Men take note: rising temperatures and more humidity in summer can make your deep, rich, or bold winter fragrance smell more intense. If you love your current fragrance too much to change, consider skipping your regular eau de toilette or cologne for an aftershave, deoderant, shower gel, or body lotion in the same scent. Most brands produce these ancillary items to match their fragrances. Another option is to dillute your fragrance by spraying a bit into an unscented body lotion and applying to your body. You can also spray your fragrance into the air and step through the mist. If you do the latter, please take heed to spray only a little.

If you’re open to something  new, try switching to a cool, crisp fragrance during warmer months. You can often find similar versions of your winter fragrance that wear better when the murcury rises. Not sure where to start? Check out my suggestions below or hit up your local Nordstrom (I find their fragrance sales associates to be wonderful) or Sephora (look for or ask for a certified fragrance expert or peruse their Scentsa computer on your own).

Some of my faves for summer (or any time of the year because they are light) include:

1. Fresh Citron de Vigne, $18.50-$75; fresh.com and sephora.com: Founder Lev Glazman created this new and exciting fragrance inspired by sparkling notes of pinot noir. Its fresh and sensual notes of neroli, bitter orange, pinot noir accord, lemongrass, sandalwood, and amber make it optimal for everyday wear. I’m a huge fan of Fresh fragrances overall, and think that Lev, who is also a certified nose, has a very unique, fun, and sophisticated point of view in all of his creations.

2. Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme, $55-$75; bergdorfgoodman.com, sephora.com: Inspired by the sea and mediterranean, this summer-esque fragrance is both fresh and soft while still masculine. It features only five notes, four of which are unique (mandarin, petit grain, santolina, posidonia, mineral amber).

3. Kenzo L’eauParKenzo Pour Homme, $54-$72; sephora.com: Subtle, fresh, and light, this remarkable fragrance from Kenzo embodies leisurely summer days. Notes include yuzu (one of my favorite notes), lotus leaf, aquatic mint, mandarin, and waterlily.

4. Burberry Touch for Men, $57 for 1 oz, burberry.com; While this fragrance has some spicy notes of white pepper and nutmeg, it’s rounded out by cooler notes of violet leaves, and mandarin tree leaves. This is a great option for guys who like a heavier fragrance during the winter months.

5. Burberry Classic for Men Summer Edition, $60 for 3.3 fl oz, sephora.com; One of my favorites for men, this fragrance is pleasantly surprising. The top notes of pineapple, citrus, and frozen mint are a fresh and unique blend. I love that this fragrance is rounded out by woody notes and tonka bean.

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 When I’m laying at home sick in bed the last thing that crosses my mind is keeping up with my beauty routine. As of late, I’ve been feeling quite under the weather. The only thing I want to do is sleep, drink juice, sleep some more, and watch old movies. There are certain beauty items, however, that will sometimes sneak their day into my sick days and make me feel a little better or occupy my time, if only temporarily.

1. Sephora Collection Colorful Mini Nail buffers, $8 for pack of 3; Sephora.com: I am really bad at keeping my nails up. They get filed and trimmed a few times per month and maybe even a coat of clear polish or the occasional swipe of colored polish. Other than that, I keep my nails fairly low maintenance. I like to keep these mini buffers on hand for quick fixes (snagged nails, uneven nail bed). I also love whipping one out when I’m sick in bed and watching TV to pass the time.

2. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm, $6.95; lush.com: I love this moisturizing balm for sick days because it’s not sticky, greasy,  absorbs quickly, and won’t end up on my pillow when I’m napping. Thanks to a blend of shea butter and oilve oil, the hydrating formula feels great on the lips without leaving residue. It also features honey, a natural humectant, to hold moisture in.

