Saturday, September 29, 2012

warm fragrances for cool weather

How can something be meltingly mellow and sexily stimulating at the same time?  I don't know, but these fragrances somehow manage to do it.  They've got enough spice, enough amber, enough sultry floral to warm you up during these cold Winter months.  If they were a color they'd be burgundy, if they were a singer they'd be Barry White, and if they were a woman they'd be Liv Tyler/Cate Blanchett/Angelina Jolie all rolled into one.  Check them out.....

Jo Malone Wild Fig and Cassis is the epitome of winter fragrance.  It is cold nights spent lounging by the fire in your satin pajamas.  Maybe even in the library if you have one, with a dashing dark English man smoking a pipe in the background.  Dusky fig is emphasized by the cedarwood, but balanced with hyacinth, and the light and jazzy cassis.  

For those of you who hate to get heavy no matter what the weather, Jimmy Choo is still on the light side.  With notes of green tiger orchid, balanced out with just enough sensual Indonesian Patchouli, and a tad bit of sweet toffee, it is a combination that is infinitely pleasing.  It is the kind of fragrance that you might associate with falling in love - tres romantique!

Caron Nuit de Noel is a spicy oriental that unfurls and unfolds layer of luscious layer of note as you wear it throughout the day or night.  Created in 1922 it is rich, opulent, and classic.  (It's got Dita Von Teese written all over it).  With notes of rose absolu, sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, vetiver, amber, and iris - plus a secret formula all their own, it is wholly unique and unrepeatable - the perfect signature scent.

For a soft woodsy floral look no further than the sensual Bottega Veneta.  It has a hint of Bergamot, a hint of Brazilian pink pepper, and a healthy dose of Jasmine and mossy earth.  It is just spicy enough to qualify as a Fall/Winter fragrance, but it is pretty enough not to weigh you down. It is so lovely I feel like I could soak in a tub of it, and in fact they make a shower gel too.  Bottega Veneta is sure to attract admirers of both sexes.

deep conditioners that do double duty

My hair is processed and dry but I am far too lazy to shower twice and sit around the house with an intense-conditioning pack on my head.  Thus I have found some wonderful deep conditioners that also work well as daily conditioners:  just 3 minutes or so in the shower while I shave.  And they seem to do the trick, hairdressers always comment on how healthy my hair is.  So when I look for a conditioner I look for serious results.  I want something that hydrates, repairs, and smooths without weighing my hair down - these three conditioners fit the bill:

Fresh Meadowfoam Cream Conditioner excels with natural ingredients of olive, shea butter, wheat herm, and sweet almond oil.  Its star ingredient is meadowfoam - a natural reparative that is deeply healing.  You can always expect superior quality from this luxury brand, so not only is it a powerhouse of productivity but an indulgence as well.
Not recommended for really fine hair.

Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment is called that because it 'restores' hair to nearly its natural virgin state. Living Proof uses its patented technology to repair the protective layer of the hair strand - no wonder it is a big favorite of beauty editors all over. Even better, it is sulphate and paraben free. I recommend you use it in conjunction with the marvelous-smelling Restore shampoo.
OK for fine hair.

Matrix Biolage Hydrating Balm is a heavy-duty hydrator that is designed to be used either daily or weekly depending on how dry and coarse your hair is.  The added feature of this cream is that it locks out humidity and frizz.  You can find it at any beauty supply store because it is a brand that hair stylists prefer.
Definitely not recommended for fine hair.
For me these suffice as daily conditioners, but don't forget that if you are a more patient person, you can also leave them on for 30 - 60 minutes once a week, and have some killer deep conditioning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

splurge! part deux

My old posting splurge! is easily my most-visited post, so in the manner of Hollywood movies I decided to make a part two.  After all, so much out there is splurge-worthy.  And just to illustrate how important it is for the psyche to splurge on occasion here is a quick story about my friend M.  M was sick for months with bronchitis that turned to a sinus infection that turned into pnenmonia.  She was on antibiotics for days - it was quite depressing for her.  However when I saw her the other day she was radiant.  She had just been to Sephora and bought a new lipstick.  And it wasn't any old lipstick, it was YLS - luxurious and rather pricey. The color brightened up her face and the sheer decadence of her purchase brightened up her mood. So while anti-biotics are necessary, never underestimate the power of a little indulgence.

Every time I tell my coworker that his skin is looking sensational he tells me that he is wearing Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer SPF 15.  Every single time! Naturally I have concluded that Pacific Amore is the most effective tinted moisturizer out there.  And at $70 it is also probably one of the most expensive.  But hey, if you want baby-smooth skin that glows like an angel, it just might be worth it.

What I find completely irresistible and intriguing is Lancome's Absolue L'Extrait Regenerating Ultimate Elixir.  It is made from the stems of the original Lancome roses whose genetics promote regeneration for firmer and more radiant skin.  It takes up to 2,000,000 of these stem cells to make a jar of Absolue and you will pay accordingly.  But wow, wouldn't you just love to put all that rose on your skin?  Plus the magnificent black and gold packaging will make you feel like royalty.

