Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Rezzies

Not reservations. With 2 and 3 year olds I reserve the hours of 9-midnight to myself.  I might let my hubbie in on the fun if he's being nice.  For this post I'm talking resolutions.  Note that most of them have something to do with beauty, fashion, or health, or all three.  I think this is not uncommon.  Nothing is as obsession worthy as one's image, interestingly. 

Drink more water, 8 X 8.  This is the key ingredient I'm missing in my skincare routine, not to mention my general healthcare routine which has become non-existant in the last year.  I think water is sooo boring.  And, seperately (sort of), I bore easily.  Which boredom translates eventually into me loving alcohol.  Which I'm not ready to cut down on.  So rather than resolving to drink less alcohol, I'm resolving to drink more water.  8oz 8 times a day is supposed to be a minimum, but that's my starting point.  I will up the doseage of this important drug if necessary.

No new shoes for a year.  I know.  Blasphemy.  What is the point of being a fashion and beauty blogger?  All I can say is that I'm going back to basics fashion-wise, and I have basics when it comes to shoes.  In spades.  I have FOUR pairs of nude pumps, NOT including THREE pairs of work-appropriate nude sandals.  And there is plenty more to blog about.  I'm betting on it.  This is going to be a challenge though.  Probably the biggest of the list.

Find a job that I like. I didn't say love. I'm trying to be a realist here.  But I want to be able to put it away on the weekends and have some piece of mind that when my kids start school I'll be able to pick them up at 3pm, at least a couple times a week. 

Potty train both kids. Self explanatory.

Grow my hair out.  I cropped it last May.  Like chin-length bob.  Now it's a little lower than my collar bone.  But I want to return it to it's former mid-back length glory. I like to throw one easy one in there. Or one that will happen whether or not I try hard at it.  Or one over which I have no control. This satisfies all three.

Tackle liquid eyeliner.  I hate pencils.  I'm just going to say it.  Especially since I have really dry eyelids, so I moisturize them.  So pencils look good for about 7 minutes.  I'm really mad at how hard liquid is.  Because I love how it looks.  I'd love to master it...although I realise even the masters have trouble at it.  Why is this such a hard technique? 

Make $500 from things I already own.  I've developed a hobby of selling things on ebay and in thrift stores.  I've never really tracked how much I make and it's really a marginal activity of mine.  But I think $500 would be a respectable and realistic number.  I have a coach handbag and wallet and a Bose sounddock I need to get rid of.  Not to mention piles of both summer and winter clothes for plato's closet and crossroads to peruse.  I was going to put something like "be an anti-hoarder," but I already am one and I think goals need some specificity. 

More lip color.  This is the last frontier of makeup for me.  I've crept slowly since high school from even complection to eyes to contouring.  Lips have not yet been a high priority, whether because of my age or time limits.  But lately, it seems time.  Even when I stick to nudes, it makes SUCH a difference.  And I'm realizing that I look like a different person (in a good way) in certain non-neutrals. My plan: go outside of my comfort zone with color, and do some lip liner research. 

ORGANIZE.  Everything.  My house is 1350 sq feet of 1950's architecture and piping. It houses two toddlers, two adults, and a dog.  And the garage is near unuseable due to rat problems.  I am becoming more of an anti-hoarder as I type.  But it's not just being diligent about getting rid of things.  It's about not buying more crap and organizing what I have.  A sub-resolution could be: only buy what I came here for.  I succeeded in this by NOT buying the cutesy owl jewelry rack I saw in target today, I need less clutter, not more.  Better to invest in storage devices, not tabletop clutter machines.  So I will likely buy a larger jewelry box and donate the old one, rather than putting more crap on my dresser.  I want to be one of those people with really organized files and inboxes too.   Once I get my awesome job and all.

That's it for now, what are yours?


Friday, December 20, 2013

Oh holy grail

After spending much time and money on improving my skin, I've decided that, although things have improved in the clarity, tone, and elasticity department, I still could use a bit more coverage than my favorite favorite beloved tinted moisturizer (chanticaille's just skin) can offer.  I really can't say enough about that stuff, except that it's only SPF 15.  And it's very very expensive for a TM.  So off I went to the Chanel counter, naturally.  The blogosphere has been abuzz for a while now about the vitalumier line and Les Beiges.  I couldn't wait to try them, I even braved the xmas rush.  I had my heart set on the Vitalumier creme compact for a base.  The texture is heaven, it's moisturizing...the color selection, like too many of chanel's face makeup offerings, is horrible. So was the help. I picked up the lightest shade, it was too yellow.  So I asked the salesgirl for the tester of beige rose.  "I have red undertones," I explained.  "You might not want to highlight that," was her reply.  Thanks chanel girl!  The point is I want the makeup to match my skintone...that is base 101 stuff.  She insisted the lighter, yellower color would neutralize the redness.  It didn't, of course.  It just gave me a yellow cast and made me look like an alcoholic.  I ignored her and continued with my experimentation.  I did get my hands on the 22 (beige rose) but it was too orange. Disaster.  I was so disappointed.  I was very close to giving up on Chanel, I don't think I've ever seen such horrible color selections from any makeup brand, high or low end.  Not to mention quality control on the sales consultants.  It really does compromise a brand's credibility when I run into uneducated, pretentious, and dead-wrong consultants.  I suddenly feel like the brand is trying to put one over on me and that I'm smarter than that.  Anyway, in terms of bad color from Chanel, check out the Vitalumier Moisture-Rich Radience liquid in 007, i saw this online (the color on line is really really light, see Nordstrom's photo) and thought "perfect!" - an off-white shade, that is usually what ends up working for me.  In the real world though, it's yellow, and darker than most of the 20's shades in the other foundation formulations.  I wish I could do a side-by-side, it's grossly misleading.  Why does Chanel think everyone is dark orange or dark yellow? 

The diamond in the rough for me was Perfection Lumiere in shade 12 (beige rose).  It took three trips to two different chanel counters to discover this little bottle of heaven, but perfection it is. Great formula, even application, I don't end up with little dots of color over my pores like with SO many foundations (Chanticaille's just skin is the only other formulation that doesn't do this, just sayin.'  Even the Guerlain had to go back.).  The only thing wrong is that it does contain alcohol.  Not sure how I feel about that.  It's the seventh ingredient, I think I can overlook it.  My trusty Smashbox HD 15-hour makeup doesn't have alcohol, but Guerlain foundations do.  Not sure of the insistance on this horrible ingredient, I think it helps the formula stay fluid, maintain a longer shelf life, and then dry matte.  Alcohol is the number one reason I didn't even try vitalumier aqua ultra-light - it's the THIRD ingredient.  And it's one of the most popular face bases around.  Any comments on this from anyone?

Anyway, in terms of application, I use my bobbi brown foundation brush for the perfection lumiere and found my holy grail of powder foundation brushes in BareMinerals Precision Face Brush.  It's amazing.  I use it for the Les Beiges on days when I just need a light, quick, cover (hello weekends!) and the combo is magic.  Les Beiges covers better than most TMs and leaves a just-shy-of-luminescent glow.  That is to say there is no detectible glitter but my face still seems reflective and glowing after applying it to bare, moisturized skin.  I love it.  This might be a double-buy...that is one for home, one for the makeup bag. 

