Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Giorgio Armani Beauty Kaleidoscope Fall 2013 Collection

Giorgio Armani Beauty's Fall 2013 Kaleidoscope Collection is now available online. It has been there for a few days, so you may have seen it (another press release I never got - I was beginning to feel like a pariah - seriously paranoid - but I just received it). The collection is called a play of light, nuances, and reflections. "Feminine/masculine duality. Multifaceted cool tones on the eyes, contrasted by berry-toned lips. Subtle femininity softens the garçonne look for autumn."

There are several pieces in the fall collection that look like must-haves to me. The two Fall Look 2013 Face & Eye Palettes ($88) are beautiful. The black case, with its chic magnetic closure, conceals two tiers - one for the face and one for the eyes. The face powder shades are sprinkled with pearls for subtly shimmering glints. The delicate eye shadow harmonies offer either brown-green or blue-violet tones.

Palette #2, shown directly above, is the one that appeals to me. It provides a rosy blush face powder and eye shadows in Copper Wood, Iridescent Jade, and Sea Green. Divine!

Palette #1, shown below, has too much lavender and sky blue for my tastes. However, I'm sure many of you will love it. The light pink blush is accompanied by Smoky Purple, Iridescent Blue, and Satin Grey Blue eye shadows.

Giorgio Armani premiers a satin shadow that delivers long-lasting, fine color film for a comfortable, no-smudge effect. Two-in-one palettes: On the first tier, a feather-light face powder with micronized particles of Micro-Fil technology that illuminate the skin with the signature “Armani glow.” On the second tier, two matte eye shadows in intense hues and a “satinized” illuminator formulated with the new Color-Fil Technology.

As I look at the photos, I'm not sure which shades are considered illuminators in the traditional sense of the word. I think they mean that one of the three eye shadows is slightly shimmering.

There are six new Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadows ($33) in the new collection. Gold Hercule, shown directly above, is the shade that knocked my socks off. The pearlescent shades offer a kaleidoscopic effect, the illusion of changing color depending on the direction of light. The colors are never what they seem; each movement creates a new nuance of color.  From gold to red, violet to pink, blue to green, aqua blue to violet, their holographic effects span the color spectrum.

Eyes to Kill Intense is not new, so I'm sure you're familiar with it. Its innovative hybrid texture, which is not a powder nor a cream, provides a smooth, lasting color film to the eyelids. Each shade is intensified with a second pigment for a multidimensional effect. In just one swoop, you can create a wet, shimmering smoky eye. Use more for serious drama.

The technology, Armani's Color-Fil, was used for the first time in an eye shadow with Eyes to Kill Intense. A new high-resistance bi-polymer enables the formula to perfectly fit the color to the eyelid with cushiony suppleness, providing comfortable long wear. It will provide twenty-four hour color wear (if you need it) and it crease-proof, flake-proof, waterproof, and sweat-proof. Eyes To Kill Intense Eyeshadows glide on, stay on, but wipe off in an instant (using heavy-duty eye makeup remover). You can apply them wet or dry with your fingers or the Armani large eye contour brush.

Finally, there are six new Rouge d'Armani Lipstick ($32) shades. Wild berry and sun-kissed hues will give your lips a dazzling smile. These colors premiered on Armani's catwalk and have become a key trend for fall. They offer a sensual bitten-lip look when dabbed against the lips to leave a stain, which you can layer in light strokes.

With an exceptional long-wear formula, Rouge d'Armani provides comfort and shine, without fading and feathering. The soft texture leaves the lips feeling continuously hydrated. Rouge d'Armani has a classy black lacquer case with an exclusive magnetic closure. Sealed with a click.

I haven't decided whether I am going to order online or wait for the collection to arrive at local stores. I'm eager to purchase the palette and that gorgeous gold-green eye shadow. I'll wait until I can shop on Saturday to decide. Have you seen the collection? What do you think?

It should be available at all Giorgio Armani Beauty counters soon. It is online at the Giorgio Armani Beauty Web site now.

Photos courtesy of Giorgio Armani Beauty

Coming Attraction: Aerin Lauder Fragrances

It's no surprise that Aerin Lauder will be taking her lifestyle and beauty brand into fragrance. She's doing it with a splash - five scents. Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine, and Evening Rose will launch in November. May I have them all, please?

Lauder told WWD, "One of my earliest memories is fragrance. When I think about certain people and moments in my life, fragrance is always involved - whether it’s going for a bike ride and smelling honeysuckle for the first time or gardenias in my hair when I got married. They all evoke memories and stories and moods.” That's not surprising. Many of us have early memories of scents, perhaps our mother's favorite perfume or the flowers that bloomed outside our homes.

Lauder wanted to create a whole wardrobe of fragrances. She worked with Firmenich, a storied perfume company, to create the scents. Her attention to detail is evident, even down to the fragrance boxes, which feature patterns used in Lauder’s fabric license with Lee Jofa. Each glass bottle is topped by a different colored stone that incorporates the color of one of the ingredients in the juice (the bottles remind me slightly of Armani Privé bottles): green for Gardenia Rattan, pale brown for Amber Musk, pink for Lilac Path, white for Ikat Jasmine, and purple for Evening Rose.

Gardenia Rattan is intended to capture the spirit of summer and has sparkling wet marine notes combined with gardenia, tuberose, and Tahitian tiare and amber. Its carton is reminiscent of a summer garden and features the Aerin for Lee Jofa design “Sayre,” a modern floral.

Amber Musk is inspired by winter. It blends ambrox, coconut water, rose centifolia absolute, benzoin, and musk. The carton features the Aerin for Lee Jofa design, “Kenlyn,” a personal take on the floral prints that were always part of her grandmother’s home decor. The print is an adaptation of a French document in the Lee Jofa archive that features two birds among exotic flowers and foliage.

Lilac Path was inspired by the lilac bush that blooms at Estée Lauder’s summer cottage. It combines lilac with galbanum, creamy jasmine lactones, angelica seed oil, and orange flower. The carton features the Aerin for Lee Jofa design, “Marila,” which combines two unique designs to create a signature batik.

Ikat Jasmine is intended to personify a modern woman - effortless style and intriguing femininity. Key notes are jasmine sambac and jasmine Egypt infusion, combined with exotic tuberose fleur, honeysuckle, tuberose infusion, and sandalwood. I can smell it from here. Its outer packaging was inspired by the blue and white floral wallpaper in Lauder’s childhood bedroom.

Evening Rose is meant to be a day-to-night fragrance. Juicy blackberry and rich cognac are blended with voluptuous rose centifolia and Bulgarian rose absolute and incense. The outer box is of the Aerin for Lee Jofa “Hither” pattern, which was adapted from an English Jacobean hand-blocked linen from the Lee Jofa archive, dating back to the early twentieth century.

Each of the scents will retail for $110 for a 50-ml bottle. In the U.S., they will be available at about 100 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue. They will also be available at Holt Renfrew in Canada and Selfridges, Brown Thomas and John Lewis in the U.K., as well as on Esteelauder.com and Aerin.com. I can't wait!

