Thursday, May 31, 2012

Le Métier de Beauté Cebu Lip Crème - Exclusive to Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria

The latest counter-exclusive, limited-edition Le Métier de Beauté Lip Crème in Cebu ($36) is available at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria. It's a beauty!

You know how much I love Le Métier de Beauté Lip Crèmes. They are a lip color-lip gloss hybrid in a lip gloss tube. They combine gorgeous color with an extremely hydrating formula that's enormously flattering.

Cebu is stunning! I pulled a repeat on my photo endeavors at work today. The same two women who saw me yesterday stopped me today and were curious about my photography. They were so cute. One of them thought I might be sitting on the grass applying nail polish. When I told them what I was doing, we had a nice chat. They volunteered, without prompting, to be my witnesses that I am not a security risk.

I did get a few swatch photos today. It appears my application was a bit uneven, but you can still see the glorious color pretty well. My photos were taken in full, mid-day sunshine.

Cebu is a stunning, glistening rose pink. I hope you can see the glimmering finish in my photos. I absolutely love it and need to purchase a second one. Uma Paro is with me at all times. Cebu may need to join it in my makeup bag.

Neiman Marcus' Camp Gorgeous, a week-long beauty event starts this weekend. If you love in the DC area, you'll have three days (really two) to book an appointment with Erin Lockard, one of Le Métier de Beauté's supremely talented national makeup artists. She will be at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie on Thursday and Friday, June 7 and 8. She will be at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria on Saturday, June 9, but the appointments are all booked - for good reason; Erin is very popular.

Here is a photo of the Le Métier de Beauté's gift with purchase for Camp Gorgeous, which runs from June 3 to June 10. The Summer Kiss Bronzing Kit will be yours with a
Le Métier de Beauté purchase of $125 or more. I can't wait!

If you'd like to see Erin, call Michael Reinhardt at the Mazza store at (202) 966-9700, extension 2258. Call soon. He can "Option 7" Cebu for you if you'd like to have one. If you want to call the Tysons store directly, call Lisa Corsino at (703) 761-1600, extension 3306.

Photo at bottom courtesy of Le Métier de Beauté; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Le Métier de Beauté Indian Summer Collection Lip Crèmes by Ken Downing for Summer 2012

Indian Summer, when summer and fall meet for a brief, but gorgeous, moment is the inspiration for Ken Downing's Indian Summer Haute Hues Summer 2012 Collection for Le Métier de Beauté. OK - we're all thinking months ahead now. I want to show you the beautiful new Lip Crème shades - live and in person.

There is just something about the seasons mingling, when the nights begin to cool and the dog days of summer have gone to rest – bronzed skin lingers, but the shades of fall make their debut,” explains Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus’ Fashion Director.  “It always brings me back to that Bianca Jagger, 1970’s Halston moment. It wasn’t just the clothing, it wasn’t just the makeup, it was how it all came together, so carefree, bohemian, and easy.  That is Indian Summer.”

This sultry mix was the inspiration for Ken Downing’s summer collection with Le Métier de Beauté, Indian Summer.  “A summer dress with tawny, coral makeup – it’s so simple and perfect,” says Mr. Downing.  “Shades of bronze, orange, gold, they look gorgeous on every woman and every skin tone.”
Ken Downing’s Indian Summer hues evoke the warm, dreamy feel of the end of the season. Ginger Snap Lip Crème (the lighter of the two shades) holds the perfect amount of shimmer to make lips glisten in the sun, and when layered with the deeper bronze tones of Copper Leaf Lip Crème (the darker shade), the effect is pure summer.

I was limited in photo time today, so I tried something new. There I was at a client site, a government installation that is so secure, I have to badge in four times before I can get to my desk. I decided to go out at lunchtime and take photos. I suspect they frown on photo taking because of the antennae installation located at the site for intelligence purposes. I tried to make it obvious, for anyone who might have seen me, that my camera was pointed at the grass and my arm, with a lovely Juniper in the background. I know someone saw me, and I can only guess what they were thinking. Poor dear finds her arm interesting. We're paying her what?

I'm sorry my photo of the glosses in their Haute Hues floral cardboard "nest" is a bit dark. The sun was partially obscured by clouds when I took it. If you would like to see the Le Métier de Beauté press photos, just hop over to my coming attraction feature.

Ginger Snap is extremely light and transparent - much lighter than I anticipated when I checked it out in the tube. It's shown at the top of my arm in the swatch photos. It's a beautiful shade - just not very pigmented. Hopefully, you can see in the photo above that it shimmers.

On the other hand, Copper Leaf is very pigmented, a burnt orange-copper hybrid. It offers a serious pop of color and will look stunning on anyone who can carry off its extremely warm shade. I'm not sure about me yet. I may layer the two to tone down the bright orange shade. I'll admit I haven't had enough time to play with it.

What do you think? Is this limited-edition set in your future?  You cannot purchase these shades individually. The set costs $65, a discount over the normal price of two Lip Crèmes.