But I'm serious about this precision face brush.  I've tried others including the Shiseido perfect foundation brush, Bare Minerals is king here and I am NOT into their products, this just happened to stick out.  I love the brush so much I bought the retractable one to keep in my bag for touch ups.  I'm thinking of returning my Chanel powder brush cause you won't need another powder brush after you try the BM precision.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweater Weather tag

I have to give credit for this to the adorable and informative Little Red - I added and changed a couple.  **If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged**

1.  Favorite candle scent - I'm going to start off with a buzzkill right of the bat I guess.  I don't use candles.  Unless there's a blackout.  Then I use whatever I have stuffed in the back of my bathroom cupbord - usually cheap gifts from 10 years ago.  I don't hate christmas, or ambiance.  I kind of get it.  But I think I won't be a candle person any time soon and here's why: 1) I have small children 2) I have an almost obsessive compulsive fear of my house burning down, every time I light a candle for halloween or an outside bbq I start feeling paranoid that I'm goign to forget about it and hit the sack and wake up in a pile of flames.  In fact I didn't even use candles this halloween, I used those LED lights.  Thank god for those.  3) I used to be into candles but however delicious the scent, I would always get tired of it after a while.  4) I am an anti-hoarder, I don't like keeping non-essential things around.  Candles fall into that category. 

2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate - it depends on the time of day, I like them all.  I typically have a mocha in the morning and tea during the day and evening.  I LOVE warm drinks.  They are so therapeutic.  I don't drink caffeine though, I kind of wish I did.  But it makes me too shaky and nervous, like a chihuahua.  So I drink a lot of decaf coffee and espresso and for tea I like mint. 

3.  Favorite memory of fall - watching the rain outside my parents huge picture window.  They have a beautiful lot and really tall lush redwoods providing a backdrop so when it would rain, you could see each individual drop.  And the room and window were so big and tall that you felt like you were right in the downpour, only you were warm and toasty at the time.

4.  Which makeup change do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner? - this is tough.  I'm going with winged eyeliner.  So many people are pulling it off in very subtle ways.  I think it's so current and beautiful and it even works at the office.  Dark lips are fun for special occasions, but if everything else about your makeup and look aren't done right, it can look goth or cheap. 

5.  Preferred body fragrance - PRADA candy.  Flowerbomb is a close second.

6.  Favorite thanksgiving food - Tofurkey.  I'm a vegetarian and I've tried ALLLLLL the turkey alternatives and most of them are seriously gross.  This one is a perennial winner.  I can't wait!

7.  Does your skincare routine change in fall?  I have to take more incessant care of my lips and hands.  They get dry so much faster.  I use a lot more vaseline, my dirty little beauty secret.  And hand/nail treatments.  My face routine doesn't really change.  I always use a pretty rich cream morning and night. 

8.  Most worn sweater- honestly this year the award goes to the drapy black cardigan from WHBM that I described here.  It was an impulse purchase that I felt kind of guilty about, like what do I need this for?  But now I don't know what I would have done in the past couple months without it.

9.  Most worn fall nail polish? - reds.  And dark colors - dark navy, garnet, emerald. 

10.  Puddle jumping or sitting by the fire? The fire, for sure.  I get a lot of both with kids.  Puddle jumping and walking around in the rain is fun (for like 20 minutes) and I can pretend its exercise, but I much prefer being warm and cozy.

11. Skinny jeans or leggings - I am a skinny jeans girl.  I LOVE leggings and despite having a pretty decent bod (if i do say so myself), I think I am over the age limit for leggings unless I'm wearing them with a dress. 

12.  Favorite starbucks seasonal flavor? salted caramel.  I love caramel, and I love sweet and salty anything.  Seriously, I put sea salt and sometimes pretzles on my ice cream.

13. Favorite thing to watch on TV when it's raining/snowing?  Same as what I like to watch when it's not cold out.  I like reality tv.  I love million dollar listing, some of the talent/singing shows, Parenthood (I know, not reality), the Shahs and the Real Housewives.

14.  What is the fall weather like where you live? I live in northern california and it gets to be in the high 50's, low 60's during the day, and it rains every few weeks.  Pretty innocuous.

15Does your exercise routine change in the cold weather?  I don't really have a "routine" per say right now.  I do some walking and running outside and that takes some warm gear if it's cold or rainy.  I'm usually decked out in lululemon. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas Shopping!

Are you one of those people who can't get a round of xmas shopping in without treating yourself to a little something?  Well consider yourself forgiven.  You deserve it for dealing with gridlock parking lots, rain, kids (your own or others'), lines, and paralyzing indecision (again, your own or others').  Here's what I got myself during yesterday's gift haul:
It's so great.  I saw it in a gift set and went directly to the Chanel counter to get the full-priced single.  What can I say.  When you see "the one" you just know.  This is actually my first true red shade.  I never thought of myself as a true red nail or lip kind of girl but I am going to have to re-think that because I'm in love with this.  It's the perfect holiday color too. 

The first coat went on a little fuchia but by the second coat it was true to the bottle, and even a bit more burgundy than it looks in the picture (which looks downright pink on my monitor - sorry, again with my dreams of getting a real camera).  Chanel gets a lot of flack for chipping but I've found that this stays on as well as any of my Dior shades, although not as well as Guerlain or Illamasqua. 

I also found these amazing gift sets for some lovely ladies on my list: 


 
 
These both feature Philosophy's  miraculous shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath-in-one as well as an extra matching festive product.  There were even more selections at Nordstrom and most are around $25 and under.  Perfect for teachers, friends, in-laws, people for whom you need to get a "little something" and more affordable (and more useful imho) than a starbucks card. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The transition

I wrote about an impending change in work and financial circumstances in my opening post.  Well, the change is upon us.  I am currently a somewhat highly-paid professional with a lot of stress and little time for my kids and hobbies and this winter I am finally going to make the move to a new career.  It will pay probably about half (or less) of what I'm making now which means my choices in fashion and beauty will be somewhat different.  Particularly in fashion.  No more burberry coats, no more tall leather boots and Manolos.  Not for a while.  In fact, my new year's resolution this year is not to buy a single pair of new shoes.  You read that right.  I think I can do it because I have classic style and thus far have had expensive taste - the collection I have should last me for a while both in terms of being fashion-forward and high-quality.  Since I don't know what kind of office culture I will walk into on my next job, I am also at a loss about what to wear there.  But stay tuned.  Cosmetic choices will probably vary a little less, the price point on luxury beauty items is typically just not as high compared to designer clothing.  And I am very committed to quality skincare and makeup.  With clothes, it's easier to fake being expensive-looking.

This transition should make my posts all the more interesting and relevant.  And I may cover more than just my own spending and hauls in these two categories.  E.g. it's the giving season and I plan to include a lot about what to buy discerning family members, particularly when they're used to luxury goods like retail-priced Kate Spade wallets and Coach watches. 

But first, in the way of some eye candy and review material, my last two lululemon purchases (for a while):

Dog Runner ($118): For dropping the kids off at daycare on a stay-at-home work day, or going to the beach or for a hike on the weekends.  This is flattering, technically appropriate, and appropriately casual.  The lining is so so warm and is almost a separate legging, but is sewn into the looser shell at the top.  I got inkwell.

