Thursday, November 8, 2012

90 Second Makeup

So you may have heard about this little storm we had called Sandy. We were very fortunate not to sustain damage, and we got our power back after 6 days. Many of our neighbors were not so lucky, but we're coming together, helping one another out, and looking forward to this all being over.

A group of coworkers who all live in my town have been carpooling, which turns out to be more fun than sitting morosely in traffic by yourself. I've never been very good at dragging myself out of the house on the early side, so I tend to roll into work later and stay later. But my fellow carpoolers like to meet earlier, so I have been improving my land speed performance in the morning, and have developed a decent face that takes me 90 seconds to do. It involves a lot of quick smearing on of neutral-toned stuff that doesn't require precise application. I used a cream stick blush, which I can dab on and blend in as I run from the bathroom to my bedroom to grab my last items, and I applied my lipstick in the car on my way to the meeting point (my husband drove, safety fiends!). I snapped this photo in the car on the way to work today, and I think it shows a little natural polish that will get me through a day at work.

Face: CoverGirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation in #319 Flax and CoverGirl concealer. NYX Stick Blush in Pink Poppy.

Eyes: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly as base, NYX Dallas eyeshadow on lid, MAC eyeliner in Ebony, NYX Les Amoureux Mascara.

Lips: MAC Viva Glam VI.

Scent of the Day: Nocturne Alchemy Eternal Ankh, which is a vanilla-sheer amber.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Basic Red

I don't know of many makeup fans who aren't perpetually in pursuit of the perfect red lipstick, whatever that means to her. me, I have in my mind's eye something that is as clear, deep red with a satin finish that pulls neither too brick nor too berry on me. many "true" reds come out looking a little light and chalky for my taste, so I keep pressing on, looking for something with real depth.

Last year I'd bought this one, MAC Dare You, on a whim, and then wore it once or twice before sort of forgetting about it. Today felt like a red lipstick day, so initially I'd put on the second color in the Yagolicious palette, but that wasn't quite doing it. Then I remembered I had Dare You in my makeup case and popped it on after lunch.

I like it! It's still not free of the berry tone so many of these take on when I wear them, but I like the depth of color and the finish.

Face: Cover Girl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation in #310 Flax, Cover Girl concealer, NYX Pinched blush.

Eyes: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly as base, NYX  Dallas eyeshadow, Inglot gel eyeliner in black, NYX Les Amoureux mascara.

Lips: MAC Dare You.

Scent of the Day: BPAL Halloween: Las Vegas, surprising nobody.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"It Smells Like A Candy Store In Here"

That was what my colleague said when she walked into my office while I was testing a big, juicy envelope full of decants from the Violette Market State Fair collection, my first time checking out this annual release from an indie perfume oil maker I've come to like a lot. Seems like every perfume oil company has a blend called "Midway" that tries to capture the smell of an old-school fair, with the funnel cakes and the dirt and the grass and the melting cherry ice pops and the candy apples. Lori from Violette Market goes the whole hog and puts out a full line of over 60 scents, covering everything from the Cold Confections Cart to Sugared Incense Cotton Candy (one of 8 cotton candy scents), multiple flavors of Taffy Pull, Penny Candy scents, local honey scents, even an Old Wooden Coaster and Fun House. As if that weren't enough, she has two categories of custom scent options -- Cold Confections Cart Scoops and Sundaes or Tiki Hut Mixed Drinks and Tropical Delights. It's enough to make your head spin.

I couldn't try them all, more's the pity, so I picked my top 16 and got some decants from a very giving Livejournal member who cheerfully puts large decant circles together. Naturally, when the package arrived I had a massive headcold and couldn't smell a thing. So it's taking me a while to work through the bundle, but I've gotten to the bulk of them now. Sadly, it hasn't worked out all that well for me.

After Dark (A sinister yet playful combination of pink spun sugar, bubble gum melted into gritty asphalt, sweet fruity musk, smokey vanilla, and a lingering menace of dark resins.) This was the one I wanted to try most of all. I think the fabulous Hottie McNaughty nailed this one when she said (of the 2010 version) "Say you have a very proper pink and girly perfume; well After Dark is like her hot, slutty older sister."

In vial--Smells like a sweet, fruity, slightly smoky light musk. There is a slight burnt sugar tinge, which I guess in the spun sugar.

Wet--Blast of fruity, juicy bubble gum and cotton candy. The bubble gum smells like a real true wad of it.

Drydown--Getting the asphalt now, which is a smell I love. It's sharpish, but still familiar. I can really grasp that image of the wad of bubble gum melting into the asphalt.

Dry--Definitely a naughty girl kind of scent. The dark resins and asphalt blend with the pink sugar and bubble gum to give a darkly shaded but still sweet, very sexy smell. Definitely NSFW. Sadly, it stays sharp on me, to a point it is too cologney for my taste.

Coconut Rum Cotton Candy (Clouds of ivory cotton candy infused with dark rum, sugared coconut, black musk, warm spices, and coconut cream.) I'm on a big coconut kick lately, so I definitely wanted to try this one.

In vial--Coconut candy.

Wet--Strong blast of coconut cream and that slightly caramelized sugar of cotton candy.

Dry--This stays all about the coconut and the cotton candy. I don't pick up much in the way of rum, black musk, or spices. It's a pity, because I think it could use a little more of that depth to keep it from smelling more like a coconut-scented air freshener from the car wash. That makes it sound like I hate it -- I don't -- but it's not the deep, spiced coconut I was looking for.