Photos and descriptions courtesy of WWD

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guerlain Fall 2013 Voilette de Madame Collection

I'm still waiting for Guerlain PR to send me the press photos and press release for the Fall 2013 Voilette de Madame Collection. Meanwhile, the collection has arrived at the Guerlain Boutique in Las Vegas. So much for advance notice!

The collection offers beautiful new L’Ecrin 2 Couleurs Eyeshadow duos (shown at the top of this feature); Eye Pencils; one Nail Lacquer shade; three new, limited-edition Lipstick Rouge G's; three Lip Gloss d'Enfer shades; and a dynamite, new and limited Guerlain 4-Colours Blush.

Take a look at the photos the boutique sent me. Then give Raquel Van de Venter a call at (702) 732-7008 to order. She sent me a few swatch photos. I have posted her Rouge G swatches below.


You can see more photos at Chic Profile. Tavia was more successful than I was in getting the press photos. I will be photographing and sharing photos when my order arrives.

Photos courtesy of the Guerlain Boutique in Las Vegas

Coming Soon: Bobbi Brown's New Eye Shadow Collection

Inspired by requests from fans, including makeup artists, Bobbi Brown has perfected her eye shadow collection to create the most diverse shade range for all skin tones. The collection now includes 24 new shades available in matte, metallic, sparkle, and shimmer formulas, providing women with more shade options and textures from which to choose. According to Bobbi, “A touch of sparkle instantly transforms any look into something more special."

Housed in a sleek, flip-top compact, each shadow can be used individually or popped into a handy customizable palette (sold separately) that's perfect for a woman on the go.

Sparkle Eye Shadow ($32 - but I really think this is a typo in the press information) is Bobbi’s unique featherweight formula that offers up to eight hours of wear without creasing or fading. Featuring a combination of multi-dimensional shimmering pearls and glitter, it instantly brightens the eyes with pure, sparkling color. This superbly soft powder shadow glides on smoothly and effortlessly. The shades are Silver Moon, Ballet Pink, Mica, Sunlight, Cement, Taupe, Pebble, Silver Lilac, and Smokey Quartz.

Eye Shadow ($22) is a collection with sophisticated shades ranging from subtle nudes to rich dramatic shades. This exclusive, silky, matte formula glides on easily and is everyday wearable. The shades are Banana, Mulberry, Cool Ivory, Antique Rose, Khaki, Saddle, Camel, Rich Espresso, Rich Navy, and Rich Caviar.

Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow ($22) offers just a touch of luminosity on the eye. Nothing compares to Bobbi’s lightly pearlized Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow. Specially coated pigments offer long-lasting, crease-free wear, while talc and mica provide blendable, smooth, and even application. There is one shade available: Pink Chiffon. I'm not sure why if it's incomparable.

Metallic Eye Shadow ($22) provides high-pigment color with intense pearl-like shimmer. Each shade applies smoothly and evenly, and stays crease-free for eight hours of flawless wear. The shades are Balsam and Lapis.

The collection will be available in August at all Bobbi Brown counters and Bobbi Brown's Web site.

Photos courtesy of Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation - New and Exciting

There's a new Bobbi Brown foundation: Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation ($52). It's a foundation for dry skin that gives the skin a beaming-from-within glow and provides a flawless, airbrushed look. I love the idea, and now that I've worn my generous sample, I love the foundation. I see a purchase ahead.

Bobbi Brown distinguishes this beautiful new foundation by its light-reflecting formula. In contrast to traditional light-scattering substrates, Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation does not contain conventional pearls. It was developed with the use of technology that, like crystals, reflects light, making the skin look clear and bright (I swear I wasn't trying to rhyme).

Naturally, since it's made for dry skin, it offers long-term hydration. Glycerin, sodium hyaluronate (nature's sponge), and muru muru seed butter make it a moisture magnet to protect and repair the skin's natural barrier against moisture loss. It's also said to tighten, firm, and reduce wrinkles. I haven't used this foundation long enough to tell you if it does. Bobbi Brown says unique milk thistle extract and hexapeptide technology join to stimulate the production of collagen, making fine lines and wrinkles look less apparent and the skin appear firmer, reducing the signs of aging. Peptides are known to do that, so I believe it - I just haven't seen it yet.

With the perfect proportion of treated pigments and dry skin softeners, Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation will give you a natural look throughout the day - never cakey and dry. I read that the pigments were covered with a moisturizing treatment that makes the foundation adhere to the skin and, at the same time, makes sure that the skin stays hydrated and fresh, never dry.

I normally wear Warm Ivory in Bobbi Brown's foundations, and that's the shade I've been testing. It's perfect. I find it applies beautifully with a sponge or brush (not as well with fingers for some reason) and can be layered easily. I apply a light layer all over my face and then go back over the center of my face, where I've got some redness, with a little extra product.

This new foundation is available in 20 colors - from ultra-pale to very dark chocolate. I love the acknowledgement that we aren't all light, medium, or dark or perhaps a pitiful six permutations of that. Bobbi Brown has always been good about offering a large spectrum of shades. When Loyd Cassler used to do Armani master classes, he had to bring along Bobbi Brown foundation and concealer for the dark-skinned women in the class. Armani has since added dark shades.

Through September (I think), Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation will be exclusive to Nordstrom. If you need help, please give my favorite Bobbi Brown representative, Diron Carr, a call at 703-671-1121, and ask for extension 1086. If you know your shade, you can purchase it online.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom

Monday, July 29, 2013

Clé de Peau Beauté Extra Rich Lipstick - New, Gorgeous, and Expensive

Clé de Peau Beauté's Extra Rich Lipstick (Rouge à Lèvres) has been reformulated, and the results are stunning. The new formula is said to be a harmony of rich color and refined texture, as stirring as a rose in bloom, as seductively soft as a perfect petal.

This elegant, moisturizing lipstick infuses the lips with luxurious color, texture, and skin care for a look of radiance like never before. Newly designed for Extra Rich Lipstick, the packaging feels as luxurious as it looks. Unfortunately, the packaging is very expensive. Like most Clé de Peau Beauté lip colors, the color bullet is sold separately from the case (or holder). The refill (color), shown below as it is provided with a plastic lid, is $40, and the holder is $25. I was able to purchase two new lipsticks for $80. Had I splurged on the fancy lids, the two would have cost me $120. The disadvantage to purchasing only the refills is that they won't travel well - even in my purse. The plastic tops will flip off easily. Unlike some other Clé de Peau lipsticks that require a holder so that you can turn the bullet up and down, these are functional without the holder. The holder is plastic, I believe - nothing special - so $25 is an exorbitant price for it.

With a spectrum of 30 shades in three finishes, satin, silk, and velvet, I lingered at the counter for a half-hour before I finally selected one satin and one silk shade. The velvet shades are too matte and too saturated for my tastes. The satin and silk shades have more life in my opinion.

I purchased #109, shown on the left in the photo at the top of this feature and #203, shown at right. I could easily have selected three or four more. These lipsticks feel fabulous on my lips - very hydrating - and they are slightly sheer, giving them a natural look on my lips.

I took photos in full sun at different times of the afternoon. In my photos, #109 is at the top of my arm, and #203 is swatched below. Both pinks are medium in color saturation and look great on my lips. what you can't see, which disappoints me, is that #203 is a more neutral pink than it appears on my arm. It was obvious in the store (Nordstrom), but outside in full sun, #203 looks pure pink - almost hot pink.

