Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guerlain Le 2 de Guerlain Mascara Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to Jules!
Ever wonder about Guerlain's Le 2 de Guerlain Mascara? With its innovative, elegant tube and dual-ended brush for perfect application, Guerlain has made it a simple task to apply mascara flawlessly.

Breathtaking brush No. 1 boosts volume, length, and curl - all in the blink of an eye, and miniature brush No. 2 goes to the limits, enabling you to take in every lash. The first brush transforms eyelashes with a single stroke while it lengthens, curves, and separates. The second, miniature brush is designed for the inner and outer corners and tilted seven degrees to reach and grab the smallest eyelashes and cover them easily without smudges or mistakes. The result? Glam lashes all day (and night).

Courtesy of a friend in the industry, I have one Le 2 de Guerlain Mascara in Noir 2 (black) to give away. I'm pretty excited about that! How can you enter to win? Here's the "fine print."

There are a few simple steps. First, all you really have to do is leave a comment on this feature. After you comment here, 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 extra entries. Follow this blog (through an e-mail subscription or though one of the many Google readers - see sidebar at right) to earn a second entry. You don't have to follow to enter. I want everyone to have a chance, but I also want to reward my followers.

You can earn a third entry by tweeting this contest. Just make sure to include "@BTiBeauty" (without the quotes) in your tweet. I will tweet the contest today, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry. Only one tweet will be counted as an entry. I appreciate multiple tweets, but it's not necessary.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, August 6, at midnight. The next day, I will use a random number generator ( to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday. 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.

This contest is open to anyone anywhere. Here are the terms. I will carefully pack and ship the prize (as I always do). I cannot insure the prize for overseas shipment - it's amazingly expensive to do so because of the way I have to send insured mail. If it's lost or stolen in transit, I won't be able to replace it with another. I'll do my best on this end; let's see if your mail services do right by you on the other end if we have an overseas winner.

Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom

Gilt City DC Launch - August 1

Gilt City, the Gilt Group's latest sensation, is launching Gilt City DC tomorrow, August 1. Most savvy shoppers know that they can find superb bargains on Gilt, a fabulous online flash sale site. Gilt City is offering the same concept, but extended to events and services. Now, the DC area has hit the big time, joining Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, with curated events that are sure to entice you.

With insider pricing, up to 75% off, Gilt City offers tickets to dinners, salon services, sporting events, concerts, exercise classes, and more. If it's going to be fun, it could pop up on Gilt City.

I was privileged to be invited to attend an evening of pampering at the Bliss Spa in the trendy W Hotel in Washington, DC last week to participate in a soft-launch event. The spa was hopping with gals who had seen the offer and jumped. It sold out quickly, like all of Gilt City's offerings, because of exclusive access to connect with your city's best.

"We are thrilled to provide DC with coveted experiences and exclusive offers that will help people explore and celebrate all the wonderful things that define this great city. It possesses the right mix is discerning customers and a rich assortment of local businesses that can support our members' taste-maker lifestyles," said Gilt City President Nathan Richardson. "In the past year, we have built a level of trust with our members that we will deliver premium insider access to the best restaurants, spas, salons, entertainment, and services their cities have to offer. At the same time, we have built a strong marketing platform for local merchants to connect them to the highest-value customers in their communities."

I arrived at the Bliss Spa not sure what to expect. I was greeted by warm, friendly folks who checked my invitation and offered me a choice of two "mini-services" that weren't so mini. I selected a hand and arm massage and a manicure. What a blast! Elizabeth Goodwin, a massage therapist with extensive knowledge of massage techniques, pampered my arms and hands until I was thoroughly relaxed.

Then, I waited no longer than five minutes for Duc Dorocher, my "nail technician." Duc asked me to select a shade from the marvelous in-house brand names, but I pulled my Rock 'n' Romance Mini Nail Lacquer Set from Le Métier de Beauté out of my handbag. I gave him free rein to select a shade for my mini-manicure. After examining all the shades, he selected Chrome Passion, a gorgeous shade - as evidenced by all the oohs and aahs in the room. You can see the final result at this link. My hands look so good, five days later, I'm reluctant to remove Chrome Passion.

Anyone who participated that night and booked treatments for a later date got a 20% discount. What a great way to experience Bliss repeatedly - with a discount!