The Ken Downing for Le Métier de Beauté "capsule collections" (this is the most recent) are available at exclusively at Neiman Marcus, neimanmarcus.com, Bergdorf Goodman, and bergdorfgoodman.com. I purchased mine at Neiman Marcus. If you would like to call a product specialist, try Lisa Corsino at (703) 761-1600. Ask for the counter. When I was in New York on Saturday, the collection had not arrived at the Le Métier de Beauté counter.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kevin Aucoin Beauty The Rouge Homage Lipstick - More from New York

Kevin Aucoin was a pioneering makeup artist. Discovered by Vogue, serving as Revlon's Creative Director for the Ultima II line, and finally starting his own company, he was a giant among makeup artists. His untimely death in 2001, was complicated, but primarily caused by painkillers he took for his physical and mental suffering from the symptoms related to a rare pituitary tumor. He was considered a pioneer for many reasons, but retrospectively, he may have been the first makeup artist who refused to prepare models who were too young for the catwalks or editorial work.

When he died, I was sure his cosmetics line would die with him. Much to my surprise, it continues to thrive. 

We have a Kevin Aucoin counter at SPACE.NK at Bloomingdale's at Tysons Corner Center, but the last time I looked, they did not have the latest Kevin Aucoin colors. Barneys New York did. I considered them and ruled them out. Not for me - for example new matte lip colors.

I did play with some of his existing lipsticks and fell for The Rouge Homage Lipstick ($27) in Heartbreaker immediately. Check out my photo below, and you'll see why. Imagine this color. Then imagine a sheer finish - gorgeous!

The Rouge Homage Lipstick is a silky, sheer-finish lip color that pays homage to Kevyn Aucoin’s beloved nude collection from the '90s. Each lip shade features a moisture-rich formulation created with shea butter, aloe, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients hydrate and protect the lips while smoothing texture irregularities for a velvety finish. In addition, the shades are gorgeous. The Nordstrom and Barneys Web sites show eight shades.

I took a few swatch photos in full sunlight over the weekend.  This shade is hard to characterize. It has hues of rose, mauve, and even a little copper in some lighting. It's just as pretty on my lips as it is on my arm.

Now that I'm home, I wish I had picked up a second shade. I'm developing so many incentives to shop! You can find Kevin Aucoin at SPACE.NK, Barneys New York (in store and online), and Nordstrom online. I'd love to choose a second shade in person, so it's likely to be SPACE.NK.

Photo at top courtesy of Barneys New York; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Eye

I'll admit to being an eye cream connoisseur. I have tried everything in hopes of finding the best of the best. I have developed a very short and exclusive list of the best of the best. My most recent addition to the list is Natura Bissé's Diamond Extreme Eye ($195).

Let's get this out of the way, it's pricey. You pay for luxury. I've grown accustomed that that - whether it's for fashion, cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, or art and jewelry. I fell for Diamond Extreme Eye immediately, seeing effects within days of my first use, and I've been hooked for months. When I fall, I fall hard.

Natura Bissé has translated the "language of luxury" into an eye cream that does it all. This eye treatment is considered an energizing lift for the eyes. It offers a dual lifting effect under the skin's surface and externally. My fine lines and wrinkles (hush) have been notably minimized. They aren't gone, but I don't see them as often. The area around my eyes is much more hydrated - and the effect lasts all day and all night. I apply it morning and before bed. I don't really have dark circles, but Diamond Extreme Eye is said to help with them too. It definitely helps take puffiness out from around the eyes by improving microcirculation and banishing the excess moisture under the skin. Mine is caused by sleeping on my right side most of the time - a no-no, but you do what you have to do to sleep at night. Applying Diamond Extreme Eye makes the skin around my eyes look smooth and healthy, and it feels much silkier than it did before I started using it. My initial applications were from a generous gift I received after my Pure Air Bubble Diamond White Facial. I bought it after I ran out of the sample.

Why is it so good? Science explains it. The formula presents a combination of active ingredients that fight the signs of aging in our most vulnerable skin - around the eyes. This extraordinary cream fights sagging on both the upper and lower eye lids and basically makes the skin more resilient. I expect to use my eye creams both over and under. I have little patience for eye creams that I can only use above my eyes or below my eyes. My attitude is, "Oh please...develop a formula that won't creep into my eyes when applied above them, or forget about it." There's just no reason to have different products for "over and under."

Diamond Extreme Eye contains artemia salina, a bio-energy source derived from plankton, a marine extract considered to be a high-energy precursor that stimulates cell metabolism. It also contains an innovative regenerating molecule called Epidermal Self-Modulator to reinforce the skin's natural barrier by targeting the nucleus of aging skin cells for maximum results. Created through biotechnology procedures and tested using DNA technology, it has a proven capability to modulate the renewal process of the skin, resulting in radiance and luminosity.

That's not all. Diamond Extreme Eye contains other ingredients plentiful in Natura Bissé's Diamond Collection, including ursolic acid, amino acids, soy proteins, sweet pea extract, and vitamins. The ingredients that reduce puffiness are carefully selected botanical extracts, such as gotu-kola, nori, white water lily, edelweiss, and licorice - a wide variety of natural ingredients that protect and strengthen the area's circulatory and lymphatic systems. Other eye creams may contain one of these ingredients. Diamond Extreme Eye offers a full complement of them.

This eye treatment contains skin-identical lipids found in amaranth oil, as well as mango and shea butters. These active ingredients provide a protective barrier that protects against moisture loss and dehydration. My skin was softened from the first application - and that was during the harsh end-of-winter months.

As if all that weren't enough, Diamond Extreme Eye has light interfering pigments that alter the way light is reflected on the skin. That's one way it helps with dark circles and radiance.

