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Want, please!

May 12, 2011

OMG, Musings of a Muse posted on this product today and I’m totally in covetous want:

Benefit’s Powder Pop box, featuring Dallas, Dandelion, and Coralista.

Just so you know, Benefit’s Box O’ Powders range is a dream… really excellent quality powders, long-lasting finish on the visage, and each box will literally last you for-e-ver. I bought Dallas a few years ago (let’s ignore the expiry factor here, I do a good job cleaning brushes and wiping down surfaces) and it still is very much around, and I use it pretty often as a perfect in-between blush and bronzer. It’s my “me-only-better” blush, and I use it to highlight my cheekbones while avoiding an earlier mentioned Katie Middleton pink-stripe. Benefit calls it “an outdoor glow for an indoor gal face powder.” If that isn’t me, I don’t know what is. Here’s the thing, my friend V loves it too. She’s Polish ethnically and has very fair, pretty skin. Opposite of me. She swears by Dallas just as much as I, your decidedly yellow-medium-toned blogger. It works for everyone! Far and beyond, I recommend Dallas to ANYONE. Then, Dandelion. I have always wanted to try it, given that it’s “a brightening face powder” and the PRETTIEST color just to look at. Yet I was worried that it wouldn’t work on warmer, darker skinned girls as it’s quite a light pink… but I spied it on my cousin’s dresser and she always looks radiant. No kidding, lots of familial envy going on here. So it’s worth a chance! And as for Coralista, well, the makeup bloggers all over can’t get enough of it. I’ve honestly not read a single unhappy criticism. It’s supposed to be universally flattering with a high color pay-off and shimmer that avoids being obnoxious. As I have a favoritism with coral, I’ve been wanting to try this “coral blush for a tropical flush” since forever. But when I tried it in the store, it looked a little too close to the equally acclaimed Orgasm blush by Nars (which I, and I suspect you, your mom, your neighbor, your frenemy, etc. all have) for me to justify splurging the $28 for the box. In fact, every Box O’ Powder is $28, which makes completing the collection of eight a pretty expensive affair.

This box just seems the PERFECT solution. These three blushes (arguably the finest of the Box O’ Powders range) altogether in one kit!! The mini factor is great since they last forever anyway, and it’ll bring the price point down. Having had to struggle squishing with the bulky box that is Dallas into my makeup bag (it is a FAT box), I’m excited that this is a travel-friendly presentation. It does come with its own brush, which is fine, although I very much prefer using my own blush brush when handling these powders.

Anyway, it looks like this is only available via the Home Shopping Network right now, and in a set, much to my sigh. It does look like an excellent deal, $62 for the box along with the well-rated Bad Gal mascara and a useful looking taupe eyeshadow… though I don’t have any experience with BeneFit eyeshadow, so take good-deal-excitement with a grain of salt. I scoured Ulta and Google this afternoon, but no just-the-box as of yet (unless you want the 2007 first release of Powder Pop). So I will wait, patiently. Wait, and want.

Can you stand the wait?


I wonder how it felt…

May 11, 2011

I wonder how it felt in 2010, for the legions of women who were into Ricky Martin’s hypersexualized Latino lover thing, when he finally came out of the closet? While it’s obviously awesome for any man or lady to come out and live a more honest life with him/herself, and it’s awesome Ricky is like really happy right now, was happiness that the first reaction for the poor women who idolized Ricky Martin and saw in him the lover they never had? I suspect no. I suspect they felt hurt, confused. Felt like they had been lied to all this time. Felt like they had been betrayed by this one, perfect, image of a person which they held high above all else. I bet they felt a lot like I felt, when I saw this for the first time:

Lively red
Blake Lively at the Met Ball.

WHAT. DID. SHE. DO. TO. HER. HAIR?!?!?! I felt such shock and horror to see this brassy, red atrocity. I wanted to cry.

This is the woman with the most glorious hair of any celebrity ever, the woman whose hair merited its own New York Times article on its incredibleness.

Look, a coffee AND a puppy. Girl after my own heart.

Not since “the Rachel” (oh, and “the Natalie” in the UK, at least) had legions of women been filled with such desirous envy. Myself included. While I adore the living Pantene advertisement that is my thick, straight, black hair, after my first episode of Gossip Girl I whispered a silent prayer for hair as blonde and goddess-like as hers. Her hair looks ALIVE. It screams beauty and youth. I want it. And apparently, so do legions of other women. Boom, boom, and boom.

