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.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

when your hair won't pick a direction

Seriously, does anyone know ANYONE who's happy with their hair?  Not to mitigate the plight of those who feel cursed with stick straight limpness or frizzy mess of curls, but I find my bipolar hair particularly frustrating.  The wavy/curly hair all the way around my hairline would be gorgeous if the rest of it would follow suit.  To make matters worse, all of it is resistant to hot tools.  Meticulously blow drying with a paddle brush right after getting out of the shower and constantly smoothing out frizz throughout the day was a must until I started using a couple choice products from Frederic Fekkai

 Glossing Cream- the perfect styling cream/leave-in conditioner.  This protects my ends when I blow dry and gives my hair enough slip to prevent tangled throughout the day.  It never feels heavy or makes hair look greasy, unlike silicone sprays and serums.  Just don't overdo, a dime-size blob is plenty for my long hair.
Luscious Curls Wave Spray- my favorite, all-purpose hair product.  This utterly lightweight hair spray sticks down frizz and baby hairs on straight hair days without feeling crunchy or heavy.  It also manages to convince all of my hair into reasonable, soft waves.  I wash my hair in the early evening, let it 60% air dry, spritz on some Wave Spray, and pin up into a loose, high bun before bed (make the bun too tight and it won't dry or will give you ringlets).  The pins fall out in the night, leaving me with perfect Kate Hudson beach hair in the morning.  To revive the wave, simply re-spritz and pin up for an hour.

Best of all, both these products smell incredible- like fresh, herbalish lemon.  They're pricey, but go a long way and worth the investment for performance alone.

Friday, March 7, 2008

dr. pepper, you make my lips look better...

Nothing like a looming graduation to kick up nostalgia.  So while cruising through the beauty aisle at Target I couldn't resist impulse buying a Dr. Pepper Lipsmacker from Bonne Bell.  This stuff pretty much lived in my pocket from middle school up to undergrad, when I developed my crippling addiction to Chanel lipgloss.  I remember why I loved this stuff though, I'm a sucker for the scent and taste of artificial cherry and it adds a healthy, subtle red shine to lips (SO perfect for a date night).  I love smearing a little red lipstick on my lips in the morning and using this Lipsmacker for touchups throughout the day, it's so effortlessly cool.  A while this doesn't do a damn for soothing irritation, it's moisturizing enough even here in the Tundra.  If you've never tried one of these, it's the best $2 guilty pleasure I can think of.

pretty in hot pink

Hmm, I wonder what color Lucky thinks is so hot right now?  Cover aside, the beauty section is packed with lip and cheek product recommendations in sheer hot pinks.  After glancing through the magazine a couple times, I kind of want to Tarte's Natural Swirl Cheek Stain in Full Blossom, it looks so pretty!  My current favorite hot pink product is Bobbi Brown's pale pink blush (very similar to the blush shown in this photo of the Pink Raspberry face palette) on the apples of my cheeks with the lighter two shades from Cargo Miami Beach Blush swept over the top to warm up the color.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

be prepared

I've been a tea snob since my BFF from LA introduced me to the amazing quality that is The Republic of Tea.  I swear, once you start using unbleached paper tea bags you'll never go back to Stash or Celestial Seasonings.  Now that the midterm crunch has hit in full force, I've fallen in love with their line of Be Well red teas and my cabinet is now stocked for all sorts of health crises.  I swear, it's like The Republic consulted with college students because I do NOT know how I would keep sane without these delicious blends of herbs and rooibos.  My line-up:

get some zzz's- Nothing like insomnia to throw a wrench into your time management plan.  The one-two punch of chamomile and valerian root, which the health center at my undergrad swears by to calm down the anxiety center of the brain, is ultra relaxing before bed without the obnoxious "sleep hangover" feeling Tylenol PM can cause.

get clean- Here at SU, we work hard and we play hard.  But again, no one has time to feel gross in the morning and this root-packed blend gets me back on my feet all the faster.

