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 →

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

NARS Taiga Eyeshadow Duo
NARS Taiga Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Taiga Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Taiga Eyeshadow Duo ($33.00) is described as a “pale gold frost” and “gold-infused pewter.” The left side is a pale white gold with a frosted finish; it’s a bit sheer, and this kind of color is found in a lot of brands. The right side is an olive green with a dirty gold shimmer-sheen. It has good color payoff and a really smooth feel. I was half-hoping it was similar to Giorgio Armani #14, but it’s much greener. It’s a touch cooler-toned compared to theBalm Wocka, Wocka. Lancome Designer has a softer golden sheen, so it appears almost darker, but they’re very similar. Inglot #419 is also really close in color.

NARS line of pressed powder eyeshadows are supposed to be “highly pigmented, long-wearing, and crease-resistant.” They don’t wear all day on me without a primer, though some perform better than others. I typically get around eight hours with subtle creasing and marginal fading, but the usage of a primer will get me to twelve hours without any creasing or fading.

The Glossover

palette

NARS Taiga Eyeshadow Duo Review, Photos, Swatches

B
The green shade is killer, but the lighter golden shade could use more pigmentation--if it was, this would be a dynamite duo. The two shades play off of each other well, and you can do a lot of different intensities/gradients between these two.

Product

8.5/10

Pigmentation

8.5/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

8.5/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Monday, November 21st, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: The Best of Holiday Color

As promised, here is the next installment of our most comprehensive gift guide to-date! This post features my top picks from various holiday color collections that have launched this year.  There are a few more holiday shades I haven’t reviewed or swatched, so there might be a few more of my favorites to come.

Eyes

Cheeks/Face

  • NARS Miss Liberty ($27) gives cheeks a really glistening glow, very apropos for the holidays.
  • Guerlain Parure de Nuit ($67) is the one product I’d recommend above all others for the holidays, and I say that because it’s a product I keep reaching for (to the point that I had to forcibly remove it from my reach).

Lips

  • MAC What Joy! ($15.50) is a berry-red with subtle micro-shimmer and healthy shine with good color coverage.
  • Illamasqua Belladonna ($20) is a fierce magenta pink with opaque color and lots of shine.
  • Bobbi Brown Party Alice ($24) — super pretty pink-coral, perhaps not seasonally appropriate but divine anyway.
  • NARS Joyous Red ($24) is a muted orange-red that’s workable on cool and warm-toned skin.
  • Chanel Triomphal ($32) is a pinky-red with great vibrancy and glossy shine; and Chanel Empire is perfect for those who love a brighter pink with yellow undertones.
  • Dior’s holiday lip colors ($32 each) were my surprise hit for lips this season–they’re so pretty on and wear well.

Nails

  • China Glaze Let It Snow ($3-4 each) is a perfectly festive set of twelve polishes, and all of them are available individually, so you can pick your particular poison.
  • Zoya Gems & Jewels ($8 each) is short and sweet with beautiful shimmers and extra-fun glitters (because they’re horizontal!).
  • Dior Merveille is a festive orange-red with golden shimmer that will work well on warmer skin tones.
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?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

NARS Catfight Lipstick
NARS Catfight Lipstick

NARS Catfight Lipstick

NARS Catfight Lipstick ($24.00 for 0.12 oz.) is described as a “nude mauve.” It has a semi-matte finish, which is supposed to yield full color coverage, be long-wearing, and moisturizing from the inclusion of conditioners and antioxidants. I don’t know if I’d use the word “nude” to describe this color. It’s a pink-plum with a subtle, cool undertone running through it. The finish is decidedly semi-matte–it has the look of a matte overall but there’s a little sheen there, and the sheen is still visible from afar. MAC Hot Gossip is pinker and glossier but similar in color.

NARS’ Semi-Matte Lipstick formula wears four to six hours on me, and when I wore Catfight out for errands, it wore welll for four hours and needed reapplication at five. It’s unscented and tasteless to me. I don’t find it hydrating; it’s not as drying as some matte finishes are, but it’s not comfortable to wear for longer than three hours. I had strong urges to apply balm by that point!

The Glossover

P
product

Catfight

B
I wish it was more hydrating or less drying, because wearing it for longer than a few hours results in rather dry, chapped lips. I'd recommend wearing it with balm or gloss on top or underneath to help combat that particular issue.

Product

7.5/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

8.5/10

Longevity

8.5/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Video Review: NARS Holiday 2011 First Impressions & Swatches

First look at NARS’ holiday collection along with swatches and brilliant (total sarcasm) commentary by yours truly :)