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Category: Beauty

The Sexy Smokey Eye with Make Up For Ever

[ 0 ] November 20, 2011

Girl time! Chatting with makeup artist Melissa Nicholl from Make Up For Ever about how to get that sexy, colorful smokey eye look.


[ 0 ] August 18, 2009

vanilla-lushMy obsession with vanilla continues.  I add pure vanilla essence to practically every dessert I bake and have been looking for a fragrance that carries this scent without smelling like cupcakes – although that might not be such a bad thing!

I came across the perfect scent – in a batch of vanilla-inspired products from LUSH Cosmetics.  The dusting powder is absolutely decadent and enhanced with the scent of jasmine.  Not only is the fragrance exquisite but there is something quite luxurious about dusting oneself with scented powder before bedtime…  It also works great as a deodorant and dry shampoo!

Vanilla Puff Dusting Powder

$10.95 for 100g

LUSH Cosmetics

The Big Brush-Up

[ 0 ] August 17, 2009

What woman hasn’t experienced a little high after buying a new lipstick or makeup palette?  It’s a rather 190-brushinexpensive luxury that still allows you to feed, clothe the kids and make mortgage payments.

While makeup can be an essential beauty pick-me-up, its silent helpers often go unnoticed: the lowly brushes.  These little guys work overtime to ensure flawless, makeup applications – if you are using a high-quality brush.  That means, no shedding (terribly annoying and embarrassing), maintaining its shape wash after wash (you’re washing your brushes regularly, right?!) and it is soft and luxurious.

I found such a brush at Sephora the other day.  Made by Cover FX, this powder brush retails for $49.00.  Is that steep?  Yes.  Do you get what you pay for?  Yes. If you’re on a tight budget and have to choose between high quality makeup or brushes, many makeup artists will advise the latter option.  A great brush will likely outlast your latest makeup fad.

This brush is made of 100 % unbleached goat hair), does not leave stray hairs on your face and is guaranteed to last a long time.  It also remains sturdy and balanced thanks to the ramin wood handle.  A lot of work has gone into this brush and in my opinion, that makes it worth the money.

If you’re in the market for a great loose/pressed powder brush, give this one a try and let me know what you think.  I’ll highlight more of my favourite makeup brushes in future posts.

Cover FX Brush #190, $49.00

Available at Sephora

Cheat your way to smooth, soft skin with ClearPrep FX: Review

[ 4 ] March 30, 2009

The quest for smooth, wrinkle-free skin can be a daunting one, fraught with danger (cosmetic procedures gone horribly wrong) and disappointment (money well-wasted).  Whether you work in front of a camera or in another high-profile capacity requiring a lot of “face time”, looking your best can make all the difference.

In recent years, cosmetic laser procedures and chemical peels have promised younger, wrinkle-free skin but these procedures can carry significant risk and a large price tag.  Is there an alternative? Yes.

Get smooth skin with ClearPrep FX by Cover FX

Get smooth skin with ClearPrep FX by Cover FX

Cosmetic priming products can also help achieve that soft-focus look.  The results may not be permanent or immediate like that of a laser or chemical peel but it is usually a more cost-effective method with a lower risk level.

Cover FX released a new, interesting product.  ClearPrep FX is both a matte foundation primer and blemish treatment gel.  The ingredient listing is impressive.  Dimethicone (silicone) gives the illusion of smooth, wrinkle-free, skin.  ClearPrep FX also has fruit acids and 1% salicylic acid (BHA derived from willow bark extract) to help exfoliate, increase skin cell turnover and remove sebum buildup.  If that isn’t not enough, the product also contains peptides to help heal blemishes and regulate skin’s oil production.

This could very well be a miracle product.  Normally, I would advise sensitive skin types to avoid products containing a host of ingredients but it seems a lot of research has gone into this product.  It’s also designed specifically for sensitive skin.  If you are concerned about a potential reaction just do a patch test (ie. on the neck or behind the  ear).

The product is available online at Sephora and in select store locations.

ClearPrep FX by Cover FX

30ml/1 fl. oz for $39.00

LUSH Skin’s Shangri La Moisturizer: Review

[ 0 ] February 5, 2009

Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer from LUSH is simply spectacular.  Before coming across this product, I often wondered how stars like Halle Berry or Jennifer Lopez got that glowing, dewy look.  Over the years, I searched (unsuccessfully) for a cream that would give that glow without clogging pores or turning my face into an oil slick.  My search is officially over.

Skin's Shangri La from LUSH gives that lovely, dewy look.

Skin's Shangri La from LUSH gives that lovely, dewy look.

