Friday, September 30, 2016

September beauty favorites

September was kind of a crazy month and I am glad it is behind me.  The weather was nuts; first cooling off and getting me excited for Fall, then along came a huge heat wave reaching 100 degrees, and then Bam! bordering on cold today.  I also had a weird head cold that left everything feeling surreal for a couple weeks.  And the kids came back to school but I forgot to avoid my local Starbucks between 3:00 and 4:00 when they swarm in ordering what seems like 2 Frappaccinos each.  Everything just seemed off.  But there were a few good things too.  I really enjoyed these beauty items, to name a few.....

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is only $6.99 and works just as well as the $20 Beauty Blender.  I still can't believe it!  It is amazing and I am in love.  It isn't an exact dupe though, it is shaped differently than a Beauty Blender and it is firmer in texture.  Still, it has all the right angles and makes foundation go on very smooth.  I feel like buying a dozen they are so fabulous and cheap.

Dior Creme de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm is luxury personified.  It doesn't hydrate much more than some of the better lip balms but the texture and rose scent have me completely addicted.  The texture is hard to describe - it's kinda like a creamy silky balm - different than any other lip treatment I have tried.  And the packaging is also to die for - a substantial yet classy embossed white tub.  It was totally worth the slpurge.

Another Dior luxury I have and love is the Huile Abricot Daily Nutrative Serum for nails and cuticles.  It instantly softens and hydrates (and long term strengthens the nails) which is great but I particularly love the applicator; a brush at the end of the tube.  It only needs a gentle squeeze otherwise too much oil comes out of the brush but it's such an easy and convenient way to apply.  And I think there really is something to the apricot, although there is argan and vitamin E oil in the mix as well.

My Dermalogica The Sponge Cloth is a skin-saver.  Because of my sensitive skin I use it instead of a regular face cloth.  It is extremely soft, a sort of microfiber that is bacteria resistant so you can use it a bunch of times before throwing it the washing machine with the rest of the laundry.  I actually have a couple in rotation and they last for about a year before I have to get new ones.  It really is terrific!

I got the Sephora Collection Contour Eye Pencil 12 Hour Wear Waterproof - Flirting Game in my monthly Sephora Play subscription box and I absolutely adore it.  It's a super soft and creamy formula (not to everyone's taste, I know) that gives me a sultry look, especially when I blend it out.  And despite being so creamy it really locks on and stays put once it has dried on the skin.  This makes it fab for the waterline too.  They gave me the color Flirting Game which is described as a taupe but it goes on darker than just a plain taupe (and looks darker than in this pic).  It's  a flattering color that goes well with a ton of eye looks.

MAC Star Trek Lipglass - Warp Speed Ahead is a limited edition lipgloss celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary.  So cool! It's almost all gone so you better act fast, in fact I think it might be just online or behind the counter by now.  I receive so many compliments when I wear this, you wouldn't believe.  The color is a pretty magenta purple with sparkles not glitter.  When the sun hits it it looks spectacular!  I wear it either alone or layered on top of one of my darker pink lipsticks.  I should really buy a back-up before they are all gone.

So that's it for me, what were your favorites this September?

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

fantastic fall fragrances 2016

Yesterday it was 99 degrees out so with my love of irony I decided this is the perfect time to blog about perfumes suited for Fall.  You know, the brisk weather and cozy indoors.  Yeah, well eventually....
But when the time comes I've got some great stuff lined up:  perfumes that will bloom and be their best in the cool Autumn air.  I just can't wait to wear these!

Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune is to me the epitome of a Fall fragrance.  Warm vanilla, smoky amber, sensuous dark chocolate, and musk - yowza!  And lest it be too heavy and Wintery there is a bright note of pepper and a sharp note of something that smells fresh/herbal/floral that isn't listed in the ingredients at all.  Perfect symmetry.  I just saw the musical Phantom Of The Opera and Cierge de Lune smells how I imagine the Phantom's underground lair would smell:  smoking flaming candelabras, sheaves of parchment music arrangements, velvet and wool formal evening clothes, and deep dark hidden secrets.  Sounds fanciful?  It is.