3. Caudalie Grape Water Mini, $8 for 1.6 oz; Sephora.com: If you follow this blog, you’ll know that one of my go-to “It” brands is Caudalie. I use and adore a lot of their products. I always have a mini Grape Water on hand for spritzing anytime I feel dry or need an instant boost. I love chilling one in the fridge to mist myself with when I’m running a fever. It feels lovely, cool, and I love that I’m giving my skin an antioxidant boost at the same time. *Also great for hot summer days.* 

4. Carol’s Daughter Body Aches Bath Salts, $18 for 16 oz; sephora.com: I love these bath salts for when I’m sick or after an intense workout (especially Jackie Warner’s workout DVD’s). Peppermint, sea salt, and epsom salt help to ease muscle aches, while lavender calms the senses. I’m not a fan of the little floating lavender bits in my tub so I used an old nylon or cheesecloth to filter the salts under running water. 

5. Fresh Rose Face Mask, $55; fresh.com: Another of my go-to brands is Fresh. I love the luxe formula’s and simple yet elegant packaging. I love the decadent rose mask because it helps to hydrate and sooth the delicate skin around my nose when I’m sick. Sometimes I will even leave a little on when I’m napping to protect the area. It’s calming effect is thanks to rose, cucumber, and aloe. If I need to make a brief appearance anywhere, say a visit to the doc or pharmacy, it’s a great quick fix for the mild facial puffiness I get when I’ve been laying down for a while. 

6. Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizing Stick, $22; sephora.com: Argan oil and vitamin E hydrate and nourish the skin in a quick and easy to apply stick formula. I love this handy tool for it’s multi-tasking abilities: as a quick body hydrator (elbows, cuticles, hands, feet, knees), a quick lip “balm,” around the nose,  to slick back any stray or flyaway hair and to hydrate the ends of my hair. It’s a great on the go beauty item and also fab for sick days when you don’t want to put in much effort. 

Some favorite movies to watch when I’m sick include: The Thin Man (any in the series, especially the orginal), North by Northwest, any Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Outerwear for Winter Months

January 25, 2010

Ladies (and gents), I know it’s cold outside, and in some parts of the world it’s even freezing, but lets not forget that your outerwear can be stylish and keep you toasty. I am an advocate for cute outerwear (I own way too many coats, my fave being a bright blue ’60s-inspired dressy coat with a Peter Pan collar) and believe it’s worth the investment to not compromise cuteness when the temps drop. “Investment” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, either. Stores like Old Navy and Target always have darling outerwear for under $50.

One fashion faux pas I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention is the Fleece Jacket. Unsure of what I’m referring to? Check out the photo (below).

While it’s great for those times when one is skiing, snowboarding, hiking, laying sick in bed, wearing to and from the gym, on vacation in a below freezing climate, a mom running around town (even then, maybe not),coaching an outdoor sport, or any other winter-time outdoor activity, please refrain from wearing these in daily life. Yes, they are warm, and they also look kind of sloppy. Step it up ladies, I know you can do better.

Just imagine how put-together you can look if you ditch the fleece in favor of a proper coat. Coats now are much warmer and you can look for ones that having linings in cozy material. A nice coat can take your outfit from drab to fab. Choices range from cropped to long versions, various button styles, single and double-breasted, casual pea-coats to more dressy options. There is a coat for everyone. Now just imagine running to the grocery store in a pair of jeans, cute shoes and the fleece jacket. Now imagine a quick trip to the grocery in the same outfit, only with one of the cute coats pictured below. See the difference? Instant chic and it makes you look like you actually tried!

Coats featured above are from Old Navy, Target, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Miss Selfridge, and Marc by Marc Jacobs.

P.S. Dear Men, there is nothing hotter then a guy in a peacoat.

Eau de V-day: Men

January 22, 2010

Fragrance is a great Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or a loved one. Here are my top picks for anyone close to your heart: 

1. Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme, $43-$100, sephora.com: Modern and sensual, this offering from YSL will dazzle your senses with bergamot, cedar, ozonic accord, white ginger, cedarwood, and vetiver.

