond Girl look, check out Kristin's blog at

Sunday, September 9, 2007

No more excuses!

Skincare is hard to maintain on week-ends; late nights out with friends, sleepovers, frantic hustles to the gym to make up for all the bar food that ended up in front of you. Even if you have the best intentions, as the weather gets colder (and especially if you live in an appartment building) how long can you really stand in front of a sink at 3 in the morning waiting for the tap water to warm up?

When summer term started I invested in a pack of Target brand Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes and after two months use I have found these to be a lifesaver. Sold in a pack of 30, these little wonders boast tea antioxidant complex and contain chamomile and vitamin E- all of which will sooth irritation and combat the damages caused by all those week-end late night sins. As a bonus I've found that I don't need any moisturizer after these, so they're perfect to keep bedside- not washing your face because you forgot and you're already in bed is no longer an excuse! I scanned the ingredients list and while these do contain alcohol- a general deal breaker for quality skincare- it hasn't caused me any problems and my skin is definitely on the sensitive/reactive side. It shouldn't be a problem unless you get in the habit of using these every day, which I don't recommend.

These are also perfect for tossing in your bag for after the gym or freshening up on a hot day- they're soothing and refreshing but don't make skin feel stripped and they also provide just enough moisture without feeling heavy.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fall Must-Haves

During my eight hour drive from Virginia to New York I entertained myself with my iPod and thinking about fall make-up. To my dismay, I got home and the September Allure had somehow ripped off all my ideas.

My favorites:

Tangerine Lips- whip out that Chanel Coral Reef glossimer and Fresh Portrait of a Lady blush I mentioned earlier, and pair it with sheer chocolate or champage on the eyes- just avoid heavy shimmer and go for a subtle pearl texture instead.

Slate Eyeshadow- Personally I find the eyeshadow too heavily applied in this photo but the lips are spot-on; the perfect stained warm berry. Allure used Superstay Glos in Golden Toffee by Maybelline, I like Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. For eyes I like doing a smoky smudged line of gunmetal shadow like Tarte's Here's Looking at You and blending in Stila Shore, a complex lilac gray, on top or up to the crease for night.

Aside from Allure, here's my other top fall picks:

Tarte Blushing Bride cheekstain- the perfect dewy berry blush for fall, very cold weather NE collegiate. It's not too red or too cool toned unlike so many gel/liquid stain blushes

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey- goes perfectly with Blushing Bride, this looks like you've been eating blackberries all day. One caveat: the formula could be more moisturizing, so use some balm underneath. Usually I pass on products that don't have adequate texture but this color is just too perfect to pass up.

MAC Satin Taupe eyeshadow- this brown has gorgeous dimension and can be used as a sheer wash or as an intense smoky eye. It's slightly cool toned so it looks great throughout fall's weather spectrum but it's not so cool toned that it won't work with your fading tan. I love to buff this lightly on my lid from lashes to crease with a soft fluffly brush and mascara and a little liner, it adds the perfect ammount of depth and sparkle

Bobbi Brown Pale Pink Blush- I added this to my stash last year, it gives me those enviable Carrie Bradshaw winter cheeks circa end of season 6 when she was dating The Russian. It looks vibrant in the pan but goes on a delicate ballet pink which again works wonders as your tan fades. If this shade doesn't work for you, Bobbi has added a few new shades in the fresh pink/peach spectrum that are all equally stunning.

Stella by Stella McCartney- my quintessential fall fragrance, this pairing of fresh rose and sultry amber is superb. The best thing about this fragrance is that it absolutely melts into your body's own scent, your clothing, or anything else you spray it on; it becomes a part of you in the sexiest way. I'm particularly obsessed with the way it blends with the scent of paper, and I keep a tester card tucked into my trusty Moleskine notebook.

Survival Guide's New Look

After summer term's graphics design class it was high time this blog got a facelift.

The new look is inspired by Isabella Blow as photographed by Miguel Reveriego in 1996, one of my favorite fashion icons and eccentrics who passed away in May. Below is a magazine spread I designed for graphics class based on the article "Why Fashion Needs Eccentrics" from the July 2007 edition of Harper's Bazaar (a must read). Vanity Fair used the same photograph for their homage to her in their September issue article "Final Blow".

the text reads: Isabella Blow, who passed away in May, belonged to that rare category of women whose fearlessness in dressing transcends notions of good taste. When asked by a lunch partner several years ago how she planned to eat through the veiled antlers covering her head, she replied, "That is of no concern to me whatsoever."

For the love of the sea

Like many a girl born in the 80s I have an intense loyalty to Disney's "The Little Mermaid", which for me launched a lifetime obsession with all things nautical.

Now 22, I don't care as much for the lighthearted interpretations of the very long and dark presence that mermaids and other women of the sea have in the world folk tradition. If I ever meet Frank Miller and Zack Snyder I will BEG them to do something with mermaids (especially after seeing what they did with the Oracle in "300").

Thankfully, despite a saccharine ad campaign, Lolita Lempicka's new fragrance L de Lolita Lempicka strikes a refreshing balance between the whimsy of mermaids and their rightful status as femme fatales.

As Sephora's website explains: "L, the second perfume from designer Lolita Lempicka, embodies an ancient mariner myth, with the sea for a background and a mermaid for a mistress. The woman who wears it is untamed and precious, free and elusive. The scent itself is a passionate combination of everlasting flower, bitter orange, cinnamon, vanilla and precious woods. And like a treasure recovered from the deep, the aquamarine, heart-like jewel of a bottle is caught in a golden net."

On me the scent is a simply gorgeous combination of lemony bitter orange and vanilla with just a tinge of saltiness floating on top of of a subtle deeper, richer spicy woody scent vaguely reminiscent of a men's cologne like Armani Code. The result is a very fierce gourmand scent made intriguing by its fresh girliness that unexpectedly fleshes out with sophisticated depth as you inhale it. If Angelina Jolie were a mermaid, I expect that this is what she would wear. And as a bonus, the lasting power is impressive- 8 pm to 1 pm when I hit the gym.

My only caveat: the bottle, while beautiful, is difficult to hold. I recommend picking up the 1 oz size, $44 at Sephora. Department stores, unfortunately, seem to be stocking mostly the 2.7 oz size.

For those interested in exploring folklore about other women of the sea besides mermaids I highly recommend "Favorite Folktales from Around the World", edited by Jane Yolen- particularly the stories "Sedna" and "The Seal's Skin"

Fair Temptation

Those dedicated to healthy eating bring their own food to the Great New York State Fair; 100-calorie packs, granola bars. But the scents of cotton candy and cinnamon dusted elephant years, frying meant and onions, irresistible Dinosaur Barbecue, are going to catch up with you eventually. You have to eat some time.

If you manage to resist all fried temptations (even funnel cake!) as I did, reward yourself with a bottle of Aquolina Pink Sugar. This cult gourmand fragrance is relatively inexpensive at $25 for 1 oz of perfume or $12 for a 3.4 oz Natural Deoderant Spray and is a calorie-free way to appease your sweet tooth. A gorgeous blend of raspberry, caramel, vanilla, musk, and woods, this is the perfect flirty pick-me-up year round; I especially love it with chunky knits in late fall, or a spritz or two before bed. It isn't a sophisticated gourmand scent so I wouldn't plan on wearing it to the office but it has fast become my week-end indulgence.