Tuesday, December 28, 2010
My hair is getting pretty scraggly. Like, really unkempt and out of control. Particularly with the weather in NYC being so uncooperative lately, I've had to hide my melon under a beanie only to reveal major hat-head when I finally get indoors.
For the last couple of weeks, I've been growing it out to see how long before I get bored and let Luis just take the whole thing off. Although, it is a bit liberating to not worry about keeping a specific style in control, I'd rather not look like I'm wandering in from the streets to warm up a bit. Even though I'm probably just wandering in from the streets to warm up a bit. There's something to be said for a bit of sexy-scraggle. Not really dirty, but, ya know... kind of dirty. Of course, to achieve that look, I'm not about to reach for a pile of dirt. But maybe a jar.
JONATHAN Products has as it's star item, Dirt®, a bold water-based molding paste that creates the illusion of a scruffy, just out of bed look that molds hair back into shape even if it's been hidden all day. It has a sweet, yet subtle fragrance that is reminiscent of vanilla beans and lingers for only a bit before taking on your natural aroma. I've also found that the consistency of the paste is really nice over the shaft of the follicle and even prevents hair from frizzing out. Even after a treatment serum, it's not likely to create any density or heavy, sticky feel so there's no fear of actually looking dirty.
The idea behind the products inception was to achieve the look of hair one day after washing and with the tiniest amount of paste rubbed between palms it gives that illusion perfectly. The mousse-like texture keeps hair feeling smooth, silky and maintains it's malleability. Especially when revealed from under a beanie.
JONATHAN Product, Dirt Texturizing Paste; $26.00
Friday, December 24, 2010
I have not always been so kind to products that have distinctive fragrances. But that is more due to the particular notes I sense in them. The kind of characteristic that screams "fake". Most fragrances offend me deeply, but again, because they smell like they've been engineered as opposed to just have a naturally occurring aroma. When something "smells" I'd prefer it to smell like it smells instead of smelling smelly... don't act like you don't understand exactly what I'm saying.
Australian Scent is a brand that caused me a bit of hesitation when I came upon their booth at the Chelsea Market; as the wafting notes of essential oils could be detected from the neighboring booths. Instinctively I wanted to guard my nose, but realized that that wasn't entirely necessary. As a matter of fact, the more I concentrated on the scent, the more I wanted to investigate what it was. There was an earthiness and veiled density that I couldn't quite recognize... because it smelled "real".
Like a kitchen full of fresh herbs, the aS booth was an amalgam of citrus, florals, and organic bases that, once applied to skin, dissipated leaving only a "clean" after effect that was undetectable moments after application. A brand based on maintaining a small carbon footprint, Australian Scent was launched from frustration with other skin care lines offering results from harsh, synthetic ingredients. The signature product in the line of cleansers, eye serums and hair products, Balm of Gilead addressed that frustration and aided one of the creators in soothing his eczema while offering dual protection from further free radical damage.
Offered in a 3.8oz tub, Balm of Gilead comes in multiple formulas, but I chose to go with "unscented". Still fragrant with rich naturally based ingredients, this balm is meant to be used as a facial moisturizer but has multiple talents when it comes to dry or irritated skin. On rough patches on hands, neck or cuticles this waxy base literally melts onto skin leaving a slightly shiny surface but then seeps in improving not only skin's texture, but elasticity as well. When it comes to irritated skin, I've even gone as far as to combine the tiniest amount (the tip of a cotton swab) with a satin finish foundation to maintain a glow but aide in much needed hydration. Alone, this balm can be used in place of moisturizer or underneath for added protection particularly from the cold winter months.
I reach for this product time and again when in need of addressing hydration issues, and although rich in scent, it never offends clients. With regards to the scent, clients have described it as smelling sweet, smelling earthy, smelling rich, etc... But not one person has ever said it was "smelly".
Australian Scent Balm of Gilead Moisturizer; $38.00
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I feel like there isn't much I can say without even the vaguest reference to "The Lord of the Rings". We're talking a light-weight fluid with a tremendous highlighting property concealed within a gold tube and "precious" right there on the side. How could I not?
The formula has a sheer to medium build coverage that is just right for just under the eyes or over cheekbones for a bit of a highlight. Although, not a true concealer, Guerlain has managed to harness the benefits of Precious Light in 3 shades that will compliment skin tones and give the guise of a flawless complexion without the look of makeup.
While mostly suitable for light to medium tones, I've found myself using this tool for cleaning up imperfections while on set or touching up just the slightest mistakes when shifted to other lighting situations. It layers over other coverage products to create a soft glow and smoothes out patchy areas to maintain that luminescence even when dusted with powder. Perfectly compatible even over the eyelid area if you need a bit of a base for eyeshadow.
To dispense the product, there is a turning mechanism on the base that clicks with each twist to ensure the appropriate amount of product. And of course, it comes with a reusable velvet pouch to keep the gold tube shining...
Guerlain Precious Light; $48.00
I hate being in Times Square. Most New Yorkers do.
I heard Fran Lebowitz say that it was the equivalent of bumping into someone at an adult bookstore; neither of you will admit you're there on purpose. So what incentive could I possibly have for going to Times Square? My love for matte lipsticks... what else?
I prefer to use matte lipsticks because they have a full-coverage finish that is free of shimmer and glimmer. Just straight up color. The down side is, generally, matte lipsticks are dry. Sometimes, very dry. So dry, in fact, that in order to keep them from breaking up or getting flaky looking I tend to mix them with either lipbalm or a bit of petrolatum . Which certainly speaks of their versatility, but I've never been quite sure why no one has succinctly addressed this issue.
Well, maybe one company has addressed it pretty well, but you don't tend to find a smooth formula in anything other than basic neutrals and reds. And while I'm not about to downplay the adoration I have for a good red, sometimes I wanna be a bit more adventurous.