Taffy Pull (An array of colorful taffy swirling through the taffy pull in the sweet flavors of: Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.) I wasn't craving to try this one, but it's such a perennial favorite and constitutes the base for six other taffy scents that I wanted to try it just to get a sense of it.

In vial--Sweet and slightly sour, kind of like old-fashioned library paste.

Wet--Still getting that library paste smell, it's not as sugary sweet as I expected.

Dry--Smells uncannily like vanilla taffy, with a slightly plastic or gluey edge. I don't pick up any specific fruity notes, just the overall sense of vanilla taffy. Not for me.

Pineapple Taffy Pull (An array of colorful taffy swirling through the taffy pull in the sweet flavor of: sugared pineapple with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.)

In vial--Pineapple candy.

Wet--Sugared dried pineapple (oh I love that stuff!) layered over vanilla taffy.

Dry--The pineapple all but disappears, leaving me with the same vanilla taffy scent from regular Taffy Pull, with the same plastic or paste note. Pass.

Sugared Incense Cotton Candy (Clouds of pale blue cotton candy infused with incense smoke, white sugar cane, floral musk, and vanilla cream.) This is one I really wanted to try, because I'm liking incense scents more and more, especially since I took a chance on two bottles of the BPAL special event Great Vampire Bat, which is "incense-touched orchid." This oil is a very pretty pale pink, which is unusual in my experience with perfume oils, which tend to range from clear to dark amber, with a lot of yellows in between.

In vial--Sweet, headshoppy incense.

Wet--Something very fruity, maybe strawberry, with the incense. Smells sort of like certain cabs in New York City where the driver uses incense.

Dry--Ugh, do not like. Smells like cheap, sweet incense, like stuff that was constantly burning in college dorm rooms and summer stock. I like incense, but the expensive kind.

Midway (A sweet, nostalgia-inducing array of sugared elephant ears, funnel cake, pink cotton candy, candied apples, black cherry tartlets, the heat of August, and laughter carried into the night sky.) This is the first of the many Midway scents out there I've sampled. I didn't have very high hopes, but wanted to try it because it's such a centerpiece of the whole concept.

In vial--Cherry medicine.

Wet--Strong cherry medicinal scent, like Robitussen, with a cakey scent coming up shortly afterwards.

Dry--I get a mixture of artificial cherry and a lot of doughy cake scent with a hint of plastic. There isn't anything very specific about it, and I don't pick up any apple. Not for me.

A few hours later--This has morphed and now I'm picking up a little more candy apple with dough in the background. It's better, but still not something I want to wear.

Clementine Petit Cakes (Sweet and nostalgic confections of clementine frosting covering petit vanilla cakes sprinkled with a delicate dusting of citrus powdered sugar.) I've been wanting a very orangy scent lately, and nothing I have is really cutting it, so thought this might be nice.

In vial--Cakey, citrusy.

Wet--I can almost taste this, I really do smell clementine-flavored frosting over a vanilla cake.

Dry--This is probably the most realistic frosted cake scent I've ever tried. It's delicious, and is making me hungry for orange-vanilla cupcakes (not good, as I've been low-carbing it). Not sure how much I'd wear something like this, but I'm impressed.

Sugared Lavender & Black Amber. (Sweet and nostalgic confections of black amber and lavender covered in a delicate dusting of powdered sugar.) I am a fiend for a good lavender, and have been using BPAL's TKO to help me sleep, which is a lavender-vanilla with, I think, a good bit of sweet dragon's blood resin. It's expensive, and at the rate I go through it, I keep thinking it would be nice to find an alternative.

In vial--Nice herby lavender.

Wet--Heavy on the lavender, with sweetness.

Dry--This morphs in a direction I don't care for. I don't make out the amber, per se, but it does something to the lavender that makes it too sweet and it loses the herbal freshness. Not what I was looking for.

Caramel Sugar Kettle Corn. (Sweet popped corn covered in a thick layer of dark caramel with subtle hints of vanilla, pecan clusters, white sugar cane, and machinery smoke.) I was attracted to the idea of sweet and smoky.

Wet--Salty sweet caramel corn, with a heavy dose of smoke. Actually, it smells like I rubbed my arm with a slice of bacon. Believe it or not, this isn't appealing to me.

Dry--It's a close approximation of kettle corn, buttery, slightly salty, and caramelized, with a touch of smoke, not that heavy initial smoke scent, but it's not a good one for me. I really have trouble with any dairy notes.

Milk Maid. (Creamy milk, pale strawberry musk, gardenia cream, light amber specks, home-grown yellow roses, sweet grass, and golden farm hay.) Went back and forth on this one. I love grass, hay, and natural roses, have more trouble with milk, cream, and strawberry. The concept sounds very appealing, though.

Wet--The initial blast contains a note that smells very off to me, probably the strawberry musk, which has the potential to be both sharp and plastic/artificial on me.

Dry--This morphs nicely. Lots of strawberry musk and roses, plus the gardenia. I don't really pick up the grass and hay, other than to detect a sort of natural outdoorsy sweetness. Too bad the creamy note makes it a bit too rich for me. It's a nice strawberry-rose, very summery and candy-like.

Fried Funnel Cakes. (Vanilla funnel cakes fried until golden brown, covered in coconut powdered sugar and light amber glaze.)

Wet--This does smell like sweet fried dough.

