Saturday, April 30, 2011

YSL Volupté Sheer Candy Glossy Balm Crystal Color

YSL's Volupté Sheer Candy Glossy Balm Crystal Color ($30) has landed - at Sephora. I had expected it to arrive at Neiman Marcus in late June or July. Suddenly, it appeared as a temporary Sephora exclusive. I jumped for joy because it's the replacement for my beloved YSL Gloss Volupté Sheer Sensual Gloss Sticks, which I started hoarding the moment I learned they were being discontinued.

This glossy, tinted balm will dress your lips in a sheer veil of brilliant transparent color boosted with vitamin-laden and antioxidant-rich fruit extracts. Its ultra-light texture leaves my lips feeling soft and hydrated - just the way I like them.

There are six shades. Since I was online and didn't have an opportunity to play with them, I ordered all six. I'm glad I did. There isn't one I don't like. Here are the shades, as described by Sephora and YSL.
  • 01 Lush Coconut, sheer nude beige with golden shimmer
  • 02 Dewy Papaya, sheer fresh peach
  • 03 Juicy Grapefruit, sheer fresh baby pink with golden shimmer
  • 04 Succulent Pomegranate, sheer bright pink with red undertones
  • 05 Mouthwatering Berry, sheer reddish blackberry
  • 06 Luscious Cherry, sheer cherry red with golden shimmer
Here is a photo of all six tubes. The tubes are silver in color, as opposed to the golden tubes in which the Rouge Volupté lip colors are housed. That will help me find one of them in my makeup bag in a hurry, particularly since Rouge Volupté Perle in Stellar Pink is with me at all times. Each balm has a representation of its shade in the decorative color band on the tube - helpful for people like me who carry more than one along.

When you read "sheer" with each description, there's a reason. If you are looking for pigmented lipsticks, this is not your lip color. If you want a natural, hydrating color that you can swipe and go, you will adore Volupté Sheer Candy.

To get swatches for you, I applied four or five swipes of each shade on my arm and took my photo outdoors in bright sunlight. I swatched in numerical order from top (near my wrist) to bottom. The photo at left shows that, with one exception, they increase in pigmentation as you move from 01 to 06. The lightest one is 03, Juicy Grapefruit (third from top), which is a barely there pink.

I have had 01, Lush Coconut, at my desk at work for a few days. I love it! The nude color is perfect for a quick touch-up or dose of moisture for my lips, and I've needed almost continuous moisture on my lips since I burned them with something early in the week. Don't let the appearance of the shades in the tube mislead you. All of these, even the one that appears to be orange, are extremely wearable.

I added two photos to show you the shades from slightly different angles. Can you tell I love Sheer Candy? At right, with the sun making the shades reflect in an arc, the shades show off their glossiness. Below, with the sun at a different angle, you can still see how glossy the Sheer Candy shades will be on your lips. You certainly don't need to apply lip gloss over these beauties!

The Sheer Candy's do have a fruity fragrance, much like the Gloss Volupté Sheer Sensual Gloss Sticks (possibly the same). The mango fragrance of its predecessor didn't bother me at all, and this one doesn't either. However, if you didn't like the gloss sticks, try before you buy.

I love them! Right now, you can only purchase YSL's Volupté Sheer Candy Glossy Balm Crystal Color at Sephora. They are scheduled to arrive at YSL counters at the department stores in July.

Top photo courtesy of Sephora

Weekend Roundup - April 30

The royal wedding of Diana's son William to Catherine Middleton offered excitement and glamour yesterday to a world that needed a dose of both. I watched as long as I could in the early morning hours before I felt compelled to leave for work. Then, in the evening, I saw on the news what I had missed in the evening. It was majestic, flawless, and thrilling on so many levels. Wow! Does anyone know how to do pageantry better than the Brits?

Kate's dress, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, was a brilliant choice. With a nod to Princess Grace, it was elegant - fit for a princess. Almost the first thing I noticed about her look was her gorgeous pair of diamond earrings, a gift from her parents. Her makeup? I've read that she did it! I've heard critics. Phooey! She delftly combined an understated glossy lip with a smoky eye. The only "critical" comment I can make is that with her hair pulled back, she looked tired (incredibly poised, but worn out - understandable). I don't know if more concealer could have hidden the slight circles without looking gobbed under her eyes to the most important person in her life.

Let's turn to our own, closer-to-home, world of beauty. This week, our team of beauty and fashion bloggers shared great suggestions for looking and feeling beautiful and special - even without a fairy tale wedding.

The Beauty Look Book showed us the hot tropics trend of bright nails for summer with Electric Tropics Catwalk Nail Duos in Aloha by Dior.

Everyone needs a perfect bronzer for summer. Café Makeup shared her latest Chanel purchases with the gorgeous bronzer, Soleil Tan de Chanel in Bronze Rosé.

Full brows are youthful, and Fab over Forty showed us how to make the brow a perfect shape by using the proper tools.

The new Dior Addict Lipstick is all the rage. The Non-Blonde gave us her thoughts on the formula and shade of #626, Androgyne.

Exfoliating is an important step in your skin-care regimen. Gouldylox Reviews showed us Jan Marini Instant Refining Exfoliator and is giving one away.

Another giveaway: Looking to lighten and brighten your skin? Diva Debbi showed us Youth Corridor's Skin Brightener. Go enter!

Daly Beauty showed us how to make a classic, simple updo hair style with the new Goody Simple Styles Bun Spiral - perfect for summer or anytime.

Product Girl interviewed Nonie Creme, Founding Creative Director of Butter London nail polishes. See what Creme keeps in her makeup bag.

Florals are so fresh. BeautyXposé shared with us some great floral accessories that are all under $20.

Guerlain's Terra Inca Collection has us clamoring for summer. Here at Best Things in Beauty, I focused on the Ombré Fusion Creme Eyeshadow from the collection. I also featured the bronzer and lip gloss. Scroll through and have a look-see.

How will you spend your weekend? Will you be catching up on any royal wedding news you missed? Shopping, perchance?

Photo courtesy of ABC

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Eau de Parfum

I have wanted to try the Ormonde Jayne fragrances for months. Every time I looked at their British Web site, I sighed. The international shipping was so much money; I couldn't bring myself to order. Suddenly, a couple of weeks ago, I got a free shipping offer. My wish was granted! It always pays to register at sites that interest you.

I bought three Eau de Parfums. The first I've started wearing is Frangipani (about $117 in U.S. dollars). I wore it today, which I think was appropriate for a royal wedding day! I wonder if any of the guests were wearing it too.

I'll let Ormonde Jayne tell you about it.

With its large elegant cream-colored petals, frangipani is perhaps the queen of all tropical flowers. The heart of the structure is a fabulous, heady fusion of frangipani, jasmine, and tuberose absolutes, elevated with plum, water lilies, and green orchid oil. The scent has great foundations and architecture; the notes are soft, captivating, and unforgettable.