But now, I see the red-headed Blake and much like Michelle at, I immediately think of her:

It’s horrible unless you are dating a rabbit in overalls. I see Blake’s hair now and I want to shake her and scream. It’s like being given (insert your wildest dream here) and not just saying, no thanks, but running over the dream with a steamroller. I hear she had to do it for an upcoming film. What film was worth losing that amazing hair?? Even when she played a crack whore in The Town, she still managed to keep her hair at least decent enough to tempt Don Draper.

Many people have been trying to take Blake’s hair as a flag that red hair is now the thing for the season, but I beg to differ. Red hair’s got much better standard-bearers. Looking at you, Christina Hendricks, the adorable Isla Fisher, and my personal favorite, Erin (Ellie Kemper) from the Office:

Yeah, I just kind of had to put that picture in there. It’s adorbs.

Conclusion: Blake, please. Don’t crush my dreams like Ricky crushed a random 40-year old bored housewife’s. Geez, at least Ricky ignited (confirmed?) the dreams of armies of gay men to make up for the heterosexual dream-crushing. Blake’s brassy montrosity is, on the other hand, the stuff of which puppy juice and other unmentionable horrible things are made of. God gave you the glory that is your blonde hair, and it’s just wrong to leave it behind.

Deal-a-Day Sale Sites and Beauty

May 10, 2011

I actually know a good looking guy who won’t date a girl if she reads the Red Eye, which is the Chicago Tribune’s every-other-day publication of zero newsworthy content but rather contains everything you would ever need to know about Chicago trends and gossip, with lots of fun pictures, listings for local events, sports commentary and such. This means he would never date me, for not only do I always pick it up for its crossword puzzle (in my opinion, always a valuable thing to do before any homework), but I actually was a lead in to one of their cover stories about two years ago. Yes, it’s true! It was about why Chicagoans were trending with lattes rather than actual coffee, and I was accosted by a sad looking college grad at my local coffee shop who was doing interviews. But that’s another story, for you and your Google search.

The real reason I mention this is not just to sigh at how I’ve been eliminated from this guy’s blackbook, but because today’s Red Eye has an article about all the daily-deal sale websites that have been popping up like crazy lately… since Groupon took off, there’s an army of them. Trust me, I know, I think I’ve signed up for them all and spend a good 30 minutes every morning going through them and consequently deleting them. Most of them are useless, unless you count getting discounted gym/trainer services. I don’t. So which ones are worth signing up for, beauty-wise?

(Oh look, random female-internet-shopping picture!)

Must: Hautelook
This is definitely the best daily-deal sale site for beauty products. Beauty products come up almost every other day, and there’s a good range of brands. In this last week, they had drugstore-cheap Nyx cosmetics and department store brand Lorac. The Lorac sale was particularly great, because they had amazing prices – as in $2-3 products (makes me wonder how much Ulta’s markup is!). I’ve seen some lesser known brands here as well. There’s also always a whole lot of products to choose from… some other daily-deal sites only offer maybe 6 products from their brands, products which are so obviously from the clearance bin. Hautelook is really good at not committing this faux pas.

Must: Gilt City
I think it’s worth signing up for your local Gilt City regardless of whether you are into beauty or not. There’s a lot of different experiences, and I think the restaurant deals in particular are really good. But in terms of beauty, they often have promos for salons and services which give you a bit of an excuse to cheat on your regular salon to do some exploring. From the Chicago version, which I subscribe to, there’s also some great curatorial decisions behind it. Most often, deal sites let just about any business offer a coupon… just look at Yelp to see how many women have been lured into a salon by a Groupon and have earned bad color jobs because of it. Gilt City has only ever offered services from very well-rated salons… in Chicago, Art + Science as well as Blo Dri, for example. I feel much more confident buying a service through Gilt City rather than any other daily-deal sale site.

Must: DailyCandy Deals
OK I know this is a bit of a cheat as it’s not a daily-deal sale site per se. It just sends out mini-editorials on many things, either what’s hot in your city or a list of things based around a theme like Mother’s Day. DailyCandy has been my tip to discovering so many great products, shops, and websites. In terms of a deal, they do have their own daily-deal sale site, Swirl, which is only lately doing more beauty sales (and I have not been impressed yet), but the DailyCandy Deals email (the “everywhere” one) is worth signing up for because they will occasionally send out coupon codes for major discounts on well-known makeup brands’ own sites… Tarte and Somme Institute come to mind as examples.

Honorable Mention: Gilt
Regular old Gilt, the first and the original. They don’t have beauty products like makeup on sale very often, but they have more recently been coming up with deals on skincare lines like Mario Badescu. Whether the number/range of products are hit and miss (sometimes a lot, sometimes a joke). What makes Gilt a good beauty sign-up is the fact that they’re the only deal site I’ve seen where high end beauty tech products have gone on sale, like the Baby Quasar. And we’re talking MAJOR discounts. Just sign up for the sake of not having to wait until your next bonus.

Disappointed in you: Pretty City’s Beauty Closet
Pretty City to me just feels like it tries too hard sometimes. Kind of hard to explain why. Maybe the crappily designed newsletter emails they send out? The fairly unoriginal content? I signed up originally to get access to the list of spas/salons doing $40 services for October’s charity (they do this again in February, though for a different charity — I suck for not remembering) and just never got around to unsubscribing. In the last month or so, they’ve created the Beauty Closet, which offers one particular product at a highly discounted price, about once every week or two. Here’s the thing: it’s usually a product no one’s ever heard of, and they don’t usually write enough about it to make me feel like the product’s being sincerely endorsed for its effects. More often enough, it feels like a pay-for-plug, e.g. “(Random Celeb!) uses this!” or dull press release-blurbs. To be fair, this last week’s offering of Artisan Naturals serum has a bit more written content (i.e. an ingredients list)… but given how unconvincing the regular Pretty City email is to me, I’m not entirely willing to go all the way and invest in a product based only on their recommendations. Pretty City overall needs to step up their game.

So, what do you think? Have I got it wrong? Am I missing anyone? You can comment and let us know!

Kate Middleton’s bridal look

May 3, 2011

So when I was originally putting this post together, I was about to go on about how this wedding was “the news on everyone’s mind.” Well, this is what I get for waiting, huh? Well done to the Navy Seals for killing the figure who’s been like this unseen, epitome of horrible, evil villain to the last ten years.

Between last night’s news and the Royal Wedding, this last weekend is probably the Greatest Weekend of 2011… And while we are not particularly expert enough to comment on one, we are enough for the other.

Et voila, the new Duchess of Cambridge:

Now, part of the reason I wanted to wait to get this post together was the euphoria immediately after the wedding, so we could get a bit of perspective on what we saw. I was freaking out with anticipation about the Royal Wedding myself, and stayed up the whole night/morning to watch the event live. But now I write with the thrill of it all worn off, and here’s the word.

Like everyone else I was anxiously awaiting for the moment Kate stepped out of that Rolls Royce and into history. And what did she bring into history with her? Reportedly, Kate did her bridal makeup all on her own, with some assistance from bridal makeup lessons by Arabella Preston and a trip to the Bobbi Brown counter. Her reasoning? She “knows her own face.” Although no doubt some pr maven patted herself on the back as soon as this made public.

And I wanted to love her look, dear readers, I really and truly did. But I didn’t. My first problem? That blush:
That blush is one big, pink streak on her cheekbones. Now we all know the trick here is to highlight the cheekbones, but this was in serious need of blending. While pink cheeks are very much part of the “English rose” look, she could have avoided this giant pink stripe. I’d have stuck to bronzer for the cheekbones with keeping the heavier pink focused on her apples.

Problema dos: The overly strong eyes.
Where the critics have dared to speak up, they speak up about her eyes. The black eyeliner all-around is definitely a trademark “Kate” look, but oh dear here. It’s a generally smokey eye. And this is NOT a good look for daytime weddings, and I would argue weddings in general. It’s a skillful eyeliner application no doubt (check out the inner tearduct dip — very on-trend!), but the eyeshadow screams too heavy, between the greys on the lid and browns around the general eye area. It ages Kate, and I can’t help but feel she would have been well served by some shimmer or pinks. Perhaps she could have gotten away with such a heavy hand on her eyes if she had kept her cheeks less pink-striped, but as it is, the combo is too much. Maybe she was aiming for her eyes to stand out behind that veil? People have also commented how her eyebrows are too heavy, but I like it very much. It suits her, and having a fuller brow has been an approach that’s coming back en force over the last 2 years. Here’s hoping it’s a trend that stays.

Where people have ventured negative criticism, it is regarding the eye makeup for the most part… here’s an AOL poll and here’s The Daily Mail. Hear, hear!

The mauveish-nude lipstick bores me personally as I think it’s just a little too typical of Kate’s everyday look, but hey. It’s her everyday look for a reason, as it suits her very well. I’d have picked a color that didn’t feel too matchy-matchy with her blush.

As for the square, not-quite-long nails, which had to be ready for the close-up that would crush a million girls’ dreams (is it just me or did Wills have to try a bit to get that thing on??), she apparently had a custom shade mix of Essie’s Allure (which has, btw, just sold out at my local drugstore… yes, I checked) and Bourjois Rose Lounge No. 28.

