Friday, November 25th, 2011

By Amanda, Traveling Contributor

While earning her degree at university, Amanda traveled around the world to a plethora of countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. She currently lives on New York City’s Upper East Side where is pursuing a graduate degree and working in education. Amanda has studied the histories of beauty around the world and is herself, an avid admirer and practitioner of the beauty techniques she studies.

To track her travels, thoughts, and techniques follow her at www.aklectique.com. As a world traveler (and with more travel plans on the horizon), she’ll be offering a unique perspective of the amazing local brands and products she’s discovered and still discovering.


Traveling Must-Haves by a World Traveler

I’d like to share with you what I take with me whenever I go traveling. From the High-Atlas Berber villages in Morocco, to the Pyramids in Cairo, to Red Sea just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to Diocletian’s palace in Croatia, and through Nottingham’s rainy days, these products have proven their metaphorical “valor” for their resilient consistency and inherent capacity to work well across varying climate conditions.

I’ve found that my MAC Studio Careblend Pressed Power ($23.00) works for me in all whether conditions. Whether it be the 125 degree weather in Egypt or -30s in New Hampshire, this product provides the same consistent coverage and staying power across temperatures. I’d find that my bronzer and highlighter (listed below) are best suited for all temperatures below 85 degrees. If the temperature is higher, I risk looking shiny all day long. Finally Benefit’s One Hot Minute ($30.00) adds the perfect amount of matte color to my face to prevent me from looking washed-out in any climate.

Now, the eyes are almost a free-for-all. I tend to keep in neutral when I am traveling so as to not stand out as a foreigner too much.  (Below is a more detailed list of eye products that I’ve found to last underwater in Jamaica and Croatia, as well as after a long day of work.)  To the complete the visage, my must-have lip product is my Burt’s Bees Sun Protect Lip Balm ($3.99). This lip balm neutralizes the color of my lips and allows me to then apply pigmented lip product that is appropriate for the given situation. More often than not, I find myself using MAC Snob ($14.50) or Revlon’s Nude Attitude ($7.99).

Just remember: When traveling, less is more!

Check out Amanda’s list of must-have products for travel! Continue reading →

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Benefit Hervana Boxed Powder
Benefit Hervana Boxed Powder

Debuting in January, Benefit Hervana Boxed Powder ($28.00 for 0.28 oz.) is described as a “soft orchid-blossom flush.” It’s made of four individual shades in a pinwheel design, though as far as a blusher goes, you really couldn’t use these shades individually as each shade is fairly small. With a small blush brush, you might be able to use two or three shades in concentration, but I recommend swirling and sweeping all the shades taken together.

Lucky Shell is a soft, pale beige with a satiny shimmer. Divine Peach is a warm apricot-peach with soft golden shimmer. Heavenly Rose is a soft rosy peach with a satiny sheen. Berry Delight is a blue-based ppinky-plum with a satiny sheen. Together, they create a soft, warm pink with subtle peach undertones and a satiny shimmer-sheen. It’s not frosty or over-the-top, so the shimmer adds a distinct glow to the skin and doesn’t emphasize pores. The pigmentation here doesn’t impart loads of color–it’s a soft flush, which seems to be the theme of this particular powder. It has a really soft, smooth texture that sits well on the skin. It wore well for seven hours and looked a little faded around the edges after eight hours.

Chanel Pink Cloud is lighter, while MAC Stunner is more intense. Benefit Bella Bamba is much, much darker and has no peachiness. Burberry Peony is very similar but has more of a matte finish. It also reminded me of MAC Oh So Fair, though that has much more frost in its finish. Benefit Sugarbomb is much more golden with a golden sheen and less pink.

It’s not too warm for cooler complexions to wear it, and I actually think it’s one of those shades that will lean a little cooler/warmer depending on the underlying skintone. For instance, my natural yellowy undertones pull out the peachiness in the product, while someone with pinker undertones may find it turns pinker on them. When I applied it to my cheeks, it also appeared peachier because of the coral lip and olive green eyeshadows I paired it with.

The Glossover

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product

Hervana

A-
For a soft glowy flush, Benefit Hervana accoplishes just that; you won't find lots of color punch here but a wearable, everyday kind of blush that goes with everything.

