Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Single Serve

Today's gal is always on the go. She doesn't want to lug around full-size bottles of her favorite beauty potions and colors, plus her cute wristlet purse or weekend bag simply couldn't handle the load! Rather than choose among your babies, now you can have it all. Check out these ultra-portable, hyper-hygenic and simply adorable single serving secrets.

For the minimalist, Prada Beauty sells individual doses of its skincare remedies, packaged in little white tubes that look like miniature packages. Meant for a single use, they're perfect for travel - or stashing in your boyfriend's medicine cabinet.

No, it's not Sudafed or a child's paint box. CARGO's Daily Gloss is a 30-day set of single-serving lip glosses sealed in bubbles that keep freshness in and germies out. And for a limited time, they have the "GlossBox" - single use lip gloss vials and applicators - push the two together and apply.

The clever gals of Passport Cosmetics create "world class beauty essentials for the girl-on-the-go." Lipsticket is their answer to carrying multiple shades of lipstick without the bulk. A paper-thin kiss-shaped dose of color gives you precise, mirror-free application. Carry with you shades inspired by the Alps (pale pink), Milan (nude) and Paris (sheer berry) and still have room for more products!

Finally, when you need some glow on the go, try Lancôme's BLUSH PAPIER NACRÉ. These sheets look like blotting paper but instead are coated with powder for bronzing or blushing; just press onto skin wherever you need a little shimmer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Died and Gone to Heaven

Those of you who are beauty junkies - hold on to your seats. Don't hate me... because I have been to the Ultimate Beauty Event Ever.

For gals in the biz, there's Cosmetic Executive Women, a nonprofit trade organization of approximately 4,000 executives in the beauty, cosmetics, fragrance, and related industries. And every year these experts, these trendsetters are invited to review the year's product launches and vote on which products were the hottest, coolest, most unique or effective.

How does this work? Droves of women descend upon Metropolitan Pavillion in NYC - waiting outside in the February chill wearing their strappy Manolos and dreaming of the array of products inside. They enter and see row after row of tables where earnest marketers describe each product with a combination of the reverence of church and the excitement of a 5 year old's birthday party.

As you wander down Mascara Row or sniff your way through Perfume Alley, your senses are overloaded. A glow of euphoria spreads over you, aided by the free chardonnay and pumping DJ music. Once you've sampled and sniffed, massaged and blended 2005's best of the best, you wonder how this night could get any better. And then your joy reaches a crescendo as you are handed the GIFT BAG to end all gift bags on your way out the door.

Now, you'd better be seated for this: we are talking 20 pounds of free products packaged in an Allure totebag. I estimate this motherload to be valued at about $1000 (consider some products like Idebenol retail for $109 a tube...). My co-pilgrims and exited back ito the chill, retreated to a restaurant, and could only utter, "Blood Orange Margarita, no salt" before digging into the depths of The Bag to explore our booty.

yet for the truly addicted, even the euphoria from a haul like this may not last until next February...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Burmese Dreams

I visited Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) last month. Having been closed for so long, this land is relatively untouched by time and the influence of the West - filled with mysterious temples, men in sarongs called longee and women who make up their faces with thanaka, a whitish paste made from the bark of a tree.

Thanaka is used in the Myanmar countryside as a natural (and free) sunscreen and skin protectant. It is a unique practice in Southeast Asia and has become so closely associated with Myanmar's national identity that even as the country modernizes, urban women use it in a stylized fashion, creating circles, lines or patterns of leaves on their cheekbones to wear to work or while running errands.

I had the pleasure of trying thanaka myself from a vendor selling jars of the pre-ground paste. She mixed the dry paste - which smells delightfully of sandalwood - with a small quantity of water and applied it to my cheeks. Then she used a special brush to create a horizontally striped pattern on my cheeks. As it dried, it created a nice cooling sensation and the color lightened (but still could barely be seen against my fair complexion).

Thus made up, I walked among Yangon's most famed temples and I caught many Burmese looking at me and smiling. I was afraid they'd perceive my cultural experience as mockery or inappropriate, but our guide assured me they thought it was adorable.

Visit Myanmar for yourself - before the men shed their longee for blue jeans and thanaka has been replaced by Western cosmetics.