Stuido Pant ($118 with liner, $108 without): Similar to the Dog Runner but more rouched and without the clingy lining.  I have THREE pairs of studio crops and wear them all.  A lot.  During the summer.  This is the perfect addition to my fall casual wardrobe.  I will probably get them in black.  They serve basically the same purpose as the ones above, just a slightly different style.  The unlined version serves as a nice cover up on your way to yoga or a loose long sport pant, the lined version is for cold wintery outings. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Winter Warmth

Here is my collective winter haul for this year.  Tim Gunn once said in his "Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style" (a must read) - don't buy it unless it will be the best piece you own (I'm paraphrasing, he said it better).  That's how i feel about all of these in different ways.  They are not all fabulous and chic; some are for casual days.  But the tags are all clipped off and I don't know what I would do without any of them.  Starting with the most fabulous...

Burberry Brit Double Breasted Peacoat ($ 895) - this is the second burberry item I've purchased (the other is the obligatory Balmoral trench, below).  I don't do this often.  It takes a pretty special item for me to spend almost a grand on it.  I have returned more burberry coats than I own for not being just right.  But this one is just. right.  It fits WAY better than the Balmoral.  It's a little more forgiving in the arms and chest (I have a very modest sized chest area but still have problems with the tightness of the Balmoral in the same size).  The fabric is from heaven. It's a wool blend with a hint of cashmere and it's super soft and stays structured-looking without giving up comfort.  I love the length, you don't feel like the coat is wearing you.  And the styling is amazing.  Very typical conservative peacoat in the front (I was afraid it looked a little too military on the models but it is fine in person), no ridiculous flashy old fashioned buttons, and the pleating in back makes it so feminine without being too girly.  I'm in love with this.  I also wanted something other than the typical black that wouldn't show dirt too much and navy is so classic.  See I can't stop talking about this one.




Burberry Brit Balmoral Trench ($750):  This is a standby, I've actually had it for a year so it doesn't count as part of the "haul."  I only wear it on super gray rainy or drizzly days because it is just a shell (not very warm on its own) and also because it has to be a pretty crappy day in California to be able to pull off a trench.  Also it's not the most comfortable thing in my closet.  As I mentioned above the shoulders and chest area are really tight (e.g. you can feel the fabric straining a little when you lift your arms up to grab the steering wheel).  It is best worn with your arms strait down at your sides which is not entirely practical.  But it is very sharp looking and protects well against the elements.  I LOVE that it's machine washable, packable, and the perfect trench color. 




Draped Collar Cover Up from White House Black Market ($88) - I was in WHBM for something totally unrelated and the saleswoman put this in my dressing room to try and I haven't really taken it off since.  The picture doesn't really do it justice.  It goes with everything and adds style to whatever else I'm wearing.  And it didn't break the bank like the first couple items.  It's really warm, unlike some other flimsy cardigans I have from some other mid-range, trendy stores who shall remain nameless.  And it resists pilling or looking old even after having worn it for a hundred days in a row (I'm exaggerating a little but I am impressed at how well it holds up).  It's also an amazing length, covers the muffin top zone and hangs low enough in the back.  It's styled well too, the drape collar looks more like a subtle ruffle collar and I love the angle the front hem is cut at. 



Unfortunately this next one is no longer available (maybe on ebay?) but I've also been wearing it a lot lately and there are similar jackets out there.  This is also from WHBM and cost a bit more than the last, $395 I think.  It's their "tiered" leather jacket from last year.  This thing is so cute, the front has tiered panels and the bottom has a little peplum style ruffle that goes all the way around to the back.  Some of the reviews warned me not to try it on if I wasn't prepared to buy it.  They were right.  It's so cute and so comfortable.  I have never owned a leather jacket and don't think i will ever need another.  While this one is playing to the ruffle and peplum trends, it may end up being a classic since the detailing is more feminine than trendy.   


BCBG Zoie Shawl-Collar Cardigan ($228).  Thanks to the beautiful Julia at Gal Meets Glam I got this at a discount.  It's so great with tall boots and skinny jeans.  Gives that casual vibe without being frumpy.  Covers everything you want covered without being baggy.  I will say the wool is a little scratchy (it has yak hair in it too).  But it's not so bad that I'd return it.  Like the WHBM  cover up, it's warmer than most cardigans.  I hope the fabric holds up and doesn't go all shabby on me like wool
 has a habit of doing.  At this price point (and with drycleaning) it should be ok. 









Splendid colorblock sweater ($118).  This is so unflashy. I wouldn't have even looked at it on the rack.  But an associate at Nordstrom brought it into my dressing room and off I went with it.  Very comfy and surprisingly flattering, for how simple it is.  It looks like it would make one look topheavy but for me, that wasn't the case.  Simple high-quality style.  A definite casual friday contender for work. 




Lululemon's Keep it Cozy jacket ($148).  Again, unflashy, but the most comfortable fabric you will ever touch.  Outside and in.  It feels like a velvet marshmallow on the inside and just a marshmallow outside.  And is so warm and super lightweight.  I basically wear this all weekend now that there's a chill in the air.  Even though I'm not working out much these days I live in lululemon gear on the weekends.  It's not work appropriate which makes it hard to justify the cost.  But it is such a cute sporty piece, I like that there is no hood (when does one ever use the hood part of a hoodie?) and SO functional and presentable that I'm not sure how I used to get through weekends without it.  I'm thinking about getting one for my sister for xmas.  I hate lululemon's return policy though, she wouldn't be able to exchange it. 


What didn't make the cut....



Burberry Brit quilted peplum jacket.  Despite the cute silhouette and great color on this, and even the great fit, it just wasn't right.  I felt like a spaceman and it was far too light to add any real warmth.  The style is a little off for me.  A failed ultra modern?  Too...quilted?  I've never been a fan of Burberry's quilted offerings.  I tried to like this, it is really flattering on, but that's not enough when a coat is so expensive.

WHBM tunic ($98).  This looks amazing on the model.  But the fabric is thick-yet-stiff such that it doesn't hang or rouche when one moves around, it just bulges.  It just looks off as a tunic.  It would have been great as a dress and I am still mourning the fact that it isn't a sweater dress (just three more inches!!).  It is true tunic length, it looks appropriate with just leggings only if you're super skinny and under 22 and it looks silly with jeans because it looks like you are trying to put a sweater dress over jeans.  So disappointing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Inside Out

Have I spent an insane amount of money on topical skincare products since I turned 32 and realized that, despite my greatest hopes, I am not immune to aging?  Yes.  Has that helped?  Yes.  My skin looks better, less lined, less breakouts, more even.  But throughout,  I have understood that the things that have the most impact on the way your skin looks are on the inside.  Genetics is impact-maker #1 which can be both good and bad, depending on who you are.  For someone like me who has inherited dry skin with sizable pores and underlying redness, it's not great.  Genetics is the one factor over which we have no control.  But skin (and hair and nail and general body) condition also has a lot to do with diet.  So to supplement my obsessive topical regime, I have tried to incorporate some healthy dietary habits.  It's a pretty basic list, so far.  Please add suggestions if you have them.

More water.  It's (basically) free and is probably inside-out-impact-maker #2 after Genetics.  I only had four New Year's resolutions for 2013 and drinking more water was one of them.  Note that one of them was not "work out more,"  I don't like to make generic idle resolutions. I was serious about this one.  Unfortunately I don't think I've done that great a job.  And whatever good I've done has probably been undone by the amount of alcohol I drink (what can i say, I like a beer or glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day).  So here is an area for improvement.