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

9.5/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

8.5/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Monday, November 21st, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Have Beauty Products for Eyes

I’m going to do my best to crank out the last few gift guides in the next day, because I know a lot of sales are coming up for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and I don’t want you to miss out! These are all products I personally recommend that are part of the permanent range. Products are listed in order of ascending price!

Eyeliners

  • Milani Liquif’Eye Eyeliners ($5.49) is a standout formula with a wallet-friendly price tag–if they had a bigger range, they’d be even better. I love their Black and Aqua shades.
  • MAC Fluidlines ($15) is a long-time favorite, because it’s creamy enough for smooth, crisp application but sets and wears well. My favorite is Blacktrack.
  • Tarina Tarantino Dream Hyperliners ($15) are a newly-discovered favorite with a fantastic color range, rich color, and long-wear. My favorite shades have been Sparkling Ammunition and Puppeteer.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Liners ($18) also has an amazing range of shades as well as finishes, and this is an eyeliner that stays on well throughout the day. I regularly reach for shades like #4L, 5L, 12L, and 20L.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils ($18) are a total go-to for me! They have a full color range available, and they’re soft and glide on easily. Some of my favorites are Bourbon Covet, Graffiti, Mildew, Rockstar, Stash, and Underground.
  • Stila Smudgestick Waterproof Eyeliners ($20) are super soft and pigmented, but they do run out of quick–but their color range is so rich, it’s hard to say no. I love Moray, Peacock, and Stingray.
  • Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliners ($21) is a rich, long-wearing gel eyeliner that’s smooth and creamy but still wears all day. Check out shades like Black Mauve Shimmer Ink and Cobalt Ink!
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners ($23) is my absolute favorite for liquid liner, because the color range is wide and the formula itself stays on all day. I recommend shades like #3, 4, 9, 10, and 14. If you like lots and lots of sparkle, consider Stila Sparkle Liquid Eyeliners ($22) which have a very similar formula but their shades have more shimmer.

Eyeshadows

  • Wet ‘n’ Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow ($1.99 to $4.99) are a real steal with a lot of variations and options available, and a lot of the shades are of excellent quality.
  • Inglot Eyeshadows ($5) won’t break the bank but will deliver intense color payoff–they’re most well-known for their mattes and Double Sparkles.
  • Sugarpill Chromalusts ($12) are finely milled with lots of dimension. My favorites are Stella, Absinthe, and Goldilux! I’d also recommend checking out their eyeshadows if you’re shopping for someone who loves bright colors (they’re also $12 and top notch).
  • theBalm Eyeshadows ($16) are richly pigmented, silky smooth, and wear really well. Their individual singles are great, but they also have several palettes that work well, too. My favorite singles are All About Alex, Jealous Jordana, and Risque Renee.
  • Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner ($19) are some of my favorite cream eyeshadows for quick all-over washes or as an eyeshadow base; the range is generally more neutral/subdued so it would be great for busy folks who don’t have a lot of time to spend on their makeup every morning. I love shades like Birthday Suit and Skinny Jeans.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils ($20) is a chubby pencil that can be used as an eyeliner or more like a cream eyeshadow (or even an eyeshadow base). They wear really well and deliver pretty good color. I like shades Clinic, Lit, and Midnight Cowboy.
  • Bare Escentuals Ready Eyeshadows ($20 for duo, $30 for quad) caught me off guard, because I really didn’t think they’d be out of this world, but they’re really, really good. Some of my favorite duos are The Scenic Route and The Escape, and some of my favorite quads are The Elements and The Truth.
  • MAC Pigments ($20) are still one of my favorite products for really revving up a look. Some of the permanent shades I love are Pink Opal, Melon, and Teal.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams ($22) come in neutrals as well as bright pops of color, and they’re a cream product that really locks down once it sets. I love the Aqua Creams best for eyes. I totally dig shades like #2, #5, #13, #15.
  • Illamasqua Pure Pigment ($24) may be pricey and they don’t come with a whole lot of product, for most consumers, it’ll take years to get through. The reason I like these is I feel like the range has a lot of complex, unique shades.
  • Le Metier de Beaute True Color Eyeshadow ($30) is a pricey but absolutely luxurious eyeshadow formula that’s built for layering. I love shades like Chameleon and Jade.
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense ($32) are so intense and have this interesting formula that wears well all day long and comes in some fun shades. I love #1, 2, 3, and 6 a lot!
  • Tarina Tarantino Jewel Eyeshadow Palettes ($32) are good bang for your buck with top notch quality–love Dreamy the most.
  • Hourglass Visionaire Eyeshadow ($38) is my favorite eyeshadow formula, and I really wish they’d come out with more shades, but my favorites are Gypsy, Prism, and Lagoon.
  • Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette ($48) is still one of my favorite palettes that Urban Decay has launched, and it is something I reach for when I travel.

