Monday, December 26, 2016

holiday vacation





I hope your Winter Holidays are merry and bright!  I am off to England for a couple weeks, for a whirlwind visit that won't allow me anytime to blog.  But I will return in January with a post about my all time favorite beauty products of 2016.  In the meantime, hit up those post-Christmas sales and have a Happy New Year!

love,
Kate

Saturday, December 17, 2016

wonderful winter perfumes (classics)

I've been really into classic scents lately.  When I went to write this winter perfume blog post there weren't any recent perfumes that inspired me.  It could just be my mood, but also don't you think Winter is the perfect time for classics:  cozy, warm, sultry, and even sometimes sophisticated.  And of course there is the nostalgic factor.  I think you can be nostalgic for an era that happened before you were even born.  All the perfumes listed below have some of that romance.  It's not too late to put one of these on your Christmas wish list!


Gucci Rush is ideal.  It's a white floral with much patchouli and spice.  It can also be described as an oriental with a good dose of vanilla.   Created in 1999 the reference to cocaine ("rush") and the  tape cassette case shape of the bottle are now a bit dated, but the scent remains a classic.  I wore it all Christmas long in 2007 so for me it is particularly nostalgic this time of year, and if you are lucky it could end up that way for you too.  If I were to be imaginative, I would say Rush reminds me of burning red pillar candles in a boudoir, a woman getting ready in her corset and hose, a gardenia tucked behind her ear.



Chanel Cuir de Russie is definitely one I turn to when the weather gets cold.  The name means "Russian Leather" and the tang of fur pelts in a horse drawn sleigh is an image that immediately springs to mind.  Significant jasmine and rose add to the romance of it all, and like many Chanel perfumes it contains some powdery notes too.  Cuir was created in 1924 to celebrate the emancipation of women, allowing them to smoke in public with class.  And this is certainly one classy perfume!



Cabochard by Perfumes De Gres is a lighter option - perfect for someone adverse to orientals.  It is also perfect because you can get it for under $20 at Target or Amazon.  At the time it was created in 1959, Madames Gres said it reminded her of her long and empty walks along the beaches of India.  It doesn't smell super beachy to me but I do get echoes of loneliness/emptiness in it.  It is very woody, a little bit floral (rose/jasmine/geranium), and an exemplary chypre.  The reason I like it for winter is because of its duskiness and vintage couture vibe.




Lancome La Vie Est Belle is a sweet treat.  And supposedly it is a perfume adored by French women - a national favorite apparently.  I used to love it madly but these days I tend to just admire the beauty of the bottle on my dresser.  You know how you go in phases.  Still, I'm sure I will come back to it one day because it really is quite lovely.  The powdery iris tampers the heavily gourmand notes of black current, pear, and praline.  And of course the patchouli saves the day.  It's a newbie (only created in 2012) but to me has the glamour of a 1950's bright young Hollywood starlet, not all that long off the train from her small town in Minnesota, ready and eager for her first starring film role.



Go vintage!  You can find something precious on etsy, ebay, or a small decant or sample from websites like Surrender To Chance and The Perfumed Court can be a good way to start.  If you are new to vintage and have no idea where to begin I suggest something from Lanvin.  Vintage perfumes are very strong and intense so I say go with that vibe and get something flat out dirty-sexy.  Lanvin has a few of such; Crescendo (1965) being my favorite because it is a complex floriental.  However their most known vintage perfume is the musky/powdery/floral My Sin (1924). You can tell from the name alone it's going to be good!







Dior Pure Poison is my favorite of all the Poison perfumes.  Now this was only created in 2004, but the original Poison was created in 1985 and Pure, while more modern, still retains a bit of that essence.  It is orange, orange blossom and gardenia; sandalwood, cedar, and amber. Mmmmmm!  But even saying that doesn't convey its uniqueness.  It's intoxicating in an ice princess kind of way.  I almost bought it for the holographic poisoned apple bottle alone!


                                     




For more Winter perfume ideas check out my recommended winter perfumes 2015.




all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews 




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

sensational stocking stuffers 2016

I don't mean to stress you out but we're getting down to the wire here folks.  Christmas and Hanukah are less than two weeks away and if you are going to be shopping on line you'll need plenty of time for delivery.  Plus the mall near my house is absolutely insane right now - perhaps the most insane mall there is at this time of year, the lines for the parking lot extend for blocks.  I set my alarm for early am and get to the stores first thing while I've still got a chance to shop without getting claustrophobic.
But anyway it's worth it because there is some awesome stuff out there and many sensational options for stocking stuffers.  Here are a few.....


