Tuesday, January 31, 2012

YSL Beauté Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain

YSL Beauté's Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain ($32) is a revolutionary new lip product that YSL says combines the texture and shine of a gloss with the long wear of a stain. YSL created Glossy Stain to coat the lips with color, offering a lightweight texture that immediately melts into lips upon application. "Glossy Stain delivers intense, glossy color for an extremely long-lasting shine."

Glossy Shine is shipping to the YSL counters at our department stores on March 1. I discovered that it was launched exclusively at Sephora. I ordered four shades in my first order to see how the little color swatches online represent the shades and their intensity. They arrived the week before last, but I wasn't able to get swatch photos until this past weekend.

My reaction isn't as breathless as I expected it to be. Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain is nice, but it's not exactly what I expected. Based on the description at Sephora and the name, I expected more shine than I got. You'll see shine in my full-sun swatch photos, but on my lips there is a gleam at best. The color is long-lasting; any shine you may see isn't. If you don't eat and drink, the stain color can last a half-day. That's noteworthy. Long-lasting color? Yes. Long-lasting shine? Not on me.

Let's take a look at the four shades. It's too bad I started testing with #19, Beige Aquarelle, shown above. If I had seen #19 on my lips before I ordered it, I wouldn't have. It's way too light. It doesn't show up on my lips, even though it looks lovely on my arm above. My lips are just a tad too pigmented for this sheer shade to work for me. I was bummed. Fortunately, I found the other three shades I ordered in my first round to be pretty on me - and add enough color.

The shades in my second photo were much more satisfactory. From top to bottom immediately above they are #7, Corail Aquatique; #3, Brun Cachemire; and #15, Rose Vinyl. I think the name of the game is, "Buy the shades that look darker in Sephora's online swatches. Corail Aquatique looks orange on my arm; it's peach on my lips. Brun Cachemire is drop-dead gorgeous - much more rosy on my lips than it looks on my arm. Rose Vinyl is a bright pink that's very pretty.

Here's the rub. These stains are not at all hydrating to my moisture-starved lips. I was hoping for everything - sheerness, shine, and color. Rather than hydration, I got long-lasting, sheer color. I can't wear them unless I put a balm underneath or top them with a hydrating lip gloss. That's a bummer. I'm not sure why I expected hydration. Maybe it was a dream.

The curved applicator makes the task of swiping on the color fast and easy. It may be a gimmick, but I like it. I also like the little windows that show the product inside the tube. I don't have to guess to know which shade I'm grabbing from the four.

Here's my dilemma. I ordered five more shades before I received the first four. At one point, there was an error on Sephora's Web site, and five shades were listed at $25, not the $32 price. I ordered them all. I seemed like a too-good-to-be-true bargain. It was. The prices have now been corrected at Sephora. All the shades are $32, so I got a deal. I'm not sure I want the deal, so I haven't damaged them by opening them. I'm seriously considering a return of my deal shades. Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain feels drying on my lips. On you, they may be fine. My lips are exceptionally dry, and I feel it when a lip product doesn't offer extra moisture.

I leave you with a mixed verdict. If you want a lip stain that provides semi-glossy, long-lasting, gorgeous color, YSL's Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain could be your favorite new lip color. If you look for the same qualities I do, you may not be happy with it. You'll have to know your priorities to decide whether to try/order this innovative new lip stain.

Until March, Sephora is the exclusive supplier for Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain. You can see it at this Sephora link. I've been assured that we'll be able to purchase them at YSL counters in March.

P.S. Those little spots on my product photo are fingerprints. I tried to get them off, but each time I would position one of the tubes, I left my mark. I finally gave up.

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Giorgio Armani Beauty Waterproof Eye Liner Pencil for Spring 2012

I flipped when I saw Giorgio Armani Beauty's two limited-edition Waterproof Eye Liner Pencils ($27) for Spring 2012. Available in two colors, Antique (#4 - gold) and Copper (#5 - copper peach), they are softly metallic. I bought them both.

These exceptional pencils provide a pure wave of light with an exquisite texture. They will brighten your eyes, giving them the radiance promised by the Luce Collection.

These pencils are remarkably soft and creamy. The color glides onto the eyelids; you won't have to pull, tug, or irritate your eyelids to apply them. Because the formula is water-resistant, the pencils create a long-lasting outline that will stay put all day (or night). I'm not exactly sure why Armani dubbed these "waterproof" when the description says they are water-resistant. It's a distinction that doesn't matter to me.

I don't fall for every metallic eyeliner that comes along. How many can you use? I find these pencils unique because I can wear them during the day without looking like a makeup artist victim. The gals at Neiman Marcus shared a tip with me. Use the Copper shade to line the waterline of your lower lid. Like Le Métier de Beauté's Champagne pencil, Copper will mask any redness and open up your eyes. It looks natural on the waterline, even with its metallic color. You have to see it to understand how unusual it is. It also stays put on the waterline because it's water-resistant.

Linda Cantello recommends that you apply your eye shadow color of choice swept over the entire eyelid. Then use one of the pencils to highlight the inner corners of the eyes. That will open up your eyes in a way that looks more natural than the traditional line at the base of the lashes.