If you live in the DC area - or any of the cities listed above, you will want to check out Gilt City often. Daily? Blink and you might miss an event you'd love to attend. I know I'll be examining those e-mails closely and quickly when they arrive.

You can follow Gilt City DC on Twitter @GiltCityDC. You can join Gilt at this link. You can also check out the Gilt City Facebook page here. You should be in the loop.

Photos courtesy of Gilt City and Bliss/W

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if Perfume Collection

The romantic description of Ormonde Jayne's Ta'if fragrance tells it all.

A damask rose from Arabia. Ta'if, a town rising 5,000 feet above the shores of the Red Sea and overlooking the Arabian desert, is renowned for its plantations of Ta'if rose.

Ta'if by Ormonde Jayne is an intoxicating and audacious rose scent. This perfume dislikes daylight, preferring dusk, the night, parties, promises, and assignations. It is an opulent composition that makes a bold entrance and is confident enough to sweep everyone else to one side - a real belle of the ball. Ta'if is flamboyant, but also sophisticated - a torrid blend of saffron, pink pepper, rose, dark sappy tree resins, and broom, It is dynamic, daring, and madly in love with life.

I really can't describe Ta'if (varying prices) any better. While it's sultry, it's also perfectly acceptable for day wear. I received a sample of this incredible fragrance from Ormonde Jayne and fell in love instantly. Had I only had an entrance to make!

The top notes are pink pepper, saffron, and dates - all refined culinary pleasures. Combined, they enter the scene with a zippy contradiction between sugar and spice. The heart notes take over quickly. Some of my favorite florals edge the top notes out of the way. Rose oil, freesia, jasmine, and orange flower absolute are blended to emphasize the rose, but with a strong suggestion of the white flower essence. As Ta'if dries down, many hours after application, it becomes a soft memory, laden with broom and amber - both as comfortable as lounging on a lazy day.

Ta-if is a fragrance that will enchant floral lovers, making both rose lovers and white flower lovers swoon. It should be better known in the United States. Sure, all the fragrance gurus know it, but those of us who are just awakening to the pleasures of Ormonde Jayne and other European fragrances have much to discover. The first day I sprayed Ta'if on my body, I was stunned by its appeal - and that I had never tried it, based solely on its notes. I had bought several Ormonde Jayne fragrances earlier this year. One of them was Frangipani, a current favorite.

Ta'if is available in parfum, eau de parfum, bath and shower products, name it. I know of no U.S. source, but if you register at Ormonde Jayne's Web site, you'll find there are great special offers, including free shipping now and then. I am testing my way through several new-to-me fragrances in the line, and I'm having a blast.

Photo courtesy of Ormonde Jayne

Weekend Roundup - July 30

What a week! It was so hot at times, it was hard to get motivated. We persevered, finding treasures you should get to know and sharing our latest beauty news.

BeautyXposé discovered the latest jewelry trend while vacationing in Miami and brought rose gold pieces home to rave reviews. I love my rose gold jewelry - makeup too, as you know.
The Non-Blonde swatched and reviewed the very gorgeous and wearable Chantecaille Sel Iridescent Eye Shadow. This is a shadow everyone should have.
Afraid to wear sandals for fear of exposing your feet? Gouldylox Reviews shared her at-home foot-smoothing find with Emjoi Micro Pedi.
The Beauty Look Book featured the latest, stunning nude shades from the Fall 2011 Burberry Beauty Collection. I had passed on Midnight Brown. Now I'm regretting that decision.
Fab over Forty had some great beauty tips and product must-have suggestions from Dior National Artist, Jeffrey Sanchez.
Daly Beauty found her perfect mascara in Urban Decay's Cannonball.
Best Things in Beauty (yes, that's me) fell in love with Tom Pecheux's innovative Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée from Estée Lauder's Fall 2011 Modern Mercury Collection. I am stunned by the creativity of his last few seasonal collections.
DivaDebbi was able to lighten dark spots with a non-toxic, four-step system called Lumixyl.
Product Girl shared what "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" TV star Taylor Armstrong keeps in her makeup bag. Isn't it always fun to have a peek?
Café Makeup reviewed the newest lipstick formula and the Feather Pink shade from Burberry's Lip Mist collection.
Karla Sugar recounted the legacy of Creed fragrances and featured their three divine new fragrances - go read. If you saw my preview, you'll know I am totally smitten with White Flowers. I'd love to own Original Cologne. I just can't afford to have both! They launch at my Neiman Marcus tomorrow.

