Monday, June 22, 2009


Sometimes, I'm guilty of over-complicating things.

I have buckets upon barrels of beauty products. Don't get me wrong - I love them! I find it nearly impossible to part with any of them. I just adore trying new products and falling head over heels for the latest and greatest. This very obsession was the reason I started a blog!

But sometimes, life gets busy and I get a little frustrated digging through a drawer of serums just looking for a basic, daily moisturizer. Those times, my beauty junkie self has to take a backseat and I need a set of old-reliables to get the job done.

Let's be honest - this is Clinique's whole premise, right? Their 3-step program of Cleanse, Exfoliate and Moisturize has been going strong for decades. I was a faithful user of their Facial Soap, Mild Clarifying Lotion and DDML (Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion) back in high school.

Not to put down Clinique at all, but my current set of "reliables" is from Bliss. I have to say I just love their whimsical approach and the latest set of multi-taskers really lets me feel that I'm able to simplify without sacrificing all the skincare benefits.

Check out this simple routine:

Created for demanding W Hotel clientele, this cleanser has it all: exfoliating beads, a nice fresh formula and can do what it's supposed to - remove makeup, oil and grime. Done.

Newsflash to me! I always think of exfoliators as these grainy, messy things. I forgot that the action of sweeping toner over your skin with a cotton round exfoliates without the mess and need to rinse. How could I forget that!? Anyway, this one is great because it's not drying and has anti-oxidants.

Lightweight enough for summer but hydrating enough for dry skin. Does it all: protects against UVA & UVB rays, illuminates skin, absorbs quickly, delivers vitamins, minerals and omegas to promote healthy skin and smells yummy.

So there you have it - for the days I need it, blissimplicity.

For the rest of the days, there are night creams, eye creams, serums, masks, balms, facial massage techniques... and the list goes on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Interviewing Pretty

The economy is suffering and everyone is writing about ways to economize.

This is not that post.

I'm writing for a very special segment: beauty chicks who are going on interviews. Maybe you are looking for a better opportunity, or worse, you are out of work and trying to find a new gig, pronto. You want to present your best self to the interviewer, but you've been know to, well... overdo it from time to time. Here are a few tips.

1. Keep the makeup light
You might be obsessed with the latest in thickening mascara, sparkly eye shadow, deep bronzing powders and lip lacquer - aren't we all? EVEN if you're interviewing for a job in beauty, you don't want your makeup to be center-stage. So apply with a light hand; you want to look like yourself, only better. Certainly cover up those 'I'' dark circles and 'I've-been-living-on-Ramen-and-M'n'M's' zits! My favorite concealer is Lancome's Effacernes - it applies evenly and is waterproof as well. There are lots of shades to choose from. I suggest applying with Lancome's #8 brush for the most natural look.

2. If you wear fragrance, think Light & Pretty
Conventional wisdom says not to wear fragrance to a job interview. Since fragrance is so subjective, it can easily give the wrong impression and it's too easy to overdo it. BUT if you are one of those chicks who feels absolutely naked without fragrance, and you can't feel like you look put together or pretty without it, I have a solution for you. The new fragrance by Elizabeth Arden, appropriately named Pretty, fits the bill. It's light enough that if you use one spritz more than an hour before the interview, it won't overwhelm. It's centered on Petalia, a "perfect floral" note developed by the famed fragrance house Givaudan. Accented with citrus fruits and sensual woods, it is a very soft and feminine scent. The bottle is designed to look like a bud vase making it look even more, well, pretty.

3. A readable resume. Duh.
The other day I was asked to provide some advice to a graduating college senior. She sent me her resume. It had like 2 millimeter margins, and her name was in such a crazy script font, I could barely tell what her name is. Friends, legibility and brevity are the key to killer resumes.

Now, go out and get em!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

eos: an extraordinary option for shaving

What do you look for in a shaving cream? A formula that won't clog your razor and provides good glide so you get a close shave are the basics. It's also nice to have a pleasant scent, nice packaging, skincare benefits and being environmentally friendly. eos has all that - and a great pricetag!
The eos Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream is fantastic. The formula is a thick cream that can be used wet or dry. It's so rich, you'd think it would clog your razor, but it rinses clean so you get a close shave from toe to top. The scents are great - choose from Pomegranate Raspberry, Island Blue, Vanilla Bliss, Lavender Jasmine, Cucumber Melon or Fragrance Free for sensitive types.