I think these shades are stunning. The gold is a soft metallic gold. Pure, molten metal, it adds pizazz with one of my favorite gold shades. The Copper shade is really shimmering peach. It's so pretty on the eyes (yes, it will make your hazel or green eyes very green), I think I need two. When Giorgio Armani Beauty has introduced this eyeliner formula in the past, it has sold out in a heartbeat. I suspect these liners won't be available for long.

I took my photos in full sun. I never succeed in drawing straight eyeliner swatches on my arm. I have no lashes to guide me. I suppose I should make some little templates, a la Martha Stewart, but I never get around to it. I tried to draw extra-wide lines to show you the colors.

These Armani liners are so creamy - and I knew that when I started to swatch - I broke off the tip of the Antique gold one, simply by applying too much pressure. It's extremely easy to do, so use a very light hand. Also, be aware that you should use very little pressure when you sharpen the pencils. You won't want to waste this gorgeous color; every smidgeon belongs on your eyes, not on a Kleenex destined for the trash.

They are available at Armani Beauty's Web site, and they have finally arrived at Armani counters. I purchased mine, and as soon as I publish this feature, I'm calling to buy a second Copper.

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

Giorgio Armani Beauty Gloss d'Armani for Spring 2012

There are four new Gloss d'Armani ($28) lip glosses in Giorgio Armani Beauty's Spring 2012 Luce Collection: Beige #105 (Greige d’Armani); Brown #204 (Caffeine - it will make you think of coffee or Diet Coke); Rouge #405 (Wild Rose, a gorgeous shade, shown at left); and Pink #508 (called Blush - a sheer, delightful pink). Unusual for Armani, these shades have names, not just numbers.

I decided to purchase two of the shades. I had seen the testers, which arrived at Neiman Marcus before the for-sale product, and I decided to go with the Rouge and Pink shades. The two I purchased are the best shades for my face. Greige d'Armani doesn't flatter me, and, although I like brown, Caffeine is too warm for me. They may be perfect for you.

I finally got some photos. Wild Rose (Rouge #405) is shown directly above, and Blush (Pink #508) is shown below.

As with all Giorgio Armani colors, they come alive on the skin. Pretty in the tubes, they are magical on the lips. My swatch photos were taken in full sun. I was in a hurry, trying to get photos as clouds were closing in, so my swatch photos aren't as neat and tidy as I'd like. If I had seen immediately that the Wild Rose swatch was uneven, I'd have taken the time for a do-over. I hope you'll see the pretty color - not the uneven swatch.

Wild Rose is a very warm rose. It's just this side of rusty on my arm. The rose pigmentation in my lips helps it tilt rose. It's actually a fabulous shade for wear now, in mid-winter. I'm going to throw it in my handbag. It's a flattering color, and I can apply it without lipstick for lasting color on the go. On the other hand, Blush is extremely light and sheer. It's name is perfect, suggesting a blush of color. You'll want to wear it over lipstick unless you're looking for a little sheer shine without obvious color.

Blush pairs beautifully with the new Tourmaline Pink Blush. Worn together, they provide a sheer pink look for spring that's bound to please.

Giorgio Armani Beauty's exclusive Color-Fil shine technology allows the texture of Gloss d’Armani to be compared to a weave that gently and lastingly adorns the lips. The secret ingredient, the Color Bond Polymer also found at the heart of Rouge d’Armani, has the ability to form a supple mesh that traps pigments and pearlescent particles. Thanks to its translucent base, the texture gives "full expression" to color.

Mirror oils (I have no idea what they are) increase its shine, while silicon oil leaves it silky-smooth and non-sticky. The comfortable, stay-fast color is like a second skin. The company says Gloss d'Armani remains true for eight hours without fading or migrating. I don't get eight hours out of any lip product, but I get two to three from this one, depending on what I'm doing.

I like my new lip glosses. What do you think? Will one of these be on your buy list for spring? They are available at Armani Beauty's Web site, and they have finally arrived at Armani counters. I purchased Blush online and Wild Rose at Neiman Marcus.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Too Faced On the Prowl Giveaway Contest

Congratulations to Lisa!
I couldn't resist buying On the Prowl for a giveaway contest. The four-piece set provides six products - all designed to sharpen any glamour kitten's instincts. Whether you're a tiger or a lioness, you'll love the assortment.

The set contains...
  • Lip of Luxury in Cougar, a mocha shimmer lipstick ($20)
  • 0.17-oz Primed & Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer ($30) for the full-sized product), a scientifically formulated primer to wear alone or under bronzers or foundation for a look of flawless skin without makeup. Vitamins A and C, mulberry extract, and a powerful dose of retinol virtually banish pores, while tired skin is left hydrated, firmer, and detoxified. Primed & Poreless creates the perfect canvas to allow powders, bronzers, and foundations to slide seamlessly on the skin, delivering a flawless and perfectly blended look that stays in place all day, leaving the skin brighter, fresher, and younger in appearance.
  • Flatbuki Brush ($15), a miniature kabuki brush that's perfect for your handbag
  • 0.24 oz Leopard Love Complexion Perfection Kit ($30), bronze, blush, and brighten with this all-in-one complexion perfection collection containing three "purrrfect shades to complement any pretty kitty's skin tone."
The Leopard Love shades are sheer, which I love. Too Faced advertises the shades as mixable, and I agree 100%. Want to add a little pink glow to the peach-bronze Peach Leopard? Top it with Candy Leopard. Like pinks? Mix Candy Leopard with Pink Leopard to make the shade your own.