2. Givenchy Play, $53-$71, sephora.com: Fresh, play-ful, and inspired by hottie Justin Timberlake, this well-rounded fragrance features bergamot, mandarin orange, bitter orange, grapefruit, Amyris wood, and black pepper.

3. Diesel Only The Brave, $53-$65, sephora.com: Bold, confident, and masculine, this fist shaped bottle with Diesel knuckles only needs four fragrance notes to get its point across: lemon, leather, amber, and cedarwood.

4. Dolce and Gabbana The One For Men, $40-$70, sephora.com: Mmmm…I saved the best for last as this fragrance is pretty much sex in a bottle. Who wouldn’t want to get close to a guy wearing The One? With its notes of grapefruit, coriander, ginger, orange blossom, cedar, and amber, it’s both fresh and woodsy all in one bottle. Or…snuggly.

Eau de V-day: Women

January 21, 2010

Fragrance is a great Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or a loved one. Here are my top picks for anyone close to your heart: 

  

1. Nanadebary Classic Pink Eau de Parfum, $98-$160, at luckyscent.com’s Scentbar 8327 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles or nanadebary.com: With jasmine, bergamot, sandalwood, and vanilla, this fem fragrance is delicate and grounded.

2. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum, $100-$150, nordstrom.com: This sweet, heady floral features notes of bergamot, orchid, freesia, and rose with a patchouli base note.

3. D & G 3 L’IMPERATRICE, $65, sephora.com: This is one of my current faves because it’s soft, modern and flirty with notes of pink cyclamen, watermelon, jasmine, musk, and sandalwood.

4. Dolce and Gabbana Rose the One Eau de Parfum, $60-90, sephora.com: I am not a rose girl in the least, or so I thought, until I tried Rose the One. It is NOT your grandmother’s rose. This version of Dolce & Gabbana’s The One opens with zesty pink grapefruit, mandarin, peach, Bulgarian rose, peony,  and closes with vanilla, amber, and musk .  

5. Victoria’s Secret Love Rocks Eau de Parfum, $39, victoriassecret.com: This new fruity floral from VS is featured in a stunning red flacon and is packed with notes of  peony, raspberry  sorbet, jasmine, peach nectar, plum, violet, and cashmere musk.

I’m a busy bee this week so I won’t be blogging again until next week. The photo above is a peak of the show I’m currently working on.

Next week I plan to review Bare Escentials Matte Foundation. I’m generally NOT a B.E. fan (the bismuth oxychloride makes me itch soo bad) but I’m trying to give the new formulation the benefit of the doubt. I’ll  let you all know how it goes after I’ve been wearing it for a few more days.

Also trying to overcome my general dislike of cooking. I’m taking some classes at the foods co op soon, and I’m hoping it is beneficial.

Fun Times: The Flat Tire

November 12, 2009

flat

I was having a marvelous day off last Monday. I slept in, got a little holiday shopping done, and was on my way to get my brows waxed when I heard a loud BOOM. It sounded as if something had hit the roof of my car and I was worried it cracked the glass on my sunroof. I pulled over, checked the top of my car and all looked fine. I also checked the rest of the car and everything looked fine so I drove on for a few miles. Nothing sounded or seemed out of the ordinary until I suddenly wasn’t able to accelerate. Shortly afterward, I started slowing down even though I was pressing the gas. I pulled over again, got out, and saw that I had a flat. I’ve only ever had a flat tire once before and also didn’t realize it was flat for quite some time (until a nice lady  flagged me down).

Even though I didn’t have many warning signs of a flat that I immediately recognized, it’s good to know what to look for. I can’t tell you how to change a flat (I know it’s supposed to be easy but I still haven’t learned how) but I can inform you of the basics of tire care:

-I always get my tires rotated on schedule. This helps them to wear evenly and it’s also a great way to know if you need any repair work done (retreading, etc.) or if your tire shop expert notices any potential problems for the future. They will also usually check your pressure (if not, ask them to). I take great care of my tires since they are pretty big investment and sometimes no matter what you do, flats will still happen. If you don’t know how many thousand miles to have them rotated, ask your local shop.