The top notes are linden blossom, magnolia flower, and lime peel. The heart or mid-notes are white frangipani, jasmine, rose and tuberose absolutes, water lilies, plum, and green orchid oil. The base notes are amber, musk, cedar, and French vanilla absolute.
I couldn't decide about Frangipani when I read these notes online; I was concerned about the amber and particularly the vanilla. As a rule, I'm not a big fan of fragrances that remind me of cupcakes. Gaia, The Non-Blonde, had told me she thought I would like the Ormonde Jayne florals. Trusting her instincts entirely, I was willing to buy without a whiff. She was right!

Fragrance experts have been in the know about Ormonde Jayne for a long time. Founded by Linda Pilkington, who was asked to create the perfect scented candle for one of the world's leading luxury houses, Ormonde Jayne prides itself on defying convention. The company uses specialty oils not widely used in the perfume industry. They want to be on the "cutting edge of creativity." I like the sound of that.

Ormonde Jayne has a boutique on Old Bond Street in London. The interior looks snazzy in photos. I love the fragrance packaging. The magnetic snap box that holds my new eau de parfums has contrasting colors of vibrant mandarin and ebony. It's timeless, classic yet modern, and elegant - simply stunning. I can't recycle the boxes!

Frangipani sprays on initially with a bit of an alcohol rush, but quickly dries to a fruity floral with a green lilt. I can smell the linden blossom, which makes it unique, and the lime peel. As it starts to dry down, and those heady florals take over, it becomes "even better." The base notes have a nice balance - not too woody, not too musky, just perfect. That vanilla? Almost imperceptible. Maybe it's my nose and spring allergy season, but I don't think so.

If you like sophisticated, clean florals, I think you will like Ormonde Jayne's Frangipani as much as I do. Remember to register at the Web site!

Photo courtesy of Ormonde Jayne

The Friday Forum - April 29

Random thoughts on a big day...

It's wedding day! Is anyone out there, or are you all watching the festivities? I'm watching the royal wedding as I write, and I'll have one eye on it until I have to leave for work. I'll see if anyone is livecasting it when I get into my office. Fortunately, there will be specials on television tonight, so I'll have an opportunity to see everything I miss.

It's Kate's day, but, like many, I am thinking about Diana - how young, innocent, hopeful, and beautiful she was the day she got married, how poorly she was treated, and how sadly her life ended. Can't help it!

I want to say how much sympathy I feel for everyone in the South affected by the tornadoes - lives, family and friends, animals, homes, possessions, neighborhoods - life as they knew it. It's staggering to contemplate the numbers: at least 300 people dead from one romp by Mother Nature as the storm system moved across the South. My heart is with them.

Space Shuttle Endeavour will launch for the last time today, with Rep. Gabby Giffords in attendance. It's so heartening to know that she was well enough to travel and be there. There is nothing quite like standing close to a shuttle launch. It's awesome. I'll never forget the energy that coursed though my body as I watched the majestic shuttle launch I attended. Godspeed, Endeavour!

What's going on here? Late April and early May bring a riot of color to our area. The azaleas, even the common old ones like my neighbor's hot pink above, are a welcome spring sight. This is a perfect locale for azaleas. Believe it or not, many years ago, when I was trying to decide whether I would move to the West Coast to take an offered job at UCLA's medical school in the department of pharmacology, the dogwoods and azaleas were blooming. I decided that our area - my home - was too pretty to leave. That wasn't the only factor, but it made a difference. Had I made the decision in mid-winter, it might have been different.

Have you ever burned your lips with a beauty product? I did this week. I'm not dead-sure what, but I think I might have applied a glycolic acid serum too quickly and wiped it across my lips, hitting my lower lip the most heavily. I get moisturizer all over my lips often, so it's my best guess. My lips are so "ouchy," as Laurie at Product Girl called it on Twitter! They are red, painful, and feel like they are being stretched apart. Since I'm careful to avoid retinol, the product that will burn me, the serum is my best guess at what left me hurting. My advice to everyone is to read directions. If the label says to avoid the eye and mouth area, pay attention!

It's time for The Friday Forum. We use the forum to share information and chat. Did you find any deals you couldn't resist this week? Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Do you have a question others might be able to answer? Want to talk about skin care? What's new in your life? Just use the comments. Don't be shy. Just make sure to ask any question you might have over the weekend. By Monday, most readers have moved on.

Don't forget to enter this week's giveaway contest for a bareMinerals Faux & Foxy set! A Sephora exclusive, it's a nice bronzer/lip gloss duo, and it comes with a brush. The colors are nice for any skin tone.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch more wedding arrivals.

Photo by BTiB

Thursday, April 28, 2011

M·A·C Cremeblend Blush

M·A·C Cremeblend Blush ($19.50) may come in a color you love! There are six shades of Cremeblend Blush, which M·A·C says "manages to make a simple blush state-of-the-art."

The price was right, so I ordered three of them: So Sweet, So Easy; Something Special; and Posey. They appeared online to be shades I might like. I have no idea why I didn't order Tea Petal, which I think I would have liked. I wish I had ordered it.

When the blushes arrived, I was immediately struck by the lightly creamy and easy-to-blend texture. They blend well with a synthetic brush or my fingers. Incredibly nice! The medium-coverage formula imparts a natural finish that's smooth and dewy.

Color makes all the difference. If you select the right shade from the six, you will be extremely happy. I want Tea Petal!

I love two of the three shades I did order. My swatch photo, taken in outdoor sunlight, with the shades fairly unblended, shows my three shades in this order top to bottom:
  • Posey, described as warm peach, but a lovely coral (to my eye) even I can wear,
  • Something Special, described as light coral, but a gorgeous peach with a hint of nude or warm pink, and
  • So Sweet, So Easy, described as a bright yellow-pink, but really cotton-candy pink.
So Sweet, So Easy is way too sugary - a pink that for me is too cool, too young, too light, too something. How could anyone could have selected the description of "yellow-pink"? I don't like it at all, so it's headed to a better home, probably one inhabited by a 12-year-old kid allowed to wear makeup.

I do like the shades that are often hard for me to wear, Posey and Something Special. While I think they switched the descriptions at birth, they are both pretty. Why didn't I order Tea Petal? The site calls it a mid-tone reddish brown, but the swatch photo at M·A·C's Web site is gorgeous. Should I place another order? Anyone have Tea Petal?

You can purchase the Cremeblend Blushes at M·A·C stores, online, and M·A·C counters at department stores. I bought mine online from M·A·C.

Photo at top courtesy of M·A·C

Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder in Aurora

At first glance, this summer look from Dior is all about orange. Learn a little, and you''ll find the model is wearing Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder in Aurora ($46). Aurora (001) and its bronzer sister shade, Sunset (002), have received a lot of recent blogger press. There's a great reason for all the attention.

Here's a photo of the Aurora (#001) bronzer compact, taken in outdoor sunshine so the beautiful woven pattern in the compact sparkles. I also snapped a photo in the shade (shown below) so that you could see that the powder doesn't sparkle without that direct sunlight. The three woven shades (it's a new product so I'm not dead-sure what's below the surface) coordinate perfectly.