Have a hammock in the shade? You might want to use it this weekend!

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Shades: Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Color

There are five new shades available in my all-time favorite Bobbi Brown lipstick! While I've always loved Bobbi Brown's lipsticks (and glosses), the Creamy Lip Colors ($23) feel so good on my lips, I reach for them often.

Creamy Lip Color combines rich color with a creamy shine formula. It offers comfortable, relatively long-lasting wear. With emollient shea butter and plant-derived skin conditioners, the lovely formula provides the prefect balance between color and treatment.

The five new shades are listed below. I purchased three shades, all described and shown to me as new by the product specialist. Unfortunately, only one of those rung for me was new, Washed Seashell (#52). Not sure how that happened, but I like one of the two others, Twilight, very much. I just can't show you as many new shades as I had hoped. You can see little swatches on the top row of the selections at Bobbi Brown's Web site.
  • Burnt Sugar, bronze nude
  • Hibiscus, bright candy pink
  • Pale Petal, medium blue-toned pink
  • Washed Seashell, shimmering, medium nude-toned pink
  • Tiger Lily, shimmering medium coral
It's so hot out, I was afraid to roll the shades out too far for the photo. Lipsticks soften very quickly in our glaring sunshine and heat. Retro Pink is shown at left, Twilight in the center, and Washed Seashell at right.

The three shades are shown on my arm, with Washed Seashell (#52) at the top, Twilight (#45) in the center, and Retro Pink (#33) at the bottom. You can see that Washed Seashell is a warm pink, perfect for summer. Twilight represents one of my favorite brown lipstick shades. It adds a nice natural tone to my pink lips. Retro Pink is definitely light - lighter than my usual suspects - and I don't think it's the shade I selected.

The rep had told me that the new shades had the highest ID numbers, and #33 is not high. I think I had asked for Pale Petal. I'm going to have to start consulting my iPhone when shopping. I'm not "big" on returning "used" makeup, so I'm still considering whether to keep Retro Pink or not. I have too many shades like it.

For someone who doesn't write a blog, whether the shades are new or pre-existing shouldn't matter. I went to Neiman Marcus to see the new ones; hence my dismay. If you've never tried Creamy Lip Color, check out all the shades. If you are looking for new shades, make sure to take the list above with you on your shopping trip.

Photo at top courtesy of Bobbi Brown; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

The Friday Forum - July 29

I'm sure the intense heat we had in July forced the black-eyed susans to bloom early. Even today, after a week of "normal" summer temperatures, we are expecting a brutal heat index again. When I went outside early this morning to put out fox food, I had a short steam bath.

I stopped by the local Nordstrom store this week. I was meeting a friend for dinner in the mall, and it seemed like the perfect time to browse the beauty department (and return an eye cream that was rancid when I bought it). I was astounded that the once discreet sales representatives and product specialists had turned into vultures. The first one swooped as I entered the department. He saw me coming in from the men's clothing area where the door is located. "Are you finding everything you need?" I'm sorry, but isn't that a stupid question to ask someone who clearly just arrived? I looked for a counter manager I know. "They" usually won't bother you when you are accompanied by the competition. Unfortunately, he wasn't working.

The whole time I was in the department, I couldn't walk 10 feet before I was accosted by another one. They were way too aggressive. I wanted to look at the displays. I didn't want to purchase anything, but I had to explain myself at every turn.

I returned the rancid eye cream. The line's representative didn't lose a sale because I bought something more expensive in return. However, she wouldn't stop talking. She tried desperately to explain to me that I was wearing the products "all wrong" and that I needed to layer three of them for the best anti-aging results. If I didn't use the one I didn't want under the one I did want, the products wouldn't absorb properly. Huh? This was a brand I have featured on my blog many times; I know it pretty well. Moving on...

The final straw came when I stopped to look at the MOR display. A sales woman wearing a little shoulder bag (was she supposed to look like a customer?) came over and asked if she could help. I said, "No, thank you." She then persisted, starting to tell me about the MOR line. I said, "Thanks, I know." She kept talking. I had to walk off. I wasn't even allowed, it appears, to gaze at the merchandise in peace. I left the store. I was afraid to slow my pace for fear I'd be accosted again. When did that store's graceful customer service disappear?