Adventurous enough to brave the tourist heavy Times Square. After battling the camera-wielding neon-sign-gazers, I started to regret my trip. However, a short distance from the 1 train, I could see my salvation. On the corner of Broadway and 48th, INGLOT Cosmetics offers up a wide range of provocative tones of matte lipsticks in a formula that boasts emollients like macademia nut oil and avacado oil to replenish moisture in lips and vitamin E to keep them from chapping or cracking. The colors I was most gravitating towards were #419; a rich, dense fuchsia and #420; a blue toned violet.
Obviously not colors for everyday wear, these two still offered exactly what I was hoping for; strong pigment, matte finish and most importantly, a dry texture that wasn't drying. Excellent coverage, consistency and color choices; my sense of adventure now has direction.
Unfortunately that direction is Times Square.
INGLOT Lipstick Matte; $12.00
I usually carry with me, a big ol' bottle of Banana Boat particularly when on beach shoots or other outdoor settings and, believe me, everyone gets a good heaping amount be it models, photographers or production assistants. And while the texture is forgiving and, mixed with a bit of body foundation, even a bit nice on film, it's never compatible with face makeup. Period. So an SPF powder is very ideal in this circumstance. But only if it's velvety smooth. And compatible with skin tones. And doesn't need touching up too much. And won't dry skin out... and is fun to play with!
"Jouer" loosely translated from French means "to play". And in this case, let's play in the sun. Jouer Cosmetics has formulated a smooth finish powder with SPF 39 to block out any and all detriment the sun has to offer while retaining a soft texture that won't bake off skin. Utilizing a base of emollients like Shea Butter and Meadowfoam Seed Oil, this formula will also retain moisture in the skin while providing it with the healing anti-oxidant benefits of Vitamin E.
But did you graze over it? SPF 39! Seriously, the only other product for the face I can think of that has that kind of strength is Zinka. You know, that white stuff lifeguards leave on the bridges of their noses while looking over the beach. I don't know how they did it, but Jouer has managed to put that kind of strength without the starchy white effect and instead offers 4 soft complexion colors that compliment skin tones from very light to medium dark. Each formula has light-medium to medium coverage and can be interchanged as either a setting powder or coverage powder depending on whether you use a brush or sponge and comes in a sleekly designed compact that fits easily into your purse or pocket.
Sure does a lot more than Banana Boat ever could!
Jouer Cosmetics SPF Powder; $32.00
Thursday, December 16, 2010
For the last few years, cosmetics companies have built their reputations on using the phrase "mineral makeup" in order to presume the kind of identity that will set them apart from the competition. Bare Escentuals in particular has been at the forefront of the trend that, through the mineral-aspect of their product, their "...makeup could actually be considered skincare". The correlation supposed that somehow mineral makeup was a healthier option, better for your skin, and superior to other products in wear, texture and value.
While I don't dispute their claims, it's a bit tricky to defend. The parts of makeup that contribute to coverage, color, and texture are composed of inert earth minerals like Mica (pictured above), Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. All of which are the most common components of ANY formula you will come across. Whether it's from Bare Escentuals, Samina Pure Minerals or Alima Pure, the products in their arsenal are going to have the same ingredients as those from MAC, Smashbox or FACE Stockholm.
The converse may not be true. The cosmetics companies we are most familiar with, whether found in Rite Aid or Bergdorf Goodman, will have some things "mineral makeup" won't, like binding agents, fillers, preservatives and compression agents. Things that create more uses and varied textures that give longevity and versatility for wear. For example; large amounts of Mica are very present in any kind of loose eyeshadow that is "shimmery" like FACE Stockholm Eye Dusts or MAC Pigments but add a bit of Dimethicone, Talc or Kaolin and there you have a slightly subdued shimmery effect in a conveniently pressed product.
Foundations like Bare Escentuals' SPF 15 Foundation also come in loose form as they have no binding agents or fillers that would convert them to cream, liquid or pressed form. But what they are missing out on could be a beneficial hydrating property or sheer finish like Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15. Both use a mineral complex to maintain the SPF property, but come in two very different textures and suit two very different needs. If you have a dry complexion, for instance, you'd be less likely to reach for the powder and if you were very oily, maybe you'd be hesitant to reach for the liquid. Aside from packaging, the main difference between the two is really the form it's in and you can only get that "mineral" product in a limited amount of textures ... sort of.
Well known cosmetics companies like Maybelline New York now have formulas like Mineral Power™ Natural Perfecting Liquid Foundation that come in liquid form and boast the same kinds of benefits as their powder predecessors. But, while oil-free, still contain other emollients and fillers you'd find in similar products like MAC Face and Body Foundation. Not to be out-done, MAC has in it's arsenal Mineralized Satinfinish Foundation... which also has some of the same kind of ingredients that Maybelline's formula has. What's going on here?
All makeup is "mineral makeup" the way all fruit is "organic". Fruits, vegetables and other kinds of produce are grown in dirt. It doesn't matter if it comes from Safeway or Whole Foods, someone got dirty and pulled them out of the ground. But, they could have come from different farms, had different exposure to sunlight, water, pesticides, fertalizers, etc. But, they're still fruit.
On top of that, there's no such thing as "natural", "organic", or "mineral" makeup as defined by any kinds of regulation or law in this country. But with pressure from outside trade commissions like those in Europe and Canada as well as groups in the states looking to begin a shift in the way cosmetics are regulated have proved to create a different mind-set in the consuming public and companies are taking notice. The introduction of products like FACE Stockholm's Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15 are free of various fillers, oils and even parabens, not only to soothe consumers now wary minds, but regulatory pressure from legislation passed in the European Union.
Soon, I imagine we'll see more innovative formulations of products adhering to the new consumer standards. Only, I'm sure, once legislation passes or the market becomes saturated with product, they'll have their "mineral" characteristics emblazoned on the packaging to entice new customers entering the marketplace. You can just smile to yourself and remember; it's all mineral anyway.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Today facebook is all a fluster with posts about how "it's snowing, it's snowing, IT'S SNOWING!!!". Well, actually, it's flurry-ing. This ain't snow. The first year I moved to NYC, it was the highest snow fall in 40 years. THAT was snow. This is just tiny droplets of soft ice that whirl about and catch on your lashes.