Aurora is a flattering bronzer. The multi-toned lightweight powder reproduces the natural summer glow of healthy and radiant sun-kissed skin. Aurora was created for blondes and fair-to-medium complexions, and Sunset for brunettes and medium-to-dark complexions. Aurora was the natural for me. With the rosy pink tones threaded through the compact, I was sure it would be perfect. This is one of the products I nagged the Neiman Marcus gals about - every day. I ended up buying two, the first one from Nordstrom and the second from Neimans. I was getting impatient.

I like it - a lot - even though the shade isn't absolutely perfect for me - darn close, but not perfect. Aurora is extremely pretty; make no mistake. It has set hearts aflame. I'm not criticizing it by saying it isn't absolutely perfect for me. With all the beautiful bronzers on the market, particularly the summer 2o11 introductions, it compares very favorably to most of them. I'm getting so jaded, I think - for me - that the new Guerlain Terra Inca Sublime Radiant Powder is better. Dior's bronzer is warmer. It's a good thing I don't have to choose! The Dior bronzer is significantly less expensive than Guerlain's. It's smaller too.

My swatch photo, taken in outdoor sunlight, shows the bronzer swiped across all the shades at the top with a sponge-tipped applicator and a very heavy application below, achieved by layering with a dense face brush. Remember, bloggers do heavy applications to get shade photos, but you would never apply a bronzer this heavily - hopefully. You don't want to cross the line between a glowing gal and a carnival attraction.

I don't see the rosiness I can see in the Aurora compact on my skin. I "get" the golden bronze, which is an extremely pretty shade and not at all muddy. On the face, when properly applied, it adds a beautiful glow and a nice contour on my fair skin. It is warm, though, and that's what separates it from the Guerlain bronzer on my face. The Terra Inca bronzer has that cool, rose-bronze tint, perfect for me. What some don't like about Guerlain's bronzer is the shimmer. It doesn't bother me, probably because I don't apply bronzer as liberally as others can.

Sabrina posted a lovely comparison of three new summer bronzers from Chanel, Guerlain, and Dior at The Beauty Look Book yesterday. You should read it!

Here is my bottom line. Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder in Aurora is gorgeous. It's just not perfect, and this season, with so much competition, a bronzer must achieve perfection to be a single choice with such an embarrassment of riches available (Chanel's is incredibly gorgeous). Will I be wearing it? Absolutely yes! It surpasses many warm-toned bronzers in my collection. Picky, picky. Isn't it a pleasure to have so many choices?

This bronzer is available at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks, and other Dior counters, I'm sure.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chaz Dean: WEN Bath and Body Products

As I new Chaz Dean groupie (he hooked me with the Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner), I was delighted to be offered an opportunity to try his new bath and body products. The company sent me Lavender Nourishing Body Lotion ($32) and Lavender Body Cleansing Cream ($32). I don't know anyone who doesn't love lavender. It's one of the most soothing scents on earth. When I see a bed of blooming lavender, I want to roll in it like a cat rolling in catnip. Chaz Dean has the next best thing.

Chaz Dean's new bath and body products - all of them - are formulated with a nourishing blend of botanical ingredients. They don't have the harsh detergents in conventional soaps. Dean suggests you start a ritual. Your first step should be an "invigorating" bath or shower with the Body Cleansing Cream. I have to confess: Lavender is relaxing to me, which is great because it calms my mind when it's racing. That's OK, there are other scents for an invigorating experience. This very creamy, but non-lathering, cleanser deposits a moisturizer while stimulating collagen production to promote skin firmness and elasticity (I'm starting to see a need for this). I love the way it cleanses gently, and I use it as a "base" for shaving in the shower.

In your ritual's second step, you should apply the Nourishing Body Lotion - or the Bath, Body & Hair Oil - which applies easily, is rapidly absorbed, and provides long-lasting moisture to leave the skin soft, supple, and "glowing with health." I've adopted this ritual in the last week - morning and evening - and I'm delighted with it.

WEN's one-stop beauty products work seamlessly with each other to promote a balance of "beauty, mind, body, and spirit." With lavender, it works for me! Apparently, there are world-famous devotees of Chaz Dean products, including Gwyneth Paltrow (isn't she great in Glee?), Marcia Cross, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Diana Agron (more Glee), Daryl Hannah, and Drew Barrymore - to name just a few of my favorites. I think I'm in great company.

The bath and body products are available in lavender, fig, and sweet almond scents. There's something for everyone. I want to try fig next. It's too bad I placed a huge order from Chaz Dean's Web site about a week ago. I would have added fig to go along with the lavender I'm using every day. I ordered more Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner, some bath salts in different scents, and a few other things to try. A groupie has to be up-to-date on everything!

When I wrote about the Cleansing Conditioner, many of you commented. You discovered it before I did. I also learned at my office that many women had discovered it before me. When a colleague asked me how I got my hair to shine, and I told her I had started using Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner, she raved that her mother (probably my age) was hooked on it. Smart woman!

Head over the the Chaz Dean Web site. You'll be tempted.

Photo courtesy of Chaz Dean

M·A·C Prep + Prime Highlighter in Light Boost

Another Touche Éclat clone! That's how I think about every pen highlighter that's introduced. It's not fair, really, because some of the clones are much better than others. YSL scored big time with Touche Éclat. Every company wants to grow up to be YSL - at least with a pen highlighter.

M·A·C's new Prep + Prime Highlighter in Light Boost ($23), the lightest of three shades offered, is a pen-style highlighter that adds a soft sheer wash of illuminating color to the skin. With its precision pen-style applicator, it adds radiance exactly where you want it, and blends smoothly for cushion-soft wear. You can use it over makeup for highlights, touch-ups, or under makeup to brighten and prime.

I actually like it, so perhaps I shouldn't have started my feature with a comparison to the unparalleled Touche Éclat. The $23 price is attractive, and the highlighter is nice. It blends well and adds a yellow-gold highlight to my skin - no striking shimmer, just a light-reflecting glow. I think it would be a great dual purpose pen to carry in your handbag: concealer and highlighter in one.

Here's a swatch photo of Light Boost, with the unblended shade at the top and a blended shade below. It was taken in full sun. I hope you can see that Light Boost adds a yellow-gold tint to my skin.

There are two other shades: Bright Forecast (peachy) and Radiant Rose (pink). I think I selected the best shade for my skin, but I'd love to see the others. I purchased mine online, so I had no opportunity to play with the others.

You can find M·A·C's Prep + Prime Highlighter at M·A·C's Web site and M·A·C counters.

Photo at top courtesy of M·A·C

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guerlain Terra Inca Sublime Radiant Powder for Face & Body

Under some conditions, I might think it was amazingly confident for a company to use the term "sublime" in a name. Not this time! Guerlain's Terra Inca Sublime Radiant Powder for Face & Body ($70) is indeed sublime. This bronzer and its compact are stunning (Note: I'm even raving over the compact).