Props to the lady for using regular old drugstore polish, but having a cunning mix made so really, none of us can ever truly replicate it. I really like that Bourjois Milky Pink shade, it’s close to my much-beloved favorite OPI pink shade, which is so offensively named that I will not speak of it here. Yet.

Bridal makeup for me just seems like a great opportunity to SHINE. Go for that ethereal, otherwordly glow, woman… you’re about to be a princess! It’s not just another day to do just a reproduction of your daily makeup look with a more elegant hand. All eyes are on you! To be fair, Kate was ballsy to do it on her own, and as if the traditional pressure of picture-perfect bridal makeup weren’t enough she had about 2 billion people watching her via the unforgiving camera, through settings of light both natural and not. It’s tough. But I think perhaps that’s a reason as to why one really ought to leave the makeup to the pro’s on one’s big day. Fortunately, she’s a pretty girl and regardless of whatever comments, no one can deny she looked really pretty.

But for all our whining, who cares. She’s pretty, she’s a princess, she eventually got the chance to show off the amazingness that is her hair, and she’s totally won at life!!

Cutest boyfriend ever?? Possibly.

April 22, 2011

Ooooohhhh my god this was PURE HILARITY!! Omar is just ADORBS!! Although his skillz leave a lot to be desired, it’s so sweet how he likes to nitpick and make sure his “work” is perfect. And the girl’s just trying really hard to stay calm, although when he approached her eye with “the thing right here” (eyeliner) she did look kind of alarmed. Ha!

Product Review: Conair’s Infiniti You Curl

April 22, 2011

So I’m a bit late on this train, but as you will find out the ability to curl hair may be the epitome of my shortcomings. My family calls me ungrateful for my pin-straight hair (a discussion of the Reyes Curse which befalls all my relatives at the age of 13, another day), but I have since the late 90’s dreamed of Brazilian-supermodel-goddess-like hair. But my hair’s always been miserable at keeping a curl for more than two hours with hot rollers, and anytime a salon stylist has shown me a trick or two with the straight iron twist my clumsiness and non-coordination led to epic fails. Traditional curling irons just didn’t seem to make any difference at all either (though perhaps I was just not investing enough cash on something like HotTools?). In fact, I had resorted to the vintage pin curl method and hoping for the very best when I woke.

But no more! Thanks to excellent deals at Amazon and a very honest discussion of my curl failures with my amazing stylist, I picked up the Conair Infiniti You Curl:
It seems so weird at first, defying all logic…. How can THIS be easy? It looks like a hot metal stick! But ah, it really is, once you’ve figure out the method and are fearless:
You see where the fearlessness comes in? That’s your dainty little fingers there holding the hair to the iron! Now, it comes with a strange three-fingered glove to wear for such a purpose (made for the cousin of the Princess Bride’s evil six-fingered man?), but I don’t like how it makes sectioning the hair awkward. So I do it without. Having very, very thick hair helps protect my fingers – as well as a fairly high pain tolerance – but even if I had the finest hair and the pain threshold of an attention-grabbing five year old (read: my nephew), I would do it anyway. Because the payoff is certainly THERE! My hair achieves a curl for a whole evening, and when I wake up in the morning a bit of a loose wave remains. I think how quickly the iron reaches high heat makes a difference, as I am impatient lady and so previous attempts perhaps failed because the heat wasn’t strong enough to make a dent in my thick pin-straight hair.

Note though, the curls are relaxed and soft, and will most likely not be uniform all down the section since the iron’s conical and there’s no freaking way you’re going to be precise with your twirls unless you’re a robot. That’s the look I’m going for (glorious somehow, to me, means not groomed but natural waves that best emanate blazes of halo-like rays out of your head) so that’s fine, but if you’re looking for something more haute couture you may be better off with the traditional curling iron, which makes more perfect, ideal curls doable. And by perfect and ideal, I mean Amy Poehler when Leslie Knope’s trying to impress:
Not for me, no thanks.

So, check out the entire freaking website that ConAir devoted to this one single curling iron out of its army of hair tools. Watch the video. Be impressed by the fact that it that has been applauded all over the place. And believe it.

And if you’re in a beauty-gadget buying move, check out this scan of Japanese beauty gadgets from Jezebel. Believe it or not, when I was a little girl I pinched my nose-bridge every night thirty times since my Uncle Fred assured me it would give me more of a peak to my nose. As the tiny bump with two holes for breathing on my face evinces though, it did no good.

Chanel’s Baum Creme de Rose

April 18, 2011

via Garance Dore.

I heart Garance. She rarely writes about beauty, so this here is a real treat. The product is new but it’s already getting cult-level whispers. I mean, come on…. Chanel + roses + vintage packaging? It’s a forgone conclusion.