I purchased the Sephora Sun Safety kit  this year, just as I always do every year, to see if I can find my new holy grail of sun protection. The 2010 kit included Kate Somerville SPF 55 Sunscreen Serum, my new love. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, is great for my oily skin because it’s oil free and non greasy, and does not have a scent. I am so so so so hooked on this product that I had to go buy the full size. I had to order online, though, because my local Sephora only carries three Kate Somerville products. 

 The other suncreeens in the Sephora kit weren’t really anything amazing, though I did like the Jack Black Lip Balm in Lemon and Chamomile. I’ve been using the balm in Mint for several years and might switch to the Lemon version because the scent is uplifting. The kit also includes Bliss Best of Skintentions Moisturizer with SPF, which I have also been using since it launched. Another honorable mention goes to Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15, for its light weight formula that works well under makeup.

Bandeau swim top pictured above is from Vitamin A.

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.

Winter Splurge vs. Save

March 5, 2009

Splurge:

w2

1. Bvlgari Jasmine Noir, 1 oz $68, Sephora.com and Norstrom.com. With notes of Green Sap, Gardenia Petals, Sambac Jasmine Absolute, Satiny Almond, Precious Wood, Licorice, and Tonka Bean Absolute, this deep, sultry fragrance will liven up a dreary winter days (and nights).

2. Makeup Forever Faux Lashes #109, $15, sephora.com. Put a little flirt in your wink with fluttery faux lashes. Tip: make sure to let the glue dry for 30 seconds before applying. This will help the lash grip better to your lid and prevent it from sliding off.

3. Fresh Winter Picnic Eye Palette, $48, sephora.com. With icy hues of  lavender, white pearl, khaki taupe, deep chocolate shimmer, muted blue, and pink shimmer, this palette includes all of the colors you’ll need to create sheer to dramatic looks in one palette.

4. Make Her Think Swallow Ring, $380.00, makeherthink.com. This whimsical sparrow ring features oxidized sterling silver with .20ct pave rough white diamonds and a textured feather band.

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, $22.50, fresh.com and Sephora.com. This lip balm is a daily indulgent treat and  feels divine. Real sugar imparts a sweet scent and acts as a natural humectant to hydrate parched winter lips. Oils, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins are blended in to protect your lips from the elements and keep them glowing and healthy.

 

Save:

w1

 

1. The Body Shop Shimmer Cubes Palette #15, $22, thebodyshop.com. With two blue hues, one shimmering white, and one shimmering grey, you can create looks that range from simple, colorful, and smoky. Also, check out the new Shimmer Cubes 18 Palette, which features lighter shades.

2. Laila Rowe Metal Flower Ring, $2.50, lailarowe.com. A great way to wear trends of the season is to pick up cheap and chic jewels and accessories from Laila Rowe. You can look up to date without dropping a bundle.

3. Sephora Flirt-It Lash Duo, $8, Sephora.com. These are some of my favorite lashes because you get a half strip, great for accentuating the outer corner of your eye, and a full strip that makes for a super flirty wink. Tip: apply the full strip, then layer the half strip on the outer corner for a full flutter.

4. Sephora Tropical Jasmine Collection, $6-$16, Sephora.com. If you want the sultry scent of jasmine without breaking the bank, try anything from this collection or layer products for an indulgent fragrance experience. With notes of Jasmine, Coconut, Sandalwood, Tahitian Vanilla and White Amber, you’re sure to turn heads.

5. Victoria’s Secret Pink Tinted Lip Balm, $7, victoriassecret.com, “Love” (a rich pink) is currently the only shade available. Lightly tinted, this lip conditioner packs a punch of moisture to keep lips looking healthy throughout the day.

tbtbsc

The brand behind my most favorite concealer in the world has created TimeBalm foundation. Hooray! Packed with all of the great stuff that’s in the concealer, this “solid” foundation has vitamins A, C, and E to nourish the skin, it also has ingredients that help with eye-area aging. Basically, this is TheBalm concealer in larger packaging. A little goes a long way and it’s great for all skin types. For $28, you get triple the amount in the concealer pot, so this is a fantastic buy for your money.

It’s dreamy texture can go from light, medium, to full coverage with the more you layer on. It doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, and it actually seemed to help keep my oily skin in check, for at least an hour more then usual. I can see how the formula, like the concealer, is recommended for all skin types. It glides on smoothly enough for dry skins, and feels lighter then air for those on the combo or oily side.

The downside: it’s only offered in four shades. Hopefully, like the original concealer, more shades will be introduced as its popularity increases.

