Thursday, November 17th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Over $50

The last part of the Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy section of the guide features the more indulgent gifts to give this holiday season. These may be luxurious, or they may offer tremendous value but will be an investment for years to come. Next part of the guide will focus on limited edition holiday color favorites. If you missed it, I already posted the under $30 and under $50 guides! :)

A Few Tips on Breaking the Bank for Gifts

  • Typically, the thought really is what counts, and if you have the budget for it, great gifts can be pricey gifts, too, but make sure you’re still thinking about the person you’re buying for and getting them something indulgent that they want.  Similarly, just because it’s a gift you’d love to receive doesn’t always translate to one your recipient would love to receive.
  • Not all sets are created equal–I picked my favorites (across all the holiday kit/set guides) that I felt were good overall, both for quality as well as value, but sometimes kits have minimal savings or it might be in a product you’d never use (maybe it’s a mascara or primer or whatever).  It’s easy to get caught up in “savings” when it’s plastered all over the kit/sale page but remember to read the fine print and see what’s really inside.
  • Sometimes buying full-sized products is better if your budget is bigger.  For instance, for the price of the NARS set ($125), you could purchase five full-sized, individual NARS lipglosses–and you could hand-pick the colors or shades.  You can also mix up brands, product types, and whether something it’s limited or permanent that way.

Eyes: One of the ultimate gift sets this season is Make Up For Ever Wild & Chic Aqua Cream Collection ($175.00), but it presents a good opportunity to have several full-sized Aqua Creams at less than retail; I love Aqua Creams in general, and this set is mostly neutral, so it’s workable across skin tones and preferences. If you thought that was indulgent, check out Make Up For Ever’s Wild & Chic Collector Case ($330.00), which contains an instant makeup stash (it’s valued at $616 in product), just at a rather hefty price tag. For Bare Escentuals fans, one of my favorite kits from their holiday offerings is Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Oh La Luxe ($79.00) which contains fifteen shades for eyes/face. They come in a metallic zippered bag, too, which is nice for travel.

Cheeks/Face: There didn’t seem to be very many cheek/face kits/sets this year in this particular price range, but I did like Make Up For Ever Wild & Chic Best of Make Up For Ever Kit ($55.00), since it contains several of their ultra-popular products without having to shell out fully for it–like their HD Powder, Aqua Cream, and Primer. Let me share with you a fantastic Hair kit since this category is a bit barren, Blow Out in a Box ($200.00), which features my favorite T3 Featherweight Hair Dryer, along with a T3 AntiGravity Barrel Brush and Wide Tooth Comb, plus Living Proof Full Thickening Cream and Straight.

Lips: NARS Kudoki Kabuki Lip Set ($125.00) is one of those products that very few of us actually buy but something most of us would appreciate receiving as a gift; it’s decadent, intricately designed, purposefully made–it’s pure luxury and a collector’s item.  I cannot comment on its quality, as I don’t have it and haven’t seen it, but I see this as that, “ooh, ahh” item for the season. Chanel Les Deux Levres Scintillantes ($55.00) contains two glossimers (Spark and Liaison) along with a miniature-sized Nude Lip Definer all housed in a black Chanel-emblazoned makeup bag; the set is fairly neutral and should work universally, and because it’s Chanel, it can impress (for instance, my aunt would much more appreciate a designer brand, because she would never buy it herself).

Skin/Body: The ever-popular Clarisonic has several year-round kits/sets, but they do put a few more together for the holidays. They all tend to be a good value overall, and it’s really a matter of what accessories/bonuses you’d like with it (or what color!).  LUSH has a fantastic offering of holiday gift sets and boxes, including plenty over $50 (and plenty under!), and I love giving LUSH sets for anyone I know who likes to take baths or extended showers to relax–also great for younger teens!

Fragrance: When you’re not quite sure what scent someone wears, or if you know they’re looking for a signature scent or just getting into fragrance, I love the sets Sephora puts together. This year’s Sephora Favorites Rollerball Collection For Her ($65.00 for 7×0.20-0.34oz.) includes popular favorites in rollerball format, so they’re small, travel-friendly, and very convenient; for the fragrance collector, you might consider the collector’s edition, which features miniature sizes of popular scents. I also love fragrance sets like Jo Malone Fragrance Combining Cologne Collection ($95.00 for 5×0.3 oz.) because they can be used individually or together–it’s a great opportunity to pick-up Jo Malone scents in smaller sizes (and for lower prices!).

Do you have any suggestions for readers looking for a really big ticket item to add to their wish list or to splurge on for a loved one?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $50

This part of the holiday gift guide shares my favorite just-for-the-holidays palettes and kits over $30 but $50 or less–not over-the-top indulgent gifts but we’re getting there. If you missed it, I already posted the under $30 guide! :)

Eyes: Long-time readers know I’m a huge fan of Aqua Eyes, and the Make Up For Ever Wild & Chic Aqua Eyes Collection ($36.00) contains five travel-sized (I’m guessing 0.02 to 0.03 oz.) and one full-size (0.04 oz.) eyeliner; for the price of two full-sized eyeliners, you’re getting six shades to try of a fantastic formula. Urban Decay also has two Eyeliner Sets ($32.00 each) that contain five travel-sized 24/7 Eyeliners; there is also a Shadow Pencil Stash ($34.00). At this price point, you can find some excellent palettes that came out just in time for the holidays, like Urban Decay Mariposa Eyeshadow Palette ($39.00) and Bare Escentuals Ready 8.0 Eyeshadow Palette ($40.00).

Cheeks/Face: Too Faced In Your Dreams Makeup Collection ($39.00) is an eye, cheek, and lip palette that’s great for someone new to makeup; I like it because everything is presented in an easy-to-digest manner, and the colors coordinate with each other, so there is no guessing. Benefit Project Flawless ($32.00) is a cutely packaged set that contains a highlighter (Girl Meets Pearl), mascara, lipgloss (Foxy Lady), and blush (Bella Bamba). If that’s not quite to your taste, you could check out Romancing the Mirror ($39.00), which contains That Gal, Sugarbomb, and BADgal Lash.

Lips: I’ve been really digging Bobbi Brown’s High Shimmer Lip Gloss Trio ($38.00); they’re fairly sheer, but they had so much dazzle and shine without feeling gritty–I’ve been reaching for these (because I need to do lip swatches for them!) to layer on top of other lipsticks. Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Gloss to Go Set ($32.50) comes in a cute red faux leather zipper cylinder case with six holiday-appropriate glosses, and I like that it’s ready to give (there’s also a lipstick version).

Skin/Body: I love the way Estee Lauder set-up their skincare gift sets this year; they categorize them based on theme, like even skin tone or anti-wrinkle. Clinique has an excellent set for dry skin (Moisture Surge has saved my skin before!) called Total Moisture ($44.00). Consider giving a decadent, luxurious body cream in the form of this Laura Mercier Souffle Body Creme Sampler Set ($50.00 for 4×3 oz.).

Fragrance: Elegantly packaged, convenient to use, and full-sized, Tocca Beauty Rollerball Trio ($48.00 for 3×0.33 oz.) contains three different scents (Florence, Cleopatra, and Colette), which can be gifted as a set or easily broken up. Juicy Couture ($35.00 for 3×0.33 oz.) also has a trio of fragrance sprays of their signature scents. Fresh Sugar Obsessions Rollerball Trio ($35.00 for 3×0.34 oz.) contains popular Fresh scents, and if you have a foodie friend, this might be a good one for them. What’s really great about rollerballs is they’re easy to give, and they can be re-gifted, too–if you give your friend a kit, and they dislike one scent, it’s so easy for them to pass along to a friend/family member.

Do you have any suggestions for readers on the prowl for holiday gifts this year that came out just in time for holiday gift-giving?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $30

First, I want to cover holiday gift sets, kits, palettes, and value sets specifically and exclusively. There are several more posts to come, including items from holiday color collections as well as permanent products and more. I tried to take into account the incredible input I received from readers, so the whole guide is broken down by price with special attention to different categories of products (e.g. lipgloss vs. eyeshadow), as well as I tried to provide commentary on who the gift might work for.

A Few Money-Saving Tips

  • If you’re on a tight budget this year but feel you absolutely must buy something to gift, consider doling out more on a single value kit/set but then breaking it up. For instance, a kit with ten lipglosses can be split and gifted to two or three or even ten people. You can buy festive holiday ribbon at a local crafts store to tie around the gloss, or you could include a few holiday candies or homemade baked goods.
  • Splitting up sets is also a great idea if you’re looking for stocking stuffers or you want to do more mixing-and-matching of gifts for your favorite pals (say a gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick).
  • When it comes to getting the most for your money, pay attention to the amount of product you’re getting and compare to the full-sized version (and its price).
  • Consider nail polish sets and kits; some come around for the holidays (but availability online may be difficult), there are lots of fantastic brands for $2-5 a pop, so you can get a good variety without breaking the bank.

Eyes: Snag two travel-sized eyeliners (which are usually around 0.03 oz., compared to 0.04 oz. for full size) in Oil Slick and Rockstar in Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Duo ($14.00); there is also one in Bourbon and Ransom. Bare Escentuals Strike It Rich Prime Time Collection ($28.00) contains five miniature-sized versions of the brand’s colored primer, which I’m a fan of; the only way the kit could have been better is if they included Urban Nature!

Cheeks/Face: Trial kits like Benefit One Prime Day ($10.00) are great for personal use but also to give, because you’re giving someone the chance to try new products they might not otherwise buy, but if you’re not totally sure they’ll love them, neither of you will feel bad. I’d give this to a friend who complained about their oily skin! Something else to consider is Benefit’s Powda WOWza, which consists of three top-selling face powders (and two that I love): CORALista, Bella Bamba, and Hoola.

Lips: This is an easily one of the best places to get a lot of bank for your buck when it comes to holiday sets–there are numerous lipgloss/lipstick kits available. I love the sheer, tinted hydrating lip shines, and the Philosophy Much Mistletoeing Lip Shine Set ($20.00 for 4×0.50 oz.) is a good value (these are full-sized!) and already comes in festive packaging. Korres has a great lipgloss formula in their Cherry Oil Lipglosses, and for the holidays, they have a Cherry-Picked Cherry Oil Lipgloss Quad ($28.00 for 4×0.20o oz.) set–and don’t let the word “quad” fool you, because they’re four individually packaged glosses that are full-sized. For lip balm, you know I’m loving and have to recommend Jack Black Balm Squad Lip Quad ($25.00 for 4×0.25 oz.) includes four full-sized lip balms of my very favorite formula in four flavors (there is also a lip balm/hand cream duo for $12, and both formulas TOPS!).

Skin/Body: Badger Three Bold Balms Set ($15.99) is a fabulous balm for healing dry, cracked skin, and this set gives you one to help with sore muscles, another for everywhere, and one scented to help you sleep–a totally classic multi-purpose balm but in a cuter set for the holidays. Bliss Winter Wonder Hands ($11.00) is a duo of hand creams that are purse-sized and fit easily into stockings. It’s not my very favorite hand cream, but it’s a good one! Burt’s Bees Healthy Hands Repair Kit ($12.99) is perfect for someone who works with their hands or loves to do their nails (and is therefore meticulous about their hands!).

When it comes to body care, my favorite go-tos for gifts are Philosophy and Bath and Body Works. Philosophy has numerous gift sets available (from all categories they offer), but a few of the ones I like best are Sugar Plum Frost Set ($18.00), Candy Cane Trio ($22.00), and Fun in the Frosty Air Trio ($25.00). Similarly, Bath and Body Works has tons of various baskets and sets. Giving body products are excellent gift ideas for people who enjoy relaxing (think baths and long showers) or for those you don’t know well enough to be able to pick a specific color for. If you’re unsure about someone’s scent preferences, food-based scents tend to be most generally applicable, so long as they’re not cloyingly sweet.

Fragrance:  They may be teeny-tiny, but you’ll be surprised at how many uses you’ll still get out of Tocca’s Love Yourself Collection ($18.00 for 7×0.05 oz.). Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Take Me There Set ($18.00) contains travel-sized versions of the scent’s rollerball perfume, body butter, and body wash, which would be a great layering kit, especially for someone who enjoys fruitier, tropical scents.

Do you have any suggestions for readers on the prowl for affordable holiday gifts this year that came out just in time for holiday gift-giving?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011


Bare Escentuals Holiday 2011 Launches

Coming this October/November, Bare Escentuals has over thirty holiday offerings to tickle your fancy.

Box of Gems ($89.00) (QVC Exclusive)

A Box of Gems is a 20-piece treasure-trove of jewel-infused eyecolors and dazzling lipglosses. With this lavish box, you’ll always be decked out in jewels.

Things That Make You Glow Collection ($85.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

This 15-piece collection is filled to the brim with limited edition favorites including 10 hard-to-find bareMinerals Eyecolors, an All-Over Face Color, bareMinerals Blush and two never before paired together mini Pretty Amazing and 100% Natural Lipcolors.

Oh La Luxe ($79.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

With 10 mesmerizing colors for eyes and five blushing face colors all in one chic bag, you’ll never be without ways to turn heads.

Year of Beauty ($72.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

Our collection of bareMinerals Eyecolors includes 12 dazzling shades to take you through the seasons in style. Silky soft and unbelievably blendable, these plush shades glide on effortlessly for stunning, vibrant color to match every month.

Transformational Treatment Collection ($58.00) (QVC Exclusive)

Introducing the bareMinerals Transformational Treatment Collection, an exclusive collection of ground breaking solutions for younger-looking skin. Experience the incredible results, including faster cell turnover, smaller-looking pores, reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – and the famous bareMinerals Naturally Luminous glow.

RSVP – Ravishing, Stunning, Vibrant, Pretty ($54.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

Experience R.S.V.P., our 9-piece collection for face, eyes, and lips that will leave you Ravishing, Stunning, Vibrant and Pretty. It’s the most coveted invitation in town, and be prepared for an all-nighter with the launch of our new Round the Clock™ Eyeliner.

Putting on the Glitz ($54.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

This show stopping 10-piece collection glistens and dazzles with brand new shades for eyes, cheeks and lips for a look that is downright glitz and glam.

The Glamorous Life Collection ($49.00) (Ulta Exclusive)

It’s time to paint the town glam with this 9-piece collection that creates a classic look with some added panache.

Naturally Luminous Moisturizing Trio ($49.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

Introducing the bareMinerals Naturally Luminous Moisturizing Trio, an exclusive collection of groundbreaking solutions. Powered by our proprietary RareMinerals ActiveSoil Complex, bareMinerals Skincare is clinically proven to reveal smoother, younger-looking, more luminous skin. Available in Normal-to-Dry, Combination.

Brush with Fame Deluxe Brush Collection ($45.00) (QVC Exclusive)

Brush with Fame includes a trio of eye brushes designed to give off-the-chart gorgeous eyes every time, and face and cheek brushes that provide flawless coverage day in and day out.

Strike It Rich Mini Prime Time Primer Shadow Kit ($28.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

Prepare to Strike it Rich for the holidays with this fabulous fivesome of Mini Prime Time Primer Shadows. This metallic collection provides vivid, rich, light-reflective color in an amazing lightweight waterproof texture for long-lasting results.

Buxom More to Love ($42.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

Reach your full Buxom potential with this remarkably versatile 5-piece collection for eyes and lips. With glistening lips, blacker-than-black eyeliner, intensely solemnized lashed and sparkling cream shadow, you’ll always leave them wanting more.

High Shine Trio ($36.00) (Ulta Exclusive)

These three new high-intensity shades of pure drama are a must-have for achieving gorgeous eyes that dazzle. Experiment, mix and match with the versatile silver, gold and pink shades for a look that is subtle or dramatic.

Brightening Pearl Beauty Duo ($29.50) (Ulta Exclusive)

BareMinerals Brightening Pearl Mineral Veil finishing powder, infused with genuine Honora Cultured pearls, provides the ultimate finishing touch to makeup, casting a glow of subtle pearlescent softness and light. It dispenses the perfect amount of Brightening Pearl Mineral Veil finishing powder every time for fast, easy touch-ups and includes a matching pink pearl Retractable Buff & Go Brush for effortless application.

Buxom Armed & Gorgeous ($29.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

These six shades of mass seduction shadow, line, smoke take no prisoners for a sultry smoky eye. Each Waterproof Smoky Eye Stick includes an original matte, most wanted shade on one end and a new metallic shade on the other.

Buxom Babes Party Central Collection ($28.00) (Sephora Exclusive)

This collection of Buxom Big & Healthy™ Lip Polishes includes three dazzling new shades and a festive fave that’s sure to get noticed.

Pretty Amazing Lip Collection ($28.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

Now available in two spectacular and unique finishes: Lipcolor for rich, velveteen color and Lipgloss for a sumptuous, glistening sheen. With four exhilarating shades in a petite portable size, there is even more reason to max out on amazing.

The Golden Touch Mini Brush Collection ($28.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

The Golden Touch, a stunning collection of four mini brushes for face and eyes is the key to glamour from every angle. With one new brush and three tried-and-true angled tip favorites, these good-as-gold minis are the way to shaping and defining a gorgeous look.

