I've completely lost my heart to the girlishly cool Parisian label MAJE.
I've completely lost my heart to the girlishly cool Parisian label MAJE.
TestTube is yet another of the popular US beauty sampling programs available these days - they were generous enough to send me a box to review, so without further ado let's rifle through it... Boxes are sent 4x year, at $29.95 each plus shipping (an extra $8.95.) They contain a cute plastic tube of assorted product samples and full-sized items, Spalook.com giftcard, and an issue of New Beauty Magazine.
Full sizes of:
MoroccanOil Glimmer Shine Spray - 3.4 oz, this retails for about $26.00, and is the star of the package - too heavy for my fine hair, but beloved by beauty editors and hair stylists, and a good value in this kit.
Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Corrector - good product, but basically a drugstore brand, that's easy to find and sample.
BeFine Firming Ginger Toner - This has salicylic acid, so unfortunately no good for my dry skin.
Deluxe sample sizes of:
Kerstin Florian Krauter Fussbalm - I ADORED this. It reeks of medicinal herbs like Pine, Menthol and Rosemary, so don't wear it on a hot date, but it makes feet feel tingly and cool - this arrived the same day that I had my toe completely smashed by an overly exhuberant horse, and it made me feel like I might not lose my foot to gangrene after all. Heaven, and I'm going to order another tube for long days on my feet.
Kneipp Lavender Bath - I love these aromatic bubble baths that turn the water dark blue, and the sample bottle will last for about four uses.
Hydroxatone 90 Second Wrinkle Reducer - not something that appeals to me or my skintype, unfortunately.
Lashfood Natural Eyelash Serum - I want to be sceptical of natural lash growth serums, but this has most definitely made mine softer and lusher feeling without irritating my hysterically sensitive eyes - quite fun to play around with and wonder if it's all in your head or not...
Dr Brandt Pores No More Mattifying Lotion - very popular product, but no good for my dry, sensitive skin. My pores are fine thank you.
Small sample of Ahava Extreme Day Cream - nice, but teeny tiny.
Spalook.com Gift Card - $50 off an order of $200 or more, great if they carry your beauty staples, otherwise you're unlikely to spend enough to find it useful.
Issue of New Beauty Magazine - I love magazines, and will read practically anything in front of me, but this isn't my cup of tea - too much emphasis on fillers, injections and plastic surgery, not much of interest to a younger/more natural minded reader.
Tito resented the hot-pink theme, but otherwise enjoyed the box. As for me, I think TestTube would be a good fit for someone with more normal or young skin, or as a fun gift subscription - there's a nice selection of good value products, and I really enjoyed some of them, but it's not a personalized enough fit for me. With my sensitive skin and fussy tastes, the BeautyFix box is my choice - only $11 more, the products were bigger, higher quality, and most importantly for me, I could choose from a large array. If you don't want to pore over choices, and just like a fun package of new stuff to play with every few months, try this one out - or give a subscription as a gift for your favorite budding beauty junkie.
Product was sent as a PR Sample
This is coming a bit late in the weekend, due to unforeseen overindulgences during the holiday. I'm going Jazz Age this week - I adore The Thin Man, and all of the ensuing sequels, and watch them far too often. They've given me unrealistic banter expectations, and now all conversation bores me. Besides being brilliant and wonderful in their own right, they also feature a never-ending tableaux of 1930's cocktails like the Bronx - basically a martini with orange juice, which was terribly fashionable in those days, and I think deserves a renaissance. The ratio is 2-1 gin to orange juice, with 1/4 ounce-ish each sweet and dry vermouth. You can get all fancy with the orange juice, or try Plymouth for the gin, to keep things interesting, but please don't garnish it with an orange slice. A little part of me dies every time I see an orange slice in a drink. A bit of peel if you must, but personally I stick to maraschino cherries. Several.
So go have a drink before the week starts, and brush up on your two-step. Try not to get involved in any gin-joint murders if you can, but if you must, dress sharply, and bring the dog along.