The $10 Anna Sui Makeup Palettes are to die for.  I hate how I always say "to die for", and I'm trying to stop saying it, but really in this case it is true.  These are small empty palettes, like a mini Z palette, for you to put your own shadows or blush in.  I can't get over the faux Victorian design - it's so striking.  And as a stocking stuffer it is beautiful and unique as well.



Surratt Relevee Lash Curler $30 is supposed to be the very best eyelash curler out there.  It is pricey for such an item but that is what makes it the perfect gift.  Any makeup maven worth her salt would really appreciate this.  It is a great size to fit in a stocking as well, but buy it NOW - they are always selling out.




Anything from LUSH is fun fun fun.  A bath bomb will fit in a stocking nicely, or a travel size shower gel too.  They have some fabulous limited edition stuff for Christmas like the:  Butter Bear Bath Bomb,  Golden Wonder Bath Bomb, or Snow Fairy Shower Gel.  And LUSH is all about the scent, so anything you choose from them will smell divine.

The Christmas Penguin Bubble Bar $7.45 - so cute!







And speaking of wonderful scents, a pillow spray to help your loved one fall asleep at night is a terrific idea.  Kohl's has a good one on sale for $5.85.  It's the Earth Therapies Pillow Mist which has actual valerian in it, a super relaxing essential oil.  Or another cool option is the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray $29 which is extremely popular in the UK (they may be on to something!)  Note:  both options heavily feature lavender.




If you have several stockings to fill the Fresh Sugar Lip Showcase $77 is a good option.  Everyone loves the Fresh Sugar lip balms (tinted or plain), so these would make a luxe stuffer.  Break the set up and throw in one, or throw in a few, per stocking;  the price works out to $8.50 each.  If you've never tried one of these balms they are extremely nourishing.




The Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer stick $24 is a cute little number and gives a natural-looking sun-kissed look.   Milk Makeup PR says their products are "smart, multi-functional, easy to use" - what could be better for a stocking?  



Rollerball perfumes are an ingenious stocking stuffer, and the options are endless.  You can find them at Sephora or Ulta or even Bloomies and Macy's.  They are usually in the $20-$28 price range.  You could get your loved one a convenient travel size of their favorite perfume or give them a commitment-free size of something new to try.  Popular these days are:  SJP Stash (amber unisex), YSL Mon Paris (youthful fruity floral), or Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (zesty unique niche brand).





Leaders makes some of the best sheet masks out there and they only run $5-$9 each.  Even just writing about them makes me want to buy a bunch for myself, so I'm sure your stocking person would love them too.  Give one or give several, there are all different types from "lifting", or "calming coconut", to "pore gone for good".  Excellent!






For more Holiday 2016 gift recommendations check out my posts Holiday gifts ideas for him 2016 and Holiday gift guide 2016:  exquisite sets






all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews







Monday, December 5, 2016

November beauty favorites 2016

This month's beauty favorites is mostly makeup.  Usually I like to mix it up a bit more but I can't seem to help it, I am all about the makeup these days.  Plus Sephora had a couple big sales so I had to partake of them, and a lot these goodies were from those hauls.  All that makes for a pretty exciting post I think.  However now I am on a "no buy" period (excluding holiday gifts for others).  I'm not even going to purchase holiday decor even though things look a little sparse this year.  Well, maybe I'll get a poinsettia...or two.....


In my opinion nothing can compare to Guerlain Maxilash Volumizing and Curling Mascara.  Yes it's a lot to pay for a mascara ($32), but it makes me SO happy.  It gives the perfect amount of volume with actual curl and it doesn't smudge or flake in the least bit.  This has a small-medium size natural brush and will keep your look going all day long.  Bottom line:  very very flattering.




I had been wanting the Too Faced Sweethearts Bronzer for ages and finally bought it during Sephora's VIB sale (it is also available at Ulta).  It did not disappoint!   It's a nice, fairly neutral-toned, bronze color with a surprising amount of pigment - all you need is a very light touch.  One side of the heart is a lighter shimmery bronze, and the other size is deeper with a satin finish.  Personally I like to swirl the two sides together for a luminous look, but you could play around with it.  And as with all Too Faced makeup the packaging is adorable - lots of product inside as well!