I finally found and purchased the Terra Inca collection bronzer at Nordstrom. I knew it wanted it. It was only after I got home and started playing with it that I realized that it is so much more than a pretty face. Instead of continuing to gush, let me provide a list of the features I love.
  • The compact is large, so you could use this bronzer on your body if you choose. You get a lot of product for the price.
  • The carved top of the engraved compact is gorgeous. If I had a vanity, it would sit there.
  • The magnets that enable the top to "snap" onto the bottom are extremely cool.
  • The bronzer is stamped and beautiful for gazing.
  • When I used it, I realized how extremely happy I really was. The color is a great one for me. It's close to the color I would tan - but I don't do that sun thing.
  • It's got some sparkle to it, but not enough that I worry about looking glittery in the sun.
  • It's easy to apply a light dose.
As usual, I'm not happy with my swatch photo. It was taken in full sun. I decided to apply the two shades of the compact (large outer ring and somewhat smaller center) separately, using a sponge-tipped applicator to ensure you would be able to see the shades in the photo. Then I used a kabuki brush to mix the colors, rolling it around in a circular fashion on the powder. I applied it heavy (too heavily, but I wanted a photo) to show you a better representation of how the colors appear on my skin when combined. The pretty bronze-rose tint of the outer ring isn't clear in my photo, but the golden bronze is.

The top shade on my arm is the outer ring of the compact. The shade below is the golden shade in the center. When I mix them, the overall effect on my skin is golden. It love the gold. Some bronzers make me look like I rolled in a mud puddle - it's the nature of fair skin - even when they don't do that to others. Guerlain's Terra Inca bronzer flatters my skin.

Here is what Nordstrom's Web site has to say about this beauty.

A skin accessory between design and desire, this powder is composed of two subtle pearl shades: a highlighting golden beige and a pink bronze. Together, these shades will embellish your complexion while warming the skin with an iridescent glow. The case mimics the extra-large wooden bangles worn by fashionistas, making Terracotta Powder the "it accessory" of summer 2011!

Amy had great photos at Café Makeup. Her blond daughter Liz modeled it, so if you didn't see Amy's feature, make sure to pop over for a look. Makeup like this makes me happy to be an addict.

As I understand it, the Terra Inca Collection for summer is available at Nordstrom and Saks.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom

Dior 5 Couleurs Palette Fards à Paupières in Rosy Tan for Summer 2011

Yesterday, I showed you Rosy Nude. Today, it's Rosy Tan. The two palettes, introduced for summer, offer pretty variations on a theme: shimmering, sun-kissed colors. I couldn't decide between the two 5 Couleurs Palettes Fards à Paupières ($58), so naturally, I bought them both. It's what a makeup addict does best.

I described all of the characteristics of the palettes yesterday, so I'll direct you to that feature (scroll down or click here) for Dior's description. Here's mine, for what it's worth.

This palette offers a shimmering pink, along with neutral shades that range from shimmering to stain and matte. Once again, the pink is set apart - to my taste, but it's not as jarring to me as it is in Rosy Nude because the brown has a mauve cast. You can see in my swatch photo below right that the pink in the upper left corner mixes nicely with the brown in the upper right corner of the palette. They are the top two shades on my arm.

I swatched the colors using a sponge-tipped applicator and sampled clockwise, starting at top left and ending with the neutral center color shown at the bottom of my arm. The two shades shown at the top of the palette, the pink and mauve-brown, are cool tones that mix nicely. The neutrals at the bottom of the palette are very different. One has a satin finish. The other has a shimmering finish. I like them both. The pale beige in the center looks white on my skin in sunlight, but has a bit more color indoors or away from the sun.

As with the other new 5 Couleurs Palette Fards à Paupières, if there is one shade that's not my favorite, it's the pink. While the two pinks from Rosy Tan and Rosy Nude are different in finish, they are both very pink - not my best look. The other colors? Fabulous! The textures of the new shadows is Dior-like: very creamy, blendable, and long-lasting.

I purchased my new 5 Couleurs Palettes Fards à Paupières at Neiman Marcus. I'm sure other Dior counters have them. I saw the two new palettes at Nordstrom.

Will you buy one of these palettes? Which one?

Photos by BTiB

Monday, April 25, 2011

NARS Queen Soft Touch Shadow Pencil for Summer 2011

The queen would die. NARS Queen Soft Touch Eye Pencil ($24) is a glitter bomb. I don't know how NARS can put out so many incredibly great products, but then introduce an occasional bomb. The Calanque Eyeshadow Trio, introduced with the Spring 2011 Collection, was a washout. Unfortunately, the "gold-infused platinum" in that trio was fairly useless. It had no color. It laid down a sheer sparkle and nothing else. The same is true with the Queen Soft Touch Eye Pencil. It lays down glitter with almost no color.

This smooth and creamy soft touch shadow pencil, in a majestic and modern citrus gold glitter, can be swiped on lids and blended with a fingertip.

The NARS online description of Queen is partially correct. It is smooth and creamy. It's not majestic. Can you find the modern citrus? I tried - I really tried - to get an even application of this pencil shadow. Here are the results on my arm - in bright sun at right above (mostly sunshine) and left, but with a different tilt of my arm vs the sun. I was unsuccessful in applying this shadow, but my photos show the results accurately - uneven, gold glitter, accompanied by almost no green.

Because I have Soft Touch Shadow Pencils I adore, I'm very disappointed. Normally, I don't tell you about products that don't have any characteristic I like. I had to tell you about Queen to prevent you from making the same mistake I did. Do not order this pencil online, sight unseen, thinking you will receive a shimmering parrot green. Go to an arts store and purchase glitter if that's what you want on your eyelids. It will cost a lot less than $24.

Better yet, if you want a shadow pencil, buy the Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in one of the other shades. If you read the word "glitter," though, click away quickly.

Should you like this look, you can purchase the Queen at the NARS Web site and NARS counters, where you will find some exquisite products for Summer 2011. This isn't one of them - in my humble opinion. Fortunately, I'll be telling you about a few I love very soon. The new Multiple - like all the rest of the Multiples - is lust-worthy.

Photo at top courtesy of NARS

Dior 5 Couleurs Palette Fards à Paupières in Rosy Nude for Summer 2011

Until last week, I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Dior 5 Couleurs Palettes Fards à Paupières in Rosy Nude and Rosy Tan ($58). The arrival of my coveted shadows gave the Dior reps a break; I could stop asking.

Inspired by the haute couture treatment of materials and dyes, these must-have palettes provide what Dior calls Couture Color variations with an "unrivaled Color Art formula." The formula is said to "capture and organize a high concentration of pure radiance micronized pigments to ensure a vibrant color finish," with matte, satiny, and finely shimmering results.

Dior further describes these colors with graphic and verbal descriptions of the shades and how to use them in the directions that come inside the box. I'm delighted with four of these shades. I think the Rosy Nude palette (shown at top left) is gorgeous, and I love the color mix - except for the discordant pink in the center. To my eye, the pink doesn't coordinate well with the neutral variations in the compact. You'll see why in my swatch photo below.

I love the four shades that ring the palette, from a highlighting pinky-peach tone to a matte brown. My swatch photo was taken in very full sunlight, which exaggerates the shimmer. The shadows were applied with a sponge-tipped applicator for maximum color. I swatched clockwise, starting with the pinky-peach at the top left and ending with the pink at the center of the compact.

