Sunday, May 29, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

Republishing a feature from a few years ago...

These photo say it all. Memorial Day is a U.S. national holiday when we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. If you have lost a loved one, please know that millions are pausing today to reflect on your sacrifices. We care. Thank you for giving up the most precious thing you could give - your children, fathers and mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, cousins, and friends. I hope you can let the American people embrace you today in a gigantic collective hug of love and appreciation.

While today isn't really about the living, it's a great opportunity to thank veterans and the men and women who are currently serving in our Armed Forces. At any time, those at war could join the fallen at our national memorials at Arlington Cemetery and across the country. Today, some who were injured while serving are healing at hospitals around the world. Their stories - grit, determination, and bravery - are inspirational. Others who have returned from war aren't receiving the care (or the jobs) we owe them. That saddens me.

There was a beautiful, moving tribute, originally published in the Washington Post, A Song of Gratitude at Arlington National Cemetery, by Page Johnson of McLean, Virginia. I recommend that you read it at this link.

Here's a short excerpt.

So on this day of memories, I come to tell them thank you. I come to tell them I honor their service and the heritage they have given me. Most of all, I come to tell them that they are neither alone nor forgotten. I will be here for them, in spirit and in deed, and for their fellow soldiers trying to make a safer world so the children of every mother and father can sleep securely at night.

So many images - so many stories - define Memorial Day. "Thank you" doesn't seem adequate. While there will be pageantry, picnics, parades, concerts, and fireworks today, many of us will be thinking tearfully about the heroes who gave their lives so that we could live in peace.

Photos courtesy of,, and the Washington Post

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Friday Forum - May 27

It's peony time here, one of the most beautiful times of the year. I wish I could drive around and take photos of them, but I'm spending almost all my time at Mom's bedside. She is not doing well, and I don't expect miracles anymore.

I'll keep this short. I'm going to ask Eileen to help me with the Friday Forum conversation. I'll be checking in to approve comments, but not as frequently as I normally would. Without further ado, it's time for the Friday Forum.

The Friday Forum has always been an opportunity to share information. Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Tell us about it! Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Tell us why! Do you have questions others might be able to answer? We can help! Want to talk about skin care? I'm game. Just use the comments. We have busy weekends and slow ones on the forum. I hope to see you in the comments.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Photo credit lost

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Annick Goutal Rose Pompon Eau de Toilette

We have had a month of rain in the DC area. Even as the roses in my garden started to bloom, it rained. It was relentless. I needed something to brighten my spirits. Annick Goutal's new Rose Pompon Eau de Toilette ($149, 100 ml) was the perfect antidote to dreary weather. I've been wearing it to work nearly every day since I received it from Annick Goutal.

Introduced this year, Rose Pompon is a fresh, lively, rose fragrance in a pretty pink bottle. It makes me think spring, even when it doesn't feel like it outdoors. For those who might dismiss the idea of a rose-themed fragrance, keep reading. Rose Pompon is not your grandmother's rose. I've read many reviews of this fragrance, but I'll start by telling you what Annick Goutal has to say about it.

A mischievous glance, charming smile, burst of laughter...the Rose Pompon woman exudes joie de vivre. A fresh and playful olfactory creation, Rose Pompon is a bold composition inspired by new horizons… Sparkling notes of blackcurrant and raspberry mingle with pink pepper and a hint of peony to reveal the trio of rose extracts, including the fruity tones of rose centifolia (an old rose, often called Provence rose or cabbage rose or Rose de Mai); Bulgarian rose, and Taïf rose. The composition and balance of the ingredients is gorgeous.

Rose Pompon is the story of a young Parisian woman. She seduces everyone with her irresistible elegance. Her perfume, a fresh and sparkling rose, conveys her charm and happiness. Her addictive trail makes everyone want to smile, laugh, and enjoy life. An addictive freshness with a bold and modern twist.

I'll bet you know the house of Annick Goutal. Haven't we all worn at least one of the iconic fragrances in the past? My favorites include Un Matin d'Orange, Petite Chérie, and Eau d'Hadrien. These fragrances have been in my collection for more years than I can count. The Annick Goutal house of perfume is known for the quality of its ingredients, using the rarest and noblest essences, almost all of natural origin, such as Sicilian lemon, Damascus rose, Italian iris, and tuberose from Grasse. Their raw materials are chosen with the greatest care and extreme precision, to achieve, note after note, the perfect harmony.

