professional beauty recommendations & comparison shopping

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

lovely drug store lip balms

Lip balm.  I have it in my car, my purse, the table next to the couch in the tv room, my bathroom, and my bedside table.  Yes, I am a lip balm fiend.  And I hear it is a trend nowadays to collect massive amounts of lip balm.  I have my favorites; some fancy schmancy and some drugstore, but today I am going to just talk about the drugstore ones.

Hands down Aquaphor works the absolute best for super chapped, flaky, sore, cracked, lips.  It is healing and protecting, if a bit thick in consistency.
(And FYI hands down Eos, despite the cute packaging, works the worst.  In fact I think it makes my lips more dry.  Don't you fall for it.)

Blistex Soft & Lush SPF 15.  Is super silky (from dimethicone, think what you will) with a delicious vanilla smell that I can't resist, and it stayed put through eating my salad.  It is definitely on the light side so is perfect for under lipstick.  The spf is crucial because most people don't realize how easy it is to get sun damage on the tender skin of your lips.  Blistex is a leader in lip care so you really can't go wrong with it.

Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter feels almost as healing as the Aquaphor, just a different consistency.  Kokum butter is ripe with fatty acids and anti-oxidants and is often compared with shea butter.  So this lip balm is natural and hypoallergenic.  It can get mixed reviews but I don't know why, I like it quite a lot.  Also be on the look out for their seasonal pumpkin spice "flavor".  It is not as healing but hey, who can resist pumpkin spice?

Most people love Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm SPF 20. They come in a wide variety of sheer colors and fun flavors; in fact that is the reason people buy them.  It's a just-swipe-it-and-go situation. Beauty mavens collect them like crazy.  Personally, I don't like the messiness of colored lip balms (I am weird that way) so my favorite is just the clear plain one.  It has such a velvety consistency, but with a faint whiff of sunscreen which I kinda like because it reminds me of a day at the beach.  Wears well!

WANT TO TRY:  I haven't used Bonne Bell Lipsmacker in Dr. Pepper since 1979 and I really want to get some for nostalgia reasons.  Unfortunately the Walgreens and CVS near me are total crap and don't carry Bonne Bell.  I must travel to get it.

pics stollen from,, and

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

september favorites 2015

It's that time of year and Aaack! it's getting dark so early.  How depressing.  But here is some September stuff that cheered me up....

NAILS: Sally's Box, Friendly Milk Nail Mask are like little wet socks for each finger - totes adorable!  But better than that they make your nails super hydrated, silky, and strong.  I feel like the effects lasted for weeks.

LIPS: Dr. Harris & Co. Ltd. Lip Balm brings up fond memories for me every time I use it because I bought it at MiN on a trip to NYC.  And it actually works fantastically.  It is very "balmy".

EATING/DRINKING: Homemade ice cream! It's really quite simple if you have an ice cream making machine.  Coffee flavor is the best of course.

WATCHING: The Great British Baking Show on PBS.  It's a competition show but a posh version of something you'd watch on the food network.  Everyone is charming and the scenery is to die for.

FACE: Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream never fails to make my skin glow.  Not only that but it's been a fave of mine for years and years, so it is not necessarily true that your skin gets used to a product and stops working.

READING:  The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson.  I picked this up because I am convinced I had a past life in ancient Egypt and I wanted to see if it hit any chords. (not so far)

PERFUME: Our September has been gruelingly hot so I went for the light side of things - celebrity scents!  A combo of Jlo, Glow on one wrist and Eau de Gaga by Lady Gaga
on the other wrist - the synergy was amazing!

MAKEUP a 3way tie:
(1) I'm way late getting on the bandwagon for Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder but WOW do I love it!  Apply it lightly with a huge fluffy brush all over your face and you will look lit from within.  Or use it in varying layers on your cheekbones for a velvety highlight.
(2) Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation SPF 18 is my new crush.  It has even superseded Maybelline TrueMatch in my book.  I prefer the matte formula and use a hydrating, illuminating primer underneath for the ideal look.
(3) Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, Very Black.  Last month's favorite mascara was Urban Decay Perversion but this is at least as good and way cheaper.  It does tons of curl, length, and volume with no smudging or flaking.

