Thursday, December 31, 2009

Annika by Annika Sorenstam

Another celebrity fragrance! I'll skip to the conclusion - this one's nice!

Celebrity fragrances don't usually move me. I know they're popular, but I've never understood the attraction. Surely intelligent women don't think that spraying on a celebrity fragrance will make them more like the celebrity! Heat will not make us look like Beyonce or help us match her lifestyle - sorry gals. So it was with a bit of skepticism that I tested Annika by Annika Sorenstam. It wasn't going to turn me into a gorgeous athlete - I was sure of that. I was surprised by its appeal.

Annika is citrusy floral scent with woods and musk. It has prominent top notes of mandarin orange, grapefruit, orange flower, and gardenia. The middle notes include freesia, cyclamen, rose, jasmine, and narcissus. The base notes include vanilla, sandalwood, amber, musk, oakmoss, leather, and tonka bean. As you would expect, the overall effect of Annika changes over the hours you wear it. For the first four hours, it's a sensuous, powdery floral-citrus blend. Then, as it loosens up, it hangs on with its base notes for up to 16 hours. I was amazed by how long the base notes were fragrant.

This is a fragrance that should have wide appeal. It's easy to wear, and the scent stays close. You won't offend your colleagues at work by wearing Annika. So, if the ingredients appeal to you (meaning you like citrus-floral blends), you might want to give it a try!

The fragrance has limited distribution. My sample was provided by SA Fragrances, a company based in Boston, Massachusetts that specializes in private-label fragrances. SA worked with Annika to develop the fragrance, which is sold online and in select high-end golf pro shops, golf resorts, and niche retail stores. If you live in the United States, you can request a free sample at this link.

The eau de parfum is available in two sizes: 1.7 oz ($59.50) and 3.4 oz ($79.50). A gift set with a scented candle or scented body wash will be available in early 2010. The best way to purchase the fragrance is at the Shop Annika Fragrance Web site. Or, golfers, look for it at your pro shop. Who knows what good things may come your way!

Photo courtesy of Annika by Annika Sorenstam

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope your 2010 is happy, healthy, and prosperous. May you achieve your dreams!

Best Things in Beauty is six months old. During these months, I've had a blast, and I'm so grateful to you for making 2009 my year of discovery of our worldwide community and new friends.

There are so many more of you than I anticipated! Many years ago, when blogs were new, I wrote a local blog dedicated to the politics of land use and development. Times have changed! Its readership was negligible. It's not fun to speak without an audience. You, my readers - some of the earliest were Kathy, Nicole, Anna, Lexi, Bonnie, Emma, Hannah, Valerie, Sherry, Lisa, and Cynthia, but there were so many more and too many to name - have made writing fun again. I continue to be amazed at the power of the Internet, Twitter, and other media that are changing the way we live, read, and communicate. Thank you for so faithfully reading Best Things in Beauty.

Tonight's blue moon will usher in a new year and a new decade. Here's hoping it's a great one for all of you!

Blue moon photo courtesy of

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BeautyTicket's Year-End Sale

Steady my heart! BeautyTicket is having an end-of-year sale. For the final hours of 2009, take 25% off everything. Use code YEAREND25 at checkout to take advantage of this remarkable offer. is one of my weekly go-to sites. Every week, there's a new Steal of the Week, along with lots of new arrivals. This week's steal is Jelly Pong Pong Lip Sorbet, which is $2.99 at BeautyTicket; it's $15.99 at Amazon. Take 25% off $2.99, and you'll steal it. The new arrivals include Bare Escentuals, YSL, Stila, Bobbi Brown, Two Faced, and Pop Beauty. This is recession shopping.

If you aren't a BeautyTicket shopper yet, what are you waiting for? Have fun!

Photo courtesy of BeautyTicket

Kate Somerville Products for Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin? Turning red as winter air and product overload assault your skin? Check out Kate Somerville's products for sensitive skin. She even directs her skin care to three types of sensitive skin - dry, oily, and aging - because she knows that sensitive types are all different. Her skin care pyramid, shown at right, has five steps to protect, hydrate, feed, stimulate, and detoxify the skin. Each Kate Somerville regimen covers all the bases.

Kate's products are available at select Sephora stores and from her Web site. I have a few samples here and plan to give them a try this week. I love test drives! I just wish this one could be longer. I'm intrigued.

Photo courtesy of Kate Somerville

Best Drugstore Beauty: Kenra Hair Care

Kenra isn't a brand you would expect to find at CVS. A "professional salon brand," Kenra (seen on The View) is supposedly sold only at fine salons. Turns out that savvy beauty managers at CVS can order it from their distributor, along with Kerastase and other top-of-the-line brands. I just hope I'm not "spilling the beans," making it harder for CVS to stock it.

Here's what Kenra has to say about the line.

Kenra products are distinguished by using a blend of pharmaceutical-grade and cosmetic-grade ingredients that provide extraordinary performance. Our products are highly recognized for reliable, consistent performance and have universal appeal and application.

When I first saw the display at CVS, I was impressed with the classy platinum packaging. It screamed, "Try me." Two products drew my eyes, a sulfate-free shampoo for fine|thin hair, and a botanical conditioner for fine|thin hair. So, off I went with both of them among my purchases.

Imagine my surprise when I first used the two products. Out popped light, periwinkle-colored product! My first reaction was, "This isn't one of those brassiness-remover products, is it?" Nope! These products are designed to preserve your hair's color.

The sulfate-free Platinum Shampoo for Fine|Thin Hair ($17 at full price) is rich and luxurious. It lathers fully and leaves my hair with volume. The first two ingredients on the list are not water, but rosemary leaf extract and lavender extract. The botanical nature of the ingredients is evident by the fresh, clean (not "herby") light, ephemeral fragrance. Using the shampoo is a pleasure. The key ingredients, from Kenra, are:
  • Cross-link Polymer - weightlessly surrounds the hair cuticle and contracts as it dries, promoting body and volume;
  • Hydrolyzed Silk Protein - a protein that adds strength to hair; and
  • Color Care Complex Technology - internal and external color protection with microsilk, heliogenol, and benzophenone.
The Platinum Botanical Conditioner for Fine|Thin Hair ($19 at full price) is a keratin-enriched formula that promises and delivers maximum volume and body. It replenishes lost moisture and makes my hair, usually tangled after a shampoo, easy to comb out. The botanical blend includes the rosemary and lavender in the shampoo. The key ingredients? Kenra attributes the effectiveness to:
  • Hydrolyzed Keratin - a protein that provides strength to hair and improves hair texture and shin;
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate - an extremely mild detangling ingredient made from rapeseed oil;
  • Polyquaternium-11 - a conditioning agent that adds body and shine; and
  • Color Care Complex - multi-level protection with microsilk amodimethicone, C11-15, pareth-7, laureth-9, glycerin, trideceth-12, and the ultraviolet defense duo of heliogenol and benzophenon.
The result after using both? Clean, shiny hair with volume and bounce. Nice!

Now, I want to try the Platinum Detangler Spray for Fine|Thin Hair ($19) and the Root Lifting Spray 13 ($14). These products are fabulous!