Not only that, the house's bottles and packaging are made exclusively in France by expert craftsmen, resulting in an exceptional finesse in its detail. The finishing decorative touches are almost all done by hand, each one conveying a memory in the creator's life. As Annick Goutal liked to point out "luxury is in the details." When you hold and use an Annick Goutal fragrance, the quality and elegance lift your spirits and make you feel special.

Rose Pompon was developed by Camille Goutal and Philippine Courtière. I'll give you the creator's description because they said it better than I ever could.

Passionate perfumer, Camille Goutal keeps searching for new inspirations and raw materials. Camille appreciated the work of Philippine Courtière for awhile, and she wanted to collaborate with her for the creation of the new Annick Goutal perfume. Both their parents introduced them to the universe of perfumery during their childhood. They share the values of a family tradition, with a destiny of perfumers, although they began their careers as a photographer for Camille and a lawyer for Philippine. The purpose of their collaboration was to compose a fresh and playful rose, a unique scent inspired by new horizons. Named Rose Pompom, this creation is an olfactory ode to the two perfumers’ joie de vivre.

Rose Pompon reflects Annick Goutal's olfactory creations, with a bold and modern twist. It is the joyful interpretation of a new and luminous rose where the spicy notes of Pink Pepper mingle with the bright and green sparkle of blackcurrant before opening out with the velvety notes of raspberry. Its heart notes carry a duo of rose extracts composing the Rose Pompon (Centifolia), a garden rose with a thousand petals, delicate and precious. First, the Bulgarian Rose essence, chosen for its luminous and green facets evokes the freshness of a rose at dawn. Then, the Taïf Rose, a rare flower with a suave and sensual scent offered by its fruity facets. Finally, a hint of peony envelops the notes with an ethereal sensuality. A playful and addictive composition warmed with woody cedar and powdery patchouli, followed by an exquisite note of white musks.

Rose Pompon has worked its magic on the iconic ribbed bottle, adorned here with shades of pink lacquering. The packaging reflects the work but also the bold and creative universe of the great photographers Camille admires. The Annick Goutal House has imagined a new woman, charming and mischievous, the Rose Pompon woman who attracts attention and makes everyone smile, hiding behind her extravagant flower. A sketch combining strokes of black pencil and the exuberance of a dazzling rose, embodying the woman for whom Camille and Philippine created this made-to-measure fragrance."

Imagine, then, the joy they shared with us when they created Rose Pompon. A fruit-laden floral, it is fresh and lively. When I apply it, I feel like I've stuck my nose into one of my David Austin roses, bred for fragrance. Plus, I get the extra-added benefit of juicy fruits, lingering as long as the rose does. What I don't smell is patchouli. I was shocked when I found it in the list of notes. Most of you know that my nose can sniff out patchouli in just about any fragrance. To me, it smells like cheap, acrid perfume. There isn't even the slightest hint that patchouli is in Rose Pompon. I believe that speaks to the quality of the ingredients used by Annick Goutal. There's patchouli, and there's patchouli. Rose Pompon probably contains very little of the very best on the market.

I think Rose Pompon lasts on me for about four hours. Often we trade longevity for the sparkling freshness of just-picked fruits and fragrances. That's a trade-off I'm always willing to make. I bought some little spray decant bottles that I can keep in my handbag and refresh my fragrance at lunchtime. That way, I - or those close to me - can enjoy this beautiful fragrance all day.

If you like fruity florals that sparkle, you should cheek out Rose Pompon. You can find it at Annick Goutal's Web site easily. It's also available at Luckyscent (but backordered in the 50 ml size - probably owing to its popularity) and some Neiman Marcus stores.

Photos courtesy of Annick Goutal

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mom is in the Hospital

I'm spending most of my time here. I will try to publish a feature tonight.

Just wanted everyone to know "where I've gone."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush and The Friday Forum

BECCA's Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush ($34) is a curated, colorful collection of six lustrous blushes to let your cheeks glow with light. I was attracted to it by Sephora's offer to provide it to VIB Rouge members early, and I'm so glad I took advantage of the offer.

The blush is available in six shades, and I did something uncharacteristic. I selected a coral shade, Snapdragon, not my "comfort zone" shade. I recall there were only two shades available as part of the "early purchase offer."