What were your favorites in September?

Pic from Photosearch

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

happy hands & feet

I call these products "happy" because they smell so good.  Although they all work quite well, this post is primarily about the sensory experience.  See my post heavenly hand creams for the real work horses.

Now that I said all that, Bliss Foot Patrol Cream actually is a work horse as well as being a fantastic smellie.  It has an invigorating peppermint smell because the menthol in it revives tired and aching feet.  It also has alpha hydroxy acids to slough off the dead skin and make your feet silky smooth.  The smell and exfoliation combo have always made it my most favorite foot cream.

Back to my sensory smell goods.........

Bliss has another one of my favorite "happy" products.  The Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream With Macadamia Oil + Grapeseed Extract smells like lemon.  Not quite fresh lemon, and not quite sweet lemon but somewhere in between.  I guess like spa lemon.  Either way it's absolutely lovely.  It takes a little while to absorb, but absorb it does, and is very satisfying in the end.

Bath and Body Works Nourishing Hand Cream truly is nourishing and comes in the most playful fragrances, plus the price is right.  I have Vanilla Butter Cream which smells caramely because I like sweet scents, but many of their others are of the floral/fruity variety.  They have their old stand-bys and then they have fun seasonal ones too. A couple of their greats this fall are:  Sunlight & Apple Trees, or Bright Autumn Day.

Molton Brown is a British luxury brand.  Their Replenishing Hand Creams come in a wide variety of the most sensual scents.  You can choose from wonderfully hydrating creams such as Gingerlily, Pink Pepperpod,  Orange Bergamot, and Desert Bloom.  Keeping one of these in your purse is special indeed.

Caudalie Foot Beauty Cream is a French spa brand and the French rule at spa care.  No parabens, sulfates, or phthalates and it still smells sensationally refreshing, like an orangey citrusy. Again with the spa-citrus smell.  People love the non-greasy consistency that makes it a cult favorite.

Which one looks best to you?

pics stolen from Sephora and other link's websites

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

eyeshadow primers: the good the bad and the ugly

Ah, the hunt for the perfect eyeshadow primer.  They make your shadow go on smoothly, look more pigmented,  and last a ton longer than without it.  They are a "must have" for any beauty vixen!  Here's been my experience with them....

THE GOOD: (1) MAC Prep +Prime 24 Hours Extended Eye Base For The Eyes.  I'm not really a MAC person but I'm very satisfied with this and use it the most.  It's a clear gel that spreads on perfectly but I must say it works best with two layers.  With two layers it lasts absolutely all day.  If you are at Sephora and not the MAC counter and you desperately need a primer - like right NOW - (2) Smashbox  24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer is quite similar.  However  when wearing matte shadows I feel like these clear gels are too dry for me and won't do the best job they can.  So that's when I break out the (3) Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Anti-Aging.  Of their 5 different formulas the best is the anti-aging formula, whether you are aging or not (truthfully I don't see any of the claimed anti-aging effects).  I'd say it's at least as good as the aforementioned gels but with a nice creamy faintly beige tinted formula.

THE BAD:  I may be alone on this but Dior has always been one of my fave makeup lines.  I pretty much love all their stuff which is why I was a bit disappointed in their Back Stage Eye Prime.  It's similar to MAC Pro Long Wear Paint Pots but I prefer Dior over MAC so that's what I bought.  However this one, as well as it worked (and it does work well), dried out fast and basically became unusable, so it remains sitting in the drawer (for emergencies?).  But who knows, maybe I had a bad batch or you might have better luck with it.

THE UGLY: Too Faced Shadow Insurance used to be my ride-or-die primer but they must have changed the formula because now it is liquidy and separates.  It's even slightly oily so it spreads horribly and I just cannot rely on it like I used to.

WANT TO TRY:  The MAC Pro Long Wear Paint Pots.  While not strictly primers, they work as such.  I heard they used to have the same dry quality as my Dior but the formula changed and now they are very creamy.  I like that they come in different colors.  Cool.

pics stolen for the website's links and google

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

autumnal equinox & perfect fall perfumes 2015

Ok, yeah, it's been in the 90s but the autumnal equinox is 2 days away so I figure it's time to do a perfect fall perfumes post.  I anticipate these with delight- I am so done with hot weather.  And hopefully this will be the last time I mention the weather in my blog LOL.  Listed below are what I consider great transitions between Summer and Winter.