The taste of rooibos can take some getting used to, but the results are worth it.  I like mine with a teaspoon of honey, and my parents like it with a splash of milk.  Check out the full product range here.

road test: sally hansen natural shine

My manicurist back home was a firm believer in nail polish, used in moderation and not re-applied every few days, as a way to protect nails from harsh winter weather.  Until I moved to Central NY I found that to be true and could generally maintain my nails on a manicure scrub and coat of Revlon Sheer Snowflake Pink or Essie Ballet Slippers once a week.  But now that we've had a couple weeks of rain/snow and it's down to 9 degrees outside, I'm finding even using nail polish remover once a week is too harsh.  It seemed like the perfect time to try one of the new vitamin-packed protective nail polishes.  I opted for Sally Hansen's Natural Shine Instant Nail Finish because it boasts purse-portability, speedy drying time, and all sorts of beneficial ingredients from white tea to Vitamin E.
But to really put this product to the test, I packed it along in my messenger bag for a week to see if this product is really an on-the-go fix for beat up nails.

Sunday- Applied two coats. The low-viscosity gel dried to a buffed look with one coat and a reasonable shine with two.  One caveat: the dead skin on my nail beds wasn't masked at all; clear polish usually does the trick, but not so with this product.  I should have used a manicure scrub beforehand.
Tuesday- It was starting to look a little flaky on the sides by the cuticle, so I applied a quick and stealthy coat in about a minute during a coffee break at work. I was concerned the fumes would give me away but it was dry enough to type after about 30 seconds and was completely set in about a minute. After a dab of lotion my nails look perfect.
Wednesday- The temperature dropped and wrecked my cuticles, so I experimented with using a manicure scrub with the polish still on.  My cuticles looked great and it didn't seem to wreck the polish at all.
Friday- By the end of work the area around my cuticles was chipped beyond repair, so I removed it.  My nails seemed a little less brittle, but not much.

Overall this product's fast drying speed is a huge bonus, but it really didn't do anything to mask the dry skin at my nail bed.  If you're not a big polish wearer, I would definitely recommend this for a quick spruce-up before an event but you'll only get a perfect manicured look if you use a scrub before application.  If you like the look of lacquered nails, this product is probably not for you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

wind burn much?

It was a mild, snowy 20ish degrees today (hah) but the wind made things less than fun for those of us trudging up and down the SU hill today.  Fortunately I had a sample of Patricia Wexler M.D.'s MMPi-20 Skin Regenerating Serum handy, courtesy of Bath & Body Works.This stuff is insanely expensive even on sale online for $55/3.4 oz, but B&BW seems to like giving out the .5 oz sample- a while back there was a promotion in the back of Lucky and recently they handed out vouchers with any purchase.  I've been using it regularly on my forehead and smile lines and I'm not sure if I really see a difference, but it did a good number on my cheeks and nose.  The soft (hot pink!) silicone texture, similar to the renowned Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, melted into my skin and soothed on contact without making my face a greasy mess.  I don't think I would shell out the cash for this, but if you have one of these samples floating around or have the chance to pick one up, it's a worthy winter skin saver.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I <3 Alex Bay
Alex Bay <3's Burt

After several intense weeks at school, my SU BFF and I peaced out for the weekend and took a trip to her home in the Frozen North Country, otherwise known as Alexandria Bay, NY ("within spitting distance of Canada").  
View Larger Map

Highlights: Shamrock Shakes at McDonald's, not one but two hockey games (go Ghosts/River Rats!), the annual Polar Bear Dip- where they turn the marina into a giant bar and everyone watches crazies jump in the river through the hole they cut through the foot of ice on top, raiding Canada's Duty Free, a late night at the local bar complete with live music, and plenty of wild goose stew to nosh on.

As much fun as it was, the North Country did a serious job on my skin- especially my lips, which didn't stand a chance against all the eating and drinking in the cold air.  Although anthropologists warn against going local, I did take a page from my Bay Girls and swiped on some Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm before bed on my nails and cuticles.  This creamy formula is packed with ultra-soothing beeswax and coconut oil, plus it packs a minty tingle and smells just like a thin mint.  I woke up with healthy looking lips- no chapping or skin tightness, and my cuticles were smooth.  I imagine this will be a personal carry-on staple from now on, since airplane climate is not unlike that of Upstate NY in the winter.  At around $3 a tube, this stuff is a steal- it's definitely worth keeping one in your desk and one in every pocket you own (or in your snow mobile or in your hockey bag).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

have date, need mascara!