The term "unique" doesn't stop with the actual products. The shampoo and conditioner I bought have a unique screw-cap dispensing system, recycled materials are used in the packaging, the products are not tested on animals, and the company offers a 100% guarantee. If you aren't satisfied with what you bought, it can be returned for a full refund. That's an easy guarantee to offer when you make products like these!

Check out the Kenra Web site to identify the best products for your own hair. There is a salon locator at this link. Or, you could ask your CVS Beauty Manager to stock it. DrugstoreBeautyPro was all over this one!

Photo courtesy of Kenra

Art with Flowers - Favorite DC-Area Boutique

Interested in an elegant boutique that specializes in home and personal fragrances, flowers, gifts of all kinds, decorative accents for your home, and art? There is a fabulous one nearby if you live in the DC area. I am surprised at how many locals have never heard about Art with Flowers at the Tysons Galleria. Perhaps it's their third-floor location between Macy's and Crane & Co. (something akin to Siberia in the mall)?

Art with Flowers is my all-time favorite boutique - not only for the merchandise, but also for the friendly atmosphere and the ever-present, adorable Teacup Yorkie mascot, Bunchie, who fell asleep in my lap the other day. If you have a little extra time over the next few weeks, check it out! You won't be disappointed.

Where to start in describing the variety you'll find there? I'll start with the fragrances. Art with Flowers has brands you won't find in department stores. Unusual, classy, and something to please every taste - brands you won't see in other local boutiques. The owners, Bill and José, seek out chic, cult fragrances that may lead you to want one of everything. Some of the fragrances they carry can be found online at b~glowing, Beautyhabit, and LuckyScent, but you can smell them before you buy if you stop by Art with Flowers. Examples range from the well-known, but hard-to-find Kai, Maille, Laurence Dumont, L'Artisan, and Serge Lutens, to unique brands I haven't seen anywhere else, such as Pecksniff's, No 10, and 06130.

There are personal care products too, including Aesop, Organic Salvage (they even have a shampoo for your dog!), Diana B, and Pure Figi.

Not only do they have a vast array of choices to make you smell good, they also have the best selection of home fragrances around. Diffusers, candles, room sprays, and more are all available at every price point. My favorite, the pricey Rosso Nobile, came from Art with Flowers, but you don't have to spend that kind of money to brighten your home with fragrance. You could bring a touch of the tropics with Malie, or try something new with an Altru candle.

Art with Flowers creates the most elegant flower arrangements in Northern Virginia. They do the flowers for the Ritz Carlton at Tysons - a testament to their craft. Whenever I send flowers locally, I call Art with Flowers. I also buy the orchids for my office there. The orchids are of such high quality that they bloom for months and then rebloom after a rest. I took flower arranging classes in a "former life," and I am so impressed with the flush elegance of the arrangements they send out. On occasion, I have gasped as they left with flowers for a local customer - I would have killed to grab one and take it home! Instead, I headed into the flower cooler to appreciate the variety and color of the flowers ready to be part of someone's celebration.

You would think that would be enough, but Art with Flowers offers the most gorgeous accent rugs I have ever seen, cards (I stocked up on Christmas cards at a 50% discount a few days ago), chocolates, tea, small serving pieces, lamps, vases, pillows, shawls, CDs - you name it. There's a little of everything there.

Stop by, get yourself on their customer list, and you will be invited to their frequent parties - just like going to a party at a friend's house - only better. You meet so many new people, while eating and drinking a mix of catered and home-cooked food (José is a fab cook). In addition to being a great boutique, Art with Flowers has a reputation for being a diverse gathering place for people who appreciate beauty in all of its forms - friends from every nation who find themselves staying in the DC area. Recently, the boutique had a party to showcase local perfumers and jewelry designers. It was great fun meeting the artists whose passion for their work was evident in their beautiful and fragrant creations. Of course, the food and wine were divine.

Stop by Art with Flowers sometime soon. Or call them at (703-903-6837) if you need to order flowers or want help selecting a unique gift. Tell them Best Things in Beauty sent you. I'll bet you'll be glad you found a cool, new place to shop.

Photo courtesy of Art with Flowers

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are You Going to Spend Less on Cosmetics in 2010?

WWD reported survey results that show women are expected to reduce spending on cosmetics by 8.7% next year. Value hunting and brand loyalty are expected to continue.

Given that many spent less on cosmetics in 2009, this could be a depressing year for cosmetics companies. I'll do my best to prop up their bottom lines! What about you? Do you think you'll spend less, more, or about the same on cosmetics in 2010?

Photo courtesy of

Laurence Dumont Les Senteurs Gourmandes

Laurence Dumont Laboratories in southwestern France produces some of the nicest vanilla-based fragrances I have tried this year. The company's founder, Nadine Petit, produces sensuous perfumes using high-quality, classic essences from around the world. The result is a unique range of scents that are warm and voluptuous.

Some of Laurence Dumont's best-selling scents are included in the Les Senteurs Gourmandes line. The company has combined vanilla with everything from bourbon, chocolate, apricot, and figs to blueberries and orchids to create soul-warming fragrances.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to play with all of Les Senteurs Gourmandes at Art with Flowers in the Tysons Galleria. I had a blast! Each of them took me to an imaginary kitchen, scented with baked goods, fruits, and flowers. They are all dive-in fragrances. Spray one into the crook of your arm, and your nose will find its way there every few minutes for a whiff. Vanilla has that effect on people - it's comfort food in a bottle.

Imagine Vanille Monoi, like the generous caress of a summer sun. A beautiful blend of vanilla, tiare, and coconut-scented air mixed with citrus fruits and island breezes carrying a light mist of sweet rose and jasmine. I'm sure this one was made for me!

Vanille Frangipanier, shown here, is my second favorite. It has top notes of lemon, almond, and toffee; middle notes of ylang ylang, spices, and milk; and base notes of white musc, woods, and big-time vanilla.

Could I stop with two? No! There's Vanille Bourbon, a melange of bourbon vanilla, anise, toffee, red berries, coconut, and white musc. This is José's (Art with Flowers) favorite of the line, and it's seductive. I was also taken with Tendre Madeline until I detected a faint note of cinnamon. I know the world loves cinnamon, but it makes me run for cover. Then there's Fig Sauvage, the scent of "sun-drenched fruit," with green notes, ylang ylang, fig, and violet over the vanilla base. It's a beauty.

Each of the 10 eau de parfums in the line is long-lasting, giving you a day's worth of fragrance with just one or two sprays. A 100-ml eau de parfum spray costs $50.00 - a recent price reduction with the relaunch of the line after a multi-year absence. Some of the scents are available in shower gels.

If you like vanilla-based fragrances, you should look these up. There's one for every taste. Art with Flowers at the Tysons Galleria has the full range of Laurence Dumont's Les Senteurs Gourmandes. Other sources can be found at this link. If there is no source near you, give Bill a call at Art with Flowers (703-903-6837). He will be glad to help you select a favorite and ship it to you. The line is also available at the Lush Oasis Web site, but it appears you will pay a little more than you would at Art with Flowers (Lush Oasis doesn't reflect the recent price reduction).