The highlighting shade looks less pinky-peach and more white on my skin in full sun. In the shade - or indoors - it has more color. There is a close-up of it below. The beautiful golden beige in the upper right corner translates as it is. It's a shade I adore in most palettes - or on its own. The peach in the lower right corner is a great shade - wearable by this cool-toned blond, but wearable by warmer skins too (I think). The brown is a medium golden brown - not terribly dark, which is terrific in my book. Don't these shades coordinate beautifully for a summer look?

Then you throw in that pink in the center. While I love pink and brown together, to my eye this pink and this brown don't play well together. The pink is too dark and cool, and the brown is too light and warm for the two to be paired. Maybe Dior was challenging me to think outside the dark blue, mirrored box?

Four out of five isn't an issue for me. I love four of the shades, so I am pleased. I'll share my impressions of the other new palette, Rosy Tan, very soon. It was also worth the wait. I purchased my new 5 Couleurs Palettes Fards à Paupières at Neiman Marcus. I'm sure other Dior counters have them. I saw the two new palettes at Nordstrom.

What do you think? Would you wear the center pink shade with the other shades in Rosy Nude?

Photos by BTiB

Guerlain Terracotta Moisturizing Gloss for Summer 2011

Don't be fooled when you look at Guerlain's new Terracotta Moisturizing Glosses ($30.50)! They are transparent beauties on the lips - not the deep, saturated shades they appear to be in the tubes.

Neon fuchsia, sunny coral, and flamboyant red, these concentrates of color envelop the lips in delicious sheerness with insolent shine and give an instant radiance boost to the face. The secret? A luminous, hydrating, and translucent formula, free of sparkles, makes this a great outdoor choice. This non-sticky gloss can be applied at any time of day - and any time of year - for a beautiful effect.

There are three glosses in the collection: Mambo (08), rather orange; Salsa (07), fuscsia; and Tango (09), also orange-toned. Only Salsa (shown above right) was the right shade for me. I saved some money!

With the decorative cap, these glosses are snazzy in the tube and sheer lovelies on the lips. My swatch photo below shows Salsa, my selection. Even though it seemed outre in the tube, it's everyday wearable - just perfect.

My swatch photo was taken in mid-day sunlight, and I think it shows the shade well. It's a medium-toned gloss, not too light, not overly dark - a pretty shade that will remind you of pink flamingos. Have you ever found a plastic pink flamingo planted in your garden? Friends do that as a prank, but I find them delightful. Many years ago, when the American Hemerocallis Society had its annual meeting in our area and my garden was featured as an open garden, one of my dear friends from Florida planted a flamingo in my front yard. A few years later, I lost my friend to cancer, but inherited her cat, Wee Storm (and one of the most extraordinary turquoise necklaces I have ever seen). I cherished Stormy until the day she left me to join Ray at 22 years of age. Ray and Wee Storm were both "great people."

Anyhow, because of its coloring, this gloss reminds me of them - and I will think of them when I wear it. It's got that Florida garden color - bright and happy pink. I love it!

You can find the Terra Inca Collection, with which this gloss is displayed, at Nordstrom and Saks. I'll tell you about the extraordinary bronzer next.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guerlain Terra Inca Ombré Fusion Cream Eyeshadow

Guerlain's gorgeous Terra Inca Collection for Summer 2011 is an enticing complement to the Terracotta Collection for 2011. With different items, but also a summer theme, the Terra Inca Collection is extremely appealing. I purchased several pieces, and I'm starting my series with the Terra Inca Ombré Fusion Cream Eyeshadow ($35).

Guerlain's first cream eye shadows specially created for summer, the three Ombré Fusion Cream Eyeshadows are unique, offering the softness of a powder, the richness of a cream, and the lightness of water. They apply like a creamy liquid, which dries quickly. The shadows offer a spectacular lightly metallic effect - really a subtle shimmer that's appropriate for glamorous outdoor wear. The effect of the shadows on the skin is striking. Guerlain says the coverage will last from dawn to dusk, and I believe it. These shadows don't wash off with ease. They're designed to resist heat and dips in the ocean.

The shadows are housed in a lip gloss-like tube, right down to the dot-foot applicator. There are three shades: Bahia (01), Havana (02), and Maya (03) - all places with coastlines. I purchased all three at Nordstrom Tysons Corner Center, mostly so that I could play with them at home. I had a feeling that Havana might be dark from its appearance in the tester, but I've already found a way to lighten it on the skin.

The shades are swatched on my arm, with Bahia at the top, Havana in the middle, and Maya at the bottom. My photo was taken in weak sunlight (you take what you can get!). I started to show you the shadows entirely unblended, but I realized they needed a bit of a blend. I spread them - didn't really blend them well - with my fingertip. Havana had started to dry when I tried to blend it, so it looks very dark (and it is if not blended).

Bahia is a stunning summer peach. You will find it pretty on its own or combined with other shades. Havana is brown, probably better suited to dark skins, not mine. The trick for me is to put it on my palm, pick up the color quickly with a cream shadow brush, and apply it to the outer corner of the lid and crease with haste. Once it dries, it's going to stay put. You may think this is a lot of trouble for a brown shadow, and you would be right. I wanted it, though, so I had to find a way to use it. I love its pure brown color; it's a perfect shade for my skin tone, once blended. The more "adaptable" or wearable shade of brown is Maya. It has a bit of copper in it, which tempers the color. In my photo above, you'll see that I was more successful in finger-blending it. By the time I got to the third swatch, I was ready with my "technique." Maya is a shade that's easier to use. I think it will be the first choice for many.

These are beautiful shadows, and their long-lasting quality will be perfect for lazy days at the pool or beach. For those of us who want that look, but won't be hanging out by the water, they evoke the summer mood. Once you get the hang of blending them on your eyelid, you'll find that they give you a stunning beach-side look. Who doesn't like that?

I have seen the Terra Inca Collection at Nordstrom, and I understand Saks has it too. I waited a long time to find it at Neiman Marcus, but never did. I am wondering, as I've read, if it's exclusive to certain stores (Nordstrom and Saks). If that's the case, a certain Guerlain rep should have known (blogger says ruefully). The collection is gorgeous.

Photos courtesy of Nordstrom

bareMinerals Faux & Foxy Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to Sooj!
Bare Escentuals' bareMinerals Faux & Foxy three-piece set offers exactly what you need to fake that sun-kissed look. The set includes a Faux Tan SPF 15, a Buff & Go brush, and 100% Natural Lipgloss SPF 15. The limited-edition set is exclusive to Sephora. I purchased one Faux & Foxy set to give away.

The bronzer creates a beautiful, glowing tanned complexion and has the added benefit of sun protection. To apply, buff Faux Tan SPF 15 All-Over Face Color in Sunlit Bronze onto the areas of your face the sun would naturally touch (like the bridge of your nose, eyes, cheeks, and forehead) using the Buff & Go Brush. Then enjoy a natural, sun-kissed look without ever stepping foot in the sun. With one gorgeous swipe of 100% Natural SPF 15 Lipgloss in French Toast (a golden bronze), you'll be fabulously faux-tanned and foxy.