Have you had similar experiences at any department store recently? How many times do you have a say, "I'm fine, thank you," to walk through a department at any store? I'd rather hear "Let me know if I can assist you" than "How are you today?"

This week, the arrival pace of the fall beauty collections gained momentum, and I'm expecting to see some long-awaited makeup, skin care, and fragrance very soon. I'm super-excited. I love fall makeup - even when it's 100 degrees outside!

It's time for The Friday Forum, our open 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 early the next week, most (not all) readers have moved on.

Don't forget the giveaway contest for Guerlain's Terracotta Bronzing Powder! It will be a nice addition to close out your summer. The deadline for entries is tomorrow, July 30, at midnight.

Photo by Best Things in Beauty

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New: Estée Lauder Pure Color EyeShadow Palettes - Emerald Oasis

Estée Lauder's Pure Color EyeShadow Palettes have been completely revamped. I meant it earlier this week when I said there's a lot to see at your favorite Estée Lauder counter! I think there are seven of the new five-shade palettes, but please don't hold me to that number; I forgot to count.

My eyes are always drawn to greens. Emerald Oasis ($45) is so much prettier than I expected. It offers glimmering shades that will appeal without the ultra-shimmer of the new duos. Available in every eye shadow family in the rainbow, the new palettes are extremely attractive.

Estée Lauder's press photo is shown above left. My photo, taken in full mid-day sun, is shown at right. In my humble opinion, I think my photo represents Emerald Oasis more accurately. It shows the shades as they appear to my eye. You be the judge, though. Go see the new palettes.

I swatched Emerald Oasis clockwise, with the pretty mint-green shade at the top of the palette at the top of my arm near my wrist. The bronze shade is shimmering and beautiful. The sage green is a delightful, subtly shimmering shade for the lid. The yellow-leaning ivory, which looks a bit putty-like in my compact photo, but is definitely ivory, is shown fourth down on my arm. It blends into my skin so well, you'll be hard-pressed to see it in my photos. The central liner or accent shade is a green-toned charcoal in the center of the palette. It's shown at the bottom of my stacked swatches. I applied all the shades with a sponge-tipped applicator.

I have no official company information that tells me that the yellow-leaning ivory base shade is a creamier formula than the others, but it feels much more creamy on my fingers and applies differently. I'm sure I can get more information for you and update this feature later. I'm glad it's large in the palette. It's a base you'll find useful with many looks.

The back of the palette has a guide. The ivory shade is considered matte; the mint-green has a satin finish; the bronze is considered satin, although I'd call it subtly shimmering; the sage green is a shimmer; and the central charcoal shade is metallic.

The shades all have divine textures. The powder is micro-fine and applies smoothly and evenly. I love the buildable shades. As I always do for swatch photos, I applied them to my arm heavily. You'll have full control with a good eye shadow brush, though. Go from a daytime look to evening glamour by varying your application technique or your shade selections. There will be many combinations to love with these palettes.

If the greens don't grab you, I'll bet one of the other palettes will. Go have a look-see at your Estée Lauder counter. My Emerald Oasis came from Neiman Marcus at Tysons Galleria.

Photo at top courtesy of Estée Lauder; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Dior Rouge Sérum from the Blue Tie Collection for Fall 2011

Steady my heart, Dior introduced new Rouge Sérum Luminous Color Lip Treatment ($34) shades in a new formula with the Blue Tie Collection for fall. Filled with even more active skin-care ingredients than the parent Sérum de Rouge lip color, Rouge Sérum features an amazingly creamy texture to moisturize, smooth, and pamper your lips day in and day out. Enriched with mango butter and other natural extracts, this nourishing treatment is said to boost your lips' microcirculation and collagen levels and enhance their appearance with gorgeous, luminous color. That color is sheer - my favorite lip color look!

The new shades are shown beautifully at MakeUp4All.
  • Carmine Crystal
  • Coral Crystal
  • Passionate Pink Crystal
  • Primrose Crystal
  • Sweet Pink Crystal
  • Tea Rose Crystal
What's a gal to do when faced with a display filled with gorgeous shades? Select two to start! I came home with #675 Passionate Pink Crystal and #645 Sweet Pink Crystal. I could easily have bought four more.

My new shades are shown in the tubes at right. Passionate Pink Crystal is shown at the top and Sweet Pink Crystal below in my photo. Both colors look a little warmer in my photo than they appear to my eye. Naturally, I took many swatch photos and selected the one that most accurately portrayed the shades on my skin.