In just a few days, Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer has become my favorite face cream relegating other products to the sidelines.  This cream seems perfect on all levels: price, performance and pleasant scent.

Price:  At $44.95 Cdn, I would consider this moisturizer to be reasonably-priced.  Yes, it is more expensive than a lot of drugstore brands but it is much, much cheaper than prestige products which make big promises but fail to deliver.

Performance:  Skin’s Shangri La contains a potent mix of antioxidants including fresh seaweed and wheatgrass water.  It also has cold-pressed almond and jojoba oils.  I have tried those oils in pure form – they did not work for me at all.  It seems they need to be ‘in bed’ with other ingredients like organic cocoa butter and evening primrose oil.  Great formulation.

Pleasant scent:  So not only is Skin’s Shangri La reasonably priced, loaded with antioxidants, and gives that much-sought-after dewy look, it also has a very pleasant scent – like soothing vanilla.  I don’t normally appreciate a vanilla scent in a face cream but this is a very mild fragrance.

In a span of a few days, I have already converted my mother and a friend to this product.  We all have different needs but this moisturizer delivers the goods.  Oily skin types who find this too rich may want to check out LUSH’s lightweight Gorgeous moisturizer (see my review).

One final note:  It would be great if Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer came in a pump bottle rather than a plastic tub but it is still worth it.  If potential contamination is a concern just use a tiny, plastic spatula.  All in all though, this is a wonderful product!

LUSH Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer.  Buy it here.

$44.95 for 45 grams

LUSH Gorgeous Moisturizer: Review

[ 0 ] February 5, 2009

LUSH could not have come up with a better name for this product.  Gorgeous moisturizer is just that – gorgeous.  It is smooth as silk with a breathtaking floral scent.  Now I’ll be honest:  At $84.95 a jar I really did not want to like this.  But I do.  A lot.  Unlike many prestige products that are priced high just for marketing purposes, this product really does deliver.

LUSH Gorgeous moisturizer: Expensive but wonderful.

LUSH Gorgeous moisturizer: Expensive but wonderful.

After taking a closer look at the ingredient list I understand why this is the most expensive product at LUSH. Gorgeous moisturizer contains a number of nutritious oils which are cold-pressed, the best way to extract essential vitamins and nutrients.  Also, the product is scented with neroli (orange blossom) oil and water.  Neroli is one of the most expensive oils on the market mainly because it takes a lot of those tiny, white flowers (picked by hand) to get just a drop of oil.

Throw in for good measure, the royal connection.  Neroli is named after an Italian princess from the Renaissance period.  It became her trademark after she scented her gloves with the precious flowers.  Centuries later, another royal – Princess Diana – would use this actual cream.

Back to Gorgeous:  It is a lightweight moisturizer more suited for combination, oily skin or during the summer.  For dry skin types who fall in love with this like I did (it is addictive) you will likely have to ‘top-up’ with another, heavier moisturizer.  If you want to stick with the LUSH brand I would suggest Skin’s Shangri La (please see my review for that cream too).  You may want to use Gorgeous sparingly.  The scent is glorious but it may be overpowering if you wear too much.  Plus, it is not cheap.  What’s that saying, ‘too much of a good thing’…?

Lush Gorgeous Moisturizer.  Buy It Here.

$84.95 for 45 grams

LUSH Dream Cream: Review

[ 0 ] February 4, 2009

Dream Cream by LUSH is absolutely divine.  I have been searching for a body lotion to soothe, soften and most importantly, moisturize my dry skin during the harsh Canadian winters.  This cream does that and much, much more.

LUSH Dream Cream is absolutely divine.

LUSH Dream Cream is absolutely divine.

Dream Cream is loaded with antioxidants such as vitamin e-rich olive oil, skin-softening oat milk and soothing rose water.  It also contains lavender and chamomile oils to help you relax after a hard day’s work and guarantee you a great night’s sleep.  Trust me, this is the only “sleep aid” you will need.  However, do not let the name fool you.  While this cream will ensure your head hits the pillow dreaming of sheep and all things ethereal it is also the perfect body moisturizer to start your day.  Slather this all over, especially after a shower while the skin is damp.  It has a soft, subtle fragrance obtained from botanical oils making it an ideal compliment to your “day scent” but you may be tempted to just shelve your other fragrance (especially if it is derived from synthetic ingredients) and make this lavender-and-rose potion your everyday scent.  Added bonus?  Like LUSH’s face moisturizer Skin’s Shangri La, Dream Cream leaves a beautiful sheen on your skin, a wonderful glow.