This amazing cream even comes with directions for application that depend on your major concerns.
  • To smooth those fine lines and wrinkles, apply Diamond Extreme Eye directly on the wrinkle(s) by holding the skin between two fingers and performing gentle circular movements. 
  • To increase firmness and elasticity, apply the treatment by performing circular movements, working from the inner corner of the eyebrows and finishing by gently tapping the eye contour area with the tips of your fingers.
  • To prevent dryness and dehydration, apply a generous layer on the upper and lower lids and massage with circular motions until fully absorbed.
  • To diminish the appearance of under-eye circles, gently massage from the inner to outer corner and back, repeating at least three times.
  • To diminish signs of signs of fatigue and puffy eyes, apply the cream through gentle, slow pumping movements from the inner to outer corner and back, repeating at least three times.
Seriously, who's going to do all that? I tap or lightly blend Diamond Extreme Eye all around my eyes and let it absorb. I might give any puffy area a few extra taps to stimulate lymphatic drainage. That's it. It works magnificently, without the extra application help.

Where can you find this wonderful eye treatment? I purchased my latest at Neiman Marcus. It's also available at Natura Bissé's Web site and specialty boutiques, such as SPACE.NK. Try it, particularly if you have aging or dry skin like I do. I think you will be delighted. If you don't have dry or aging skin, Natura Bissé has multiple targeted lines. You should learn more about the brand. Finding Natura Bissé is like finding Wonderland. Do you keep your anti-aging secrets to yourself, or do you share them with friends?

Photos courtesy of Natura Bissé

Claudio Riaz Complexion Highlighter 5

Claudio Riaz is an internationally known makeup artist and has done makeup for celebrities, "socialites," and fashion shows all over the world. Although I had heard his name, I had never seen his brush and makeup line. Saturday, I got to play at Barneys.

I didn't want to leave the counter. There was so much to try - such gorgeous colors - that it was a mesmerizing experience. My only disappointment was that Barneys' stock was super-low. As I mentioned in my Saturday recap, I wanted to bring home about eight items, and they only had one of them in stock. There were at least three eye shadows (to start), two powder blushes, and other Complexion Highlighters. I was also snagged by a few lip colors. They were all gorgeous. Barneys expects more stock to arrive in two to three weeks. I'll be ready if I haven't ordered them on Claudio Riaz's own site by then. Fortunately, they are available there.

The cream Complexion Highlighters ($38) were all gorgeous. Seriously, I could have purchased most of them. Made with lanolin and beeswax for moisturizing and skin protection, they are sheer and stunning. Riaz recommends you use them prior to conceal to correct uneven skin tone or apply to the high points of your face - cheekbones, brow bone, and nose – to brighten the complexion. They are ideal for radiance and a glamorous glow all over the face.

I purchased #5. In the store, it looked peachy (despite the color in the box you see above). At home in the sun, it looks like a hybrid between bronze and rose gold. The shade is beyond gorgeous, particularly for summer. The seven shades available range from white to bronze, something for everyone (or in my case, about six for me).

As you can see in my swatch photos, #5 is a gorgeous shade that can be used as a blush and a highlighter. It isn't glittery. It glows. I love everything about it: the color, effect on the skin, radiance, and ease of application and blending. There's only one exception.

Most of the Claudio Riaz products come in a cardboard box. The box fits tightly into its "shell" and hard to get into. The open box slides out of the box shell, but not easily. Riaz intended that you purchase multiple products and put them into one of his Refillable Makeup Palettes ($28). I may purchase one once I get more of his products, but I certainly wasn't going to buy a palette for $28 to house a $38 highlighter. The highlighter was pricey enough. I will break down and buy an empty palette once I get more Claidio Riaz makeup.

Here's a look from his Web site that features a classic look, created with the Complexion Highlighter and primers and pre-selected colors from his Instant Face Palette. I think it's gorgeous.

Stay tuned. This is the beginning of an adventure. You can find Claudio Riaz at Barneys New York and the Claudio Riaz Web site. While you may not get carried away shopping online, you will standing at the counter - trust me.

Photo at bottom courtesy of Claudio Riaz; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Monday, May 28, 2012

NARS Buenos Aires Velvet Gloss Pencil

With its Summer 2012 Collection, NARS introduced Buenos Aires, a Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil ($24). The glossy nude beige-pink looked pretty online, so I ordered one in April.

Moving around the globe, Buenos Aires is a wear-with-anything nude beige-pink Velvet Gloss Pencil named after the capital of Argentina. It combines the ease of a pencil with the finish of a gloss for a quintessential modern classic.

Sounded nice, right? I soured on it right away. It broke on first use. I wasn't pressing down hard when I applied it. Just normally, I thought, for a lip pencil. We got off to a bad start. It didn't get better when I examined the color on my lips. It's too light and reminds me of the nudes of yesteryear. I think it makes me look wan. I threw it in a pile of unloved makeup.

I'm finally showing it to you. Maybe this nude shade is one that will grab you. Just heed my warning. Don't press down at all when you apply the creamy pencil. Once the tip breaks off, all you can do is jam the full piece down into the pencil housing and hope you don't lose it when you remove the cap of the pencil. Yes, I know I should have returned it. With Mom needing special attention over the last few months, an e-mail to get a shipping label plus packing time didn't excite me. Plus, NARS does not refund the original shipping costs.


Here's the namby-pamby shade. This nude shade has very little pink in it. I can't figure out whether the pink I see is from my own lip pigment or the shade. It's probably me.

I wouldn't recommend this new shade from NARS. There's a place for it, but not in my house. Just a smidge more color could have made this shade a winner. Unless you are a nude lip color addict, wait for the next best thing.

