Thursday, January 31, 2013

Giorgio Armani Beauty Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipstick for Spring 2013

Giorgio Armani Beauty's Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipsticks ($30) were introduced last spring. I immediately fell in love with them. They are my favorite Armani lipsticks. As I recall, I purchased just about every shade last year - perhaps every shade. Now, there are two new nudes for Spring 2013.

Featuring a creamy texture - feather light and translucent - these lipsticks are as hydrating as a lip balm, only better. A cutting edge color formulation process, the Color Shine Moisture Polymer, features a revolutionary component able to retain twice its volume of water and enhance color luminosity while locking in hydration on the lip surface for over eight hours. To be honest, I've never noticed eight hours of moisturized lips, but I'm perfectly happy with two or three.

There are two new, neutral Rouge d'Armani shades: Beige 100 and Beige Rose 101. I tried them both and sprang for Beige Rose 101, which is shown at the top of this feature. I selected it because Beige 100 is just that - beige. I liked the hint of rose #101 gave me. I would love to have Beige 100, but since I am between consulting assignments, I have been forced to buy more selectively than I might have last year. Beige 100 is shown directly below. You can see it's more beige, less rose.

Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipsticks are extremely sheer. I love the my-lips-but-better look. Don't be mislead by how the colors look in the tube - you must try them.

My at-home photo of #101, Beige Rose, is shown directly above. I took the lipstick photo and my swatch photos in morning sunlight.

As you can see, the color whispers. It is very pretty - a shade I can apply anywhere to add a hint of color and a lot of moisture. Because it's sheer, I can apply it without a mirror - yes, even while driving because I don't have to look at my lips.

Rouge d'Armani adds a nice gloss to my lips. The two new shades will give you spring's nude lip with shine to spare. If these colors are too light for you, check out the bolder shades at this Armani link. You can also check out my swatch photos here (showing the re-promoted Ecstasy), here, and here. There are shades to please everyone.

I purchased mine at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase. They are available online at Giorgio Armani Beauty's Web site, where two-day shipping is free for purchases over $75.

Photos at top courtesy of Giorgio Armani Beauty; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Giorgio Armani Beauty Face & Eye Palette in Coral Bliss for Spring 2013

In January, I was able to show you a coming attraction of Giorgio Armani Beauty's Spring 2013 Pop Collection. Today, I can begin to show you the real thing. Naturally, I'm starting with the centerpiece of the collection: the limited-edition Face & Eye Palette ($88). There are two versions, Coral Bliss (#1), my favorite, shown above, and Rose Bliss, which I haven't purchased - yet.

“This Spring, I love the mix of vivid shades with nudes. Women are traditionally drawn to color, but afraid of it. This way they can play and customize to their own desires. At the Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2013 show. I used the soft grey tone to create a muted graphic shape, then a thick liner was drawn with Swimming Pool Turquoise blue, and then blended with the taupe. That gave a soft pop of glamorous, sensual color. Any woman can wear it," said Linda Cantello, International Makeup Artist for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics and creator of the spring collection.

When I saw Coral Bliss at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase, Maryland, I flipped. It's stunning - even better than I had anticipated. I might have cried if it had sold out since I learned they had received it a week ago.

The two-level white compact sings spring. It's a departure for Armani, whose sleek, black palettes are a signature. The photo above shows the eye colors on the base level or second tier. The three luminous Color-Fil Satin eye shadows are an icy white (Open), taupe-grey (Shimmer Greige), and turquoise blue (Swimming Pool Turquoise). They were designed to blend and layer.

On the top tier, the Coral Bliss face powder (aka blush in my eyes and on my skin) is formulated with Armani's illuminating Micro-Fil technology for long-lasting wear. Soft and creamy, the weightless powder melts into skin to create a natural, silky finish.

I took swatch photos in full, morning sunshine. I applied all four shades fairly heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator. The first time I swatched/applied the powder, I almost hyperventilated over the center eye shade. It's exquisite.

The icy white is a very pretty silvery white. It applies beautifully and leaves a sheen finish. I have had no trouble achieving an even application. With other brands' shades in this color, I have often found even application difficult. The taupe-grey hybrid shade shows the complexity of magnificent color we've learned to expect from Giorgio Armani. The sheen finish is exquisite.

Then, there's the bright turquoise blue, and I know you're thinking that you couldn't possibly wear it. See below.