 Ladies also take note.

wf1

1. First, and most important, be consistent! The more you take care of your skin, the better it will look. Think of it like going to the gym: once a week won’t really do much for you but if you go daily, you’ll notice a real difference. It’s the same with your skin.

2. Cleanse your skin twice daily. If you are aiming for clearer skin, this is an important step to cleanse away dirt and oil.

3. Protect your skin by using an SPF of at least 15 and if you work outdoors, make sure to reapply every few hours.

4. Exfoliate! Not only will it help shed dull, dead skin cells, it will help any creams or lotions penetrate the skin more effectively. Some cleansers do double duty by exfoliating, so check the label. Look for BHA’s (or beta hydroxy acid) or anything that mentions exfoliation.

5. Hydrate your skin with a good moisturizer, preferably without an SPF in the product. A moisturizer sans SPF can be used in the AM and PM.

Shopping Tips:

While there are skincare brands that specifically cater to men, you can use any brand. There aren’t any “women only” brands, though quite often the packaging is designed to appeal to that market.

You don’t need to drop a lot of cash on your skincare routine. The age old debate of department/specialty store VS drug store products is a personal decision and neither is right or wrong.

Heads up: unlike drug stores, you will receive personalized help at a department store counter or store like Sephora then at a drug store, so if you have questions, they tend to be good places to start.

If you do have a Sephora in your area, you can make an appointment for a complimentary consultation. This is a free session (usually a few minutes in length up to a half hour) where a skincare expert can demo the products on your skin, help establish a routine that fits your skincare needs and lifestyle, and they can answer any questions you may have. You can check their website (www.sephora.com) to find store locations.

If you need a few items at once, are trying a new brand,  or are just starting out using skincare, gift sets and travel packs are a great way to try products out. They are often smaller then full size items and can help you figure out what you like best. They also tend to be great values for your money.

Some department store counters charge for consults, so be sure to check prices. Sometimes the cost of the consult is redeemable in products.

You can also walk up to any counter or store at any time and they should be able to help you find products right for you if you are short on time. This should be free and quick (under five minutes).

If you feel pressured to buy something and aren’t ready to commit, see if you can take home a sample of the product to try first. Some places sample generously and some don’t.

If heading to the drug store, most brands have packaging on the box that will tell you what they do (i.e.: cleanser for oily skin or moisturizer for all skin types).

Wallet-friendly products

February 12, 2009

inexp

If you have the urge to plunk down some hard earned cash on beauty loot but can’t afford higher end cosmetics, check out your local drug store. There are some hidden gem’s among the countless isles. Also, many private label brands at luxury beauty stores are reasonably priced and good quality so do check them out instead of passing them up.

1. Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush lip glosses, currently 2 for $12 or 5 for $20. Sheer color, smooth, tasty, everything a girl wants in her gloss, and a good deal!

2. Sephora Flashy Liner Waterproof eye pencil, $8 each. Flashy Brown and Flashy Copper are my personal faves. They glide right on without pulling or tugging and they wear for hours without smudging. Tip: the color Flashy Blue is a dupe of Urban Decay’s Electric liner, which is twice the price.

3. Sephora Blush Me! mono blush, $10 each. My favorite hues on a variety of skin tones is Corail Frisson and Abricot Plaisir. If you layer the two together, almost equals the color of Nars Orgasm. Insider info: Abricot Plaisir was a hit at Fashion Week Live Backstage 2007!

4. Sally Hansen Hard as Nails polish in Blue It, $3-$7, depending on store. Sally Hansen is my drug store go-to for nail polish, and they have a great range of colors from blue to pinks to nudes. Many times you can find discounts on shades that are being DC’d.

5. Wet N Wild MegaEyes Shadow Pot in Wicked, under $4, not available at all stores. If I’m in a bind and need to have a smokey color asap, I usually turn to Wet N Wild’s Wicked. At that price, I usually give it to my client to keep so they can recreate the look later.

6. Jane Kabuki Brush, $5, see janecosmetics.com store locator for where to buy. I like this brush for bronzers and pressed powder. Works best with a small amount of product and light hand.

7. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, around $5. If I’ve forgotten my disposable mascara wands on a job (I’m human, it happens!) I go for Great Lash. It’s inexpensive, adds volume without clumping, and also comes in a water proof formula. Plus, I can get it at any drug store.

8. Cover Girl Eye Enhancers eye shadow, see stores for pricing. These are great for trying out trendy colors that will be out next season. I love that the colors are coordinated and blend fairly easy.

