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.