The Coral Bliss blush/powder is a beautiful peach. It's not coral, and it's stunning on the cheeks. The finish is satin nearing matte (but not flat matte - it's got life).

I decided to take a photo to show you how three of these shades look when applied lightly. I did use a sponge-tipped applicator, which does pick up more pigment than a brush would, but I wanted you to see how pretty the combination of the blue and taupe-grey could be. If applied lightly with a brush, you can achieve a wash of blue color that's what you might call wearable. I also wanted to show you how subtle the Coral Bliss shade can be.

I think I could wear the two eye shadow shades shown at the top of my arm during the late spring and summer. They look fabulous together. They are also flattered by the Coral Bliss powder below with its hint of peach to complement the eyes without stealing all the attention.

I think Coral Bliss is a definite buy. I was at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria this week, and the spring collection had not arrived. It is in stock at Saks Chevy Chase. I can give you Loyd's phone number if you'd like some help. While he's with Chanel now, he was the Giorgio Armani Beauty manager for a long time, and I always drag him over to play with colors at Armani. You can reach him at (240) 497-5363. The palettes are also available at the Giorgio Armani Beauty Web site.

I might go back this week to pick up Rose Bliss. The lavender pink shade is definitely not me, but the rest of the shades are pretty. I will go see how that shade blends with the others.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Krazy Glue on Your Skin?

This press release was too far out to ignore. I had to share it with you! I'll admit this feature is akin to Chanel's use of Brad Pitt for advertising. The "novelty" drew more attention than they had ever hoped.

Dr. Neill Schultz is a leading, board-certified dermatologist has maintained a thriving medical practice, Park Avenue Skin Care, on the Upper East Side of New York City for the last 30 years. He focuses on general and cosmetic dermatology, seeing over 10,000 patient visits per year. This month, Dr. Schultz offered an unconventional (and helpful, some would say) use for Krazy Glue.

The colder, dryer weather brings its own set of special seasonal skin problems, including very painful fingertip or heel cracks. But as painful as they may be, they're amazingly easy to fix, especially if you treat them early. Once cracks appear, 24/7, apply a generous amount of any ointment like Vaseline, Aquaphor, or antibiotic ointments like Bacitracin and Polysporin, and cover the ointment immediately with a Band-Aid. Reapply as often as needed to keep the ointment in, and within two to three days you'll see a great improvement. And, as crazy as this may sound, if you catch that crack early, and don't want to reapply ointments and wear Band-Aids, apply a few layers of Krazy Glue over the crack. You'll get rapid healing and pain relief. When it's better, don't pick off the dried glue; allow it to peel off naturally in one to two weeks.

I'm sorry, doctor, but that's nuts. There is no good reason to avoid Band-Aids, Steri-Strips (which were designed to close wounds), or other products that don't require weeks to peel off naturally. The directions for Krazy Glue are very specific about avoiding skin contact. I'm sure the Krazy Glue makers were serious. Doctors use prescription drugs for off-label purposes, but I've never heard of using Krazy Glue for off-label skin problems. I think this situation calls for a warning: Don't try this at home.

If you would like to see his tips - and others that actually make sense - head over to DermTV.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Dolce & Gabbana Smooth Eye Colour Duo in Gems

At first glance, Dolce & Gabbana's Smooth Eye Color Duo ($26) in Gems might not appear to be an ideal color combination for me. I'm not a lavender gal. So when I looked at the colors in the compact, my first thought was "50-50 chance I could wear it." Of course, knowing my favorite rep, the colors on my skin said "nice"!

Dolce & Gabbana grouped their color duo palettes using the same philosophy they apply when selecting fabrics for a collection - seeking contrasts that produce harmony. The quad and duo combinations range from striking - like theatrical evening wear fabrics - to classic, subtle at times, and very adaptable.

The marketing blurb is actually spot on with Gems. What isn't is the online swatch for it at Saks. There is no resemblance between the light blue and medium blue shown online and the violet and lavender-taupe that you'll see when you flip open the compact. It amazes me. How do companies expect women to shop online when they can't provide a somewhat accurate swatch photo?

Anyhow, the texture, wear, and finish of Gems is absolutely lovely. The violet shade leans blue, which means I can wear it. What appears to be lavender-taupe in the compact is actually more taupe and less lavender on my skin, which suits me fine. I love the two shades together. They remind me of one of my favorite color combinations, blue and brown, but with a twist.