BECCA’s Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush features multi-dimensional, versatile blushes to create a subtle, shimmering flush. Specially designed to flatter all skin tones, this collection is inspired by the fan-favorite Shimmering Skin Perfector - just the right balance of color and light. Wear them alone for subtle blushed luminosity or as a blush topper layered on top of your favorite matte blush for an added pop of radiance. 

That's BECCA's advice, but I can't see me using Snapdragon as a topper blush. It's so beautiful as it is. Have I been captivated by coral? The unique thing about this coral is that it's very pink-heavy. I would have described it as a warm pink.

I took my photos in full, mid-day sunshine. Just took at that beautiful sky reflected in the compact's mirror for proof. I believe that my photo of the compact is more true to the actual shade than Sephora's, which I placed at the top of this feature. The photo below in the color lineup of all six shades is more representative of Snapdragon.

My swatch photo shows how gorgeous this blush is on the skin. As usual, I swatched with a sponge-tipped applicator and took my photo in full sun. I applied the blush fairly heavily for the photo, but I'm sure you can translate my swatch into a revelation of the shade's color when applied to the skin with a blush brush.

Look at its gorgeous color! I'd call it a warm pink - a shade that will appeal to many. The shade is definitely not coral. I was rewarded for taking a chance on it.

The luminosity of this blush is real. It's not sparkly, but it does offer a subtle shimmering touch of radiance to the cheeks. Now I want more. The photo below shows all six shades. Which ones would you select? The caption is hard to read. From left to right, they are Camellia, Tigerlily, Foxglove, Snapdragon, Blushed Copper, and Dahlia - all floral names except for Blushed Copper. Go figure.

I think I need Camellia. Who knows? I might indulge myself with Blushed Copper too. It would make a gorgeous bronzer.

There you have it - a very nice new blush, inspired by BECCA's popular Shimmering Skin Perfector. If you know and appreciate that one, you will love this blush. I purchased mine at Sephora. You can also find it at BECCA's Web site.

I have a very early-morning meeting tomorrow (and I must watch the season finale of The Blacklist tonight), so I'll publish The Friday Forum here as a two-in-one feature. The e-mail notice of this feature will not go out until tomorrow. The Friday Forum has always been an opportunity to share information. Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Tell us about it! Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Tell us why! Do you have questions others might be able to answer? We can help! Want to talk about skin care? I'm game. Just use the comments. We have busy weekends and slow ones on the forum. I hope to see you in the comments.

I'll leave you with a photo of a Siberian iris blooming in my garden. The clump had just started to bloom last weekend when I snapped this photo.

Photos at top and of the color lineup courtesy of BECCA; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Lipstick Collection

My Dress, My Style, My Lipstick! Guerlain has introduced its magnificent La Petite Robe Noire Nail and Lip Collection (I'll show off the nail products in a later feature). The collection is a fresh, unexpected, and slightly scented array of irresistible shades inspired by the alluring namesake fragrance, La Petite Robe Noire. The upside-down heart shows that it belongs to the House of Guerlain and reminds us of La Petite Robe Noire's original perfume bottle.

Two Guerlain signatures on the lipstick casing overlap to create the ultimate couture detail - one on the transparent case in shiny silver and the other engraved below in the body of the black mechanism. Each shade is beautifully showcased through the transparent glass, allowing for no mistake as to what shade is within. Love that!

Although I featured a new lipstick collection just Monday, I need to show you Guerlain's magnificent La Petite Robe Noire Lipstick Collection. It's fun, lively, and enticing.

Alone in front of her wardrobe, La Petite Robe Noire's namesake is deep in thought. She would need something to add the finishing touch to her inimitable style and twist all her wonderful dresses, that little added extra, that je ne sais quoi to bring out her femininity and reveal her true personality: mischievous, Parisian, spectacular, seductive, elusive, and yet with a distinctive presence. What she needs is, of course, color! Color just like her - scented color for an added dimension to her unique style.

I was absolutely delighted when I received six shades from this collection from Guerlain. The innovative company has created an absolutely essential and utterly irresistible La Petite Robe Noire Lipstick in a deliciously shiny texture to dress up your style with luscious color! The lipsticks are available in vibrant shades in an unexpected texture.
  • The lightweight texture reveals the lips’ natural radiance, leaving them supple and comfortable.
  • The coverage is buildable, thanks to its thin film: one layer to offer a glimpse of the sensual texture of the lips, two layers for a casual chic daytime look, and three layers for a more dense and sophisticated finish - a glamorous evening look.
  • Inspired by La Petite Robe Noire, the formula is deliciously, but lightly, perfumed and delicately flavored for an unforgettable taste on your lips;
  • These lipsticks have an ultra-shiny finish and pure and luminous colors thanks to a cocktail of pure and extra-luminous pigments that are coated with a specific resin that delivers a shiny lacquer effect.
There are 20 fantastic shades that Guerlain has grouped into three categories.
  • Star Shades (four)
  • Her Easy Chic Shades (eleven total, although some are available only in Asia and Russia)
  • Her Trendy Pop Shades (10 shades, with the same constraint. Hmm, who do I know in Asia or Russia?)
My First Lipstick, #001, is a very light pink, the ideal lipstick for young girls and for all women who prefer a natural look. The soft pink is subtly set off with a veil of shimmer with an innovative texture. Also in this category, Black Perfecto, #007, shown below, is a surprising shade, a fake-black that can be applied alone or as a top coat for an elegant rock finish. Applied alone, the eosin that it contains reacts to the pH of the lips and reveals a tailor-made soft purple. It is perfect as a top coat that “smokes” any shade applied before it. That’s the secret of the rock style of La Petite Robe Noire, the most Parisian of all.

Guerlain sent me these two, plus Leather Blazer (#013) and Red Bow Tie (#022) from the Her Easy Chic group and two from Her Trendy Pop group: Poppy Cap, #020, and Red Teddy, #021.

Here are the six shades I love, lined up from left to right in numerical order. I took my photo in full, mid-day sunshine, which has been rare, and a wind that wouldn't give me a break. As soon as I could get the tubes to stop moving, I snapped photos.

The six shades, as presented above from left to right follow.
#001, My First Lipstick - very light pink with shine galore
#007, Black Perfecto - as described above (reminds me of the iconic Black Honey)
#013, Leather Blazer - a gorgeous brown with pink undertones
#020, Poppy Cap, a lovely coral
#021, Red Teddy - a rose pink shade
#022, Red Bow Tie - a very wearable red (many of you know I'm very conservative when it comes to reds)

I swatched them in the same order on my arm, starting with My First Lipstick at the top and ending at the bottom with Red Bow Tie. The Star Shades at the top of my arm are very light and shiny. The other shades have more pigmented color, although all are bright and shiny. I really love them - sheer and shine add up to a perfect lipstick in my eyes.

Although Guerlain is perfectly clear that these lipsticks are scented, I - the one who prefers her lipsticks unscented - can barely detect the scent. I don't smell it on my lips and barely taste it. The subtle taste dissipates quickly. To me, it does not taste like I'm wearing a scented lipstick after about 10 minutes. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of La Petite Robe Noire fragrance; it has patchouli in it (not my cup of tea). The lipstick fragrance is described as a fruity floral with accents of bergamot, rose, and raspberry, inspired by the delicious notes of La Petite Robe Noire. This is a scented lipstick I'll wear with great pleasure. Has Guerlain converted me?

There are a few shades I think I need to purchase. Mauve Gloves, Lilac Belt, and Plum-Brella look like must-haves. Oh my, what's a lipstick lover to do?

Check out all the gorgeous shades at Guerlain's Web site, where you will find large color representations. I'm going to have to find out their availability at our favorite in-store and online shopping sites. I do know the lipsticks will launch in the U.S. at Nordstrom next week.

Photos courtesy of Guerlain and by Best Things in Beauty

Monday, May 16, 2016

New and Exciting: Victor dE Souza Lipsticks by Dustin Lujan

It was worth the wait. I have known for a long time that Dustin Lujan was developing a new cosmetics line, starting with a lipstick collection. Dustin chose to align his new beauty brand with his partner, fashion designer Victor de Souza, and so Victor dE Souza Beauty was born. I am so thrilled for my sweet friend Dustin.

The long-awaited launch occurred in New York City on April 28. The party, hosted by Victor and Dustin, featured five models - from students to media strategists - and eight-foot tall banners showing their glam shots wearing Dustin's lip colors. Over 150 guests attended. I wish I could have been one of them. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to work the full day and add on a round trip to New York before it was time to work the next day.

Beauty has always been an important focus for de Souza, coming from a family in which both sisters are skilled makeup artists. Victor has worked with some of the top makeup artists in the world, including Francois Nars and and Dustin Lujan, to make shocking and beautiful images for his fashion shows, making the makeup a centerpiece along with his fashion designs. Cosmetics were a natural transition for his portfolio; his father was one of the top chemists in Argentina. As he grew up, he and his sisters tested makeup formulas.