Photo courtesy of Laurence Dumont

Monday, December 28, 2009

Michael Kors Very Hollywood Collection for Estee Lauder

Doesn't Hilary Rhoda look gorgeous? The limited-edition Michael Kors Very Hollywood Collection for Estee Lauder arrived at Nordstrom on December 26, giving a lift to the Estee Lauder reps who were suffering from the post-holiday let-down. I bought only two pieces - more on that below - the items that worked for me. There are some brunettes out there who are going to be very tempted by this pretty look.

The collection evokes the Beverly Hills Hotel, the pink palace. The nude, pink, and peach collection speaks volumes about the hotel's 12 acres of lush gardens, exotic flowers, and private walkways. Check out the Best Things in Beauty post from October announcing the collection.

The collection has five lipsticks, five glosses, two eye shadow duos, two eye pencils, a shimmering loose powder, and two nail lacquers, divided into two color families: Rodeo Pink and Bel-Air Beige.

I like the collection! Unfortunately - for me - most of the colors don't work with my fair complexion and blond hair. I know they should, but bubble gum colors leave me looking pale and washed out - or like I'm trying to be a teenager again. There were two items, though, that absolutely had to come home with me.

The Michael Kors Eyeshadow Duo in Night Star ($30) is dramatic. Like night and day, the white shade is a perfect lid base, and the charcoal is a great accent color. Love it!

The Michael Kors Blush ($26) in Sunset Coral isn't nearly as coral as the link to the Estee Lauder site shows. Instead, it's a beautiful, natural peach that warms without adding a lot of pigment. It's beautiful, and it jumped into my bag. The other blush, in Sunset Pink, was too pink for me. If you have any pink in your complexion, check out Sunset Coral. If you don't, you will love the bright Sunset Pink for spring.

The five beautifully transparent Lip Sheens and five Lip Glosses range from nude to vibrant pink. Most of them are just too light for me, giving me a monochromatic, washed-out look. I can see them on others, though, and they will be delicious.

The lovely Michael Kors Shimmering Loose Powder ($32) will fit the bill for anyone who wants a subtle sparkle with a golden pink tint. It's very pretty. I was tempted, very tempted. The lovely rep who helped me had very dark skin, and she plans to use it to enhance her décolleté. She is already stunning and will be even more so with this powder.

The limited-edition items in this collection are going to sell out. Nordstrom got limited quantities, and stocks are low already! If you are interested, shop soon. The colors will be at an Estee Lauder counter near you.

Photos courtesy of Estee Lauder

Selections from Chanel Cosmetics Spring 2010 Collection

After avoiding department stores for the two weeks before Christmas, I ventured out Sunday to see the new makeup arriving in stores. One of my first stops was at the Chanel counter at Nordstrom, where the spring collection was displayed. Chris Coles and I played with the colors, and the verdict was...

The limited-edition highlighting powder, Empreinte de Chanel ($65), didn't excite me. The powder combines shimmering shades of rosewood, beige, and brown to warm and brighten the cheeks and brow bones. A unique beveled brush allows for perfect contouring. There's nothing wrong with it, but on my skin, the powder appears to be just another gold, sparkling powder, even it it does have those classy interlocking "C's" embossed on the surface. I'll bet there isn't a single makeup lover in the U.S. who doesn't already own a gold highlighter. It would have been more exciting if the shades in the compact actually translated into a glowing bronze or rose-gold on my skin - instead of a sparkly gold. I passed on this, but I will give it a second look later.

There is a lot to please in the collection. There are new Rouge Allure lipsticks in natural/rosy shades and Lèvres Scintillantes Glossimer lip glosses (very transparent pink and gold). I was trying to be "after-Christmas frugal," so I wasn't lured to buy. The colors are actually quite nice - all very natural. You should check them out if you are in the market for a new spring lip color.

There were two pieces in the collection that I really liked - enough to purchase. The Kaska Beige Les 4 Ombres de Chanel ($56) eye shadow quad (shades shown below right) is very pretty. The warm palette includes a golden-beige, rose-brown, browned-plum, and light bronze. I was wary of the plum shade (for me), but we mixed it with the golden beige, and it blossomed into a gorgeous color.

The Ombre D'Eau Fluid Iridescent Eyeshadow ($32) in Torrent (shown below left) stopped us in our tracks. This gorgeous khaki color is unique, and I'm going to enjoy experimenting with it, layering it with other colors. Ombre D'Eau is a bi-phase liquid powder that, when shaken, combines to produce a lightweight liquid. It's long-lasting on the lids and produces a soft and light look that minimize lines and dryness. The Torrent shade has a bit more "wow" than the fluid shadow shades introduced previously, and I love it!

collection rounds out with a nail lacquer, a couple of eye shadows (Sillage is a beautiful neutral - I almost bought it), an eyeliner, a blusher (which was already sold out), and more. This collection is made for women who want to look beautiful - not edgy, not Lady Gaga. I think that's fabulous!

You can purchase the new Chanel collection wherever Chanel cosmetics are sold. Nordstrom has it, and I'll check Neiman Marcus and Saks later today. I'll let you know if it hasn't arrived everywhere.

Update 12/29: As promised in the comments, below are s
watches of Torrent taken in sunshine, one straight up and one blended. The color didn't come out exactly true, but it's close!Photos courtesy of Nordstrom and BTiB

Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener

The new spring makeup has started to arrive in stores. It's nirvana for a makeup addict. Today, I went to Nordstrom and had a great time looking and buying. Bobbi Brown's Tinted Eye Brightener ($38) caught my eye right away. The new counter display features all eight shades of this "Touche Éclat-like" concealer-brightener.

Bobbi’s Tinted Eye Brightener, formerly available in pots, is now available as a portable pen. Just a twist the bottom to "push" the product into the built-in brush. This lightweight concealer instantly brightens the under-eye area and refreshes your concealer or makeup if used mid-day.

This unique formula combines lightweight coverage with the latest in skin care technology to instantly give the eye area a brighter, more refreshed look. Among the ingredients are botanicals, dimethicone, an emollient, and titanium dioxide (a sunscreen). If you are looking for a full-coverage concealer, you would probably want to wear this over your regular concealer.

The shade selection is great. Bobbi Brown doesn't assume that everyone is either light, medium, or dark. She's so great! My skin is very fair, so I tried two shades, with the help of Chris Coles, my absolute favorite Nordstrom beauty rep. My choice was between Light Bisque, which has a hint of pink in it, and Porcelain Peach, which has, as you can guess, a hint of peach. Porcelain Peach was Chris's immediate choice, and it was mine also after I saw that it would counteract, not enhance, any redness in my skin. Good for this time of year. Nordstrom's Web site has the best swatches of the colors I've seen online.

This new eye brightener will take its place next to my Touche Éclat for touch-ups during the day or in the evening. Working hard can make you look tired! I'll have fun comparing them.