Extra Rich Lipstick is nicely long-lasting. It has no discernible fragrance. The satin and silk finishes don't shine (any shine you see in my swatch photos is from the direct sun), but they do have a brilliance that I don't see in the velvet shades. The range of colors is notable, spanning shades from very light (too light for me) to very dark. There is at least one for everyone.

I'd like to go back and purchase two more - one with more peach in it, and one of the brown shades. These are gorgeous lipsticks. You will have to decide if they are "unique enough" to warrant the price.

I purchased mine at Nordstrom, where they had just arrived. If your favorite Clé de Peau Beauté counter doesn't have these new beauties, it will soon.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday This and That and Sephora News

I love it when the crepe myrtles start to bloom. They have a long summer season, showing off their beauty as other flowering plants start to wilt from the extreme heat. Hot it has been!

This morning, we had a little excitement - well, Charlie did. He got up around 4:00 am and started being really obnoxious, making enough noise to make my last hours of sleep fitful. At one point, he was digging various things out from under the bureau (was it a message I needed to clean better?). It was only after he started played in the bathtub that I got really curious and went into the bathroom to see what he was doing. He was playing with a new friend, Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse was terrified, but looked uninjured. I grabbed a cup and, after a few fruitless attempts, with Charlie getting in the way, I scooped him up, covered the cup with a rigid catalog, and took him outside, where I liberated him. Mr. Mouse seemed OK as he scurried away into the mint under the shrubs. It was a riot watching Charlie sit on the toilet for 30 minutes afterward keeping an eye out for his new toy, Mr. Mouse.

I'll give you a quick update on my malware woes. My guru disappeared from the scene for a few days, and I was panicked. Fortunately, he came back yesterday. Perhaps he was off for a few well-deserved vacation days. Anyhow, reader Katherine had recommended I try ComboFix, freeware that promises to rid your computer of known malware, spyware, and other bad actors and remove them. I ran ComboFix yesterday evening, and (knock on wood) I haven't had a redirect since. Kuttus, my guru, also sent me some additional code to use with an OTL run, and I did that late last night. Today, I have not had a link redirected - yet. Could it be that we've had a successful exorcism?

I went over to Nordstrom yesterday to check out the Anniversary Sale. I was seriously interested in the Attilio Giusti Leombruni shoes. There are only two brands these days that I can wear from Day 1 with comfy feet: AGLs and Aerosoles. When I got to the upscale shoe department, I learned that every AGL on sale had sold out during pre-sale - another reason to hate Nordstrom's pre-sale policy. Nordstrom encourages customers to open credit cards and potentially go into debt - rather than live on cash at hand - and rewards them with early sale access. It doesn't matter if you spend more than those cardholders in a year. You are out of luck when it comes to the annual to-do. Yeah, they offer a debit card too, but since my debit card number was stolen there, I'm not confident they can protect my security, especially since they thought that card number theft was an inside job.

After my shoe department disappointment, I went down to Beauty and was incredibly unimpressed by the Anniversary Sale exclusives. There was a relatively nice Bobbi Brown Telluride Glow Collection. I might have purchased it in flusher days. I got to see the new Dior color. I think I already got the best pieces. I was not at all excited over the Dior Fusion Mono Eyeshadows. The colors were boring for this makeup addict, and they were too metallic for my tastes. I flirted with the new powder shadows, but they were so similar to shadows I already own, I lost interest quickly. I think I already own the best of the Mystic Metallics Collection.

I did a quick drive-by of Clarins and found the summer collection still featured. Then I headed for Clé de Peau, where I found the new Extra Rich Lipsticks! They were everything I expected and more. With 30 shades in three finishes, satin, silk, and velvet from which to choose, I played with colors for 30 minutes. It took that long to narrow my selections down to two. These are pricey lipsticks. I couldn't buy more than two. I'll show you my two choices tomorrow. I'm absolutely sure I'll go back for more before too long.

The biggest beauty news of the week was Sephora's announcement that it is revamping its Beauty Insider Program. I found out at WWD, from which I lifted this news. "More memberships, more rewards, and more points" was the message when Sephora executives revealed the company's relaunched Beauty Insider program, including a new premium membership level.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider Program is made up of two tiers. At the base is Beauty Insider, which provides the customer with birthday gifts, seasonal promotions, product rewards, gifts, and member-only classes. The second tier is VIB (Very Important Beauty) Insider, for which consumers qualify once they have spent $350 in a calendar year. This tier includes all beauty insider benefits, first dibs on new products, seasonal VIB-only gifts, advance access to sales, and private VIB-only shopping events (I like this because Sephora doesn't practice credit card "extortion.") The new tier, called VIB Rouge, launched on July 23 and offers frequent shoppers even more incentives. This premium level is reserved for customers who spend $1,000 or more in a calendar year and provides members with all Beauty Insider benefits, all VIB benefits, free shipping on all orders, unlimited access to The Beauty Studio, exclusive Rouge events, and surprise gifts. 

To kick off the program’s relaunch, Sephora will feature a few new incentives between August 12 and 18. When Beauty Insiders purchase new items, they will receive double points. VIBs will receive triple points, and VIB Rouge members will receive quadruple points. Also, the points earned are eligible to transfer to friends and family to score 5,000- or 10,000-point rewards. A select few will qualify for prizes like a trip for two to Paris with Make Up For Ever or the Marc Jacobs beauty collection tucked away in a fall 2013 Marc Jacobs handbag. I think I'll be making my trip to Sephora to check out the Marc Jacobs collection soon.

What do you think about that? Will the enhanced program make you even more likely to buy from Sephora? The stores might be messy, but Sephora online shopping is the bomb (as the kids say admiringly).

Remember I featured TATCHA’s GOLD Camellia Lip Balm recently? For a limited time, you can enjoy this treasure with every purchase of $300 or more (a $36 value) at TATCHA's Web site.  Enter the code GOLDCRUSH at checkout, and the balm will be yours for free. The offer is valid through August 7.

Update 7:30 pm: After a redirect-free day, I just got redirected. I'm crestfallen.

Photos courtesy of Southern Living and WWD

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Suede from the Navy & Nude Collection Giveaway Contest

Bobbi Brown's velvety-smooth Long-Wear Cream Shadow formula goes on easily - and lasts all day without creasing or smearing. Bobbi brought back Suede, a shade I remember, with her Navy & Nude Collection.

From summering in the city to sailing the high seas, when it comes to warm-weather beauty, less is more. For Summer 2013, Bobbi designed a fresh, nude face that's flattering, sexy, and goes with everything, from a nautical striped tee to a chic slip dress. You'll always look cool when wearing her new colors - even in the weather we've suffered recently. I can't promise you'll look like Katie Holmes, but you can come close.

Suede, a tan shadow, gives the lids a soft, matte finish. It's a perfect counterpoint to navy liner - the way Bobbi recommends you wear it. It's certainly office-friendly and the perfect neutral shade for any skin tone.

I have one Suede Long-Wear Cream Shadow 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 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 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 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.