I love this set, which makes it a little difficult to give away, even though I bought it to give away. I must share it. I own too much makeup for any one person, and I'm always buying more.

How can you enter this contest (technically a sweepstakes)? Just leave a comment on this feature (not in another BTiB post). After you comment here, feel free to send me an e-mail at bestthingsinbeautycontests@gmail.com and identify your comment. You can never be too careful about sharing an e-mail address you care about on a blog, so feel free to follow this step (an alternative is to code your e-mail, e.g., myname at gmail dot com, in your comment).

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

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

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, February 4, at midnight. The next morning, I will use a random number generator (random.org) to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday morning. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

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

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

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Charleston Girl Eau de Parfum

Can you believe it? There's a new fragrance called Charleston Girl! Kelly Gaskins, the creator of Charleston Girl, contacted me and offered me a sample earlier this month. Think there was any chance I'd say no?

Kelly is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. She was a journalist, but she had a passion: she wanted to start her own business. That passion, along with her love of Charleston and passion for perfume, led to Charleston Girl Eau de Parfum ($39.99).

The fragrance was inspired by Charleston, of course, and the women who make the city a special place. Kelly says, "If you ask anyone who visits my favorite city about the Southern women there, they will tell you that Charleston ladies are naturally smart, sexy, and sophisticated. They exude a confidence and charisma that lights up any room " I knew that! The women of Charleston fascinate me, with their Southern charm, beautifully kept homes, and Southern hospitality.

Charleston Girl Eau de Parfum is a sultry floral fragrance that opens with a burst of sparkling fruity top notes, weaves a delicate and sensuous floral heart, and finishes with a soft amber and sandalwood dry-down. With ingredients indigenous to Charleston, this beautiful fragrance captures the spirit of a southern belle.

Kelly played a major role in designing the fragrance to her liking. She teamed with perfume manufacturer Alpha Aromatics to make the vision of her scent a reality. "I wanted to create a scent that would appeal to the refined tastes of every Charleston girl and bring out the fun, fearless southern belle in every woman. She said she was fascinated to learn that many different scents can be combined to create a beautiful end result. I think she had fun taking her fragrance from concept to reality.

The young entrepreneur even designed the bottle packaging using Photoshop. The simple, modern bottle design was inspired by the graceful and natural beauty that distinguishes Charleston. The transparency of the juice reminds me of ocean water. A red bow adorns the neck of the bottle, suggesting that you can't take your eyes off a Charleston Girl. A cursive lettering on the bottle adds a touch of sophistication and charm - two qualities that personify Charleston.

The photos of "Charleston Girls" on Kelly's Web site belie the grace of Charleston and this lovely fragrance. The white dress and red gloves in one picture speak louder than the Charleston ladies I know. Don't focus on the photos. Instead, think about the charms of a Southern City and its residents, and you may be able to smell Charleston Girl from afar.

I like Charleston Girl. If you like soft floral fragrances, you will too. It reminds me of night-blooming flowers and the softness of a garden's fragrances tempered by sea air and the memorable scents of the city. If you'd like to try it, you can order Charleston Girl at Kelly's Web site. You can find it in many boutiques in South Carolina (with one in Virginia). They are listed at this link.

Photos courtesy of Kelly Gaskins

Dior 5-Colour Couture Color Eyeshadow Palette in Grège for the Spring 2012 New Look Collection

Dior's new 5-Colour Eyeshadows for the Spring 2012 New Look Collection ($59) finally arrived this week at Neiman Marcus. I had seen photos of many of the new palettes, but I hadn't seen a photo of Grège. Nevertheless, I was sure it would be filled with my colors with a name like Grège. I envisioned Armani greige - a hybrid of grey and beige, perfect colors. That's the way the name had been pronounced to me. I was so wrong. It turns out the word grège means the color of oatmeal. That's a perfect image for the colors in the palette.

I was able to snap some swatch photos when the sun was flirting with clouds. They aren't the best swatch photos I've ever taken, but they will have to do. I have no motivation to try for better ones because this palette isn't me. I don't look good in muddy colors, and three of the five shades in the palette are muddy on me. I recommend that you try this one before you buy. The colors might look great on you if your skin is warmer and darker than mine. On me? Too much mud!

I swatched in a clockwise order, starting at the top left in the palette and ending with the center beige shade. I applied each shade heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator. The muddy brown at the top left is wearable, but why bother? The white is an OK white, but I wouldn't reach for this palette to single out one shade. The silver grey is pretty - not distinctive, but pretty. The red-toned brown is a shade I will never ever wear. Red-toned shadows bring out the red in my eyes. The beige in the center is boring. It's the color of oatmeal - maybe putty. I can't imagine using it to accent anything on my face.

Most of the finishes are satin or softly shimmering. The two lightest shades (white and beige) are also the brightest.

I don't usually feature makeup I don't like. I decided to show you the Grège 5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette only because it's new. If your tastes are similar to mine, make sure you see it before you purchase. I'm sure someone out there will find the shades attractive. If you like these shades, I hope I was able to help you find your next makeup buy. I'm not sure what else I can say.