One of my good friends always buys a new pair of jeans before a date with a new guy.  Another always swings by Victoria's Secret (I've never asked what she gets).  Not surprisingly, I often find myself at the makeup counter- something about hanging out with someone new always makes me want to tweak my routine and give it something a little special.  For my college sweetheart I bought my first Chanel Glossimer in Spark; the one after, Bobbi Brown's Pale Pink blush.  This time I wanted the look of false lashes, but who has time to fuss in front of a mirror with tweezers and glue?  Instead I opted for Lancome's Lash Fatale, probably one of the most impressive beauty products I've encountered.  
I used to think that the whole "adds drama to your lashes" thing was just marketing jargon, but I see what they're talking about now- I had no idea my lashes could be this long, thick, and black without looking even a little spidery or droopy.  The three-sided comb is a bit bizarre, but placed at the lash roots and slowly combed through it coats each of my lashes, lengthens them, and gives a little lift.  As a bonus, it gets the base of the lashes so perfectly coated it almost gives the effect of liquid liner.  I've been a devoted fan of Maybelline Full'n'Soft since high school, but it really doesn't hold a candle to what Lash Fatale does in terms of making my eyes look gorgeous and huge (and will probably thus be demoted to weekend mascara).  I don't even have eye shadow on today and I can't get over how great my eyes look; I can't even fathom the impact this will have on the battle against looking like a zombie in the morning.  And conveniently, Lancome counters carry disposable versions of the brush so if you want to try it on you can get the full experience- no crappy spoolie brush will get in the way!  Retails for $23, but if you love the idea of ridiculous lashes this is a MUST try at the counter.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

the morning after

I was browsing the Lucky beauty blog yesterday and found this cute post about can't-be-bothered weekend makeup, which mentions how rocking smudgy eyeliner that looks like it's from the night before was so hot at the DKNY show.  True enough, slightly messy eye makeup is foxy in that Brigitte Bardot bedroom romp kind of way.  But the reality of waking up the morning after wearing some serious smoky eyeliner with asymmetrical gray smears below both eyes is just never as pretty as the engineered versions that grace the runway.  So, sick of washing off the perfectly good day-old makeup on my face and spending ten minutes working with eyeliner to achieve the ideal, I spent the morning experimenting with a way to clean it up and rock it a second time.

The strategy: Gently run a q-tip coated with Clinique All About Eyes, which I posted about a few months ago, under the eye and up to the lash line, which removes all the smeariness and gets rid of any under eye puffiness (because there was probably a reason so much eye makeup was worn last night).  Work a little sparkly dark bronze or gunmetal eye shadow into the lash line so it doesn't look flat, re-apply mascara, and you're good to go.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

study break: "The Spiderwick Chronicles"

I've been excited about "The Spiderwick Chronicles" since I saw a teaser trailer last summer.  I wasn't expecting it to be as awesome as it was ("Labyrinth" meets "Jumanji" with some pretty darn good acting) but I also wasn't expecting the makeup to be so darn pretty!  I could believe the makeup artists at Lucky magazine had a hand in it.  It's exactly the sort of effortless look they love to rock (see picture below)- stainy red or soft pinky nude lips and cheeks paired with full lashes and bare lids, perfect for the office or a walk in the woods.  It was just stunning on Mary-Louise Parker and Sarah Bolger, and fit with the practical-fantastical vibe of the movie.  I couldn't find a good picture of either actress from the film, so consider this an excuse to hit the cinema!  To get the look, I'd recommend Stila Convertible Color in Rose or Peony, one of the best (read: low maintenance) dual lip and cheek products on the market.  Both colors are natural and romantic and the formula melts into skin beautifully.