Tinted Eye Brightener is or will soon be available at all Bobbi Brown counters and wherever Bobbi's products are sold online. You can check it out at and Bobbi Brown's Web site.

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Brown

Saturday, December 26, 2009

MAC Holiday Makeup Brush Sets - Discounted at Nordstrom

It's a great time to pick up a MAC makeup brush set at Nordstrom. There are three limited-edition sets that were all originally priced at $49.50. They have been discounted to $38.90, a 20% reduction. All come in a small, rectangular makeup bag of polished silvery-pewter vinyl - the zip adorned with a round bead and grosgrain ribbon detail. I bought one set when they were released. Now I'm seriously considering the other two.

The Magic, Mirth & Mischief - Do the Trick Brush Bag (shown above) has five buff-and-line brushes: 168SE, 187SE, 209SE, 219SE, and 252SE.

The Magic, Mirth & Mischief - Morning, Noon & Knight Eye Brush Bag (shown at right) has five key brushes for the eyes: 194SE, 204SE, 224SE, 266SE, and 275SE.

The Magic, Mirth & Mischief - Wave of a Wand Sweep & Define Brush Set (shown below) includes brushes 129SE, 190SE, 212SE, 227SE, and 275SE.
I don't have to tell you that MAC's makeup brushes are renowned for their quality. These sets were great values at full price, and they are steals now. I'm sure they will sell out at these prices.

Update 12/27: Nordstrom at Tysons Corner Center has sold out of Sweep & Define, as has the Nordstrom Web site. Tysons has a few left of the other two sets.

Photos courtesy of Nordstrom

Cosmedicine's Medi-morphosis Self-Adjusting Exfoliator

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

The weather we have had in the Mid-Atlantic will do a number on anyone's skin, but it's been especially harsh for us dry, sensitive types. This is the time of year when exfoliation should be an essential part of everyone's routine. It's not enough to slather on serums and creams. We need to exfoliate to keep the flakes at bay and keep our skin looking and feeling good.

Cosmedicine's Medi-morphosis is a deep-pore exfoliator with "stop-action crystals" that are supposed to dissolve when they hit healthy skin, customizing their action. More on that below. Cosmedicine promises zero irritation, based on test results with 217 participants, and recommends Medi-morphosis for even the most sensitive skin.

I like Cosmedicine products, so I purchased Medi-morphosis a few months ago, and I have used it twice a week for the last two weeks. I am wary of physical exfoliators - many are so harsh. I can recommend this one. I have been very pleased with the results.

Here are the features and benefits Cosmedicine attributes to Medi-morphosis.
  • Refines pores - a 12% immediate reduction in pore size
  • Accelerates the release of cellular debris, roughness, dullness, and skin damage
  • Eliminates potential for overdoing - the exfoliation process automatically stops when the dry skin cells have been sloughed off
  • Leaves skin smoother, brighter, more luminous, and never over-exfoliated
  • Helps erase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Helps fade pigmentation and age spots
The key ingredients are witch hazel, a natural toner with potent antioxidant and anti-irritant properties; sodium dehydroacetate, made from organic salt and used to fight bacteria and fungi on the skin; and silica, a special form of crystal derived from sea algae.

The "smart crystals" are said to be only strong enough to slough away flaky, dead skin, and they are supposed to immediately break down when they come into contact with strong, healthy skin.
Here's how you should apply it.
  • Massage a quarter-size amount of product over wet or dry face after cleansing (use larger amount if using on dry skin) until all the exfoliants dissolve and you no longer feel crystals.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Do not use on active breakouts.
  • May be used on lips, decollete, the back of your hand - anywhere except your eyelids.
  • Use twice or three times a week.
I like it. It does a great job of exfoliation, and my skin has absolutely no redness or other signs of irritation after I use it. I'm a little concerned, though, at the message that I don't have strong, healthy skin! I apply Medi-morphosis on wet skin in the shower and massage gently as long as I think my skin can take it (about a minute and a half). It does feel "sandy." The crystals do not dissolve completely, but I stop anyhow. I haven't been brave enough to continue (I know my skin), and, honestly, I don't have more time to give it. No matter! It works. My skin is nicely exfoliated after I use it, and my glow returns.

I know the products I use to protect my skin absorb better after I've removed that layer of dead skin cells. That's why exfoliation is essential all of the time, but even more important in the cold, dry winter air. You must have a base of healthy skin cells for optimal performance from your skin care products and makeup.

You can see a sales video about Medi-morphosis at this link. It's worth watching if you are interested in learning more or thinking about trying it.

Medi-morphosis is not a new product, so it's available at many sources. Here are just a few in different sizes: Sephora ($15 for 1.5 oz), Cosmedicine or ($38 for 3.4 oz), and DermStore ($42 for 4.2 oz).

Photo courtesy of Cosmedicine

Weekend Roundup - December 26

If you aren't resting your head on your keyboard or monitor from holiday fatigue, you might be interested in some of the beauty blog posts I enjoyed reading this week. After I write this, I may go snooze with my own Jungle Boy, who has already retired for his morning nap.

Kari at Fabulous Over Forty introduced us to Organic Body Care from La Falaise.

Gaia at The Non-Blonde told us why Guerlain's Kiss Kiss Lip Gloss in Rubis Rose is a must-have.

Jennifer at Beauty in Real Life interviewed Lianne Farbes, the Makeup Girl.

There's a Perricone MD giveaway at Gouldylox Reviews. After you read about the Acne Treatment Kit, enter for a chance to win.

Temptalia brought us a review of blue-based red lipsticks.

Learn about Bare Escentuals' Buxom Lips glosses before you buy at The Next Best Thing to Going Shopping Yourself.

At Allure's Daily Beauty Reporter Blog, learn how to apply false lashes like a pro.

Beauty Anonymous reviewed the SK-II Skin Signature 3D Redefining Mask.

Amber at Beauty Junkies Unite reviewed Christopher Drummond's Beauty Eyeshadow.

If you haven't entered the Perricone MD Cold Plasma giveaway contest at Best Things in Beauty, there's still time. The deadline has been extended to December 31.

That's it for now. I'm off to read the paper and grab that nap. I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Photo courtesy of

The Weekend Forum - December 26

I hope you had a great Christmas day!

This week, The Friday Forum is The Weekend Forum - but we're here for everyone reading beauty blogs this weekend.

Our forum is devoted to what you have to say about anything related to beauty. Did anyone give you a beauty gift you just love? We'd love to share your glee! 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? Ask!

We will use the comments for what I hope will be a fun and helpful exchange of information this weekend, including a few beauty bits I'll throw in. Our forum is totally open-ended, so I won't provide a topic or ask you a question to kick off the conversation.

The microphone is yours! What did you do for Christmas? Any beauty bits to share?

Photo courtesy of

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men

On Christmas Eve, 1968, American astronaut William Anders, aboard Apollo 8 in its third orbit around the moon, took a photograph of the Earth that the late photographer Galen Rowell called "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken." Wouldn't it be a fitting gift if we could have peace on our planet and restore its environmental richness?

Photo courtesy of NASA

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy Hanukkah to all!