If it were any other reed diffuser I wouldn't think of spending so much, but for Agraria AirEssence I would do it.  Totally.  First of all, the glass container looks far more classy than its competitors, so it doesn't mar the landscape of your room.  Secondly, the fragrances are compelling - so attractive that I had to buy a variety of several mini jars rather than narrow it down to just one full-sized jar.  Thirdly, there is form AND function.  The fragrance formula truly fills a room and will last for months upon months upon months.  Like they say about a fine leather handbag "yes, but you'll have it forever"

I don't normally describe an underarm deodorant as delightful but in this case I will.  CREED Virgin Island Water Deodorant smells like a trip to the Caribbean.  It is bright, playful, and uplifting - exactly what you need first thing in the morning.  Not to mention that it is a signature scent manufactured by one of the oldest and most prestigious perfume houses in France.  You may think it's kinda crazy to spend this much on a deodorant, but that's only if you haven't smelled it.  Take a trip to Neiman's and you'll see.
So take a page from my friend M's book, go out there and treat yourself to a little luxury.......and don't look back!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

what's good for Fall

Everyone is blogging about Fall "must have" products so I have decided to do it as well.  It may not be an original thought but it bears repeating - especially since there are some very specific things that you could be doing for your skin right now.

Since you will be spending less time out in the sun, this is the right opportunity to start healing the sun damage that you accrued over the Summer.  So..... step #1 start applying vitamin C.  Vitamin C is supreme for sun damage repair:  it brightens dark spots, firms, and softens wrinkles.  Most decent vitamin C serums are on the pricey side but there is one fantastic one that is budget friendly.  Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum is one of the best selling serums all told.  People love it because it is a natural brand, it delivers remarkable improvement, and it smells great - kind of orangey.

And now that you are risking less sun exposure it is also a great time for serious exfoliation.  Book that series of microdermabrasion treatments at your local spa.  Or make an appointment there for a glycolic peel.  You could even do a spa-strength glycolic peel at home with the Brazilian Peel.  This is a 30% glycolic solution that equates to 5 times stronger than other retail glycolic solutions.  And yet it is a non-irritating formula that can be used once a week.  The package comes with four applications so you could do a one month series for yourself and be in tip top shape by the holidays.

Now for the fun stuff.  I think most of you know that navy nails are "in" this Fall. But Dior "Blue Label" Vernis Nail Lacquer is the naviest of navies.  It fact, it is so deep, dark, rich, and velvety that it is both sophisticated and edgy all at the same time. I can't imagine going through these cooler months without it.

There are a few Fall collection eyeshadow palettes out there but I think the Lorac Pro Palette gives you the most for your money.  Lorac is a professional Red Carpet brand of superior quality, and this palett offers everything you could possibly want.  In fact half of the shadows are matt and half are shimmer.  The subdued autumn hues range from delicate nudes to dusky dark shadows - I would buy this palette just for the deep purple shimmer alone.

Fall is the sexiest of the seasons don't you think?  So why not vamp it up with some serious color - just be sure to get your glow on underneath all that artistry with a healthy skincare regimen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

will a neck cream work for you?

Every time I decide to save money and go without neck cream I end up catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and crying out "Yikes!  I need a neck cream!"  Will it get rid of my double chin?   No.  Will it reverse all the sun damage?  No.  But I will without a doubt end up looking younger and tighter.  If you are expecting plastic surgery results from your neck cream you will be disappointed.  However with a good neck cream you will attain a certain "je ne sais quoi", that makes it infinitely better to have a neck cream than to not have a neck cream.  The key is getting a decent one - there are a lot of impotent ones out there.  Through much costly trial and error, along with interviewing clients for their opinion on these matters, I have come up with a few winners that bear results.

Clarins Advanced Extra-Firming Neck Cream is aptly named.  If you are comparing it to other neck creams, it is definitely advanced.  And I can attest that it is definitely extra-firming.  But it also is creamy and hydrating which eliminates any crepeyness, and smoothes out lines and wrinkles.  What ever Clarin's secret formula is they alone know, but it works.  It is also a bit on the pricey side but most clients are so pleased with the results that they are perfectly willing to pay for it.

On the less expensive side is Bliss Spa's Thinny Chin Chin.  Which is also aptly named because the formula is rather, well, thin.  I was amongst those who believed that a neck cream must be thick to really work, but Thinny Chin Chin disabused me of that notion.  I was also a believer that neck creams had to be prohibitively expensive, and once again, Thinny Chin Chin proved me wrong.  Clients who swear by it always exclaim to me: "But it is so cheap!"  Best of all, wearing this neck cream is like holding things together with a teeny tiny invisible suspension bridge.

