Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: An Introduction

Today, this lovely post introducing us to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is written by Jen Meade.

When not adoring her daughters, Ara (3) and Lulu (6 months), Jen works as a freelance makeup artist in the VA, DC, MD area. She is obsessed with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, legal dramas, custom-mixing lipglosses, writing her blogs, and schmoozing on Twitter.

She runs two blogs:  Beauty School Blog (about beauty, duh!) and The Nail Ninja (bet you can’t guess what this one’s about!).

Is it possible to bottle the scent of Heaven?

I suppose that depends on what “Heaven” smells like to you, but I’m willing to bet the answer is “yes” and that proof lies at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

You may or may not have heard of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab before. Known as BPAL by it’s many fans, the line has a definite edgy feel that may intimidate some people – but I wish those folks would poke a little further. Once you really take a look (and hopefully a sniff!), you’ll see that there’s beautiful poetry to be read, quirky pieces of art to be seen, and delectably well-blended scents to be worn.

More than 1,300 scents have been created by The Lab since it opened, though some were Limited Edition or have since been discontinued (making them super collectible). You think you’ll do anything for that old LE MAC blush, but would you pay the $800 someone spent on eBay buying a bottle of BPAL a few years ago? That’s how good these scents are! Don’t worry: a bottle fresh off the site retails for approximately $15, though some LE items may be more. You’re bound to find your “Heaven” in the array of scents The Lab has available, and if you’re looking for something a little more naughty than heaven well, you can find that there too!

Learn more about BPAL! Continue reading →

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Holiday 2009 Gift Guide: Best Luxury Gifts

When I think luxury, I think of products that feel like an experience–decadent, luxurious, and satisfying–and often are items I wouldn’t myself purchase but would love to receive.  In that vein, I’ve missed the price range from as low as $45 to as high as $249.  At the end of day, luxury can be incredibly personal, but these are some of my personal favorites.

Guerlain Le Rouge G de Guerlain Lipstick ($45.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a creamy, smooth, pigmented lipstick formula that applies and clings to lips without drying them. It has the most subtle, yet noticeable, shimmer that really shines without being garish. It’s really a top formula, but the price tag definitely slots it into the luxury bag.  (See some of my reviews here.)

Bliss Softening Socks ($48.00) are these awesome socks that pretty much come with this gel lining that soothes and moisturizes your feet while you wear them. Bliss says that a pair of socks lasts for up to fifty uses (not too bad!) and you wear ‘em for about twenty minutes. (You can even get them in a nifty holiday gift box at Bliss.) You can also give the same technology, but for hands (gloves, rather than socks, duh!).

BURN Candles ($60.00 for ~100 hours) come in amazing, complex scents that really waft throughout the room/rooms. I’ve found that I’ll burn one in the office, and the scent will be in the living room/kitchen and even in the bedroom. The scent is just enough to enjoy without being overwhelming. For the holidays, they’ve added the following scents: Firewood Embers, Grenadine Pomegranate and Sugar Pine Balsam. (They also have candles that burn for approximately 150 hours for $95.00 a pop.) You can also find BURN at Barneys.

Chanel Les Tissages Lames de Chanel (Shimmering Tweed Highlighter) ($60.00) is a beautiful composition of a tweed patterned highlighter that’s golden and bronze without being too much.  (You can read my full review here.)

See more of my favorite luxe gifts! Continue reading →

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Holiday 2009 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for the Minimalist

Sometimes us beauty addicts just love to share our love for all that is beauty, but not everyone in our life is nearly as dedicated as us… enter beauty-themed gifts that are great to receive, even if you’re not a beauty buff.

Whenever I look to give a beauty-ish gift to someone I know doesn’t wear makeup much or isn’t big on spending that much time getting ready, I like to compromise and include a beauty gift alongside something else, so I tend to look for affordable beauty gifts that are fun to give and receive, but I won’t be devastated if they don’t use it much!

Philosophy’s The Recipe Box Set ($18.00) is not only good for your friends, but it’s something that even a minimalist might enjoy since showers aren’t reserved only to beauty addicts. It’s a cute little set in a gift-ready box and red bow tied on top. It contains two 6 oz. shower gels: Sweet Creamy Frosting and Red Velvet Cake. It is available at Beauty.com, Nordstrom, Philosophy.com, and Sephora.

Philosophy’s “A Kiss and a Wish” Set ($15.00) is a cute, easy-to-give gift that’s compact and affordable. It includes four miniature lip shines in the following scents: Raspberry Sorbet, Red Licorice, Pink Bubbly, and Candy Cane.  These are just comfortable, very sheer color that keeps lips moisturized, so even those who have no desire to pump up their lip color can enjoy these. You can find this set at Nordstrom, Philosophy.com, and Sephora.

Bath & Body Works Deep Cleansing Soap ($4.50 for 8 fl. oz.) are extremely affordable at-home-with-beauty options that work well in just about every household. B&BW has a whole slew of scents to choose from, but one of my favorites to keep in the household is Kitchen Lemon. I just love me a fresh lemon citrus smell in the kitchen!

See more of my gift picks… Continue reading →

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Holiday 2009 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for the Newly Addicted

Whether you’re shopping for a gift to give a younger sister, a darling niece, maturing daughter, or your newly-turned-beauty-addict best friend… these are some of my favorites to give to someone who’s just beginning their journey into the realm of beauty.