All of the pieces are adorned in bronze, carrying the theme of the set into the packaging. If you pull out a piece for touch-ups, you'll be carrying summer with you. I thought I would use this set when I purchased it. Since that time, I've bought many bronzers, and it's clear to me now that I can't use them all this summer. That's why this lovely set is this week's giveaway.

How can you enter to win? Just leave a comment here once. After you comment, feel free to send me an e-mail at and identify your comment. You can never be too careful about sharing an e-mail address you care about on a blog, so feel free to follow this step (an alternative is to code your e-mail, e.g., myname at gmail dot com, in your comment).

You can "earn" a second entry by tweeting this contest. Just make sure to include "@BTiBeauty" (without the quotes) in your tweet. I will tweet the contest this evening, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry. You can earn a third entry by following the blog - either here or on Twitter (any entrant who is already a follower will automatically earn the follower point, but you can save me time by telling me you're a follower in your comment). I can't track followers through a third-party service, so you need to be on Google's list for me to verify the entry.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, April 30, at midnight. The next morning, I will use a random number generator ( to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner at that time. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Whether it's a holy day for you or a holiday opportunity to celebrate with friends and family, I hope you enjoy your day.

I saw my Easter bunny recently. My garden is often populated with darling bunnies. They do a great job munching on weeds - and the occasional herb. I hadn't seen one in months (because I was inside so much this winter?), but last week, a big bunny was out and about. I guess someone told him it was Easter. I hope he lays low when the foxes are around.

I wish hats were in style around here. They seem like the perfect accessory for Easter. Fancy hats are still appreciated in the United Kingdom, within the African-American community, and in the deep South. They know how to wear hats! I love seeing the ladies, all decked out in their pastel outfits, wearing coordinating hats to church on Easter Sunday. These days, many of us wear wide-brimmed hats to garden or at the beach to keep the sun off our faces. You can't even find fine, fancy hats in the stores - the kind Kate Middleton has been photographed wearing. Am I alone in my wish for a resurgence of fashionable hats?

We will be eating my mother's favorite Easter meal today: ham with all the usual sides. Think I'll break out a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate spring and the rebirth of nature's beauty.

Enjoy the day!

Photo courtesy of Southern Living

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Beauty by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy Specifics Ultimate Eye Cream

Specifics Ultimate Eye Cream ($200) from Beauty by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy is formulated to repair damaged skin that no longer has the ability to repair itself due to the aging process or the three most common factors destructive factors: emotional, biological, and physical stress. Specifics Ultimate Eye Cream is said to "work on deep wrinkles to deliver intense hydration and restore the loss of radiance, firmness, and elasticity. Skin around the eye area regains its youthful appearance."

Intended for all skin types, Specifics Ultimate Eye Cream targets the eight major universal eye area concerns: sagging, deep wrinkles, loss of firmness, loss of elasticity, puffiness, dark circles, dryness, and stressed skin around the delicate eye area.

For two weeks, I have been using samples generously provided by Neiman Marcus. The first thing I did was go looking for more information about Ivo Pitanguy. It wasn't hard to find. Here's what I learned from his Web site.

Ivo Helcio Jardim De Campos Pitanguy was born in Brazil. The son of a surgeon, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps, opting to study medicine himself at Rio de Janeiro University. He then began work as a surgeon in the United States before spending some time in Europe, working in France and England. He has set up clinics for burn victims, hand surgery, and plastic surgery.

His products have been developed in accordance with the best cosmetic practices to meet his high standards. Ingredients must have two essential criteria: scientifically proven efficacy and safety. The plants that provide the ingredients must be harvested in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. The formulas contain no coloring and are scented with natural plant essences to minimize risks to sensitive skin and noses. Efficacy and safety studies are carried out under dermatological and ophthalmological control. In short, he takes steps to ensure that his products are effective and in harmony with our skin and the environment.

Specifics Ultimate Eye Cream is the newest addition to his Specifics line. It features a combination of biopeptides and pure gold that wraps the strengthens collagen fibers to "redensify" the skin and fill in deep wrinkles. While I may not have been familiar with his products, the media has been onto them. You can read many magazine reviews at this link.

Wondering how this eye cream works? Here's some information from the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman Web sites.

Main Actions
  • Action 1: Immediately calms, soothes, and relaxes delicate skin around the eye area with a unique trio of plants: candeia, cotton oil, and aloe vera extract
  • Action 2: Targets dark circles and puffiness with white lupin extract, a powerful decongestant, anti-water retention agent, and skin firmer
  • Action 3: Deep repair on a cellular level, optimizing cellular function and restoring ceramide barrier with duo hyper specialized peptides and ceramide
Secondary Actions
  • Pomegranate and vitamin E - powerful antioxidants - fight free radicals and UV rays
  • Rose butter nourishes, revitalizes, and moisturizes
  • Essential oils: Tolu balsam, neroli, rosewood, and benzion regenerate, soothe, and balance
When I read this description, I was impressed. The cream has many great ingredients, and it's paraben-free. The company recommends that you use it morning and evening.

What do I think after using it for two weeks? I'm still impressed! I can see that it definitely has positive effects on the eye area - above and below the eyes. I think it's firming, which means it does diminish fine lines. In only two weeks, I experienced smoother skin. I can't tell you that it reduces puffiness for me. When I get puffiness around my eyes, it's from sleeping on my head by accident. Normally I sleep with my head raised on multiple pillows, but I can get restless at night and "fall off." A bag of frozen baby peas for 20 minutes will get rid of puffiness faster than any cosmetic remedy. Does it banish dark circles? Pronounced dark circles are often a result of blood vessels close to the skin's surface. They are hard to treat with cosmetics, although brightening creams can help. Correctors and concealers are the best cosmetic remedy. I'm glad I don't normally have dark circles.

Reader Ava also got a sample of this eye cream. Here's what she said in a Friday Forum comment. "The bags and puffiness disappeared overnight. I can't vouch for its ability to banish dark circles; they are only an occasional concern for which I think sufficient sleep and allergy meds are the only solution." Ah yes, allergy medications - aren't we all on them in the DC area, with the pollen count at a season high?

Would I purchase this eye cream? Yes. I'll gulp when I do it, but I'm impressed. I'll gulp only because I have purchased a lot of expensive skin care recently. Why do I keep getting hooked on expensive skin care? Sometimes it works!

Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Weekend Roundup - April 23

With Passover earlier in the week and Easter Sunday tomorrow, it's a busy weekend for many of us. We hope you'll take a break and spin through the beauty-verse with us.

Sabrina is a lucky gal. She spent time with Edward Bess at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills! Her husband even commented on her glamorous makeup when she got home. Go see what Edward selected for her at The Beauty Look Book.

Guerlain has introduced its Inca Collection, and Amy had the scoop on the exquisite Terra Inca Bronzer at Café Makeup. Even the packaging is a stunner. I was finally able to purchase many pieces from the Inca Collection this week, and I am impressed. This bronzer is the rosy-toned bronze I tan. I am thrilled with it and will feature it here too - very soon.