"The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time."
Nick Charles, The Thin Man
For this week's Friday Frock, I have thoughtfully chosen something with a bit of room, in deference to yesterday. It looks quite plain and simple, but the sharp tailoring, the thicker, almost matelasse-looking fabric, and the straight neckline make this such an easy, chic little dress. It must be said that I have a very tenuous relationship with tights and/or leggings at best, but they're definitely a useful addition here - just don't go too retro - no winged liner, please, if only for my sake.
The dress comes in a pale lemon yellow as well, and is so cheap that you can get one in each color should you feel like it - and ASOS.com, which is just incredible for it's sheer volume of budget, high-fashion looks, is having a huge sale this weekend - they have so much stock I can never even browse through it all, but they do have a great array, from cheap, throwaway trendy to really well done, right-off-the-runway looks, as well as some great small, newer labels. The code is HAPPYBLACK FRIDAY for 20% off, and only runs through Monday the 28th, so don't dally. I REALLY love ASOS, as you may have somewhat gathered by now.
What do you think? The navy with a teased ponytail, nude lip and black suede wedges? In all honesty, if I could get away with it I think I'd wear it with beatup Chucks.
I'm sure you're all having an absolutely lovely Thanksgiving, I sincerely hope so, and I'm also sure that none of you would rather be somewhere else right now, even if you're sleeping on Aunt Gertrude's pull out sofa or in your childhood bedroom in a trundle bed. But just in case you still feel like a bit of escape - here's this week's Gorgeous Getaway - a beautiful little glamping destination in rural Sardinia.
Bella Pineta's two luxury tents sit in their own six acre almond and fig orchard, completely secluded, but only 5 minutes walk from a lovely local village. Each tent has a sweet little bathroom with shower, the beds are fluffy and white, strung with fairy lights (which I have a terrible weakness for) and it's so quiet the only sounds at night are crickets and the occasional sheep bell from roaming flocks. I would go in early spring, so that the orchard would be decorated with fragrant almond blossoms, and spend my days in a fold-out chair sunning in the garden, throwing my sandwich crusts to the odd friendly sheep, then order in takeout at night, or wander down to the village for a drink and dessert.
But as I said, I'm sure you're having a smashing time wherever you are right now, overeating be damned, and I suggest you go get a bit more pie before someone finishes it off. Sardinia's not going anywhere.
P.S. Get your pants ready, because for the next month The Blossom Shed will be going into full holiday extravaganza mode - it won't be pretty, but it will be very festive, and there will be a lot of chocolate involved.
Tallulah Jane is a small, independent fragrance house in NYC that follows the traditional craft of Bourbon perfumerie, producing small batches made from only the highest quality organic and wildcrafted natural oils - no synthetics, parabens or fillers.
Because the scents are entirely natural and handcrafted, there's a degree of uniqueness to each bottle which I think is lovely - you're getting something one of a kind, whose scent was influenced slightly by the weather that year, or the degree of sun on the blooms. Tallulah Jane was kind enough to send me a lovely little package of their newest fragrance, Hope, an uplifting, sunny scent which donates 50% of all profits to the American Cancer Society. I was extremely suprised to find that the natural oils could produce such nuanced layers, and a distinct drydown - while it's a soft, quiet scent, it's still beautifully and subtly crafted.
It opens with the fresh, very natural scent of clementine - not the juicy, acid citrus, but the aromatic oil that's released when you tear open the rind - it's a warm, sunny smell, that gives way to a fresh, bright floral, blending the green scent of white champa leaf with mimosa and jasmine. The jasmine is particularly pleasant because there's none of the sultry, heady wallop so common in fragrances - this is the smell of jasmine creeping up a garden wall or fence, with fresh air and sunshine all around, softly sweet and fragrant. The base has notes of amber, which last nicely on the skin, and ties in very nicely with the citrus - overall, it smells less like a perfume and more like a place, which is what I love in my fragrances - this transports me to a casual California garden, with orange trees and creeping blossoms, and cool green grass underfoot.