Dry--I can make out the coconut powdered sugar, and the overall impression is in the ballpark of the inspiration, but it hits my nose primarily as an artificially flavored caramel.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kiss Me, You Fool

Let me start by saying that I've been mildly annoyed by dumb product names for as long as I've been wearing makeup, starting with Maybelline Kissing Potion back in the 70s. As if the sugary, strawberry scent wasn't embarrassing enough. I've weathered having to confess that my golden, peachy glow comes from a product called "NARS Orgasm." Seemingly half of Urban Decay's product names are things I don't really care to discuss in the office. Oh, the humanity.

My latest product enthusiasm also comes with a name I try to avoid saying out loud, but the product is so good that I find I have to with frequency. It's the new balm stain from Revlon, delightfully (and somewhat awkwardly) named Just Bitten Kissable (about $10). The color names follow the theme, with unhelpful non-descriptors such as Romantic.

But. They're great! They truly are both a balm (moisturizing, comfortable, sheer) and a stain (pigmented, exceptionally long-lasting). They come in a chunky plastic twist-up tube (apparently a dupe for Clinique Chubby Sticks, which I've never used) and go on with a minty scent but no flavor. The real treat is in the performance, which is exceptionally comfortable to wear, and extremely long-lasting. How long? Well, I applied right after breakfast, and after eating lunch (not particularly gracefully, I might add, with lots of lip-wiping) I still had a very respectable wash of color and moist feeling. I touched up, but could have easily gone about my day without doing so.

I have two colors so far, Romantic (L) and Rendezvous (R). Romantic is a perfect sheer red (I was a little nervous because it looks a touch blue-red based on the plastic tube) that I like even better than my NARS Flamenco, which I find doesn't wear very well. Rendezvous is that very-on-trend shade of tangerine that's hot this summer. I find it a little bright, but when I'm looking for something in that family it's lots of fun to wear.

Add here the usual complaints about drugstores lacking testers and product packaging that makes you guess at what's inside, but really, these are worth taking a chance on.

Today's look:
Face--CoverGirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation in #310 Flax, MUFE HD Concealer
Eyes--MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, peachy shimmer eyeshadow from Inglot, MUFE Aqua Liner in Black, NYX Les Amoureux mascara
Cheeks--MAC Mineralize Blush in Dainty
Lips--Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic

Scent of the Day--BPAL Celeste

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taupe Tattoo

Yes, that little-known play by Tennessee Williams, The Taupe Tattoo, was the inspiration for one of my new favorite eye looks.

This was my first look using the amazing Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo Cream Gel Shadow in Tough as Taupe, one of the best products coming out of the drugstore these days. I simply applied it all over the lid (I found that a brush did a more precise job than my fingers, though I do love to use my fingers to apply creams) and the topped that with a layer of Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Pulp Fiction. I have previously found Pulp Fiction a little harder to work with than my other eyeshadows from that line, due to a little more sparkle and fallout, but this gave it a lot of depth and controlled the sparkle very well.

Do check out this Color Tattoo stuff. It's a little expensive for the drugstore (in the $10 range) but it's super pigmented and while it may not live up to the 24 hour claim it makes, it definitely gives superlative wear.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In the Pink

So I am really awful at taking pictures of myself. You can't see my eyes at all. Frankly, I don't know how beauty bloggers do it. I guess I should find out.

Today's look is centered around the bright pink in the Yagolicious Smooches Lipstick Palette I reviewed here. The more I use it, the more I like it. I'm not wild about having to carry around the whole palette and a brush to apply it (the little doe foot applicators it came with are good, but they get gunked up fast), but it wears so well, without bleeding or feathering, that I'm willing to put up with a little inconvenience. This is the first time I've worn this color, and it's really a lot of fun.

I've also tried out a new foundation, CoverGirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation, in #310 Flax. This stuff is getting plenty of love on the blogs, and for good reason. At about $12, it's much cheaper than the MAC and Armani foundations I usually use, but I find the performance is much higher than the price would suggest. It's not too thin or too thick, not drying or greasy. While color matching at the drugstore is always a challenge, I managed to find my way to a reasonable color selection (while it's gross to find a drugstore cosmetic that has been sampled, if they're not sealed, well, what do you expect?). It's a little cooler/pinker than my usual MAC N20 or Armani #5, but it blended in perfectly and leaves a beautiful dewy but not shiny finish. It has a pleasant light floral scent, which reminds me a lot of a Lancome lightweight foundation I used to use, so if you don't like scented skin products, I'd steer clear.

So the face today is:

Skin--CoverGirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation in #310 Flax, MUFE HD Concealer (with MUFE primer and translucent powder to set).

Eyes--MAC Paint Pot in Painterly as a base, with Urban Decay Naked in the crease and Sin in the inner lid. Inglot Matte Collection AMC Eyeliner Gel in #77. NYX Les Amoureux mascara.

Blush--NYX Powder Blush in Red.

Lips--Hot Pink lipstick from Yagolicious Smooches Lipstick Palette.

Perfume--The deliciously fresh Boober from the new BPAL Fraggle Rock collection (A fretfully clean scent: freshly-washed laundry, linden blossom, soap suds, and a sprinkle of vanilla.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lavender Blues

I have always been extremely fond of lavender, and have enjoyed it in various bath products for most of my life, even before I was officially old enough to wear perfume. As a junior Francophile as a kid, I associated it with France and loved it even more. The summer my family spent a month in the south of France is completely lavender-scented in my memory. I also associate it with Yardley's English Lavender Soap, which my mother bought me.