Pre-Spring Beauty

February 12, 2009

springbelle

As all of the major cosmetics lines debut the new trends for Spring 2009, I won’t forget about my old tried and true standbys. They are things that I simply could not live without and work for most everyone.

1. Opi’s Strawberry Margarita nail polish is my perfect pink. I usually sport clear polish and this is my go to when I need a little color. It’s also a great pedicure shade year round.

2. Korres lip butter in Pomegranate gives a lovely hint of coral to the lips while hydrating. I’ve tried it on several skin tones and it looks fab on just about everyone. I also love it under a sheer peach lip gloss.

3. In the mood for a sweet, fresh, soft candle? Look no further then Fresh’s Sugar Lychee scented candle. This scent also features the fragrance of lotus and grapefruit. Yum!

4. Nars Multiple in Orgasm gives you a fresh peachy-pink glow in one swipe. You can use it on your cheeks, eyes, and lips for a quick monochromatic look in seconds. It has just enough shimmer to make you look dewy, not glittery. Take caution: a little goes a long way and don’t forget to blend.

5. Stila’s eyeshadow duo in Lilly is a great way to transition your fall/winter shadows into spring. Both shadows are sheer and look great mixed with browns. I especially love the peach color paired with simple black liner and a lightly defined crease.

6. One of my favorite blushes to brighten dull winter complexions is LORAC’s Cheek Stamp in Hibiscus. The innovative packaging features a pan of the sheer pink blush on one end and a “stamp” sponge on the other end. It’s designed to press the stamp directly on the cheek and blend with a brush or fingers. My favorite application trick is to take a fan brush and lightly dust over the apples of your cheeks. The product lasts a long time, too. I’ve had mine for nearly two years and with almost daily use am just hitting the bottom of the pan.

Fresh

February 10, 2009

freshprimesoybath

I love the brand Fresh! They have a few new products out and I also indulged in an older one.

The new Soy Face Cream is for all skin types and packs a punch. Vitamins A, C, and E are infused as well as tea, rose water, soy proteins and jojoba seed oil. The result equals a moisturizer that’s light weight and also leaves your skin looking glowy and smooth.

The first day I tried the new Rose FreshFace Primer my skin was a little irritated. It seemed to calm my skin down a bit, thanks to anti-inflammatory ingredients. After the third day of use, my skin felt better and as I passed by a mirror, noticed my makeup still looked great after work. All in all, this is one of the better primers I’ve used.

I’ve also been sniffing my newest bath time acquisition, SugarBath Lychee Bath Cubes, every chance I get. They are lightly scented and slightly fizz under running water. I’d save these for an occasional bath since they’re fairly pricey for what they are and the scent doesn’t linger on your skin after your bath.

morocco

If I could only say one word about Sephora’s new Moroccan Sunrise collection it would be beautiful.  From the packaging, to the color choices, to the product textures, everything is indeed beautiful.

I’m generally not a bronzer fanatic and when I occasionally use it, I choose lighter matte shades. That said, I think I just might buy the Moroccan one. More gold then the orange of most bronzers, if brushed on with a light hand, it can be used as a subtle gold shimmer either alone or over blush.

The eyeshadow palette is gorgeous. The pigment is vivid and can be sheered down and the color payoff is high. A number of looks can be done with this palette for both day and night. I did a simple swipe of the orange and pink as liner (blended into each other for a slight sunset effect) then blended it with the neutral beigey-gold to eliminate harsh lines.

The collection also includes lip glosses that pack a punch of color, are smooth without being sticky, and feel hydrating. I’ve been wearing Roseberry and plan to buy Naked Peach. For those of you who like to keep a mirror in your bag at all times to aid with lip gloss or hair touch-ups, there are also Moroccan print embellished mirrors.

Also featured are emery boards, atomizers, a mini brush set, a larger brush set, several gorgeous bags, and a train case that lights up when opened. To check out the entire collection, go to Sephora.com.

sousi

Why not try a fragrance that evokes images of a tropical locale?

 Every year, Escada releases a limited edition fruity floral fragrance (heads up: if you need 2007’s Moon Sparkle, snap it up quickly before its gone). New for 2008 is Ocean Lounge. Featuring notes of lychee, plum, pear nectar, strawberry meringue, violet petal sorbet, mimosa blossom, jasmine, amber, sheer vanilla, and teak wood, it’s a fragrance that will mentally transport you to a beach where your day consists of sipping drinks poolside.

This new offering, to me, smells like strawberry bubble gum and fruit punch. Ocean Lounge is currently available at Nordstrom and will be launching at Sephora and other stores in January.