Omegas!  Only recently have I discovered the value of the essential fats contained in omega oils.  This is certainly not the best tasting stuff, I think there are others out there that might rank higher on taste.  But it can be blended into a lot of dishes like salads, sandwhiches, smoothies, dips, and spreads in a way that makes it palatable and even a great addition.  I also find that I like it more the more I use it - I guess it's an acquired taste. 

This supplement is especially important to me because I have a vegetarian diet.  And not just any ol' omegas, in any ol' combination will do.  It has to be the perfect 3-6-9 blend.  This stuff is important not just for skin health and clarity but also for physicial performance and can help our aging bodies stay active and fit!  I've only tried Udo's Oil for this and have seen results in about a month of use.  Breakouts during that time have decreased, and my skin looks firmer and more moisturized. 

Less alcohol.  Ugh.  This is the one I am most resistant to.  I know it does damage, but this might fall into the "it's worth it" category for me.  Also, red wine is good for your skin and anti-aging of the body in general.  Even better than grape juice.  Because the fermenting process in red wine uses the skin and seeds of the grape (as opposed to grape juice where all of this is removed) there is a higher concentration of antioxidants (including resveratrol) in red wine as compared to grape juice.  The recommendation is one glass a day for the ladies.  If you can stick to that, bottoms up!








Vitamins.  From food.  I am not a fan of the chalky pill vitamins.  The safer and more effective way to get them is from the food they come in naturally.  The important things for skin are vitamin C (oranges, pineapple) for helping the body to produce collagen, vitamin E (tofu, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and avocados) to help skin protect itself from UV rays and prevent oxidative stress, beta carotine (carrots, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, broccoli), which the body converts into vitamin A (which is retinol), and Selenium (barley, button mushrooms, mustard seeds, several types of oleic fish) promotes elasticity, zinc (wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, chocolate!) to protect cell membranes, maintain collagen, and promote cell renewal.  I bought a blender and some protein powder and am starting to incorporate a berry or other fruit smoothie (with some udo's oil thrown in) into my morning routine.  I didn't really have a breakfast habit before now other than water to re-hydrate from the night and a mocha or other spruced up coffee whenever I got the chance.  Yes it adds a couple more steps to my life: add ingredients, blend, clean (ugh!).  But hopefully this will also fall into the "it's worth it" category.    

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Empties

I really appreciate "empties" posts, it's an interesting way to get a blogger's views out about a collection of products tied together only by the fact that, for better or worse, they're over with.  It's a slightly arbitrary but brilliant way to define a collection of products to review for the day.  I also think the true test of whether someone really likes something is whether they repurchase it and "empties" posts are a good way for bloggers to put their money where their mouths are - the ultimate test of whether they really like the products they have showcased is whether they will repurchase.  It's like a "what I can and can't live without" post. 

Personally I like empty cosmetic and skincare containers because it means I got my money's worth.  I hate having products sit on the shelf unused - and sometimes they will sit for years because I spent a lot of money on them or they're very high-quality or popular or whatever the reason.  And then eventually those get thrown out anyway, half full (or more!).  That makes me sad.  I am particularly sad to say I have never "hit pan" in my life.  Ever.  And I bet I'm not alone.  The first lip product I ever got to the end of was my SUGAR lip treatment and I couldn't have been more happy and proud of myself.  Finally, since I am an anti-hoarder, it gives me a sense of relief to lessen the clutter in my bathroom (I'll pretend to ignore for the moment that for every empty I throw away I'm sure I purchase six more products to try). 

Incidentally, since I am "a returner" I think I might introduce a segment of the weekend's returns too.  The reasons for a return also tend to be a pretty strong signal about one's feelings about a product and can provide a good segue to a review of the product.  So stay tuned!

Here are my empties in the last couple weeks, and of course, my thoughts about them.

Dior hydra life pro youth sorbet cream:  I love this product for a mid-range, pleasant but no-frills moisturizer.  It smells clean and not overpowering, the formula is soft but rich and absorbs well.  It works under makeup.  And the range has a number of products for day, night, eyes, etc. that are equally pleasant and pretty effective at moisturizing.  They don't really claim to do anything else.  I repurchased this and the more fluid SPF version a number of times before I discovered La Mer.  Prior to La Mer, while I was using the Dior, I still noticed some flakiness to my skin and thought - well, I'm using a high-end brand, there must be nothing that can fix this problem.  But then I found La Mer and it solved my dry skin problems.  Since nothing compares to La Mer for my very dry skin (and since I am gainfully employed) I think I will stick to that regime but if you're looking in the $50-$100 price range for something simple, particularly for combo skin, I don't think it gets much better than Dior's Hydra Life line. 



Nexxus Pro-Mend Heat Protexx spray:  You may start to notice a trend here.  The only time I venture into drug store products is for my hair.  I'm not sure why that is.  I think it's because I gravitate towards the best treatments for me and, for me, the drug store hair treatments are just as effective as any of the high-end versions I've tried.  This is just not true of, for example, foundations, shadows, bronzers, and moisturizers.  I blow dry and flat iron a few times a week - and I use this stuff religiously before every heat treatment.  I adore this stuff, and I've tried quite a few heat protectants in all price ranges.  Sprays, serums, creams.  Nothing comes close to the simplicity and effectiveness of this product.  The things I like most about it are (a) it's a very light formula, not sticky or oily or cakey or drying the way others can be, and you feel that even if you sprayed the whole bottle onto your head it wouldn't change the texture or style you are otherwise trying to achieve with your hair.  It's like water in that way, only it's not water, it's magic, and (b) perhaps this is because it's so light and not trying too hard to be a complex treatment - the spray distribution is great.  The nozzle is great, the fine mist is perfect, I love the application.  It's also effective, as far as I can tell.  I use my flat iron at an abusive 410 degrees and my hair is silky soft and not too dry, no change in color or texture after years of this.   







Dior Instant Eye Makeup Remover:  I like this remover.  I don't know if it's the best as I have only ever used a few others (Clinique's and Bobbi Brown's bi-phase removers) but it is the best that I've tried as far as getting makeup off without having to use too much effort.  It doesn't sting eyes or skin and it claims to condition eyelashes.  I don't know if that's true but at least my eyelashes haven't deteriorated from everyday use of this product.  I also love LOVE that it's a twist off top, my pet peeve for all of the cosmetics industry is this obsession with child-proof caps on eye makeup remover.  I HATE it, with my Clinique remover I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel.  I have young children and I still hate it.  There are certain products that one must keep away from children if one has them.  If eye-makeup remover falls into that category then so be it, I'll keep it away from them.  Also, how arbitrary is it that eyemakeup remover comes with child-proof  caps but nail polish remover (probably more hazardous), and for that matter nail polish, come with normal screw caps.  Stop the madness.  You might be surprised to hear that I am not repurchasing this right now.  I'm phasing out eye makeup remover from my routine.  I am going to try to rely instead on just a pre-wash with cleansing oil before my normal face wash with my Mia2.  I do the cleansing oil pre-wash anyway and it does a pretty good job with eye makup so why not eliminate a step? We'll see how that goes.