However, I hadn't been that wild about it as a note in perfumes until I came across BPAL's TKO, which is a sleep blend. It doesn't have listed notes, but it's clearly got a heavy vanilla base and there is sweetness that I suspect comes from dragon's blood resin, which is a scent I generally don't like in any other blend. TKO goes on sharply lavender with a strong sweetness that leads many people to describe it as lavender-marshmallow, but which smells to me more like lavender-flavored frosting. I have trained myself to feel intensely sleepy within minutes of applying it, and tend to sleep like a log thereafter. I use it every night even though my husband isn't wild about it. By morning, it has faded to delicious rich vanilla, especially where it clings to silk or cotton, so I apply it not just to my skin but to the inside of my nightgown too.

I have been growing lavender in my garden for years, but only this year did it really finally take hold and start producing much volume of flowers. Today I thought it would be fun to make one of those lavender wands they sell at craft fairs, so I found this excellent blog post on how to do it.

Despite the crystal-clear instructions and beautiful pictures, my attempt was an unmitigated disaster. Maybe my ribbon was too wide, maybe my lavender stalks were too bunchy, or maybe I'm just completely inept, but the results (left) were piss-poor. It does smell good, though, and I have a little dish of all the blossoms and leaves that fell off that I'll use as a little fresh potpourri, perish the thought.

I do think I'll try again with a different plant that might be more svelte and some narrower ribbon, but I don't hold out a lot of hope.

Oh, and in honor of unofficial Lavender Day, today I am wearing emerald green cropped jeans and a violet tank top. I look like a lavender stalk!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Great Eyeliner Disasters

I am completely inept when it comes to applying liquid eyeliner, which is why I have fallen in love with Make Up For Ever's Aqua Liner. It has a tiny pointy sponge applicator instead of a brush and I find I can control it well, plus the formula is highly pigmented and waterproof. But I discovered an important aspect of the product this morning--the liner in the tube is so fluid that when I accidentally tipped the tube while applying it, it dripped all over the floor. I had imagined more of a cream consistency in there, but it really is liquid. I am traveling on business, so it was a hotel bathroom floor I sullied with my klutziness. So a word to the wise--don't tip your MUFE Aqua Liner upside down. On the plus side, this means I will run out of liner a litter sooner, which means a trip to Sephora sooner. Which means another Aqua Liner in another color (gold? silver?) may jump into my basket.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Off to date night!

I snapped this while riding in the car on the way to meet friends for tapas on Friday night. I wanted something sexy and dramatic, but that I could have some hope of keeping on my lips throughout dinner. I realized this was the perfect time to test the Yagolicious Smooches Lipstick Palette.

I'd learned about this product at the Pink Sith blog, which offered a very positive review and some superb swatches, which I suggest you check out. I'm happy to say that my experience with this product is positive too.

As you can see, the product presents a smartly edited collection of reds -- true red, blue-red, orange-red, hot pink, and a true red gloss. The texture of the lipsticks is quite firm, but very smooth. It took several passes of my lipstick brush to paint in my lips, which struck me as just right. What I didn't want was a very soft product that glopped on my brush because while that might be easier to spread around, it's also a sure bet that it will seep into fine lines. Happily here you get the best of both worlds -- a precise application but the product feels smooth and moisturizing on the lips, not drying like many matte lipsticks can feel.

For this look, I applied my Revlon Colorstay Lip Liner in Natural, then used the first color in the palette (pictured at top). And that was it! No layering, no additional gloss. At dinner, I noticed very little transfer to my wineglass, and by the end of dinner I could use a little bit of touch-up to make it look freshly applied, but that wasn't even necessary.

The rest of the products used allowed me to keep it simple -- with a touch of foundation and concealer I used Armani Eyes to Kill eyeshadow in Rock Sand all over the lid, MUFE Aqualiner in Black, NYX Les Amoureux mascara, and NYX blush in Pinched. Simple, classic.

Perfume of the Night: BPAL Black Lace (A delicate sugar-spun vanilla cream cotton, stained by tobacco and incense smoke, Indian musk, and drops of cognac)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Warming Trend

It's a chilly spring morning, and I felt compelled to be somewhat defiant. If you pay attention to seasonal launches and magazine spreads, apparently you're supposed to want to wear delicate pastels and pinks in the spring, while reserving richer colors for fall. Well, too bad. I found myself pulling out this deep green dress with deco-style poppies on it, brown t-strap pumps, and my fall makeup colors, and so be it. This is a look that fits in with the style aspiration crib note I like to keep in mind when I'm buying things -- "Sally Bowles Gets a Day Job."

Foundation--Teeny touch of Armani Designer foundation just to even out some blotchy areas. MUFE HD concealer under eyes, with a dab of Smashbox primer underneath and MUFE translucent powder to set it.

Eyes--MAC Paint Pot in Painterly as a base, with Armani Eyes to Kill in Bronze-Gray on the lid. Liner is MAC Eye Kohl in teddy. NYX Les Amoureux mascara. Oh, and I use clear Maybelline Great Lash for brow grooming.

Cheeks--NYX Pinched.

Lips--MAC Dark Side lipstick with a touch of MAC Lustreglass in Ornamental. Revlon Colorstay lipliner in Natural to try to keep it all contained in the lipline.