-You should also always check your tire pressure at least once a month. To do this, you can purchase a gauge, which is relatively inexpensive, at your auto parts store or any store that sells basic auto products (Target, Walmart). I prefer to have my own so that I can check the pressure anytime and anywhere. Most gas stations also have air you can fill your tires with and the hoses usually have a gauge that you can use for free. Side note for Californians: It is now illegal for gas stations to charge you for air use. To find out the desired pressure for your tires, there is often a chart on the driver side door of your vehicle, in your owner manual, or you can ask when you purchase your tires or have them rotated. The place I purchase my tires from will also check my levels for free and fill them if needed. Many places will also do this for free or a small fee.

-If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately!  If you need to pull over due to a flat or stall (for any reason), try to do so safely and pull off to a safe spot. Grip your steering wheel firmly and steer carefully, minding traffic conditions around you. Do not slam on your brakes and don’t stop in traffic as it may cause an accident. Turn on your blinker to alert drivers of your lane change. If you remember to turn on your emergency flashers, now would be an ideal time to do so. Carefully exit your car (preferably on the side NOT adjacent to the road) and stand off to the side of the road.

-If you carry emergency flares, place them 300 feet away from your car. If you have a second pair, those should be placed about ten feet from the first set. Flares are especially needed at night or in bad weather to warn other drivers that you are on the side (or middle) of the road. There are now LED flares on the market that can be re-used several times.

-If you are not able to accelerate, it’s a good idea to pull over and inspect your tires. This, for me, has always been a sign that I had a flat.

-Some people hear a flapping sound or a boom when they have a flat. It’s always good to pull off and investigate.

-If you have a cell phone, always make certain it is charged or that you have a car charger in case of emergency. It is also a good idea to have emergency numbers on hand to refer to: road side assistance or a tow company, your highway patrol, and someone you can count on for a temporary loan if you don’t have charge or cash on hand (or someone who will be nice enough to drive you to a bank or ATM).

-I believe that it is best to over prepared then not prepared at all. I keep an emergency kit in my car that consists of: a blanket, plastic rain gear (pants and jacket), a change of warm clothes, socks, old shoes, two jackets, a gallon of water, flares, bungee cords, jumper cables, a travel-friendly tool kit, a large towel, paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, and a personal toiletry bag (new disposable razor, sample packs of cleanser, moisturizer, spf, eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a small brush, extra hair pins, and a tooth-brush and tooth paste. Plus, I always carry two flash lights and I check the batteries every six months.

It’s always good to expect the best and also be ready for the worst.

Halloween: The one day you can dress up as anything or anyone you want without getting strange glances. It’s also a day when many people have their makeup done by someone else. This should be a great and fun experience but sometimes things can get in the way. Here are some of my favorite tips for helping things run smoothly any time you are having someone else do your makeup, Halloween or not.

1. Have an idea of what you are looking for and bring examples (color swatches from fabric, photos, or anything that inspires you). If you aren’t certain of what you want, brainstorm with the artist to help come up with some ideas.

2. If you bring a photo of what you want, remember that may not be the exact look you get. A good makeup artist will try to work with your own unique features to replicate the look, but sometimes our faces are different then our inspiration model’s and things might have to be tweaked. For example: You may have a more delicate eye area then the model in your inspiration photo, and doing the same dramatic smokey eye in exactly the same way might make you look like someone punched you in the eye.

3. Relax! When your body is relaxed, we are able to work more efficiently. It’s hard to apply eyeshadow on someone who is closing their eyes tightly and it’s harder to enhance the brows of someone who is moving their face. Relax your face and follow the directions of the artist of when to open, close, and look up.