This isn't going to pry me away from my boozy Guerlains, but I think it's a lovely scent that doesn't shout - a wonderful gift for a young teen as a first fragrance, or someone who likes quiet, distinctive scents. Because of the clementine notes, it actually is quite appropriate for the holidays as well - I'm going to wear it a lot come December when I want to smell that sweet burst of citrus oil that reminds me of opening a Chrismas stocking. And like all the very best scents, it grows on me more each wearing.
Hope is available on Tallulah Jane NYC's website for $48 - and you can take a look at their several other unique and handcrafted fragrances that I look forward to trying in the future - Leotie, which is based on meadowflowers - has really caught my eye. The line also includes some gorgeous looking natural bath and body oils - much as I hate to start thinking about the holidays, I'm keeping them on my idea list for luxurious but affordable gifts.
(product was a PR sample)
I'm sure I wasn't the only one to be completely captivated by the makeup for the carousel-themed Louis Vuitton S/S 12 show - not just divinely pretty, but infinitely wearable, and easily adjustable to suit any skintone. Since October I've been searching high and wide for some sort of tutorial on the look, but I can't find a thing - so I had to take matters into my own hands and make one myself. I don't see why it shouldn't be possible to do a similar, slightly easier version of the look with the above products. Apparently makeup artist Pat McGrath used 10 sets of false lashes on each eye for the show to give the incredible feathery length. This is not for me, who can manage to get just one strip caught under my eyelid or up my nose when attempting to apply. So I think a good lengthening mascara combined with some individual falsies should suffice for a toned-down version. Here's my picks for an easy, quick version that's still shimmery and sheer:
FACE Stockholm Lash Lift - I just reviewed this new mascara and praised its "doll-like" effect. Perfect for the doe eyes here.
Benefit Lash Lovelies - apply these single falsies wherever you need a little extra thickness or length, particularly the outer corners, but only after you've already put on several coats of mascara. Good luck, you'll need it.
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Wash eye shadow - a shimmery, natural-looking champage hue on the lids.
YSL Touche Eclat - to brighten and conceal while keeping things sheer.
Benefit High Beam - I love this subtle highlighter, and like to mix it with a bit of moisturizer. Dab on cheekbones, browbones, down the bridge of the nose and above the cupids bow.
Smashbox Eye Beam Brightening Pencil - to rim the inner eye and lashline with a cool glow.
Nars lipstick in Pago Pago - this soft, peachy pink is pearly but still warm, perfect for this look.
Nars Duo in Orgasm/Albatross - Orgasm is the perfect peachy neutral for just a hint of color on the cheeks - swipe in the hollows, with Albatross along the cheekbones for contour and definition. Hello bone structure!
Redken Wool Shake Volumizer - this was used backstage to add the matte texture to model's hair - tease a bit, and pull it into messy french twist or bun and then add a thin hair band or ribbon - I love this crystalline version from Anthropologie.
Well this is rather anti-climactic. I've spent a lifetime searching for a mascara that I'm happy with, with no luck. I've tried them all, high and low, big and small, and anything I can just about stand gets discontinued as soon as I find it. Consistently, like it's a conspiracy. So I thought I would chronicle my harrowing and danger-fraught quest as I waded through dozens, nay hundreds, of mascaras, in search of the holy grail of feathery separation.
These are the very first I've tried for my long and painful journey to perfect lashes - newly released products that FACE Stockholm graciously sent me to try. And they're wonderfully good. It all just seems a bit too easy, and now what am I going to write about?