Perfume--BPAL Mourning Lace. I can't seem to stop wearing this one.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Thing

We need not have feared the dreary weather report, at least not today, because it turned out to be a stunningly beautiful day. After playing outside with the kids and doing some yard work, we decided to take everyone to lunch at a nice place by the water. I wanted a little color, but nothing too heavy, and I didn't want to get all matchy-matchy with my purple top or look too costume 80s. A touch of sheer green on the eyes did it, plus a nice bright pink on the lips and a glowy blush.

Foundation--None! Just used a bit of MUFE HD concealer under the eyes, with my usual teeny drop of Smashbox primer and a little MUFE translucent powder.

Blush--Urban Decay Afterglow in Score.

Eyes--MAC Paint Pot in Painterly as a base with NARS Nomad cream eyeshadow on the lid and MAC Rosemary & Thyme eye pencil on the lower lid. Touch of Almay One Coat mascara.

Lips--NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Bonfire.

Perfume of the Day--BPAL The Fairies (apple blossom, white clover, huckleberry wine, dandelion sap, milkweed, primrose, thyme, pink moss, thorny thistles, and opium pod)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Face of the Day

I recently ordered a palette of red lip colors from a company called Yagolicious, which I'd read about on the Pink Sith blog. When I hadn't gotten an order confirmation or shipping notice after about a week and a half, I sent a quick email to the company asking for an update. They got right back to me, and let me know that in addition to getting my order right out the door, they were including at no charge a "Starlet" lip gloss. I'll post more about my adventures with these products, which are promising, but I really wanted to try out the gloss today (it has a mirror on the case! and it LIGHTS UP!) so I created this look to allow me to get away with a strong red mouth at the office.

Foundation--Just a touch of the Armani Designer foundation, Smashbox primer, and MUFE HD concealer.

Cheeks--A teeny dusting of NYX Powder Blusher in Red.

Eyes--MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, with a little Wet 'n' Wild Brulee over that. MUFE Aqua Liner in Black, NYX Les Amoureux mascara.

Lips--Yagolicious Starlet Gloss in Barcelona.

Scent of the Day--Violette Market's A Merry Life (Sweet and comforting vanilla beans infused with cream, star anise, pink pepperberry, and tarnished ever-so-slightly by worn leather boots, chimney smoke, and tobacco tar).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today's Face

This morning I reached for a favorite warm-weather dress, a purchase from last summer, and decided to pair it with some favorite cosmetics to get a natural-but-polished, rosy look.

Foundation: Armani Designer, very lightly applied. Concealer is MUFE HD over a tiny dab of Smashbox primer.

Cheeks: NYX Pinched blush.

Eyes: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly all over lid, with Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Bronze-Gray on the lid. Liner is MUFE Aqua Liner in black, with NYX Les Amoreux mascara.

Lips: MAC Viva Glam VI.

Perfume of the Day: BPAL Geisha in Orange Kimono Admiring a Samurai (King mandarin, tuberose, white sandalwood, white moss, yerba mate, tangerine, and styrax.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dream Perfume, Passover/Easter Edition

Readying the table to kick off the holiday weekend, so I went out to the garden to cut a centerpiece. The scents are just overwhelming and gorgeous. Hyacinths, sure, but even the other flowers are sending out beautiful wafts of scent. So here it is:

Purple hyacinth, full-blown tulips, daffodils, and forsythia, with a hint of sun-warmed soil.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Black and White and Red All Over

I know the lighting stinks, but wanted to share today's look. I'm going to a benefit this evening, so chose my favorite work-to-evening black dress with a twist in the front and my classic black Manolo Blahnik pumps. I bought them 15 years ago, during my first year as a practicing lawyer, and at the time thought I might have gone insane spending $400 on a pair of shoes. If only you could get them for that price now! It turns out to have been an excellent investment, because I've taken good care of them and they're going strong so many years later.

Face: Armani Designer foundation (over Armani primer) in 5 with a little MAC concealer and MUFE translucent powder to set it.

Cheeks: NYX blush in Pinched (NARS Orgasm dupe).

Eyes: Armani Eyes to Kill in Rock Sand over MAC Paint Pot in Painterly base with MUFE Aqua Liner in black and NYX Les Amoureux mascara.

Lips: NARS Flamenco.

Nails: Sample size from the OPI Burlesque collection, sadly does not have color name on it.

Perfume of the day is BPAL Black Lace (A delicate sugar-spun vanilla cream cotton, stained by tobacco and incense, Indian musk, and drops of cognac.) If only I'd been around when this was on sale, I would have hoarded tons of it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In a Lather

It's a very short leap from perfume obsession to a deep love affair with other scented body products, and I've been a soap junkie for decades. I can't think of the last time I used a standard drugstore/supermarket bar of soap, though there are some that are perfectly acceptable, of course. I never feel quite secure unless I have a good stash of indie/crafty/natural/fancy bars of scented soap in my bathroom cabinet, and right now I am really digging the wares produced by Paintbox Soapworks, an Etsy seller specializing in "Luxury Glycerin Soap" and coordinating lotions and scrubs. As you can see, the Paintbox soaps are charming even before you crack open the cheerful and sleekly designed wrappings. The scents are rich and inventive, and many are unisex. Just a few examples of what's available:

The Queen is Dead - Blackened honey, glossy leather & a glittering swirl of smoke rising from the earth...