Did you buy it? What do you think? If any of my contest winners wants it, just tell me in your e-mail when I notify you. It is broken and was used once, so that's not a particularly generous offer.

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

Saturday in New York

On Saturday, I went to New York. I didn't tell you in advance because it's never a good idea to publicize online that you will be out of town. I had a blast, although I'm still recovering physically from the long, active day. Yesterday, I spent the better part of my day resting.

I went for two reasons. There was a party at MiN New York in honor of Sergio Momo, who was visiting from Italy. Sergio is "Mr. Xerjoff" (shown above delivering his presentation to the group). The party was attended by many members of a fragrance Facebook group to which I belong. One came from as far away as Germany! Another came from Montreal. I also wanted to meet my friend Gaia from The Non-Blonde. Although we've become fast friends, we had never visited in person. I was really looking forward to the day. I took Amtrak up and back.

The ride up was fast and uneventful. I was able to take the Acela, which shaves about a half hour off the trip. My train pulled into New York a few minutes before noon, and I hopped in a taxi for Barneys New York, Gaia's and my planned meeting place. She arrived while I was buying Bryedo fragrance! Then we had a blast shopping just about everything on the beauty floor. I fell in love with a new-to-me brand, Claudio Riaz. Within minutes, I had selected about eight things I wanted. Others must like this brand too because they had only one of the eight items in stock - just one! I'll show it to you this week, and I'll be waiting for the call from Barneys telling me they have restocked.

We visited the Frederic Malle counter where we learned that he is launching a hair mist in Carnal Flower. I need that like a third arm, but I'll probably buy it. I also want one of the room sprays, but I held off on spending too much. I knew the day would get costly.

We spent a fair amount of time at the Koh Gen Do counter. Both of us purchased an Aqua Foundation. Kate inspired me on Friday. I'll let you know what I think after I have a few days of wear time. I like the line! They loaded us up with samples, and I suspect it's in my future as a regular.

I needed a chance to recharge, so we went to the restaurant in Barneys to save time at lunch. Very good food and service, but the prices were ridiculous. I had forgotten how much it costs to eat in New York - unless you do the food truck routine.

From Barneys, we walked over to Bergdorf Goodman, where I had hoped to say hello to Dustin at Le Métier de Beauté. I was totally bummed that he wasn't working on Saturday. I found the Tom Ford counter uninspiring. We only had time to do a quick run through Bergdorfs, but Gaia made sure I stopped at Jar. There was no time for the "Jar experience," but I was able to leave with a dab of Jarling on my wrist. I need to go back.

After a quick concealer and blush touch-up at the Chantecaille counter, we were off in a taxi for MiN New York in SoHo. The party started at 3:00, and when we arrived - just a few minutes after that - it was in full swing. Gaia's other half, Ori, met us there. He has been doing his own shopping while we did beauty departments. I think "The Blonde" and "The Non-Blonde" are a darling couple.

The party? Wow! With plenty to eat and drink, great online friends, and a presentation by Sergio (but maybe not enough air conditioning to suit Southerners in 85+, humid weather), it was a great party. Chad Murawczyk and Mindy Yang and the entire MiN team were fabulous hosts. I was there for three hours, and it still seems like one.

I never made it through the entire group to say hello to everyone, but I did take a few moments to meet with the "Tango king" on the couch. I stole this photo from a dear Facebook friend to show you.

I had to sample fragrances! I brought home a few - all of which I'll describe later. Naturally, my spending money was concentrated on Xerjoff, a dynamic line that has something for everyone. Sergio Momo is a sweet, knowledgeable, and, I think, somewhat shy man who has created some of the most amazing fragrances I've purchased this year. With oil concentrations at 25%, they last on my skin forever. You will love the line, which you can find at MiN and Luckyscent.

Just after 6:00, I left in a taxi for Penn Station to catch the 7:00 train back to DC. No Acela, unfortunately, so the trip took 3.5 hours. By the time I got back to my house, it was about 11:00, and I was worn out. After apologizing to Charlie and Savannah for the late dinner - and a quick Facebook check-in - I crashed.

Now, of course, I want to go back more often. I hadn't been to New York in two years - way too long, but there was that knee replacement. I wish now I could have a spine replacement. If I could trade in mine for one that's new, I'd be off to New York way too often.

Stay tuned for my new makeup and fragrance features. I hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day!

Photos by Best Things in Beauty and courtesy of a Facebook friend I finally got to hug

Happy Memorial Day!

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

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

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

Photos sources lost

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bobbi Brown Wild Rose Shimmer Brick Compact Giveaway Contest

Bobbi Brown's new, lust-worthy Rose Gold Collection for Spring 2012 featured two stunning Shimmer Bricks. It was a feast for those like me who ha been awaiting a new Shimmer Bricks. I featured the limited-edition Wild Rose Shimmer Brick ($39) in January.  If you missed it, pop over to this link.I had difficulty getting photos at the time, but they will give you a clue to the gorgeous pink glow Wild Rose creates. Anyhow, I have one to give away.

Handmade in Italy, this award-winning editor's favorite highlights skin with five bars of pearlescent shimmer. You can apply the Shimmer Bricks over blush. My skin is so pale, I often skip the blush and just wear the Wild Rose Shimmer Brick. Try wearing Wild Rose both ways to decide whether you need the additional color a blush will provide. Each bar in the compact also doubles up as eye shadow.