As for the price, $24.95 Cdn may seem a bit steep for a body moisturizer but as I discovered with other LUSH products a little goes a long way.  Dream Cream also contains a wide spectrum of skin goodies so that should be reason enough to treat your skin to this wonderful product.  Oh, and it is great for massages too, especially if you are on the receiving end!

LUSH Dream Cream Hand & Body Lotion.  Buy It Here.

$24.95 for 240 grams

How To Get Shiny, Healthy Hair

[ 1 ] January 29, 2009

Shiny, healthy hair:  It is highly coveted by both men and women.  Those who have it show off and the ones who lost it will do almost anything to grow it back.  There are a plethora of hair products and potions on the market promising miracles.  Unfortunately, most of them do more damage than good.  In talking to several health and wellness specialists the motto seems to be ‘less is more’.

Don’t wash hair too often:

Your scalp needs time produce its own nourishing oils.  Washing daily especially with a concentrated shampoo will only exaserbate (lack of) hair problems.  You will lose the naturally-produced oils that help create rich, healthy hair and the scalp may go into overdrive producing even more oil to compensate for the loss.

Use fewer products:

We are conditioned (pun intended) to believe we need gel, mousse and hairspray to look polished.  While it will tame flyaways and other problems, people are likely using much more product than they need.  Not only does that expose your scalp and hair to more chemicals it forces you to wash more frequently.  Try to limit the number of products used and/or the amount.

Condition with coconut oil:

Coconut oil is fantastic for hair, skin and stress relief.

Coconut oil is fantastic for hair, skin and stress relief.

This is an essential part of the regimen for women in India, particularly in the south.  It seems they have found the magic potion.  Their thick, luxurious hair is highly sought-after by European and North American companies who buy their long hair and turn it into weaves and extensions.  The finished product fetches tens of thousands of dollars and is used by women all around the world, including Hollywood starlets like Paris Hilton and Beyonce.  They have the women of south India to thank for their stunning, natural hair extensions.

Coconut Oil Hair Treatment:

Don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on hair wigs and extensions?  Give coconut oil a try.  You will have to wait for the results but it may be worth it.  It is a lot cheaper too.

Beyonce has wigs and extensions from India where women use coconut oil to grow shiny, long hair.

Beyonce has wigs and extensions from India where women use coconut oil to grow shiny, long hair.

Once a week, apply a few tablespoons of warm coconut oil to your scalp (more for long hair).  For direct access to the scalp use an old hair color bottle with a pointed tip.  That will ensure the oil goes directly to the scalp.  Rub what is leftover throughout your hair.  Keep it in as long as you can, preferably overnight.  Put on a plastic shower cap and cover your pillow case with a towel.  Your scalp will thank you.  And you will sleep like a baby.  If you cannot wear it overnight, wait at least an hour before rinsing it out with a gentle shampoo and conditioner.

Eat your fruits, veggies and nuts:

I have addressed the benefits to eating well in other articles but if you need more incentive, think: shiny, healthy hair.  While it is trendy to eat low or no-fat foods it does absolutely nothing for your skin and hair.  Eat well and workout two or three times a week.  Looking good – the natural way – takes some work but the payoff is spectacular and you will set a great example for others.

The Perfect Nude Lipstick: Shades For Every Skin Tone

[ 0 ] January 28, 2009

The perfect nude lipstick is a subtle yet super-sexy way to draw attention to your pout.  It is also great for the office since it is low maintenance.  Unless you work at a cosmetic counter go easy on the gloss during the day – a matte lipstick with perhaps a touch of shine will impart a polished, professional look.  If matte lipstick is too drying, use lip balm underneath.  It will moisturize without the shine.

In the evening though, feel free to lacquer those lips with a complimentary nude gloss.  This will give the illusion of more full, luscious and seductive lips.

Angelina Jolie perfects the nude lippie with smokey eye makeup.

Angelina Jolie perfects the nude lippie with smokey eye makeup.

This is the trademark look for the current queen of Hollywood, Angelina Jolie.  She uses Laura Mercier’s lip creme in Discretion.  If your lips are not as full as hers, try using a “plumping” gloss like Two-Faced Lip Injection – don’t let the name scare you!

To make this look seem effortless, well, you do have to make some effort!  If the lips are soft and sexy choose a bold and beautiful palette for the eyes.  A smokey eye is brilliant with nude lipstick, especially black eyeliner with dark gray/blue/brown eyeshadows.  A light brush of shimmer on top is a nice finishing touch.  If that is too bold for you then at least make liberal use of dark eyeliner and mascara, otherwise you can appear washed out or pale.  A light dusting of neutral blush and face powder will complete this look.