Check out BeautyXposé for LORAC’s Summer 2011 TANTalEYES Palette. It comes with an illuminating body bronzer too - a beauty deal you will covet. Anne has me coveting this set.

Kari showed us a way to rid our skin of sun damage and age spots with PMD Microderm. Find out how to blast away discoloration at Fab over Forty. Kari convinced me; I need to order this too. My oh my, the team is making me spend money this weekend!

Good books about beauty are rare. Gaia was enthralled with the new one from François Nars. Find out why you need it too at The Non-Blonde. There's another book I must have, Inès de la Fressange's new book. Heading over to Amazon to look...

Debbi found a miraculous hair product, TRESemme's Climate Protection Mousse. It adds body and shine and de-frizzes for only $3.50 a can! Intrigued? Head over to DivaDebbi.

Jane found an instant hair fix: Batiste Dry Shampoo. She told us at Daly Beauty how she went from flat to feisty. I've had this wonderful dry shampoo to review for months. Think I better hop to it with bunny boy.

Product Girl's Beauty VIP of the Week was Dr. Dennis Gross. Find out from Laurie why she likes Alpha Beta Glow Pads for the face.

If you want more wow, bang, and glam for your eyelashes, Kelly has a suggestion for you. Head over to Gouldylox Reviews to see Mally Beauty's Ginormous Mascara in action.

Here at Best Things in Beauty, I was one happy Giorgio Armani Beauty fan! I bought two of the new Giorgio Armani Beauty Mediterranean Eye Palettes for summer - now officially hoarding. I'm also loving the Sheer Lipsticks.

The generous STAGES of BEAUTY giveaway contest ends tonight at midnight. Why not enter?

I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Tarte Sale Alert

There are fabulous Earth Day discounts this weekend for beauty lovers. Here's one of my favorites from Tarte. Happy Shopping!

Photo courtesy of tartecosmetics

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dior 5 Colours Lift Wide-Eyed & Radiant Effect Serum-Enriched Primer & Eyeshadows in Lifting Rose and Lifting Grey

I was never able to get decent swatch photos of the Dior 5 Colours Lift Wide-Eyed & Radiant Effect Serum-Enriched Primer & Eyeshadows in Lifting Rose and Lifting Grey ($60). The shadows are so light, they don't really show up well on my arm. My inability to photograph swatches shouldn't discourage you from checking out these fabulous palettes. They are wonderful for anyone who goes to work every day - flattering with subtle shades. Both are lighter on my skin than they appear in the compacts.

The Lifting Ivory (#532) palette is shown at top right, and Lifting Rose (#842) shown at left. Each, like the Lifting Grey I already featured, include five products. They are the first palettes of revitalizing, radiance-boosting, treatment-based shadows by Dior. The palettes bring together a new generation of luminous pigments and eye-care serum powders.

Here's what you'll get in each palette.
  • A smoothing Lift Base, infused with skin-care ingredients, that you apply with your fingertips, gently sweeping over the eyelid and into the crease
  • The color Serum Shadow, which you apply to the lid, starting at the inner corner and moving outward
  • The contouring Serum Shadow for the outer corner of the lid and the crease
  • The Radiance-Boosting Shadow to be applied with a light touch to the brow bone
  • The Liner & Brow Structuring Touch with adjustable intensity to use as a liner and brow color
Here is a swatch photo at right of Lifting Ivory, taken in full sun. Because the shades are so close to my skin tone, a few are extremely hard to detect. I applied them with a sponge-tipped applicator, trying to get as much pigment for the swatch photos as possible. I swatched clockwise, starting with the flesh-toned peach at the top left of the palette, and ending with an almost invisible ivory Lift Base at the bottom of my photo. You'll have to trust that they do show up on my eyelids.

At left is a swatch photo of Lifting Rose, taken under the same conditions and in the same order. The pink shade near my wrist is the Serum Shadow at the top left of the compact. The Lift Base shows up a little more clearly because it has a pink tint.

I love the texture of all five colors. They apply like a dream with a regular shadow brush or a cream shadow brush. Because the shades are subtle, they are perfect for those who don't want daytime drama.

The ingredients, depending on the shade, include hydrators and the humectant sodium hyaluronate. The creamy Lift Base is particularly nice. It applies like a cream and attracts shadows without creasing. I'll use the base shades with many other shadows.

You can find the Dior 5 Colours Lift Wide-Eyed & Radiant Effect Serum-Enriched Primer & Eyeshadows at Neiman Marcus. I've scouted the counters for them at other stores and haven't found them anywhere else - yet. Don't make any decisions based on my swatch photos. Go see these beauties if you can.

Photos by BTiB

The Friday Forum - April 22 - Happy Earth Day!

I love dogwoods! This one is a volunteer in my garden. It placed itself perfectly at the front corner of my house, after I had lost a limber pine to an ice storm. It was a welcome guest who made this a home. I have several flowering trees in my garden that were probably brought to me by birds (another great reason to encourage birds by feeding them!). This is one of the best. It came at a time when many of our dogwoods were dying from blight, one of those sad twists of nature that can take our precious trees away - for good.

Every day should be Earth Day. That's why I'm an AVEENO Ambassador, a partnership with Recyclebank. In celebration of Earth Month, AVEENO has kicked off an interactive incentive program with Recyclebank on the AVEENO Facebook page to encourage consumers to take small steps towards beautiful change. Small changes can add up to a big impact, and each of us has the power to transform the health and beauty of the communities in which we live. The AVEENO BE AN ACTIVE NATURAL program lets us all join together and take these small steps toward a more beautiful Earth. AVEENO has invited everyone to join all of us on a journey to take a million steps to transform our own health, our spirit, and our communities. Check out the AVEENO Facebook page to see how you can participate.

I'm enjoying a vacation day off from work. I have many errands to run, so it won't be restful, but I hope to feel accomplished when the sun sets. I'd love to shop, and I know I will pop over to Nordstrom briefly. I'm also looking forward to the arrival of a shipment at Neiman Marcus. I'm hoping some of the "overdue" items on my lust list arrive. I also need to clean clutter.

Are you planning to watch the royal wedding next Friday? Unfortunately, I will be working, and I can't imagine taking a vacation day to watch the whole event. I suspect there will be news clips galore - if not reruns - so I'm sure I'll get to see the pageantry. Kate Middleton is a gorgeous young woman, so she is bound to be beautiful. It will be fun to see her dress, hair, and makeup. Will there ever be "another Diana"?

It's time for The Friday Forum. We use the forum to share information and chat. Did you find any deals you couldn't resist this week? Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Do you have a question others might be able to answer? Want to talk about skin care? What's new in your life? Just use the comments. Don't be shy. Just make sure to ask any question you might have over the weekend. By Monday, most readers have moved on.

Don't forget to enter this week's STAGES of BEAUTY giveaway contest! I'm always surprised by the response to skin care giveaways. We get half the entries we get with makeup. Why is that? The winner of this contest will receive three fabulous products tailored to her age group - all effective and luxurious. The value of the prize is so much higher than the value of, say, a single lip gloss. You smart gals enter in droves for makeup. What's the deal?