FACE Stockholm's Lash Lift has a very narrow brush with extremely short bristles - not a dreaded comb, but it still is a bit fiddly to use - you can't just swipe it on quickly, you have to pay attention. HOWEVER - when you do it correctly, and take your time, the results are fantastic. Incredibly long, shiny, separated lashes - a very doll-like effect. The formula is quite liquidy, which is what I like, so you may need to wipe the brush a few times until you get the hang of it. And I will say I tend to get a lot of the mascara on my upper waterline when I apply it, because the bristles are very short - I don't mind this because I line my waterline most of the time anyway, and the formula is non-irritating. I end up looking like I'm wearing a bit of eyeliner, which is fine. God knows I can use any extra sprucing up I can manage lately. One would assume that Luxe Lash would be more high impact of the two - but not so! The lifting version is the more dramatic - this is actually best for easy, soft lashes - it has a fat brush with a similar formula that coats lashes nicely with minimal clumping, and looks more natural and soft. It does start to flake on me a bit by the end of the day, but I think that 8 - 10 hours is plenty of wear, and I'm just so relieved to have a mascara in my bag that I don't loathe, I'm not going to ruin it by being overly picky.
Lastly, we have the Lash Thickener. I am not a fan of layering mascara over top of glumpy thickening formulas, that end up making a mess and wasting my time. So I left this until last to try. Well, that will teach me to be close-minded. This goes on wonderfully smooth, and I let it dry for about a minute before I apply the Luxe Lash over top - it just pumps up the volume a bit without any "glumping" as I so delicately put it, and it really does seem to make my lashes softer and healthier feeling. It's lovely, basically, and totally worth the extra time and effort - about 10 seconds, in fairness. And I love the packaging design on this one, it looks like lucite, very Art Deco.
I'm very happy with both of these mascaras, and unless I find something else that's really remarkable, they're my new favorites, and I'll definitely repurchase. The cons are that they're pricey - $32 for each mascara, $28 for the primer - however they're on par with the high end formulas like YSL and Dior, and for me, perform better. I've been using one or the other for several weeks now, and my lashes are much softer and healthier than before, so there is definitely a conditioning effect. Neither formula holds a curl particularly well - this is the toss up you get with the softer, smoother consistency - I prefer that, but if curl is very important to you, these might not be the best choice. What I really love? None of these leave those horrible, stringy black bits inside your eyeball. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean. They both wash off easily and gently with a cream cleanser, and no unpleasant bits left behind.
I don't know how I'd never tried FACE Stockholm before - I love the look of their sleek, minimalist products and professionals rave about their high quality formulas - plus I love that they're an independent company, and cruelty-free. The only suggestion I have for them? Give the products made-up, Ikea-style names that sound ridiculous when you read them in a silly accent - like Ekstörpp lipgloss and Grunnvark eyeliner. Though that's not mandatory, I'd just really enjoy it.
Do you have your ultimate mascara, or are you still looking? Any recommendations for which I should try next? Any to avoid like the plague?
(all products were PR samples)
But with the shirt - charming! I'm not sure I could pull this off. I'm not sure any of us could. But I love it all the same for being different while still very flattering, and reminding me of my favorite singalong movie experience. Who knows. If you play your cards right wearing this, you might end up in a gazebo in the rain with a handsomely stern naval captain who just needs MUSIC BACK IN HIS LIFE. Yes please.
I had sampled the Sun Kissed tinted SPF this summer and loved it - so I was thrilled to be able to try out three more popular products from the line that were particularly recommended to brighten up dull winter skin. These were some of the first products I sampled for The Blossom Shed, so I was very happy that I didn't have to start off the site with a bad review. It would have brought the mood down considerably.
Night Recharge is a PM treatment that contains nutrient-rich red algae and retinoids to smooth and brighten skin - it has a light, lotion-like texture that goes on very smooth under my night moisturizer and smells of lemongrass. I hate lemongrass, but this dissipates as soon as it's applied, plus it's fantastic, so I deal with it. This immediately smoothed and calmed my skin - it seems to have a very good anti-inflammatory effect for me - any redness or spots were incredibly lessened the next morning, and the broken capillary I have under my eye was about half as red as usual. After one use, I consider this an incredible result. I've been using it every night, and it's balanced my skin as well - no breakouts or irritation since I've been using it, and my skin is even, smooth and bright. This should do well with most all skin types, and is a great way to amp up your nightly routine with just one new product. I kept waiting for someone to mention how glowy my skin was, but all I've gotten so far was a "rough day?" which suggests maybe I didn't look quite as well rested as I had hoped.