It may take some trial and error to find the perfect nude lipstick.  Ideally, you want one that is very close to your natural lips yet enhances them ever so slightly.  A touch of pink is excellent for blonds while olive or golden-toned women should try mauve or peach tones.  The latter option works well for darker skin tones too, along with rich browns.

It can be quite difficult to pick the right color from a test swatch or a picture on the internet.   You really won’t know until you try it on, ideally with your eye makeup in place.  If you have the time, go to your favorite cosmetic counter/store and ask the sales clerk for assistance.  They should be able to narrow down the choices for you.  If you really want to be smart about it have the clerk do your eyes as well (or do it before you get there).  This may seem like a lot of wasted time and effort but it is easier and quicker to do the legwork beforehand rather than take home a product/shade which is not only unsuitable but you now must suffer the inconvenience of returning/exchanging it.  Plus, it’s always nice to have someone fuss over you for a bit, no?

I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on a nude lipstick but if you prefer a certain brand and it happens to be expensive (Cle de Peau, anyone?) then check with your favorite brand first.

Below, I have listed some pricey and inexpensive lipstick options to help you achieve this sexy look.  Beware:  This will draw sexy attention – make sure you’re ready for it…

Have fun – and please let me know how this works for you!!

Alabaster, Porcelain skin tone:

Pricey:  Laura Mercier-Discretion or Vincent Longo Lipstain SPF15-Nude
Inexpensive:  Clinique Long Last Soft Shine-Twilight Nude or Maybelline Moisture Whip-Nude Blush

Olive, Golden, Honey skin tone:

Pricey:  Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal-Tiramisu (very sheer) or NARS-Blonde Venus
Inexpensive:  Revlon Super Lustrous-Fleshtone #230 or Clinique Long Last Soft Shine-Blushing Nude

Espresso, Chestnut skin tone:

Pricey: Bobbi Brown-Cocoa, Rich Cocoa, Putty or Chocolate

Inexpensive: Clinique Different-Tenderheart or MAC-Plastique or Jubilee

Bronzer Tips: How To Become a Golden Goddess

[ 0 ] January 22, 2009

There is no denying it – the golden goddess look is hot and especially sought-after during these frigid, cold months.  But what if you cannot escape the colder climes and head for the tropics?  Well, bring out the bronzer.  It works for celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez.

The J-Lo Glow (Photorazzi: Janet Mayer)

The J-Lo Glow (Photorazzi: Janet Mayer)

They have gone to great lengths to get the sun-kissed look – and it has paid off for them, in the millions.  A great bronzer – powder or liquid – is a safe and easy way to achieve a tanned complexion.  A naturally golden beauty like Halle Berry would not need all the products used by Jennifer Lopez but she would add some color, preferably peach or apricot-toned, to add dimension and depth to her skin tone.

Quick & Easy Bronzer Tips:

For normal to dry skin:

Create your palette.  Use an old mirror (or another smooth, flat surface) and mix together a few drops of bronzing liquid with your liquid foundation or moisturizer.  Lightly dip your foundation brush into this mixture and sweep it gently across your cheekbones, forehead and temples.  Be conservative with the bronzing liquid while you figure out the right amount – you want to look sun-kissed, not burned!  Clinique has a great shimmer liquid that comes in a variety of shades – reasonably priced too.

For oily, sensitive skin:

The fewer face products you use, the better.  Try your luck with the bronzing liquid process indicated above, but keep in mind it will impart a dewy look.  Chances are, if you have oily skin, a shinier look is not what you want.  Also, adding (another) liquid product to your routine greatly increases the risk of a negative skin reaction.

How about a light sweep of bronzing/shimmer powder across your cheeks, temples and forehead?  You’ll achieve the bronzing effect minus the shiner face and possible irritation.  Bobbi Brown makes wonderful Shimmer Bricks.  They are pricey but seem to last forever.  I’ll look out for inexpensive options.

Quick tips:

A little goes a long way:  Start with a light application and build from there.

Bronzing brush:  It helps distribute the product evenly.  Sephora has a great line of brushes.  A great inexpensive option is Sonia Kashuk (available at Target in the U.S.).

Don’t go too dark:  Choose a shade that is one or (max.) two shades darker than your skin tone.

Bronzer needs blush:  A light sweep of coral, apricot or pink blush will help highlight the bronzer.  Go easy on foundation though – you do not want to look too made-up.

All skin tones benefit from bronzer, but use it sparingly if you’re naturally tanned and add a warm, peachy blush.  It will highlight your beautiful skin tone.

Just leave the straw hat at home!

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