You will automatically earn a fourth entry if you have commented here during the last two weeks. I will know if you have.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, August 3, at midnight. I will use a random number generator (random.org) to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

This contest is open to anyone anywhere. Here are the terms. If the product is lost or stolen in transit, I may not be able to replace it.

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! Please remember that I am now moderating comments. It could be awhile before yours appears.

Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Brown

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Friday Forum - July 26

To recap for those who haven't been following my malware struggles...I had multiple viruses and trojans on my PC. I am not sure how I got them, although I believe the System Care Antivirus infected my computer when I clicked on a DHL notice about a package delivery. I was careless, I'll admit. I had a gut feeling it was a malicious e-mail, but I overrode my instinct. Bad decision.

Today, I'm in a giddy mood - and it's 5:19 am! I have run dozens of malware "seek and destroy" programs pver the last two week. At first, they were all finding problems, but now, only Kaspersky's Virus Removal Tool is still finding threats.  Because Kaspersky takes at least six hours to run, I've been running it overnight. Unfortunately, it hangs up after it finishes and sits for hours ater I awaken. I was finally able today to print the log to give to my Malwaretips guru.

This ordeal - to find all malware and remove it - is getting old. Yesterday, I started getting redirected again, even after a cleanse with Kaspersky Tuesday overnight, so I ran the tool all night again last night. It found 192 threats.  Theoretically, it deleted them. We'll see. I believe I'm going to purchase the Kaspersky suite of products. Trend Micro Security, which used to have a #1 rating, failed me completely (I think).

This is one of those Fridays when I'm totally relieved the work week is over. I'll run more software over the weekend. If I can't clean my computer once and for all, I'm going to start the final process before re-imaging by uninstalling Firefox and re-installing it. It can't hurt!

This has been a slow beauty week for me. With all the time I've spent on my computer, I've had no time to go play at beauty counters. I understand Chanel's Les Beiges samples arrived at Neiman Marcus this week, so I must pop over and pick them up tomorrow. Also, I want to see if the new Clé de Peau Beauté Extra Rich Lipsticks arrived.

It's time for the Friday Forum. I love this part of our week. 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 this week's fabulous giveaway contest. Bobbi Brown's Eyes & Cheeks to Go is a really  nice set. The deadline for entries is tomorrow, Saturday, July 27 at midnight. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of oyepictures.com

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Buon Amici Restorative Hand Cream

Buon Amici Restorative Hand Cream with Tuscan Olive Oil ($18) may be the nicest hand cream you've never heard about. I didn't know it existed before Barneys New York sent me a sample of both the hand cream and the Hydrating Rich Body Cream. I'm thankful that Barneys opened my eyes to this luxurious Italian brand.

I love products based on olive oil (read about my love for Dauget, which I can't even buy in the United States). Buon Amici hand cream is rich in nutrients and moisturizers, some botanical. It protects the hands from environmental assaults, such as cracking and reddening due to dry air or continuous hand washing. It absorbs quickly and is not greasy at all. With its olive oil base, I know it's good for my skin.

I love using it before I go to bed because it makes my hands feel good and smell good too. Boun Amici Restorative Hand Cream doesn't have a strong scent. It smells good - a little fruity, but not sweet - when I apply it. Just a few minutes later, as I drift off to sleep, the scent is almost gone, but the feeling of comfort and softness lingers. I am sure that feeling of comfort helps me fall asleep.

My little rituals, such as applying hand and body creams before I go to sleep at night, are important to my mental well-being. Could my rituals be responsible for releasing a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure?

You can find Boun Amici products at Barneys New York. The next time I order online at Barneys, I'm going to try the brand's Antioxidant Rich Body Oil.

I did a little Web search to try to find out more information about the company. I came up with nothing other than Barneys - and a lot of restaurants. If you have the scoop, please share.

Photo courtesy of Barneys

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why No Beauty Feature?

After two weeks, my computer is still infected with a virus that causes redirects when I click on a search result link. A saint on a malware board has been helping me. The guy is a serious saint with extraordinary patience. I have run program after program, including a script he custom-wrote for me.

Yesterday, the moment I got home from work, I started running his instructions for the day. The scans ended sometime in the middle of the night. It was beyond frustrating that I could not capture the report when I awakened. It said there were threats detected, and we wanted to know what they were. The program itself had frozen sometime after 2:00 am.

I'm going to keep working on this problem until my computer is entirely clean. I do not want to have it re-imaged, which is a royal pain, nor do I wish to switch browsers. Stay tuned, and thank you for your patience.

I do own a MacBookAir. I appreciate your suggestions to buy a MAC, but my photo software only works on PCs.

Photo courtesy of officeprofessional.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Natura Bissé Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse

Natura Bissé's Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse ($135) is perfectly named. Using this luminous cleansing cream is a luxury.

The luxurious and rich cleansing micro-emulsion eliminates impurities and every type of makeup (including waterproof makeup) while illuminating the skin. Exquisite and silky, it has a lovely, mild lavender fragrance - perfect for before bed. It does not strip the skin’s own natural oils. In fact, it makes my skin feel softer.

The delicious formulation is based on emollient ingredients derived from natural cane sugar and soothes and hydrates the skin. The ingredients include pomegranate extract, micro-emulsion glycerin oil, vitamin F, vitamin E, and α-Bisabol. The Pomegranate extract, rich in ellagic acid, provides instant luminosity to the skin. It's paraben-free too. I love the fact that Natura Bissé doesn't make ludicrous anti-aging claims for this cleanser. Cleansers are on your face for such a short time, they aren't going to absorb and help you shed 10 years.

A complete and refreshing cleansing ritual in just one step that is ideal for eyes and face.
  • Innovative makeup removing formula for face and eyes
  • Helps keep the skin hydrated
  • Helps keep skin feeling soft and looking luminous
  • A unique and multipurpose product that effectively removes all traces of makeup
You should use Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse morning and night, but I only use it at night. It comes in a jar, which is unwieldy for me in the shower. I need to have a pump container there. What impresses me the most about it - beyond the feel, consistency, and experience - is its effectiveness. It's one of the few cleansers that is ultra-gentle, but still removes every last trace of my eye makeup. Most cleansers leave me with mascara runs under my eyes, and I have to quickly remove them with eye makeup remover - an extra step that isn't time-consuming, but one that should be unnecessary.

Here are Natura Bissé's directions for use, embellished by yours truly.
  1. Using a spatula, apply the product on the palm of your clean and dry hand. Gently massage on the face, neck and décolleté, concentrating on the eye area (to remove eye makeup).
  2. With moistened hands, massage desired areas once again. The product immediately transforms into an exquisite emulsion. It seems to melt from a gel to a liquid.
  3. Remove the product using Natura Bissé cleansing sponges moistened in warm water. Or you could do what I do. Wash it off using your hands and water. Rinse repeatedly until it "feels" removed.
I know it's pricey, but a jar lasts forever. You don't need much for one cleansing. Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse is a treat you owe yourself. Is it necessary? No, you could use Cetaphil. You just won't feel like a queen.

