Tuesday, July 31, 2012

gluten-free beauty

There are the kind of regimens you put yourself on to be healthy, or be skinny, or be cleansed; and then there are the kind of regimens you put yourself on because if you don't you will be very very sick.  Like my good friend M, as a Celiac she cannot eat any wheat.  Not a speck.  And to top it off she cannot use any beauty products with a speck of wheat in them either.  Apparently the wheat gets absorbed through the skin, and in the case of lipsticks we actually do end up eating it off our lips.  So wheat-filled lipsticks are an especially big no-no!

And M is by no means alone - I know there are probably many Celiac beauty vixens out there who are searching for exactly the right gluten-free lipgloss/tinted moisturizer/shampoo.  But just because you have a limited selection of products available to you, does in no way mean that you have to suffer for beauty.  There is lots of cute stuff, hip stuff, even sophisticated stuff you can use. So here's a run-down of what I have learned is out there - maybe you already know about some of it, or maybe you'll have an ah-ha moment - either way, enjoy!

The first two things I need to say to you are  "Tarte Cosmetics" and "Alterna Haircare" **.  Both are top of the line brands that make everything 100% gluten-free.  For most people it's just a side-note that they are gluten-free - most people are buying these products because they are fantastic in and of themselves.  It doesn't matter about your hair type because Alterna makes something for most hair conditions.  And it doesn't matter what kind of look you want to create because Tarte is a brand that has a wide selection of makeup to please even the most discerning customer.  So stick with these winners and you won't have to worry about a thing.  They are available at Sephora and Ulta.

While these brands are on the natural side, natural is not always better - many natural brands contain gluten - like Aveda, which some of their stuff contains gluten (exfoliating cleansers) and some doesn't (some of their lipstick).  As a matter of fact if you go cheap and synthetic you are less likely to run across gluten - however then there is the issue of quality.  It will take some trial and error to find cheapies that work for you (check out Costco brand shampoo).  But if you don't mind paying a little more there is some gorgeously sexy stuff with moxie out there.  Here are a few gems......

ALL Smashbox lip glosses:  professional quality lip color in virtually any shade you desire

Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer -oil free:  luxurious, with their own cult following

Eyeko London Skinny Brush Mascara and Skinny Liquid Eyeliner:  for show-stopping eyes

Aveda Hand Relief:  coincidentally my all-time favorite hand cream (correction: see comment below)

** M says that Alterna is her best and most exciting gluten-free find.  Please leave me comments on your fave finds.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

spectacularly seductive scents

Scent can transform you - change your mood or even put you 'in the mood'. Splashing on the right fragrance to enhance your outfit before a special evening is what it's all about.  It can make you truly irresistible, and I've got some spectacularly seductive scents that will set the scene for l'amour.

But how on earth am I going to tell you what is sexy and what smells good when both are so subjective?  Well to begin with, I am choosing fragrances that other people besides me think are hot (I always get tons of compliments on these faves)  And secondly, I have broken it down into types of scent, so there will be a little something for everyone.  Thirdly, just think of it as a place to start looking - because everyone needs a sexy perfume to round out their fragrance wardrobe.  Even you.

ROMANTIC FLORAL:  Fresh Violette Eau de Parfume is about as exclusive as you can get.  Only available at Neiman Marcus, its pleasing fragrance has mass appeal but only a very select few will actually be wearing it.  The floral notes of violet, freesia, and rose are toned down with the sultry basenotes of amber, patchouli, and sandalwood.  Advertised as 'extravagant' and 'sophisticated', it is sexy in a more demure way.  

CLASSIC ORIENTAL:  Gucci Rush has been around since 1999 and has yet to fade in popularity.  Those in the know continue to buy it for it's blatant sex appeal.   Its notes of gardenia, jasmine, and rose are spiced up with vanilla and coriander seed.  One spritz of this hedonistic scent and you will be a walking, talking act of love. 

EDGY UNISEX:  Bond No. 9 Bleeker Street swings both ways - man/woman - in other words anyone can wear it, and everyone will want to wear it.  It is a rockstar fragrance.  This slightly citrusy scent has significant nuances of cedarwood, suede, oakmoss, thyme, and patchouli.  Bleeker St. is a potent blend, so spritz sparingly, and I recommend applying well before leaving the house because once the top notes wear off is when it truly gets down to business.