It's a magical time. Eat, drink, and be merry!

Best Things in Beauty will be on vacation tonight and Christmas day - no posts, but maybe a tweet or two. I still have two presents to buy - catnip mousies - and many to wrap. I'll be back Saturday morning, raring to tell you about all the new products I'm trying.

I hope you have a joyous holiday! Be safe and keep warm. Cherish those you love. I've had two Christmas reminders that you never know when you will lose them. I'm looking forward to catching up with friends over the next few days - and cooking prime rib. The chef always gets to drink champagne with a touch of framboise while she cooks, so she will be happy!

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apivita Express Calming Face Mask with Dittany of Crete

After the day I've had, I needed a "calming" product. I did my mother's grocery shopping (the store was crazy-crowded at 9:30 am), then got to her house for the first time since the blizzard. Found sheets of ice on the hill I had to navigate to get the groceries into the house. Fell on the fourth trip from the car, and I was being very careful. That left me sore and out of sorts - made worse by the fact that Mom had no heat. Oh yeah, the oil delivery company seems to have forgotten her since they last came in October. Urge to fire someone. name it...everywhere I went today. I needed to relax.

Fortunately, I had a sample of the Apivita Express Calming Face Mask with Dittany of Crete ($28), and masks make me happy. This mask promises to gently banish redness and irritation (either from cold weather or frustration?) and leave you with flawless, smooth, and clear skin. The key ingredients are Dittany of Crete (an herb that grows wild only on the remote Aegean island of Crete) to soothe and heal, olive oil to hydrate and nourish, and aloe vera to calm and cool. It's also formulated with other natural ingredients known to have beneficial effects on the skin. The mask is ideal for those with hypersensitive skin who want to soothe and soften their skin. Or for frustrated people who just want to calm body and spirit!

The mask has a fresh and natural fragrance - not at all perfumey. It's very cooling when you apply it. Then, as it starts to dry, it has a slight firming feeling. I rinsed it very well - it seemed to want to stay with me!

I love the packaging. The mask comes in packets so that it stays fresh. You get two treatments from each packet. Very travel-friendly!

So, how do I feel now that I've used the mask? Better, but it may have been the drink I had. My skin? Looks great! Refreshed and relaxed, smooth and clear. I'll use this one again. It's very nice.

Apivita, a Greek natural products company founded in 1979, makes a mask for every skin condition. There's bound to be one that catches your eye. I first wrote about Apivita's products in July when I reviewed their Propoline Lip Aids. The masks belong to the company's Express line, a complete range of creams and masks that use fruit and vegetable extracts to provide a unique "nutritional menu" for the face, body, and hair. You can see the mask lineup at Apivita, SkinCareRx, b~glowing, Amazon, and other online sources.

Photo courtesy of

Philip B's White Truffle Shampoo and Conditioner - Winter Remedies

When I first started Best Things in Beauty, I told you about Philip B's fantastic hair care products - products I can't imagine living without (see link). Today, I would like to showcase his White Truffle Ultra-Rich Moisturizing Shampoo and White Truffle Nourishing & Conditioning Creme - the richest products I use to protect my hair in the winter.

The Philip B White Truffle Ultra-Rich Moisturizing Shampoo ($76 - varies by size) is truly ultra-rich. The herbaceous blend of 23.2% pure plant extracts, including hops, nettle, thyme, lavender, horsetail, and burdock, work to restore the lipids in your hair. Italian White Truffle Oil has been infused into the formula, along with soy protein and panthenol (vitamin B5). White Truffle Ultra-Rich Moisturizing Shampoo leaves your hair feeling nourished, healthy, and alive with shine, bounce, and movement. This rich formula is specifically formulated for normal- to chemically and/or color-treated hair. Philip B says you will see and feel the results from your first use. I'll second that! This shampoo is amazing. It even feels rich as you shampoo. It's luxury defined.

Philip B White Truffle Nourishing & Conditioning Creme ($75 - varies by size) is formulated with 23.3% pure botanical extracts of white truffle, lavender, comfrey, hops, and nettle. The list of beneficial ingredients is too long for this post. Trust me that I have never used a more effective conditioner. Even the owner and stylists at "my salon" are wowed by it, and they've seen everything!

The conditioner provides intense moisture and repairs without weighing down your hair. It is the solution when your hair is parched, dry, or chemically treated and in need of deep conditioning. Made from pure, revitalizing botanicals combined with strengthening amino acids and soothing vitamin E, White Truffle Nourishing & Conditioning Creme will make your hair silky-shiny and leave it with body and bounce. I leave it on as long as I can stay in the shower (usually 3-4 minutes). The longer it's on, the more nourishing it is.

Using both together is a gift to my hair. Using only the conditioner after a nice shampoo (try Philip B's African Shea Butter Gentle & Conditioning Shampoo) is a bit more frugal. Either way, I can see the difference in my hair. It's hydrated, soft, shiny, bouncy, and pretty. Isn't that what it's all about?

The Philip B Web site is offering a value gift collection with these two products in a beautiful, elegant box. Start a new tradition and put this on your New Year's gift list!

You can often find online discounts on these two amazing products. I just found the conditioner at Amazon for $55.06. If you live in the U.K., you can buy Philip B products from

I'd love to try the new Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo. I just can't afford to buy my must-have, can't-live-without White Truffle treatments and the new one as well. I think I can deal with settling for the best.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shanghaijava Collection - Lilas Spiritual Crazystick

A box from b~glowing came last week, and nestled within was a perfect antidote to winter. Lilas Spiritual Crazystick from the Shanghaijava Collection by Crazylibellule & The Poppies ($18) is a solid perfume that screams spring. I had no idea how much I would need that touch of spring this week!

The top note is lilac. Although b~glowing says there is clove in the top note, I really despise clove and don't smell it at all. The heart notes are lilac and lily of the valley, and the base notes are lilac and vanilla. In other words, this fragrance is all about lilacs - from the blue-lavender box to the scent itself, it's a heavenly lilac trip. When I wear it, I feel the euphoria of standing beneath an old-fashioned lilac tree, enveloped by the beautiful flowers and fragrance.

You can dab this solid twist-up perfume anywhere you want. I prefer to put it where I can smell it - on my neck, chest, and wrists.

Imported from Paris, the delightful solid perfume scents from Crazylibellule & The Poppies are five grams of pure delight! Wear one or several to create your own blend (a la Jo Malone) or add one to your favorite perfume for a subtle twist on the familiar.

As I sit here at my computer, inhaling lilac while I listen to a neighbor chiseling the ice on his brick walk, I have visions of spring and new life. Maybe there is something to the word "spiritual" in the name!

You can purchase the Crazylibellule & The Poppies solid perfumes at b~glowing and Amazon.

Photo courtesy of b~glowing

Monday, December 21, 2009

Smashbox HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder and Brush Set

I am very picky about face powders. They can't look powdery (witness Nicole Kidman's powder bourde). They can't sit on top of my foundation, making my skin look cakey or dry. They have to blend well and add value (of some sort), or why bother?