Friday, February 15, 2008

put down the cupcake

This year I was determined to stay away from chocolate, cupcakes, and Necco sweethearts- resist temptation and feel much nicer the day after Valentine's when you wake up, fully realize that yet another V-day has passed sans romantic gestures from gorgeous boys, then look in the mirror and see how puffy you are from all the processed sugar.  Then I got a care package from my aunt filled with trail mix and Dove, so to avoid eating it all in one sitting I headed off to the mall where I fell in love with the new Beauty Rush Body Glimmer Swirl Cream at Victoria's Secret.
Something about how the cream pumps out like a shaving cream dispenser, mixing the frostingish swirls of clear shimmery gel with a moisturizing cream is just delightful.  And the scent Slice of Heaven smells JUST like a vanilla cupcake when you put it on, then dries down to a more surreptitious creamy vanilla.  So if you're still craving something sweet, pick up one of these and a matching body wash while they're still on sale 2/$18.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

serious splurge alert!

I know a lot of people swear you get what you pay for when it comes to skincare, but I’m still a bit in shock that I paid $60 for Dr. Weil for Origins Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Cream. When it came out over a year ago I was more skeptical of the pseudo-sciency description that claimed this cream makes your skin go into hibernation like a plant bulb, and I thought the price tag was insane. But Kristen over at The Beauty Addict swears by this stuff for stressed out skin, which my skin always is let alone when it’s 7 degrees outside with fierce wind. I was out of my usual Hope in a Jar anyway, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and see if this cream is really all that.Unfortunately for my wallet, this stuff definitely rocks. I’ve been using it for a week and I can honestly say my skin is never this soft between weekly exfoliation. My pores seem less congested, my cheeks lack any trace of redness, and there’s nary a blemish lurking below the surface. If you suffer from stress or hormone related skin problems, this cream’s anti-inflammatory ingredients do wonders. Plus, it moisturizes like a dream- it goes on buttery but absorbs nicely and leaves a silky, almost silicony finish that makes foundation glide on beautifully. Yes it’s $60, which I do think is ridiculous, but it’s an investment worth considering if you’re sick of stress and winter ravaging your skin.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

fishy on the inside

While out on a magazine writing assignment for a student publication at Syracuse University last fall, I had the opportunity to interview a local spa director about proper skincare.  I had heard the benefits of Omega-3 dietary supplements touted in magazines for ages, but somehow it took talking to the spa director in person to motivate me to try it.  WebMD is a bit vague about the skin benefits, but I recall an article in Allure from maybe two years ago that mentioned Omega-3 as an anti-inflammatory and it seems like anti-inflammatory ingredients in skincare are so hot right now (check out the Dr. Weil for Origins collection, for example).  After using an Omega-3 supplement for two months, I definitely see an improvement in my skin.  My skin seems to heal faster and break out far less, and I definitely made it through finals without the biannual epic breakout.  Of course in accordance with human nature, once my skin is in great shape I forget to take the supplement for about a week and the resulting mini-breakout proves this stuff must be doing something good for me.  Skin benefits aside, scanning the info on WebMD and Wikipedia about the benefits of Omega-3 suggests this is a solid investment for your overall health.  If you're in doubt about which supplement to buy, as pharmacies have a ton to choose from, the October issue of Allure recommends looking for a high EPA and DHA content.

unobtrusive at its best

There's nothing like sharing close quarters to heighten awareness of personal space.  From airplanes to cubicles, when you're over stressed and under rested it's the little things like food wrapper rustling that can really disrupt inner calm.
In my almost Dr. Lector-esque drive to maintain absolutely impeccable etiquette when confined with others, I've fallen in love with Naked Body Butter by Bliss.  This fragrance-free moisturizer is a miracle worker in dry climates and it won't interfere with your perfume or affect those around you in the slightest (those of you who suffered middle school through the Bath & Body Works sun ripened raspberry lotion fad know what I'm talking about).  It also works on windburned cheeks and flyaway hair in a pinch.  I received a travel size for my birthday as a part of Sephora's Beauty Insider program, but the full size is available for $35 at Sephora.  It's a bit of a splurge, but I'm definitely picking up a tube for my desk when I get my first job out of school, or for travel if they ever lift the restriction on liquids and gels.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