There are two palettes in the collection that are predominantly pink and blue. Neither attracted me. There's also one called Royal Kaki that I had ruled out. Now, I wish I had selected that one. An evening gown from the New Look Collection in 1947 sported the colors that were used in the Royal Kaki Palette.

I don't return makeup I've swatched/used, so I'll have to decide if I'm going to spend another $59. You'll know if and when I feature Royal Kaki here. What do you think of the shades in Grège? Do they excite you? Am I standing alone on my personal island of discontent?

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clinique Almost Lipstick - New Shades

Clinique's legendary Almost Lipstick ($15) is available in six new shades. Almost Lipstick merges transparent pigment with the unique, natural tone of your lips to create something wonderful and yours alone. It's sheer, glossy, and gorgeous.

I bought seven shades a few weeks ago - all six new ones and a refresher tube of the iconic Black Honey. Think I like the formula? I hadn't seen the new shades in person (they appeared at Clinique online before I saw them at Neiman Marcus). I couldn't choose, so I ordered all of them. I knew how sheer and wearable they'd be. One of these lovely shades will go into my handbag, one will go in my bathroom, and the rest will rotate in as I need them. I'm set for a few years.

Here are all my new Almost Lipsticks. My photos were taken in full, afternoon sun. The shades on my arm are listed below, from top to bottom.
  • Black Honey (#06) - Clinique's signature shade, described as deep, blackened raisin
  • Tender Honey (#35) - very sheer nude
  • Chic Honey (#35) - marvelous mauve
  • Luscious Honey (#37) - baby pink
  • Lovely Honey (#38) - warm pink
  • Spicy Honey (#40) - pink with a touch of peach
  • Flirty Honey (#41) - baby pink, very similar to Luscious Honey

The sun's rays bounce off the shades in full sun. Indoors they provide a soft tint and shine that make your lips look naturally pretty. I think that's why Moms everywhere let their young pre-teens wear Almost Lipstick. I've never grown out of it - probably never will.

It feels great on the lips (better than balm) because it's emollient-rich and very lightweight. It works its magic without any stickiness or tackiness. The bullets are soft, ensuring that the color glides onto the lips effortlessly. Almost Lipstick belongs in my genius category. The shades are perfect for spring's transparent looks. Given the $15 price tag, everyone can afford to try one.

I bought my latest fix online at Clinique. All the new shades are now on a display at your favorite Clinique counter.

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

Giorgio Armani Beauty Eye Palette #1 for Spring 2012

Giorgio Armani's concept for spring beauty is characterized by "metal fiber" and "modern couture" - inspired by his love of light and its effect on color. Armani continues his focus on avant garde textile artistry by embellishing delicate natural fiber with refined metal, transforming simplicity into refinement in makeup. Linda Cantello interpreted Mr. Armani's vision into a new landscape of metal where gold takes center stage and gemstone-cut colors define the face of the "Armani woman."

For the eyes, Armani has introduced a palette of delicate shades for the spring season with Eye Palette #1 ($59). The "new secret of radiance," the precious Luce d’Oro pigments, give a special luminosity to the shades on the skin. Palette #1 combines soft pastels with the luster of antique gold and Armani's trademark greige. When I saw the advance photos of Eye Palette #1, I wasn't sure I'd love it. Silly me! I should have known that the palette would provide four sheer, wearable colors that would coordinate beautifully, but also stand alone for attention.

I've had the good fortune to purchase Mr. Armani's fashion, and I find his pieces timeless. Made with fine fabrics that telegraph the Armani look, his luxurious pieces never go out of style. Wearing them is a pleasure. They almost float on my body, moving with me. I feel special when I wear them. I saw Armani's discriminating eye for fabrics when I first tried Eye Palette #1. The sheer colors in the palette mirror the delicate colors in many of his designs.

The sun finally made an appearance today, and I was able to get swatch photos of Eye Palette #1. I swatched heavily, using a sponge-tipped applicator, in the top to bottom order of the palette. The Pearl Violet shade at the top is stunning. It's sheer - a wash of pink with a suggestion of lavender. Pearl Violet and Jade Green remind me of watercolors. Their sheerness translates well on the skin. Jade Green is pastel mint green - not at all what I would expect from its name. Because it's sheer, and the color is buildable, it's perfectly wearable - even by those who are afraid of green on the eyelids. You can see on the photos that it's radiant, transparent, and barely green. Wear it with Griege, and you'll love the way you look.

Sheer Gold is a perfect name for the third shade. I have a vision of molten metal fibers running through understated Armani jackets, imparting light to the fabrics. In the same way, Sheer Gold will bring light to the eyes. It's gorgeous when washed simply (and quickly) across the eyelid. Greige, the bottom shade on my arm, is classic Armani. The shade has all the nuances of the griege shades in his clothing. Although the shade looks silver in my swatch photos, it's much more sophisticated/complex on my skin. There are hints of beige, grey, silver, and even green when the light dances on the shade. You must see it and experience it. I suspect your skin tone will affect the way it looks on you. I like it so much I'd like to have it in a 12x12 baking pan.

Can you hear it now? Hello, this is Charlestongirl. Could you possibly do a factory run of Griege to produce a vat of it for me?