But, those pretty little ice-lets will eventually melt on your wink so you may as well be prepared. In my arsenal for today's shoot; Maybelline the Colassal Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara. It's a soft formula that increases volume and even adds a bit of length without getting clumpy. The brush in the container looks like a standard mascara wand but has multiple rows of really small fibers that are spun very close together. This ensures that each and every hair of your lash line is gripped and coated.
But where this formula stands out is it's longevity in wear. With a single coat, my models are able to withstand tear inducing gusts of winds and many a minuscule snowflake atop their, now voluminous, lashes. No breaking and flaking is occuring and the waterproof-ness is still soft to the touch.
I am having no problem with the flurries. Bring on the snow!
Maybelline the Colassal Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara; $6.49
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Guerlain Cosmetics was the first company to put lipstick in a tube.
As a young man, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain left his home in Paris and moved to London to pursue an education in basic chemistry. When he made it back to France, he opened a shop on Rue De Rivoli selling self-manufactured fragrances and vinegar. Yes, vinegar. During that point in time, both were considered integral to common toiletries and resulted in his formulation of various other cosmetics like skin creams, tonics and a creme' "nivea".
Before turning his full attention to creating couture fragrances for the likes of Empress Eugenie and Emperor Napolean III, Pierre continued his innovative strike and began modeling makeup formulas into more modern and convenient devices. Among them, in 1870 was Ne m'oubliez pas, a wax based lip color that was in a "push-up" container that allowed a woman to apply directly from the tube. Before then, lip colors were available in small pots and needed to be painted on with an accompanying brush.
As the years passed, we saw other innovations including Le Rouge d'Enfer, a delicate chain mechanism that lifted the product from the cap, and Le Rouge Automatique, the implementation of a turning mechanism that could be applied with one hand. As the years passed, quality and attention to detail remained a constant and gave birth to multiple other cosmetic products that were sure to stand out, as not only fashionable pieces but, functional as well.
This decade brings us Rouge G de Guerlain, a lightweight lipstick formula boasting ruby powder for unprecedented radiance and hyaluronic acid microspheres to smooth out the appearance of fine lines and give lips the fullest pout. Utilizing rich emollients like wild mango butter, this smooth and silky lipstick comes encased in one of the most opulent tubes I think I have ever seen.
The casing is appropriate to the formula in decadence, for sure. The creation of famed jeweler Lorenz Baumer, the case slips away from the product to instantly reveal a mirrored compact perfect for touching up on the go. When folded down and placed back on the tube, it locks in place magnetically and is secured by an enclosing jewel-like tab engraved with the Guerlain "G". I was very shocked when I first picked up the tube as it's kind of heavy but noticed that most of the weight came from the mirror-topped cap as it keeps from wobbling over and stays perfectly in place when set down on a flat surface. Like it was it's own mini-vanity station.
Guerlain was the first company to put lipstick on a pedastool.
Rouge G De Guerlain Lipstick; $46.00
Friday, December 3, 2010
I've never read "Dear Abby", but from pop-culture references I understand that it is an advice column written by a woman who takes reader's suggestions and questions and puts her spin on resolving issues. I always wondered if the context of her advice suited her qualifications.
"I can't get on a plane without breaking into sweats"... Dear Abby.
"I want a bigger bust, should I begin stuffing my bra?"... Dear Abby.
"My husband likes wearing my panties, should I get him his own pair?"... Dear Abby.
"What kind of concealer do you recommend?"... hold on lady, I got this one.
Via facebook I recieved another inquiry that I thought I'd take to the blogosphere. Although, my wall is an open forum, I'm opt to write in detail as is consistent with my qualifications.
Generally, highlighting the area will relieve any blotchiness or darkness as the case may be with a medium-sheer formula like the wildly popular one from Yves Saint Laurent. The "light touch" or Touche Eclat Concealer leaves the faintest of coverage that mimics skin in it's most youthful, bright manner. Choosing the right tone to offset deepness or irritation under the eyes or over the highpoints of the skin is an easy way to conceal without adding density to the skin. $40.00
But where highlighters go wrong is their mass appeal and minimal coverage. Sometimes you've got to reach for one of those little known brands who's cult following is only matched by the efficacy of it's products. FACE Stockholm offers the same kind of benefits with it's Corrective Concealers but ups the ante with denser formulas that sheer down for comfort without compromising coverage. Tones to highlight, neutralize and conceal can be interchanged, mixed and layered to create optimal flawless looking skin. A favorite among them would be Neutralizer Blue, a peachy orange that elimates dark circles. Neutralizer Red is best suited for irritation and blotchiness around the cheeks, nose and chin. And the universal Highlighter Yellow is a great mixer with both as it will soften lines and make blending effortless. $26.00
If touching up isn't enough, Bobbi Brown offers up a formula that is not only opaque in coverage, but stretches beyond to double as foundation. Creamy Concealer has a dense, almost gummy texture that reminds me a bit of kindergarten paste (not as tasty though). But once applied, it melts down to a lightweight texture and becomes part of the skin with a dewy finish that can be set with powder or left alone for a luminous glow. Under eyes with a triangle sponge or over blemishes with a liner brush is enough to mask inconsistencies once and for all, provided you continue blending. Available in skin and corrective tones. $22.00
Every now and again, full-coverage just isn't enough. Sometimes I need a Perfecting Concealer, one designed to completely mask any condition be it blemishes, blotchiness or discrepancies in pigmentation. Stila Cosmetics went crazy when it comes to concealing but left the texture a little too creamy. Nothing that can't be remedied when set with powder. A small price to pay when it comes to perfection. $23.00
So whether you need a touch up or major coverage, hit me up on facebook and ask away. Let's leave the flat-chested, height-fearing, cross-dressers to Dear Abby.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
There are only so many things you can say on twitter. It's difficult to articulate exactly what you want in true context without resorting to acronyms and emoticons which, to say the least (LOL! Get it?), can become too intricate to decifer. So when a tweet asked what kind of reds I could recommend, I found myself a bit tongue-tied.