I am in love with Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream!  The scent is wonderfully addictive but the cream is also hydrating and I do think definitely firming.  They say to use it on any body parts that need a little lift and firm, but I love it so much I just use it all over (besides who has time to be applying two or three different moisturizers?).  Normally I dislike body moisturizers that come in a jar because I am fundamentally lazy and prefer an easy-to-use pump.  I almost didn't buy the Bum Bum Cream because of that but I am so glad I didn't listen to my inner lazy girl.  This stuff is a joy to apply and I don't seem to mind what kind of container it comes in - it is totally worth it.  



Whenever I wear eyeshadow from my Juvia's Place The Masquerade Mini Palette I get massive compliments.  People will say I look so pretty, or that I am looking especially well that day.  Now, who wouldn't like that?  I did a whole review on this palette so you can get all the deets there, but needless to say I am crazy for it.  The colors in this palette may not be everyone's cup of tea but the quality and texture of Juvia's Place eyeshadows is divine so you might want to check out The Nubian Eyeshadow Palette that is more tame/mostly neutrals.  I know I will be buying that one next.




Another beauty item that always garners compliments is my new Pinrose Merry Maker Eau de Parfum.  I bought it last month and have been wearing it a ton since then.  It is bright and fresh and fun and fruity, and think I like it for nostalgic reasons because it reminds me of two very pleasant times in my past.  One was in the early 90s when all the hot young guys were wearing CK One, and the other was 2007 when I was newly emplyed at Sephora and we had a really terrific group of people working together there.  Merry Maker notes include:  nectarine, grapefruit, cassis, violet, rose, plum, musk, moss, Tonka.





Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Lolita is described as a "matte dusty rose" but I love it because it also has a warm undertone of terra cotta.  It's a beautiful color combination.   At first I didn't like the texture of the lipstick because it is dry.  But strangely it's not cakey dry.  It somehow molds to my lips in the most flattering way so that it doesn't look dry. It is a matte, slightly on the sheer side formula that wears for hours.  With a clear gloss on top it is truly stunning.  I have come to crave the look and feel of it on my lips.  






What were your beauty favorites this month?





all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday gift ideas for him 2016

You may not guess this but writing a men's gift guide is one of my favorite things to blog about.  There are so many interesting and even unique grooming things out there for men (one year I even posted a bacon soap), that there's really no need to resort to giving the usual tie or socks.  Furthermore, it is easy to find something in every price range, from the drugstore discovery to the extravagant fragrance.  Here's what I think are some terrific gift ideas for the men in your life - a few of these you might even like for yourself because so much has actually become unisex these days (maybe not the beard oil though lol).



Aesop London Grooming Kit ($75) is perfect for the man who travels.  The no-nonsense packaging and fresh-smelling botanical ingredients have a masculine bent although honestly I would love all this for myself.  The kit includes travel sizes of:  mouthwash, shampoo (he'll love the tea tree in it!), conditioner, body cleanser, body balm, and their famous parsley seed cleanser, toner, and moisturizer.  And it all comes in a black travel case.  What more could you ask for?



Malin + Goetz Rum Holiday Set ($35) is a lovely idea.   Again, this no-nonsense packaging would appeal to a guy, and anything by this brand would make a great gift for him.  I think the rum is particularly smart though.  This kit includes a 8.5oz Rum Hand + Body Wash and a Dark Rum votive candle.  Men do like candles you know.  But if you prefer you could just get him the 16oz Rum Body Wash - it's awesome too.



Pacific Shaving Company Caffienated Shaving Cream and After Shave ($4.49 each) are something fun.  And readily available at Target and some drugstores which is convenient.  While it's not quite like drinking a big mug of coffee these do supposedly give a little kick to your morning routine.  Also the caffeine actually provides a smoother shave and helps reduce redness.  These smell minty, not like coffee, and as a bonus they are synthetic fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.  Yay!



FOREO 'ISSA' Hybrid Sonic Toothbrush ($199) would be appreciated by the guy who is into high tech things.  Or maybe someone with problematic tooth or gum issues.  Either way it gets 5 out of 5 star reviews.  Yes it's pricy but the sonic technology of this little machine gives a vigorous brushing to get rid of stubborn plaque while the silicone bristles massage the gums.  Imagine how fantastic and how healthy his teeth will look!  Be super sleek and order it in the black color.