Calvin Klein Deep Euphoria is not something I would normally think twice about, I don't care for the original Euphoria,  but the sales associate at Macy's perfume counter gave me a spritz and I fell in love. The smell reminded me of shopping at the Holidays - the abundance and the celebratory air.  It is luscious, it is pretty, it is romantic.  It has some very interesting floral notes of Black Rose, Jasmine Sambac, peony, and geranium.  Plus there is plenty of patchouli and musk.  The marketing for this perfume states "Calvin Klein women are confident, provocative and released, and Deep Euphoria woman embodies all these aspects with an additional layer of adventure." And while that's not the first thing that came to mind when I smelled it, after some thought I think it describes it aptly.

Giorgio Armani Si eau de parfum reminds me of Fall because I bought it in the Fall last year, but actually I enjoy wearing it year round.  That said, the perfume encyclopedia lists it as mostly a Fall perfume.  It is sweet but it is green and spicy, and there is a bare hint of rose.  To me it is not a bubblegum sweet but more of a dusky vanilla with a bit of berry.  It is one of my all-time favorite perfumes.  Imagine Italy if you will:  ancient buildings and art, sidewalk cafes, the couture fashion business of Milan, and a young Sophia Loren - that's Armani Si.

MIKMOI Itoh is a bit bizarre.  Or maybe unique is a better word for it.  It's very woody with lots of lovely peony.  There is  some tobacco and some oud along with the cedar which lends it its fall-like fragrance.  It is as sharp as a brisk autumn day.  This seems like something an urban young woman would wear as she stalks the city streets, wrapped in a scarf, climbing the company ladder at work.  MIKMOI is a cool inde brand for a cool independent woman.

Sarah Jessica Parker Stash is brand new on the market and causing a stir.  And it's definitely unisex, in fact on me it smells more like a men's cologne which I kinda like.  It is all about the woody amber; amber amber amber!  With that one dominant note it is not a terribly complicated perfume, yet it is irresistible.  It's smokiness makes it perfect for Fall.  Many people are comparing it to Dita Von Tees' perfume Erotique - they say it is a dupe.  I've never smelled Erotique but if it's by Dita we know it's all about sex, and SJP's Stash is also, ultimately SEXY.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose is also fairly new on the market.  It was released side-by-side with the Nirvana Bourbon perfume but I prefer the Rose.  Also good for fall, the Bourbon's not bad but there are more exciting bourbon fragrances out there I think.  However the rose is interesting; it's dark and kinda edgy.  At the same time it's green and earthy and spicy, in part thanks to the vetiver.  At times it even smells like a real live rose to me.  So why is it good for Fall?  I've always thought of Fall as a romantic season, an alluring season, even a sexy season, and this perfume embodies all that.  Plus the packaging is phenomenal.

What perfumes do you have lined up for when things finally cool down?

For more recommendations see my post autumnal equinox and perfect fall perfumes 2015 and fall fragrance recommendations 2013 (still relevant)

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, September 23, 2016

an exemplary skicare regimen

This may be a bit boring for anyone who isn't into or curious about skin care but to me, an esthetician of 17 years, this post is like skincare porn.  I'll be spelling out my usual daily skincare routine and while it focuses on my own particular issues of dryness, sensitivity, and anti-aging, the steps and types of product should be translatable for most skin types.  I can't tell you how important skincare is because one day you'll wake up and think "Shit!  I wish I had been applying moisturizer to my (now sagging) neck!"  It is never too early to start!  And just remember with all of this, give each step in the regimen time to sink in, absorb, process, before going on to the next step.  It's important!  So here we go.......