Not only is red one of the most common colors associated with a woman's lip, it's shades can become trademark to your personality. Sit on that for a moment. Think about the kind of woman who wears reds...
An understated orange-ish red like Black Opal's #006 Candy Apple has the tiniest bit of subtle shimmer to reflect back a bit of bluish-pink. The slight conflict in tone causes the colors to counterbalance eachother and gives the look of a dimensional red in a creamy formula complete with vitamin A and E to nourish lips and lock in moisture. From a distance this color looks simple and to the point, but up close has a hint of whimsy. $6.50
Or you can forgo the orange and shimmer and just stick with bluish pink undertones but with just a tinge of brick. Very Cherry Color Sensational Lipstick by Maybelline New York will provide you with just as much moisture locking creaminess but the tone will seem more like... well, a cherry. But one of those cherries that's off the vine before it starts to take on a denser red tone. Although, with it's full coverage formula, I'd never call it immature. $7.19
But if sophistication is the message, reach out for a burnt brown-red to get your point across. L'Oreal Paris wants you to walk into that office and look like the boss. Another creamy formula that dries down to a satin finish, #302; Sunset Red says it's a "coral" but looks deep and moody and in charge. $8.95
As the weekend comes near, feel free to go Wet n' Wild. Loaded with tiny particles of glimmering red light, #514A Cherry Frost Silk Finish Lipstick has a lip-balm like feel and medium coverage red that will let your lips natural color show through but with a significant pink stain. Like you've had one too many glittered cosmopolitans. $0.99
Although, burlesque star Dita Von Teese, when frolicking in her own oversized mixed drink, has been a fan of FACE Stockholm 's Matte Claret Lipstick as it's dry finish and TRUE blue undertone is the perfect match for day, night and stage wear. The color is like a polished version of the standard pink/red combined with a dense, flat finish. One swipe of this formula is more than enough to make anyone think you belong on stage. $22.00
Being in the spotlight since 1994, Viva Glam, the original in the series of lipsticks from MAC Cosmetics is a dense, universal deep red suitable for anyone looking to make a statement. One that says, "I care". Since it's launch, the full sale price of any and all Viva Glam products goes directly to the MAC AIDS Fund, an organization dedicated to helping men, women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. $14.50
So, I guess, my best advice is to think hard about what you're trying to represent and, sure enough, you'll find the most suitable red.
I certainly couldn't fit that into a tweet!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tonight I will be giving myself a nice clean close shave as MOvember comes to a close. I tip my hat to those gentleman who participated in the hirsute pursuit of drawing attention to the plight of those others affected by prostate cancer and hope that they have been able to draw enough attention and funds to a great cause. But if you feel like you may have a few bucks left over and your lips are feeling a bit naked, I'd recommend you head out to your closest MAC Cosmetics counter in honour of December 1st; World AIDS Day.
Since MAC's inception in the early 80's, founders Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo saw many of their closest friends succumbing to the plague of the modern age; HIV and AIDS. Many a life has since passed in the years to come and the biggest hurdle to those affected was support in the form of food, shelter and adequate treatment. Thought to be a disease that mainly affected homosexual men, it was difficult to overcome the stigma attached to the disease and Frank and Frank decided to take matters into their own hands. Hence the founding of the MAC AIDS Fund; an initiative to raise awareness and money that goes directly to families, friends and victims of this horrible condition.
Rather than request strict donations, MAC offered up a dense red lipstick dubbed "VIVA Glam", the sale price of which went entirely to the MAC AIDS Fund and stays active to this day. A phenomenal way to promote awareness and remain chic and fashion forward as multiple shades and finishes are now available complete with celebrity endorsements. Any and all purchases made of VIVA Glam lipsticks and lipglasses will continue to contribute in the fight against HIV and AIDS even after December 1st, since, at MAC; "Everyday is World AIDS Day".
"In 1994, M·A·C introduced VIVA GLAM, an outspoken deep red that was universal in appeal and glamour.
In 1997, a second lipstick was created VIVA GLAM II, a pinked mauve.
VIVA GLAM III, a foxy brown plum launched in 2000.
VIVA GLAM IV, a heartful rose charged with gold, introduced in March 2002.
In March 2004, Viva Glam V makes its debut, a pure neutral pink with a delicious Lustre finish!
VIVA GLAM VI, the newest member of the VIVA GLAM family, is a warm terracotta-plum with pearl finish. Wear it alone or finish it off with a coat of VIVA GLAM VI Lipglass.
Every cent of the selling price of VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass is donated to the M·A·C AIDS Fund to support men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS."
I used to run a store in California called "Party Safari". We specialized in custom decor for events as well as supplies for any type of party theme you could possibly come up with. Among the wide array of items, there were these packages of reflective mylar paper that I had a hard time keeping in stock. Mostly due to the large farming community.
Well, Morgan Hill, Ca. was one of those really small towns that had vast stretches of orchards and gardens that would be habitually harassed by birds. Flocks of birds. Eating and nesting among the rows of produce as well as pooping all over the surrounding farms. You can imagine the nuisance. So rather than spend money on shotgun shells, most farmers and gardeners would drop by the store and load up on mylar paper that they would then shred into strips and dangle from portions of their land they most wanted to protect from the fowl fouls. (<-- I made a pun right there! Did you get it?! Man, I'm funny.) The reflective light would serve as an annoyance to their inner visual mechanism and throw them off course.
It's ironic that we, humans, behave in exactly the opposite manner. Shiny and reflective is generally how we try to invoke interest. Think neon signs and disco balls. Even police sirens still cause everyone to stop and stare, mesmerized by all the pretty colors.
With the holiday season coming up, shiny reigns supreme and glitter tends to be the go-to item when you think about the festive spirit. But no one wants to go over-board. Ideally, you'd want to maintain a maximum of dancing light with minimum product. Not too much. Not too little. So I reach for NYX Cosmetics Glitter Powder... just right.