I took swatch photos in full sun - in the cold - last week. I used a sponge-tipped applicator to apply the swatches relatively heavily. As you can see, neither or the shades is sparkly. The violet leaves a subtle sheen, and the taupe has a satin finish. I won't call it matte because it doesn't look lifeless on my skin. I wish I had thought to take fingertip photos last week, and, unfortunately, I can't take them today. It is very grey outside, as the storm moves in from the west - the storm that is dumping rain and churning tornadoes in January.

My friend sees more lavender in the taupe shade than I do. I can see it in the compact, but I don't see more than a slight hue on my skin. I think both shades are beautiful when used alone, and they are special when combined.

My friend sent me the duo for consideration for review. Once I tried it, I knew why he selected it. He always finds a way to show me how I can wear colors I tend to avoid. He's done it again.

You can order this, or anything else from Dolce & Gabbana or from Saks. If you have a Saks credit card, shipping will be free. Otherwise, there is a $7 shipping charge. If you order $150 or more, use code JANSF when you order online (with any credit card), and your shipping will be free.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Le Métier de Beauté Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo

There they go again, making skin care that's amazingly great. Le Métier de Beauté's new Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo ($150) is magnificent. I can't wait for you to try it and send feedback. The mask was just added to Le Métier de Beauté's awesome skin care line.

I was pumped when I learned that Le Métier de Beauté was introducing an eye mask. I am a pushover for anything that will erase the subtle signs of aging that are creeping in around my eyes. This new Ultra Hydrating Eye Mask Duo instantly delivers superior hydration. Inside each disposable pack. there are two translucent eye masks that form a moisture-sealing bond with the skin, allowing intensely hydrating ingredients to permeate deep lines into the delicate eye area.

After 15 minutes, the soothing benefits are immediately visible. The cooling mask has recovered dehydrated cells and boosted the skin's ability to retain moisture (so it keeps working after removal). My skin feels refreshed and restored - perhaps like a time capsule took me traveling back in time by about five years. I was extremely impressed.

I purchased the eye mask the second it arrived at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie - about a week ago. It comes in a box of eight - a two month supply. Then Le Métier de Beauté sent me a single-use packet. Heck yes, I accepted it! This stuff is fabulous. I pride myself on being pretty smart.

Why is the Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo special? Let's start with the patented shape, which applies like a second-skin. It soothes and cools on contact. Because the masks are individually wrapped, Le Métier de Beauté suggests you can take them with you and use them on the commute to work. during flights, or post-workout. True, but I have to admit, I would feel particularly crazy wearing the mask in public. What if a police officer stopped me for some reason? I'm sure he's be thinking, "Oh oh, I've got a whacko." I really don't recommend the mask be worn in public - perhaps in-flight is OK because a lot of people apply skin-care treatments at altitude. The masks look like two, transparent plastic pads stuck to your face under the eyes. Not an invisible or normal look.

I have tested mine resting on the bed and sitting at my computer to write. It doesn't seem to matter how or when you use the mask. It works any way. There is no slippage if you are sitting up.

So let's talk about results. On one occasion, I wore the mask for the prescribed 15 minutes. On the second, for about 25. I was on a roll writing a blog feature when I neglected to remove it after 15 minutes. On both occasions, I easily removed the two under-eye pads and looked in the mirror in shock. All the little lines around my eyes were gone. Just gone. The skin was plumped - that has to be how the expression lines were eliminated. Janice at Neiman Marcus told me the results would last, and she was absolutely right. I used the mask in early evening yesterday, and this morning, my eyes look just as good as they did when I finished up with the treatment. That tells me the area was significantly hydrated.

The most surprising thing I saw, other than the magnificent moisturizing effects, is that the area under my eyes was radiant. I can't explain it, but I saw that my skin was glowing - smooth and radiant. I wasn't expecting that, so I was doubly pleased. At that point, I wanted to call the owners of Le Métier de Beauté and suggest they really need to supply over-eye masks as well. These little miracles shouldn't be confined to the under-eye area.

You can see in the photo above that they come in a little tray. The tray is contained in the black envelope, which I opened by cutting with scissors across the top (carefully). As Janice had suggested, I removed the tray carefully and pulled back the clear plastic covering that was protecting the mask duo. It was all very easy. I then applied the masks and checked the clock. No problems at all! Janice felt customers should be warned to do all that carefully, but unless you are a total ditz, you shouldn't have any trouble removing and using the masks. Lay the packet on a flat surface logo side up, then peel back the left corner and carefully remove the individual masks from their trays. They will have added serum around them. Try to transfer it with the moist masks. Don't waste any time applying them after you open the packet. You will see the first time that they are large and cover the cheekbones.

Here are some facts Le Métier de Beauté supplied.The skin under the eyes tens to be thinner than the rest of the facial skin, making hydration a crucial factor in protecting the delicate eye area. Regular hydration prevents dryness and flaking under the eyes. This in turn reduces the look of wrinkles, dark circles, crow's feet, puffiness, and other not-so-attractive issues. Hydration is the first step in preventing the look of aging under the eyes.

They say you can use the masks daily, but to do that, you would need to have a healthy wallet.  With eight packets in each box, each treatment will cost $18.75. I don't know about you, but I couldn't use them every day. Would I love to? Yes, definitely, but I think I'll see how long the results last (fortified by eye cream, of course), and judge from there. Le Métier de Beauté does recommend that you follow the mask treatment with Revive Eye Concentrate (or your favorite eye cream). When the two products are used in combination, the eye area will show the added hydration for an extended period of time.

You can place them in the refrigerator for added cooling, which can help reduce puffiness. Put them in about 20 minutes before use. You'll get that frozen peas effect. You know that trick, right? Put frozen baby peas in a plastic bag, cover your eyes with gauze, lie down with the peas over the gauze, sinking into the crevices around the eyes, and rest for 20 minutes with your head on a pillow. Any puffiness will be gone.

The formula of these new Ultra Hydration Eye Masks is seaweed-based. The ingredients include glycerin, algin, sodium hyaluronate, collagen, licorice root extract, citric acid, and other skin-friendly, hydrating ingredients.

Le Métier de Beauté has a little "game" set up. They want you to mention Best Things in Beauty when you go to the store - or call - to purchase the Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo. I'm really not sure why we are playing this game, but if you would please mention my blog - especially at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie when you call Michael or a member of the team - I'd be grateful. You can reach Michael at (202) 966-9700, extension 2258 or 2236. Are we doing a study of the selling power of blogs? I suspect the answer is yes. I could have provided the answer with data, but, whatever.

You can purchase the Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. I do not know when the launch will extend to other stores that carry the line.

I do highly recommend these little wonders. They work - even better than I expected. I'm going to lunch with an old friend today, and I won't have to worry that I look two years older than when he saw me last. That makes me very happy.

Photos courtesy of Le Métier de Beauté

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Congratulations to By Kilian!

Yesterday, at the Elements Showcase in New York City, the Fragrance Foundation presented its 2013 Indie Fragrance Foundation Award to By Kilian for Amber Oud. Called the FiFi Awards in years past, I hear the Foundation is considering a title change.

In Greek mythology, the Heliades were the daughters of Helios (God of the Sun) and Clymene. After the tragic death of their brother, Phaethon, the Heliades grieved for four months, but were still blamed for playing a role in their brother’s death. As a result, the gods turned them into poplar trees and their tears into amber. The tears, which fell into the river Eridanos in the form of amber pearls, were then found and used to adorn Roman brides. This amber, born out of sadness yet then used to create beauty in times of joy and celebration, is exactly what inspired the creation of Amber Oud.

Amber Oud is a soft, warm, and sensual composition built on the fusion between these two ancestral raw materials: amber and oud. The objective was to deconstruct and reconstruct amber by taking the animalistic qualities of a dark oud and adding richness through an overdose of vanilla from Madagascar and benzoin from Laos. Cedarwood from Atlas then brings structure to this creation by keeping the balsamic notes in balance. Finally, a touch of spice from Pimenta Racemosa (bay leaf) essence brings light to this oriental composition, similar to the light that one often finds in a Vermeer painting. Amber Oud's notes are amber, oud, bay leaf, cedarwood, and vanilla. Amber Oud was created by Calice Becker for By Kilian.

I must tell you that Amber Oud is not "me." It's a bit dark/heavy for my tastes. What does that matter? It is very popular and was worthy of the award. The runners-up were as follows.

Second place: Jul et Mad Terasse a St. Germain
Third place: La Cherche Midid Eau d'Hiver
Fourth place: Carner Barcelona Rima XI
Fifth place: Ramon Monegal Cuirelle

I have to admit I haven't sniffed any of the runners-up. I must get cracking.

Photo courtesy of Luckyscent

Benefit Fine One One

I love Benefit makeup, and I'm always browsing at Sephora online to see what's new. That's how I found Fine One One ($30). I couldn't understand how it would work, with its stripes of color. I had to order it just to play. Was I thrilled during my first play session to see the color!

Billed as a sheer, brightening cheek-and-lip color for instant lift, shape, and pop, this stick of thee colors emerges from the tube when you turn the little wheel in the base. I couldn't imagine how it would look on my skin until I applied it. What I got was even color - and a magnificent color. It was magic.

Having a beauty emergency? Call Fine-One-One! This lip-and-cheek illuminator glides on sheer in three different shades for a coral pink flush that builds from soft and natural to bright and cheery.

I didn't get three distinct stripes of color, as I expected, and there was no need to blend. The result of swiping on Fine One One is a homogeneous, luscious, peach highlighting blush that drips with juicy color.

Take a look at the color in full sun! Is it gorgeous or what? I applied it without any attempt to blend the shades. I simply ran it against my arm. What you see is what resulted. You can blend it after application with your fingertips or a cream blush brush. The edges blend out easily because it's creamy and light.

I actually want another one so that I can carry it with me in my handbag. What a perfect pick-me-up shade! Fine One One is one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in months. Who knew?

You can find this treasure at Sephora, where I purchased mine. It is already out of stock at Benefit, so hurry if you want one. I'm off to order my second.

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

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick for Spring 2013

Bobbi Brown's new Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks ($28) are a treat for women who love cream eye shadows. Since I'm a huge fan of cream shadows, I immediately purchased two when they appeared at the counters. Wouldn't you know, I chose the light, natural, subtle shades.

Effortless and high impact - that’s the essence of new Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick. This do-it-all formula glides on tug-free and can be used to shade, define, smoke
up, and highlight the eyes. In subtle to eye-popping shades that last for up to eight hours without creasing, flaking or fading.

“Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick is designed for the modern woman on the move. Just swipe it on and go - it’s that easy,” said Bobbi Brown. I think she was right.

The sticks are available in the eight shades shown below. Sorry the print is fuzzy. I enlarged the clip.

A unique blend of oils, waxes, and film formers gives this water-resistant formula excellent eight hour wear. Color-rich emollients provide intense pigment in one easy swipe without flaking or creasing. Supremely smooth, lightweight feel. Antioxidant vitamins C and E protect the delicate eye area, while skin conditioners help create a smooth, comfortable, and lightweight feel that is not oily or tacky.

All in all true. I selected Golden Pink (#4, shown at left above) and Sand Dune (#6, shown at right). I liked vanilla too. I know, I'm a wimp. I might have chosen Bark, but I wanted to play with the first two before I invested more money in them. Now, I am ready to expand my little collection.

I took swatch photos in full sun. I applied the shades directly from their tubes and did little blending beyond what was required to get even swatches. Golden Pink is swatched at the top of my arm, with Sand Dune below. Golden Pink offers a beautiful sheen to the lids in a peachy-pink color that anyone can wear. That's not all sunlight you see on my arm. Golden Pink is gorgeous.

I'm less taken with Sand Dune. Not because there's anything inherently wrong with it; it's just not my shade. Described as a medium beige tan, It's a little muddy on my cool, pale skin. It would be much nicer on someone with a warmer skin tone.

I love the way these apply and blend with ease. On me, they last all day without any creasing or fading away.

You can find the new Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks at Bobbi Brown's Web site or at any Bobbi Brown counter. Take a look and see what you think.

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dolce & Gabbana Crayon Intense Eyeliner in Stromboli

I'm so happy now that I know an insider at Dolce & Gabbana. Finally I have a connection, and although he's in New York, I can buy safely. He will know the "real color" of the items (the online swatches are inadequate) and can recommend makeup colors I will love vs colors that were designed "for someone else."

My friend sent me a GWP with the first order I placed with him at Saks Fifth Avenue, a mini Crayon Intense Eyeliner ($29 for the regular product) in #1, Stromboli. Stromboli is a perfect shade for me.

I have no idea how it was named because stromboli is a type of turnover filled with various cheeses, Italian meats, or vegetables. The dough traditionally used is Italian bread dough. How that translates into this glorious sparking charcoal-toned liner is a mystery to me. Stromboli is also an active volcano on a small island off the northern coast of Sicily, the more likely suspect for the name. It's dark, perfect for a liner, but not deep black. I guess that makes it charcoal.

Dolce & Gabbana is a company with sparse product descriptions. This one doesn't tell me much about the product - just about the image the designers hoped to create. It's also a bit out of date.

Crayon Intense Eyeliner in Coffee was a Best Splurge in Allure magazine's "Best of Beauty" October 2009. Intensity and sensuality are dually expressed with the various shades of eyeliner. A precisely defined line conveys modern elegance; while a smudged smoky eye incites intrigue and desire.

The marketing blub doesn't matter, though, since the eyeliner is gorgeous. I love the texture and the ease with which I can draw a thin line at the base of my lashes. I like my eyeliner worn with a thin line, and this one is perfect for a thin, even application.

I took swatch photos in full sunlight. I drew my D&G without breaking the liner (no matter how hard I try to use a light touch, liners that are too soft break when I take swatch photos). Points were scored immediately for surviving my photo session with a sharp tip.

The shade is so pretty - natural - on me. Because it's not harsh, it works nicely for day - even with the teeny tiny gold sparkles in it. They are micro-fine, so they leave behind a flattering radiance.

The gold sparkles, combined with the "charcoal" liner are a natural for anyone who doesn't want a harsh black look during the day, but does like a little pizazz. It applies with ease - no tugging required. My mini didn't have the smudge brush on the end, but I seldom use them. However, those who love a smoky or soft eye will find that tool useful.

I like this liner so much that I will order more shades as soon as my friend gets some new products and I place my second order. That should be the lip glosses, expected around the second week in February, or Desire, a new Dolce & Gabbana fragrance that has luscious notes.

You can order this or anything else from Dolce & Gabbana at Saks. A Saks credit card, shipping will be free. If you order $150 or more, use code JANSF when you order online (with any credit card), and your shipping will be free.

Photo at top courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Laura Mercier Crème Cheek Colour in Oleander from the Arabesque Collection for Spring 2013

There are two new shades in Laura Mercier's popular Crème Cheek Colour included in the new Arabesque Collection: Oleander and Praline. I purchased both, but would like to focus on Oleander today. Laura Mercier's concise description goes straight to the point.

A long-lasting, natural cheek color formulated to provide translucent, buildable coverage for a soft, velvety finish

If you've tried Crème Cheek Colour, you might want to enhance that short marketing blurb, but it really says it all. Plus, the color depiction on Laura Mercier's Web site is spot on.

This beautiful shade made me think spring. I took swatch photos in full sun after applying it to my arm heavily with a sponge-tip applicator at the top of my arm and a larger sponge (lightly) below. Normally, one would apply this blush with a nice cream color brush. I didn't have one handy at the time.

What a beautiful shade! It's pink in a shade that should be almost universally wearable. It's hard for me to put descriptor to the shade. It's not baby pink. It's not rose pink. What color pink is it? Help me out.

What I can tell you is that it applies with a slight sheen - nothing unnatural looking - just a glow that will make you look dewy and moist (read young). Laura Mercier's cream blushes are a pleasure to apply because they blend with ease and look as transparent as you want. Just apply lightly, and if you feel you don't have enough color, layer another application over the mid-points of the first. You will look fresh and happy.

You can find Oleander at Laura Mercier's Web site with the rest of the Arabesque Collection. You can also find it at all Laura Mercier counters (and the online sites at retailers that carry the line) - in other words, it's easy to find right now.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Screen Actors Guild Awards Fashion

So far, what I've seen from the Screen Actors Guild Awards has been a bit ho-hum. Perhaps the celebrities are saving their best for the Academy Awards. There were a few standouts, though. Check out Ellie Kemper above in her Reem Acra gown. I love her look.

Naomi Watts looked gorgeous, as always. The Marchesa gown is amazing.

What do you think about redheads in red? I'm not sure this Alexander McQueen gown flatters Jessica Chastain. It's too tight too.

Kerry Washington, on the other hand, looked divine in white. Her embellished Rodarte gown suited her to a T. Wow! Just wow.

Photos courtesy of the Huffington Post

Sunday This and That

DivaDebbi's beautiful collages of fashion and found items have enchanted me for months, so I finally asked her how she created them. Debbi told me Polyvore, so this morning, I went off to play. I still have a lot of questions, and very few answers, but I created this collage in no time at all, using a template on the site. It was fun. Now I must go try to figure out how to "do it right." Hop over to her page and see a Top Set she created - one that was judged top-notch by Polyvore. I agree!

I kind of hate winter. Today is a beautiful day if you look outside the window. It's sunny, the sky is blue, yet tonight or early tomorrow morning, it's predicted that we will have the pleasure of freezing rain. I'm so glad to don't have to go anywhere in the morning.

Today, between reading The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York, by Chandler Burr, which for some reason I cannot read continuously for more than 30 minutes, and browsing spring couture on WWD, I have immersed myself in the fashion and beauty industries. Some of the fashions shown for spring are glorious testaments to the creativity of their creators. Even though some were a little risqué (I don't like peep show fashion, always created by men, it seems), I think the spring collection by Elie Saab was exquisite.

He explored degrees of transparency, with his signature crystalline embroideries scattered across fragile tulle and airy crinoline dresses - in familiar hourglass and fishtail columns, plus a new shorter, flaring Fifties shape. "Saab kept everything tone-on-tone, sticking largely to a pale palette of ivory and makeup pinks, sparked here and there by icy blues and hot coral." That quote from WWD pleased me.

Click on these photos to see that properly placed embellishment and strategic lining took nothing away from his glorious work.

Unfortunately, he let a few vulgarities through - Lord knows why. The gown below could have been sent by the angels if he had lined the top (which I assume will be done for his couture clients).

Tom Pecheux created the makeup for the runway. “I love the fact that the collection is extremely feminine and very, very transparent,” said Pecheux. “Everything is very delicate and fragile,” he told WWD.

So, too, was the makeup. A mauve-lavender hue was applied to models’ eyelids, while their eyeliner came in a burgundy shade. False eyelashes in brown were affixed piece by piece (Erin Lockhard's perfect way), and there was a creamy blush highlighting skin that was then topped with a thin layer of foundation. Under not over. “It’s really [about] little details,” said Pecheux.

Hairstylist Orlando Pita looped models’ tresses back in an asymmetric fashion. “There’s a roll, there’s a twist,” said Pita, adding of Saab: “Basically, he wanted the hair up with a side part and wet texture.” Put together, it all worked nicely. I thought it was a splendid presentation.

The Chanel show, although critically acclaimed, was, in my humble opinion, a bit bizarre. Strung together by pieces - the Chanel way - that look otherworldly when combined on the runway were shown in a garden setting that could have been a fairy tale if it weren't for the goth-like makeup worn by the models.

Their eyes encircled with dramatic feathered lashes, they could have been the birds in paradise. To me, the eyes distracted from the luscious setting and floral embroideries. It will be fun to watch these couture looks morph into the trends we'll see in the coming months.

For all you who have been waiting along with me for the new Frédéric Malle fragrance, it is now known, thanks to Perfume Shrine, where I read that Malle is going to launch a line of eponymous designer scents that "go off the beaten path." The first fruit of this collaboration is a fragrance for Dries Van Noten, one of the pioneers of the Antwerp "School of Six."

The new Malle perfume is touted to be inclusive of a new, natural Indian sandalwood from a sustainable source. Indian sandalwood, for those who didn't know, had essentially been eradicated from perfumery in the last 20 years or so, due to concerns and regulations on the sustainability of the Mysore sandalwood. The news, therefore, is a leap of hope for the industry in general and sure to create a real peak of interest in the heart of every perfume fan out there. The new fragrance is an oriental woody, smooth, and polished like the designs of Van Noten.

The composition has been undertaken by rising perfumer Bruno Jovanovich of International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) The fragrance notes are citron, sandalwood, guaiac wood, saffron, Spanish jasmine, tonka beans, Cashmeran/blonde woods, vanilla. and musk.

There is a generous draw for a sample, so head over to enter if you are as anxious to be one of the first to sniff as I am. I had called Barneys New York this past week to find out when a new fragrance would arrive. The rep didn't know (clearly he doesn't read blogs!), but promised to call me when this new fragrance arrives.

I had been expecting a lily of the valley floral that never materialized. Malle's PR had denied the rumor (see Basenotes), but I had held out hope that two greats, Malle and muguet would unite for something very special.

There are two new rose fragrances at counters now. Both are lovely, although I haven't felt compelled to purchase either - yet. Balenciaga's L'Eau Rose Eau de Toilette, shown above, is described as "a sparkling violet fragrance. A twist of the iconic violet with a sparkling touch of blackberry and musk. The scintillating and youthful fragrance is a feminine scent that captures the sophistication of Balenciaga Paris with an enticing, floral musk." Odd that I didn't smell the violet. I have to go back when I don't feel a winter cold coming on. The second, by Cartier, is Goutte de Rose, shown below.