My photo was taken in morning sunlight. Passionate Pink Crystal is on the left, and Sweet Pink Crystal is on the right. Hopefully, you can see that they are very different pink shades - both sheer, gleaming, and luscious. Passionate Pink Crystal appears red-pink in the tube, but applies as a stunning pure pink. Sweet Pink Crystal is warmer - more rose and with just a hint of brown. I'll be living in both shades.

For the original Sérum de Rouge forumula, Dior said that after one month of daily use, Sérum de Rouge increased the hydration of our lips by 40%, added 24% more smoothness, and helped regain curves and firmness. I wasn't sure about those statistics; they were nice, but not important to me. I simply loved the colors, look, and feel! Now, the new, improved Rouge Sérum formula has captured my heart. This week, I'm going over to Neiman Marcus, where I bought the first two, and I'm going to try to resist buying more...for now.

If you love lighter-than-air, luscious lip colors, check out the Dior Blue Tie Collection Fall 2011 display at your local department store. These new lip color-treatment hybrids are my favorite part of the collection.

Photos courtesy of Neiman Marcus and by Best Things in Beauty

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Estée Lauder Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée from Modern Mercury Collection for Fall 2011

Estée Lauder's Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée ($40) from the Modern Mercury Collection for Fall 2011 is a superstar. It's unique, exquisite, and lust-worthy. Don't miss out; it's a limited edition.

Estée Lauder describes it as a "tribrid" system of liquid, powder, and gel that will revolutionize makeup application and wear. The first-of-a-kind "multi-powder" creates a "theatrical blur of shimmer when applied dry and a fierce flush of color when applied wet." The unique suspension of golden pigments and pearls gives a polished finish with a reflective sheen to the skin.

I kind of gasped when I saw it at Neiman Marcus. OK - all pretense aside - I really gasped. I hadn't been sure what to expect. A press release photo had been fairly close to the shade I see in front of me, but the photo on Estée Lauder's Web site, shown at the top of this feature, gave it a warmer tone. When I saw the warm rose gold shade - one of my favorite highlighter and eye shadow shades - in the compact, I didn't hesitate before I bought it. Then, when I got home and started to play with it, I realized the shade adapts to its surroundings.

My photo directly above shows the beautiful swirling shades in the embossed powder-gel. I'm going to call it a powder-gel because I feel a little silly writing "tribrid," even though that's accurate. It has the most amazing texture, it's going to be hard for me to describe it perfectly. Consider it one of the creamiest powders you'll ever use. It's luxury in a large compact, accompanied by a useful sponge applicator.

Like the eye shadow shades in the Modern Mercury Collection for fall, Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée's color adjusts to light and its surroundings. I took a few swatch photos to show you, and all portray the highlighter with a slightly different hue. It's gold; it's rose-gold; it's peachy gold. Just go buy it while you can. It's golden, gleaming, and gorgeous.

My photos were all taken in full morning sun. Some were taken with the sun directly facing my arm. In others, I tried to show the shade from a bright angle. I applied the powder-gel dry with its cute little applicator.

Make no mistake, this illuminator shines. That shine on my arm isn't only a result of the sun's reflection. You can mute the shine by applying the product lightly or by buffing or blending it (try a Kabuki brush) once you apply the color. You'll have fun experimenting with it.

Apparently, it arrived at the store in short supply. I may have bought one of two, but I'm sure more will be on the way. Neiman Marcus received it just in time for their Estée Lauder gift-with-purchase promotion, which starts Friday. Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée is now available at the Estée Lauder Web site. I assume most of the counters have it now or will receive it very soon.

Photo at top courtesy of Estée Lauder; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Le Métier de Beauté Rock 'n' Romance Mini Nail Lacquer Set

Le Métier de Beauté Rock 'n' Romance Mini Nail Lacquer Set ($25), a Nordstrom Anniversary beauty exclusive, is an amazing value set. Where will you find "all that jazz" for $25? Offering classic style with a modern twist, Le Métier de Beauté's Rock 'n' Romance Mini Nail Lacquer Set includes four nail lacquers - all with decadent color and opulent sheen. The unifying thread through this collection is glamour with an edge.

Specifically formulated to be free of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), Proposition 65-compliant, and fortified with strengthening proteins and hydrators, Le Métier de Beauté Nail Lacquers are highly pigmented for rich, glossy, long-wearing color.