Mascaras

  • Maybelline Full ‘n Soft Mascara ($6.59) is my go-to for soft, natural-looking lashes with lots of volume.
  • MAC Plushlash Mascara ($15) is a great all-over mascara; it thickens, lengthens, and volumizes.
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara ($19) is fantastic for lengthening.
  • Hourglass Film Noir Mascara ($28) is inky black while lengthening and thickening well.

What are your must-have eye products that are permanent?

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, November 1st, 2011


Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

Benefit Watt’s Up! ($30.00 for 0.33 oz.) is a “champagne” hued cream-to-powder highlighter that’s designed to work on all complexions. Benefit suggests applying it to cheek and brow bones and use the soft blender to sculpt and blend out the protect. It can be used on its own or over existing makeup.

It’s a shimmered champagne beige that almost seems like it’ll be too much, but once it’s blended out, it results in a beautiful, glowy sheen that’s luminous and lit-from-within. It sits on top of makeup well without looking heavy or caky, though it certainly works well against the natural skin. The consistency is creamy without being thick or greasy; it has enough glide to apply without bunching up in places, but it stays where you put it.

I like blending out the product with fingertips, but the included applicator (on the other end of the tube, which feels like a plush sponge) will work, too. I’m just wary of washing it, but it would do in a pinch, and I think it smears around any underlying makeup.  I was really pleased with the wear, because it lasted for a full eight hours and didn’t settle into pores or look uneven after a long day.

The Glossover

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coming-soon

Watt's Up!

A
Benefit's latest highlighter really impresses--it delivers a luminous glow that looks natural, soft, and effortless... because it is as close to effortless as one can get! The creaminess makes it easy to apply and blend, while the cream-to-powder finish delivers good wear.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

5/5

Results
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Thursday, October 6th, 2011


Benefit Holiday 2011 Collection

Limited edition holiday sets and kits! :)

POWda WOWza ($28.00) (Limited Edition)

3 x 0.10 oz. Face Powders in Coralista, Hoola, and Bella Bamba.

I’m Glam… Therefore I Am ($36.00) (Limited Edition)

0.25 oz Girl Meets Pearl (pearly golden pink), 0.18 oz Eyeshadow Palette in Pink Fancy (pale pink), Icy Lilac (silvery light mauve), Posh Amethyst (soft plum), Precious Pewter (steel gray), Double-Ended Sponge Applicator, 0.07 oz Glamming Face Powder with Brush (soft rose/ peachy pink sheen), 0.14 oz A Little Bit BADgal Lash Mascara in black, 0.18 oz Lip Gloss in Life On The A List (bubble gum pink)

Ticket to Glossytown ($24.00) (Limited Edition)

6 x 0.1 oz Lipgloss in So Frisk Me (gilded berry), Nudie-Tude (goldspun twist), Spiked Punch (vibrant coral), Kiss You (clear fuchsia), Life On The A List (bubble gum pink), Foxy Lady (diamond rose)

Brighter & Badder ($29.00) (Limited Edition)

This set features Eye bright, a “nap in a stick” that revs ups eyes for a wide-awake look; and BADgal lash mascara, which pumps up the volume for the lushest-ever fringe.

The Big 10 ($32.00) (Limited Edition)

0.1 oz Dandelion (soft pink), 0.11 oz Erase Paste in No. 2 Medium, 0.08 oz Benetint (rose), 0.08 oz High Beam (luminous pink), 0.08 oz Posietint (poppy pink), 0.08 oz Ooh La Lift, 0.08 oz Stay Don’t Stray, 0.25 oz That Gal, 0.25 oz The Porefessional, 0.1 oz Bella Bamba (watermelon pink)

Project Flawless ($32.00) (Limited Edition)

0.25 oz Girl Meets Pearl (pearly golden pink), 0.14 oz A Little Bit BADgal Lash Mascara in black, 0.17 oz Ultra Shines in Foxy Lady (diamond rose), 0.28 oz Bella Bamba (watermelon pink)

availability: October 2011

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