FLIRTY FRUITY :  Escada has a series of provocative fruity florals and they debut a new one annually.  Every fragrance in the series has an exotic name like Island Kiss, or Marine Groove, and if you can't decide on just one, Sephora has a coffret of minis that you can buy.  My personal favorite is Moon Sparkle with a sensual blend of freesia, strawberry, citrus cocktail, and sandalwood.  Not everyone thinks of fruity as sexual but my friend Erin nailed it when she called the fruities her 'stripper fragrances' - in other words sexy in an entertaining and unsophisticated way.  Men particularly love them!

and some other sex it up scents you might want to try......

ROMANTIC FLORAL:  Ralph Lauren Blue, Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy, Vince Camuto, Michael Kors Very Hollywood, Juliette Has A Gun Lady Vengence

CLASSIC ORIENTAL:  Beyonce Heat, Armani Exchange Diamonds or Diamonds Intense, Jo Malone Black Veltyver Cafe Cologne

EDGY UNISEX:  Hermes d'Orange Vert, Bond No. 9 Washington Square, Dolce & Gabana Light Blue, CREED Imperial Millesime

FLIRTY FRUITY:  Britney Spears Fantasy, Polo women's series Big Pony #2, Marc Jacobs DotMaitre Parfumeur et Gantier Bahiana

Thursday, July 26, 2012

extraordinary oil-free eye makeup removers

I promise you don't need oil.  Not if you don't want it anyway. You may have been thinking you need oil to get rid of all that tough eye makeup, especially the water-proof, but you really don't.  Of course if you like oil, I say to each his own, and you would probably love the best-selling Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Make Up Remover.  However if you are looking for a hard-working but non-irritating alternative to the greasy removers read on.  These are my ab fab, winning water-proof eye makeup removers of all time (and believe me, as a makeup artist I have tried everything).  

Not many people know about Philosphy's Just Release Me dual-phase oil-free makeup remover but it is a doppleganger of the Lancome Bi Facil.  Except it's oil-free.  And a lot cheaper.   However it looks the same and acts the same.  If you love how the Bi Facil swipes away every last trace of make up without having to tug or rub on your delicate eye area, then you will also adore Just Release Me.  In fact, I love it so much that I buy it for my own personal medicine cabinet stash.  Just give it a good shake before applying.

If you want a eye make up remover favored by makeup artists everywhere, then get Make Up Forever Sens'Eyes waterproof sensitive eye cleanser.  Make Up forever is a professional brand of makeup often used for modeling, photo shoots, and theatrical events.  It is top of the line.  And one of the reasons the pros love Sens'Eyes is because when removing makeup you never know how sensitive the client is going to be.  Many people react badly to harsh make up removers but I have never known anyone to react to Sens'Eyes.  It comes in a lovely soothing gel/cream formula and will get rid of every last stich of makeup with virtually no effort at all.

If you are looking for the convenience and ease of a pre-soaked pad, look no further than Sephora Brand Eye Makeup Removing Pads The Sephora brand is known for their eye makeup removers and if you get the pads you will have an oil free formula that many agree works on waterproof makeup as well.  You will also be comforted to know that it contains no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances - but what it does contain are super hydrators and lash-strengthening ingredients.  It is also perfect for travel - I take it with me when I go to spend the night at the boyfriend's!

As you have probably noted, all three of these products are good for waterproof make up.  You may be thinking to yourself "But I don't use waterproof eye make up".  Well, that's ok.  These three winners work wonderfully on ALL makeup.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


As far as I'm concerned, gift-giving and gift-receiving opportunities are too few and far between.  There's the occasional holiday and your birthday but that's it. And let's face it, presents put everyone in a good mood.  It's rewarding to give and a joy to receive, so why don't we do it more often?  Well, I have a remedy for this:  buy yourself a gift.  Buy something you normally wouldn't spend the money on - a real treat - an unexpected pleasure. It's high time you splurged on something special and I have just the thing for you to try.  These goodies are a little pricey compared to their competitors but they are luxurious all the way and guaranteed to make you feel fabulous.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!