The small 5ml vials(about the size of a large grape) come with a black screw top lid that locks tight keeping any product from falling out and supply just the right amount to use for a light sprinkling over eye makeup, mixing into lipgloss or dusting into hair that is sure to catch and reflect any surrounding flashing lights. Plus, the price point ($3.00USD) is very agreeable and affords you the opportunity to load up on colors and tones to switch up your look come New Years Eve.
Other cosmetic glitters can come in larger chunks and are great for use with some kind of adhesive. Others still come in larger containers that will last you a long time, but then you're stuck with a much larger jar you may never get to the bottom of. NYX Glitters, are finely milled and tend to hold to the skin without much help since the particles are so small. And the container is just the right size if you don't feel like making that long of a commitment. I'm not sure if sparkly reflective glitter is gonna be the kind of thing you'll reach for that often.
Unless, of course, you're trying to keep birds away.
NYX Cosmetics Glitter Powder; $3.00
Friday, November 26, 2010
With just a tinge of cranberry sauce crusted on the side of my bottom lip, I lounged across the center of my buddy's couch watching friends gyrate their less swollen bellies to the beats on Just Dance 2 for Nintendo Wii and thought about how excited I was that tomorrow was Black Friday!... not.
"There's dessert, right?!"
Without the need for a forklift (yet) I managed to lift myself up off the couch to the counter for some residual Thanksgiving goodness before hitting the pumpkin pie that beckoned from beyond the refrigerator. And whipped cream. And apple pie... with whipped cream.
"ooooh, I didn't know there was some ham left!"
Before the opportunity to plop down once more, I overheard someone talk about what time they would be getting up early in the morning to avoid the crowds at Best Buy. Pfft! Like I'm going to wake up tomorrow at any reasonable hour! Most of the time, the day after Thanksgiving is an opportunity to increase consumerism with the promise of "great deals" and "once a year opportunities", but really it's more hassle than you could possibly imagine. I don't care how much I'm saving, if it isn't enjoyable, why go shopping at all?
Just think, if you're a sales associate at a department store and your average workload is increased 5-fold, how much more pleasant are you going to be when you're almost guaranteed the sale anyway?
Every other day of the year, in cosmetics particularly, sales are driven by commissions and numbers that are reported to the managing department of whatever firm owns your brand. Companies like MAC, Origins, and Bobbi Brown report to Estee Lauder Corp and others like MakeupForever, Sephora and Guerlain report to LVMH. The people behind the counter have nothing in mind but to keep their jobs and that hinges on how successful a salesman they can be.
Now, whether you are actually leaving with something that you want or will use is entirely different. Their concern is whether or not you buy. And hopefully return to buy more. Anti-aging moisturizer that cost you $100 still in the back of your medicine cabinet unopened? I feel ya.
Generally, key words are used when trying to make a sale. Ambiguous, superlative words that invoke an emotional response (positive I hope) that will make you connect with the product, even if it's briefly, and make you feel as though you NEED it. Rather than just want it. Words like; "fantastic","great", "popular" and "best" are never more descriptive than the feeling they give you. And are probably just as effective once you've torn through the plastic wrapping. Once applied to the skin you'll start to gauge whether or not you've made a wise purchase or a pressured one.
If you break out in a rash or feel an itchy sensation or just plain don't like the texture, buyer's remorse begins to set in. And there's nothing about it that that jar or tube or box that will ever make go away. All because you listened to some gal or guy behind the counter who was trying to make their numbers for the day and said that that product was what Jennifer Lopez wears!
When making a cosmetics purchase at drug stores like CVS or Duane Reade, it helps to know the return policy, which are generally very forgiving. Most of the time testers are not available and you have to guess at what colors and textures may best suit you. Make a mistake in judgment and you've no one to blame but yourself, but the store will probably take it back. Giving you the opportunity to choose wisely the next time.
Department stores like Saks 5th Avenue or Bergdorf Goodman are a bit trickier when their counters come equipped with testers of just about everything they sell and (here it comes) sales people to help you make that decision. The idea being, if you're trying the product out and someone is helping you make that decision, you're less likely to come back with a return. Especially if it means facing the same person who sold it to you...scary.
When approached by a sales rep, it's best to be prepared. If you're on a quest for something in particular, let them know. If you're just looking, let them know. If you have no idea what you want... well, you're basically a mark. Better to be a bit prepared to keep from making a purchase you'll regret later.
Other factors you'd want to keep in mind are things like allergies, sensitivities or just general preferences. Don't like smells? Steer clear of certain brands. Break out in acne easily? Steer clear of certain ingredients, etc... Knowing a bit more about your preferences and being able to communicate them will ensure you the best service. Plus, it makes a salespersons job all that much easier and they're sure to be happier, helpful and much, much more pleasant to share this shopping experience and you're sure to leave with products you'll no doubt love.
But of course, there are days when no amount of preparation will guard you from snippy, catty and rude sales people who care about nothing more than getting your money and getting you out of the store. Yea, days just like Black Friday!
Monday, November 15, 2010
At 3pm on KSBW 8 I'd be plopped down in front of my television because reruns of Magnum P.I. would be starting just before the Kids Club Hour.
What? I'm the only one?
You telling me you weren't mesmerized by the glory that is Tom Selleck's moustache? I would dream of the day when I could finally grow one of my own. The length, the width, and of course, the volume. Pretty appropriate that the theme song behind one of the thickest of moustaches is now playing behind a commercial for a volumizing mascara.
Maybelline New York was launched on a mascara after all. The iconic Great Lash mascara in it's pink tube with lime green cap has been a staple of a woman's handbag for almost 100 years. Even through the decades to come, Great Lash has remained as one of the most reached for over-the-counter mascaras to date. No competing formulas have even posed so much as a threat.
While Great Lash has proven to provide an excellent coat for a day-wear look, the transition to evening definitely necessitates much more drama. With it's dense formula and " multi-patented spoon brush " Volume Express the Falsies Mascara boasts;
" No gaps from any angle, No false lashes needed, [and] 300% more visible lashes from corner to corner "
...300% compared to what?