Sweet Cheeks - Fuzzy ripe apricot cuddles up with sweet vanilla & amber & a touch of white freesia

The Olive Tree - An unusual, botanical blend of white olive blossoms, osmanthus & fresh air, grounded by blond woods & a touch of musk

White Cotton Sheets - Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Breezy white florals, dry musk, hawthorn & a touch of ozone

Glycerin soaps lather well and rinse off easily, which is great with sensitive skin like mine. One drawback is that they disappear relatively quickly as a result, but that's just a good reason to stock up. I actually like being able to swtich scents a little more frequently -- sometimes I'll have a large bar of something more solid that I enjoy but can't wait to see the end of so I can try something else.

I'm currently quite enamored of Paintbox's Lavender Truffle scent -- rich dark chocolate, scented with lavender. I just received my order of a trio of products scented with this -- a full size bar ($6), a bottle of body lotion "Slip" ($8), and a tub of "Sorbetto" sugar scrub ($10) which does indeed look good enough to eat. You can order the trio for $24, choosing whatever scents you wish.

I'm also very taken with the $6 soap sampler, pictured above. You get to choose any five general catalog soaps, presented adorably in a long box, nestled into cushioning as if they're jewels (or, OK, watercolors). It's such a great way to try out the variety of scents and a fabulous bargain.

While I'm at it, I'll also note that customer service is fantastic -- automatic refunds for combined shipping, a handwritten thank you note, a cute colorful plastic spoon for scooping Sorbettos, and a couple of free sample-size soaps are presented in a white shipping box stuffed with colorful tissue paper. It's lovely opening up for yourself, or for giving as a gift.

So three cheers for Paintbox Soapworks!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Makeup I Have Dreamed

Last night I had a dream I needed to buy a new concealer. [Note: this is actually true, I do need a new concealer, and I never buy the same one twice as I've never found anything like an HG concealer so need help.] So in my dream I headed off to the MAC counter and explained that while my current MAC concealer was OK, it wasn't quite doing the trick. The nice man told me what I really needed was a slightly darker color than I usually use (and in the dream I was aware of not telling him if I wanted cooler or warmer, because I'm still really confused about that and wanted to see what he would suggest) and -- here's the surreal part -- that it should have a dark pink duochrome shimmer in it. Now, if you think about it, this is exactly what you DON'T want in your undereye area, something dark and pink and sparkly, but in the dream it was a miracle substance and made me look (a) like a dewy young thing and (b) like I'd slept for several days straight.

Maybe I will experiment, just to make sure my sleeping self didn't have a revolutionary makeup idea.

The Greening Spring

April is the cruellest month, seriously. When the spring palettes come out I always sigh and turn away, because no matter how pretty the Easter egg pastels look in the packaging and in the ads, they're more or less useless on my skin -- chalky, clashing, just not right for me (never mind that my very first makeup included a pink and baby blue eyeshadow duo my mother bought me at the Almay counter when I was hosting my first boy-girl party in 1980). But I did feel a hankering today for a touch of spring green, so I found a way, adding a touch of shimmery, mossy light green to the outer lid. Here's the breakdown:

Skin--Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheers in Fair to Light; MAC Select Moisturecover

Eyes--MAC Painterly Paint Pot base; Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand on lid into crease; Sweet Libertine Treehouse of Horrors on outer lid; Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald on upper lid; NYX La Amoureux mascara

Cheeks--NYX Pinched blush

Lips--MAC Viva Glam VI

Monday, March 5, 2012

By the Book

I have finally gotten around to reading Neil Gaiman's Stardust, a beautiful book. I am enjoying it very much. I probably would not have gotten to it had I not been prodded by the extensive collection of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes inspired by Neil Gaiman stories, and if one from the Stardust collection hadn't vaulted into my Top 10 list from the moment I first tried it. The scent is Lady Una, based on a very sexy fairy character who has stunning violet eyes and smells like blackberries. The notes are "Honey musk, green tea leaf, blackberry leaf, vanilla bean, and fae spices" and while I was initially interested in it for its vanilla note, the honey musk is what has really grown on me. Musk can be hard for me to wear, with even the lightest, more shimmering varieties turning either cloying or skanky on my skin. I often notice it unlisted but present in scents that are supposed to smell like cake -- perfumers must rely on it to create that warm, yeasty scent of baked goods. After the initial drydown I often can smell the musk throwing off the rest of the impression of deliciousness. But in Lady Una, the honey musk and vanilla leave me with a warm, deliciously sweet and tangy scent that clings to my skin, with a slightly fruity leafiness. It perfectly captures that captivating kind of innocent sexiness and a romantic evening in the warm outdoors.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Notes from a Haul

I allowed myself to indulge in a bit of an Armani haul recently during the Neiman Marcus beauty event. I mostly have gotten over my Gift With Purchase vulnerability of years past (how many Clinique eyeshadow duos and sample bottles of yellow moisturizer does one person need?) but the combination of the Neiman Marcus tote bag and Giorgio Armani makeup bag pushed me over the edge into placing an order for some items I needed to replace (Gloss d'Armani in Plum 600) and that were on my running to-buy list (Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand).

The Neiman Marcus bag was so-so. Some perfume samples, some Cle de Peau cotton cleansing pads you're supposed to be all excited about taking to the counter to find out how to use (I'm guessing: pour some skin care product on them and rub on your face), some shampoo and conditioner. The bright pink tote, though, will come in handy. But the Armani bag was fantastic (the offer seems to have changed slightly since I ordered, but you get the idea) -- generous samples of skin lotion, primer (which I've had before and love), foundation, and illuminator. A roller bottle of Acqua di Gioia perfume. A full-size nude lip pencil and full-size black-brown eyeliner. And the makeup case they all came in is actually sleek and something I will use.