Le Labo 'Oud 27' Eau de Parfum ($175) has the best masculine perfume packaging ever.  This apothecary style bottle would look beyond cool sitting on your guy's dresser.  Of course there is more to it than that.  This niche brand makes unisex perfumes of the highest quality and concentration.  I have chosen the 'Oud 27' because I think oud (smells of resinous wood and musky decadence) on a guy is the sexiest, but if your guy prefers something more fresh and cologne-like then go for their 'Vetiver 46'.  Le Labo perfumes are for the hippest of hip.




.Penhaligon's Bayolea Hair & Body Wash ($45) is a treat for sure.  Penhaligon's is a British perfumery brand that started out as a barber shop in 1870.  So great history there.  Now it is more of a niche brand, rather exclusive, so something like this body wash is sure to be treasured.  It smells wonderfully masculine with Mandarin, Lemongrass, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Musk, and Moss.  And of course its 2-in-1 purpose is also great for the efficiency expert.



Wild Man Beard Conditioner ($19.95) is a bit of a hidden gem, yet wildly popular to those in the know.  It's an all natural grooming oil to condition and strengthen the beard and moisturize the skin around/beneath it.  It gives a nice smooth look and a little shine.  The Original formula uses essential oils that make it smell lightly of Virginian Cedarwood and cold-pressed lime, but it is also available in three other scents and an unscented version too.   So many men are sporting beards these days, I think this would make a very appropriate gift.




For more (still relevant) gift ideas for him, check out last year's post: great holiday gifts for men 2015
For beauty gift ideas for her, check out my new post:  Holiday gift guide 2016:  exquisite sets and sensational stocking stuffers 2016




all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

holiday gift guide 2016: exquisite sets

I'm trying to dash this post off before I go make three pies, but I wanted to get it out before Black Friday for those of you who so indulge.  Even if you don't start your Christmas shopping Friday you will want to check out my gift recommendations before too long because they are all limited edition holiday items and will be sure to sell out fast.  Once gone, gone for good.  It's a little weird for me having to post this before Thanksgiving even arrives but that's the way it is nowadays.   There are currently a bazillion gift sets out there but I have selected the top; what I consider the most coveted and giftable items in a variety of price ranges.  I'm crazy for every single one of these but I think you and your loved ones will be too.  



Dior Total Eye Look Palette For Eyes & Brows ($62) makes for an elevated gift.  It is a silky black zippered case with gold embroidery logo that contains 3 neutral eyeshadows, a brow powder, and a brow wax.  This set can be had in two different palettes:  a Glow Nude or a Smoky Matte.  Both are exquisite.  Dior makes the perfect gift because it's something most people would love to have but would be reluctant to buy for themselves.  Why not do the splurging for them?







Diptyque Eau De Parfum Discovery Set ($115)  is a perfume lover's paradise.  And actually I think it would make a terrific gift for someone who is just starting to explore perfumes, or who considers perfumes a rare treat.   After all, who doesn't love Diptyque?  This perfume set offers 5  .25oz atomizers including:  Philosykos (fig), Tam Dao (citrus woody/amber),  Oud Palao (incense, rose, and the Middle East), Do Son (tuberose), and L'Eau (rose and floral gardens).  These are cultivated scents, some of them leaning toward unisex.  Just lovely!





Clinique Tiny Temptations Set ($49.50) is the cutest thing ever and has pretty pretty colors.  In fact it is so cute that the full name is Tiny Temptations Chubettes Tin Set.   There are 12 colors of Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm, and 8 colors of Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm.  Wouldn't these be great to pop in a purse?  It's true they are tiny (.03oz) but all lined up in their tin together they look quite impressive.  These Chubby Sticks are ideal for someone who prefers a more sheer or dewy lip color.




Sephora Collection Mask It All Over Set ($25) is a great gift for co-workers, nieces, and Secret Santas.  The price is right and it's a lot of fun!  Sephora makes some of my favorite reasonably-priced sheet masks and this a great way to explore (ie. buy it for yourself).  The set includes:  avocado face mask, lotus face mask, orchid eye mask, Argan hand mask, almond foot mask, charcoal nose strip.  There is also a similar kit, the Face Mask Set, of six Sephora face sheet masks also for $25.  