Bottega Veneta "Bottega Veneta" is one of my department store loves.  It has notes of Italian bergamot, pink pepper, Indian sambac, jasmine, oak moss, Indian patchouli, leather.  Sounds serious but it's not quite.  It is more like a sophisticated and feminine scent.  It's a woman in a business suit with tight pencil skirt and 4 inch stilettos.    Available at department stores.

Smell Bent "Horny Little Devil" is cinnamon delight, and fall is when we start breaking out that particular spice.  Despite all that, it isn't too sweet because everything is toned down with a dirty musk.  It is a naughty spice.  Inexpensive and perfect for the hipster.  Available on their website  Samples available.

Burberry "Burberry for Women" isn't as popular as it once was which is excellent because it will make you unique.  Categorized as a gourmand, I don't find it terribly sweet.  Probably because what sweetness there is is more of a grown up sweet rather than a cotton candy sweet.  Fruits are listed as the top notes but to me what stands out is a dry dusty ancient wood scent.  Available at drugstores, the Burberry website, the occasional  department store,  and discount places like Marshalls.

Sweet Anthem "Red Queen" is an all natural, hand made, indie brand.  They have a series of perfumes named after fairy tale figures called the Enchanted Series and this one is the bitchy red queen from Alice In Wonderland all over.  It's dominatrix leather, "drunken" rose, fig, pepper, and a definitely some honey.  And the funny thing is that this scent actually does take me back in time when I would escape in magical tales.  Available at their website and samples are possible.

Bulgari "Black" can be found in the men's fragrance section but I think it is more of a unisex perfume.  It is predominately leathery, woodsy, powdery, and even a touch of vanilla thrown in.  As an added bonus the bottle is super cool, perfect for displaying on your dresser.  It is the kind of thing that women can wear to feel empowered.  Available at Sephora and department stores.

Narciso Rodriguez "For Her Musc Intense" is not to be confused with his original "Narciso Rodriquez For Her".  I like this one tons better.  It is musky:  warm spicy, smoky, with some lovely rose to balance it out.  So pretty, and as the name suggests it is feminine.  This is perhaps the most easily wearable of the ones I have listed because it is relatively light.  Just because the weather is cool, not everyone wants to be dragged down with all those other heavily seductive perfumes.   Available at Bloomingdales and other department stores.

And here is a Fall perfume list from my archives: fall fragrance recommendations

Tell me about what fall perfumes you are looking forward to wearing!

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

window shopping: Nordstrom Neimans & Bloomies

The other day I drove the extra miles to go to the posh mall. Everything about it is upscale from the planting and landscaping, to the lack of a food court, to the top tier department stores.  These of course are sinfully expensive but they've got the good stuff so it's fun to browse them and dream.  All in one day I went to Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales.  Not to buy mind you, but just to take a peak.  I thought I'd share with you some of my highlights.

I used to love Neiman's for it's exclusivity.  At one time they were the only ones who carried Bobbi Brown,  Jo Malone and CREED.  Now you can easily enough find those elsewhere but it's still worth a trip to the local store for nostalgic reasons.  Or maybe I'm being too harsh.  They are after all one of the few places that carries Chantacaille the exquisite French/American makeup line.

One of the reasons to love Chantacaille is the seasonal editions of eye shadow pallets whose proceeds go to help saving endangered wildlife.  And they always look adorable.  Right now it's the wolves, and the Chantacaille Limited Edition Protect The Wolves Eye Shade Trio is truly crave-worthy.  Just look at those little faces!

Another Neiman's treat is smelling all the Molton Brown shower gels.  This British line puts out candles and room scents as well but the shower gels are particularly alluring.  One time I splurged on the Coco & Sandalwood and loved it.  The other day my fave was the Molton Brown Pinkpepperpod Body Wash.  They come in all kinds of cool scents: Silver Birch, Blossoming Honeysuckle & White Tea, Japanese Orange, and Suma Ginseng to name a few.