At times like this, I wish Loyd Cassler worked closer to me. Although I learned to use Armani eye colors from him (the master), I continue to want to run over to Saks to see how he'd use new shades. He always puts his own twist on Armani's gorgeous shades, using them in ways I didn't envision. Maybe I'll call him. Now that he's moved on to Chanel, though, he may not be playing with Armani color as much as he did in the "old days."

The verdict (as Gaia says at The Non-Blonde)? Eye Palette #1 is surprisingly stunning! You really need to see it. You know I wasn't "taken with" Dior's pinks and greens for spring. Armani has created pinks and greens I'll be wearing happily, and he paired them with gold and greige, which are timeless beauties. Eye Palette #1 is the quiet sister. Take the time to listen, and you'll be charmed.

Giorgio Armani Beauty's Spring 2012 Collection is available at the Armani Beauty Web site, and it's finally filtering into all the stores. I purchased my Eye Palette #1 at Neiman Marcus.

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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Forum - January 27

Our winter has been characterized by rain - clouds, rain, and above-average temperatures and, of course, short days. I like rain, but the last few weeks have been bad for the blog. There have been very few sunny days, ideal for taking makeup photos, and my time for photography on those occasions has been limited by "real work." You may remember I pulled into a church parking lot this week to snap photos of my newest Edward Bess Quad Royale. That was a detour driven by desperation!

Today? It's raining. Fortunately, sunshine is predicted for tomorrow. I have lots of new makeup - YSL, Armani, Clinique, NARS, and more - and I hope to get a week's worth of photos then. If the forecast changes, taking away my sunshine, I'll slip into blogger desperation disorder (psychiatrists probably haven't recognized it yet).

I wanted to use today's Friday Forum to mention my recent time constraints. I'm working on a "crunch project" that will, hopefully, continue into a subsequent phase (consultants rely on projects). Whether the subsequent phase will limit my "free time" as much as it has been limited recently is still an open issue.

In comments and e-mails, I'm getting increasing numbers of requests for product comparisons, side-by-side swatches, and more information than I am able to provide in my blog features. I can't respond adequately (as well as I'd like) to most of the requests. There isn't enough time in my day/week. There's one additional problem: I don't own some of the products that I'm asked to compare to new colors.

I'd love to be independently wealthy and blog full time, but unless I win the lottery, that's not going to happen! I hope you'll understand my realities. I'm peddling as fast as I can. So, I offer my apologies. I hope I haven't disappointed too many of you.

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

This week's giveaway contest for Giorgio Armani Beauty's Fall 2011 Jacquard Woven Eye Color Palette ends tomorrow, January 28. Make sure to enter by commenting on that feature. You can find it at this link. Remember what Lady Luck says, "If you don't enter, you can't win." I think about that when I buy those zero-chance lottery tickets.

Photo courtesy of realastrologers.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Electron, The Newest Addition to A DOZEN ROSES

There's a new member of the A DOZEN ROSES family: Electron ($95). I'm sure you remember the launch of the first three family members last summer. The newest addition will be available exclusively at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman on February 12.

Electron - clean, fresh, fabulous - is a shock to the senses. A DOZEN ROSES is unleashing a new, electrifying rose to create your bouquet. Is there anything better than the clean, fresh smell of flowers?

Electron's energizing fragrance is a stunning combination of "Electric Pink Rose" (whatever that is) blended with a jolt of green tea, violet leaves, and cattleya orchid and then supercharged with neon musk and A DOZEN ROSES' signature rose absolute.

I sing the body electric - Walt Whitman

I've had a chance to test Electron, and I love it. It opens with a dose of roses and violets, transporting me to a garden with the top notes. As the scent matures, I can smell the green tea, but I'll have to admit I don't know what cattleya orchids smell like. Many have no discernable fragrance, but hybridizers have been working to develop the fragrance of these orchids. No matter - the rest of the notes are lovely.

The bottle blooms in vibrant colors of lime green and bright pink. A fresh rose is juxtaposed against modern, abstract, original artwork showcased on both sides of the bottle. Lynn Welsh Emollo, one of two A DOZEN ROSES founders, created all of the art that has graced the bottles of A DOZEN ROSES. I had an opportunity to meet with her at Neiman Marcus a few months ago. At that time, I saw her amazing portfolio, including the design for the Electron bottle. What a talented woman!

I have no idea why those letters, "ADR," are superimposed on the photo above. What you'll see when the fragrance launches are the beautiful pink and greens spring colors. What you'll smell is even more exciting. Check out Electron when you get a chance - soon.

Photo courtesy of A DOZEN ROSES

Bobbi Brown Rich Color Lip Gloss from the Rose Gold Collection for Spring 2012

Everything you want in a lip gloss - and more. Rich Color Lip Gloss ($23) offers the look and benefits of three products in one: the full color coverage of a lipstick, the soft shine of a gloss, and the luxurious feel of a balm. The modern formula moisturizes and conditions, wears comfortably, and lasts for hours. The tapered applicator lets you apply it like a pro.