How can you enter to win this contest (technically a sweepstakes)? Just leave a comment on this feature (not in another BTiB post). After you comment here, feel free to send me an e-mail at bestthingsinbeautycontests@gmail.com (the contest address, not my "personal" e-mail) 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). Please make sure I have your e-mail. If I can't notify you, you can't win - even if your number is drawn. I can't believe the number of entrants I haven't been able to find in the past.

You can earn extra entries. Follow this blog (through an e-mail subscription, GFC, or though one of the many Google readers - see sidebar at right) to earn a second entry. If you are a follower, it would help me tally entries if you tell me in your comment how you follow. You don't have to follow to enter. I want everyone to have a chance, but I also want to reward my followers. I must be able to track this entry.

You can earn a third entry by tweeting this contest. You must include "@BTiBeauty" (without the quotes) and the contest title in your tweet. Remember, tweet the contest title - if you don't, that entry won't count. I will tweet the contest this evening, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry - if that's easier.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, June 2, at midnight. The next morning, I will use a random number generator (random.org) to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday morning. 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 may not be able to replace it with another prize just like it. I'll do my best on this end; let's see if your mail service does right by you on the other end if we have an overseas winner.

For all the legalese related to this contest, please see the Contests/Sweepstakes page at the top of the blog. Good luck!

P.S. I did an one-day trip to New York yesterday, taking Amtrak up and back. I shopped with The Non-Blonde, and we both attended a party at MiN New York featuring Sergio Momo, creator of Xerjoff Fragrances, as the guest. As soon as I can recover some energy - without back pain - I'll tell you all about the day. I am so glad I went. I wish my spine felt the same way.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Friday Forum - May 25

With rain every day this week, including one vicious thunderstorm, our plants are happier than they were just a few weeks ago. In April, it was so dry the ground had started to crack open. I had read that we were five inches down from the norm on rainfall. Not good in the month of that's supposed to be characterized by showers!

As a result of the daily clouds and rain, I've been unable to get photos for the blog. We are in a lull of introductions too. The fall collections will start to arrive soon, so it's a good time to catch my breath.

I've decided to take a few days off. Will I relax? Not much. I've got some fun activities planned. I'll tell you all about my exploits in a few days. I'll be back Sunday, "mid-weekend," to share the best things in beauty.

I couldn't let the week end without a Friday Forum, our open chat. What new products did you discover this week? Did you find any deals you couldn't resist? 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 will have moved on.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway contest for Stila's gorgeous All Over Liquid Luminizer set. The deadline is tomorrow, Saturday, May 26, at midnight. I love all three shades.

My fuzzy buddy is sitting in my lap as I type, clearly signaling his approval that I am at home with him. It's nice having such a happy little furball warming my legs. I hope you have a great weekend! I'll be back before it's over. For now, maybe a short nap.

Update 12:14 pm: As requested, a photo of Charleston Sumter above.

Photo by Best Things in Beauty

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer - Swatched

I couldn't let the week go by without showing you the three glorious shades of Stila's All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer ($20). Maybe once you see them you'll want to enter this week's giveaway contest. The deadline is Saturday night.

This set grabbed me at Sephora online and wouldn't let go. As a total Stila fan, I wanted it immediately. While I was ordering my set, I decided to order a second, one for me, one for you - at least one of you.

This trio of trial-sized, skin-enhancing liquid shimmers will add a subtle touch of shimmer for a radiant glow. Ideal for all skin types, each formula contains a skin-protecting antioxidant and grape seed oil to condition and nourish the skin. Soft-focus pigments will help diminish the appearance of fine lines and skin imperfections while adding uplifting highlights. These wonderful liquids, like Armani's, can be used over your foundation or tinted moisturizer or mixed into your face lotion or favorite foundation for subtle luminescence.

The three liquid shimmers come boxed, but they aren't separated within the box by any partition. That struck me as odd, but it's a small matter unless packaging is critical to you. Each of the lovely shimmers will fit into a makeup bag with ease. If you don't want to shine at work, but need to glow at that after-work party, they are perfect take-alongs.

The Liquid Luminizers in the set come in three stunning shades: Pink Shimmer, Rose Gold Shimmer, and Bronze Shimmer. I took my swatch photos in full sun. Pink Shimmer is shown at the top of my arm, Rose Shimmer in the center, and Bronze Shimmer at the bottom.

I didn't blend them at all. I painted them onto my arm with their own brush applicators. In my opinion, all three shades are gorgeous. Pink Shimmer isn't really pink. It's a stunning champagne shade.  Rose Gold Shimmer is more peach than I had anticipated, but lust-worthy nonetheless. Bronze Shimmer is what I expected. It's a shade that everyone - from light skins to dark - will want to wear. All three are stunning when blended out on the skin - sheer and glowing.

I'm so glad I purchased this beautiful set, sight unseen. I trust Stila, and I've never been disappointed. If you don't trust your luck (I have only one to give away), you can order the Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer set at Sephora. It's a limited edition, so don't let any grass grow under your mouse.

Update 5/24: Please do not leave your contest entry on this post. It must be on the giveaway contest post to be entered. Sorry if I created any confusion.

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

Stewart & Claire Lip Balm

Stewart & Claire - one of those lines you've never heard about, right? I discovered Stewart & Claire Lip Balm ($5) at Beautyhabit. It caught my eye for a couple of reasons. I once had a boyfriend named Stewart. I was about 18, and I still remember that dreamboat. Then I had a cat named Stuart (named after J.E.B. Stuart). At the time his "brother" was Mosby, the grey ghost. I digress.