Photo courtesy of Natura Bissé

Monday, July 22, 2013

Coming Soon: Clé de Peau Beauté Extra Rich Lipstick

Clé de Peau Beauté's Extra Rich Lipstick (Rouge à Lèvres) has been reformulated, according to the Clé de Peau Beauté representative at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie. It's said to be a harmony of rich color and refined texture, as stirring as a rose in bloom, as seductively soft as a perfect petal.

This elegant, moisturizing lipstick is said to infuse the lips with luxurious color, texture, and skin care for a look of radiance like never before. Newly designed for Extra Rich Lipstick, the packaging feels as luxurious as it looks. The older packaging is shown above because I can't find a photo of the new faceted tube.

Jennifer Moon, the Clé de Peau representative, gave me a sample card. With a spectrum of 30 shades in three finishes, satin, silk, and velvet, it looks intriguing. Like most Clé de Peau Beauté lip colors, the color bullet is sold separately from the case (or holder). The Refill (color) is $40, and the holder is $25. Unlike the eye shadows, you really need both for the lipsticks, making Extra Rich Lipstick a very pricey lipstick.

I took swatch photos of 103, 203, 303, and 311 - top to bottom on my arm - in full sunshine. I applied each color with a concealer brush.

These colors range from everyday shades (for me) to full-on glam color. They are very creamy and, if you look closely, carry a bit of sparkle. I didn't notice the sparkle until I used a paper towel to wipe the swatches from my arm before I washed them off. It was at that point that I saw tiny sparklies. I think they give the colors radiance without overt shimmer.

The lipsticks have not arrived. I cannot find mention of the new forumulation anywhere. I'll be pretty unhappy to learn that this information was bogus. The shade names, numbers instead of the older letter-number combination, make me think the new formulation is the real thing.

I will be the first in line to reserve 103, shown at the top of my arm. I think it's gorgeous. There are so many shades, though, I may have to see them all before I decide.

The sample card shows very tiny renditions of all the colors, grouped by category. They look gorgeous. There was no sense in trying to photograph it because the border is black. I can't wait to see the collection in person. If you would like to see what's coming, stop by your favorite Clé de Peau counter.

Update 7/27: Silly me for doubting! The lipsticks have arrived at counters, and they are gorgeous.

Photo at top courtesy of Clé de Peau Beauté; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday This and That

I had the best Sunday nap today. Things didn't get done, but my nap was wonderful. It's still brutally hot outside. The promised "cold front" didn't arrive yesterday, so now it's scheduled for later today. Bring it on!

I thought I'd use today's "this and that" to bring you some beauty news you might have missed - news from off the beaten path. One of my favorite fragrance brands in Le Labo. Le Labo has unveiled two new scents in its City Exclusives range. The City Exclusives are kind of a pain because you can only purchase them in the boutiques in the city where they belong - except every year or two when the eight City Exclusives are sold in all Le Labo stores and at Luckyscent.

The two new fragrances are Limette 37 for San Francisco. It features notes of jasmine, petit grain, clove, vetiver, and musks. The second is Cuir 28 for Dubai, with notes of vanilla absolute, leather, vetiver, and musks. This year, from September 1 for six weeks the City Exclusives (including Tubereuse 40 for New York (my absolute favorite of all Le Labos), Musc 25 for Los Angeles, Baie Rose 26 for Chicago, Vanille 44 for Paris, Poivre 23 for London, and Gaiac 10 for Tokyo) will be available at selected stores and online priced at $116 for 15 ml, $290 for 50 ml, $440 for 100 ml, and $1400 for 500 ml. A Travel Tube Kit ($175), Travel Tube Refill ($240) and Perfume Oil ($240) will also be available. I've got my eyes on Cuir 28. Even though Limette seems like a natural for me, I don't care for clove in fragrance - or much of anything else.

WWD reported that Lipstick Queen will be expanding its reign with a new collection featuring its most advanced formula since its 2006 launch. In September, Poppy King, will introduce Velvet Rope, a five-piece lipstick line. The lipstick, priced at $50, will be the highest-priced lipstick in the brand to date.Do you see prices creeping up?

For King, the range is meant to harken back to 1940's Hollywood, when “glamour was in every detail” and heavily pigmented pouts were the norm. “Hollywood glamour was at its peak in the Forties,” said King. “It was a time when women were an equal presence on screen and were there to be seen as well as heard. Each one of the female film stars in the Forties could match any man in terms of power and wit and look damn good doing it.”

Despite her vintage inspiration, King was equally focused on delivering a “futuristic” new formula that felt lightweight. The final formula, 20 years in the making, promises densely pigmented opaque color, paired with the light feel of a lip balm. The collection's shades will be Private Party, Brat Pack, Entourage, Black Tie, and Star System, with colors ranging from nude to deep red.

“I have been trying to make this [quality] lipstick since I started my first lipstick brand when I was 18,” King shared. “I finally found a chemist who cracked the code on ‘high-drama look, no-drama wear.’ This was the lipstick of my childhood dreams.” Central to the formula is silicone elastomer, which King said allows the lipstick to feel silky and weightless while preserving an intense velvety color. “Because of [the silicone and elastomer base], you are able to achieve full coverage in a single stroke that usually requires at least three strokes,” King explained.

The lipstick’s additional ingredients include three types of waxes - candelilla, carnauba, and beeswax - to give the lipstick its structure, along with vitamin E and apricot oil to maintain nourished and soft lips. Peppermint oil was also included for a dose of freshness and a minty scent. In my humble opinion, the peppermint oil could work against its success.

The Velvet Rope collection will be sold at all SPACE.NK and Barneys New York nationwide, and will also be available online at lipstickqueen.com.

Clarins has created a new make-up collection for fall that will be available in August. Given the quick sell out of the summer collection, I'd recommend we all look for it the moment it arrives. Called Graphic Expressions, the fall colors include two eye products: the 3-Dot Liner enriched with growth-stimulating ingredients to condition lashes and eight shades of Crayon Khôl with a gentle formula that offers vibrant colors, including Intense Black, Smoky Plum, and Taupe.

Graphic Expressions also features a limited-edition Face & Blush Powder, made up of three shades (light beige, darker beige, and coral pink) with a veil of gold to illuminate cheekbones; the Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in fall forest shades, with khaki green, satin taupe, intense bronze, and pale gold; and Joli Rouge Lipstick, containing mango butter to nourish and protect lips in shades of Pink Camellia, Spicy Cinnamon and Royal Plum. Clarins will also launch a new Be Long Mascara. The mascara contains a complex with two active ingredients: the peptide Matrikine that enhances lash growth and Panthenol to strengthen lashes. Carnauba wax and filmogenic polymers work with the keratin found in lashes in order to maintain their health and to offer intense color. The mascara's tilted, small, elastomer brush has been designed to coat each lash from root to tip.

Everyone is into BB Creams, so Melvita will unveil its Rose Nectar BB Cream SPF15, in one shade, Nude Rose, in September. The light, organic cream is designed to camouflage imperfections and leave a natural complexion and flawless finish. The formula uses Melvita's Rose Nectar triple-action solution with rose floral water, fresh rose extract and wild rose petals to provide, retain, and distribute moisture in the skin. Organic mountain roses with natural mineral filters and pigments in a nude shade provide a soft-focus effect on the skin, while pro-biotic Yogurtene helps to prevent the development of bad bacteria by regulating the skin and stimulating the activity of good bacteria. The skin's pH level is balanced and natural defences are strengthened to offer a healthy, matte soft finish. Even though I am totally sated with BB Creams, I might try Melvita's Rose Nectar BB Cream. I love the brand, and I love roses. Why not?