Because my skin is dry and sensitive I like to just do a LIGHT CLEANSE after sleeping all night with my intensive skin treatments. I use either some gentle hydrating micellar water on a cotton pad and/or my favorite skincare wipes the Ole Henriksen The Clean Truth Cleansing Cleansing Cloths: Brightening.  Not only do these cleanse fantastically but they have skin-enhancing ingredients like Vitamin C and black currant oil (antioxidants!) that stay on the skin.  If you have really oily or acneic skin you will need to do a deeper cleanse to kill the bacteria.

Next I apply my EYE CREAM Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm.  This is an eye cream anyone can use.  It is creamy, not terribly thick, but hydrating with sea algae for hard core anti-aging.  Terrific on wrinkles, it's not bad for de-puffing or dark circles either.

In the same step I apply a SERUM to my neck and decollete.  My skin on my face is very reactive - it doesn't do well with most serums so I concentrate those benefits on my neck and chest which need all the help they can get.  For most of you of course you'd want to put the serum on your face as well.  I very rarely buy a serum because it is so easy to come across free samples, so I use whatever is on hand - even with a tiny sample a little bit goes a long way.

The main step is my face MOISTURIZER.  During the dryer/colder months I use a heavier, more hydrating cream like  Bare Minerals Butter Drench Restorative Rich Cream which really isn't so drastic or greasy as it sounds.  I've always liked Bare Minerals skincare - it is gentle and natural yet scientifically effective, and not too pricey. And during the warmer/sweatier months I am a die-hard fan for Shisiedo Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream.  I wish this was moisturizing enough for me in the Winter too because nothing makes my skin look as good as this does (think smooth as a baby's bottom).

For my neck and chest I apply a separate NECK CREAM because I neglected my neck during my 20s and 30s and I have a lot of making up to do.  There are a few good neck creams out there but they are all pretty expensive.  If you start treating your neck with just a good moisturizer and plenty of sunscreen starting at a young age you may never need to resort to such expensive measures down the road.  My current favorite neck cream is Perricone MD Firming Neck Therapy.  They make an even more high-powered (more expensive) one but it smells like fish.  And let's be real here, none of these come close to looking anything like a face lift.  It's just desperate measures folks, but I do look worse if I don't use a neck cream.

And last but very much not least is my SUNSCREEN.  I give my moisturizer tons of time to sink in before applying this in order to prevent any balling up of product.  I am always trying out new sunscreens but my priorities are that it be mineral-based,  oil-free, thin consistency, and spf 30 or preferably higher.  La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Ultra Light Mineral Suncreen Fluid fits the bill and you can get it at CVS.  I also like to keep the Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral spf 45 powder brush in my purse because it is perfect for touching up/re-appying sunscreen while on the go (don't forget you need to apply sunscreen every 2 hours!)


If I am wearing makeup I do a PRE-CLEANSEwith Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.  This is a terrific makeup remover for any skin type - it just melts it all away.  Then I CLEANSE with Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion which gives my face a thorough cleanse despite its gentleness.  Avene is a fantastic brand for sensitive skin - I recommend all their products.

As a TONING step I use First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads.  They are infused with a very gentle lactic and glycolic acid formula that keeps me exfoliated.

Then, as I did in the daytime, I put on my EYE CREAM and my SERUM sample on my neck and chest.  And again on my neck I use my NECK CREAM.


For my MOISTURIZER I use something a little unusual.  At night I prefer something heavy and super hydrating so I apply L'Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter which takes forever to absorb and dry down but is totally worth it in my book for the benefits I receive from it (it feels like a thick balm).  It soothes any redness and moisturizes better than anything I have ever tired.  It is also non-comedogenic so it doesn't break me out.  Acne sufferers with dehydrated or over-treated sensitive skin would love this!

And my final step is to apply my RETINOL SERUM the Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops Type A + Jasmine.  I apply my retinol on top of my moisturizer because my skin is so sensitive, but most of you folks would want to apply it under your moisturizer.  I love these drops because they have a very light gentle formulation of retinol and some jasmine oil for hydrating.  They make my skin incredibly smooth!  I think everyone should try to fit some sort of retinol product into your night time skin care regimen - even if your skin can only tolerate it every other day.