Jo Malone Bathtime Collection ($65) is my dream gift, and by that I mean it is at the top of my own Christmas wish list (any family members reading this please take note).  The set is 3 decent sized 3.4oz bottles including: English Pear & Freesia Bath Oil, Nectarine Blossom & Honey Bubble Bath, and Peony & Blush Suede Shower Oil.  Anything by Jo Malone makes for a luxe holiday gift and this one is particularly pampering and decadent.




IT Cosmetics Special Edition Most Wished For Holiday Palette (limited time price of $49.96) is perfection.  The fold out kit includes 2 highlighters, a bronzer and a setting powder, 6 lip colors, 4 color-correcting concealers, and 18 eyeshadows.  All of it is the same top quality as their regular permanent collection makeup, and product is actually quite sophisticated for a folding kit.  The colors look slightly dull in this pic but click on the link to see the whole QVC video, it is actually quite stunning.




Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil 7 Piece Body Butter Collection ($45) isn't very snazzy looking but the scents and texture are beyond.  I'm going to get it and break it up keeping my favorite smelling ones for myself and the others will go as gifts/stocking stuffers for others.  The 7  2oz jars come in:  vanilla honeysuckle, sweet butter cream, vanilla pine, sweet citrus, vanilla apricot, gingerbread vanilla, and unscented.  Oh, and they are all super moisturizing - perfect for the cold dry winter!





So happy shopping to all of you and please be kind to the sales assistants who are working brutally hard at this time of year!



For more shopping ideas check out:  Holiday gift ideas for him 2016 and sensational stocking stuffers 2016






all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews



























Sunday, November 20, 2016

Juvia's Place The Masquerade Mini Eyeshadow Palette & feeding your soul


The Juvia's Place The Masquerade Mini Eyeshadow Palette (currently on sale for $19.99) contains the most glorious colors on earth, and their textures are just as special.  It is 6" X 6", not actually mini at all, but it is a whole lot smaller than their original Masquerade Palette which is huge.  The website reviews give it 5 out of 5 stars.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  Here's why....


I love color.  I live for color.  It feeds my soul and makes this often arduous task of being a human being on earth totally worth it.  I love colors found in nature and I love colors invented by man (or woman, as in this case).  I have many eyeshadow palettes that sometimes I am too lazy to fully utilize, yet I am never too tired to swatch them on my arm and admire the colors as I go about my day.  My collection of colors brings me joy.  And yet I haven't been doing much about it lately.

The other day I was talking with a friend - the kind you can say anything to - and I was telling her how I felt I had lost my way.  I didn't feel in touch with myself, my true self, and I didn't know what to do.  I was lackluster and bored.  She reminded me that I used to make fabulous large collages, intricate scrapbook/photo albums, and color with my Crayola crayons.  She said I needed to create with my hands using color, shape, and texture.  Now I am not an painter or illustrator at all* - I can't draw a straight line to save my life - but cut and paste I can do.  And so I did.  I went to Michael's craft store and explored for an hour.  I bought some collaging supplies and came home and took down my boyfriend's picture of a 1950s drive-in and put up a big blank collage board and went to work.  After gluing on about a dozen images I felt happy and energized, life didn't seem dull at all anymore.  I had reconnected with my true self.

I think people just need to create, and some of us to create with our hands.  You don't have to be an accomplished artist, just doing something for the fun of it can actually lead to joy and fulfillment.  Personally I need to manipulate color and texture, shape and design.  Many girls and women get that same satisfaction from makeup application, and if you are one of those people I highly recommend this Juvia's palette.  It has phenomenal colors to experiment with.  While I feel a little old to be wearing the vivid blues and purples out in public (in fact I only plan on wearing the earth tones), they are still fun to play with.







Just to wind up with a little bit more data on this indie brand palette:  there are 7 cool shades and 9 warm shades, 5 matte shadows and 11 shimmer including one that is actually more metallic (Casablanca).  The colors have awesome African names because the creator of Juvia's Place is Nigerian born.  These colors are meant to accentuate darker skintones but pale girls will love them too.  It's an artistic array.  I find that the shimmer shades feel like deluxe velvet but in my a palette a couple of the matte shades feel a bit dry (Zobo).  That said, they still apply and blend just fine.  The quality is top notch and I wouldn't change a thing!


What types of creativity feed your soul?



* Nor am I a great photographer as you can tell from these swatch pics - although I also suspect my camera is crap.






all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews