Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Product Review; "JONATHAN Product, Dirt Texturizing Paste"

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

Product Review; "Australian Scent Balm of Gilead Moisturizer"

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

Product Review; "Guerlain Precious Light"

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...



...my precious.

Guerlain Precious Light
; $48.00

Product Review; "INGLOT Lipstick Matte"

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

Product Review; "Jouer Cosmetics SPF Powder"

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

Friend or Foe?; Mineral Makeup

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

Product Review; "Maybelline the Collossal Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara"

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

Product Review; "Rouge G de Guerlain Lipstick"

Guerlain Cosmetics was the first company to put lipstick in a tube.

As a young man, Pierre-Fran├žois-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

Concealing Weapons

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

RED, she said.

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!

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