My order included Eyes to Kill in Rock Sand and Pulp Fiction. I love this formula; it really is All That. It's extremely shimmery, layerable, and silky, and a little goes a long way. I can easily see the pots I've bought lasting for many, many years, so I don't mind spending the $32 it costs. I think one of these probably gives me better value than four $8 shadows. Rock Sand is a peachy nude, and Pulp Fiction is a beautiful and sort of odd purple-gray-taupe. I also bought Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald, which is exactly the blackened green I've been looking for. It's a true green, but dark enough that it doesn't look flashy or too 80s. I also replenished my Gloss d'Armani in Plum 600, which has become a staple of mine and the only lip gloss I think I've ever used up. Again, I think this is a formula good enough to be worth the $28 price tag since (a) I use it frequently, more than I use any other gloss and thus worth more to me than four $7 glosses, and (b) the longwearing formula allows me to apply once in the morning and maybe touch up once more after lunch, making a tube really last. I also picked up a Rouge d'Armani lipstick in #406, a stunning red from the fall collection, which is backordered but I expect soon. It's a gamble, but I looked at a lot of swatches and it seems divine.

In the photo above I'm wearing some of my new purchases:

foundation: Armani Designer Shaping Cream Foundation in #5
eyeshadow base: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly
eyeshadow: Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand
eyeliner: Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald
mascara: NYX La Amoureux
blush: Laura Geller Baked Blush/Highlighter in Como/Portofino
lips: MAC Viva Glam VI

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Warmer Weather Skin Care by Laura

And here, as promised, Laura's first guest post! --Ed.


My skin is not only aging, but is also somewhat troublesome because it can’t decide whether it’s combination dry, combination oily, or something in between those. A lot of my skin’s confusion probably comes from the changes in my body as I age, but also from the weather, which is dry as a bone in Winter here in New York City and like a sauna in the late Spring going into the Summer.  Result: flaky dry skin in Winter and oily skin with breakouts in Summer. For that reason, I do tend to change my skin care routine (although not radically)  as Winter starts, finally, to turn to Spring.

I’ll also mention another little quirk of my skin that will seem a little woo-woo but I promise you it’s absolutely true: like clockwork, I break out around the solstices and equinoxes. Honest. And it’s been happening for so many years that I know I’m not imagining it (or if I am, it’s more sustained than any hallucination I’ve ever heard of). I don’t know whether it’s due to hormonal changes, my changing the amount of time I spend outside, or something entirely different; I only know that it happens. For that reason, as well, I change my skin care routine depending on the season. In this post, I’ll talk a little about how I modify my skin care routine to account for the changing seasons.

For cleansing, I love Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser  ($6.50), so I don’t tend to change that step no matter what the season; part of the reason I like that product as much as I do is that it’s effective but not harsh. However, when the weather gets more humid, everything seems to cling a little more to my skin and I feel a little more anxious to remove every little bit of perspiration, makeup, and whatever other unspeakable pollution has chosen to cling to me after a stroll in the East Village. For that, I use Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($27.50).  Although this product does cost a little more than I usually like to spend on skin care, especially for something you wash off immediately, I think it’s worth the price because it’s a brilliant product. You don’t have to use very much – a dollop about the size of a nickel does the trick – so you get a fair amount of bang for your buck. The balm is a thick consistency – think ChapStick after you accidentally leave it in your car in June – so I was initially a little hesitant about putting it on oily skin. But it emulsifies in water, so after you’ve rubbed it onto your face and dissolved your makeup, it rinses off very easily.

Of course, I use sunscreen no matter what the season, but in the dry Winter, I use something a little richer than usual – namely, Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($14.99). I like this product not only because it uses zinc oxide for sun protection, which I find less irritating than avobenzone, but also because it contains anti-oxidants (pumpkin seed oil and tocopheryl acetate), which go hand in hand with sunscreen. When the warmer weather comes around, however, I like to switch to something with more SPF protection and a little less emollience.  I’m a bit late to the La Roche-Posay party, but I just recently tried out Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid ($32.95) and I like it a lot, high price aside (that $33 bottle gives you only 1.7 fluid ounces -- eek!). As you might have guessed from the world “fluid” in the name, this sunscreen has a light, sheer texture and contains titanium dioxide, another ingredient I prefer to avobenzone. If you’re looking to spend a little less, or if you prefer avobenzone, I also like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid ($11.99). The Neutrogena is SPF 55, has a similar consistency to the La Roche-Posay, and contains Helioplex to stabilize the avobenzone.

One last thing I do once the seasons start turning and I spend more time outside: I always wear a hat to protect the skin on my scalp.  A lot of people don’t think much about their scalp, since it’s covered by hair and doesn’t wrinkle (or at least you don’t see the wrinkles). However, not only is it just as prone to developing melanoma as any other part of your skin, but there’s evidence suggesting that melanomas developing on the scalp are more dangerous than the ones you might develop elsewhere. Lots of cute hats out there, including ones that scrunch into your purse so they’re not a nuisance to carry, so don’t forget to cover up your head as well as your face, neck, and any other skin exposed to the sun.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To introduce our guest star, that's what I'm here to do...

It really makes me happy to introduce to you..........

Our special guest blogger LAURA!

In addition to being one of my closest friends since we shared an office 15 years ago (and have barely missed a day of contact since), she's also about as cosmetics- and perfume-obsessed as I am. In fact, she's often responsible for introducing me to things I later get completely hooked on (hi, BPAL!). In addition, she's very interested in skin care. Here, I'll let her introduce herself:
Laura “came of age” in the 80s, so she considers herself a survivor of some very disturbing fashion and makeup trends, like shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans worn unironically, streaky blush, and thick eyeliner that we softened with a lighter before putting it on–don’t even get her started on what women wore to the gym in those days! She now works in a more conservative field, and she’ll get an odd look or two if she wears crackle nail polish (and she expects we’ll look back on that trend with the same disbelief we now reserve for horizontally-striped leg warmers).
Laura sometimes thinks she may need an intervention for her beauty product addiction, because the inside of her bathroom looks like an Estee Lauder warehouse. When she’s not unhealthily obsessed with beauty and fashion, she lives and works in New York with her husband and two cats.
Expect to hear more from Laura soon!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Am I Blue?

I will confess to a propensity to go more matchy-matchy than is currently fashionable. Since childhood I've often dressed in one (or coordinating) color down to my underpants. Sometimes I'll start to get dressed without having thought through what to wear, only to find I unconsciously grabbed for underwear that matches everything else I'm wearing. What can I say, it is a sickness. I associate smells with colors too, so sue me.

So when I put on this pretty blue sweater today, I had to stop myself from rifling through all the lovely blue eyeshadows I've acquired but rarely wear. Instead, I grabbed MAC pigment in Blue-Brown, which just adds a layer of teal shimmer to a red-brown shadow, and blended that with a little Bootycall from the Urban Decay Naked2 palette.  I added a touch of a blue-violet pencil in the outer V and black mascara. Blush is MAC Dainty and lipstick is MAC Viva Glam VI.

OK, I see I look slightly deranged in that photo, but I'll post it anyway. I bet you all look like it's the end of the week too. Just keeping it real.

Perfume of the Day: BPAL Womb Furie from the 2012 Lupercalia collection. "Snake Oil and three types of honey." Sanke Oil, BPAL's creator's signature scent, is really growing on me. When I first tried it I thought it was too heavily resinous and musky, but now I've come to appreciate how rich it is and how it dries down with a lot of depth and vanilla sweetness. It's extra great in this blend with honey.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Great minds...

Just yesterday I was looking at my nails (which are sporting an adorable pink with black lace design from Sally Hansen Salon Effects) and wondering if there are any topcoats out there that can add sparkle without completely obscuring the polish underneath. This morning, I opened my email to find an announcement of just that from Essie -- the Luxeffects collection. I'm very intrigued by this, and definitely want to try As Gold As It Gets and Shine Of The Times. Gold, check. Iridescence, check. Yep, they're obviously reading my mind.

Anyone trying these things out yet? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Going for the Bronze

I've been blogging a little for Painted Ladies, and was recently asked to review Murad Absolute Bronzing Boost. I'd never really worked with bronzer before, but figured I'd give it a shot. Bottom line, bronze probably isn't a look I want to go crazy with, but judiciously applied and worked into a summery look, it might help me look a little rested and sunny.

View the results here!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Holiday Cheer

Greetings, earthlings! Happy solstice, happy new year, and all the appropriate greetings of the season.

I am sure I'm not alone in getting into the shopping frenzy that accompanies the season and ending up picking up a few things for myself while I'm at it. This year I really tried to avoid going overboard, but I did manage to add to my makeup-perfume-bath product-clothing stashes. Hey, nobody else is going to get me this stuff!*

A few things worth reporting about:

1. Scrubz, a local maker of natural bath products participated in a holiday fair at work, and I picked up a few of her items as gifts and for myself. I'm especially loving her Winter Wonderland sugar scrub, spicy ginger with oatmeal and honey. I follow that with an application of Milk & Honey body butter, which is luscious, and it's doing wonders for my dry skin.

2. Seems like all the beauty mavens I know are raving about Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters and for good reason. For an amazingly cheap drugstore price you get a high-end feeling silky and lightweight lip color with good pigmentation. Like all drugstore products you have to take a bit of a chance on the color, but so far I'm loving Pink Truffle and Berry Smoothie and expect that if I get my hands on a Fig Jam it will be great too.

3. I'm awash in Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Yule blends and bath products from sister company Black Phoenix Trading Post. Still working through a pile of decants to figure out which are going to make the final order.

4. I succumbed to the lure of the MAC counter recently, and bought a few new lip colors. Dark Side and Dare You are fulfilling their roles as the deep plum and deep red shades I was looking for, and they both look good with a coat of Ornamental Lustreglass for glossing. I also got a Viva Glam VI, which like many Viva Glams before it is a wonderful near-universally flattering shade.

5. And even though I tried to resist, I did end up buying Urban Decay's Naked2 palette. I pored over the Temptalia swatches comparing it and Naked1, and though there is a lot of similarity, there are enough differences to make it worthwhile, especially with a neutral skintone like I have -- I really can go warmer or cooler and it changes my whole look. I'm finding I love Naked1 when I'm wearing browns, golds, and greens, and Naked2 works really well with plums, grays, and blacks.

*NOTE: My #1 son did, a couple of years ago, personally select a gorgeous Bobbi Brown holiday sparkly eyeshadow palette for me, and it's my go-to palette for festive occasions since. Love that child.