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").  
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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!