Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One-Day Sale at Beauty.com

Just in time for stocking up on stocking stuffers - or stuff for you. Get 20% off everything at Drugstore.com and its sister site Beauty.com, one day only.

So if you're someone who spends $2.50 or $25+ on a lipstick, you can enjoy savings on some things that never go one sale!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The 311 on Travel Beauty

Many of you will be flying this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. There is still the big "Liquids & Gels" security, so here's what you need to know.

The latest requirements are as follows (but be sure to check before flying, as the TSA may change them at a moment's notice):

  • Liquid/gel beauty products are allowed on board, but the container must be 3 oz or smaller (i.e. a half-full 6-oz container won't fly)

  • All of your beauty products must fit in ONE clear, quart-size zip-top plastic bag. This is for real: my sister's concealer got confiscated because it was not in a plastic baggie!
  • Have a question about whether a specific product is allowed on board? Check out the TSA's official list here.

So what products can help you avoid the checked-baggage blues? Sephora, who always makes it easy to part with my money, has created a useful list of Airplane-Approved Beauty, products ranging from fragrance to moisturizers to dental care.

My favorites? Bliss' Foam For The Holidays travel-sized gift set (I love their Lemon Sage scent), L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream (protects against drying airplane air) and Tarte's Slide Tin Lip Balm, which has a honey sugar cookie flavor, a subtle tint and a sleek container.

Trying to catch some in-flight zzzz's? A neck pillow, ear plugs and eye mask are key. But how many times have you woken up with your mascara and eyelashes stuck to your face? Deal with that no longer with the 40 Blinks Eye Mask, which is ultralight and molded to give your luscious lashes plenty of room.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rubbed the Wrong Way

To rub or not to rub? Ay, that's the rub.
Forgive the Shakespearian allusions (more below), but the question of whether rubbing perfume into your skin alters the fragrance is probably as old as the bard himself. He probably knew a thing or two about fragrance... after all, he did pen the aphorism, "That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet."

So, perhaps it follows that "A scent sprtitzed stays true, no matter what you do"? Hmmm. Perhaps I should leave the quotations to the experts. And in this post, I'm leaving the opinions and research to the experts as well – the leading fragrance bloggers. Let's see what they have to say!

On the question of why people are bound to rub, Lucy at Indie Perfumes observed that “people do it just to get it to ‘dry-down’ a bit quicker, to get it to meld more into the skin more quickly, and to spread it to a larger surface area if too much was put in one place.”

Marie-Helene at the Scented Salamander is a bit more of a purist, and warns that rubbing "will alter the delicate balance of your fragrance; you should resist the temptation to rub the fragrance into your skin as this will result into upsetting the pyramidal structure of the perfume (i.e. top, heart, and base notes; there are other types of fragrance structures but this is the most commonly used)."

What to do if you want the purest scent on your skin? She advises, “the best way to do it is to spray, from a distance of about 8 inches, and let the scent air-dry even if the quantity you spritzed appears a bit excessive. Often people spray from too close a distance which results in this reflex to rub the scent in, for example with both wrists, to disperse the excessive amount of it. Another way to go about it, if you feel your spray nozzle is too quick to respond and difficult to control, is to spray in front of you and walk through the mist; this will allow you to modulate to a certain degree the intensity of the scent.”

Marlen, a.k.a. The Perfume Critic, took it upon himself to conduct an experiment for us on whether there is a difference in the scent of rubbed and air-dried perfume! Here are his field notes:

“’To rub or not to rub,’ sounds a little kinky, but when talking about perfume, it takes on a new meaning. I've often been told that ‘rubbing’ a fragrance into the skin, specifically alcohol-based fragrances like eaux des toilettes, ‘crushes the molecules’ (oh stop, those aren't my words!) and changes the overall aroma.

Having always been a rubber and crusher by nature, I felt compelled to respond to Beauty Chick's question by actually presenting my scented wrists to neighbors to see if they could determine which was rubbed and which was merely shpritzed. Wearing the new Tom Ford Black Orchid, I tried 2 different experiments. First I rubbed the fragrance into both my wrists and asked a group of three if they could tell any difference. One person reported that the right wrist smelled sweeter while the other two reported no perceivable difference. Again, this first time, both of the wrists had been rubbed. Then, this morning, using the same scent, I sprayed the back of my right hand without rubbing and then sprayed the back of my left hand and rubbed it on my leg (only in perfumeland could I be writing this). I asked the same three people and this time they each reported no perceivable difference.