Rich Color Lip Gloss is available in four new shades that were launched with the Spring Rose Gold Collection. They are all perfect for spring.
  • Pink Sorbet - soft pink raspberry
  • Angel Pink - soft pink
  • Pink Gold - soft pink with gold pearl
  • Pink Cocoa - heather beige
I "had to" purchase all four shades. I'm an unrepentant gloss addict. How was I going to select one of these beautiful shades over another? I asked my sales associate to purchase all four for me, telling her I "needed them" the moment they arrived at Neiman Marcus. I knew they would take care of last week's new gloss longings. Do you ever get the feeling that a new lip gloss can make your day?

The new shades are shown in my photo directly above in numeric order left to right: Pink Sorbet (#9), Angel Pink (#10), Pink Cocoa (#12), Pink Gold (#16). They are also swatched on my arm in that order, top to bottom. My swatch photos were taken yesterday in full, morning sun.

Pink Sorbet is a warm, juicy pink. Angel Pink surprised me. It's much warmer than I expected. On my skin, it looks coral. It's pretty - just not what I expected. Pink Cocoa is very brown, with a hint of pink. Pink Gold? Light, shimmering golden pink - my "hands-down" favorite of the four. Pink Cocoa and Pink Gold shine more brightly than the other two, which suits my tastes perfectly. I can see the difference in "shimmer factor" the tubes. Bobbi sized up all her glosses to give us an extra dose of shine, and that's apparent in these new Rich Color Lip Glosses.

Pink Sorbet and Angel Pink are highly pigmented glosses. You won't feel a need to wear lipstick underneath them. Pink Cocoa and Pink Gold are more sheer. I can wear them with or without lipstick, although Pink Gold looks best on me when I wear a lipstick. The divine, shimmering shade of Pink Gold is stunning when worn with the new Rose Gold Shimmer Brick.

Bobbi's inspiration behind the Rose Gold Collection was simple and romantic: her treasured rose gold wedding band. She shared her secrets to wearing this season’s prettiest hue.

This collection offers the perfect shades of pinks, roses, corals, and plums to take your look from winter to spring. With two new Shimmer Bricks and an assortment of universally flattering lip glosses and lip colors, every woman will be able to find her perfect Rose Gold shades.

Do you see a shade you like? I think there is something in the collection for everyone, so make sure to look for it at your local Bobbi Brown counter or browse online. The Rose Gold Collection has arrived in most stores, and it's now available at Bobbi Brown's Web site.

There is a nice promotion at Bobbi Brown online now through January 27. Spend $150, and you'll receive two mini-palettes, Classic Day and Classic Evening, if you use the code ROSEG12.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Giorgio Armani Beauty Tourmaline Pink Blush from the Spring 2012 Luce Collection

I was revved when I first saw the photos of Giorgio Armani Beauty's Spring 2012 Luce Collection. There it was, the Tourmaline Pink Blush ($55), tempting me before I could possess it. I knew it was a must-have. The only question in my mind was how saturated the color would be. I now know. It's a perfect blush - with some qualifications (see below). Armani's #10 has always set the standard for me. Now it has a competitor for my affection, but I'll never give up #10, which I've hoarded.

The Tourmaline Pink Blush provides a soft and very subtle texture infused with soft shimmer particles that deliver a natural, soft glow to every complexion. Micronized to the extreme, this blush leaves a translucent finish that will enhance without looking like makeup. Pink Tourmaline is a very sheer blush, softer than classic formulas. White, beige, and pink pigments replace the "old" white powders for a soft glow that's incomparable.

I was finally able to snap some photos of Tourmaline Pink, named after a semi-precious gemstone. It's lighter in person than it appears in the Armani photos. It's also extremely light on the skin (although the little bruise on my arm shows a lot of contrast). My first impression, simply put, was sparkling light pink.

I applied Tourmaline Pink extremely heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator at the top of my arm. I applied it heavily with a kabuki brush on a larger swatch below. Even with a heavy application, it left soft and subtle color on my skin.

My photos were taken in full sun. I don't think there is any way to show Tourmaline Pink more clearly on my pale skin. It's very light. It's beautiful on my skin, and it may also be a great blush for those with medium skin tones. For those with dark or chocolate skin, it may only serve as a highlighter. I don't think it will add much color to dark skin tones, but that's just a guess.

The shade is a cool baby pink. It does leave micro-sparkles on my face, something that may limit its use for women who don't want to sparkle at all in the office. The sparkling is apparent on the skin. You should be able to see the sparkling on my first swatch photo above. I don't intend to sound critical, but I want you to be aware of the tiny sparkles. They are within my daytime tolerance for sparkle, but if the sparkling concerns you, try Tourmaline Pink Blush before you buy.

The Girogio Armani Beauty Spring 2012 Luce Collection is available at online at Giorgio Armani Beauty. It had been expected to arrive at Neiman Marcus last week. They have had the testers for weeks. I don't understand why the for-sale products haven't arrived. I hope they do soon; I placed a pre-order. I purchased my Tourmaline Pink Blush online.

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

Bobbi Brown Rich Color Lipstick SPF 12 from the Rose Gold Collection for Spring 2012

Bobbi Brown's Rich Color Lipstick SPF 12 ($23) is available in six new shades with the Rose Gold Collection for Spring 2012. How would one choose just one or two with six gorgeous, universally flattering choices? It was impossible. I bought three, and I could easily have purchased all six, if beauty were the only criterion. This is a dynamite collection.