Anastasia tinted brow gel - I have used this for years and I think I'm on my 3rd or 4th tube.  It lasts for a long time.  Not only is this a repurchase, it's one of those things I make sure to buy a backup of when I'm getting low on the current one so I am never without it.  I love it.  It sets brow powder and adds a touch of color (which I need for my light-colored brows) and it's so easy.  I don't intend to ever stop buying this. 












Pantene conditioner:  More drugstore hair products.  Actually I buy this one at Costco.  This is probably the longest-standing product in all of my arsenal.  And talk about generic, I don't even know which variety I use because I just buy whatever is on the shelf at costco.  I will update when I figure that one out.  But I love it. (UPDATE: Itss "Classic."  Of course.  Completely no frills) I got to Aveda salons to get my hair cut (pitifully infrequently, btw) and I have tried some of their super fancy conditioners.  I have also tried the cheapest of the drugstore brands thinking - well if pantene works, why not suave?  But I haven't found anything that works as well on either end of the spending spectrum.  This. just. works.  It makes your hair silky smooth, the texture is nice and easy to distribute, and it sticks on your hair in the shower while you're letting it soak in. 






Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume lash-building mascara:  I like it, it is lash building, I don't know about it's staying power because I use Dior's lash primer under it and that stuff makes everything stay put all day.  I don't love it.  It's nice when it's brand new but it gets 'old' fast, sticky and clumpy.  I'm not going to repurchase.  I think there are better cheaper options.  Like clinique's mascaras.








Smashbox High Definition Concealer:  Not only do I always repurchase this, I have THREE current tubes because one or two is not enough.  One in my purse, one at work, and one in my morning stash.  With any concealer, you need to find the perfect storm...of texture, shade, ease of application for the purpose you're using it for, consistency, buildability.  This is the perfect storm for me.  It works for blemishes and redness.  I don't use it for undereyes but I hear it's great for that too.   So this is a favorite, but concealer is such a personal thing that I can't assume it will be the best for anyone else.  Some people love the concealer that comes in pans and you have to blend two shades - tried it, hated it.  So there you go.







La mer moisturizing lotion: The ultrarich cream is my holy grail for night cream right now.   I bought it for the first time in mid-july and I'm hitting the end of the 2oz jar right about next week. If used in conjunction with the even more ridiculously priced concentrate there is just no equal for a night treatment.  I will be repurchasing this.  As I mentioned above, it wasn't until this stuff that I finally said goodbye to flaky dryness during the day forever.  It's a little rich for day so currently I mix it with the La Mer sunscreen and that combination works well under makeup.  I am debating whether to substitute the La Mer Soft Cream for my daytime regimen and save the rich stuff for night.  The soft cream is a lot more mixable and spreadable.  The rich stuff you have to emulsify really really well and then still it really drags if you try to "spread" it on.  It's meant to be patted on but then you are left with a thicker layer of really rich moisturizer - thus its perfection for night.   

Clinique Lid Smoothie: Last but not least, another repurchase.  I use it as a base.  It works well for that and comes in great neutrals.  I have Bit O' Honey (for shimmery days) and Cashew Later (for more neutral days) and plan to repurchase both.  Goes on easily, sheer enough to use as a base (some people complain about the sheerness but I am all about subtlety and natural looks), holds makeup and doesn't crease too badly.  It definitely stays on all day, even if you do notice a line in there - which I don't always.  This rivals the Chanel pots of cream eyeshadow for longevity and performance as a base. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall boots revisited

Remember my beloved Cassidy booties?



Cole Haan, $278, 2.75" heel.

Well, I took them back.  Here's why.  They were tighter everywhere than the Cassidy's of last year.  I wore them to a party and had to take them off halfway through they hurt so much.  TAKE THEM OFF!  Total fashion nightmare.  I wore my old Cassidys today and I'm pretty sure I could sport them in a marathon with little to no discomfort.  Also, I realized I don't want to settle for nubuck (the only black material I could find them in).  Nubuck is fine if you're looking for that suede, casual look and there's no chance it will get dirty or wet.  But that is the opposite of my situation.  I want something sleek, work appropriate, and that I can clean to a new shine.  And at these price points, I'm going to get picky. 

Speaking of high price points, as a substitute, I settled on these:



Rag & Bone, Newbury ankle boots, $495, 3.25" heel

I wore them all day yesterday and here's what I think.  As compared to the Cassidy bootie, the first thing I noticed was that in the same size, they are roomier throughout.  I think that comes from a slightly wider width, but it's not wide enough to look off (or slip off).  They are also about a half inch higher than the Cassidy's and almost on the too-tall side for me.  It's not really the hight of the heel that determines whether I can wear it, unfortunately (if it were I'd just know not to buy above a certain height).  Like many things, it's really all about proportions.  How close the heel is to the toe (the angle is a little more harsh the smaller the foot is), where the shoe's heel is positioned in relation to the center of gravity of my heel, etc.  And these boots are just on the "but it's ok" side of being a little too high.  All heels shorten your stride, but these boots make me feel like my stride is artificially shortened.  It's not enough to make me return them, they are really comfortable despite the stride issue and the height.  And you do get the consolation of being taller.  You just have to walk slower.

They look adorable with everything - bootcuts, skinny jeans, work pants, dresses.  Have I mentioned I'm excited for fall? 

So excited in fact that I also purchased a related long-time wish-list item.  I needed new tall black flat boots.  The ones I've got are Cole Haans from three or four years ago and they're made of super thin leather that has been great for clinging to my skinny calf but the disadvantage is that they have stretched out over the years and look a little rippled, despite regular conditioning.  They're in ok shape (I am quite diligent about maintenance of all of my leather shoes and bags) and I'll still wear them, but I needed something a little sturdier.  They still needed to be dressy enough for work though.    The other problem with the old CH's is that they have a slightly elongated and then squared off toe.  So not chic.  Was that ever popular?   Finally, although the new tall boots have a little gappiness and don't cling to my calf as well as the old ones, that can come in handy when I'm wearing pants or leggings.  The old boots can't be worn over anything but socks.  The new ones I can wear with anything.  I do find it kind of obscene that I have to have one pair that is calf-clinging for when I'm wearing skirts and dresses and one pair that can go over skinny pants.  But being fashionable is rarely cheap.

Here are the new additions:


Cole Haan Dover, $448

These are amazing.  The heel doesn't rub like other tall boots (if you get the right size) and they have Nike Air technology.  The style is classic and neat. And they look high-quality.  You can't tell from the picture but they have a full zip up the inside of the calf.  The heel, I think, is perfect for flats.  The tread is pretty serious and the sole comes out quite a bit from the upper which is not my favorite thing about them but it will probably be better for the boot's longevity in wet weather.

So my fall shoe collection is complete (see this and this post too for more eye candy!).  Too bad it's going to be in the 80's where I live this week!



Monday, September 30, 2013

The search for the perfect setting powder

I'm not really a powder person.  Even my beloved Guerlain Terra Cotta four seasons leaves me feeling a little old even though it's touted as one of the best bronzers money can buy (my shade, 01, has a pink quarter so it can double as a blush depending on how you swirl your brush). 
I'll put a picture in here just for fun, even though this is not a bronzer post.  Bottom line on this one - I agree with the reviews, best powder bronzer.  Smells nice and you get a large quantity.  You may never have to re-purchase. The compact is beautiful and luxurious with a magnet closure.  It has a pin hole in the back suggesting it can be refilled but I haven't seen any refills.  I'm sure they exist somewhere.