The set includes .14-oz bottles of each of the following four shades, as shown from left to right above.
  • Heat of the Night, a passionate, "vampy" black cherry
  • Chrome Passion, a chocolate charcoal with sultry shimmer, according to Le Métier de Beauté, but it's so much more than that
  • Midnight Rendezvous, a shimmering, steely midnight blue
  • True Romance, a delicate pale rose with a subtle metallic nude finish
Last night, I had the opportunity to visit the Bliss Spa in Washington, D.C., where the manicurist asked me which of their fabulous in-house shades I wanted him to apply. I answered by pulling Rock 'n' Romance out of my bag and asked him to select the shade that most intrigued him. After he carefully examined each of the four (while I think I sold six sets for Nordstrom to the other gals in the room), he selected Chrome Passion. Away we went. To a one, everyone in that room oohed and aahed the shade as he applied two coats. I sat stunned as I gazed at the complex neutral color.

Is it chocolate? Yes. Is it gunmetal? Yes. Does it have a barely perceptible lavender cast? Yes, to my eye. Does it morph in color, depending on the light? Yes. Is it sophisticated? Most definitely! Am I happy with it? Delirious!

A friend bought mine for me during Nordstrom's Anniversary pre-sale. You can still purchase the Rock 'n' Romance set from Nordstrom stores with Le Métier de Beauté counters or online at this link.

Next up for me to try? I think Midnight Rendezvous is in my near future.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Estée Lauder Pure Color EyeShadow Duos from Modern Mercury Collection for Fall 2011

Tom Pecheux, Creative Makeup Director for Estée Lauder, has created one extraordinary, visionary collection after another, and his Pure Color Modern Mercury Collection for Fall 2011 extends his Midas touch. The limited-edition collection, inspired by modern avant-garde architecture features molten, metallic eyes; a soft, shimmering face; edgy matte lips; and a "twisted" shade of green for the nails.

"My inspiration for this collection comes from the creative reflections found in modern architecture, in the phenomenal modern buildings that are like pieces of art. The buildings never, ever look the same color because they are reflecting what is around them. It is the same idea with this collection, you are wearing the same makeup, but you never end up looking the same way," said Pecheux.

I think the superstar piece in the collection is the Pure Color Illuminating Powder Gelée. I'm going to tease you and make you wait until tomorrow to see it. I want to get photos worthy of a superstar. Today, I'll show you three gorgeous Pure Color EyeShadow Duos - two from Modern Mercury and one from the revamped True Color permanent collection.

The collection's three new EyeShadow Duos ($30), in Modern Mercury, Khakis, and Black Chrome, present a powerful mix of textures that highlight and illuminate the eyes with reflective hues. Oddly, the display at Neiman Marcus only showed two of them; someone had substituted a duo that wasn't part of the fall collection. I am always annoyed by that, but on this occasion it allowed me to discover Platinums, which I might have overlooked. If you look carefully at the display photo above, you will not see Black Chrome.

I purchased Modern Mercury, Khakis (of course), and Platinums. I also purchased additional duos from the entirely revamped True Color EyeShadow permanent collection. I will show you those this week as well. There is a wealth of new makeup at your Estée Lauder counter. Kathy Shoreman, who knows I have enough eye shadow for life, kept asking me, "Are you sure you want all this?"

Estée Lauder's press photo of the three duos is shown above left. The photograph of the Khakis duo is not true to color. It's much prettier - lust-worthy, actually. I took a few photos of the three duos from the display in full, mid-day sun. They are presented below. In the photo immediately below, Platinums is shown at left, Modern Mercury in the middle, and Khakis on the right. I also had trouble capturing the marvelous, green shade, so I think Pecheux hit the nail on the head when he remarked that the shades reflect what's around them.

These trios are magnificent, in my humble opinion. Here's another shot of Khakis below right. Hopefully, you can see the sophisticated charcoal khaki, despite Blogger's recent photo challenges.

I swatched all the shades with a sponge-tipped applicator, applying them heavily and taking my photos in full, glaring mid-day sun. The photo at left shows the Khakis duo (with the light shade at my wrist) at the top of my arm, Platinums in the middle, and Modern Mercury at the bottom. The shades shimmer and dance in the sunlight, with the exception of the base shade in the Platinums duo, which has a satin finish.