The bottle is so well designed you'd think it costs twice the price. First of all, it's the same kind of soft-touch plastic that NARS makeup compacts have, and has finger grip depressions - so it won't slide out of wet soapy hands. I love that it's plastic - say goodbye rust rings on the tub! The bottle is recyclable and the pump is 100% propellant free so you can feel good about the environment.

The formula is skin-friendly too. It contains aloe, oat, shea butter and vitamins E&C. My easily irritated skin felt calm and silky smooth.

Look for eos ultra moisturizing shave cream at Target, drugstores or grocery stores, or order online at It's priced around $5, and the cheapest prices are at the eos store, where you can also find some really cool looking lip balms. I can't wait to see more from this brand - looks like they have a body lotion coming soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Personal Sanctuary

Years ago, I was travelling alone and befriended a great English gal. She let me use her shower after I used the pool after check-out time, and I fell in love with her Sanctuary products, which come from the esteemed ladies-only spa in London. I adored the Body Moisture Spray. It has a warm, spicy scent and absorbs quickly, leaving skin dewy but not greasy. This product is responsible for my long-standing obsession with spray-on body oils - because who really has time to slather on moisturizer after a shower? It's much easy to spritz on some oil while the skin is damp.

Anyway, I thought about these products long after we parted ways, and picked some up at an airport Boots (the fabulous British pharmacy) while on the way home. But, alas, my stash soon ran out. Imagine, then, my excitement when Target started carrying some Boots products in their stores, including those from The Sanctuary! I've stocked up on quite a few items from the Spa Essentials line, including the Bath Relaxer (a heavier oil, more like a baby oil, great for soaking in a bath or smoothing over extra-dry skin) and the Foaming Shower Mousse (a very rich and moisturizing self-foaming wash). I can't find the beloved Body Moisture Spray on Target's website so I'm not sure if they carry it - my current bottle came from a pal abroad.

Next time you're at Target, be sure to try this line. It's affordable, smells amazing and pampers your skin. For me, it will always bring me back to that sunny afternoon in Thailand, as I set forth for the next leg of my journey.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and is a perfect time to take a look at the brands that celebrate the beauty of African American women. Not so long ago, women of deeper skin tones and coarser hair types had limited beauty product options. Just think about that section of the drugstore where products have unappealing names involving the words cholesterol or placenta.

Now there are more luxurious options, and their products are bound to find a following outside of their target market. And being beyond pale with thin, limp hair, I'm the perfect person to test that theory!

The first brand that comes to mind is Fashion Fair. Fashion Fair Cosmetics was introduced in September 1973 at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, and can now be found in over 1,000 fine stores in the U.S. and around the world. I have visited the counter in Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue several times. They have a huge range of makeup for all skin tones. I found the Finishings Lipstick to be richly pigmented, smooth and hydrating. When I feel like a bold, brown lip I pick up "Uptown Brown" which has reddish undertones.

Mizani is a salon brand designed for hair that is "naturally curly and highly textured to color-treated, relaxed and everything in between". Mizani is a Swahili word meaning "balance", and the founding principle of the brand is "Beauty and Chemistry in Balance." A favorite product of mine (and my husband's!) is Mizani's Spradiance High Gloss Serum. It is lightweight, imparts a ridiculous amount of shine and smells wonderful (a little bit like Mugler's Angel).

Next up is Dr. Miracle's. Now this is a funny story. I often receive emails from brands announcing new products and so on, so I can share the info with you. I got a very nice email from the people at Dr. Miracle's showing how People Magazine had highlighted their hair product that helps repair broken hair around the nape and forehead. Well! Since having my baby, I have dealt with thinning hair around the forehead and thought this might help me out. So I received the Temple & Nape Gro Balm and press kit, and ONLY THEN realized it was for African American hair. Oops! I sheepishly emailed the rep, asking if this would work on my blonde, thin hair, and she suggested I give it a try. The packaging is very retro and has a vague snake-oil-salesman a.k.a. infomercial look and tone to it. (Just check out their website and you'll see what I mean). I did try the formula and unfortunately it made my hair very greasy since I don't have any texture to absorb it. The "Feel It" Formula" (no, I'm not making this up) does tingle with a combination of menthol and clove oil, so I can imagine that it does stimulate blood flow to the area's hair follicles. Thanks to the kind folks at the brand, I do have a few bottles of the product - leave a comment with your email address if you're interested in trying the Gentle or Super strength formula.