Anyway, back to the point.  A while ago I thought that with all the moisturizing I've been doing for my very dry skin (night-treamtent-like creams by day with a layer of tinted moisturizer on top) I needed to add a setting powder lest my makeup all slide off my face and onto my phone or hands or whatever by noon.  If I have an itch on my forehead or go to move stray hairs out of the way I litterally get little spots of collected makup on my skin.  Very embarrassing.  So I've cut down on the moisture and first went to Chanticaille's HD Perfecting Powder.  It's among the best-rated and most expensive (at $72) setting powders on the market.  Especially since it has no other function to offer.  It is not illuminating and not hydrating and doesn't boast an SPF.  It's just a transluscent powder.  At this price point I expected it to melt into my skin leaving a matte, soft-focus, blemish-and-line-concealing finish.  But when applied it looks like you're wearing a powder.  With all the attendant problems of a true pressed powder.  It sets makeup.  But it highlights red and dark spots, lines, an any uneven application of foundation because it totally eliminates any glow the foundation might have contributed.  After really trying to like this product I decided powder just was not for me.  It went back.




By necessity, my morning routine is still fairly high-moisture and being a beauty product addict, of course it was only a  matter of time before I started looking again.  Not searching for a powder, per-se, but noticing them, reading reviews, and wondering where my holy grail setting product was (since primer is one more layer of fluid makeup it really doesn't help with the makup sliding off problem).  Enter Guerlain.  Having loved their foundation and having not been able to help but notice these strange small pastel-colored balls we call "Meteorites" I became curious.




Novelties aren't really for me, so without even trying the pearls I went straight for the very expensive ($170!  omg) but refillable compact.  One reviewer described this compact as heirloom-quality.  It really is.  Very heavy but sleek, magnet closure, this one isn't getting thrown into the empties pile:




Allow me to summarize the thousands of reviews out there:  A setting powder that is not an obvious highlighter.  Rather it makes your skin glow from within.  Sold!  Having finally tried this out, I think it is exquisite for the T-zone.  It is illuminating.  And it is a setting powder.  And it would probably be fine on it's own.  But I may try a finishing powder in addition (because I'm an addict).  Either in the morning or as a touch-up product that I keep at my desk.  This is the one currently on my lust list, it's a illuminating and mattifying powder, also from Guerlain, that comes in I believe three shades.  One that's close to white, this one which is "Rose Teint," and a slightly more bronzy version.




 I had the Guerlain representative swipe some of this on me this weekend and it absorbs as well if not better into the skin than the colorful compact.  It's probably as close as a true powder can get to acting like a cream, it's that finely milled.  I will update when I get it. 

What is your setting routine? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Here comes Tory Burch Beauty

She is not one of my favorite all-around designers, but when she's on, she's on.  And I'm intrigued by her minimalist approach, being a fan of simple when it comes to beauty myself.  So I'm looking forward to this.  Not sure how she got the rights to Vetiver but as a new Guerlain loyalist, I have to say I'm a fan of the fragranced makeup.  It makes the experiece all the more luxurious and fancy.

Check out the (brief) NYT story here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lippies

 

Here are some I've tried lately, with reviews and pictures.  As a disclaimer, I'm a neutrals girl when it comes to lip glosses and colors.  I rarely go for the straight up "lipsticks" preferring instead the more natural looks of tints, glosses, etc.  

Guerlain Maxi Shine.  Really beautiful subtle colors and stays on a while for a gloss.  I do think they are worth the $30 pricetag - the quality is in how natural they look and how well they stick.  People have complained that they're a little tacky on the lips but that's hard to avoid in a long-lasting gloss.  I bought Pink Clip, Bubble Gum (shown right), and Browny Clap.  Bubble Gum would look adorable with any look that highlights fuchia or pink, it would even work with a pale pink outfit and the appropriate blush.  That said, it was just a tad too pink for me, I tend to stick to variations of red or brown hues.  Sometimes I venture towards Rose.  But this is a true bubble gum, although sheer enough to wear to work.  Several of the colors have a subtle illuminating glitter.  This is true for the Pink Clip color - it looks almost opalescent - but it works great on the lip by highlighting, rather than looking obviously like glitter.  The Pink Clip I bought because I was looking for something with a coral overtone and I haven't been disappointed.  This color doesn't add depth though, just shine and a light-colored tint - it works for peachy/pink ensambles.  The Browny Clap also has glitter but it's less noticeable and pretty much invisible on.  It's my favorite color for how natural and versitile it looks.  It has become an every day staple in my handbag.  It gives lips a deeper red/brown healthy shine. VERDICT: Amazing gloss, worth the price.

Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15.  I have several of these in my makeup bags and work stash.  The two pictured above are the birthday samples from Sephora - one colorless and one in Rose.  I layer the Rose on top of the original formula so the pinky red color doesn't smack people in the face, it looks much more natural diluted.  I also have Honey which is so highly pigmented that I have to use that with a clear gloss or treatment too.  I like the Honey color better than Rose because it's a little closer to brown-red that looks natural on me than pink-red, but both are great.  Petal is the newest release in this line and it's getting rave reviews.   







                                  










At $22.50 you should be expecting more than a tinted chapstick, and you get it, sort of.  The formula is so hydrating and the SPF is a nice touch.  The cons (and the reason I keep my eye out for samples but haven't made repeat purchases) are (a) the staying power isn't better than Vaseline lip therapy (b) the consistency is a lot like Vaseline lip therapy and (c) while the colored sticks are probably more natural looking and pigmented than products you can find in the drugstore, they too are not long lasting.  When the formula fades, so does the color.  Also, the high pigmentation tends to look overdone unless diluted, and who wants a two-step tinted lip balm?  VERDICT:  While I appreciate many of the product's qualities, I plan to return to Vaseline Lip Therapy when my supplies are out.

Shiseido's Lacquer Rouge.  This is the last item pictured in the first frame.  I picked this up when I returned the Perfect Foundation Brush reviewed here.  I wasn't able to return the brush for a refund, I had to exchange it.  So one point off for Shiseido for not having a better return policy.  This was a botique store that would only do returns if the returned product had not been used even though the receipt stated returns would be honored within 30 days with no other caveats listed.  Used items could only be exchanged.  There are so many competitors now (Nordies, Sephora, CVS, to name a few) who let customers return products they've tried and not liked, I have no reason ever to go back to that boutique.  Even for Shiseido products which I can get at department stores that will honor a return.  The 'lacquer' is a gloss formula and it's not great. Its very thick and doesn't spread over the lips well (or over a clear base) so you can get a patchy look if you aren't careful.  The thick formula paired with the high pigmentation means it absolutely should not be put on without a mirror.  I bought the most natural looking color (309 - another point off for not having identifiable names or having any indication of the color on the outside of the tube...what if you own more than one? You better memorize the numbers).  So it's a two step gloss with a mirror requirement.  Staying power is no better than my Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush gloss (which I have always loved but which are very sheer - this is weekend stuff).  VERDICT: Not worth the time or $'s.  I probably won't make it to the end of the tube.  Or even the middle.       