4. Know that there will usually be a fee to have your makeup done. Freelance artists (individuals that do not work at a counter or store) will usually discuss a fee up front when you book your appointment. The going rate of most artists start around $60 and can go as high as $150 or more depending on what you want, the experience of the artist, and sometimes location if your artist is traveling to you.  If a full makeup application at a counter or store is “free” you are expected to purchase at the end of your makeover session. Having worked cosmetics retail myself, I can tell you that it is very rude to get your face done and simply walk away. The associate/artist is spending valuable company time with you. Most counters and stores nowadays charge a fee up front to ensure their time is not wasted. If yours doesn’t, it’s because the company has good faith that you will purchase something. If you just want your makeup done without buying anything, be upfront. Yes, they might make you wait while an artist free’s up or book an appt. in advance, but if you are genuine in trying a new look or products, they will want to give you great service so that you will make a purchase the next time.

5. Do not think that it’s okay to bring a friend to your appointment and expect to have their makeup done. Always call ahead. If it’s a busy season (prom, wedding) your artist might be booked solid that day. If going to a counter or store, most companies assign someone to do your face and will not often have the time to accomodate an extra face, especially on a busy day. If you plan to bring someone with you who also wants an application, call before hand and see if you can book an appointment for them after yours. Also please note that said friend will also have a fee for her face as well. Very rarely do artist give a 2 for 1, if ever. I will sometimes with large wedding parties do the bride’s mother for free.

6. If you do not like the direction your makeup is going, please speak up. We want you to be happy, so please let us know how we can better help you. There’s nothing worse than having a client proclaim they love what you’ve done only to find out later that they didn’t like it.  Things you can say if your wishes aren’t being met include, “I was hoping we could try it another way,” “I thought I’d like that color/look/method/etc. but it may not be for me after all. Can we try something else?” Just be honest, and be polite. It’s much easier to fix something as it’s being done then at the very end. Please do not be demanding or rude.

7. And the most important: BE ON TIME (yes, I am yelling). It seems like people these days have either A.) No sense of time.  B.) Respect enough for themselves (it’s YOU that looks bad when you show up late) and the other person to be on time.  C.) Some other reason, which is still no excuse for tardiness. If you will be late, please telephone to let your artist know. Often times there is only a certain amount of time alloted for your appointment and your time will be cut short by being late. Give yourself enough time for travel, finding the location (if you have never been there before), and time for parking and walking to your destination. Also, give yourself at least 15 extra minutes, just in case there is unforseen traffic or other circumstances.

Dear readers,

There is an issue I would like to bring to your attention that will hopefully help to prevent some disappointment from future purchases of certain beauty items.

So, lets say I’m in the market for a new hair dryer. I want salon quality without the price tag but any old drug store dryer just won’t do. The dryer I want is $150, but I see there is a travel size for only $100! Should I:

  1. Pick the travel size because it will save me some money and save space.
  2. Go with the original size.

If you are like most consumers, you probably picked the first option to save a bit of money. The best answer is really 2. By the way, this is just a pretend scenario. I happen to love my Conair from Target.

Most electric “travel size” beauty accessories (i.e. hair dryers, flat irons, styling tools, and skin care items that require an outlet or batteries) are just that- travel size and only for travel. They often have shorter warranties and are not intended for daily use. They will not usually hold up to every day wear and tear and are meant for occasional use, hence why they are for travel.

Think of it this way: If you wash and condition your hair at least five times weekly, little travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner would last, at most, only for that one week (maybe longer if you have shorter hair). You would possibly end up spending more on the smaller size items then to just shell out for full size shampoo and conditioner.

It is the same concept for beauty appliances. You might be saving a little money for the moment, but you’ll spending more in the long run, having to purchase a new one when the manufacturer deems the warranty void because it wasn’t used as intended. And, as previously mentioned, the warranties are often much shorter in duration, sometimes by up to a few years.  

If you really do intend to use it occasionally then you will be fine with purchasing the travel size with no problems at all. Just make sure that if you find yourself using it more often to invest in the full size/original size version.

XOXO,

A.