Rich Color Lipstick SPF 12 is a lightweight and incredibly emollient lip color formula that was introduced last year. The colorless and translucent base, coupled with a special gel system, allows for intense color release and true color projection. The soft, smooth texture melts onto the lips for a truly comfortable, hydrating wear that lasts for hours.

Here's the new shade line-up. Tempted?
  • Lilac - light pink tint
  • Wild Rose - raspberry pink
  • Nude Rose - medium-toned rose brown
  • Pink Peony - medium-toned pink
  • Beige Gold - pale nude with golden heart
  • Miami Coral - nectar
I got help from my sales associate at Neiman Marcus when I selected my three shades. She and I gravitate toward the same lip colors, so I let her choose. How can one choose three when she wants six? Let someone else do it. "We" purchased Wild Rose (#26), Nude Rose (#27), and Pink Peony (#28).

I was able to get swatch photos yesterday. I had five minutes, so my swatches aren't as even as I'd like. I swatched in numeric order, top to bottom, on my arm. Wild Rose is shown at the top, Nude Rose in the middle, and Pink Peony at the bottom. My photos were taken in full, mid-afternoon sun.

All three are saturated, creamy, and gleaming shades. Wild Rose and Pink Peony are bright and cheerful. They are close to my "color-alert limit," the point at which I fear I'm leading with my lips, but they don't cross the line. That means I'll wear them often - whenever I want to perk up my look. Nude Rose is a bit more conservative. It's one of those brown-toned rose shades I love. I may be too conservative, but I know my niche.

These lipsticks, as promised, feel good on the lips. They are definitely long-wearing. How long will vary, depending on your habits. My frequent Kleenex use in the winter reduces the wear time of any lipstick. I like to eat too.

I really love the sheen of these colors. They aren't sparkly, but they do add a nice, plumping gleam. I don't think you will feel you need to add gloss over them - but gloss addicts may anyhow. When topped by the new glosses, which I'll swatch if we get sunshine today, they provide a sophisticated look.

I'm feeling a strong pull from Lilac, shade I don't have - yet. I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need it, but I'm losing the argument.

The Rose Gold Collection has arrived at counters, and it's now available at Bobbi Brown's Web site. Make sure to check out these new lip colors when you're shopping for the gorgeous new must-have Shimmer Bricks.

There is a nice promotion at Bobbi Brown online now through January 27. Spend $150, and you'll receive two mini-palettes, Classic Day and Classic Evening, if you use the code ROSEG12.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Edward Bess Quad Royale Poudre Éclat Quatre Couleurs in Monte Carlo

I've been anxious to show you the gorgeous new Quad Royale Poudre Éclat Quatre Couleurs palette from Edward Bess: Monte Carlo ($45). The sun finally made an appearance today. I was working - cooped up inside. When I left the client's site, I drove down the road about a half mile, where I had seen a church. I was ready. I hopped out of my car in an empty parking lot and started taking photos of the palette and swatches. The things I do for this blog! If anyone in the rectory saw me, they had to have thought I was in need of divine intervention. Little did they know that Edward Bess provided the inspiration for my "eccentricity."

Edward Bess Quad Royale palettes offer a "face wardrobe." They can be blended and applied all over the face for luminous color or used as a blush, contouring shade, or highlighter. Summer in Capri was the first shade variation to be introduced. South of France was the second. I treasure them. Now, Monte Carlo provide an entirely different color experience. These palettes are a makeup collector's dream.

A palette of four coordinated shades to sculpt and highlight the face. This versatile set of four perfectly paired shades is ideal for adding depth and dimension to your look. Sweep the collection together for allover, luminous color or use the shades individually to highlight the apples of the cheeks, the tops of the cheekbones, and the eyes. The palette comes with a sleek travel brush so you can touch up on the go.

I knew you would want to see the individual shades in the palette in addition to the blended shade. Imagine the scene in the parking lot. I had my trusty sponge-tipped applicators, so after I took photos of the palette, I started swatching. Then, holding my arm toward the sun, I took swatch photos. I had no way to check my photos on the spot, but, fortunately, a few were half-decent.

I swatched from the top left shade in the palette clockwise. You probably can't see the flesh-toned shade at the top of my arm. I could barely see it in person. The next three shades - warm variations of peach and coral - swatched nicely.

I adore the golden peach shade at the top right in the palette (second swatch from top on my arm). I'll use it for my eyelids and as a highlighter - or just blended with the rest of the shades. It's drop-dead gorgeous. The peach and coral shades at the bottom of the palette blend beautifully with the rest of the shades for a warm, sun-kissed look. The swatch at the bottom of my photos shows all four shades blended. It's a stunning shimmering peach.

Monte Carlo is perfect for those who believed the first two Quad Royale palettes were too light or too cool-toned for them. I think Monte Carlo is also perfect for anyone who wants a beautifully coordinated palette of warm, summer shades. Monte Carlo is entirely different from Summer in Capri and South of France. If you are an Edward Bess collector, it's a must-have.

Monte Carlo brilliantly evokes the warm, sunny Mediterranean beaches of Monte Carlo. While many think casinos or film fests, I think beaches and Gracy Kelly when I hear Monte Carlo. It's a perfect name for the latest face palette from Edward Bess.