Clinique Almost Lipstick.  This is holy grail material.  I have two of the same color (Tender Honey) and use both of them all. the. time.  One is at work and the other is in my makeup bag.  And I have a third in the cult classic Black Honey for special occasions.  Very diverse shades of this stuff can look great on the same complections.  They are very versitile due to how natural the shades look.  They are creamy with some shine, but no more than a lipstick.  They feel great on and the lack of super vinyl shine that is so popular on lip products these days is consistent with the natural look.  While they look highly-pigmented in the tube, they are sheer enough to put on without a mirror.  They seriously deepen your natural shade and add a tint that makes you look radient and healthy.  They do your manicures for you too.  Just kidding. But I wouldn't be surprised.  They are that amazing. 
VERDICT: best of the bunch, and not because of the great price tag. 

Bite Beauty Lush Lip Tint.  This is billed as a conditioning tint and I was so excited to try it - I bought Lychee and Tangelo thinking they would be complimentary shades for darker and pinker looks, respectively.  They were both horrible.  The color is too pasty and not at all natural.  They are basically lipsticks, rather than tints, and on top of the too-strong-for-a-tint color, you have to put a lot on to get the conditioning benefits (as opposed to Fresh's Sugar offerings which, incidentally, are a couple bucks cheaper) so they both went back.  I didn't notice their staying power because I couldn't stand to leave them on for long.  VERDICT:  Fail. 


My newest additions are my first YSL Rouge Pur Couture 'Rebel Nudes.'  I have been pleasantly surprised by these.  I had received samples of Rouge Pur Couture in brighter hues in the past and found them too over the top to spend $34 on.  If I'm spending that kind of money I want to get a lot of use out of the tube.  I picked out of the most neutral of the Nudes have been wearing them to everything since.  They are first class lip stains and the neutral colors really serve to deepen a variation of a natural lip and to add illumination and gloss. 



This is such a complex formula that you really need to have the color just right.  They are buildable but wouldn't lend themselves to mixing well.  You can immediately feel the cool liquid aspect of it when you first apply it which gives way to a waxy layer that stays and stays.  It really does feel like you could eat a 5 course meal complete with wine pairings without smudging or losing the color.  And it's almost true.  This is, at heart, a stain.  The after-effect is a relatively un-frilly not-quite-matte color.  It's not a gloss.  And the color stays like a stain.  There are other stains out there.  But I've never owned one because I have found the colors unnatural and over-saturated.  Until now! 

I have Nude Provocateur (101) and Beige Anarchist (106) and love them both.  Nude Provocateur is a dark nude that adds a depth to the natural color of the lips.  Beige Anarchist is going to be my go-to when red, pink, or a wine color is part of the ensemble.  It looks bright purple in the tube but has a brown-red hint to it which makes it a little dressier than 101.  Both have an illuminating-grade glitter quality to them which makes them shine but not "sparkle" exactly.  I also like the applicator - it's like a typical gloss applicator but flattened and at an angle.  It really does a good job of simulating a brush.  One that you never have to clean.  The $34 price tag is nothing to scoff at.  It's the most I've ever spent on a lip product.  But it's worth adding a couple favorites to your collection.  VERDICT: go-to for occasions where you need staying power. 

 


What are your favorites?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Eyeliner - reviews and routine

Some things (and brands) I am very loyal to.  Eyeliner products are not one of those things.  I am always on the lookout for a better, easier, more solid colored, less smudgy eyeliner.  There was a time when I tired of pencils looking kind of, well, pencil-ish - by which I mean unsaturated, jagged lines that fade and smudge and basically disappear by lunchtime.   I thought liquid eyeliner was the answer.  But while I realize there are some looks that cannot be achieved with anything else, and while I realize it looks amazing and glides easily onto some lids, I've had to embrace the fact that liquid liner is not for me.  I don't know if I just don't have a steady enough hand or if my eyes are too sensitive (flinchy), but even with short brushstrokes I couldn't get my eyes done in under 3-5 minutes which is way more than I care to spend on just lining.  I did loads of research and testing of various products and techniques.  I found the drugstore brand applicator tips just impossible.  You get what you pay for.  So I purchased the favorably reviewed Lancome Artliner and Smashbox Limitless Liquid pen and grabbed samples at every opportunity.  I ended up returning everything that wasn't a sample.  I'm not the type to hang on to a $30 eyeliner just to throw it away years later.  My favorites were the Stila Stay All Day pen and the Smashbox pen for pigment, "ease" of use, and long-wear/smudgeproofness.  So if you're into this stuff, that's what I'd recommend.

Upon giving up on liquid, I tried tightlining with gel.  Not great at first because I had the wrong brush.  I used Bobbi Brown's Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush which is fine for over-lash lining with powder liner, but ridiculous for gel.  It just leaves a faint, too-thick, unevenly pigmented mess.  The holy grail for eyeliner brushes, particularly for gel liner that you're stamping under the lashes, is Laura Mercier's Flat Eye Liner brush. 



No joke, this thing changed my life, importantly, and probably forever.  So now, after applying a base cream shadow or tinted primer I do a pencil line above my lashes in dark brown or black.  My current pencils in both colors is  MUFE aqua eyes because I like how easily it glides on and the color choices are amazing.   But I'm not married to these pencils.  I think I'm going to try Dior next.  Then I do a tightline to my top lid in bobbi brown's gel liner in black with Laura Mercier's Magical Perfection Liner Brush (same one as above, I just renamed it).  The BB gel is the only one I've tried.  Because why mess with a good thing?  It's a long-wear formula, it goes on easy, has a super-pigmented inky black and as long as you just make a line and don't spread it on like margarine on toast it will not stamp down onto the lower lids.  I've tried the margarine approach and it does transfer a little, but very little.  It actually is a good technique if you want a very subtle smudge of color along the bottom water line. 

 



It only takes a minute for the whole procedure because both products are easy to apply.  And the effect is really dramatic...and yet natural.  It looks like your lashes go on forever and really defines the eyes without looking like an art project close up.  When I want to look super sexy I add a stripe of a Laura Mercier caviar stick basically right on top of my liner (because the stick is a little wider than eyeliner it extends above it a smidge making for a sultry ombre look.  I love these sticks.  I have one in Amethyst and one in Sugar Frost and would love to get them in Cocoa and one of the grays.  I have only ever used them to enhance the eyeline (and the inside corner with Sugar Frost - careful with this one it's kind of glittery) but they can be smudged into submission in the creases and corners too. 
 
As an aside, a lot of critiques of the MUFE aqua eyes line (and tons of pencils for that matter, high end or not) complain about staying power.  I think eye pencils, like a lot of types of makeup, are one of those categories that is "only makeup" so to speak.  Liquid foundation falls into this category too.  No matter how well intentioned the formula, the stuff will come off.  You can set pencils up to succeed by applying them on a primer- or base-covered eyelid rather than directly on oily or moisturized lids, but regardless, it is not a tatoo.  I hold gel and liquid to a slightly higher standard but in my experience, pencil is categorically failable.

Other favorite pencils:
Smashbox Limitless Eye Liner - great pigment, not as smooth as the 24/7 or aqua eyes. 
Clinique's Cream Shaper for eyes - great value, decent pigment, a little dry.  I have a hunch that they might be discontinuing this soon as it's no longer sold at Sephora and they have so many new liners on deck.   