Lastly, who hasn't drooled over the yummy-smelling formulations by Carol's Daughter during a trip to Sephora? While many of the hair products seem specifically designed to address the needs of ethnic hair, the body products and fragrance will certainly appeal to all. Personally, I'm dying to try Pearls, their latest fragrance release. First of all, I'm obsessed with pearls, and the bottle is adorned with a pearl topper. Secondly, it has wonderful notes of lemon verbena, a floral heart and a warm base of vanilla and sweet caramel. mmmmmm!

I'm sure I've missed ome of the exciting new brands for women of color, so please add a comment and let us know which ones to try next!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Warm Your Home with Cinnamon

Cinnamon bush with bark peeled back, Zanzibar

Cinnamon is one of my favorite scents and flavors. As a kid, I really enjoyed buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. When I studied in France, I was looking to buy cinnamon but didn't know what it was called , so I asked the grocer in my best French: "I would like the brown spice that one eats with apples" - and he amusedly pointed me to canelle. Even today, I have a really embarassing addiction to Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. So when I had to make cookies for a cookie exchange party I recently hosted, naturally I wanted to use cinnamon, especially because it has such nice nice fall & holiday associations.

In searching for a good cinnamon cookie recipe, I stumbled across a great blog - Kitchen Addiction. Rachel posts amazing recipes and I made her Chewy Cinnamon Cookies for my party. Her recipe held up to my numerous mistakes and they still tasted good. (She even fielded frantic questions from me via email - thanks so much!) But the biggest benefit of baking all day was that my house smelled deliciously cinnamon-y.

Now, to recapture that scent without the mixing, beating, measuring and cleaning up! Just like the gal in the silly Glade gingerbread man commercial (you know the one I mean), I burn a cinnamon candle. I have a few favorites:

For a spicy vanilla with a little bite, burn Votivo's Cinnamon candle, No 76. This is no longer on Votivo's website - very sad if discontinued - but you can find it here for $24.90.

Cinnamon is also amazing when combined with orange and clove, which is why the Arancio & Canella candle by Lorenzo Villoresi is such a delight. I got this one at Lafco NY; they carry Villoresi scents on their website; call them to see if candles are also in stock.

OK, how about a candle that we can actually find & buy!? For immediate gratification, head to your Bath & Body Works and get the Henri Bendel Cinnamon Bark candle. This candle features the unmistakable, timeless scent of cinnamon bark blended with frosted bergamot, fresh orange, clove bud and smoky musk.

Finally, if you prefer other ways to scent your home than just using candles (maybe little ones are about and candles pose a risk), then you can enjoy Slatkin's Cinnamon & Clove Buds scent in a "Right at Home" gift set of a 4-oz candle, 1.5 oz room spray and Wallflowers® Pluggable Home Fragrance Diffuser set.

Enjoy these candles on days you're not baking... and when you are, definitely head to Kitchen Addiction!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You Smell... I mean that in a good way

Let's be honest, a big percentage of beauty purchasing decisions are packaging-based. I'm not even much of a soap user, but I was excited when I saw these soaps from YOU SMELL. Yes, that's the name. The packages say "You Smell" on the front and "like a " on the back.

The design is really fun - it reminds me of a cross between vintage fruit-box labels and old botanical prints. The copy is cheeky but not too silly; on the front we're reminded that "people like people who smell good" and on the side of the wrapper, we are assured that "help is on the way" and reminded to "resist the urge to eat it". Can't you just see these for sale in an Anthropologie store?

But of course, packaging is only part of the story - the product has to be good! These soaps are made from all-natural goat's milk and shea butter. It's hand-made from start to finish and has a smooth and creamy texture. I put them near my kitchen sink and used them for my frequent hand-washing, and they didn't dry out my skin.

There are only 2 fragrances at the moment - Lemon Verbena and Lavender Mint. I am partial to the calming Lavender Mint, but my recent houseguests preferred the zesty Lemon Verbena. Contrary to what the name might suggest, the soaps are not overly perfumed such that they leave a heavy scent on your skin, a benefit for those wanting little interference with their perfumes. The scent remains only as a hint, but I find myself wishing these lovely scents would stick around and make "me smell" a bit more!

The company is just getting started so you're hearing about it before the Anthropologies of the world make them available all over. For now, purchase online at for $8.50/bar. They would be a funny stocking stuffer for a sibling or anyone else who can stand up to being told, "You smell!"