On to Bloomies..... who is really giving the other classy giants a run for their money.  It is more modern and has a bigger selection of goodies than either Nordstrom or Neimans.  The store I went to even had a section of the cool British apothecary SpaceNK there - a mini store within a store.

They also carry the perfume line Bond No9.  Bond was created after 9/11 to commemorate the greatness of the city.  Mostly unisex, each one of their perfumes commemorates a different neighborhood in the city.  I have always loved the packaging and actually own Bleecker Street and Astor Place.  The other day I was more interested in Bond No9 Chinatown, because I am starting to really love white florals.  I was lucky enough to get a pre-made sample off the sales assistant!

Another awesome New York line they carry is Malin+Goetz Apothecary.  Uber cool bared-boned packaging, refined natural ingredients, and unique smells are what they are all about.  I had my eye on the Malin+Goetz Apothecary Rum + Lime Handwash Set but of course couldn't justify that kind of price just to wash my hands.

And lastly Nordstrom. Nordstrom where I negated the whole window shopping thing by buying Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in Stoned Rose.  In my defense I had a $20 gift voucher which brought the outrageous $32 price tag down to a more palatable $12.  And it was worth it.  There is nothing not to love about the Charlotte Tilbury cosmetics.  The beauty blogging world is all agog over them.  Excellent quality, user-friendly formulas, and sensational colors are some of the reasons why.

WHAT I WANT TO TRY:  everything!!!

And that was my trip!  What is your favorite place to window shop?

pics stolen from Amazon, Bond no9, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

for treating acneic skin

Acne is a bitch.  And many people find that they are getting it as adults even if they never had it as teens.  If so, you may know nothing about it or how to go about treating it.  I have a few answers for you but first lets briefly go over anti-acne ingredients.

Salicylic acid exfoliates the surface of the skin and delves deep into the pore to root out dirt and oil, while glycolic acid just exfoliates the surface to keep it clean and clear.
Sulfur dries out the oil and congestion as does benzoyl peroxide.  Some people find bp too harsh (hello Proactive) and some people are allergic to the sulfur.  You may need to experiment with different formulas to see what is right for you, but here is what I like.....

A fave clinical brand that has some terrific answers to acne is Peter Thomas Roth. I recommend trying:

Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel is of course good for anti-aging but the secret is that it has both salicylic acid AND glycolic acid so is perfect for acneic skin.  PTR has a straight salicylic face wash and a straight glycolic face wash but this combo one is the most potent of the bunch.  People absolutely love it.

For people who have both wrinkles and breakouts the best solution is retinol.  Getting a prescription is the least expensive way to go (if your insurance plan is a good one), but if you don't want to jump in whole hog to extra strength, there are some terrific over the counter retinol solutions out there.  Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM is a strong retinol serum with vitamins C and E and moisture that eradicates the redness that retinol can cause.  A blend of ingredients is often the best way to go.  The only thing about retinol is that you must must must be diligent about using sunscreen otherwise you will get bad sun damage.

Winding up your routine with Peter Thomas Roth Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer is the final but crucial step.  Even though you have jumped hurdles to clear up your skin, you still need to hydrate it.  Skin that is over stripped will only produce more oil to over-compensate.  Of course an oil free formula is the best way to go because it won't clog your pores.  This particular moisturizer is good because it is an almost gel-like consistency.  It is always a best seller.

And a "must have" to add to your regular routine is Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque Acne Treatment Masque.  Use it twice a week as a full mask or use it as a spot treatment to dab on specific pimples.  I guarantee results with this one.

A side note about a couple other brands:
For teens or sensitive skin, gentle but effective starter kits are a great idea.

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Kit.  A professional brand, it includes a foaming face wash, toner, treatment oil, daytime (with spf) and night time moisturizer.  It gets rave reviews.

Boscia Clear Complexion Kit is a natural brand that includes a cleanser, tonic, treatment, moisturizer, and green tea blotting papers. If you do find this one too strong skip the treatment step.

If I had acne I would want to try:   Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser.  It does have benzoyl peroxide in it but some beauty bloggers swear by it and say it doesn't dry them out.  Plus it's inexpensive!

Hopefully one or all of these will work for you.

Pics stolen from the links' websites.

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