This year, I ordered Smashbox's HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder ($59) sight unseen. I read on Sephora that it is an anti-aging, face-perfecting powder, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm glad I did. This is one really nice powder!

Here's what Sephora and Smashbox have to say about it, with a few of my own comments thrown in.

HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder is the first anti-aging powder with the science of skin care built in. It's advanced formulation of pure gold, 48 minerals, 11 amino acids, and a powerful peptide deliver powerful anti-aging benefits, while the patented hydration system continuously revitalizes skin and provides a hydrated look that won't accentuate lines and wrinkles. Check!

The built-in shaver allows for the convenience of a pressed powder combined with the radiant finish of a loose one, and the super-sized brush deposits the perfect amount of powder every time. Check!

The powder is made for all skin types and is free of oil, talc, and parabens. A custom Travel Kabuki Brush comes with it for flawless application. Nice touch, but I used my own Armani brush.

Smashbox claims that clinical studies show that after 10 minutes there is a 33% decrease in the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes, and after six weeks of use, there is a 67% decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles overall. I can't validate this finding. That's way too much to expect from powder, especially if you don't use it every day!

Otherwise, it does what it promises. I really like the way it looks and sets my makeup. It disappears into my skin, which is great. Nicole's makeup artist, take note! A powder that isn't powdery! It is hydrating, and it doesn't accentuate my "expression" lines.

I am also impressed with the delivery vehicle. You turn the container's shaver, and just the right amount is shaved off for your use. That leaves the majority of the product hygienically contained. A little goes a long way, so I could be using it for years!

It comes in four colors. I purchased Porcelain Ivory, which is recommended for fair complexions. It's also available in Light Beige for light complexions, Neutral Beige for medium complexions, and Dark Tan for dark complexions.

I purchased mine from Sephora. I know Nordstrom also carries it. Check it out the next time you browse the makeup aisles!

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Giorgio Armani Skin Minerals for Men - Perfect Gifts

Still wondering what you are going to give the man in your life? Did you know that Giorgio Armani Beauty makes skin-care products for men? If Armani's Skin Minerals are as good as the Crema Nera line, they are bound to be fabulous.

The Skin Minerals are an online exclusive, but you can still order from the Armani Web site and get free overnight shipping today, December 21 (through midnight). Just use code NEXTDAY with any $100 purchase.

The obvious choice for a luxurious treat is the Shaving Cream Skin Minerals for Men ($25). The mineral-rich, non-lathering, textured cream is designed to give a close and soft shave thanks to its formulation.
  • Emollient and polymer agents to hydrate skin and coat bristles for a comfortable shave
  • Oil in water emulsion to favor blade glide over skin and protect skin against razor burn
  • Soothing agent, the bisabolol, for true after-shave comfort
The cleanser in the line is Cleanser Skin Minerals ($25). This is the one product that the men I know are likely to skip. If only they knew!

More than ever, though, men are realizing that they need a moisturizer. The Fortifying Serum Skin Minerals for Men ($50) is a fresh, lightweight mineral-enriched moisture gel that hydrates and protects the skin. Its active ingredients include Armani's volcanic complex, vitamin E, and pro-vitamin B5.

Want to ward off his crow's feet? Eye Master Skin Minerals for Men ($40) is a fresh and light eye gel specifically formulated to rejuvenate the eye contour. The volcanic force of minerals is concentrated to target wrinkles, bags, and dark circles in the delicate eye area. This is just what he needs to combat signs of aging and fatigue and visibly improve skin quality. Caffeine extract, conker, and butcher's broom round out the cocktail.

Snowbound? Just tired of malls? These are perfect choices for the man (or men!) in your life. Just visit Giorgio Armani Beauty today and let UPS do the work to get the gifts to you.

Photo courtesy of Armani Beauty

Care for Your Dry Feet

How are you protecting your feet from the ravages of winter? My poor feet were very cold when I finally finished digging out yesterday. I'm sure that cold exposure will translate into severe dry and cracking skin, so I have already started the "treatments."

My heels crack on the edges (check out for what causes cracked heels). Others get calluses or painfully dry skin. What to do?

I start with a lactic acid product at night (AmLactin from Costco or the drugstore [AmLactin even makes a foot cream] or the prescription Lac-Hydrin) work well. With a lactic acid concentration of 12%, these products have enough active ingredient to slough off the flaky skin and prevent more dessication.

Then, I go into overkill by using a second, very emollient, rich cream or gel over any cracks. I cover them with a bandage. They hurt and it's important to avoid infection. Eucerin's Aquaphor works well (actually, so does petroleum jelly) to cover my heel cracks. I just try to keep something gentle and healing on top of the cracks.

I have read that a good soak in epsom salts is a good idea, but I don't have that kind of time. Additionally, I think it's a good idea to avoid hot water when your skin is severely dry.

I'm not a fan of mechanical buffing, so I steer clear of foot files and other instruments of torture. The opportunity to damage your skin is too great. I will use scrubs in the tub or shower, though. I'm just not sure their benefit is more than superficial.

How do you take care of your feet in the winter?

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend Roundup - December 20

I'm just getting to the Weekend Roundup. I spent so much time shoveling snow in the last two days, I had little time for blogging. I wish I liked the white stuff as much as this gorgeous snow leopard does!

There were some great beauty blog posts this past week. Here is a very short list of some posts I enjoyed reading. Sorry the list isn't more comprehensive - I was overwhelmed with the white stuff. It takes a lot of time to shovel two feet of snow, keep the feeders stocked for the animals outside (when you have to make your way through snow above your knees), and worry about all the bad things that "could happen"!

Kari at Fabulous Over Forty reviewed Lancome's Oscillation Powerfoundation. She likes it!

Gaia at The Non-Blonde introduced a vintage perfume, Jean Patou's Huile de Chaldée. I was intrigued!

I enjoyed Jennifer's Real Life Gift Guide...Home Scents Edition at Beauty in Real Life.

Amber at Beauty Junkies Unite reviewed Dior's DiorShow Extase Mascara.

Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog spotlighted Benefit's Stay Don't Stray Primer for Eyeshadow and Concealer.

You can see the Chanel Kaska Beige Eye Shadow Quad at Temptalia.

At Gouldylox Reviews, read about Macadamia Natural Healing Oil Treatment.

Here at Best Things in Beauty, don't miss the Perricone MD Cold Plasma Giveaway Contest. The deadline will pass before you know it!

Photo courtesy of

DERM AOX and Glycation, Latest Buzzword in Skin Care

La Roche-Posay's new DERM AOX ($55) is an anti-aging product designed to slow the skin's aging process, iron out wrinkles, and restore radiance. It's formulated with Carnosine, a molecule stemming from diabetes research, to inhibit the glycation process and help maintain skin suppleness. It also contains Pycnogenol, a powerful antioxidant, to neutralize free radicals and vitamins E and C to help restore skin structure, smooth skin texture, and increase radiance.