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brush vs. Sponge: The Verdict

*



First a review of the Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush.  It is worth the hype.  Recall how fond I was of my little Target trooper.  Unpackaging the BB brush made me feel like I was finally running with the big dogs.  The photo below shows them side-by-side for comparison.  And it doesn't just look more luxurious, it is softer, stipples better, and streaks less than the cheaper version.  I've cleaned and dried it twice now within 48 hours and it seems to be in good shape.  I know some may find that obvious but if a brush is going to wear out with washings, it typically shows some fuzziness on the first wash.  Take for example the Sephora professional fan brush.  Don't buy it.  It's frizz city after one wash.  I'm not going to waste any more time reviewing that one unless someone specifically requests more details.  Just don't buy it.  I'm serious. 

Anyway, so the BB brush is amazing, and the bigger size means more coverage each stroke and less time at the mirror.  I love it.  This is the third I've tried this month and my search is over for a while.

 



Both the BB and the Target brush (the one on the right, I wish I knew the manufacturer, this is a shoo-in for best budget buy - I've had it for positively YEARS and it still looks and acts new, if a bit less effective than it's more expensive counterpart) required exactly 1.5 pumps of Guerlain Parure de Lumier to cover my face adequately.  Foundation is generally not designed to cover every last inch of your face, it's more for problem areas.  But I have some overpigmentation issues - it's like freckles but not that cute.  So I put foundation everywhere except on my eyelids and brows.  That's not an overwhelming amount of product. 

And the sponge that I've been using for years requires.....(drumroll)

 


...2.5 pumps.  And the coverage is definitely more sheer.

And that's what the thing looks like at the end, lots left over.   

That's from ONE use!  I do miss how quick and easy the sponge is.  But as I've said, I'm pretty grossed out that I've been letting sponges go for so long before throwing them out.  I have to say that I think my skin is actually better having committed to a brush and daily washings over this past week.  It might be a coincidence.  But it does make sense. 


*I am embarrassed by the quality of these pictures.  The lighting is bad and yellow, the camera is not a dslr.  I think blogs are so vastly improved by good pictures and video and it is my intention to improve at this.  If this blog ever blows up, so to speak, I will definitely reward myself with a fancy camera. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday manicure breakdown


First coat: guerlain la base protectrice
Second and third: Dior in Plaza
Topcoat: Dior gel topcoat

I love all of these. This is pretty much the best money can buy. But you can still see a little wear on the edges. This manicure is about 24 hours old. Plaza is amazing.  It's classy enough for work but fun enough for a summer pool party and goes great with the highlighter colors that are so popular now.  Again the Dior topcoat is super high shine and really elevates the look. Two people asked me if I had them done professionally and even when I said no one of them thought I had gotten an at-home shellac kit. Nope. This can be done easy peasy in a haf hour in front of the tube between putting kiddies to bed and packing their lunch for tomorrow. 


 

Foundation brush challenge: week in review

So the bottomline is that I like the brush.  I feel like I have just as much control and coverage for general application as I do with a sponge.  I still use a sponge for concealer though, the sponge is nice for problem areas cause it wraps around blemishes and stipples with such good coverage.  I don't even think the Shiseido Stippling Brush (this is my name henceforth for their Perfect Foundation Brush) could do concealer like I want concealer done.  So there will still be sponges in my bathroom, but fewer of them and they will be used less frequently and replaced more frequently.  Having spent a week with the brush and washing it daily (two rounds of cleanser each wash) I'm kind of disgusted that I would let sponges go as long as I did before - two weeks sometimes.  Gross.  The washing of course adds that extra step that I got rid of by not having to wash my hands a bunch of times, but it's not as bad for my hands and I've gotten it down to about a half a minute.  I also got a new brush holder from the container store that I'm in love with so not only are my brushes easier to reach for but they're easier to air dry (before this week I had kept them in a bathroom cupboard).  This is absolute genius - it can sit on your countertop for normal days and get easily hidden back away in the cupboard when company is over.  

And it matches the acrylic cosmetic organizers that are so trendy these days. 

I like my Target brush, it turns out.  I think it's made of synthetic hair so it doesn't get all fuzzed out when I wash it obsessively like I do.  I did order the Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush which arrived today so stay tuned for that review.  I will probably do it in tandem with my sponge vs. brush standoff.  As I've mentioned, the brush has nearly perfect reviews.  The complaints when they do arise are that the bristles dry out with too much washing (altho they claim to be high-end synthetic) and that it absorbs a lot of product.  We shall see. 
 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

And the winner is....FALL!

I took a little trip to my local Nordstrom and got the black T-strap Beverly!  To be honest I liked the non-T-strap a little better.  It's SOOOO classy on.  But this is my first pair of Guccis and what I didn't know is that their heels are not for girls with narrow heels.  Sadly, my foot slipped right out of a 35.  And the shoe doesn't come in a 34.5.  When I see strappy shoes like mary janes, strappy sandles, and t-straps, I have to jump on them.  And Nordies had to call around to find the last 35 black t-strap in the company. 
This is going to be a little over the top, even in a law firm.  And yet it's not so over the top that I could resist them.  The heel is conservative and the better they stay on, the better and more natural the person wearing them looks.  They are extremely wearable. 
 
Incidentally, there was more than one winner.  Another was a Laboutin Piou Piou in dark metallic red, almost burgundy.  They are so special.  I can't find a picture of the red anywhere online so I'll have to wait until they arrive and take pictures.  Below is the shoe in black.  The dark red goes SO well with the red sole.  This is also my first pair of Laboutins.  I'm starting to build a collection of one shoe of each major designer (so far I have YSL, Manolo, and Christian Dior - and now Gucci and Laboutin) but I haven't been back to the same one twice.   One of these days I'll do a 'what's in your designer shoe collection' video. 
 

Again I'm hoping these are not choices that take me away in the store and then end up looking overdone in the office.  But I think the conservative design of the Piou Piou is classy enough and I've been looking for the perfect wine-colored heels for years.  Who knew that would be an "it" color this fall.  While we're on the topic I want to recommend Ann Taylor's double strap mary janes (Jessy), but they run big and unfortunately I ordered a 5.5 and by the time I tried to exchange them for a 5 the 5's were out.  Story of my life.  They are a cute and very comfortable shoe at a fraction of the price of the big guns above. 

Finally, and this might be old news, but have you tried the Cassidy Booty from Cole Haan?  I got the brown leather last year and tried to find black as well but again, my size (5.5 this time) had sold out.  I looked everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  So you can imagine my delight when I walked in the store the other day thanks to their 25% off sign outside and found a whole new crop of Cassidys (in nubuck this year) waiting for me.  I tried them on with my new 'boysenberry' 7 for Mankind skinny jeans and the salesperson told me I should just walk out of the store like that - the looked so amazing. 
 

These are so versitile, so comfortable, and so flattering.  I don't own two of any other model of shoe.  That's how amazing they are.  Most of the colors they come in go with any color jeans, skinny or bootcut, work pants, even skirts if they're a little flouncy.  They can't replace a stilleto black bootie but they cover all the other bases.
 
Ok, I'm cut off of shoes for the year now (with the exception of a tall black boot that I might reward myself around review time).  But I will return to the subject when I review the Piou Pious and Beverlys once they arrive.