Saturday, December 28, 2013

5 New Year's Eve essentials (2013)

There's still time to shop for an eye-popping product that'll make you stand out among all the glitz and glam that is New Year's Eve.  I recommend these essentials - try one or try them all....

SPARKLE:  A touch of shimmery highlighter on the cheek bones and brow bones is a subtle way to go, but for a special night out turn it up a notch and add some glitter to the equation.  Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eyeshadows are gorgeous sparkly eye shadows that embody both sass and class.  I can barely begin to describe how pretty these are.

SPRAY:  You're going to want your fancy do to last all night, so I suggest going with the hair spray that all the beauty editors rave about - L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray Extra Strong Hold. This stuff locks things into place without creating a helmet head.  It's cheap, it's easy to find at any drug store, it is a must have.

SEDUCTIVE: You've got to use false eyelashes.  Even if you have to go to Sephora, buy a pair there and have the sales assistant apply them for you, it'll add a certain something that nothing else can match.  Of course lashes are available anywhere and they are all pretty good as long as you use DUO eyelash glue, but Make Up Forever makes the most dramatic party-girl lashes out there.

SULTRY:  Nothing else will do but a sultry fragrance: deep, smoky, oriental and musk perfumes reminiscent of a Great Gatsby style New Years bash.  They will ensure you stand out and have people following your trail of scent.  Some of my faves in this category are:
Gucci Rush, Juliette Has A Gun Midnight Oud, Jean Desprez Bal A Versailles, or Dior Pure Poison.

STAIN:  You'll definitely need a lip color that lasts through canap├ęs and champagne.  There are many fantastic lip stains out there but for NYE I prefer something with shine.  Bite Beauty Honey Lip Lacquer is a glossy lacquer that endures.  Not only that but it is made with all natural ingredients which are actually edible, and fortified with super antioxidants like resveratrol.  What could be better than totally natural AND totally glam?

So gear up, go out there, and buy yourself a little something to celebrate the new year with style.

And for loads of tutorials and pretty things check out my NEW beauty-vixen youtube channel.

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 16, 2013

perfect Winter perfumes

As light catches the snow, sparkling on the bough, and spiced eggnog lures everyone round the fire, it is time to break out my Dior and Chanel.  Not clothes but perfumes.  Winter fragrances need to be lavish, luxuriant. They compliment brocades, furs, and ball gowns. With an abundance of such fragrances out there,  a few of my seasonal favorites are:

Tom Ford Black Orchid - you either love it or hate it.  At my work the camps are pretty much split down the middle, but I myself am firmly in the "love it" group.  This is an opulent oriental that actually contains the strange and rare black orchid note.  With additional notes of black current, black truffle, dark chocolate, and incense, it is completely unique.  A spritz of citrus and a whiff of white floral keep this perfume from being too dark.  Whether you end up loving it or hating it, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.

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!

Oud Ispahan from the Dior Collection Privee is a unisex fragrance reminiscent of the lands of Arabia.  In fact it smells very much like a few obscure perfumes I ordered directly from Kuwait.  Sexy.  Exotic.  Erotic.  Like many Middle Eastern perfumes it uses rose as a base note, along with sandalwood of course.  However the oud is the superstar here and if you aren't sure what oud is; think incense, think resin, think woods of the Far East.  But most of all with this perfume, think out side the box.  Projection and longevity are well above average so use sparingly.

Versace Bright Crystal is the wild card.  Neither heavy nor rich, it embodies the effervescence of the season.  Most people probably think of this as a Summer fragrance but it reminds me of the holidays. To me it is tinkling silver bells, tinsel on the tree, and champagne flutes clinking in a toast.  Bright Crystal is a citrusy floral, even with some aquatic notes, but amber extracted from redwood anchors the fragrance preventing it from being too flighty.

Caron Bellodgia Eau de Parfum is a mostly floral (with my fave carnation) slightly oriental perfume, grounded with base notes of musk, clove, vanilla, and sandalwood.  Created in 1927 it carries the vibe of flappers and philosophers.  Despite being a formal fragrance, I still think it is girlishly pretty.   As always Caron is meant to be worn with elan, just like Dita Von Teese does.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

hot holiday gifts for men 2013

In one of the Sex and the City episodes Miranda says "I know how to please a man.  Just give away all of your power."  I love it!  But whether or whether not that is true I have a few ideas for holiday gifts that will definitely please the men in your life without you having to sacrifice anything.

Jack Black First Class Five Gift Set has their famous Beard Lube, All Over Wash, Lip Balm, Eye Balm, and Double Duty Face Moisturizer spf 20:  everything the man-in-the-know needs. The brand is a cult classic - he can't help but be pleased with these travel-size grooming products.

Outlaw Soaps claim to be Exciting Soaps for Adventurous People.  Their bacon soap would be a prime example - and I ask you, what guy doesn't love bacon?  Ok maybe a vegetarian.  But there are other manly scented soaps such as Hair of the Dog (whiskey), Blazing Saddles, or Fire In The Hole (campfire). 

Malin + Goetz Apothecary And Lab Candles come in minimalist, no-nonsense jars and testosterone-driven fragrances.  There is their ever popular dark rum.  But tobacco, cannabis, or vetiver would go over well too.  You might be surprised to know how many guys like candles - especially ones like these.

Kiehl's Energizing Men's Kit is another perfect way to go.  Men. Love. Kiehl's.  Maybe it's the spare packaging, simple ingredients, or effectiveness of their products but men always go for Kiehl's.  This kit of best-sellers includes:  facial scrub,  body scrub soap, eye cream, shave cream, and face moisturizer.

Atlantic Farms Hops Shampoo is so cool!  Everyone knows beer is made from hops, but along with coconut oil and essential oils, so it this hydrating shampoo.  It smells totally masculine and provides a little volume as well.

CREED Irish Tweed  is the quintessential masculine fragrance.  Made by a French perfume house that has been family owned for hundreds of years, this would appeal to the more discerning gentleman.  It is pricey, but even the after-shave moisturizer or deodorant would make a very special gift.

I think with any of these gifts the man in your life will be suitably impressed.

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, December 8, 2013

super star stocking stuffers (2013)

This year my family doesn't have a whole lot of money for presents so we decided to just do stockings.  Still, we didn't want for it to be all chocolate oranges and Crest Whitening Strips.  I think those are fine but there should be one special item that pulls it all together.  So I have compiled a list of stocking stuffers that will wow them.  If you are looking to put together a fabulous stocking that shines bright as the North star, read on.....

Bobbi Brown Every Day Pretty Lip & Eye Pallet is the perfect all-in-one purse size pallet.  With three eye shadows, two lip colors, and one super shiny lip gloss there are neutral colors that flatter most every one.

The Beauty Blender foundation blending sponge is magic.  The impostors can't even touch it - everyone should try it at least once in their life.  The Beauty Blender Travel Kit is a great way to introduce the blender, and their special cleanser is important because the reusable sponge really needs the specific cleanser to get it perfectly clean.

Origins Ginger Burst Savory Shower Gel is a magnificent morning pick-me-up.  The invigorating and uplifting gel smells like real ginger.  With all the natural ingredients you can't go wrong.

Dyptique Mini Pine Bark Candle will certainly set the holiday mood.  If you are not familiar, Dytique is a French luxury brand that makes candles to die for.  This mini smells exactly like pine - a winter scent I miss out here in California.

e.l.f. Essential 9 Piece Glossy Lip Gloss Cube is an adorable set of super pretty lip glosses. Despite being incredibly cheap it is abundantly abundant!  Divide it up and put two or three in each stocking.  Buy it ASAP,  it is limited edition and I suspect it will sell out fast.

Conair Flirty Girl Bling Cushion Brush is also a great bargain. There are plenty of rhinestones because everyone needs a little bling on the holidays.  Gentle on the hair, it comes in three different colors:  black, pink, and purple.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer is opulence all the way.  The large, uber stylish packaging makes a one-of-a-kind gift, and the colors are exquisite. 

LUSH Solid Perfume  is insanely popular with its unique scents.  The ideal pocket-size treat, you don't have to spend a whole lot of money on a perfume that will last.  My faves are:  Lust, The Breath of God, and Imogen Rose.

So stock up, be merry, and happy shopping!

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 24, 2013

high-tech beauty tools to put on your holiday wish list (2013)

A lot of men are difficult to shop for.  It seems that all they really want are expensive electronic gadgets.  Well now it is time to put the shoe on the other foot and request high-tech electrical beauty tools for yourself. I've got some wonderful beautifying, pampering, grooming, smoothing items to put on your wish list this year.  This is the season of giving after all, so let someone give to you!  (That may sound a tad bit selfish but when else can you make these requests if not now?)  So here goes.....

T3 Voluminous Hot Roller Set gives gorgeous curls a la Veronica Lake.  Not only do these heat up in a mere three minutes but they are made with tourmaline technology so they are gentle on the hair and give great shine.  If you think curlers are old fashioned think again - this set is extremely popular.  Also included are some styling instructions and additional techniques are on their YouTube channel

Clairsonic Pedi Foot Transformation Set gives celebrity soft feet.  The sonic technology takes dry, cracked, calloused feet and transforms them into flawlessly smooth skin.  This limited edition set includes all the accompanying products to give you the feet you so desire.  There is a cleansing scrub, a deep penetrating moisturizer, an essential foot peel made of glycolic acid, a buffing brush and a smoothing disk.  What more could a girl ask for?!  You might want to move fast on this though, they are selling like hotcakes.

GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device is one of the most advanced ways of brightening your teeth at home.   It combines white optic technology (a lighted mouthpiece) and a peroxide gel to give optimum results with little to no sensitivity.  It is a simple to use system that can brighten your teeth 5-8 shades.  And you only need to use it twice a year!  That's what I call low maintenance.   Buy an extra mouth piece and more than one person can get use out of it.

Bliss Trim and Bare It is a girl's best friend.  This at-home shaver comes with a variety of styling heads to meet a variety of needs.  There is the facial trimmer, the precision trimmer for a ultra close shave in tight spots, and the basic bikini groomer that is recommended to use in between professional waxes to keep things nice and tidy.  But I'll let you in on a little secret:  for those of us who are wax-phobic you can (carefully!) use the trimmer without any of it's attachments to get something that fairly resembles a wax job.  Yes, even a Brazilian.

all products reviewed were either bought or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from Sephora's website. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Saturday, October 26, 2013

holiday make up sets you need to buy for yourself (2013)

Before you read any further let me say that you need to buy these NOW.  Don't wait until December because the best sets sell out fast and they are limited edition only.   And while holiday sets make wonderful gifts for others, they are a great value and make perfect investments for yourself.  Another important thing about them is that they often offer a variety of smaller sized products so that you can try a bit of everything.  Fun fun fun!

There are a bazillion choices out there right now but I am going to focus on the most beautiful and most exciting make up kits.  So......

Stila Color Me Glossy Lip Glaze Set is a cornucopia of full sized lip glosses in colors that are flattering for everyone.  Stila lip glazes have been a perpetual favorite for years, and with nine glosses for only $28 the cost is fantastic.  After all, a girl can never have too many lip glosses.

The Tarte of Giving Collectors Set & Travel Bag is an all-inclusive set housed in a gorgeous travel-friendly cosmetic case.  There is a significant assortment of day to night eyeshadows, 8 mini lip glosses, a little skincare, and their famous mascara and Amazonian clay blush.  Tarte is a natural, cruelty free, gluten free makeup line that is beneficial for your skin.  What's not to love?

Korres A Flawless Complexion:  Quercetin & Oak Essentials is another natural brand that is gentle on the skin and contains anti-aging ingredients as well.  The set includes a full sized anti-aging concealer and foundation, and a travel size primer.  Not only is it a fantastic deal but the foundation is one of my favorites out there - totally gorgeous and smooth.  

Formula X For Sephora The Twenty Two has a wide array of colors and special effects in a long-wearing, highly pigmented, paraben free formula.  Just like with lips glosses, a girl can never have too many nail polishes.  I am particularly loving the color "white matter",  an opaque bright white polish.

MAC Stroke of Midnight Smokey Eye Brush Kit has everything you need to achieve that much coveted sultry eye.  There are five high quality, last-forever brushes that come in a mod little pouch to keep them organized.  Bottom line:  who doesn't love MAC?

Smashbox Wonder Vision Eye Set is absolutely stunning!  The six color eye shadow palette comes in a choice of three different color combos, and also includes a mascara, black eye liner pencil, and cards with application instructions.  I can not emphasize how pretty these are.  Enough said.

Isn't everything enticing?  All I can say is get a move on, get out there, and happy shopping.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

hydrating for the winter

It's like a switch is flipped; the moment when perfectly normal air turns arid, sucking every last bit of moisture from your skin.  And we all know when that happens lines and wrinkles appear out of nowhere.  I totally believe the key to anti-aging is hydration. So if you haven't moved on to a heavier moisturizer and a winterized skin care routine, now is the time to do it.  It will involve the following steps:

#1 CHANGE TO A CREAMY CLEANSER:   Doing this will start you off right, and believe it or not will make a difference in how moist your skin stays.  My preferred creamy cleanser is REN Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk.  It is extremely gentle, and rinses off easily without leaving residue.  Made with botanicals, it is all natural including no sodium laurel sulphate.  A real winner!

#2  EXFOLIATE GENTLY AND REGULARLY:  You'll want to get rid of all the dead dry skin that sits on top and gives you a dull look, as well as prevents your other products from working properly. I'd do it twice a week. The best bang for your buck is Fresh Sugar Face Polish because it is gentle (the sugar is a hydrating ingredient), and if you leave it on an extra few minutes it acts as a mask too.  It is sure to get your glow on!

#3 ADD A FACE OIL:  Nowadays face oils are uber popular and pretty much every brand makes one.  You'll find that most oils actually absorb quite well.  If you have oily or combo skin use it alone or if you are dry, layer it over your moisturizer (let the moisturize absorb first). Do this at least at night and if needed in the morning as well.  I'd try Boots Botanics Facial Oil 100% Organic  because it is super inexpensive but gorgeous and refined.  It is available at Target and sells out all the time.  Clearly I am not the only one who loves it!

#4 STEP UP THE NIGHTTIME HYDRATION:  Sleeping with a humidifier on (cool mist) will make it so that you don't wake up as parched and drawn.  You could also try sleeping with a nighttime mask such as Korres Greek Yogurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial.  Spread this creamy concoction all over your face and leave it on until morning when you wash it off.  Actually most of it will have absorbed by then so your skin will look nice and plump.  Korres is another all natural brand and this new mask of theirs has taken off like wildfire.

#5 FOR TRULY CHALLENGING SKIN:  My secret weapon for the driest of skin is L'Occitane Certified Organic Shea Butter.   It feels like a balm, almost vaseline-like, but is 100% shea, 100% natural (and most products have less than 18% shea).  It may not seem like it absorbs all the way but is in fact one of the most hydrating things you can do for your skin   Despite the thickness it is noncomedogenic and shouldn't break you out.  I like to use it as a neck cream because it is often recommended for pregnant women to keep their skin supple and prevent stretch marks so I'm counting on it keeping my neck firm!

If you try all these tricks you will have silky smooth skin despite the trying times of Winter, but even one or two steps should help make a difference.  Good luck!

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

Friday, October 11, 2013

marvelous mattifiers

You wouldn't believe how many clients come to me for help with their oil-control problems, especially when it involves helping their makeup last.  Well the good news is that there are a number of solutions out there, it just depends on what your skincare/make up routine is and how you want to fit these products into it.  So I have broken down my suggestions according to what will best suit the type of regimen you are inclined toward, and if you wanted or needed to, you could combine a few of these goodies.

Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF 15 is an all-in-one moisturizer, sunscreen, and oil-control mattifier.  Wear it alone or under makeup - no muss no fuss.  There are a few similar all-in-ones on the market but I find the light weight consistency of this to be the best.  Ideally it will control oil for up to 8 hours.

Cover FX Mattifying Primer With Ant-Acne Treatment is unbelievably great at keeping your foundation in place and preventing that dreaded shine.  Also it helps fill in fine lines and pores.  I know it says anti-acne but you can disregard that bit. If you just have oily skin it will work fine because the magic ingredient is salicylic acid which addresses both oil and blemishes.  This primer is wildly popular so I can't foresee you not loving it.

FOR TOUCH UPS:  Keep a packets of Shiseido Pureness Oil Control Blotting Paper on hand at all times.  The good thing about blotting papers is that they absorb your greasiness without disturbing your make up.  These guys may be enough for you on their own but are also helpful to assist whatever oil control products you are using.  There are many blotting papers out there but even though these are a bit more expensive I find them to be the best - really, they are worth it.

Anthony Logistics For Men Instant Fix Oil Control is a men's mattifier that people of any sex can use.  Because it is initially designed for men read "extra strength".  This is an additional step to layer over your moisturizer and under makeup, or if you are super duper oily you can even use it in place of your moisturizer.  You may not be crazy about adding an extra step to your routine but this product's sole purpose is to mattify therefore that is what it excels at.

Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray is the final step in your makeup application.  It sets the makeup up beautifully and prevents it from getting that greasy shine or sliding off your face as the night wears on.  Urban Decay is one of my most favorite makeup lines because they are top notch quality.  I would trust my face with any of their things so I believe you can really count on De-Slick to do the job.

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

Monday, October 7, 2013

the smoothest shave gels

I am perpetually on the quest for the perfect shaving gel, but over the years I find there are a few I keep coming back to (listed below).  I have also perfected a technique for shaving that gives me a much more satisfactory shave.  And that is to use a men's badger bristle shaving brush to apply the shave gel/cream.  Not only does this create more lather but it lifts the hairs for a closer shave, in turn helping prevent razor burn and ingrowns. It even exfoliates a teeny bit.  Over all this method provides a more luxurious experience.

Body Boudoir Coochy Rash Free Shave Creme (for sexy skin) is wildly popular and perfect for shaving those delicate areas.  Although it doesn't lather at all, it gives a silky shave and truthfully does prevent razor burns and rashes.  It comes in a bigger-than-most bottle that will last and last and last.  The only down side is that, as far as I know, the only place to get it is the internet or pleasure parties.  If you happen to have a boutique near you that carries it please let me know! (available in unscented as well).

At the pharmacy, you can easily get ahold of Bikini Zone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel.  This stuff is only available in small tubes but it is extremely gentle on the skin, keeping razor burn and bumps to a minimum.  When getting ready for a special date ;-) I save it for my bikini area and use other shave gels on the rest of my body.  Also, if your underarms are unusually sensitive I see no reason why you couldn't use it on them.

Although it isn't officially a shave gel my favorite product to shave with is Philosophy Shampoo, Shower Gel, and Bubble Bath.  Not only does in come in a dazzling array of delectable fragrances (ie. Raspberry Sorbet, Senorita Margarita, Vanilla Birthday Cake, and their most famous light floral, Amazing Grace) but it is super foamy and gives a tight shave. It comes in a large bottle that will last you forever, so once for ounce it is quite economical.  Around the holidays Philosophy comes out with some really fun gift sets and sell my most favorite "flavor" of all:  GingerBread Man, a fresh and spicy ginger scent.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall fragrance recommendations 2013

All the fragrance bloggers have already posted their Fall fragrance lists but I have been putting mine off because it has still been in the 80s and 90s around here.  I just can't seem to get in the mood, but think I better post anyway before it is time for the Winter fragrances.  To me Fall fragrances must be heavier than what we've been wearing for Summer, something that is reminiscent of autumn leaves and the first few fires in the fireplace. At the same time, they should not be as rich or spicy as the Winter fragrances.  Like the Spring, they are transitional scents.  There are so many possibilities but here are some of my faves:

Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue is a warm oriental that is still not quite opulent enough for Winter.  It has my preferred base notes of Tonka bean and patchouli, and opens with a touch of mandarin and cinnamon.  There is enough floral here (orchid) to balance everything out.  Even though it doesn't have cedar or other wood notes, to me it still has that dry edge.  Think wool pencil skirts with suede pumps or a plaid cape from Coach - it would round out any Fall wardrobe.

You can go smell this at Neiman Marcus, select Sephoras, or order a sample from Lucky Scent

Corso Como 10 is sexy as hell. With its smokey notes I'd consider it a unisex fragrance .  As per my Autumn fragrance requirements, it has plenty of that woodsy quality:  sandalwood, oud wood resin, and incense.  Have I mentioned it is sexy?  But then I think unisex fragrances are always sexy.  A bit of dusky rose and spicy geranium soften the wood element so that it is not entirely masculine.  It brings to mind big bouquets of blood red mums on the table, and sitting by the fire sipping wine with your date, the sexual tension buzzing between you.

You can go smell this at Barney's or order a sample at Surrender To Chance

Gucci Rush is ideal for the colder climates where Autumn descends early.  Some people might even consider it Wintery, but personally I can't wait until then to wear it.  Rush is a white floral that I can tolerate (usually not a fan of white florals) because the patchouli is upfront and center.  Vanilla is one of the notes that deepen the mix and puts it in the oriental category.  One of its benefits is that it is readily available at department stores so you do not have to order it online.  It 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.

You can find this at Sephora or other department stores

Coal by Andrea Maack is probably the most unique of the bunch.  It is completely about freshly sharpened pencils and heading back to school.  But there is also a freshness and brightness that belies its smokey, leathery quality.  I don't know why fresh comes to mind because certainly there are no fresh note in the composition, but I really don't think it is as heavy as most incense fragrances.  It was inspired by the smell of an artist's studio and the dusty scribblings of charcoal on paper.

You can order a sample of this at Lucky Scent

The lightest of the bunch, terrific for my fellow Californians, is The Afternoon of a Faun by Etat Libre d'Orange.  It is absolutely lovely with its spicey but sweet notes that are tempered with citrus.  I also really enjoy its herbal notes of immortelle and oris root.  There is a distinguishable amount of rose (another fave of mine), and the merest whisper of leather to make it the truly unisex fragrance that it is.  The name of course reminds me of Narnia, and while this conjures up the world of fantasy, it is strictly an adult fantasy.

You can order a sample of this at Lucky Scent or Surrender To Chance

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