It's all rose - very pretty, bright, and reminiscent of a garden rose. The nose behind this fragrance is Mathilde Laurent. I remain undecided between the two.

For those of you who are Tom Ford fragrance fans, there are two new scents on the way. I don't have photos yet; you know how secretive Tom Ford can be.

Sahara Noir will be available, I'm told, in a bottle looks exactly like White Patchouli, except that it's completely gold. The box is also all gold. It will debut at Tom Ford Kuwait. Sahara Noir is said to have top notes of Italian bergamot, mandarin orange, violet, ginger and basil. The middle notes are grapefruit blossom, orange blossom, tobacco, and black pepper. The bottom notes are Indian amber, Tibetan patchouli, cedar, oakmoss, and leather. Although it wasn't mentioned, a friend who has smelled it noticed a licorice note that should be benzoin. It's definitely an oriental and is a new direction for Tom Ford.

There will also be a new Private Blend - a replacement for Amber Absolute. Little is known about it. The bottle color will not be brown like most of the line. No details on notes have been revealed. It will debut at Tom Ford Shanghai with a huge launch, along with new lip and nail colors.

That's all my news for today. I hope you found something here of interest.

Photo at top created by Best Things in Beauty using a Polyvore template; other photos courtesy of WWD,, Balenciaga, and Cartier

NARS Andy Warhol Walk on the Wild Side Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to the winner: Brenda!
NARS Walk on the Wild Side ($39), a limited-edition set that features a silver illuminator, an ultra-violet polish, and an exclusive Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Orgasm. It was introduced with the Andy Warhol Collection.

Think vivid bright flowers and the high-impact contrast of the silver factory walls - a peek into Andy Warhol’s artistic world. Inspired by this explosive scene, NARS delivered this Sephora-exclusive set that includes gorgeous colors for the complexion, lips, and nails.

The set charmed me with the Silver Factor Illuminator, perfect for winter. The three items included are shown in the photo above.
  • 0.25 oz Nail Polish in It (ultra-violet)
  • 0.11 oz Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Orgasm (peachy pink with shimmer)
  • 0.57 oz Illuminator in Silver Factory (silver)
I have one set to give away. How can you enter to win this giveaway 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 (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 winners 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 early this evening, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry - if that's easier.

Readers who have left a non-contest comment during the last two weeks will receive an additional, fourth entry. You don't have to do anything. I remember you.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, February 2, 2013, at midnight. The next morning, I will use a random number generator ( 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.

The winner must be able to provide me with a "mailable address," meaning the U.S. Post Office recognizes it or its street, province, and other "elements" the way the winner provides them. I've had some trouble with both U.S. and international addresses lately.

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

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tarte Emerald Skinny SmolderEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner

Whether it's just a hint or an entire wash of color, it's easy to wear emerald, Pantone's color of the year, with Tarte's Skinny SmolderEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner ($19). This emerald is rich, vivid, and bold - everything you need to make a gorgeous statement.

A follow-up to Tarte's best-selling SmolderEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner, this trimmed-down, skinny waterproof eyeliner glides on like velvet and powers your day so you never have to worry about sumdging or budging. Just like the original, you can lock down a completely waterproof finish thanks to the rich, pure pigments boosted by Amazonian clay for truer, bolder color.

You can use the built-in smudge tool at one end to soften the look if you don't want a thin line - the line I love. No matter how you wear this versatile liner, the Amazonian clay will work to nourish your eyelids, reduce surface oil, and improve overall texture for easy application and long wear.

I love this eyeliner, which is available in 10 beautiful shades, but emerald is the shade of the moment. This color emerald is, of course, bright green, but it's got a slight blue hue that makes it absolutely heavenly. Perhaps the "T" could stand for teal emerald instead of Tarte?

I took swatch photos in full sun on one of the rare occasions in the last few days when it graced us. This has to be one of the prettiest green liners I have every seen. On the arm or on the eyelids, Emerald Skinny SmolderEYES is magnificent.

Emerald was sent to me by Tarte. There's another green shade I must have. It's Sunstone Jade, and you can see it nicely by clicking on the color swatch at Tarte's Web site. The photo will change to show you each color. I love the thin pencil, so I may have to order a third one - maybe Slate?

You can purchase this gorgeous entry to the color of the year at Tarte's Web site, Sephora, and Ulta.

Photos at top courtesy of Tarte; other photos by Best Things in Beauty