Stewart & Claire makes small-batch lip balms, an idea that started over cocktails. While drinking one of Stewart's martinis, it occurred to Claire, a lip balm obsessive (aka addict), that mixing cocktails is like blending ingredients to create lip balm. Claire may have had one too many. After a year or so of tinkering, Claire developed a line of organic, all-natural lip balms that her lips liked better than others on the market. Stewart & Claire lip balms are made by hand in tiny batches, and they are constantly dreaming up new ones. Their lip balms are never tested on animals, which makes them particularly attractive.

Of course, for any kind of alchemy, it's important to start with great ingredients. In the case of the lip balm, Stewart & Claire use organic oils and butters and golden beeswax. They do not use any artificial flavorings. Instead, the scents come from pure essential oils and botanical-infused oils. For sensitive lips, Stewart & Claire offers a Bare balm, with no added scent. I bought that. They also offer seven other flavors. I bought Coconut. It's a beachy scent I love.

The verdict? I love them! The unscented balm, Bare, is made with rosehip seed oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for sensitive or irritated skin.The coconut version is made with extra-virgin coconut and roasted macadamia nut oils, has a subtle tropical scent, and is especially silky. Those with nut or similar allergies should note that Coconut is made with macadamia nut oil. Want another flavor? Check out your options at Beautyhabit! The $5 price makes it worth a try, especially if you are ordering and need a few extra dollars to make the difference between free shipping and a fee for shipping.

I think Clarie "did good." I need Tiki next. As for Stewart's martinis, I cannot comment. It would be fun if they supplied recipes with each balm.

Photos courtesy of Beautyhabit

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sunday Riley Prismasilk Eye Colors - The Darker Shades

I should love Sunday Riley's Prismasilk Eye Colors ($26) in Fool's Gold (at left above) and Burnt Eggplant (at right above). I don't. I've thought about the reasons for months. I bought them in February, and every so often, I've picked them up to play.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the quality of these shadows. For me, with my fair skin and conservative look, they are simply too dark, too saturated, too too. These shades are difficult for me to apply (dry), even with the right brush and a very light hand. More often than not, I end up with too much color, and I must work blend it out. More on that below.

Sunday Riley's multifunctional wet or dry formula can be used as a traditional eyeshadow or as a precision eye liner. The ultra-fine, long-wear formulation is air-milled for exquisite texture and rich, stay-true color. Micronized spherical pigment particles impart effortless blendability and instantly satisfying color payoff.

The Prismasilk Eye Shadows are offered in a range of finishes, from matte to satin to illuminating shimmers. I am always drawn to shimmer shadows, and both of these shades offer me the shimmer I like. Fool's Gold on my skin is the bolder of these shades for the shimmer factor, offering a sparkling finish.

The texture of Sunday Riley eye shadows is nice and creamy for a powder. It applies evenly and easily, despite a small amount of powdery fall-out around the compact (a feature of many powder eye shadows). I apply the shadows with a brush, and they apply and layer well. If there's a little debris from application, it cleans up easily with a dab of a moist Q-Tip. Once applied, the color lasts for a long time.

I adore Giorgio Armani, Chantecaille, and Le Métier de Beauté powder eye shadows because the colors are usually sheer and buildable. I can control the intensity. Even when I use a very loose shadow brush, picking up a minimal amount of pigment from these Sunday Riley dark shades, I end up with a deep evening look. My life is pretty boring. I don't go out often, so evening makeup doesn't suit my lifestyle.

I swatched these two shades using a sponge-tipped applicator, which makes them look bolder than they would have looked had I used a brush. I did not swatch heavily. My photos show one pass with the applicator. The photos were taken in full sun.

The color of Fool's Gold at the top of my arm is gorgeous. It's a grey-brown hybrid with sparkle and sass. Burnt Eggplant is well named. It is a deep burgundy brown - never one of my best shades, but I had been assured by the Sunday Riley sales representative at Barneys that it didn't look red on the skin. Well, it looks a bit too red on me, although you can't really see that in these photos.

Had I seen them in person before I purchased them, I would have bought Fool's Gold to have it for occasional use, but not Burnt Eggplant. It doesn't flatter me. I don't care for the black-eye look - one I often get from richly pigmented eye shadows.

So, I've given you my very personal perspective on two Sunday Riley eye shadows, a view skewed by my preferences and skin tone more than the shadows themselves. Anyone who loves saturated eye shadows needs at least one of Sunday Riley's darker shades. Anyone who can wear bold color should definitely investigate these shades. If you are like me and want a tamer look, these are probably not your best choice, particularly for this time of year. If you'd like to see these shades at another blog, hop over to The Non-Blonde or The Beauty Look Book.

You can purchase Sunday Riley Prismasilk Eye Colors at Barneys New York, where I purchased these. You can purchase online or call for help.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Palatium, Roman-Inspired Bath and Lifestyle Products

Palatium is a line of bath and lifestyle products inspired by the luxury of the ancient Roman bathing culture. The first two products in the recently launched line are a Roman bath oil and a "Replenishing Foam," a foaming liquid soap for use in the bath or shower.