Now of course there are exfoliators and masks which I try to do twice a week.  For that info you can check out my magnificent masks post which includes all types of masks, even exfoliating ones.

Et voila!  Perfect skin!  No - just kidding!  But I am diligent and I do have to say that it does pay off.  If it weren't for my saggy neck I would look a lot younger than I really am.  DON'T NEGLECT THE NECK!!!

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

setting powders that don't look powdery

Another, maybe even more accurate, title for this post could be "your-skin-but-better powders".    Because the powders listed below are not only sheer but do blurring and smoothing as well.  Most of my makeup-wearing life I avoided powders because I have really dry skin, but with the technology of powders today I no longer need to fear them.  And another way to keep a natural look to your powder is be sure to use a light hand and to finalize the makeup routine with a hydrating or luminizing setting spray like M.A.C. Prep + Prime Fix + or Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray - Bridal.  You can also only powder areas of your face that really need it, like an oilier T zone.

Below I've listed, in order of preference from best to least, a few fantastic setting powders that anyone would love.  All of them are terrific:  some are just pricier than others, some are in a compact while other are loose, and some are translucent (clear) while others are not.  So it's really a matter of personal preference.

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder is a miracle-worker.  Everyone who has splurged on this luxury item has done nothing but rave about it.  The secret is the minute particles of hyarulonic acid it contains, that draw moisture from the air and bind it to the skin.  This makes it fabulous for setting under eye makeup because it plumps out any undereye creases.  It is a super fine, light-as-air, white setting powder that gives an invisible but utterly flawless finish.  And actually it is a bit brightening too.  If you have dry or more mature skin, this is the best powder for you.

$60 for 10 g (aprox .35 oz)

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro Powder will give you princess skin no matter how old you are.  It is a pressed powder in a compact, that comes in three shades: Fair, Medium, and Dark.   While the coverage is fairly sheer, it is not completely translucent so it's best to pick a shade that roughly suits your skin tone.  The nano-particles diffuse light which looks specatular, and the almond oil in it hydrates the skin.   It wears well without ever settling into fine lines.  I could powder myself all day long with this and be happy as an airbrushed clam.

$45 for .28 oz

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation is not a heavy powder despite being labeled a "foundation".  Many people use this pressed powder as their setting powder because it is so light weight (although it does show up on the skin).  In fact the name "Silk" describes it perfectly:  this powder is truly silky, just pure silkiness.  It is a bit hydrating and gives a radiant finish that comes in eight colors, and yes, if you do layer it up it will act as a medium coverage foundation.  But whether you choose to use this sensual powder as a setting powder or as a foundation, it is an award winning product.

$62 for .31 oz

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Anti-Aging Finishing Powder is a translucent powder that is very forgiving.  Like the Charlotte Tilbury one, "air-brushed" is the perfect way to describe it (if you are exceedingly dry I might pick the Tilbury one over this).  However Bye Bye is way less expensive than any of the others so far.  This powder has a die-hard following, you wouldn't be able to get its fans to try anything else.  There is a loose powder version of this but because that tends to be messy I think most people prefer the convenience of this pressed one.  Another very similar product, which I have not reviewed, is the Too Faced Primed And Poreless Pressed Powder $30 so you could check that out as well.

$29 for .31 oz

Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder is a loose translucent powder that gives a matte finish with a subtle glow:  a lit-from-within look.  Good for any skin type, it has it's own unique blurring technology just like all the others have theirs.  What you get here though, is a lot of product for not a lot of money - it is definitely a savvy-shopper's friend.  Also, like all of Kat Von D's products it is vegan and cruelty-free!  I am such a fan, I've raved more about it in my August beauty favorites post.