Now, let it be said that this is a very simple experiment and if you wanna go getting all academic on my ass then of course we would need a larger sample size, a wider range of scents and subjects, and additional trials to prove any kind of point. From my own perspective, I can't really say I subscribe to the "rubbing is bad" theory, and from this experiment it would seem that others can't perceive a difference between rubbed and shpritzed.

Christine, who writes Perfume Bee, alerted her readers to rely on a published beauty writer's advice in a post entitled, “Rubbing Wrists Together Does NOT Change Perfume Scent” (which I think makes her position rather clear.) She refers to Linda Wells' new book, ALLURE: Confessions of a Beauty Editor, in which Wells writes: "Finally an astute reader with a doctorate in chemistry wrote in and pointed out that if it were that easy to crush single molecules, her job would be a lot easier. Good point, Maggie Topp from the Netherlands. From now on, we'll rub to our heart's content."

Thanks to all the great fragrance bloggers for weighing in on the debate! Be sure to read their blogs for many more insights. Here’s my take-away: if you can’t stop yourself from rubbing your fragrance in, rest easy - it really shouldn't matter. And if you’re such a fragrance aficionado that you’d rather not take any chances, we admire your dedication and patience in air-drying.

For those who appreciate Shakespeare and scents, be sure to check out Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Shakespearean Collection where you can get a scent designed after Juliet herself - or perhaps Ophelia or Desdemona is more to your liking. And since they're perfume oils, you may not have to face the air-drying dilemma at all!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm Rubber, You're Glue.... (+ see inside for contest!)

Lengthen, separate, thicken, curl & darken - without clumping, flaking or smudging. We ask a lot of our mascaras.

Now there is a new generation of mascaras that promise the above and more, with the help of revolutionary molded-plastic wands.

Image from GEKA Brush, makers of injection-molded brushes

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery?
Chanel recently launched their latest mascara, Inimitable ($26.50), promising that it's "a new standard in mascara with a formula that does it all". They say that their sophisticated formula and unique brush design combine to lengthen, plump and curl, delivering lush, long-wearing colour so precisely that each lash, even the finest, is perfectly defined and separated.

The white brush is made from soft elastomer bristles that hold the proper amount of product, are flexible enough to move with your lashes and aligned in perfect symmetry, so that each lash is coated to perfection.

Users praise its ability to go on smoothly and evenly with no clumps, creating an easy-to-achieve false eyelashes look.

By definition, "Inimitable" means Chanel doesn't think anybody can copy them. But they should watch out for the following...

CoverGirl LashExact
Cover Girl's LashExact mascara ($6.99) has a purple injection-molded thermoplastic brush (sounds very high-tech, doesn't it?). The molding technique gives the bristles extra support to deliver exact lash definition, and the smooth, tapered bristles glide through individual lashes to gently separate and lift.

When I tried this, I have to say that it delivered on the number one promise: it doesn't clump! My lashes were extremely long, defined and separated. My mom saw the results and immediately asked what I was using. Being such a nice girl, I gave her my tube and she says that she loves the long-lash look it gave her, and she was happy there were no clumps. Additionally, she noted it didn't run when her eyes were tearing (we think from allergies - not the mascara!).

The only complaint? LashExact is great for a day look, but it doesn't deliver a lot of volume. Well, gals, I'm here to tell you that these clever folks are coming out with VolumeExact in January! I already spotted it at my local Eckerd drugstore, so you might get lucky and snag a tube in advance of the launch.

Finally, the nice folks at Cover Girl are doing a giveaway of Lash Exact - go Cover Girl's website for details. And in addition, I'm doing my first ever **Beauty Hatchery giveaway**! I have a brand-new, sealed Lash Exact in black that I'll send to a randomly-chosen winner. Just leave a comment on this post with your name or nickname, and in a week, I'll randomly choose someone and leave a comment with the winner's name. Then you can privately email me your address and I'll pop it in the mail.

Max Factor Lash Perfection
Max Factor invented the first mascara wand, and have turned it up a notch with new Lash Perfection Mascara ($8). The flexible bristles of their yellow, rubbery iFX brush deliver the volumizing mascara evenly, to coat and define your lashes from root to tip. The patent-pending brush technology and our advanced formula mascara work together for lashes that look full and long.