Magnum P.I.'s moustache, that's what! Right out of the tube this mascara goes on smooth and even catching each and every lash from "corner to corner" leaving the follicle coated in creamy mascara that refuses to clump. The wand is filled with bristles that catch and seperate each lash for one fluid motion that is sure to grab even the tiniest ones on the outer corners. It dries pretty evenly too without much weight so you almost forget that you even have it on.
And so far, all I've needed was one swipe out of the tube. For both eyes. It really is quite dense, rich and dark. Right now, there are only two options for color; Brown and Black. But I imagine there is really no need for any others as both will give your hair follicles rich, thick and voluminous allure you're sure to be the envy of anyone who gazes into your eyes.
I'd love to invoke that kind of envy, however I'm not much for batting my lashes. But the next time I run into Tom Selleck, I may have to comb it through my moustache.
Maybelline Volume Express the Falsies Mascara; $7.49
The everyday makeup wearer is not looking to draw racing stripes across their cheeks or rock false eyelashes that stretch to the skies. So when you think, clean, natural looking, basic beauty that reflects your own style, would you consider using a cosmetics brand who chose a drag queen as it's first spokesperson?
Yes. Yes, you absolutely should.
Particularly when it's a brand that has been so broadly inclusive that it's corporate credo is;
" all races, all ages, all sexes "
Making a name for itself among the chicest of fashion insiders since it's inception in the mid 80's, MAC Cosmetics has placed itself as the go-to brand for makeup artists, dancers, singers and just about anyone looking to make a statement whether it's on the catwalk or on the sidewalk. But what kind of statement is entirely up to you. Some will reach for the richly black Smolder Kohl Eye Pencil for the densest of smoky eyes while others just need a little Love Nectar Lustreglass to polish their pout. From natural to anything but, MAC has got you covered with innovative formulas, sheer to full coverage foundations and a color range that would turn a rainbow green with envy.
So which kind of MAC are you?
Here's your chance to tell the world. MAC Cosmetics will be holding it's first (and hopefully annual) "MAC ME OVER" competition. An opportunity to showcase your own creative personality and style that will translate into a Fall 2011 advertising campaign for the brand. 6 lucky winners will be chosen by February 1st to be flown to New York City and given the star treatment complete with hotel accomodations and a glamourus photoshoot by a reknowned fashon photographer showcasing the launch for the season. All you have to do is go to www.macmeover.com and submit a photo and short essay (under 300 words) or upload a video of yourself (15 seconds long) explaining why you deserve to be a MAC Me Over winner. Each submission should be started with the phrase "MAC me over, because..." and then followed with anything that makes you you. Individuality is required!, everything else will be thrown out.
Deadline for submissions will be December 20th, 2010.
" 'People sometimes have the perception that you can only get crazy, intense makeup from MAC,' said (Senior VP) James Gager. 'But we can also give you the most flattering makeup possible. We wanted to showcase the versatility of the brand, and it sounded like fun to have lots of people tell us why they’d like a MAC makeover. We’re hoping we get entries which truly reflect our creed: all races, all ages, all sexes. This contest isn’t about who is the greatest looking — it is about who has the best style' " - WWD
Saturday, November 13, 2010
We live in a world full of numerous potential dangers; earthquakes, hurricanes, or the dreaded Nuclear Attack!... Stress among stress abounds leaving you feeling down, depressed and aching to recuperate that which is most important to you. Isn't it nice to know that through all the drama and stress, you never have to worry about having a hair out of place?
Praise baby-Jesus!...and the geniuses at Schwarzkopf, of course.
Under the Schwarzkopf umbrella of companies we have one of my go-to brands; got2b. The makers of other favored products like Spiking Glue and Magnetik Styling Wax bring us got2b ultra glued Invincible Stying Gel; a dense water based gel that acts like Kevlar to every hair follicle.
The main agent in charge of maintaining invincibility is something the brand is calling ALPHA XTR, a trademarked "non-sticky, no-flake formula" that allows for smooth application and the kind of staying power I'd recommend for weather men reporting from the eye of a tornado.
"...put it down and slowly back away if you're not up for the strongest gel hold ever!"
Initially, images of unflattering hairstyles come to mind when I think about extreme hold, but that has more to do with application technique than it does with the actual product. Seeing as how this formula is rich and dense and allows for maximum hold, the tiniest bit is necessary for even the most unruly of hair. Taking a small dollop (about the size of a gumball) and running it through my hands and over my head, I found that the product immediately creates a "wet" texture that is very pliable for about 20 seconds before it freezes into place. But if my hands or hair are slightly damp, the play-time is stretched another 15 seconds before the water dries out. Combed back or forth a few times keeps it from looking shell-like and any strays or frayed edges are smoothed right out. And believe me, "invincible" is the right word.
I spent the day walking around the city, then running and tumbling at the gym, then out with friends, then drunkedly stumbling into my bed to which I awoke the next day, hungover, sea-sick and sweaty, but with immaculate, fresh looking hair. Even though it smelled a bit of Budweiser, the style never deviated. Something tells me I could have been a moving target at a shooting range and the bloody mangled pile of what used to be my head would still manage to have a perfect side part.
Of course, I'd only go so far when testing a product, and when considering real-world conditions, this product is quite "invincible". But I doubt it's bullet-proof.
got2b ultra glued Invincible Stying Gel; $5.49
Friday, November 5, 2010
My former roommate always thought it was a bit curious that the bathroom cupboard was filled with various makeup and skin care products that were half-used or sometimes not even touched. Then one snowy day he (with my permission) walked into my closet to borrow a jacket and saw the boxes stacked in the corners filled with, yes, half-used makeup and skin care products. Where was I getting all this stuff and why was I hanging on to it?
"Are we going to be on 'Hoarders'?"
I get sent stuff all the time and make it a point to try them ALL before doing any kind of review. But sometimes, there's only so much ONE person can do. So, this was a perfect time for a bit of recruitment.