Now, Edward Bess (the brand, not the artist) is available at Sephora online and will be available in Sephora stores in a few months. The line continues to be available at the Edward Bess Web site, Bergdorf Goodman, two Neiman Marcus locations. I purchased my Monte Carlo Quad Royale from Bergdorf Goodman. I've already purchased (and received) a few Edward Bess beauties from Sephora. The availability of Edward Bess at Sephora is great news - not only for Edward, but also for customers. Think we'll see a VIB gift with purchase of an Edward Bess sample some day? We can only hope!

Photos by Best Things in Beauty; Monte Carlo poster courtesy of Amazon.com

Clarins Joli Rouge Brilliant Perfect Shine Sheer Lipstick from the Spring 2012 Colour Breeze Collection

Clarins is featuring two new Joli Rouge Brilliant Perfect Shine Sheer Lipsticks ($24.50) with the Colour Breeze Collection for Spring 2012. The lipsticks combine the transparent color and shine of a lip gloss with the creamy texture of a lipstick, which makes them absolutely perfect for me - and sheer shine lovers everywhere. There are two shades: Pink Coral and Pink Magnolia. I decided instantly that I am a Pink Magnolia kind of gal.

Joli Rouge Brilliant Perfect Shine Sheer Lipsticks offer a unique MaxiLip Complex that helps plump and hydrate the lips for fullness, softness, and suppleness, while the deeply moisturizing and long-wearing formula provides the benefits of a balm with lip care ingredients. If you like semi-sheer, hydrating lip shines as much as I do, you're going to love this lipstick.

Here's a photo of Pink Magnolia taken at home last week, when we still had some sunshine. Look at the color bullet! It's a beautiful mauve-pink in the generous oval tube, and it struts its stuff beautifully on the lips.

My swatch photos were taken in full sun. Add the beautiful pink you can see on my arm to whatever pigmentation you have in your lips, and the result will be a brilliant (hence the name), shimmering, semi-sheer color that will make your lips a stunning focal point. I'm calling the sheerness semi-sheer because Pink Magnolia offers enough saturation that it's more than a tint. The gorgeous color and serious shine are a winning combination. I love Pink Magnolia because it makes me look perky. It's no wonder lipsticks can be a girl's best friend.

Here is Clarins' description of the Colour Breeze Collection...
Spring brings poetic grace and a hint of casualness. The sheer lightness of a high-shine lip gloss, smooth powders, fresh and unique textures. A bright, luminous complexion, beautifully enhanced cheek bones, ultra-shiny lips, and naturally unsettling eyes.

Joli Rouge Brilliant Perfect Shine Sheer Lipstick provides the ultra-shiny lips promised for spring. The swatch photo directly above was taken with the sun's full reflection. Look at the shine!

The only thing I would change is the flavor. The lipstick has a fruity taste. The flavor is fairly strong on application, but it dissipates quickly, unlike the flavor of the new Gloss Prodige. The flavor won't keep me from wearing this gorgeous lip color, though. It's close to perfect.

The spring collection has arrived at the Clarins counter at Bloomingdale's and is also available at the Bloomingdale's Web site and at Nordstrom. It's available at Macy's and should be available at Saks. I'm surprised that it's still not available at the Clarins Web site. Hopefully, you'll be able to see it there soon. I think this collection is exquisite. You won't want to miss the limited-edition colors.

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Clarins Gloss Prodige Intense Colour & Shine Lip Gloss from the Colour Breeze Collection for Spring 2012

The Clarins Colour Breeze look for Spring 2012 is all about pretty. The display is stunning, and the makeup matches the promised look. There were eight lip glosses on the new display. I struggled to select "only two" of the new Gloss Prodige Intense Colour and Shine Lip Gloss shades ($20). Every one of the eight was desirable.

Gloss Prodige is a new generation, non-sticky gloss formula from Clarins that delivers mirror-like shine, intense color, and long-lasting color. It makes the lips look smooth, full, and luscious with saturated color.

Here are my selections: #04, Candy, on the left and #01, Chocolate, on the right. I really liked #07, Blackberry, and may have to go back to Bloomingdale's for it. The shades range from light nude to dark berry. There's something for everyone.

Fortunately, I got swatch photos in full sun last week when we could still see the sun. Candy is shown at the top of my arm, with Chocolate below. Candy is a medium-intensity rose pink that I can wear without lipstick underneath. Chocolate is a rose-brown. It leans even more rose on my lips, with their own rose pigmentation, than it does on my arm. I've always liked brown-toned lip colors, so Chocolate (with its tempting name) was one of the first shades I tested in the store.

The ultra-shine of Gloss Prodige is luminous - lip glosses that earn their "gloss" name. They add a glassy look to the lips. They wear extremely well. I love the tubes; I don't have to guess to find the shade I need. The only thing I would change is the taste. They remind me of fruit-flavored lip butters. The flavor is strong on application - not obnoxious if you like berries or Popsickles, but very noticeable. I'm getting used to it.

The spring collection has arrived at the Clarins counter at Bloomingdale's and is also available at the Bloomingdale's Web site and at Nordstrom. It's available at Macy's and should be available at Saks. I'm surprised that it's still not available at the Clarins Web site. Hopefully, you'll be able to see it there soon.

I have one more piece from the Color Breeze Collection to show you: a knockout lipstick. Soon! I did get photos last week.

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