Khakis has a lightly shimmering beige base shade and a shimmering charcoal-khaki that will knock your socks off if you like khakis as much as I do. Platinums has a satin white base and a shimmering taupe-mauve accent shade - extremely wearable. Modern Mercury offers a shimmering white-grey base with a shimmering pure grey accent. I hope you can see the difference in the reflectiveness of the shades on my arm photo above.

I plan to get better swatch photos - hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, Khakis is swatched above right, Platinums at left, and Modern Mercury below right. When I attempt to snap more photos, I'll try to select a time of day when the sun isn't blazing. Even with the reflections in these swatch photos, I hope you can see that these are incredibly desirable - and wearable - shades.

I'm under Mr. Pecheux's spell. He has brought Estée Lauder to the forefront of creativity, making the once-predictable brand a must-see on my list of seasonal collections. I purchased my pieces at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria. Neiman Marcus will be offering an Estée Lauder gift with purchase starting Friday. The woven shoulder bag filled with useful samples should delight you. What a perfect time to buy!

Update 7/27: More swatch photos. These photos were taken today in morning sun, but it was very bright and direct. Khakis is shown at left. I'm still swooning. Modern Mercury is shown at right below. I think this is a better photo than the one I published yesterday. At the bottom, there's a new photo of the Platinums duo.

My best recommendation? Go play with these shimmering shades. I'll bet you find at least one duo you will want to take home.

Update 7/28: I got one thing wrong in the original post, and a sharp-eyed reader caught it. I went back to the press release and checked. It is the Khakis duo that is new, but not part of the collection. Platinums is part of the collection, per the press release. So, the three duos that are part of the Modern Mercury Collection are Modern Mercury, Platinums, and Black Chrome. My annoyance with the product specialist's substitution on the Modern Mercury Collection display continues, but it was just a different switcheroo than I mentioned originally.

Photos courtesy of Estée Lauder and by Best Things in Beauty

Fabulous Chantecaille Special Offer

How would you like to have this gorgeous, full-sized Chantecaille Les Délices de Roses Lip Palette for free? You can, along with free ground shipping, when you order from and spend at least $125. Go shopping, friends! I just did.

Photo courtesy of Chantecaille

New Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lip Gloss

New from Bobbi Brown, High Shimmer Lip Gloss ($23) "combines gorgeous, light-catching shimmer with lasting, non-sticky shine. Made with fine pearls and clear pigments, High Shimmer Lip Gloss gives lips beautiful, brilliant dimension, and it’s enriched with emollients and vitamins C and E to moisturize, condition, and protect lips, so they feel as good as they look."

"Gorgeous and super-sparkly, this gloss is full fun." - Bobbi Brown

Indeed, High Shimmer Lip Gloss offers a melange of shimmering hues in each tube, with multidimensional sparkles that contribute to each gorgeous shade. See if you can select just one.

Whether you wear Bobbi Brown's new gloss on its own or on top of your favorite lipstick, the new tapered applicator will allow you to apply it easily. No more struggling to put those little brushes back into the tube without irrevocably splaying them!

I saw the new display yesterday at Neiman Marcus. I could have brought home one of each shade - they were that pretty! Instead, I decided to select no more than three, so I stood and tested and agonized for awhile before selecting three shades, all for different reasons.

Canary (#5) is pure gold with golden sparkles. It's a fabulous topper. I'm sure it will come in handy. Naked Plum (#7) is a mauve-leaning pink (not plum really) that's a drop-dead perfect shade for me. Plum Gold (#9), burgundy-plum with a bronze sparkle, will be my dark shade - the one I can toss on without any lipstick and have magnificent color. In fact, I can't imagine needing lip color under Plum Gold; it's extremely pigmented. There are a few more shades that are still calling my name today, so I suspect I'll go back for more someday.

I took my swatch photos in direct morning sunshine, hoping that you would be able to see the sparkling loveliness of the shades, with the sun's rays bouncing off the colors. Canary is at the top; Naked Plum is in the middle; and Plum Gold is shown at the bottom of my arm. In the first photo, I turned my arm away from the sun so that the left side of each swatch shows the reflection, but the right is less direct. In my second photo below right, my arm directly faced the sun.

Look at the beautiful shimmer! These are must-have lip glosses. They have what I will call a heavy texture - not sticky, but you can feel them on your lips. As with most long-lasting glosses these days, if you can feel them, you're likely to have some color left a half-hour after you apply them. Many of the light-as-air glosses are gone in minutes. I'm sure that challenges cosmetics companies.