The first thing about DERM AOX that caught my eye was the term "glycation." I knew it only through its relationship to diabetes (very technical - Google it if you are interested). Along comes La Roche-Posay with its new DERM AOX, and it spotlights glycation as a factor in skin care. Glycation is already a "happening thing" in Europe - many of us are behind the curve in the U.S.

Glycation occurs when the naturally occurring sugar molecules in the skin bond to a protein or lipid molecule without the controlling action of an enzyme. The resulting glycation process impairs the functioning of biomolecules, weakening the structure of skin at a cellular level and leading to a loss of firmness and a greater opportunity for wrinkling.

Glycation was noted in the U.S. by cosmeceutical genius and celebrity dermatologist, Dr. Frederic Brandt. Dr. Brandt published a book, named 10 Minutes/10 Years, which looks at ways to target advanced skin glycation. He launched a Lineless Anti-Glycation Serum in March 2007. There is an interesting interview with another expert, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, on sugar and its adverse effects on the skin at this Discovery Health link. The dermatologists are onto something!

Back to DERM AOX. Here is what La Roche-Posay has to say about its benefits.
  • Slows the skin aging process - inhibits the glycation process by 33% and reduces oxidative stress (oxidation) by 49%
  • Smoothes wrinkles - 77% of test patients demonstrated a significant reduction in the appearance of crow's feet
  • Restores radiance - 90% of test patients demonstrated a significant improvement in their skin's radiance
  • Fresh, hydrating gel serum
  • Paraben-free, non-comedogenic
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Hypoallergenic
I have been using samples of DERM AOX and find it promising. A friend, a total skin care junkie, has been using it for weeks, and she is ecstatic. She has very sensitive skin and is disturbed by her minor wrinkling and uneven skin tone. She reports that DERM AOX is working.

You can find DERM AOX at the CVS Healthy Skincare Stores or order it from La Roche-Posay's Web site.

Photo courtesy of La Roche-Posay

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Perricone Cold Plasma Giveaway Contest

The generous folks at Perricone MD are sponsoring a Best Things in Beauty giveaway contest for a fabulous new product: Cold Plasma ($150)! You just read at Best Things in Beauty that Dr. Perricone won a 2009 WWD Beauty Biz Award for Prestige Product Breakthrough of the Year in the skin category for Cold Plasma.

This revolutionary product is designed to help enhance your current anti-aging routine through the power of "biochemical individuality." Cold Plasma works through a patented ionic (i.e., charged particles) suspension carrier system that allows your skin to "extract" from Cold Plasma’s formula according to your individual, unique needs. This personalized system, called biochemical individuality, is a self-selection process charged by phospholipids, major cell membrane components. Phospholipids are fat derivatives that help lock in moisture because phosopholipid bilayers have hydrophilic (attracted to water) heads facing outward and hydrophobic (mix poorly with water) tails facing inward toward each other. The phospholipids in this formula help direct needed nutrients where they can be effectively used through the cell membrane. This means that if any of the ingredients aren’t needed, they just won’t be used. Pretty cool, huh? Cold Plasma was developed through five years of collaboration with physicists at Los Alamos Laboratories (a site I was privileged to visit years ago).

Beyond the unique delivery system, the key ingredients/technology behind this product include:
  • Advanced neuropeptide technology to give anti-inflammatory effects, which assist in slowing 10 signs of aging;
  • DMAE to help stimulate nerve function, thus causing muscles under the skin to tighten, providing a lifted and firmer appearance to sagging skin;
  • L-tyrosine, an amino acid that brightens skin to help radiate a youthful glow; and
  • DHA, an essential amino acid, to support the preservation and hydration of skin.
All that without parabens, fragrance, sulfates, mineral oil, fillers, or artificial colorants!

So, how can you win this award-winning product from Dr. Perricone? Two steps. First, leave a comment with this posting (with your first name or favorite online name) explaining why you need a product like this for your skin. Second, send an e-mail to identifying your comment with your name. Please put Cold Plasma in the subject line. The most compelling entry will win. Since I'm such a softie, I will enlist a small panel of independent judges to select the winner. Then our generous contest hosts will send Cold Plasma to the lucky winner.

The deadline for entries will be December 31 at 5:00 pm Eastern Time (we are running this contest for 10 days so that none of you miss it over the holidays). The contest is limited to U.S. and Canadian residents. I will be announcing this contest posting at Free!Grechen, my giveaway contest partner.

Want to learn more before you enter? Check out the Perricone MD blog! It has great information about skin care and Dr. Perricone's innovative products. I plan to post more information about Cold Plasma while the contest is open. Stay tuned and good luck!

Update 12/26: I extended the deadline by two days. So many are traveling, so the two extra days may give you more time to enter.

Photo courtesy of Perricone MD

Snow Storm - Shopping at Home

Retailers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have to be dying. In the DC area, our prediction for snow accumulation is now at 16-24 inches - with a blizzard warning for the day. The consensus is that we will break a 70-year record for December (and possibly my back as I shovel).

Anyone who planned to shop may have to hit the online sites, many of which are prepared for procrastinators. There are free and expedited shipping offers flying into my inbox, so I will update this posting all day with beauty offers - and maybe a few others that look interesting - after I head outside to put bird and squirrel food at the feeding stations.

YSL Beauty still has Friends & Family. They are offering free two-day shipping to ensure that you get your items in time for Christmas. Use code FF2009.

Bobbi Brown has free two-day shipping with any order through December 21. Use code 2DAY9 at checkout.

Prescriptives is offering free two-day shipping and a free sample trio of three best sellers with any purchase. The offer is good until December 22. Use code SHIP2DAY at checkout. What are the samples? Colorscope Lip Gloss in Sassy, Lash Envy Volumizing Mascara, and Double-sided Eye Pencil.

Ulta has extended free shipping through Sunday on orders of $25 or more. Use code 33069.

MAC us offering free two-day shipping if you place your order today.

Place your order at Lancome, and you will receive it by December 24. Not only that, through Monday, you will receive a six-piece sample collection with any $40 purchase. Use code HOLIDAY bonus at checkout.

With a $100 order until 1:00 pm PST December 21, Beautyhabit will give you two-day shipping when you select ground. Use code BH2DAY.

Target is offering delivery by Christmas if you spend $50 through December 21.

Michael Kors will upgrade shipping on orders over $100. Use code UPGRADE at checkout.

At Sephora, enter code UPS2DAY and select UPS 2nd Day Air shipping to get your gifts by December 24. Offer good through December 21.

Estee Lauder has free second-day shipping. Use code FREE2DAY. Order by 3:00 pm ET on the 22nd, select 2nd Day Service. Order by 1:00 pm on the 23rd, select overnight.

Free shipping from Ralph Lauren through December 20. Use code RLSHP9.

Bare Escentuals is offering free rush shipping with a $100 purchase. Use code HURRY at checkout. It's valid through December 20.

Levenger - great gift site - guarantees delivery by Christmas. Choose FedEx 2nd Day no later than noon December 22. No additional charge to you. There's a sale running too!

Free express shipping from Shu Uemura with any order over $50. Use code EXPRESS at checkout through December 20.