Cocktail Party Collection ($26.00) (QVC Exclusive)

Cheers to four mini, perfectly blended pink and berry lipgloss shades drenched in dazzling color and delicious shine.

Light Show Eyeliner Collection ($24.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

This dazzling full-size eyeliner trio will take eyes to bold and beautiful extremes. These new and innovative Metallic Eyeliners have mega-watt sheen that’s guaranteed to get anyone’s attention.

Out of This World Eyeliner Trip ($24.00) (QVC Exclusive)

This dazzling full-size eyeliner trio will take eyes to bold and beautiful extremes. These new and innovative Metallic Eyeliners have mega-watt sheen that’s guaranteed to get anyone’s attention.

Flawless & Fearless Duo ($17.00) (Boutiques & BareEscentuals.com)

This dynamic duo of portable lip and lash faves. The perfectly daring duo includes Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara, which plumps lashes up to 600%, while Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Fearless drenches lips in high-impact, rosy mauve color and insatiable shine.

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

bareMinerals Bare Minerals The Paradise Found Eyeshadow Duo
bareMinerals Bare Minerals The Paradise Found Eyeshadow Duo

Debuting at the beginning of October, bareMinerals Bare Minerals The Paradise Found Eyeshadow Duo ($20.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a mix of orange and green with Nirvana and Utopia. The new pressed eyeshadow formula has a SeaNutritive Mineral Complex that gives the shadow a “creamy, silky smooth” texture with “seamless blendability” and “stay-true color.” It’s supposed to be long-wearing whether worn alone or with primer–you shouldn’t see any creasing or fading. I’ve tested various combinations of shades from the duos and quads, and I’ve happily achieved ten hours of solid wear without a primer underneath. For a review of the packaging, please read my original review.

Nirvana is a softened orange with a frosted finish. It’s not a full-on orange but it’s more orange than peach. It has good pigmentation and the texture is smooth, but it’s not as buttery as other shades in the range. theBalm Mischievous Marissa is a bit more copper. Inglot #368 is more orange and matte in finish.

Utopia is deep, dark forest green with subtle olive-brown undertones. It has a satiny finish with a drier texture that’s still smooth but not as buttery or as dense. Despite the dryness, it yields good color payoff. It’s browner compared to shades that seem similar, like OCC Poison. However, it’s less green compared to shades like MAC Femme Noir and MAC Diana Undercover.

The Glossover

palette

bareMinerals Paradise Found Eyeshadow Duo Review, Photos, Swatches

B
The duo is still good, but it's one of the weaker duos I've tried from Bare Escentuals' new pressed line-up. It is, however, a very unusual pairing of colors!

Product

8/10

Pigmentation

9/10

Texture

8/10

Longevity

9.5/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Friday, September 23rd, 2011

bareMinerals The Honeymoon Phase Eyeshadow Duo
bareMinerals The Honeymoon Phase Eyeshadow Duo

bareMinerals The Honeymoon Phase Eyeshadow Duo

Debuting at the beginning of October, bareMinerals The Honeymoon Phase Eyeshadow Duo ($20.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a mix of pink and gray with Giddy and Do Not Disturb. The new pressed eyeshadow formula has a SeaNutritive Mineral Complex that gives the shadow a “creamy, silky smooth” texture with “seamless blendability” and “stay-true color.” It’s supposed to be long-wearing whether worn alone or with primer–you shouldn’t see any creasing or fading. I’ve tested various combinations of shades from the duos and quads, and I’ve happily achieved ten hours of solid wear without a primer underneath. For a review of the packaging, please read my original review.

Giddy is a light-medium pink with yellow undertones and a satiny sheen. For such a light shade, it has surprisingly good color payoff without being powdery or chalky. It’s similar to Inglot #356, which is a degree lighter. MAC Pen ‘n’ Pink compares well, too, but has more of a matte finish.

Do Not Disturb is a charcoal gray with a soft, frosted finish. It’s a little drier than a lot of the other bareMinerals eyeshadows though it still has good pigmentation. It is similar to several other grays, like theBalm Inspirational and Urban Decay Gunmetal.

The Glossover

palette

bareMinerals Honeymoon Phase Eyeshadow Duo Review, Photos, Swatches

A-
Pink and gray is an elegant and feminine combination of colors, and neither shade runs cool-toned, which is interesting. It's more neutral than warm, though the pink does have yellow undertones but they are subtle.

Product

9/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

8.5/10

Longevity

9.5/10

Application

4.5/5

Results
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