Palatium Roman Bath Oil was created with the purest ingredients to provide nourishment for the skin and a relaxing bathing experience. The oil is a blend of organic Tuscan olive oil and other nourishing oils, such as such as organic soybean, jojoba, and primrose oils, mixed with soothing vitamin E and organic white and green tea extracts. The result is a beautiful bath oil.

The bubbling Palatium Replenishing Foam is enriched with aloe vera and organic Tuscan olive oil. Flower extracts, including chamomile, and vitamin C ester supplement the foam to make your cleansing routine luxurious.

Olive oil was used as a base for bathing products in ancient Rome. Who knew this? Not me! Today, we know that olive oil is a pure fat that offers natural antibacterial properties. It's great for use on sensitive skin. The highest grade of organic Tuscan olive oil is used in Palatium products.

Palatium launched with three finely crafted, custom scents - all designed to recall the Mediterranean region. Arancia Dolce, the scent I was able to try, courtesy of Palatium, was inspired by the sweet citrus of the orange groves lining seaside retreats from Cinque Terre to Amalfi. The top notes are effervescent orange, grapefruit, and lime zest. The heart notes are lily of the valley, jasmine, and orange blossom. The base notes are cedarwood and gentle musk. It doesn't get any better. The Enriching Foam I tried is luscious. I'd love to try the bath oil in Arancia Dolce. I think I'd use it as a perfume.

Fico Speziato is based on the scent of fresh figs balanced by gentle spices from Jerusalem and Alexandria along the edges of the Mediterranean. With green notes supplemented by orange flower leaves, magnolia, rose, jasmine, exotic woods, and musk, it's got to be gorgeous.

Mare Myrteus, shown above, blends the zest of a refreshing trade wind with the spirited notes of Tyrrhenian myrtle berries. The top notes include bergamot, sparkling lemon, and the simulation of cool ocean air breezes. Jasmine and lily of the valley blend with ginger at the heart. The fragrance base is composed with blond woods, amber, and musk.

These three unique fragrances, one for every taste - with the promise of more to come - are the essence of Palatium. If you'd like to enliven your bathing experience, you can find them at the Palatium Web site. The Roman Bath Oils are priced at $65, but appear to be sold out currently. The Replenishing Foams are $45. They will certainly take your daily routine up a notch.

Photo courtesy of Palatium

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clinique Runway Coral: Pizazz Made Simple

Direct from Fashion Week in New York City, Clinique's limited-edition Long Last Lipstick in Runway Coral ($15) is a stunner. This coral lipstick was created by Global Colour Artist Jenna Menard for Karen Walker's Spring/Summer 2012 fashion collection.

Karen wanted the models to look youthful and pretty, with a sophisticated twist. So Menard kept the eye look simple and went for a strong, vibrant lip (a la Angelina Jolie). She chose bright coral because it's less predictable than red. Clinique's labs created the perfect shade. It worked with the fashions, and it worked with the models' skin tones. You can see how she created Runway Coral at this link.

Runway Coral is not a shade in my comfort zone - exactly why I ordered it from Clinique's Web site. Bright lips? You won't see me sporting them very often. Coral? Not me. However, I'm smitten with this beautiful lip color. I won't wear it often, but there are occasions that call for a vibrant lip color. I can pull out Runway Coral and be right in style with this year's orange tones vying for "look at me" attention.

Here are two swatch photos taken in full sun. Yep; it's bright. Yep; it's coral. Does it look good with my cool-toned, fair skin? Yes, amazingly. I never thought I'd be able to wear a coral lip.

I do have to take care that it doesn't scream against my other makeup or clothing. It's bright. I think Runway Coral may have shaken me out of my comfort zone - just a tiny bit. I've worn it as a stain (applied, blotted, and "enhanced" with a lip gloss) and as a lipstick (at night). I think it looked pretty darn good. No one recognized me, I'm sure.

Runway Coral is/was an online exclusive at Clinique's Web site. I ordered mine about a week ago. I just checked and it's currently listed as sold out. I hope Clinique responds to the demand and makes more of them.

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

Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner

There are a few advantages to being an AVEENO Ambassador - not the least of which was a package in the mail of AVEENO's Pure Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner. I used them entirely and had to go out and buy more. I love them - and I couldn't get the containers to give up another precious drop.

The Pure Renewal line was developed to be a new, pure way to renew your hair every time you wash it. The exclusive sulfate-free, Active Naturals formulas (proprietary to AVEENO), combined with balancing seaweed extract, bring hair back to its natural, most balanced state with each wash.

AVEENO scientists have harnessed the power of Active Naturals Balancing Seaweed Extract in formulas that provide a unique cleansing and conditioning system to rebalance and preserve our hair's optimal moisture levels. My hair, dry from age and highlighting (plus my overall dryness because I can never remember to drink enough water) can always use a moisture treat. My problem is that many moisturizing shampoos and conditioners leave my hair silky, but totally limp and lifeless. Pure Renewal provides the moisture I need without leaving my hair limp and devoid of volume.

Rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals, Balancing Seaweed Extract works together with sulfate-free, naturally derived cleansers in these formulas that effectively remove impurities without over-drying or over-moisturizing, to leave hair shinier, healthier looking, and more manageable. 

There are three Pure Renewal products: 1) Pure Renewal Shampoo, 2) Pure Renewal 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner, and 2) Pure Renewal Conditioner. I am using Pure Renewal 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner as my shampoo and Pure Renewal Conditioner to end my treatment, despite the fact that I could stop with the one-step product. The double conditioning leaves my hair nicely hydrated.