As a creature of design, Victor collaborated with Dustin, former creative director and development consultant for several top, luxury beauty houses, to work on Victor's own beauty line. Max Factor's design from the 1920's was one of the main inspirations of Dustin's designs, using all-metal packaging that is sleek and heavy. The upgrade to the classic inspiration was the metal spike on the top of each case, adding a modern edge resembling the pawn of a chess piece to combine classic, contemporary, and intellectual design factors.

The lipstick formula, developed by Dustin, consists of an ingredient called Hyla-Bubble, exclusive to Victor dE Souza Beauty. Hyaluronic acid is trapped in micro-bubbles and released when the lips are pressed together, replenishing moisture and redepositing color to the lips. This ingredient attracts and holds up to 1,800 times its own weight in water to fill the space between collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. Dustin spent over 10 years developing this masterful formula.

The lipsticks come in three different formulas. All are priced at $68. All shades stay on forever. To get them off my arm, I had to use soap, water, and makeup remover. That's unusual. The shades must have a long-lasting tint in their formula, making them highly resistant to transfer and color loss.
  • Prismatic Lipstick, which offers extra moisture and shine
  • Satin Lipstick, for the most sensitive lips with a true-to-life "lip finish"
  • Matte Lipstick, for a moisture-intense matte lip with flair and life
I purchased one of the shades, and Dustin graciously sent me all of them. I was able to take swatch photos this past weekend. I took the lipstick photos in full, mid-day sunshine and grouped them by formula.

The first photo above shows the two Prismatic Lipsticks. Doom Generation is shown on the left, and Liquid Sky is shown at right. I was lucky to get photos at all. It was incredibly windy, and the lipsticks kept moving around on me.

The swatch photo for these two Prismatic Lipsticks is shown directly above. The two Prismatic shades could not be more different. Liquid Sky is a very slight, shiny pink, and Doom Generation is a deep plum. It makes a statement.

The next grouping of colors (directly above) shows the Satin Lipsticks. Mysterious Skin is shown at left, and Stage Fright is shown at right. It was Stage Fright that really caught my eye in Dustin's model's photos. It gave me palpitations. Shown below on student Kyla Malbon, it was an instant must-have.

My swatch photo of the two Satin Lipsticks is presented directly below. Mysterious Skin, a peachy nude is shown at the top of my arm, and Stage Fright, which appears to be coral, is shown below. Both shades are definitely affected by your own lip pigmentation, in most cases making them more pink than they appear on my arm.

The Matte Lipsticks surprised me. They are not dull mattes. You can even see in my swatch photos below that they reflect light, giving them a spectacular finish.

Even though they were moving around with the wind, I managed to focus on Female Trouble at left, Raspberry Reich in the middle, and the ultimate red, The Hunger, at right. My swatch photo, with the lipsticks shown in the same order as I moved down my arm, is shown directly below.

From the fuchsia Female Trouble, to my favorite of the three, a rosy pink Raspberry Reich, to the perfect red, The Hunger, these shades were designed to provide a pop to your face.

Here is a cute photo of Victor and Dustin, taken at the launch party. I don't have to tell you who's who because so many of you know and love Dustin.

Although the cases are gunmetal grey, I love the photo above, provided by Dustin. It shows how classy these lipsticks are - even without color.

You can purchase these Lipsticks from Victor dE Souza Beauty online. If you don't follow Dustin on Facebook, you really should. In a run-up to the launch, he posted photos of the models wearing each shade. They are masterfully edited, showing the flair of both Victor and Dustin.

What's next for Victor dE Souza Beauty? What one makeup product does every woman need - besides lipstick - on a deserted island? Mascara! I may be spilling a secret, but I knew you would ask me. Before long, Dustin and Victor will have developed a full, luxury beauty line, with worldwide distribution.

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite shade? Will one or more go on your must-have list?

Update 5/18: In my original feature, I mixed up Raspberry Reich and The Hunger. I'm sorry. The Hunger is the perfect red. I have confirmed this with Dustin, who didn't notice at first either (so I don't feel like such a ditz). Thanks to "Anonymous" for pointing out the confusion. I have corrected the copy above.

Photos courtesy of Victor dE Souza Beauty and by Best Things in Beauty