First Blush is a light serum with melon, rosemary and oat bran extracts - all ingredients that heal and protect the skin. I'm partial to this one simply because the bottle looks so pretty on my counter, and I love the smell - something like melon mixed with eggnog, very natural but sweet. It's a thin liquid texture that I smooth on under my day cream, and it makes my skin feel very quenched and soft without any residue. This is supposed to brighten skin and give it a healthy "blush" - I don't notice an obvious glow, but it does feel lovely, and it seems to balance and soothe my skin as well. Not a terribly necessary product for me, but very pleasant all the same.
Sweet Clean is somewhere between a cream and a milk cleanser - it has a very unique consistency that I find really nice. Cartenoids are the main attraction in this one - acai berry packs a huge punch when it comes to antioxidants, as do the grape, blackberry and blueberry extracts. I really like the smell, which is sort of like sweet berry vitamins, but it might not be for everyone. This gives a really deep clean feeling without stripping the skin, but it's not moisturizing enough for my extremely dry skin. It would be a fantastic product for younger or more combination skin, and a good way to wean off terrible skin stripping foaming washes! I'm recommending this one to my sister who has more normal skin than me. A little goes a long way as well, so the bottle will last forever, making it a pretty good value.
The cheery Super website is having a 25% off sale right now with promo code FRIENDS2011, so if there's a product you've been lusting after, take advantage of it!
Aveda Brilliant Emollient Gloss is the hair product I've used the longest. It's a little thicker than most serums, and makes hair feel actually nourished instead of just slick. It uses rice bran oil and vitamin E to condition, smells beautiful and comes in a lovely cobalt bottle that lasts forever.
Josie Maran Hair Serum has lovely high quality ingredients like Argan, Jojoba and Camellia oils and a tart bergamot scent. A little goes a very long way - one tiny pump is perfect for my long, thick hair, so it should last for ages, and actually helps to nourish hair as well as smooth it. This one's great for keeping in your purse for quick touch-up - it has the most natural ingredients, and is my new favorite. Nick Chavez Angel Drops was included in my recent BeautyFix package. I chose it because the thirteen year old inside me liked the name "Angel Drops". I had no idea who Nick Chavez was - it I'd had to venture a guess I would have said a Backstreet Boy. It turns out, rather disappointingly, he's a Hollywood hairstylist. This serum contains the most fillers and least natural ingredients, but it makes my hair shine like nothing else - my six month old highlights look incredible when I use this, and it smooths the hair without losing texture. It's a quick fix for instant results, and it comes in a large bottle that will last me for years. The special part about this? The smell. For days I was trying to figure out what the floral scent reminded me of - it was driving me crazy. Suddenly yesterday I got it - Pat the Bunny. It smells EXACTLY like the flowers in the Pat the Bunny book. I, like Judy, love that smell, but if you don't want to smell like a children's board book, this may not be for you. I'll continue to quite happily relive my toddler years everytime I use it.
Josie Maran and Nick Chavez products were PR samples. Photo via pinterest
For something a bit more festive and exotic, my vote goes for a Rose Martini.They taste like liquid Turkish Delight. With gin.
I would use Hendrick's because the aromatic flavor will blend nicely with the rose - shake up your chosen ratio of gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and a few drops rosewater - you should be able to find this in most large grocery stores - if you can manage to find rose petals, scatter them in the glass, and if you're feeling adventurous maybe a slice or two of cucumber. That's it. Lay back on your cushions, and start trying to figure out which of your fellow guests had motive AND opportunity.
images via hostessblog.com and foodandwine.com
In keeping with the festive occasion of our hypothetical African adventure, THREE frocks instead of the usual one. Here's what should go in the beat-up leather suitcase for the trip...