Bobbi Brown sent out an e-mail about the new High Shimmer Lip Glosses this morning, and you can see them online at the Bobbi Brown Web site. They arrived at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria yesterday. That's where I bought mine. If they are not at other Bobbi Brown counters, they will be very soon. Call before you go.

Photo at top courtesy of Bobbi Brown; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Monday, July 25, 2011

Clinique Black Honey Gradient Powder Blush for Fall 2011

Black Honey Gradient Blush ($29.50) is the surprise, grabber piece in Clinique's Black Honey Collection for Fall 2011. You can use this versatile powder blush to create any look you want, from a subtle glow to a cheek-sculpting intensity. You can brush on all shades in one swirl of your brush (as I did for the photos below), use the lighter half alone as a highlighter, or swipe the darker half for use as a bronzer or contouring color. For $29.50, you get three products in one.

As a Black Honey addict (I explained that long-time love last Saturday), I was excited to see this blush in person. I was stunned by its fabulous color. It was much more exciting than what I had expected from Clinique's promotional photos. I think Black Honey Gradient Blush was created by a genius who understands - feels - the allure of Black Honey Almost Lipstick and transformed the color into a blush.

I struggled to get a photo depicting the "true" shade of this blush. I think the one at left is a good portrait. It's definitely more accurate than Clinique's photo above, which makes the powder blush look too pink. The shade is as difficult to put into words as it is to photograph. I anticipate that Black Honey Gradient Powder Blush will adjust to the skin tone and look of its wearers, just as its namesake lipstick does.

My swatch photos, taken in full sun, show how the shade appears on my skin. The swatch at the top of my arm was applied heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator. The larger swatch below was also applied heavily, but with a dense blush brush. In no case would you wear Black Honey blush with such a heavy application, but you can see the gorgeous mauve-brown hue. There is a very minimal amount of shimmer, just enough to enliven the shade without making it look sparkly on the skin.

I'm smitten! Black Honey Gradient Powder is unique. I don't think I have another blush shade that's even close to earning a duplicate comparison. I have every shade of pink, mauve, and brown imaginable, but no Black Honey clones. I'll be reaching for this blush often, starting now, because it's so natural on my skin. It's absolutely fabulous - the reason you may see me at the Clinique counter buying a second one. It's a limited edition, and I'm not taking a chance that I'll reach the sad day when it's gone for good.

You can find the Black Honey Collection at your favorite Clinique counter. I bought mine at Neiman Marcus.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Ecoya Sweet Pea & Jasmine Hand Cream

I love discovering new-to-me lines! Last weekend, when I went to Art with Flowers at Tysons Galleria to purchase Stargazer lilies, which fragranced my bedroom all week, I saw a corner with an intriguing brand I had never seen before, Ecoya.

Ecoya was nurtured on the shores of Botany Bay, Australia - the same shores where Joseph Banks cataloged hundreds of rich botanicals in the 1770s. Now, Ecoya uses those same botanical waxes and oils, along with sustainable materials, to create a line of natural home and personal fragrance products.

Visit the Ecoya Web site, and you'll be treated to soothing music, beautiful pictures, and a lure of two collections, Ecoya and Towra Conservation Range, the latter dedicated to preserving migratory birds and their habitats. Clearly, my kind of company, and I found it in McLean, Virginia!

The box of Ecoya's Sweet Pea & Jasmine Hand Cream ($20) attracted me, with its classy design and wax seal. I knew there had to be something good inside. I sampled the tester and swooned at the light, sweet fragrance of the hand cream. It quickly became mine so that I could sample the Ecoya line at home.

Ecoya Hand Cream is a hypoallergenic cream that protects, nourishes, and moisturizes my hands and arms, while leaving a beautiful scent. Sweet pea and white jasmine are entwined to capture the essence of "floral elegance." The ingredients include sweet almond oil, glycerin, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, vitamin E and, of course, fragrance. There are no parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol (yea!), silicones, or artificial colors.

Find out where you can purchase Ecoya products at this link. If you are in Australia, you can shop online easily. My local friends should visit Art with Flowers on the top floor of Tysons Galleria. It's a treasure trove.

Photo at top courtesy of Ecoya; other photos by Best Things in Beauty