Photo courtesy of

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lisa Hoffman Lip Moisturizer Giveaway Contest Winner

Congratulations to Erica, Y! She won our Lisa Hoffman Lip Moisturizer Giveaway Contest and has been notified by e-mail.

The Lisa Hoffman Spa Facial Lip Moisturizer ($24.95) is an intensive lip moisturizer - perfect for any time of year, but a necessity now that it's dry and cold. I wish there were a way I could get it to her in time for this weekend's harsh weather.

I want all of you to know how much I appreciated your comments and holiday wishes. I wish I could have sent each and every one of you a prize! What I can do is send you my heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year! And promise lots more giveaways in the months to come - starting tomorrow morning.

Come back!

Photo courtesy of DermStore

The Friday Forum - December 18

If predictions are accurate, some of us may be shoveling snow this weekend instead of what we had hoped to do. Please, snow - wait until next week! Bad timing this weekend.

The Friday Forum is devoted to what you have to say about anything related to beauty. 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? Ask! What kind of beauty shopping did you do for the holidays? We would love to know! We will use the comments for what I hope will be a fun and helpful exchange of information.

You know you have something to say! Because this is totally open-ended, I won't provide a topic or ask you a question to kick off the conversation. I always have some beauty bits to share, but I'll put them in the comments this weekend.

The microphone is yours!

P.S. If you haven't entered the Lisa Hoffman Lip Moisturizer Giveaway Contest, the deadline is 5:00 today (Friday).

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I may be the last beauty blogger on earth to spotlight Chanel N°5 EAU PREMIÈRE ($88 to $125), the lighter, softer interpretation of Chanel N°5 - a silky-smooth harmony of floral notes that reveals "the delicate face" of the world-renowned N°5 fragrance.

I have always loved N°5. Coco Chanel wanted "a fragrance that smells like a woman." The original N°5 is described as an aldehydic floral, but that description is a bit simplistic. There's an allure to it that's hard to convey in words. The original has top notes of ylang ylang and neroli, then blossoms with Grasse jasmine, May rose, and possibly iris behind the aldehydes. Sandalwood and vanilla round out the composition.

Chanel N°5 is unmistakable. It's like a romp in an old-fashioned garden. It's comfortable and familiar. You wear it, and people recognize it. The sillage is outstanding.

When the EAU PREMIÈRE was introduced, trying it wasn't at the top of my to-do list. I even wondered how anyone could make Chanel N°5 better, improve its appeal, or make me love it. I think I had the prejudice that "N°5 Light" would be as boring as some of the other lighter compositions of best sellers that have come to market in the last few years. I resisted for months, and then I broke down and took a spray sample container to one of my favorite beauty reps and asked him to "fill it up, please."

At first sniff, EAU PREMIÈRE is like an old friend who has mellowed. It's a softer, lighter, and smoother N°5. The initial aldehyde burst - the sparkling but synthetic chemical introduction of the original - is barely there. What's left are the elements of N°5 that I love. The signature ylang ylang, neroli, rose, and jasmine bouquet is powerful. The fragrance is still powdery, and that's fine with me. I like powdery fragrances.

Don't write it off as I did initially. EAU PREMIÈRE is a lovely fragrance if you like soft florals with staying power. Next time you are lingering near a Chanel or fragrance counter, sample it. Then wait for the compliments on how good you smell!

EAU PREMIÈRE is available at most department stores and many online sources. I haven't bought it yet, but I will once I've replenished my checking account after the Christmas spending spree.

Photo courtesy of Chanel

Need a Last-Minute Makeup Gift? Bobbi Brown to the Rescue

You procrastinated. You need a gift for a gal pal, but you don't know what to buy. Bobbi Brown's Honey Glaze Set ($55) will work for everyone. I'd be thrilled to receive one!

A palette of "sexy nudes" that will work for every skin tone, the set has a warm, pearly beige and a matte, taupe Long-Wear Cream Shadow for soft, neutral eyes (in Dove Gray and Honey Glaze). There are two Long-Wear Gel Eye Liners - Mahogany Ink and Black Topaz - to add some drama. As a bonus, Bobbi threw in a Sand Sugar Shimmer Lip Gloss. The set is topped off with a mini dual-ended brush that has an Ultra-Fine Eye Liner Brush on one end and a Cream Shadow Brush on the other. Perfection!

Visit Bobbi Brown's Web site for more inspiration. Who wouldn't love to receive a Bobbi Brown gift?

Make sure to check Bobbi's site to see what shipping offers or free gifts are available. For the last few days, free shipping and two deluxe samples have been offered with code LUX5. That expired about four hours ago, but maybe it will be replaced with another offer. Later in the day, I will update this posting if there's a great offer.

No matter what special offers are available, spend $65 and you'll get free shipping anyhow. I always say, "One for them...two for me!" You can buy yourself some goodies to reach that $65 spend.

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Brown

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is Green the New Black?

In the December 2009 Vogue, there is a small beauty feature in which Dick Page, Makeup Artistic Director of Shiseido, declares that "green is the new black." Page is quoted as saying "I call it a replacement strategy." In other words, he substitutes an element of a familiar look with an unexpected new shade. For this new smokey-eyed look? Green!

I love green eye shadows - in all shades - but I'll admit they can be hard to work with. If you use a subtle green, it's as easy as taupe. If you want to use brighter shades, you have to be careful.

I asked Loyd Cassler, Armani Beauty expert and makeup artist extraordinaire at Saks, for his advice on wearing green on the eyes. Here are his tips - all good, I think.
  • Remember your age. The older you are, the more careful you have to be in creating a green eye. I had to chuckle when he defined the cut-off at just north of 20 years of age.
  • Consider green an accessory, not the theme, particularly if you are working with the brighter shades.
  • Use green for pop in the middle of the eyelid, but don't take the color into the crease.
  • Consider using it very close to your lashes or as a liner.
  • Blend it with taupe or grey to tone it down and blur out the edges.
I find taupe- and olive-toned greens easiest to work with, even though Loyd thinks blue-eyed blonds are perfect candidates for teal and mint shades. That's why I found the Armani Beauty Top Coat for the holidays so perfect - it is bronze with an ever-so-subtle green cast. I also find bright greens totally stunning on dark brown and black skin, even though intuitively, the darker gals should be wearing warm shades! I guess I'm a rule breaker.

You can create Dick Page's elegant green eye with three products from the RICHROCKS Holiday 2009 Collection. The Luminizing Satin Eye Color ($25) Pyrite Crystal is a silver that's perfect for using with the liner and mascara from the collection or for blending with a green shadow you may already have (remember Loyd's tip to blend your green in with grey!). Perfect Mascara ($22) in Intense Teal is an inky teal green with a metallic gloss, much like the Armani Top Coat in effect - just a tad brighter. The Golden Green Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil ($20) - a burnished golden green - is simply gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of my favorite Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner in Stash.

I like this Shiseido Web page for an enlarged view of the RICHROCKS shades (shown to the right). You can purchase Shiseido products at Bloomingdale's and other Shiseido counters.

Wouldn't it be fun to experiment with the new black?

Photo courtesy of Shiseido