$30 for .67 oz

Maybelline Fit Me pressed powder comes in two formulas:  Set + Smooth, and Matte + Poreless.   Even though these are at the bottom of my list they are still excellent.  While not as finely made as their more expensive counterparts, they definitely qualify for this "your skin but better" article.   As a matter of fact when I first tried the Fit Me powder it didn't even look like it was going on my skin, it wasn't until I had layered on way too much that I realized that it had been in fact giving me coverage - just very sheer coverage.  The Matte + Poreless is designed for normal to oily skin (with shine control properties) and comes in translucent, or if you want your powder to show there are 11 other shades.  The Set + Smooth does not come in translucent and is only available in 8 shades.  Also it can be a little harder to find so I would just go for the translucent in the Matte + Poreless if you're in a bind.  Both are oil-free, allergy tested, and smoothing.

$6-8 for .3 oz

Of course I've heard rumors of other non-powdery-looking powders - which one do you like?

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

great makeup and skincare dupes

I never used to bother with dupes; I was always perfectly satisfied with sticking with the original (pricier) product.  But since the subject of dupes has taken the beauty world by storm I could ignore it no longer.  And here's a little secret for you:  sometimes the cheaper brand is actually better (gasp!) than its high end counterpart.  So now finding dupes is fun - it's really like a game!  And if you end up saving a few bucks in the process who's to complain?  Sometimes dupes aren't exactly alike but if they are in the same ball park they should be a satisfying substitute.  Here are a few dupes I have discovered on my dupe-finding journey and I will blog about more as others come to my attention.

Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer in the color Bronzer $14.99 is not only a dupe for Too Faced Soleil Milk Chocolate Matte Bronzer $30 but it is one of my most favorite bronzers of all time.  Each of these bronzer has a buttery texture that goes on sheer making it both goof-proof and able to customize the depth of color.  While they both have that soft buttery feel, the Physician's Formula bronzer actually does have butter in it:  the conditioning Murumuru butter.  And I absolutely adore the packaging on the Butter Bronzer.  The Too Faced is minimally matte and the Butter Bronzer has a faint sheen, but they both smell like yummy food:  the Butter Bronzer like Pina Colada and the Soleil Bronzer like chocolate.  Yum!

The difference between Bioderma Sensibio H2O Makeup Removing Micell Solution $16.90 and Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water $8.99 is minimal.  So minimal in fact that I can't even tell the difference except for the price.  They each excel at removing makeup and cleaning the face without stinging.  The packaging even looks alike.  That said,  everyone has their own favorite micellar water and for some people it is the Bioderma.  But besides being less expensive the Garnier one is a lot easier to get your hands on; it can be found at any local drugstore while for most people outside Europe the Bioderma must be ordered on the internet.

The much coveted Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil $21 actually has two fantastic dupes:  NYX Micro Brow Pencil $9.99 and L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer $8.99.  Brow Wiz comes in 10 shades, NYX comes in 8, and the L'Oreal only 3, although its the pencil I prefer.  NYX and L'Oreal pencils look exactly like the Brow Wiz with the tiny precision point, and have the same features although they are both less waxy than the original.  The L'Oreal one is probably the creamiest, making the NYX one a bit more similar to Anastasia.  Either way it is all just splitting hairs (pun intended).

Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops A + Jasmine $48 is a different formula than Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil $105 but the effects are the same.  They both contain retinol in a hydrating soothing base of natural oils.  They both did the same thing to my skin which was smooth the texture (a lot!) reduces size of pores and fine lines, and reduce redness.  They are the perfect retinoid solution for people with sensitive skin.  They are gorgeous and some of the best things you can do for your skin!

It Cosmetics makes some of the highest coverage concealer:  Bye Bye Undereye Ant-Aging Concealer $24.  But NYX Gotcha Covered Concealer $5.99  is a much cheaper alternative to that.  The NYX doesn't have the anti-aging ingredients that Bye Bye does, but both are waterproof.  The Bye Bye is slightly thicker but really both have similar consistencies and similar heavy coverage.  The NYX comes in 10 shades and the It comes in 4.  They are equally are very blendable without creasing.   If you suffer from significant dark circles either would be a fantastic choice.

The Japonesque Kumadori Highlight & Contour Brush $19 is one of my greatest finds.  Other than the quality of the bristles it is just like the NARS Yachiyo Brush #27 $55.    The Japonesque is made of "natural fibers" while the NARS is actual goat hair.  Still, the cheaper one really delivers.  I am in love with it for applying blush but it can also be used for highlighting contouring and even setting under eye powder.  Unless you are a stickler for luxury makeup brushes I think you would be perfectly happy with the Japonesque - it is one of my favorite brushes.

Do share some of your favorite dupes!

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

magnificent masks

I used to be really lazy about doing at-home masks but then two things happened. The price of facials at spas skyrocketed, and the retail market for at-home masks got much more exciting and varied.  Now I do a mask about twice a week and it is fun.  I slather it on, go stretch out on the bed, and watch my beauty channels on YouTube.  Et voila!  Plus with the abundance of different sheet masks out there it is impossible not to want to try them all.  It's like candy.  Although two of my all time favorite masks (listed below) aren't sheet masks at all.  See what you think....

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask is creamy and dreamy with little bits of actual oatmeal floating around in it.  It does a fantastic job of soothing the skin and reducing any redness or inflammation.  And I would actually recommend it for anyone who just wants a really moisturizing mask, because it plumps and hydrates deeply.  It also has a bunch of restoring anitoxidants in it.  I always buy a backup because I never want to be without it in my arsenal.

Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask is a terrific way for people of any skin type to exfoliate.  It is a thin blue gel of fruit enzymes and salicylic acid that dissolves and eats away layers of dead skin cells.  Leave it on for 15 to 20 mins, or if you have sensitive skin only 5 mins.  It is actually the best way for sensitive skin to exfoliate because there are no harsh scrub granules to tear and irritate the skin.  This 100% natural mask will give you the smoothest skin and totally unclog your blackheads as well.  I am very curious to try more from this brand!

Boscia Tsubaki Oil Deep Hydration Hydrogel Mask gives phenomenal results.  I initially bought only one but after using it ran out to get some more.  I can't remember the last time my skin was so plump and firm and glowing.  I think the Tsubaki oil is the key - I love that stuff.  And it is a little unusual for a sheet mask because it comes in two sheets/two halves;  a top of the face and a bottom of the face for better, more accurate coverage.  At $8.00 it's a tad bit pricey for a sheet mask but it's luxury all the way, and if you have a special event you need to prep for this is the what you'll want.

Biobelle #Decadence Sheet Mask is a fairly inexpensive sheet mask that is worth every penny and more.  It has chocolate and acai berries as antioxidants in it, but if you are looking for something natural this is not the mask for you.  That said, with one use it will turn back time to a much younger-looking you.  This mask leaves the skin a bit sticky but for me the youthifying benefits out weigh that.   Also the results last for ages.  And who can resist the packaging!

If you are looking for inexpensive sheet masks go shopping at The Face Shop.  It is a South Korean chain of international stores that carries Asian skincare.  If there is a store near you you should definitely go because they do not ship to the USA yet (that is coming soon).  Or for fun and adventure and more cheap prices search out shops in your local city's Chinatown/Japan town - because we all know that Asian skincare is some of the best in the world.  At these places you can get effective masks for only $2 or $3 and right now The Face Shop is having a sheet mask sale buy 10 get 5 free.  I just did a hydrating olive one that was luscious.

For other face mask recommendations check out comparing a bunch of face masks and marvelous masks

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

what to borrow from the boys

Raiding your guy's side of the bathroom is daring but it's hot.  In fact it's down right sexy.  But how often do we actually do it?  It's good to shake things up every once in a while and I think you will find that men actually have something to covet; something that would translate marvelously when you make it your own.  Throughout the ages androgyny has been alluring.  Think Joan Of Arc, George Sand, Tilda Swinton.  Now it is your turn; try a little something from my list below, I think you will find it not only practical but enlightening as well.

FRAGRANCE:  There are so many fabulous unisex fragrances out there that veer on the masculine side that it is hardly a leap to try an out and out men's cologne.  Just for fun, I dare you to go sniffing at Macy's Men's or Sephora Men's fragrance wall, I bet you will find something to love.  A few of mine that are divine, and not too harsh at all, are:

CREED Tabarome Millesime is the height of luxury and "old money", coming from an English perfume house that dates back to 1760.  It is tobacco and musk freshened up with bergamot, mandarin, and ginger.  This has a powerful presence, one squirt will do ya, but what makes it more palatable for women to wear are the middle notes of Jasmine and sandalwood.  Many women prefer a woody fragrance such as this.  Next time you are in Nordstrom or Neiman's take a sniff.

I've always liked Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur Du Male although it is harder to find these days.  It is quite orange-blossomy which is unusual in a men's cologne and it is even a touch powdery.  Still, it is not feminine but really more androgynous, maybe like what a really sexy gay guy would wear.   I think it is the most dynamic of all the Gaultier colognes and a great inexpensive way to get your toe wet in the world of men's fragrance.

There is also the designer fragrance line Comme Des Garcons which sounds like it is very much just for men but in fact their perfumes are considered unisex.  That said they are unisex with masculine leanings, and practically everything they create is fantastic.  They do some terrific incense fragrances but as far as their more cologne-like stuff goes a personal fave is Blue Cedrat.

SHAVING:  There are far more shaving products on the market aimed at men instead of women, which is crazy because we have a lot more to shave!  But men have all that fancy shaving equipment and lovely after shave balms.  Even pre-shave oils.  So I say we take a page from their book.  In fact I have.  I like to use a badger hair saving brush to prep my body parts with.

A pure badger hair shaving brush will give you a smoother shave.  This is because it slightly exfoliates, creates a fantastic sensual lather, and even lifts your stubby little bristles so that the razor can get deeper in there for a more efficient shave.  Brushes can get extremely expensive but unless you are a true shaving aficionado there is no need to spend more than $30 on a perfectly serviceable one.

For those of us women who are prone to ingrown hairs the Bump Fighter Razor (available at most drug stores) is a great solution.  The Bump Fighter was originally designed for African American men who have easily irritated skin, but it has become a cult favorite with men, and even now some women, of all races.  It's something about the angle of their blade that helps give a smoother shave and prevents ingrown hairs.

Proraso Shaving Cream is marketed for men because it originated as a brand that provided for barbers in Italy.  However I know quite a few female beauty bloggers who particularly like their sensitive skin formula.  This shave cream is rich and creamy, smells slightly citrusy, and is produced in small batches.  It's niche, and a not too terribly expensive way to treat yourself to a sensational shave.

ANTI-PERSPIRANT/DEODORANT:  Admittedly many men's deodorants smell waaaay too testosteroney.  Buy if you are a woman who sweats at the drop of a hat you may wish for something as strong as what they make for men.  Fortunately there are a few palatable options out there.

Old Spice Wild Collection Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant keeps me dryer than anything else I have ever tried.  It is supposedly for men but who cares, it's what works, and I do like the smell.  I use the Hawkridge scent because it is the most mild smelling in the collection, but actually the Wolfthorn scent is the most popular one with men and women alike.  I would say none of their 5 fragrances are over-the-top "He Man".  These also come in a strictly deodorant formula.  

Anthony Alcohol Free Deodorant doesn't smell as good as the Old Spice in my book because it is more citrusy-astrigent, whereas the Old Spice smell kinda unisex cool.  However this one is desirable because it doesn't have aluminum in it.  Also it is pricey but you will get your money's worth.  Many people complain that deodorants aren't as effective as anti-perspirants, and the Anthony one is no exception except that, but it works better than most.  Bottom line, when it comes to stinking up the joint you don't want to mess around - I would go for the Anthony.

What have you ever borrowed from the men's department?

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