Among the few items I offered him were a shower gel, a body lotion, lip balm and Anthony Logistics Glycolic Cleanser; a slightly moisturizing lotion that strips the skin of impurities and uses a mild glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells and prevent irritations like ingrown hairs and mild acne. You'd think I just offered him gold.
"NO S#$T?! This will get rid of those marks on my neck?!"
Well, bro... you tell me.
After a couple of weeks, it was very obvious, he had fallen in love with Anthony. He remarked on how smooth his skin had become and how much easier shaving was; no more burns or nics around the chin and neck area.
"Bro, I f#%$ing love this stuff!"
A month or two had passed by when I heard a knock on my door. When the door opened I saw two things; an empty bottle of cleanser and big, sad, puppy-dog eyes.
"Do you have any more?"
The next day I swung by SpaceNK and picked up another bottle for the guy. We'll call it payment for being such a good helper =D.
I came home with the bottle in it's own black bag with ribbon handle, all nice and wrapped up like a special treat, but to an empty apartment. So I left it on the coffee table thinking he'll see it and pick it up and go back to his happy cleansing bliss. The next morning, it was still there. Maybe he came in late and didn't see it? But, the next day when I came home, it was still sitting there untouched, unmoved... unloved =(.
Another 2 days later, I heard the front door open, angry footsteps up the stairs and loud muttering into a cellphone. I'm no one's father so I just went back to watching reruns of Star Trek TNG. Later, as I came out of the shower, he was standing there holding the bag and thanking me;
"You would not believe the f@#%ing weekend I had!"
Apparently he had been in jail... but the worst part was;
"All they have in lock-up is some crappy bar soap in the showers and I didn't get to use my cleanser!"
Uh, glad you like it that much, but all I could think was;
Are we going to be on "COPS"?
Anthony Logistics Glycolic Cleanser; $20.00
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I have this "friend" (oh, this should be good) who used to frequent the Limelight way back in the early 90's (I came to NYC in 2005, just saying) when it was a very different place. Apparently this 163 year old church was home to a rash of parties and extravagances that could only be parallelled by the antics at Studio 54 and immortalized in a feature film.
Were it not for the cast of colorful characters and it's notorious history, the Limelight Marketplace may have no cache to it's name at all and otherwise fade into obscurity among the dozens of other shopping centers around the island of Manhattan. But alas, too many vials of GHB have been spilt alongside the corner of 20th street at 6th avenue to ever be forgotten... or remembered? As I wandered into the corridors I could hear my friend's voice in my head,
"I used to do (insert illegal substance) there!"
Was that what the early 90's were all about? I was underage... but then again, so was he. But now people of all ages can gain access to the latest incarnation of Limelight as it's walls have purged graffiti and designer drugs and instead house countertops lined with trinkets and designer duds. Businesses specializing in goods from teacups and gourmet foods to belt buckles and cosmetics flourish in the intricately designed passageways and staircases I'd had a pretty hard time traversing. And I was sober.
The entire area spans over 20,000 square feet but like any other building in New York City, there's very little negative space. While taking a glance at fragrance at Soapology I simply backed up and found myself in Le Sports Sac with a foot grazing FACE Stockholm. Overcrowding aside, the complex is nicely decorated with clean lines and polished black and white checkerboard floors. The aesthetic is maintained by a modern twist on the gothic style of it's original design. Service isn't nearly as pushy as most shopping boutiques like Saks 5th Avenue but that may have to do with how popular the complex has yet to become.
More and more of the sales people at the counters are remarking how, after being open for a little over 6 months, most visitors are more intrigued in the building's history than it's current standing. The majority of visitors are simply there to make remarks about their personal experiences than to actually shop.
Although I don't regard the Limelight as the kind of destination shopping center I'd frequent to drop cash, it's at least good for an ephemeral flashback.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Yesterday, November 1st 2010, marked the first day of "MOvember"- a month of celebration of the most masculine of all grooming traits; the doubly-awesome moustache.
Like all great ideas, Movember came together in a bar. In 2003, over a few rounds of beers, friends gathered in an Australian pub to discuss a larf, an idea to grow out their moustaches in an effort to spark conversation they could veer toward the topic of men's health. By the following year, their efforts gained more momentum as well as dollars that they then contributed to the
Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Women around the world have shown valiant efforts in uniting in the fight against breast cancer, showing their solidarity with the trademark pink ribbon. And although cancer in general is an issue that addresses all people, Prostate Cancer is the number one condition of most detriment to men specifically. What better way to show your support than by growing your own ribbon of solidarity?
Yesterday, Nick Burns, internationally published writer and co-author of The Bearded Gentleman (one of my favorite books), had himself a good close shave in preparation for the his contribution to the MOvember movement. By shaving at the start of the month, Nick has a clean start to begin growing his manly markings. All grooming to come during the next 30 days will circle around his upper lip and his fantastic hirsute pursuit. Numerous ladies (and gentlemen) will marvel at his magnificent moustache and inquire as to it's inception. At which point, the plan goes into fruition.
By growing a moustache, Nick will be able to introduce others to the MOvember cause and it's beneficiaries like the PCF and Livestrong which benefit education and services associated with cancer and men's health issues. He can even direct them to great men's grooming products to aide in moustache maintanence like those from Anthony Logistics who donates a portion of their proceeds to fund the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Or he can guide them to an introductory video
to hopefully inspire them into participation as well.
Unfortunately, I won't be growing a moustache as I am in the middle of a massive beard (product testing has it's obligations, details to come) but will definitely be doing my part by spreading the word as far and wide as possible to all men and women alike.
If you would like to be part of the MOvember movement, please visit www.us.movember.com and sign up to participate or make a donation.
To find out more please send me an email at;
To make a direct donation to Nick, please visit his mo-page
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I used to like to eat Chapstick. No seriously. I'd roll the cherry flavored tube up and lick it off. Subconsciously, I'm sure I just wanted a sweet snack and didn't really care for candy. Or couldn't afford it.
How did I afford Chapstick?