My hair behaves nicely after using these two products. It holds the style I create with my blow dryer, and, best of all, keeps the volume in my hair style all day and into the next.

The Pure Renewal hair care products smell great. They have a very green scent - not at all overwhelming and not one that carries forward into my day. The scent makes my in-shower hair-care experience more pleasant.

I read a customer review on AVEENO's Web site that called these products "awesome." I have to agree. There are few mass market hair care lines that capture my attention and keep it. The Pure Renewal products have earned a permanent place in my shower.

Check them out. You can find them everywhere - drug stores, supermarkets, discount stores - anywhere you can find AVEENO -  even my favorite Costco. They are more than worth their ultra-affordable price - generally between $7 and $9. I don't really feel badly about running out (I wash my hair every day) when I can replace them for those prices. I do shake out every last drop, a habit when I love something. You've got to try them.

Photos courtesy of AVEENO

Monday, May 21, 2012

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm: Available in Eight New Shades

A year and a half ago, Clinique introduced Chubby Sticks Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm ($16). They were $15 at the time. Either success or inflation led to a price increase, but I love them no less. What's a dollar when a product is this perfect?

These super-nourishing tinted balms are loaded with mango and shea butters to make them smooth, creamy, and a luscious treat for the lips. My dry, delicate lips need to feel comfortable, and Chubby Sticks are perfect for me. Clinique apparently heard the call and added eight new shades, each with a subtle sheen.

The application is quick and easy. The creamy, thick pencil glides across my lips with no drag, leaving color and moisture behind. There is no taste, and there is no discernible fragrance - just a pretty, natural tint that's flattering - and looks like my own, no matter what the shade.


My new shades are Curvy Candy (#14), Pudgy Peony (#15), and Voluptuous Violet (#16). They are shown above in the same order, left to right. I also swatched them in that order, top to bottom, on my arm. I took my photos in full sun. The colors may appear to be washed out from the sun, but what you see below is the way they look on my arm.

You will find that they look more pigmented on the lips than they look on my arm. Your own lip pigmentation will determine how much color they provide. Pudgy Peony, shown in the middle of the three swatches, is the darkest on my lips. It actually shows a lot of color. Voluptuous Violet isn't as crazy purple as it looks in the pencil.

Chubby Sticks leave a gleam on my lips, but they aren't overtly shiny. Evey one of the shades is gorgeous, and because they are so sheer, you can wear colors you might not have expected to work with your skin tone. You can't lose. Pick a few and try them.

Clinique advises that for subtle definition you should outline your lips first, then fill in with natural-looking color. That's too much trouble for me. I swipe (well, maybe draw) and go, as you would with any tinted balm. They are so easy - and so nice - you can't go wrong. Want to create your own Chubby Stick mix? Clinique has a cute tool on its Web site.

Leave it to Clinique to give us more good-for-us beauties. You can find the new colors at Clinique's Web site, Sephora, and Clinique counters (or online sites) everywhere.

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

Le Métier de Beauté Kaleidoscope Blush Kit: New Photos

I have already featured Le Métier de Beauté's beautiful new Kaleidoscope Blush Kit, most recently on May 2 at this link. I received a new one from Le Métier de Beauté and had an opportunity to take new photos. My earlier photos had been taken in the winter. I thought it would be fun to show you some bright late-spring photos.

Every woman's flush is her own. With that in mind, Le Métier de Beauté has introduced the Kaleidoscope Blush Kit you see above. We've all know about lipstick wardrobes; this is one for our cheeks.

“When we blush, it’s not one shade; it’s a prismatic multitude of color. To express how you feel or the feeling you want to evoke, you need to layer color for that perfect flush,” says Le Métier de Beauté’s Director of Color Mikey Castillo. “In order to create dimension, there must be at least two pigments that are contrasting in tone or texture. For instance, matte with sheen, satin with matte, pink with coral, or mauve with bronze. Layering multiple shades eliminates flatness while bring vitality to the skin. This is true of color whether it is on the eyes, lips, or cheeks.” The Kaleidoscope Blush Kit contains a selection of these contrasting shades and textures, giving the wearer infinite possibilities.

“The whole delight of a blush collection is to enable a woman to create a multitude of looks by blending two or more of the multiple hues in the Blush Kaleidoscope,” says Mikey. The beautiful and balanced combination of the shades creates an effortless, feminine glow. Blend the matte shades for day and transition to evening with a sensuous, shimmery layer. Or just go ahead and add some shimmer when you're feeling like having some fun.

The four-in-one stacked kit includes a satin peach, a matte rose pink (gorgeous and natural on my cheeks), a shimmery highlighter, and a cool pink. Each shade is finely-milled for adjustable coverage, transparency, and intensity. The shine-absorbing, oil-free formula is safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

My photos were swatched from the satin peach shade at the top of the kit (shown at the top of my arm) to the cool, shimmering pink at the bottom. I used a sponge-tipped applicator to apply the shades to my arm, and it was a heavy application. In "real life," the colors are all subtle, offering buildable color. My favorites? The two that shimmer a bit: the golden peach highlighter and the pink. I love all the shades - and they do layer beautifully - but I have a special place in my heart for the bottom two shades. If you purchase this Kaleidoscope, make sure to blend the highlighting golden peach with the satin-finish peach at the top. It's a dynamite combination!

You can find this beautiful new Kaleidoscope at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, select Saks and Nordstrom stores, and exclusive boutiques.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty