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 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 know I said I'm not a MAC person but these are famous and I really 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.

** NEW!  Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots spot treatment with tea tree (an essential oil that kills bacteria) and salicylic acid.  They are so new I haven't tried them yet but they sounds awesome and worth giving a try.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

shower stuff

I am a fire sign (aries) and I hate to get wet.  So please don't think I'm gross but I don't like to take showers.  In order to coax myself in, I have to light a candle, turn on the space heater, and have a large array of products waiting for me in the shower.  And of course like most of you, I have a very choreographed routine.  Just in case you are interested I will spell it out, along with some of my favorite products to use.

First I use SHOWER GEL:  Herbal Essences Honey I Smell Good Body Wash.  Dorky name but it claims to be natural and has a wonderful fruity/honey smell.  It doesn't dry me out or irritate my skin.   I am dying to try the other smells in the line but am restraining myself for now because it is not by any means the only shower gel I have.

Second I apply SHAMPOO:  Living Proof Restore Shampoo is one of my go to poos and I re-purchase it every time I run out.  It is hydrating and reparative while still leaving my hair feeling soft and swingy.  If you don't need to restore, Living Proof has other great formulas such as the very popular volumizing one.

Next is BODY SCRUB:  Not necessarily done every day, while the shampoo is working its magic I scrub my body down.  My two favorite scrubs have been discontinued but given that they were all-natural brands I figured I could make my own scrub - how hard could it be?  For a terrific detox scrub I mix avocado oil or jojoba oil (avocado is cheaper) with Epsom salts, a teeny bit of the most finely ground coffee, and a healthy dose of grapefruit essential oil.

After rinsing everything I apply CONDITIONER:  The Living Proof Restore Conditioner is hydrating without being terribly heavy.  I'm not always so matchy-matchy with my shampoo and conditioner because I usually run out of the shampoo first, but in general this is what I do.

At the same time I SHAVE:  with Coochy Rash Free Shave Cream.  My favorite is the green tea formula.  It has a supremely silky texture and gives the smoothest most gentle shave ever - prefect for certain unmentionable body parts ;-)

Finally is BODY OIL:  I have used fancy and I have used drugstore.  Even though they are not all the same, Bio-Oil Skincare Oil is a drugstore brand that does it all - my aged body appreciates it! Light-weight, it absorbs well and doesn't have much fragrance.  While it'd be great for anyone, sensitive skinned people would particularly like it.

I WANT TO TRY:  dry brushing.  Done before the shower, it is supposed to be great for detoxing and helping cellulite.  In all manner it is supposed to be very healthy.  I have the brush, I just need to start using the damn thing.

What is your shower routine?  Do tell!

pics are from the linked websites

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. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Saturday, September 5, 2015

cool concealers

I have what one of my favorite beauty youtube girls Coffee Break with Dani calls panda eyes.  And I know there is no getting rid of them, so I decided to embrace them.  Here's what I mean; Kristen Stewart, Susan Sarandon, Christina Applegate, and Juliette Lewis to name a few all have dark circles.  But that doesn't stop them from working in an industry that requires perfection.  So my thinking is that if they can rock dark circles, so can I.  But of course I still have to wear concealer!  Here are some of what I consider the best of the best.....

LIGHT COVERAGE (both from Maybelline!):
Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer has light to maybe medium coverage and is as creamy and blendable as can be.  I love this stuff and probably use it more than any of my other concealers, it is so easy to use and you can definitely see a difference with it on.  It is a liquid that comes in a tube with a doe foot applicator.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer Neutralizer is owned by every single beauty maven on you tube.  It is what you quickly swipe on, on the days you aren't feeling like wearing much makeup.  Definitely light coverage, it still looks great and acts as an eye brightener and highlighter and depuffer.  It comes as a liquid in a big tube with a sponge top applicator that I quite like.  I listed it in my August Favorites 2015 post.

The two most coveted concealers in any category are NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Urban Decay NAKED Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer.  They are very similar, a creamy liquid in a tube with a doe-foot applicator, and both are pretty good for covering "spots" on your face. I prefer Urban Decay by a hair because it provides a tad bit more coverage. But they both have excellent coverage.  The only downer is I find that sometimes they are a bit too visible on dry undereye skin.  You know, crinkly.  But don't let that stop you, everybody loves these.   For dry skin just apply plenty of eye cream.

I rely on the magic of Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer for super dark circles.  It is really the best coverage I have tried.  It is a thick but moist cream (no crinkling!) that comes in a squeeze tube and you just need the teeniest dab to do the job.  There is a small tube and a larger tube but I recommend the smaller tube because even that will last you forever.  Available at some Ultas and a few Sephora's have it in store.  If your Sephora doesn't carry it try the Cover FX Cream Concealer because it is similar and just about as good.  They are also great for spot covering on your face.

TheBalm timeBalm Concealer was my holy grail concealer for years.  The only reason I stopped using it was because Sephora stopped carrying it.  It is a thick, pretty much solid cream in a little pot.  It provides supreme coverage without being dry on the under eye. You can get it on their website or Amazon and you can also find it in small boutique shops and some salons/spas.

L.A. Girl Pro Concealer.  It is inexpensive and everyone seems to love it.  I get the impression that it has medium to heavy coverage and comes in a squeeze tube, with a brush applicator that'll last a long time.  I just learned of this brand and it is something different to try! (available at

pics stolen from the Sephora and Amazon websites and

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. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

august favorites 2015

I cannot for the life of me think of a witty opening.  All I can come up with are unoriginal thoughts about the weather and how Summer has flown by.  Blech.  So I'm just going to cop out and jump right in here....

MAKEUP a 3way tie:
1. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer.  All the beauty youtube girls love this so I decided to try it for myself and it is wonderfully smooth and creamy.  It's got good coverage but is thinnish so is maybe better for casual makeup days.  It also acts as a terrific highlighter and eye brightener.
2. Urban Decay Perversion Mascara I dug up a sample of this from somewhere and fell in love!  Just the right amount of lengthening and volume in the darkest of dark blacks.  
3. L'Oreal Silkisimme Silky Pencil Eye Liner.  Also discovered this through the youtube beauty vixens.  It is soft but stays on forever.  I like it better than any other high end liner I have ever tried (yes, even Urban Decay 24/7).  The only down side is it has a very limited color range, but is terrific for a basic black.

BODY:  Bath and Body Works Body Lotion.  Normally I never buy things here but a friend dragged me into the store and I found myself liking all those fruity florals in a kitsch kind of way. They turned out to be surprising hydrating so I put on my Oahu Coconut Sunset and Pearberry every night before bed.

DRINKING/EATING:  Bigelow Constant Comment Tea.  I've rediscovered a tea that my grandmother always used to drink. It brings back fond memories of breakfast at her house and it actually tastes good too.  Kinda orange spice black tea.

PERFUME:  Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess.  The first time I smelled this I thought it was a little old ladyish but it has since grown on me, to the point that it is probably my most worn perfume this summer.  It's a warm beachy golden summer scent.

READING:  Jude Deveraux The Summer House.  Yes it's a romance novel.  Not even a beach read but a straight up paperback romance. I fully admit to loving romance novels.  Don't judge me ;-)

WATCHING:  Bones.  Starting with back episodes the bf and I are binge watching it.  It is gross in a good way and everyone is a really cute nerd.

FACE/SKIN:  First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy:  Brighten Depuff and Smooth.  This perks up the under eye area like nobody's business.  You almost don't even need a concealer after it because there is just a hint of color that somehow manages to reduce dark circles.

HAIR:  L'Oreal EverCreme Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner. Paraben and sulfate free. Back when I tried to be on a budget I researched drug store haircare and found that these got really good reviews.  And I love them!  They have just the right amount or nourishment and hydration without weighing my hair down.

What were your faves for August?

pic from photosearch

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. I am not financially compensated for my reviews