Monday, July 31, 2006

The Rains of Africa

Image of Baobab tree in Bostwana from Destination: Botswana

Touring through the dusty veld of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bostwana in the heart of the dry season, I gained a deep appreciation of the importance of rain to this sun-parched land. Wherever water can be found, life teems around it. Cruising down Botswana's Chobe River, one can see herds upon herds of elephants, hippos, babboons and water buffalos reveling in the river's life-giving flow. Even the currency of Botswana reflects this truth: the unit of currency is called the "pula" - the same word used for both rain and luck.

Taking a break from safari at one of Johannesburg's great shopping malls, I discovered a range of beauty products that celebrate the gifts that the rains of Africa bring forth. Aptly named, RAIN aims to bring the aromas of the diverse African continent into your home with its unique ranges: Marula and Rooibos, Savannah, Avocado, African Rain and Wild Cotton. Their latest range is Rain African Spa, a full range of spa products that can be used for both home spa and in the professional wellness centers and spas. I particularly loved the Baobab massage oil... it contains oil from Africa's most distinctive tree and has a delightful aroma.

More updates and photos from the (dusty) road as soon as I am able!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Pen is Mightier

When Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that "the pen is mightier than the sword," he probably wasn't thinking how the might of the pen could improve cosmetics. Yet now, one needn't always have the perfect brush or applicator handy - cosmetics in pen form are meant to provide precision on the go.

YSL's Touche Éclat (Radiant Touch) was the first pen-based cosmetic to command my attention. I liked the clicky wand, the silky brush, and the concealer/radiance-enhancing brightener. Basically, I go for anything that helps chase the shadows from under my eyes. Its runaway success inspired several other companies to launch similar products - which come in a variety of price points, listed below. My love affair with Touche Éclat ended when the brush developed a stinky smell that would persist through washings. Let's hope these new players have overcome the challenges of brush-rot!

The precision of a pen is now appearing in all kinds of cosmetics - see the fine-tipped collection below.

Let's face it - aging is most obvious around the eyes and the lips. Bliss' 'peri' Godmothers Set includes products to smooth and improve the 'round the mouth and 'round the eye areas. It includes bliss spiff upper lip and bliss wrinkle twinkle (buying the set saves $6 versus purchasing separately). Of course, I love the fact that wrinkle twinkle can help eliminate dark undereye circles with continued use! I'm also impressed that spiff upper lip helps reduce upper lip fuzz.

Eyeko's Fruity Felt Lip Pen applies a liquid lip stain with a precision point. Just apply to clean, oil free lips and the color lasts all day. I like to put a gloss or chapstick over it so my lips don't look and feel dry.

Fleur de Sephora Fragrance Pens have a sheer gel formula in a twist-up pen for on-the-go application that won't spill in your purse. Try the spill-free scents in Lotus, Peony or Rose.

Cellex-C's Skin Perfecting Pen can be used as a spot treatment to heal blemishes or as a soothing treatment to ease the itch of insect bites. Or if you have dark spots, try Clarins' Bright Plus Target Zone Brightening Corrector. Its exclusive "Lock-Around System™" promises to reduce freckles, sun, age and dark spots as it soothes.

Elemis' Pro-Collagen Wrinkle Smooth Pen promises that a more youthful, radiant appearance is just a brush stroke away. At a $158 price point, I am afraid I won't be trying it and reporting to you all. Please comment if you've tried it!

Lola Cosmetics' Pops Eyeshadow Pen is two-sided with complementary eye shadow colors. Each tip has a pointed sponge applicator that dips into loose shadow when the tip is closed, ensuring a spot-on application.

Lastly, we don't always succeed at application perfection. Then, the pen can be an eraser to removes stains and mistakes! Case in point (no pun intended): Rembrandt Teeth Whitening Pen gives you a precision application of nighttime whitening agent, so you can target the areas that need it most. Made some nailpolish mistakes? Fix them up with Sephora's Nail Polish Corrector Pen. I won't say more, as the product has already been delightfully reviewed at Real Girl Beauty.

Got other "magic wands" to share? Post a comment!