Verdict? My lashes look longer, more defined and more lush (but not as luscious as other volumizing mascaras on the market) - without clumps. The look stays all day, but is a little hard to remove with my usual cleanser-and-water routine.

Lash Perfection was selected to be one of InStyle Magazine's best beauty buys 2006, and now the company has launched a waterproof version. Max Factor is running a "MAXimize your Eyes" sweepstakes, and the prize includes lots of goodies, including a year's supply of Lash Perfection Waterproof. Enter by 11/24/06.

Each of these mascaras has a high-tech, molded wand and has generated rave reviews. Whether you go for white, purple or yellow, chances are that you'll be one step closer to mascara nirvana.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Things that Make you go Hmmmm....

Anyone who's ever been on vacation with me knows what a freak I am about sunscreen. I can't have fun if I'm worrying about getting burned, which happens in about 0.0001 seconds.

So, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to protect myself. I was very excited to discover two products that promise to make quicker work of protecting your skin. But I'll warn you, they may sound too good to be true.

Freeze 24/7 recently launched the first-ever wash-on sunscreen, Ice Shield. I don't know about you, but I've always been under the assumption that cleansers are designed to remove things from your skin. And here they promise that by washing your face, you can get SPF 15, UVA/UVB protection!

How it works: A revolutionary innovative encapsulation technology allows Ice Shield™ to bind sunscreen to the skin while the mild cleansing system washes away dirt and impurities. Apply a nickel size amount to wet palms and work into a rich creamy lather BEFORE applying to face, neck and ears. Leave on skin for at least 1 minute; this allows the sunscreen to penetrate your skin. Rinse off and PAT dry, to avoid rubbing off your protection. Please note that Ice Shield is not designed to replace your regular sun protection regimen. Rather, it super-charges your protection (and helps you out on lazy days when you forget to apply sunscreen).

Ice Shield uses Avobenzone, a key sunscreen active ingredient and recognized by the FDA as an effective UVA filter. I'm inclined to believe the hype, because sunscreens are regulated by the FDA, and they don't take approvals lightly (think about how long it took them to approve Mexoryl!). If you still need convincing, it's also recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective UV Sunscreen.

Purchase for $48 at Bliss. (Currently on sale at Overstock.com for $42.99).

Ever dreamed of being able to simply pop a pill and protect your skin from the sun? I have, every summer as I slather on creams, lotions and sprays. Well, it seems that my wish may have come true. Two companies now offer oral supplements that are supposed to boost your sun protection. And the best part is that protection is systemic - head to toe, even if you miss a spot with your creams.

Heliocare is an oral dietary supplement that claims it has antioxidant properties that help maintain the skin's ability to protect against sun related effects and aging. The key ingredient (Polypodium leucotomos) is derived from the fern plant and is full of antioxidants that become active within 30 minutes of swallowing the pill.

Experts say those antioxidants pick up the damaging free radicals that are released when UV radiation penetrates the skin. This sun damage contributes to wrinkles and skin cancer. Note that Heliocare is NOT a replacement for topical sunscreens. Its main function is to enhance the body's ability to deal with UV that gets through topical sunscreens.These supplements are not cheap, costing about a dollar a day. Purchase 60 tablets for $59.99 at Drugstore.com

SunPill, another dietary supplement, promises enhanced sun protection with daily use. They recommend taking one tablet daily in the morning, and taking two during prolonged sun exposure. Like Heliocare, SunPill advises use with a traditional topical sunscreen and says it's most effective when taken as part of an ongoing health regimen.

Some writers are more skeptical about SunPill, especially since it doesn't publish its ingredients on its website. ABC News noted that "SunPill has been less enthusiastically received by skin care experts. Doctors interviewed by ABC News say the SunPill doesn't have the science to support its claims as a 'digestible-sunscreen.'" Another news article bashed their claim-testing methodology.

SunPill is available via its corporate website, with various pricing plans averaging out to a dollar a day.

So what do you think? I love new technology, especially things that save me from worrying about getting a sunburn, developing wrinkles or heading down the road to skin cancer. These products may provide more help in the battle against sun damage, but it looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer for the holy grail: never having to spend time applying topical sunscreen or worrying about whether we're perfectly protected.