I hope you are enjoying your Sunday. See you tomorrow.

Photos courtesy of pbworks.com, Le Labo, WWD, Chic Profile, and Melvita

Bobbi Brown Eyes & Cheeks to Go Set Giveaway Contest

This limited-edition Bobbi Brown Eyes & Cheeks to Go Set ($75) was a Nordstrom exclusive. It makes it easier than ever for a woman to do her makeup on the go with the Chrome 3-Pan Palette. The set features two unique shade combinations of Eyeshadow Quads and - for the first time ever - Bobbi's best-selling Pot Rouge in customizable form. All 3-Pans come with a clear protective cover and can be popped out and inserted into Bobbi's customizable palettes. The set also includes a mini eyeshadow brush for application.

On the left, the Warm Eye Quad includes Bone Shimmer Wash, Copper Sand Shimmer Wash, and Gold Dust Metallic and Espresso Eyeshadows.The Cool Eye Quad on the right includes Navajo Metallic, Gunmetal Shimmer Wash, Rockstar Metallic, and Navy Eyeshadows. The Pot Rouge is Blushed Rose.

I have one of these fantabulous sets 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 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 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 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.

You will automatically earn a fourth entry if you have commented here during the last two weeks. I will know if you have.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, July 27, at midnight. I will use a random number generator (random.org) to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

This contest is open to anyone anywhere. Here are the terms. If the product is lost or stolen in transit, I may not be able to replace it.

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! Please remember that I am now moderating comments. It could be awhile before yours appears.

Update 7/26: My thanks to Marsi for the edit. You can tell I have no idea what day it is.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New: Natura Bissé High Density Lift

Normally, I wouldn't write about brand new skin care before I tested it thoroughly. However, I have a "close personal relationship" with Natura Bissé that's something akin to love. So I'll tell you about the company's latest miracle cream: High Density Lift ($290). Testers and samples have arrived at Neiman Marcus, but the for-sale product isn't expected for about a week.

Inspired by the newest trends and technology in facial lifting procedures and formulated with Natura Bissé's INHIBIT COLLECTION (a cosmetic alternative to micro-injections), High Density Lift is a revolutionary bio-revitalizing treatment. It was created to help us recapture the youthful definition of our facial contours by stimulating increased volume and internal lifting. It's formulated with a new PDGF-Remodeling Complex and the highest quality dual hyaluronic acids (HAs).

A breakthrough in Natura Bissé's quest for perfection led the company to an unprecedented treatment for reshaping and filling wrinkles. A concentrated blend of state-of-the-art ingredients promises to redensify the skin, plump it, and fill expression lines and wrinkles. How?

PDGF-Remodeling Complex is formulated with a proprietary, revolutionary ingredient - used for the first time in a cosmetic formula. It is a highly precise key polypeptide, derived from biotechnology, that helps to improve the quality of collagen, elastin, and natural HA. The PDGF-Remodeling Complex is the ingredient that provides the remodeling effect on the skin.

The dual HAs are unique, providing a perfect synergy of very low molecular weight HA with a cross-linked high molecular weight HA. The two combine to naturally fill fine lines and wrinkles through a tension mesh effect that provides natural lifting actions. HA helps maintain high levels of moisture in the skin (it's nature's sponge), even under demanding conditions, to plump the skin for a more youthful appearance.

In summary, the scoop on High Density Lift is that it:
  • Rebuilds youthful volume, lifting the skin day after day;
  • Restores density, fullness, and elasticity to the skin;
  • Visibly improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles;
  • Replenishes optimal hydration levels, providing day-long moisture; and
  • Minimizes pores.
Given my experience with Natura Bissé products, I suspect High Density Lift works. Nasrin Tanaly applied it to my face today, and I loved the feel and experience of application. She sent me home with a few samples. I won't be able to test it for 3-4 weeks, my preference for testing skin care before I evaluate it. I may have to invest in a jar. Amazingly, High Density Lift is priced at only $290. For high-end skin care these days, that's a bargain.

Definitely stop by your favorite Natura Bissé counter and ask for an introductions and samples. We can try it together.

Photo courtesy of fashionmonitor.com

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Friday Forum - July 18

We have a banner crop of mosquitoes this year. I can't walk outside my door without watching my bare skin for the first landing, which occurs within seconds. They are flying in my front door when I open it. I'm not safe anywhere! I can't and don't want to wear DEET around the house, so what am I going to do? Do you think those yellow sticky strips that one can buy for flies work for mosquitoes? Help! They are eating me, and I don't want West Nile. I have enough problems. I don't want them eating my furry kids either.

You just wouldn't believe what I've been through with computer hardware and software in the last week. Last Sunday, I thought my computer was virus-free. It wasn't. I discovered I still had a second "family" of malware living with me. I've spent all week running about 10 programs designed to root out malware - all, I thought, successfully. I still don't know whether the Medfos family has left the premises. The Medfos malware redirects you when you click on a link.

I want to assure you that Best Things in Beauty is not affected. It runs on Google Blogger services, and what's happening on my computer cannot affect the blog. If you have received a dangerous page notice when you have clicked on a BTiB link, it means your computer is also infected by this ubiquitous malware. I know one reader has commented that she is getting a dangerous site message when she clicks on BTiB. It means her own computer is affected by a redirect virus - probably the same one. It's trying to take her someplace else.

On top of all that (and the time I've spent on full system scans), this week my Verizon MiFi jetpack died. The battery on the 1.5-year-old device went kaput. I was told the batteries last five years. Right. So, I had to make an unexpected trip to the Verizon store at the mall during rush hour to buy a new jetpack. Just over a hundred dollars later, I left with one that works - which reminds me, I must send in the rebate coupon. What a pain! Why don't companies give you instant rebates? I know the answer. They count on busy people skippping the process so they can make more money.

That's how my week went. How was yours? Is it as hot where you live as it is in the DC area? Today, our temperature is supposed to be in the high '90's with high humidity. I'm glad I'll be inside.

I've been trying to get information about Le Métier de Beauté's V.I.P. program for you - as I promised I would do. Despite several attempts, and several promises of the information over a two-week period, so far I've received nothing. So, my opinion stands. I wouldn't spend about $350 on a promise. I'm sure Le Métier de Beauté has the best intentions, but if they cannot describe their program in detail, they won't get my money.

I'm not doing the greatest job keeping up with the blog. I'm sorry. I've only been able to write one feature/day, so I'm not meeting my own standards. I've also fallen behind on comment responses, so I offer my apologies - but little else right now. I hope to get in a better rhythm, expecially when the fall colors start to arrive.

It's time for the Friday Forum. I love this part of our week. 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.

I wasn't able to post a giveaway contest this week. Did you notice? I'll be back to form on Sunday.

