Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Breaking News!!; "December 1st - World AIDS Day"

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

Product Review; "NYX Cosmetics Glitter Powder"

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.

What? Why?

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

Friend or Foe?; Sales People

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

Product Review; "Maybelline Volume Express the Falsies Mascara"

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.

Until now?

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

Breaking News!!; MAC-Me-Over!

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

Product Review; "got2b ultra glued Invincible Styling Gel"

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

Product Review; "Anthony Logistics Glycolic Cleanser"

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

Field Trip; "Limelight Marketplace"

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

Breaking News!!; MOvember

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

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