These are the types of gifts and products I look out for when I’m giving beauty products to someone who is just starting out:

  • Palettes/sets – particularly if they come with explanations or obvious color combinations
  • Sheerer lip color, easy to work into any look
  • Affordable, products with more bang for your buck
  • Color – particularly if I’m giving to someone younger, I always try to give gifts with lots of color, so they can experiment

NARS Love Me Set ($49.00) is a great introduce-yourself-to-NARS set with a blush/highlighting duo featuring Orgasm (yes, the famous shade!) and Albatross, along with Orgasm lipgloss. I also find NARS Cosmetics Palettes make great gifts with their sleek, no frills packaging and the shades included. Just in time for the holidays, NARS launched two to celebrate their 15th anniversary (Everlasting Love and Wild at Heart–each retailing for $75). However, my top palette pick for the newly addicted is their Essential Eye Palette ($55.00), which includes eyeshadows in Unconditional Love, Night Star, Galapagos, Nepal, Ondine, and Thunderball. You can find NARS’ palettes at NARS Cosmetics and Nordstrom, and Sephora.

CARGO Essential Eye Shadow Palette ($32.00) is totally makeup-made-easy. These palettes include four shades of eyeshadows, and they’re set-up in a way that’s pretty much paint-by-numbers… just with eyeshadow instead. It contains a shade for the brow, lid, crease, and outer corner.  The palette is available in three variations: Warm, Cool, and Dark.

Stila Barbie Loves Stila Palette ($28.00) is one of the most amazing eyeshadow palettes I’ve had the pleasure to come across. It’s vibrant, has a good variety of shades housed inside of it, and the quality is superb. They’re ultra soft, smooth shadows with incredible pigmentation that blend seamlessly.

See more gift ideas… Continue reading →

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Holiday 2009 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Friends

There are a few characteristics that come to mind when I’m looking for gifts to give my favorite gal pals:  cute, fun, and budget-friendly. Even though we’d all love to lavish our friends and family with any gift they desired, it’s easy for holiday spending to get out of control.  I always make sure to set aside a budget for friends and I try to determine a good spending level and keep it equal.  (Of course, that very best friend might get a little extra!)

Philosophy Gift Sets are one of my favorite gifts to give (and receive!). Philosophy does an amazing job creating cute, holiday-themed packaging and keeping their sets high on the value side while they’re at it. They also have special scents/flavors that only pop up during the holiday season, too.

  • I like their Holiday Cookbook ($35.00) is a six-piece shower gel set (each with 2 oz.) housed in a cardboard “cookbook.” It contains the following scents: Red Velvet Cake, Cinnamon Buns, Spicy Pear Cobbler, Pumpkin Spice Muffin, Gingerbread, and Double Rich Hot Cocoa. Delicious!  (You can read my review of last year’s here.)  You can find this gift at: Nordstrom, Philosophy.com, Sephora.
  • My next recommendation is The Recipe Box Set ($18.00) is a good option if you’re on a slimmer budget (or you just have a lot of friends and would like to spread the love a bit more). It’s a cute little set in a gift-ready box and red bow tied on top. It contains two 6 oz. shower gels: Sweet Creamy Frosting and Red Velvet Cake. It is available at Beauty.com, Nordstrom, Philosophy.com, and Sephora.

Korres has a lot of value-packed sets available for holiday as well as year-round (nothing wrong with giving one of those, y’know), so if you’re thinking about giving the gift of Korres this holiday season, there’s a good variety of sets to choose from.

  • Korres Cherry Lip Kisses ($19.50) is a trio of Korres’ Cherry Oil Lipgloss (includes Fuchsia, Natural Purple, and Nude shades). These are fun glosses, and when they’re available in a set? Totally worth it!  (You can read my full review here.) You can pick this set up at KorresUSA.com (save 30% on $35 or more with code TEMPTALIA til 12/31!) and Sephora.
  • Another Korres set I’m loving for an affordable gift set is their Best Of Korres ($25.00) which gives a nice taste of Korres’ product line without splurging on full-sizes. It’s a particularly nice set to receive, too! I also like it because it is travel friendly, and I know I can never have too many travel-sized products.

See more gift ideas… Continue reading →

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Build a Quad: “Purple Shock”

Rich in purples, Purple Shock is a mix of cool-toned, blue-based purples and a more red-toned fuchsia purple to give it a little more oomph, a little something extra. Featured in the quad are MAC Parfait Amour eyeshadow (a cool-toned medium purple frost), MAC Stars ‘n Rockets eyeshadow (a fuchsia-purple with a icy purple sheen), MAC Beautiful Iris eyeshadow (a soft, iridescent lilac purple), and MAC Shroom eyeshadow (a soft, lightly shimmered highlighter).

For more customization, you can easily swap in your favorite highlighter in place of Shroom, or if you’re not looking to use this quad on its lonesome (e.g. you have plenty of highlighters elsewhere), you could add in a fleshy pink like MAC Hush eyeshadow instead. On the opposite end, you could go darker and smokier by adding MAC Contrast eyeshadow in place of Shroom.

A few combinations to try with this…

  • Shroom all over the lid, Stars ‘n Rockets on the outer lid, Parfait Amour in the crease, Shroom to highlight
  • Beautiful Iris all over the lid, Stars ‘n Rockets on the outer lid, Parfait Amour in the crease, Shroom to highlight
  • Beautiful Iris all over the lid, Parfait Amour in the crease, Shroom to highlight
  • Shroom all over the lid, Beautiful Iris on the outer lid, Stars ‘n Rockets in the crease, Shroom to highlight

A few looks I’ve done that can be replicated with these shades…

Build a Quad is a feature focusing on creating different eyeshadow palettes that are both beautiful and functional using permanent shades of eyeshadow. We invite readers to suggest their own build-a-quads — just leave your ideas in the comments! Don’t forget to name your quad! :)

P.S. — Thank you for all of your fantastic and encouraging feedback on last week’s debut of this feature.

See swatchesContinue reading →