white hot

If you read the beauty section of magazines religiously (as I do), you tend to pick up some of the universal tricks of the trade.  Applying eyeliner with a flat brush or a dab of highlighter on the cupid's bow of the lip, for example.  But the one I find a bit frustrating is the perpetual suggestion, often from celebrities, to use shimmery white eyeliner on the inner corner of the eye for an instant well-rested look, without a product recommendation to back it up (Glamour, I'm looking at you.)  So off to the mall I went yesterday, to find the easiest to use eye-opening liner and MAC Shadestick in Overcast was the clear choice in both categories.
This stick of cream shadow (shown above in Sea Me) is the perfect diameter to swipe over the tear duct (with eye closed) and across the inner half of the top lashes in one smooth motion.  Pat with a finger to blend and you're good to go.  And a bit of pearliness reflects the perfect amount of light so it never looks chalky or disco ball.  Available online and at MAC counters for $16.50, this product is a must if your eyes perpetually betray your exhaustion in the morning.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Zen & the Art of Moisture Maintenance"

I'll be honest, I'm a little late to the yoga party and I'm not quite convinced it lives up to its hype.  While I enjoy all the variations on grabbing my leg behind my head, I need more than a little help "feeling my connection with the Earth Mother."  Enter Self Meditating body butter with rice bran oil and green tea from the True Blue Spa: Far East Escape collection at Bath & Body Works.
I tried this cream with as least as much skepticism as I did yoga- how many kinds of body butter does B&BW really need?  And isn't the Far East trend pretty much over?  This thick cream spreads on beautifully and moisturizes for hours like most body butters, but what sold me is the smell: sweet green tea with a hint of rose petals, reminiscent of Fresh's Memoirs of a Geisha limited edition fragrance.  While the scent can be a bit cloying at first, it mellows out and hangs softly on the skin within ten minutes.  I used this the other day before class, when I knew I was going to have a difficult time taking Downward Facing Dog seriously, and the scent of this cream really helped me turn off all the clatter in my brain and breathe.  Now that I've used this before pulling out my sticky mat a couple times, the scent even seems to help me fall a sleep more peacefully and I wake up with soft, beautifully scented skin- truly "Zen and the Art of Moisture Maintenance," as the back of the tub reads.  The added benefit of antioxidant-rich green tea and soothing rice bran oil make this a steal at $15.

Going Red: effortless bold

I've always wanted to love full-on red lipstick, but something about its retro Old-Hollywood glamour just isn't "me."  I had just about given up ever wearing anything but a red stain, balm, or gloss when NARS introduced Manhunt Lipstick as a part of Spring's Shanghai Lily collection.  While this shade is definitely not for the cosmetically shy, it's the most modern-meets-effortless reinvention of a classic like red lipstick I've seen a cosmetics company make in living memory.
Manhunt is set apart from other reds by its coral undertone, which unlike its blue and orange based compatriots will never turn fuchsia on you or make your teeth look yellow.  Described as a sheer poppy red on the NARS website, this shade is also probably the brightest color I've ever put on my lips.  While the almost neon quality of Manhunt is more than a bit intimidating at first, it brightened my whole face and somehow made my pale skin glow (read: not ruddy in any way).

I've had this lipstick for two weeks and it has become my go-to on early mornings, coupled with nothing more than a swipe of mascara, a bit of white highlighter on the inner corner of the eye, foundation, and a light dusting of golden bronzer on the apples of my cheeks.  Significant bonus: this shade is anything but high maintenance.  The lasting power is not only incredible, but the formula wears down comfortably and evenly into a beautiful reddish pinky coral stain.
Although pricey at $24, it's so utterly worth it to wake up exhausted, throw on a white sweater, be done with makeup in less than two minutes, and roll out the door looking incredible.

back from hiatus!

I do apologize for my lengthy absence, I've spent the last couple months cloistered in academia.  But now that spring semester is solidly under way and I'm back in journalism mode, I've got all sorts of new stress combatants and insta-beautifiers to share.  Stay tuned!