Photo source unknown

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Le Métier de Beauté Galore Collection, Exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue

Le Métier de Beauté's new Galore Collection features brilliant blushing and bronzed shades for the face and rich jewel tones for the eyes. It was inspired by the glamour and opulence of precious stones. Galore is exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue at stores with Le Métier de Beauté counters. It may also be available at Saks.com, although I haven't looked.

Use the blush and face powders to contour and highlight cheeks for a summer-ready look and the deep, cool shadows to adorn your eyelids with a bit of sparkle. These highly-pigmented True Colour Eye Shadows can be mixed and layered using Le Métier de Beauté's signature Couches de Couleur application technique for complex, multi-faceted looks, or they can be worn alone for an instant wash of gorgeous color. The chic black palette with a huge mirror comes with a nice Eye Shadow Brush for perfect powder application on the go.

“These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of.” This quote was attributed to George Elliott, but the grammar is suspect.

The shades in the palette overlap some of the shades in other recently released palettes. For example, all four blush and bronzer shades are in Zeitgeist and Castaway, and swatches can be seen here.

I believe the price is $125. The Galore Collection is in pre-sale now at Saks. What do you think?

Photos courtesy of Le Métier de Beauté

Eau sOleil Eau de Toilette from the Eau Fraîche Collection by Patricia de Nicolaï

It's really hot outside - so hot that I can't think of a better time to introduce you to Eau sOleil Eau de Toilette from the Eau Fraîche Collection by Patricia de Nicolaï ($45 for 30 ml; $95 for 100 ml). Patricia de Nicolaï's company sent me a few samples - just enough to addict me. Now, I must have a full bottle.

In order to celebrate the summer solstice, Patricia de Nicolaï launched this new, fifth member of her lovely Eau Fraîche Collection. "Seeing the success of my Brume d'Oreiller, inspired by orange flower oil, I thought it would be interesting to create a fragrance that used citrus characteristics," said Nicolaï. "This is why I imagined Eau sOleil as an ideal summer fresh fragrance in which neroli reminds us of the smells of our childhood." Perhaps her childhood. I didn't have the opportunity to grow up in a place resplendent with citrus zest.

Eau sOleil is an uber-citrus fragrance partnered with soft floral notes - in other words, my kind of fragrance. The first impression of Eau sOleil is a sublimely fresh blend of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, ylang ylang, and petit-grain de citronnier, notes that marry with a zing. A little sagebrush and thyme add a hint of herby woods, but just a hint. This fragrance opens with a zesty splash, light, and sunshine. It's cooling as it awakens the senses.

The heart of the fragrance is composed with white flowers: neroli and jasmine. Could there be two more beautiful notes? The top and heart notes stay with me for the full life of Eau sOleil on my skin. The base notes of patchouli, which I cannot detect, and musk, which is very light, enter the blend for the dry-down. This eau de toilette lasts four to five hours on my skin. Perhaps I'll pop one of my samples into my makeup bag for mid-day touch-ups.

Spraying on Eau sOleil Eau de Toilette brings my temperature (and blood pressure) down about 10 degrees/points. It's one of those fragrances both men and women will love - and probably fight to claim. Fortunately, it's available in a 100 ml size, so it's sharable. Do you live with a man who snatches your fragrance?

It's hard to put my exuberance with Eau sOleil into words. You must smell it. Parfums de Nicolaï are not easy to find in the U.S., but fortunately they are available at Beautyhabit. You can contact them to purchase a sampler. For $15, they will send you three fragrance samples of your choice to try before you buy. I'd recommend a few other Patricia de Nicolaï choices, such as Number One or Kiss Me Tender to fill out your sampler. They will give you a good idea of the range of  Nicolaï's masterpieces.

Patricia Nicolai is a woman with fragrance in her blood. The granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain, she was trained by Jean-Paul Guerlain and worked extensively in the corporate fragrance world before realizing her dream: a small, family-owned company where she could express her artistry in her scents, without having to deal with a committee.

Her fragrances, made only with the finest materials, are full of subtlety, nuance, and seamless transitions as they develop on the skin. Delicate and complex, they have earned her unanimous respect in the small world of French perfumery. She was the first woman to be awarded the prize of Best International Perfumer from the French Society of Perfumers. Now that I own about 11 of her fragrances, I know why. You should get to know her too. Now, I'm off to find my to-buy list so that I can add Eau sOliel.

Photos courtesy of Patricia de Nicolaï, landsofwisdom.com, and publicdomainpictures.net

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Eyelid Cleanser

As much as I adore my little raccoons outside, I don't want to look like them. That makes eye makeup removers a necessity. Even the best facial cleansers won't always take off that stubborn mascara "run" under my eyes.

One product I use regularly is a bit unusual, and it's very effective: OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Eyelid Cleanser (prices for a box are all over the place). These individually wrapped, moistened pads are fabulous, not only for removing eye makeup, but also for exfoliating the tender skin around your eyes. They were recommended to me by my opthamologist years ago, and I have used them ever since. I buy mine at CVS or Costco. I highly recommend these pads. You won't find a more effective eye makeup remover. Plus, they do double duty for anyone with sensitive eyes, blepharatis, or any other condition that makes your eyelids peel.

Imagine wearing contacts and having microscopic pieces of skin tissue falling into them during the day. Enough said? Blepharitis is an eye condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the eyelid, and more of us have it than you would imagine. OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Pads continuously and gently exfolate the eyelid to prevent inflammation and its concomitant issues.

These pads are recommended by doctors, including mine, for eyelid cleansing to remove oil, debris, and desquamated skin (flakes) that may lead to eye irritation. They remove oil and debris associated with dry eyes and promote comfort for contact lens wearers. Plus, they remove every last vestige of eye makeup.

I never have raccoon eyes after I use the pads, and all traces of mascara and liner are history. One pad suffices for both eyes. Because they are individually wrapped, they are extremely convenient/ideal for travel. Formulated without alcohol, fragrance, or dye, they can be used by everyone.

I cannot recommend OCuSOFT Lid Scrub pads highly enough. I've written about them before (I should buy stock), and when I mention them in features, someone always asks about them. They are easy to find, inexpensive, and the best makeup remover you'll ever find. Not only that, they are good for you.

Don't buy the ones you have to mix. It's faster and much more convenient to purchase the pre-moistened pads. Also, the "plus" ones are a bit harsh. Stick with the ones that come in the dark blue box.

Check out the OCuSOFT Web site to learn more. OCuSOFT Lid Scrub Eyelid Cleanser is one of my beauty secrets. I think I've converted more than a few of you.

Photo courtesy of OCuSOFT

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Carven La Perfum Eau de Parfum

Carven, a fashion house that offers inspired, yet accessible fashions, has released a new eau de parfum called Carven Le Parfum ($84-$109). The fragrance was designed to represent the idea of youthful spontaneity, Parisian elegance, and approachability. This is the first fragrance launched under the guidance of Carven's Creative Director Guillaume Henry.

I was given a sample to test. I think it's the perfect fragrance for those who want to smell pretty, like me. Fragrance fans who prefer their perfumes skanky (yes, they exist - the more noxious the better in their eyes) will not be impressed. It's too beautiful for them.