Photo by BTiB

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NARS Lose Yourself Blush/Bronzing Powder Duo & Lip Gloss Set

Just in case you are a Sephora VIB and still trying to decide what to purchase (by midnight) with your CHICWEEK 15% discount, may I suggest the NARS Lose Yourself Blush/Bronzing Powder Duo & Lip Gloss Set ($49). I bought one, and I wore it two days in a row this week. You may laugh, but I try so many products, a two-day run in one week is remarkable.

The limited-edition set is exclusive to Sephora. It pairs Angelika Blush with Laguna Bronzer and a large mini-sized Angelika Lip Gloss. With its bright and bronze shades, it summons the spirit of spring and summer. The subtly sparkling cotton-candy pink Angelika Blush and Lip Gloss provide a breezy, ready-to-wear look. There are gold flecks in the blush and gold and silver sparkles in the gloss, but neither is over-the-top glittery. I apply with blush with a fluffy brush so that I don't look "too pink." The Laguna Bronzer is the perfect contouring shade to go with the pretty-in-pink look.

I love the set and meant to tell you about it earlier. You have a few hours left to get yours at a 15% discount in the United States.

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lip Gloss

Oh happy day - the new Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lip Glosses ($22) arrived at Neiman Marcus. These gorgeous glosses, in three pink and peachy colors, are perfect for summer's sun-kissed faces.

Bobbi's new lip gloss offers gorgeous shimmer and high shine that glistens in sunlight and adds dimension to the lips - with or without lipstick. Pearls and clear pigments provide a pretty glow. Emollients add moisture, while the vitamin-enriched formula, with vitamins C and E, conditions the lips and offers antioxidant protection.

The new size upgrade gives us larger glosses - and the new doe-foot applicator will please many of us who didn't love the old, stubby brushes. I had a conversation with a beauty professional who preferred the brushes, so my love of the doe-foots may not be universal.

The lightweight formula is not sticky or tacky, and it's long-lasting. While Bobbi Brown says the shine can last up to six hours, nothing lasts that long on me. Even so, I find the glosses long-lasting - for glosses. They feel great on the lips. To me, they seem lighter than the older glosses, one of which I wore yesterday, so the comparison is fresh.

The three new shades are Pink Tulle, Citrus, and Bellini. These shades are shown above and on my arm, top to bottom. My photo at right was taken in strong mid-day sun, and the one below was taken in indirect light. All three sparkly shades are pastel and pretty. Pink Tulle appears to be a cool pink in the tube. Citrus appears to be peach. Bellini appears to be a pink-nude. On the lips, all are light and sparkling, with enough difference in color that I had to have them all.

When I was at Neiman Marcus, everyone was raving over Citrus - the color of the season. One gal put on citrus over a lipstick that was orange. It looked gorgeous. I wouldn't be surprised if the initial shipment of these beauties sells out immediately, particularly since they are limited editions. Everyone was raving over them.

The new glosses are available at Bobbi Brown online and at Neiman Marcus. If they haven't arrived at other Bobbi Brown counters, they will soon. They were scheduled for an April launch.

Photos by BTiB

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

M·A·C Prep + Prime Vibrancy Eye Primer

I'm always game for trying a new eye primer, so when I saw recently that M·A·C had introduced Prep + Prime Vibrancy Eye Primer ($30), I wanted to try it. I'm glad I purchased it!

Called an instant eye prep, "this quick fix reduces the look of puffy eyes and under-eye shadows while imparting a bright natural radiance to the entire eye area." The company says it perfectly primes the eye for makeup. M·A·C says that if you use it regularly, you will see those instant benefits become more permanent. Sounds great, right?

I haven't used it long enough to tell you whether it reduces puffiness or permanently reduces shadows - that's a tall order. It does have caffeine in it, which is a diuretic and will help reduce puffiness, but the effects are transient. What I can tell you is that it has a host of great ingredients, and I love the effect it provides.

The pump dispenser is very convenient, and it's easy to use. Unlike other pumps, this one is fairly easy to control, so you can dispense only what you need, without wasting product. The texture is a lightweight cream that blends like a dream. It has a slight pink tint when you look at it in a tiny drop in your palm, but that blends into a neutral, almost transparent white shade in the palm (should you decide to blend it there, which you would do only out of curiosity). On my skin, it disappears - except for the beautiful radiance it leaves behind.

I've used it under my eyes, on my lids, and up to my brows. It is easy on the skin, meaning I don't feel it at all. It is a lovely base for my normal primer, corrector, concealer, or a shadow. It adheres to the skin well and prevents creasing of cream products applied over it. It also provides a great base for powder products. That's what we expect from great primers.

The ingredient list is a who's who of skin care, including dimethicone, shea butter, sodium hyaluronate, algae extract, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, chamomile, peptides, and many other beneficial ingredients. It is very moisturizing without leaving any kind of oil slick on the lids - which is impressive. It does have the humectant butylene glycol in it. Butylene glycol does irritate some skin, particularly around the eyes, but my sensitive skin has been unaffected.

The radiance it provides is the most exciting feature of Prep + Prime Vibrancy Eye Primer. It adds a glow, which is amazing since it disappears into the skin. I am excited about my new primer. I also purchased the new Prep + Prime Highlighter. I'll tell you about it soon.

You can find Prep + Prime Vibrancy Eye Primer at M·A·C's Web site or M·A·C counters everywhere. Have you tried it?

Photo courtesy of M·A·C

M·A·C Quite Cute Mineralize Blush

Living proof that I'm not an effete makeup snob: I bought more M·A·C products last week. Quite Cute Mineralize Blush ($23) is really quite nice - and cute. I like the little heart. Like most new M·A·C introductions, it's a limited edition. Don't snooze if you want one of these.

Truth be told, I have always liked M·A·C's mineralized makeup. That's why this blush attracted me. I don't go to the M·A·C store or counter very often, so I ordered online. I selected the pink Giggly shade. When you hover over the photo online, it says "Select Giggly to Shop." Sound like me? The other two shades are Miss Behave, shown top left, and Sakura. Maybe the shopping idea got me. I shopped.

Quite Cute is a pretty baby pink, shown at right, sitting atop the jelly beans (for visitors) in my office. Last week, I had very few photo opportunities. When the sun came out, I took what I could get. I hope these April showers bring pretty May flowers!

This Mineralize Blush features two contrasting/complementary tones in one. The heart is baked right into the center. Fans of the Mineralize Blush's sheer wash of color and dimensional pearl finish will love it.

Here is a swatch photo taken in the sun of my office window. I applied the blush with a sponge-tipped applicator extremely heavily to get any swatch photo at all. This pink is extremely light on my skin - and cute. I keep using the word "cute" from the name of the line because it's a darling color. I'm going to keep this blush at work for afternoon touch-ups. It's a light shade that will enhance whatever blush I applied in the morning.

Want a pretty pink for spring without breaking the bank? You might want to check out Giggly or one of the other shades. It's still available online at M·A·C's Web site (amazing, since it's been available for about two weeks), and you should be able to find it at M·A·C counters.

Top photo courtesy of M·A·C