If your neck and decollete are in serious need of repair you may want to consider using a firming serum underneath your neck cream.  StriVectin has a duo that work wonderfully together.  If you pair StriVectin-TL Tightening Neck Cream with their StriVectin Tightening Face Serum you will be a happy camper indeed.  For some reason I'm not as crazy about using either one of them on their own, but paired together - watch out - you will see instant results. Keep in mind too, that StriVectin has been a leader in anti-aging skincare for over 25 years now.  If you want to test out this combo Sephora has a starter kit that also includes a firming eye serum.
So will a neck cream work for you?  As long as you are not expecting to look like you've had a face lift or liposuction, I think with the right cream you will be very pleased.

Friday, September 7, 2012

a better way to exfoliate

One of the best things you can do for your skin is to exfoliate, and one of the worst things you can do is exfoliate - but it is only the worst if you do it incorrectly.  By incorrectly I mean over-doing it, either exfoliating too frequently or scrubbing.  Skincare guru Dr. Perricone is adamantly anti-scrub and I have to say that for the most part I agree with him.

Scrubbing tugs and tears at the skin and causes friction, so even though it may seem scary to use a glycolic acid mask, it is in fact easier on the skin.  The trick is to use it according to skin type.  For sensitive skin you can leave it on for fewer minutes than the instructions call for.  Or you could try an enzyme or lactic acid which, in general, is gentler on the skin than a most glycolics.  Either way, a once a week exfoliating mask is plenty for all but the most congested skin.

For sensitive skin I adore Phytomer's Peeling Vegetal enzyme exfoliating mask.  It is creamy and mild and smells divine.  It contains healing and moisturizing seaweed so it's pretty impossible to get redness from this professional exfoliator.  Instead you will end up with baby soft skin and a lovely glow.

Another way to go is a mild daily exfoliating pad. This will keep your skin in tip top shape.  Regular exfoliating is important because it speeds up the skin cell turn-over rate (keeps skin young), and it removes dead skin cell layer so that all your great serums and moisturizers can penetrate and work better.

Probably the most popular exfoliating pads are the Dr. Gross Alpha-Beta Daily Face Peel.  They are a combination of 5 different types of glycolic and salicylic acids for ultimate skin sloughing without undue irritation.  I have to say nothing makes my skin look as good as these pads do - they are a must have!  They can be used every day for normal skin, or a couple times a week for sensitive - they will work for virtually everyone.
REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is beloved by many.  It is a potent exfoliator comprised of fruit acids and enzymes that gives spectacular results.  Even better, it is all natural with none of those nasty parabens or sulfates.  I have yet to meet a person who has tried this and found it lacking - so put it on your shopping list!

No one wants to have skin that looks thin and irritated, and flakiness is for the birds.  So go ahead and exfoliate - any of these products would be a fantastic way to go - but please just don't over do it.  Like everything in life, moderation is key.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

luscious lip balms

Deeply quenching....supremely satisfying....ultimately healing......that's what a lip balm should be.....and hardly any actually are.  I have been on a quest for the perfect lip balm for years, and less than a handful have managed to sufficiently hydrate my permanently dry chapped lips.  So few in fact that this is going to be a rather short post.  BUT the ones that I have found to work I am simply in love with and feel compelled, no obligated, to share with you.  Because I know you are out there, the unsatisfied customer with the uncomfortably dry lips.  You may have to mail order some of these (for now) but I tell you, it'll absolutely be worth it.

Bija Body is an anti-aging body care line that makes a phenomenal lip balm.  Their Bedsidemanner Lip + Treatment is so potent that you only need to use it twice a day.  Not only does it have a high concentrate of honey, and a significant use of Fair Trade ingredients, but they also throw in a lot of plumping peptides, and age-reversing sea algae. Bija is the perfect blend of science and nature. I love Bedsidemanner for it's hydrating qualities, but after a month or so you should also notice an increase in lip fullness.  What a bonus!

Another favorite, Margarita Bloom's Racy & Risque Rosie Rose Absolute Hydrating Lip Balm provides serious soothing.  Margarita Bloom, the retro queen, is all about glamor and yet she uses natural ingredients like sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, and a tad of lanolin to do the heavy lifting.  The very velvety Racy & Risque Rosie gave me lasting (note the keyword here: lasting) relief from my chronic chapped lips, and the faint rose scent made it a luxurious experience all around.  Plus the packaging is loads of fun - who wouldn't want to carry this around in their purse!?

At the bottom of my short list is Rosebud Perfume Co. Strawberry Lip Balm - a cult favorite.  For some of you it may prove slightly controversial because it does contain petrolatum, but I am sorry, petrolatum works.  Many dermatologist recommend it as a lipid barrier, however if you are looking for a natural lip balm this one is not for you.  It does a sensational job though of hydrating and soothing chapped lips.  The company's original lip balm Rosebud Salve is probably their best seller (and it works equally well) but I particularly like the strawberry fragrance as it reminds me of the Bonne Bell Lipsmackers from the 70s.  I make no apologies for the synthetic - all I know is that my lips love it.  Plus the price point is easy on the wallet.