Do you know Carven? Carmen de Tommasso, born in 1909, founded the company Carven in 1945. She set up shop near Champs Elysées in Paris in France. The first fragrance under the brand name of Carven, Ma Griffe, was launched in 1946. Since then, a total of 14 fragrances have been introduced by the company, developed in collaboration with perfumers Francis Kurkdjian, Robertet, Jean Carles, and Edouard Hache.

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who has his own line, but creates fragrances for others, created the new Carven fragrance. It has top notes of fresh mandarin blossom, apricot, and delicate white hyacinth. The heart notes capture a bouquet of flowers that includes sweet pea, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. These notes are among my favorites. Sensuous bottom notes of sandalwood, osmanthus, and Indonesian patchouli form the woody base of Carven La Perfume. They could have left out the patchouli, and I'd be delirious, but at least it's not dominant.

If you like florals as much as I do, you will need to check out Carven. It blossoms with an abundance of flowers, which pleases me enormously. Overall, it's the kind of fragrance that will suit for every day, but also for evening or special occasions.

Kurkdjian had this to say about Carven's aura. "The Carven woman has an intuitive sense for what’s chic: she’s Parisian, sparkling, bold, and impertinent; she leaves no one indifferent. She’s beautiful without even thinking about it." He explained, "I wanted to play with the Carven values in a feminine mode: timeless elegance that also seems absolutely effortless. I wanted a fragrance that would resemble a huge bouquet of freshly cut flowers, with temperament and a lingering sillage."

The fragrance capitalizes on the "new energy and dynamism" of Carven fashion. It's modern, affordable, fresh, and pleasing. Icelandic beauty Brynja Jónbjarnardóttir embodies that youthful sentiment in the perfume’s ad campaign and described by Kurkdjian.

Thierry de Baschmakoff designed the modern, simple perfume bottle. The scent is available in three sizes: 30, 50, and 100 ml eau de parfums - a price point for every taste.

You will be seeing a lot of Carven in magazine advertisements over the coming months. In August, look for it in Vanity Fair and People Style Watch, followed in September in Elle, W, Lucky, and Allure. You can see a short video at Saks.



Carven is launching in the United States exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue tomorrow, Wednesday, July 17 (it has already launched at Harrods). It will be available in stores and online (you can pre-order it now). Perhaps not coincidentally, July 18 is electronic gift card day at Saks. For one day only, on Thursday, July 18th, Saks Fifth Avenue will be offering any customer a reward gift card with a minimum $250 purchase. Here are the details.
  • Spend $250-499, receive $25
  • Spend $500-999, receive $50
  • Spend $1,000-1,999, receive $100
  • Spend $2,000-2,999, receive $300
  • Spend $3,000 or more, receive $450
If you decide to purchase Carven at its extremely reasonable prices, you'll have to purchase more than Carven to take advantage of the offer. Need any clothing?

Photos courtesy of Carven; video courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday This and That

My computer's infection this week with the dastardly System Care Antivirus, which itself is a virus, was only the beginning of a long quest that has not ended. I am on the hunt for every kind of malware, spyware, trojan, and every other kind of malicious software on my computer - and I've found more.

The original virus, which took over my computer, is gone, as verified by two programs, but I had to finish the removal job myself. I was annoyed beyond belief when I went to the "computer doctor" get my computer at 4:00 Friday and was told it would be Monday before he could finish. All he was doing was running a free Malware program - the very program that I had in the instructions for removing System Care Antivirus that I had downloaded and printed online. He had removed the virus, and he started a quick scan for others while I waited. One came up, and I asked him to delete it. I told him I was taking my computer as soon as he could shut it down.

He didn't want the computer to leave potentially "dirty." However, I told him I was just as capable of running the malicious software removal program as he was, and then my computer wouldn't have to sit there until Monday afternoon. I brought my computer home and ran scans by multiple programs until it reported "clean." I thought the drama was over.

On Saturday morning, I clicked on a Google search result for "Print USPS Postage," so that I could finally send out Erin B's prize. I was re-directed to a car site. At that moment, I knew I had another problem. I posted a question on the Firefox support site, and two gentlemen promptly provided assistance. One gave me links to about 10 free scanning programs and told me to run all of them because some pick up one bad actor, but not another, and so on. It made sense to me, so I have been downloading, installing, and running anti-malware programs all weekend. That has left me unable to blog.

One made me pretty angry. I wasted Friday night on Kaspersky, advertised as free. When it found and identified dirty files, it wanted me to buy a license before it would fix them. It was advertised as free, but was hardly free. I uninstalled it from my computer. By then, I was ready to kill a hacker.

Today, I think Microsoft Security Scanner found the redirect culprit: Win32/Medfos.B. It is malicious JavaScript that redirects search queries when you use search engines. It is installed as a malicious Mozilla Firefox extension. How did I get it? Who knows? It's gone now.

My Facebook friends have suggested some other cleaners, so I'll be running them tonight. I'm going to run these detectives until my system comes up clean to all of them. Meanwhile, I'm losing valuable blogging time. I'm sorry I've appeared missing in action, but it's important that I get this right.

I saw The Conjuring this past Tuesday night. You know what Klout is, right? It's a social media site that "rates" your influence. The higher your influence, the more perks you can earn. Perks are freebies. Clearly, my influence isn't all that good because the perks I have received have included cat food my cats wouldn't eat and sugar-free ice cream coupons, which would be nice if the brand were available in the stores I frequent. Anyhow, Monday, Klout offered me free tickets to an advance showing of The Conjuring, and I accepted for myself and my friend Paul.

The movie ran from 7:30 to 9:30 (way past my bedtime). Even though I do not like horror films, I have to tell you it was very well done. The film stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who come to the assistance of the Perron family (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), who are experiencing increasingly disturbing events in the Rhode Island farmhouse they just bought. From the start of the movie, it is evident that the house is possessed, and the suspense builds from start to finish.

What is seriously amazing about this film is that it's based on a true story. The Warrens were real, and Mrs. Warren is still alive. You can read more at this link. The movie was called by Variety "one of the most viscerally effective thrillers in history." I must agree with the use of the word "visceral." During the whole movie, I realized that my stomach was in knots. I wish I had known to pop a Valium before I went.

The acting was first class, and the sound effects were extraordinary. As I said, this isn't my kind of movie (I'm a The Devil Wears Prada kind of gal), but if you like terrifying movies, you must see it. It opens on July 19. Caution though...if you think your house is haunted, do not go. I'm now wondering, though, if evil spirits infected my computer.

I must go select a winner for this past week's giveaway contest. Then, I am going to try to write a feature for this evening. There's a new fragrance I want to describe before Saks has its gift card event Thursday.

If you want to know the names of the anti-malware programs I have found most effective, just leave a comment. Thanks for bearing with me!

Update: I need to point out something. You have no exposure from this blog. My blog is hosted by Google, not my computer. Google is pretty bullet-proof.

Update #2: I am so exhausted, I'm going to bed at 7:00. I will approve comments at 4:30 am tomorrow, and I promise I will write tomorrow when I get home from work. There are no options I can summon. I just need to sleep. I'm tired of getting up in the middle of the night to instruct one program and launch another to scan my computer.

Photos courtesy of thenorth.com, amt.com, and The Conjuring