Everyone needs a dry shampoo so why not buy the best.  Spilt Milk Mineral Hair Powder is an exclusive line of dry shampoos from Australia that come in a variety of luscious colors and fragrances.  If you are in between shampoos or even hair colors these mineral powders will absorb dirt and oil while covering up those nasty roots.  Spilt Milk takes an necessity and turns it into an indulgence.  Just imagine:  the red powder smells like raspberry creme, the dark brunette smells like mocha expresso,  the blonde - vanilla cupcake, and so on.

2.5 oz. $260

CREED is the world's only privately held luxury fragrance dynasty.  Founded in 1760 it has been passed from father to son, serving royal houses and the discerning public.  All that and you can just pop on over to Neiman's (or the occasional Bloomie's) and get some.  Besides having an incredible heritage, the ginormous selection of fragrances all smell extravagant and extraordinary.  They make the perfect signature scent because you won't find every girl at work wearing you.  Furthermore, the packaging is attractive and would look oh so classy on your dresser.  When in doubt what scent to pick I would start with the very famous Love In White - I have yet to meet someone who isn't attracted to it.


I am always on the quest for the perfect lip balm, and in my book the best working lip balm that I have found so far is La Mer The Lip Balm.  This delectable lip treatment is the perfect velvety consistency - not too dry / not too greasy or goopy.  It wears fantastically well under any lip color.  Best of all, the Lip Balm contains the patented Creme De La Mer Miracle Broth, along with marine extracts, botanicals, and vitamins.  It is practical, containing all you could ever want for form and function, and if you are as picky about your lip balms as I am, absolutely worth the price tag.


Chantecaille makes the most exquisite limited edition makeup palettes.  Each season brings out a new theme - usually nature oriented - of utterly lovely, utterly wearable colors.  The palettes are so stunning you will be reluctant to use them, and instead carry them around in your makeup bag showing them off to all and sundry.  But in the end you will want to use them because it is the highest quality makeup and will make you look your most beautiful.

(for more splurge-worthy goodies see my post splurge! part deux)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

best working wipes

My mom swears by using facial wipes as her sole method of cleansing.  This is not a good idea.  Facial wipes are a life saver when you are too tired, tipsy, even sometimes too lazy, to wash your face but they do not give a deep enough clean for regular use.  That said, if you come home in the wee hours of the morning after a long night of clubbing - use your wipes.  If you've worked an endless day on the job and all you want to do is get into your pajamas at 6pm - use your wipes.  Just be sure to use really good wipes.  All wipes are not created equal so be picky about what use use.  Be very picky.

Some wipes contain too much alcohol.  Some wipes are dry with practically no cleanser.  And some wipes contain loads of artificial fragrance.  These are not good wipes.  But if you are wondering where to start looking, I would recommend using one of these three wipes (it is no coincidence that all three are natural brands):

I say Burt's Bee's Facial Cleansing Towelettes With White Tea Extract are the cheapest and the best.  They are nice and juicy, giving a scrupulous clean where you can see the dirt come off on the wipe (not something that will happen with those dry wipes).  They are gentle with cucumber extract, extremely light in natural fragrance, and even the cloth itself is FSC natural certified fabric.  Next time you are at the drugstore buying your toothpaste and deodorant grab a pack of these.

Or maybe Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes are the best.  They are ultra gentle, the perfect velvety moistness, and perhaps the best at removing eye makeup.  There is absolutely no artificial crap in these biodegradable wipes and even better, some of the proceeds go to helping save the polar bear population.  Do something good for both yourself and the planet.

Skincare aficionados will appreciate Ole Henriksen Truth To Go Wipes.  Packed with anti-aging, hydrating ingredients like essential fatty acids, vitamin C and algae, they truly nourish the skin.  On top of that, the saturated towelettes give a satisfying clean and have a refreshing all natural vanilla/citrus scent.  They are absolutely worth the $15 price tag because you know you will be doing something good for your skin.

With any of these wipes you can feel safe knowing that they are all paraben, sulfate, and petrochemical free.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

fairy gloss

This post goes out to all the women who refuse to grow up, who still have a healthy 10 year old girl active inside them, and who can never, ever, get enough glitter.  This is me and I still believe in fairy dust, but except for when I'm at work selling cosmetics I am past a certain age where it is acceptable to wear out-and-out bling.  Luckily I have discovered some modified, slightly more subtle lipglosses that are grown up enough to wear on a date without scaring the guy off, yet do not sacrifice that lovely look of glimmer.  These glosses have the perfect hint of sparkle - just enough to give you luminous lips.  Intrigued?  Let's take a look, I am excited to tell you all about them!

Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish is a lip plumping gloss favored by women of all ages.  They come in a huge array of sparkling diamond colors that are soft and sheer.  As far as lipglosses go, Buxom is fairly long-wearing, and not too goopy/sticky.  For the more discerning shopper, this is a mostly natural brand (made by Bare Escentuals), containing no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan.  Furthermore, its lip plumping ingredient is not the aggressive, burning, irritating type but rather a pleasant cooling minty type.  Each color is named after sexy burlesque women, and if you are looking for a suits-all-skin-coloring shade I would try either 'Katie' or 'April'.

On the glamorous side, there is YSL Golden Gloss - shimmering lip gloss.  I can't think of a prettier, classier lip gloss that gives just the right amount of twinkle.  Your lips will glisten with a hint of metallic fairy dust that is flirty, sexy, and insouciant.  I am head over heals with their new color Golden Violet which is a vibrant fuschia. And Golden Amber is a sheer golden nude that is phenomenal layered over lipstick to bring any color to life.  A truly luscious gloss!

Lancome Gloss In Love is advertised as giving vinyl shine but if you look a little closer, the shine comes from millions of dainty little sparkles that look like stardust. Or even subtler....moondust. Is that not the fairiest of fairy glosses?  I immediately bought it in three different colors, plus I got the clear top coat 200 Just Strass that gives a little extra twinkle.  You' can go subtle or go strong but either way I just know you are going to love how it looks on your lips!

The glitziest of the lot is Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Gloss.   This is an old-school, goopy lipgloss, that varnishes your lips and makes every man in sight want to kiss it off of you.  It is foxy.  It is fun.  And definitely very playful.   Yet.....still appropriate enough for anyone who cares to wear it.  The price point of this gloss is irresistible and the formula contains shea butter and grapeseed oil to make it nice and hydrating.  I've got a collection of three or four of these babies in my makeup bag, and I predict you will have trouble buying just one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

heavenly hand creams

I have yet to meet a person (men included) who isn't totally picky about their hand cream.  We all want something supremely hydrating that isn't too sticky or greasy and we want it to absorb.  Besides all that, it has to smell pleasant - not too perfumey, but with the slightest whiff of fragrance.  So after years of accumulated research I have narrowed my quest for the perfect hand cream down to three favorites - each perfect in their own way.

The most luxurious hand cream I can think of is Jo Malone Vitamin E Nourishing Hand Treatment. Not only does it meet all the qualifications of being super-hydrating/non-greasy/non-sticky but the light scent is divine.  "Nourishing" and "Treatment" describe the product perfectly, and it is jam packed with anti-oxidants to protect your skin from the environment. Even though it is a little on the pricey side it is worth every single penny because really, who doesn't love the beauteous British botanicals of Jo Malone.

Aveda Hand Relief has been a fave of mine for years and years.  It is scentsational, silky, and satisfying.  Its light fragrance smells like the essential oils that Aveda uses at their spas, so you  feel like you are doing something both healing and pampering when you slather it on.  It has a touch of alpha-hydroxy acids to keep your hands smooth and plenty of anti-oxidants for protection.  Even better, this cream comes in a purse size tube.  It's truly irresistible!

I get a lot of requests at the store for anti-aging hand cream and I always recommend Lancome Absolute Hand.  It has spf 15 for prevention plus ingredients like sea algae, soy, and N-Stimuline for firming, strengthening, thickening the skin; salicylic acid, Mela-NO, and licorice for brightening dark spots; and wild yam for intense hydration.  This rich and emollient cream smells great and absorbs easily.

Soap & Glory Hand Food is the best bet for a more inexpensive hand cream.  It contains the ever-important shea butter, as well as macadamia nut oil and marshmallow for moisture (yes marshmallow!).  It is thinnish in consistency and has a light fragrance making it appealing to virtually everyone, but most importantly it will hydrate even the driest of skin.  I carry around the travel size and slather this on all day long.