Anyway, that's not such a good idea. Most lip balms are packed full of emollients like Petrolatum, Carnauba Wax, Mineral Oil or other things you really shouldn't put IN your mouth. ON it is fine, but, other than being kind of weird, ingesting the stuff isn't really so wise. It's been done, but still.
Very often, brands will market themselves as being "natural" or "organic" but there really is no clear definition of these terms under the law. And many times those brands will use imagery of leaves, clouds and a wind-blown model to invoke their "natural" features, but are clearly deceptive when the ingredients listing includes items that are too hard to pronounce, let alone be found in nature. But, who can resist clever packaging, really?
EOS Products boast themselves as;
"created to be pretty remarkable...and remarkably pretty".
But low and behold, there on the label reads the adage;
"100% natural, 95% organic"
Can you feel me rolling my eyes? Here we have another brand using the same marketing to incur sales by using vernacular that doesn't even need to be substantiated. So, being the cosmetic-pessimist I am, I turn the product over and look over the ingredients listing- Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Beeswax, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil... No sign of Petrolatum. Period.
And they have them displayed on the candy rack! Was that a hint?
Made from the majority of good kinds of waxes, this balm comes in a small round tub the size of a golf ball and fits easily into your palm. When opened, it has a surprisingly, perfectly, rounded tip that glides onto both lips in one full swipe leaving no melted or squishy texture behind. The formula feels very stiff in the tub but soft and sweet on the lips. They come in 5 distinct flavors but my favorite is "Summer Fruit"; a blend that invokes Hawaiian Punch without the synthetic aftertaste.
The container is pretty unique as well. The small ball type style has a snap enclosure that completely locks the cap on so there's no fear of it opening in your pocket. And there's a small flat surface making the twist off motion that much easier when fumbling for a quick lip-fix.
Staying power is pretty long as well. My lips are staying super hydrated without any greasy sensation. And I find myself not needing to reapply more than a few hours apart. But I think that's because I just like licking my lips so much. Must be time for a snack.
EOS Sphere Lip Balm; $3.99
Saturday, October 16, 2010
An "Anglophile" is someone who greatly admires those from England and all things English. Is there such a thing as a "Swedo-phile"?
Cosmetics company FACE Stockholm has carved a niche for itself among very specific clientele who can't seem to get enough of this Swedish line. It's almost as if once you're into it, you can't quite seem to let go. Although many a makeup artist will sing it's praises they also tend to include the retort; "but I can never find it!".
Established in the 1980's, owners Gun Nowak and Martina Arfwidson made sure to maintain controlling interest in the brand; marketing it to select locations around the world including metropolitans like Dubai, New York City and, of course, Stockholm. But you won't find it Starbucks-style on every street corner. Instead, they've managed to maintain the integrity and quality of the brand by limiting locations and operating them according to their personal specifications. The products offered in the line of skincare, color products and essential tools reflect that kind of attention to detail including it's minimal exposure.
Like a trade secret, FACE Stockholm brings us it's latest release, Mineral Foundation Powder SPF 15. Like other mineral-based foundation powders, this product comes in a flip-top compact for easy portability and storage but where it really stands out is the formula.
Boasting most mineral elements like Mica, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide this versatile foundation powder uses emollients like Aluminum Hydroxide and the benefits of Retinyl Palmitate. Essential oils are used as a binding agent keeping the product pressed firmly but is still released easily with the swipe of a powder brush.
I have an affinity towards mineral foundations and for the longest time would reach for another brand but found it a bit dry at times. When given the opportunity to play with even another brand I was a little perturbed by the packaging which seemed excessive even though there wasn't much product actually in it. And FACE does make another mineral foundation but it comes in loose form and I tend to be on the clumsy side and don't trust them in my kit. I much prefer the convenience of a pressed mineral foundation as they make travel particularly easy.
If you are ever in Sweden you'll notice a rather largely fair skinned population. But the color options for this product are varied between very light and medium dark and are excellent even for just a bit of touch up or in conjunction with other coverage products for almost any skin tone. Of course, I do keep other color options in my kit for those who have deeper complexions but usually find myself wanting to reach for this formula specifically. Almost subconsciously even. Like I really REALLY want this product even if it's not the right color.
Maybe I should contact the dictionary people? Starting to think "Swedo-phile" should be a word.
FACE Stockholm Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15; $38
I have anywhere from 3 to 12 of each style of brush I own and , believe me, that can get a little expensive. Call it greed? Call it compulsive shopping? Call it a fetish?
Nope, just call it clean.
If you have ever been backstage at New York Fashion Week you know the kind of chaos that is customary when trying to attend to multiple models in a limited amount of time. I've heard that "success comes when preparation meets opportunity" and I don't think that includes a bad case of "pink-eye". So prepared I shall be!
I know it sounds gross (because it is) but backstage you will see many a makeup artist using the same brush time and time again on model after model after model with no regard for even wiping down the bristles in between uses.
See, told you it was gross.
But not me, NO SIR! I am always sure to switch out tools in between uses to insure that there is no sharing of bacteria what so ever. And I know a few models who agree with me. Seeing as how I've got a little following of girls circling me as I finish each look.
I have always relied on a good fluff brush for buffing out edges and sweeping on highlights and, generally, I reach for one of two; either the 224 or the #27. Both are excellent with large round fluffy bristles but tend to flare out a little too much when I want to be a bit more specific.
Enter Revlon Contour Shadow Brush with it's soft, fluffy yet rounded smooth tip for blending smaller, more intricate areas around the eye. It's only slightly tapered at the edges but the more intriguing quality is that it's bristles are long enough to get into the crease of the eye, but short enough to maintain some more control over product application. The handle is light-weight and moderately tapered toward the end so it sits pretty comfortable in your grip. On top of that, the bristles are made of natural hair like my other favorites so they come clean easily in a little brush cleaner or shampoo with water.
Unlike my other favorites, buying a few of these won't break the bank. For $6.99 at my local Duane Reade I can afford to load up on these great fluff brushes. I'll certainly be keeping a good stock of them backstage that's for sure!
It's the cheapest way to stay clean.
Revlon Countour Shadow Brush; $6.99